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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Will, I was finally getting some assembly done on my 396, and as the first piston went in, the top ring broke...
So now I have to get more rings and I decided to get a better ring compressor.

But I don't know where to go or who to buy from. Any suggestions?
Also, any tips for installing the pistons/rings?

I have done this many times before, but usually I was at a shop with my friend there to assist...
 

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Hi JR, I just put a 454 together using a compresser that has a little red handle that flips and locks. Now I don't know what you used but I found this to be a very enjoyable experience. Just flip, lock, and drop. Maybe someone else has a suggestion.

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MY CAR
Stacey
67 chevelle

At sixteen I got my license. (One of the best days of my life.)
 
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I have had the best of luck with the machined tapered ring compressors. These will only fit one size bore diameter, but they are pretty much goof proof...which is a good thing considering someone in here claims I don't know what I am going.

BTW, i have bought these compressors from Powerhouse Products.

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Malibu Muscle Racing
79 Malibu
Naive...I was.
Skeptical...I am becoming.
Determined...I have always been.
"The only way to fail is to stop trying."
 

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I have the same type as Stacey has. It has a metal band with slots all down its length. You adjust it to fit the piston and the red handle is flipped to lock on around the rings. I think I got it from JC Whitney years ago but I'm not sure. I've used it on everthing from motorcycle to BB Chevy pistons with no problems. It wasn't as expensive as many ring compressors but it is a great tool, as I said, I've been using it for years.

I can post a pic if you want.

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Elcaminos are special!

I'd rather walk around with a Chevrolet hubcap in my hand than drive a Ford


work in progress
Big James Elky(AKA Ol Paint)
another shot of Ol Paint

[This message has been edited by Big James 4XL (edited 03-22-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was using one of those adjustable with the slots and the red handle with a little knurled adjustment knob. First time I'd used that compressor. But the first piston I was gently tapping the piston into the bore with a small piece of wood. It went in easily, but when I moved the compressor, there was a piece of the top ring.
My wife walked in the garage and took one look at me and walked out...She knews the look and was waiting for tools to start flyin'...
So I was going to buy a single-piston set of rings, but they must be special ordered... I broke down and bought a full set, so I'll have 7 spares...

I checked with Summit for one of those machined tapered ones, but they only offer them for 4.000-4.080 bore size, all others thay have are the adjustable type.

[This message has been edited by 1966_L78 (edited 03-22-2001).]
 

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66_L78, I used an ARP tapered aluminum one piece ring compressor when I built up my 502. I started the build up using one of the cheapie ratcheting type, But it was scratching the pistons and the rings were getting hung up. Since I needed to test fit my motor a few times, I ordered the compressor directly from ARP. Jeg's carries these, but they didn't carry my size. After using this ring compressor, I will NEVER use one of the cheapo ones on any motor that matters.

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Tom Wood
Gold Member #66
Looking forward to getting my cars restification to the point where I don't have to answer the question "What is it?" anymore!

[This message has been edited by TW (edited 03-22-2001).]

[This message has been edited by TW (edited 03-22-2001).]
 

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66, (wish you guys would use your names)
Make certain that the machine shop put a decent chamfer at the top of the bore, if they didnt, you will have a hard time with anything other than the machined aluminum type ring installers. Personally, I think that for the inexperienced builder, the best ring compressor is the type that is a big spiral band that you tighten up around the piston with a square key. They are very time consuming to use, but just about as foolproof as the taperd machined ones. I have a K-D compressor at the shop that I use most of the time, it has one handle with a number of bands, depending on the size of the bore. One hint...you really have to squeeze the compressor hard. Oil it up good and when you think it is tight enough, squeeze harder. As you start the piston in, make sure that the compressor band stays tight against the top of the block. I use the handle end of a dead blow hammer to push the piston down with. You should not have to hit it hard, if it does not go in easily, stop and find out why. Make sure if your compressor does not go completely around the piston, that noe of the ring end gaps are exposed. You should never have to hit the top of the piston hard enough to break a piston ring ! A lot of also has to do with "feel" it takes a while to learn. These are all the hints I can think of.

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Bill Koustenis
Advanced Automotive Machine
Waldorf Md

1971 Heavy Chevy - original owner
Team Chevelle #100
 

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always use a solid ring compressor(alum)so what it only fits one bore.....why take a chance???....its only about $25....if you crack a ring you may never know until later...whats $25 after thousands of dollars
 

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1970 Chevelle Convertible & 1965 Chevelle SS Convertible
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I used the one Bill is speaking of. It's a spring type mettal with two bands around it that tighten with an allen key. I believe KD makes it. It is a little time consuming but works well.

I place it around the piston with the skirt sticking out approx an inch then compress the rings with the key. I place the piston in the bore and lightly tap the top of the compressor around the bore just to insure it is seated properly. Then with the back of my rubber handle hammer I tap the piston in the bore.

I have used it for years, many engines, never broke a ring - at least that I know of.

Hope this helps

Rich

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70 SS - L34
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Check your local Sears tool department. The last time I was in there, they had the type with the metal band and the square key. I used that type for years. Load it up with oil and tighten it up and away you go!

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MalibuJerry350
Original owner '70 Chevelle.
540,000+ miles on car.
My Chevelle: http://hometown.aol.com/erie614/myhomepage/index.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone.
I discovered the problem. The cheap compressor I bought would allow the oil and second rings to go in fine, but when the first ring was about to go in, the ring compressor was 75% off the end of the piston, and the tension of the compressor was pulling it off the top of the piston and over the top ring. I solved it by placing another piston inside the compressor (pistondome-to-piston dome. This worked, but I was still worried, and will not install the rest of the pistons this way.
I have one of those steel band tools (with square key), but it is somewhere at my brothers house (120 miles away), so I thought I could just buy a cheap one for this motor. Boy was I stupid...

By the way, I was thinking of buying the solid aluminum one (I think it was Powerhouse), but adjustable from 4.125-4.250 or solid 4.125.

My bore is about 4.124 (0.030 over 396). I am not sure of the actual bore size, but my friend (machinist) honed it and checked the pistons. Would these 4.125 compressors (solid aluminum) work with the 4.124.
And yes, my friend chamfered the bore slightly...

Thanks again for everyones help.
 

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I used the coil of steel type and was not happy with all the fiddling needed to get the piston in. I took a piece of 4" pvc and cut 2 inches off of it. I split it down the side and put two hose clamps on it. I slid this over the piston and snugged it up. I put the piston in the bore and squared the PVC pipe up with the piston and used a 1/4 " drive socket to tighten the clamps. Tapped the piston in with the handle of my rubber mallot. Went like clockwork.
Threw it away when I was done.

Dave


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Dave
69 Chevelle
454 (HP in question)
M21 4spd.

"Fire all your guns at once and
Explode into space."
Steppenwolf "Born to be Wild"
 
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If you think a SB or BB is hard to put rings in, try a 348 or 409, the combustion chamber is in the block, not the head. That means no nice flat surface to square the ring installer against.

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Wally
www.muncie4speed.com
Gold #67
2001 Chevy Silverado LT
67 Malibu "Small Block" second owner
90 SS454
71 Malibu "Small Block"
 
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