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    Alright yall i own a small shop. One man show just me out of my house 0 overhead all paid in cash. Currently i've been doing fabrication and performance work/engine reseals/upgrades. I would love to get into machine work on motors but am unsure where to start. I have a small cnc mill and a turret lathe. I turn out brackets spacers and small parts needed for the swaps and performance work ive been doing. I have the room I believe to fit everything in my shop for doing engine only machine work but the tooling and machine cost seems insurmountable at this time to get into it. There is only one good machine shop in town and lead time for him is over 9 months and most other custom shops here and around town outsource across the state so I see a potentially large market. Looking for some direction from other folks who have done this before. Lathes mills and other normal mfg machines seem easy to come by but motor specialty machines seem to be hard to find. Where does one start how do I turn a profit in machine work with little experience. I have work through the end of the year in the builds I have lined up but im tired of wrenching and want to make the leap to mfg full time. Any direction or encouragement would be appreciated.

    Opinions both positive and negative are welcome. My feelers wont be hurt i promise. DirectionDirectionDirection
    Taylor

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewynner98 View Post
    Alright yall i own a small shop. One man show just me out of my house 0 overhead all paid in cash. Currently i've been doing fabrication and performance work/engine reseals/upgrades. I would love to get into machine work on motors but am unsure where to start. I have a small cnc mill and a turret lathe. I turn out brackets spacers and small parts needed for the swaps and performance work ive been doing. I have the room I believe to fit everything in my shop for doing engine only machine work but the tooling and machine cost seems insurmountable at this time to get into it. There is only one good machine shop in town and lead time for him is over 9 months and most other custom shops here and around town outsource across the state so I see a potentially large market. Looking for some direction from other folks who have done this before. Lathes mills and other normal mfg machines seem easy to come by but motor specialty machines seem to be hard to find. Where does one start how do I turn a profit in machine work with little experience. I have work through the end of the year in the builds I have lined up but im tired of wrenching and want to make the leap to mfg full time. Any direction or encouragement would be appreciated.

    Opinions both positive and negative are welcome. My feelers wont be hurt i promise. DirectionDirectionDirection
    Taylor

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    You can't seem to follow much of the rules eh ?....

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    Well, as it's said, the easiest way to make a small fortune in machining is to start with a large one. But you do seem to have a niche available to you; to provide reasonable work at a reasonable price with shorter lead times than the other guy. I just took the leap and started my own shop. I've had my machine running for two days now (woot!). I bought new, as it's easier to finance and I should (knock on wood) have fewer reliability surprises. It did take a fair chunk of change.

    The alternative is to buy used equipment, but then you have to take what you can find, and who knows what's wrong with it under the hood. You may also have to rig and ship machines over a long distance, which can cost a fair percentage of the machine's price.

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    Direction? turn left at the light, go three miles that way, and stop when you see a cop to ask him where it is.

    You can't seem to follow much of the rules eh ?....about having a proper title

    "Direction into machine work on motors" is a better title........(motors or engines?)

    Q: [Where does one start how do I turn a profit in machine work with little experience]
    You might take a job in the field and get a feel for it.
    Find out what specific need is short of service and target that so limiting your start-up costs.
    Do really good work to build a reputation.
    Until you get the hang of it you may need to work at little profit, charging the going rate.

    Easy to get skunked out of work if you deserve that.

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    You need larger dedicated machines for engine work, you won't be able to charge enough to do head work on a small cnc mill, the set up time will kill you. Small shop isn't enough space, and unless you are in the middle of Montana working out of your house isn't going to fly because of customer traffic and the vehicles those customers will leave. I am sure you are going to attract customers like guys restoring cars and racers, they are going to bring you a car on a trailer.

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    unclear electric motors or combustion engines. Big difference.
    Bill D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    unclear electric motors or combustion engines. Big difference.
    Bill D
    Clearly engines.

    So this comes up fairly often, and my suggestion is to develop a product. You can focus your resources on that particular thing, rather than whatever walks in the door. The turret lathe and mill you have are likely enough to at least prototype and send out samples/first sales. I bet measuring tools alone will kill your cash trying to get started with engine work.

    You mention making the brackets for a swap- can you sell kits for common swaps? I know that's already a thing, but can you identify underserved vehicles?

