Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Engine - Back at Home

After several weeks, the engine for my Mustang has finally made it home.  As with many restoration projects, this one had its share of surprises and headaches.  

One of them was the oil pan that had rust holes hidden from the crud that was on it.  The new Scott Drake pan came in and I dropped it off at the shop.  Assembly continued with the cam and heads.  And then, things started going off the rails.

When assembly started, Ray from Legacy Motorsports said the machinist thought this engine had been gone through before.   There were a couple of telltale signs.  The first one was the rods.  I had stamped the number of the cylinder that each one came out of in the center of the rod cap before removal from the block.  However, there was another number I didn't notice that was stamped in the side of each rod.  Guess what?  They didn't match!  So there was some head scratching, measuring, and thought put into how to progress.  Ray went with the last numbers I had since the engine obviously was running before it was parked.  Everything rotated well and he's confident there will be no issues.  He told me horror stories of seeing engines with pistons put in backwards, etc. etc.   So that was behind us.

Then things got interesting when the heads went on.  Apparently the kit came with a thin metal head gasket that if it was installed would have likely raised the compression into the 11.5 or 12 to one range.  So another thicker gasket was ordered and Ray felt that the compression would be near stock.  But the fun didn't stop there.

The engine with the heads and valve train installed.

When the new CompCam pushrods and roller tip rocker arms when together, the roller tip was not in the center of the valve stem.  The new stock length pushrods were too long.  Crap!  I couldn't return them as they were sold as a kit with the rocker arms.  

Marks showing the rocker arm contact off center

A closer look at the off center contact point of the rocker arm

So with the stock length of pushrod at 6.881" long, I needed to get a pushrod checker that was shorter.  I ordered a CompCams checker that was good for 6.8" to 7.8" figuring that it would be short enough.   No bueno!  Still too long.  So now I had a set of pushrods and a pushrod checker that cost $47 (thanks to CompCams sending it FedEx express which I didn't ask for) that were no good to me.  I called Jegs up since they were helpful on the cam kit.  They pointed me to a checker that was good for 6.1" to 7.5".   This one worked.  Counting the turns and adding that to the 6.1" yielded a length close to 6.7" long.   So I ordered a set which added $190 to the engine budget.  I held my breath as I watched Ray put one in and adjust it.  Success!  It was right in the center of the valve stem!

With that task done, it was a simple task of putting on the valve covers and intake manifold to finish up the work the shop was going to do.  Everything else, I'll do in my garage.  

It's now mounted on the engine stand and patiently waiting for the water pump to be installed.  I bought a set of spark plugs to seal off the cylinders and will tape off the exhaust ports on the heads to seal them up.  The valve train has been loosened up so that all the valves are closed and the spring tension removed.  Once I get it in the Mustang, Ray will come over and help set up everything.  It only goes to show that when rebuilding an older engine, you can be sure you will uncover previous unknown work that was done.  Lesson learned.

When it was all said and done, I went over my budget by almost $1,000.  But everything inside, except the rods and crank, is new and done with quality parts.  Now I need to get my butt in gear and get the Mustang far enough along that I can put the engine in and really make steps to get it done.   That will be a challenge, especially in the next few months.

The organization I retired from has asked if I would come back on staff to help them through the transition of Executive Directors.  The current one is retiring and they are in the process of interviewing candidates.  So, as my daughters keep telling me, "Dad!  You're failing retirement.  I suppose that's true, but I'll take any progress on the Mustang that I can get.

Until the next time...

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Engine - Starting assembly

It took awhile, but the engine is now at Legacy Motorsports for assembly.  But then again, I'm nowhere near being ready to drop the engine in the fastback.  

The guy who's doing the work is very meticulous and sent me pictures of all the clearances for the rod and main bearings as it was going together.  Ray is an "old school" engine builder and likes to use Plastigauge for measurements.

Ray checked all the crank bearings for proper clearance.

All the bearings, both rod and cap were checked.

I had purchased all ARP bolts for the engine internals.

The assembled short block rotating assembly.

It's looking good.

The bottom end went together really well.

Ray wrote down all the clearances for the record.

Ray said that the assembly could not have gone better.  All the clearances were spot-on.  We did have a couple of minor setbacks.  The head gaskets that came with the kit were .020 and would have raised the compression to 11.5:1 which would be way too high.  So they were returned for .039 thick head gaskets which should keep the compression within the stock 10:5:1 range.

The other setback was the oil pan has rust holes in the bottom that we didn't notice since it had so much crud on it.  

