The Time Has Come....

Gerald Morris

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We got all our goodies together, had the heads machined, the Edelbrock 1405 rebuilt, tested, new lifters, cam, et al, and above all, the TIME to put Gertrude in the garage for a bit of long overdue replacement and upgrade! For 6.5+ years, we've driven this engine in urban traffic with worn valve guides, compromising compression, combustion, et al, and finally, the Day has Come!

No MORE leaky 50-something 2 barrel carburetors rebuilt again and yet again, then painfully tuned as best as their failing structure will allow! No MORE 10 minute warmups, praying the light oil added to the crankcase will fill lifters beaten eccentric by pushrods slightly off center as the loose valve stems distort the rockers! NO! This engine will have a tight, square and true top assembly! NOW to see how well the rotating assembly still can work....

Below is one of the 2 915 heads we had machined by Baker's Auto Machine LLC, Tucson. ( Tucson, AZ Full Service Auto Machine Shop ) Andy Baker and Co are the most recommended Mopar expert shop in the city. Since the paint was wet, I couldn't show off the work he did with the valves underside, but we're pleased he did All the Right Stuff for us for a MOST Reasonable price! The replacement springs came from Mopar Performance, as did several valves. We now will have 1.74" exhaust valves with hardened seats. I'll be installing the dual exhaust pipes probably Thanksgiving if not sooner.
studded-head-Ntake-side.jpg

This head retains its studs, which were perfectly serviceable. Alas, the other one didn't, as they all were broken off by the previous owner or whoever in a bungled attempt at removal. It may have occurred getting a manifold off
studded-head-overview.jpg

Who knows? But the new studs will be liberally sealed, as per our machinists advice.I should have masked the exhaust ports on this one too, before painting. No great harm, just sloppy work!

IMG_20221009_121741043.jpg

The 4 bbl intake, a stock 2205968 which will take the Edelbrock 1405 with minimal hardware. I'll get the phenolic spacer by next spring, when it will be wanted.
4bbl-Ntake-overview.jpg

The intake side of the stud-less head.
studless-head-Ntake-side.jpg



I could show all the rest of the inventory, but prefer to do so after its installed. With a little luck, we should be able to break in the new cam and lifters this Thursday. We're hiring a garage, recommended by Baker, as the Babushka wanted warrantable work for her $$ on this job. If all goes well, I'll then get to start building another engine from the bottom up! We have 3 blocks to choose from, one of them a 400.

studless-head-Xhaust-side.jpg
 
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Loadrunner

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But the new studs will be liberally sealed

You have to chase all the paint or worse out of the holes before installing new studs.

Worse is the bead blast media head shops are way too fond of, sometimes leading to disastrous results as oil warms up, dislodges it, runs it through the engine, it's usually over very quickly.

You should chase all the cylinder head holes in the block, 1/2 x 13, with a bottoming tap. If you don't have a bottoming tap you grind a regular tap flat on the end, you don't need that end for chasing anyway.

Blow out holes with air. Holes have to be clean and dry, use CRC Brakleen in the red can - smells better - in conjunction with air to clean the holes, wear eye protection.


I saw a Jag V12 block destroyed this way at a shop I hung out at that did BMW Porsche Jag repairs.

Owner of the shop was on the phone with the head shop "Hey, you left bead blast sand in the oil passages, the engine ran 5 minutes and is absolutely destroyed."

Not sure how they worked it out but don't let this happen to you.

Verify the oil galleys are 100% clear.

As far as I know, learning in college with a 2nd year Machine Shop instructor with a reputation as the best racing engine balancer in the whole region "The only way to get the [bead blast] sand out of the pores of the metal is hot water, soap, vigorous brushing."

The sad thing is that media blasting is just cosmetic, potentially harmful to your lungs, and potentially disastrous but commonly used in the rebuilding of starters, alternators, brake parts, anything that needs to look new again.

If done right, like almost all else in life, it's ok. I spent years doing it on the job with a giant tank you'd have to rattle all the filters out of once in a while, in a room without proper ventilation, and they'd look at you funny for wearing a mask like you really are a wimp aren't you, but the point is that if it is done wrong the consequences are terrible.

