KAD36

1955 322 Rebuild. Take 2

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Been away for awhile and took a needed break from the hobby

 

Remember this?   1955 322 Rebuild

 

Last July with 5200 miles on the clock, at 65 mph on I81 N about 20 miles from home she let loose with a bang. No prior warning, no noises or knocking or ticking or smoke, no instrumentation indications, no metal in oil.  Engine was always quiet and smooth.  About 3 seconds of clatter and that was it.

 

Worst thing about this is there was no smoking gun for a root cause, just circumstancial evidence. The best some machinists could tell was that a connecting rod nut split apart. Almost on each facet of the nut.  Unheard of corner point at over 5000 miles.  Likely a latent failure aggravated by disassembly and reassembly.  The rod cap failed, the cap lodged in the cylinder, the piston shattered, cylinder skirt broke, oil galley cracked.  Mind, at assembly all hardware was methodically checked to factory torque spec, clearances checked, bolts were only reused once.

 

Around the same time some additional challenges personally, professionally and mobility wise came up and had to push through.  Suffice to say got started on fixing the engine then called it quits, last thing I wanted to do was fix the car; didn't matter - bad case of tendinitis prevented twisting open a beer let alone spin a wrench at the time.

 

Fast forward and let's get some results in motion and quit whining. The 55 block was too questionable to save- so it was stripped.  Matt (NC Car Guy) had a 56 motor that was pretty complete, a standard bore, so went to Durham, bought it, picked it up and got to visit my daughter in Durham for a bit.

 

Upon tear down of the 56 found a cracked piston and some unfavorable cylinder taper. Egge had no oversized pistons for a 56.  I didn't want to use Kanter again as its compression would be less than Egges, and I didn't want to take .020 off the heads like last time to her the compression back.  Fortunately OldTank had an aftermarket set of sealed power pistons made in the 60s that had a good high compression stock like dome on them at 30 over he was willing to sell.  I'll find the part number in case another set ever shows up on eBay and folks want a reference.

 

A couple pieces disappeared.  Some unobtaneum.  Fortunately JD and Buick5563 had some extra bits and pieces and we did some trades.  

 

I now had a pile of almost complete parts to build 1 3/4 engine with lots left over.

 

Rule of thumb was that rod bolts and nuts can be reused once on a street engine. For a classic car engine lots of us do it. To be sure this time however, invested in a set of ARP bolts. They are not made for a 322 but mic'ing them and comparing to OEM verified turning the top .350 of ARP bolts for a 455 (125-6001) down .004 they will press fit fine into the rod and are correct length.

 

The block was hauled to Utica and the short block done by UAP rebuilders installing the new hardware. Same process as before - bore, recondition rods, balance with flywheel and damper. The 56 heads were good; added intake valve guide seals to keep oil consumption down using the later nailhead rockers.

 

Dialed in the cam - verified it was a stock 56 profile for centerline and lobe separation angle.  There was negligible wear on all the lobes for lift purposes.

 

The Rebuild went pretty much without a hitch. There was a bad freeze plug in one of the heads  Followed same steps as in original post at top of thread.  It went agonizingly slow as everything was being triple checked and was more cautious than last time.  Bugged me to not know exactly what happened last time in order to avoid a repeat but....may never figure it out.  Have to fall back on applying good shop practice and common sense and build reliability in early.

 

The oil pressure in this engine is great and it is quiet and smooth.  The clearance between the oil pump gear bottom and base of pump was .0045-which is at the upper limit of spec.  Using a piece of glass for a flat surface and some emery cloth on the base of the pump housing and running the housing in a figure 8 pattern over the emery cloth brought the gears in closer to .0025 to the cover.

 

The engine was broken in for 300 miles with straight 30 and 8oz of ZDDP.  First oil change looks good with a torn apart filter showing only fine gray metal deep in the pleats. No shavings chunks or otherwise.  Crankcase was actually still light tan.  450 miles - so far so good.