So I ordered a Scott Drake concours pan since I wasn't sure about the aftermarket ones that added an extra quart capacity to them.  I didn't want anything hanging down too low.  But maybe I was just being too picky as well.  I ordered some other goodies on the Labor Day sale, like new water temperature, oil pressure sending units, and upper thermostat housing (since I cracked the original one removing it).

When the pan comes in, I'll take it over to Ray and get some more pictures.  I need to clean up the valve covers as well so they can be installed.  That way, the engine will be mostly sealed up while waiting for installation.  

I have done work on the left front fender and not happy with the patch I put in awhile ago.  So I've started redoing it (twice so far... I'll explain later).  But that work will be put on hold for a couple of weeks as I set off to paint the house which it needs.  I've been waiting for temperatures to moderate which it looks like I'll have a window coming up.  Once I knock that work out, it's back on the body work, hopefully with no major work interruptions.

Until the next time...

Friday, August 14, 2020

Body Work: The Hood

With the gaps set on the front fenders and hood, the body work began.  I'd already done some work on the hood with the stud welding gun but it still needed some more massaging.  The fenders were from a '68 "Flintstone" convertible.  I've covered them in previous posts a long time ago.  I'm going to divide this post up into 2 parts.  The first post will be the hood.  The second will be the fenders.  I was working both simultaneously as I waited for filler to set.  But it will be more clear about the work done by dividing them up.

This hood was from a '67 and was in fairly good shape...until I had a gust of wind came through the open garage and knock it over onto the outside surface shortly after I purchased it ($100).  (Insert colorful metaphor here)   Hence the stud gun to help get the center peak back close to original shape.

The dent in the hood peak is barely visible, but it also distorted the metal on each side.

Each of the corners had some minor rash to fix as well.  They were small areas, but unfortunately with compound curves making it more of a challenge.  The 2" air sander prepped the areas nicely.

Both hood corners looked about the same.

I dressed the stud welding points getting ready for filler

Of course, the holes where the"FORD" letters were in the hood had to be filled.  In '68, Ford deleted the hood letters.  This was fairly quick work for the 'ol Hobart MIG welder.

The holes where the FORD letters were needed to be filled.

The holes filled in nicely with the MIG welder.

This is my sanding block arsenal along with rolls of 80, 120, and 220 grit adhesive paper.

The first layer of filler to go on is used as a guide coat to indicate areas that needed more metal work.
The peak pulled out for the most part, but it did not remove the "puckering" of the metal on each side.  

With the supporting structure underneath, it's hard to get to most of the back side.  I resorted to using a spoon with the underneath supported by a 2x4 since there was too much distortion to apply any usable pressure.

This approach worked well enough that I could round out the puckered areas that were higher than the surrounding metal.

This process took about 3 rounds before the metal and filler started to level the area on each side of the hood peak.

While waiting for filler to cure in the center of the hood, I worked on the two front corners.

After getting the corners worked on, filling in the letter holes, and getting the hood peak filled and sanded to their contours, I sprayed on guide coat to check with my eyes what my hands couldn't detect.

Driver's side hood corner with guide coat

The hood peak with guide coat

The guide coat really shows the imperfections and true contours including all the high and low spots.  That means another couple more rounds of filler, sanding, guide coat, sanding, etc. until the guide coat is mostly gone without leaving either bare metal or filler (High spots) or guide coat remaining (low spots)

The passenger corner with guide coat.

The filler was much higher than necessary as indicated by the guide coat.

It took a total of 3-4 rounds of this back-and-forth between filler and guide coat until everything started to take proper shape.  The goal was to get it as close as possible so that the primer-surfacer would be able to take care of the rest when that step came.

With the hood done about as good as I can get it, I needed to spray on a primer so the surfacer will have something to stick to.  All the manufacturers specify this.  Since I had 3/4 gallon of DP74, I figured I might as well use it.

I had to sand the entire surface of the hood, which it needed after sitting in bare metal for quite awhile.  That revealed a couple more spots that needed to be leveled and filled.  Another couple more rounds of sand and fill, and the hood was ready for primer.  This would be the first "color" that would be on the outside surface of the body, a milestone indeed.

I masked off the fenders and cowl area in preparation for epoxy primer.

I was having issues with the air supply and it took some trial and error to sort out the issue.  I'll need to get a shorter (25') air hose to paint in the future as the 50' hose had too much pressure and volume drop.  Because of that, and the warm temperatures, the primer didn't flow out as nicely as I would have liked, but I'll end up block sanding it before the surfacer can be applied.  In spite of the issues, I was glad to see the hood in one color and looking pretty good.

