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a broken 218 and a pit in the stomach

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I got my 218 back from the rebuilder (complete rebuild) and reinstalled it in the truck about 4 weeks ago. Started right up and ran beautifully (Pertronix ignition, newly rebuilt carb, fuel pump, oil pump, new clutch, etc). I drove it through the dirt roads around our place and had put maybe 15 miles on it, all under 35 mph.

Night before last I took it for a 2 mile drive (testing the brakes) and on the way back at a stop sign I felt a bump and then a loss of power and it felt like it was running on one cylinder. I limped it the 1/2 mile home. Oil pressure and temp were fine, oil was clean and coolant as well. 

Tonight I pulled the plugs - 1, 2 and 3 were wet with oil. I did a compression test (dry with all the plugs out):

(6) 80 (5) 80 (4) 85 (3) 95 (2) 100 .... (1) 0

Im not sure how to diagnose the issue, but I assume that zero compression on a cylinder is bad news. Broken piston?

Roland :(

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I am totally with Rockwood.

I would do absolutely Nothing until I called the re builder of the motor and he either came to your place or paid to tow it to his shop for inspection, anything you touch clouds any problems and gives them (him) an out-jus say'in?.

I had that a similar problem many years ago and followed my own advice.

Rebuilds these days are not cheap, no reason for you to deal with what appears to be a major issue


Good luck!


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1 hour ago, DJ194950 said:

I would do absolutely Nothing until I called the re builder of the motor and he either came to your place or paid to tow it to his shop for inspection,

I agree 100% , this is solid advice.

Far as I know, the manual suggest to retorque the head 3 times, While a recent discussion on flatheads in H.A.M.B. Some suggest to torque as many times as it takes, to come up with no more movement. Up to 5 times even.


I would have to dig out the manual to read it, but think it is something like start it up and run to operating temp then let completely cool and retorque.

Then drive it for 30 min, let it completely cool, and retorque. And so on.


I would definitely talk with the engine builder before touching anything, well actually I would check to see if any head bolts are loose.

Very possible the old  head gasket is still good, and just needs to follow the proper procedure, I would not balk if the mechanic suggest it.

Then another compression check to see if it did any good. Might have to pull the head and check it for flatness and replace the gasket.

This may not even be the problem, but is a likely candidate and a pretty simple fix. If so, the owner and mechanic will need to talk about how they will get the proper retorque done.

Could also be a valve, but owner should not panic just yet.

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Thanks for all the advice on this. I did contact the rebuilder yesterday morning and he was super cool about it and told me not to worry - he would take care of it. He's going to come to my place and look at the engine early next week (I hope that what ever it is it can be taken care of without pulling the engine). I didn't know about having to re-torque the head bolts that many times after a rebuild.


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even if you do not do your own work on these cars...the benefit of owning and reading the repair manual is immense...it will make you aware of the many cautions and warning that will enable you to ensure the proper work is done so to protect your investment and the car itself.  If you have the manual...read up on it..you can breeze the book quite quickly and be on top of your game.  If you do not have a manual it is in your favor to buy one.   Hope it is just a simple item overlooked...

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