Board index Flathead Power-Technical Questions, Answers, and Suggestions 45 Flatties I desperately need a quick fix. Can you help please?

I desperately need a quick fix. Can you help please?

Moderators: Curt!, Pa

Chuck Sumner

I found that the push rod from a 460 Ford is within .010 dia. on the ball end, from a check ball. Its only good for 2-3 uses per end, but is real nice to lap the seat. I use a fine lapping compound, remember to clean everything real clean when done.

Posts: 329

Thanks Chuck.


Posts: 3011
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Lapping widens a seat (not desireable), and leaves a mill profile that is comparable in size to an oil molecule.
Plus you have to take everything apart for cleaning: Its a lot of trouble for a marginal repair.

Burnishing removes no metal, and polishes the seat finer than any compound.
You don't even have to drain the oil out of it!


Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5552
Location: Ohio USA

I've burnished industrial machine shaft surfaces. No metal was removed but size was compromised some. Usually a 12", very highly polished diameter, would loose a couple of 10ths off the diameter. Burnishing compresses the surface leaving a hardened and very smooth surface. Pa

Posts: 329
Thanks for that extra knowledge Cotten.

Thanks for that extra knowledge Pa.

On the basis that some seat must be too "worn", or whatever, to be burnishable.

Tell me please: -
How do I tell if mine are burnishable please?

What do I do about them if they are not burnishable please?

My oil pump is still on my bike.
I'm having enough fun sorting out my burnt head, and working out the most sensible way to fit the head bracket, to do any more than replace a couple of springs, and cross my fingers.

Kind regards, Mike

Posts: 146
Location: Utah,USA
Pa........Cotton ?????

Could you elaborate a llittle on the process and tool you use. Do you hammer it? Spin it, Press it?

"burnishing = A form of metal finishing where the surface is treated mechanically so that no appreciable metal is removed but the surface is smoothed."

Posts: 3011
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Since I've typed this all before, I thank for a searchable knowledge base!:

Lapping works, sometimes.
There are occasions where even burnishing is not perfect.

The disadvantages of lapping are:
The unit must be completely disassembled for cleaning.
Metal is removed from the pump body, thus widening the seat.
A ball on a stick is not accurately piloted to the bore of the well.
The finish left by common compounds is comparable to the molecular size of oil.

Burnishing actually moves metal. Low spots get filled as highs are reduced, on a micro level of course. In this process, the surface is work-hardend for longer life.
The pump must be removed from the motor for access on a 45", but only the breather line above the ballcheck must be removed for an OHV.

Three or four slow, creeping torques up to firm and solid does it. (~15 ft/lbs). Remove the burnisher, toss in a fresh ball and spring, cap it, re-assemble and rub off your fingerprints.

Damaged pumps require some extra attention, naturally. It is preferable to do any cutting on the bench where you can have total hygiene, but I have a piloted conical stone that I apply by hand to dress blemishes or rust prior to finish-burnishing. The flat side of the stone effectively narrows the seat.

We all know oil penetrates. That's why we use it in motors. An absolute seal is probably an un-attainable ideal.
What we hope to accomplish is to reduce seepage to where the machine can sit out of service for extended periods without filling the cases and overflowing at the sprocket shaft. (Some of us are embarrassed by such incontinence, especially when you leave a trail across the carpet and out the driveway.)
The time it takes to manifest itself not only depends upon the ballcheck, but the time between rides. And those with a sprocketshaft seal mask the problem until the cases completely fill and it blows out the breather.

By burnishing, it is possible to have a machine sit all winter (in a heated garage) and still have a full four quarts in the oiltank. I still personally find that amazing.

(Just in case a little more explanation of "burnishing" is needed:
When you tape up a package, and then run your thumb over the tape to flatten it, that's a very simple form of burnishing. Pressure from a moving tool smooths the surface. Rub the tape with a hard blunt object like the side of a pen, and the tape becomes inseparable from the cardboard.
With malleable metals, the surface layer is quite plastic and can be compacted as well as smoothed. This not only hardens the surface, it can be used to stiffen an object, or to straighten a hole. One of the most common form of metal burnishers are rounded precision plugs that are then pressed or beaten through a slightly undersized hole. More elaborate ones are often used as one would a broach, however they have blunt knobs instead of cutting edges, in increasing diameter along its length.
Some of the advantages of burnishing are speed, accuracy, finish, and lack of abrasives or chips.)

