FIRED UP AFTER 30 YEARS

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The last time "Mr. Chevy" ran was during the summer of 1976. It was shut off after a u-joint disintegrated on the dragstrip at International raceway at East St. Louis, Il. After an accident on the car hauler on the way home from the races the car was unloaded and put in the back of Vans Speed Shop where it sat untouched for 30 years. When the u-joint exploded it took out the driveshaft despite the loop, which then also destroyed the transmission. It looks like (hopefully) the damage ended there.

Fast forward to Oct. 2006 when the engine of "Mr. Chevy" was put back to running condition. The transmission was removed along with the throwout bearing and clutch fork. All of the rubber coolant lines and fuel injection lines were replaced. The oil was drained from the engine and inspected, it did not appear to have any moisture present. The valve covers were removed and everything looked clean and in order there. The spark plugs were pulled and the engine was looked over on the inside with the help of a bore scope. The cylinders looked clean and dry with lots of cross hatch present. The left side freeze plugs and the front right side freeze plug was removed and the block inspected there. At this time the sides of the block were magnafluxed and things looked O.K. The coolant passages were blown out with compressed air before new freeze plugs were installed. The borescope was also used to inspect the lifter valley which was also clean and dry. The Mallory double life distributor was pulled and checked over. Some minor powder formation was removed from both sets of points. A modified distributor shaft with the gear teeth removed was installed to prime the engine oil system. A new HP-1 oil filter was installed and a gallon of oil was added to the engine through the front pressure port of the 327 by a pressure oiling system. A second gallon of oil was added over the rocker arms and through the oil fill cap. The system was then pressurized by turning the oil pump by the distributor shaft. At this time a major oil leak was discovered at the rear of the engine. It turned out to be a hardened rubber seal on the oil filter adapter. The new oil filter was removed and the oil filter adapter was removed and cleaned up, a new seal installed and the oil filter replaced. The system was recharged again with no leaks and very good oil pressure. The Jabsco coolant circulation pump was disassembled, cleaned and reassembled with a home made gasket. The radiator was filled and no leaks found. The distributor was reinstalled a set to the same timing as before. Oil was squirted in all cylinders and the engine was tried to turn over by the socket head cap screw on the front of the crank. It was decided this was not strong enough to turn the engine over so a transmission pilot shaft turned by a pipe wrench was used to turn it over by the flywheel, the clutch and scattershield were still on the car. After turning the engine over by hand a couple times it was decided to turn it by the starter. With no spark plugs in, the starter turned the motor easily and oil pressure came up quick. Then two spark plugs were installed on the #1 and #2 plug wires to check that each set of points were working properly, which they were. Next, all the spark plugs were installed and one gallon of 110 octane gasoline was added to the 2 gallon Moon fuel tank. The engine was cranked without ignition trying to build fuel pressure in the Hilborn injection system. No pressure was made by turing the engine with the starter so it was decided to prime the engine through the velocity stacks and try to fire it up. The engine fired up but ran only on the gas used to prime it, still no fuel pressure. It was tried again with the same results. We operated the shut off valve without turning the engine and when we did we noticed the valve had been in the off position, there was no indicator as to the on/off position. Once again the engine was primed and ready to try again. Start on, ignition, she fired immediately and on all 8 running at a very high idle for several seconds before shutting down. The idle setting screw was backed off one turn. The engine was fired again and after a few seconds of rough running settled down to the erratic thumping of a high performance engine. After 30 years Mr. Chevy was again creating excitement!