When a 1968 Plymouth Satellite 4-door enters your life...

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'69 Plymouth Valiant 100
'68 Plymouth Satellite
Not much progress today. Tightened the crank bolt and mounted the main pulley.

30cabgx.jpg


I'm using the 1989 4-groove main pulley and dual pulley on the water pump. I know that I'll be guaranteed that it'll work with the matching '89 power steering pump bracket, but I'm not sure if the Bouchillon brackets will place the Sanden or the alternator in an opportune location. We'll see.

29y2frm.jpg


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Also mounted the coil. After examining the Advanced Autozone Boys generic replacement from the '68 engine, I decided to use the original, rusty and crusty Japanese-made 1989 Mopar-branded coil from the van.

2j10e36.jpg


The electrical contact inside the coil's snout for the distributor wire appears to be a collection of high quality stainless steel bits - far better than any of the other parts store coils I have. That was enough for me.

I still need an M-body (Fifth Avenue, Diplomat, '80s Grand Fury) radiator shroud for this build. Anyone have one?

-Kurt

 
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Looks good Kurt. Did you use regular black paint on the radiator, or radiator paint?
Dusted on some VHT on the cooling fins, and did the rest with it too.

The can actually mentions in the instructions that it's usable for radiators. Good enough for me - not sending any more of my money to Eastwood for another voodoo miracle paint.

-Kurt

 
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I've been on eBay the better part of the day today, giving some thought to how the build is going, and what I've seen on both sides of the fence, as a buyer of Chrysler parts, and a seller of them.

I've come to the conclusion that most used Chrysler parts aren't that expensive, provided it isn't new, associated with a big block or 340, or is in a condition anything less than perfect.

As a seller, I've found that if it isn't due to be fitted to a nut-and-bolt restoration, it's worthless - even more so than '71-73 Mustang coupe parts!

Case in point, I can't barely get rid of the original 318 crank (rough), flexplate, fan, manifolds, oil pump gear, radiator, distributor, alternator, RV-2 compressor (did sell once I threw in the brackets), timing chain cover (fits Mopar poly engines too), brackets, and other bits.

I don't have everything up cheap, but almost all the smaller bits start at $9.99, and they're on their second time around on eBay.

It's the same story for small block parts, excepting anything associated with absolutely original 340s, 360s or stroker variants of such. Even good cylinder heads, such as those used on Magnum 5.2/5.9 or '80s "308" LA heads are a hard sell - $250-300 buys you a good pair of either (yes, even crackless Magnum heads can be had for this price).

The 318 rocker shafts seem to be popular though - might be the 273 owners with solid lifters swapping to hydraulic valvetrains.

Ironically enough, the late-model TBI stuff (which fit B-series vans and Ramchargers) was snatched up in a second. Looks like there is a shortage of factory TBI wiring and throttle bodies - in any condition.

Now, as a buyer, I've found that I am ponying up a lot of cash on this build - which, to date, has been mainly under the hood. Now, given the nature of engine components, most everything is therefore bought new (radiator, pushrods, water pump, gaskets), but it hasn't been much more than the price of comparable parts for, say, a 351C.

Also, since the Magnums lasted until 2003, the LA engines and their 1992+ Magnum counterparts, it's not that hard to get better-quality used or remanufactured parts for them.

Heck, even my used, Mopar-branded M1 Magnum-specific carb intake cost me all of $150 used, and with better port matching than the comparable Edelbrock for the LA. That's very much an in-demand piece for small block builds with Magnum heads, but I was able to get it.

Other than this, price problems only seem to arise under these three specific scenarios:

  • Parts in demand for 2-door B-bodies (ex: dash parts)
  • Remanufactured or new parts designed and sold by niche vendors to fix Mopar-specific problems (ex: FirmFeel steering gearboxes to stiffen up notorious sloppy P/S boxes)
  • You just can't find the part, because it's for a 4-door. It's more or less worthless, but when you find a used example of said part, it's being sold by a vendor who deals in enough high-dollar parts that it's no skin off their back to quote you $95 for a $15 part. (Of course, this pretty much applies to any model of car from any manufacturer, provided the car has a relatively small following. Want to know parts rape? Try pricing out bits for '70s Lincoln Continentals, and you'll soon find two dealers who know how to make worthless junkyard parts very expensive - just because they are the only ones that'll bother offering them to you).


And so concludes my observations.

Do I regret it? No. In some ways, I've enjoyed working on the Satellite (and my Valiant) a lot more than the Ford products that have preceded it. While the Mopar products are rather primitive - both electrically and in general fit and finish - it's still quite obvious that the parts are quite robust, in a simplistic sort of way. I don't have to worry as much about plastic bits breaking.

