Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

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Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by dhw3971 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:19 pm

I've put my '75 station wagon into the hands of my employer's Auto Technology students for a partial engine overhaul.  

The main goal was to install a camshaft and lifter kit (http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-k1101) but it's also including a timing gear/chain set, new chrome valve covers and timing cover (stamped with "Chevrolet" and bow-tie logo), heads are getting rebuilt along with a grind job on the seats and valves and since the hood was off I sent my hinges out for a restoration (www.hoodhingerepair.com). I've also sourced a new cruise control vacuum diaphragm from a fellow G3GM member and am having the students install that too.

http://i74.servimg.com/u/f74/15/72/60/58/img_4110.jpg
http://i74.servimg.com/u/f74/15/72/60/58/img_4111.jpg
http://i74.servimg.com/u/f74/15/72/60/58/img_4112.jpg
http://i74.servimg.com/u/f74/15/72/60/58/img_4113.jpg
http://i74.servimg.com/u/f74/15/72/60/58/img_4114.jpg

As the repairs stand today, the new cam, lifters, gears and timing chain have been installed.  Valve/head work in in progress and the whole job should be done in a few weeks (no later than December 13, cuz that's when the semester ends).

After 150,000+ miles the timing chain was floppy, the valve seals were leaking and at least one of the cam lobes had worn down to an odd shape.  I'm excited to see how she runs after the work is finished.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:29 pm

Sounds like it'll run good! Any performance mods?
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by Joe73 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:42 pm

Did you do a compression test before taking here apart? Heads will be sealing up tight now and the new cam will be letting more in.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by chevellelaguna on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:50 pm

Sounds like the perfect time for an oil ring to let go.....
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by dhw3971 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:21 pm

I guess the new camshaft is the only performance mod, unless you want to count the removal of the dead A/C unit, two-barrel carb and the addition of a QuadraJet with electric choke. I figure the cylinder head overhaul should help with performance too.  And those chrome parts should make it go faster, right?  Since a full-on restoration isn't gonna happen, my goal is to create a nice cruiser that is reliable, looks cool, sounds good and maybe can chirp the tires.  

I can't confirm that the students did a compression test before they started but the classes' instructor figured the compression was still OK based on how well it ran before the tear-down. We had the discussion about "How far into it do you wanna go?" and I decided that I'd just go with the top-end overhaul.  My budget is about $350 so I can't  go wild with replacing everything.

And pleeeeeease don't jinx me with oil rings!  My daily driver (HHR) has been in the repair shop since Oct 16 because the timing jumped and destroyed the top end (the DAY AFTER I PAID OFF THE LOAN):  all valves got bent, timing chain wrecked...thousands of dollars in repairs. Head Bang
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:41 pm

Just don't beat on it right off- give everything a chance to break-in properly.  You'll be fine!  Make sure them folks follow the manufactures procedures for the cam and use the Joe Gibbs "BR" or equivalent break-in oil.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by Joe73 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:50 pm

And make sure they know and DO the proper break in procedure for a flat tappet cam.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by dhw3971 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:56 pm

Yes, I will certainly take it easy on the engine. What should I do for proper break-in of the cam? I see specially formulated oils; do I buy 5 quarts of that stuff? Or do I buy an additive to pour into the existing (synthetic) oil?


I have a feeling it's going to straight into my garage for the winter...the semester ends in early December and if weather is like last year it will be cold and snowy then.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by Joe73 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:44 pm

No synthetic for.break in. And tbe recommendations Ive read on otber forums say no additives. Google it. Delo diesel oil is what i will be running after break in. Also, with a flat tappet cam, dont let the engine sit more than 2-3 weeks before breakin. Otberwise tbe lube you put on the cam can run off.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by alowerlevel on Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:36 am

Do not break it in with synthetic, that may lead to wiping out a cam lobe or 4. I always use a good break in oil like Brad Penn, Joe Gibbs, Amsoil, etc.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:58 am

dhw3971 wrote:Yes, I will certainly take it easy on the engine.  What should I do for proper break-in of the cam?  I see specially formulated oils; do I buy 5 quarts of that stuff?  Or do I buy an additive to pour into the existing (synthetic) oil?


I have a feeling it's going to straight into my garage for the winter...the semester ends in early December and if weather is like last year it will be cold and snowy then.

I used Joe Gibbs "BR"- it's about $10.00/quart and I used 5 quarts.

