Piston Ring Install Fiasco - HELP!!! - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Gilbert, AZ, USA
Posts: 190

Well...just spent the better part of 4 hours getting one piston installed in my big block. I'm using the cylinder type ring compressor (just purchased from NAPA) and the dang first oil ring keeps popping out. NUTS!!! Talk about frustration. I'm taking it really easy and tap on top of the piston a little...then I tap the top of the compressor to make sure it's seated on top of the block...but then the stupid oil scraper ring pops out and I have to start over. Any suggestions from more seasoned mechanics? I'm trying to earn my rite of gearhead passage by building this engine myself so any help will be greatly appreciated!!!

'69 Restification
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 02:48 AM
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Throw the ring compressor you got away and go get you one of the kind that has big corrigations in the band and a plastic lock handle like a pair of vice grips.

I think I got mine at O-Reilleys for less then $15.00. I fought those cheap compressors for years.

Then, the secret to doing it is oil everything up and square up like you mentioned and then use a three pound wooden hammer handle as a driver and rap the piston top sharply to drive the rings past the deck in one fell shoop. Should work great... Good luck. pdq67

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 07:53 AM
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Location: Kettering Ohio
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got to agree, pitch the cheap one, get a good tapered one that is adjustable somewhat. if you stay with the cheapy, right again, get it square and one quick rap to get in the oil ringS. I prefer an adjustable tapered tool. check jegs catalog or summitt.

69 camaro 460ci, 600hp
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 08:40 AM
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Location: Waldorf Md. USA
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The "band" type compressor is what I use when all else fails ! It is a pain sometimes, but it does work. You have to have it VERY tight, and hold it tight against the block. I use a large (3 lb) dead blow hammer to tap the pistons in with, I hold it upside down and use the end of the plastic handle against the piston. Also...the ring compressor does have am up and down side...make sure it is right.
The other possibility is that when the block was bored...if it was...the machine shop did not put enough of a chamfer on the top of the bores. Without it, it can be almost impossible to get the rings to go in.
The solid, tapered ring compressors actually work the best most of the time, but you have to buy a different one for each bore size you are going to do.
Hope this helps,

Bill Koustenis
Advanced Automotive Machine
Waldorf Md
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Many, many thanks. Appreciate the help...the right tool for the job is an age old adage for a reason. Summit here I come...=)
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 04:20 PM
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Don't forget to put some sort of cap or section of fuel line over your rod bolts. We don't want to nick our crankshaft!

Hang in there.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 28th, 00, 05:52 PM
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Location: Ga. USA
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Maybe you could get someone to assist you. It is always easier installing pistons with and extra set of hands to either hold the install tool firmly against the block or guide the rod as the piston is tapped. Also make sure the ring gaps are staggered and the pistons are facing the right way....

'69 SS 396/375hp L78 M21 3.73 Fathom green/medium green interior

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old Nov 29th, 00, 08:06 AM
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I just finished screwing together my short-block, and I was this close to posting the same question, so I can relate. Being a teenager with a limited budget, a 10 dollar adjustable compressor from NAPA was selected instead of a 30 dollar dedicated compressor from Summit. I must have tried at least two dozen times to get the first piston in... Same problem with the dang bottom oil rail. I found a piece of 2x4 pressed tightly across the top of the compressor while tapping the piston with a hammer handle allowed me to get it in without another set of hands. If you have an available buddy, get them to press as hard as possible on the 2x4 while you tap the piston in. Be sure to lube the compressor, piston, and cylinder walls with something like WD40. I was suprised at how tight my hyperuetectic pistons fit, I really had to shove to get 'em in! Has anyone else had this problem?
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