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Projects What Was Your First Engine Build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Speed Gems, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. metlmunchr
    Joined: Jan 16, 2010
    Posts: 631


    Stock rebuild of a 36 horse out of a 59 VW bug. A friend bought the car and most of the parts to rebuild the engine and then sold me the whole thing for 35 bucks.

    Got it all together and it started right up. Ran about 2 minutes and locked up solid. The old VW magnesium blocks would beat out the main bores oval shaped so you had to line bore them and shim the mains to get the clearance anywhere near right. I think they eventually made oversize mains to match line bored blocks, but back then shims were the only option.

    Anyway, the bearing on the nose of the crank was a one piece deal that just slid onto the crank. I had missed the fact that it was indirectly oiled by the next main so I hadn't put the 2nd hole in my shim to let the oil go from there to the nose bearing. Only way to get mains was in a full set and no way was I gonna spend 25 bucks to get the one bearing I needed. Had to pull the bearing off the crank with a jaw puller but once it was off it looked pretty good so I polished the crank nose and cleaned up the bearing with a wheel cylinder hone. Put the whole thing together again and it ran like a champ.

    Sold it around 72 to a guy who worked at a gas station where we traded. Ran into him one day in the late 80's and asked him what he ever did with the old bug. He said he didn't do anything with it other than drive it and still had it and drove it regularly. Said it was the most reliable car he ever owned and he'd put close to a hundred thousand miles on it without any problems. Never has been any doubt on my part that was pure beginner's luck
    wicarnut likes this.
  2. 1963 1/2 Ford 390 from a cop car... Nothing stock Ford in the valvetrain!
  3. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 1,498

    from SW Wyoming

    Skipping over a B&S and a couple dirt bikes, my first automotive project was a 1970 Pontiac 400, that was in my '68 Firebird. It had spun a rod bearing on the #2 cylinder. I pulled the crank and could actually get that rod and piston out past the main web. Went to a junkyard and did the same to another 400, installed my piston on that rod and put it back together with a used high pressure oil pump (it had a thicker cover that did not bulge under pressure like the original sheet metal cover did). Being quite determined, I actually got the piston and rod back in without a ring compressor either. That 400 lived about three more months afterwards, suffering all the abuse an 18 year old could give it. Ah, the good old days.
    wicarnut likes this.
  4. LWEL9226
    Joined: Jul 7, 2012
    Posts: 182

    from So. Oregon

    53 Merc. flathead..... Glued the hell out of everything with permatex.... Didn't have any leaks :D
    Sure hope no one ever tried to get it apart again....

    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  5. henryj1951
    Joined: Sep 23, 2012
    Posts: 2,100

    from USA

    Ever since i can remember ---what, 4 years old, here kid hold this( greasy tool) and as i got was just the TEARDOWN kid... i might have ASSembled PARTILY on a 216 ci. Heck ANYBODY can assemble,
    , and did, many chevys, fords, tractors,-n- crap, all kinds of , assembly. (i hated lawnmowers , actually ALL small engines). So first build , that comes with THOUGHT of what outcome you're after, i'm gonna have ta say a chevy 265ci.
    And the BUILDS just kept coming ,Faster, Bigger,and More , lost track 20years ago.
    Assembly takes a few hours , a build can take you a 100 hours....THINK about that.
    dogwalkin likes this.
  6. Stueeee
    Joined: Oct 21, 2015
    Posts: 82

    from Kent, UK

    Mine was J.A.P. V twin motor from a Brough Superior motorcycle which was sitting in pieces in a wooden box under the bench in my brothers' garage. My "two brothers up" Rod, had scrapped the rest of the motorbike some years beforeo_O

    I was 12 years old and had seen a lot of car and motorcycle engines being rebuilt in the garage by my 3 elder brothers, but this was the first one that I actually assembled myself. The things that stick out in my memory (other than finding that the magneto was missing meaning i couldn't run it) were the weird pivoting roller cam followers and the fact that the lubrication was total loss set by a pump with a metering knob.
    Joined: Jan 7, 2016
    Posts: 666


    Cox .049 in my toy dune buggy. My brother got one too for Christmas and he got bored with it soon. I mixed and matched engine parts and took the little retractable starting cable off his and put it on mine. Mine broke from being used so much.
  8. Rocky
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 13,574

