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Rod bolt assembly tips

I received a telephone call this morning asking about the assembly procedures when fitting new connecting rod bolts. This was on an earlier 911 air cooled engine. The customers rods had been reconditioned and he wanted to fit the new bearings and check the clearances.

The question asked was, “should I use the old bolts when doing this”? The answer is NO.

My question to him was, “why would you remove the new bolts and fit the old bolts to do this”? His answer was, I have yet to fit the new bolts.

Here is the mistake.

When reconditioning rods big ends, ALWAYS fit the new bolts first. The new bolts will place a different amount of crush on the BE as the bolt will have a different amount of stretch and tension. This can change the overall size of the BE.

The rod bolts can go through multiple stretches, as long as the bolt returns to its relaxed length and is not stretched passed its yield point. If using a particular bolt, use the grease that is provided from that supplier. Use the stretch method over a torque value as friction will change the tension of each bolt. If using the torque value only, make sure, same as with the stretch method, you use grease on the threads, and the beam side of the rod under the nut to help lower the friction.

Also, if using “plastigage” to measure the clearance, this should only be used in the vertical direction. Place the strip of plastigage either on the cap or beam at the 12 or 6 o’clock position.

Remember, you are measuring the overall clearance value between 0.0018” -0.0028” typically, so any difference in bolt tension can make a difference when measuring a small clearance of 0.0028” or less.
Old 11-12-2018, 08:55 AM
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Hi Neil,

I read your post with interest. I am a week or two away from assembling newly machined rods on to the crankshaft on my 1989 911 Carrera 3.2.

In Wayne's book, he specifically states to use the old rod nuts and bolts when measuring clearance via plastigage.

Has something changed in the technology of my engine vs. the older one that you discuss? I am just using factory bolts and nuts (Not ARP, etc.) for final assembly.

Is the concept of using the new hardware for measuring clearance the current conventional wisdom of the Porsche community?

Thanks,

Mark
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:51 AM
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Hi Mark,

While I'm not Neil, perhaps I can add something of value here for you.

First, I wholeheartedly agree with what he wrote; those procedures are SOP around here and have been for 40+ years.

Second, you'll never find plastigage here, ever.

Lastly, using ARP bolts is a prerequisite for Neil's comments since factory Porsche bolts are one use only and cannot be stretched repeatedly while the BE's are being measured and sized as needed. Quite obviously, you'll need a stretch gauge to measure this accurately to tension the bolts.

Hope this helps,
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve@Rennsport View Post
Hi Mark,

While I'm not Neil, perhaps I can add something of value here for you.

First, I wholeheartedly agree with what he wrote; those procedures are SOP around here and have been for 40+ years.

Second, you'll never find plastigage here, ever.

Lastly, using ARP bolts is a prerequisite for Neil's comments since factory Porsche bolts are one use only and cannot be stretched repeatedly while the BE's are being measured and sized as needed. Quite obviously, you'll need a stretch gauge to measure this accurately to tension the bolts.

Hope this helps,
Steve,

You make the comment "Second, you'll never find plastigage here, ever." Can you please expand on that?

Thanks,

Jeff
Old 12-06-2018, 08:54 AM
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Complete agreement..........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Harvey View Post
I received a telephone call this morning asking about the assembly procedures when fitting new connecting rod bolts. This was on an earlier 911 air cooled engine. The customers rods had been reconditioned and he wanted to fit the new bearings and check the clearances.

The question asked was, “should I use the old bolts when doing this”? The answer is NO.

My question to him was, “why would you remove the new bolts and fit the old bolts to do this”? His answer was, I have yet to fit the new bolts.

Here is the mistake.

When reconditioning rods big ends, ALWAYS fit the new bolts first. The new bolts will place a different amount of crush on the BE as the bolt will have a different amount of stretch and tension. This can change the overall size of the BE.

The rod bolts can go through multiple stretches, as long as the bolt returns to its relaxed length and is not stretched passed its yield point. If using a particular bolt, use the grease that is provided from that supplier. Use the stretch method over a torque value as friction will change the tension of each bolt. If using the torque value only, make sure, same as with the stretch method, you use grease on the threads, and the beam side of the rod under the nut to help lower the friction.

Also, if using “plastigage” to measure the clearance, this should only be used in the vertical direction. Place the strip of plastigage either on the cap or beam at the 12 or 6 o’clock position.

Remember, you are measuring the overall clearance value between 0.0018” -0.0028” typically, so any difference in bolt tension can make a difference when measuring a small clearance of 0.0028” or less.


