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Old 07-12-2006, 03:23 PM   #1
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Engine Builder's Notebook

What do you use to log everything about the engines you build? Do you have software or paper forms? There's a ton of measurements that need to be recorded. So what do you use?
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:44 PM   #2
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I'm not at that stage yet, but to take the engine out of the car I use a digital camera, and take pics of everything. I record every step with a pen in a notebook. I label the steps based on the Haynes manual I'm following.

Usually, it says something like "6. Disconnect all vaccum hoses."
Of course, there's like 7 or 8 hoses. I take a picture of each hose I disconnect, and with a label maker I write "6.1 Vaccum hose to intake manifold", "6.2 Vaccum hose to EGR". Make sure your picture show
the part you're removing and the general location in the car. You don't want the picture to be to much of a close-up, because that will be useless.

Then in the notebook I write "6.1 disconnect vacum hose to intake manifold, see picture 56."

This is my first engine removal, so this is probably overkill. Sometimes I don't feel like writing it down, and think "I'll remember that one". That thought is a warning signal that you should label and take a picture. Because you won't remember.

And the last thing: when removing bolts, screws, and other small parts,
put them in a ziplock bag, and label the ziplock bag. "6.1 Bolt for vacuum
hose bracket"
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Old 07-12-2006, 04:33 PM   #3
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I know what you mean. If something happens and you have to wait a few weeks (or months) to work on it again, it gets real hard to remember.
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Old 07-12-2006, 11:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katman
What do you use to log everything about the engines you build? Do you have software or paper forms? There's a ton of measurements that need to be recorded. So what do you use?
Humm... most of them when I tear an engine back down its, "humm this rod sticking out the side of the block seems to be the issue." or "wow, I don't remember this piston having a hole in it when I put this motor together... odd"

What kind of stuff to do keep track of?
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Old 07-13-2006, 07:05 AM   #5
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when I take something appart, I might take a photo or two of it befor, and if I find a complecated part, a photo or two in the middle of the prossess, use a little masking tape to lable stuff, I never did like plastic bags for bolts, i alwas putt he bolts back in the hole they came out of whenever possible, when I'm rebuilding an engine I'll simply go down the list of specs and check them off as I go along, and for more complex projects like engine rebuilding, I'll make sure I have enough space to lay things out in the order that they came appart.

part of why I would have a hard time taking photos of every hose and so on, is that with my '85 crx, it's carburated, and has 57 vaccum hoses, and labbling them seems like the best rout, with maybe a few high resalution photos from a few angles, so I can zoom in on an area to check it out if I am really baffled, but mostly, the under hood vaccum hose lable tells you alot, books tell you alot, and as long as you don't leave it all apart longer then needed, it should go back together fine.
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:27 AM   #6
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One thing I have done, which has been a huge help to me, is I use quart size ziplock freezer bag's. As I am taking the car apart, I start a log on a sheet of paper and start with 1. I number the bag and put a brief descriptor on the bag, put in the associated part or parts, zip it closed and toss it into a 5 gallon paint can I use to collect the smaller parts. I also make a note on the paper log of where it goe's, if I have any question I might not be able to figure something out. On larger parts I might not be able to remember, I use blue masking tape, on the part and put the number on that.

Doing this, when I get ready to put something back together I just find the highest number bag and start on where that goes and work backwards. This has really proved helpful, since I typically can have a couple of weeks between times when I can work on something. It has helped immensely with the "what was I doing and where does that go" phenomenon.
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Old 07-13-2006, 10:23 AM   #7
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I normally just use zip lock bags and a sharpie.

If I'm tearing down a block I label the bags with the bolts that I don't think I will remember. I'm getting to the point though where I don't need to do that anymore, since I've rebuilt so many Honda engines. lol

I use a sharpie to mark the piston tops if I am reusing the pistons, and I usually lay the valve train components on a piece of cardboard and mark their location with a sharpie.

I also record the bottom end measurements, bore measurements, and ring gap etc in a spiral notebook in case the engine fails, then I can look back through them and see if I can figure out what went wrong. But so far (*crosses fingers*) all of my engines are still going. yay! Well, one of them failed but that was because of too much boost, the rod failed, which was not a result of something I did wrong while building it!
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Old 07-13-2006, 10:41 AM   #8
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This is all good info for outside the engine, but what about inside? Things like crankshaft end play, ring gaps, bore, main and rod bearings, piston to valve clearance, etc. You need to know these and more so when you tear it down, you know what has changed. It also is a good check list to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. If you sell the engine the buyer knows what he's buying. If you trash a piston, you can look at your log and you can see exactly what piston to buy and you can make sure the weight on the new piston matches the rest so you don't have to re-balance the whole engine. These are just some of the many examples of keeping a log.
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Old 07-13-2006, 11:12 AM   #9
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That's what my trusty spiral notebook is for.
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