Today was supposed to be about cleaning.... but I also managed to get past a recent roadblock that has been keeping me awake at night!
Today's first step was to remove the oil gallery plug from each side of the engine block. I've read that on 50% of engine cores these never come out, but both of mine came out easy with a 1/4 inch extension on a ratchet:
Next, I filled a tub with hot water and Simple Green (just like the head studs a few days ago). This is the case half that didn't have any studs remaining. I wasn't sure I'd be able to fit the second case half in, but at least I can get started on this one:
While this was soaking, I decided to have another go at those two stubborn head studs. So far no amount of PB Blaster or gentle persuasion has convinced them to move even the slightest. A couple of days ago (see my last blog entry) I added a little of "home brew" mix to the studs.
I had the time today to give another try at removing them. I didn't expect 48 hours would be enough time for it to soak in the ATF and acetone "home brew" mix but WOW! They came out very easy with very little wrenching! The "home brew" worked AMAZING!
Now I've got the best chance to install all the head studs even and properly and stop worrying about two that were only partially into the block. Very cool!
By this point, I was ready to get started on cleaning the case halves. Just to prove that I'm actually doing something, Brenda took some photos of me scrubbing away some grime:
Both halves somewhat complete, a quick pressure wash to rinse off the dirty water and drying in the sun:
They look great, but as they dry I notice some spots that will require some more cleaning attention. Lots of spots that are hard to get at with a scrub sponge, I'll have another go with a toothbrush and maybe the Dremel tool and a 3M wheel. I also see a bunch of casting flash from the factory that needs to be removed to improve oil flow. It's surprising how little GM did in this regard.
I have some rusty spots that will also require some attention. I'll do some research on the best way to address this.
Good progress today, especially the last two head studs. Moving on!
Spent a couple of hours this morning doing some detail cleaning on the head studs and case bolts. I started by placing them all into a RubberMaid bin:
Next, I covered them with a couple of inches of hot water and approximately 1 cup of Simple Green cleaner. This resulted in a cleaning solution equal to about a 10:1 ratio, the recommended strength listed on the jug:
I decided to let the whole batch soak a bit. While I waited, I brought the engine case half that has been giving me trouble with the studs outside. I wanted to try the home-brew penetrating oil I've read about online that others have tried that worked.
The home-brew penetrating oil is made by creating a 50:50 mix of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and acetone. I bought some acetone the other day and had some ATF lying around:
I didn't want to make a huge batch of this stuff as I only have two studs to work on, so I took some old medical syringes I had and measured out just enough equal amounts of each and mixed them in a old plastic coffee can:
Once mixed, I used one of the syringes to add a generous amount of "the brew" to the base of the stud where it enters the block:
Over the course of the next two hours, I used dish sponges/scrub pads and a bottle brush for the case nuts. Once the grease was off, I was pleased to see the studs were in good shape, with little to any hard tool marks or signs of twisting. The threads also seem in amazing shape. The rust you can see is just on the surface without any bad spots. The studs get painted once installed in the block, so I'll clean them up some more with a wire wheel before I prime them for paint.
I clearly have more serviceable short studs and may have to order new long ones as the thread ends are badly corroded off, leaving limited threads available:
I put everything back into inventory for now. I'll keep adding "the brew" to the stubborn head studs and then give turning them out a try - at minimum, if they don'e turn, I can be fairly confident they will stay in place.
Next up.... the case halves take their turn in the bath.
It took some time, but I finally got back into the shop. The last few weeks have been real busy between work and family commitments, and I'm trying to keep moving forward.
This afternoon, I took another crack at removing the last two head studs. Unfortunately, they continue to be stuck half-way out of the block, and by stuck I mean they don't seem to want to go either way (all the way in or all the way out):
Next, I'm going to try something suggested by some on the interwebs - make a penetrating oil with equal parts acetone and automatic transmission fluid. So far PB Blaster hasn't worked, so why not? It apparently works very well in exactly this situation. So add acetone to the shopping list and check the shed for ATF, I'm certain I have some.
Rather than dwell on this, I thought I'd take the steps to separate the case halves. If you recall, I mounted the block sideways on the engine mount to prevent the crank and cam from falling out of the block as it separates. They came apart surprisingly easy with some light tapping on the non mating surfaces with a rubber mallet:
Getting a good look inside now! Crank is likely trash, way too much rust and pitting on the connecting rod throw bearings. The cam? Hard to say, but it looks bad too and maybe it can be salvaged but probably not. Disappointing, but I already have two good cores for exchange form the 110hp core engine, so no big deal. Found more rodent debris and I think this core has been sitting dry (without oil) for a long time:
Also conspicuously absent are any bearings. Looks like someone decided they didn't need to be replaced yet. That's okay, I'll need specifically sized new ones once the crank and cam are serviced.
