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RESTORATION PART 2
Let's go into a restoration with a little more detail.
By Skip Cain
This series will deal with mechanical restoration and restification. Restification is a recent term that means combining the "muscle" of the sixties with the technology of the nineties. Who wants to have to deal with replacing and setting points in your ignition system
As I mentioned in part one, a mechanical restoration will include a rebuild of the drivetrain.This is a good time to include some modern improvements to your engine. The valve seats need to be changed to hardened stellite, and you'll need to install bronze valve guides or inserts. The older engines were designed to operate on leaded gasoline, which shielded the valve seats, and lubricated the valve guides. Bottom line is unleaded gasoline will slowly destroy these older engines and heads.Also, I would recommend(if you have to replace the pistons)lowering the compression ratio, if your stock compression ratio is more than 10.5:1. Higher compression engines will ping and detonate on today's low octane unleaded gas. Unless you are prepared to run racing or aviation fuel, you will have to retard the timing and deal with the pinging and detonation. The difference in being able to fully advance the timing will make up for any loss of power by lowering the compression.
While I am mentioning camshafts, another important factor is properly breaking in the camshaft and lifters when you first fire up your rebuilt engine. Since you should have all new camshaft, lifters and valve springs, it is very important and critical to cam and lifter life.Most cam failures occur in the first few minutes of running. The camshaft manufacturers warn you to run the engine at 1500-2000 RPMs for the first 20-30 minutes. This may seem rude, but it insures a good oil supply, whereas idle speed will not and may cause excessive wear on the cam lobes and lifters. And always "prelube" the engine before starting and running. Make sure the oil pressure is up before firing to avoid dry parts and excessive wear.After breaking in the camshaft, change the oil and filter. Rebuilt engines are full of microscopic metal particles, lint and other debris.
I mentioned ignition points earlier. A neat "restification" trick for those of you who wish to keep your stock distributor, is to replace the points with a electronic unit. Mallory offers a Unilite conversion kit that replaces the points, and I believe there are a couple of other kits as well.These units bolt right in to your stock distributor. You'll have a couple of extra wires, but other than that it will appear stock and original. I also use a Accel Super Stock coil, which I paint black.( for originality look) They are stock sized and will fit your stock coil bracket. This setup should give you up to a 30% increase in spark over a points type ignition. With this hotter spark, you'll be ready for a better spark plug. I have tried them all, but I have to recommend the new AC Delco Rapidfires. They are gapped at .045 and really do help prevent fouling. For performance purposes you can also change the advance springs and weights to tailor the advance curve you want.
Another Restification involves replacing the rubber bushings on your car. During a brake conversion is a good opportunity to rebuild the front end of the car. Replacing the ball joints,coil springs and shocks is recommended as well as the bushings on the control arms and sway bar. PST offers a graphite impregnated polyurethane bushing kit that I recommend. They won't distort and deflect like rubber, and really improve the handling. These won't squeak like the old polyurethane bushings did, and are black, not red or yellow. I replaced every bushing on my car with Polygraphite bushings by PST, and was amazed at the difference. No more wheel hop, no leaning during hard conering, and a firm high performance ride.
One last thing on brake conversions. If you are doing a complete restoration of your brakes and installing new lines, wheel cylinders, master cylinder,etc. switch to Dot 5 silicone brake fluid. It is not water soluble and won't ruin paint.Make sure it doesn't mix with the dot 3 type, as it is not compatible. It is harder to bleed, as the air bubbles like to stay suspended in the stuff, but in my opinion is worth the extra bleeding. I've had it in my car for two years now with no problems.
Click here for the next part of this series. I'll go into body and paint restoration, and how to deal with that dreaded four letter word, RUST.
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