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It is Monday, January 14th. It is a soggy and foggy day this morning. Heading out of town this morning for the day so no car or farm stuff for me. Sure glad that Greg is around to keep us updated. Here is his report from the weekend, and a very interesting one.

"Well, Sunday evening again. Not a lot of physical progress to report, nothing that warrants a photograph. The maroon Avanti is sidelined until I change out a power steering hose. With what I hope is the right hose on hand, new in the box, I can't be sure until I get the old one off. Sounds easy, but I haven't yet. The conglomeration of hoses converge in a very small and inacessible place. The control valve on the steering arm. I'm able to position the arm so that I can see the fitting to loosen, but even though I spent a day modifying wrenches, I still cannot get the wrench on it. I might have to submit to the workshop manual and follow the instructions. Remove the starter, the exhaust, find or make a puller to free the steering arm and drop it down. ugh.

Didn't happen this weekend even though the weather was warm enough.

Saturday was a break for a little adventure. Barb and I meandered through the back ways to Harpers Ferry, walked around a bit, then caught the train to Union Station in DC. Found some lunch, walked a bit, then caught the train back to HF for the drive home. A pleasant day.

Today brought an unexpected surprise. As I was about to open the shop and maybe work on Seabiscuit's plumbing, I was met in the parking lot by a couple guys in a pickup truck. Turned out to be father and son who had arranged to meet another group and tour the shop.

I noticed the PU had a Distinguished Flying Cross license plate and that led to stories of flying in Viet Nam. He'd been to the same airfield that I'd called home, but not at the same time. So I felt a connection with him even though I wasn't a very highly decorated aviator like he is. I also explained how I felt that I was a party to the end of the "good old days" of wartime aviation. Recips. Aircraft, some of them right out of WWII that had engines with carburetors and pistons. To start and operate them required skill and finesse. Always a cross your fingers and hold your breath until it's purring. Unlike modern turbines that start at the push of a button like a clothes dryer.

Then three more guys, father and sons, arrived. I was a spectator to the two fathers having a thirty year reunion. They had been close friends during their college days and then separated. But followed similar paths. Test pilots, one a shuttle commander, maybe both. They had decided to forego the the shop tour, didn't want to bother the boss on his day off.

I wasn't about to pass up spending time with real time heroes. I had just been watching a TV documentary on our development of space flight and these guys come grinding to a halt. Unreal. Maybe I should name drop. Jim Adamson and Dave Anhalt. And sons.

So I walked them through the complex. It's especially satisfying to share what I've learned about the origin of manned flight with men like these. And to have them share with me what they see from their perspective. It brings home the remarkable feats that have been accomplished by intelligent and brave men in the last hundred years.

It was interesting to hear from these pilot/engineers, how after my description of the Wrights doing everything on paper first, did the math before they cut wood or metal and then tested their result, my guests explained that the Wrights used intuition and then backed it up with math unlike today's engineers allowing the computer to solve the problem.

Because I was having such a good time with them I decided to pull our original Wright vertical four engine #20 to the outside, fuel and oil it up and give them a few minutes of "feeling the heat" as it started and ran.

Then goodbyes were said. I was left with a strange feeling of me meeting with these men on a common ground. We were looking for answers and explanations from each other.... Real life heroes and guys that you'd like to meet every Wednesday for lunch.

So they drove off, Barb fixed dinner and then drove off and I was left to my own devices. That's when I decided to drive up to the tin shed and pick at Seabiscuit. Jumped in the shop Land Cruiser, hit the key and flooded it. (Remember the skill and finesse part?)

It does that every once in a while. Just have to let it sit overnight and be more careful with it tomorrow. I might want to go somewhere."

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It is Tuesday, PM, January 15th. A very cold rain all day today. Not much fun working outside. But I did get the Kubota tractor tires mounted. Here is what they look like on the tractor and then on the ground. You can see the impression it makes in the soft ground. Great for the farm.

We also took the 2003 VW Passat W8 wagon in for its yearly safety and operational inspection. Passed with flying colors. But I also asked them for an estimate to change the serpentine belt, which is now just starting to check at 95,000 miles. How about $400, and I have the belt. The belt cost was $130. So passed on their offer and went home to read the service manual and see a couple of Youtube videos. Yes, you have to remove the entire front of the car to include the bumper cover, bumper, radiator and its supporting structure to get enough room to replace the belt.

