Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsHow To Engine
Quick Tips: Cleaning cylinder bores for better ring seal and power
When building an engine, it’s the little things that separate good engines and great ones. On initial start-up, getting a quick piston ring seal is critical—and having a clean, properly lubricated cylinder wall accelerates this process.
During a recent trip to Boost Addicts, experienced engine builder John Bouchard stressed the importance of clean cylinder walls to promote rapid ring sealing. “Any dirt that’s left is going scratch the cylinder walls, and the rings won’t seal as well as they could.”
Bouchard showed us an “old school” engine-building tip: after wiping down the cylinder walls with brake parts cleaner, he cleaned them with automatic transmission fluid (ATF).
“ATF not only is a good lubricant, but it’s highly detergent, so it picks up residue that even brake parts cleaner leaves behind,” Bouchard explained. “Cylinder hones leave behind all kinds of debris…especially ball hones. Old-time engine builders would pour a little some ATF down the intake manifold before firing up an engine for the first time. It smokes like a freight train, but the piston rings love it.” Wiping down the cylinder walls with ATF is a more precise way of achieving the same result.
1. The cylinder walls of this fresh 351 engine block look clean, right? John Bouchard of Boost Addicts showed us a little trick to make them even cleaner.
2. The two paper towels tell the story. On the left is residue that brake parts cleaner picked up. On the right is additional dirt that ATF removed from the cylinder walls. Bouchard explains, “I wipe them down a couple times with brake parts cleaner, and then follow that up with ATF until the cylinder walls are totally clean.”