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Had to pull the 401 out of my '64 due to water leaks out the freeze plug(s). Thought I was only going to need to replace the freeze plugs and maybe head gaskets. Tore it down a bit today and see that I'll need a complete rebuild. One side wasn't getting much oil. Going to at least need a cam, Maybe pistons, etc. I'm going to have my local shop do the work. Any advice on the best source for parts (or rebuilding advice). They've never done a NailHead....Thanks

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

I'd second that.  If you're in in northern California and you've already decided not to do it yourself, it might be worth your while to throw it in the trunk and take it to Russ.  Familiarity has some value; you won't end up with a Chevy motor.

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29 minutes ago, BulldogDriver said:

Just my 2cents.
If it was my motor I’d at least talk to Russ first. He is one of the experts on Nailheads and has all parts and rebuilds a lot of them. He is in the NorCal area.

 

http://centervilleautorepair.com/

Great Advice! I'll contact him. He's in my same area code....Thanks!

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Advice on your local shop. Stay away, stay FAR FAR AWAY!!!!

As most know I rebuild the "Nails" ALSO, BUT since your in Ca. & I'm in Ct.  My recommendation would be to take it to Russ.

YES, it ill be more costly, BUT then you know it's right.  Everything else is a crap shoot.  How many times are you willing to pull it & have it done AGAIN. Only when you return it under warranty your told "installer error".

It's now your problem & you have to pay for it again to be overhauled  It the long run it turns out to be less costly.

AND, depending on what went wrong you may need a new block & again having them re-do it again is going to cost more $$$$.

Just my thoughts.

I've been doing these engines like Russ for MANY years. I know the pitfalls & the idiosyncrasy's of these engines just like Russ. He & I know them ALL. Willing to spend big $$$ for a SBC rebuild????  Then pay again to have it done over??? 

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Just got off the phone with Russ-Nice guy and very knowledgeable on NailHeads-It's all he does.... I'll be headed his way soon so he can rebuild my engine. Thanks for the tip.

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                                    I agree you should use somebody familiar with these engines, but rebuilding them is not

Rocket Science. When I was 19 years old I tore down the 401 in my Dad's 65 Riviera, my local machine shop bored the block,

resurfaced the crankshaft did a valve job, balanced everything and I reassembled it with new parts following the factory Service manual, and it was running perfect 14 years later

when my Dad sold the car.  At the time the engine had 90K on it. I don't recall it being harder to do than other  engines I've done, including Chevies. That is

the only nailhead I've done, but if my engine goes out in my 65, I'll be doing it again myself other than the machine work. My opinion is that there are a lot

of people out there building engines for a living that should have chosen a different line of work. To build an engine you need to be meticulous about what

you are doing and double and triple check everything when assembling the engine. You can't just THROW them together. AND.........refer to the factory manual every step of the way.

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If you have somewhat of a mechanical aptitude and have the ability to read and follow directions, and have all the tools, you can probably do it yourself if you have a line on quality parts and a machinist who will listen to you - not the guy who says "I've rebuilt a ton o' Chevies and Fords, I know what I'm doing" - like putting hardened valve seats in everything that comes down the pike.

 

But if you don't and you want it done right, then have the right guy do it.  "Good labor isn't cheap and cheap labor isn't good."

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Google Buick 401 rebuild. There is a wealth of info (including vids) available.

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1 hour ago, RIVNIK said:

Google Buick 401 rebuild. There is a wealth of info (including vids) available.

I've contacted Russ "Centerville auto" Grass Valley, Ca.   I'll be delivering the NailHead to him Monday for a complete rebuild. PS-I screwed up calling it a 401-It's a 425.....Thanks again to all members for advice. I should be back on the road in a month or two.

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Hi watched the speeded up version of that and I think I saw them installing hardened valve seats in the heads - that's a NO-NO! Don't know if there's enough time to watch the real time version to make sure.  If they did install hardened seats, makes you wonder what other mistakes might have been made.  

 

If you truly have to have your engine rebuilt locally, source your parts from Tom T. or Russ and they'll probably respond in kind by telling your machinist the do's and don't's of Nailhead rebuilding.

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Always interested in the hardened valve seat discussion.  

 

Carman Fasso did my heads some years back and insisted on installing seats.  When I questioned that, his response was people had problems because the installer didn't know what they were doing.  

