Monday, September 5, 2011

Seeking Motorvation Part 3

It's been awhile since I finished tearing down the engine.  Since then, I've been working on gathering funds enough to get some machine work done starting with having the block cleaned and the cam bearings removed.  I found a local shop just a couple of miles from my house that agreed to do it for $100.  He did, I picked up the block, nicely wrapped in plastic sheet and then went into stasis while I gathered yet more cash to have the machine work done.  I decided that even though this wasn't going to be a performance build, I was going to splurge and have the cylinders bored .030 over, have the crank re-machined, replace the cam, install new pistons on the rods, and have the cam bearings installed.  I called the shop where I had the block cleaned and he was in an emergency mode since his computer had just crashed and he was trying to get caught up.  I told him what I needed and he hastily gave me some numbers that were about 50% higher than previously discussed and then he went on to tell me that he couldn't start for a week or two.  I shrugged and called the next closest shop and the owner quoted me $385 for the work (I swear I said the words "short block" a couple of times during the conversation). I also asked him for a master rebuild kit for which he quoted another $375 and that I could drop the engine off at any time.  Friday, I dropped the block off where his assistant informed me that $385 for the work I wanted done seemed really low and I told him to just talk to his boss and call me if there are any issues.  Also, the assistant went on to tell me that my block had been bead blasted, not hot tanked as I was led to believe by the other shop. *sigh*

Later, they confirmed the price and set to work.  I picked up the block on Wednesday of the following week. However, the block was not assembled to "short block" but it had been painted and the freeze plugs were in.  I guess that explains the low price but I'll do what it takes to save a buck.  I loaded the block and rebuild kit parts into the car and unloaded.

The freshly bored and painted block.

On the stand.  Cylinders bored .030 over.

The new "RV-2" cam, cam lube, and re-machined crank.  Journals machined .010 under.

Cam installed and lubed.  Crank journal bearings in place.

 I had previously purchased "How to rebuild small-block Ford engines" by Tom Monroe.  This book tells it all step by step.  One of the things he suggests is to double-check the crank journals to confirm the specifications.  One method is to use Plastigage which consists of a wax string that you place on the journal surface and then torque down the bearing cap and remove it again.  You look at the smear left by the wax string and measure the width using a gauge provided with the Plastigage.  The width represents distance between the journal and the bearing surface. 

The smooshed Plastigage.

This journal was within specs. 15 thousandths clearance.  All other journals were also deemed "good to go".

Plenty of engine assembly lube.  The rear main seal is in place with some RTV on the cap to prevent leaking.  This is the kind of stuff Monroe's book covers.

All of the caps are torqued down.

Engine turned over to start popping in the pistons.

A box of new hypereutectic .030 over pistons.

Installing the rings on the pistons is fairly time-consuming.  It can be even more-so if your cylinders have not been bored identically since you would have to "gap" each ring for each cylinder individually.  I checked all of my cylinders and found them all to be within 1 or 2 thousandths of exactly 4.030 inches so I felt confident that once I confirmed the ring gap in the first cylinder, the rest should be fine as well.

Rings, ring expander, and ring compressor.  Note the box top indicates the correct channel for the ring.

The compression rings had gaps of .014".

Here's how you use a ring expander. This one was $5.99 at Harbor Freight and I'm damned glad I got it after doing 16 compression rings.

Rings installed (with gaps staggered according to Monroe's book), piston and cylinder lubed.

The $9.99 Harbor Freight ring compressor.  After the first 4 or 5 cylinders, this started not working so great.  I think I would buy a better one if I were to do this agian.

First piston in.  Seven to go.

Journal and rod bearings lubed.

First rod is torqued.

All pistons are in!

From the top.

Timing gear test fit.
The master rebuild kit included a set of later-style double roller timing sprockets and a chain.  Unfortunately, they didn't include the later-style fuel pump eccentric cam that's supposed to go onto this side of the big cam sprocket.  The original won't work because A) the cam dowel pin is too short to extend all the way through the sprocket like the old one did, and B) the new sprocket is thicker so, if I mount the old eccentric on it, it will rub against the timing cover.  Unfortunately, I can't find any parts stores locally that carry any style of eccentric so I'm going to have to either get the part from the engine shop that did the work or order it online.  Double-unfortunately, it's Labor Day weekend here in the states and the machine shop is closed.  So, more later.


  1. Hey that looks like some serious progress. That Monroe book is a great resource. I wore mine out rebuilding the Cleveland in my 67.


  2. Exciting stuff tackling your own engine build! Looking forward to the "rest of the story"! Great work!

  3. Thanks guys! Hopefully, I can make more progress this week.

  4. Really nice work, and it's great that I have this post to follow when I start rebuilding my motor in a few months..

  5. @Joyr1der: Yikes! I'll try to do it right then. ;-)

  6. @Alex, yeah you better, there's your own high standard to live up to after all...can you also work a bit quicker please, I don't want to catch you up ;-) !!

  7. Nice progress Alex ! Makes me think I should find me a 289 too.

  8. I love seeing those old blocks after a bit of a cleanup, machining and a lick of paint... they look like they have just come of the production line.