Carefully removing the old crank and cam reveals some surface rust on the block bearing surfaces. I think this is more of a transfer of rust staining from the crank and cam and hopefully they should easily clean up:
I was a bit worried about the bottom edge of the block, but then realized that this mating surface is inside the engine (above the oil pan), so small leaks here although not ideal, are not an issue. A close look at it looks like this is the spot someone previous used to pry apart the halves:
They look better once I used the shop-vac to clean away the last of the mouse debris. The inside of this block seems pretty clean otherwise:
One final thing I did while putting away the crank was to try giving it the "ring test". It's something I learned from the FlyCorvair.com DVD. A simple test used to check a crank for cracks (especially hidden ones) is to hold the crank from one end and give it a light tap with a hammer. A good crank will "ring" for up to 20 seconds once tapped lightly.
I tried this.... my cranks rings, but not consistently. The first time it rang for a few seconds, the second time a bit longer but the third? "Clunk". Perhaps I'm not striking it consistently. Either way, this crank is likely junk with all the rust pitting. Just wanted to try it.
But at least it's all apart and I'll be able to start moving towards assembly of my new power-plant!
Next up.... taking out the oil gallery plugs (if they will come out!), start power-washing and hand cleaning everything....
Jumped at the chance to work outside this morning and pressure washed the 140hp block. The core is quite clean, but I wanted to remove some of the remaining grime and PB Blaster that I've been spraying before bringing it into the basement shop. It's not perfect (and won't be without some elbow grease, scrub brushes and Simple Green cleaner) but at least it doesn't smell greasy. Here is a couple of pictures, post "wash" and drying in the sun:
Obviously, I won't be able to get into all the internal nooks and corners until I split the case halves.
Once it was dry, I moved it into the shop and mounted it sideways on the engine stand:
I've decided to try and carefully remove all the studs as it looks like most will have to be pulled and re-installed with LocTite 620 anyhow. So, before splitting the case halves, I'm working on removing them. The easiest way to do this is to double-nut the studs at the top and back the studs out. This is much preferable to using ViceGrips or ChannelLocks and risking damaging the studs. It's a lengthy process for each, but worth the time:
Eight studs to remove and every single one came out cleanly on this side. A couple of them were tight, but a bit of 3-in-1 oil at the base helped. The threads in the block look great, should be good for re-installing the studs later:
Tomorrow, I'll rotate the block over and work on the opposite side studs. Only 11 to remove on the other side and they hopefully go as smoothly as these did. Then I'll review the dis-assembly DVD for direction on separating the case halves.
This is a very important step. What I find inside will determine if this will be a usable block.
First thing, I removed the large case bolts. There are eight, two rows of four:
They came out very easy, probably because I've been soaking them with PB Blaster. I got four of the eight out when I remembered that I needed to remove the stock oil pan as well. I had forgotten it as it was underneath and not readily visible. I took the block off the stand and set it on it's end to remove the pan:
Oh look what's inside! More mouse-house debris! But other than that, very clean.
I removed the last 4 case bolts and hoped to split the case, but it's tight like the rear oil cover. Probably easier to take the whole thing inside to the shop. Next up... cleaning!
Grabbed an hour this afternoon and tackled the next two dis-assembly steps.
This is the harmonic balancer. It is mounted on the end of the crankshaft by a press (interference fit) and secured in place with a large diameter bolt and special concave washer:
First I removed the bolt using a 3/4 inch socket on a 1/2 inch ratchet:
Here you can see how it mounts to the crankshaft.... a very tight fit:
The proper way to remove the harmonic balancer to prevent damaging it or the crank is to use a harmonic balancer removal tool (kinda ironic!) I've been talking this project over with a co-worker who offered to lend me his removal tool:
The bolts that came with his tool were the wrong diameter, so I dug through my inventory to find the correct pulley bolts that would normally be in the threaded pulley holes on the face of the balancer. The tool is attached to the face of the balancer (after I sprayed the mounting hole with PB Blaster):
Carefully turning the centre bolt of the tool pulls the balancer off the crankshaft end:
Slick as goose-poop, off it came. Sure nice have the correct tools to do the job!
