1970 Barracuda 440 "Project Horsepower"

(Cam, intake, heads, headers & valvetrain swap)

So, what is "Project Horsepower", and why couldn't I think of a better name for it?

As far as the name goes, well, I'm a little pressed for time and I just didn't want to waste too much time thinking about it - live with it. :-)

The project itself, is esentially a complete "do-over" of the 440's top end. As nutty as this may sound, it all evolved from a simple broken alterator bolt. One day, I was cruising down the road, just enjoying the sights and sounds when BANG! there was this horrible sound, followed immediately by another bad noise which sounded a whole lot like something dropping out from under the car and onto the road. Of course, I slowed down right away, but couldn't figure out what the problem was. At certain rpm levels, there was this weird buzzing noise. I thought something in the drivetrain had let go. I pulled over, popped the hood, but didnt' see anything wrong. I got to my destination, then when it was time to go home, I popped the hood again, and there it was! The alternator was hanging a bit loose. A closer inspection showed that the top bolt had broken off, and some of it was still in the head. I used some spare wire to more or less hold the alternator in place, which got me home. Now, I started to think about how to get that bolt out of the head. My drill was too long to get in there, and so was my air drill. Given my rather poor track record with drilling out bolts, I wasn't really looking forward to this. Especially since this was a hardened bolt! At one point, I joked to myself that a rather novel way to fix the problem would be to get a pair of aluminum heads. "Ha ha ha!"

Other items kept me from working on the car, and all the time, I kept thinking about those aluminum heads. Eventually, I started actually thinking seriously about them. Also, there was that intake manifold. Its got several stripped bolt holes, and isn't really a great match for the HP exhaust manifolds, being a single plane design. So, I thought maybe I'd swap out the heads and intake. Then, in discussing the situation on the MML, I was informed that doing the heads without also doing headers would be pretty self-defeating. So, I started to think about headers. Then I discovered that an adjustable valvetrain is required with the aluminum heads, and that sort've led to the thought that maybe I should put in a new cam too since I'm doing all this work already... I had decided to just leave the cam as-is before I called Hughes Engines for a valvetrain recommendation. Dave Hughes was so confident that one of their cams would be light years ahead of my current Mopar Performance purple shaft 280/280 .474 that I thought, well, maybe I should! Not that Hughes coerced me into it or anything - it just makes sense to do it now, rather than later... My biggest fear though is that the engine won't start right away and will ruin the cam, or that I will screw it up somehow. To date, the furthest I've been into an engine is to swap out an intake manifold, so this will be new territory for me, and a learning experience. (Hopefully the learnin' won't be from the school of hard knocks!!!)

Here is a list of the items being replaced, along with their replacements:

Old PartNew Part
Stock 906 heads w/valve jobEdelbrock 84cc Aluminum Heads
Stock valvetrainHughes aluminum adjustable roller rockers w/beefy rocker shafts, new springs, fat pushrods and billet hold-downs
MP 280 camHughes 3038 (230/238 at .050, 276/286 advertised, .504/.515 lift)
Edelbrock Torker II Edelbrock Performer (The RPM won't fit under my hood, dangit!) :-(
HP Exhaust manifolds TTI 1 7/8" ceramic coated headers
stock starter MP lightweight starter
flex fanMP viscous fan
stock style water pumpMilodon aluminum high volume water pump
stock style radiatorSummit aluminum radiator

My goal is to increase the HP and torque and generally make the car quicker, but without having to rev it to the sky. I plan to stay under 6,000 and most of the time I will probably be shifting around 5,000 or so. I am a bit reluctant to state a specific HP or ET goal, but I would REALLY like to get closer to 1hp per ci! The way the engine is currently set up, it is putting 254hp and 343lb-ft to the ground, so I'm estimating 318hp and 429lb-ft at the engine. I don't want to dissapoint myself later, but I'm hoping these mods will give me another 100+ HP. I'm thinking maybe 50hp for the heads, perhaps another 30 for the headers, the intake is kind've a toss-up, and the real power gains will probably be up to the cam. If I can get a cam that'll give me another 30-40hp, I guess that would put me fairly near my goal. Although the car is more or less a "daily driver" and for the street, I would really like to have it run low 12's or better. In order to do that, I figure I'll need around 400hp at the crank. That'd be about 80hp more than I have now, so hopefully very obtainable, assuming I can actually hook up. And if it actually runs in the 11's? Well, you could color me VERY HAPPY. :-)

After this stuff is all bolted on and the engine is (hopefully!) running well, I plan to finish up the EFI install by having it take over spark as well as fuel. Then, its off to the dyno to tune it up and see where the chips fall!

This project will also get me a little bit more familiar with the engine, and its condition. It was set up by the previous owner, so I have no experience with it - this project should shed some light on a few things, and just generally let me have a look at the overall condition of the motor.

Note: Although this page contains a bunch of info which I think will be helpful, it isn't exactly organized as a "how-to". Its more or less an account of my own experiences during this buildup, and as such I do tend to jump around a bit. (For example, I might be working on the intake manifold, then jump over to the water pump, and come back to the manifold later...) Just a word of warning. :-)
Click on any pic to bring up the full sized version. Note: it may take a little while for this page to load, depending on your browser. Its set up as a table, and some browsers wait until the whole table has been loaded before displaying it. Just give it some time. :-)
001.jpg - 91 KB Sun 3/17/02

A perfectly good engine... :-) At this point, the only thing I've done is to pull the air cleaner & plugs and do a compression check. (185, 185, 170, 184, 182, 170, 180, 190)
001 - 91 KB
002.jpg - 89 KB Sun 3/17/02

I've pulled the plug wires, distributor cap, throttle body, and tied the fuel lines and wiring harness back to the windshield wipers.
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003.jpg - 86 KB Sun 3/17/02

Next, I removed the intake manifold (Edelbrock Torker II) Check out that nasty, rusty valley pan! Of course, the bottom is still in excellent condition due to all the oil under there. This is why I'm planning to powdercoat the top of the new valley pan.
003 - 86 KB
004.jpg - 90 KB Sun 3/17/02

The valley pan is gone, and so are the valve covers.
004 - 90 KB
005.jpg - 89 KB Mon 3/18/02

I've unbolted the downtubes and removed the passenger side exhaust manifold.
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006.jpg - 100 KB Mon 3/18/02

The rocker shaft has been unbolted and removed, and I've removed the pushrods as well.
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007.jpg - 88 KB Mon 3/18/02

And there goes the head. :-) (Note: This pic was actually taken after I had put the engine to bed for the night; I had to lift up the plastic cover to get a pic since the original one didn't turn out (darn $5 digital camera!), so that's what that plastic sheet is at the top of the pic...
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008.jpg - 81 KB Mon 3/18/02

The removed head. Just in case you're wondering... This head weighed 49lbs, assembled. I also weighed the Edelbrock aluminum heads using the same scale and they came in at 30lbs, assembled. So, the head swap will shave 38 lbs off the front of the car.
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009.jpg - 82 KB Mon 3/18/02

Another shot of the head (yeah, I know I didn't aim so well, but this one shows the valves better).
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010.jpg - 51 KB Wed 3/20/02

I found some modeling clay in the arts & crafts section of the local Wal-Mart; it was a few dollars for a package that had about 5 sticks in it. For each cylinder, I cut a stick in half and rolled it to approximately 4" long.
010 - 51 KB
011.jpg - 50 KB Wed 3/20/02

Then pounded it flat with a rubber mallet, until it was about 1/4" thick. (Some oil on the surface and the face of the mallet is helpful to prevent the clay from sticking.)
011 - 50 KB
012.jpg - 93 KB Wed 3/20/02

I trimmed the clay to fit inside the bore, and placed it over the top part of the cylinder (which is where the valves open)
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013.jpg - 88 KB Wed 3/20/02

A shot with all 4 bores ready to be checked. A light coating of oil on the piston, the clay, and the valves will help to keep the clay from sticking, and aid in removal. Next, the head is bolted on, the valvetrain re-assembled, and the engine turned over by hand twice. (To turn the engine over, put a 1 1/4" socket on the bolt at the end of the crank and turn it clockwise.)
013 - 88 KB
014.jpg - 86 KB Wed 3/20/02

Here is why its a good idea to test more than one bore at the same time. The clay inside the #6 cylinder got folded over on itself, the #8 clay got stuck to the head and dropped back into the cylinder when the head was removed, and the #4 clay stuck to the head. These "extracurricular activities" can make the measurements more inaccurate than they already are... :-)
014 - 86 KB
015.jpg - 74 KB Wed 3/20/02

A somewhat blurry view of the cross section of clay. I have plenty of clearance (.18"-.20")
015 - 74 KB
016.jpg - 67 KB Wed 3/20/02

A comparison shot of the 906 head and the Edelbrock unit. Notice the chambers on the Edelbrock head - nonexistant up near the top of the bore! (These are the closed chamber 84cc heads.) This got me worrying about piston to head clearance since the forged TRW six pack pistons in my motor come right up flush with the deck of the block.
016 - 67 KB
017.jpg - 89 KB Wed 3/20/02

Time for another test! You'll notice I've made the clay in the #2 and #4 cylinders bigger, to check for piston to head clearance as well as piston to valve clearance.
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018.jpg - 98 KB Wed 3/20/02

The Edelbrock head is torqued down, and the pushrods are in place. Wow, that's pretty! :-)
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019.jpg - 100 KB Wed 3/20/02

The stock valvetrain has been installed to check for clearance.
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020.jpg - 94 KB Wed 3/20/02

I turned the engine over twice and pulled the head. I discovered that the piston to valve clearance appears OK (.12-.13 or so), but I only have about .050 piston to head clearance. The Mopar engines book says .055 should be the minimum, contact happens at .045. They actually recommend .080 if using clay to check, to make up for the slop. Not good! However, the Edelbrock documentation says .035. Time for a call to the Edelbrock tech line and a post to the MML for ideas! :-(
020 - 94 KB
021.jpg - 58 KB Wed 3/27/02

What now??? :-) Well, this is my attempt to CC the heads. I need to check the head CCs to comapre them against the Edelbrocks, just to see what will happen with my compression ratio. (Yet another thing I should have done before I ordered the heads...) Its a jar of vaseline, a syringe, and a CD. (Yet another use for those free AOL CDs!) I discovered this method via a web search, lets see how it works...
021 - 58 KB
022.jpg - 75 KB Wed 3/27/02

First, I need to get the head level front to back and side to side. I have also installed the spark plugs.
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023.jpg - 69 KB Wed 3/27/02

Next, I spread some vaseline around the edge of the bore. The vaseline will act like a glue and a sealant, to hold the water in. You may be a bit sceptical about this - I know I was! Never fear, the vaseline does an excellent job of holding the CD in place and sealing up the head. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video is probably worth 10,000: :-) Click to view MPEG video of me pulling CD off of head - 563K
023 - 69 KB
024.jpg - 71 KB Wed 3/27/02

Put the CD on the head (fits perfectly!) and press down around the edges to seal it to the head.
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025.jpg - 71 KB Wed 3/27/02

Next, fill the cylinder head with water until it comes up even with the hole. Keep track of how many milliliters you pour into the head. One ml = one cc, for all practical purposes. About 20 drops to a cc. I'm actually using windshield washer fluid in this pic because I thought it would be easier to see, but then I switched to water; I wasn't sure if washer fluid has a different density than water or not. (The readings came out the same, so I guess it doesn't matter too much.)

