and vintage engine work
British and Other Vintage Engine Restorations
By John Goodman
My first venture into British motor vehicles was with the purchase of a brand new 1968 650cc Triumph motorcycle. The dealer I bought it from was awaiting his stock order from England so I had time to kill before taking delivery. The wait gave me more time to better understand what I was getting by talking to users directly (sadly, no Internet back then). I heard all the superlatives about how well the bike handled, power to spare, how beautiful it was and of course that intoxicating exhaust note (well, for some of us anyway). What was left out were comments about pernicious oil leaks, fasteners that rattled loose, electrical problems of all sorts, carburetor fuel leaks, etc., etc. But this was my first real British motorcycle so many of these irritations could be forgiven.
When the bike finally arrived, the dealer uncrated it and began the pre-delivery service. I wanted to be there when this occurred and the dealer obliged. Armed with my mental list of “forgivables”, I slowly became aware of what eventually became known as “British standard”. First off, the engine and gearbox were empty of oil. I asked if this was how Triumph shipped their motorcycles and the mechanic laughingly said, yes. Both gearbox and engine were full of oil when leaving England but leaked dry in the time it took to reach US soil. Try getting that one by officials today.
My first stop was the dealer. I asked if anything could be done to eliminate these leaks and while he was at it, explain the myriad of unusual noises emanating from the engine. None of this sounded healthy and if not fixed, I was sure the engine would succumb too early in its life. The dealer’s answer to this was if it is British, it leaks. If it makes unusual, indescribable noises, it’s British. It comes that way from the factory new so what could they do about it now? And this was the great lesson learned; IF IT IS BRITISH (and one could easily insert Italian, German, French, etc.), IT WILL LEAK OIL AND MAKE NOISES. This was true back in 1968 and just as true for those early engines today. Thus began my odyssey into noisy, leaky European engines of old.
I spent a good portion of this article making the point that British (and few other early engine manufacturers) leaked oil and made questionable noises when new. It was because of this that many engine shops avoided them. In the 1960’s and 70’s, shops were busy rebuilding other less problematic engines without associated customer complaints of leaks and noise. Today, vintage engine customers accept oil leaks and unexplainable mechanical noise as common and normal. Many of today’s engine machine shops have made the shift away from low to no profit passenger car engines and on to higher profit specialty engines. Nowadays, these vintage engines command premium labor dollars and owner/customers are educated about leaks and noises. Because of this, vintage and specialty engines have become popular work again.
One positive aspect of rebuilding vintage engines is the diversity you will find. Most vintage engines in the UK are relatively low tech; meaning blocks and heads are made of cast iron with cam-in-block configurations. Even the well known (early) Aston Martin DB5 block is made of grey cast iron and the head aluminum. No other exotic materials other than what may have ventured into the engine from previous overhauls. One other notable exception is the Jaguar XK series that used a dual overhead cam aluminum cylinder head. But virtually everything else in the engine was made of common materials and component configurations. The jaguar engines exported from England suffered numerous cylinder head failures here in the United States where climate can be considerably warmer. The aluminum used in many British cylinder heads was not of the best quality and not very resistant to corrosion and erosion. When rebuilding these heads, pay careful attention to tappets and tappet guides. Tappet guides often work loose when overly hot and cause the tappet to move at odd angles to the cam. Eventually, the cam and/or valves fail.
Another is Maserati. The 1970 Mazerati Bora V8 pictured in Figure 1 is full aluminum employing a number of quality materials and high performance design cues. This engine bears a striking resemblance to a Big Block Chevrolet at the bottom end (Figure 2) and a 4.9 Cadillac in the cylinder area (Figure 3 and 4). Given what we see today in the most basic modern dual overhead cam engines, the Maserati Bora cylinder head looks almost simple by comparison (Figure 5). Do you see anything here that would cause you heartburn to machine and rebuild? I didn’t think so because even what sounds exotic, isn’t always difficult from a shop perspective. The same could be said for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and other Italian/German sports and passenger car engines.