 

I've had no issues, and am driving the car more now a days.  Hope that continues.  

 

 

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Can anyone recommend a decent machine shop in the Chicago/Milwaukee area? 

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I wish I had Tom or Russ in my Locale!

 

Zimm63, you have exhaust seat inserts too? I now realize my terrible running 401 is probably old fuel. I haven't freshened-up the fuel for wanting to drop the tank to deal with the Fuel Pickup/Sender - - Duh, could be as simple as that.

Thinking my Exhaust Inserts were a ticking time bomb, I did a compression test and all good. Also did a local Cylinder Head purchase a month ago just-in-case.

Still concerned, I probed each cylinder in my nailhead and suspect a shallow seat installation and peening around the inserts. I have about 30 images of each cylinder scrutinizing the exhaust valves. The procedure showed all inserts are still intact. However, the images being low resolution, are of limited help, raising more concerns with observations in the pent roof of some cylinders.

Turning the engine over by hand with the distributor cap off, man, my timing chain is real sloppy. Another item on my list!

Another fear is Felpro Head Gaskets. I don't know if their supposed oil leak is internal. Everything is fine externally on my nailhead.

One last observation and question, perhaps a stupid one. CAN THE LIFTERS BE DEPRESSED WITH THUMB PRESSURE? It appears some of my lifters have bled-off. It sure clatters when started but the hood is always open and it's in the garage.

 

Thanks,

John B.

2005240147_Seat.JPG

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Lifters collapsing with thumb pressure tells you something. They are old & worn out.

IF that's the case I'll almost guarantee the cam has seen better days also.

You know you have to do a timing chain & gears so you might as well pull the intake & valley pan to check.

AND when you have the timing cover off inspect it closely for signs of internal corrosion. Especially where the water ports enter the engine & for cavitation erosion caused by the water pump spinning AND the hole in the top where the O-Ring goes. ALSO for erosion where the timing case cover & gasket where the coolant enters the block they get eroded there also from the ant-freeze. Same where the water pump mounts.

When you get that far pics would be a good thing since you probably don't know what your looking at/for.

Using the stock shim steel head gaskets you usually don't get oil leakage. It's with the other type of gaskets where you can end up with oil leaks. I have a fix for all these problems.

Stock steel shim head are can be sourced, BUT as time goes on the stock is getting depleted & they are becoming more costly as time goes on, ESPECIALLY for the 425's as it was made for only 4 years.

 

Tom T.

 

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Ya, it's looking like I'll have to pull the intake and valley pan.

It is a 70K mile engine and always had quality antifreeze freshened-up a few times since it became mine in 1980. Naturally I'll re-use the timing cover if still good. I'm just wondering if a modern crankshaft seal fits the old cover.

As for the lifters, They were new Sealed Power HT896s from the valve job in 1993 and clocked maybe 10 miles since! They have more wear on them with annual startups in the garage.

Image below is of cylinder #5 showing a little oil on the lower side. Felpro head gasket? Since the piston is down, cylinder wall is on the right.

Enough researching and testing, time to start tearing into it. I now have a spare set of core heads and a Chinese 5-vane water pump.

I will post some pictures that will be more for the purpose of sharing. I think once apart, I'll know what to do.

I think the repro timing cover is back in production if needed.

 

Thank-You,

John B.

2005240087_Piston.JPG

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Tom T. has the neoprene seals, front and rear, for your engine.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/28/2020 at 9:35 PM, XframeFX said:

Ya, it's looking like I'll have to pull the intake and valley pan.

It is a 70K mile engine and always had quality antifreeze freshened-up a few times since it became mine in 1980. Naturally I'll re-use the timing cover if still good. I'm just wondering if a modern crankshaft seal fits the old cover.

As for the lifters, They were new Sealed Power HT896s from the valve job in 1993 and clocked maybe 10 miles since! They have more wear on them with annual startups in the garage.

Image below is of cylinder #5 showing a little oil on the lower side. Felpro head gasket? Since the piston is down, cylinder wall is on the right.

Enough researching and testing, time to start tearing into it. I now have a spare set of core heads and a Chinese 5-vane water pump.

I will post some pictures that will be more for the purpose of sharing. I think once apart, I'll know what to do.

I think the repro timing cover is back in production if needed.

 

Thank-You,

John B.

