The guys at Bostig advise measuring something called "crankshaft end play" as one of the best barometers of an engine's overall health, and in reading up on the procedure recently while waiting for my engine to arrive, I saw that it required the use of something called a dial indicator. Certain that I had finally come across an obscure tool not represented in Q's vast laboratory, I politely asked if he had one on hand, thinking of the quiet satisfaction I'd feel in stumping the Man at last.
Really, you'd think I'd know better by now – turns out he has three. Of course he does.
In my own layman's terms, this end play test measures the amount of lateral movement along the crankshaft, and too high of a reading means that the engine has probably been around the block a few too many times. Bostig says that anything higher than a miniscule .008" indicates a problem, and with a tolerance that thin, I was more than a little nervous to see the results of this test yesterday.
The photo at left shows the dial indicator zeroed out just prior to my yanking the crankshaft pulley on the other end of the engine, and the photo at right shows the sliver of movement that resulted. Sticklers will point out that it appears to read .0955" or so, but we had the tool set up backwards, so it really only moved .0045" – well within spec. The test was repeated several times to verify, and I was visibly relieved and pumped to get such a happy number each time.
The good folks at Bostig tell me that a brand new crate engine typically scores around a .003" on this test, and that my .0045" means that I have a low-use engine that's been treated very well, and should last a good long while. A most welcome seal of approval!
Buoyed by this crankshaft end play victory, I turned my attention to cleaning various bits of the engine that had suffered from a level of corrosion that I suppose is typical after spending several years on a shelf in Michigan. Q's wire wheel quickly became my fast friend during this process...
I guess you can't see it in the above picture, but trust me, there's very cool wire wheel tool just to the right of the vice. Anyway, this proved to be a job with a dangerous level of appeal to my obsessive-compulsive side, as I happily whiled away the day cleaning off every bolt, bracket, nut, and pretty much any other remotely rusted part I could get my hands on. Great fun!