With the harmonic balancer off (it will be sent for rebuild), I can now access the bolts and nuts that hold the rear oil case on. More PB Blaster and out they come:
With the bolts and nuts removed, all it should take is a bit of gentle tugging to remove the rear oil case from the block, however, this is as far as I could get it to go:
I grabbed some scrap baseboard trim from my shop and cut it into several wedges:
Tapping the wedges in between the block and rear oil case allowed me to remove it without damaging either. Once clear of the alignment pins, it slid off the rest of the way easily:
Like the other items on this core, the rear oil case is extremely clean already. This will be an excellent core exchange for my conversion:
Here you can see the end of the crankshaft, the distributor drive gear (also turns the oil pump gears) and fuel pump eccentric ring:
Getting closer and closer to having the engine completely apart. Next up, buy my buddy from work a beer for lending me his harmonic balancer puller.... then to split the engine block and remove the crank and camshaft!
First day in a long time that I had more than just an hour AND the weather was warm enough to work outside, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to crack open the 140hp core engine. With all the PB Blaster penetrating oil I'm using, I'm working outside to prevent the smell from wafting up from the basement.
After much research and consideration of the advice I sought and was provided online, I decided to stop fighting with the frozen head stud nuts themselves and carefully back the effected studs out of the block. Conventional wisdom is to leave them in place as they come from the factory, but as I mentioned before, a previous owner has had the block apart and clearly had the studs out a one point to do so. As a result, I'm left with few options with them. If they come out cleanly, they can be re-installed, torqued and secured permanently using LocTite 620. If they don't come out cleanly (stripped thread in the block), then it gets more complicated. Either way I'll have the added benefit of being able to properly clean and inspect the studs.
Over the past couple of days, I've sprayed a copious amount of PB Blaster on the studs where they enter the block. Using a ratchet, I slowly and carefully backed the studs out, adding more PB Blaster as I went:
Here is a picture showing the four of six studs on this side of the engine that have the seized head nuts. This has been driving me crazy for several days trying to figure out what to do. They all backed out without issue and I shouldn't have any issues reinstalling them.... Halleluja!
I never noticed until posting this picture the beautiful rays of sunshine.... all that's missing is singing angels I guess...LOL
After I removed them, I thought it might be a good idea to identify which location each stud came from. I was going to tag each with a number, but when I was on my way to look in the shop for my masking tape, I came across this mandarin orange crate. The holes in the crate work perfectly to hold these studs until I can work on removing the nuts and cleaning them up for inspection:
The next step is to remove the push rod tubes. These are held in place with rubber o-rings and are pressed into the block at one end and the heads on the other end. It's just an interference type of fit and the dis-assembly video gives instructions for making a removal tool using a piece of round hard wall tubing that when lightly struck with a small hammer will slowly tap the tubes out of the block. You need to be very careful not to damage the tubes or the mating surfaces or this can lead to oil leaks in the future.
With all the head clamping hardware removed, the heads are only sitting loose on the remaining studs. Because this core has already been taken apart, everything is only loosely together. Looking underneath, one of the push rod tubes was already hanging loose from the block. I suspect the o-rings are so dried out they have shrunk, leaving them really loose. So I was able to pull them out of the block relatively easy by just tugging on them:
Once clear of the block, they can be pulled though the head and saved for later use in the conversion. I am really pleased about the condition of these. No dents or corrosion, perfect:
Let's pull the heads. I used more PB blaster around the cylinders and let it sit for a half hour to have some lunch.
I expected to have to tug on these or gently tap them to get them to separate from the cylinders and I got most of what I expected. One cylinder stayed with the head, one came partially out and the other stayed in the block. As I was pulling the right side head I heard a metal on metal clunk. On the front cylinder, the piston is missing and the clunk was from the connecting rod dropping down as I moved the head further away from the block:
The right side head seams pretty clean. I won't be using the heads from this engine (wrong type for conversion), but they should be good for a car rebuild. I kinda wonder if that was the original intent for this core.
Having a look inside the remaining cylinders reveals another missing piston in one and a collection of debris on top of a piston in the other. Hard to tell how long the mouse was in there, but it could have been recently as the core sat outside in our storage shed since February:
Pulling the other head had similar results. This time some of the the push rod tubes stayed in the block. I removed them later to go with the ones from the other side to be cleaned and reinstalled. No surprises on this side, pistons missing, connecting rods rusty.....
....and the master bedroom suite of the mouse-house! Like the other head, this one is in great shape too.
A gentle pull on the cylinder still attached to the block and out it came. You can also see that the studs that are still in the block aren't completely torqued down will need to come out to be cleaned and reinstalled:
The cylinder on the first side didn't come off as easy. I suspect that having the piston still seized in the bore had everything to do with that:
Spray PB Blaster and wait.... time for a cold drink.
