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Projects 56 Pontiac Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Falcon H, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    Hi,
    I'm 15 and just started on my first restoration a few months ago, a 56 Pontiac Chieftain. The floors are rusted out, but other than that the body is in good shape. It had the original 316, but someone had taken the carburetor off and left the engine exposed to the elements. The engine was frozen and there were metal flakes on the spark plugs and in the oil, so me and my dad decided to pull it.

    I have a 305 from a 84 Silverado that I can use, but I would rather keep the car as original as possible. Is the 316 even rebuildable? What needs to be done, and how much could I do myself? Does anybody know where to buy parts for this engine, and which one do you think would be better for the car?

    Thank you for the help!

    pistons.jpg pistons.jpg pistons 2.jpg IMG_0001.JPG
     
    mcnally351 and philedealer like this.
  2. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,084

    vtx1800
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The internet will be your friend, just for fun I checked RockAuto.com, they had rod brgs, cam brgs and rings, Kanter Auto Parts is another. I rebuilt a 289 Ford back in the 60's that looked way worse than that one -- the heads were full of rust, it was a learning experience. Take your time disassembling after soaking the cylinder walls with your choice of lubricant (use the search function here as everyone has their own favorite), good luck.
     
  3. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    Thanks for the help! Do you think it needs to be rebored, and if not would it be possible to reuse the pistons?
     
  4. there looks like a little ridge at the top of the cylinder which most would say bore...but being the small second year V8 most would say keep your eyes out for a later Pontiac 389...which I think will bolt up to the early trans - which if an automatic will be a little costly to rebuild....that said the later motor and later trans you hopefully find will bolt in with out to much trouble....the Pontiac guys will chime in later.....welcome and you really have a nice car to work with....and most old cars have floor board issues
     
    Sauli likes this.

  5. jaxx
    Joined: Mar 22, 2008
    Posts: 385

    jaxx
    Member

    I rebuilt the 316 in the 56 I had in high school but I took the crank to an engine rebuilding company in Missoula Montana , home town , and had them return the crank to use 350 Chevy bearings, - new rods were made by a friend that was on a sub tender in the Navy at the time - new pistons and a valve job. bored 10 over - ran great - best of luck with your car - looks like a good starting place - jaxx
     
  6. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    If I rebored the engine would I need new pistons or could I buy larger rings? How much would reboring cost?
    Thanks!
     
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,264

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    you could start by taking your pictures of motor to a local engine builder. have to shop around for someone that knows old engines. ask his opinion. if you have a way to do a inside measurement (micrometer) of a cylinder bore where the piston is down in the cylinder a ways. to help determine if rings or pistons are needed. another thing to do is a search here for info about pouring something, like Marvel Mystery Oil or others, into all cylinders and let set for 2-3 days. then try to turn over motor. sometimes have to repeat this process a few times to have any luck with it turning over. the cylinders at least should be cleaned up by a machine shop. if engine turns over might as well pull rods & pistons - be sure to mark rods/rod caps with something like a center punch so everything goes back in where it came from. may have to use a board or something to tap on each piston to get them out. if ridge on top end of cylinderis too big to push pistons out can try getting a ring compressor on pistons to collapse rings. while doing all of this search around for another good Pontiac motor to use if engine does not tun over. also, have to considered what you will do about matching a replacement engine to trans. oh ya, might as well pull the trans out at this time to have it given a basic diagnosis on condition. on top of engine problems need to flush out gas tank/radiator/brake lines/ master cylinder. don't be in a hurry. hopefully you have a part time job to pay for stuff.
     
    Sauli likes this.
  8. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,148

    dan c
    Member

    as i recall, that engine has motor mounts on the front, which will probably bolt on to a later poncho mill. back in the day, there was a guy in my town with a '56, and he bolted in a 421. so you have all kinds of possibilities!
     
  9. flypa38
    Joined: May 3, 2005
    Posts: 530

    flypa38
    Member

    Pretty sure bolt in is 55-59. Check out pontiacsafari.com for everything you ever wanted to know about our 55-57 Pontiacs. Also check out the pontiac1950's yahoo group. Those guys are the world's experts on 50's Pontiacs!
     
    stillrunners likes this.
  10. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,119

    wvenfield
    Member

    Keeping the 316 would be cool but they are pretty pricey to rebuild. I don't know your finances but you could likely find a later (58-59) 389 cheaper and it's bolt in. Anything after that becomes more complicated.

    The 305 will take a lot of work to swap in. You would need side mounts and unfortunately the steering box is right in the way of where you would need to fab them. You can of course get creative but if I was in your shoes I'd look for the 389. Make sure to keep your exhaust manifolds because you will need the front dump on the drivers side, again because of the steering box.

