On to compression and leak down testing

The thermostat housing mystery is solved. Turns out it’s not really a mystery. It’s a part from a 1987 Ford V8 used in F150, Bronco and Country Squire station wagons. I’m sure there are other old guys here that remember those. When I was in second grade we had a Chrysler Town and Country station wagon. Complete with fake wood grain.

I finally decoded the part number by realizing the second character is a numeric and not an alpha. Looking at the Drake reproduction for the car the pic at CJ had the 64-65 part number. A gander at Mannel shows the right casting numbers per year with pics. I’m still learning how to use the appendix in Mannel to see which parts span multiple years. For example in the section on your engine there might not be any specific info on that part if it were used in a prior year. Many times, probably most times, there is a reference to using the same part as previous years. To find which years you go to the appendix for that type of part and there will be a chart with both casting numbers and engineering numbers and a reference to a pic of that part.

I went ahead and got the replacement that wasn’t period correct but had the threaded boss for another water temp sender. (and they had the engine assembly manual in stock now so I picked that up as well) After I ordered as I was looking at the old setup I realized that the location of the new sender would be on the wrong side of the thermostat. When the thermostat was closed or failed you wouldn’t get a proper temp. I’ll tee off the heater hose outlet for the new/additional sender. I want to keep the stock gauges in the dash for historical purposes and stealth the modern gauge in the cab where it’s not so easily noticeable. You’ll look in the car and think “oh that’s a stock interior” but there will be a somewhat hidden water temp and oil pressure. If the repros have the correct casting number I’ll pick one up otherwise I’ll leave the replacement in.

Hopefully my parts will be here Weds just in time for me to finish the engine testing. Today I did compression tests, both wet and dry on each cylinder. There are tons of places that you can get instructions for the test. You can get the gauge as a loaner at the parts store or pretty inexpensive at Harbor Freight. You don’t need tool truck tools, just a plug wrench, the gauge and a way to get a bit of oil into the cylinder. It’s an easy test that will get you good info from your engine. Google it for some good tutorials.

Here are what the plugs look like after about 50-60 miles of running. You can tell a good deal of how your engine is running by “reading” the plugs. Cylinder six is really fouled. Something is going on there. After this few miles you’d want them to look like the plugs where you can still see white on the insulator. Those others shouldn’t be that dirty with only 60 miles or so on them.

The cylinder numbers are 1-4 left to right on the upper row and 5-8 on the lower row as you look at the pic.

Here’s the results of the compression test. A couple of interesting findings, perhaps related to the heat buildup I saw in the thermal imaging and the history of the car running hot and sometimes overheating. And maybe even that noisy lifter. The layout of the results on my whiteboard is a bit confusing as it doesn’t map to the locations directly as you look at it. Green is the dry test, red is the wet test. You do the dry tests first then move to the wet test. The wet test is the same as the dry except for putting a bit of oil in the cylinder to see how much better, if any, that it seals. The wet test should show an increase in compression unless there is an issue in the valve train. The FSM calls for 130-170 psi at sea level.

Here is an ASE study guide on wet compression testing. https://www.freeasestudyguides.com/c…cting-oil.html

Left hand side is 1-4 top to bottom, right hand side 5-8 top to bottom. (the sticker on the extreme right is the can sticker from PPG Deltron DBC Lime Gold paint)

This is hole number 6 dry test, the one with all the carbon

The wet test of number 6

Most of it shows a 51 year old engine that has 125,000 miles on it. There are a few things that stand out and need to be investigated further. There are things that point to rebuilding it sooner rather than later but no show stoppers. At least right now. Numbers one and five are the most out of line.

Hole number one readings are in bad shape. I checked it a few times. A reading of 90 is bad news. Only going up 10 psi in a wet test makes it worse. The plug is a bit burnt but not saturated in carbon like number six. It could be too lean. What we will start to look at is extreme wear in that hole due to heat buildup near that part of the block and damage to the valve train on that hole. Six has a great deal of carbon. It may be the intake valve isn’t seating or is stuck partially open. It’s got the best compression readings wet and dry. It’s important not too assume too much at this point until we crack it open, measure and inspect it.

Tuesday will be leak down test day.

About that timing chain cover

It’s back together. Or at least was for 10 mins or so. Here’s how it got that way…

Pump went back together well. It had better. There are only two bolts, a plate and a seal. I’d still like one with the original style part numbers and casting. A lot of service on this was done before the parts guys would say “nice classic” and instead say “great, another old car”. It was/is a driver, got driven and was maintained well but maintained like a driver and not a concours.

Tip for remembering which bolt goes where. Dot them with paint pens.

The bad news is two of the through holes on the timing chain cover are stripped. On one I noticed it when I removed the bolt. Aluminum threads were in the bolt. If I’m going to put a timing chain cover on I might as well take the engine down to the short block and check the rest of it. Don’t want to do that yet. Plus I was looking at mine and at the reproductions. The repros have fins on the top. Took a quick look at the Mannel book to see exactly what was on mine. Was mine an original or did someone swap it at one point? It looks like it has never been off and still has some Ford corporate blue on it. The book says mine doesn’t have the fins. Fins only for the early 67. Mine should look like it does. But it’s hammered and has two stripped holes.

