The Big Engine Overhaul


We have been very busy at Valley Retro Towers. The Buick developed a little mis-fire which our resident mechanic Chris decided the engine having never been rebuilt in its 64 years that maybe it was about time it got some love.

So after a lot of research and talking to a specialist out in the States we ordered all the parts to give the Buick a 2nd lease of life.

Now Mr Buick usually lives in a storage unit as it’s huge! But as this was a big project we decided it would be better to have the Buick in the garage at home. Now think of an average size garage door- the Buick is literally 3cm thinner!

Good job Chris is a pro and got it in without any problems and the garage widens after the door so there’s plenty of space to work.

The engine block got took out – stripped and sent to the machine shop to be skimmed and cleaned.

Let me tell you the dirt and crud in the engine was unbelievable! It was actually a wonder the Buick worked at all. It actually highlighted where the mis fire had come from. Chris being the ever loving mechanic had been changing Mr Buick’s oil regularly to give it some love- unfortunately this was cleaning the “crud” (actual technical term there!) out the engine that was keeping it all sealed.

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After a few delays all the parts from America turned up and the rebuild could begin…. everything was going great till chris needed the Cam Shaft.

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It was completely snapped clean in half. Nightmare! So needed to source another one to be shipped from the US and held up the project.

Chris had to work around a few problems such as the machine shop losing a few irreplaceable parts from the engine block and also breaking one of the studs for the head- not telling us and repairing it with a metric stud. Obviously a 1954 engine from the states was always going to be very much imperial. Then there was also the problem of wear in the engine and new parts sitting either too loose or the overbearings fitting too tightly. So bless him he had to manufacture his own tools to complete the job and figure out new techniques.

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Quite literally he put his heart and soul into the engine even falling asleep on his knees next to the bed- too tired one afternoon to actually get in (really not kidding he was like this for an hour!)

Chris really wanted it to a an authentic job for the rebuild so made me buy a ridiculously expensive tiny pot of engine enamel paint- so it would look like it did from the factory. Attachment_4.pngAttachment_5.pngAttachment_6.pngAttachment_7.pngAttachment_8.pngAttachment_9.pngAttachment_10.png

Finally after a lot of cleaning, testing and a bit of a wiggle here and there to get everything in place- it was time to get the very pretty painted engine back in the hole.

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Chris proud of his work so far

Again a lot more wiggling involved to get the engine back in and connected to the gear box. All the spark plugs and other bits (you can tell I listened very carefully at exactly what he did) were attached.

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Chris got the engine started, timed up and could start his test drives for “tinkering” to tune the engine.

It was a great day seeing it pull off the drive for its first test after all the hard work and research chris had put into it.

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A few weeks later it was straight back to work for Mr Buick with for Gemma and Joes Wedding.

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Well done Chris!