How many times have you walked over to your tool box, or looked down into it, only to find that you don't have the right tool for the job? There are plenty of hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, and crescent wrenches, but not that one-off tool. Snap-on, Craftsman, Matco, and Mac will tell you that they all have the right tool for the job-you just need to go spend some money with them! We've all been told not to use a screwdriver as a chisel or a pry bar. Is that a hammer or a crescent wrench?
Then there's the time you have the correct tool for the job but it just won't fit your application. This is what we ran into this week at work. Snap-on makes this really neat tool called a torque adapter, a little offset box-end wrench about 2 inches long, with a 31/48-inch ratchet attachment, for when you can't get a socket and torque-wrench head into the work space. It allows you to calculate the torque required at your torque wrench with the 2-inch extension then apply it at the fastener. It works great for stretching rod bolts to their final torque. In case you're unfamiliar with it, a rod stretch gauge is a C-frame arrangement with an anvil at one end and a dial indicator at the other. You engage the anvil in the dimple at one end of the rod bolt and the dial indicator at the other end. As you tighten the bolt, it stretches and you can read out, in thousandths of an inch, the preload on the bolt. This is the most accurate way to set the load on rod bolts. But with this gauge in place you can't use a socket, and without these torque adapters, you end up using a box-end wrench; this can be a very tough job. Where we ran into trouble is when we were trying to stretch the inboard rod bolts on my LT4 small-block. With the gauge in place between the crank counterweight and the opposing rod, we couldn't get one flat of travel on the nut. The torque adapter sat down on the rod nut but the cap wouldn't allow much rotation. After staring at it for a while we came up with an old 91/416-inch socket, cut up the smallest torque adapter I had to get the 31/48-inch ratchet attachment, and welded it to the top edge of the socket. The dial indicator could still fit down the center of the 31/48-inch drive socket and reach the rod bolt. The height of the socket gave us the rotation we needed. With this new tool, stretching the rod bolts was a breeze. A job that used to take quite a while-and was the source of way too much stress-now fell right into place.
Sometimes there isn't the correct tool for the job and you have to invent one. Don't let a problem like a tool stand in your way. Step back and think of the possibilities, then go make it.
L98 Mileage Maker
Q I have a low-mileage '87 L98 350 from an IROC going into a '92 body. I want to get it up to about 300 hp, but also want to have decent gas mileage, so I don't want to go too radical. I want to concentrate on what will make the engine more efficient by taking advantage of newer technology. The items I'm thinking of all advertise as fitting the bill. They are Vortec heads, a Scoggin-Dicky Vortec TPI manifold, larger-diameter Tune Port runners, Hooker shorty headers, Borla exhaust, an ACCEL 300+ ignition system, underdrive pulleys, and roller rockers. Do I need a bigger throttle body? What ratio of rocker arms do I want? Should I look into replacing the cam? Can I get one that will provide better mileage and performance? I have the Mass Air Flow system and my understanding is that as long as I don't go radical, it can compensate for the changes I make. Any advice is appreciated.Terry DickersonSt. Charles, MO