View Full Version : Re-Ring Kit for my '58

Big Dave
03-30-2011, 09:59 AM
Okay, so I've been very casually working on my engine. It's still in the car, but I've removed the intake manifold, everything on the front of the engine and I've dropped the oil pan. Now that I've got a good view of the guts, here's my modest plan for rejuvenating the engine: (1) install new timing chain; (2) re-ring pistons; (3) new rod bearings; (4) new main bearings; and (5) new rear main seal. I'm thinking of pulling the heads off with the manifolds attached, since those manifold bolts look pretty grim. Any thoughts or recommendations? I realize the proper way for doing this would be to pull the engine and have it properly cleaned and reconditioned, but I don't think it will fit neatly in the back of my little Saab.

Thanks in advance - Dave

03-30-2011, 11:46 AM
If you do the rings you should do the heads also. An in chassis rebuild can be done but it makes everything twice as difficult and your end product won't be as good. Rent a cherry picker and find a friend with a pickup or rent one for a day. Mike

03-30-2011, 01:03 PM
I agree with Mike. Pull the block, strip it, boil it, and have it bored and honed to fit new pistons.

If your cylinder walls are bell-shaped and smooth with a nasty ridge, your 'new' engine will burn oil even after you install new rings. Hone grooves act like 'rain grooves' in the road. Even new rings hydroplane if there's nowhere for the oil to go.

Bell-shaped cylinders cause new rings to flex on every stroke. They won't last long before new rings break.

I know a major overhaul is expensive, but if not done properly, you're putting good money after bad and all those good new parts and gaskets won't last long. Your block needs to be boiled and all the cylinders need to be cleaned inside the water jackets.
Replace your freeze plugs with brass. Six plugs take ten minutes and are easy to replace while the block is out. It took one of our members nearly a month to do his 'in the car'.

Pulling the heads with the manifolds still attached is ok. If you break an exhaust manifold bolt, it's much easier dealing with it on the bench.

Consider hiring an engine machine shop for installing hardened exhaust seats for our unleaded gas. As Mike mentioned, do a valve job. Heads are a major part of your engine. Don't go cheap with them.

A proper major overhaul using good parts and moly rings will last 250,000 miles just like modern cars. Here's my Y-Block engine rebuild CLICK HERE (http://home.comcast.net/~simplyconnected/projects/EngineParts/).

You are this engine's rebuilder. Renewable parts and labor costs are the same whether you have machine work done or not. All of these decisions are up to you, alone. Let's see how good this job turns out and how long it lasts. - Dave

03-30-2011, 02:34 PM
Not to "pile on", but I think you'll be disappointed with the finished product. If you don't own the precision tools to measure your bores and crank, maybe a friend will help you out. you really can't make a rational decision without knowing how much wear you have. If you decide on changing the timing chain, be aware of the difference between early and late cams. You could easily spend over $600 and have a oil burning, poor running engine that you'll have to pull and do over. JMO, Bob C

Big Dave
03-31-2011, 10:20 AM
That's very good advice. I appreciate it. And nice write-up on the Y-block engine rebuild. My motor looks about that dirty. Sounds like I need to pay a visit to the local machine shop.

Should I boil only the block or the block with the guts? How about the intake manifold and the heads? Those dudes are pretty grungy too. Last question (for now), will the old blue paint come off in the tank?

Thanks again for your good advice - Dave

03-31-2011, 11:26 AM
You will want to totally disassemble the engine. Remove the three core plugs on either side of the block and all of the oil passage plugs. Don't forget the one behind the dist. shaft. Yes, If done correctly all the paint will be gone, but before painting it clean it thoroughly with lacquer thinner or equivalent untill the rag comes away clean. Before you start take digital pics of everything from every angle and make notes. The most important step in this is picking a good machine shop. Find one that is familiar with the FE engine and has a solid reputation. This is not the place to try and save a few bucks. I think you'll be a happy camper when it's done and done correctly. Mike

03-31-2011, 12:08 PM

If you are planning on driving your car a lot I would go the machine shop route and have it completely gone over. Since I was only going to drive my car a few miles in warm weather I went the route that you talked about. I borrowed a micrometer and checked cylinder wear. Since there was very little I went the re-ring route. I rented a honing stone to rough up the cylinders first. I invested in a crankshaft kit rather than use the original. That was the main expense (around $250). It comes with new main and rod bearings. I spent a lot of time and CLR cleaning out the water jacket. I replaced the timing chain, oil pump and freeze plugs. The cam and lifters looked fine so I reused those. The next biggest expense was the gasket kit (around $60). As for the heads I ground the valves and seats and installed the new seals. Total cost for everything was under $500. Will it last 100,000 miles. Probably not but I'll never use it that much in my lifetime. It runs smooth and has no blow-by so I'm happy with it. Also the experience of doing it myself was invaluable. Just my two cents.


03-31-2011, 12:56 PM
I moved this thread at Ken's (GTE427) suggestion because. we still aren't used to having an engine forum.

There is nothing more gratifying than rebuilding your own engine. If you ever do one, you will do more.

Mike is on the money, here.
Take 100 pictures of your engine (at least). You will look for that one angle that you need to see later on, and hope it's in there somewhere. Afterward if you want, you can always delete some pictures.

Hot tank the heads, intake, and block. It will strip everything, right down to the casting, inside and out. But it can only get inside if you take all the plugs out, as Mike suggested. (I use a propane torch on the pipe plugs first because they won't come out easily.) Don't throw anything out until you're done with the job.

There really is no cheaper or better way to do this job. Let the engine machine shop bore and hone to the new piston size. Many times, the machine shop will order the pistons, but they can't bore until the pistons get there. My machine shop will do as much or as little as I ask. They are great.

03-31-2011, 05:10 PM
I moved this thread at Ken's (GTE427) suggestion because. we still aren't used to having an engine forum.

You should move this thread too IMO. It seems to come up annually... :cool:


-Jon in TX.

03-31-2011, 07:30 PM
Done! Thanks Jon. If anyone finds other FE threads, let me know and I'll move them. - Dave