    Classified Editor

    53 merc 255 for my 50 ford. I still remember my rings, bearings and gaskets cost $36 in 1964. Ran great! Then my dad said "When I come home from work tomorrow I want to see only 1 vehicle that belongs to you on my propitty"
    Kept my 56 Olds ragtop as I was still making payments on it. I yanked the flathead out of the 50 before it went to the junkyard and sold the engine separately.
    Some guy bought that rebuilt flathead and put it in a 61 falcon ranchero "huntin rig".... front sat low and the guy got drunk driving up in the boonies deer hunting and popped a hole in the pan with a sharp rock...lost oil and siezed my new flathead! The end. Rockysfirstshubox1.jpg
    56cadillackid likes this.
  9. butchcoat1969
    Joined: Apr 1, 2017
    Posts: 165


    Mine was a 64 impala SS 327 4 speed it was my 2nd car my 1rst car was a 65 GTO rag top light yellow black top & interior 389-4V power everything picked it up for 50.00 BC they guy rebuilt the motor but couldn't get it to run so he thought he did something wrong and stuck in his front yard for sale I came by feted him 50.00 he wanted a 100 struck the deal me and my buddy cranked it over and he knew exactly what he had done wrong, he pulled the distributor out spun it 180 stuck back we fired it up and I drove it home lol then I sold it for 250.00 bought my 64 impala SS for 200 which needed a water pump which of my buddies already had he help me put it on and I drove that home to lol then I came across a 69 camaro RS 4speed 307 factory matching numbers the kid that bought it got killed in Vietnam and his dad was just getting rid of it BC it reminded him to much of his son I didn't even dicker with him I just got the cash and bought the car hi h there's more to that car once I got it but that's another time

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app HotRod Harry
    wicarnut likes this.
  10. If an .049 Cox Engine counts that would be the one. Then I moved to a 307 SBC.
    Speed Gems likes this.
  11. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 2,723

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.

    Interesting starts from many,cool. The modal airplain motors,lawnmower/go-carts an Cushman's paper rout,but as for a hop up car motor,#1 was for racing SCCA H-mod Crosley OHC 4cly in 1955 with my Dad,but Doc Moor was the theacher of how to build it,he raced boats Y-H using the Crosley's with alcy at 10,ooo RPM an was world champion for a number of years. That was a great start. Here's Doc loading up to go beat the world again,with his nefew waving by. That's hole nother story too. DocMoorSounthernAir.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    wicarnut, Chucky and tractorguy like this.
  12. A inline six in a 1954 Ford,it lasted about two weeks before I spun a main bearing. :rolleyes:

    I then bought a '62 Ford 390 interceptor and did my first engine swap with some help from a more knowledgeable friend.

    That car was fast,but sure lacked in braking. HRP
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    wicarnut and dana barlow like this.
  13. Dusty roads
    Joined: Nov 29, 2016
    Posts: 99

    Dusty roads
    from Colorado

    A 55 Nail head in my 29 Ford Tudor (circa 1964).

    29 with stationwagon top 001.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
    wicarnut and dana barlow like this.
  14. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 38,655


    LOL my first personal build was also at 14 and it was a '59 English Reilly. I don't know that you could call it a "build" in the strictest sense, it was more of an overhaul.

    I also built a Lincoln *Donkey Motor from a saw mill and a small block Chevy that same year. The small block may have counted as a "Build". Mild over bore, raised compression and a Duntove cam.

    * I have also heard them called a buck and a mule, basically it ran gang saws.

    OH @Speed Gems they wouldn't let me take automotive in high school. By grades were good enough but I didn't have the proper social standing. Didn't matter the teacher was a dork anyway. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    wicarnut likes this.
  15. Julian Delgado
    Joined: Apr 10, 2017
    Posts: 2

    Julian Delgado

    When you built it did you use the original frame?

    The first engine I rebuilt was a Detroit 692 out of a fishing vessel.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  16. I really enjoy stories like this. It has that I need to know but on my level or no way at all feel to it. Also anyone that knows Squirrel would say, "what !, you of all people didn't get it to work ?". But that's where the story does not end and is just beginning.
    Speed Gems likes this.
  17. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 36,641


    Even in the mid 70s it was expensive to buy a coil for a single cylinder engine.
    Johnny Gee likes this.
  18. I knew I'd get the end result as to why ? I just needed to dumb you up a bit into telling. :)
  19. scrubby2009
    Joined: Jan 9, 2011
    Posts: 156


    Quickee rebuild on a 1600cc for a 1965 T2 double cab. Split the case for new bearings. Second one was full build on a 61 3/4ton Ford 292.
  20. Speed Gems
    Joined: Jul 17, 2012
    Posts: 1,903

    Speed Gems

    Yes i used the original frame but it's got a Mustang ll front suspension.
  21. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 4,314


