I had planned on an attempted engine start the weekend after I oil primed the engine, however, a serendipitous email would delay that attempt. A reader of this website contacted me out of the blue because his cylinder head was at an engine rebuilder. The rebuilder had a question about some washers in the head that should either go under the inner valve spring, on top or the inner valve spring or not used at all — the reader had instances where all three scenarios were used. Upon reading this email I instantly knew the answer as I had 16 extra washers set aside and, until that moment, didn't know where they belonged!
A well-timed random email solved the mystery as to where these washers belonged!
The washers need to go UNDER the inner valve springs. When I sent my head off to the machine shop for cleaning and new valve stems it came back with the washers. Sludge must have held them in place when I disassembled the engine and I visually verified this with old pictures.
I quickly weighed my options and realized that while this wasn't a devastating mistake on my part, it would be time consuming to fix. To fix this I used the "rope trick". This simply involves filling a cylinder with rope (or exercise band or bungee cord) and turning the flywheel by hand until the rope compresses and provides resistance. From here you can use an overhead valve spring compressor to compress the springs and remove the keepers, slide the springs off and install the washer and reinstall everything. The compressed rope prevents the valves from falling into the cylinder when the keepers are removed. This little project took 2 Â½ hours and my fingertips were very sore afterward! As a side bonus I installed the vinyl lettering on my valve cover while it was off of the engine.
A length of rope protrudes from cylinder #8. This was used when installing the valve spring washers.
Buttoned up and ready to go, don't those letters look great?!
The modest captain's chair during the test run.
I then oil primed my engine again and installed the distributor. It was almost show time. I found my battery and connected the terminals. No smoke, no fire. I decided to "flash the field" on my generator and then I turned the key and flipped the ignition switch to on. Still no smoke and no fire, I must have gotten all of my electrical connections right.
Here was the moment of truth, would the starter turn the engine over. I hit the starter andâ€¦YES, it turned right over. I left the starter turn for a few seconds and then stopped, walked to the front of the engine to look at the fuel pump's sediment bowl to make sure the pump was priming the line. To my dismay, there was no fuel in the bowl. I tried the starter again, still no fuel in the bowl. I then disconnected the fuel line at the carburetor and sucked until the sediment bowl was filled, confirming there were no blockages.
I trickled some fuel directly into the carburetor throat, hit the starter and the car started instantly. Two seconds later it died and I knew I had a fuel flow issue but I was absolutely thrilled that the engine ran after all those years and all of that hard work and frustration!
Assuming the fuel flow issue was a pump issue, I removed the fuel pump from the engine and realized that when I installed the pump I place the actuating foot behind the cam shaft and not directly on it. It was a simple, honest mistake and one that was quickly and easily fixed. With the pump installed correctly, I hit the starter and the car started and ran beautifully. To me it sounded better than any V-16 Cadillac or modern engine I'd ever heard. This was MY engine and my car. I'm surprised I didn't start crying tears of joy right there but, I didn't.
After a couple of minutes I jumped out of the driver's seat to do a walk around of the engine and I discovered my fuel pump was leaking gas out of a little hole under the diaphragm. I shut the car down and realized the diaphragm must have a hole in it, likely around the screw holes and likely caused by sitting in the same position for the 3 years it took me to rebuild.
Pointing to the port where fuel was leaking out of my fuel pump.
The fuel pump is now off of the engine and in transit to Arthur Gould Rebuilders in New York. They will professionally clean, rebuild and inspect the pump for only $90. They even throw in a 1-year warranty and their turnaround time is something like 5 days. I should have the rebuilt pump back next week and engine testing will resume. Once I can confirm there are no more fuel leaks I'll be driving around my property and the adjoining grass airfield. I can't wait.