Neil,

I completely agree with your above statement. But how about people using OEM Porsche connecting rod bolts which are not stretch bolts. How would they be able to measure the clearance/s with non-stretch bolts? As far as I know, these after-market stretch bolts were not commercially available 2 decades ago or longer.

Every time I read your posts I find additional and new information. Hope you continue to share your experiences with us. Thanks.

Tony
Old 12-06-2018, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by jkb944t View Post
Steve,

You make the comment "Second, you'll never find plastigage here, ever." Can you please expand on that?

Thanks,

Jeff
Hi Jeff,

Not much more to say really.

I've found it to be too unreliable & inaccurate, compared to micrometers and other professional measuring instruments.
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Old 12-06-2018, 01:33 PM
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^^^ I agree

In almost 30 years of building aircooled engines I've only used plastigage once, when I was a rookie.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by boyt911sc View Post
Neil,

I completely agree with your above statement. But how about people using OEM Porsche connecting rod bolts which are not stretch bolts. How would they be able to measure the clearance/s with non-stretch bolts? As far as I know, these after-market stretch bolts were not commercially available 2 decades ago or longer.

Every time I read your posts I find additional and new information. Hope you continue to share your experiences with us. Thanks.

Tony
OEM bolts are "stretch bolts", basically all bolts stretch.
OEM bolts can only be stretched once, ARP can be stretched several times. For OEM bolts the torque value takes the stretch into account, one of the reasons you shouldn't mess with the factory tolerances.
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Old 12-07-2018, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by boyt911sc View Post
Neil,

I completely agree with your above statement. But how about people using OEM Porsche connecting rod bolts which are not stretch bolts. How would they be able to measure the clearance/s with non-stretch bolts? As far as I know, these after-market stretch bolts were not commercially available 2 decades ago or longer.

Every time I read your posts I find additional and new information. Hope you continue to share your experiences with us. Thanks.

Tony
Tony,

I have no idea how rods can be rebuilt correctly, if the same fasteners are not used in the resizing.

In my opinion, stock bolts can be reused as long as they are not stretched past their yield point. If I'm wrong, could someone show me why they cannot be used in the rebuilding process?

When we do this we measure the un stretched length and always make sure they return to this length in the rebuilding process.

Relying on the torque value is not the best way. It does not take into account any friction. I guess rebuilding an engine using only the torque value is safe but not ideal.
Old 12-10-2018, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Harvey View Post
Tony,
In my opinion, stock bolts can be reused as long as they are not stretched past their yield point. If I'm wrong, could someone show me why they cannot be used in the rebuilding process?
It's in the factory service manual that they're to be replaced.
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Old 12-10-2018, 03:21 PM
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Is it possible you are mistakenly taking "replace after use" for 1 time stretch?

I think so. I think it is meant, after the engine has run and its probably thought that "run" means for many thousands of miles.

As long as the bolt does not become elongated and not return to its normal length, it can be reused in the rebuilding process.

Rods need to be sized and measured using the fasteners they will be assembled with. You may be surprised how much this can make a difference in the final size.
Old 12-10-2018, 04:01 PM
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It's in the factory service manual that they're to be replaced.
One thing you need to keep in mind is the service manual was designed for Porsche techs at dealer service departments. Mostly, these people were NOT building new engines. They were servicing running cars.

So when a car came in that needed, say rod bearings, they would be directed by the manual to throw the old rod bolts away and not reuse them.

I agree with Neil; I don't think the intent was to throw away brand new bolts used solely for measuring purposes and not run in a motor.

As the holder of several patents where it pertains to the case and squirters, I am CONVINCED that Porsche, for the most part, never thought whatsoever about rebuilds when publishing the manuals. Why would they....they are a new car manufacturer.
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Old 12-11-2018, 06:47 AM
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Neil,

When measuring new bolt lengths, and then again after a single torque/stretch event, have you found them to return to the exact original length?
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Old 12-15-2018, 05:12 PM
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Jeff,

There is always some small change in the bolts length. Some bolts a little more than others. We are talking minimal change here. Probably could be termed as stress relieving from manufacturing. But as long as the bolt is not stretched past its yield it is ok.

There is so much internet myth applied to re building these engines. Much of it, and in this case could be because the machine repair work is not understood. Parts are shipped off and returned all nice and clean and the assembler assumes that everything is good to go.

I have read where Rods have been returned after re sizing and new fasteners are then fitted by the assembler. This is absolutely wrong. The machine shop either did not know or could care less and the assembler was misinformed. Always fit new fasteners before the rods are re sized.

