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Diesel valve steel?

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My neighbor, who has a heavy equipment maintenance business has been giving me scraps from his shop- leaf springs, mild steel, etc, dropped off a box of diesel valves at my house yesterday. They are all stamped 'caterpiller' with a few different numbers.... These things are pretty big- ~1.5" diameter valve, valve stems are about 5"x 1/4".  They seem like they would be good candidates for punches.


Anyone know what steel these are made of?

Are the exhaust valves a different allow than the intake valves?

Any interesting things that can be made from them?


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I don't know the alloy, but I do know that every valve I've tried to forge has been an absolute bear to work.  Kinda makes sense when you consider the type of work they perform and the environment they are supposed to survive in!


I would use the shanks to make engraving chisels by grinding the ends to shape, quenching often so I didn't lose the temper.  

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Valves that are for extreme duty, normally the exhaust, can be sodium filled. The best way would either talk to a caterpillar dealer to see if they know or to use a hacksaw or die grinder to cut through the fillet area where the stem meets the head and look for any hollow areas. I would not try to work them until you find out.

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Good Morning,


Sodium is only used in SOME exhaust valves. Exhaust valves are all non-magnetic heads, some a magnet will stick to part of the valve stem but not the head. Intake valves will be attracted with a magnet. Normally on the european engines that have sodium in them, there is a little dimple in the center of the head, almost looks like a counter bore.


Valves make excellent repoussse' tooling.



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The GMC V-6's of the 60's had sodium cooled exhaust valves. My Dad's 66 GMC with the 305 V6 has them. He also told me that some of the aircraft engines he worked on in the Air Force also had them.

Exhaust valves are usually a stainless to take the heat, intakes are usually carbon steel.

In actuality, those valves are not that big, more like standard V8 valves in your truck. I have seen diesel valves that were around 6" diameter with stems that ran 5/8's x 12". A guy used to sell them at the flea market I went to.

Contact Cat for more info. I have found a lot of companies to be willing to let me know what I have.

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Sodium filled valves are most common in high performance engines.


This includes MOST Marine Engines, ... due to the sustained high RPM operation they incurr.



It's also very common to find a wear surface "wafer" of 4140, about .100 thick, welded on the tip of the valve stem.


Hard surface weld on the valve seat area, is also common on valves for diesel engines.



Older engines tended to use carbon steel for intake valves.


This was possible because the fuel mix flowing over the valve kept it cool.


This is NOT the case with direct injected engines, ... therefore, newer engines tend to have Stainless intake valves, too.





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 The Premium Exhaust Valve with Colmonoy 6, which is a Chrome-Nickel alloy. Powdered Colmonoy is then carefully welded to the valve using a plasma welding process designed by MaK engineers.


And you can read more here :



they also could be Stainless steel as Cat also uses it in many of their engines although it is a very high grade of SS and very Hard . they also use induction hardening and Case hardening on their valves it really depends on the engine the valves came out of . the are meant to bend rather then shatter to save the motor from further damage when catastrophic failure happens in a engine Cat does Not use Filled or Hollow or cored Valves their valves are All Forged Steel of some type determined by the Engine they are meant for.


Yes I know for sure as I have worked on a Ton of their engines both in Heavy Eq, and Marine engines while at Cat .... If it is Not a Cat it is a Dawg !  <Grins>


Best of Luck and good Forging



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As I get older, I know fewer and fewer things "for sure", ... since much of what's touted as "new" is so often just a "rip off" of some earlier idea.


But this I know, from first hand experience :


When I started to work in the Engineering Department at Manley Valve, in York, PA, ... around 1995, ... the process or Plasma Welding a variety of powdered, "hard surface" materials to valve seats, was already decades old.


And at that time, Manley wasn't claiming this as any sort of "proprietary" process, ... but instead, it was viewed as just another specialized feature, that was offered to satisfy the needs of certain OEM buyers.



The point of all this, is only that ..... there's really "nothing NEW under the Sun".


And we would ALL do well to remember, ... and RESPECT those who came before us, ... for they accomplished GREAT things, ... with much less support and technology, than we enjoy.






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