Thursday, May 5, 2011
Has it really been 2 months since I posted? Man how time flies. Luckily I have my pictures to remind me where to pick up from. Let’s just hope I can remember enough to write more than just the picture's descriptions. So…hi. Umm… oh yes! The engine was picked up by Bobby the machinist…
So it’s 11am and I’m in the shop with a car that will not be running for a couple of months. What’s next? I looked the car over and thought since the tranny was at the shop and the engine on the way to it’s new temporary home, I figured I should pull apart anything else that needed to be fixed by someone other than me. I somehow happened to look at the radiator and remembered I was going to take it to a radiator shop and have it boiled(cleaned). Once it's cleaned out, the shop will tell me if I need to replace it or not. I figured I might as well start saving money by seeing if the current parts were re-usable instead of making EVERYTHING brand new. Thinking about the radiator pointed me in the right direction to start from.
Another thing I would be able to send to the radiator shop was the gas tank. It would also need to be boiled out to clean any leftover gas, or dirt, or turpentine that might be gunking up a 46-year old gas tank. So I started with the gas tank. (Which reminds me, I need to search for a gas cap) Well, I kind of started. As with the torque converter, I ran into another decision of laziness. The gas tank is in the rear of the car, with the filling tube above the bumper. This means to access certain places where the gas tank is connected to, I would need to open up the trunk.
Guess who left the trunk keys at home?
I’ve been trying to get into the habit of doing the right thing. Doing things I planned on, even if the lazy way was easier. Not in the mood to cook and do laundry? Stopping at the local bar for a few beers and dinner is always the lazy and easier way. I’ve almost had to slap myself to snap out of it and just head home. So with it being 11 am and the whole day to maybe go golfing or drinking or hanging out, I angrily got in my car and drove home to get the keys. Angry because I brought everything I normally do: my tools, my jumpsuit, my headlight/flashlight, my camera; but no keys.
Fast forward, I have the keys and the trunk is open. I put the jack under the rear differential and raised the back end high enough to put a jack stand under the left and right rear axles. I lowered the axle onto the jack stands and removed the jack (yes I put blocks in front and back of the front wheels). I have to say, I was a little nervous about this. It’s been done for so many years and by everyone, but for some reason, while growing up, it was something my Dad and I never did. He said he never trusted jack stands while he was under a car. Looking back now, I find it funny that we didn’t trust the stands, but yet would trust a hydraulic jack on wheels that could move if you knudged it just enough. Anyways, I got under the gas tank and surveyed the situation as my eyes nervously darted back and forth to the jack stands.
Man was it dirty under there. Not only were there cobwebs, but there were also these dirt mound/nest/mudlike/turd-looking things around the edges. If anyone reading this recognizes what these are from the pics, please let me know. When I scraped them off, little rat dropping-like things came out. It was like petrified rat droppings. You have no idea how relieved I was to see this. I know it wasn’t really rat droppings and just some insect stuff, but I was just glad it wasn’t some ancient dirt cocoon holding some crazy ninja-like spider that I would have awakened to kill me. Disgusting! I’m getting goosebumps typing this remembering how creeped out I was under that tank. HAHA.
Back to the gas tank. So I removed the gas cap and a plate that surrounded the filler tube on the exterior of the car. That let me have access to the screws that attached to the filler tube's rubber grommet that creates the reservoir like crevice you normally see on a regular car when you open the little door that covers your gas cap. The rubber boot was stuck on the filler neck so it took me quite a while before I was able to wiggle it just a little bit loose. It was extremely stubborn, or seemed stubborn until I figured I should probably try to lower the tank, pulling it down so I could create more room to wiggle it off. So I started on the underside of the tank. With my car, there is a metal strap that runs basically from the bumper up towards the front of car to the end of the tank. The rear of the strap is locked into a groove by the bumper. The front of the strap is attached to a 22-inch bolt! There isn’t a socket on this planet that is that long, so I had to use a wrench. Since I’m “on a budget” with this car, I didn’t go buy those pop-whiz-bang ratchet-wrenches, so I had to turn the nut 278 degrees and then take the wrench off, rotate it back and start all over. Considering the nut was 9 inches up the top half of the bolt, I’m sure you sense what’s coming. It took forever to get it off. Working on your back, and actually having to hold your arm up for long periods of time and exerting 60% of your strength, trust me, you will get tired. I’m so out of shape that I had to take breaks every minute of turning. I disconnected the fuel gauge wire that attaches to the end of the fuel pump (and float) and removed the rubber fuel line hose from the end of the tank.