Done wrong is when someone takes a part still wet from the solvent tank, or still greasy and the bead blast sand - silica Do Not Breathe - sticks and remains in nooks and crannies and doesn't get washed out properly by going too fast, not caring enough.

Beware.

If you tap the holes out and sand starts to fall out, I'd pull all the valves and springs (use egg cartons to keep all in order) and scrub the castings in hot water, running plenty of water then air through the oil passages.

Better safe than sorry.
 
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Gerald Morris

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You have to chase all the paint or worse out of the holes before installing new studs.
....

Beware.

If you tap the holes out and sand starts to fall out, I'd pull all the valves and springs (use egg cartons to keep all in order) and scrub the castings in hot water, running plenty of water then air through the oil passages.

Better safe than sorry.

I can chase out the stud holes right quick. I expect no residual media, aside from possibly my paint if one wasn't masked perfectly. All the same, you're right about better safe than sorry....

Checked. No sand, no beads, no residue. The studs will have clean metal to thread into, and will be sealed well. I got those heads back nicely double wrapped in plastic, soaked deeply in WD40 to repel any moisture a couple months ago. Took a fair bit of acetone to remove that from the iron surface before painting. I hope the VHT will cure sufficiently well by the time I turn the engine over again. It goes to the garage as soon as my wife gets home this afternoon, and, God-willing, we can break in the new parts this weekend.
 
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Gerald Morris

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Excellent, glad to see the parts getting somewhere

Amen! Always meant to use them. Will still be building another engine, from the bottom up, as I want a complete, clean build ready to drop in. Still the rotating assembly on this one seems sound, and the only oil the engine has ever lost was on start ups or heavy accelerations when the valve guides allowed a bit of wobble and leakage.

I did a dry compression check on the motor soon after getting it in 2016. Will be good to see numbers after this work is done.
 

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when the valve guides allowed a bit of wobble and leakage.

Worn guides are more of an issue than people realize.


In 1st year Automotive Engine Class, we plunged headlong into engine rebuilding, heaven, I was already into porting/polishing heads and spent many hours with the Sioux valve grinding equipment, I'd already understood valve jobs, 3 angle valve jobs, and how valve seat grinding affects flow.

I did sets of heads for lots of folks, including 383 heads heads from my buddy George's car, '69 Monaco 4rd, and a comparable Ford 390 engine at the same time.

Observations were interesting.

The ford heads only had 70k, some towing a horse trailer but the guide wear was extreme, you're really only allowed .005" clearance, .001 or .015" is excessive - this is from memory - and the Ford had something like .003" and .004" slop in the guides, half of it valve stem wear.

Most all heads got their original cast iron guides reamed for bronze guides, but not always.

By comparison, the Dodge 906 heads had no wear, still within specs on guides and valve stem wear, no need to install bronze guides or buy all new valves.

The Ford heads belonged to a local farm kid.

He was a little upset his heads were in so much worse shape than the Dodge, so claimed the Dodge probably had no miles on it.

I checked with George about the heads. Said they were on his Dad's Dodge Monaco 4dr boat - I'd seen it many times in the driveway, and that: Dad bought the car new in Detroit in '69, and was extremely stubborn - Polish - and that Dad didn't believe in oil changes, thought it was a conspiracy, and that he went out every morning on those ice cold Detroit mornings, started the car by floorboarding it rather than let the choke do it's thing, revved it to the nuts cold every morning, didn't change oil and at this point the engine the car had 199k on the clock, and the heads didn't need anything but a valve lapping and chamber cleaning.

They built a pretty good 383 in '69.

I went back to the class with the info, they just got that look and didn't say anything. The place was terribly anti Mopar. I got asked virtually every day why I even drove one, much less liked them.

My response was "I'm a terrible mechanic, so I need a car that always runs - even when it shouldn't - and never breaks down".

They would tell me "You know they're never going to be worth anything", and that sure as hell turned out wrong.












This is modern day "wisdom" on guides seals, something you only found Chevys at one time...



7 Symptoms of a Bad Valve Guide Seals (and Replacement Cost)​

by Kevin
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for any made purchases.
valve-guide-seals-symptoms.jpg


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(Updated on July 28, 2022)

Combustion engines work best when the correct amount of fuel and air are mixed in the combustion chamber with a well-timed spark and a good seal. It’s important that these gases enter and leave the combustion chamber at the right time.