    If you stick with the Hydramatic (assuming it's automatic) and it needs rebuilt, again, pretty pricey but working used ones aren't hard to find for not a lot.

    I have a hard time keeping all this straight.......You can use a later 389 if you can locate a 60 bellhousing and timing cover. (yours won't swap because it's reverse flow)
     
    stillrunners likes this.
  11. 57Custom300
    Joined: Aug 21, 2009
    Posts: 1,315

    57Custom300
    Member
    from Arizona

    You could always locate a 389 as mentioned, get it running then work on the 316 as time & money allow. Cool car!
     
  12. Hdonlybob
    Joined: Feb 1, 2005
    Posts: 3,907

    Hdonlybob
    Member

    Nice car young feller :)
    Good advise above...
    My personal opinion is to swap engines and get it running, as well as body done the way you want to...
    Buying a used engine (your choice) will be a lot less money, as well as surprises as redoing your original.
    Keep that old engine, and rebuild it as time/money/desires continue..
    Good luck...
     
    slack likes this.
  13. No way to know if it is rebuildable until you get it apart. The real question should be is it worth rebuilding. Probably not, at least not for me, but I suppose it depends on what you want and how deep your pockets are.

    I would find something affordable and perhaps more desirable that the 305 chebby. Of course the 305 is paid for so I guess if you dressed it like your prom date it would do.
     
  14. I would say do the motor swap, to rebuild that motor and trans will set you back alot of cash. If you want, save the stuff so you can put it back when you are older and richer. Bet you don't. My son and I put a 305 in his 54 Chevy when he was 14, he drove it through school and college, he is turning 30 this year and still has the car. Bet he has alot of fun in that car, good luck.
     
  15. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,106

    d2_willys
    Member
    from Kansas

    First things first. Do you have a "Park" position on the transmission indicator? If so, you have the Stratoflight (dual coupling hydramatic), which is not the greatest automatic. If you don't have the park position, then you have a dual range (single coupling) hydramatic, which is a great transmission, but could be expensive to rebuild.

    As far as getting the engine unstuck, you can use KROIL penetrant. If it is really bad you might try the electrolysis trick, where the motor is dissassembled as far as you can, then put in a water bath (mixed with a special soap), then one side of a 12v battery is connected to the block, and the other goes to a "sacraficial rod" that is in the water. This is suppose to draw the rust off the metal and into the water mix.

    If you need an engine I happen to have a good 1955 Pontiac 287 V8, which I would sell you. This engine will need a couple of exhaust manifolds (should be same as your 316), along with one of the water outlets on front of the cylinder head. It also needs a 4bbl carburetor. This engine should bolt right up to either transmission. PM me if interested in the motor.
     
  16. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,534

    Squablow
    Member

    Buy the '55 motor above or go find a good running 389 donor car to pull the motor and trans out of, it'll be the cheapest way to do it and much cooler than the 305, which you can sell for some extra coin.

    I've built a lot of cars, but only ever spent the money to have one motor rebuilt, a Chevy 348. Otherwise, if the car runs, the engine stays, if it doesn't, I find a good running engine to swap in. This is your first project, you're young and I'm guessing you don't have a ton of money to spend, so try to get it on the road safely for the least amount of money, while you're working on the rest of the car. A bolt-in used motor/trans is the way to do that.

    Neat car, very pretty with the hardtop roof line. I bet most of that chrome will polish up real nicely too.
     
  17. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    There isn't a park position. What is the best way to judge the condition of the transmission? I already have it out of the car.
    Thank you for the help
     
  18. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,106

    d2_willys
    Member
    from Kansas

    If it don't smell like smoke and the fluid is still red, it probably is good. The 55 287 should bolt right up. Want the engine?
     
    Sauli likes this.
  19. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    I'm defiantly interested in the engine. I tried to sent a PM last night, but I guess something happened to it. How much do you need for the engine? Do you know how many miles it has?

