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In-Car Rebuild
#1
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JeromeSolberg
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Dear Folks,

My 1953 Cavalier has 82,000 miles on it, and the engine is a little tired. Still fine for driving around town, but it does use a little bit of oil, and there is a bit of blue smoke - not a lot, but enough to notice. If you drive it at high speed for an hour you may be a 1/2 quart or more low, and at the end of that time at idle the oil light may blink on and off a bit (but not just above idle).

Above idle it seems to run fine, but it does have a bit of lumpy idle. It has an Ultramatic, which works well. Otherwise the body and chassis is in good condition.

I did a compression test. With Cylinder 1 being at the front of the car.

Cylinder Dry Compression/Compression with a Squirt of Oil

1 120/130
2 120/130
3 145
4 130
5 130
6 98/98
7 115/115
8 75/115

So it seems like it is due for BOTH a valve job and a ring job. I was using 10w-30 oil in it, and have plans to change that to 15w-40 Delo 400 diesel oil - maybe that will help the oil pressure situation after a high-speed run, as well as perhaps the ring situation.

My thoughts are that it might be above my time and facilities to take the engine out and rebuild the engine myself (I don't really have a proper garage), and probably above my current funds situation to just have someone else do it (I have heard numbers starting around $5k).

I understand folks in the "old days" at this kind of mileage would do an "in-car" rebuild, basically doing a valve job, replacing the rings and honing the cylinders. What else would be replaced at the same time? Oil pump? Timing chain? Crankshaft/rod bearings?

What would be the advisability of trying to do an in-car rebuild? Or maybe i should simply try to take the engine out and figure out how to get it into my basement for what would probably be a drawn-out rebuild process by myself? Or would it make more sense just to change the oil to a heavier grade as I'm planning to do and wait for better days?

Finally, if I was going to send the engine/block out to someone, would there be a machine shop in the S.F. Bay Area one would recommend?

Thanks for your consideration,

Jerome

Posted on: 2020/6/21 14:22
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#2
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PackardDon
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I did that on my low mileage original condition 1952 Henney-Packard's 5-main 327 and no problems. Several cylinders were sleeved and valve seats were replaced due to cracks, and all cylinders bored at my site. Never any problems and it ran beautifully after reassembly.

Posted on: 2020/6/22 13:02
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#3
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longjohn
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You may be making too big a project out of this. A complete rebuild may not be needed (unless you are a perfectionist)

Looking at your compression numbers, it seems that you only have a problem with #6 and #8. #6 appears to a valve problem and even it isn't bad. #8 appears to be a a ring.

I would pull the head and see what you find. I once had a similar low reading in only one cylinder. Upon inspection, I found a cracked piston. I only replaced the one piston and rings. I replaced the piston with the engine in the car. That was 30,000 miles ago and the engine is still running strong.

You may just need to re-ring the one cylinder. And maybe hone the valves. You just don't know until you pull the head.

#3 cylinder is a real puzzler. I don't think that I've ever seen compression this high in a straight 8 Packard.

Posted on: 2020/7/18 0:32
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#4
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Fish'n Jim
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Agree with LJ, assuming those numbers are right.

I'm not familiar with this model, so no comment if it's easy in or out. But lots of shade tree work was done in the day. I'd consult the shop manual and see what they say about this. Might even be on here. Helped when I pulled mine.

The big straight 8 pan is reported sometimes an issue to get off on the car. If you're cylinder and warpage lucky, honing and re-ringing should be straight forward. Valves might be more difficult without the machines beyond a grind/replace/lap job.
Either way it's a heavy motor to wield around, so need the equipment for a pull.
As they say, won't know til you try, but if it's worse inside, then your stuck. At least it runs now and a few qts oil not much $. Bite off what you can chew.

Posted on: 2020/7/18 11:31
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#5
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HH56
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From your description of when it is happening the oil light flickering is normal. Here is Packards take from the 52 owners manual and the 53 version is almost identical. I post the 52 version because 53 was spread over two pages and harder to copy the pertinent portion.

Attach file:



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Posted on: 2020/7/18 11:59
Howard
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#6
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JeromeSolberg
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Thanks for this information about the flickering oil light!

I was able to get the pan off, that wasn't easy, mostly just getting to the fasteners underneath the crossmember. But I succeeded. There was some sludge in there at the bottom, but not too bad. The oil pan gasket was not in good shape, as I imagined. I think I may be lucky and the rear main seal is o.k., have more to look at there.

