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Keeping rings parallel during ring filing

Practical Engine Building

Discussion and questions related to the course Practical Engine Building


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In regards on ensuring the ring gaps remain parallel, how do you actually position it on the filer? I find this is some of the common issues faced while filing the ring which is to ensure it remains parallel.

Any further tips on this would be much appreciated.

Ideally an electric ring file is the best solution since it will include an adjustable stop that you can use to set the bore diameter and make sure all your rings are filed parallel. If you're using a manual ring file this is trickier and the process is one of taking your time, making small adjustments and checking your work frequently.

Easiest / cheapest way?

1. Purchase a fine cut, thin file. (Thinnest the better.)

2. Clamp the file into the jaws of the bench vise.

3. Take a single ring and hold the opening away from you.

4. While laying the ring flush with the vice jaws. (Position the file so it will allow you to lay the ring flush against the flat top surface of the jaws.)

5. Pinch the file with the ring using two hands and simultaneously draw the ring toward you. (Imagine a centerline in the ring and try to stay on center while drawing the ring slowly.)

Don't do a full draw of the file until you get an idea of how much material you are removing. The file can remove a surprising amount of material and best to sneak-up on the ring end gap. I will use a piston to align the ring in the cylinder bore.

Drawing the ring along the top of the jaws will help as a brace to steady your hands as you only have to focus on one alignment.