But the engineers thought of a solution. Why not be able to just keep most of the components in place and pull the front end off the car and onto two support braces that are attached to the front of the car. That was all the electrical and physical connections such as the radiator hoses and AC lines can be pulled away from the front of the car by about six inches. Sounds like a good plan. So I have ordered from the UK the radiator support rod tools. So for about $60 I should have everything necessary to do the job myself. The manual says that the front end can be moved forward in about two hour, replace the belt in 15 minutes, and then an hour to put everything back together. So it sounds like a day job.

If you want to see how the extensions work you can take a look at this video. It is at about one minute in. You can see the technician insert the long rod with the wooden end or stop.

I also want to replace a couple of coolant sensors on the car that are keeping the fans running all the time. One is located in the front by the radiator, which will be easy to replace, and other is on the backside of the engine, which will require some finesse to get to and replace. I already have the sensors. They only cost $6 each so hopefully they will cure my fan running issue.

Will keep you posted on the Passat belt issue. Will probably not do it until a nice spring day.



Edited by unimogjohn
added video reference (see edit history)
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It is Wednesday, January 16th. Rained hard last night and still coming down. Cold too.

But Greg has been in his workshop and sent me his report titled "News Flash". Here is his report.

"Another Matheson engine milestone.

After carefully scrubbing the cylinder bores with automatic transmission fluid and paper toweling (Lee taught me that), the evening was spent carefully readying the piston and rod assemblies for installation. Rings were aligned with the pins in their grooves, everything oiled , the crank journals painted with my usual assembly lube (a mixture of motor oil and STP), and one by one the rods and pistons were lowered into the bores. As the rings were compressed, they went without complaint.

As of now all four are resting comfortably, the rod caps in place and their retaining bolts snugged. Tomorrow I'll get some help to invert the engine on its stand so that I can torque and secure the hardware, fill the main bearing wells and get them plugged.

A good night's work."



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It is Thursday, PM, January 17th. Sitting here waiting for it to start snowing. Nothing so far. A slow night on the weather front and it seems on the forums too.

Then I get a call from John Lee from Australia. John is a good friend from across the pond. Last year he came to the US to go to Hershey. So he spent a few days with us in VA. We had a great time wandering through the various Hershey fields.

John owns a number of 20's Buicks and McLaughlin Buicks. I think that his garage is full so to speak so I was surprised when he told me that he just bought another Buick. A 1929 Buick, model 54.

He told me that it is 90% complete and should be an easy restore, kinda like a kit car. Most things have been refurbished or rebuilt. So here is his "kit" Buick.

Oh, John is the one in the red shirt. The other gentleman beside the car is the previous owner. He is picking it up and taking it home. He also said that it is hot, like 40 degrees C. Also include in the pics are a couple of ads for the car.

John said that only parts he believes he needs are the bumpers, a three bar set. So if anyone knows of a set, just let me know and I will give you his email address.












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It is now Friday morning, January 18th. The big snow storm missed us completely. Not even one flake. The front dove to our south.

Greg has some new for us on the Matheson engine. Not good, but catch a problem early rather than later is the best rule. Here is his report.

"Cincinnati, we have a problem.....

A life of restorations leave you with some advice from others with the same affliction.

A Temple Baldwinism: There's always time for that last minute awshit.

Mitch Sine: We do this because we like pain.

They're both right.

The night I got the four Matheson rod assemblies in place, when I would turn the engine over by hand, I thought I could hear a faint noise. A little .....tick...... and there shouldn't be any. A slight tick would turn into a knock when running.

Last night I looked into the matter. I found a problem. The one cylinder that had been repaired did show a slight taper , but it was only four thousandths oversize. I can get away with that in this slow mover, or so I thought. What I was hearing was piston slap, the piston was loose enough to rock in the bore. Upon removal of that piston for inspection and measurements, it became evident that not only was the bore a little tapered, it was a bit oversize to begin with and the piston was undersize by about ten thousandths. Clearance of .023 at it's widest. Not good. With few options to choose from, and none of them good, it was a restless night.

However, I have come up with a fix that should work fine. Unorthodox and tricky, but I think the best plan. One of those hold your breath the whole time kindof jobs.