After doing all 4, I came up with an average cc of 72.6. I thought that sounded a bit low. I ran the numbers, and that would put my compression at around 11.6:1. On an engine that runs fine on 92 octane. Something is wrong with this picture! So I tried just filling the head without the CD on top - and just eyeballing where the water meets the top of the head. Using that method, I came up with 90cc, which would put my compression ratio at around 9.8:1. That's a whole lot more like it. I think the true number probably is somewhere in the middle though. I'm going to try to find a piece of lexan tomorrow to use instead of a flexible CD. I don't think the CD method is all that accurate. Well, it was worth a shot! :-)
025 - 71 KB
030.jpg - 75 KB Wed 3/27/02

I need to find out if I have a 1 or 3 bolt cam, and I also want to see what sort of timing chain I have, so its time to take apart the front of the engine. In this pic, I've unbolted the power steering pump and its resting on the lower radiator hose.
030 - 75 KB
031.jpg - 73 KB Wed 3/27/02

I've removed the thermostat housing. Look at that nasty brown coolant! Yuk! :-( Time for a flush, methinks.
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032.jpg - 68 KB Wed 3/27/02

The thermostat housing is gone, so is the coolant temp sensor, and I've disconnected the heater hoses.
032 - 68 KB
033.jpg - 74 KB Wed 3/27/02

4 bolts, and the water pump comes off.
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034.jpg - 66 KB Wed 3/27/02

This heater hose fitting needs to be removed to get at one of the bolts holding the water pump housing on. A screwdriver in the top like so did the trick for me.
034 - 66 KB
035.jpg - 75 KB Wed 3/27/02

The water pump housing is gone, and the lower radiator hose along with it.
035 - 75 KB
036.jpg - 64 KB Wed 3/27/02

Rotating the 1.25" bolt counterclockwise while holding onto the pulley backed it out.
036 - 64 KB
037.jpg - 75 KB Wed 3/27/02

I've removed the crank pulley.
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038.jpg - 68 KB Wed 3/27/02

Time to remove the dampener. Yes, I probably should be using a dampener puller instead of a gear puller, but I misplaced my set! :-( (I have replaced the bolt in the center loosely, to give the puller something to push against.)
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039.jpg - 70 KB Wed 3/27/02

The dampener is off.
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040.jpg - 71 KB Wed 3/27/02

There are several bolts to remove and the timing chain cover comes off. I tried to pull the cover off, but the bottom was stuck... Then I noticed that the front two oil pan bolts are actually threaded into the timing chain cover. The clearance was tight, but a small ratchet and socket got those out and the timing cover came right off. Yep, its a double roller, and a single bolt cam. Appears to be a Cloyes timing set. I might be replacing it with a 3 bolt, haven't decided yet...
040 - 71 KB
041.jpg - 63 KB Sun 3/31/02

Ok, lets try this CC thing again. :-) I got a piece of scrap lexan from Teft Glass in Dunkirk, NY. Thanks, guys! Here, I've put the nice clean aluminum head on it to mark the bolt holes.
041 - 63 KB
042.jpg - 57 KB Sun 3/31/02

The lexan drilled very easily, and the bolt pattern came out perfectly, except for one hole which I had to enlarge a bit. :-)
042 - 57 KB
043.jpg - 85 KB Sun 3/31/02

A pic of the lexan bolted onto the head.
043 - 85 KB
044.jpg - 79 KB Sun 3/31/02

Once again, I spread vaseline around the bores for a seal. I drilled a hole in the cylinder part of the lexan to allow the fluid to be injected, but I discovered that its almost impossible to get the bubbles out. So, I drilled a couple of more holes up near the spark plug, which helped a lot. Oh, I discovered the reason why the CD was giving me inaccurate readings... The water wasn't flowing into the quench area of the head! It took a bit of jiggling, but I was able to get all the bubbles out. Its much easier when you can actually *see* the bubbles. :-) I came up with 88, 88, 87.5, and 87 on this head, for an average of about 87.6 CCs. That would put my current compression ratio just a hair over 10:1. The Edelbrock heads (assuming they are actually the 84 CCs they are advertised at) would raise that to almost 10.4:1. Hopefully that will be enough... Seeing as how I have this piece of lexan already, I plan to bolt it onto the Edelbrock heads just to see what CC readings I get there.
044 - 79 KB
045.jpg - 60 KB Tue 4/02/02

I've bolted the dirty, vaseline covered piece of lexan onto my nice clean aluminum head. :-) I wanted to CC these heads too, just to compare them to the other heads, and also test my CC'ing method. All cylinders came out to 84cc. Considering that these heads are supposed to be 84cc, I guess this method is fairly accurate. :-)
045 - 60 KB
046.jpg - 45 KB Thu 4/18/02

Hughes was a bit concerned about my piston to valve clearance. So, I decided to try the "dial method", using the checking springs and dial from my recently aquired Summit cam kit. Autozone's "loan a tool" program came in handy - producing a valve spring compressor. The shop cloth I was going to roll up and put under the valves to support them like I had to do with the stock heads, but it turned out not to be nescessary on the nice clean Edelbrocks. You will want to wear eye protection when doing this - there's a lot of potential energy involved, as well as little things that can go "SPROING!" :-)
046 - 45 KB
047.jpg - 41 KB Thu 4/18/02

Place the compressor on a valve like so, grabbing as low on the spring as is possible.
047 - 41 KB
048.jpg - 49 KB Thu 4/18/02

Then, turn the handle to compress the spring. This will allow you to push the spring down, exposing the top part of the valve and the keepers. Remove the keepers (a magnet worked great for this!), and the spring will come right off the valve. It might be nescessary to support the valve from underneath (with a wad of shop towels for example) and tap the top of the spring compressor with your hand or a hammer to free up the spring.
048 - 49 KB
049.jpg - 45 KB Thu 4/18/02

here's a shot of the removed spring still in the compressor. Those little pieces to the right of the spring are the keepers. They lock into a groove in the valve stem and hold the spring in place, via the retainer.
049 - 45 KB
050.jpg - 47 KB Thu 4/18/02

"Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy!" "Hefty, hefty, hefty!" :-) I wonder what sort of cam I would need to run for a spring this light? :-) I didn't bother using the valve spring compressor to install the checking spring - it was fairly easy to just do it by hand. The retainer goes on top of the spring, and the keepers on top of that.
050 - 47 KB
051.jpg - 75 KB Thu 4/18/02

A pic of the dial indicator set up on a retainer. Obviously, I have bolted the head onto the engine, after installing a checking spring on the other valve as well. My first realization that this might not be as easy as I thought came when I remembered that aluminum is not magnetic. ;-) Fortunately I was able to attach the dial's base to the fender well. (I just had to be careful not to lean on the engine while checknig as that moved the needle a few thousanths.)
051 - 75 KB
052.jpg - 55 KB Thu 4/18/02

As I was checking the clearance, I realized that the hydraulic lifters were, ummm... "hydraulic-ing" :-) To prevent this, I pulled a lifter out, took it apart, and replaced the spring with little washers, then re-assembled it, effectively creating a solid lifter. This allowed me to continue checking the clearance without the lifters deflecting. Fortunately, I was able to pull the pushrods and lifters out without removing the rockers. As far as the actual clearance goes, I am getting about .042-.043" on the intake and .044-.046 on the exhaust. That's less than half the recommended amount. A few MMLers have told me that a cam with less duration could fix the problem though, so I'm going to remain somewhat optomistic, for now, but these heads aren't exactly the bolt-on they are cracked up to be. Well, on my engine anyway... :-( I think my block was milled to increase compression at some point, which might be the cause of these clearance issues.
052 - 55 KB
053.jpg - 74 KB Mon 4/22/02

In talking with some folks on the MML, the theory was advanced that my cam timing might be retarded, causing the clearance problem. So, its time to check the centerline... I had a degree kit from Summit, but it was too big to fit on the engine in the car. So, I got a 6" bolt and nut at the hardware store, in the same thread as the crank. (3/4-16) I also picked up some 3/4" aluminum tubing and cut it to hold the wheel out from the engine. What you're looking at is the assembled result. This gets the wheel out of the way of the crossmember and such. It does put it fairly close to the radiator, but it is still possible to read it using a mirror.
053 - 74 KB
054.jpg - 60 KB Mon 4/22/02

First, the piston must be brought up to TDC. I removed a checking spring from the intake valve and put a dial on it to find TDC. Once you find TDC, the degree wheel is set at zero, and the gauge is put on the intake lifter. (Before I did that, I put the checking spring back on. I also did the "solid lifter conversion" again to be sure there wasn't any slop introduced by lifter deflection.)
054 - 60 KB
055.jpg - 78 KB Mon 4/22/02

You turn the engine over until you find the point of max lift for the intake lifter, and zero the gauge at that point. Then, continue to rotate the engine. As you get back to TDC, and begin to go through it, watch the gauge, and stop at .025" before the point of max lift. Read the number of degrees on the wheel. Then, continue until you get to .025" after max lift, and read the number of degrees. Add the two numbers together and divide by two. This number is the installed centerline of your cam. The cam info I have shows that my cam is supposed to be installed at 108 degrees. I did it three times and it came out to 108.5 degrees each time. Close enough. So much for that theory. :-( I think I'll place a call to Edelbrock's tech line and then give Hughes another call. Every other engine I have heard of which has gone with the Edelbrock heads has been a direct bolt-on! I can't figure out why I have such low piston to valve clearances!
055 - 78 KB
056.jpg - 73 KB Wed 4/24/02

Just for a reference, I wanted to check the piston to valve clearance on the other (stock) head which I have not yet removed from the engine. So, I pulled the exhaust manifold on that side and removed the rockers. I needed to transfer the checking springs over to the #1 cylinder, so I removed them from the aluminum head and held the valves in place with these clamps, just to be sure they wouldn't drop down into the head.
056 - 73 KB
057.jpg - 72 KB Wed 4/24/02

Now the tricky part - trying to get the stock springs off. The problem is that the valve wants to move down with the spring when you're trying to get the keepers released from the retainer. This idea of grabbing the valve with a pair of vise grips didn't work. (And this isn't something that I'd really recommend - I only did it here because I don't plan to re-use these valves.)
057 - 72 KB
058.jpg - 44 KB Wed 4/24/02

My next thought was to use compressed air to keep the valve in place. I hooked up the hose from my compression tester gauge, but no air went through. Duh - it has a check valve in it. :-) This is a standard schraeder valve which can be removed with a valve stem removal tool like this.
058 - 44 KB
059.jpg - 50 KB Wed 4/24/02

Here's what it looks like when the valve has been removed. Isn't it exciting?
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060.jpg - 77 KB Wed 4/24/02

The valve has been compressed, and the air hose is installed. The air source can be seen to the right of the pic. I set it to about 120 psi, hooked it up, raised the valve into position, then hit the top of the spring compressor with a rubber mallet. It took a few hits, but the retainer finally did come down off the keepers.
060 - 77 KB
061.jpg - 73 KB Wed 4/24/02

Here, I've set up the dial indicator to record the exhaust valve to piston clearance. (I forgot to mention - I did the "solid lifter conversion for the #1 cylinder intake and exhaust lifters also...) The final results were .097" on the intake valve and .090 on the exhaust. That's as low as the Mopar engines book advises going, and only then with an auto tranny. I'm not quite sure what yet, but it would seem that something is causing the clearances to be smaller than they might ordinarily be. Just to completely arm myself, I checked the deck height again (.011) and the gasket thickness (about .043"). I tried to call the Edelbrock tech line, but didn't make it in time - they were closed. I plan to call them tomorrow along with Hughes.
061 - 73 KB
062.jpg - 97 KB Wed 5/15/02

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back to work on the car. The cam, valvetrain, and timing set arrived from Hughes, so its time to finish tearing down the engine. Here, I've removed the other head along with the pushrods and lifters.
062 - 97 KB
063.jpg - 92 KB Wed 5/15/02

The radiator had to come out to make room to remove the cam. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad - just four bolts.
063 - 92 KB
064.jpg - 98 KB Wed 5/15/02

I've removed the distributor and the drive gear, and pulled the cam part way out of the engine.
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065.jpg - 60 KB Wed 5/15/02

