KAD36

1955 Engine Rebuild

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It's true.  After market parts are mixed and matched.  My 264 has 56 push rods and lifters.  I compared 54 push rods with what was in my rebuilt 54 264.  The rods are much shorter than what was run in 54.  The lifters are shallow pocket.     As Willie put it, if the geometry works it will run.      

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SUCCESS! :) Much more exact in height to factory, 20 lbs more seat pressure.  Factory inner valve spring on right, replacement SBI inner valve spring on left:

IMG_0974.JPG

 

Compare to the left pair of inner valve springs below, Buick factory spring on left, VS527 Sealed Power spring on right.  That height difference will not be a factor if you are running all factory parts or if you only install most "stock" aftermarket cams that run slightly higher lift.  If you choose a "stock" cam with inherent higher lift and upgrade the rockers, or put a high lift performance cam in, this need to be paid attention to.  The height difference of the VS512 is what causes it to bind at 1.13 inches, vs the factory and SBI spring binding at .980 inches.  Translation: the SBI and Buick factory springs can tolerate a high lift cam, the VS512 cannot - only stock.

 

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So - with that one behind us, heads are all assembled - tomorrow we should have the assembly of all major components complete and installed on the engine and turn it over again.  After that will come checking lifter preload, loading up and hauling the engine back to the house, doing a prelube, and painting.  Am trying to decide if its worth making a quick and dirty engine stand or dropping it in the car and go for it.

 

Anyone have a diagram of the basics to hook up a primary and secondary electrical circuit to run the engine out of the car?  Assume don't need a generator or regulator, but would need a switch, starter solenoid, battery, what else?

 

 

 

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Personally, I'd hate to risk screwing up my brand-new engine on my homemade hardware store engine stand...  Given the time and effort you have invested I would consider finding someone with an engine dyno in your area.  That would allow for a proper break-in (especially considering all of the valve train tribulations you have been through).  I'd at least get the cost/availability info to add to the trade-study (home made stand vs. dyno session vs. "go for it").  Of course I have no idea what a couple hours of dyno time would even cost...  :huh:

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My opinion for this situation is put it in and go for it.

 

You're two weeks away from Allentown.  With such a narrow window if something is wrong, then you don't have enough time to fix it by then.  If nothing is wrong but you invest another few days finding a Dyno for run it, you may not have enough time to put it back together for Allentown.  If something is not right you have plenty of time after Allentown to pull it apart again.

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I never used a run stand like Mudbone, but did run one on a bare frame with all the drivetrain installed.  It is hard to keep them cool with just a box fan.  I always fill with oil, turn the oil pump with a drill to show there is good oil pressure and oil  at the rockers.  Then I install a distributor and starter and turn it over with the plugs out, checking for abnormal rotation, noises and compression on all cylinders.  Clean, paint and install.  Start if and run without coolant for 10 seconds and add coolant if ok and start again for break in procedure.  If there is a serious problem in the first 10 seconds then you don't have coolant to deal with during tear down.  Also the heat expansion of the cylinder head will better seal the head gasket.

Willie

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Another question I have with the home made engine stand is what will provide the load for the engine?  The engine will need to run at a high idle speed to break in the camshaft and without proper load it can easily overspeed.  If a dyno session is out of the question, I agree with JohnD and think it's best to bolt in into the car.  In any case, definitely pull the plugs, prime the pump with a drill and spin it over as Old-Tank suggests.  I'm less fond of starting it dry, simply because if it sounds good I'd want to get it spinning fast and keep it there until the cam is fully broken-in before shutting it down.  Also ensure you are using a high quality break-in oil with higher levels of ZDDP (e.g., Comp Cams).

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Thanks for the inputs - sounds like dropping into the car is the way to go.  We're pretty confident its together right.

 

Decided to use the adjustable push rods as the lifter preload was .080 which although a little high might have worked out but as long as the pushrods were here, what the heck. Followed the steps outlined in this article:

 

http://www.enginebuildermag.com/2011/06/getting-to-the-bottom-of-hydraulic-lifter-preload/

 

Went about 1 turn on the rods which corresponded to .030 of preload and we were done (threads were 32TPI)

 

We ended up going with the low compression gaskets that should be .048 compressed thickness.  We had less than .100 piston to valve clearance with 2 steel gaskets (.030 total thickness for measurement purposes only), and probably could have went with a .015 steel gasket for final assembly but figured better to be safe than sorry.  We had .020 milled off the heads, and Ed was certain there was at least .010 taken off the heads, if not more, some previous time.  The .020 we milled off just about compensates for the thicker head gasket (.048 LC gasket thickness - .020 = .028 head gasket thickness vs .015 stock HC head gasket thickness).  

 

The engine is unloaded and is on the stand in the garage.  Am going to finish bolting the accessories on then run the compression test on the stand and make sure the pieces are working and get it painted. We made up a fixture to fit in the distributor pocket to engage the oil pump and prime the engine. Have the ZZDP also.