Valves open and close each combustion chamber, allowing air to enter before combustion and exit after combustion. Valve seals keep the valves working well and keep the correct amount of oil in the combustion chamber.

Each seal is constructed out of a highly durable rubber material. However, this material may get worn out over time which results in the valve guide seals going bad.

Table of Contents


What Are Valve Guide Seals?​

valve-guide-seals-replacement-cost.jpg


Valve guide seals are also known as valve seals, valve stem seals, or valve stem oil seals. They work to keep the valve cover lubrication oil out of the combustion chamber, to lubricate the valve, and to align the valve correctly.




Valves do the important job of opening and closing the intake and exhaust chambers in the engine at the proper time. This timing is controlled by the lobes of the camshaft.

Camshaft lobes are oblong in shape. When the camshafts spin, the longer side of the camshaft pushes the valve open, allowing air to flow into or out of the combustion chamber.

Valve movement is coordinated with the timing of piston movement using a timing belt or timing chain.

The valve stems are the long, skinny part of the valve. The little flat disk at the end (called the head) seals the combustion chamber when the valve is closed. Each combustion chamber cylinder has at least one intake and exhaust valve.

Oil circulates just above the valve to lubricate the camshafts, and this excess oil needs to be prevented from entering the combustion chamber. This is one job of the valve guide seal. The guide seal also guides the valve into the valve seat in the cylinder head to keep the valve stems in proper alignment.

Top 7 Bad Valve Guide Seals Symptoms​

If you have bad valve guide seals, you will probably notice several things, most of which are related to exhaust. It’s important to understand the symptoms so you can take proper action after you come across them. Here are some of the most common signs of faulty valve guide seals.




1) Lots of Exhaust Smoke​

white-smoke-car-exhaust.jpg


Vehicles often have a tiny bit of white vapor that comes out the tailpipe upon startup, but if it persists, the valve seals may have deteriorated. This causes oil to leak into the combustion chamber and burn creating a blue or sometimes white smoke.

This smoke will likely show up while the vehicle idles and upon acceleration. If the vehicle runs for a long time, the smoke may ease up and go away as the engine components heat up and expand.

2) Excessive Oil Use​

oil-check-engine-light.jpg


As you’d expect, a vehicle with damaged or worn out valve guide seals will end up using more oil than it normally uses as it leaks by the seals. Check your oil level regularly with a dipstick so you will be able to detect this symptom early on.




If there are no other obvious oil leaks and your engine compression is normal, then your problem may be the guide seals.

3) Engine Braking​

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Engine braking is when you use engine vacuum instead of the brakes to slow down the car. This can be done by letting off the throttle and downshifting so that the engine RPM increases. The increased engine speed and lower gearing creates more engine vacuum and resistance to forward motion, slowing the vehicle.




While engine braking on a hill, you are not applying pressure to the accelerator. When the vehicle is nose-down like this, oil collects around the front of the cylinder head near the valve seals.

When you eventually need to apply the gas pedal again, the car nose will tilt up and pour the oil that had collected at the front of the head over the valve seals. All that oil will be sucked into the combustion chamber if there’s a bad seal. It will then burn up, creating a large cloud of smoke out of the exhaust.

4) Smoke After Idling​

rough-idle.jpg


Your car spends a while idling in stop and go traffic, or when waiting a long time at a stop light or stop sign.




During this time, oil can accumulate around the valve seal and get sucked into the combustion chamber when you accelerate, creating a cloud of blue or white smoke out of your tailpipe.

5) Cold Engine Test​



car-hard-to-start.jpg


It is easier to identify a bad valve seal when the engine is cold. If you’ve left your car outside overnight or longer, you’ll have a cold engine when you try and start the car. There should normally be a little bit of oil sitting on top of the valve seal because it thickens at lower temperatures.




A bad valve guide seal will also have a tiny gap in it after it’s been in the cold for a while. This means that when you start a cold engine, that little bit of oil gets sucked through the seal gap into the combustion chamber. The result will be a cloud of blue-white smoke coming out of the tailpipe when you first start the car.