Tip # 237: Keep your mouth closed when you are working underneath stuff. Gas doesn’t taste very good.
With gas starting to leak, I jacked the car up a little more so I could fit a 5-gallon bucket underneath and catch the spillage. When I bought the car, the guy warned me not drive it very far. He said his friend only put a little bit of gas in it just to make sure it was running when I came to see it. So I bought a 5 gallon bucket to catch the radiator fluid when I was taking the engine out, and figured it would be great to empty out the fuel tank. I went back to unloosening the nut on the tank strap, mindful to stay clear of any gasoline over splash. I was almost done with the nut, which buy now had the tank resting on the bucket. With the gas tank lowered at an angle of almost pulling free of the grommet on the filler tube up above in the trunk, gas was still draining into the almost now full bucket. I pushed up on the tank and felt like I was doing a mediocre bench press. It still felt heavy to me. I chalked it up to being old and back then, they built things with real metal. Not that plastic stuff nowadays. So I went up top and was able to remove the rubber boot on the filler tube. It still came off with some struggle. I have made the mental note of lubing up the inside when I put it back on. With the boot off, the tank was now defying gravity by resting it’s front edge on the Home Depot bucket, and the rear being held by the filler tube’s angled neck resting against the hole in the trunk. With the bucket now 80% full, I “cleverly” decided that the guy’s friend put more in there than he thought. I wasn’t going to give up and leave the shop until that tank was clear from the car. So I got underneath it and pushed up on the front with one hand so that it was no longer resting on the bucket. With my other hand and shoulder, I pushed the bucket toward the front of the car so I would have more room to maneuver around getting the tank down. With both hands now on the front of the tank, I used my knees to push up on the rear of the tank trying to find an equilibrium of releasing the gravitational force holding the filler tube’s neck against the opening in the trunk. I then was able to contort my body clear and basically did a bench press of the tank as I lowered it onto my chest. This sucker was heavy. I was probably benching about 375 pounds (turns out it was about 100, more on that later). Still, imagine lifting a rectangle size object off your chest and to the side while keeping it level, clearing your head so no bat/spider/rat dirt nest crap gets in your hair (or open mouth) and laying it on the ground. It's pretty difficult.
I finally got the sucker down and out from under the car. Moving it around the shop was also hard because apparently, this thing was still full of gas. I drained about 4.5 gallons out if it and it still weighed like a rock. It was like moving a titter-totter with two fat kids on each end. Trying to hold it in the middle so I wouldn’t scrape it on the ground, god-forbid I create a spark and blow my self up, while the gas sloshed back and forth. So here I am straddling this thing, the gas going back and forth in the tank making it impossible to perfectly balance it, spilling spurts off gas out of both ends, shuffling step by step to get it our of the way and into it's own little resting place. I finally got it to a side of the shop and out of the way without too much damage.
Tip #238: When removing a gas tank, make sure you drive it around to get rid of the gas first.
I read that night that I have a 16-gallon gas tank. So obviously my 5-gallon bucket isn’t going to do the trick in removing the rest of the gas. In the words of Roy Scheider, I’m “gonna need a bigger boat” or bucket if you will. I decided this was a good stopping point. I cleaned up the shop and went home thinking of how I was going to empty that gas tank…
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The next back-breaking process was finding a machinist, or engine rebuilder. I googled the hell out of the internet to only find auto-body shops around me. No real engine people. I got some numbers from people in the chat rooms. Some were disconnected, other were far away. The one number I got from the car show just rang and rang. By the end of the week, I was prepared to start the job myself, without the leveling and machining of course. It was 6pm on a Friday night when I decided to try the car show number one more time before leaving work. Luck be a lady tonight! Jim answered the phone. I told he'd come highly recommended and I'd like him to rebuild my engine. We talked for an hour or so about specs and performance upgrades and all sorts of mechanical data. He got on the internet with me on the phone and I directed him to the websites I'd found. I had wanted to get started right away and was hoping to get the engine to him that weekend. His schedule didn't really have room for me, so we scheduled a pickup at the shop at my lunchtime for the following Monday. I agreed to his quote and moved some of my savings into my checking account for a with drawl while I was still on the phone. I said my goodbyes and left work, and the heavy weight of that decision, to go get a much needed beer.