 

Time to hustle. On budget and behind schedule :)

 

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CPI = 1.0

SPI = 0.85

;)

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Well, not quite an "Overhaulin" marathon but a couple long days and late nights.  Got everything painted last night, finished tapping out the remainder of the holes in the block.  Had to replace the 4 small bolts in the water pump and one in the water manifold.  Darn near snapped one.  The harmonic balancer bolt was a white knuckle affair going from 85 to 104 ft-lbs - jeese thought it was going to snap but it got there. Noted that the CARS Apple green of 10 years ago is a deeper green than todays.  I didn't paint the valve covers - they were in good shape and I just buffed and waxed them.  Wrestled with the stupid Harbor Freight touch up gun - worked great on the block and the oil pan but started spitting and put orange peel all over the valley pan.  Funny how little simple things cost time and slow progress.  If thats the worst that goes wrong this will be a home run.

 

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Here are the light weight aluminum racing valve covers that Willie was drooling over.  These are extremely sought after, will fit all Buick nailheads and no two valve covers are alike.  These are only available in 2016 and when they're gone, they're gone.  They come with a jar of Vegemite and an acetylene torch to seal them up as no known manufacturers traditional gaskets will work.

 

The real point of the picture is test fitting the Y pipe from M&J exhaust before hanging the engine over the car, and it fits perfect.  Perfect.  Did I mention perfect? The old bent up squished down one from an out of business supplier might find a future as a wind chime hanging from the tree that was used to help "make it fit". (since it was supposed to fit a 55 Buick also despite much arguing)

 

Drizzled more assembly lube on all the rocker shafts and under the rocker arms and the cam lobes.  Ed whipped up a Nailhead only fixture to prime the engine, I cheaped out and didn't buy an oil pressure gauge, just put a 1/8 in pipe plug in the oil line hole and received two demerits so its off the buy a gauge tomorrow.  2500 RPM Clockwise (you have a 50.50 chance of getting it right) and after about 20 seconds all kinds of spitting and hissing and up from the pan comes the bubblin crude.  Do that for about 3-4 minutes and the drill gets freakin hot - there is a bit of a load on it.  Got a little nervous as the rear rockers dripped then stopped, but after sliding them a little back and forth on the shafts they started dripping from between the shaft and the rocker arm and from where the pushrod meets the rocker.  Apparently nothing comes out the bleed hole in the rocker unless its running.  All the cam bearings looked wet, the center oil galley is feeding the cam bearings, and oil is bubbling in the lifter bores around all the lifters, and the garage floor was bone dry.  So far so good.

 

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Tomorrow is oil pressure, potential compression tests, engine compartment work and pulling the old exhaust system out and installing the new one.  The exhaust is another "first time trial" that could trip things up. Better save the old pipes just in case.

 

 

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TIm - two risks retired today - TCPI .92    We should have our heads examined. :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing better then a clean garage floor after priming.  An nothing worse then not priming and finding the huge puddle of oil on the floor after installing the engine and turning it over.  Good job.

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Thanks for the support - been a couple long days and too pooped to post!  Summary of where we are at:

 

Couple of setbacks - The engine mounts from CARS did not fit.  They are .080 too narrow on the installation studs, and when "modified" so they could fit, instead of the ears pointing at the 12 and 6 oclock positions like factory they pointed inwards at a 1 to 7 oclock position on the driver side, and 11 to 5 oclock position on the passenger side.  They were correctly installed left and right - simple could not get them to line up to the engine block brackets.  I had to put the old mounts back in - heres factory followed by the ones from CARS:

 

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A flywheel to toque converter bolt got stripped out and had to drill that puppy out. And had to carefully remove the old exhaust in case it needed to be reused.  Note all the beat marks in the old system to make it fit:

 

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The oil pressure was solid:

 

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This is always a high risk maneuver - had about an inch clearance from the top of the cherry picker to the garage door:

 

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Some 2 inch bolts with the heads cut off served as guide pins and keeps any leverage weight off the hub on the torque converter:

 

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The engine would not go the final 1/4 inch no way no how which ironically seemed to be the exact thickness of the heads on the torque converter bolts.  Doh!  Line up the holes, goofball.  A dab of paint on the flywheel at disassembly matched to a corresponding paint dab on the torque converterhelped to line up the holes perfectly.  A little Vegemite on the the bolts and the engine and bell housing jumped together with no effort.

 

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Back in the saddle:

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The new exhaust fit perfectly.  I left the Y pipes in the car and the engine and manifolds were set in on top.  The system was left loose all the way back to allow for some final adjustment.  I need to weld a hanger on the frame to hang the front of the muffler to.  That and buttoning up the under car work is todays job, then its engine compartment work.  Before putting the engine in the distributor shaft and oil pump shaft were aligned and noted where true TDC on #1 cylinder was so that after spinning the engine to get the flywheel bolts on would not loose the true TDC position (prevent the distributor from being 180 degrees out).  The distributor prior to removal was marked at the 6 and 12 o clock positions on the distributor housing to align in a straight line with the valley pan bolts, another mark to initially align the rotor prior to dropping in the distributor, and a final rotor alignment mark so that when the distributor is fully inserted and the rotor rotates to follow the helical cam gear it will point to the correct #1 plug in the cap. That should be good enough to start it. If things go well today and tomorrow should have light off..... well, soon. 

