By the very fact that you are reading this article on the world wide web speaks volumes about how technology has changed this hobby. Not only are enthusiasts seeking out information on the Internet, but more and more businesses are selling their products through "virtual" storefronts. Nowadays we can order online just about anything we need for our projects. While in some cases we are ordering from familiar brick and mortar businesses, in many cases the competition for cheaper pricing has resulted in unheard of companies selling inferior products. Take a look at engine components for example. It doesn't take very many searches or clicks to find a website offering unbelievable prices on cranks, stroker kits, or even complete engines.

You might be surprised then to hear that FordMuscle, a publication spawned from the dot-com boom, isn't a staunch supporter of conducting all aspects of this hobby through a keyboard and monitor. In fact, our position is quite the contrary. There are some things that you simply shouldn't order up over the phone or the web. Engines are one of them. It doesn't take but one bad experience to realize most of these too good to be true deals aren't so great due to the use of poor quality overseas materials, like crankshafts. Mail order engines which boast great specs have glaring shortcuts, such as reconditioned rods, reused rod bolts, and poor machine work. All too often guys think they scored a killer deal only to end up searching for a local machine shop to clean up the mess. We were recently reminded of the importance of good local machine shops when we visited Rob's Auto Machine in Hayward, California.

A Sense of Quality and Pride
We came across Rob's Machine shop several months ago when we needed to have the new AFR 165 Comp heads flow tested. Our usual flowbench partner was out of town and we needed to find a SuperFlow bench in short order. Rob's came through and accommodated us without hesitation. While some might think that magazines have their own fully equipped shops where they can build motors and dyno cars, in reality most publications operate no differently then the average enthusiast. Sometimes we call around for the best price on labor or parts, and other times we go to a local favorite.

Owner and chief engine builder Rob Stuchlik asked his son,

Rob discusses engine build up details with his customer - one of Hayward PD's finest.
Rob Jr., to drop what he was doing that day and help us get the flow numbers for our article. That is when we realized this was not an average machine shop. We told Rob about our subsequent editorial plans to put the heads on an engine and run some comparative dyno tests.

Rob told us about how his approach to building engines is slightly different than what other shops might provide. He firmly believes in engaging the customer in the buildup process, and not cutting corners, even if it means cutting into profits. What impressed us the most was the unwavering sense that it was his obligation to give all his customers a top quality product that represents his shop well.
Rob told is he has a five minute rule in the shop. "We always are willing to stop what we're doing for at least five minutes to talk to any customer that walks in." That is refreshing, considering so many machine shops we've dealt with don't let customers past the front office.

The shop isn't a huge operation. On most days Rob, Rob Jr. and Evan run the entire operation. They split their duties along the same way the shop is laid out - tear down and cleaning, machining, and assembly. Rob handles just about all the engine assembly, making sure his hands put the motors together that will ultimately vouch for his twenty-years of credibility. Rob Jr. handles most of the machining work and cylinder head preparation. Evan gets to disassemble and clean while learning the ropes.

Staying ahead of competitors

When it comes down to it a machine shop is ultimately only as good as it's product and services. You can have the greatest customer service but if your machine work and engines aren't up to the mark then it's all a moot point. Rob strives to stay ahead of the competition and in pace with the technology. The shop is outfitted with the highest quality boring, honing, and milling equipment to

Having a chassis dyno within an engine shop enables Rob's machine to provide a unique service to it's customers.

build motors from mild to wild. While many shops out source certain services such as balancing, Rob has spent the money on equipment to bring it under his control. In fact Rob and a business partner recently went in on the purchase of an MD-1100 chassis dynamometer. The new business, Custom Dyno Tune, resides in the same building and thus provides a unique symbiotic relationship between engine builder and dyno tuner. Rob's engines go into clients vehicles which then get tuned on the dyno. The dyno also enables Rob's to validate his engine building techniques and ideas. It's a 360 degree relationship, where ideas from a dyno session are fed into the next engine. Those ideas are subsequently proven or disproven back on the dyno.