I was awakened the early Saturday morning by a phone call from Jim. His schedule opened up and he was actually heading into Atlanta that morning to drop off some other engine work he had done for a friend. I shot out of bed, got dressed, and grabbed my tools as I headed to the bank. Jim had said he wanted 80% up front. I totally understood that business hadn't been very good for him lately, and since the engine could take a while to be ready, he said he'd rather the customer put down a "deposit" for all the parts he'd have to order and the labor he'd put into it. I grabbed the cash and was still 15 min lat getting to the shop. I got out the car and unlocked the gate for him to back his truck down to the shop doors. He got out of the truck and we shook hands. He was a big fella. And I mean tall, not some bubba from the sticks. He had the face of James Gandolfini, but with long dark blonde hair like Friar Tuck. His big bear hands swallowed mine and I immediately knew he knew what he was doing. He proved this point even more by bringing me the schematics and dimensions of my engine. It was almost like a scene from Days of Thunder. He'd been up all night checking his catalogues and computer for the specs on my engine. He basically had everything planned out by the time I met him that morning. With the pleasantries over, we picked the engine hoist over, connected the engine, and lifted it into the back of his truck. Cash in hand, he took off and left me alone with a green car with no heart. I stared at my car for what seemed like an hour. Making sure I was ready for this. Knowing there was no turning back now. With the engine and tranny being rebuilt, I had little time to start getting the car back in shape before they were both back in the shop. Both back in the shop staring at me. Pressuring me to hurry up.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The engine was still half hanging/half resting on some blocks off the ground with the transmission sitting not too far away surrounded by fluid, cat litter, and chunks of grease.
The first thing I had to do was to pull the torque converter off of the back of the engine. This is the part of taking apart cars that I hate. In mechanic speak; it was a bitch to take off. Lot’s of swearing, and scraped hands took place for the next 2 hours. Oh yeah, I said it. Six bolts took me 2 hours.
The bolt heads that connected the torque converter to the “cam shaft plate?” were extremely hard to get out for a number of reasons. The main reason it took so long (other than figuring out how I was going to attempt it) was that the access to these bolts was in a narrow gap between the flywheel back of the converter and the dust plate that butts up to the back of the engine.The only thing that would fit in this gap was a wrench. This takes forever, especially in this case because of the limited arc range I had. You have to turn the bolt a couple of inches, take it off the bolt, rotate the wrench back and turn again. Another reason was that these bolts were tightened so tight, using the small wrench, gave me no leverage to loosen the bolts. My beloved torque wrench had to sit and watch me use every, and I mean every, ounce of strength I had. The final problem was that the torque converter, essentially being connected directly to the camshaft, had nothing to stop it from turning in the direction I WAS PULLING TO LOOSEN THE BOLTS. I liken this to the same problem people have when they try to change a tire. They usually jack the tire up before loosening the bolts. With the wheel free spinning and not having the ground to hold it in place, they just keep turning the wheel. This deflated me for 20 minutes or more as I fought a losing battle of trying to hold the converter still as I tried to wrench the bolts loose. No matter how hard I pushed the converter forward as I pulled backwards on the wrench, my pushing arm, with not really any place to put a good grip, was no match for my pulling arm.
