A New Engine for the Convertible

On my quest to make the convertible work well, and keep it period correct, I ran into the engine transplant. While doing the power steering, the front end and exhaust started getting in the way of period correct replacement parts. I got the idea while at Rick’s the other day that maybe I could tinker on an engine rebuild using all period correct parts outside of the block and rotating assembly. So I brought home the engine Rick and I pulled out of a recent 68 he picked up for salvage parts. It’s full of surprises, but I’m willing to see if it will fit the bill.

It looks terrible. There, I said it. I think it may be on the edge of salvagable even. I will know for sure by the time I get everything off, and see the internals. I can see some things clearly are not period correct and won’t be used, like most of the intake system. On the other side, the exhaust manifolds have a C60A casting number on them, so they should be right.

The front end brackets look correct. When I took off one of the alternator brackets, I found a C6OE part number on it as well, so that leads me to believe it’s possible the timing chain cover is also going to be a C6OE, which would be great.

Step one was to get it on the ground so I can safely start disassembly. Rick sent me home with a huge Dynacorn box that is super thick. That will work nicely to help avoid making too much of a mess on my garage floor as it starts leaking it’s last blood.

I started with ripping off anything that was not durable. This included hoses for vacuum and coolant, plus grocery bags used to keep water out of carburetors and other up facing ports. There is a lot of extra stuff on that intake and carburetor that needs to go. This engine definitely has some later model hardware.

Maybe I am just a rookie, but I had no idea an exhaust could get fully clogged with what looks like rust based dirt and particles. I have no idea where this came from, but I am hoping it isn’t further up the exhaust and into the engine. Mounds of it fell out as I tore it apart.

After pulling the exhaust off and stripping a few things off the sides, I decided to tackle the transmission. I couldn’t separate it with the engine on the ground since the back was supported by the transmission. I had to get it back on the hoist, at least a bit, so I could pull them apart. Of course it continued to bleed.

I can’t get it on the engine stand until I can get the torque converter off. To do that, I have to get under it and pull the bolts attaching it to the flex plate. That means I need to have to turn over the engine to get each bolt on the 6 o’clock position in order to reach it. I expect to have issues turning it, so I decided to continue to lighten it up.

I have an issue with the power steering pump. It should be falling off at this point, but it wont budge. That is going to take some convincing to break free. Same deal with the crank pulley. Bolts are out, but its locked pretty tight to the harmonic balancer. I haven’t started looking at whatever is going on with the shield around the fuel pump. This is where I ended the first day as it was getting late.

Though being curious to see how well all these rusted parts are going to clean up, I did take one of the brackets and blast it. They look pretty terrible, so I couldn’t go to sleep without knowing all of this wasn’t a total waste of money.

While the rust looks bad, they should clean up nice. A little paint and it’s good as new.

Day 2 started with a continuation of removing junk from the front.

I managed to get a thin ratcheting closed end wrench between the block and the torque converter so I could take the 4 bolts off it and remove it.

And now I can work like I should be, with it on an engine stand and stable. Less chasing it around while I try to unbolt and it swings away from me.

First look at the oil. Its sludge, with big chunks of who knows what. And since its in the valve area, they were running it with terrible oil before parking it. This engine was not well maintained.

I have no idea how this engine got so much stuff inside it. Taking off the top radiator hose showed the thermostat housing to be full of all kinds of who knows what. And it was connected to the radiator on both hoses. I have no idea how this stuff managed it’s way inside the engine.

I rolled it to the left and got a clear look at the casting numbers. It looks like a 78 cast, with a Jan 79 production date. I can’t say I am terribly excited about that.

I had to go to O’Reilly’s to borrow a harmonic balancer puller since I don’t have one. I was curious what I had for a balancer but it looks like they used the 68, presumably from the original engine in the car, and the donor from the rest of the front end. Its days are done now, but I know I should have a 50 oz balance.

With that done, I can pull the timing chain cover to follow up removing the oil pan. The distributor won’t budge, so I sprayed it with penetrating oil and hope it does something. Intake came off with only a small bit of prying.

With the heads off, this thing looks bad. The #8 cylinder looks like it has a skin off one of the valve faces in it. I have no idea how that is possible, but I have no other explanation. I never thought I would have to vacuum out cylinders as part of an engine tear down.

Its down to a short block plus a stuck distributor. I haven’t done any work beyond this in 25 years, so I probably need to do some reading before I go much further. Other than trying to get that distributor removed.

The last piece is getting the rotating assembly out. I am hoping that won’t be too difficult. It was seized up when I tried to hand crank it to get access to the torque converter bolts. I am hoping that once I get some parts removed, it decides to loosen up and cooperate.

I have to decide what to do from that point as well. Getting it tanked would be a good way to get it cleaned, then at the same time have it measured and checked for any stress fractures. I want to try to keep the machine costs low on this one, so I need to find the line between low budget and cheaping out on things that will prevent failure in the near future, like the engine imploding. Sounds like the topic for another day.

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