    Back in the day, I had a 56 Chevy 2 door post car with a worn out 265. Rebuilt a 283 with almost all most parts bought from the local Chevrolet Dealership. If I remember correctly the 097 cam cost right at $30.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
    wicarnut likes this.
  22. pigfluxer
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 129


    Another one in the Brigs@straton catagory
  23. upspirate
    Joined: Apr 15, 2012
    Posts: 1,408


    Spun 4 mains,one inside of itself and 3 sets of broken rings in my O/T '70 Duster 340.
    Decided to trade bodies with a friend for his '70 Swinger 340 and install my rebuilt powertrain (3 spd , 3:23 open rear)
    He wanted the Duster body and 340, and had a tired 273 Hi-po that we rebuilt for mine using the 340 intake,exhaust,cam,other parts and Mallory dist.....ran good but after being used to the 340 it was slow!
    Got behind in Jr college during rebuild, and when I told the prof what was happening , he said " If you can do all that, why are you in computer class? You can make more money as an auto mechanic!!" It was '73 and my friend was only making $90 week at a Chev dealer, so I took the bad advice of the prof and dropped out of never earning any big money in computers!!!!:(:mad:
    Oh well, 44 years with UPS now !:cool:
  24. Karrera
    Joined: Jan 19, 2008
    Posts: 140


    59 Renault Dauphine engine - 750cc's, 21 HP (when new which mine certainly wasn't) rear engine 4 cylinder with wet sleeves. I made almost every mistake you can when working on that piece of junk so I got to "rebuild" it three or four times before I finally gave up and sold the car for scrap.I learned valuable lessons about re-torquing heads, bad sounds a motor can make when a piston is disintegrating, the necessity of carrying a tow rope, and always remember to drain the oil pan first before unbolting it. (I ruined my favorite jacket with that stunt).

    My next lesson in automotive mechanics was a lot more successful - I bought a 1965 Corvair Corsa with the 180 HP turbocharged six that had dropped a valve seat and blown up the turbocharger when the pieces went through it. After almost a years work I had a 250 HP Turbo Corvair that would spin the E-60/14 tires going into third gear and hit 130 mph.
    Poh likes this.
  25. mohead1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2013
    Posts: 340


    Holy shit....that was ugly...i have one a dem Coupes....hope i dont wreck it before the cage goes in

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
    1927graham likes this.
  26. I was just a dumb kid, had a plywood floor, sitting on a wooden pop crate, of course no seat belt, my first and only experience with bump steer!
    Chucky likes this.
  27. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 1,602

    from Berry, AL

    283 in a 66 Chevelle. Bought an "overhaul kit" from Sears. Didn't have any way to size bearings, rings, etc, so I just ordered standard size. Borrowed a cylinder hone and did the bores. Didn't have a torque wrench either, so just used a pull handle and a cheater pipe. First time it ran, rods started clattering, I had been afraid to over tighten them, pulled it back out and tightened the hell out of them. Put it back in, it ran, but rough. Had a fellow adjust the valves for me, then it ran smooth with plenty of power. Drove it for a couple of months, then it blew a head gasket. Again, because the bolts weren't tight enough. Ended up trading it for a dune buggy. The car got traded around a few times, by then the rust had pretty much eaten the floors out of it, and the engine was pulled and put in a 65 Chevy pickup. That guy drove that pickup for years with that 283 in it. Haven't seen it or him in years now, so don't know the final story on it.
  28. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 2,400


    :D First build.289 R1 Studebaker.Went into a 53 coupe with the BW OD transmission.3.00 Golden Hawk rear.Sure cruised nice at 80 at about 2000 rpm.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
  29. Chucky
    Joined: Mar 15, 2009
    Posts: 1,610


    Around '85/'86. That would have made me about 14/15 years old. My good friend Rob, who got me into cars, was 22/23 years old. It's amazing that I have the photo of him and I assembling that engine. We worked at a print shop and printed the photo onto paper (that's why it's green). Also amazing is how many details I remember about that engine, when I can't seem to remember what I had for lunch yesterday. Without getting too deep, it was a 1776cc. It ran a NOS Holley bug spray, which even at that time had been out of production for quite a few years. 009 distributor, electric fuel pump and a chrome tri-mill exhaust. Later, I purchased the engine from him and remember racing a Dodge Colt turbo on Winnetka avenue. My '57 Oval spanked that Chrysler POS with little effort. Yeah, it's not like a scene out of American Grafitti, but it was 30 years ago. I had, by far, the oldest car in my high school parking lot and it really was no slouch compared to the crap that ran the streets back then.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017

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