Hopping Up the Top End, Part 1

So, last season we got the top end improved just in time to make it to the last West Fargo Cruise Night.  I had intended to post on our work as we did it but life has a way of getting busy.  So, now, with winter in its last gasps (I hope!), and with some future work around the corner later this spring, I thought it would be good to post what we’ve done thus far.  I hope this series will help others who likewise wish to hot rod their inline six for something different rather than transplanting in a V8 (especially in early Falcons and/or Comets).  So, with the tear down complete, we turned toward installing the machined cylinder head.  The cylinder head bolted on normally but when we went to install the carb adaptor and the carburetor itself, the putty the machine shop had used to build up the low areas had to be smoothed.  When Micah was smoothing things out to make a clean fit, the machine shop’s putty flaked  off.   So, instead of just bolting things on, we had to build up part of the cylinder head in order to get a level, flat surface.  We chose the Permatex version of “JB Weld” because it has a higher temperature tolerance.  Here are some pictures of how we did that.

First, here’s a shot of what we encountered.  Notice how chalky the putty was that came from the machine shop.  Your thumb nail could remove it (which is why it flaked off when Micah was making sure  the flange was smooth.

Intake Flange 7

So, in order to address this, we had to use a dremel and emorycloth to remove all of it.  We then used tape to create “dams” to hold the Permatex putty and made sure to tape over three of the threaded holds and insert a bolt into the one hold that needed build up all around it.  Special thanks to our friend Thom  for suggesting this is how we approach the problem after he saw the chalky stuff we were dealing with.

Intake Flange 5Intake Flange 4

Once the putty was installed, we removed the bolt and had a surface we could smooth and level in order to install the adaptor and carburetor.

Intake Flange 1

You will notice that the top two holes are in thicker metal and thus there’s more thread depth.  This meant the bottom two holes (these are the front two, radiator end)had fewer threads.  The hole in the bottom right, in fact, had just 2.5 threads.  To remedy this, we had a very talent friend, Jim, create a nut plate to go under both of these holes.  We then were able to thread the bolts through these holes into two nuts that were welded together as a small nut plate.  The bolts did not extend past the nuts, so as not to disturb fuel flow into and through the head.  I’ll continue with describing the build in the next post.


A Quick VW Brake Fix

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that the brakes were hanging up on the Bug.  It’s a 1972 Beetle and I’ll get a page on it up soon (just as the Comet and the F100 have their own pages).  The Beetle was cheap transportation for me during college.  Anyhow, I thought it was the rear passenger side and, indeed, it was.  At first, I tried to back off the brake shoes by turning the adjusters but they were frozen solid.  To fix it, here’s what we did:

  1. Jacked up the car.  This lets you spin the tires.
  2. Once we realized it was the rear passenger side, we tried to adjust the brakes and back them off from the drum, but the adjusters wouldn’t turn.  So, we removed the wheel.  The tire could barely turn and took a lot of strength to do so.
  3. VWs have lug bolts, not lug nuts.  So, we hand tightened two of them back into the drum.
  4. We then sprayed some rust break into the adjuster holes in the back of the drum.
  5. After letting it soak for a while, we took a crowbar, and ran it across the drum, diagonally between the lug bolts so that it could turn the drum by leveraging against them.  We then turned the drum back and forth.
  6. While Micah turned the drum back and forth, I took a large regular screw driver and worked the star wheels (adjusters) from the back of the drum.
  7. Thankfully, the adjusters broke loose, first one side, then the other.  So, I had Micah go back in and press the pedal so I could get the brake adjusted.
  8. After that, I adjusted the handbrake cables, too, as the brake handle had been pulling up too high even before this.

Although Tasha is still not big and strong enough to help with something as physically intense as this project, we had her watch and had her tighten down the lug bolts initially when we put the wheel back on (Micah then tightened them fully):

Garage Lighting

Well, this has been a BUSY summer.  As we get into the fall, I will start a series dedicated to the hard work Micah and I put into hot rodding the L6 in my ’63 Comet.  In the meantime, I’m going to share a couple of posts of some other projects we accomplished.  Here, I thought I’d share a picture of the installation of some additional garage lighting.  From now on, it will be a lot easier to see what we’re doing in there.  It certainly would’ve helped if we had done it before we rebuilt the top end and did all the carb work.  Nonetheless, we have it now!  A special thanks goes out to our friend Thom.  He had gotten this from someone some years back but is updating his own garage lighting and has no need for it now so he passed it on down to us.

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.