Now its all the way out. You can't really tell from this picture, but the #3 intake lobe got ground down a bit - and the bottom of the corresponding lifter is concave! Ouch. I'm not sure what caused that but I guess its a good thing I decided to replace the cam after all.
065 - 60 KB
066.jpg - 65 KB Sun 5/19/02

You can't really see it in this pic, so I'm not sure why I bothered to post it, but the lifter on the bottom has been ground concave on the bottom...
066 - 65 KB
067.jpg - 85 KB Sun 5/19/02

Here's a pic of the corresponding cam lobe, which shows the wear, even in this pic.
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068.jpg - 84 KB Sun 5/19/02

Now is as good a time as any to replace the Edelbrock valve springs for the Hughes ones.
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069.jpg - 108 KB Sun 5/19/02

Time to clean up the block a little. This pic was taken just before I scraped the remnants of the old head gaskets off, along with the intake RTV, the timing chain cover gasket, etc. I also took some degreaser to the block to try to clean most of the grease off.
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070.jpg - 98 KB Sun 5/19/02

Heh... :-) This is what I had to resort to when I dropped my work light and broke the bulb. :-(
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071.jpg - 122 KB Mon 5/20/02

I've installed a new head gasket (Fel-Pro 1009), put the aluminum head in place, and torqued it down using an ARP bolt kit, which comes with hardened washers. As per the ARP instructions, I used a 30 weight motor oil as the lubricant. With the exception of the valves & retainers themselves, the valvetrain is all Hughes - springs, rocker shaft, billet hold-downs, and adjustable aluminum roller rockers. As you can tell, I haven't yet torqued down the rocker shaft.
071 - 122 KB
072.jpg - 94 KB Mon 5/20/02

I have used 30 weight motor oil on the cam journals and the first section of the cam, and put it in place. That's a Hughes adjustable pushrod and lifter installed in the #2 intake position. I need to use them to determine the proper pushrod length. I've set the adjustable lifter to have the same internal height as the new lifters, and set the pushrod in place in preparation for checking the alignment.
072 - 94 KB
073.jpg - 69 KB Fri 5/31/02

While I'm waiting for a reply from Hughes regarding the valvetrain setup, I decided to install my new MP lightweight starter. Here's what comes in the box. The main reason I am installing this starter is to give myself some more breathing room once the headers go in.

The starter itself isn't a special MP piece or anything, its just a Nippondenso 128000-17811. The Chrysler P/N on it is 53005984 (the Mopar Performance P/N is P5249644). Based on some research, it appears that this starter was used on early '90s 3.9-5.2 liter truck motors. However, buying the Mopar Performance piece seemed to be less expensive, or at the very least, the same price as buying a "stock replacement" starter. You might find the same, but if not, the above info should give you enough ammo to search for the piece you need.
073 - 69 KB
074.jpg - 112 KB Fri 5/31/02

Here's the old starter, mounted on the motor. It looks like it is supposed to be bolted up in two locations, but the upper one is missing. Hmmm... :-(
074 - 112 KB
075.jpg - 81 KB Fri 5/31/02

Here's the only bolt holding the starter in place. Actually, its a nut on a stud. This pic is taken from underneath the car.
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076.jpg - 101 KB Fri 5/31/02

The old starter is gone.
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077.jpg - 72 KB Fri 5/31/02

Just a comparison between the two. They weren't kidding when they called it a "lightweight starter"! The old one is a BEAST. Using my highly scientific bathroom scale, I got 7.5 lbs for the lightweight and 14 lbs for the stocker.
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078.jpg - 76 KB Fri 5/31/02

When I tried to install the starter, the black plastic piece hit against the block and didn't let the starter fit. So, I removed this protective cap...
078 - 76 KB
079.jpg - 71 KB Fri 5/31/02

...then removed that plastic piece altogether.
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080.jpg - 85 KB Fri 5/31/02

When I tried to install the starter again, it fit this time, but the positive starter wire post was a bit too close to the block for my comfort, so I decided to cut it down a bit. I put the nut on it, and stuck the starter in a vice to cut off the excess. (Putting the nut on first will make sure you don't cut off too much and also will clean the threads up as you back it off.) After searching for 5 minutes for the hacksaw, I gave up and used the sawzall. Not an easy task, let me tell you, but I got the job done. :-)
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081.jpg - 85 KB Fri 5/31/02

Here's a shot of the starter installed on the engine. I re-used the nut on the stud at the bottom because the nut that came with the starter was the wrong thread, but I used the new lock washer. Up top, I used the bolt that came with the starter - fortunately it was the correct size and thread pitch. You can see in this pic how little clearance there is between the hot post and the engine block, and this is after I cut it down!
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082.jpg - 81 KB Fri 5/31/02

Nothing to do now but to hook up the wires.
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083.jpg - 117 KB Fri 5/31/02

And here's a shot from a higher altitude. Having the head off the engine made this R&R pretty simple - with the head and exhaust system in place, you'd probably have to do it all from underneath the car, and might even have to disconnect some exhaust components. I figured by doing the swap now I'd save myself some grief, and it looks like I was right - I did have to do some work from underneath, but I didn't even have to jack it up, there was plenty of room for me to slide under. Well, that's one less item to worry about I hope. :-)
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084.jpg - 75 KB Sat 6/1/02

I wasn't completely sure that I had the adjustable lifter set correctly because the actual lifter contact area has a deeper "valley" than the adjustable lifter, so my gauge would go down further than a fat pushrod would. I did try to compensate for it, but wasn't 100% sure of the measurement. I thought of this last night and decided to give it a try. ("And the award for strangest use of a scroll saw goes to...") :-) I have my gauge set up on the top arm of the saw and the lifter sitting down on the metal plate. I've put about 4 layers of electrical tape on the base, around the lifter so that I can swap lifters and locate it correctly every time. The pushrod is straight up, and the gauge is on top of the pushrod. Using this method I could be sure that I've got the adjustable lifter set to my correct running depth. As it turns out, I was only .010 off, which is still within the specs of the preload I am shooting for. I adjusted the lifter to the same internal height as the new lifters and shortened it by another .030 to compensate for the amount of preload I plan to run.
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085.jpg - 68 KB Wed 6/12/02

While checking the pushrod geometry, I discovered that I would have to raise the rocker shaft. These .040 and .020 shims came in from Hughes, two 40's and one 20 on each pedestal will give me the .100 I need to raise the shaft.
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086.jpg - 107 KB Wed 6/12/02

I've installed the new timing chain so that I can degree the cam and then check the piston to valve clearance. I've already re-checked the pushrod geometry, and it seems good. Its close enough to where its difficult to tell wether its straight or not so I guess that's close enough.
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087.jpg - 80 KB Wed 6/12/02

So much for that idea... :-( When I mounted the degree wheel, it was very wobbly, and I noticed that the soft aluminum shims I was using had been compressed. I suppose I should have used some steel pipe instead. So, I've got to go get some pipe or a bunch of washers so that I can continue...
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088.jpg - 111 KB Sat 6/15/02

Ok, I got some steel pipe to replace the aluminum and re-mounted the wheel. I got the cam centerlined (supposed to be 107 degrees, I'm coming up with about 106.75 degrees), and then checked the piston to valve clearance. I am now coming up with about .185" on both the intake and the exhaust. This is PLENTY of clearance, and now has me wondering how I got it??? If you recall, when I first bolted on an Edelbrock head with a used head gasket to check the clearance, I was coming up with about .045". Where did the extra 140 thousandths come from??? Time for a post to the MML I guess. Anyway, whatever the reason, hopefully these readings are correct, and the cam is installed properly - because if so, I can order the pushrods and start the re-assembly!
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089.jpg - 81 KB Mon 6/17/02

After I had done all of the above checking, I was reading in my Summit cam kit and discovered what this little thingy was. :-) Its a piston stop - you screw it into a spark plug hole far enough to make the piston stop before it gets to TDC. You look at the number before TDC on the degree wheel, then rotate the engine backwards until the piston hits the stop again. Again, you record the number on the degree wheel, but this time its after TDC. These numbers should be the same if you have your degree wheel correctly set up with zero at TDC. A decent way to get an accurate indication of TDC. The piston spends a little time "at TDC" so I wasn't exactly sure where it was - I just got as close as possible. In my case, I was 1.75 degrees off, so with a little adjustment to the pointer, I had the wheel properly zeroed in. I went through all of the checks again - cam centerline, intake and exhaust valve opening and closing points, intake and exhaust valve piston clearance. The numbers came out slightly different, but still acceptable. The centerline is at about 106.4 instead of the 106.75 I came up with before which is still within 1 degree of the 107 degree install centerline, the opening and closing events at .050 are within 2 degrees of the cam card and my piston to valve clearance is checking in at about .197@8.5 degrees ATDC (intake) and .191@6.5 BTDC (exhaust) which is about .010 off of my readings from yesterday, but the readings are probably just due to differences in the angle of the gauge, and general slop. Everything seems good! Next I plan to slap the driver's side head in place and do the checks on the #1 cylinder just to make sure everything is OK there, then I can order some pushrods!
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090.jpg - 98 KB Wed 6/19/02

A narrowly averted disaster! As I was getting ready to set up the rockers and shaft on the second head, I realized that the oil holes in the shaft should probably be pointing in a particular direction. The "how to rebuild mopar big blocks" book stressed the importance of having the oiling holes located properly, but the description they gave was very confusing. It sounded as if the right and left assemblies were different! The Hughes instructions weren't terribly helpful since they just gave a rather ambiguous diagram with no specific instructions. Fortunately, the "Big Block Mopar Performance" book came to the rescue with a simple description - basically the oil holes should be on the same side of the shaft as the valves. (i.e. they should be on the bottom of the shaft, and to the "inside" of the engine) As far as I can tell, if they are set up that way, they are correctly oriented for either the left or the right head - which would seem to make sense since the heads are supposed to be interchangeable. I have no idea why the "how to rebuild mopar big blocks" book said to mark the shafts "left and right". Anyway, after I figured out the proper orientation, I discovered that the head I had already set up had the shaft reversed - oops. I set it up properly this time. I also got the rockers on the other shaft, so I should be ready to bolt the other head on finally...
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091.jpg - 86 KB Sat 6/22/02

I picked up this spring compressor at a local car show. Saw several nice Cudas there too - gave me some inspiration to get this thing back on the road! :-) Anyway, it works OK I guess; I think I prefer the other one though because it keeps the spring compressed... Anyway, this is the driver's side head, and I'm swapping out the #1 springs for the checking springs. (Figured it'd be easier now than when it was on the engine.) I put the springs back on the passenger side head, got the rocker assembly back on and torqued down, so that side is all set.
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092.jpg - 84 KB Sat 6/22/02

This is one of the Hughes billet rocker shaft hold-downs. They generally need to be trimmed somewhat... By trimming them down, you give yourself additional room to then use well placed shims to cause the rockers to line up with the valves.
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093.jpg - 78 KB Sat 6/22/02

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. The little silver ring between the rocker on the right and the spacer is a shim. In this case, the rocker needed to move to the right in order to line up properly with the valve. This is accomplished by grinding down the left side of the billet hold down at the right, and then using the spacer. You also need to leave .005-.010 of side-to-side play for each pair of rockers. That's what I'm checking with the feeler gauge.
093 - 78 KB
094.jpg - 103 KB Sat 6/22/02

Just a picture showing the rocker shaft shims (.100 worth) on the passenger side head.
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095.jpg - 118 KB Sat 6/22/02

The driver's side head is torqued down, the rockers have been torqued down, and I've checked the alignment and end play - everything looks good. Next step is to verify the pushrod geometry on the driver's side head and run through the whole gamut of tests again (camshaft centerline, piston to valve clearance, etc.)
095 - 118 KB
096.jpg - 115 KB Sun 6/23/02

