What makes a good machine shop?


Old 05-31-05, 09:03 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 238
What makes a good machine shop?

How do I choose a competent machine shop?

I need a valve job on an aluminum head, 16-valve, single cam ’93 Mazda Protégé. I have called around, and prices are all over the map and range from $80 to 295 plus parts if required. Some have said they cannot give me a price until they see it. One person with limited English skills said he needed the camshaft to do an adjustment. I asked what he was going to adjust. He was unable to explain.

Some include or add services such as planing the head and pressure testing the water jacket. One said he vacuum tests each valve to assure a good seal others say their machinist just knows.

What kind of questions should I ask? Why would I plane the head if I have never had head gasket problem and the car has not overheated? Will planing change the compression? The same logic seems to preclude spending $40 for pressure testing the water jacket.

The price of head sets is all over the map too. They range from $91 to 231. I have been quoted three brands. Only one, Fel Pro, I have heard of previously. Any recommendations?
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Old 05-31-05, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
most heads are planed to remove any warpage from the surface to help prevent any head gasket sealing problems when you reinstall, it could raise compression slightly but not a significant amount, most all aluminum heads are planed when removed and they are also usually checked for cracks.
felpro is a good brand and there are others but calling around different parts stores will often result in many different prices for the exact same brand and part number.
most good machine shops will be backed up almost a week or more I would avoid ones that can get your head back to you within a day or two. valves may be close to 10 dollars each so you can see price can vary greatly depending on how many valves need replaced, valve guides if worn excessivly will aslo increase the price and the amount of assembly and disassembly required. remeber to take the valve seals out of the head gasket set and take them with your head to the machine shop.

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