Next, let’s take a look at a 3.4L inline six Jaguar XK 120 series engine. Figures 6, 7 and 8 illustrate just how basic this cast iron block is. Decking, boring, honing or line boring/honing this block isn’t any harder than a garden variety Ford 170 so don’t shy away from doing these engines. Even the crank (Figure 9) isn’t anything special. It is a forged steel unit but not nitride hardened and can be ground safely to an undersize without additional work. The aftermarket went to work fixing the rear main seal leak on this and other XK engines. It is now possible to update these blocks to a full circle oil seal thus eliminating the “stock” oil leak.
The XK 120 cylinder head is aluminum but like the Maserati Bora V8, not very complicated. In fact, as a two valve per chamber head, there are fewer assembly components than found on a 1995 Toyota DOHC inline six (see Figures 10 and 11). Valve buckets have to be fit to obtain valve clearance but parts for this engine are readily available.
Next on the list is a1930 Auburn straight eight. I chose this engine because of the unique mechanical layout it possesses. As you can see from Figures 12 and 13, everything about this engine is straight forward and should not cause you any extraordinary difficulty. Castings are grey cast iron so materials you work with on this engine will be very familiar.
The Aston Martin DB5 sounds like another one of those exotics that imparts complex machining and assembly issues. But a quick look at Figures 14 and 15 and you will see more grey cast iron subject to normal machining processes. The DB5 block utilizes wet liners so your choice is to either buy replacement liners and pistons or re-bore and hone the stock liners to an oversize. Unlike the Jaguar inline six with seven main bearing saddles, the DB5 has four only. However, these main housings are full circle offering substantial rigidity, similar to Offenhouser race engines circa 1975.
Lastly, I thought it important to mention smaller, less exotic engines from MG. MG was typical of the four cylinder sports car engines of their time. Triumph (the car), Ford Lotus/Cortina, AC Bristol, Morgan, Hillman and other British autos all had basic engines for power plants and easily rebuilt. Engine design changes for these little sports cars moved at a snail’s pace so they became plentiful and parts easy to find. Figure 16 is of a 1940’s MG TC. Note the similarities between the TC and a 1960’s MGA (Figure 17, 18 and 19).
Once again, the point of this article is to demonstrate how easy it is to work on these vintage engines. Most of the aggravation with leaks, noise and lack of profit potential has been erased by time. Shops specializing in rebuilding these engines enjoy a minimum of 2X or more the normal shop rate charged for other similar machine and assembly work. Because these are restoration or limited use engines, owners want the very best in parts and workmanship. Please charge accordingly.
AERA President John Goodman was director of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) for Micromatic-Textron prior to his position with AERA. The ATC focused on manufacturing honing solutions and studies for OEM engine manufacturers. Testing of traditional and unique honing abrasive systems, coolants, fixtures, tools and software were primary responsibilities of the ATC lab.
Marine Engine Restoration
By Kim Ramont
As members of AERA, most of us are familiar with the internal combustion engine and its many uses. Some of us specialize in automotive, some industrial, maybe high-performance, but few probably base their business on marine engines. This article will touch on a few of the differences between automotive and marine rebuilding relating to four-cycle inboard marine engines.
Normal shop procedure would be to disassemble and lay aside the non-basic engine parts. Marine engines, however, usually come complete with carburetion, ignition systems, external cooling systems, generator and starter. Attention to detail during disassembly will make assembly much easier. We take plenty of photos and keep them on file for future projects. As we remove pieces we pay close attention to wear and possible corrosion of external equipment such as thermostat housings, water-cooled manifolds, risers and elbows, transmission and oil coolers and hoses. All of these items are important to the quality of the rebuild and not only add cost of parts, but also billable hours to the job.
When we arrive at the basic engine, (intake to pan), disassembly becomes more familiar. One possible difference at this point is rotation of engine. Manuals and parts lists refer to this as, “standard rotation”, or, “opposite rotation”. This fact needs to be determined during disassembly in order to assemble pistons correctly to rods, have properly rotating camshaft, and insure our timing marks are aligned properly for cam timing. Number one cylinder needs to be identified, (sometimes at flywheel end of engine), and brought to top dead center. We emphasize making our own timing reference marks on gears or sprockets. Chris Craft engines, (Hercules), are especially bad about multiple marks and letters depending on model and rotation.
