Thursday, March 5, 2020

Back At It: Engine Part 1

It never fails to amaze me how time gets away from me.  This year has been especially challenging between travel for work, keeping up with family, and other projects that inject themselves into life, which don't include anything related to the Mustang.

For example, I was informed by my wife that our pergola was literally coming apart.  This was while I was in Canada for the summer.  I knew that I would have to tackle that ASAP when I got home.  The question was what do I replace it with?   The existing pergola shielded us when the sun was high in the sky, but had no weather protection.

This is the old pergola I built when we finished the house.  It served us well for 15 years.
After considering several options, I elected to go with a pavilion style which would give us better protection from the rain.   After putting the design drawings together, I put the bill of materials together and made a trip to Menards.  $3,300 later, I came home with the hardware and cedar (yes, it's ALL cedar) and started in.  Demo of the old pergola only took a day.  But the new design required much work including removing and replacing deck stringers, adding sister posts to the existing, and putting it all back together.  It was also hotter than hades limiting my work to early mornings and some late evenings.  Cutting to the chase, 5 weeks later, we had a completed project. 

The mostly completed new pavilion
It still needs to be oiled to keep the cedar from weathering, but it's done.  Of course, we had to get new patio furniture and a fire table.  So....  back to the Mustang.

A friend of mind has a relative that runs his own shop, Legacy Motorsports in the Indy area.  I finally connected with them and discussed potential work on the engine, transmission, and rear differential.  I got a ballpark estimate for the engine which was reasonable considering the work they would be doing.  However, I knew the engine was locked up after sitting outside for years with no hood or air cleaner.  My concern was whether this numbers matching engine was any good.  So I decided to open it up before to find out if it was beyond repair.

I took a bunch of documentation photos that I'm not including here just to save you from the boredom.  But as you can see, the engine was in better shape than anticipated.

This is a top view before the teardown.  It is the "J" code 10.5/1 compression 302.

I pulled the water pump and bypass hose before removing the intake.

With the intake removed, I could see the lifter valley was in good condition.

I was surprised to see shiny metal on the lifters but pleased.

The valve stem ends looked good with no visible wear.

The lifters are in excellent shape with no dishing at all and no corrosion!

The cylinders are rough but the cam and lifter galleys are in great condition.  Hardly any ridge at the top of the cylinders!

The heads are in OK condition with the valves looking good.

Both heads and valve train laid out in order

The top end of the engine is apart.
I hopefully will get the engine off the stand and pull the pan to find out how the crank and journals look.  Hopefully, I won't have too much work to do.   I was surprised at the internal condition of the engine, sans the cylinder walls.  Considering the odometer showed 89K miles, the engine had very little sludge in the valve covers, lifter valley, and heads.  It was probably a running vehicle when parked, most likely from the front end damage it had when I bought it.  Too bad it was not protected better.

After the crank is evaluated, I'll need to decide what to do next.  I can take it all to Legacy and get a complete engine back for around $2,500.  I could do the legwork of taking it to the machine shop and buy the internals if the shop doesn't.  I could do the assembly as well.  I'll need to work up a spreadsheet of costs and see how it comes out.  It may be worth the bucks to let them do it all.  I'm not looking for a 500 horsepower ripper.  I want something that I can drive anywhere without breaking the fuel bank and yet have some fun when I step on the gas.  

On other Mustang news, a friend of mine will be helping me gap the panels this week so bodywork can start in earnest.  I need to keep the Mustang work going so that it's at least on all 4 tires by June of next year.  That's when my wife will retire and we will be ready to move to where the kids are closer.   

Speaking of retirement, that's what I "officially" did January 31st.   Then I got on a plane to Canada for the first 2 weeks in February to help mentor my replacement.  I'll be going north a couple more times to continue the mentoring, but should be done by the end of July.   I also became the maintenance officer for our flying club.  I have 5 aircraft to look after including all maintenance, upgrades, fixes, and paperwork.  Then I agreed to do senior shut-in ministry with one of the area churches.  As you can see, retirement is anything but that.  I have drawn a line as committing to anything else.  After all, the Mustang has waited too long to get done.  Now it's time to git-r-dun.

Until the next time...


  1. Great update Dennis! I often wonder if we don't live parallel lives sometimes! LOL! My wife is on me to replace our deck sooner than later and it will also be a total re-do!

    I wish you the best on your retirement(s) and hope you get LOTS of time with your family and project! And take your time on gapping the doors. If you decide to do edge work, make sure that all of your front body panels are bolted on and aligned as perfectly as you can get them. It will save a TON of time and effort in the long run! Cheers!

    1. Hey Sven. Thanks for the encouragement. Panel alignment has been a challenge, but I'm more concerned about reassembly after blowing it apart for paint. I guess that will be another round of panel fitting for sure.

  2. Dennis - great to see some news from both you and Sven! I always check in every few weeks in hopes you two have posted something. Double surprise today. Engine looks great inside for that many miles. Hard decision there - I've done it both ways - total rebuild of an original engine - all the way to crate motor from Ford Motorsports. Both have advantages but I can tell you which is easier :)

    1. RJ, I bought a used 302 roller cam engine quite awhile ago before we found out it was a 1-of-1 vehicle. My wife was the proponent of putting the original engine back in it. Couldn't disagree with her logic. So the roller engine went bye-bye last week. Hopefully, I hear from the machine shop and engine builder in the next week or so.