Making A Custom Valve Cover

So with the tear down complete, there are some things to get done to put it all back together appropriately. One question that naturally arises is what to do for the valve cover. I had been thinking about buying the finned one from Vintage Inlines but I was having trouble fitting it into the budget and then saw on their site that they’re out of stock. So, then I thought about a chrome valve cover but when I bought the autolite 2100 from Jacob H, he had one on his Mustang and told me about the thin stamping and oil leaking troubles he had to address. So, I decided we should stick with the stock (heavier gauge) valve cover. My friend Thom suggested a paint scheme that I quickly latched onto. 

So, I prepped the valve cover and Lorie did the painting, making this car truly a family affair!  Here was the first step: masking the rectangular stamp and applying VHT black wrinkle:  

After that, we painted the rectangle light Ford blue (matching the cylinder head):

The next step was to paint the oval the dark Ford blue:
So, it’s starting to “pop” but what really made it pop was when Lorie hand painted the outline of the rectangle and the lettering:
The final product is a beauty:
All paint was VHT high temp and each layer was cured with a heat gun. If anyone decides to paint by hand with this, know ahead of time that the way the paint acts is close to how egg tempera behaves. 
I think she did a beautiful job and kudos to Tasha for holding the light to help mom out as well. I can’t wait to get this back together and on the road and to Cruise night!

Tear Down Begins

Well, with many of the go-fast parts in hand, the tear down has begun.  Here’s what we started with:

We removed the air cleaner and then Micah began removing the carburetor:

You will notice the fuel line is already disconnected.  A bolt, with electrical tape wrapped around the threads was placed into the fuel line.  Next we disconnected the throttle and kick down linkage and then we undid the vacuum lines and bolts.  While Micah did that.  Macrina took masking tape, wrapped pieces around each spark plug, and wrote the number on the tape, to ease reconnecting them to the plugs in the new head.

After removing the carb, Micah then removed the headers, the thermostat housing, the valve cover, the spark plugs, and the rockers and pushrods.

Once everything is off the cylinder head, we then removed the cylinder head bolts holding that on.  Here, you can see we made a box, with an arrow pointing forward, with holes for each bolt.  This we did just in case the bolts were different lengths, so we’d know right where to put them.  The second picture is Micah and Macrina removing the bolts.

Go Fast Parts Acquired

Well, this is the year of the new, performance-machined cylinder head and 2v carburetor.  We have gathered some parts.  Initially, we purchased a cylinder head off a 1980 Fairmont and then the following from Vintage Inlines:

We took the cylinder head to Dakota Engine in Jamestown and we have it back now, and so we’re getting closer (as this last weekend, we also purchased an Autolite 2100–thanks Jacob!).

The picture on the left shows how the mounting plate will fit on the head, which has now been machined opened and tapped so that the mounting plate can be mounted (to which the 2100 can then be mounted).  This is called the “conversion” method rather than simply using an “adaptor,” which is merely an adaptor allowing a 2 barrel carb to be mounted to the single barrel opening.  The result is that this will double the CFM of the engine.  The engine should be ready for that increase, too, as we have the larger valves that fit this head and we had a valve job done on them.  Additionally, we have high-ratio rockers (seen in the first picture above, on the right).  Tear down of the engine will commence next week.  This is be a long, slow project, and eventually, fabricating the throttle and kickdown linkages will be the real challenge.  Stay tuned for more!  This engine is about to get fun!

Mini Tiller Repair

We will soon have some posts on an upcoming cylinder head replacement for the ’63 Comet.  Before we were able to post on that, however, we ended up with a mini-adventure over a Homelite mini tiller.  I had purchased this about 3-4 years ago, and I suppose it cost me somewhere around $150 at the time.  Well, Lorie planted some cherry trees at the farm this year (the beginning of our orchard!) and when it was time to till around the newly planted bushes, we thought the mini tiller might do the job the best.  We had used it successfully to help us weed gardens in the past.  The cord, however, was busted off inside the tiller and I was reminded that last year, Micah had gone to start it once and the cord ripped.  So, we took it back home to work on it.