2005240087_Piston.JPG

John,

    You need to operate this engine as it was intended, as in regularly and under various circumstances, to properly evaluate its condition. Starting it up in the garage once a year and inspection with a scope will not yield legitimate observations.

  After doing so, gross observations like peculiar noise, smoke, power level, oil consumption should be noted and addressed via various troubleshooting methods which may or may not include a scope.

  Just a point about "scopes"...they ALWAYS make matters look much worse as compared to the naked eye. A very close family member is a retired Dentist and has demonstrated to me this phenomenon has been used in the Dental industry for years as a marketing/selling tool. The marketing device is called an intra-oral camera, basically a scope, and makes  even normal dentition appear like a horrendous mess to the untrained eye...small micro cracks (which everyone normally has) appear as deep fissures requiring crowns, older fillings look like ameteur masonry requiring replacement, etc...

  Drive it...and drive it regularly...then start evaluating and drawing conclusions as to the overall health of the engine.

Tom Mooney

Edited by 1965rivgs (see edit history)
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Part of the health of any engine is performing PROPERLY hot & cold compression & leak down tests. When this is done & ONLY when this is done PROPERLY can one make an informed evaluation on an engines health. 

IF you really want the proper diagnosis I would take the vehicle in question for a couple of 50+ mile rides & do the PROPER compression & leak down tests again as this will confirm your previous diagnosis & you may be surprised at what the final results are where you MAY NOT have to take apart the engine except for some existing problems you already know about.  May save you from an overhaul..

AGAIN, just my thoughts.

 

Tom T.

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Tom T knows. If it were an aircraft engine , pressure test is done annually. First thing I’d do if there was a problem. And as cheap as  a borescope camera is today, not a bad idea to see whats inside. 

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Bore scopes can be costly. A less costly alternative is an Endoscope.  They can be bought for between $10.00 & $20.00 give or take. Hook it up to your laptop & now you have a screen as large or as small of the laptop screen.   Look it up. The one I bought 2 years ago cost $10.00 with free shipping. The part was HD720P.  Has 6 or 7 LEDS in the end & can be adjusted for brightness of lighting, etc. etc. etc.   ALSO it's almost waterproof so it can be used in MANY instances.

I haven't used it as of yet in a fuel tank.  One of these days I may take that chance.  MAY just have to buy another.

 

Tom T.

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8 hours ago, KongaMan said:

Plus you have a DIY colonoscopy kit.

 

And just like the car, you have a hard time getting in a good position to see really well. Lay across the radiator, lean over the fender, twist your neck around, put your head between your knees, it's never as easy as it looks.

Bernie

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The kit #HD720P

No network needed

Application fields:

Intraoral camera system; underwater camera; waterproof Micro cameras; motor vehicle detector; sewer pipeline detector; search & rescue; criminal & custom detector; archaeological detect; the PCBdetection; home care; aviation & space industries; care & tractors industries; petroleum drilling industries; constructions & so on & so forth.

Specifications:

Resolution: HD640*480, 1280*720

View angle: 70*

Camera: 2.0 mega pixel

Camera Head Diameter: 5.5/8.0mm

Waterproof level: Ip67

Frequency: 2.425Hz-2.493GHz

Transmission distance: 5-30M

Support system: los/Andriod/Windows/Mac

Comes with many attachments for doing various things like maybe you dropped a nut or washer in the intake or inside the head on op of a piston. Saves from taking things all apart to retrieve such anomalies.

 

All the info from my camera kit.

 

Tom T.

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3 hours ago, telriv said:

The kit #HD720P

No network needed

Application fields:

Intraoral camera system; underwater camera; waterproof Micro cameras; motor vehicle detector; sewer pipeline detector; search & rescue; criminal & custom detector; archaeological detect; the PCBdetection; home care; aviation & space industries; care & tractors industries; petroleum drilling industries; constructions & so on & so forth.

Specifications:

Resolution: HD640*480, 1280*720

View angle: 70*

Camera: 2.0 mega pixel

Camera Head Diameter: 5.5/8.0mm

Waterproof level: Ip67

Frequency: 2.425Hz-2.493GHz

Transmission distance: 5-30M

Support system: los/Andriod/Windows/Mac

Comes with many attachments for doing various things like maybe you dropped a nut or washer in the intake or inside the head on op of a piston. Saves from taking things all apart to retrieve such anomalies.

 

All the info from my camera kit.

 

Tom T.

Looks interesting.

 

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