Engine Valve Shims

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Valve Shims
Valve Shims

Valve shimming is the process of placing small disk shaped metal objects under the valve bucket,in order to compensate for lost clearance, due to wear. This added shim acts as a spacer to keep the space between the bottom of the cam and the top of the valve bucket at the right distance. As the valves in the engine wear out, the clearance gets tighter which means that a thinner shim is needed under the bucket to keep the correct amount of clearance.

These shims are commonly used in engines that have high revving capabilities such as a motorcycle. High revving engines are more prone to excessive wear since the internal parts are moving faster and are placed under greater stresses. Valve shimming is an effective process to ensure the right valve clearance. Shimming should only be done a few times before needing to replace the valves, springs, keepers, seals, and most likely seats. Continual use of shims to compensate for wear can cause extensive damage to the engine if the shims break.

Valve shims are often purchased in kits which come with many different shims varying in size and thickness. Buying a kit will allow for multiple shims to be installed as time goes on and more wear occurs. Wear patterns can vary and are hard to determine which is why having a variety if shims available to use when installing will allow for a more accurate install. After shims are installed, the camshaft may flex differently which means that changes in shims may be needed to accommodate the clearance issue. Valve shims are usually made out of a high strength steel that can stand up to all the same conditions that the valves have to withstand. Valves that are made out of a higher quality material such as titanium may use different sizes and materials for their shims to keep up with the higher performance of the engine.

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