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Classic Car Engine Repair

Updated on April 21, 2016

How To Make Repairs On A Car

I have worked on cars all my life most of which are pre-1980's. They included 1966 Chrysler New Yorker, 1977 Dodge pickup half ton, 1974 Dodge three-quarter ton, 1977 Peugeot, a very interesting vehicle, among others.

I have started to realize that since the current crunch in jobs, many people will most likely be forced to work on their own vehicles who have not had an inkling to do so before. Therefore, for those of you who are able to get your hands on cheap transportation, pre-1980's, this is a short tutorial on how to maintain your vehicle other than changing oil (which is quite simple) and going on to more harder to understand areas.

Vehicles before the 1970's were simple, although bodywork and other precision systems, such as upholstery and transmissions, must actually use a manual.

The engine axles and undercarriage for the most part are actually quite easy to fix. Cars up to the 1940's were built so that the engine usually was almost completely exposed to the worker, as every bolt was easily accessible. Compared to modern technology today, those same bolts are easily accessible.

From the 1950's to the 1960's and 70's, the car became a little less accessible, but not by much. You can still take apart the engine as much as you want and still leave it inside the car.

It is also very possible to get one running if the engine is not cracked. The main areas that you need to look at are the areas where the seals are, such as the water pump, the oil pump and gas pump and if it has a steering fluid pump.

You'll find that if you make sure that those areas, as well as the carburetor, are in operational condition, the engine will most likely be able to start, so that you can more thoroughly test the rest of the engine. With these engines you will find that they are simple and straightforward, with some even eclipsing in power, unlike today's engines.

It does not matter how many Pistons the engine has, it only matters whether the engine is not frozen and whether it was still in good running condition when set. If it is, then the only worry that you have will be the oil pump, the water pump, the gas pump and the carburetor. All four have seals that need to be used at least once a year. The reason for this is because of the temperatures and the fluids that it uses. If they are not used, they dry up and crack causing leaks into other parts of the engine.

1974 Dodge 360 cubic inch engine
1974 Dodge 360 cubic inch engine

The Water Pump

How To Take It Off

On front engine cars, the water pump is usually on the front of the engine where it can utilize the power of the engine, usually by a belt. Please remember to be sure that the engine is off and the battery is disconnected so that there can be no mishaps.

The water pump usually looks similar to a part attached to the engine as it uses part of the engine as its housing. Please remember that this part has a gasket.

Once you remove the water pump, make sure that you thoroughly clean the engine surface. Also be forewarned that you may actually want to drain the engine of its coolant system since that is actually what you are operating on anyway.

Usually there is a spigot in the radiator, if not, you can loosen the bottom hose and let it drain out. That way it would be best also to have a container to catch the fluid. If you do not clean the parts on the engine that the water pump touches, then you may have leaks later on.

There is some debate that has gone on for a while as to whether cork or gasket material is best. Personally, I have never really seen much of a difference. If you are restoring an older vehicle you may want to use cork so that it looks authentic. I have seen though from time to time that cork does do quite well for itself.

The engine should have a shiny surface in which no particles show. Usually the parts are made nowadays so that you need a gasket. I usually use a silicon-based engine sealant to put the water pump back on. I smear enough sealant on the engine housing and the pump where the gasket touches, so that it completely seals the pump off from the outside.

I usually then bolt it in counterclockwise until they are hand tightened, then I use a wrench tightening it much like you would tighten a tire. In other words I do not go directly around like you might expect.

I will tighten it to the specified amount (foot pound is usually what is used to measure the torque that you put on the bolt). Sometimes this does not matter so much on a four banger or four-cylinder engine, but on the higher eight, 10, and 16 cylinder engines, this is a very crucial situation, when rating the higher cylinder counts, as more pressure is required to push the coolant through the engine.

Car Repair

Here are some books, that might help you: One foreign engine manual and 2 dealing with the older cars and 2 for those of us who need more explanation.

Need more info?

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Car Care and Repair Illustrated
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Car Care and Repair Illustrated

This book will help you familiarize your self with your car.

 
gear pump
gear pump

The Oil Pump

The Lubricator

The oil pump is found inside the engine. It is usually hidden by the oil pan. (Remove the oil from the engine and of course, make sure the battery is disconnected and the engine off before doing anything.)

It is also good to note that there is a filter just before the oil pump. This filter is very crucial for the oil pump as it protects the oil pump from any debris and should be checked and or replaced regularly. Usually because of space requirements, the filter must be removed before you get to undoing the oil pump.

