What I Learned Today With Jeff Smith — Making Your Own Piston Holder

Our good friend, Bill Irwin, made a piston and rod holder out of tubing to cleanly retain pistons and rods while assembling a short-block. This is a great idea since most lightweight pistons and rods often won’t sit vertically on the bench. This homemade piston holder keeps the pistons and rods off the bench surface and in proper order until assembly.

We’ve discovered it is especially useful to keep the pistons from not laying on their side when using thin oil ring packages. It’s very easy to push these tiny rings out of their ring lands if the piston lies on its side. So keeping the piston upright will prevent this from happening.

Bill made this holder out of scrap stainless tubing in his shop. But it seems to us that you could be just as creative with some simple PVC tubing and glue to build a similar tool, with the added advantage of being a non-marring material. Another thought that has crossed our minds when thinking about these, is slotting a polymer cutting board as the top. They are readily available on Amazon, in various thicknesses and colors, and would cut easily enough with just about anything capable of chucking up an endmill.

Wood is always another option, be it with boards, dowels, or sheets. While it may not look quite as cool as this stainless steel piece, it will still get the job done. Ultimately articles such as these are about getting your creative juices flowing and seeing what comes out of your shop. Homebrew tools are some of the coolest things you’ll find in any shop you visit, so get to building!

Our pal Bill Irwin built this simple piston holder out of crap stainless tubing, but you could easily fab one up out of hardware store PVC plastic tubing, or really anything you can imagine.

About the author

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, a 35-year veteran of automotive journalism, comes to Power Automedia after serving as the senior technical editor at Car Craft magazine. An Iowa native, Smith served a variety of roles at Car Craft before moving to the senior editor role at Hot Rod and Chevy High Performance, and ultimately returning to Car Craft. An accomplished engine builder and technical expert, he will focus on the tech-heavy content that is the foundation of EngineLabs.
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