Disassembly and inspection will proceed as normal, being careful to keep track of old parts. Keeping old main bearing and rod bearing shells is important because of availability problems. Bearings for old Gray Marine, Continental, and Chris Craft, Hercules, are becoming short in supply, especially in under sizes, so old shells may need to be repoured for use. Cam bearings, if removed, should also be saved.
Crankshafts should be checked and serviced as usual, paying extra attention to oil passages that are sometimes drilled from crank oil galley thru the snout of the crank to oil the reverser or reduction transmission.
Blocks require the same procedures as automotive engines with close attention paid to cleaning any sand or debris stuck in the lower block and checking for any erosion of water jackets. Sonic testing cylinders may be more of a norm here compared to automotive engines. Because of unlimited cooling water, (fresh water cooling systems), and water ejecting through water cooled manifolds, it’s almost impossible to diagnose a crack in a combustion chamber. Valve seat to cylinder bore areas need to be scrutinized for cracks. “L” head type marine engines are susceptible to cracking and leaking in these areas. Stitching, valve seats and sleeving are all too common in one or two cylinders in marine applications.
Assuming you have cleaned and checked components, block, head, crank rods and pistons, and valve train, you now have a parts list. There are generally parts available thru the usual parts sources. Ideally we try to use original manufacturers replacement parts to maintain the integrity of vintage engines. Many customers are willing to pay any additional costs for these authentic parts. Amazingly, some large inventories of old marine companies still exist. Be careful when substituting automotive parts for marine parts. Some things will work but in certain situations parts may look the same but subtle differences will cause problems during assembly. Gaskets may have or delete a hole or bend, bearing tangs in different locations, larger head diameters or stem diameters or valve train are just some of the pitfalls. Carefully matching new pieces to old at this time will eliminate the unwanted phone calls about leakage or not running correctly. Now that all the machining procedures and parts locating have been achieved, it’s time to reassemble using pictures and marks created.
Remember, most shops or marinas can’t do what we do, so paying attention to billing detail is as important as always. We don’t, “ballpark”, or estimate these engines over the phone. It’s almost impossible to figure these engines without a complete tear down and inspection. We price marine engine with the understanding that we will be paid for out time for inspection and cleaning. We receive very few complaints about price of these jobs. Most customers appreciate the quality work with attention to detail. For a change we can bill for tune-up pieces, hoses, t-stats, belts etc., because these units usually come complete.
Even in these tough economic times these jobs are still out there. Many of these clients are affluent collectors with more than one vintage water craft. Due to the small number of shops willing to do this specialized work, the marine engine rebuilding market is alive and well. So, dive in, the water’s fine!
Kim Ramont is from Gray Marine Engine Parts, a supplier of over one million parts for both recreational and commercial vessels from almost every manufacturer worldwide. In addition to new parts, they also specialize in locating obsolete, no-longer-available, back ordered and used parts. For more information, please call 630-485-5007 or go online: graymarineparts.com.
Flathead Ford and Model A Engine Restoration
By Mike Caruso
H&H Flatheads has become a 40-year-in- the-making overnight success. With hard work for many years, they have become one of the country’s best flathead and Model A engine builders. H&H has been building Ford 4 bangers and flatheads since the late ’60s. It all started in their grandparents’ garage by the Hermans’ father. It was the only way to fix his daily driver Model A and eventually turned into a business with helpful knowledge passed down from the likes of Joe Gimsa and Kong Jackson.
In 1972, the garage became too small and he moved into the shop on 4451 Ramsdell Avenue in La Crescenta, California, where it still stands today. It has always specialized in the early Ford 4 cylinders and when Max Herman III took over H&H Antique Engine Rebuilding 10 years ago, the Model A restoration has been increasing every year.
Mike Herman joined the crew over five years ago and started H&H Flatheads specializing on the Ford Flatheads V8. Since then he has also continued the tradition of Barney Navarro by purchasing the company from him and producing the best heads and manifolds on the market.
In early 2006, Mike bought Navarro Engineering from legendary Barney Navarro. Now he makes the early heads, late heads and the special high dome racing heads. He also reintroduced three manifolds that Barney hasn’t made for nearly fifty years. Mike is using all the original permanent patterns and tooling.