 

 

I'll dig up more pictures to post when off my iPad.  Will check compression at 1000 miles with the pistons from the 60s ( not cookie cutter design  ) and report back 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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The whole story hurt me just reading it.  Glad that you worked up enough will to do another engine.  It looks and sounds awesome.  Hope that I can do as good a job as you.  Be blessed.

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Ok, so it is back together and runs.  Now we need a drive report, cranking compression and comparison to the previous build.  You have stock 56 cam (I had been told that was the most aggressive cam in a nailhead --- sometimes causing complaints about lumpy idle from the blue hairs that drove Buicks); stock piston configuration vs the aftermarket "compromise' pistons; the 1:6 ratio rockers that replaced stock 1:5 were used again; might have to line up a drag race with a 56 Super :o:D.

I am guessing  premium gas will be required...hopefully the extra fun will be worth it!!

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1 hour ago, old-tank said:

might have to line up a drag race with a 56 Super :o:D

 

I wonder where we can find one of these? 🤓

 

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17 hours ago, old-tank said:

Ok, so it is back together and runs.  Now we need a drive report, cranking compression and comparison to the previous build.  You have stock 56 cam (I had been told that was the most aggressive cam in a nailhead --- sometimes causing complaints about lumpy idle from the blue hairs that drove Buicks); stock piston configuration vs the aftermarket "compromise' pistons; the 1:6 ratio rockers that replaced stock 1:5 were used again; might have to line up a drag race with a 56 Super :o:D.

I am guessing  premium gas will be required...hopefully the extra fun will be worth it!!

 

Remember to include the high compression gaskets this time and that dreaded 19 inch clutch fan that doesn't work in Texas.....that's the big thing in the front. 😀

 

IMG_1003.thumb.JPG.4aca6ab3e6ff787460abbf6bf10b42b3.JPG

 

Yeah I've been too much of a candy a## to put anything less than 93 octane in it to start with.  Timing is at 7.5 deg. I did put the later vac advance spring in it but haven't driven it yet since that mod.  The old 55 distributor is on for now because its trusted and wanted to reduce variables if a problem arose.  The 56 one needs to be gone through. I also have one from a 59 364 that's supposed to have a better timing curve to try.

 

It hasn't pinged yet on acceleration but its only been floored it once for a few seconds at mid speed after the first oil change and it jumped pretty good for a tight engine.  It's not yet run much over 60 and still varying the speed with moderate acceleration around town.  Gotta take care of those sealed power pistons you rented to me because they are one of the holy grails of 322  unobtaneum.  The only rather noticeable difference from last engine is on the uphill on-ramp onto I81 at the chenango forks interchange.  Swear my foot is down 1/2 inch without hitting the vacuum actuator for the switch pitch and jesse it's it's doing over 60 at the end of the ramp .  Merges right into traffic. Not sure how well it breathes at higher rpms but it sure goes up hills effortlessly. The old frankencam had more lift but this one seems to have a better low torque profile based on my humble research. Reminds me of that 56 ad that says more zip at the top.  If I were to get a cam custom-made, I'd consider this profile with just more lift

 

And that's pretty cool.

 

Am keeping my eye on the fuel pump. Seems the engine stumbles out after stopped at a red light then accelerating to 55 when it's not hot enough where vapor lock would happen. I have a couple fresh ones on the shelf.  The electric pump seems to correct it. All other teething problem ( like that vibration at 2300 rpm) have been resolved.  The top casing on this fuel pump was clocked wrong from Then and Now  and I had to rotate it - I compressed the arm when re-tightening the fuel pump cover and am hoping that didn't reduce fuel pump pressure.  I didn't read the directions but remember having to do that Before.

 

No engine leaks. Have to recheck head torque.  Fingers crossed.  Drive it drive it drive it.

 

 

 

 

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On 9/30/2019 at 7:18 PM, Kosage Chavis said:

The whole story hurt me just reading it.  Glad that you worked up enough will to do another engine.  It looks and sounds awesome.  Hope that I can do as good a job as you.  Be blessed.

 

Lots of experience in the club to help you any time there's questions. Have used some of your thread for my own references.  Thank you for the extra work to do that.

