Posts Tagged ‘ Mike Mavrigian ’

Spark Plug Wire Routing for Enhanced Engine Appearance

In too many instances, engine builders or rodders tend to view spark plug wire installations as necessary evils. The engine assembly may feature thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars’ investment in components, machine work and assembly labor. The powerplant may spit out gobs of horsepower and torque. It may be dressed externally with gorgeous chrome, anodizing, powdercoating, polished aluminum, etc., but in too many cases, the plug wires are treated as an afterthought, running willy-nilly over or around the valve covers. Or the builder may have simply purchased over-the-counter chrome, aluminum or plastic wire looms and brackets, following traditional tried-and-true trends for their routing methods.

Since most rodders tend to desire unique custom features throughout their builds, why not continue this same methodology with regard to the plug wires?

In other words, there’s no law that says that you must copy what everyone else does.

Included here are several examples of custom plug wire routing approaches. I’m not about to claim that you’ll like each example, but the point of this article is to get the creative juices flowing with regard to the plug wire packages.

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Transitioning to Modern Transmissions

Derided as “slushboxes” in the days when hot rodding was young, automatic transmissions have long since closed the performance gap and won the respect of (at least some of) the most dedicated lead foots. Today, even the fuel-economy advantages of the old-standard stick shift are more memory than reality, as the shiftless set has drawn even with, or pulled slightly ahead of, the shifters. Backing up these advances is a great deal of detailed engineering, especially of the electronic variety.

But a lot of it’s simply due to more gears—a wider range of ratios, allowing for relaxed, low-rpm cruising with peak torque still available on demand. About 10 years ago, a four-speed automatic with a lockup converter was the hot ticket to optimize performance with economy. Now the OEMs are building five-, six- and seven-speed automatics—and hot rodders want them, too.

Not that the shift-for-yourself crowd has been caught napping—six gears are now the required minimum in any respectable OEM performance car, and that’s left three-pedal rodders craving more ratios, too.

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How to Properly Lubricate Classic Engines

Vehicles in our industry aren’t everyday cars and trucks, so when it comes to engine lubrication, you certainly can’t use everyday oil. Street rods, muscle cars, vintage cars and trucks operate under different factors than the daily grocery-getter. Depending on the engine vintage, the camshaft may feature flat-tappet lifters (solids or hydraulics) and/or may run higher-than-stock valve spring rates, in a flat-tappet or roller cam setup. Older engine designs may feature two-piece rear main seals (in many cases, rope-type seals) that may tend to weep with full-synthetic oils. In addition, these vehicles generally experience limited use and extended periods of storage. As a result of all of these factors, you need to carefully select the proper engine oil for your application.

Anyone who’s spent time around performance engines should already be aware of the critical need to protect flat-tappet camshaft engines with the proper levels of zinc phosphate oil additives, but this subject deserves a constant reminder.

You should also be aware that the bulk of both non-synthetic and synthetic off-the-shelf engine oils have been manufactured to follow recent EPA mandates, with no concern for the needs of flat-tappet cams or cams that operate with high valve spring pressures.

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HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian Puts Finishing Touches on Retro LS Engine Build

Over the past seven months, HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian has been working on an LS engine build at his shop, Birchwood Automotive Group, in Creston, Ohio. The goal of the engine build was to take advantage of the performance  a modern LS engine has to offer, but give the build a retro, old-school appearance, all while staying within a set budget. Mavrigian detailed the entire engine build on his Precision Engine website.

In his latest installment of the engine build article, Mavrigian discusses some of the ways he gave the engine a traditional appearance.

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HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian Bringing Four Engines to HRR Trade Show

This Pontiac 501 engine is one of four engines Mike Mavrigian will have on display at the Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show.

Mike Mavrigian, Hotrod & Restoration tech editor and editor of, will be bringing four of his recent engine projects to the Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show, taking place March 22–24 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The engines will be on display in the Hotrod & Restoration booth, No. 701, during trade show hours on Friday and Saturday, and Mavrigian will be on hand to answer questions.

The four engines Mavrigian is bringing to the show are a 501 Pontiac, a Ford Flathead, a 383 stroker and a retro LS. All of the engines were built by Mavrigian at his Birchwood Automotive facility in Creston, Ohio.

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HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian Continues Pontiac 455 Engine Build

In August 2011, HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian began work on a bored and stroked Pontiac 455 engine. The engine, which is being built at Birchwood Automotive Group, Mavrigian’s Creston, Ohio-based shop, will be built to be used in a street/strip muscle car or street rod.

