AUSTIN VERTS ENGINE REBUILD FROM HELL

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Austin Vert

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Hi there folks,

Please read my post on my Engine rebuild from hell. You will see below my message laid out from parts 1 to 4 plus relevant photos as a visual aid. Please enjoy the post,

Greg.;)
 

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Greg,

If I were you I won't worry too much about burning 1lt (~1 qt.) of oil every 2,000 miles. There can be many reasons, but I don't think that's a completely abnormal amount IMO.
A couple of questions to help sort out the severity of the issue:
-How many miles or km since the rebuild. It is not abnormal to have higher oil consumption during the first thousand or more miles.
-You said you followed brake-in procedures, but there are many versions out there. The one I was suggested and I abide for is to drive the engine hard. First warm up the oil, then go out to make accelerations to medium-high RPM and then let the gas pedal go until the RPM hit 2,000 and repeat for 10 times or so. Then go high RMP a couple times, change oil and drive it hard. Don't use synthetic for the first 1,000 or 2,000 miles (this number will vary a lot depending on opinions). This process apparently ensures good ring seating. However, there are many factors involved such as ring quality, cylinder honing quality, ring gap, etc.
-Other low hanging fruits that could be an issue: check the PCV valve and hose for excess oil; oil could be getting in through the intake manifold from the valley area.
-Edit: driving the engine hard and engine braking accelerates consumption.
 
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mjlan

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Wow, I feel bad for you. Experiences like this are a kick in the stones and take all of the enjoyment out of the car.

As far as the oil loss, some small block stroker combos that use longer connecting rods put the oil control rings into the wrist pin bore of the piston and they can use oil. It could be a couple of other things (intake manifold gaskets) but if the car doesn't foul plugs and makes good power I would try not to worry about it.

I feel sorry for your ordeal!
 

Fabrice

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Not in the most easy format to read, but thx for posting this adventure!
For the oil, considering your warm weather, you could pick a "thicker oil" may you have followed the book recommandations. Make sure you use a zinc rich oil.
Then give it an "italian tuning", take your lady for a weekend some place at least 200 miles away and go there at sustained rpms, 2500+.
You'd be amazed how good long trips are for engines (and ladies!).

For the trans, if you are handy, I'd contact Ken at badshoes production. I've rebuild 2 trans ( C6 and AOD) thx to his services and it's really no rocket science and much more easy than one may think! Considering the trans slips on heavy load but operates ok when driven normally, it's likely it only needs a good cleanup and new frictions plates.
 

Kilgon

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So sorry to hear about the troubles with your rebuilds. I can't imagine the disappointment and anguish you must be going through. I do really feel for you. As for loosing several quarts of oil every 2k miles I would think that is a little on the high side for freshly rebuilt motor. I would have someone follow you and check for any smoke while running the car at different rpm's and also pulling different loads such as up hill, wot from start and wot while going around 30 or so. You might find that you are only burning oil at certain rpm's or loads.

You need to remember that depending on where the oil is entering the combustion chamber from will determine how quickly plugs will foul. If it's rings or valve seals than those cylinders affected will foul faster than if you have blowby caused by high crankcase pressure. Make sure that you have a good working pcv and or a breather to relieve any crankcase pressure to stop any possible blowby oil burning.

I hope 2022 find things going in your direction and you getting to enjoy the ownership of your car again.
 
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timachone

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Greg,

I am so sorry to hear that sad story about your engine rebuilds... In the end everybody is a bit wiser than in the beginning but tell us this wisdom at start! Such stories are very frustrating and you can loose your fun and interest in cars. Don't ask how I know... That said it could be on semi-professional or professional garages, I experienced both. The most important reason I work almost all alone on my cars is that most modern companies work for their profit not the quality of their work. Lastly we all work on old engines which all have their specialities so if blown up it is not unusual that something will fail. If you set in a high lift cam you will have more wear on other positions and so the vicious circle begins, one thing let to another. It is very difficult in my opinion to eliminate all possible gremlins if you do not built an engine from scratch. And even if you are dependent on quality of materials, construction and so on... One may have luck and drives thousands of miles without issues, one other not so much. If you can build an engine by yourself costs can be holded down and you have your own risk to take. In the end this will be more cheaper and you learn from yourselves when the result is quite ok sometime. If not and you do not have the ability to take it all by your own it will be better to buy a blueprinted crate machine which is built for exactly that purposes you want from a reputated company.

