Tuesday, December 24, 2013

valve covers and intake manifold

I've been slowly limping towards rebuilding my 351W, narrowing down the spec. and buying parts. One of the things I always intended to buy off the shelf was a nice shinny pair of valve covers. The ones that came with my engine were not in the best shape...and it's the one thing that everybody looks at! But I just could not find anything suitable. The nearest thing was a pair of stock reproductions that I could customize, but why go to that much effort on a repro part? So I went back to the original parts and dug out my trusty wire wheel. I knocked out a few small dings and then I sprayed on several coats of the same red paint I used on the rest of the motor.

I think the embossed text is the most exciting feature

Now this is where it gets interesting. I wanted to paint the raised text a different color. I don't have the steadiest hand, so using a stencil was mandatory. I tried a couple of ways of doing this, starting with a crude attempt to make a template using a wax crayon and some of the "Sticky Mickey's Automotive Masking Film" I bought from Eastwood. It was not very successful. Next I tried some 1/16 inch wide masking tape to trace out the individual letters. This is a very time consuming process if you want to get it spot on. I bought some good quality tape which was easy to stretch and bend for the curved sections, but also easy to keep straight. And it was easy to cut with a semi-sharp razor blade too. The most difficult bits were the insides of the closed letters (o, d, p etc). I cut some of these from Mickey's not-all-that-sticky wide tape. When I was happy with the outline I added more tape and masked off everything else. Then I had to do it all again for the second cover.

It took a few seconds to spray on half a dozen coats of the Eastwood brake gray I've been using throughout the project. When the tape came off I feathered the edge of the gray with some 0000 steel wood and then I sprayed on several coats of clear coat. Two more parts completed!

There's been a few intake manifolds linked with this project over the years. There was the unit that came with the six cylinder engine for a start. I don't even have a picture of that one. There was the stock manifold from the 302. That one came wrapped in clingfilm....and that is how I last saw it too. I never unwrapped it because I acquired an Edelbrock performer 289 aluminum manifold (with free duct tape) on the same day as the 302 motor. After I decided not to use the 302 for this project I passed it on to my friend Larry, and the aluminum manifold went too. All of this left me with a stock manifold for the 351W, which I didn't really want to use, so I started casting around for alternatives.

After mentioning my needs to several of my buddies in BAMA I ended up with this 4-barrel Edelbrock Performer 2181 from my friend Brian. Apparently the "dual-plane design and 180 degree firing order...boosts torque over a wide rpm range, from idle to 5,500 rpm. These manifolds also deliver improved throttle response over stock intakes." I wasn't as keen on the green paint however.

There were several options for getting rid of the ghastly green:

1. Paint over it....too many chips, bumps and peeling paint.
2. Wire wheel...not a smart idea with aluminum and too many hard-to-reach places in any case.
3. Paint stripper....messy and time consuming given the multitude of contours.

So I took option 4, and handed it over to my buddy Chuck. He took the manifold to his place of employment and ran it through their industrial-sized sand blasting cabinet. (After work, of course!) When it came back the manifold had also been treated to several layers of clear coat and had all the bores re-tapped. So better than new in other words. Not bad for just a case of PBR!

Job done

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

trunk springs...again

Now then, now then, safety first: taking the trunk hinge torsion springs in and out is a dangerous operation which has been known to result in the loss of fingers. I've written before about how to do this safety, and I've given away the plans to a very useful tool I made for the purpose. In fact, I thought I was done with this operation after my last house move.

But no. And this little story is a peach. So I got a bit carried away with the zinc plating and through in everything I could...including the trunk springs. What I didn't know when I did this (although I should have given my history in organometallic chemist!) was that hydrogen starvation in the plating process weakens the springs. Months after I moved, I went to open up the trunk and discovered both springs had snapped. Oh dear. I mentioned in my last post that I snaffled a bunch of parts from my friends at Mostly Mustangs, and the trunk springs were the first thing I grabbed. This time though I just cleaned them up and painted them gray. I had to wait until I turned the car around before I could get the room to work on the trunk. After that the installation was easy. It should be...I've done it enough times now.

I took the gas tank back out and used the trunk access to get the deck lid perfectly aligned. This took rather a lot of rinse and repeat to get the lid spot on. When I was finally satisfied, I drilled some 1/8" dia. alignment holes through the hinges. Next time I take the lid off, putting it back right should be much easier.

I caulked the seal at the gas tank and installed all the bolts. I was careful not to use too much caulk after the trauma I had taking the tank out the first time. I also re-installed the filler neck and most of the flip-top gas cap (more on that later).

