Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting Dirty, Flathead Engine Rebuild - Part 2

Alright this is my first solo engine rebuild!  You were already getting the feeling, right?  Yeah, the last was about 13 years ago with a friend who did most of the work, and that was a Ford 351 Windsor.  But I still remember the basics, and I'm reading up on it.

The start of the disassembly was going so smoothly I forgot to take pictures!  The pistons and rods were out the block in minutes and I didn't even need to use a ridge-reamer.  The reamer removes the lip that forms at the top of the cylinder on high mileage engines from piston rings.  My cylinders were OK.

Next were the valves, valve guides, and springs.  I wasn't planning to reuse any of the valve train, that's good, because I made a mess of it!

First the valve retainers needed to be removed from the bottom of the valves and from under the springs.  This is where the first of the flathead specialty tools, a spring compressor, would have come into play.  But I don't own them, so I improvised.

The spring compressor could have been used here.  But a large pry bar can be used... so I used a crowbar instead.

I took a lot of muscle to pry the springs up, the little retainers were sticky with oil --so I was getting little frustrated.  But they all came out, some with a struggle.  Little did I know even more anxiety was to come...

With the retainers off the valve can move up and down with ease.

59A and older valves have mushroomed ends, so mine just don't slip out like 8BA, Chevy V8, or any other valve newer then 1950.  These stayed in until the guides came out, which is the next step.

The guides have a retainer too, commonly called the horseshoe clip.  The retainer needs to come out first.  This is were the second of the flathead specialty tool would help --the valve guide remover.

Instead I used a screwdriver and hammer to move the guides down a bit  so the clips can be pulled.

Most moved willingly and were super friendly.  Seven valve were not so nice and stayed put.  The nicest valves & guides just about popped out the top of the block with the retainer off.

So it was off with their heads!

I grabbed the hack saw first, it was right there.  Nope, a blade went flat before I could go half way through one valve.

Next, I reached for the hot-wrench with some sort of nostalgic reasoning I thought it would work.  Nope, the valves are not steel, thus they do not oxidize and can't be cut.  That is probably why my hacksaw blade dulled, the valves are stainless or something.

Finally I picked up the grinder, which was actually my first thought, and in two minutes the stubborn-seven were headless, Eureka! And in less time then it took to set up the cutting torch.

Now I could hammer those stuck guides.  I used a socket & extension.  Done, and now with the retainers out --another problem.  The guides are only going down, not up.  And they can't go far enough down to come out either, stuck again.

Bring back the grinder.  I cut up the springs and valve stems inside the lifter valley, literally putting the grinder inside the engine.  I was super careful, I did want to save the cool Johnson adjustable hollow lifters, so I kept them down in the bores.

Finally the valve train was out, I had some mementos, I'm talking about the old valves.  And the camshaft came out easily once all the lifter were free.
I numbered the lifter as they came out.  I had to, they match the lobe, so if I wanted to reuse the cam & lifters together it's a must.

I took the water pumps off next, or at least one of them. The passenger side inside bold that rusted & rounded bolt head, I couldn't loosen.  So I left it on for the machine shop to get off.

But look what was inside the driver's side water jacket, sand & gravel?  Literally pebbles fell out.  Could this have been in a boat and sucked up sand from the river bed.  Rust was in there too, but nothing unusual about that.

The exhaust passages are filled with sand too, as are the exhaust bolt holes, and the oil pan is caked with it also (on the outside). I think the engine may have just sat in a really dusty field for a while with sand blowing over it while inside a car --missing the headers and water hoses.  Just a guess.

Now that it was apart, it's off to the machine shop.  I drove past H&H to my favorite shop, Jim Grubbs Motorsports in Valencia.  Where they build real racing car engines, and have the latest & greatest equipment.

Soon I'll be spending good money to find out how bad my block is --I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's Time, Flathead Engine Rebuild --the beginning.

Despite there being no recent updates on the dirt track T roadster build, I have been working on it.

The suspension is done, as is the chassis --for the most part.  So now I've reached that point where I no longer can hold out building the engine, transmission, and differential.  Brakes, wiring, fuel system are easy!  They will come later.  But I have got to start doing the engine stuff now according to the schedule I planned ahead of time.

Today I yanked the engine for tear-down.  It's that crusty red thing in the picture.

There is the old 8BA, feels like so long ago --it was, dang it!

The first engine in the car was actually a complete, stock, 8BA.  But after a short time I bought this red, former hot rod engine, that seemed much more tantalizing (I'll explain later).  And considering my first Model A also has a 8BA, I thought a prewar engine might be fun.

If you are into flatheads, study the engine block.  You might notice the water passages... triangle... circle... trapezoid.  Yes, you are correct, it's a 1941 or 1942 Mercury block.

Basically, a Merc block is the prewar predecessor to the post-war 59AB.  It has the look of prewar engines, but the bigger cylinder bore of what every Ford had postwar.

Further proof, some Mercs had '99' stamped on the intake deck.

What's the big deal?  Well a lot of guys way back when would say they had a "Merc engine" to be cool, but there was usually no way of proving it without taking the heads off. 

Earlier I mentioned that it's a former hot rod engine.  How do I know?  It's already loaded.

It has an Isky cam, adjustable Johnson lifter tappets, the block has been relieved around the valves, it has an aluminum cam gear in front, and it was painted red --that's how I know.

Plus, perhaps the most defining reason may be the over-bore.  It's 3-5/16, pretty big for a Ford block, but a 'safe' improvement to a Merc.

Here, you see the piston stamped '3-5/16'.  And at the top of the piston is 'STD'.  So I guess it's a standard 3-5/16 big-bore piston then.  The '8' because it's for cylinder number 8.

Iskenderian 3/4 race camshaft, the '77', which I've heard is a great cam for the street.  It's a bit "entry level" for me, I'm debating whether to reuse it.  Let's see what it looks like when I pull it first, that may decide it for me.

Nothing too special down below, it's a standard 3.75" stroke crank.

I haven't yet found a reason why this engine was pulled from a car to begin with, nothing broken and it's not very worn-out from the outset.

Also normal, sludge in the pan.  Flatties are notorious for sludge.  Ford never did work out a proper oil filtering system for their first V8.

OK, what is next?  Well I have to dismantle it to take it to a machine shop and have the blocked checked for cracks, etc, before machining.

Check back next week for Part 2, if I haven't given up already.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Sold At The Long Beach Parts Exchange

Yes, I sold a lot of bulky things I will probably never use.  Feels good to unburden myself of some of those things.  I now have space --I can breath better.

Many thanks to all my friends that stopped by (in no particular order): Richard, Fred, Nick's Brother, Sam, Bill, Oggy, Hey --How's It Going Guy, Jim, Charlie, Sideburns, Dennis, Model A Big-Talker Guy, & East Coast Richard.

This picture was taken mid-day, so some of the parts were sold by now.

My E&J Type 20 Headlights are gone forever.  I sold those kind of cheap --a little regret there.  But that's ok, I doubt I'd ever use them, and I didn't loose any money.

Nobody bought the hoods, running boards, or 'A' bumpers though --they are pretty bulky parts.  I'll try Craigslist, I really don't want to put them away.

But all the wheel & tires gone!  Happy about that.

The best thing to happen was right at the end of the day, I found the 2.5-gallon WWII oil tank I have been looking for for two years!  "East Coast" Richard had it in his stall only 100 feet from mine all day and I didn't know it.
After I packed up at noon, I took a short stroll and there it was!!!  I left for home right after that, no need to keep walking.  I finally had the last major part for the Model T I wanted.

I found it at Long Beach: WWII oil tank, awesome hot rod material!