I've checked the cam centerline, valve open and close points, and piston to valve clearance using the driver's side head and the #1 cylinder and everything came out pretty much the same as the other side (there's bound to be a little slop and human error) :-) Got a centerline of around 106.4, the opening and closing events are once again within a degree or two of the cam card, and my piston to valve clearance is about .190 or so for the intake and exhaust, so plenty of clearance there. Makes me wish I had the 1.6 rockers now! :-( Oh well, probably wouldn't have made a huge difference and anyway, I'll be happy just to get the car back on the road again. Time to order the pushrods!
096 - 115 KB
097.jpg - 84 KB Sat 6/29/02

While waiting for the pushrods to arrive, I remembered that I had some clear in the powdercoating gun, so I figured I'd powdercoat the belly pan. The one that came off the engine was nasty - rusted up nicely. (See earlier in this report for a pic of it.) I decided that this was one item that was getting some protection. I thought about powdercoating it with a color, but the only one that I thought would look decent in my engine bay was black, but I thought that might hide any leaks that might occur. Plus, as I said I already had clear in the gun... :-) This is a pic of the top of the belly pan - I only coated the top. You can't really tell its been coated except that the surface is a bit more smooth and the reflection is a bit more "satin like".
097 - 84 KB
098.jpg - 79 KB Sat 6/29/02

A pic of the bottom of the pan, just for comparison. I didn't bother to coat the bottom because it will be in a constant bath of oil. (The bottom side of the old belly pan was nice and clean.)
098 - 79 KB
099.jpg - 92 KB Thu 7/18/02

Time to pull the cam and lube it up... I've placed marks at several locations along the gears and chain so that I can just line them back up when I re-install the cam without having to go through the whole centerlining procedure again.
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100.jpg - 77 KB Thu 7/18/02

A pic of the cam with the Hughes supplied break in lube applied.
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101.jpg - 91 KB Thu 7/18/02

The cam is installed, and the timing chain has been installed using Hughes 12 point bolts, with red loctite, torqued to 20 lb-ft.
101 - 91 KB
102.jpg - 83 KB Thu 7/18/02

These are the new lifters, with break-in lube applied to the bottoms.
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103.jpg - 85 KB Thu 7/18/02

I used engine oil to lube the sides of each lifter, and dropped them into place. The next step is to re-install the springs on the #1 cylinder, and install the pushrods.
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104.jpg - 57 KB Thu 7/18/02

A little trick I thought of to keep the rockers from flopping all around when moving the shaft from the bench to the engine. I just put a standard oil priming shaft on the tops of the lifters, which I hold with my thumbs. Worked pretty well.
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105.jpg - 109 KB Thu 7/18/02

All the pushrods have been installed, and the rocker shafts have been torqued down to 25 lb-ft. As I was installing the pushrods, I also squirted a little oil into the top of each lifter and into the top of each pushrod.
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106.jpg - 69 KB Thu 7/18/02

Just a comparison of the size of the stock pushrod on the right and the Hughes custom length pushrod on the left. The new ones are quite a bit beefier. A couple have fairly close clearance to the heads on the sides, but I guess the valvetrain shouldn't be moving too much in that direction anyway, so hopefully it will be OK.
106 - 69 KB
107.jpg - 84 KB Sat 7/20/02

There's been a slight delay in assembling the front of the engine because I noticed that an oil slinger had not been installed. When I asked for an "oil slinger" at the local Autozone I got blank stares instead. :-) Fortunately, Summit had them, but unfortunately I have to wait a couple of days to get it. Anyway, during the delay I decided to put a clear coat of powder on the intake so it wouldn't corrode. This is the result.
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108.jpg - 44 KB Sat 7/20/02

This is the timing cover - when I was at Autozone I picked up a "front main seal" or "timing cover seal". I'm not sure if its supposed to be re-used or not, but I figured better safe than sorry. Here's a pic of the old seal still in the cover and the new one at the bottom.
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109.jpg - 74 KB Sat 7/20/02

The seal was a bit of a pain to remove. This is the way I finally was able to do it; inserting a pry bar between the cover and the seal, and putting a screwdriver on the bar, then tapping that with a mallet. I just went around a little at a time and it dropped right out.
109 - 74 KB
110.jpg - 77 KB Sat 7/20/02

Told ya so. :-)
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111.jpg - 117 KB Sat 7/20/02

I figured this is as good a time as any to clean up some of the other components. Shown here is the water pump housing, timing chain cover (with the seal removed), the harmonic balancer, the crank and water pump pullies, alternator bracket, distributor hold-down, and a spark plug wire bracket. I'll probably turn up a few more things that will need to be cleaned up as I dig through the piles of engine parts strewn across my workbenches, but this should be the bulk of them. Here are the pieces as I pulled them off the engine.
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112.jpg - 109 KB Sat 7/20/02

And here they are after I sandblasted them. Well, actually I used a wire wheel on the alternator bracket and distributor hold-down until I got impatient and broke out the blaster. :-)
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113.jpg - 114 KB Sun 7/21/02

And finally, here they are all powdercoated, except for the harmonic balancer, which I spray painted.
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114.jpg - 110 KB Sun 7/21/02

I decided to spray paint the balancer instead of powdercoat it because I noticed a layer or rubber in it, which I assumed wouldn't stand up very well to 400-450 degrees during the powdercoating process. I posted a message to the MML to check on that, and confirmed my suspicions. In order to paint it, I stuffed some paper towels in the middle to keep paint off of that surface, and I threaded some studs into the holes. This kept the paint out of the holes and also allowed me to stand it "upside down"; allowing me to paint both sides at the same time.
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115.jpg - 111 KB Sun 7/21/02

The back piece that mates with the front main seal I taped off to keep paint off of it too. You can see the rubber ring in this pic.
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116.jpg - 102 KB Sun 7/21/02

First I sprayed a couple coats of white into the timing grooves, and then I filled them with play-doh. Then I put a few coats of flat black on, and then a couple coats of clear. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't done the clear, because it turned the flat black into a gloss black - now it won't match the rest of the engine components. Oh well.
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117.jpg - 75 KB Sun 7/21/02

A pic of the front of the balancer.
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118.jpg - 66 KB Sun 7/21/02

A pic of the rear of the balancer.
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119.jpg - 77 KB Tue 7/23/02

To install the front main seal, I heated the timing chain cover to about 200 degrees, and set it face down on a bench, with a towel under it to protect the finish. I had to sort've hang part of it off the bench due to the timing tab on the front. I figured heating it might help a little by expanding the metal and making the seal easier to go in. I put a layer of sealer on the outside of the seal, and tapped it into place with a rubber mallet.
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120.jpg - 62 KB Tue 7/23/02

This is the oil slinger, which should go on after the crank gear.
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121.jpg - 76 KB Tue 7/23/02

Like so.
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122.jpg - 77 KB Tue 7/23/02

I pulled out a box of gaskets I had previously purchased to get out the timing cover gasket and discovered a front main seal in there! DOH! :-( (I really hate when I do that!) Well, at least I've got a spare. (Sure, like I'm going to remember that...) :-)
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123.jpg - 78 KB Tue 7/23/02

I was going to put the gasket on the timing cover first, but it didn't want to lay flat so I figured it would be easier to put it on the engine. I put a layer of sealant around the block surface, put the gasket in place, and held it down with the timing cover bolts.
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124.jpg - 47 KB Tue 7/23/02

Another layer of sealant went on the timing chain cover itself, and then I put the timing chain cover on the engine. That was a little tricky - it didn't want to fit into place very easily (over the locating pins). What I ended up doing was threading some bolts in and using them to "pull" the cover into place.
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125.jpg - 79 KB Tue 7/23/02

Next, I loosened up the timing chain cover bolts - a book I have said that would give me a little play to get the harmonic balancer centered in the front main seal, but it didn't move at all; I hope its centered... I put some oil on the front main seal and the mating surface on the harmonic balancer to prevent the seal from burning up when the engine first starts. I also squirted some oil into the timing chain, on the sprockets, etc. I put anti-sieze on the crank, and put the harmonic balancer in place, tapping it in with a rubber mallet. (Previously, I had hit both with some 400 grit sandpaper to make sure there wasn't any rust or anything that was going to hang them up.) I put the crank bolt in place, and now I'm supposed to tighten it to 135 lb-ft, both to draw the balancer fully in place and provide the final torque spec. I'm trying to figure out how to do that without having the engine spin... A book I have sticks a wooden hammer handle up into the crank, but I really don't want to have to drop the oil pan just yet if I don't have to...
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126.jpg - 104 KB Thu 7/25/02

The MML saves the day again. :-) I posted there for suggestions, and got several answers. There are some folks who have used an impact wrench or a breaker bar with a hammer and just guessed, but there were some other ideas like jamming something into the starter gear, stuffing a cylinder with a nylon rope, and this one - using a chain on one of the harmonic balancer bolts. I used a grade 8 bolt threaded into one of the harmonic balancer holes, and slipped a chain over it (the other end of the chain I wrapped around part of the K member). I then torqued the crank bolt down to 135 lb-ft. It gave me a bit of a scare when, just as it reached 135 lb-ft, there was a loud SNAP! and the engine moved a bit. At first I thought, "I broke the bolt", then "I broke the balancer", then "I broke the crank", then "maybe it was just a motor mount". The bolt was fine though, the balancer seemed OK, and the other two didn't seem to make a lot of sense. :-) What I am pretty sure happened is the chain slipped off the lip of the washer and snapped down onto the socket - this allowed the engine to spin just a bit and rock in the engine bay...
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127.jpg - 93 KB Thu 7/25/02

With the #1 piston at TDC on the compression stroke, its time to re-install the oil drive. I gave it a good coating of oil before dropping it into place. (To get to TDC, I used a wire to feel the piston coming up, verified that both valves were closed, and the top of the piston travel corresponded with the large mark on the harmonic balancer.)
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128.jpg - 84 KB Thu 7/25/02

When it is seated all the way down, the distributor groove is supposed to be in-line with the camshaft - like so.
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129.jpg - 91 KB Thu 7/25/02

A little vaseline on the distributor's rubber O-ring will help it to seal.
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130.jpg - 86 KB Thu 7/25/02

Standing at the passenger side of the motor, the vacuum cannister should point directly away from you, and the rotor should be pointing to approximately the 4 o'clock position. (An engine building book I have says 4:30...) The bottom of the distributor should engage with the slot in the oil drive shaft. When you install the distributor in this manner, the post that the rotor is pointing to is for the #1 cylinder.
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131.jpg - 107 KB Thu 7/25/02

I've installed the distributor hold-down, and I have also temporarily installed the distributor cap to check on the #1 plug wire position. The post the cap was pointing to was indeed the wire I had marked as being for the #1 cylinder when I disassembled the engine. That's got to be a good sign. :-)
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132.jpg - 107 KB Thu 7/25/02

Time to set the lifter preload. The process for this is to start with the #1 cylinder at TDC on the compression stroke and adjust the #2 intake vale and #8 exhaust valve. Then, you rotate the engine 90 degrees (conveniently, my harmonic balancer has marks every 90 degrees) and adjust another intake valve and exhaust valve, and so on, according to the following chart:

This piston is at TDCIntake valve to adjustExhaust valve to adjust
1 2 8
8 1 4
4 8 3
3 4 6
6 3 5
5 6 7
7 5 2
2 7 1

The process I used to set the preload is to make sure the lock nut is loose, back off on the adjusting screw, then spin the pusrod between my fingers as I screw in the adjusting screw. When I started to feel some resistance to turning the pushrod, I turned the screw an additional turn (equates to .040"), then tighted up the lock nut with the 9/16" wrench.

