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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Engine Rehab
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Estimated Time300 minutes
300 minutes
Freshen Up a Tired Engine -
Rebuilt is a relative term. This is especially true when used in conjunction with the word engine. On the low side of an engine rebuild is a can of motor honey poured into the crankcase and a set of crossed fingers behind the salesman who hopes the rod knock will go away just long enough to get the car off the lot. Legitimate rebuilt engines are in reality remanufactured. Engine teardown and inspection is followed by machine work. Every part is returned to original or better-than-factory tolerances. The process essentially brings an engine back to new. The middle ground is anywhere in between the motor honey and remanufacture, and why the phrase 'rebuilt engine' holds broad meaning. The catch is that determining if the engine needs a complete rebuild or will benefit from a freshen-up only becomes apparent with the engine out of the car and apart.
Engine Rehab
Engine Removal
Sometimes there are enough things wrong with an engine that fixing them with the engine out of the vehicle makes more sense than trying to struggle through the work with the engine in the car. A compression check can shed light onto problems that only engine removal and disassembly will completely reveal. A combination of low compression in one or more cylinders combined with a timing chain or chains beyond their expiration date is a good example of an engine best removed for service. More obvious engine wear problems manifest themselves as rod knock or clouds of oil smoke pouring out the tailpipe. Add a spent clutch or leaky rear main seal to the fix it list and out comes the engine hoist.
Engine Disassembly
With the engine out of the car the disassembly and inspection process is the next step. This process itself will determine the extent of the rebuild required. If an engine is just a bit tired but otherwise sound, then a re-ring or re-bearing can be the answer to freshening up stock engine performance. In this case the rebuild fell into this middle ground. Fresh rings and bearings were installed along with some new timing chains. The engine freshen-up return depends on the investment. A hastily rebuilt engine will fall right back into disrepair the same way stars and celebrity fall back into their old bad habits after a cursory stay at rehabilitation. A thorough inspection and meticulous rehabilitation can give even tired old engines a second chance.
Tools for the Job
Here are the things you'll need to do the job: A service manual, an engine hoist, an engine stand, a sturdy chain, a place to park the car while relieved of its engine, hand tools, one-quart plastic zip bags, a felt marker, a punch marking set, a digital camera, and a rubber hose.
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