6) Low Power​

slow-acceleration.jpg


Misfires and sluggish acceleration may be a problem with worn valve seals, as the oil burns up and leaves ash on the spark plugs and inside the combustion chamber. Check the spark plugs for spark plug fouling.




A compression test on a vehicle with a bad valve guide seal may show unusually high compression – if you see low compression along with these other symptoms, it may be a bad piston ring or a leaky head gasket instead.

7) Ticking Noises from the Engine​

strange-noise-driving.jpg


When the car starts, misaligned parts or excess play between components in the engine may clack against one another and cause a ticking noise.




Since the valve guide seal lubricates and aligns the parts of the valve correctly, a bad valve seal may cause a valve to be out of alignment or insufficiently lubricated.
 

Gerald Morris

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Yes, ticking, smoky starts, smoky high revs, some oil consumption, I'd say worn valve guides in those old 516 heads is a VERY likely scenario. Some misfiring and occasional backfiring, even after twiddling the rebuilt to Hell and back 2 barrel carbs and timing to optimal for the worn machinery in use. Such have been the symptoms I've contended with for over 6 years, with gradual deterioration, as one might expect. #3 cylinder fouls out regularly, requiring me to clean or change the plug.

As things worsened, occasional backfiring increased in frequency. That's what told us it was over due to service this engine. The debacle with the OTHER 383 this time last year didn't improve matters either. We HOPED to REBUILD THIS ENGINE, while the other served, but no such luck. Had there been ANY other C body or even B body Mopars for sale then, I would have preferred to get one, but the ONE 1966 300 was being slowly picked clean by its crackhead owner, and was more hideously overpriced than what we got.

Anyway, Thanks to Uncle Biden's Bribe, we got the 83 Miser truck, enabling us to park Gertrude a bit for service. Fall Break made THE IDEAL time to do it. If all goes well, I can take the newly assembled iron for a break-in run this weekend.
 

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It bodes well! Looked at the bores this morning, fresh after the old heads' removal. Note the nice FLAT pistons, no dishing!



This old motor can get some GOOD compression, done right. I noticed that the previous builder used Felpro gaskets, just as we're doing now. The old cam looks good, save for a little wear on the edges of the lobes, but given that the main purpose of this job is to remedy the dicky heads with some freshly turned out ones, I'll run the old cam. Truth is, the old lifters look serviceable too, but I'm replacing them with some JEGS shop lifters. Pushrods OK too. I bought a few new ones, in case some were off, but these likely will be saved for a complete bottom to top build now, along with the cam.

I KNEW THIS MOTOR STILL HAD PLENTY LIFE IN IT! The mechanic we're using agrees. We should get Gertrude back on the street early next week, with nice tight valves and an Edelbrock 1405 I'll fit her out with dual pipes by this Turkeyday, God-willing. I'll bring him my choice of fluids and plugs Monday. Nice to have a fellow who will take a bit of direction from his customer.

66-engine-RH-cylinders.jpg


66-engine-LH-cylinders.jpg
 
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Healthy looking block.

The inherent longevity of a Chrysler big block, especially the rather understressed 383 with thick bores, cannot be overlooked.


Working for the City Parks Dept one night, doing my rounds locking up, I chatted up this old guy with a Green '68 Fury 4dr that looked pretty much like new, parked up by the upper playground where the rich live.

He was collecting worms out on the park lawn at night, when the sprinklers are on.

Said he'd bought the Fury new collecting/selling worms, a lot more people fishing back then, buying bait.

The car had a little over 300,000 miles on it and he said didn't use any oil or never had any internal parts replaced.

It's all about how you treat it and how you do maintenance.

I'm a big believer in preventative maintenance, repair, rebuild replace ahead of time, within reason.

Doing fleet maintenance on a fleet of semis, we replaced water pumps and alternators as scheduled services and rebuilt everything in house, parts always on the shelf.

"The only antidote to throwaway culture is to keep".
 

Gerald Morris

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Healthy looking block.

The inherent longevity of a Chrysler big block, especially the rather understressed 383 with thick bores, cannot be overlooked.
....

The car had a little over 300,000 miles on it and he said didn't use any oil or never had any internal parts replaced.

I figure ~300K is what this engine has on it now. I've run it for 6.5 yrs, faithfully, scrupulously tuning, changing fluids when due, keeping it COOL and not revving it more than necessary.

