The Mustang MacGyver

Yesterday, I squeezed in some time at the garage to prepare for piston installation. Well, our plan was to get to pistons, but we ran into a couple problems (don’t we always?). Ollie tagged along to work on his Oscar the Grouch costumein the last few days before Halloween.

Ollie, hard at work preparing for his favorite night of the year

The new bolts for the thrust plate arrived, so I put some Loctite on ’em and hand-tightened the thrust plate. I was getting ready to torque them down, when I realized how bizarre it was that the integrated oil groove didn’t connect with anything. Then it hit me that my engine was upside-down on the stand, so the “Back-Bottom” indicator on the thrust plate should have been on the top side. Oops!

Having corrected that mistake, I started on the fuel pump eccentric. I took the part and its hardware over to the parts cleaner (which Dad had just topped-off with two five-gallon pails of ridiculously expensive part cleaning fluid) and discovered that a pinhole in the back had leaked a river of cleaner that was slowly winding its way towards “Schmitty”, the 1958 Messerschmitt. I alerted Dad, and grabbed the kitty litter to soak up the mess. Dad leaned the parts cleaner at an angle to stop the flow, and grabbed some gasket sealant to temporarily fix the problem. Once we had cleaned up the area and propped the cleaner against a table at a dangerous but stable angle, he used epoxy resin as a permanent fix.

With the parts cleaned, I placed the metal dowel into its hole and slid the pump eccentric, bolt, and washer over it. Yet something didn’t seem right… the dowel stuck out too far and wouldn’t allow the washer to sit flush. We then looked into our camshaft box and found two dowels that had come with it, one shorter and one longer. We took ours out, and found that it was as just as long as the longer of the two. But sure enough, when we put the new dowel in, it still didn’t give the washer enough clearance to sit right. So we called up someone we knew could git ‘er done: our good friend and Mustang enthusiast Rob. In his 289, he had switched to an electric fuel pump for reliability, but he new exactly what I was talking about. Rob drove over to take a look at it, and suggested we just grind down the dowel. Then, he came up with a better brilliant idea: why not try and knock it in with a mallet? In our effort not to mess up the ‘perfect’ engine rebuild, we were too cautious to do what needed to be done–bang on it with a hammer! The dead-blow hammer did the job. I torqued down the bolt to the correct specification and we packed up for the night.

P.S. Our camera we habitually take to the garage lost an essential part (the shutter release button) during its trip with Dad to Infineon Raceway. Until it is fixed, we will have to rely on phone-pictures. We apologize for the inconvenience.


  1. Ping from Carry Balsamo:

    Outstanding story once again! Thanks;)

  2. Ping from jack:

    glad you enjoy the blog! stay posted, there’ll be many more episodes in this project