Building the Rob's Auto Machine 347

With Rob Jr. and Evan being heavily involved in the Northern California Mustang scene they're able to bring ideas from the street back to the shop for consideration. They see what's hot and what is being talked about when it comes to 5.0L or 4.6L motors. For example, Rob's has been perfecting their 347 stroker motor for several years now. Taking into consideration how the engines are being used they have put together a motor that can handle whatever the owner wants to throw at it. We thought with our needs to run some comparative dyno tests on AFR heads, this would be a good opportunity to test out the Rob's Auto Machine 347 short block.

Here are some of the key features of the bottom-end. Next month you'll see how this motor performs on an engine dyno. Unil then, tell us about your Local Favorite machine shop in our Forums discussion.

Rob starts with a seasoned 5.0L roller block which has been checked to be free of cracks or previous damage. The bores are cut 0.030" over and align honed. The block is then zero decked.
The all-out Rob's 347 means all forged steel American made internals, like this Eagle 3.400" stroke crank. Whether you intend to use this motor normally aspirated, blown, or on juice it's going to hold up.

Rob is quick to point out why he selects the top of the line components. Unlike many cranks being made in China, the Eagle stuff comes precision machined, as evident by the filleted oil passages shown here.
Forged 4340 steel Eagle H-beam rods with ARP rod bolts are another touch of quality and strength.

When Rob's builds a motor he does so as if it were going into his car. He is always looking for ways to make his customers go faster then their competition. A good example is touches like sending out bearings and pistons for thermal coating. This reduced friction and enables more timing advance. This motor is receiving forged SRP slugs.
An area we've seen many budget crate engine builders try to increase their profits on are things like timing chains. Assuming that most buyers don't care what connects the crank and the cam they opt for cheap gear and chain sets. Rob showed us the billet, 9-position keyway set he has been using on all performance buildups. He says it degrees accurate to half-a-degree.

The rotating assemblies are balanced in house using a digital Hines balancing machine. Rob takes pride in getting the rotating mass within 3 grams to ensure a smooth motor at high rpms.
Continuing with the no holds barred theme, the main-stud girdle adds some strength to the two-bolt main Ford small block. With all the top-quality materials in the bottom end maybe we'll make this a nitrous motor.

You'll learn plenty more about this motor next month when we get it on the engine dyno. Our first order is to compare the new AFR 165 Comp heads against the standard 165 design.
Whether it's a stock 289 rebuild (foreground) or a stout 347 stroker (background) rest assured that Rob himself will do the assembly. Each motor gets the same level of detail and attention to quality.

In This Article:
FordMuscle takes a deeper look at the benefits of your local machine shop provides over purchasing mail order engines and parts.
Rob's Auto builds a pretty serious 347 Ford stroker, which will be dyno proven in an upcoming article. FordMuscle decided to hang out at the shop while it was being built to get a closer look at what makes this father and son shop so unique.
Rob Stuchlik started the shop some twenty years ago. His key to success is that he stays connected to his customers. "I don't own a big home or a yacht. The money we make goes back into the business." In January he and Arlee Taylor purchased a chassis dyno for the shop and formed Custom Dyno Tune.
Rob Jr. is the future of Rob's Auto Machine. Along with learning the trade from his father, Robbie has developed his own skill sets as a cylinder head specialist. His iron and aluminum work is fast approaching pro levels, and he'll soon be honing his skills at the Mondello porting school.
The philosophy at Rob's is to engage the customer. With an in-house chassis dyno Rob and business partner Arlee Taylor are able to give a unique level of service to the customer. Here a client discusses custom chip tuning for his supercharged 4.6L modular stroker, built by Rob's.


Rob's Auto Machine
27515 Industrial Blvd.
Hayward, CA
510-732 1909

Custom Dyno Tuning

27515 Industrial Blvd.
Hayward, CA

Eagle Specialty Products


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