I LIKE thick cylinder walls, as does the machinist we'll be using for years to follow. I always preferred the Ford 289 to the 302 for this reason. I still want to build the 400 we have, mindful of the thinner walls, but also of the excellent main bearing webbing in the bottom! The coolant ports also are larger than earlier B blocks, which helps. We have 2 more 383s to furnish crankshafts for the 400, so I think with care and good machining and construction, we WILL obtain a good, long running second power plant for this or another slab side body! Such is the Family Plan. If anyone has a 413 to sell me, please let me know. NOW, the wife better understands WHY a SPARE MOTOR IS A DAMN GOOD THING TO HAVE READY!

It's all about how you treat it and how you do maintenance.

I'm a big believer in preventative maintenance, repair, rebuild replace ahead of time, within reason.

Doing fleet maintenance on a fleet of semis, we replaced water pumps and alternators as scheduled services and rebuilt everything in house, parts always on the shelf.

"The only antidote to throwaway culture is to keep".
I do likewise with this engine, and any other I run. I do all I can to prepare contingency solutions for probable crises BEFORE they BECOME crises. My wife doesn't understand fully WHY I "baby" the engine, coming from successful petit-bourgeois eastern European parentage who, like "good americans" habitually run their cars down, throw them away and buy new ones. My shining example has given them MUCH to think over, during the 10 years of a happy marriage. It helps having vehicles WORTH the little effort TO maintain of course. The Babushka HAS learned a bit, but overcoming evil thought habits inculcated in childhood remains a struggle. I still retain a few such neuroses of my own.... I have to remind myself that it's ILLEGAL to shoot people nowadaze..... Ah well!

Yes, rebuild, replace, recharge, then, RELAX, as one has a GOOD motor works. Or, put more succinctly, "Take care of your Mopar, and your Mopar takes care of you!" (The other Made in U.S.A. stuff to lesser degrees also follow this rule.)
 

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I do all I can to prepare contingency solutions for probable crises BEFORE they BECOME crises.

The inevitable is part of the ineffable plan.

Behind the passenger seat of my low mile 1995 Legacy 5 speed wagon, next to what would probably cost $2k to replace in Snap-On, Mac and Proto tools, I keep a USPS Large Priority Flat Rate Box full of parts; good used alternator, new in tank fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, plugs, oil pressure sending unit and other assorted little bits
 

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The inevitable is part of the ineffable plan.

Behind the passenger seat of my low mile 1995 Legacy 5 speed wagon, next to what would probably cost $2k to replace in Snap-On, Mac and Proto tools, I keep a USPS Large Priority Flat Rate Box full of parts; good used alternator, new in tank fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, plugs, oil pressure sending unit and other assorted little bits
Yep, I used to run around with a few hundred # of good American Steel tools, and sundry parts in our trusty old '66 Newport, Mathilda. I've leaned down the tools SOME for Gertrude, having a good old Craftsman tool box with a good socket set, with wrenches, few pliers, for wiring, voltage tester, and the inevitable rubber replacements and tools. Getting an honest bumper jack helps some, but I still keep a nice 10 ton bottle jack also, for tight spots. Belts, hoses, fuses, points, condenser always present in case of mischief. Been 4 years since I had a condenser go south one morning. THAT one was sino-****, and such was the last of that ilk to infest my machine. I still lack a good cap meter for my NOS condensers. Mylar keeps well enough wrapped and in cool storage, but gloveboxes are suboptimal....
 

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gloveboxes are suboptimal

I'd been wondering about that, not that underhood temps are any less.

Last summer on the hottest day of the year, I had stationary hood readings of 162-163º and it only takes 158º to fry an egg.

Undoubtedly worse than any given temp is the daily cycling between freezing at night and baking during the day.

I have the best luck with condensers with a big M on the end, for Mallory, but the condenser is getting hard to find while the 118 points set can still be found, the complete set was K118 and now I wish I'd bought a couple dozen, not half a dozen but I don't see ever having to change one of these out after installation.

About to go in a '65 Wideblock.

P1240259.jpg


And in.

P1240262.jpg



My secret to point life is clean faces and never using a feeler gauge.
 

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I'd been wondering about that, not that underhood temps are any less.

