Selecting the Proper Tools for Cylinder Honing


For people who enjoy restoring cars, rebuilding engines is part of the restoration process for most older vehicles. While you may find a suitable engine to put in the car, a restored car is more valuable if it has the original equipment in it. It isn’t uncommon to need to replace pistons in old engines, which usually requires the engine cylinders to be bored out.

Honing Cylinders

The objective to boring piston cylinders is to create a finish that will allow lubricants to gather in the valleys of the cylinder to improve lubrication and lubricant retention. The up and down motion of the pistons in an engine will create a smooth surface in the cylinders, which prevents adequate lubrication of the pistons and can cause the pistons to seize. In addition, the piston rings will not seal correctly, which prevents a gas-tight seal within the cylinder.

Plateau honing helps to give the cylinder the type of surface necessary for the pistons to move smoothly within the engine and seal the piston rings correctly. It is done by removing small peaks and folded material from within the cylinders so the lubricant—which is motor oil—is able to adhere to the small valleys within the cylinder. The cylinders usually have a cross-hatch pattern and a plateau finish removes the small peaks in the cylinders without damaging the cross-hatch.

Selecting Honing Tools

Not every engine will use the same cylinder honing tools to clean, or bore, cylinder surfaces. Honing tools come in a variety of diameters to hone cylinders of different types of engines. A honing tool, or honing brush, for a motorbike will be smaller than the brush used to hone the cylinder of a truck engine, because the truck engine is much larger.

These brushes also come in different abrasive types and with different grit selections for honing different engines. If you are restoring an older engine, you can find out which size of tool you need by reading the specifications in an engine manual for the make and model of your vehicle. You can also go to the manufacturer’s website for the latest specifications if you are working on a late model engine.

Getting accurate specifications is important because the piston needs to have a tight seal within the cylinder for the engine to fire properly. The power of the vehicle will be affected if your engine is misfiring because the honing was not done properly. However, if you are careful and the specifications are accurate, you can select the right brush for the job and complete your engine work correctly the first time instead of having to break everything down and redo the work.

As with any type of project, you have to select the proper tool to correctly rebuild the engine on the vehicle you’re restoring. Make sure you buy a brush with the appropriate diameter, abrasive type, and grit selection to properly hone the cylinder. If done well, your car will be more valuable.

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