Dimensional Inspection (Part Three)

in Engine Maintenance and Operation

Piston and Piston Pins

If the old piston is to be reused, or a new piston is to be used, measure the outside of the piston by means of a micrometer. Measurements must be taken in several directions and on the skirt, as well as on the lands section. Check these sizes against the cylinder size. Most engines use cam ground pistons to compensate for the greater expansion parallel to the pin during engine operation. The diameter of these pistons measures several thousandths of an inch larger at an angle to the piston pin hole, than parallel to the pin hole. Inspect the ring grooves for evidence of wear. The groove needs to be checked for side clearance with a feeler gauge to determine the amount of wear in the grooves. Examine the piston pin for scoring, cracks, excessive wear, and pitting. Check the clearance between the piston pin and the bore of the piston pin bosses using a telescopic gauge and a micrometer. Use the magnetic particle method to inspect the pin for cracks. Since the pins are often case hardened, cracks show up inside the pin more often than they on the outside. Check the pin for bends using V-blocks and a dial indicator on a surface plate. [Figure 10-14] Measure the fit of the plugs in the pin. In many cases, the pistons and piston pins are routinely replaced at overhaul.


Figure 10-14. Checking a piston pin for bends.

Figure 10-14. Checking a piston pin for bends.

Valves and Valve Springs

Critical areas of the valve include the face and tip [Figure 10-15], both of which should be examined for pitting and excessive wear. Minor pitting on valve faces can sometimes be removed by grinding. Be sure the valve guides are clean before inspection. Often, carbon covers pits inside the guide. If a guide in this condition is put back in service, carbon again collects in the pits and valve sticking results. Besides pits, scores, and burned areas inside the valve guide, inspect them for wear or looseness. Inspection of valve seat inserts before they are re-faced is mostly a matter of determining if there is enough of the seat left to correct any pitting, burning, scoring, or out-of-trueness.

Figure 10-15. Valve face surface.

Figure 10-15. Valve face surface.

Refacing Valve Seats

The valve seat inserts of aircraft engine cylinders usually are in need of refacing at every overhaul. They are refaced to provide a true, clean, and correct size seat for the valve. When valve guides or valve seats are replaced in a cylinder, the seats must be made concentric with the valve guide.

Low power engines can use either bronze or steel seats. Bronze seats, although not widely used on current engines, are made of aluminum bronze or phosphor bronze alloys. Steel seats are commonly used for valve seats on higher powered engines and are made of heat-resistant steel with a layer of stellite steel alloy on the valve contact surface. Stellite seats can require a special stone to grind this very hard material.

Steel valve seats are refaced by grinding equipment. [Figure 10-16] Bronze seats are refaced preferably by the use of cutters or reamers, but they may be ground when this equipment is not available. The only disadvantage of using a stone on bronze is that the soft metal loads the stone to such an extent that much time is consumed in redressing the stone to keep it clean.

Figure 10-16. Valve seat grinding equipment.

Figure 10-16. Valve seat grinding equipment.

The equipment used on steel seats can be either wet or dry valve seat grinding equipment. The wet grinder uses a mixture of soluble oil and water to wash away the chips and to keep the stone and seat cool; this produces a smoother, more accurate job than the dry grinder. The stones may be either silicon carbide or aluminum oxide.

Before refacing the seat, make sure that the valve guide is in good condition, clean, and does not have to be replaced. Mount the cylinder firmly in the hold down fixture. An expanding pilot is inserted in the valve guide from the inside of the cylinder, and an expander screw is inserted in the pilot from the top of the guide. [Figure 10-17] The pilot must be tight in the guide, because any movement can cause a poor grind. The fluid hose is inserted through one of the spark plug inserts.

Figure 10-17. Valve seat grinding setup.

Figure 10-17. Valve seat grinding setup.

The three grades of stones available for use are classified as rough, finishing, and polishing stones. The rough stone is designed to true and clean the seat. The finishing stone must follow the rough to remove grinding marks and produce a smooth finish. The polishing stone does just as the name implies and is used only where a highly polished seat is desired.

