Restoring A Vintage Rimac Valve Spring Tester
My father has always said to me "it pays to have the correct tools to properly do the job". With his own words ringing inside my head I set out to find an original Rimac valve spring tester tool to keep and use here at the shop.
At the time of searching for a valve spring tester tool I was rebuilding my 1968 Triumph TR6R and was curious to know the seat pressures on the head.
Rimac valve spring tester's today are very hard to find. I have spent countless time online trying to research and find more information about the Rimac company that is now long out of business.
When I found my Rimac spring tester I was searching on eBay for months. Prior to finding my tool I saw some pretty damaged and beat up testing tools. Some look like they where dragged out of a ditch, which is pretty sad because they cost upwards of $700+ when they where being produced new.
Rimac testers today typically hold there value very well IF they work, have all the parts and in good condition. My Rimac valve spring tester is a 500# model which is good for motorcycle valve springs as well as automotive. I have all the parts but missing 1 pointer on the dial face.
According to some original Rimac catalogs I have found there appears to be a few different models that where produced; 250#, 500# and a 1000# valve spring testers.
Rimac valve spring testers are sought after as many new valve spring testers that can be purchased today are not of the same quality and offer that classic look. I mean, isn't this a sexy looking tool?
Although I love working on vintage British motorcycles I wanted to do a different project for once. So why not restore a tool that can be used here at the shop?
Alright lets get down to the restoration of this Rimac valve spring tester.
This restoration consisted of...
- Complete disassembly (very, very carefully)
- Clean and inspect all parts
- All steel parts to be re-chromed
- Body was powder coated
- Calibrate tool - test
Here is my valve spring tester before I started the restoration process. As you can see the paint was faded and beginning to chip. The chrome plating was worn down to the copper plating.
With the dial face off you can now see the internals of this valve spring tester. The design is actually pretty simple but the gear cluster is the most fragile and important part of this gauge to work properly and accurately.
Notice the red marker reading "500#"? The marking is most likely from the manufacture to inform the assembler that this unit is a 500# gauge.
Here is a collage that I compiled of the internal working parts and mechanisms. I marked all components to ensure everything goes back into there same orientation.
There are no instructions on Rimac valve spring tester tools other than being careful and having good judgement.
The external pieces where removed very easily as most components where fastened using allen screws.
Today (1-19-2018) picked up my freshly powder coated body and parts. Now it's time to reassemble the internal parts.
The body was painted as close to the original blue color as possible.
A local powder coating company that goes by "California Coating" did all the work on this body... check them out
I was a little concerned about getting paint into the small threaded holes so I really stressed that to the powdercoater. They masked everything off and all was well. Very happy with the results.
Ready for the internal assembly
Next up is to assemble all the bottom pieces.
Another collage I compiled showing all the pieces back in there proper place.
I had to make sure the arm was in the center of the bore and flush using a level gauge. If not, the base plate would be "off" and the valve spring would no longer be sitting flat.
Now its time to move onto the outer pieces once I get them back from chroming.
I was debating with myself if I wanted to have all the metal pieces chromed. Despite the price of chrome today it would really "clean up" the restoration.
Many of the chrome pieces where worn to the point copper was showing through. Many spots on the chrome had the appearance of nickel plating. I used a rag and some polish to clean up the old chrome but that didn't last to long.
The debate was over and I decided to give in... all pieces where dropped off to "Louie" my local chrome plated in the city of Palmdale.
Louie at "Superior Metal Polishing" had previously done some work for me from chroming BSA fenders to chroming my 1969 BSA A65 gas tank. Louie does amazing work, all quality.
A little over a month Louie called me and informed me my parts where ready. I was extremely pleased with the quality. All parts are triple-plated chrome.
Ready for the external parts assembly
Since everything is here ready to go I can now finish up this restoration.
My bigger concern was that this tool would not be as accurate as it was once before once assembled. This is my first Rimac valve spring tester tool so the risk is mine.
Everything went together smoothly. I had to use a tap to clean some threads from the chrome and powder coat.
Watching this Rimac tool come back to life is truly amazing.
I must say the blue powder coat is pretty close to how the original blue color Rimac valve spring testers where. With all new chrome and paint it almost makes this tool too nice to use!
I greased all moving parts with Lucas red grease. The lever and pivoting shaft now move nice and free.
Once all the components where fitted in there proper locations in was time for the last step.
Calibration is very tricky on this tool. It's not difficult but more trial and error. Upon removing this tool I marked all internal parts to ensure everything goes back together accordingly.
After 30 minutes of installing and removing the face and needle I got the calibration pretty close to what my calibration spring and card recommend.
I'm about 2-3lbs off which is totally acceptable for my work. The calibration spring and card where purchased from COMP Cams along with the dial indicator adapter.
Now that the calibration is complete it is time to offer the plastic window and chrome bezel to the Rimac spring tester unit.
Restoration progress = finished
I can now call this restoration project complete. No wonder these tools are rare and fetch big money on eBay. Look how beautiful it is!
I am very pleased of how this Rimac valve spring tester turned out. I can't wait to start using it again to measure valve springs for my customers and for bikes here at the shop.
Before and after
Just wanted to give a shout out to those who provided me with a top-notch service to get the job done!
- Paint - California Coating
- Chrome - "Louie" Superior Metal Polishing
Adapter & Calibration Spring - COMP Cams
Thanks for reading
Well there you have it. The Rimac valve spring tester is ready to be put back into service. Should last many years to come.
Let know what you all think by commenting below.
Thanks for reading