You're supposed to coat the Cam with a thick protective coating that usually comes with with it.  It's important to coat the lobes and the journals as well- basically every part of the cam that comes in contact with another part of the engine assembly.  You should refer to directions that came with your specific kit but in short- you have to run the engine for approx. 20 minutes to 1/2 hour at certain RPM's- usually, fluctuating between say 2,000-2,500 however, that depends on your specific cam and it's specification & directions.  If your idle speed is at 800 rpm for example- it may require less revving. Keep in mind also that you do not want it to idle at all- when it fire's up- get it up off idle speed asap and keep it off for the entire procedure.  This whole process is supposed to harden all the working parts of your cam.  It's a pain in the @$$ but worth the effort to do it as soon as possible- if you let it sit too long the protective lube that came with the cam will come off.  You can keep the break-in oil in there over the winter- but change it out before you take it out for a drive.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by Joe73 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:47 am

Pauls right on the money. But coat ALL parts of the cam. Even between the lobes. The coating between the lobes with spread around in there as well. The more coating the merrier. Also some coating on the bottom of the lifters but not the sides. Light coat of oil on the sides of the lifters.

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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by marks454ss on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:11 am

The cam break in is critical. A half hour of keeping the rps at the recommended setting (tyically 2500 with 3000 every for 1 minute every 5 minutes). I used gibbs break in oil and run Rotella for the zinc factor.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by dhw3971 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:50 pm

Thanks for all the info on break-in. I'll have to assume the students lubed up the cam correctly when they installed it; the instructor is pretty smart and runs his own repair shop (plus he's old enough to be familiar with cars from 1975).

I've got a bottle of Lucas break-in oil to add to the crankcase and will try to vary the RPMs as best I can (currently it's 25 degrees and snowing here). The choke keeps the engine at around 2000 RPM until it warms up enough, then drops down to about 800. Maybe I can get them to run it indoors for a while first.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:16 pm

You need more than one bottle friend. All the oil used in the crank case needs to be break-in oil until the procedure is done. You can keep the break-in oil in there until the spring, then just warm her up & change to your regular use oil before using the car regularly.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by chevellelaguna on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:03 pm

Are cams nowadays still prone to wiping out the lobes as they were in the 90's? I didn't have an issue with my cam install. (In the 90's) I can understand the influx of offshore junk cams, but I'm talking about reputable cam manufactures... I thought they advanced the technology so with proper lube and break in, they wouldn't wipe the lobes off as easily as they did.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:44 pm

Hydraulic flat tappet style- Yessir.

Haven't you seen that Gas Monkey episode where they used regular oil during the break-in & wiped out a brand new cam? LOL

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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by chevellelaguna on Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:12 pm

Yeah I saw that episode...didn't realize there was still an issue. That was a fairly stock rebuild too.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by driveit on Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:23 am

I think if you don't use the right oil it can cause a major issue. Although when my uncle was building engines back in his younger days, they always bought whatever cheap oil they could find to break it in, then changed it afterward to the good oil they normally used. They never had any issues. Doesn't make since to me.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by thatfnthing on Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:27 am

driveit wrote:Although when my uncle was building engines back in his younger days, they always bought whatever cheap oil they could find to break it in, then changed it afterward to the good oil they normally used.  They never had any issues.  Doesn't make since to me.

That's 'cuz oil was formulated differently back then.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by dhw3971 on Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:45 pm

This http://www.summitracing.com/parts/luc-10063-1 is what I purchased...you all think it's not enough?

Maybe I should get this http://www.summitracing.com/parts/luc-10631-1 instead?
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by driveit on Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:46 pm

I have been repeatedly advised again using the additive and going with the other, but I don't know myself. Is there anyway to verify how much zinc is in each one?
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:27 pm

You should have a 5 to 6 quart pan. The 5-quart Lucas jug you linked to is what you need for the initial break-in process. If you're shy by a little you s/b able to find a quart at a local supplier. You can use the other Lucas additive as a supplement mixed with your conventional oil after break-in.
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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by pila on Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:01 pm

I've been through this a number of times. Nothing like the work involved to tear an engine down completely, to clean all the metal particles out of the block.

I use Comp Cams lube on the cam lobes & lifters, and their break-in additive in the oil, along with #30 non-detergent oil for the break-in. Evil or Very Mad

The key thing is, DON'T let the engine idle !!!! Exclamation Evil or Very Mad

Run it up to 2000-2200 immediately when it starts !!

And after the run-in for half an hour, cut the filter apart to inspect it for metal. There is usually a few small particles showing, from when new parts are getting used to each other. Cutting the next filter apart will determine the health of the cam & lifters.

I've been using Valvoline VR1 racing oil after break-in, and so far it's been OK.

Five to 10 minutes of idle speed can wipe out a few lobes right away.

When the "modern" oil came out, even a few machine shops that assemble engines got caught by surprise when new cams went into self-destruct.

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Re: Breathing life into my high school sweetheart

Post by 77mali on Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:24 pm

I used break-in oil on my build versus adding the additive to 30 weight conventional. I just didn't trust even the "best" conventional oils of today for break-in. Just a matter of opinion I suppose and it was my first build, so I wanted to be super cautious. Very Happy

The Valvoline oil Pila is using is real good stuff for regular use- it's blended more like motor oil used to be & they have the ZDDP additive already in it. Probably the way I'm going to go as well when the car get's on the road.
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