 

 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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Got done getting everything installed late last night.  Figured that if any problems came up, the car was going to be grounded for the summer, so might as well fill it with antifreeze, put everything on and act like it will work.  After double checking and triple checking the pre-start list, and cranking it with the coil wire off to make sure it spun evenly and there were no knocking sounds, and one last "thats everything, right?" call to Old Tank and JD1956 - there was nothing more to do but grab a fire extinguisher, hit the electric pump to prime it, set it on the fast idle cam, kick the tires, light the fires, and....

 

Nothing. Whoops - coil wire.

 

Take 2 -  hardly a full rotation on the starter and it roared to life.  And man what a racket.  Having replaced the lifters once and expecting some clacking, I was not prepared at all for the racket and whirring and what sounded like gear noises that engine made.  I shut it down after 15 seconds it was so obnoxious, and fired it again.  No better.  30 seconds later, turned it off again. Walked around, checked for leaks,checked the oil, topped off the radiator, tried to make sense out of all the fumes coming out of it, which was probably just the paint, hit the switch again and it cranked slow and uneven and then started back up.  Figured if it was gonna blow it was gonna blow.  This time just let it run, kept walking around, checking gauges, looking underneath, watching the exhaust for smoke or steam, topping off the radiator.  It was over 5 minutes until things quieted down, and at the end of 30 minutes at about 1800 RPM it idled quietly down to about  600 RPM.  The hard cranking was explained by the timing being too far advanced - probably 10-15 degrees judging by the timing light.  Got it back to about 7 deg, reset the mixture, checked the dwell which was at 29 deg, and vaccuum fairly steady at 16 inches.

 

Have 25 miles on it so far, and its getting smoother.  Only observation is it is running a little hotter than prior to the rebuild but still within a "normal" range.  Oil pressure is a little lower than prior also, but I used to run 15-40 Rotella with a bottle of STP in it and this is 10-30 Castrol with only ZZDP in it which does nothing for viscosity.  JD noted there was 45 psi on the gauge run by the drill so let it run. Only leak so far is a minor exhaust leak under heavy load on the passenger manifold - dry at the front and rear bearings.  Will post a video shortly. Tomorrow it gets inspected then will try to get about 1000 miles on it before taking it on the trip.  If its still a clean bill of health, its off to Allentown.

 

I wanted to say thank you to all who helped share their experience, encouragement, answered phones and texts and shared "lessons learned" and war stories from their school of hard knocks.  Will try to get all my notes organized for future reference and keep updated on any observations during break in.

 

 

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Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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Awesome job -- I've been away and just catching up on the 'saga'.  I was feeling queasy while reading your account of the initial start-up sequence; I absolutely understand the worry with all of that racket, the smoke, vibrations and smells of burning oil and paint...  :huh:  Sounds like she's turned the corner now and should perform better and better as miles go by.  Thanks for all of the detailed notes and pictures -- I learned a few new things that will undoubtedly help me in the future!  Hope all goes (went) well in Allentown!

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16 hours ago, buick5563 said:

I can't wait to race the car.

 

If we can find 4 miles of open straight road we can do the 0-100-0 test like the Corvettes.  Mine will need every inch of asphalt. :)

 

125 miles on the clock, holding up well, only an exhaust leak.  We had gone without gaskets on the exhaust manifolds as stock and run them on the belt sander to smooth them out but now realize it would have been smarter to have gotten them machined flat.  A thin coat of copper permatex wasnt enough to seal it but installing the manifold gaskets that came with the kit did.  Now there is only a slight leak where the Y pipe meets the manifold so will need to deal with that and I hate exhaust leaks. I took it over to Eds shop yesterday for a victory lap.  He had rebuilt a couple 401s a long time ago, this was his first 322.  He was impressed with how quiet and smooth it sounded.  We hit it with an infrared temp gauge and a little above N on the dash gauge is 187 which he thought was just fine given the friction of a tight engine (and it was 95 outside).  After an afternoon of around town traffic to vary the engine speed, took it out on I84 and put about 15 miles on it - again varying speed between 50-65 to keep with traffic.

 

IMG_1022.JPG

 

 

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On 7/15/2016 at 8:15 PM, KAD36 said:

and vaccuum fairly steady at 16 inches.

 

Please excuse my ignorance, but is this normal? I'm just curious because I'm used to being told 18-22" of manifold vacuum is normal, but I can never get it above 16-17 unless it's an off day.

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16 is about all I get on any of mine, even one with an original unmolested engine.  16 is real good on Ken's car considering the "franken-cam" and the 1:6 rockers.  That will be adequate to run the wipers along with the fuel pump vacuum assist, and even power brakes if equipped.  Another reading in 3000 miles will be interesting along with rotating the distributor to find the maximum reading.

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Good question - 56 product school manual page 8 - never found the specs for a 55.

56PSM.JPG

 

Just did first oil change at 300 miles.  Still have a slight exhaust click on the driver side - will get to that this weekend.  May put a gauge on the oil pressure - after a long hot highway drive it gets pretty low on the gauge at idle.  Otherwise, so far so good.

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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