In the May 98 issue we ran a story on low-buck 4340 connecting rods for small-block Chevys. Often, stock rods are the only way to go. Polishing your stock rods is an inexpensive way to increase strength and durability, and you can do this at home with little more than a die grinder and an Engine Prep Kit (PN 260003) from Standard Abrasives Motorsports. Racers have been polishing connecting rods for years to improve a stock rods durability and to decrease weight. The benefit to polishing is that you remove the source of potential stress fractures.
All factory rods have ridges from the forging process that run the length of the beams. This is the weakest part of the rod and most likely the first place a crack will develop. You can remove that ridge with a high-speed die grinder and a 40-grit cartridge roll in just a few minutes. But if you dont have a die grinder, you can still do a satisfactory job with a 120-grit sanding disk and an angle grinder; it will just take a little longer.
Before grinding on any set of rods, wed recommend first having them Magnafluxed and inspected by a machine shop. These guys deal with these parts every day, and they know where to look for trouble spots that you might miss. This eliminates the hassle of wasting your time polishing a junk rod.
When removing material, be sure to grind inline with the long axis of the beam. Dont grind across the beam, as this will leave microscopic grinding lines that could become starting points for fractures to develop. Also, dont bear down too hard on the grinding tool; this will create too much heat and could damage the rod. After youve finished grinding, be sure and take the rods back to your machine shop for new rod bolts and big-end resizing. Its also a good idea to have the rods shot-peened and balanced.