Unfortunately, this process pretty much wiped the lube off the cam and I've already used up the lube that Hughes sent with the cam and valvetrain. Guess I'll have to stop at the auto parts store to pick up some more and lube up the cam as best I can through the slots in the lifter valley.
132 - 107 KB
133.jpg - 102 KB Sat 7/27/02

Time to install the water pump housing. First, I spread sealer on the block, then put the gaskets in place. I used the bolts to align the gasket prior to pressing it against the block. (They also ensure that the gasket is installed correctly; if you install it upside down, two of the holes will line up but the third won't... )
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134.jpg - 98 KB Sat 7/27/02

I also spread some sealer on the water pump housing itself, and put it in position. It is held on by two bolts (the two bolts in the pic which are flush to the surface and have washers under them). I have the other bolts threaded partially in to be sure that the housing is lined up correctly and that all the bolts will go in once they need to. (You may notice the nice shiny bolts - I took my 30 year old, rusty, cruddy bolts to the hardware store and got new grade 8 equivalents.)
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135.jpg - 102 KB Sat 7/27/02

The thermostat and thermostat housing is next. That's the Mopar Performance chrome water neck. The bottom surface was a bit rough, so I cleaned it up a bit on a belt sander. Unfortunately, the holes didn't line up with the water pump housing, so I had to elongate them quite a bit. I used a liberal quantity of sealer on top of the water pump housing, then put the gasket in place, and set the thermostat on top of that. Some more sealer went on the bottom of the thermostat housing before I set it into place and bolted it down.
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136.jpg - 74 KB Sat 7/27/02

This is the Mopar Performance viscous fan. You need to attach the blades to the clutch unit with the provided bolts. Be sure you put it on right though, or you will be trying to blow air through the radiator instead of sucking it through... There is a stamp that says "ENGINE SIDE" on the surface that should face the engine (visible at the 6 o'clock position of the fan in the pic at the left). Of course, the clutch unit goes on the radiator side of the engine. Visible to the right of the fan is a Milodon aluminum high volume water pump. I wrapped a paper towel around the shaft and bearing then shot it with a couple coats of clear spray paint to try and keep the corrosion at bay. (I didn't want to powdercoat it with that bearing in there...)
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137.jpg - 108 KB Sat 7/27/02

I've put the power steering pump back in place; the bolts are tight but not snugged down yet - that'll come later when I actaully put the belts on.
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138.jpg - 109 KB Sat 7/27/02

I've put the alternator in place also. I have also just realized that the top bolt needs a spacer between the head and the alternator. I knew I heard something puke out from under the car when the old alternator bolt snapped! I guess it was the spacer. I'll have to do something about that before I go any further with this. You may also have noticed that I threaded the gauge and EFI temp sensors into place, and I just screwed the old water pump fittings in a couple of threads. I definitely don't plan on re-using them, but the lame hardware store I went to today had barely any barb fittings, let alone the size I needed. I think maybe I'll take care of those before I put the alternator in place; the forward fitting looks like it could be a bit difficult to tighten the hose clamp with the alternator bracket in place.
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139.jpg - 93 KB Sat 7/27/02

I've got the crank pulley in place too. The original bolts looked OK, so I re-used them. It took a little convincing to get the pulley to seat down fully on the vibration dampener. What I did was to thread the bolts in and tighten them down to draw the pulley into place. (Some pursuading with a rubber mallet helped too...) Then I removed each bolt one at a time, put some red loctite on them and torqued them down. (I couldn't find a torque spec for them so I went to 35 lb-ft.)
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140.jpg - 92 KB Sun 7/28/02

Next, I wanted to try out the priming shaft - and prime the oiling system. The only problem was that the oil pressure gauge is inside the car, so I had no way of knowing wether it would work. I suppose I could have somebody watch the gauge, but being a bit of a loner and also wanting to do everything myself, an alternate method was required. :-)

I put a camcorder inside the car, aimed at the oil pressure gauge...
140 - 92 KB
141.jpg - 117 KB Sun 7/28/02

...and ran the video out cable to a small monitor on the fender, placed where I can see it as I prime the oiling system.
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142.jpg - 71 KB Sun 7/28/02

A close up of the monitor.
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143.jpg - 115 KB Sun 7/28/02

Here's how you prime the oiling system - a Mopar Performance priming shaft in a drill, set on reverse. The shaft goes down into the oil pump. (Obviously the distributor and oil drive must be removed first.) You'll need a pretty heavy duty drill for this though. I have a 5 amp drill, which was able to get the pressure up to 65-70psi or so, but the drill really started to bog down - then it got really hot and started to smoke. :-) So, I just did it in short bursts, giving the drill some time to cool down. At least now the oil is already in the cam bearings, and hopefully up into the rocker shafts too. (I couldn't tell about the shafts - I didn't see any oil coming out, but I'm not sure if it is supposed to though without the cam turning... ? Oh, one tip I found while surfing the 'net was to wrap the priming shaft in electrical tape. Apparently it likes to rub against the oil drive bushing, which can damage the bushing and get little metal shavings in your oil too. The tape helps to prevent that.
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144.jpg - 69 KB Sun 7/28/02

I figured it was about time to drop the radiator back in. Before doing so, I hit the top of it with some flat black spray paint. I masked off the fins because I didn't want the paint to affect their efficiency. At least it looks a bit better now - it was pretty scratched up.
144 - 69 KB
145.jpg - 93 KB Sun 7/28/02

And here it is back in the car.
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146.jpg - 65 KB Mon 7/29/02

Time to get the intake in place... Here I am, stupidly following the directions... :-) I put sealant on one side of the gasket...
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147.jpg - 114 KB Mon 7/29/02

...then put it on the head.
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148.jpg - 114 KB Mon 7/29/02

Some more sealant on the other side of the gasket...
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149.jpg - 88 KB Mon 7/29/02

...then sealant on both sides of the third and fourth gaskets, which sit on top of the valley pan...
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150.jpg - 107 KB Mon 7/29/02

...which then drops down on top of the engine. The front and rear of the pan are secured with 3 bolts each, through a retaining bar. Of coruse, you put sealant under that too, and some generous gobs at the corners. The bar bolts get torqued to 15 lb-ft.
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151.jpg - 106 KB Mon 7/29/02

Then, the intake gets plopped down on top of that. Unfortunately, it didn't line up right! The intake would have to drop down further before the bolts could go in. I tried everything I could think of, including getting into the engine bay and kneeling on the intake as I attempted to tap it into place with a rubber mallet. No dice. Time to run to the MML for help! :-)
151 - 106 KB
152.jpg - 109 KB Tue 7/30/02

Ok, as it turns out, a lot of people have this problem, and my situation wasn't helped out much by the fact that the block was decked. The cheapest recommendation offered by the MML was to install the intake without gaskets, just use sealer on both sides of the valley pan. If that didn't create enough clearance, I would have to mill the intake.

In this pic, I have dropped the intake onto the engine just to see where the holes line up. (After cleaning the dried sealant off the intake and heads - that was fun... not!) Fortunately, I appear to have plenty of clearance! This might just work. I need to go buy some more sealant first though.

Oh, and one other thing that made this intake ordeal even more fun... You may notice that I have stuffed a paper towel into the distributor opening. The reason for this was because after I had torqued down the valley pan, had everything gooped up, etc. I dropped a washer down into the distributor opening and it fell down past the cam!!! :-( That is enough to make a grown man cry, I'll tell ya! FORTUNATELY, it hadn't fallen down into the crank area and I was able to fish it out with a magnet. So, you can imagine my state of mind after all that, when the intake didn't fit. :-)
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153.jpg - 88 KB Thu 8/01/02

In the meantime, I figured I'd button up some of the other items. These heater hose connections, for example. Here are the replacements I got for the rusty, cruddy stock units. (1/2" barb with 1/4 MPT, and 5/8" barb with 3/8 MPT)
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154.jpg - 104 KB Thu 8/01/02

A little paste on the threads and they're in the engine.
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154a.jpg - 97 KB Thu 8/01/02

I had to remove the washer behind this bolt in order to leave enough room for the heater hose and clamp. It just wouldn't work otherwise. (I've got a nice gouge in my finger now to prove it. Note to self: hose clamps can be sharp!!)
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154b.jpg - 83 KB Thu 8/01/02

This hose is all set. I put a piece of duct tape over the other end and stuck it out of the way. Now that this hose is set I can get the alternator in place.
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155.jpg - 92 KB Thu 8/01/02

Which, if you will recall needed a spacer. I figured I'd use a bunch of washers, but it was a bit of a pain to try to install them all so, I put them all together on a bolt...
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156.jpg - 94 KB Thu 8/01/02

...ran a few beads of weld down the sides...
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157.jpg - 70 KB Thu 8/01/02

...and applied a concorse quality rattle-can paint job. Hey, didn't I see this on Dream Car Garage? Is it repro or NOS? Only my mechanic knows for sure! (Hey give me a break, its a driver! If I come across something nice for not too much money I'll consider it. For now this should do.) :-)
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160.jpg - 99 KB Thu 8/01/02

Here's the alternator, in place and ready to go. (Except for the belts of course...) I was a bit squeamish about the bolt going into the aluminum head, and since Edelbrock didn't see fit to include any torque recommendations, I put some loctite on it and torqued it to 25 lb-ft.
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161.jpg - 94 KB Thu 8/01/02

I also took this opportunity to install the lower radiator hose. The hose that came off the engine had a spring sort of thing inside it, I assume to prevent suction from the water pump from collapsing it. Before installing the new hose, I stuck the spring inside.
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162.jpg - 81 KB Fri 8/02/02

Ok, lets try this intake thing again... I've put #2 non-hardening sealant on both sides of the valley pan.
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163.jpg - 110 KB Fri 8/02/02

And put blue RTV at the front and back of the block, with generous gobs at the corners...
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164.jpg - 100 KB Fri 8/02/02

...then set the valley pan into place. I've threaded the bolts through the front and rear retaining bars just a few threads, but left them loose to give me some play for adjustment.
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165.jpg - 91 KB Fri 8/02/02

I set the intake in place, got all the bolts in hand tight (woohoo - it fit!) but as I was torquing down the middle front retaining bar bolt, there was a SNAP and I heard something hit the valley pan. I thought I had broken the bolt (at 15 lb-ft? yeah right...) but the bolt was fine. I had just about convinced myself that it was just the valley pan flexing, and snapping down into place, but I was just delaying the inevitable. I have too much time and money in this motor to not investigate an unknown like that. So... The intake and valley pan came off YET AGAIN. Good thing too, because look what I found in the lifter valley!
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166.jpg - 101 KB Fri 8/02/02

A close up - its a piece of the engine block!
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167.jpg - 80 KB Fri 8/02/02

Here's where it came from.
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168.jpg - 51 KB Fri 8/02/02

Another view...
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169.jpg - 88 KB Fri 8/02/02

I think this is the reason why... The holes were all clogged with old RTV; I ran a tap down them and in almost every hole, this is what it came up with!
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170.jpg - 72 KB Fri 8/02/02

Here's a shot of the block with that piece set in place. I was just checking to be sure there weren't any other chips that had come off and found their way into the engine.
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171.jpg - 92 KB Fri 8/02/02

Finally, the valley pan is back on, and so is the intake. Due to having aluminum heads, I used Edelbrock's recommended 25 lb-ft for the intake bolts instead of the usual 50 lb-ft. I torqued them in an X pattern, starting with the inside bolts, then the outside ones. In the same sequence, I tightened them down by hand, then torqued to 20 lb-ft, then 25 lb-ft.
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172.jpg - 99 KB Fri 8/02/02

Although I have purchased an actual overflow bottle because this one partially blocks the radiator, I have put it back in place for now - I don't need to be introducing new variables during the first engine start. Yes, that is in fact an antifreeze bottle crammed between the radiator and grille. :-) The previous owner did that, and what can I say - its cheap, simple, and works! The KISS principle at its finest. I would leave it alone, but since it does partially block the radiator, I want to find an alternate mounting location.
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173.jpg - 72 KB Fri 8/02/02

Ok, lets figure out how to put together the rest of the cooling system...
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174.jpg - 92 KB Fri 8/02/02

First I put some sealant on the water pump housing.
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175.jpg - 67 KB Fri 8/02/02

I also put some sealant on one side of the water pump gasket, then placed it on the water pump housing.
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176.jpg - 96 KB Fri 8/02/02

Next, I installed the high flow water pump, using blue threadlocker on the threads and torquing them down to 30lb-ft. I didn't use washers under the bolt heads because during a "dry test-fit assembly" I discovered that the water pump pulley runs darn close to them - with washers under the bolts, it would be REALLY darn close. :-)
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177.jpg - 93 KB Fri 8/02/02

Speaking of which, here's the water pump pulley which is just set into position over the water pump.
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178.jpg - 103 KB Fri 8/02/02

Then the fan is bolted on; the bolts go through the pulley and into the pump. I used red threadlocker on the fan bolts and secured them fairly tightly with a standard wrench. As you can see, I temporarily installed the alternator pulley in order to create some resistance to allow me to tighten down the bolts without the whole assembly rotating.