So time for a couple of Helicoils. If you aren’t familiar a Helicoil is a thread replacement. As the name indicates it’s a coil that you install in place of the stripped threads. First you drill the existing threads out enlarging the hole. It’s usually some size drill you won’t have in your index. This one is a 21/64. The kit provides a special tap to use in the enlarged hole. Once you thread the hole with the replacement tap there is a tool to insert the coil into the newly cut threads. The insertion tool can be a bit though to use at first. Screw the coil in, break off the tang in the rear of the hole and you’re good to go.

To test the inserts I take something to bolt to the repaired hole. In this case I use the spacers used to mount the smog pump. I tighten the fastener to the torque that will be used in the final assembly to see if it holes. At this point I now have two repaired holes that will support the torque to install the water pump.

Now for the final bolt and torque. If it’s a part of the rotating assembly or fluid conveyance system (oil, water, fuel), has a critical gasket, steering, brakes or suspension I use the torque specs. This is it just prior to installing the smog pump. Yeah baby, real San Jose car with first generation emissions.

Original FoMoCo engraved spacers for the smog pump mount (the empty hole in the pic above). I didn’t notice the engraving until I cleaned them up.

Check all the connections, everything is good and tight. Ready to do a test fill. The test fill was going well until it got to the thermostat/outlet fitting. Leaking. Not a stream but a steady drip. At first I thought I’d hosed the manifold gaskets on the install. After taking a look-see with the borescope it was coming from the underside of the fitting. And no wonder. That space where the light comes through around the 3″ mark on the rule should be flat.

There is a nice warp in the face of the fitting. The indent where the thermostat sits is worn as well. I could surface a bit off the fitting but the indent is still in bad shape and that’s a lot of trouble to go through for a $20 part. One of the problems when restoring parts like that is when you take the kack off sometimes that kack is what is preventing the leak. There is some severe pitting I thought would be taken care of with the Gaskacinch. No such luck, too badly gone. I could RTV it and it would hold but it will eventually need to be fixed properly. The issue I have now is getting a part with the same stamping as I have now. The repros have the part number but not the original Ford logo.

That’s where I am now, waiting on parts. Or rather looking for the parts I’d rather have. I’ve checked the usual dealers but I’ll need to dig some more using the part number from the casting and the Mannel book. I’m half temped to spuck the thing together or get a part to tide me over and run it a bit in the meantime to get a handle on other issues like steering and suspension. Until I’m sure it’s more reliable I’m not going to stray outside of a 15 mile radius from my house. That’s what my Hagerty road service will provide should I get beached again. In the current state I can at least do leak down and compression tests. I’ll take it from there and see what happens.

No fun with the cooling rebuild

It’s been a couple of those days where there is a point where it’s not
fun. There are issues with four fasteners that have thrown a wrench into
the works. The intake manifold had to come off to replace a bolt on the
thermostat housing. One of the valve cover bolts snapped off in the head
on reassembly. Two of the threaded bosses in the timing chain cover
failed when the water pump bolts were removed. Here’s how we got

I’ve had some firsts on this build. First Mustang, first car 50 + years
old, first SBF V8 and first time I’ve had to chisel rat dung that was
crusted into the intake manifold. No. Really. I removed the manifold and
were preparing the surfaces and cleaning it up a bit. Under the choke
there was something that was rock hard. I poked it with pick, no go.
With a striking pry bar and holy cow it’s about 1/8″-1/4″ of petrified
rat dung. With some acorns hardened into it. So that happened.

The manifold and head faces need to be prepped. I’m using Scotchbrite
bristle and maroon finishing pads. It’s pretty dirty so each side is
covered and masked off with towels in the ports so the chunks don’t end
up down there.

With a bit of work (the die grinder and pad really did most of the work)
the surfaces are ready to go.

I use acetone to clean the surfaces prior to attaching the gaskets and
sealer. Don’t you hate having to open the can, dab the rag and repeat? I
do too so I use a pump can. I started doing this some years back on fab
projects, cages, chassis, suspensions where the weld joint needs to be
cleaned prior to welding. Just push down a couple of times with your rag
on top and you’re set to wipe.

I’ve been using Gaskacinch for years to set gaskets and seal them. It’s
basically engine contact cement.

For additional sealing on this one I’m using another old standby,
Permatex Ultra Gray. Depending on the joint I use the gray, Ultra Black
(very sticky) and the red hi temp RTV. The gray works great for intake
and cooling apps.

I set the main gaskets with Gaskacinch and line the end gaskets and
around the water jackets for some extra protection. In this case the
Fel-Pro gaskets are installed with the crush zone up (you’ll be able to
read the printing on them).

The existing hardware has been wire wheeled, cleaned and buffed with the
holes chased and cleaned. Prior to install a light coating of engine oil
is applied to the threads. It helps with seating and provides a bit of
lube during torque.

