Cylinder Honing Practices

Alright I wanted to start up a discussion regarding cylinder honing practices.

First off, what type of hone do most of the engine builders prefer? Bar hone or Ball flex hone? What about iron vs. plated cylinders, which to use and what grits does everyone use? It seems a lot of builders seem to be using the ball flex hones now. Is this a more common practice with plated cylinders?

With a NikaSil barrel, only a ball hone. You are not actually honing the barrel, you are just scraping off the glaze. Same size piston and rings are used.

With an iron barrel, a bar hone. In this case, you are scraping off the glaze and re-working the surface. In this case, the barrel bore becomes larger and requires the piston and rings to be re-fitted.

all i use is ball hones on plated and cast iron cylinders .

depends on what you are doing.

quick clean of plated or iron bore.ball hone is fine.

fitting a piston to a bore? obviously you need a rigid hone.

180 grit to 240 grit hones are fine for the quick clean.

I've seen engine builders using rigid hones and just wrapping them with sand paper for quick deglazing. Has anyone gone that route? Also what lubricant do most use? I've heard WD-40 to motor oil and everything in between.

never tried the sand paper deal.i really see no need.

as far as lube i just use what ever is handy.

LOL, if it is on the internet, it must be true.

The term 'Glaze' refers to baked on oil and fuel deposits. No one said you have to hone to clean up a barrel. It is your engine, build it as you see fit. I think most want to scrape the glaze off (NikaSil) or freshen the honing edges on the barrel (iron).

This is going to go against everything you've been taught:

Agree with the link posted, as far as most honing does more harm then good, especially backyard honing. His point of using soft cast iron rings isn't always an option though. Most modern engines use hard chrome faced rings on very hard plated cylinders, a different scenerio, this is where proper sizing and fitment and a good hard run in becomes more important than if the the nicasil was scratched up (honed) prior to assembly. If there's oil in the engine there will be high temperature oxidation around the ring land area (1200f) and a resulting glaze or film on the bore. This can be removed chemically without scratching he bore surface with somehting like solvents or oven cleaner and a nylon scrub. Much better than trying to clean it off with stone.

Not saying that I agree with it 100% but I try to keep an open mind and keep up on new practices. My personal experience does support this though, on all my nicasil/plated cylinders, I have never honed the cylinders, just new rings and piston and have allways had good compression afterwards with no visable blow-by marks on the piston. However on my vintage bikes with cast iron liners, I was allways old school and ran a ball hone through them when re-ringing them.

You shouldn't use a ball hone in a plated cylinder. It slaps against the plating and chips at it espeacially in a 2T where the balls can catch on the ports. Use a cylinder brush for nikasil and other plated cylinders except chrome. With chrome you have to use a rigid hone and use of a ball hone isn't recommended either. In steel sleeves use any hone for removing the glazing. as far as lube I only buy honing oil, but you can use ATF, 3in1, PB blaster and the likes.

One thing overlooked here is the need of a crosshatch pattern at about a 35 degree angle. This allows the rings to help lubricate the cylinder walls as they go up and wipe the oil off the walls as they go down. Without this crosshatch pattern you can develop hot spots in the cylinder or oil can get trapped in the groves and burn as the rings pass it by. To each his own!

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