Option #1. Hone this cylinder and the others to an oversize and have new pistons, rings, wrist pins made and fitted. After having an expensive set of rings made for these pistons as well as an expensive set of wrist pins? Besides, I'd like to be able to provide someone the chance in the distant future , should this thing ever be torn down again, to be just as astonished at the nine pound cast iron slugs that are in this thing.

Option #2. Replace the cylinder. There is one available , a repro, but it is visibly different . The Matheson uses three different cylinder castings for the four required. It's the wrong one. Plus it would need to be prepped, painted, cylinders swapped, etc.

Option #3. Try to knurl the piston to oversize the skirt. We've had good luck using Mitch's "knurlizer", but that was on aluminum pistons. They are much softer than these cast iron ones that wouldn't take to being abused as well. Plus the fact that these pistons are rather thin in the area to knurl (less than a quarter inch thick). We could easily break it by trying.

Or Option #4. Why not try sleeving the piston skirt to oversize? The area below that fourth ring groove would lend itself to that. I'd need to machine it slightly undersize (can't take much, it's thin) to give the sleeve some wall thickness. Mitch says that Ford 8N tractor sleeves are .040" wall thickness, so if I use that as a standard, I'd have a piston skirt that is just under 3/16" thick. Should work. Machine the piston and the sleeve for a slight interference fit, heat the sleeve to expand it and let it shrink in place.....and if I do it right, you won't even be able to tell.

That's the plan as long as I can find some cast iron stock.

And as that old dog Fred Hock tells me ....Four steps forward, one step back. It's a dance."



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It is Saturday, January 19th, AM and 24 degrees. Nice blue sky with high white willowy clouds. Suppose to hit 50 degrees, we will see.

Roger, sent your question to Greg. Greg often talks about the forum with is other car guys so I know that he does appreciate everyone's input.

Here, is Greg's response to Roger's question of "Why not hard chrome that skirt?"

John and Roger,

Hard chrome never entered my mind. I've not really been exposed to it. These would be my thoughts on that process in this case. However, I might get a nasty note from the Hard Chroming Society.

*Cast iron is porous like a sponge. Likely the acid baths that are a part of the plating process would permeate the piston. Probably leech out of it forever (and/or eat it) like a car body that won't ever retain paint after being dipped in a tank of rust remover. It would sweat corrosives forever.

*I don't know how well chrome would adhere to iron, even if it was copper flashed first.

*Don't know how the chrome would react to the heat expansion of the piston skirt. It might try to resist the swelling - either retard it or crack, or possibly expand more and separate.

*After finding a firm that would do the job to my specifications ie, mask off the pin bores, ring grooves, deck, interior, etc to keep the plating off, then I'd have to find a firm to regrind the plated skirt to the desired diameter and finish. Too much to expect.

*The skirt would then be harder than the times of 2009 and would promote rapid wear of the cylinder bore.

*Cast iron itself is a great bearing material with graphite in it's makeup and is porous to retain oil.

*So why not sleeve the skirt with similar cast iron like the piston? Not only will it be a good bearing material, it will have the same rate of expansion; and if I do it right, no one will ever see that I did it. And I'd keep it in house without trusting it to UPS, countless hands. It will be all up to me.


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Thank you John and Greg for that answer. It was more a candid question because I don't know myself the process well. I let hard chrome some shafts but of course a steering shaft has not the same environment than a piston. The arguments developped by Greg are convincing and I will never ask about hard chroming a piston!

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It is Monday, January 21st, AM. Got up to a bright red sky this morning, it was like the sky was on fire. Beautiful. Yesterday I was able to get out to the trailer and pulled out the Jaguar. She started right up. I let it her get nice and warm. She was ready to hit the road, but alas, the pasture was muddy so she and I had to be content to just hear her purr. Oh, but I did go out with Steve to see his 67 Camaro at the shop. They have completed all the mechanical work to declare her road worthy. Steve told them to order an interior kit (carpet and seats), respray the dash in the correct color and put in new seat belts. So it looks to be another month before she comes home.

But as usual Greg put me to shame. Here is his report.

"It's been a good one again. Even got some Studebaker work in.....on two of them in fact.

