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Hit & Miss Gas Engine Discussion

Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine


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  #1  
Old 05-17-2010, 07:06:18 PM
Tom Herd Tom Herd is offline
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Question Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I have a 1HP Mogul engine and will be putting in new old stock (automotive?) valves that I had picked up at a sale some time ago. They will need a little machining on the head diameter, the length cut down some, and a hold drilled in the end.

My question concerns heating of the valve. I thought I read somewhere where the valve should be heated to cherry red and allowed to cool down at room temperature. Then the machining done to it. If that much is right, then should it be reheated and cooled down faster in say oil or something?

I am fairly sure the valves are not sodium filled, but is there a way to find out before I start working on them? I would rather not be suprised!
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:05:42 PM
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Eric M. Eric M. is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Typically, if the stems appear unusually large in diameter for the head size, they are a sodium filled valve. Pictures would help greatly.
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:25:42 PM
Martin Reed Martin Reed is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I believe most valve stems are hardened steel so when you heat it to "cherry red" and cool it in air you will temper the steel or make it softer again. The slower you can cool the stem the softer it will be when cool. I have never done this myself but I have heard other people do it. Some say they have had to heat and cool a couple of times. Do not heat the stem then quench it in water or oil; that is how they make the stem hard in the first place, cool slowly! You can check to see if the stem is hard in the first place by trying to run a file over the surface. You'll know pretty quick if it's hard.
I would think sodium valves are pretty rare. I'm not an expert but chances are you won't come across one.
Good luck!
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:52:35 AM
Tom Herd Tom Herd is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I will try the file test first. If it is hardened then heated to make soft for machining, should I then "reharden" it, or try to?

Thanks, Tom
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Old 05-18-2010, 11:10:42 AM
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Martin is right. There is also no need to reharden the valve in these old engines. That valve in your engine will out last you.
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:29:10 PM
Martin Reed Martin Reed is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Vernon is right; that valve will out last all of us for the amount of time you'll be running the engine. Just keep it well oiled. Also, if you try to re-harden it you may warp the stem which puts you right back where you were.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:10:12 PM
loggerhogger loggerhogger is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

If you do need to heat it to soften it for machining, heat it slow and even. once you get it to cherry red, bury it in a can of dry sand, or dry ashes. I also have a fiberglass blanket that works real well. Leave it over night, and it will cut like butter on your lathe.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:22:24 PM
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I heated the end before drilling the cotter pin hole, that made it easier. I never bothered with the rest of it. If your doing the stem diameter the first .020 or so is hard , but past that they machine pretty good.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:07:08 AM
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Just use carbide tools and the valve can easily be cut down to size. Just make sure what you're working on isn't a sodium filled valve. If so, and you cut into it, you could be injured of seriously killed.

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Old 05-19-2010, 09:12:27 AM
Tom Herd Tom Herd is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

The sodium has me watching carefully. I read on an earlier post that the stems are usually thicker, and the valve that I intend to use is really not that thick so I think it probably is not sodium.

At any rate I intend to stay rather clear when I cut into it. Maybe even wear my welding helmet.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:28:09 AM
Graeme.R Graeme.R is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

gday tom . as someone has stated sodium valves are UNUSALLY large in the stems, real noticable. A lot of early IH trucks had them for cooling , .. : Real wise to be careful though... all the best graeme .. oops those early trucks were 1960s models , not THAT old cheers.......
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:34:17 AM
Tom Herd Tom Herd is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Hopefully I will be able to work on the valves some time next week 5/24/2010 and ongoing. I will post what I find out about the valves. If nothing gets posted then they were sodium and perhaps I will meet you in the afterlife.
Thanks to all
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:16:10 PM
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I think there is a lot of tongue in cheek going on here. I have worked with sodium metal in the past. It is really not that bad to deal with. It can be cut with a knife, and when freshly cut it is very shiny but dulls quickly as the moisture in the air is sucked out to form sodium hydroxide, aka lye. Therefore you do not ever want to handle it with your bare hands. If you stick it in a bucket of water it quickly rises to the surface, dances around, catches fire a few times and pops a little from the hydrogen made from the sodium pulling the OH group off the water molecule. if you happen to have something like a half pound of it you don't want to drop that much in water because it does make for some pretty serious pops and bangs but no valve i have ever seen had anywhere near that much sodium in it. If you are machining on a valve and it breaks through to a hollow area with some soft shiny stuff in it, just don't throw it in water or get any on your skin and I can't see that there would be a problem. BTW, sodium is stored under oil so if you need to do something with it just put it in a jar or something and put some oil over it. I stored a pound of sodium for years in a jar with a couple of quarts of pennzoil 30 wt on it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:32:44 PM
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Ray, I don't know if it is tongue in cheek or just passing on what we have all been told. I know many of the auto shop manuals tell you to never open a sodium valve, I have never met anyone who actually did, (maybe they are not alive to tell about it). Anyway, there are lots of things that get passed on, but nobody has ever had any experince with the topic at hand. Like running an engine with a cracked flywheel. Everybody talks about the danger of doing it, but nobody has ever mentioned first hand one comming apart because of a crack. I'm not telling anybody to run an engine with a cracked flywheel, but I know there are people who do, cause I've seen them at shows, year after year. There are still people who think you can't store a battery on the floor, or it will go dead. Maybe we could get Mythbusters to test the battery , sodium valve, and cracked flywheel thories.
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:47:56 AM
Zira Zira is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

I don't know anybody that has had a cracked fly wheel come apart, but I have seen actual pictures of the results; not pretty. I did leave a brand new 12v battery sitting on the concrete floor of my garage for a week last October. It etched a spot on the floor pretty bad & was stone dead when I hooked it up. Makes no sense but there it was, so I went back to putting a board under them. Porbably not spectacular enough for Mythbusters but sure would like to know the answer.

On the sodium valves, my feeling is Why take the chance? But if it looks like a normal valve I wouldn't hesitate to machine it, just keep your eyes open & stop if you see/feel/hear anything odd.

Of course, I started to turn what I thought was aluminum one time & caught it on fire...
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:22:37 AM
JBdairy JBdairy is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Ah yes, the discovery of magnesium.
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Old 06-04-2010, 02:51:24 PM
Tom Herd Tom Herd is offline
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Default Re: Machining a Valve for Hit & Miss Engine

Final result on valves: They were NOT sodium and cut well in the lathe using carbide at first on the stem and head, then a light finish cut with HSS, then polished up with 600 grit paper. (I typically mess up the finish cut somehow. )
Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions.
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