Sucked into another project - '57 Chevy

SquareLeft

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My cousin Craig is one of those guys who isn't happy unless he's trading cars. Last year he picked up a '57 Chevy BelAir with a number of mods and a seized engine. To be fair (and not too critical :p), we'll say that this engine is a 'composite'. It's a '77 454 block with '66 427 oval-port heads and unknown internals. I try to pitch in when he needs help and we planned to pull the engine shortly after the purchase, but a number of health issues on his part kept us from doing that.

So... now that he's feeling better, today was designated 'Pull It' day. We used his 4-post lift to remove the engine (one heck of a lot easier than using a shop crane!). I only had time to grab a couple of pics while we were working, but I thought someone might like to see them. Who knows what we'll find when we open up the old big-block, but I'm sure it will be interesting! I promise to keep you guys (and gals) posted.

SL crouches under the lift for an "almost ready" shot
[/IMG]

Here's the old boat-anchor hanging in the air, waiting to be bolted to the engine stand:
[/IMG]

All for now,
SL
 

CraigB

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Car seems to be nice from what I can see in that last photo.

What's the plan, rebuild, replace or does it depend on what's in the old iron lump?
 

SquareLeft

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Car seems to be nice from what I can see in that last photo.
It's a reasonably solid '57...
The firewall has been cut and the engine moved back.
The '57 engine mounts are gone, replaced by late-model style fabricated mounts.
It has a Turbo-400 transmission.
The rear axle has been narrowed, but I haven't been under the back to see what brand/type it is.
The rear fenderwells have been widened to accept the 18" (450 mm) wide rear tires.
It has a front-disc-brake conversion.
The interior is ratty, but Craig has new seats for it.
The body is fairly straight, with just a few small dents. The paint, while shiny, has some dust and a few fish-eyes.

What's the plan, rebuild, replace or does it depend on what's in the old iron lump?
Good question.
There's no doubt that someone spent quite a bit of money on the current engine. The rebuild question will be answered when we get it apart and find out why it won't turn-over. Craig also has a later model 454 truck engine that he bought several years ago for a project that didn't pan out. This engine also has a lot of unknowns - we don't know exactly how many miles it has on it or how well it was maintained when it was on the road. Plus, he's never had it running. I'd prefer that he use the '77 block if there's no real damage. We have a machinist friend who has an extremely well-equipped shop. He's built engines for me and several friends and his work is first-rate. If we find minimal damage, I'm all for taking the disassembled engine to him for inspection and balancing, provided that I can talk Craig into going that route.

SL
 
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Cowboy

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My cousin Craig is one of those guys who isn't happy unless he's trading cars.
Yeah, Finalgear has one of those to, only ours hoards Mustan......

Oh I see you met him :p
 
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CraigB

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It's a reasonably solid '57...
The firewall has been cut and the engine moved back.
The '57 engine mounts are gone, replaced by late-model style fabricated mounts.
It has a Turbo-400 transmission.
The rear axle has been narrowed, but I haven't been under the back to see what brand/type it is.
The rear fenderwells have been widened to accept the 18" (450 mm) wide rear tires.
It has a front-disc-brake conversion.
The interior is ratty, but Craig has new seats for it.
The body is fairly straight, with just a few small dents. The paint, while shiny, has some dust and a few fish-eyes.
That sounds like a driver/cruiser quality car to me. Something you wouldn't be afraid to drive and get dirty.


Good question.
There's no doubt that someone spent quite a bit of money on the current engine. The rebuild question will be answered when we get it apart and find out why it won't turn-over. Craig also has a later model 454 truck engine that he bought several years ago for a project that didn't pan out. This engine also has a lot of unknowns - we don't know exactly how many miles it has on it or how well it was maintained when it was on the road. Plus, he's never had it running. I'd prefer that he use the '77 block if there's no real damage. We have a machinist friend who has an extremely well-equipped shop. He's built engines for me and several friends and his work is first-rate. If we find minimal damage, I'm all for taking the disassembled engine to him for inspection and balancing, provided that I can talk Craig into going that route.

SL
I'll defer to your knowledge on big block Chevys. Most of the ones I see here at the track have few actual Chevrolet parts (including the block). I do know there are several generations of BBCs, but I don't know about the compatibility of them.


Yeah, Finalgear has one of those to, only ours hoards Mustan......

Oh I see you met him :p
:p I'll have you know that I currently don't own any Mustangs. Now there are two stored at my house, but they are friend's. I swear. :D
 

SquareLeft

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People continue to amaze me...

The problem was simple - the bolts that hold the flywheel (flexplate) to the crankshaft were too long. Not long enough to hold the bolt heads up off the flexplate - the star washers were tight against the surface - but just long enough to contact the engine block!

What's worse is that the seller told Craig that he had rotated the engine several times after it was in the car. That HAS to be a bald-faced lie!!
And, what kind of ding-a-ling drops an engine into a car without making sure it will turn over??

With the bolts backed out a couple of turns, the engine can be turned easily with a flywheel wrench. So, Craig has at least dodged one bullet.
Now, however, I'm all for going deeper into the engine to look for other signs of careless assembly. I'm not sure how much arm-twisting I'll be able to do because he wants to get the engine fired and the car driving sooner rather than later.

That sounds like a driver/cruiser quality car to me. Something you wouldn't be afraid to drive and get dirty.
It is just that - and that's just what Craig wanted. He's never been a 'car show' guy - he did a lot of drag racing back when we were young. He likes putting miles on his cars. His other toy is a 'glass '34 Ford street-rod that gets driven all over the eastern U.S. It's not my kind of car - it has wild graphics, A/C and even a TV to keep his wife happy - but they enjoy the heck out of it. If we can get this '57 to be reliable, I'd guess it will get lots of good-weather miles, too (but I doubt that it will get all the creature comforts of the '34...).

More to come...
SL
 

CraigB

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I hope you don't find anything else bad in there. If the long flywheel bolts is all that's wrong, at least it'll be a cheap and easy fix. Good luck!
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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The problem was simple - the bolts that hold the flywheel (flexplate) to the crankshaft were too long. Not long enough to hold the bolt heads up off the flexplate - the star washers were tight against the surface - but just long enough to contact the engine block!
Ah, flywheel bolts used on a flexplate. A classic!

(Full disclosure: I did the opposite once, due to somebody mislabeling a parts bag. Didn't realize until weeks afterwards. Fortunately the bolts stayed tight longer than the engine lived.)
 
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