We left off in my story with Mom knowing and surprisingly wasn’t quite ready to kill me. Of course my Mom is about 5 foot 2 and 120 pounds, and at 16 I was 6 feet and 220 pounds, but then, even I knew if she had it in for us Dad and I would be dead, lol figuratively speaking of course.
In any case, the week after Mom found out about the car and we had the little family show and tell, Dad and I started on the motor. Off came the hood, and off came the intake. Dad shock his head, and soon off came the passenger side head. Not happy with what he saw, off came the other head.
I remember Dad saying, well we have a project here alright, and off he went to get a engine tree as Grandpa called it. It was and adjustable frame that went over the car and that you could put a chain fall from a mounted hook and pull and engine. It was something Grandpa had made and it really was a heavy duty piece of equipment that could be taken apart and moved by 1 person, however assembled had no problem to pull a big motor out of a tractor or bulldozer. Up went the engine tree and before he left the hemi was out of the car and sitting on the barn floor, with its 4 speed transmission coming with it.
The heads went into the back of Mom’s Fargo pickup that we had driven to the farm and home for supper we went. Mom of course wanted to know if it was back running yet, and Dad with a straight face said, nope, we need to freshen it up a bit.
Lol.. yah freshen it up a bit was one way to put it.
After supper Dad and I were in his shop attached to the house, and disassemble of the head took place. What we saw wasn’t pretty. Numerous valves were burnt, there were seats cracked and it was pretty clear, the engine had been driven hard.
The next day Dad took the head to work and when he got home, the report wasn’t good. Both heads had cracks, the one with the blown head gasket and the most burnt valves was warped, cracked and pretty much not repairable.
Next thing to move up from the farm to the shop was the short block. We knew there was antifreeze in the pan, so the question was, how long had it run with antifreeze in the pan and what there the bearings like.. Lol..well pan off and a couple of caps off, and it wasn’t pretty. Bearings were ruined,crank was damaged, rods were marginal, 3 pistons were damaged, and things were not looking well.
Everything got checked for cracks, damage,and in the end Dad would say – well son, at least the block isnt cracked.. So much for this hemi needing a head gasket and away we go. This went from that to a rebuild, to a major rebuild, to the need for a lot of new parts.
The truth is the list of parts was extensive. New crank, rods, pistons, rings, cam, heads, valves and on and on.. So with my part time, after school and summer time job at Rockwood hardware on the go I was literally saving nickel I could for parts. A couple more part time jobs and I was certainly putting in the hours.
I think both Grandfathers, a couple of uncles, and heck even my Mom was feeling sorry for me. When people asked what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas, out came the parts list.. lol
Dad help me find a good crank courtesy of his Chrysler contacts, and I sure lots about modifying a perfectly good crank to make it better. In Grampas shop we bored out the block and Grampa pulled some stings to get me a set of top fuel h-beam rods that actually were likely worth more than I paid for the car. I quickly learned there are balanced rods, and well there are rods my Dad and Grampa were willing to accept as balanced. Out came a rod balancing tool Grampa first built in the 1930s and that had undergone a few modifications and I got to watch the master at work. A so called balanced set of rods, under went about 30 more hours of work Partly it took so long as I was undergoing training Grampa and Dad style and partly because it started to become the pursuit of a perfect set of parts.
At one point in time, Dad went into his parts room in the shop and out he came with a set of heads. These were no normal Hemi Heads and they had already undergone extensive modifications. Dad said to me, “well if were going to do this, then lets really do it”.. and it was really game on.
I remember one Saturday morning, it wasn’t even light and Dad was waking me up to head to his shop. Assembly was about to start. It was more than a little father-son time, as Grampa Kingsbury was already in the shop with everything lined up ready to roll.We started assembly and after lunch Grampa Bolton arrived with the “mystery cam”. I say mystery because he and Dad were back and forth of cam specs, and Grampa had cut and parkerized 3 or 4 cams, had them put in the block checked things and out they came again.
So he had mystery cam #7 as it was known because he had it wrapped in an old hockey practice jersey of mine, and you guessed it, it had a #7 on it.
I figured I was there to make coffee, run for stuff, but oh no.. I most certainly was under heavy supervision, but the expectation was I was to by the chief assembly guy. By Sunday afternoon, the engine was complete and hooked up to a test bed Dad had for testing engines.
I figured ok, lets fire this puppy up…. But oh no.. It seems I was the only one that didn’t know this was going to be a command performance. So we cleaned up,went home, got ready and headed to Grama and Grampa Kingsbury’s for Sunday night dinner. It was darn near a family reunion with aunts and uncles and cousins. After supper was over the two Grama’s standing at the head of the table asked if anyone wanted to go see what ‘Tim, and the cast of automotive tinkerers were up to”. I am sure I blushed a bit and my Grampa Kingsbury burst out laughing as my Grampa Bolton rolled his eyes and my Dad just shook his head. So everyone loaded up, and off to Dad’s shop we went.
I thought it a little odd for about 20 people to have interest in test firing my engine, but what the heck.. So we all arrived in the shop and fired up the monster. With open headers dumping into hoses going outside,2 huge 4 barrel carbs on top, it definitely barked as it was 1st fired. The heads we were using had 2 spark plugs per cylinder so when my cousin said- “no wonder this thing is so loud. A v16 is so cool”…
Of course that lead to my mom commenting that “no wonder it is so expensive” … and so the misinformation continued. Thanks Mom!
Then came the real reason everyone was there. It wasn’t really to hear the engine start up, it was because my aunts and uncles had got together and had the interior redone, had it put into the rolling chassis, and they had brought it up from the farm and rolled it into Dad’s shop after we had left for home. It was a few days before my birthday and well “Happy Birthday!” was the theme as my Uncle got me over as he pretended to look in the car for the 1st time.
So there it was, the engine done, the car done, it was just a case of getting the engine bolted back up to the transmission, and sliding the “big elephant” back into place!
In the next chapter: Its locked down, who knows and who cares how much HP it has, its time to take this puppy to Toronto International Dragway ! Lol.. the NHRA 1/4 mile track, not the now Toronto International Airport !