I eventually plan to build a fan shroud, but this will do for now.
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179.jpg - 67 KB Sat 8/03/02

I disassembled the valve covers (removed the breather, PCV valve, oil baffles, etc) for degreasing and cleaning.
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180.jpg - 70 KB Sat 8/03/02

After reassembling the covers, I put a thin bead of the Right Stuff around them...
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181.jpg - 72 KB Sat 8/03/02

...then put the valve cover gasket in place...
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182.jpg - 104 KB Sat 8/03/02

...before bolting it into place. I did not use any sealant or anything between the head and the gasket because I expect to have the valve covers off a few times still to inspect the rocker arms and check the lifter preload.
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183.jpg - 89 KB Sat 8/03/02

I guess its about time to tackle these headers. This is not something I have been looking forward to. Lets just say I have heard horror stories... :-)

The first step is to get some air under the car. Ummm, you actually don't need this much air - some jack stands will work fine.
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184.jpg - 83 KB Sat 8/03/02

Here are the TTI E Body headers, ceramic coated. They come with a pair of collector reducers, all gaskets, and hardware.
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185.jpg - 98 KB Sat 8/03/02

The first step for me, since I am not doing an entire exhaust system at this point, is to figure out about where to cut my existing head pipes off. What I did was to measure the headers from the rear bolt hole to the collector (about 21"). Then, I hung a roll of duct tape from an electrical wire from the rear exhaust bolt, and measured back from there on the head pipes to find the place to cut.
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186.jpg - 87 KB Sat 8/03/02

Which I did...
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187.jpg - 84 KB Sat 8/03/02

This is the passenger side header - you put it up onto the engine from underneath the car. It is a tight fit! I had heard that the passenger side was the easiest (no steering shaft, steering box, or starter to get in the way), but this header was a real bear to get into place! If this was the easy side, I wasn't looking forward to the driver's side! I held the header in place with a couple of bolts, threaded in part way. I plan to slip the gasket in from the top later.
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188.jpg - 107 KB Sat 8/03/02

This is the driver's side. I thought I might be able to slip the header in there without removing the starter since I have the lightweight one. Not a chance! So, the starter came out.
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189.jpg - 91 KB Sat 8/03/02

After the starter was out, the driver's side header slipped into place as nicely as you please! Much easier than the passenger side. Unfortunately, now I had to figure out how to get the starter back in! As you can see in this pic, I have disconnected some of the steering components to try to get more clearance. I also tried dropping it in from the top. Still no dice. If I had manual steering, it might have worked. Anyway, what I ended up doing was to pull the header back out about halfway, and holding the header in one hand and the starter in the other, inserted them simultaneously. (Yeah, that's about as fun as it sounds...) :-(
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190.jpg - 94 KB Sat 8/03/02

After I got the header in place, I held it in place by threading in the rear-most bolt. Then, I went above the engine, and put the gasket between the header and the head, and threaded the front-most bolt through. Then, I went back underneath, removed the rear-most bolt, let the gasket drop into place, then threaded the bolt back in.
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191.jpg - 92 KB Sat 8/03/02

Here's a shot of both headers in place, though they are still just being held loosely in place by a couple of bolts each. Clearance is tight, but good overall. I did have to bend my tranny cooler lines out of the way a bit though.
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192.jpg - 86 KB Sat 8/03/02

This is the biggest problem so far. When turning the wheels, the idler arm hits the bottom of the passenger side header. I might be able to grind down the top a bit, I want to check with the MML first though...
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193.jpg - 73 KB Sun 8/04/02

Another picture of the contact area, after bolting the headers in place. While installing the headers, I lifted up on the passenger side as much as possible, but it still didn't create enough clearance. I removed the idler arm to inspect it closer; I thought I could grind down on it a bit, but I don't think the small amount I would be able to grind it would make much difference. I did some research in the Mopar Chassis manual to investigate dropping the idler arm slightly, but that would throw off the right tie rod slope, and I'd really rather not mess up the suspension. Its starting to look like I will have to dimple the pipe.

By the way, while I was under the car, I had the opportunity to really give the headers a good look-see. I am very impressed with the fitment. TTI really did their homework on these - the fit is great! (I guess you really do get what you pay for...) Its just this one area I'm having a problem with, it could have been much worse. :-)
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194.jpg - 79 KB Sun 8/04/02

While I figure out what I want to do with the clearance problem, I figured I'd work on connecting the headers to the rest of the exhaust. I've put a support under the exhaust to try and line up the pipes.
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195.jpg - 67 KB Sun 8/04/02

I slipped the collector adapters in place, and held the 2.5" to 2.25" adapter in position so I could mark where to cut the pipe.
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196.jpg - 82 KB Sun 8/04/02

I've cut the pipe and am moving the exhaust into position.
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197.jpg - 95 KB Sun 8/04/02

Houston, we have a problem... :-) Up at the collectors, the pipes lined up great, but since the extensions come straight back off the collectors and the exhaust pipes are angling in, the distance between the collectors is too wide, as you can see. Shouldn't be a big deal though, I plan to get a couple of short sections of 2.25" pipe, cut the exhaust pipes back futher, and angle the new pipe in towards the collectors.
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198.jpg - 83 KB Mon 8/05/02

In the meantime, back to the idler arm clearance problem... I checked with the MML, and they assured me that dropping the idler arm a bit would be no problem - that I probably wouldn't even notice the difference, though I should have it aligned afterwards. The tech at TTI also didn't see a problem with dropping the idler arm a little bit. So, I followed the procedure in the Mopar Chassis manual, which consists of filing the bottom hole of the bracket - you file the front to drop the arm, or the back to raise it.
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199.jpg - 86 KB Mon 8/05/02

Once you've dropped it to where you want it, you re-install the idler arm, but use a 9/16" washer on top of the nut. You get the idler arm in position, tighten down the nut somewhat, then weld it to the bottom of the bracket. I just tacked it in a few places for now. Its easy to get to later to finish the job after I have the alignment checked. (I just wanted to tack it for now in case it had to come back out - a few minutes with a grinder will do the trick.) The nut then gets torqued to 90 lb-ft.
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200.jpg - 79 KB Mon 8/05/02

This is a bit better, eh? :-) I've now got just over 1/8" of clearance, and even if I push up on the arm, I can't get it to go any closer to the header than about 1/8". Hopefully that will do the trick. Oh, I also shaved the top of the idler arm just a tad. I couldn't find a spec for the torque on the center link and tie rod bolts... I did find a page on the 'net that listed 35 lb-ft, but it was a page for Chryslers in general, so I wasn't sure. I posted a message to the MML and got a reply that 35 lb-ft seemed about right. (Thanks, Tom!)
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201.jpg - 78 KB Tue 8/06/02

Ok, back to the exhaust! I've picked up some 2.25" tailpipes to finish this up. Here, I am positioning the passenger side pipe in place. It took some cutting and grinding to get everything to line up the way I wanted. When it was lined up properly, I tack welded the sections together.
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202.jpg - 80 KB Tue 8/06/02

Then, I removed it from the car to weld it fully.
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203.jpg - 88 KB Tue 8/06/02

Then, back in the car it went, and I tacked it to the exhaust pipe in several places.
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204.jpg - 87 KB Tue 8/06/02

The same process was followed for the driver's side.
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205.jpg - 99 KB Tue 8/06/02

Then, I unbolted the exhaust hangars at the rear of the car to let the exhaust hang down, and I welded up that final seam.
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206.jpg - 89 KB Tue 8/06/02

Since I cut out my old head pipe, I need a new oxygen sensor bung.

Once I found the location I wanted, I marked and centerpunched it.
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207.jpg - 92 KB Tue 8/06/02

Then, used a 7/8" hole saw to make the opening.
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208.jpg - 93 KB Tue 8/06/02

The oxygen sensor bung goes in place and gets welded to the pipe.
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209.jpg - 79 KB Tue 8/06/02

Next I re-attached the exhaust hangars and bolted the exhaust to the collectors.
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210.jpg - 86 KB Tue 8/06/02

Here's another shot of the completed job.
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211.jpg - 76 KB Tue 8/06/02

And another, showing the oxygen sensor in place. My welds won't win any awards, but this setup should do for now. The rest of the exhaust will get replaced at some point - the "professional" shop that created it for the previous owner obviously just slapped it together - the rear of the H pipe comes halfway into the exhaust pipes, for crying out loud! There is some power being lost there for sure. It'll do for now though.
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212.jpg - 94 KB Wed 8/07/02

While I had the car in the air, I figured I'd change out the tranny mount. Bob Kennedy had said that it was shot when I did my dyno tuning, so I took his word for it and ordered another. Looking at this now, compared to what a new tranny mount looks like, Bob was absolutely right. Yoiks! By the way, what looks like grease in this picture is actually melted rubber! (How the heck did that happen???)
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213.jpg - 75 KB Wed 8/07/02

To change out the bushing, you need to remove the mount by supporting the tranny, removing the main bolt, and the two nuts that hold this bracket to the tranny. Yuck! Look at that thing! :-)
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214.jpg - 93 KB Wed 8/07/02

According to the Energy Suspension instructions, heating up the outside of the bracket would be sufficient to break the tension and remove the bushing. Yeah right - maybe if I had a 100 ton press! Tried to push out the bushing in the vice, but no such luck.

Solution? Burn, baby, burn! :-)
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215.jpg - 93 KB Wed 8/07/02

A combination of heat and sticking a screwdriver down into the rubber eventually allowed me to remove the metal sleeve, but there was a lot of bushing left. Several sessions of "scrape with a screwdriver, burn some more" got most of it out. My sandblaster took care of the rest.
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216.jpg - 89 KB Wed 8/07/02

A quick powdercoat, and its got a new lease on life!
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217.jpg - 97 KB Wed 8/07/02

I pressed the bushings into place immediately after removing the bracket from the oven after powdercoating. (I figured the heat would have expanded it somewhat, making it easier for the bushings to go in.) The bushings went in nice and easy.
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218.jpg - 76 KB Wed 8/07/02

Here's what the bracket and tranny look like prior to putting the bushing assembly into place. In order to get the holes all lined up, it took some pursuading from a screwdriver which I used as a lever and a rubber mallet to tap it into position.
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219.jpg - 90 KB Wed 8/07/02

Here it is all bolted together. That's more like it! I didn't think to use any grease on the bushing until after it was in the car - maybe I should have. Well, if it dies an early death, its a cheap part and not a big deal to replace.
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220.jpg - 101 KB Wed 8/07/02

Now I can return my attention to the top side of the car - I have just installed a new pair of heater hoses.
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221.jpg - 116 KB Sun 8/11/02

I've laid the distributor cap in place to figure out a spark plug routing. Although I plan to replace the wires, that will happen later, after the engine is back up and running. I have also bolted the throttle body in place and hooked up a few items like the fuel supply and return, PCV hose, MAP sensor hose, etc.
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222.jpg - 127 KB Sun 8/11/02

I've basically finished plugging in all the connectors for the EFI computer, hooked up the alternator, installed the throttle linkage brackets, springs, kickdown lever, etc. I also have the battery in place. I plan to clean up the EFI wiring quite a bit but again, later, once the engine is running.
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223.jpg - 109 KB Tue 8/13/02

I drained the oil, and refilled it.
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224.jpg - 105 KB Tue 8/13/02

Then, I pushed the car back a bit, both to get the exhaust pointing out the door and to get the radiator draincock over the floor drain. I've filled the cooling system with water and if it starts to get too hot, I will open up the drain, and put the garden hose in the top. Speaking of the cooling system, when I filled it up, the t-stat housing leaked out of the back. I pulled it off, used some Right Stuff, and bolted it back down, then refilled. It hasn't leaked yet, so hopefully it is OK now.

