About Us

Conley Precision Engines Inc.
 

At Conley Precision Engines, my motto is “Perfection is almost good enough”. This is a motto that I try to live by. I found that it is better to explain a delay than apologize for the quality of workmanship. My business has been in the same location and has grown steadily over the past 30 years. I firmly believe the reason for my longevity, was due in part to the way my customers are treated.

After completing my Masters Degree in Industry and Technology at Northern Illinois University, I spent about five years teaching Vocation Machine Technology at Morton West High School in Berwyn, Illinois. During this time I involved many of my advanced students in machining and constructing various steam and internal combustion engines.

When education became more “baby sitting” rather than teaching, I decided to start my own business with one product, a very limited budget, and a whole lot of hopes and dreams. I would emphatically like to say, that without my wife, Cheryl, none of this would have been possible. She has allowed me to “chase a dream” for almost 30 years. The first V-8 engine was crude in comparison with my current engine. It was made completely from billet. Each component was hand made without the use of any CNC equipment. That has been almost 30 years ago and I will say that several of the original engines are still running. I must have done something right. During this time the engine went through some major changes. Being on a limited budget it was difficult to make significant changes in the production and machining. As monies became available, it was spent for new machines. The most significant machine was an Anilam CNC retrofit to my current Bridgeport. By today’s standards, this machine was very slow but for the first time I really had the ability to make interchangeable parts. By the way, this machine is still in use and although slow, it is still extremely accurate. I now have three other pieces of CNC equipment. Since I am not a “job shop” there are several dedicated machines for a specific purpose. Another significant change was having a lot of the parts cast. Some of the parts were “sand cast” while others were either “die cast” or “investment cast”. Not only did this alter the appearance of the engine but allowed for considerable internal changes. The most notable of these was the investment cast crankshaft and connecting rods. This allowed me to increase the bore from .750 to .952. There have been too many changes to list and at the risk of “boring you to death” I will not list all of them.

There were plenty of ups and downs during this time but in 1996 two Chrysler representatives approached me. Since I was already making a V-8 engine there question was would I not consider building a ¼ scale Viper V-10 engine? At that time I was contemplating building a ¼ scale V-12 and after some serious thoughts, the V-10 seamed to be the logical choice. After going through and receiving a licensing agreement from Chrysler the next step was to get a full sized engine for the purpose of “reverse engineering”. One day I get a knock on the door and a truck unloaded a complete Viper V-10 engine in my driveway. At that point in time, I wondered what I had gotten myself into? Since this engine was mainly a façade, with limited internals, it was totally dismantled and each piece was then analyzed and evaluated to see if the engine could actually be reduced to ¼ scale. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of my very long “uphill battle”? Some of the molds I made myself, but a great friend of mine, Ken Bennett from Topaz Engineering, made one of the most complicated. It was the mold for the head and runners for the intake and exhaust ports. The problems that were encounter are too numerous to list. Two of the major problem areas, which had not been considered, were the ignition system and the oiling system. Keep in mind voltage cannot be scaled down. The alternator housing became my distributor. It had ten electronic sensors and one rotating magnet. The signal created was then sent to another circuit with told each coil when it needed to fire. After numerous failures it was discovered that the RF interference was burning out some of the sensitive components. The solution was “magnetic suppression wire”. This does not exist in small size. I contacted Delphi Packard and two months later I had 10,000 feet of small diameter magnetic suppression wire. This eliminated the problem. The other problem was oil control. There was always plenty of oil; it was almost impossible to scrape the oil from the walls of the cylinders. This alone took me over nine months of twelve hour days to solve. Remember, oil control rings for this size engine are not commercially available.  The entire project should have only taken one to one and a half years. In actuality it took almost 5 years. Only one V-10 engine was ever completed and is now in the possession of an avid engine collector in Kentucky.

 Almost five years later, I receive possible the most devastating phone call of my life. The foundry that was doing all of my castings was consumed in a catastrophic fire that destroyed everything. All of the V-10 molds melted down to large puddles of aluminum. Even the molds for the V-8 were destroyed. Over $350,000.00 in molds and five years of hard labor were gone and there was no insurance to cover any of my loses!  For the next three days I sat in my office and cried. There was nothing left for me to do. If that were not bad enough, all of the deposits for every engine had to be returned. It would have been very easy to declare Bankruptcy. For me this was not an option. I had built a company on honesty and integrity and could not do that to my customers. There did not seam to be any definite answer. About that same time the company that was making the model carbs that were used on my engines was being sold. With some very strong “soul searching” and lengthy conversations with my wife, I decided to purchase the entire line of Perry products from Varsane Manufacturing. This included not only the model carburetor line but also the model engine pumps and fuel control valves. This purchase proved to be my “saving grace”. Slowly, all of the deposits were returned and I started to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. Things have continued to improve and after exhausting my entire existing V-8 inventory, in the fall of 2005 I decided to build another V-8 engine. The one thing that I had retained from the fire was all of the masters from the V-10 engine. Instead of trying to revive the V-10 engine, the decision was made to modify and shorten the V-10 engine into an all-new V-8 engine. There is something that is called “transferable knowledge”, which became very evident when I decided to build the new engine. Remember almost five years was spent on its design and construction. Some of the internal components did not change and since I had a lot of parts in stock I put them to good use on the new Stinger 609 engine. Surprising, the only molds that survive the fire were the mold for the head and the mold for the intake and exhaust runners. With a lot of measuring and careful machining the mold for the V-10 head was shortened to make a great V-8 head. The runners did not change. Someway, somehow all of the masters were modified for the new Stinger 609 engine. The rest, as they say is “history”. Thanks to my many customers who stood by me in good times and in bad. 


If you would like to read more about Gary L Conley and view some pictures of the shop, machines, cars, toys, and hobbies, please go to the link below. I would also like to extend a personal thanks to Sherline Products for putting together this glamorous article. It is very humbling to be included with such an elite group of individuals. 

www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/Conley.htm