Once the oil filter is off, there should usually only be two bolts to take off. Depending on how long it has been sitting there, it may be easy or maybe hard to take the oil pump out from there. Also, if the oil pump is bad, you may actually be taking out parts of the oil pump. In that case, you will also be redoing the rest of the engine, as whoever had the engine before you didn't do maintenance to it.

Chances are there will be much more work ahead of you if the pump is bad. Usually it is a good idea to change it if the previous owner does not recall changing the oil pump and the vehicle is over 10 years old. This does not necessarily mean that the oil pump is bad, it just means it's old.

Oil pumps can actually last for quite a while. I remember changing a '66 Chrysler's oil pump after it had been in there for more than 30 years as far as we could tell. It was still good but prudence would suggest not to trust the oil pump, as there were shavings in the oil when we changed it.

It is also good at the time of changing the oil pump, to also change the filter. This makes it so that the oil pump does not inherit any of the old problems that may have arisen.

Generic Car Repair

Most of what I work on I rarely crack open the manual but it is still good to have one close.

One Question

Have you worked on your own car before?

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1974 Dodge three 60 in.³ engine fuel pump the
1974 Dodge three 60 in.³ engine fuel pump the

The Gas Pump

The Part That Makes The Engine Go

The gas pump (fuel pump) is usually on the side of the engine down near the crank shaft, where it usually gets its power through a lobe in the crankshaft. A lever protrudes from it, touching the lobe which pushes the lever down, pumping the gas into the carburetor.

(Although they were being experimented in the 1930's and 40's, the fuel injection system was not widely used until the late 1970's and 80's by car manufacturers.)

The gas pump usually is a matter of only having two bolts to take off, one on top, one on the bottom, of the hole that it utilizes. Since the gasoline is coming from the tank to the carburetor, its pumping system is all on the outside of the engine. Also there are two hoses connected both to the carburetor and to the gas tank.

Because of its makeup, gasoline easily drains itself from the carburetor back into the gas tank, depending however, on where the gas tank is. This also has a gasket on it between it and the engine. Be sure to seal it off well or you may actually have problems operating without consuming oil.

And, as always, make sure that the battery is disconnected and the engine off.

Books On Keeping Your Car Running

These books are critical to keeping your Classic running.

1974 Dodge three 60 in.³ engine fuel pump
1974 Dodge three 60 in.³ engine fuel pump

The Steering Pump

A Necessary Luxury

The steering pump is usually not in vehicles earlier than the 1940's and not in trucks till the 1970's.

It is usually adjacent to the engine, in front, where the Pulley systems are, as it utilizes that system to pressurize the power steering system. This is usually held on by a bracket specifically designed so that you can tighten the Pulley. When installed it usually only has two bolts as well.

The only thing that you have to be wary of is that the pump is filled with steering fluid. Therefore you must drain the fluid before replacing the pump, and believe me it will come out. This liquid should be drained into a container as well, since it is not good for plants.

More Generic Car Repair Helps

Some things are better explained with your own specific manual, but in the case that you just want to know the basic idea, these will help you.

The (Boats) - Old Luxury

1964 Chrysler Imperial engine compartment
1964 Chrysler Imperial engine compartment

This old Chrysler Imperial has a lot of power this particular engine is a 440 Mopar. If a quarter cam were to be put into this engine, the output would be good enough to spin the tires.

I already have a quarter cam in a 1966 Chrysler New Yorker 440. Zero to 60 in about 9 seconds, although the Chrysler already had enough power to burn rubber before the upgrade. The economy on the Chrysler New Yorker was somewhere between 20 and 22 miles to the gallon highway. Depending on whether you romped on the gas. This is all without the catalytic converter or computer.

I am pretty sure that you can fit a V12 in the compartment with little modification. I am also positive that with a great deal of work you can fit a V16 into the compartment. Why I would want to, I don't know.

Cubic inch to cubic inch which engine is more efficient?

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    • profile image

      baby-strollers 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I have always wanted to do a complete restoration on a vintage vehicle. I've always loved to fix things and bring them back to life and to their original beauty and power. Older vehicles are so appealing to me. I found this web page to be very interesting and empowering. Thank you!

    • profile image

      zav 5 years ago

      The last car I worked on was my 1983 Capri (uk) but haven`t done much since with the increasing electronics in them. Great info for those looking to work on their own cars though, Thanks.

    • MCB2011 profile image

      MCB2011 5 years ago

      My favorite car to run is a 1966 New Yorker. Love it with the suicide doors. Would like to repaint it though. Thanks for your lens.