I don't know much about strokers but even on modern machines they say up to 1 litre of oil on 1.000 kilometers (1.600 miles) have to be taken ok. If it will not become worse, you have no water burning and it seems to make good power, let it be as is. It is an old engine in the end, no blueprint. The transmission is another story. But reinforced it will do its job, too. One thing lets to another, you know...

I hope you do not completely loose your interest in the hobby but all in all I can say we have all been there. Do yourself a favor and try to teach your own more on the mechanical things. And then open up your roof, enjoy the Australian sundown and give it a good throttle!

Take care, bud!
 

Sheriff41

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If you've only ever run synthetic motor oil then I would suggest giving it some more time. Synthetic oils slow the break-in process due the the additives, etc. that promote lubrication. The best would be to use a break-in oil, or at least a conventional (mineral) oil, on a fresh engine then switch to synthetic after break in.
 
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Well, I have trouble reading your post, my eyesight is not good enough to read such small print, but gleaning from other replies, I feel your pain.
Back in 2012, I had my engine rebuilt, but the builder decided to install a high volume Melling oil pump and that's a no-no in these motors without the necessary mods. The shop did the initial break in on their stand, using break-in oil. All seemed fine for the first while, but after a year or so,, it started burning oil. My car is a 4 speed, so yes, I would expect it to use more oil than an auto trans car, but it got to where it used a pint of oil in only about 100 kms, so I had the shop rebuild it again under warranty. That high volume oil pump caused the cam's first two lobes to wear out as well as the main bearings. I took the opportunity to lower the comp ratio from 11:1 to 9.8:1 using dish top pistons.
When I got that motor back in, it had been broken in on the stand again., I changed the oil using break in oil again with added zinc and literally drove the shit out of it from the get go. Since then I use about a pint or so in about 1500 miles, which I feel is acceptable considering I drive it hard and use engine braking most of the time.
As for synthetic oils in these engine, I won't use them. My preference is Castrol 10W30 with added zinc along with a high quality filter.
Good luck moving forward.
 

Austin Vert

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Hi to you good guys that replied so far. Thank you very much for your kind words and interesting feedback.

First up, let me apologize. When i posted my article, i noticed that the Forum has had some kind of a face lift or revamp it seems. I typed my main message out like i always do and went to(Post Reply) the article. I was stopped from posting it, because a pop up message was telling me that i could only make a post up to 10,000 words and under. The only way i could get around this problem was to take four separate screen shots of my typed up draft message, and upload the screen shots as photos. Sorry about that, but it was the only way to post the blog.

My feedback on your feedback is ..................... It seems you guys feel that losing a litre or 2 pints of oil per 5 months or say 2000 miles is not a bad thing. I will look into that seriously. My researched and recommended oil is a full mineral oil. 20W - 60 grade. Penrite oils is a high quality Australian company. They also make a running in special oil as well that i used. ( see go to everyday main engine oil photo) I will check the PCV valve thing as well. I took pro advice from several mechanics on good running in procedures. I feel i have done all i can there correctly. Tim - thanks buddy. No joke when so called professionals let you down badly. Geoff - sounds like you went through your fair share of pain as well. Kilgon - Thanks. Also, that was 2 pints for 2,000 miles or 5 month periods. After a years driving from the third rebuild, i had the car dyno tuned. The spark plugs were pulled and showed that some of the plugs had noticable oil deposits on them. Bottom line is i will follow through and monitor this situation into 2022, and just end up doing what i have to do one way or another. The $32,000.00 engine rebuild is the thing that hurts the most.:mad:

Thanks again Guys,

Greg.
 