 

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I was wondering where you'd been...  I know how frustrating it is to be unable to definitively 'nail' the root cause (did you make a 'fishbone' diagram? ;)), but I agree that going with the new ARP rod bolts is a prudent move.  Glad to hear that both you and the '55 are feeling better now.  Welcome back!

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Wow, that's a heartbreaking story. I feel your pain, brother, but getting back on the horse is always the best medicine. Good on you for finding the intestinal fortitude to jump back in and get it back together. I agree that new hardware is cheap insurance when building any engine--ARP seems expensive at first, but you'll never have to think about something letting go again and peace of mind is worth every penny. Everyone gets angry with me when I tell them to put new hardware in and how the old stuff was great and they never had problems reusing it. This is the gamble they take. I'm sorry it happened to you.


Glad to have you back!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Matt. And you rattled my brain to go find my measurements:

 

IMG_0911.thumb.JPG.5a56a1d4c7571381c883e5d21eb28f87.JPG

 

Part number ARP 125-6001 on left.  OEM factory 1 time use bolt on right.  Mentioned the usage as am not sure if it stretched although note it was the nut not the bolt that failed which folks have told me a bolt is more typical.

 

Dimension A1 was milled to match dimension A2 of .388".  Press fit into the reconditioned rod.  Don't press it in as is- it's too much of an interference fit.  

 

ARP DOES NOT list bolts for a Buick 322 at the time of this research last fall.  This was closest I could match up.

 

Hope this can help someone.

 

The good news in this is it provided the experience to build 2 working engines! And buy more paint.  And stuff....

 

550 miles as of today. Fuel issues otherwise running like a top.

 

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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11 hours ago, EmTee said:

I was wondering where you'd been...  I know how frustrating it is to be unable to definitively 'nail' the root cause (did you make a 'fishbone' diagram? ;)), but I agree that going with the new ARP rod bolts is a prudent move.  Glad to hear that both you and the '55 are feeling better now.  Welcome back!

 

OMG!  You brought back many "towed array" memories.  I did actually make a quasi-fish bone chart but left the probability calculations to the next guy....

 

Was reading some of your posts. Glad to see Goldie is running well -  was just in your neck of the woods the other day. Will give you a shout next time.

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5 minutes ago, KAD36 said:

Will give you a shout next time.

 

Please do -- was thinking just that when I saw your machine shop was in Utica.  Maybe meet somewhere in-between?  (I have been thinking of a trip to the museum in Norwich...)

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The Northeast auto museum?  That place is great - easily fill an afternoon.

 

Meet midway? Yep. Can do.  Maybe Cortland or call the ball on pm with whatever works for you. Heat works - just putzed with the capillary tube location today. 👍

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Glad to hear its running strong, Ken! You can't go wrong with that 56 322. Advertised 255 HP and 341 ft lbs of torque. After my rebuild fiasco and finding (granted worn out) original running 322, having the heads rebuilt and adding the 1.6:1 rockers really woke it up. Dreading the day I have to do the bottom end because as you found, pistons are rare. I'll most likely need to get some custom made.

 

On the 7.5 timing, the 56 motor really does not like more than 5, at least in my case. Could be different with yours being punched out. I have a 64 401 distributor in mine that I rebuilt and bushed myself to have less than .015" end play and I put stock curve springs in it. I was told the dual quad timing curve is the best for all nailheads but I am not sure the validity of that claim on a 322, which is much different from the 364/401/425. Regardless, I found going to the 401 distributor to be very beneficial. I also added an Accel dual point conversion to it and bought a repro dual window cap from Brillman Co. and it has been running absolutely flawless.

 

Curious about your mention of vibration. What was it and what did you do to fix it?

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On 10/4/2019 at 8:42 PM, KAD36 said:

The Northeast auto museum?  That place is great - easily fill an afternoon.

 

Yep - I've been by there a couple of times over the past few years, but have never stopped-in.

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On 10/7/2019 at 2:40 PM, Beemon said:

 

Curious about your mention of vibration. What was it and what did you do to fix it?