The black 5054 has been up on stands since the great transmission escapade. I devoted some time to finishing the back brakes and getting the rear drums back on. Then with the addition of the wheels I rolled it out of the tin shed, but just long enough to clean up the debris that was under it. Now it's on the wheels again.

Then with the crispness out of the air, I decided to look under Seabiscuit. It's been laid up with a bad power steering hose that I couldn't reach. After looking for the easy way, and there wasn't one, I tore into it. It did require more trips to Sears to get more wrenches to heat and mangle (I needed an old time starter wrench), I proceeded to loosen and drop the left exhaust pipe, pull the starter down and out, and then after running my pickle fork through the band saw, I was able to loosen and drop the pitman arm. This allows me access to the inaccessible hose connections. I'd ordered two new hoses of the four, but now that I've gone this far, I might as well replace the others while I can.

This is also a great opportunity to take care of the leaking steering pump seal. I've a newly rebuilt one in a box somewhere, so today I got the old one off. Can't put the new one on until the:

1. Hoses arrive

2. Find the rebuilt pump

Matheson engine: My trip to Lee's last week for consultation should have some cast iron sleeve stock on it's way.


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Oh, forgot. I have been following the car auctions on TV and on the net. Gooding and Company had an auction in Scottsdale CA on Fri/Sat. They had a very early Avanti, 10004 (fourth produced) and a Jaguar XK 120 FHC. Gooding is know for their high end auctions and deep pocket clients. Of course I wanted to know what they went for as I have one of each.

Well, the Avanti went for $74,88 and the Jaguar for $132,000. Both must have been spectacular.

1963 Studebaker Avanti R2 | Gooding and Company

1952 Jaguar XK120 Fixed-Head Coupe | Gooding and Company

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It is Tuesday, AM, January 21st. Cold here this morning, 17 degrees. And Greg has a report for us.

"As one of those who chose to celebrate today by being productive, it didn't turn out as hoped. The cast iron sleeve ordered last week with next day service should have been in today's mail. Therefore the Matheson time was spent torquing the three connecting rod bearing fasteners, installing the cotter pins and safety wires. So that's three of the four.

The Studebaker department is also delayed. The additional power steering hoses were ordered last night, and I got confirmation that they'd go out in today's mail because he knew I was in a hurry for them with frigid weather approaching. Hope he didn't make a special trip to the Post Office.

Maybe tomorrow will be up to speed again."


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It is Friday, AM, January 25th. Another frigid day with a little more snow coming in this afternoon. Cannot even convince the cats to go outside. They just want to lay by the stove, go figure.

But Greg is pressing on with the Matheson engine project. Here is his report and pics too.

"Well, I'm treading on thin ice. Or actually thin cast iron.

Lee had ordered some sleeve stock for me and he brought it along to lunch yesterday. So, without any excuses at hand, I began making cast iron dust. After doing the math. Careful consideration for the thickness of the sleeve and the reduction of the piston skirt. Not a lot of material for either one. I'm using Mitch's suggestion of a .040" wall thickness as a minimum for the sleeve. After measuring the thinnest part of the piston skirt (about .200") I decided to reduce the outside diameter to no less than .140" and then allow a little for the interference of the shrink fit of the sleeve. In other words, I did a lot of pencil sharpening and staring off into space.

So, I've bored the inside of the sleeve to size, turned the outside just enough to make sure it is concentric with the inside (for truing the piston when I return it to the lathe), and since I had such a tender grip on the sleeve I decided to forego the parting off of the piece in the lathe (the tool will grab and wreck everything), I used the cutoff saw. Gingerly.

That was last night. Tonight I checked my math and then began cutting away the piston skirt using my best guess for the size. As an experiment, I put the sleeve in the oven and brought it up to 400* to measure the amount of expansion (it grew .013" ) to help me decide how much shrink to shoot for. Too much and I might crack the sleeve when it cools. Too loose and it falls off when in use.

So that's tonight's story and I'm stuck with it. At this point I'm tied to the railroad tracks.

I can't wait to see how this turns out. To Be Continued."






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Just trying to keep warm. About +5deg last night, around 19 today. Got the 25 and the 37 started and ran for 1/2 hour. They realy like the non ethanol gas. I may have another asess and resusitate call on a 1925-45 near Gettysburg sometime in March.

