I was sitting here about to order some parts and got to thinking. So many times I hear of engines being started up after decades of sitting, and I suppose they run o.k. I've got an engine that looks good internally and I'm using the cast iron pistons. What if I just re-use the rings? That would be like I just started it up after 40 years. Do those rings lose their springyness, if that's a word. Will they re-seat if I hone the cyls? I have a set of std cast iron rings that I ran for a very short while in 94 or 5 still on those pistons. 500 miles at the most, I wonder if they would seat? I know I'm sounding awful tight trying to save $45 but I'm on a tight budget and have to get a rebuilt field coil. Trying to not drag this out too long so I'm using what I can.
I'd like to hear some feedback on this subject too.
On my engine, that I'm rebuilding, I rotated the crank so that all the pistons were at an equal height. I then poured a bit of gasoline in each cylinder, about a shot glass, to check for leaks. If I remember correctly, the first one took about two hours to empty. I'll be honing the cylinders before putting it back together.
During the teardown & inspection of this engine, I found: the rods were mismatched, the cam bushing was worn, the wrist pin bushings were worn, the rear main was loose, babbit had fallen off the center bearing, the lifters were worn, and the block deck surface was warped. I'm guessing that the engine ran in this state of wear, only because I doubt that these situations would arise in a non-running engine.
Somebody had pointed out, not long ago, and I paraphrase his thoughts, that "The car drove fine, before the front suspension was rebuilt. now it has a shimmy."
So lets hear it guys. Can the cylinders just be honed?
"Looks good" may not be good enough. Have you checked the cylinders for wear? They wear to a barrel shape and not necessarily even throughout the wall. The rings wear to fit the cylinder and often have a rounded contact edge and wear to form an ellipsis. You've already saved thousands doing the engine yourself. Spend the $45 on new rings.
But check the cylinders first!
Your pistons with the 500 miles on them will likely seat just fine if you hone the cylinders. Those old cast iron pistons didn't have super oil control anyway. Lots of T engines use a quart in 500-1000 miles and you won't see any significant smoke at that rate of consumption. Certainly if the cylinders are worn tapered and out of round then ring life will not be what it should. .
So if your cylinders are in decent shape then go for it. Easy way to get a handle on your cylinders; take one of the rings and slip it into the cylinder. Measure the end gap at the top middle and bottom and right down the numbers. Do this in all 4 cylinders. The taper will be about 1/3 of the variation in end gap. Careful removing the ring from the piston to not break it, that would be a heart breaker. I will be curious as to what you find. If it is more than .005" of taper (.015" of end gap) then that would be too much I think. I am assuming we are talking a engine to drive around and have some fun not drive across the country.
Yeah the engine ran like that but not well. It did plenty of "talking". measure the taper and with a feeler gauge beside the piston get a idea on piston clearance.
So as Ken said, check the cylinders. Then you can make a educated decision.
I have re-used rings several times by honing the cylinders and also scuffing up the face of the rings with 400 grit sandpaper.
Follow Les's advice.I might add,
Leave Chrome rings in the parts house.
And dont feel like you are the only 1 on a budget fixing T's.I have been on 1 since I started years ago and I still have fun.Hone and measure your cylinders.
Corey, ran mine for a year using the old pistons and rings, put about 5000k on it then tore down and put new pistons and mag ring. I did make sure all bearings were in good shape and taken up. KB
If you have a recently bored engine and there is not much wear on it yet, you can reuse the rings, but the more wear on the cylinders and rings, the less success you will have with them. With an old engine, if you can get it running without removing the pistons and rings, you will likely have a good running engine, but once you remove them and re-install them, nothing will fit. It is impossible to get the rings into the exact position they were in before it was disasembled. You need to check the bores and if not out of round tapered or severely scored, hone and replace the rings. Sometimes with an engine a penny saved is a hundred dollars future and sooner.
As Mack said, leave the chrome rings in the parts house. It's a lot better to buy new rings once in a while than replacing cylinders. Corey, your rings that only have about 500 miles on them are probably okay. Few things you need to do. Remove the rings from the pistons and push them one at a time nice and square into the cylinder bores at the widest place and check the end gaps. Should be about .003" per inch of bore. I think I'd replace 'em if they're more than about .006" per inch of bore. This is how you judge if they are worn too much. Clean the ring grooves in the pistons real good. Hone the cylinders. If you sand the face of the rings, do it with the sandpaper on a flat surface. You must not round off the edges of the rings any at all. I probably wouldn't mess with it. If there is any doubt any where get some rings. You sure don't want to button up and old smoky oil burner and then have to do the whole thing over. Just my $.02. Bob
My two cents worth. l have run engines that have sat 50-60 yrs. with cast iron pistons with great success. l have no way of knowing the amount of use on the rings, just that they sat for decades. One is the '15 roadster PU that many of you have seen running around in Hershey. That engine was gone thru in 1960 by Pete Cobb and still has cast iron pistons and rings. Another is a '17 touring that l got out of a barn near Pueblo, Co. I ran this engine hard for eight yrs. before changing it to aluminum pistons. Another is the '22 touring that Bryan Ostergrin now has in California, I put light pistons in that one also. Here's a tip for these type engines. IF the bands are good go ahead and run them, you will be pleased how well they feel and last. Everyone said get those rotten bands out of there, haven't found any rotten ones yet. Got a complete '18 chassis setting in the barn with cast iron pistons, can't wait to get my grubby paws on that one.
In my book if the rings are sharp on the edges they will seal. A ring flexes down on the up stroke and up on the down stroke as it wears and gets a cylindrical end shape sort of like an M & M candy. If your rings are sharp on the out side edges you are o k to go.
