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Remember our budget shop truck? We just took the next step in resurrecting it from the (almost) dead by pulling the motor and assessing the real damage to its components. This would be a major undertaking even for a truck in good condition, and after 235,000 miles of wear, tear, and generally getting beat to hell, our big blue “piece of Chevy” is showing the signs of Mother Nature and Texas roads.

Gunked (or rusted solid) bolts made for a fun day, but any day in the shop is a good day, right? Read on to see how we fared and what issues took us by surprise.

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A couple of our friends from Stanley, Jimmy Addison and Jeff Carlson, stopped by with a crate-load of mechanics tools to try out on the job. But more importantly, they brought their own brawn and willingness to get dirty — and we mean dirty — under the hood. After unpacking the tools, we drug the Chevy into the shade and got down to the business of stripping hoses and accessories.

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First we drained all the fluids and disconnected the battery. Yeah, it’s messy, but we just slid a few buckets under the truck and took the plunge. We definitely went through a few paper towels. Next we tackled the radiator and the nastiest shredded hose any one of us could remember finding in a vehicle.


We unleashed GearWrench’s serpentine belt removal tool which, as far as the Toolmonger shop is concerned, is the best and only tool you’ll ever need for removing a push-rod serpentine belt.

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As we continued the pull, we ran into a crap-load of the previous owner’s “homemade” solutions — many of which made us laugh (and sometimes shudder). The zip-tied alternator and zip-tied O2 sensor stood out as some of the funniest. The creative wiring — most definitely a bad idea — made us glad that most of it would be replaced or fixed after the tear-down.

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But the real fun began right after we employed this uber-professional binding material (read: twine) to hold the A/C compressor assembly away from the engine. We hooked up our handy pulley puller to the power steering pump and started the removal — only to find that the pully’s steel wasn’t as durable as it once was. The lip quickly tore away and rendered our efforts completely fruitless.

Obviously we could’ve spent a bunch of time trying to remove the pump, but decided instead to swear a great deal and club it a few times. We then moved on with the intention of figuring it out once we had the motor out of the bay. The Texas sun heated the shop to about 102 degrees, which helped us none at all.


Read on to page two to see the main event — getting the block loose.

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10 Responses to Budget Shop Truck Build, Part 2: Pulling The Engine

  1. PeterP says:

    Perhaps a stupid question, but why not just pull the motor and transmission together? Seem’s like you will probably need to do some work to it anyway…

  2. FredB says:

    Hmmm. My memory of these things is that the engine and transmission and heck, the whole drive train go in from the bottom on the assembly line. In the shop, it’s not going to all pull through topside.

  3. Sean O'Hara says:

    As Fred pointed out, length is an issue. Also, it was alot easier to come back and drop a rolling jack under the tranny and disconnect the drive shaft. It rolls out from under the truck pretty quick that way. Which we wound up doing later.

  4. Scott says:

    Unless you could not get under the truck near the tailhousing of the transmission (where the drive shaft yoke inserts), perhaps because the dog had already claimed that spot, it is far easier to remove the bell housing bolts from back there. You might want to raise the truck a bit, but probably not more than a foot.

    A long extension and a universal socket always beats an open-end wrench and no room to swing the wrench. The upper bolts are sometimes easier to see and remove if the transmission mount is loosened or even disconnected, which allows the whole assembly to pivot back a bit. Just tighten the mount back up once the bolts are out of the bell housing so the trans’ stays put.

  5. Old Donn says:

    Not to dis your Stanley tool buds, but if they didn’t bring any, you need to slide down to the nearest Sears and get a set of ratcheting combos to deal with those carpal tunnel inducing trans bolts.

  6. bobk says:

    I would have to agree with PeterP.

    It has been a while (a decade?) since I pulled an engine, and perhaps we always did it wrong, but – assuming that we planned to work on both engine and transmission – we (my brothers, father, and I) always pulled both engine and transmission together. The only times that we didn’t was if there just wasn’t any other way. Usually, by removing the transmission crossmember (if there, if necessary, if possible), removing the radiator, and (again if there, if necessary, if possible), the top radiator crossmember support, and sometimes the grille, it was not only possible but preferable.

    Re: FredB’s comments, he jogged a memory that I have spent years always trying to forget. The only job that where we had had no option but to manuever the engine / transmission out and back in from the bottom was the 1963 (1964?) Ford Econoline van that we rebuilt for our church when I was just a teenager getting my feet wet, helping Dad. Gawd, was that an awful experience.


  7. Bill says:

    Sometimes you can drop the transmission crossmember, lower the rear of the transmission a bit and then reach the top bellhousing bolts from above the transmission (while laying underneath the truck). Put the transmission back up, replace the crossmember, then support the front of the transmission with a floor jack as described.

    I just rebuilt a 2.2L four in a GMC Sonoma (S-10 sibling) and there is literally no room between the firewall and the top bellhousing bolts. I would up removing the head first, then the engine mounts and then lowering the engine to the crossmember to remove the top bolts. Fun!

    I usually cut a 2×4 to span the frame rails, and use a couple of carriage bolts through the wood to the transmission bellhousing to support the transmission while the engine is out. That way, you can move the truck without tying up the floor jack.

  8. AggieMike says:

    I’m not sure if ya’ll have managed to pull that power steering pulley or not now, but if you aren’t going to re-use it, why not drill and tap some holes in it and use a steering wheel puller on it. My buddy and i did this on stubborn pulley once and it worked like a charm.

  9. SharkyTM says:

    You could have tried an old trick that I’ve used for every motor swap I’ve done. Drop the motor and tranny as one, then use a good jack to lift the truck up over the engine/tranny. It requires a lot of overhead clearance, but its pretty darn easy. We usually drop the engine/tranny onto a piece of plywood on some furniture dollies. Then, once the truck it lifted up, we roll everything out from under it. Installation is reverse of removal, as Mr. Bentley is fond of saying.

  10. DCJS says:

    I happen to be working on the same rebuild. Using a cherry picker and an oak tree; I just lifted the entire body off the frame. With no help from anyone. So why remove the body; We are restoring the vehicle right, and restoring something to me means to make new again. So what about those 18 years of Texas roads.

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