The bolts are stretched then, stretched again when the bearings are fitted for clearance measuring and re stretched again on assembly. As long as the initial free length was measured before any fitment, the bolts measured after each stretch and no change, you are good to go.

This is why measuring the stretch is the proper way to assemble the rods instead of using a torque number. Use the supplied grease with the bolts or grease that is known for its lowering of friction, and always use a single sweep, not multiple jerks in tightening.
Old 12-16-2018, 10:37 AM
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We have some heavy weights posting here, who know all this stuff. For anyone who doesn't, here (courtesy of reading Carroll Smith)is how fasteners like rod bolts work:

Forces in an engine try to pull the rod cap off the rod. The two bolts prevent this, but are repeatedly stressed. As long as the cap doesn't lift (letting out the oil film), the bolts have done their job. Bolts may be thought of as springs, and they need to have a spring rate/seat pressure greater than the forces pulling on them. Stretching is like tightening the spring. Torque is a way of approximating stretch and is more convenient, but stretch is the way to go since it isn't hard to do on a rebuild (doing it in a factory production line probably is a different story).

Bolts have three ranges, so to speak. In the elastic range, they stretch, but when the stress is released, they return to their original length. This is why you can use measurements - take the old bolt out, measure, and see how that compares to the measurement when new.

Porsche didn't give you a list of those specs, so you have no way of knowing with your stock bolt. A sort of standard rebuild would be the same way.

The makers of aftermarket rod bolts give you a spec - if, after it has been stressed, it is longer than original (which you have to have measured) plus X, throw it away (or use it to hold something on your lawnmower or whatnot, where it doesn't matter).

The second range of a bolt is the plastic zone - it is stretched and longer than it was when unfastened. Don't reuse it for rods (and of course there are few uses for used rod bolts with their unique heads). If really stretched you might be able to see where it got narrower, which is the only way it can stretch.

The third zone is when it breaks - it is past its ultimate tensile strength. Which is irrelevant here, pretty much. You can sometimes see where these bolts stretched before they broke - they get narrower on each side of the break.

Now to the subject at hand. It is not intuitively obvious that tightening rod bolts changes the shape of the big end opening. Two nice flat surfaces pressed together with forces at 90 degrees to the surfaces and hefty compared with the bolt? I didn't believe that. But forum members who had measured this set me straight - you can measure the change in the big end hole. So best to replace intuition with fact.

So if you use new stock rod bolts when having your used rods checked/resized, and when done they are the same free length as before, there is no straight out mechanical reason not to use them again. But you won't have the benefit of an ARP or the like to tell you what the allowable stretch is, though - is one thousandth OK or not? If you are in the business of rebuilding engines, and are going to use stock bolts, is it cost effective to do all this measuring and deciding, rather than just tossing the bolts used for the machining, and using new ones for the crank assembly?

Aftermarket stronger bolts cost more, so that would affect the cost/benefit analysis on reuse. Us shade tree guys place a low value on our time doing all this. But a bolt is a bolt.

What about the term "stretch bolt?" I've been puzzled by that also, given that stretching is what bolts loaded in tension do - stretch.

It may mean that the bolt, as part of the normal assembly process, is stretched into its plastic zone - where it won't return to original length. This doesn't mean it won't work at all. Since it is closer to its breaking point, it has less reserve. Since it is longer, its spring rate is lower. But as long as it has the clamping force it needs to keep the two surfaces together by resisting the forces trying to pull them apart, it can do its job.

Bolts are mass produced. There has to be some inherent variation is the product. Quality control is maintained by sampling. Some protocols say only X number of Y samples can be as much as Z below the specification. You can't afford even one really bad rod bolt.

An engine assembler using a torque wrench to tighten bolts until they measure to the specified stretch can use this as a double check for a bad new bolt. Engineers compensate by setting a margin and sizing things to leave a nice reserve when designing all this, so torque (or the degree method Porsche now specifies) can be relied upon if done properly.

We are not, per the Manuals, supposed to reuse the flywheel bolts. On my 6 bolt race motors I torque to 150 lbs/ft (Bruce Anderson pointed me to that)so the flywheel stays put at 8,000 RPM and above. The DIN spec or some such from a schedule somewhere is about 130 lbs/ft, and the Porsche spec is what - 110? It works. And I reuse these bolts - they are not subjected to large tension forces the way rod bolts or head studs are. Never had one break or a flywheel get loose since I started doing this. I do cross my fingers every time I tighten one of these, and mentally review how I am going to get a broken stub out before the red Loctite sets.

I think what is important here is not what procedure is "right," but understanding the forces at work well enough to make a reasoned decision.