After 10 minutes, still can't budge the cylinder or the piston. Time to start working the problem from the crankshaft end. First, remove the top cover:
.... and the Top Ventilator cover under that (sorry for the bad picture):
The almighty crankshaft, the true heart of the engine..... and rusty, perhaps salvageable, will have to wait to get it completely out of the block to be certain either way.
Considering how rusty everything was, I sprayed the connecting rod nuts with PB Blaster in anticipation of them being hard to remove. Turns out most of them could be removed by hand or light turn with a ratchet.
Using a small wooden dowel as a driver, I tapped apart the connecting rods and caps. I used the dowel to prevent damaging the exposed threads:
With the rod caps removed, the piston and cylinder came out easy:
I removed the rest of the connecting rods using the same method, leaving just the crank and camshaft (not visible from this angle) in the block. Unfortunately upon closer look, this crank as a bunch of corrosion on the connecting rod bearing surfaces near the oil passage holes:
That is a huge amount of progress for one day. Next challenge is to remove the harmonic ballancer and the rear oil cover. I'm already soaking the fasteners in PB Blaster, it's been a great help in getting this apart so far. Once they are off, I'll be working on splitting the block halves and removing the crank and cam.
Took advantage of some sunny weather and removed the rocker covers and rocker arms.
Like everything else so far, the rocker nuts seemed to be on mostly finger tight, so they were a snap to remove:
Here is the right side heads with the rocker arms removed. A couple of the rocker studs came right out with the rocker arms and that's okay because the studs need to be removed next:
The rocker studs serve 3 purposes. They connect to the lower head studs, they hold down the guide plates to distribute the clamping force over a larger area and proved the mounting stud for the rocker arms. Out the studs and guide plates came, easy:
I know that current wisdom is to leave the head studs in the block as they are, however I have several of the upper studs that have badly seized head nuts on them:
I've been following the advice of others and soaking these daily with a good amount of PB Blaster penetrating oil. As this core has been previously at least partially apart, it looks like they pulled the studs when taking it apart and I'm presuming that is because they either thought they should pull them, or just did because that was easier to do than dealing with the frozen head nuts. Some of the nuts came off without any trouble, some not so much.
The studs that have seized nuts seem to be backing out somewhat easily but I haven't taken them out yet so I don't know what shape the internal threads are in. But I know if they are turning at all it is something to be concerned about.
So, long story short.... I have to figure out if I am better concentrating on removing the stubborn head nuts as they sit on the core, or backing the stud out completely (it's already loose anyhow) and following the procedure others have used involving Locktite adhesive if the threads are okay.
As long as I don't have to deal with snapped studs like on the 110hp core, I'll be happy. I've sent an e-mail to the Corvair conversion forum and to William Wynne for some guidance.
I'm not looking for a shortcut, just remembering my late grandfather's words of wisdom "work smarter, not harder".
Next up, removing the harmonic balancer while I wait for answers on the head stud nuts.
A beautiful morning here in Pow-town, so I decided to grab some wrenches and get started taking off some of the accessories.
First I started with removing the idler pulley. Some of the earlier Corvair conversions used the original cooling fan and associated pulleys and belts (and I think exact Pietenpol replicas still do), but it has been eliminated completely in the latest conversion instructions:
With that removed, next to come off was the mechanical fuel pump. Again, in early conversions it was used but not in the latest versions, so off it comes:
Next inline is the "GM Delcotron Adapter" which has 6 functions. It contains the oil filter mount, the oil fill tube, the fuel pump mounting hole, the oil temp sensor, the alternator mounting pad and makes up the top of the oil pump/cover assembly All that great engineering, but nothing (except the oil fill tube) gets used for the conversion....LOL
With the fuel pump and idler pulley removed I can access all 5 bolts that hold the Delcotron Adapter in place:
I didn't get a picture of the underside of this adapter. I would have expected it to be dirty but it isn't. There doesn't seem to be a speck of oil or varnish. I wonder if is was a new part, or maybe had been taken off and cleaned previously. Either way it's spotless and should be an easy sell to someone (apparently they are rare).
With the Delcotron Adapater removed, you can see how clean everything else is. In the FlyCorvair video, oil comes gushing out when this is taken off. Here it is bone dry and very clean.