I also hooked a battery charger up to the battery, and I've got a fan in front of the grille for whatever good that will do.
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225.jpg - 122 KB Tue 8/13/02

I have the spark plug wires in, and routed away from the headers and such. I used cable ties all over the place to keep things in place for now.
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226.gif - 38 KB Tue 8/13/02

It was time for the engine start! Unfortunately, it will only stay running for about 5-10 seconds before quitting and spitting flame out the throttle body. I ran to the MML for help and the consensus there seems to be that my timing is probably off. So, I will re-check the spark plug wire routing to make sure I didn't mess something up and also check to make sure I didn't accidentally install the distributor 180 degrees out, if that all comes out OK, I will try advancing the timing (turn distributor clockwise), and see if that helps.

I had my camcorder running to record the first engine start, if you are into fireworks, you might enjoy these clips:
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227.jpg - 100 KB Thu 8/15/02

Woohoo! :-) Its alive!! I took the fan off to turn the engine over by hand and verified that I had indeed installed the distributor correctly and not 180 degrees out, I rechecked the spark plug wire routing, that was OK also. I put the engine at TDC this time, and looked at the reluctor in the distributor. It was just about to get to the pickup, which means the way I had it, the spark was actually retarded - it was firing the plug after the piston hit TDC. I took the distributor and oil drive out, re-primed the oil system, put the distributor and oil drive back in, and lined the reulctor up with the pickup, then turned the distributor clockwise about the same amount as the width of the reluctor point. I started up the engine, and it ran about the same - maybe slightly better but not a whole lot. I was a bit dissapointed, but I loosened up the distributor hold-down, turned the housing clockwise just a bit more, then tried again. Success! This time the engine stayed running and seemed to run pretty well. For the next half an hour, I ran around the car like a chicken with its head cut off! I had opened the radiator draincock and the radiator cap so that I could keep a flow of cold water going into the radiator, I would also occasionally spray the front of the radiator. I was able to keep the temperature around 200 degrees, which is hotter than I would like, but probably still OK, given that most late model cars have 195 degree thermostats... I was adjusting the idle set screw, plugging in different idle numbers into the laptop for the TPS, and generally going around the car making sure everything looked OK. One thing that nags me a bit is the air/fuel meter never registered anything, I hope it wasn't running too lean. The fuel pressure seemed OK during the break in, but I noticed the fuel pump started making some noise, and after I was done, when I was filling the radiator with cool water then runing the motor briefly to draw it into the engine, I noticed that the fuel pump had some trouble getting up to pressure. I also noticed (well, actually my Dad noticed when he came down from the house to make sure I wasn't asphixiated...) that there was fuel dripping off the side of the throttle body, where the fuel pressure gauge is screwed in. So, I've got a leak there somewhere. I'm not sure how that happened. ?? Fortunately, (hopefully) the break-in is complete and I can now focus on these other things. I had planned to re-do the fuel system routing anyway.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following MMLers for their help and advice regarding this engine start problem (in no particular order):
  • "IanMark"
  • Karl M.
  • Joe Borg
  • Lee Esquivel
  • Shane Mayfield
  • "dcoop"
  • Richard Sorak
  • "Big Al"
Thanks a million, guys! :-) The MML is a tremendous resource, and I am sure glad its there! If you own a Mopar, why not check it out? www.moparmailinglist.com
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228.jpg - 76 KB Thu 8/21/02

The cam break-in generated quite a bit of heat from the headers, which melted a few things. I need to take care of those. One of those items was the rubber boot on the pitman arm. I decided while I'm at it I might as well replace all of the tie rod grease boots too. So, I need to pull the center link again. This time though, I'm not going to be able to leave it attached on the driver's side - it has to come off.
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229.jpg - 70 KB Thu 8/21/02

I got this tie rod end puller for $10 at Autozone and it works pretty well! You can also use one for free through their loan-a-tool program, but I figured for $10, I'd just get a new one, since this is the same tool they loan out.
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230.jpg - 86 KB Thu 8/21/02

Here's a new Energy Suspension boot installed on the tie rod end. I haven't torqued down the nut yet or installed a new cotter pin. Just as an FYI, the part number for the boots is 9.13101RC, they were in stock at Autozone.
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231.jpg - 80 KB Thu 8/21/02

During the cam break-in, I noticed that the idler arm was right up against the headers again - chipped a piece of the ceramic too. The heat must have caused the headers to expand towards the idler arm. So, I need to drop it further. I've taken off the washer I tack welded in place, and elongated the hole some more.
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232.jpg - 76 KB Thu 8/21/02

Now I should have maybe 1/4" to 3/8" clearance. HOPEFULLY that will be enough! Obviously, I haven't tacked a new washer in place or installed the arm yet, I need to take it to the parts store to find a boot for it (and the pitman arm, which is the same). I had figured it would be the same as the tie rod ends - its not.
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233.jpg - 84 KB Sat 8/24/02

I've used 8 spot welds to hold the washer in place for now. Like before, this will allow me to grind them away to remove the washer if I need to, but will allow the steering to be operable for now. If this works out I will probably come back later and weld it fully.
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234.jpg - 69 KB Sat 8/24/02

The tie rod bushings are in place, everything is torqued down, and greased. For the idler arm, I am using one of those stupid NAPA generic boots for now. It doesn't really fit like it should, but it is better than nothing for now. I'll have to try to get the actual thing from Just Suspension or Year One, or maybe Energy Suspension might have a universal that will work. For now though, this should keep the dirt out. Oh, I bought a service manual on e-bay so I have the actual torque figures now. The tie rod and center link nuts are torqued to 40 lb-ft, and the idler arm nut to 65 lb-ft.
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235.jpg - 72 KB Sat 8/24/02

I'm installing a new starter cable and starter relay cable. This time, I'm routing them back to the firewall, up the fender, then forward. This routing should keep them the furthest from header heat. I'm also enclosing them in a section of 1" ID Thermo-Tec Thermo-Sleeve.
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236.jpg - 107 KB Sun 8/25/02

The MSD 8.5mm wires I ordered from Summit arrived, so I figured I would install them. (P/N 31319) This pic shows what happens when a spark plug wire gets too close to a header tube. :-( I was planning on replacing the wires anyway, this just accellerated the timetable. :-)
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237.jpg - 119 KB Sun 8/25/02

I laid out the MSD wires and marked them as far as where I thought they should go, then put them on the cap, and started to install them on the engine. Unfortunately, the stupid MSD "multi-angle" (yeah right!) plug boots are WAY too long and interfere with the power steering box, fenders, etc. Makes me wonder what MSD prototyped these on - a motorhome?!?? Anyway, the MSD wires will go back to Summit, and I've already ordered a set of Taylor 8mm wires. (P/N 74272) According to the tech info on Summit's web site, all of the boots except two are 90 degree, and the two that aren't are 135 degree. Sounds like Taylor may have actually tried their wires on an engine that's in a car! We'll see how they work out. I was all set to order MSD wire, boots, wire crimper, etc. for about $163 when I stumbled across the Taylors. If the Taylor wires work, I will save $30 over the MSDs, and it'll be $120 cheaper than the "roll your own" method, so I figure its worth a shot!
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238.jpg - 117 KB Sun 8/25/02

I picked up some 3/8" ID tubing and a T, so now my brakes have vacuum again. Stupid Autozone doesn't even carry 3/8" ID vacuum tubing, so I got 3/8" fuel/emissions line. Hopefully it will be OK; if I come across any thicker walled stuff I'll grab some but this should do for now.
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239.jpg - 81 KB Mon 8/26/02

I finished routing the wires from the starter up to the starter relay and battery. The heat sleeve on the starter wires only goes up to about the master cylinder level. As expensive as that stuff is, I'm only using it in the high heat areas! I also wrapped the starter with some Thermo-Tec, hopefully that will help to prevent heat soak rather than acting like a blanket and keeping the heat in... Figured I might as well do that as long as I'm down there.
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240.jpg - 102 KB Tue 8/27/02

I went to the post office today to send the MSD wires back to Summit, and when I got home, the Taylor wires were sitting on the porch. Along with the wires, I ordered some MSD wire markers (P/N 3414) and some MSD wire separators (P/N 8841). I went through the same process as I had with the MSD wires, but this time they fit perfectly. The 135 degree boots were perfect for the #5 and #6 cylinders, and the length was right for that location too. Kudos to Taylor for actually spending some time to research their application before putting their product on the market! I am extremely happy with these wires so far. Plus, they even included some dielectric grease! The only drawback was that the coil wire was too short for where my coil is mounted (on the fender). The stock location for the coil is on the intake manifold. No problem there though, I'll just use my old coil wire. I will be replacing the coil wire anyway, once I convert the spark to EFI because the Laser Shot coil that is going in the car has a "spark plug" style terminal.

In this picture, I've got the wires routed, and in the MSD wire seperators. (I love these seperators - they really clean up the install and are easy to use.) The routing is much better than before, and the wire seperators allowed me to keep all of the wires apart; there isn't a single wire which is touching another. That should go a LONG way towards preventing crossfire.
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241.jpg - 119 KB Tue 8/27/02

After getting the routing down, I removed each plug wire, installed a length of Thermo-Sleeve on it, greased it, and re-installed it. I only used sleeving up to about the valve cover area - each wire has somewhere around a foot to a foot and a half on it. The tops I secured with zip ties.

