When ordering parts one day from Goodson of Winona, Minnesota we noticed an advertisement for an upcoming engine builder's convention. Considering our lustful devotion to all things high-performance engine building, we felt it was a sign from above. The 2005 AERA Engine Rebuilders Association convention was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Granted we didn't know what to expect, but it's hard to go wrong with anything and everything associated with engine building; right?
The AERA show focuses on all types of products in the realm of engine rebuilding, remanufacturing and installation. The majority of exhibitors displayed large machining equipment used for boring, cleaning, and the like. These are not something you could stick in your garage, but rather for full commercial shops. These massive machines were impressive and made you wish your garage was large enough to accommodate them. It was also interesting to see how far technology has advanced and what these machines can accomplish with just a push of a button. Sunnen had one of the larger booths with enough CNC machines within it to completely tear down an engine and rebuild every single piece of it, from boring to honing to balancing and resurfacing.
In addition there were many wholesalers present that import/export various engine products (i.e., rings, clips, etc.) in large quantities. Beyond those two groups there was a various assortment of other engine-related companies. Nonetheless, we still found plenty of gems on the convention center floor.
Domestic engines dominated the landscape despite how popular import engines are becoming. We scoured the isles and ultimately came up with two Best Finds that we came across, one was for a tool and the other was a cylinder head.
Goodson, the company that originally brought our attention to this convention, displayed a very intriguing tool. It is a valve spring compressor tool that would have saved us two hours on our last engine build. We plan to put this piece to the test in an upcoming article to see if it is all that is it cracked up to be. If it does deliver what it promises, it will be sought after by every engine builder out there. (Read more about the tool in the sidebar.)
The highlight of the show was the Clevite Engine Builder Challenge featuring dueling, NASCAR Winston Cup engine builders. Not to be outdone by the men, the AERA convention is also holding a women's engine builder challenge. The four lucky women are going to face off by building a Winston Cup Style 357 CID engine featuring 10.5:1 compression ratio.
While we may not attend this convention on a yearly basis, it's cool that we were able to check it out and and with all the temptations of Las Vegas just outside. It was a weekend well spent.. For more information check out www.aera.org.
Keeper-Eeze Valve Spring ToolWould you drive 300 miles to check out a tool? Well most would think I'm crazy but my love for tools only comes after that for my cars, my wife, my family and my pets. So when it comes to checking out an incredible tool to add to my collection I will go to great lengths.
I first read about the Keeper-Eeze tool in a catalog and was intrigued on what the tool claimed to be able to do. Knowing the complexity of installing stiffer springs and titanium retainers on a cylinder head still bolted to the block the tool would reduce installation time dramatically.
Since Goodson was going to have the Keeper-Eeze tool at their booth with a couple of cylinder heads to try out the tool we couldn't resist. When we got to the Goodson booth we weren't the only ones interested as there was a crowd around the Keeper-Eeze representative showing how the tool worked. After waiting patiently for everyone else trying out the Keeper-Eeze it was finally my turn and I must say there are few tools out there that are revolutionary and this in one of them.
By far the Keeper-Eeze lived up to its expectations. I forked over the money on the spot so I could take one home. Check out the accompanying photos on how easy it is to install valve keepers.