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Update 1/28/06
Initial engine fire-up completed.

We spent the past week preparing the engine for initial fire-up. The main tasks to complete were installing the carburator, distributor, crankshaft and water pump pulleys, radiator, and exhaust. We also needed to get power to the starter and distributor (as discussed below). Using some carb cleaner, we cleaned up the original Quadrajet and installed it on the intake with a new gasket. We then installed the fuel pump and ran the lines from the pump to the carb. For the distributor, we used an HEI unit that had been installed by a previous owner. It works fine for now but will be replaced with an original points style distributor and coil. The crankshaft and water pump pulleys were stripped and painted semi-gloss black before being installed on the engine. A single v-belt connects the crankshaft and water pump. No other accessories have been installed at this point. The radiator, supported by a board laid between the frame rails, is held in place by the radiator hoses. Finally, the exhaust was set in place and bolted to the manifolds.

Next, we turned our attention to electrical concerns. For the initial start-up, the engine would be run off the battery. On the left, you can see our dashboard-in-a-box which contains a master switch, a push-button switch to operate the starter, a temperature gauge, and an oil pressure gauge. The temp gauge is electrical and is connected to a sending unit that we installed in the stock location, while the oil pressure gauge is mechanical. We'll also add a tach and a voltmeter, but these weren't needed for the initial start-up.

Below you can see some pictures of the final set-up. With the electrical connections complete, we filled the engine with the necessary fluids, connected the battery, flipped the switch, and hit the starter... And while it didn't start on the initial try, after tweeking the distributor and fixing a few fuel and water leaks, the engine roared to life. We ran the engine for a total of about a half an hour while we timed in the distributor. We kept the engine from overheating by spraying water on the radiator.

Aside from a vaccuum leak which makes a nice whistling noise, the engine is running great. Next week, we'll run the engine a bit more and then change the oil to get the assembly lube out. And now that it's running, we'll crank it up once or twice a week to keep everything moving.

Click thumbnail to view a larger image.

Questions and comments to dparker@bscn.com