At this point, all the cleaning, inspection, machining, parts choosing, and painting are out of the way. It’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts (please pardon the pun) of your engine rebuild. Since this portion of your project is the one that will determine its success or failure, it makes perfect sense that this is the most detailed chapter in this book. We will take things step by step, sub-assembly by sub-assembly, to help you get things right. Remember to take your time and double-check your work as you go for best results.
Let us go back to the beginning of this project and reiterate: plan your work and work your plan. Here are three basic considerations before you begin.
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Take the time to make and keep your work area safe during engine assembly. You will be working with heavy parts, potentially harmful or combustible chemicals, and tools with sharp edges or points. This is no time to set aside the fire extinguisher, eye protection, dust mask, or disregard the need for proper ventilation.
Prior to beginning assembly, make sure that your work area, particularly places like your workbench where subassembly is done and shelves for parts storage are clean and stay that way. I will often use clean cardboard or newspaper to cover surfaces during this phase. And don’t forget to clean your tools prior to use to avoid contaminating clean parts.
The old adage, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” really does apply when it comes to assembling your engine, as the smallest contaminants can cause major damage later. While it may sound slightly phobic, I take the time to clean my hands as often as possible during engine assembly. The shops of professional racing engine builders feature a “clean room” or area that is separated from other shop activities, where engines are assembled. These rooms exist for the sole reason of preventing engines from being contaminated with dirt.
Engine assembly takes place in phases, with assemblies and subassemblies dealt with in the required order. I set up my work area with only the tools and parts that I will be working with during that phase of assembly. This reduces clutter while keeping parts in order and away from possible contamination.
If you take the time to make your work area safe, clean, and organized, your project will go smoother and you’ll achieve better results.
Preparing the Block for Assembly Step by Step
Step-1: Secure Engine on Stand
With all machine work done, the cylinder block is almost ready for assembly. The first step is to make sure it is securely fastened to your engine stand, preferably one that allows the block to be rotated as needed. Use only quality hardware when securing the block to the engine stand and ensure that all fasteners are properly tightened.
Step-2: Prepare for Pre-Assembly
Though it’s been baked, cooked, cleaned, and lubricated at the machine shop, your cylinder block is still not quite ready for final assembly. Some elbow grease on your part is highly recommended before you begin bolting on parts. A thorough pre-assembly bath with detergent (Tide laundry detergent is a time-honored favorite among racers) in hot water and a high-pressure clear water rinse will help remove any contaminants left over from the machining process.
Step-3: Scour Surfaces Thoroughly
I use a good-quality scrub brush soaked in the detergent/hot water solution to scour the block surfaces and cylinder bores thoroughly.
Specialty brushes for cleaning the block’s hard-to-access areas are available in various sizes. The long handle on this brush allows it to reach down the length of the larger cast and machined passages.
Smaller brushes, such as the type used for cleaning firearms, are good for cleaning the smaller passages in the block such as the main bearing oil feeds.
Step-4: Remove Water
Once the block has been washed and rinsed, use some high-pressure air to remove all remaining water. At this point, almost all traces of lubricants have been removed and the block’s machined surfaces are very susceptible to rust. I protect these surfaces with WD-40. If you don’t have compressed air, you can get by carefully drying all surfaces using an absorbent lint-free cloth. I have dried bolt holes using a cloth wrapped around a drift or punch that is a smaller diameter than the hole. In a pinch, I’ve used the compressed-air cans designed to dust electronic equipment, but this can be expensive.
Step-5: Double and Triple Check
If you need any proof that your block is still not entirely ready for assembly, here it is. Take a clean, lint free paper towel and soak it with automatic transmission fluid and use it to wipe down each cylinder bore. The results should convince you that extraordinary efforts are required to ensure your block is as clean as possible prior to assembly.
Core and Freeze Plugs Step by Step
Step-1: Replace Plugs (if applicable)
Some of our gallery plugs had to be drilled out to be removed and the rest were showing their years, so we replaced them all. Remember here (as noted before) that the Lima and 335 series engines use two distinctly different threaded plugs and you must replace them in the correct locations. Replacing the freeze plugs is a foregone conclusion, and in our case we chose more-expensive brass plugs over the common aluminum versions. Brass plugs, normally used in marine applications, last longer and are more resistant to the chemical reactions and resulting deterioration caused by coolant reacting with the metal. If you have ever tried to replace freeze plugs with the engine still in the car, I can bet the faulty plug was the one hardest to reach. Reliable brass plugs are a good option in any case.
Step-2: Seal the Freeze Plugs
A thin coat of Ultra Seal around the freeze plug opening in the block is a good idea, as it will not only seal but also make it easier to install the plug.
Step-3: Drive Freeze Plugs into Block
This tool, which is actually a seal driver adapted for this task, and a hammer are used to drive the freeze plugs into the block. If you don’t own such a tool, use a socket that fits the inside diameter of the plug.
Step-4: Seal the Block Plugs
The threaded plugs for the block also receive a coat of Permatex sealer (part number 765-1188) before being installed using a hex socket to ensure a tight fit. Remember that the plugs with tapered ends go to the front of the block.
Step-5: Note Oil Feed Crossover
And by the way, just what is that unusual casting that protrudes from the floor of the lifter gallery on the Lima series engines? This is the oil feed crossover that transfers oil to the passenger side of the lifter gallery.
Step-6: Protect Engine from Dirt and Debris
Unless you intend to assemble your engine in one marathon session, it will need to be protected from dirt and contaminants when not being worked on. Heavy-duty plastic bags designed for engine storage are available from your machine shop. A large plastic trash bag will also suffice.
Step-7: Plug Holes While Painting
The Eastwood Company offers these silicone plugs in various sizes that work very well at keeping paint out of bolt and spark plug holes when you’re priming and painting your engine.
Step-8: Plug Ports While Painting
I’ve also found over the years that a clean, rolled-up paper towel works well to keep intake and exhaust ports clean while painting. Painter’s tape and masking tape are great for parts.
Step-9: Ceramic Coating (optional)
Exhaust manifolds can be kept looking new by either having them ceramic coated by a company like Jet Hot or by applying high-temperature paints, which are available through the Eastwood Company. This 1965 427-ci exhaust manifold has been treated with Jet Hot coating for a finish that lasts a lifetime.
Written by Charles R. Morris and Republished with Permission of CarTech Inc