Keep warm:


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It is early Sunday morning, January 27th. Nursing a bad cold so can't sleep. Good thing as I just got a report from Greg. Trouble in River City.

"In our last episode of the Matheson piston serial, I was tied to the tracks and wondering when the train would come. That would have been last night. And just like in the movies, I got the ropes untied but then got my shoe caught in the switch. Curses! Foiled again!

I warmed the sleeve in the oven to 500* to give me a little extra fudge factor. Knowing that the temperature plummets as it is withdrawn from the oven, I'd decided to do the work IN the oven. Open the door, insert the room temperature piston and using high temp gloves, drop the ring on. Well , in a perfect world that was a great plan. Bent over the oven door and using huge mits.....not so much.

As I tried to drop the sleeve over the piston it landed crooked, and as soon as it touched the piston it started to shrink. Some frantic "percussive adjustment" with a brass hammer proved futile. The sleeve was half on/ half off. To stay.

My only alternative was to take the piston back to the lathe and sacrifice the sleeve.

Plan B. Realizing that I had little control over the heat issue, I decided that I did have some control over a cold press fit. I machined another sleeve and then adjusted the size of the piston skirt to allow me to push the sleeve on while still in the lathe chuck. That would assure a straight assembly. I also scratched the finish of the piston and the sleeve with coarse sandpaper. That was enough drama for one night.

This morning I was ready to try it again. I also pulled one of Lee's tricks out of the hat. When he installs a cylinder sleeve, he often wipes on some JB Weld. So did I. The "old formula" JB is advertised to be good up to 500* and it won't ever see that. I'm also considering pinning the sleeve to the piston skirt, evenly spaced around each edge. Belt and suspenders.

While I wait a day or so for the epoxy to cure, I found it a good time to replace the leaking seal in the maroon Avanti power steering pump. I thought I'd replaced them a few years ago, but they were quite hard and were different in appearance than the new replacements. With the rumored warmer weather supposedly coming in next week, I'll hopefully get to play in the tin barn long enough to get the pump and hoses back in place.

And this evening we journeyed to visit old friend Phil Ritter. My old lifelong friend would have had sixty-five candles but his cake wasn't big enough. So we ate the cake. Happy Birthday Phil. One of a kind. I've enjoyed your friendship and your antics since jr. high school and hope there are many more birthdays and antics.

A quick Phil story would be difficult. Whether it was times in my Model A speedster, his '60 Lark covert, Billy Swimley's Model A Victoria, carrying on in class, going with me to South Bend in '69 to find and spend all our money to buy my 5054, etc......I'd be hard pressed to decide.

So as of tonight All's Quiet on the Matheson Front. Won't last."







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It is Thursday, January 31st. Rained hard last night, came down in torrents. We received over three inches in about twelve hours. But Greg pressed on. Here is his report.

"Haven't been in touch for a while. No, I wasn't mad at you. Internet crash.

The Matheson piston repair was a success. Having pushed the sleeve on and allowing the JB to cure for forty-eight hours, I then reinforced the sleeve with some 4-40 screws into the skirt and machined off the excess. Careful lathe work brought the sleeve diameter to an acceptable fit in the cylinder.

Monday's assignment was to get the rings mounted and the piston back on the rod. I also used my cylinder hone to double check that there was a smooth transition over that oiling groove in the cylinder.

Last night I re-installed Mr. Piston. Got the bearing tightened and secured. Back where I was a couple weeks ago.Tonight, was spent getting the replacement headstuds doped (the threads go into water jacketing) and tightened.

As for Studebaker progress, there's been some. On the days we've had unseasonably warm weather, I was able to work on the power steering hose replacment. Even with the steering arm dropped for access, fighting that bundle of snakes still degraded into a cussing contest.

But I won both. As of tonight the lower hose connections are tight, steering arm re-installed, starter back in it's place and the exhaust downpipe up. I hadn't planned on doing that tonight with the threatened rainstorms. The boss had warned me about driving up the grass taxiway to the tin shed. Recent rains would result in tire tracks. Take the long way around and come in by the road. That access had been blocked by a fallen tree for months.

Tonight I was curious to see if the gate was now open, I was surprised that it was. So I pulled in, parked in front of the hangar and decided since I was in the neighborhood and it was warm....go ahead and work on Seabiscuit.

Tin barns are loud in downpours.

