Monday, August 29, 2016

Sweet Redemption

When I knew we'd be making the attempt on Sunday, I decided that it would be a great subject for my first ever Facebook live video. For the sake of authenticity, I also decided that there would be no test fire before we went live. Good or bad, I wanted my friends to experience it with me. Thankfully, aside from a manifold exhaust leak, a missing accelerator spring that caused the engine to fire up wide open and a whacked out shifter, the end result was good. We'll get those issues fixed and be on the road this week.

This project has always been a tribute to Mom, and I'm sure she was smiling.

Thanks for stopping by. See y'all down the road!


Friday, August 26, 2016

New Power in Place

It took a lot of trying, but we finally got the new engine in place yesterday. Many thanks to my friend and coworker Rob for his invaluable help. Now we just need to get everything reconnected and hopefully we'll be firing up the '53 Bel Air motor this weekend.

And the story continues...

Thanks for stopping by! See y'all down the road!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Engine Free

Got the old motor pulled yesterday. Today I'll clean up the engine bay and start the process of swapping our existing transmission, bell housing and flywheel to the new 235. We'll be going with a new clutch, pressure plate and throwout bearing, and I'll have the flywheel resurfaced before it goes in.

Empty engine bay waiting for a cleaning

New engine ('53) is actually older than the old one ('61)

Hoping to have the new engine in place by the end of the day tomorrow, then off to Ohio for our 48th family reunion this weekend. Doing the epic road trip and having this thing at the 50th in two years would be another dream come true...

Thanks for stopping. See y'all down the road!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

New Power in the House

As a friend said the other day, "Wow! That was fast." Indeed. I got very lucky and found a great replacement engine almost immediately, which is now sitting next to the truck waiting to be installed. Hopefully we'll at least have 'er in place before I head out to Ohio for next weekend's family reunion. It's a Chevy 235, just like the engine that's coming out, only it's a few years older, from a car, is in much better shape and has its own great story.

Upon reading about my engine trouble in a Facebook group for '47-'54 GM truck enthusiasts, my new friend Matt commented about having a good 235 for sale. We started messaging back and forth, spoke on the phone in the middle of the week, and today I made the hour drive and purchased the motor.

The car is a 1953 Chevy Bel Air that has spent most of its life to this point in New York City, including many years just sitting in a parking garage. After the owner passed away, a maintenance man did the research and tracked down the family. They live far away and were not interested in the car, so they just signed it over to him. He got it running and was trying to sell it when he saw Matt's Ford Ranger pickup and loved it. They ended up doing a straight swap, Matt drove the car for a bit and it ran great, but he decided he wanted more power and pulled the 235 in favor of a V8, which he is currently building.

I'm not sure of the exact elapsed time, but this is pretty much where I come in. In the midst of our messaging, Matt says the odometer reads 110030, then quickly adds that "The 0 is the tenths, so 11,003 miles."

Yup. A 1953 engine with 11,000 miles on it, at a very fair price, and some nice little extras thrown in. The decision was easy. We'll have to swap in my bell housing, flywheel and clutch, but thankfully Chevy made the parts interchangeable, so it should be a fairly smooth swap-in. Looking forward to that first fire-up.

Donor '53 Bel Air in the parking garage where it sat for years

Bel Air motor came home with me this morning

Sitting next to the truck waiting to supply the power

And now we're that much closer.

Thanks for stopping. See y'all down the road!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Six Cylinder Paperweight

I'm certainly no trained mechanic, but even I could tell that what I saw when I pulled the head off the engine on Saturday wasn't good. And when the actual mechanic I bought the new transmission from came by to take a look yesterday, the worst was confirmed.

Don leaned over the radiator, took one look at the exposed pistons and immediately said "Yeah, you're gonna have to pull this engine completely."

Two of those pistons are cracked, with the tiny hex nut that got inside spread across the entire top of one of them like a pancake. That piston is also at the top of the cylinder, so we can't see the wall to see if it's scored. A full rebuild might be possible, but the cost would be pushing a couple grand, which is far beyond my budget. And to be honest, I'm not sure that completely rebuilding a 55 year old engine makes sense anyway. Maybe, if you have the original engine and you're restoring the truck to 100% original. This engine is not the original one from this truck, so even if I could afford it I don't think we'd do it.

Yeah, not lookin' good

And at least a couple bent valves in the head

A lot of old cars and trucks have been parked for decades for far smaller problems, but believe me when I tell you that this truck will not sit for long. This project has come too far and means too much to me to let that happen. By late yesterday afternoon I had two possible replacement engines lined up, both of which are within easy driving distance and within my budget. Just waiting for some details on both and we'll make a decision. In the meantime I'll get the engine bay cleaned up and maybe we'll end up leaving the hood open like everyone else on cruise night... ;-)

Thanks for stopping. We WILL see y'all down the road!