Valve Train Problems  2            3-10-14

I didn't Expect This


The carburetor, intake manifold, alternator, headers and the distributor all needed to be removed in order to get the heads off. Once I had the carburetor off, I removed the distributor cap, but when that came off my eyebrows almost went through the roof after looking at how much rust I was greeted with. I mean...are you kidding me here? And as I removed the cap, all kinds of rust fell out and I could hardly believe my eyes. Now this is the first time I've had the cap off since I've built the car. And how long would that be you ask? I started the engine for the first time in 2004 so everything you see in this update is at least 10 years old and has been on the road for at least 7 plus years.



You talk about a thing of beauty, well this wasn't it. Check out that reluctor wheel along with everything else?  It's a wonder the car even ran with it looking like this...damn!! And believe it or not it didn't run that bad.



This is unbelievable and after looking at it all again, I must be really proud of this 'rust-show' to post three pictures of it (as I shake my head in disbelief again).

Now my buddy Larry had the same problem with his car awhile back and had to be towed home twice because of it. The first time he found this problem he cleaned everything and removed all the rust and his car started right up. But the problem reared it's ugly head again less than a year later and he had to call the hook once again to get home. The way he solved his problem the second time was to buy a new MSD distributor.

Well MSD must have known about this rust problem because almost everything that was made out of bare steel now had black oxide plating on his new one. That fixed his problem and I'm sure a lot of other people as well. Now I thought about doing the same thing but decided to try another way before I bought a new one, which I'll talk about later.



The distributor cap looks pretty normal for as long as the car has been on the road. See that out of focus item in the foreground? That piece goes in the center of the cap which provides spark from the coil and makes contact with the rotor. If you go back and look at the first distributor picture you can see it resting on the rotor. Don't worry if you didn't see it the first time because I didn't see it either until I started looking at all the contacts after the cap was removed.



Once I removed the distributor I noticed something else. Now I didn't see it at first, I felt it as I was carrying it to the work bench. Look closely at the bonze gear that's on the distributor. Now look at the new one on the left. See any difference?



Here is a close up to give you a better idea of what I found. The teeth on the bronze gear are completely wore out. The picture doesn't do it justice because you can't move it around and see all sides of it. But if you look close you can see the teeth are knifedged and are very sharp with little or no actual surface for this gear to make contact with the camshaft gear. There's no way that my timing would be correct or stay where I put it with a gear like this. And compare the OD (outside diameter) of them both, see any difference? Yep....definitely worn out!

The reason you would run a bronze gear like this is because of the hardness difference between the two gears (camshaft gear vs the distributor gear). With my cam being a solid roller and made out of 8620 steel which is case hardened, you need to have one of the two materials softer than the other, otherwise you will have both of them wear out. I guess I should have looked at this gear a few years ago.

BTW, the gear on the left was on my distributor when I bought it new and was never used back when I built the engine in case you were wondering.



Cylinder Heads


Next to come off the car were my cylinder heads because this was the only way to fix my valve stem problems, by removing and replacing or reconditioning them. After looking at the heads and the amount of carbon buildup inside the combustion chambers, they looked pretty normal to me. One reason for this ugliness is because I'm running an aggressive cam profile along with cruising on the street for many years so this was expected in my book. BTW, my spark plugs mirrored the heads for being ugly.

To fix this problem a few years ago, I would just call my buddy Gary and we'd go into his garage (at his house), he'd let me use his valve grinding equipment and I'd do the job. But Gary passed away in 2006 so that means I'll have to let someone else do the work.

Now this is very hard for me to do, letting someone other than myself do any of the work on my car. With that being said, I'll need to find someone that I trust to do the work and only one person comes to mind, a place called 'Engine Supply' in Santa Ana, CA. This is the same company that did the machine work on my engine back in 2003, which was recommended by Gary. And if Gary trusts these guys, that means I trust them too. What I'm going to have Engine Supply do for me is a valve job and while they have the heads apart they can tell me if the two valve can be saved or if they need to be replaced.

I called and talked to the owner, Mike at Engine Supply and after a few minutes with him, I told him that I'd be coming down that way. A couple of days later Larry and I took a road trip to his place and dropped of my heads which is about 75 miles away.

Now the last time I was at Engine Supply was with my buddy Gary and once I walked into the place, I had a strange feeling rush over me. Not a bad feeling, but more of a lost feeling without my mentor being there with me. Turns out those feelings lasted for a couple of weeks, but I didn't really know why till one day it hit me and then I knew what it was....I was missing my good friend.

Mike told me that it would be one to two weeks before he'd be finished with my heads. That would give me a few days to get things ready to put back together along with looking at everything else very closely.



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