 

Turned out to be a fan spacer that came with the new (used) pulleys that enabled running 2 belts on the AC compressor.  It was enough to cause the outer dual water pump pulley and fan assembly to have a hum to it around 1900-2300 rpm in N.  I replaced it with a machined aluminum one.  That dramatically reduced it. There is still a slight vibration somewhere but it is negligible and you have to know it's there to look for it. Rather than drive myself crazy to find it there's a small rust out on the rear quarter that looks more obvious to fix.

 

The new motor mounts were also pretty stiff and didn't quite "clock" correctly requiring some modification. I jacked up the engine and trans and set it all back down evenly ensuring none of the studs were jammed against the frame. Then I started it and let it idle in that spot for a few seconds before tightening it all up.   The mounts seem to have a little better give as I can see some flex in them. When I first dropped the engine on them they didn't flex at all.  The originals obviously were quite soft.  There's a pretty extensive vibration debug procedure in the 56 PSB.

 

The other night the coil quit and it was only 2 years old.  What I thought was vapor lock that happened to coincidentally cure itself with the electric pump turned out to be the coil breaking down. It slowly degraded over a week and finally would run off the starter and when the starter disengaged would stumble and die.  It backfired through the carb a few times and in panic thought it jumped timing or the distributor slipped, but when I got home the 2 paint dots between the distributor and block were still lined up so that wasn't it sounded like all the big pieces were still attached inside. After some consultation the ballast resistor was checked - jumped across it and still no go.  Although measured high impedance across it (like kohms - how did it even run before?) so while there took it all apart, cleaned all the contact surfaces including the resistance wire connections, and got it back to 1.8 - 2.0 ohms.  Swapped out the coil with the old spare "Standard - Blue Streak still made in the USA" one from 1990 and it fired right up happy as a clam.  I got another of the same brand coil, a new standard cap (with brass inserts) and rotor with the 10k resistor in it (I don't run resistor plugs and have solid copper wires).

 

670 miles.  

 

Stupid parts.

 

 

Edited by KAD36
Why aren't the font sizes consistent? (see edit history)
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29 minutes ago, KAD36 said:

 

Turned out to be a fan spacer that came with the new (used) pulleys that enabled running 2 belts on the AC compressor.  It was enough to cause the outer dual water pump pulley and fan assembly to have a hum to it around 1900-2300 rpm in N.  I replaced it with a machined aluminum one.  That dramatically reduced it. There is still a slight vibration somewhere but it is negligible and you have to know it's there to look for it. Rather than drive myself crazy to find it there's a small rust out on the rear quarter that looks more obvious to fix.

 

The new motor mounts were also pretty stiff and didn't quite "clock" correctly requiring some modification. I jacked up the engine and trans and set it all back down evenly ensuring none of the studs were jammed against the frame. Then I started it and let it idle in that spot for a few seconds before tightening it all up.   The mounts seem to have a little better give as I can see some flex in them. When I first dropped the engine on them they didn't flex at all.  The originals obviously were quite soft.  There's a pretty extensive vibration debug procedure in the 56 PSB.

 

The other night the coil quit and it was only 2 years old.  What I thought was vapor lock that happened to coincidentally cure itself with the electric pump turned out to be the coil breaking down. It slowly degraded over a week and finally would run off the starter and when the starter disengaged would stumble and die.  It backfired through the carb a few times and in panic thought it jumped timing or the distributor slipped, but when I got home the 2 paint dots between the distributor and block were still lined up so that wasn't it sounded like all the big pieces were still attached inside. After some consultation the ballast resistor was checked - jumped across it and still no go.  Although measured high impedance across it (like kohms - how did it even run before?) so while there took it all apart, cleaned all the contact surfaces including the resistance wire connections, and got it back to 1.8 - 2.0 ohms.  Swapped out the coil with the old spare "Standard - Blue Streak still made in the USA" one from 1990 and it fired right up happy as a clam.  I got another of the same brand coil, a new standard cap (with brass inserts) and rotor with the 10k resistor in it (I don't run resistor plugs and have solid copper wires).

 

670 miles.  

 

Stupid parts.

 

 

Modern coils and condensers have caused me more problems than anything else

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Some of that vibration could have been from the ignition breaking up.

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