Once I get the rest of the body work done and in epoxy primer, I'll block out the whole care and then spray it entirely with the surfacer primer.  This is going to be a long, long process.  The work on the hood probably took a total of 8 hours from start to epoxy primer.  But I can't knock forward progress.

Next up will be the front fenders.  

Until the next time...

Engine - Out of the machine shop

This past Monday, the engine for the fastback came out of the machine shop and is now at Legacy Motorsports in Plainfield, Indiana.  The machine shop bill was higher than expected, but it definitely provided more than expected.

The original one-year only 4V heads were resurfaced just enough to clean them up without raising the compression, which is already 10.5:1 due to the small 53cc chambers.  They have all new valve guides and valves.  

The springs and seals came from the cam kit I ordered.  It will be assembled with the roller rockers and new pushrods.  So everything will be new.

The block was bored .030" over and didn't even need to be align bored.  The machine shop said it was in really good condition.  ARP rod bolts were installed and will be used in the main caps as well.

The crank was turned .010" undersized and also was in good condition.

I was expecting a standard cast aluminum piston.  Instead, I ended up with Speed Pro forged pistons with the 4 valve relief, again, to keep the compression around the factory 10.5:1. should be assembled and ready for pick up a week from today, barring any unforeseen circumstances.  Then I'll put it on the engine stand, add the valve covers, water pump, and get it all painted Ford corporate blue for 1968.  The flywheel arrived this week, but I'll wait to install that when the engine and transmission are ready to be installed.

Another post will follow this one soon updating the body work that's begun.

Until the next time...

Monday, August 3, 2020

Body Work: Putting the pieces together--Part 4.5

Just when I thought things were settling down in my life, another project rears its ugly head.  One of our flying club members was out getting his currency back in our Cessna 172RG.  On a "touch and go", he inadvertently raised the landing gear instead of the flaps.  He realized his error almost as soon as he moved the landing gear handle, but it was too late.  The nose gear hydraulic valve opened and it retracted.   Ouch!  (an expensive ouch!)  Being the maintenance officer for the club, this now falls in my basket to take care of.

The FAA called it an "incident" and not an "accident".   After the FAA showed up at the airport and did its investigation, the plane was moved to its hangar.  Because it was an obvious prop strike, the engine requires a mandatory tear-down.  The prop will have to be replaced along with the nose gear doors.

So...when it's all said and done, the insurance will pay us $44K for the repairs.  The club decided that with almost 2000 hours on the engine, we will add funds from our engine reserve account and have a new engine built.  I'm still waiting on the new prop to arrive.  The engine that we will do an exchange on is underway.  The gear doors are on order.  Hopefully, there will be no hidden damage, but the claim will be open until the work is signed off.

Beside this, I was also responsible for a major avionics upgrade on our Cirrus.  We installed a glass panel to replace two key instruments.  That required a ton of rewiring to upgrade.  

After 2 weeks of wiring and installation, the new Aspen ProMax PFD (Primary Flight Display) was done.  Well, sort of.

We had several post-installation bugs to get worked out.  There is still one major change left that will be done next week.  Then I can hopefully put this project behind me.

On to the Mustang.

I was getting quite frustrated trying to get the hood aligned.  I enlisted a friend of mine (He's building a '55 Bel Air).  One struggle was trying to adjust the hood against the hinges with the spring tension.  I have a subscription with the Classic Car Club and saw a video on rebuilding hood hinges.  The video showed using a coat hanger to pull the spring off the hinges.  It worked really well.  

A coat hanger worked well to remove and install the hinge spring

This made it much easier to move the hood around.  After 20 minutes of trial and error, the hood alignment was spot on.  All the gaps were just right, at least for the level of restoration I was looking for.

This is the driver's side cowl/hood/fender gaps

Driver's side hood and fender gap

Passenger side cowl/hood/fender gaps

Passenger hood and fender gap

Now that the hood is in it's proper place, I will be drilling 1/8" holes through the hinges into the hood under the upper mounting bolt shoulders to hide them.  That way, it will be much easier to put it back in place after blowing it apart for paint.  Whew! 

The front valance is one of two I got when I bought the hood hinges and front fenders off a "Flintstone" '68 Mustang convertible.  As rust-free as it is, there are still some dents and dings to remove.   

While removing the paint, I discovered a few places where there was a layer of body filler.  Ok.  So now there are more dents and dings to remove.  After some contemplation, I decided that I would try and massage this valance instead of buying a repro unit that may not fit as well.  

So that's as far as I've been able to get on the fastback for the time being.  I hope to get back on it soon after I get caught up on a couple of more house and airplane projects.   At least it's going in the right direction.

Until the next time...