    I can't thank you guys enough for all of the advice and encouragement!
     
    wvenfield likes this.
  20. I've owned 11 of those 55-57 Pontiacs and I love 'em.A good number of those I've yanked the original engines and bought 389 Pontiac engines from 59-60. 1960 is the last year that will bolt up to your car and to your transmission. Your transmission is a design that was original used in 1939 until 1956 when a softer shifting [Boooo!] transmission was used. Yours has 4 speeds and you'll feel each shift. I hope it's in good condition because I don't know a good way [short of rebuilding] to test it out of the car.
    The engine may or may not be any good. To find out you'll need to completely disassemble it, inspect it and send it to a machinist for cleaning and measuring. He will be able to tell you if it's rebuildable and how much money you'll spend. I've always thought it's better to spend less money on a 389 than to spend it on a 316..
    A 389 will yank that 3600 lb car around a LOT better than the 316 for less money to rebuild because parts for a 389 are easier to find and cheaper to buy.
    The car in the photo was originally just like yours...red and white with a 316 [no motor when I bought it] and a 4 speed [bang-shift] hydro like yours. I kept the transmission and got a 389 engine out of a junk 1960 Pontiac...rebuilt the engine in my garage and punched it out to 400 cu. in. Used forged pistons and a lumpy cam with a single 4 barrel carb. Man! That thing would scoot!..
    I did the rust repair at our local college shop class because at that point I didn't have a garage....living in an apartment. I sanded and primed it there too.....installed the engine in their shop and had a running car!
    Had to sell it to pay for closing costs on our first home...what a car! Rockys56pontiacb_4.jpg Rockys56poncho.jpg
     
  21. We just rebuilt the 316 and tranny in my wife's wagon, she had to have everything original would not accept anything other than the original engine and transmission back in the same spot. Engine cost to date is nearly $4000 bored with new pistons, heads done and set up as a full roller with roller cam and rockers, light performance rebuild. Would have been $1500 less without the roller stuff reusing the original rockers and a new flat tappet cam. Tranny had some damage from a grenaded pilot bearing that sent little BB's through it and ran us $2700 for a full stock rebuild with some NOS goodies to fix the damaged stuff. You need a real expert to do these transmissions, they are very difficult to deal with. The guy said if it was a stock rebuild with out that damage it would have been $800.
     
  22. Can't wait to see how this turns out. Good luck.
    For me it would be a stock rebuild, but whatever you feel comfortable with.
     
  23. If you use any engine newer than a 56 engine, PM me for details on how to prep the back of the crank for that original 56 Hydramatic trans. And remember that a pontiac engine newer than 1960 will have a different bolt pattern for the transmission. If you want to continue using your original transmission, the engine has to be a 1960 or earlier Pontiac...chevy, olds, buick and everything else is different. Oh, sure.........some guys will come on here and tell about 50s chevy pickups that could be had with chev smallblocks and 4 speed hydramatic transmissions but those adapters are few and far between.
     
  24. low budget
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 5,564

    low budget
    Member
    from Central Ky

    My advice will be, is to next time, dont "cut" the starter wires if your gonna need to use em later and the 305 "and trans" idea sounds ok to me.
     
  25. as far as the 305 goes just use a "hurst" style front mount and go for it with the modern uprade! i have a 55 2dr wgn. and these pontiacs are great! scarebird has disc brake kit that works great!
     
  26. I'm not a Pontiac guy and, I don't know what your plans are but, maybe you can find a running 57 Pontiac parts car for cheap. The reason I say 57 is because, they have a heavy duty rear end in them that would probably bolt into your car pretty easy plus, you'd have a motor and, tranny and, maybe some other parts that interchange with your 56. Then, maybe you can part the rest of the car out to get some of your money back. You can also pour automatic transmission fluid into the cylinders of your original motor to try and, free it up. These are just some of my thoughts. One thing for sure, is that at the age of 15 you're headed in the right direction and, old Pontiacs are cool! You should be proud. Good luck with your project!
     
  27. Falcon H
    Joined: Mar 11, 2015
    Posts: 138

    Falcon H
    Member
    from Waco Texas

    Thank you for the engine d2_willys! I'm really glad I don't have to use a SBC. I'm almost ready to mount the transmission, but I'm not sure if the mounts are still useable. IMG_0135.JPG IMG_0130.JPG

    There also seems to be some kind of choke an the exhaust manifold. Is it best to repair, or disable it? IMG_0136.JPG

    Thank you!
     
  28. I have always by passed them because "I am a hot rodder!!!!!" If it is stuck try and break it loose and use it. If the spring dealy is bad I am sure if you look around you can find one and they are a good idea to have if they are in working order.
     
  29. 54Buick48D
    Joined: Jan 25, 2013
    Posts: 208

    54Buick48D
    Member
    from Maryland


    The heat riser in the exhaust you can remove if you can not free it up making it function. The heat riser helps warm the cold started engine.
     
  30. 50pontiacguy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2014
    Posts: 162

    50pontiacguy
    Member

    Not sure where you are or if it helps but ive got a straight 6 and hydramatic tranny taking up space in my garage if you need parts or anything, Congrats on the car btw!
     

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