We quickly realized, however, that this tiller was not designed like larger tillers or lawn mowers we have used and worked on in the past.  To get at the pulley, we were going to have to tear the entire thing apart (well, very close to it).  Here’s Micah beginning the tear down:

By the time we had it all apart, it looked something like this:

The most difficult part was when we had everything apart with the exception of the clutch.  The clutch must be removed in order to take off the red shroud holding the pulley.  To do that, we had to prevent the engine from cycling (and the piston moving).  Otherwise, the clutch merely spins around, which it does when the tiller is running.  So, we took a shoelace from one of Micah’s shoes that he had just worn out, folded it in half, removed the spark plug, and fed the shoe string into the cylinder.  That allowed us to use a channel lock pliers to remove the clutch.  Here, we have restrung the pulley:

And finally, here’s Micah tightening the final bolts:

It seems to me, from this design, that Homelite didn’t make these to be repaired.  The intention is for someone to use it for a few years, maybe several, and toss it to buy a new one.  That’s not our SOP in this house, however, so we bought string at Home Depot and got to work.  The tiller starts and runs fine now.  Mission accomplished.  Stay tuned for our next post.  I picked up a 1980 cylinder head over the winter and some go fast parts and it’s being machined at Dakota Engine.

A Herbel Garage Thanksgiving

Well, not a lot to update on except we recently saw an ad for Summit Racing headers for Ford FE engines on a FB group we’re part of.  Actually, our friend Thom found them and alerted us (he’s in the same FB group).  So, thanks Thom!

Micah was really drawn to the truck this summer after we got the carburetor on it, so he’s hoping to make this his hot rod.  So, we went together to look at the headers and he had the cash.  I approved the purchase (they’ve never been mounted) and he negotiated a heck of a price.  We also found an ad on fordsix.com for a cylinder head that will be perfect for performance machining for the Comet.  So, much to be thankful for all around.  For now, here’s a photo of the headers:

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Replacing the Speedometer’s Driven Gear

In an earlier post a while back I mentioned that the previous owner had replaced the 170 and 2 speed automatic with a 200 and C4 (three speed automatic).  The drive gear in the C4 differed from the previous merc-o-matic, so the speedometer was off–way off.  I estimated that we needed a 21 tooth or maybe even 23 tooth driven gear.  The driven gear is the gear at the end of the speedometer cable and turns to move the speedometer’s needle.  Replacing it on a C4 is very simple.  First, we ordered new gears (21 and 23 tooth gears), a replacement o ring, and a replacement clip:

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So, out to the driveway we went.  All it takes is tracing the cable to the driver’s side of the transmission.  There will be a bracket with one bolt to loosen.  Loosen it and slide the bracket either off or down the cable (depending on the style of bracket).  Then, pull the cable out.  In my case, I had to use a screwdriver to help pry it loose a bit.  Once you do that, you should see something like this:

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Use a needle nose pliers to slip off the clip holding the gear to the cable.  Pay attention to how the clip is on.  You want to reinstall it the same or, if it’s broken, replace it with a new one facing the same way.  Simply press on the new driven gear, slide the clip on, push the gear back into the transmission, and rebolt the bracket.  That’s literally all there is to this job.

In our case, I tried the 21 tooth gear first and found I was still off by about 10%, give or take (going 27 when the radar said 30).  I put in the 23 tooth and it was spot on.  That’s a good thing, because that’s as high up as it goes.  I would’ve needed a reducer after that.

Repairing the Driver’s Side Fresh Air Vent

Last year, we reconditioned the heater core, replaced the hoses from the plenum to the vent, and the removed, cleaned, and repainted the plenum itself.  We had also removed the fresh air inlet (vent) on the driver’s side.  Like the plenum on the passenger side, it too had been packed full with mouse nesting material.  We cleaned it out but in the process, when we opened the door, we actually cracked and broke the plastic where the (metal) door was riveted.  The result was a hole, I suppose about 8 inches in diameter, under the dash.  This meant air went straight into the cowl and then through there into the car.  During the summer, that was fine, but now that we’ve turned to fall, not so nice.

So, what to do?  Well, one option is discussed here, which is to retrofit one made for the later Ford Mustang.  We didn’t want to spend the $110 plus shipping, so I took a look at the situation and decided to glue a crack that had developed and cut and bolt in a piece of wood to reinforce the plastic.  I then screwed two new holes in the hinge and bolted it through the wood.  Micah got the PB blaster and a vice and sprayed and worked that hinge until it turned freely.  The rusty hinge had been the problem in the first place.  So, note to other car restorers–learn the lesson from us!  Spray those vent door hinges.  The plastic housing cannot support them if they don’t open freely.

Once we got it put together, we painted it so that it was off white and matched the exterior and seats:

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No, it’s not pretty, but it will work and the bolts will all face the driver’s side fender and so won’t be seen.  The stock color had been black but it was faded and the off white looks better.  Along the top, we used window insulation:

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It works just fine and helps seal out the air.  We had already replaced the foam seal/gasket on the inside of the door.  Here it is installed:

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It’s not perfect and certainly isn’t concours but that’s not our goal.  Our goal is to look nice and serve as a good cruiser.  This Comet is well on it’s way toward that end!