Detailing the Engine: Initial Cleaning

Today I began the process of detailing the engine. Luckily for me, the previous owner of the car already had the engine rebuilt (expensive!). So my plan is to simply clean up the engine and make it look like new before reinstalling it onto the frame.

The first thing I did was to strip off the external engine components so I could clean and paint the engine. I started with the coolant plug, which I loosened using a 5/8″ wrench and then removed by hand. I used an old cottage cheese container to catch the remaining coolant and wiped off the engine block afterwards.

Then I removed a heat shield which I am fairly certain is not original. It was bolted in by two bolts that I removed using a 5/8″ socket.

There was an engine hanger on the manifold side that I removed using a 9/16″ socket to loosen the bolt.

Next I removed the engine mount bracket from the manifold side. I removed the two mounting bolts using a 9/16″ socket and pulled the mount free.

Next I removed the exhaust manifold gasket itself from the head.

Then I turned my attention to the crank pulley side of the engine. On one of the bolts through the front inspection cover was a loop-shaped bracket that I believe guides either the throttle or choke cable to its destination. I removed the bolt and the bracket using a 1/2″ socket.

I removed the fan belt by working it off the fan pulley.

I un-clamped the the water hose that went into the water pump using a Phillips head screwdriver. I pulled the hose off the pump.

I then unbolted and removed the fan. One bolt was missing, so I removed only three using a 10 mm socket.

From the factory there was a clutch mechanism behind the fan that regulated the fan speed relative to the pulley (i.e. crank) speed. I’m told that these clutches failed more often than not–on my engine the clutch had been removed altogether and the fan was mounted directly to the pulley, which I pulled off the water pump.

I am going to order a solid spacer block to go where the fan clutch was supposed to be. I am also ordering an earlier-style four-blade fan because the seven-blade fans are supposedly very loud (think helicopter take-off) in the absence of the clutch.

But next I removed the triangular alternator mounting plate from the timing cover. I used a 12 mm socket to remove the two studs that held it in place.

I believe the bottom of the alternator mounts on one end to this bracket. I am going to strongly consider moving the alternator to the other, cooler, side of the engine where it was on the earlier pre-smog cars.

Then I proceeded to the distributor-side of the engine.

I first removed the engine hangers from on the block up by the head on the timing-cover side. I used a 9/16″ socket on the single mounting bolt.

I removed the engine mount from this side using a 9/16″ socket to remove each of the bolts.

I unbolted the water outlet elbow using a 13 mm socket on each of the two mounting bolts. This revealed the thermostat underneath.

The studs onto which the thermostat housing mount have been known to rust up and bind. I carefully applied some Liquid Wrench to the studs. After allowing it to soak in a bit I gave each stud a couple of taps with the sledge to try to pop them loose from the holes in the housing.

This must have worked because I gave the housing a couple of light taps with the mallet and off it came.

Here is the backside of the housing with the thermostat intact. I am planning to order a new thermostat (it is around a $6 item) and replace the housing gaskets.

Lower on the block was a mysterious plat covering a diamond-shaped recess. I realized that this plate was where the original mechanical fuel pump was located. It had since been replaced by an electrical fuel pump located on the lower passenger side of the engine bay. I plan to re-install a new mechanical fuel pump before the engine goes back in, so I removed this filler plate and the 13 mm bolts that held it in place.

Next I removed the oil line using two 7/16″ wrenches at the same time.

Then I unscrewed the small Phillips head mounting screw for the distributor and pulled the distributor out of the engine block.

I popped the spark plug wires off the spark plugs to remove the distributor and wires as one unit.

Here is the distributor removed. It looks like the brain. No offense to points, but I am planning to replace the old distributor with one that utilizes and electronic ignition.

Next I removed what I suspect is the tachometer cable using an 18 mm wrench.

There was another short oil line on the other side of the distributor that I removed using a 10 mm wrench on the top and a 10 mm and 12 mm wrenches on the bottom.

I understand that these oil lines are pretty rare items and bent in a very specific shape. I will look after this one just in case.

Here is a shot of the distributor-side of the engine stripped. I left the oil filter in place for now.

In preparation for washing off the engine, I applied some duct tape to the exhaust manifold gasket. I plan to reinstall the taped-over gasket to the head so that it prevents water from entering the engine during washing. I also put some duct tape over the area where the distributor mounts on the block.

I wheeled the engine outside to clean it up. Here are some pictures of the two side prior to cleaning.

Here is the crank pulley end of the engine, and a close-up of the timing cover.

And here are the water pump and inspection cover.

I wet down the entire engine and sprayed it liberally with Simple Green, which I have found to be a excellent at removing grease. Then I scrubbed the entire thing, top to bottom, using scouring pads and #2 steel wool pads.

Then I rinsed off the filth and scrubbed some more.

I scrubbed the engine block also.

The aluminum timing cover was very dirty but came fairly clean in the end.

Here are the two sides of the engine once I had finished scrubbing and rinsed them off.

I also scrubbed and de-greased all of the small bits and pieces I’d just removed from the engine.

Okay, so once everything is clean I intend to paint the oil pan and engine block and polish up all of the aluminum nice and shiny, and then put everything back together.

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