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After our trip to the show in Happy Jack, my friend George and I spent several weeks trying to find out why Betty was running so rough. After rebuilding the carburetor, replacing the spark plugs and wires and the vacumn advance, we finally found out she had a burnt valve. Plus the rings were worn out, as evidenced by all the blue smoke coming out the tailpipes.
So, even though I knew now that Betty needed an engine rebuild, I wasn't too disappointed. After all, she had run well for the first year and half I had owned her, and she did have 125,000 miles on her. Plus, I found out from the previous owner (confirmed by the mechanic doing the rebuild) that the engine had not been rebuilt before.
Once again, George has very graciously offered to help me out. He has far more room at his house the I have at mine, so I took Betty there over Labor Day weekend to start the process. When George redid his engine last year, he had restored his engine compartment, so we decided as long as we had the engine out of Betty, we might as well clean up and paint under her hood, too. We stripped the engine to the block and heads, taking care to bag and label all the miscellaneous parts.
With both the engine and transmission in for their respective overhauls. George painted the engine compartment, and we continued to clean and paint parts including the valve covers, air cleaner, fan shroud, etc. Once we got the engine back, George first primered the block, then painted it Chevrolet orange. We also replaced the real coil springs (one of which was sagging) and all four shock absorbers.
Finally, we were ready to finish putting the engine back together and into the car. It took all of a Saturday, even with Samantha and our dog Max helping. But, after priming the oil pump, we found an oil galley plug on the block was leaking.
With the engine 90% finished, we weren't about to take it out again, so I had Betty towed back to the rebuild shop so they could fix the leak. Later that week, George and I finished putting the engine back together, and started it up. So far, so good. We adjusted the valves, and everything seemed fine. Then I put the car in reverse to back it off the driveway. And the oil light came on.
George had Betty towed to his mechanic who ran an oil pressure test and determined the oil pressure was indeed too low. So it was back to the rebuild shop again, but as stipulated in their warranty, we had to pull the engine back out of the car and remove the valve covers, intake manifold, exhaust manifolds, etc. Neither George nor I were very happy about it, but we didn't have much choice.
When George went to pick the engine back up, he talked to the mechanic who had worked on it. It turns out the crankshaft bearings were too small because they didn't compensate for the machining done to the engine. While I was still plenty steamed about having to pull the engine twice, I was releived to know what has caused the low oil pressure.
So, we spent another full Saturday putting the engine back in. Karl, another friend from Remember When who has a fawm '64 Impala SS, came to help. This time, there were no problems (other than trying to get the hood lined back up), and I drove Betty home that night. My rebuilt 327 runs smooth and strong, and shifts from the Powerglide transmission are hardly noticeable. It's great to have her back on the road again!
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