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Cylinder Prep

For anyone planning to do their own engine assembly we offer the following suggestions to help your chances for success in the project.

The initial verification of proper piston clearance and ring end gap is a must!!

There are a few initial suggestions to be made before we get down to the actual assembly.

First is to have an area dedicated to the assembly project.  This means a clean floor, lift table (if available) and workbench.  Run a broom around the floor (taking care not to get anything into the open motor that of course you already had properly covered up) and wipe down the workbench, lift, and vehicle you are working on.  This helps keep the dirt levels to a minimum.  Dirt is a huge  contributor to a shortened engine life and reduced performance.

Second, organize the tools and parts you will need.  I like to lay out the parts on a tray to be certain they all go in.  It has happened more than once where I get called away from a project and upon returning try and remember exactly what I was doing, and did I put one or two circlips in the piston?  This type of question can get very expensive if you don’t know the right answer.


  1. Wash the cylinder in hot soapy water and oil immediately after drying with Automatic Transmission Fluid

  2. Be certain piston and ring assembly is clean, with no grit or dust in the ring area

  3. nstall one circlip in the piston, with the gap in the clip not aligned with the cutout in the pin bore.

  4. Set ring end gaps to 180 degree stagger on the sides of the pistons

  5. Lightly coat the wrist pin and top end of the rod with motor oil

  6. Slide the piston pin through the piston seating against the opposite pin clip and then install the second wrist pin clip.  Be certain the end of the circlip goes across the notch cut in the piston pin bore, not aligned with it.  A good idea is a rag laid around the rod to keep an errant circlip from getting into the bottom end.

  7. Coat the rings with a light coating of ATF and carefully insert into cylinder

  8. With the cylinder in place rotate the motor and clean out the tops of the bore(s) before installing the head.  Look for scratches, or scraping to indicate a folded or broken ring. If OK, proceed with assembly.

© Bill Whisenant 2007
updated 10/23/07



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