H&H is also continuing to expand the line in 2009 and is coming out with a 2×2 regular dual manifold and a Navarro 471 blower snout and back plate to finish off a complete Navarro 471 blower kit. The castings are still being poured at the original fourth generation family foundry in Los Angeles.
Barney choose H&H because of their commitment to high quality, nostalgic engines. He felt it was a perfect fit to carry on one of the best heads and manifolds ever made for the flattys. “It’s great being able to talk and learn from hotrod legends and continue to keep the tradition alive” says Mike.
H&H is a long-time family business with help from everyone in the family – even having a special mom help out from time to time. Like all mothers, she is always willing to lend a hand. H&H Flatheads had led the resurgence in traditional restoration and hotrods by providing a lost art of building some of the best flathead and four bangers. With the changing market going from billet aluminum back to rust and Ford Green, H&H Flatheads has stood the test of time by always standing behind their products and always trying to improve them. They tend to stay with what works and take the extra step — for example, pressure sealing every motor that comes through the shop to ensure no leaks.
H&H Antique has come out with many new additions to the Model A restorers. They have made their own full width insert bearings and H-Beam rods which will never break in a 4 banger. Also, for the hill climbers and people who want a little more “giddy-up and go”, an aluminum flywheel and a super touring motor has been developed. H&H also has all of their valves custom made exclusively by Manley Performance. With the model A engines, they weld counter weights on all the cranks and convert the blocks to insert main and rod bearings making the old engine just like a modern motor internally while stock appearing on the outside. In these 4 cylinder engines, they also install eight hardened valve seats then a three-angle valve job. The old blocks get new cylinder walls from the installation of four new sleeves. These blocks look stone stock on the outside, but they are all updated inside with three different variations. The first is a stock engine rebuild, which has all the machine work listed but the addition of the B grind on the camshaft. The second version is the “touring engine”, which has a high compression head, larger intake valves and a hotter camshaft grind. The third version is what they call the “super touring engine” which has their largest intake valves, an even higher compression head, a very aggressive camshaft, blending of the intakes and exhausts ports.
“We continue to put out the best product possible and stand behind our work. Building engines people can enjoy and drive 70mph faster than the wheels can handle” Max III says.
In 2007, H&H has continued to grow with the complete recreation of the S.Co.T blower, the most sought after blower for flatheads ever produced. Made from scratch, they recreated the S.Co.T to exact external dimensions, while sitting side-by-side you can’t tell the difference. Once again, these new upgraded units look and match the fifty-year-old style on the outside, but new internal modifications and sealed rear bearings the new S.Co.T blowers eliminated the problems of the originals units. The kit comes with everything you need from the blower, manifold, water pump pulleys, crank pulley, tentioners and idlers. This is truly one of the best products to come out for the flatheads in years.
Having both youth and experience on their side, H&H looks like it is rebuilding history for the long haul.
For more info check out their websites, www.flatheads-forever.com and www.handhantique.com or call them at 818-248-2371.
AERA Technical Specialist Mike Caruso brings over 42 years of rebuilding and high-performance experience to AERA. An ASE-certified Master Machinist, Mike came to us from FEL-PRO’s high-performance R&D and tech line, where he worked for 11 years.
Rebuilding the Massey Ferguson® Heritage
By Howard Hill and Dave Hagen
Continental engines were a main stay in the MHF tractor market. As most of us old folks all know, back in those days the Continental Engine Company would make whatever engine you wanted. The “Z Series” engines were one of the most popular gas engines in the 20 to 40 horse power market at that time and they were used in thousands of Massey Tractors. Those engines however, like many of their competitors, did have some problems. Let’s take a look at the “Z Series” engines and some of the concerns during engine building.
The Z120 engine had the oil filter in the oil pan, while the Z129 has it located on the right side of the engine where it was bolted on. The Continental Z134 had a canister type filter that mounted on the side of the block.
I like to update and add the spin on filter kit whenever possible as pieces may be lost out of the old canister filter and those parts are not available any more. That update also applies to the early Z145 engines. The late Z145 in the 230, 235 and 245 tractors, the block was made for the spin on oil filter.