I scratched my head and circled the engine a few times trying to decide on whether to give up. My brain finally turned on and I remembered that the torque converter is connected to the camshaft, which on the other side of the engine is connected to the damper unit. One more look at the damper unit and “Yes!” there was a big nut on the end. With a nut, comes a place to connect another wrench, giving me something to hold on to, creating more leverage. Unfortunately, with it being on the other side of the engine, meant I would not be able to hold one end and pull on the other. My wingspan is nowhere near long enough. Oh well, I may have been defeated, but at least there was a way to easily remove the torque converter with another person. But that meant I would not be able to put the engine on a stand, my soul purpose for the day. I picked up my torque wrench to start packing up, but my never-lose attitude took over, which a little ingenuity too, if I may say so myself. With the engine being straddled by the two long legs of the engine hoist, my torque wrench was just long enough to hang onto the damper nut, and reach under one of the legs. If I could somehow defeat gravity and keep the torque wrench on the nut without having to hold it, then I could focus all of my strength on loosening the converters bolts. It took a few attempts, but I was able to get the wrench to hold on as I slowly turned the bolts (and converter with them) until the torque wrench on the other side had enough tension holding it in place as it’s arm was being pulled against the under side of the engine hoist leg. Imagine a clock with its hands moving clockwise. As the second hand passes the 10 and heads for the 12, point and stick your finger on the 11. As the second hand pushes against your fingertip, it will stop. Now imagine you are on the other side of the turning bar that turns the clock hands. Eventually you will be able to keep going clockwise,while the other side is being held tight.With an agonizing slowness and a couple muscle jerks, I was able to finally wrench a bolt free. I literally shouted, “That’s right asshole!! Huunnhhh!!!” The next 5 bolts never got any easier, but eventually I was successful.
With 2 hours of my day gone, it was finally time to hoist the engine high enough to connect the engine to the stand. I’d seen it done a million times and was halfway from putting the back plate on the engine that would slide into the stand, when I realized I didn’t have any bolts long enough to reach the engine through the plates
holding arms. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at every bolt I had and none of them would work. Normally, you use the same bolts that connected the transmission or bell housing to the engine. I had 2 that would work, but I needed two more. Unbelievable. Again it seemed as if someone was telling me not to put it on the stand. Should I just call it a day, take my torque converter victory and go home? I started to think of what I needed to do to the car. With doubts about it being too big of a project, too much money, what color to even paint the car, not enough time in the day, etc… running through my mind (kind of like a mid life crisis if you will, something that since than happens a lot haha) I decided “you know what? Who cares if the day is almost over? You’re not going to get it back, and you’re going to run out of days to get this done. DON”T BE LAZY.” So I locked up the shop (more on that later) got in my car and drove to the nearest hardware store (Lowes 20 min away) and bought 2 bolts to complete the task. I drove back to the shop, unlocked everything and finally put the damn engine on it’s stand and wheeled it into it’s own space in the garage.
With the engine out of the way, I was able to move the hoist and transmission into their own spaces, leaving the drying mess of fluid and cat litter wide open to clean up. I cleaned that space better than room I ever had when I was a kid. I broomed and dusted every little drop and spec I could, making it look better than it did before. I pushed my car into a little corner giving the shop more space, so the owners saw that I was a responsible person and wouldn’t always leave the place a mess. Hopefully this will give me leeway when I started taking apart the interior and need the space to spread everything around.
With the place looking in order, I packed up and left. To finish from earlier, the shop or garage, can be locked down like Fort Knox. It’s not in the greatest neighborhood, so there are lots of steps to take to make sure I’m safe, especially since I’m normally the only one there. First, when I drive up, there is a gate to a side driveway that leads down to the shop part of the building with its garage doors. You have to get out of the car, unlock the gate, swing open the gate, get back in the car and roll down to the shop (30ft). Then you have to walk up the slope, close the gates and lock them up. The only access inside the actual building is from the front door. Just incase there are thieves reading this, I might have said too much already, but let’s just say there are 3 more locks and 4 doors to get to the shop before you can open the hanger doors. It’s like walking into a Get Smart safe room without the lasers and eye scanners.