The thermostat housing is reinstalled with a new thermostat and gasket.
Remember this entire exercise of removing the manifold is because one of
the bolts had a stripped head. The outlet needed quite a bit of work.
The bypass was severely restricted and needed to be clearanced.

The manifold is heavy. Even without the carb. The FSM has a diagram for
some alignment tools so you don’t hose the gaskets on the install. I
used some all thread to align the manifold. It doesn’t make it any
lighter but it makes it easier align.

Now we do a two step torque following the sequence and specs in the FSM.
The first step is to 14 ft/lbs, the second to 21 ft/lbs.

There was some angst installing the water pump. Up next, what happened
to the timing chain cover and what I’m doing to work past it.

Still more cooling system

The parts for the cooling system restoration have arrived. I’ve got an unexpected seized/stripped bolt head. Though I suppose most stripped bolt heads are unexpected. I tried everything, crowfoot, box, open end, flare nut. It’s the bolt that attaches the thermostat/outlet to the intake manifold so it’s somewhat of a bear to get to. So off comes the manifold. I’d forgotten how heavy a cast iron intake was.

The valley looks pretty good for a 50 + year old car. It’s been off at least once before when the heads had new seats installed in the 90s. There are some powdered oil clumps in a could of places but otherwise it looks good. There are still some water jacket blockages but mostly they’re clean or at least clean enough to use.

It needs a cleaning/buffing of the intake port face on the head to knock off the kack and left over gasket chunks. I’ll block those ports with a rag while I’m doing it then vacuum out the bits. Though it all looks good I’ll bust into the short block once I get some more done on the car and I’m able to have some fun driving it over the summer. I’ll make it part of the engine bay rehab project after steering and suspension.

Here’s this seized bolt with a stripped head. The paint pen mark was when I was trying to turn it to see if was turning or if I was stripping it. I was stripping it.

I picked up a set of Irwin stripped bolt removal sockets. About $30. I’ve got other stripped fastener removal tools but didn’t have these though have used them before.

If you’ve not used them they have flutes cut into the socket that grab when you turn it the direction to loosen it. You set the socket with a couple of light raps with a hammer. Then spin it off as you would normally. I used a breaker bar but you can use a ratchet or impact.

If all goes well I should have it back together tomorrow afternoon sometime.

So onto the cooling system

I was hoping to get into the steering and suspension but doesn’t matter how it steers or handles if it won’t stay cool. First some basic cooling system troubleshooting. The system looks pretty hammered from the outside. First step is to run the car a few miles prior to overheating. You can tell because the engine starts to sputter during a stopped idle then carry on more or less normally once the car is in motion. First order of business is to get some thermal images.

Have a look-see at the fuel pump at temp. I’d boiled the fuel but didn’t overheat the engine when the car stranded me. Let’s see how hot it’s getting compared to other parts.

Not bad but let’s look and make sure the radiator is flowing. Those dark spots indicate an obstruction. They show up as lower temperature because the coolant isn’t getting there. There are a few of them but not so many that it’s a major problem. Yet.

Let’s check out the front of the intake manifold. It’s getting a little hot at the thermostat housing/outlet. We’re going to want to look into that a bit more.

Check out about 5 o’clock from the center target position. It’s reading a good bit hotter than the rest. Could be an obstruction.

Here’s another shot. The difference is even more pronounced toward the bypass.

I’m wondering if that thermostat is working at all. I’m going to flush it with something I haven’t used before but diesel guys swear by. I gave the thermostat a test and it’s dead as a doornail. Rolling boil no open on a 180* thermostat. The flush went well, there was plenty of rust in there. Hopefully I got enough out that I can wait to tear into the block. I didn’t save any thermal imaging after the flush but the gauge regeistered cooler and the heat signatures were more uniform particularly at the manifold outlet and top radiator hose.

Time to tear into it. I want to leave it in enough to fix this so I can drive it while I’m working on and diagnosing other issues. Otherwise I’d just stab it out and tear it down.

I’m still adding to my SAE tool collection. I’m good on most metric things and what I’ve been working on over the years have been mostly metric or all metric. The hobby stock builds were usually from GM “metrics” from the early 80s. I didn’t have SAE ratcheting combination wrenches or 3/8” drive crowfoots. The truck didn’t have SAE crowfoots, only metric so that was a run to HF but I did score these off the truck. With a free vintage style bubble clock. I love that tool truck swag. Already using the hell out of the ratchets. The crowfoots are showing some wear on a particularly tough bolt elongated the drive end a bit but for $10…

Once we’ve got it all open…

I’m expecting the worst from the water pump. What I could see with the borescope didn’t look good. Fortunately that was the edge of a casting and not the impeller. I was almost shocked when I popped if off and found this.

Looks like someone rebuilt an existing core. I couldn’t find the casting number in the Ford interchange so I’d reckon it’s an aftermarket casting with new guts.

We’re on hold for a few days waiting for parts, mainly gaskets, thermostat, cap and shroud. I’ll put it back together and run some more tests. I’m also going to install a real temp gauge and sender using the plug hole on the manifold outlet.