August 20, 2003

Had to bring my stepson to the orthodontists yesterday, plus I wasn’t feeling that great so I decided to take the day off. Toward the afternoon my energy was starting to return, so I thought I’d head over to the in-laws to work on the car. The weather was beautiful, and I ended up working for quite a few hours putting things back together. It sure is nice to have more room to work on things now that the engine is coming together and I no longer have parts lying all over the place.

I took apart the rocker arm assemblies and cleaned them, then pretty much doused everything in motor oil and put it all back together. I decided to adjust the valves while I had easy access to everything and finally realized that TDC for cylinder one is right around the notch mark on the distributor. That’s certainly nice to know for the purposes of timing, wiring the ignition cables and for the next time I have to adjust the valves. One less thing to figure out. I also sliced my knuckles pretty good somehow while taking off the old valve adjustment screws and replacing them with new ones. I guess I should take out that pair of mechanics gloves that are sitting in the trunk and use them once in a while. I pretty much don’t wear them for two reasons. The first is that I like to actually feel what I’m doing, and the second is that I imagine they’d be caked with grease and oil the moment I started working on the engine. Oh yeah, that brings me to another concern… Dirt… I’m trying to keep everything as clean as possible during reassembly, but I really wonder how much dirt I’m getting in everything, especially since I’m basically rebuilding this engine outside? My paranoid side is going to make me change the oil twice in very quick intervals as soon as Wilson is running again. The first will get changed before I actually go anywhere, after the engine is running somewhat well, and I’ll probably change it again after a few miles… Maybe only back to the inspection station and back. I hope that will lessen any problems I have with dirt. I did, though, make sure to keep the spark plug and air intake holes on the heads plugged with paper towels, and made sure to keep any dirt away from them. I imagine anything that gets in there anyway will go out the exhaust though.

So after taking care of the rocker arms, I put on the oil cooler, and was a little worried about the torque I was putting on the bolts. I used the green seals I got from Jim Adney, and the Bentley manual confirmed that I should put those seals in without any spacers, and I torqued it down. Even though I was within the specified torque range, some of the metal scraped up from the oil cooler when I tightened the bolts down. That was a little disconcerting, as the assembly manual I was using did NOT have any washers noted between the bolts and the oil cooler housing. Hopefully they’re OK. I will be paying strict attention to any signs of overheating when I start the engine. Along those lines, I think my thermostat is broken. It’s extended the full length of the bracket it fits in, meaning the engine cooling flaps will always be open. I figured it wasn’t a problem, so rather than leave the thermostat out and leave the flap linkage just hanging there, I partially screwed in the thermostat so that the flaps were open all the way. I suppose if it gets down to freezing, the thermostat might contract, which would close the flaps, but for right now in 80 degrees (which I can’t imagine is hot by any stretch), the flaps are open and will stay open. I’ll be sure to double-check those too as I put a dab of white-out on the cooling flaps crossbar so I can tell just by a glance whether the flaps are open or closed. I didn’t have any white lithium grease for the pushrods either, so I just dunked the ends in motor oil and hopefully that will be fine. I can’t imagine the grease stays on there long anyway. I’ll get a second opinion on this.

After putting on all the cooling tin, the engine is starting to look a little more legitimate now. Saturday is supposed to be very nice, so I suppose it’s possible that I’ll have everything back together by Sunday. After that, I have to fix the remaining parts of the fuel system — filler neck and removal of the carbon filter setup — before I fill up the car and try to start it. I still can’t imagine that I could be driving this car soon. After it’s running, all I really have to do I think is the brakes. Which reminds me… I think I realized what that “popping” sound was because it happened again on Sunday. My floor jack has a lift plate that is notched crosswise, and I think the popping sound was just the car’s jack extension “falling” into that notch. I jack the car up by the little extension that is normally used for the factory jack, so it’s not a perfect fit. So the upshot of all this is that hopefully I don’t have any major suspension work in my future after I get everything else done.