I just completed an overhaul/restoration of my port side 427 and I wanted to show everyone how it turned out. While the engine was out, I also took the opportunity to clean-up the engine room. Here is a picture of the finished engine. The rest of the before and after pictures are at the end of this post.
My port engine has been a problem over the years. I bought the boat 14 years ago and had both engines completely overhauled after two seasons. At the time I had a transmission problem and figured the engines were 30 years old and were probably due for service. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have touched them.
Since then, I had two separate incidents of a blown piston on the port engine (uncontrolled detonation). Finally solved that problem with an NOS Mallory distributor. There were several theories (e.g. fuel starvation, too much initial advance, etc.) but I believe a sticking advance mechanism was the root cause. Three seasons ago I had a problem with stalling that got progressively worse to the point where the engine would not run. No one seemed to be able to figure it out then the season ended and I let myself get talked into another re-build (very dumb). To make matters worse, the job that was started in March, didn't get done until September. So I didn't even bother to put the boat in the water. Fast forward to last summer and the supposedly fresh engine had all the symptoms of a bad intake valve (stalled when put into gear, blowback through the oil filler cap, "chuffing" through the carb) and low oil pressure at idle. It also was leaking oil at the rear intake manifold. After all this, I finally came to my senses and decided I was done with outside help.
In March I had the marina lift the engine out and I pulled off all the ancillary equipment, Paragon and front engine mount. I found a machine shop in Chicago that passed my 427 intelligence test and they came out and picked it up. The shop's inspection revealed that the intake manifold gasket had been installed backwards causing the bad valve-like symptoms. The low oil pressure was due to a poor grind on the crankshaft, you could see the uneven wear on the crank bearings. No gasket, just sealer on the intake manifold caused the leaking oil. The shop (Windy City Engineering) re-ground the crank and went through everything else, bearings, heads, etc.
While the block was at the machine shop, I cleaned and repainted all the engine parts and the Paragon. When the block came back, it was a fairly simple matter of painting it the correct color and re-mounting everything. I did spend a significant amount of time on little details like a new wiring harness, painting all the drain valves/plugs their original red color, finding a new grommet for the PVC valve, the black oil filler cap, polishing the copper cooling tubes, water pump impeller, hoses and so on.
The exhaust manifolds had to be installed after the engine was back in the boat as they blocked the mounting bolts. 427s are a tight squeeze in a 31' Sports Express. I mounted the manifolds by myself using a couple of 6 inch bolts that I cut the head off from to use as guide studs. I attached a lifting strap to the front lift ring to get it into position, the back aligned up great by setting the manifold on top of the engine mount bracket. Slide the manifold "up" the guide studs, slip in the gasket, wiggle the manifold to get the head bolts started by hand and that was it (big sigh of relief at that point-no cross-threaded bolts!).
The engine cooling tubes had to be replaced as their ends were mostly all crushed by over-tight hose clamps. I found a place called Chicago Pipe Bending & Coil Co. They were able to cut and bend the correct 1 and 1 1/4 OD tube using my old tubes as patterns. The copper tube for plumbing you find at the Home Depot has nominal outside dimensions meaning they are a little smaller than actual. It is also thinner walled and difficult to bend smoothly without kinking. This shop used schedule K pipe which is thicker, heavier and significantly more expensive, but the extra beef means there is no chance of crushing the ends with a hose clamp like the old thinner OEM tubes.
My engines have copper exhaust collectors that had what you would either call a "rich patina" or "cruddy tarnish" depending on your perspective. Three hours with a wire brush chucked into a drill, the Makita buffer and super-duty rubbing compound restored a shiny finish that tied in with the new polished copper cooling tubes. We'll see how long they stay that way but for now they look great.
While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to clean-up and paint the 2/3rds of the engine room I could get at. Cleaning up forty plus years of oily skank has got to be the worst. It was only about 50 degrees in my "heated" storage building and a power washer was not an option. So for me it was "lather, rinse, repeat" about 3 or 4 times, a variety of stiff brushes and using a shop vac to suck up the dirty water in between. Then prime and paint with Bilgekote. I do have two tips to pass on. The fiberglass on the bottom was a little "ragged" from scrubbing so I re-coated the whole area with about a gallon of fresh resin before painting. This provided a much smoother substrate for the finish. The second tip is one word, "Penetrol". If you don't know this product, it's an additive that makes paint flow easier and brushstrokes disappear. After brushing Bilgekote for 10-15 minutes it feels like you're painting with honey. The Penetrol makes a big difference. P.S. I think I'll buy stock in Interlux (Azko Nobel). Anyone that can sell a gallon of grey paint for $100+ is a genius (not to mention the $200+ gal. bottom paint).
I also had to fix a problem with the engine hatches. There was some rot on the ends of the mahogany stringers where they stick out of the fiberglass sandwich. One needed a new piece (dutchman). On the others, I used Smith's epoxy filler. I also slathered the underside with some fresh resin.
Heres the engine being pulled out in March.
Two photos of the engine room before. Love that high tech Celotex insulation and the roofing nails. Well it was 43 years ago.
Here is the engine room after. I used the 1 inch mylar faced sound deadening insulation attached to the bulkhead with 3M spray adhesive for foam that worked great.
Before and after photos of the engine components prepped and painted.
Pics of the finished engine. It never looked this good when it was new!
This is the untouched starboard engine. It looks a lot better in the picture than it does in real life. If you have a really sharp eye, you might notice the distributor is missing. I sent it out to Mallory to be re-built and marinized. It pre-dated the spark arrestor regulations and had no bowl vent (protected or otherwise) and hence required a vented cap. Mallory did a fine job replacing all the internal parts. I removed the Pertronix unit before I sent it in and probably should have told Mallory this as they installed new points and a condenser that I just had to remove anyway. I just got it back this week (4 weeks total). They charged $180 including shipping, new rotor and cap.
Copper cooling tubes, note crushed ends. I cleaned up the only good one just to see how it would turn out. Wound up replacing the whole set.
Here are both engines in the cleaned up engine room. I included the second picture to show the copper exhaust collectors. The third is just a close up of the supplier tag on the collector. It reads Kay Industries Detroit.
I threw this picture in for kicks. Can you identify this contraption? It is particularly useful at making it extra difficult to get access to the outboard side of the engine. Ill give it away a bit by saying I actually have the 5 foot rod with the ball on the end that is used with it. What I cant believe is that I actually wire-brushed it and re-installed it given that Ive never used it and likely never will!
Three pictures of the hatch repair.
I found this waxy braided wire sleeve that matches the original equipment. Its a little problematic as the finish tends to wear off even with gentle handling.
The valve cover sticker was the crowning touch of the project. I was spooked a little by this job as I was afraid I wouldnt get it on straight!
Next winter, I'll pull the starboard engine, clean-up, repaint and detail. I'll also finish the engine room painting. But now it's time to launch, make sure everything is running right (crossing my fingers) and enjoy the season.
Commander & Chief
31' 1967 Sports Express
edit comment: Photos archived and thread cross-linked to the parts list!
For anyone doing similar work on a 427 marine engine, check out this link Keith has provided, with all of the parts, hoses, etc. listed. Wow, what a nice resource, many thanks Keith !