So after getting that bit of work done, I turned out the lights, locked the door, got in the pickup and promptly mired it. Now, after walking back in the rain, the truck still sits there. Did I mention we've had some torrential rains?

So Seabiscuit is waiting for me to bundle the hoses with some tie wraps, plug in the return hose to the pump, reinstall the battery and get the front wheel mounted. Then when the weather and soft ground permits, take it for a test run. And maybe by then I can get the boss' pickup out of the ground."





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It is Thursday, February 1st. Greg is pressing ahead on the Matheson engine. Getting more things hung.

"After all the work to the insides of the Matheson, now to face the reality. It has more going on outside than in.

Tonight I began setting up the camshaft and bearing supports. Everything must be in alignment for easy operation. This includes the lower shaft that operates the ignition timing.

Plenty of adjustment and shimming involved. Lots of put together, check the fit, make a shim, re-install, check the fit, take apart, etc. etc. etc. Pleased that I've got a good bite on it.

Closeup of the camshaft shows not only the lobes for valve operation, but also an axial blade that closes the action for the make and break ignition."





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Chuck, the Matheson engine is truly massive. I saw it when Greg first removed it from the crate. The pics do not do it justice. Speaking of the Matheson, here is Greg's report.

"Kind of an easy weekend. Blustery, snowing outside and not a good time to work on my stuff in the tin barn.

Since there's always something to be done on the Matheson engine, I found some light, but yet necessary things to do.

Sorting through the hardware was one. The hex nuts on this thing are period examples. Common at the time, they are now called "heavy". The wrench size is larger than their modern counterparts. These also have a bit of a radius on them. Time was spent blast cleaning them and for now, screwing them to where they belong. That's my filing system.

I also started the cleanup of some of the brass components. They've suffered what usually happens to bright brass. Even though these have been buffed, they had also received a coat of some kind of clear. That usually means that they then tarnish beneath the clear. I've begun using paint remover to strip them. Now the lower water manifold and crankcase breather are temporarily hanging in place until I get them rebuffed.

It was a good day for this kind of work."





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It is Tuesday, February 5th. Can you imagine all the rotating stuff in a Matheson engine? It is going to be a wonder when Greg gets it running. Here is his last night report for your morning coffee.

"Well, nothing comes easy except bad news. Another night on the road to the crazy house. Turn right on Matheson Boulevard.

This morning I ran an errand to Lee's shop and while there I asked about the possibility that his Sunnen power hone would be capable of doing a bore as small as 7/16" ( .437). Checking his mandrels, they would only go to as small as .460. Too big.

Then he pulled a tool from the back of a shelf. A miniature hone. We measured the largest it would go. .420" I was still in no-mans land. His suggestion was to take the thing, make and attach a shoe to make the .437 possible. That was most of tonight's effort.

Sounded easy, but I was to find that with each of the steps necessary to machine the fragile little shoe and attach it to the mandrel and make it work......it's the simple things that seem to be the hardest. This was another example. Various tries and failures, but I finally got what I thought was in the neighborhood.

I was to find that after all that work, the honing stone would only advance to "not quite" .

Plan B. The old fashioned low tech method. Take a piece of bar stock and cut lengthwise into the center of it with the band saw. Chuck that in the lathe and with a piece of abrasive paper in the slot and wrapped around the primitive mandrel, keep adjusting the length of the paper until the proper diameter is achieved.

The reason for this whole wrestling match was to open the bores in the make and break system for smooth (but not sloppy) operation of the moveable electrodes (hammers in period speak).

Should have used Plan B in the first place. We don't need no stinkin hone.

With these parts now filed away (stuck in their places), I see that tomorrow night's project will be to make four brass gasket rings that are missing. That shouldn't be quite as troublesome."







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It is Wednesday, Feb. 6th, and we have a report from Greg.

"Warmed up a bit today, after work I spent some time with Seabiscuit, the maroon Avanti. Tightened up some things, connected some hoses to the power steering pump, etc. Filled the reservoir, dropped in the battery and started it up for a few minutes to check for any gushers. As of now it has all wheels mounted and it's back on the floor. After I make some adjustments, I think the rubber is ready to meet the road.

Meanwhile, back at the Matheson.......everybody has to be someplace, so I worked in the brass gasket washer fabrication department.