After wrapping this up, I drained the radiator and filled it back up with a 50/50 water/antifreeze mix (I wanted to get some antifreeze into the block ASAP, to ward off corrosion). After that, I fired up the motor. There is still some oil on the headers which is burning off, but it went very well. I have the idle set at 1,000 and after about 10-15 seconds, the motor was content to settle down and idle there. It is running very smooth. Unfortunately, the cam doesn't really sound very mean, it sounds about the same as before, but I guess that's to be expected since the duration is almost the same as the old cam. Hey, at least its running! :-) I just let the motor get up to about 190 to get the thermostat open and circulating coolant. During this session, the air/fuel gauge was sitting right in the middle, which would indicate about 14.7:1, so hopefully all is well with the fuel as well. (I richened up the entire fuel map by 20%) I do still need to check the timing though. But, I should be pretty close to being able to drive it! I still want to adjust the fuel supply situation, but I'm not sure if I'm going to do that now, or drive it a bit first. I'm thinking of going KISS and eliminating the surge tank, one pump, and a bunch of plumbing. If I can find a way to keep the pickup in fuel I may do that. (Eventually I want to replace the tank with a new one and weld in a sump, but I don't want to mess with that just yet...)
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242.jpg - 98 KB Thu 8/29/02

I installed the power steering belt, installed a new shifter cable (and put it in a thermo-sleeve, should be interesting to see if that helps), aired up the tires, and checked the timing. My timing was at about 10 degrees BTDC. I set it to 5 degrees BTDC.
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243.jpg - 122 KB Thu 8/29/02

After installing the air cleaner, at just before midnight, I took it out on the street! Unfortunately, I don't think the brakes are getting enough vacuum because they don't feel as strong as before. Also, its running hot! I only went about a quarter of a mile, partially because it was dark and partially because it was up to 200 degrees already! Hmmm...
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244.jpg - 106 KB Sat 8/31/02

I got this "440 4bbl" decal at Carlisle for $5. I figured it would lend a bit of nostalgia to the motor. :-) First I held it where I wanted it with tape, then peeled the back off half the decal, applied it, then did the other side. Unfortunately it didn't fit quite right on the aftermarket air cleaner cover, but it doesn't look terrible.
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245.jpg - 114 KB Sat 8/31/02

From a distance anyway...
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246.jpg - 109 KB Sat 8/31/02

Another view of the engine. You may also notice the timing light. At the advice of an MMLer, I wanted to set the total timing, rather than the base timing. I set the idle to 2500 and set the timing to about 30 degrees BTDC. I was going to set it to 35, but it seemed to be fluctuating a bit, and it is darn disconcerting to be leaning over a motor spinning at 2500 RPMs! I drove the car a bit more, and have richened the fuel map considerably, but it is still getting up to 200 degrees fairly quickly. I would like to see it lower than that. I have an aluminum radiator on the way from Summit, hopefully that will help.
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247.jpg - 92 KB Sat 9/7/02

The good news is that the radiator arrived. The bad news is that this is what it looked like! :-( After verifying with the MML that radiators should, in fact, be square, I decided to send it back to Summit for an exchange.
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248.jpg - 128 KB Sun 9/8/02

I figured that since the engine has heated up and cooled down a few times I should re-torque the heads. This wasn't really something I was looking forward to since I figured I'd have to remove the rockers to get to the bolts. After I removed the valve covers, I noticed that there was no way I was going to be able to get a wrench on the bottom row of bolts, much less a torque wrench! The header flange is very much in the way, so in order to torque the bolts I would have to remove the headers! I figured I would check the bolts that I could get to, just to see what they were doing. I chose a bolt and started at 50 lb-ft and worked my way up to 70 so that I could tell how many lb-ft the bolts had "loosened". I got all the way to 70 and the bolt hadn't moved so that was still at 70. I checked the rest of the bolts under the valve covers (using a wobble extension, I was able to get to the bolts under the rocker shaft without removing the rockers). As it turns out, all the bolts except for one or two were still at 70 lb-ft! (Well, they were no lower than 70 lb-ft anyway, and I doubt they would have actually tighened...) So, I figured I should be OK - hopefully the bolts below the header flange stayed at the proper torque too.
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249.jpg - 90 KB Tue 9/17/02

Well, my replacement radiator finally arrived from Summit. Good news - this one is square! :-) Lying on top is a Spectre 1.5" 25" long radiator hose, part number 5825. By the way, the part number for the radiator is SUM-380428, its a "Summit" dual core aluminum radiator, actually its made by Northern. This particular radiator is listed as a generic Ford application in the Summit catalog, but I notice that the Summit invoice actually did say "Ford/Mopar". Some folks on the MML made me aware of this radiator - hopefully it will do the job!
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250.jpg - 100 KB Tue 9/17/02

I've removed the stock radiator.
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251.jpg - 107 KB Tue 9/17/02

I've got the flex hose stuck on the thermostat housing, mostly just to keep junk from falling down in there. I've got the radiator sitting in place, just to check the fit. I taped a piece of cardboard onto it to try to prevent damage to the fins in case it were to hit the fan during the install.
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252.jpg - 104 KB Tue 9/17/02

Now I've got the radiator positioned just about where it will be mounted, and its held in place with clamps.
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253.jpg - 100 KB Tue 9/17/02

I grabbed a piece of scrap 2" x 3/16" angle iron and cut two 3" sections to use as brackets for the top of the radiator.
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254.jpg - 107 KB Tue 9/17/02

Here they are, sitting approximately where they will mount onto the radiator core support.
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255.jpg - 64 KB Tue 9/17/02

The top of the radiator core support is angled in relation to the radiator, and I wanted the angle iron to line up properly with the radiator, so I had one of three choices... Bend the radiator core support, bend the bracket itself, or bend the radiator lip.
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256.jpg - 67 KB Tue 9/17/02

I chose to do the latter, since it was the easiest of the three. I just used a pair of pliers to bend the lip, and used them as a hammer to pound it back into position.
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257.jpg - 73 KB Tue 9/17/02

I marked the brackets, measured, and drilled a couple of holes in each (the holes are just over 1/4" in diameter).
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258.jpg - 75 KB Tue 9/17/02

Then I removed the radiator, positioned the brackets on it, marked the holes, and drilled.
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259.jpg - 73 KB Tue 9/17/02

I'm not sure yet what kind of hardware I will be using, but this is how the bracket will mount to the radiator.
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260.jpg - 99 KB Wed 9/18/02

Next, I cut the bottom of the bracket off so it didn't block any of the radiator itself. (Actually, I did it more for looks than any minimal lost efficiency...)
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261.jpg - 87 KB Wed 9/18/02

I clamped the radiator back in place and marked the brackets for mounting to the radiator core support.
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262.jpg - 88 KB Wed 9/18/02

Then, I pulled the radiator, drilled the brackets, re-mounted them, put the radiator back in the car, and held it in place with clamps while drilling through the bracket into the radiator core support. I used some flat black spray paint sprayed on the end of a Q-tip to dab paint on the newly drilled radiator core support holes to ward off rust.
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263.jpg - 93 KB Wed 9/18/02

I decided to secure the bottom of the radiator with safety wire. This would be a lot easier than coming up with some sort of bracket system down in that cramped area. After marking a location on the bottom of the radiator with the radiator still in the car, I removed the radiator then drilled a couple of small holes on each side.
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264.jpg - 107 KB Wed 9/18/02

In the meantime, I sandblasted the brackets and powdercoated them, then mounted them to the radiator using all stainless hardware.
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265.jpg - 99 KB Wed 9/18/02

Then I put the radiator back in the car and used stainless hardware to mount the brackets to the radiator core support.
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266.jpg - 101 KB Wed 9/18/02

Each side of the radiator on the bottom is held in place with four separate strands of stainless safety wire. The brackets at the top of the radiator bear the weight of the radiator, the wire at the bottom is just to prevent it from "swinging" back into the fan.
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267.jpg - 45 KB Wed 9/18/02

On the back of the radiator itself, I used a couple of brass washers to help prevent the wire from digging into the soft aluminum of the radiator.
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268.jpg - 103 KB Wed 9/18/02

Due to the engine angle, the blades at the bottom of the fan are closer to the radiator than at the top. At the point of minimum clearance, I've got about 3/4". Hopefully that will be enough. :-) This mounting system may not be pretty, but it should work. The radiator seems very solid, much more so than the previous radiator which I was only able to secure with a couple of screws at the top. The radiator was pretty solid even before the safety wire, but I figured I should secure the bottom too, just in case.
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269.jpg - 114 KB Thu 9/19/02

Time to re-mount the tranny cooler. First, I held the cooler up to the radiator about where I wanted it, and stuck a wire through to mark the hole, then stuck a screwdriver though to widen up the hole.
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270.jpg - 93 KB Thu 9/19/02

This is a tranny/oil cooler "strap", part of Summit's tie mount kit (p/n SUM-G4990), its only $7 and works great. I did this for all 4 holes that I needed.
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271.jpg - 104 KB Thu 9/19/02

These rubber isolators are also included in the kit.
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272.jpg - 107 KB Thu 9/19/02

Next, I put the tranny cooler in place and pulled the straps through.
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273.jpg - 94 KB Thu 9/19/02

These holddowns get snugged up to the tranny cooler and the excess is trimmed off.
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274.jpg - 78 KB Thu 9/19/02

Speaking of trimming, I needed to trim the lower radiator hose somewhat.
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275.jpg - 75 KB Thu 9/19/02

Trimming the hose means it will now fit on the radiator, but it doesn't seat "down" all the way. Fortunately, there is enough to get the hose clamp on - should be OK. I've got about a finger width of clearance between the power steering pulley and the hose, hopefully that will be enough. (Gee, I seem to be saying that a lot lately!) :-) Fortunately, the engine torques in the opposite direction, so it should be OK in that respect.
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276.jpg - 103 KB Thu 9/19/02

Next, I clamped the Spectre radiator hose in place. No, I'm not going to order any of those "AN lookalike" hose clamp covers - I think they look kinda silly. All the AN hardware on this car actually IS AN. :-) I was planning to put a screen over the intake port of the radiator just in case there was any RTV left floating around in the cooling system, but the hose didn't seem to want to let go of the radiator - I think the stainless sleeving is acting something like a "Chinese finger cuff". I decided that it wasn't worth the hassle of maybe breaking something, so I left it alone.
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277.jpg - 110 KB Thu 9/19/02

I used a 1/4" brass hose barb with 1/8 MPT threads for the coolant overflow hose, and I re-mounted the bottle, as far to the right as possible so as to block as little of the radiator as possible. I also punched a hole in the handle because the overflow bottle was fairly airtight - if coolant gets pushed into it, the air in the bottle needs a way to escape, and vice versa for drawing coolant back into the radiator... Since the radiator didn't come with a cap and I didn't want to use my dirty, nasty old cap, I spent a few bucks at Autozone for this one. Its a CST, p/n 7816. Works great. I like the locking safety lever too. I put a gallon of distilled water in the radiator, then a gallon of antifreeze, and used maybe an additional quart of antifreeze (if that) to top it off.
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278.jpg - 104 KB Thu 9/19/02

Here's a shot of the new radiator with everything back together in the engine bay.
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279.jpg - 101 KB Thu 9/19/02

Another angle. After a check to make sure I hadn't left any stray tools in the engine compartment and to make sure nothing was leaking, I fired the car up. It did get up to 200 degrees, but it took 8 minutes to do it - it definitely seems to take longer to warm up than before. It got up to around 200 and hovered there for a minute or so before I shut off the motor. I wanted to let it cool down so I can top off the radiator before doing some more testing. I'm optomistic so far - before, the car was going up to 210 degeres or so while driving at 40-50mph down the road, and now it seems to want to stick around 200 degrees just idling in the garage. So, I think the cooling efficiency is better. I want to top off the radiator if needed and drive it a little bit to see how it does first, but I also have a 160 degree thermostat I can try and a bottle of water wetter. (I didn't use the water wetter yet in case there was a leak or something and I had to drain everything. Once I'm sure everything is OK I'll draw off a little coolant and pour the water wetter in.) Oh, speaking of draining, that is probably the main drawback to this radiator - no draincock. (How hard would it have been to weld another bung in there? Sheesh. Oh well, I suppose if I decide I need one I can have a radiator shop add one for me.) One nice thing about the "side tank" arrangement is that at least I can fish a tube all the way to the bottom of the radiator and siphon or pump the coolant out. If that fails, then I'll have to resort to disconnecting the lower radiator hose to drain it.
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280.jpg - 124 KB Sat 7/31/04

Its been a while since I've done anything to the car! I want to get back to the dyno to get it tuned in again, but I want to do the spark portion of the EFI install first, just been having some trouble finding the time! The main reason for this update is that I made a small change to some of the vacuum lines. I had originally teed into the vacuum source on the throttle body for both the PCV and brakes, but I just installed a separate bung in the space provided in the Edelbrock Performer intake for the brakes, and ran the PCV into the throttle body port. I also replaced the "return fuel pressure" gauge; the one that was on there leaked all of its oil out. Fortunately, Summit sent me a replacement for free.
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This page was last updated Sun Aug 1 01:32:57 EDT 2004