    It also helps with the home garage, which as noted is an issue for engine work (degreasing engines in your backyard? Good luck with that). If you're shipping kits all you have to do is become friends with the UPS man.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewynner98 View Post
    Where does one start how do I turn a profit in machine work with little experience.
    First get experience! Not just 6-8 months worth either, a few years at least. Find a job and learn all that you can from people who really know what they're doing. What good is it to open a business not knowing wtf you're actually doing. While you're working, save money and slowly buy equipment. If there's a better way to do it, I've never heard of it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rapid_Tech View Post
    First get experience! Not just 6-8 months worth either, a few years at least. Find a job and learn all that you can from people who really know what they're doing. What good is it to open a business not knowing wtf you're actually doing. While you're working, save money and slowly buy equipment. If there's a better way to do it, I've never heard of it!
    I do have some experience albeit i wish i had more. Dad was an engineer so the cad/cam comes easy to me as ive been playing in solidworks almost 10 years at this point. Ive assembled hundreds of motors gearboxes mechanical parts etc..... Seeing things go together and tolerances and fitment is also something im very accustomed with measuring and assembling. Have debated doing some time as a machinist/cnc operator but with only one guy in town for engine work my options are limited as most the rest just want parts changers for pallet racks. He needs another guy but won't train ive asked and asked im not confident enough to walk up to a machine, say a hone and run it as I've not run a lot of different machines but if someone was willing to give me say an hour of teaching I'd be comfortable by days end. Been playing with lathes and bridgeport manual machines for a handful of years on and off and have a good understanding of speeds feeds and tool selection for material type and machine capability. Guess i was more looking for direction on specialization. Im not scared to go in one direction or the other just want to hear some stories about how guys got into specific fields who to be approaching and how to market myself. I already have all the business stuff in place as far as accounting the licensure etc..... Would really love to make a product that's useful but haven't made it that far yet to really see anything outside of automotive

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewynner98 View Post
    I do have some experience albeit i wish i had more. Dad was an engineer so the cad/cam comes easy to me as ive been playing in solidworks almost 10 years at this point. Ive assembled hundreds of motors gearboxes mechanical parts etc..... Seeing things go together and tolerances and fitment is also something im very accustomed with measuring and assembling. Have debated doing some time as a machinist/cnc operator but with only one guy in town for engine work my options are limited as most the rest just want parts changers for pallet racks. He needs another guy but won't train ive asked and asked im not confident enough to walk up to a machine, say a hone and run it as I've not run a lot of different machines but if someone was willing to give me say an hour of teaching I'd be comfortable by days end. Been playing with lathes and bridgeport manual machines for a handful of years on and off and have a good understanding of speeds feeds and tool selection for material type and machine capability. Guess i was more looking for direction on specialization. Im not scared to go in one direction or the other just want to hear some stories about how guys got into specific fields who to be approaching and how to market myself. I already have all the business stuff in place as far as accounting the licensure etc..... Would really love to make a product that's useful but haven't made it that far yet to really see anything outside of automotive

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    the big question, what will seperate you from every other engine builder?

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    I'd start small and piece it together.

    Buy a used hone. Learn how to run it and let it pay for itself by having people sub you jobs with tight or deep ID's or surface finish callouts. Eventually you can upgrade to an actual engine hone and learn about cross hatching, torque plates, etc.

    Buy a decking machine. It's nothing but a bed mill with a big ole cutter. I've seen it done with fly cutters (with two cutting edges), but I prefer an actual milling head with extra close pitch inserts. Start offering decking for blocks & heads. If you can get the setup correct, it's fairly straight forward. I don't know how you'll know what the deck height minimums will be for each & every block & head.

    Start offering to refinish flywheels. Might could do it on your lathe. Fairly straight forward operation. Kind of a dying industry though. New flywheels are cheap (and new!). Most trucks now get automatic transmissions these days.

    I'd also look into repair work. Erosion around water passages can be counterbored and a new insert installed. Same goes for thermostat bores, etc.

    All this works best with actual engine machining equipment though. Start searching for Rottler, Sunnen, Serdi, Winona, Van Norman, Newen, Berco, etc. Probably a lot of engine shops going out of business these days.

