Cry for help! Anyone from the Central Coast, CA??

Isaiah Estrada

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I'm sure most of you are familiar with me and my backstory as well as the car I've been fixing up for about 2.5 years! At this point, I feel like I'm "spinning my tires" in the mud. This car has been an enormous challenge and a lot of time, money and effort to get to where it is today. So now we have the motor, trans and everything else in there ready for an initial start. Only, I've NEVER done that. I don't know exactly what to do, and don't quite trust myself to set it off. I spent good $$$ on the rebuild of my motor and trans, and I'd very much like to keep it safe and not mess anything up!

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Unfortunately too, my circumstances do not allow me to keep this car. So when it's done, it will be for sale. It saddens me very much that I will have to say goodbye to my old girl, but I hope it goes to another fellow C Body enthusiast who will enjoy her and give her love for many years to come. I only wish it could have been me!

Life has been a little crazy, family death and short staff at work have my hands tied. Unfortunately this has put the car on the back burner. I am trying to get back on it, and with urgency, as it can't sit around forever. I would like to have this car on the road or at least close to it by the end of the year. Not far away, but it essentially just needs to be put together.

For now, I'm trying to see if there's anyone local to me, willing to be able to help out or guide me through an initial start / break in for this 440 engine. It was rebuilt early 2021 and has not been fired once since the rebuild. I've never heard this car run, never driven it, never enjoyed it in all of my time owning it. I would like to at least drive it around for a little bit before she leaves my possession, that way too - I can be positive she is a solid car, and will be reliable for the lucky person who gets to keep her. I appreciate any help and advice as always!
 

Fishfan

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Looks beautiful. The only thing I'd say is don't doubt yourself. Make sure fluids are where they need to be. Make a checklist and go down it and let her rip.
 

crv

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Any local Mopar car clubs in your area?, maybe they'd be willing to help you out.
 
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Have a fire extinguisher ready. Probably you won't need it, but there will likely be leaks of some kind or another.
I would disable the ignition, and crank it using the starter to get oil pressure built first, and get some oil into the top end before you fire it up.
 

saforwardlook

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The things I do in conjunction with my rebuilder are to use the cam maker's recommended break in oil which is usually a formulation of their own for their specific cams (my rebuilder usually uses Comp Cams which I have never had an issue with and I really like the performance they deliver that for me at least has always been somewhat better than stock especially on the lower end of the engine RPM range for strong acceleration from stops, etc but still maintains smooth idle qualities). Some suggestions are to do what was stated above which is to take out the spark plugs and spin the engine over with the starter until oil pressure is built up so everything will be prelubed prior to start up, then put the spark plugs back in. Assuming the ignition system is working then my rebuilder says to start it up and keep the engine RPMs around 2000 RPM for about 30 minutes to break in the cam (have someone around who can also look for any leaks while breaking in the engine). After 30 minutes of break in my rebuilder says to avoid idle as much as possible for the first 500 miles of driving.

But as stated above, it wouldn't hurt to call the company that rebuilt your engine to get their specific recommendations so they can't criticize your procedures after the fact after starting the engine and an issue comes up.

One thing I always do is to pay some extra $$ to have the engine rebuilder do the initial break in on a test stand and let them solely take responsibility for it running properly so if something goes wrong then it is their issue with no finger pointing possible.

I personally do not do anything special when testing my rebuilt Torque Flite transmissions except to jack up the rear wheels and with the car blocked from moving at the front, run the trans through the gears with light throttle application and thereby ensure it is working properly before actually driving it.

Best wishes
 

LocuMob

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413

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Cranking with the starter to get oil pressure is the dumbest thing you could do to a new engine, or any engine.

Do it right and prime it with a drill.
 

saforwardlook

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Cranking with the starter to get oil pressure is the dumbest thing you could do to a new engine, or any engine.

Do it right and prime it with a drill.
I agree with both of the previous posts but felt that given his lack of familiarity with developing oil pressure that way and the lack of the proper hex tool the way you are recommending would be beyond his capability unless he has more help than he seems to have at present. That is why I thought that by removing the spark plugs and cranking with the starter wouldn't be that risky since compression isn't being developed, putting excess pressure on any dry bearings (I also expect a freshly rebuilt engine would have cam lube still on the lobes and engine lube on the crank/rod bearings).

I have my own hex rod tool and that is the best way to do it, but circumstances he faces are daunting to explain that technique to him and have him carry it out successfully possibly alone. He needs to know how to twist the intermediate shaft out and which way to turn the drill motor and other issues he would have to address to do it that way. One can sit on his high horse and pontificate on the best way to do things but considering his circumstances and limited experience are also needed for him to likely be successful.
 
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LocuMob

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I agree with both of the previous posts but felt that given his lack of familiarity with developing oil pressure and the lack of the proper hex tool the way you are recommending would be beyond his capability unless he has more help than he seems to have at present. That is why I thought that by removing the spark plugs and cranking with the starter wouldn't be that risky since compression isn't being developed and putting excess pressure on any dry bearings. I have my own hex rod tool tool and that is the best way to do it, but circumstances he faces are daunting to explain that technique to him and have him carry it out possibly alone. He needs to know how to twist the intermediate shaft out and which way to turn the drill motor and other issues he would have to address to do it that way. One can sit on his high horse and pontificate on the best way to do things but considering his circumstances is also needed for him to be successful.
Steve, he's disassembled and rebuild a car, with help from his mentor, I think he's smart enough to tackle the task of priming an engine the proper, easy way. Yes, the intermediate shaft has to be taken out, I use a needle nose pliers. Then put the longer hex rod in, turn it counterclockwise until there's oil up top. I don't think it's that complicated, considering all he's done up to this point.

