Engine Problems

It was time to get back to the engine and my first of many intersections.  The crankshaft turned smoothly and I could detect no unusual noises that would indicate a dry bearing.  Should I remove the head and inspect the pistons or just replace the camshaft and reassemble it?  I presented this dilemma to my brother, Gary, in an e-mail.  His response was: “WWRD” (What would Roger do?)


Of course, there was only one way to go.  Off came the head, or at least out came the head bolts.  It is doubtful the head had ever been removed from this engine.  After some gentle tapping here and there, I finally brought out a chisel and a big hammer and

managed to separate the head from the block without damaging either.  There were the pistons.  A little carbon build-up on top, and the sleeves were bright and shiny with no surface rust.  The valves had more carbon, but a wire brush would take care of that.  However, there was a lot of lateral slop in the pistons – no wonder they moved so easily with the crankshaft.


The ridges at the top of the sleeves were evident, too.  These pistons had worn down a lot of the sleeve walls over the years they had been in action.  I had heard of a ridge-reamer, but never seen or used one.  I was about to learn.  A call to Tracy confirmed that he had one and, yes, I could borrow it.  At this point I was thinking that I would pull the pistons, replace the rings, pop them back in and be done with it.


Next day I stopped by My Garage and picked up Tracy’s ridge reamer.  Tracy gave me some brief instructions and I was on my way.  However, having an explanation of how a tool like this works and actually making it work correctly turned out to be two different matters.  I was unable to center the tool in the sleeve to my satisfaction.  I was afraid I would end up making an elliptical cut at the top of the sleeve and did not want that.


At my urging, Tracy agreed to stop over and give me a demonstration on the proper use of a ridge reamer.  Watching him position this tool gave me some satisfaction in my inability to properly position it.  He tightened and tapped and tightened and tapped some more until he was satisfied it was centered in the sleeve.  It was not a ‘slam-dunk” process.  Then he started making the cut.  At that point it was simple.  The ridge was cut out and I had a smooth sleeve.


A couple of days later I removed the pistons.  Tracy had also cautioned me about not allowing the hardened threads on the rod bolts to contact the rod journals.  Pistons one, two, and three came out easily.  The bearings, while evidently worn, looked clean with no scoring of the journals.  Piston four was my justification for going to all this trouble.  It appeared as if this bearing had run dry as it looked like the top bearing had melted and flowed out and around the rod.  The bottom bearing was scored as was the rod journal.  Complete engine overhaul here we come.


I put in a call to the shop that had re-faced my flywheel, but it turned out they only worked on import cars with metric engines.  They recommended another shop[7] that was close by.  The next Saturday morning I drove over to talk to the owner, Rick Phemister.  On walking in, I was confident I had come to the right place.  A letter on the shop wall was from the owner of an old John Deere, thanking Rick for the work he had done on his tractor engine allowing him to rebuild his old tractor.  I explained what I thought I needed done to Rick.  He knew what needed to be done and suggested I bring in the block, head, pistons, and crankshaft when I could.  I brought the whole works in that following Saturday morning and waited on a call from Rick.


In the meantime, I had called Ron Kingland up in Owatonna, MN to advise him that some extra parts would be needed.  He modified the order he was putting together for me to include a complete engine overhaul kit and only needed to know what size bearings to ship.  A few days later, Mr. Phemister called with the bearing specs and also advised me I would need one new connecting rod.  Within a week, UPS delivered four heavy boxes to our door.  The driver was amused to learn that these were tractor parts being delivered to a suburban home.


I e-mailed Gap Tractor to inquire about a connecting rod, but before I could place the order, Rick called again.  He had apparently done work on Ford tractors before because, somewhere lying around his shop, he had found a connecting rod with the right numbers on it to match mine.  Within a week I received another call from Rick telling me the engine was ready to be picked up.

 [7] Accurate Engine, 115 Arthur St., Fort Worth, TX

Subpages (1): More Cleanup