There is a difference between the cams and distributors in the Z120, Z129, Z134 and the Z145 engines. The Z120, 129 and 134 have a nine-tooth gear on the distributor and 18 teeth on the cam. The Z145 had a 10 tooth on the distributor and 20 teeth on the cam.
Both of the nine-tooth and 10-tooth distributors need to be taken apart and the fly weights checked for excessive wear. I’ve seen some of these distributors where the weights have come out far enough and hit the housing, eventually tearing up the distributor.
Do not, for any reason, use an impact wrench to install the camshaft gear retaining nut. You will twist off the front of the cam if you do. Or, worse yet, stress it enough and it will fail right upon engine startup. This nut has to be tightened to 65 ft/lbs with a torque wrench. The oil pump should be rebuilt and the relief valve taken apart and cleaned. These parts are still available from Massey Ferguson and Melling. Make sure you check the idler gear shaft for wear as we’ve been seeing excessive wear on this shaft too. Don’t forget some of these pumps have been working for over 60 years.
You will love it when someone brings you a cylinder head from one of these engines. They don’t realize that this engine has Roto-Caps on both the intake and exhaust valves and they lose them. The late Z145 has Stellite exhaust valves.
All of the Z Series engine blocks are noted for block cracking. I had a old Massey service tech tell me, “If it is cracked on the top deck, the head gasket will seal it, if it is cracked on the bottom, it has to be repaired.” I have used this recommendation for over 40 years and it has not failed me once.
All of these Continental crankshafts can be ground to as far as .040″ undersize on both rods and mains without any problems. There are two different types of thrust bearings used. The Z120 and Z129 have select fit individual thrust washers while the Z134 and Z145 use a flanged thrust on the center main bearing.
When you’re working on a Z134 and the tractor has a front end loader on it, the governor and timing gears need to be looked at very closely. Most likely you’ll need to replace the cam gear. This cam gear drives the power steering pump, and it wears a lot from the extra loading from the power steering pump.
Hooked on Tractors – Ohio Enthusiast Promotes Massey Ferguson®, Heritage Equipment
By Diana Lambdin Meyer, Massey Today
Howard Hill’s father had planned to purchase an International Harvester tractor one day back in 1950, but 12-year-old Howard would have none of it. By the end of the day, the Hill farm in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, was taking possession of a brand new Ferguson TO20 at a cost of $1,350. That was a lot of money in 1950, but Hill’s father never regretted the decision and eventually bought three more Fergusons, a paltry number compared to his son’s collection that now includes 37 Ferguson, Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson tractors and a half dozen other implements.
The passion that little Howard Hill exhibited more than a half century ago was the beginning of a lifelong passion for Massey Ferguson products. “I liked going to county fairs and climbing on the tractors and I just fell in love with the Ferguson as a kid,” he said. “There was just something about them that was very exciting to me then, and I’m still excited today.”
Today, Hill is vice president of the Massey Collectors Association, an organization with 1,500 members in North America. He is also a member of similar groups in Australia and the United Kingdom.
“When I was in high school, they teased me that I loved tractors more than I liked girls,” he said, but his late wife, Delores, enjoyed tractor shows as much as he still does today.
Hill shares his knowledge of Massey products by authoring a number of technical articles in MCA publications and making himself available as a resource for collectors from around the world. Just recently he made a trip to several destinations in Ohio, attempting to track down a part for a collector from England who contacted him for assistance. “I didn’t find it yet, but I know it’s out there,” Hill said.
It’s that same steadfast devotion that Hill also brings to raising funds for the restoration of the Harry Ferguson Homestead in Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He makes bulk purchases of a DVD of the 2005 Massey show at the Harry Ferguson Homestead and a VHS tape of the closing of the Banner Lane Massey Ferguson plant in Coventry, England. He then converts the British recordings to formats suitable for North American playback systems and sells them for $24. All proceeds go to the restoration fund.
But perhaps Hill’s greatest contribution to the heritage of Massey Ferguson is his plan to donate his collection to the Massey Collectors Association and create a museum in conjunction with the village of Windham, Ohio, and the state of Ohio. “This was a farming area around here and these tractors hold lots of pleasant memories for many people,” he said. “Our history is important.”
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