Haven't looked ahead to tomorrow's work order."






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It is Thursday and we have another report from Greg. Looks like he is having a great time and making lots of progress. No wonder, he works 20 hours a day.

"Today's story.

Got a call from Rob. His soda blaster guy was coming with the equipment today, if I had anything, bring it. I've been wanting to clean the new castings for the Wright four and eight that I'm building up, now was the time. Opposed to blast cleaning engine parts with glass beads or sand, I jumped at the opportunity. The baking soda treatment is just right. Non abrasive.

I arrived to find Rob actually working on the '28 Chrysler depot wagon. It's nearly done and almost ready for it's first startup. Some plumbing issues yet to resolve.

Also a couple shots of current projects. Buick Skylark, '24 and '26 Dodges, and Mike Zerega now has the engine mounted in his Stanley.

The drive back to Hyde Manor was pleasant, returned in time to host Trimacar (David Coco), Marty Roth and guests on a walk through the shop. So much for a hard day at the office.

Then of course it was time to rejoin the Matheson marathon. Tonight's focus was the prep of more ignition action. You'll immediately recognize the part number DE155 bronze sparker advance attachments. These provide mountings for the triggering springs, links, clevis pins and other things that operate and adjust the timing of the hammers.

Using the homemade honing device, I made sure they would operate freely on the hammer shafts, spent time working out some scars from some previous attempts to adjust them, probably with a different kind of hammer.

Tomorrow I'll get reacquainted with the triggering springs and related parts."









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It is Friday, big storm Nemo missed us. We only got 2 inches last night, but Boston and NY are going to get hammered with over two feet tomorrow. Oh boy. We are going to get rain. I can deal with that.

And since it is Friday, Greg has a engine report for us.

"More of the same.

Matheson sparker components. And there's a ton of them yet to go.

Tonight I assembled the phenolic rubbing blocks to the actuator springs. I annealed the bronze rivets before battering. Also included are the links, clevis pins and cotters.

Look at the bright side. At least I ain't hurtin' nobody."





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It is Tuesday, February 12th. Going to be a nice day today, temps maybe in the mid 50s. Snow tomorrow.

Should be a fun day today. Got a call from a guy that has a 1928 Buick model 50 in his family farm's barn. Has been there forever. Grandparents owned it and put it away in the mid 30s. Has not moved since. So I invited him down to get some lessons on how to get it running again. He is going to need lots of help.

And Greg continues to work on the Matheson engine. Here is his report for us all.

"Monday at the Matheson. Now Showing The Cylinder Head From Hell!

Not really. This is the one that a piece broken from that fire ring that you see in the photo. Sent out to Jim Snyder for welding, he knows I prefer he only semi finish the repair. Leave the rest to me.

So that meant spending a considerable amount of time setting the head up in the lathe, patience spent getting it to run true in longitude and latitude. Then holding my breath while I take cuts gingerly. Not only to finish the ring diameter but also to face off the gasket surface.

A successful operation, then it was grit blasted and a coat of epoxy primer.

I'm trying my best to save damaged components that are original to the engine. Like a gun, most are stamped with the engine/chassis number 497."



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Ben, Had a nice visit with the owner of the 1928 Buick Sedan, Model 50. This is the seven passenger master Buick. He does not want me to say much but will post a pic or two of the car as almost new and then one today in the barn. It was last licensed for the road in 1938. Has been in his family since new.

I pulled the my 1928 out and went through the starting procedure, what to look for, and what steps I would take before even attempting to start it. I also put him in contact with Tom Black, who frequents this forum. I think they are close by each other. Maybe Tom can go over and give some "hands on" help.

Anyway, as part of my procedure I always check the oil and then filled the radiator with water. The car has not been started in four months. I pulled the stick and noticed a little water on it. Condensation I thought. So off we went to a nice drive. The car ran great. I let him get behind the wheel to get him hooked on getting his running. I hope I was successful.

I then decided to check the oil again to see if the condensation had burned off. Well, not only had it not burned off, but it looks like I have made chocolate milk and now it is overfilled by about two quarts. So it looks like I have a head gasket failure. So tomorrow will call Olson's Gaskets for a new head gasket, etc. I have never had the head off and I have owned the car since about 1984. So this will be fun.