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I also tend to rely on "professionals" and many times get burned. It seems an unfortunate an unfair aspect of life, so I feel the pain you are going through. A little lighter in my wallet though. When i rebuilt my engine I decided to do it on my own. However, I have the professionals assemble my heads. I didn't want to deal with installed height and other nuances. Now that I removed my heads and had another professional look at them for porting he found out that the springs were not properly installed. They didn't use the correct retainers, they changed the inner springs, the installed height was not accurate and they didn't match the valves to the seats. The wrong retainers caused the inner springs to "walk" leading to scratching the valve stems and spring seats, which in turn caused some metal shavings to go into the oil. Luckily, this oil goes back to the pan and the filter takes care of the metal. However, it is frustrating that I relied on a professional to do a small part of my build and it was not correct. I got lucky that I removed the heads for another reason and we caught this issue early on before it had a chance to caused too much trouble. Even if I would have checked the professional's job, how would I figure out that they didn't use the correct retainer. I understand it is frustrating to think all that money went into the engine but at this point it is a sunk cost. See it as the most expensive engine in your neighborhood;).
 
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Greg, 32 K for engine rebuilds and it still isn't right, unbelievable! Do you have gold pistons in there?!!
I think the problem really is that 351 Cleveland's were only made for a few years apart from the 351M /400 engine. This means now that there are VERY FEW good old timer engine builders out there who truly understand them. This ain't your every day Chevy, so they can't be built like one.
Some time ago, I had a "J" block, a set of "N" heads with screw-in studs, a good crank and a few other parts, but was too chicken shit to try to build my own "spare" engine. I sold all the parts damn it.
 

paver73

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Hope you sort this out.
Just yesterday I was reading a Studebaker forum (I have a 73 Mustang and a 62 GT Hawk with 289 V8). There was much discussion about this same topic of oil consumption, seemingly out of the blue around a thousand miles or so after a rebuild. There were the similar posts relating to oil seals, PCV valves, etc. -- all worth considering. The main consensus seemed to be around break-in procedures for different piston ring materials vs honing techniques. They suggested using a scope camera to inspect the cylinder walls for honing marks, glazing, or perhaps scoring from a broken ring or two. Beyond that, the only offering was to go on a long trip, take a drum of oil with you and drive it hard.
To back this up, years ago I had a Datsun 260Z with a worn motor that drank oil. When I moved from Sydney to Brisbane the old Datto was packed up with boxes so I couldn't even see out the passenger window. I drove it fairly hard non-stop, other than for fuel. After that trip it rarely used a drop of oil -- until my ex overheated it one day :mad:
Good luck.
 

Austin Vert

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I also tend to rely on "professionals" and many times get burned. It seems an unfortunate an unfair aspect of life, so I feel the pain you are going through. A little lighter in my wallet though. When i rebuilt my engine I decided to do it on my own. However, I have the professionals assemble my heads. I didn't want to deal with installed height and other nuances. Now that I removed my heads and had another professional look at them for porting he found out that the springs were not properly installed. They didn't use the correct retainers, they changed the inner springs, the installed height was not accurate and they didn't match the valves to the seats. The wrong retainers caused the inner springs to "walk" leading to scratching the valve stems and spring seats, which in turn caused some metal shavings to go into the oil. Luckily, this oil goes back to the pan and the filter takes care of the metal. However, it is frustrating that I relied on a professional to do a small part of my build and it was not correct. I got lucky that I removed the heads for another reason and we caught this issue early on before it had a chance to caused too much trouble. Even if I would have checked the professional's job, how would I figure out that they didn't use the correct retainer. I understand it is frustrating to think all that money went into the engine but at this point it is a sunk cost. See it as the most expensive engine in your neighborhood;).
Hi Tony,
Yeah, your right about so called professionals doing crapo work . Out here in Australia you get a lot of this problem across the trades. You get this very problem in my trade of Auto Spray painting. Dodgy paint shops cut corners to save themselves time. The customer would not know this, as the paint job looks good initially, but falls apart as the months go on. The trouble is that it's hard to find REALLY top notch guys who REALLY know what they doing, and then are caring and honest when they do your work needed, and not overcharge you. Our mechanics hourly rates have gone up a lot over recent years. At the moment they range between $90.00 to $200.00 Aus per hour.Average is around $150.00 per hour. On a rebuild, that labour cost gets away big time. Sounds like you (just) got out of trouble with your engine situation.

Greg.
 

