One Monday while looking threw the Tri-ad paper that is local to southern Ontario, I spied an ad for a 1970 Road Runner with a "big noisy engine". I quickly was on my way to Burlington to check it out. Tucked in the one car garage was this car. It hadn't been on the road or even out of the garage for a few years and the owner decided he would be better off with the $5500 that I offered him. That was in April of 1998. The car had 62,756 miles on it when I got it home. Since the engine hadn't been started in a few years, I poured some diesel fuel down into the cylinders and let it soak in for a couple of days. I then was able to put a breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt and turn the engine over. If I could do it over I would have primed the oil pump to get the oil flowing first but I simply put in some fresh gas and fired it up. The engine came instantly to life and that was a great relief!!!
The car didn't really need anything to make it roadworthy and I really just enjoyed my new toy. I was really happy to drive around and gradually replace some of the cosmetic items on the car.
I even managed to get it to the Cayuga Dragway Park two times. The first time in July where the best I could do was firstname.lastname@example.org. The best 60ft time was 2.406 seconds. I found it very difficult trying to hook the car up at all. The 235/70/15's just spun and spun. I was more than a little disappointed as I figured the car was a solid 14 second car as is....and it might have been with a better driver!!!
Anyway the second trip to 'strip in October netted some much better results although the first run netted a email@example.com. The only thing different on the car from the first time at the track was the addition of a borrowed Torquer Edlebrock intake and a rebiuld kit in the 650 Holley DP. The next run was firstname.lastname@example.org, followed by a email@example.com, then firstname.lastname@example.org and finally the best run so far of email@example.com. My best 60 foot time was 2.277 seconds so you can tell I wasn't still able to get those tires to hook up. But on the bright side my driving was getting alot better and the better times were a result of letting the car rev up a little more in each gear. Respectable times for sure but of course I was still hoping for better. After all one of the goals of that Plymouth had for the Road Runner was a 14 second quarter mile time at 100mph for $3000. My car had a 1970 383 engine which had the additional hop-up items such as headers, the Torquer intake, a Holley 650 DP, Electronic Ignition and a Carter electric fuel pump. That combined with the 3:55 sure grip and the Hemi suspension I would have thought better times were in the making. Just to make sure the engine was sound I did a compression test. All the cylinders were 125psi on the passenger side bank but on the drivers side it was 110, 90, 60 and 30psi respectively. After pouring oil down the cylinders didn't change the readings so I figured the rings were sound and removed the heads to have them redone. Sure enough the exhaust valves were on the way out. I took the heads to Douglas Engine right here in Brantford. This Father/Son operation is a small engine shop that has been around for years. The "906" casting heads were treated to new exhaust valves, new guides, resurfaced, 3 angle valve job, back-cut valves and the throat of the intake and exhaust was opened up. After putting the heads back on with all new gaskets you would figure the car would be good to go right? Well not so fast, although the car started up really quickly, a clicking noise could be heard...a leaking header gasket you say...nope!!!! A quick removal of the drivers side valve cover revealed the lack of oil. Somehow, sometime a cam bearing had spun in such a way to block the oil passage to the drivers head but not the passenger side. I decided to remove the engine from the car and after plenty of thought decided just to go ahead and rebuild the shortblock too.
This was my first engine rebiuld so I thought I would do it right with all new parts and no cutting corners. The block was hot tanked, bored 30 over and decked to achieve a zero deck (pistons to the top of the cylinder, not way down in the hole...) with the Keith Black pistons that I purchased. I also decided to upgrade the stock oiling system and went with a new Mopar Performance (MP) reproduction Hemi oil pan along with the 1/2 inch oil pick-up tube which replaced the standard 3/8's unit. I also bought a new MP windage tray and decided on a new high pressure oil pump. Rightly or wrongly I decided against a high volume pump for fear of running the oil pan dry at high rpm, some oil has to be better than none at all...right?
The cam choice was a tough one and I wrestled with the decison for along time. I finally picked a Comp Cam Extreme Engery XE274. It is fast lift/split duration cam...it features 230/236 duration and 488/491 lift and caused me to add the Comp Cams recommended springs to my heads. The local Brantford Chrysler dealer began to see me on a regular basis, I went with new MP rockers, shafts, pushrods, brass plugs, head bolts, a six blade A/C water pump, along with a new light-weight starter. The factory forged crank was cut 10/10 and then all new bearings and moly rings were used to assemble the engine with Detroit gaskets. I topped off the engine with the new Edlebrock Performer RPM intake and ceramic coated Dynomax headers. To make sure everything stayed cool, the factory 26 inch radiator was record with a new three row unit and a new viscous fan was added. A new set of plugs and MP (Taylor) wires and fresh coat of Hemi Orange paint. Everything was sent to go for a trouble free start up...or so I thought.
With the oiling system primed, all the proper lube on the cam and lifters the car was fired up.
It fired almost instantly and I kept the revs varying between 2000 and 3000. The car didn't get too hot and there were no oil leaks...all was good!!!
I finally drove the car for the first tme that year in September 1999. The car was running great but a slight noise was developing. Again it sounded like a header leak. While checking the valve train I noticed that one spring was not being compressed...I had lost a cam lobe.
The thought of having all that metal flowing threw my new engine was very disappointing indeed. I could have tried to get away with hoping the oil filter caught everything and just went ahead and repaced the cam and lifters but I decided to go and pull the engine, disassemble, inspect, clean and re-assemble. But that was enough for me for the rest of the year and I let everthing sit for the winter.
The next yearverything was found to be good, all the bearings had survived, a new kit was put into the oil pump, a new Comp Cam and lifter set was bought and everything was put back together and back into the car. This time everthing went according to plan and I have a very sound and good running engine. Now I just have to get it back to the track to see if there is any improvement. I am hoping for 13.5@105mph!!!
More to come!!!
Fender Tag Decode:
08158--gate and base number at Lynch Rd
144133-line sequence number
087-383 HP 335 horsepower engine
055-3:55 sure grip 8-3/4 rear with 11 inch brakes
674-4 speed manual tranny
EV2-Tor Red painted roof
EV2- Tor Red painted body
M2X9-medium grade black vinyl bench
TX9-black door frame
A16-sheduled build date, Thursday, October 16th 1969.
C15376-Canadian vehicle order number
E63-383 HP engine
D21-4 speed tranny
RM21-Road Runner coupe
N-383 HP engine
O-model year 1970
A-assembled at Lynch Rd Michigan
146133-VIN sequence number