September 14 - September 29, 2002
Because Maych only had 66,000 original miles, I didn't really think I would need to do any major work to the engine.  That's the reason I proceeded with the cosmetic part of the restoration.  Ideally, it would be best to complete the mechanical restorations work first.  Even up to the day we finished the cosmetic restoration I  still wasn't planning on doing any major engine work.  I had talked with Dave (my mechanical mentor) about perhaps putting in a new set of valve stem seals because Maych did tend to smoke a little on start up.  Dave agreed that new seals would probably cure the problem.  But he also pointed out that we still had a couple of months of fairly decent weather left and suggested we go ahead and pull the heads and have them reworked at a machine shop.  I reasoned (justified is a better word) that new seals would likely be only a temporary fix and that if I was going to have to rework the heads at some point I might as well do it while I had access to free storage and labor.  Also, I would feel a lot more comfortable doing the work with Dave there to lend his expertise. 

Still, before I made up my mind I wanted to get an estimate of how much the head work would cost.  The next week I stopped by Waldron Machine and Welding (a local machine shop that Dave recommended) and talked with the owner, Dana Waldron.  He estimated the job would run about $425.00.  That included all new exhaust valves, half new intake valves, new hardened valve seats, new valve stem guides, new valve stem seals (both o-ring and umbrella), magnifluxing, and machining the deck surfaces.  He said that was a worst-case estimate and it could likely cost less unless the heads were cracked.  Way more than I planned to spend, but I decided to go ahead and get the work done.

So, the next thing I know, we're yanking stuff off the engine so we can pull the heads.   Because I had never torn down a 350 engine, I was a little more paranoid than Dave when it came to worrying about how to put it all back together.  I decided maybe I better take some pictures along the way.  Because I was going to send off the carburetor to be restored, I especially wanted pictures of it.

It was while pulling the heads that I realized just how filthy the engine and engine compartment were.  The passenger side valve cover must have been leaking oil for a long time because everything was literally covered with about a 1/4 inch of baked-on oil -- what a mess!   Along with the heads, I also loaded the exhaust manifolds, intake manifold, and valve covers into my daily driver pickup to take to the machine shop.  I figured I might as well get these items tanked along with the heads.  Also, one ear on the right side exhaust manifold was chipped off and I wanted to see if the machine shop could repair it.   For some reason, used RH manifolds are very hard to find.  Lots of LH's around, but no RH's.

On Monday I dropped off the heads and other parts at Waldron's machine shop.  He said he was pretty sure he could fix the broken ear on exhaust manifold.  He said he'd give me a call after he got everything cleaned and had magnifluxed and we could review what work was needed.  He said it would be at least 4 weeks after that before he could have the work done.  When I first got the estimate he told me about how long it would take him to do the work, so I wasn't surprised.  Like a lot of machine shops, he services his "bread and butter" customers ahead of small jobs like mine.  I don't have a problem with that.  I'd probably do the same.  So, now we wait -- or a least so I thought at the time.

When I got back to the office I told Dave how long it was going to be before the heads would be ready.  He said if it was going to take that long why not go ahead and rebuild the engine while we were waiting.   After seeing how filthy the engine was, I knew it would have to be pulled out to properly clean it.  And if we were going to go to all the trouble of pulling the engine, then we might as well rebuild it at the same time.

Dave didn't have an engine hoist but he knew where we could borrow one.  So, the next weekend we used Dave's utility trailer to go get the engine hoist and then we began pulling the engine.  By that evening we had the engine out and on the engine stand.  

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of pulling the engine.  In the heat of the battle I forgot to take any.  It was pretty straight forward though.  We had already done a lot of the work when we pulled the heads, namely: 

  • Drained radiator and removed upper radiator hose

  • Unbolted the mounting brackets for the AC compressor and alternator and set aside

  • Removed intake manifold, which meant we had already disconnected the throttle cable, transmission linkage, fuel line, vacuum hoses, and idle solenoid wire from carburetor, and the vacuum hoses from the intake manifold

Here's what else we did (in no certain order) to get the  engine ready to pull.  The inner fenders were not installed, so that made things a little easier.   

  • Disconnected lower radiator hose from water pump

  • Unbolted the exhaust pipes from the exhaust manifolds

  • Unbolted the mounting brackets power steering pump and set it out of the way

  • Disconnected electrical wires -  starter solenoid, coil, and temperature sensors

  • Removed fan shroud, fan blade, and water pump pulley - we didn't want to remove the radiator, so this gave us more room to maneuver the engine 

  • Disconnected the fuel lines from the fuel pump and plugged the fuel line from the fuel tank (runs like a stream until tank is empty)

  • Disconnected the fly wheel from the torque converter

  • Removed transmission cooling lines from the retainer clip on the oil pan

The next day I began cleaning the engine.  To say it was filthy would not describe it by half.  Dave had several gallons of diesel fuel that he let me use for this job.  It worked well, but the smell is less than pleasant.  I spent the whole day cleaning the engine and related parts (starter, pulleys, harmonic balancer, brackets, etc.).  I estimate I used about 5 gallons of diesel fuel in the process.  

I began cleaning by spraying the engine with  diesel fuel, letting it sit for about 20 minutes, then using a putty knife to scrape off the caked-on grease.  After I got the really heavy gunk removed, I followed up with more diesel fuel and a wire brush to remove the baked-on stuff.  It took a lot of wire brushing. Getting into all the little nooks and grannies was a real pain.  But I persisted and by the end of the day I had the engine clean enough so that we could begin work on the rebuild.  After we finished rebuilding the engine then I would work on getting it clean enough to paint.

I'll describe the rebuild of the bottom end in the next episode.

 

 

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