REBUILDING A '53 BUICK V8
With our magnaflux test back on our block (no cracks!), we were ready to start the machine work on our engine.
WHAT WE DID: The block was baked, shot peened, magnafluxed, bored and honed. The heads were baked, shot peened, magnafluxed and 16 guide liners installed with a three-angle valve job, new valve springs (this car has inner and outer), new shims, the head resurfaced, and the crank ground to .010" and micro-polished. The rods were reconditioned and rocker arm assemblies disassembled and rebuilt with new shafts.
PARTS: Finding parts for this engine was a challenge, because it was a first-year engine and even by the end of the first year, Buick had already begun making changes in the block, pistons, heads and exhaust manifolds. As we covered in last month's article, we found that we had '54 pistons (low dome) and '54 heads in a '53 block, and that the piston/head change was made probably because of the spark rap--a complaint that was experienced by Buick owners in city driving. Through our buddies at Buick World and Terrill Machine, we had a set of '53 high domes and '54 low domes and could have gone either way, but after researching and reading '53 and '54 Buick drive reports, we decided to go with the low domes, feeling that they would result in a smooth-running engine. There was a similar decision on the hydraulic lifters. The original '53-'55s had longer push rods with deeper valve lifters. The '56s had shorter push rods and shallower valve lifters. These are more readily available and work just as well.
With our decisions made and parts ordered, we began our engine work by washing the block, brushing out all of the holes and pressure spraying, then blow drying and lubing.
For our cam bearings, all 3 holes had to be lined up on the front bearing so that the rockers would get oil. If one hole is not lined up, that side of the engine will not get oil because the rocker shaft is not oiled through the push rods, but through the heads into the rocker towers. The rear cam bearing has a snap ring to keep the bearing from sliding back and the cam plug from going in too far and scraping the back of the cam. We now installed our oil galley, freeze plugs and cam shaft, using engine assembly lube. We find that if we assemble with oil, it will dry out resulting in a "dry start". We installed the main bearings and rear bearing rope seal. This seal was rolled in the trimmed and the side rails tapped into place. The crank was set in and torqued, then the camshaft retainer and oil deflector. The retainer maintains the proper cam thrust and the oil deflector directs the oil from the thrust plate on the chain and gear in the proper place for lubrication.
The fuel pump concentric has rivets to attach it to the cam gear. Most concentrics are bolted on and prevented from twisting with a dowel pin or woodruff key, but this engine uses two tapered rivets with helical shaped knurls to attach the concentric to the cam gear. The timing gears and chain were installed 12 links apart per Buick specs. The oil slinger was installed and is designed to sling oil away from the seal for extra protection against leaks. We installed the rod bearings and piston rings, then put the pistons in and torqued the rods with the oiler holes facing the cam. The oil pump was installed and had a unique feature: It did not have a bypass hole in the screen to prevent clogging, but had a tube wrapped around and facing downward in the event of clogging. The windage tray was installed. It is used to keep the crankshaft from churning the oil and turning it to foam. The front rope seal was rolled in (few engines use front rope seals) and the front cover put on. The harmonic balancer had been cleaned and painted engine color (green) and its degree marker painted with white paint for easy reading when timing later on. This slid on nicely and was torqued down. We put on the oil pan using Permatex 2-B on the pan side of the gasket and the freshly-cleaned and painted bolts were installed.
We flipped the short block and put on the heads using our NOS steel high-compression gaskets (the high-compression ones were used for the Dynaflow cars) and plugged off our freeze plug holes at the rear of our heads. We installed our lifter and push rods, and bolted down the rocker assemblies. Care must be used here to fit the assemblies together and align them with the dowel pins. Tightening down incorrectly-positioned rockers could result in cracking them. We again used 2_B on the gasket as we put on the valve covers and valley pan, then we torqued down the intake. Before putting on the water crossover pipe, we put our "O" ring into the block, coating it with vaseline, then put the crossover on. This will allow the "O" ring to seat properly. Putting it on the crossover will push the "O" ring up too high and cause a leak.
We now had to make a decision about our water pump. Should we use a working original with its original cast impeller, or use a rebuilt one with a new metal impeller? After closely inspecting each impeller, we decided to use the rebuilt one. It had a channel around the impeller for better circulation, and the impeller was smooth-surfaced, giving the impression of moving more water. We decided to leave our generator brackets, etc., off until the engine was safely in the car to prevent them from catching on something or snapping off. Next month, we will put the engine in and start it. See you then...keep 'em driving!