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    Where are you? It makes a big difference. Just because the one shop is backed up for 9 months doesn't mean there is room for another shop to make enough income to afford to live. Engine machining equipment is specialized to make the job fast, and ordinary machine tools take to long to set up to be profitable.

    Then, what is the future of engine machining? With very few exceptions, any vehicle made today has an engine that will still be usable when the body falls apart around it, or some $.10 unobtainable electronic gizmo fails and renders the vehicle useless. So you are left with folks fixing up old cars, occasionally racers, and industrial engines. How much of these activities occur within 100 miles of you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbent View Post
    Where are you? It makes a big difference. Just because the one shop is backed up for 9 months doesn't mean there is room for another shop to make enough income to afford to live. Engine machining equipment is specialized to make the job fast, and ordinary machine tools take to long to set up to be profitable.

    Then, what is the future of engine machining? With very few exceptions, any vehicle made today has an engine that will still be usable when the body falls apart around it, or some $.10 unobtainable electronic gizmo fails and renders the vehicle useless. So you are left with folks fixing up old cars, occasionally racers, and industrial engines. How much of these activities occur within 100 miles of you?
    Fortunately a lot. I live in an ag community with 6 race tracks within 4 hours. Plus 3 restoration shops so I believe the market is there. Lots of motors being rebuilt in my area. I live in a part of the country thats very conservative too so rebuilding instead of replacing is still common place here. I like the idea of buying one at a time and doing say heads or rods. Was thinking I could probably come up with enough to do rods and install pistons as I have a press and the ring tools aren't too much the rod hone is reasonable for a used one and i could do some online sales for rebuilt rods just need to know how to market that I guess. Lots of shop owners ive talked to have echoed the sentiment that we need a good engine shop here that can turn around parts reasonably quick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewynner98 View Post
    Fortunately a lot. I live in an ag community with 6 race tracks within 4 hours. Plus 3 restoration shops so I believe the market is there. Lots of motors being rebuilt in my area. I live in a part of the country thats very conservative too so rebuilding instead of replacing is still common place here. I like the idea of buying one at a time and doing say heads or rods. Was thinking I could probably come up with enough to do rods and install pistons as I have a press and the ring tools aren't too much the rod hone is reasonable for a used one and i could do some online sales for rebuilt rods just need to know how to market that I guess. Lots of shop owners ive talked to have echoed the sentiment that we need a good engine shop here that can turn around parts reasonably quick.

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    and still no location.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    and still no location.....
    Sorry Montana. Bozeman area.

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    I'd say based on the population of Bozeman and surrounding area there's enough to support one medium sized engine builder, Not two.

    If you want to be the one you'll have to put the other out of business to make a living at it.

    Engine rebuilding is slowly dying away. There will always be some work in that realm, but there are far more profitable and satisfyingly ways to make a living if you are intelligent and have a mechanical aptitude.

    The topic of engine rebuilding machines comes up every few months on this site. There are some that say buy cheap shitty old machines to get started and then there are those that suggest if you want to compete you really need some of the newest tech machines just to do the bare minimum these days.

    IMO the only engine rebuilders that are viable long haul are the ones under the same roof with a large regional auto parts franchise that has the sales and distribution force to funnel all the work in and make most of the money off the parts, the machine shop is just an added service to retain customers.

    IMO you can make way more money with a CNC mill and lathe manufacturing automotive products for sale worldwide. You can do that without dealing with the morons in the general public, without scrubbing blobs of greasy iron every day, without listening to wishes of a 1000 HP bulletproof BBC on a $3000 budget stretched over the next 2 years.

    My Town/region is around 100k people. I do a lot of automotive stuff and have a good relationship with the biggest engine rebuilder in town. They have a large building in the middle of town. 5 fulltime employees. Been there for 60 years, but also have the latest quality CNC equipment.

    I'm one guy with a shop in my back 40. I make more net income with a half dozen CNC's and a few dozen products than they do .

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    The only guy is a one man show. Other engine shop is struggling due to quality issues. Im not opposed to just doing cnc stuff just trying to figure out what to prototype and market.

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    Bozeman is growing like crazy so...….

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan from Oakland View Post
    Bozeman is growing like crazy so...….
    Agreed. Its a zoo here. Thinking im going to make the transition away from cars due to keeping it one man for the time being. Machine work and custom bikes for a while. Buddy brought up me doing bikes and the market is good here for em

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