The saga of an Engine Rebuild

(or how you can know nothing and still get it right)

As you remember I had engine problems that kept the Armadaís and the Vitettaís from getting to Tonyís house on time for the Stewart trip this past spring (2004). After everything was said and done and we arrived back at Bertís, I attached the tow bar I have to Tess and after removing the drag link I towed her home with out any problems.

I drained the oil and looked for signs of a spun bearing by looking and feeling for metal in the drained oil. Finding nothing I proceeded to drop the oil pan and the first thing I noticed was that the oil pump fell down with the pan even after I had put in the screw to hold it up. When I loosened the screw about 3 inches of additional oil pump fell out. The second really bad sign. (The first was the sound of rocks rattling in the engine).

I looked in the oil pan and found a couple of big hunks of aluminum in the bottom. Looking up in the engine with a flashlight and saw a hole in the #3 piston. The next bad sign. With this observation I started to take off the head and see things from that view.

Let me go back a little here, when I bought the car I was told that the engine had some problems. Driving with it I heard for myself that it made noises, blew oil out of the fill tube, smoked in the cab, and had a cracked exhaust manifold, and I had oil in the water. Nothing was hidden from me when I bought it. I had planned to have the engine rebuilt and I had started to put money away each paycheck to get the job done. (I just wasnít ready in now). I had already patched the crack and removed 17 shims to quiet the rod noise.

With the head off I saw that the exhaust valve had broken off and fell into the piston popping a hole in the top of the piston. I figured that I would remove the pistons and replace them. The pistons were marked .060, there was no ridge formed by the piston movement, so I ordered .060 pistons and rings. And proceeded to take the engine apart even further. Once I received the pistons I found that the wrist pins would not fit, so I ordered bushings and went looking for a machine shop.

In Davie there is a parts house that sells engine parts so I went there and asked about someone that could do machine work. I was given the name of Austral Engine re-builders and went over to see him down the road from the supplier. He was working on a Packard engine when I introduced myself and he was happy to fit the bushings to the rods and the rods to the pins.

With this all done I proceeded to gap the rings. I placed the rings about 1 inch down into the cylinder and saw a huge gap. This was bad sign number four. After scratching my head I noticed a strange rust spot on the engine deck just forward of the number 1 cylinder. I cleaned it a little and noticed a stamp .080. Eighty over!? Remember the pistons were marked .060.

I package up the pistons and rings as they were never installed or used and trade them for .080. Once these arrive, I fit the rings as they needed a little grinding and proceeded to install the pistons. This is looking good, the install the pistons in number one and four but when I go to rotate the engine to put in two and three the pistons move about an inch and no more. Yea, another problem encountered. Never say die right!! I went to auto parts store and bought a cylinder hone. I figure it just needs a little honing and the rings might need a little more clearance since I showed about 7 people the block marking and they all agree that it read .080.

I hone, I trim, still nothing. Iím now resigned that I will have to remove the engine and have it bored. I took the head, plain block, un-cracked exhaust/intake manifold combination to austral with a piston to be fitted. For under $300.00 he bored out the cylinders, removed the head bolts, decked the block and the head and the manifolds, and ground the valve seats. He confirmed that the babbit still looked good for an occasionally driven car.

Home free right? Not a chance, I get a call that the cylinders have to be bored out to .100. I now order my third set of pistons. (I have now have a set of $95.00 pistons 80 over for sale to a club member at $40.00) But he did have good news I had hardened valve seats already in the block.

Iím going to speed up here a little as my fingers are getting tired since I type with only two fingers on each hand. I got the engine back everything fit fine, I put in new head bolts. I checked the clearance on the crank. I polished new valves in the valve seats, installed adjustable lifters, and a different oil pump. Engine done!

I also replaced the worn ring gear by bringing the flywheel to "Everything Welded" a welder also in Davie. I had to order a different throttle linkage from Bertís in Colorado as the one in the car was badly worn.

After putting everything together the engine runs like a dream. I think I have to readjust the valves a little but not now. The only drawback to a quiet running engine is now I hear all the other noises, speedo cable, rattles and the like. Ainít Model Aís fun. I enjoyed every frustrating minute. And thanks to my wife Sue for allowing me to spend more then I had in Tessís account. Love you dear!!!!