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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Engine Assembly, Part 6: Completing the Assembly
By Wayne Scraba/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
Oil Pump Installation
Before installing the oil pump, the driveshaft must be installed. With the engine upside down (crankshaft facing up), it simply drops into place. You can now install the pump. Some pumps such as the big Titan model in our photos use a stud as a fastener. The stud is first installed on the rear main cap, followed by the pump. Then the nut (or bolt, depending upon your application) is torqued to the factory specification.
Oil Pan Installation
If a windage tray is used in your particular application, there's a good chance it bolts onto special studded main cap bolts (see the accompanying photos for a closer look). Here, it's a simply matter of dropping the windage tray over the studded main cap bolts, and tightening the locknuts. Torque to factory specifications.
Next, apply a thin bead of RTV silicone sealer to the oil pan flange on the cylinder block. If equipped with a multiple piece gasket (common on earlier engines) install the neoprene end seals first, then install the side pan rail gaskets. Apply another thin bead of RTV silicone to the top of the end seals and pan rail gaskets. Alternatively, if the oil pan gasket is a one-piece affair, simply drop it into place. Install the oil pan and tighten the bolts evenly. Double check the torque specification in your factory manual.
Harmonic Damper Installation
The harmonic damper (often called a "balancer") is engineered to fit tightly onto the crankshaft. Installing it or removing it can prove troublesome. To ensure you don't have excessive grief, coat the crankshaft snout with anti-seize compound.
The other part of the puzzle is the actual installation. You can't hammer it on. And never use a bolt to install the balancer or you may pull or damage the threads in the crankshaft snout. You have to pull it on. What you'll need is a special tool for the job. We have two of them: One is a vintage GM Kent-Moore tool while the other is from the folks from B&B. In either case, they work in the same way. The body of the tool is a large "stud" and it is screwed into the threads in the crankshaft snout. The damper is slid over the tool body. Next, a special flange with ball bearings is placed against the body of the damper.
With our tools, a 5/8-inch wrench is used to keep the stud and the crankshaft from turning. A large 1-3/8 nut is used to press the balancer over the crankshaft snout. We don't have a wrench that large, so we use an adjustable crescent wrench for the job (which is perfectly acceptable). By turning the big nut, the damper is slowly and evenly pulled onto the crankshaft. Once it seats against the crankshaft, install the harmonic balancer bolt and washer. Torque the bolt to the crankshaft manufacturer's specifications.
Distributor Installation
Before the distributor can be installed, the crankshaft must be rotated until the #1 cylinder begins the compression stroke. This can be determined by watching the valves (rockers) on the #1 cylinder. If both valves are closed, or alternatively, if you feel compression escaping from the #1 spark plug hole, slowly rotate the crankshaft until the timing marks on the damper show the correct initial timing (base timing setting).
Next, install a gasket over the end of the distributor gear, and install the distributor shaft into the distributor hole. Select one tower on the distributor cap that will have the #1 spark plug wire connected (usually one that faces forward toward the front of the engine). As the distributor gear meshes with the camshaft gear, you'll find there will be several engagements that work. Pick one where the distributor rotor points directly at the #1 tower of the distributor cap. Simultaneously, you have to ensure that the oil pump shaft is fully engaged. If it isn't, the distributor won't engage fully (and in most cases, the shaft collar wont' drop to the base of the intake manifold). The bottom line: It might take several tries to get the pair of gears and the oil pump shaft to all engage properly. In some cases, a large screwdriver can be used to turn the distributor shaft slightly so that it meshes properly with the distributor.
Install the distributor hold-down clamp, but allow the hold down bolt to be slightly loose. This will let you advance or retard the spark (ignition) timing as necessary (set after the engine is running). Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommended procedure for setting the initial spark timing.
Carburetor Installation
Carburetor installation is very simple. Install a set of appropriate carburetor studs into the intake manifold (usually a double nut process will be necessary to install the studs). Slip a carburetor base gasket over the studs. Drop the carburetor in place and gently tighten the nuts on the carburetor studs. Usually a crisscross pattern is used to tighten the fasteners. Just don't over-do it. It's easy to crack a carburetor base plate by being too zealous with the fastener torque.
Add the oil pan of your choice (oil pans are typically configured for both the engine and the vehicle chassis). Install your favorite valve covers (ensuring they have sufficient height to clear the valvetrain and an air cleaner of your choice. Aside from a few accessories (vacuum lines, PCV valve, breathers), you're done!
Tools Used
  • Adjustable Pushrod
  • Oil Pump Primer
  • Wire Crimper
  • Crankshaft Installation Tool
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