You might notice one of the bolts missing from it's hole (the one on the right). I accidentally dropped it down the hole in the top of the oil pump/cover... oops. The cover also gets taken off the block, thankfully I'll be able to grab it later. Also somewhat visible is the mechanical fuel pump shaft. It should pull right out, but I suspect it's stuck by some varnish. I ran out of time to working to remove it. It has to come out before removing the oil pump/cover, so I'll tackle it next time:
The conversion plans replace the entire Delcotron Adapter with a CNC machined adapter like this one:
This moves the filter to a better position, provides ports for oil temperature and pressure measurements and a source of high pressure oil to feed the 5th bearing that will be added to the engine as part of the conversion (more on the 5th bearing later in the build).
One thing is very obvious. This core has been apart already (dry and clean internals). I can't believe how clean everything is and how easy bolts are coming out. I just hope everything is good inside too.
Next up, removing the harmonic balancer which will give me access to the bolts holding on the oil pump/cover.
Before anyone thinks I am complaining that it took FOREVER for spring to arrive, rest assured, I am grateful. I'm also reminded by the "shared memories" of Facebook that it hasn't been that uncommon to have snow after or on Easter weekend in the past decade. At least spring appears to be here for good and we can cancel the arrest warrant for the Groundhog. He was wanted for fraud.
I got my FlyCorvair.com engine dis-assembly DVD this past week and watched it as a starting point for assessing the 140hp core.
It was a gorgeous afternoon today and I took the opportunity to pull out the engine stand I purchased with the two core motors:
With Brenda's help, we lifted the 140hp core up onto the mount. This gave me the chance to have a better all-around look at it. I placed it in a spot where the sun this morning would warm any oil inside with a plan to drain it this afternoon:
First step after letting the warm, beaming sunshine do it's thing, grab a wrench and bucket to remove the oil drain plug and catch any old oil that might be sitting in the oil pan:
I removed the oil drain plug and.... it's dry? I would have thought there would be some oil there, but even the threads on the bolt are dry.
I grabbed a 3/4 inch socket and ratchet and tried turning the crank at the harmonic balancer. It didn't seem as it is tightening at all. Watching the cam gear and crankshaft at the other end, they remained dead still..... hmmm. Maybe the engine is seized? No oil so it wouldn't surprise me. Weird that the harmonic balancer bolt just keeps turning. Must mean that whatever the bolt is threaded into is turning inside the oil cover.
This engine core already has the distributor removed. I looked down the distributor hole as I was turning the harmonic balancer bolt and I can see daylight?:
So... the daylight means something is missing on the other side.... namely the oil pump gears and associated cover:
That explains two things. The lack of oil in the pan (the oil pump gears are close to being the lowest part of the engine) and the crank not turning as I suspect the crank is seized (possibly bad news for taking apart the pistons and cylinders).
With the concerns I have with the 110hp core studs being damaged and snapped off, the other place I wanted to have a better look at was the studs on this motor, hoping to use this block instead. Sadly, it looks like someone previous tried to remove the studs, but at least they are complete and not broken. Hopefully they pass the torque test. If they pass, great. If not I'll replace them and use this block. Some look like they have been partially backed out from the block (not preferable) and one is completely out of the block. Thankfully all of them seem to have good threads and are clean:
Next thing I wanted to have a look at is the rocker arms under the covers. Oddly, the hold down clips are missing on the rocker covers and 1 of the 4 bolts is a different size.
My next hint that things aren't as they seemed was that the rocker cover I removed came off very easily. I started to get the picture that they had been removed already and put back by the previous owner:
Once the cover was off I got my first good look at the valve train. It became immediately obvious that there are some key pieces missing (the ones I found earlier in my inventory - now I know where they came from!). The rocker arms are loose enough to spin around their studs:
The pushrods are missing....
....and so are the valves, as evidenced by the empty valve guides, missing valve springs and keepers:
This is the final clue that tells me the heads have been previously removed. There is no way to remove a valve from the head without removing the head from the block. The valve's shape only allows it to come out from the combustion side of the head, therefore, this head (and likely the other one) have been removed previously. I have a bunch of valves, springs and retainers in my inventory. Guess I know where they came from! It also explains at least in part the lack of oil and the surface rust on the rocker arms (which will be replaced).
That these heads have been off previously this is good news. This should mean dis-assembly will be easier when I'm ready. In preparation, I've soaked the upper side head nuts on both sides in PB Blaster penetrating oil. I continue to soak them for several days before turning a wrench on them. If I'm careful I should be able to get the heads and cylinders off and have a good block to work with in my conversion.
That should be easier than fixing the 3 broken studs in my other core block. At least I have some options.
Time until takeoff
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.