Sunday, April 24, 2005

Dropped the Engine

We dropped the engine last Saturday. The day began with a road trip to a friend's house to borrow his hoist. A co-worker of Tim's let us borrow a handy crank-operated gadget for tilting the motor once it's up in the air similar to this one at Harbor Freight. He warned us that it was a $10 discount special that had never been used, so he didn't know if it would actually work.

We loaded the hoist into Tim's trailer and lashed it down with straps. We then rolled the engine stand with the engine on it out under the trailer and tried to attach the chains to the head bolts. Unfortunately the head bolts were too short to use with the heads on (we had pulled the motor with the heads off) so a trip to the hardware store was in order to pick up some longer bolts. We also took the rocker assemblies off so the chains wouldn't damage them.

With the chains attached, we eased the motor up until the stand was almost off the ground. We started unbolting the stand with Fred, the electric impact wrench. The only problem was the angle of the engine -- the trailer kept the engine from being directly under the hoist, so when we let go that last engine stand bolt, it started swinging, but not too bad. We let the engine down with its oil pan resting on a box stacked full of newspapers, then lashed the engine to the trailer frame using straps. We loaded all the other loose parts into the trailer for what turned out to be an uneventful 6 mile drive from Tim's shop to my house.

Once there, we had a serious problem -- how to get the hoist with engine off the trailer? We used dual straps, loosening them a little then pushing the hoist backwards until the hoist wheels were off the trailer. The engine was tilted at a precarious angle which caused the other end of the hoist to want to rise up and flip the hoist over. We kept enough straps on the hoist to prevent this from happening. We then pulled the pin on the trailer tilt mechanism and let the hoist hit the driveway - pretty hard it turned out, but we kept some weight off the hoist using the box full of newspapers.

Once the hoist was on the driveway, we realized the chains on the leveler were too long. We needed to shorten them, but to do so we would have to take all the engine weight off them - and we didn't have the engine stand with us. We let the engine down on the box of newspapers which withstood the weight without damaging the oil pan. We got one chain shortened, then cranked the leveler all the way to one side to shorten the other, shortened the other chain, then hoisted the motor back up.

Although the Steve Christ book says to drop the tranny first, then drop the engine, we didn't have a tranny jack. I thought we should still do it this way since that's the way I always did small blocks in the past, but granted I always had a tranny jack. Tim argued that we should put the tranny on while the motor was out then drop the motor and the tranny together, same way we had taken it out. I let him win and so we bolted the flywheel on and torqued it, then started wrestling the tranny onto the block.

Without a tranny jack, that is one hard job. We jacked the tranny up using a floor jack, started tilting the motor using the leveler, until we managed to get one bell housing bolt in. What we didn't realize was that the torque converter studs weren't lining up with the flywheel. Once we realized that, and with Tim sitting on the back of the tranny, we finally got it lined up and got all the bell housing bolts in.

Now we had the leveler cranked all the way to one side, and we needed to crank it to the other side to get the tranny down and the front of the motor up. With all that weight on the leveler, it became impossible to crank. We tried the impact wrench on it, but the bolt that moves the attach point fell out. Fortunately this didn't affect the ability of the leveler to hold the motor up! We put the bolt and crank back on and still weren't getting anywhere until Tim realized that we had the crank on wrong. The crank threads onto the long bolt that moves the attach point, then another nut must be snugged down against the crank to keep it from threading farther onto the long bolt. Once it was back on correctly and snugged down, we were able to get the motor & tranny in the correct position.

We were almost ready to drop the motor when Tim said, "Uh oh." Turns out we had forgotten to put the metal plate that goes in between the block and the bell housing. The only thing to do was take the tranny back off, put on the plate, then wrestle it back on again. While it sounds pretty bad, it really wasn't because we had already been through the exercise once. We also put the starter and the partial metal plate that covers the bottom part of the back of the block on.

With the engine and tranny up in the air and the rear of the tranny pointed down at about 45 degrees, we started easing the engine down and the car forward. We put the floor jack under the rear of the tranny so it would roll. In about 10 minutes, the motor was dropped. We didn't even bump the firewall once. With the motor and tranny in, and the tranny supported by the floor jack, we pushed the car back in the garage, jacked it up and put the front on stands. Tim crawled under and wrestled the tranny crossmember into place while I played tool- and parts-boy. The driveshaft went back in next, then a lot of hemming and hawwing as we tried to figure out how to hook the parking brake cable back up. Listen to what the books tell you - make lots of pictures! We didn't, and we are paying for it.

With the car off the stands, we set the carb and air cleaner and valve covers on for photo ops. We don't think the air cleaner is going to fit under the hood. For as big as the car is, the engine compartment is pretty tight. I can see how it's going to be hard to get headers on the car. As you can see from the pics, the motor is looking pretty good sitting in the engine bay, and we are getting eager to hear it turn over.


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