I wanted to install the rear bumper and license plate while I had access to the back of the bar, but I couldn't get the passenger side bumper support to fit around the rear valance. I'd actually forgotten that before I owned the 68 it had been taken some minor damage at the rear. This involved some re-working of the rear valance and a few other things, but I guess I never noticed that one of the bumper supports was also bent. When I compared the two brackets through, it was obvious. Not exactly the most difficult repair to make - I just put the bracket in the vice and leaned on it, but I was happy to do this before the final paint had been applied. I guess this is why you do a dry build!

While all this was going on, preparations for the enigne rebuild were still ticking over. All the rusty hardware got soaked in Marine Clean, worked over with the wire wheel, and zinc plated.

Turned out nice!
A few other things also got the zinc treatment

Monday, October 21, 2013

getting glassed

It feels like every post for the last six months has included some mention of how slow progress has been. This one's different. The engine coming back from the shop has really spurred me on to get the car running again. I mentioned a while back that I started installing sound/heat insulation at the firewall. It was always part of the plan to put this material pretty much everywhere, but the next place I worked on was the doors. I started at the driver side. Once the insulation was done I installed the door handles and the rest of the locking mechanism. I was surprised how easily this all went back.

Dead-End Door
the guts of it...
Popped on the handle and locks etc.

So now I wanted to put the three side windows back in, starting with the quarter window. The various parts house make it easy to gather all the needed facsimile rubber seals and trim parts...except one: the seal around the glass at the quarter window. This is a shame, because mine needed replacing. You can buy the entire quarter window assembly, but I didn't fancy doing that just to get a $2 seal. My guess is that the reproduction unit is assembled using some type of modern adhesive/sealant which sets after the window pane is inserted into the frame...and therefore can't be sold as a discreet item. At times like this I usually call on my buddies at Mostly Mustangs in Oakland. They can always source good used parts, and this time they came up with a pair of very nice windows from a recently totaled 67.

The guys actually let me pick the car over for for choice parts. I ended up with an "interior decor kit" which I plan to partially customize and a pair of trunk springs amongst other items.

I even got to rummage through this lot!

Back in my garage I liberated the window seals and gave them a good cleaning up.

Assembly of the window is easy - no adhesive is necessary since the seal fits pretty tight inside the frame when it's all screwed together.

It took a bit of patience, but I got the quarter window back in without doing any damage and the window goes up and down when you turn the handle. Which it didn't before incidentally. Getting the window, winder mechanism and all the stops back in the door and all lined up is a bit tedious, but I managed it with help from a copy of the Ford Assembly Manual - this tome is very detailed and I've used it a lot already. I started off with a pdf version, but I eventually paid for a bound reprint, and it was really worth it. Sometimes you just can't beat paper!

Re-installing the vent window and main window was even more involved, but I got there. When I took the windows out (in May 2010!) I honestly thought I would never be able to put them back together. A good set of tools helped, but sometimes you just can't beat experience!

After that, I rolled the car outside the garage for the first time in eighteen months, turned it round, and rolled it back in. Then I (eventually) installed inner-door soundproofing and side windows at the passenger side.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

more engine-uity

It's been a couple of months since the engine came back. I've been chipping-away-at-getting-ready for the rebuild. First objective was to get the block back on the engine stand and paint it. Most people assemble the engine first and then paint it, but I never do what most people do. I had to put my tried-and-trusted  methodology into practice to get the block up on the stand.

chocked up the cradle
constructed an adjacent slightly higher pile of crates
humped motor across and built bigger tower
humped motor again...
inserted a few 2x4's followed by the engine stand
Bob's your uncle!

This was where I found my first issue...the remains of a broken bolt or something stuck in the block. I've no idea what this is was actually, but I knew it needed to be removed.

The first thought I had was to try my screw extractor....but that just snapped off too. Oh dear. This happened to me the only other time I tried to use a screw extractor, so I think I'll give this idea a miss in the future.

I recently acquired a very large box on 1/16 drill bits and I ended up donating several of them to the cause. I was fortunate that the bolt thing was aluminum, otherwise it would still be stuck in the block. After literally drilling out the remains of the bolt, the piece of screw extractor was liberated and I chased out the thread with the appropriate tap. Hopefully I got away with this. 

After losing a couple of hours to the "bolt thing," I scrubbed the block down really well and masked off the bits I didn't want to paint.

If you're expecting to see a shinny Ford Blue block in the next pic, you'd better look away now. Frankly I've never understood the blue engine thing. I'm going to be driving a red car with a black engine compartment. The accent pieces are gray, chrome or (mostly) zinc plated....why would I want a blue engine? It's got to be red or black surely! It's actually going to be Ford Red, Dupli-color ceramic engine paint, code DE 1605, to be precise. This is significantly brighter than the candyapple red that will be on the car. But it's still red!

block came out nice...
...very nice!
the heads got the treatment too

The machine shop already converted the timing chain cover and oil pan from a pair of very dirty specimens into pristine parts, and I painted them too.

the oil pan needed a bit of re-working
came out beautiful!