I did drain out the bad oil and put new stuff in. I also drained the radiator so I would not suck in any more water.





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It is Wednesday, February 13th. AM. Up early and thinking of the 1928 Buick and the work ahead. So could not go back to sleep.

Question for you all. The gaskets are available from Olson's Gaskets. I have a choice (I hate when I have choices) of copper or a composite gasket. Talked to Greg and he said that being a purest he would go for copper, but then said that the composite would be more forgiving on uneven surfaces. So he said that it was my choice. So, bottom line, Greg was of no help. So what do you recommend?

I think I will also do a compression test before I start taking things apart just to get a current baseline. The engine does run great, starts easily, and does not burn any oil. So I do not have any issues with the bottom end.

Greg also recommended that I consider a valve job at this time. The car has 44,000 miles and to my knowledge the head has never been off, but I have some doubts about that. So we will see.

And speaking of Greg, he has a Matheson engine report for us.

"Another day, another cylinder head. Cleaned, prepped, a coat of epoxy primer. Two down and two to go.

With so many more parts ahead to clean and detail, I closed my eyes and pulled a Ziplock containing the cylinder oil and compression release cocks out of a box of bits. Same old story. Disassemble, bead blast, burnish with the wire brush and loosely install.

Like eating an elephant sandwich. One bite at a time."





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If composite are more forgiving, I would use them; however, you have to understand that I have zero experience with vehicles that old. Copper head gaskets were probably the sole method at that time. I could be interesting to know why suddenly you have water in oil; what is the gasket failure cause? Of course, you cannot tell it now, you have to remove the head first...

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If the first Copper Gasket lasted 85 years, I would think that a second Copper Gasket will last long enough that you don't have to worry about replacing it again. Personally, I would go with what looks more original. Unfortunately, regardless of any opinions you get here, only you can decide what you are most comfortable with.

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Adding my 2-cents worth, I would go with the copper gasket if you also have the head planed (resurfaced). My experience has been that when I didn't resurface the head I blew out another head gasket. Once the head was resurfaced I had no further problems.

Edited by packick (see edit history)
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John, my "2 more cents worth". Composite, forgiving IF there is no problem like a "flame gouge" or other surface damage. Copper - -like the others said, they last and I'm assuming are original, but do in fact need a better mating surface. This is one thing you should make very sure of whichever you choose, that it is a smooth, flat surface. Hope it was just a fatigue problem, or head bolts stretching or becoming a bit loose over time and nothing has marred either surface, good luck, John

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Thanks everyone. After talking and listening to lots of folks on the forum and the old car community, I have decided to stick with copper. I was also given a couple of things to check. Specifically, there are plugs behind the push rods. They can leak and allow water to flow down into the lower gallery by the cam shaft and allow water in. So will pull those covers and look before I pull the head. I also started spraying Kroil on the intake/exhaust manifold bolts. Plan on starting to take off a few things tomorrow before we head out for a Valentine dinner. Will post progress and pics.

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As planned I pulled the side push rod covers off this morning. There were sealed with RTV sealant. I knew that the engine had been opened at some point in it life, but did not know how extensive. Now I know that it was extensive.

On the good side the side of the engine and all the components were free of any gunk, just a nice sheen of oil.

But the bad is that I have a water leak somewhere as I can see puddles of water and chocolate mousse on the covers. Now for the more bad is there is such a thing. The two freeze plugs look good, but as you can see by the pictures there are several big patches of JBWeld or similar above both plugs. In addition there is more stuff below them just as the block starts a curvature to the the oil pan.

So my guess is that the engine has had significant freeze damage to the block and the JBWeld was used to fill the cracks in an attempt to stop the water leaks. Since I bought the car in 1984, 29 years ago, the repairs have held up pretty well. I do not see any obvious cracks anywhere or water seepage for that eureka moment.

My plan is to fill the radiator with water and see if I can find the source of the leak and then figure out what the next step will be.

At least now I know that I do not have to pull the head.











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If 2 quarts of water were "added" to the oil between the moment you saw the problem and when you got home, the leak must be significant. I'm wondering if the water is not coming into the oil pan with an internal leak like, for example, at the cylinder wall(s). It would also be interestin to know if you have CO in water. It would be the case for a head gasket failure, but probably in your situation there will be no CO in water.

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