Archive for October, 2010

The Mustang MacGyver

Posted October 25, 2010 By jack

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.

“Screw”-Ups and Equipment Failures

Posted October 15, 2010 By jack

On Wednesday, Dad and I stopped by the house of our good friend and gearhead Rob to pick up his click torque wrench before heading to the garage. Years ago, Rob rebuilt a ’65 289 that he dopped into his ’84 Mustang.  Rob decided to join us at TLG with his two kids. Now that we had an accurate torque wrench, I applied Lock-Tite to the thrust plate bolts and tightened them down. However, I had never used a click torque wrench before, and was under the impression that it would slip and cease to tighten when the desired torque was reached. Next thing I know, the head snapped off, with the bolt itself still embedded in the screw hole. Good thing we doused it in Lock-Tite first!

Had Rob and his children not been there, I definitely would have had to endure the wrath of my father. Dad grabbed a bolt extractor and attached it to his power drill, but the clutch on his 13-year old drill picked a bad time to conk out and the suddenly useless drill wouldn’t spin the bit. Then we tried using his impact drill to drill a hole in the bolt with our carbide-tipped Bad Dog drill bits, and then gave the bolt-remover another go. With a spectacular display of smoke plumes and much effort on the part of the power drill, the bolt finally gave up and came out. I cleaned the metal slivers off of the block while Dad put the tools away, and we kept the other thrust plate bolt for reference when we buy new hardware. We then finished tightening the main cap bolts and packed up for the night. At home, Dad ordered the hardware, a new water pump and a camshaft degreeing gauge. There will be no blog posts this weekend: Dad will be away on a three-day racing class at Infineon Raceway/Sears Point.

Loss of Yardage

Posted October 14, 2010 By jack

Knowing Dad was going to be gone this weekend, I made sure to get my homework done early on Tuesday and Wednesday so Dad and I could get as much work done at the garage as possible. We left the block, now with its newly balanced crankshaft in place, under a garbage bag to protect it from the elements. However, the book we have been using for reference covers reassembly of an overhead-cam engine, but a ’69 Ford 302 is cam-in-block. Apparently, cam-in-block engine assembly begins with the cam, which meant we had to pull the crank. Again. On Tuesday, we opened up the box with our new cam, slid it into the block, and coated the lobes with Lubriplate and the cam journals with oil. Then, we replaced the crank, applying a liberal amount of lube, but we couldn’t torque it down fully due to the fact that Dad’s fancy-shmancy digital torque wrench broke last time at the garage, so we used our manual one and torqued it down to between 60 and 65 foot pounds rather than the 70 foot-pound  maximum our shop manual recommends.

Mental note: don’t forget to bring the camera home next time.

Let the fun begin!

Posted October 3, 2010 By jack

Finally! My homework is finished, I’ve gotten some sleep, and Dad isn’t busy. We all know this means I get to spend more time with my rapidly growing addiction to auto-restoration.

My dad’s been nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs because our engine is going to start oxidizing if we don’t start reassembly soon. So that’s exactly what we did. When we got to TLG, I started looking up the accessories we would need to rebuild, while Dad set up “the Defender”:

TLG just got Fort Knoxed

We then locked up (taking a moment to fully appreciate the new sentinel standing guard) and headed to NAPA to grab supplies. They had most of the things we needed: engine lube, Plastigage, RTV sealant, Lubriplate cam lube, and the protective hand lube Dad wanted. However, they didn’t carry piston ring compressor tools, or the correct (so we thought) engine oil. So we called Kragen, while waiting for our cheese-steaks, to ask if they sold them. It was a disaster… “Air compressor?”/”No, a piston ring compressor tool.”/”For piston rings?”/”Yes, that’s what I said.”/”Would you like to rent one?”/”No thanks, I’m asking if you sell them…” You get the idea. Dad eventually got him talking, and we learned that only South City carried the tools. After driving out and back, we finally had everything we would need to start.

First, I cleaned off the engine stand and bolts so as not to contaminate our shiny new block, and Dad helped me lift it onto the stand. After giving the block a swipe with compressed air, I used carburetor cleaner to clean out the cylinders. Then, I removed the main caps and opened up the box of main bearings from our master kit. The bearings were placed in the crank journal and lubed up, and then I lowered our newly balanced crank onto the bearings. Charlie joined us about then, and got to work on his LED light kit for his model Batmobile.

Getting a little overzealous, I started placing the other half of the bearings into the main caps, when I realized that I forgot to lube the underside. Luckily, Dad came to the rescue and pried them out with a screwdriver. Once that situation was sorted out (and once I had received a lecture about the necessity of following the instructions when it comes to engine rebuilds), Dad gave me a dead blow hammer to help the caps seat properly. Having looked up the correct torque specifications for the cap bolts in our 1969 shop manual (60-70 ft/lbs), we fastened the bolts step by step, starting at 30, then 50, then 65, using a torque wrench. When we could see that the crank would still turn, we removed the caps again, placed the rear oil seal in the fifth cap, and placed a small strip of Plastigage across the third. (Before we left for NAPA, I checked the desirable bearing-to-crank gap, and we bought the right color Plastigage for the measurement.) We then did the procedure over again, torquing each cap in segments up to 65, making sure to start with the center cap and work our way out so as to spread the pressure evenly. When all of the bolts were tightened, I removed the center cap and Dad measured the Plastigage, which was right in the middle of the allowable range. After a quick, satisfactory check for crankshaft endplay, we sprayed down our assembly with WD-40 and headed home, on account of Dad had to catch a flight.

Until the next time, I can’t wait to continue. I love this part of the restoration, because everything’s clean and there’s no part inventory involved!