Austin Vert

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Hope you sort this out.
Just yesterday I was reading a Studebaker forum (I have a 73 Mustang and a 62 GT Hawk with 289 V8). There was much discussion about this same topic of oil consumption, seemingly out of the blue around a thousand miles or so after a rebuild. There were the similar posts relating to oil seals, PCV valves, etc. -- all worth considering. The main consensus seemed to be around break-in procedures for different piston ring materials vs honing techniques. They suggested using a scope camera to inspect the cylinder walls for honing marks, glazing, or perhaps scoring from a broken ring or two. Beyond that, the only offering was to go on a long trip, take a drum of oil with you and drive it hard.
To back this up, years ago I had a Datsun 260Z with a worn motor that drank oil. When I moved from Sydney to Brisbane the old Datto was packed up with boxes so I couldn't even see out the passenger window. I drove it fairly hard non-stop, other than for fuel. After that trip it rarely used a drop of oil -- until my ex overheated it one day :mad:
Good luck.
Hi Paver,

Thanks. Yes, you may have something here when you comment on driving the car for a length of time and the engine gets a chance to settle in. I will look into that further. By the way, if you live in Brisbane and want to reach out and say hi, your're welcome. Shoot me a personal message if you want.

Greg.
 

Austin Vert

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Greg, 32 K for engine rebuilds and it still isn't right, unbelievable! Do you have gold pistons in there?!!
I think the problem really is that 351 Cleveland's were only made for a few years apart from the 351M /400 engine. This means now that there are VERY FEW good old timer engine builders out there who truly understand them. This ain't your every day Chevy, so they can't be built like one.
Some time ago, I had a "J" block, a set of "N" heads with screw-in studs, a good crank and a few other parts, but was too chicken shit to try to build my own "spare" engine. I sold all the parts damn it.
Thanks Geoff,

Yeah, 32 K Aus. You can imagine how i'm feeling, and i'm still not sure whether i'm out of the woods yet! :cry:
 
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Wow, unbelievable! I feel so bad for you Greg, that’s a lot of money. I hope everything is ok with the motor now.
I’m lucky I found a guy that knows how to machine and rebuild a Cleveland. I did have a problem with some collapsed lifters after a couple hundred miles. That was not the machinists fault, just got some bad ones. I removed the intake and replaced them, not a big deal. Everything has been good since then.
 

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Dayum, that's nuts. I had bad luck with my 4V build, hopefully it's going to be right this time around. If it's not, then I'm going back to building my own from scratch.

There's a guy who does a lot of Cleveland work and he's not too far from you. Jason Murphy, he's in Inglewood, Queensland. Might not be a bad idea to reach out to him if you're still having issues. Seems like a straight shooter.

 

Austin Vert

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Wow, unbelievable! I feel so bad for you Greg, that’s a lot of money. I hope everything is ok with the motor now.
I’m lucky I found a guy that knows how to machine and rebuild a Cleveland. I did have a problem with some collapsed lifters after a couple hundred miles. That was not the machinists fault, just got some bad ones. I removed the intake and replaced them, not a big deal. Everything has been good since then.
Thanks John, so do i,

Glad you ended up having a win with your engine work. Getting the right crew to work on your engine for a good outcome is crucial! Regards dodgy parts, i did not mention that aspect in by write up, but even though high end quality parts were used throughout the three rebuilds, there were some parts that failed and had to be replaced again. It's worth mentioning as well, that the only original part of the original factory engine that was kept and used again was the block. (Numbers matching) Everything else was replaced. Using all new performance parts had led me to believe that the overall quality of aftermarket speed shop parts is rather dubious and uncertain. My bottom line is i ended up paying for three separate groups of parts, two separate times for labour costs, and three separate times for machining costs for the three rebuilds. Can you imagine the dream engine i could have built for the $32,000.00 price range. :ROFLMAO:

Thanks Hemikiller for the heads up. He could be worth a look in. Sounds like your a knowledgeable guy when it comes to working on rebuilding engines. Power to you!

Greg
 
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Mike King

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G'day, In Adelaide there is a bloke named Phil Collier who knows a lot about Clevelands. He has one mean XY Fairmont wagon and knows his stuff. I can ask him if it's ok to pass on his number if you want. He used to own his own engine shop in Adelaide and is greatly respected here by road and race people.
 
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