If the pistons are out of the block and there is no rust anywhere, you could lightly sand paper them or bubble hone them but if the cylinder walls are not glazed and do not have any ridges in them, you are good to go.
Another things is ring gap. Make sure that the rings have the proper gap when in the cylinder all by themselves. I do not know the proper end gap for a T and my son has all of my technical books while he works on his new 13 T. The rings will expand as they heat and if the ends touch they will crack into many pieces.
Check the cylinder diameters at top, middle and bottom for differences. It was stated above that you should have no more than between three and six thousandths taper or difference in diameter in any given cylinder at those three positions. Check this because the cylinders could have just been honed and not bored on the last rebuild. Honing hides these flaws.
Larger cylinder bores can get away with .007" but that is a lot for a good running T. Make sure you have no lip at the top of the cylinder bore and if there is a slight lip you will break the rings unless you ridge ream the walls. I found out about that issue in 1949 and have a vivid memory of corduroy cylinder walls and getting another engine out of on old taxi cab in a wrecking yard because of my lack of knowledge.
Keep us posted in what you find out and remember an old worn out T engine will run good if the clearances are correct..
coreywalker - This is a great thread you have started. You have received some great advice from several "voices of experience". It would be well worth it if you'd pour yourself a cuppa' coffee and take some "quiet time" and really "digest" the info in the responses you've received. I only know just barely "enough to be dangerous", but I'll add a few points on opinions that I have formed in my 68 years, most of which have been in tinkering around with engines, mostly old Fords, and always on a budget. Please notice that I said "opinions"; as John Regan usually says, "your mileage may vary"!
1.) Listen to the guys who advise AGAINST chrome rings. First of all, they are more expensive. Also, they tend to break in (wear-to-fit) a less than perfect cylinder which yours probably are, much slower, if at all. Also, due to their hardness, they are harder on cylinders than than cheaper cast iron rings. You said that your used rings are cast iron, so that's great!
2.) Cast iron rings will eventually conform to SLIGHTLY worn cylinders, however, the type of wear on the cylinders is very worthwhile considering:
3.) A cylinder with slight taper will cause the rings to flex with every single up and down stroke, and this flexing, no matter how slight, will shorten the life of the ring, i.e. eventual broken rings. Also, this flexing will cause wear to the piston lands (the flat surfaces that form the walls of the piston ring grooves). However, slight taper will not prevent the rings from sealing compression. In other words, the engine will run just fine from square one, with slightly tapered cylinders, even with your rings with 500 miles on them.
4.) Now then, slightly out of round cylinders (in my opinion) is a much more serious thing. That is because ANY amount of "out-of-round" will prevent a portion of the ring(s) from completely sealing against the cylinder walls and will allow some degree of "blow-by". If you hone the cylinders with coarse enough stones, and work the hone up and down to leave a nice cross-hatch pattern on the cylinder walls, the scuffed up cylinder will eventually allow the rings (and cylinders to some degree) to initially wear a bit to gradually seal tighter as the engine breaks-in. But this may take a long time, and complete sealing may never take place.
5.) A lot of words to say that your slightly used rings will probably seal okey, and they'll seal right away as far as taper goes, but they won't seal right away (and maybe never completely seal) as far as an out-of-round cylinder is concerned.
6.) The ideal situation is to start out with as nearly perfect cylinders as possible, or, if only slight taper, or ESPECIALLY slight out-of-round, it is important to scuff up the cylinders by honing with coarse stones in your cylinder hone. You may get away with using your slightly used cast iron rings, however, they may be slightly out of round too, and if you can afford even the cheapest cast iron rings that you can find (and cast iron rings are always the cheapest) you don't have to feel guilty about buying cheap rings as they have the best chance of breaking in well and it will be money well spent (again, in my opinion). Even the cheapest new cast iron rings usually have very fine grooves in the surface that contacts the cylinder walls, and these very fine grooves are designed to wear away quickly to aid in quick break-in seating, and your used rings probably had them too, but as those very fine grooves are designed to wear away quickly to aid in break-in, they may or may not be at least partially worn off on your used rings. Look closely for whatever may be left of those fine grooves in your used rings and that may help you determine whether to buy new cheap cast iron rings.
Oops! Frank was typing at the same time I was. Good thing too, because he pointed out a few things that I forgot about; especially using a ridge reamer to cut the ridge at the top. Failure to take care of this step can result in IMMEDIATE damage to a newly assembled engine when it's first fired up!
Thanks for all the advice/ comments. I'll try to check everything out this next weekend. It's almost dark when I get in from work plus the weather is about to turn cold again. I've started closing in my garage. My grandpa built it and left the north side open. Just a 4 foot wall on that side. Hard to work out there with a 20 mph north wind.Those used rings are at my mom's in a box in my old bedroom so I'll have to get them also. I was looking through my old records, those rings cost $31.95 in 1992. I have written down that I got the motor to run on March 20, 1993. Then on May 2nd one of those 2 pc valves broke and I tore the motor down because of the valve and 2 rods. I ordered 2 rods and 1 valve so I must have put it back together. Then it says Jan 6, 1994 I tore it down and got it bored etc. Those rings probably never saw 100 miles. I'm glad I write everything down because I never can remember anything. I guess I should get those other 7 2 pc valves out of that engine as well. 1 already busted, luckily the pieces all ended up in my muffler.
Well if you had just bored the block and run it all maybe 100 miles it sounds like you will be OK.
Alway good to check things though.