No high horse riders here, just guys who care he does it right.
 

saforwardlook

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I dunno Scott, I am not that familiar with just how capable he is at this point but since he is worried about his first break-in event, with no help around to guide him I didn't want to assume too much. As I stated in my revised version just after you commented but before I saw this comment, there should still be cam lube on the cam lobes and engine lube on the engine bearings, such that using a starter isn't that risky in this isolated case with the spark plugs out.
 

LocuMob

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I dunno Scott, I am not that familiar with just how capable he is at this point but since he is worried about his first break-in event, with no help around to guide him I didn't want to assume too much. As I stated in my revised version just after you commented but before I saw this comment, there should still be cam lube on the cam lobes and engine lube on the engine bearings, such that using a starter isn't that risky in this isolated case with the spark plugs out.
It's still not recommended to do that. Spinning a rod in a drill isn't hard. He's nervous about ruining a good engine, just as I was the first time I broke in an engine, and I had no help.
 

crv

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There may be videos on youtube, Uncle Tony or someone who knows their stuff.
 

saforwardlook

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It's still not recommended to do that. Spinning a rod in a drill isn't hard. He's nervous about ruining a good engine, just as I was the first time I broke in an engine, and I had no help.
Neither your comment nor 413's mentioned that he needs to note the orientation of the intermediate shaft before taking it out and being sure he reinstalls the distributor in the same exact orientation for the distributor to operate properly or he would have big problems getting the engine to fire. Tell me why spinning the starter with lube on the cam lobes and on the crank journals with no compression pressure in the engine is problematic for such a short interval to generate oil pressure? He is far less likely to screw something up the way I mentioned.

There is a fine line between being considerate and assuming too much for someone who isn't all that aware of how an engine works as an integrated system and the interrelationships. I was just trying to estimate the most likely way for him to be successful on the first try, which is also important for an engine that has not been fired since rebuilding it. Your opinions may vary but I don't consider either of these answers to be wrong.

I don't think this horse is breathing any more. :poke:

I was up late just to watch the election results and now I need to get to sleep!

Thanks for your input though Scott!
 

70bigblockdodge

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You can develop oil pressure with a speed wrench and correct size socket to drive hex. Engine is relatively close to stock, so nothing too radical that should be a issue. Fill the fluids, fill the float bowls with some gasoline through vents. Set the distributor so it is before top dead center and turn curb idle screw in about 2 turns maybe 2.5. hit the key and go. If you do that and it does not start quickly, stop and fix what's wrong, do not continue to crank endlessly.
Good luck, and you should be fine.
 

68 4spd Fury

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I know it's been a year or so but can you get with who did the rebuild on the engine & trans? They should be able to tell you what lubes were put in the engine at the time, what oil to use and when to do an initial oil change. They also should be able to provide a first time starting procedure and, considering the time since the rebuild, anything else that should be done.
 

rd92west

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Personally I'd be nervous about cranking it with the starter to get oil pressure.
Main reason is the oil pump likley is dry and wont start pumping oil and the starter wont spin it fast enough
The primer tool is mandatory. And spin it with a cordless drill in fast speed. Counter clockwise.
If you cant or arnt comfortable with this get someone who is to help.
Then make certain you have the timing fairly close.
Get gas in the carb
And pray for a quick fire up.
It's not really that complicated
 

Big_John

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There are as many break in procedures as there are engine builders.

What your goal needs to be is proper break in of the cam and everything else will take care of itself.

My advice, based on a bunch of big block Mopar I have built over the years is pretty simple.

Pull the #1 plug and with your thumb on the plug hole, crank the engine by hand until you have compression ( you'll know lol) and then watch the balancer and stop at the TDC mark. Pull the distributor, noting where the rotor is pointed, and note the location of the intermediate shaft slot. It should match the pic in the FSM if your builder did his homework. Pull the intermediate shaft out.

Next insert the priming tool (noted above) and spin it counter clockwise with a drill. Ideally, another person can turn the engine over by hand while you are doing this. I mount an oil pressure gauge to watch for oil pressure and you'll feel the drill slow down once pressure builds ( pump and filter filled). You should have a high zinc oil, preferably one of the break in oils they sell.

Put the engine back to TDC like you did before and get the intermediate shaft back in. Distributor goes in next with rotor pointed at #1 or slightly before #1 (remember the distributor runs counterclockwise). Tighten the distributor down just enough to keep it in place, but loose enough to adjust.

Fill the float bowl in a carb with gas.

If all is good, it should start right away. Don't keep cranking, figure out what's wrong if it doesn't fire.

Run the engine at 2500 to 3000 RPM for about 20 minutes and the cam should be broken in.

Why high RPM? The cam is lubricated by splash of the oil off the crank and you'll need that RPM to insure the cam gets lubed.

Change the oil and filter and you're good to go.

This isn't rocket surgery by any means. Just take your time, and have someone you trust helping and you'll be fine.
 
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