Next I plan to take the head off and assess. I will send pictures when I get around to that. That was supposed to be this weekend, but various work priorities have just popped up, so probably not.

I have found some machine shops in the area who have some competency in old flatheads, one in particular some years ago rebuilt a 1953 327, albeit one without hydraulic lifters. But depending on what I find I may not have to pull the engine.

Also I was able to contact Pacific Northwest Packards, and they have the J-4540 hydraulic tappet clearance checking tool, so I have arranged to obtain one of those.

Thanks again for everyone's knowledge and advice.

Posted on: 2020/7/18 12:20
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#7
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longjohn
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The front cross member is in the way and makes a couple of the pan bolts very hard to reach. Getting them back in when you are done is doubly hard. I had one pan bolt in particular on my 53 327 that I could not get started in its hole in the block. I finally gave up an put a smaller bolt through from the top (block side) and put a nut on from below. This worked and I don't have any leaks

The pan itself has enough clearance to remove if you turn the crankshaft so that it sits horizontally in the engine. The pan can be slid right out toward the back of the car.

when I reinstalled the pan, I used permatex to "glue" the pan gasket to the pan so it would stay in place.

The pistons, especially 5, 6, 7 & 8 are easily accessible once the pan is removed.

Posted on: 2020/7/21 21:08
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#8
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PackardDon
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In the past I've had to lift the engine's weight off of the mounts or even disconnect them and lift a bit higher and it helps give more room but be sure to block it up somehow for safety.

Posted on: 2020/7/21 21:37
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#9
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JeromeSolberg
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Well, so I was able to get the pan off and the head off.

Getting the pan off was hard, but not that hard. I found that one of the pan screws was missing, when I got the pan off I found that one of the screws had been twisted off a long time ago, the rest of the bolt is still in the block. This is probably one explanation for all the oil leakage around the pan that I've experienced over the years. Everything was/is so "crusty" down there that I had never noticed this before.

I was able to get the head off. The cylinder surfaces look very smooth, the pistons in some cylinders have some noticeable deposits but are not damaged.

I thought I had got enough of the block drained when I started to take the bolts off, but it turns out I hadn't. So I got a little bit of water, which I have vacuumed off and displaced with a healthy dose of WD-40 in the interim.

What I can see is that especially around a few cylinders I have some oil around the valves, probably bad valve guides, and some oil between the cylinders 6 and 7 on the gasket surface. That's not a very good sign, but I expect it actually got there from when I opened the thing up, the surface of the gasket looks fine so I don't think there was any blowby. The head gasket actually looks in really good shape and I could probably use it again if I had to, which I don't plan on doing.

So my next setps are to:

A) Ream the ridges and take out the pistons and inspect
B) Measure the cylinder bores (I have a tool for that)
C) Take out the valves and inspect the valves, seats and guides.
D) Evaluate how to easy-out the broken screw in the pan.
E) Take the exhaust and intake manifolds off.

I am thinking that the Goodson Tool G-534-G is a replacement for the KD-815, it measures .343" x .487" x .336". They have another tool available for an 11/32" pilot: G-533-G .343" x .422" x .336". Any advice on which one of these is correct?

www.goodson.com

Depending on what I find I have found two shops that are willing and experienced to do machine work. They are Tech Machine and Dan's Machine Shop, both in Livermore Ca. There are a couple of other shops I need to visit. Both of these are very backed up, however, though Dan's Machine Shop of said that if I got him the engine unassembled he would do the necessary machine and fitting work for a reasonable price and turnaround, with final assembly up to me. Depending on what I find with the pistons and valves I may end up pulling the engine and going that route.

Attach file:



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Posted on: 2020/8/25 22:15
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Re: In-Car Rebuild
#10
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kevinpackard
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Getting that oil pan off is no joke. In my case, I had to scrape the thick oil and grime off to see where the bolts were before I could remove them. Depending on where the broken bolt is, the easiest thing to use is a bolt extractor. One of mine was sheared off, but it was in an easy-to-reach location, so a bolt extractor worked great. Took a couple of minutes max.

Question, since I'm curious....how does one get the pistons out? Are you unbolting the rods from the bottom and pulling the pistons out the top?

I ask because on my dad's '38 Super 8, the rods are too wide to come up through the cylinders, so the cylinder block needs to come off to get to the pistons.

-Kevin

Posted on: 2020/8/26 13:25
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