Last summer on the hottest day of the year, I had stationary hood readings of 162-163º and it only takes 158º to fry an egg.

The big factor for storing condensers is the amount of time they abide in a given environment. Once introduced to the distributor, the life expectancy in theory contracts to a few years. Glove boxes and trunks might be less destructive than under the hood, but still not so stable as a cool, dry closet, or the Great Pyramid let's say. The really old stuff might even be wound waxed aluminum foil, though I think wound mylar has been normal for at least 50 years. Might be worth a Google search for a study of this matter....

Undoubtedly worse than any given temp is the daily cycling between freezing at night and baking during the day.

I have the best luck with condensers with a big M on the end, for Mallory, but the condenser is getting hard to find while the 118 points set can still be found, the complete set was K118 and now I wish I'd bought a couple dozen, not half a dozen but I don't see ever having to change one of these out after installation.

Haven't scored on any Mallory goods, though I concede their stuff WAS primo in the Longago. I use Mopar stuff, with a fair bit of Valley forge parts, some Sorenson goods among other old U.S. companies, mostly long extinct. I prefer to avoid anything with UPC barcodes, and generally do well with that criterion.

My secret to point life is clean faces and never using a feeler gauge.

Yes, clean faces, surfaces in general make a good starting point. I use a feeler gauge, carefully, not ever forcing it in, just setting the gap to drag a little as it's pulled out. It will be interesting to see what new gap produces optimal dwell with the new heads. I expect it will remain around .015", as I'm retaining the old cam.
 
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Gerald Morris

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Time to seal it up w the fresh 915 heads, and pray. After cleaning surfaces, several flaws in the old cylinder block emerged, definitely marking this engine in "Sundown" phase. We're going to run it for now, and for as long as it endures, but I don't foresee reusing this block once it's Day is Done. Observe:

cylinder-1-bolt-hole-crack-marked.jpg

The block cracked at bolt hole #12, on Cylinder 1. This compromises the coolant jacket, though, Deo gratias!, NOT either cylinder 1 or 3, directly. This didn't surprise me, given how ever so often, when changing out plugs or such in this locus, I would feel small drops of coolant sometimes, and noted the weeping at the joint. Despite this, I've never had any visible amount of coolant in the crankcase oil. No symptoms of coolant entering the cylinder showed upon initial disassembly either, boding well enough for this project; essentially a valve job and carburetor upgrade.
cracked-head-bolt-hole-cylinder-1.png

Note the crack at the bolt hole in the image above, before I marked it with red Sharpie. I thought of and discussed using red Locktite and a head STUD at this point as a measure to secure the block material, but my mechanic pointed out that head studs are meant for rapid head removal, and that the nuts tend to loosen too easily. He also re-iterated my own observation of the quality of modern steel, preferring to use the original, factory head bolts instead of the ARP bolts I'd purchased in case they were needed. Given that this motor never leaked from the cylinder head interface, I agree that the factory bolts probably will do for this job. They show no sign of stretching. So long as the new seal holds, I'll call the job good here.

The bores HAVE had at least one major cut, or 2 minor iterations, given how the pistons show plainly 0.040" over size:
cylinders-2+4.jpg
cylinders-6+8.jpg

While one may cut as much as 0.60" out of the bores, this pushes the limit more than I care for, for a long term driver engine. Modern cylinder sleeves make block recycling more practical, and we'll keep this in mind, but if we have a block with more iron remaining in it, as I suspect we do, then THAT will be our Build Candidate.

So, while THIS venerable block is now in Sundown Mode, with cooler weather, we plan to start stripping several others, the Commando and last years abortion being the 2 we have in mind, and we'll then have them magnafluxed and rung out with amplified tortured bat squeals, and IFF one or both pass such rigors, then we can pick our candidate from them. The 400 ALSO will be going in for a bath, with similar intent. So, while the "Mathilda Motor" heads off into the sunset, a Sunrise is in the works for at least ONE of the Morris B block collection.

BTW, WE'RE STILL SHOPPING FOR A RUNNER! Anyone with a RUNNING B/RB available can contact me. 413s are ESPECIALLY to be considered, but even a strong 361 will do.

cylinder-1-bolt-hole-crack-UNmarked.jpg
 
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