Engine Rebuild

I decided to take the engine to Wholesale Automotive Machine in San Diego.  They had good reviews on Yelp! plus they were nearby.

After dropping the engine off, I left with a great first impression.  The folks there were friendly and genuinely willing to answer all of my questions.  They had no problem with me coming in from time to time to take pictures of the engine during the rebuild process and they were thrilled to work on an old Slant Six 🙂

Here they had just gotten the engine torn apart.


Here’s a bunch of engine parts.


The head has been all cleaned up but hasn’t been machined yet.


Here’s the engine block, all cleaned up.02-slant-six-block-cleaned 03-slant-six-block-cleaned 04-slant-six-block-cleaned

Getting ready to do some work on the cam shaft.  Rocker arm assembly in the foreground.


The new pistons arrived!


Preparing to resurface the engine block.  The head (in foreground) will be next.


Letting the machine do the work.  It uses a special “carbonate” bit (expensive sucker.  It’s about the size of a dime and costs $80!).  It takes off a very thin layer with each pass (about 0.003″ or 3 mils).



Brand new valves will be installed.


Here’s a shot of the bearings.  You can see the hole inside the bore where oil comes out to lubricate the crankshaft.


Polishing the cylinder walls.


Block is assembled and painted!


Finally!  They got the engine all put back together and painted Chrysler Blue!  They run it on this machine which turns the crankshaft around 300 – 500 RPM.  This allows them to test oil pressure and also make sure nothing is binding.


Everything checked out OK.  Pistons are 0.060″ oversize.   Compression was 175psi across the board.  Sure looks a ton better than it did a week ago!

The guys at Wholesale Automotive Machine did a fantastic job.  Turnaround time was fast too: about a week and a half from start to finish!

Pulling the engine (and tranny)

We found a couple of good places to attach the chain.  After supporting the bell housing with a floor jack we unbolted the engine from the transmission and removed the two long bolts from the motor mounts.  The engine was now completely free to move.


We carefully began lifting the engine.  The driver’s side motor mount has cleared the body.


With both motor mounts clear, the engine is free to twist.  Mike is guiding it as I continue to raise the hoist, ensuring the engine doesn’t hit anything.


Almost out!




Now we’re bolting the engine to an engine stand so we can take the load off of the hoist.


Although we drained the transmission fluid, there was a lot more still in there and it ran all over the place once we lowered the bell housing to the ground.  Blech!


We unbolted the rear transmission mount and carefully lowered it to the ground.  We had to jack one side of the car up and slid the transmission out from the side of the car.  Here’s a 41-year old grimy a904 transmission.


The slant six and a904 transmission are both out of the car.  The car is amazingly light and very easy to push now!


The rest of the interior

I got all of the old carpet ripped out and discovered a large amount of rust on the floor pan, especially on the driver’s side.


This wire attached to the passenger side seat belt.  There was also a connector for the driver’s side seatbelt.  I guess it caused a seatbelt warning light to illuminate.  But passenger side?  What if no passenger was riding in the car?  How did it know?  I’ll have to do some research to learn how this thing was supposed to work.


I’m scraping off all of the old seam sealer.  It’s very tar-like but comes up easily with a putty knife.  I’m also removing all of the old circular rubber body plugs that you see in these photos.  I’ll be putting new ones in after it’s painted.


Putting the rear end back together (temporarily)

It will soon be time to pull the engine.  I’ll need to put the rear end back on temporarily so that I can roll the car far enough out of the garage for the engine hoist to clear the garage door above.  I’ll also need the rear wheels on there when it comes time to tow the car to the body shop.

It’s a good time to try out the new leaf springs I got from JEGS.  The springs come without the rear bushings installed.  I got some new Prothane bushings and the instructions that came with them said to grease up the inside diameter (ID) an outside diameter (OD) of pretty much everything, then gently tap the bushings into place.  This worked well for one of the leaf springs but I was having a heck of a time getting the bushing installed on the other.

I had the bright idea of freezing the sleeve, hopefully shrinking it slightly and then trying to tap it in.  No go.


I really needed a press to press it into place but without such a tool, I used some ingenuity and used the car itself as a press!  Here I’m carefully pressing the bushing into place on one of the shackle mounts by applying pressure from below with a floor jack.  I did the same with the stubborn leaf spring which was a little tricky because it’s long and heavy and hard to manage while simultaneously operating the floor jack.  I managed to get ‘er done though.


Here I’ve got one leaf spring nearly installed.  I’m using the floor jack to guide the eye at the rear of the spring until it lines up with the shackle.


Everything was going swell until I tried to attach the U-Bolts on driver’s side (after having already attached the U-bolts on the passenger side).  I couldn’t get the little nipple on the spring to engage with the hole in the axle mounting plate.  It looks like these new bushings are a hair thicker than the original rubber bushings.  I ended up having to loosen up the front and rear mounts of both leaf springs which gave me enough play to encourage the spring to engage with the axle plate.  I tightened down the U-Bolts on both sides and then tightened up the forward and rear mounts for each spring.  Whew!

Getting the rear wheels put back on was a snap.  I installed the new drums but held off installing any brake hardware for the time being.  I’ll just need to be careful not to let the car roll away on me!