Mavrigian recently updated readers of his Precision Engine website on the progress of the engine build.

“At this point, everything has been clearanced and test fitted, and the crank was just recently balanced,” he wrote last week. “Now it’s time to paint the block and assemble the long block, leaving only the task of measuring for custom pushrod length prior to completion.

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Editor’s Corner: Tech Tips for Converting to Rack & Pinion Steering

Converting a steering system from a recirculating gearbox and multi-link system to a rack-and-pinion system clearly offers distinct benefits

The rack system simplifies the setup in terms of undercarriage real estate, and offers much more precise steering input and control. In this article, I’ll go over the critical elements that you should consider when selecting a system so that you can avoid the potential pitfalls that can be faced when upgrading a vintage steering system or when starting from scratch during a ground-up street rod build. In other words, there’s much more to consider than merely grabbing a rack and attaching it to the chassis.

What is Bumpsteer?

Bumpsteer refers to unwanted changes in toe angles during suspension travel that can cause steering to be darty and indecisive. In a nutshell, this occurs when toe angles change during suspension compression and rebound. This causes the vehicle to “steer itself” due to road conditions.

Bear in mind that a certain amount of bumpsteer is often intentionally built into road race or circle track cars in order to tune the chassis for specific tracks. However, for a street application, we need to eliminate/neutralize the bumpsteer effect as much as possible.

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10 Things You Should Know About Threaded Fasteners

Even if you’re an expert, it’s always a good idea to review the basics. Here, the essentials of selecting and installing threaded fasteners are covered.

Do you know how to measure bolts? Are stainless steel fasteners the best choice for your build? What lubricants should you use with your nuts and bolts?

Some of us builders know these answers as surely as we know our own names, while others are still learning fastener basics. Regardless of your level of expertise, this fastener primer will provide you with some practical information you can use in your shop today.

1.  Bolt Diameter

Bolt (or stud) diameter commonly refers to the “nominal” thread diameter. For instance, a 3⁄8-inch bolt shank should measure 3⁄8 inches (0.3750 inches) in diameter. Remember, bolt diameter refers to the thread or shank diameter, and this size has nothing to do with the size of the wrench required to service the bolt or nut. If you hear someone refer to major and minor diameters, here’s the explanation: major diameter refers to the diameter of the thread crest (the largest outside diameter of the thread) and minor diameter refers to the diameter of the root (the deepest part of the thread).

2.  Bolt Length

For most styles of bolts/screws, the published length of a bolt refers to the length of the shank/threads from the underside of the bolt head to the tip of the shank. This applies to styles such as hex-head bolts, 12-point bolts, socket-head cap screws and button-head screws. However, a flat-top screw (flat on the top and chamfered under the head) is always measured at its overall length.

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HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian Shares Progress on Retro LS Build

The latest installment in Precision Engine's LS 5.3L "retro build" covers installation of the hydraulic roller lifters, cylinder heads, pushrods and rocker arms, completing the valvetrain.

HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian recently posted the fourth part in his series on a retro LS engine build. In this installment, which can be read on the Precision Engine website, Mavrigian details the installation of the Chevy-orange engine’s cylinder heads and rocker arms.

“While there’s nothing to complain about with the original casting number 862 aluminum heads, making them flow much better was a simple task,” Mavrigian wrote. “Total Engine Airflow, well-known for their development of LS cylinder heads, already had a CNC program for reworking the intake and exhaust ports to elevate intake runner volume from the original 200cc to 220 cc; and exhaust ports from the original 70cc to 78cc. ”

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HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian Continues Work on Retro LS Engine Build

HRR Tech Editor Mike Mavrigian has completed another step in his Retro LS Engine build. As he wrote in a past update, his goal with this engine build is to create an LS engine that produces around 400 horsepower and has a retro appearance, and do it all on a tight budget.

“Basically, we’re taking a 5.3L (cid) LS engine, and overboring to a final 327 cid, making a new 327 Chevy that takes advantage of current technology, while stepping back in time to achieve a decidedly old-school appearance,” Mavrigian wrote.

In his first step, Mavrigian worked on the engine block. (You can read about the upgrades he made to the block here.) For his next step, Mavrigian showed how to upgrade the rocker arm trunions to ensure they would be durable enough for use in a performance vehicle.

“In the process of building any LS engine, if you plan to use OE rocker arms (whether reusing originals or using new OE rockers), you should be aware of the critical need to perform an upgrade to the rocker arms,” Mavrigian said. “Specifically, the OE trunions and trunion bearings should be replaced with an aftermarket upgrade kit.”

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