A ballcheck seat burnisher applies a concentrated moving pressure exactly where it is needed. Instead of removing metal, it rearranges it into a more durable form, with a microscopic profile comparable to Clover Compound 6-A, if not smoother.

The tool is very very simple:


Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5552
Location: Ohio USA

You can't ask for a better explaination than that ! The burnishing work I performed utilized a roller type tool. This type of burnisher tool was neccessary for shaft journal work. Cotten is an expert at pump valve seats. The burnishing principle is the same. Only the tooling differs. Pa

Posts: 146
Location: Utah,USA
Cotton, Pa

Thanks for the in depth description


Posts: 329
Thank you very much for your exceelent explanation of burnishing Cotton.

I enjoyed your craftsmanship with words so much that I read your work several times for the pleasure you gave me.

A question though, if you have time and inclination.

One of my manuals tells to hammer a ball into the seat will a brass punch.
I think it was brass.
It is possible that someone did exactly that with my pump during it's military life.

Will burnishing work on a "hammered" seat please Sir?

If not, what can I do, or get done about it please?

I read the way you used a stone, but the only way I could picture it was that you had a stone with a mandrel.
You fitted the mandrel down the hole in the seat,
and turned the stone by the conical grit.

Did I picture that correctly please?

Thanks, Mike

Posts: 3011
Location: Central Illinois, USA
As I mentioned above, damaged seats need special attention.
I have j-pegs of my conical piloted stone, but its really a bunch of hoops to jump through in order to post a pic through an external server to this forum. The tool is nothing more than a die-grinder stone piloted through a precision bore in a short 5/8"-18 bolt, just like the burnisher itself.

It's all a question of how much your particular seat has been abused. It the ball was merely "set" with a tap on the drift, it should have caused no damage at all.
I do that to carb floatvalves daily,... but I don't use a sledge.

PS: Low tech rules.

Posts: 329
I think you are very polite about the labour involved in posting a picture Sir.

Thank you for your description of the tool you use to work the valve seat.
I am pretty confidant I have the whole picture now.

As my machine is ex-British Forces, I expect they went the sledge hammer route.
But I might be lucky.

Thanks, again, Mike.


Posts: 34
Location: Northern Indiana
Here's the direct 'quick fix' solution for wet sumping, as seen on a '69 ServiCar currently for sale on Ebay. Just plumb a shut-off valve into the line! (I couldn't figure out how to get a larger photo uploaded.)

Posts: 2677
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Ya definitely need a large "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" flag on that.

Posts: 323
Location: north central Ma.
Easyest and quick way to fix the problem is to get a inline check valve. Most of the early Triumphs have this problem at one time or another the large parts house sell a inline valve. Check MAP in FLA or some of the other english supply houses.
As i recall they run around $100

"Smok'in the competition NOT Tobacco"
"Transplant organs, Don't bury them!"
Why dwarf? 5/8 scale race cars!

Posts: 3011
Location: Central Illinois, USA
How many of us have forgotten to turn our fuel valves on?
How many of us have forgotten to turn our fuel valves on, a couple of times a season?
Consider forgetting an oil supply valve just once.

PS: I forgot to remove a wheel lock once,...even with a "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" flag on it.

Posts: 2677
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I always lock my helmet to my disc brake rotor lock. Keeps the helmet safe and I don't forget to unlock it.


Posts: 34
Location: Northern Indiana
Have to admit, I wouldn't want to try the shut off valve method. Better to fix the problem right in the first place.


Posts: 109

Cotton - That's more or less a dead ringer for the tool I made & used.
What you say & what people hear is not always the same thing

Posts: 1607
I've used the check valve one and it works pretty well. I've also tried putting as piece of cardboard underneath, in old-school dealer style.. that works too!
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...


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