What the hell’s been going on with the Toolmonger Shop Truck Build? Well, for a while, a lot of nothing. You may have noticed that the economy isn’t exactly stellar, and honestly we just didn’t have the dough to mess with it for a while. But we’re off the dime, and the truck’s on the move again.
Once we got the engine out and on its stand we discovered we had a lot of work ahead of us. (Remember: a “free” truck is never free.) Time did a number on this truck, and its previous owner had ridden it hard and put it away wet more than once. Under the hood was just as rough as the interior and body work. In fact, it was worse.
Old auto repair wisdom states that dirt washes off; it’s what’s underneath that counts. What was underneath this pile of nasty was, well, pretty nasty, too.
Back before we pulled the engine we took the truck to our favorite local mechanic, who took a look and suggested that the lower engine just needed to be cleaned on the inside and the pistons and crank were fine — but the upper engine had to go. Most of the seals were gone and the heads just weren’t right. After a little shopping online we decided to forgo rebuilding the heads and just replace ’em. So our job now that we had easy access was to strip the old motor down to the block.
If you’ve never taken an old-ass engine apart before, this is what you’re likely to find. There’s buildup and scoring on almost everything — lots of black, gunk, and nasty s#!t. At least everything’s easy to get at now that the engine’s on a stand — even our crappy 2×4 stand. There’s more room to work and you can get a better bead on trouble spots.
A good manual will make the whole tear-down process a lot easier, but we didn’t have hundreds of dollars in our budget for factory manuals. So instead we just shelled out $25 to AllDataDIY.com for online access to their tech material on our make and model. Sure, these old V8s are pretty simple, and you might be able to get away without some online help. But a decent manual provides a clear picture of what has to come off as well as where you can find bolts long since MIA under caked layers of muck.
Just go slow and work from the top down. Remember everything went on at one point, so it’ll come off. You might blow through a couple cans of penetrator (and end up busting out a heavy wrench) but even the nastiest bolts will come off. Our friends at Stanley lent us a set of their Professional series auto tools — reinforced and heavy walled for engine work — which made things a little easier.
Our first clue that this wasn’t going to be pretty came when we pulled the distributor. The shaft read like a core sample from an ice flow. It said “dirty times ahead.”
Eight bolts and a few screws after the distributor came our first moment of horror. The intake manifold and valve covers came loose and the true scope of 200k plus miles was laid bare for us to see. It wasn’t pretty.
The valves were all caked over or stuck open. Some rods were slightly bent and others looked fine. Coolant ports were gooped up and springs were filled with so much spent, dried-up oil that the rockers had a tough time compressing them.
Thankfully we’d already decided to scrap the heads, springs, rods and rockers. So, an hour of wrenching and three hours of careful scraping and wiping with plastic knives and chemical loaded rags later, one side of the block was ready to go.
The other side was just about as bad. But one night of hardcore scrubbing got us where we needed to be to stop: a clean engine sans heads.
Next up: we order our parts.