The stones are installed on special stone holders. The face of the stone is trued by a diamond dresser. The stone should be refaced whenever it is grooved or loaded, and when the stone is first installed on the stone holder. The diamond dresser also may be used to cut down the diameter of the stone. Dressing of the stone should be kept to a minimum as a matter of conservation; therefore, it is desirable to have sufficient stone holders for all the stones to be used on the job.

In the actual grinding job, considerable skill is required in handling the grinding gun. The gun must be centered accurately on the stone holder. If the gun is tilted off-center, chattering of the stone results, and a rough grind is produced. It is very important that the stone be rotated at a speed that permits grinding instead of rubbing. This speed is approximately 8,000 to 10,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). Excessive pressure on the stone can slow it down. It is not a good technique to let the stone grind at slow speed by putting pressure on the stone when starting or stopping the gun. The maximum pressure used on the stone at any time should be no more than that exerted by the weight of the gun.

Another practice, conducive to good grinding, is to ease off on the stone every second or so to let the coolant wash away the chips on the seat. This rhythmic grinding action also helps keep the stone up to its correct speed. Since it is quite a job to replace a seat, remove as little material as possible during the grinding. Inspect the job frequently to prevent unnecessary grinding.

The rough stone is used until the seat is true to the valve guide and until all pits, scores, or burned areas are removed. [Figure 10-18] After refacing, the seat should be smooth and true. The finishing stone is used only until the seat has a smooth, polished appearance. Extreme caution should be used when grinding with the finishing stone to prevent chattering.

Figure 10-18. Valve seat grinding.

Figure 10-18. Valve seat grinding. [click image to enlarge]

The size and trueness of the seat can be checked by several methods. Runout of the seat is checked with a special dial indicator and should not exceed 0.002 inch. The size of the seat may be determined by using Prussian blue. Prussian blue is used to check for contact transfer from one surface to the other. To check the fit of the seat, spread a thin coat of Prussian blue evenly on the seat. Press the valve onto the seat. The blue transferred to the valve indicates the contact surface. The contact surface should be one-third to two-thirds the width of the valve face and in the middle of the face. In some cases, a-go and no-go gauge is used in place of the valve when making the Prussian blue check. If Prussian blue is not used, the same check may be made by lapping the valve lightly to the seat. Lapping is accomplished by using a small amount of lapping compound placed between the valve face and seat. The valve is then moved in a rotary motion back and forth until the lapping compound grinds slightly into the surface. After cleaning the lapping contact compound off, a contact area can be seen. Examples of test results are shown in Figure 10-19.

Figure 10-19. Fitting the valve and seat.

Figure 10-19. Fitting the valve and seat. [click image to enlarge]

If the seat contacts the upper third of the valve face, grind off the top corner of the valve seat. [Figure 10-20] Such grinding is called narrowing grinding. This permits the seat to contact the center third of the valve face without touching the upper portion of the valve face.

Figure 10-20. Grinding top surface of the valve seat.

Figure 10-20. Grinding top surface of the valve seat. [click image to enlarge]

If the seat contacts the bottom third of the valve face, grind off the inner corner of the valve seat. [Figure 10-21] The seat is narrowed by a stone other than the standard angle. It is common practice to use a 15° angle and 45° angle cutting stone on a 30° angle valve seat, and a 30° angle and 75° angle stone on a 45° angle valve seat. [Figure 10-22]

Figure 10-21. Grinding the inner corner of the valve seat.

Figure 10-21. Grinding the inner corner of the valve seat. [click image to enlarge]

If the valve seat has been cut or ground too much, the valve contacts the seat too far up into the cylinder head, and the valve clearance, spring tension, and the fit of the valve to the seat is affected. To check the height of a valve, insert the valve into the guide, and hold it against the seat. Check the height of the valve stem above the rocker box or some other fixed position.

Before refacing a valve seat, consult the overhaul manual for the particular model engine. Each manufacturer specifies the desired angle for grinding and narrowing the valve seat.