Cam Degreeing ToolsWe lumped all these together because they must all be used to degree in a camshaft and check piston-to-valve clearance. These are vital checks for building a healthy engine. You will need a piston top micrometer (top left) to determine piston TDC as well as 10 degrees before TDC and 10 degrees after TDC. A cam lobe lift micrometer (center on degree wheel) fits into the lifter bores and tells how much cam lift you have at different points in the cycle. A crankshaft socket (right) allows you to turn the motor over with a 11/42-inch ratchet or breaker bar so you can establish TDC. And finally, a degree wheel (the big, blue thing) installs on the front of the crankshaft and is used to establish crankshaft location in terms of degrees.
Volume Burette These are also sold as CC, or cubic inch, kits. The burette is used to fill a volume (usually the combustion chambers in your heads) with a liquid. Using the scale on the side of the burette, you can then read the amount of liquid used to establish the volume of the chamber. This is critical for making sure you are within the rules of your racing class for combustion chamber size and for determining compression ratio. In addition to a burette, to CC a combustion chamber, you will also need a clear plastic plate to form a roof for the area you are attempting to measure, but those are easy enough to make yourself. For more information on measuring volume and determining compression ratio, check out the May '04 issue of Circle Track.
Gasket Scraper Our first thought did not include a gasket scraper because you can get by with a razor blade and a putty knife, but this baby from Goodson is the best thing since race fuel. Instead of a sharp edge, this scraper utilizes a square carbide edge that can remove gaskets, rust, carbon, and about anything else that gets in its way. Dulling is not an issue, and with its heavyweight build, if you really bear down on it, it's not going to crumple up and allow you to turn your hand into hamburger when you ram it against the block.
Dial CaliperDial calipers are useful in so many areas, its difficult to make a list. This precision instrument is almost always found within an engine builder's reach. Designed with two sets of fingers to allow measuring both inside and outside height of an object, dial calipers are quite affordable given their many uses.
On-Head Spring CheckerAssembling cylinder heads can be tricky and requires special equipment, so most racers leave that to the engine builder. Still, you probably should check behind him to make sure you know what you're getting. On-head spring checkers are good for that. They allow you to check your spring pressures without disassembling the heads. This is a top-of-the-line model from Powerhouse Products, but cheaper, analog units are also available.
Parts WasherIf you are careful about properly cleaning everything that goes into your race engine, you will have a parts washer right beside your workbench. Even if a part isn't touched after it is taken out of the box, it should be washed thoroughly before installation. Because of the tight bearing clearances race engines run to increase oil control, any bit of foreign debris introduced into the system can be harmful.