Bottom line has to be that reusing rod bolts without measuring is not good practice, whether from a 100,000 mile motor or on return from the connecting rod machine shop.

Interestingly, you don't hear anyone worry about the case through bolts (the boxer design means they aren't subject to especially large forces??), or the head studs (once beyond the Dilivar etc worries). I suppose that is because they have such a large margin that they won't realistically get stretched into their plastic zone, much less to UTS.
Old 12-16-2018, 01:37 PM
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Very thorough explanation-thank you Walt.

dho
Old 12-17-2018, 05:45 PM
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Good discussion here. I have a question about the assembly process. Why is one sweep the way to go instead of incremental tightening, alternating side to side.

I did my racecar engine rods incrementally after speaking with Brian Pauter about his rods. I don't remember his exact words because it was like 7 years ago. But his site also mentions incremental tightening. Rod Info - Pauter I vaguely recall his justification for the incremental torque is to ensure there's no distortion of the sleeves in the rods. Pauter rods use locating sleeves to center the cap on the beam. Therefore the ARP bolts in their rods are "plain" shank bolts instead of the type in the factory Porsche rods that have a precision shank to align the cap and beam.

I also found that the specs Pauter shows in that link for torque are consistent with what I found when doing ARP bolts with the ARP assembly lube. I'm not saying torque is better than stretch. I just happen to use a 5-75 ft-lb wrench (a decent one made by Precision Instruments) when assembling the rods and therefore I can see how much torque it takes to reach the desired stretch.
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Old 12-18-2018, 06:36 AM
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So much plastigauge hate here... LOL. I spoke with Lake Speed Jr. about it (granted, he works for Mahle/Clevite the mfg of it nowadays) and he agreed that if it is old, it can give false readings. But it is a damn good final check as you are doing final assembly. Yes, it does take a lot longer because you end up building everything twice. But I use a few awesome vendors for a lot of the machine work and it allows me to do a final check since everyone of us has a bad day sometimes. But then again, I also clay every motor when we change pistons or cams to ensure clearances too
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Old 12-18-2018, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by KTL View Post
Good discussion here. I have a question about the assembly process. Why is one sweep the way to go instead of incremental tightening, alternating side to side.

I did my racecar engine rods incrementally after speaking with Brian Pauter about his rods. I don't remember his exact words because it was like 7 years ago. But his site also mentions incremental tightening. Rod Info - Pauter I vaguely recall his justification for the incremental torque is to ensure there's no distortion of the sleeves in the rods. Pauter rods use locating sleeves to center the cap on the beam. Therefore the ARP bolts in their rods are "plain" shank bolts instead of the type in the factory Porsche rods that have a precision shank to align the cap and beam.

I also found that the specs Pauter shows in that link for torque are consistent with what I found when doing ARP bolts with the ARP assembly lube. I'm not saying torque is better than stretch. I just happen to use a 5-75 ft-lb wrench (a decent one made by Precision Instruments) when assembling the rods and therefore I can see how much torque it takes to reach the desired stretch.
The way I was taught was to tighten them up by hand or with minimal pressure until the bolt is tight enough to require a tool to turn further. At this point, the rod halves are joined together on both sides, metal to metal.

From there, try and achieve the final torque or angle in a single slow sweep. No jerking.

The hand tightness initially removes all play, the tool tightness is then pure bolt stretch.

Tightenting up little by little can really only be used with torque, it is hard to do angle with this method unless you have a tool like a snap on torque wrench that records the angle for multiple strokes of the wrench handle (I have this), but even so, one nice sweep per side works best.


***edited to add**** You ALWAYS follow the MFG specs for tightening. If Pauter says incremental, then thats what you do.
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Old 12-18-2018, 07:19 AM
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Thanks for the tips on your rod bolt assembly process. I figured that stretch is stretch whether you got there in incremental steps or one sweep. Maybe i'm wrong in that assumption!

Whereas incremental steps with torque is questionable since each step requires you to initially overcome the bolt friction to start it turning. So your increments better be large enough such that you hit the torque click while the rotation is occurring, which we should know is the proper way to identify your desired torque, or else your final torque isn't correct.

One thing I have done as a cross-check is using a torque wrench while stretching the bolts. If you know the bolts require a certain amount of torque to stretch, then you can use this as a guide to ensure your bolts are good. In other words if you see your bolt didn't require much torque to reach its stretch amount? You would appear to have a faulty bolt. Of course a big key here is knowing what lubricant is specified for that torque!
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Old 12-18-2018, 08:28 AM
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