Whew, that was a long one.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Well Folks, here's the big entry. The engine has come out of the car! It seems like I did this forever ago, but it's been less than a month. It wasn't really as hard as I thought it was going to be. Thankfully I've become a little more mature than the 24-year old I sometimes still think I am, and took my time. After thinking everything was disconnected, I spent most of time trying to figure out how to actually hoist the engine out. Should I disconnect the transmission and only pull the engine? Or should I keep them attached and pull them out as one piece? Luckily I got some help. When I first thought about buying this car, I scoured the web for any and all info I could gather. Were parts still available? Were there shop manuals? Did anyone know about them? The web was full information. My decision on buying came from the fact that I was pretty confident that there were enough clubs, forums, and "old" guys out there who would be able to help or steer me in the right direction with the car. I utilized these forums for the first part of my classic car journey. I fired off questions to 2 different forums, and sent emails to the Presidentsof the 2 Rambler clubs I had officially joined. That's right, I'm a member of 2! Car clubs! So my questions were the same as I had asked above: Pull them out separate, or together? I got about 7 responses and all of them were helpful. I've found that with the internet and my friends, it's hard to read people's intentions or voice, but I think I've been a pretty good judge of character, even if just from some typed words. It was nice to be able to notice when someone was just being sarcastic or running off on technical facts than actual good advice. The winning advice was to pull the engine and tranny together (I will refer to the transmission as the "tranny" from now on. No wise jokes out of you Cruiser.) With that question out of the way, my next dilemma was where to put the lifting points on the engine. I actually lost some sleep over this. I was afraid I'd choose the wrong positions, or bolts to hold the chain attached to the engine hoist. Nightmares of the engine crashing down on the ground, or worse, part of the car, were a constant fear the week leading up to pulling it out. Back to the forums I would go. I posted pics of my position points and got a couple of responses. One of my spots was good, but the 2nd one at the rear of the engine was in question, one of my questions to begin with. So I noticed I had bolt holes on the side of my engine that could be used as position points and decided I should use those. The only problem was that these empty bolts holes had no bolts. So I read around a little more, with no luck on if people had used these before. Most of the pics and videos I saw were of guys wrapping a chain around the bottom the engine to do it, and that was just the engine alone. I did find info on what strength of bolts I should be using, so I made the choice of finding 6-grade steel bolts that would fit in these portholes on the side of the engine. I found bolts that were about ½ an inch too big. Whether this is right or not, my redneck logic told me to put some nuts on the bolt, to make it “seem” like there wasn’t half an inch of the bolt exposed that might make it bend.
Wrong or not, it worked. The bolt held. I say bolt but it was actually 2 bolts. In the midst of my delirious fear about lifting the engine, I decided on buying an engine leveler. This device is amazing. I don’t think it’s possible to lift an engine and a tranny out together if you didn’t have a leveler. The leveler has 4 chains with L-brackets attached to the bottom of the chains. These chains hang from a support beam that hooks to the engine hoist. On top of this beam is a turning rod that allows you move the center of the leveler allowing the load to raise, drop or level out. There are two chains at each end so that one chain can attach to one side of each the back or front of the engine. I attached both chains at the back-end of the engine to the two backside engine holes.
So, here I am, with the hoist attached to the engine, the correct (or doable) bolts holding the engine up, and it’s time to go. I had detached the engine mount brackets from the engine as the last measure of holding the engine to the car, and started hoisting away. The bolts held and did not bend or break or slip off. Finding the correct level with lifting and the leveler was a bit of a task, but I eventually got the engine to where it was ready to lift out. As I pumped away at the hoist, the engine didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I looked around and found one cable that before hadn’t looked like it was connected to anything. Well, apparentlyI forgot to detach the speed-odometer cable that was attached from the firewall to the left-middle side of the transmission. So another 8-minute delay, and the speedometer cable was detached. I went back to raising the engine and got it as far as I could before it needed to switch the hanging position. The front part of the engine was above the front wall/grill of the car, but the rest of the engine and tranny were sloped in a downward angle that was preventing it from moving forward and out of the car. Luckily my girlfriend and the owner of the shop, Leslie and Ziggy, were there to help. So I moved the engine and tranny to a diagonal position as Ziggy and I lifted the back of the tranny up and over the front of the car as Leslie pushed the car back so the engine and tranny would clear.
After we got the engine and tranny out, we lowered it so I could remove the tranny from the back of the engine.