Also, the small block Mopar heads are a joy to work with. It's so much easier to fit exhaust manifolds that sit on a vertical plane than pointing downwards, and it's nice not to deal with that stamped steel marine-style timing chain cover on the 351C. Granted, the small block Mopar cover pretty much doesn't seal with the block until the water pump is on it, unless you know just the bolt to put in first - making it a pain in the arse in its own way. Though I've never worked with one, the Ford 302/351W cover looks as if it may be easier than either the 351C or the Mopar piece.

-Kurt

 
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The rebuild kit for the power steering pump arrived today, so I took it upon myself to discover the idiosyncrasies between the two pumps:

52ckg3.jpg


The impeller assembly on the left, with the thick vanes, is from the '67/8 pump. On the right is the '89 pump, with thin vanes, and an extra slot across the circumference (presumably to suck in PS fluid via capillary action to assist lubricating the vanes?):

nf4oj8.jpg


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From what I've read, mixing and matching these to the bodies isn't advisable, as they wear to everything around them. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say. I'll take it as a given and not try to mess too much with it.

That said, the '89 shaft is an uncomfortably tight fit in the older pump, so the shaft bushing will have to be swapped in the hydraulic press tomorrow. Not fun...

EDIT: I completely forgot to post these photos two weeks ago. This is what was in the oil pan of the '68 318. Molasses oil:

1ooqc1.jpg


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Not a pretty sight. I'm glad I chose to replace the engine and not just throw a pair of heads on the original motor.

-Kurt

 
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A bit ticked today.

I swapped the main shaft bushing in the Saginaw pump with my hydraulic press, no problems at all:

2127pzb.jpg


However, the shaft, when reinserted, hardly spins at all without the pump pulley installed. And even then, it's a chore and a half.

I started to suspect the metric nonsense - or my installation - so I ripped apart a spare SAE Saginaw pump from my '78 Lincoln and swapped shafts on each pump. Not only was the '78 shaft tight in the new-bushing '89 pump, the '89 shaft bound tight in the '78 pump.

Is there some special trick to seating these that is escaping me?

-Kurt

 
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All issues sorted with the pump; wound up using the core from the '78 Lincoln with the piston from the '68 pump as-is (no shimming or other such modifications), though the vane is from the '78 as well. Housing remains the early '68 unit.

ekmbk0.jpg


Fits nicely there on the '89 LA van bracket (only took two freakin' weeks). Still need to find a non-metric bolt for the top back bolt, which is presently a dual-ended stud.

I might hold off on doing the exhaust on this side and splurge on a Firm Feel steering gear. I want this car to be highway safe, and those stock PS boxes are probably the furthest thing from highway safe that I've ever known.

-Kurt

 
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Cranked over on the starter and test oil for the first time today, just to make sure the pushrods and rockers were playing nice (after running it by hand a few times). Took a quick video too, which will be part of a larger feature on both my Valiant and the Satellite:

[video=youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeZ5ZxsXfN4

As for sound - right now, it sounds like a Denso mini starter.

-Kurt

 
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It's weird to see stud mounted rockers on a mopar....
I remember the first time I popped the cover on my 225 Slant Six. The first thing through my mind were the adjustable valves on old marine diesel engines (specifically, the Perkins 4.107/108):

G705a__62460.1407195109.1280.1280.JPG


Mind you, prior to popping the cover on the slanty, I'd never really put my eyes on anything other than the stud rockers on the 351C/400/351Ms.

Then I popped the valve covers on the LA, expecting to see something similar to my Magnum 3.9 (which have the same stud-mounted rockers as the 5.2 and 5.9s). I spent 30 seconds realizing how strange it looked - and proceeded to forget all about it once I noted it took all of 5 bolts to pull the rockers and reinstall them for quick inspection.

Still, I'm happier with the Magnum heads and the increased rocker ratio.

-Kurt

 
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Not sure how much I'll get done over the weekend, as I have to take about 500 pounds of junk to the scrapyard this weekend (including the original block, heads, and '89 intake).

That said, I've been considering running Randy Bouchillon's Sanden bracket setup with the van's '87-89 style Chrysler alternator, which is made even more interesting by the 4-belt '89 crank pulley, as seen here, in comparison to the '68 3-belt (A/C equipped) setup:

awvlok.jpg


All things considered, it isn't that different, and I'm not really gaining any new positions, as the fourth belt groove is the furthest forward of the four, and would have driven the factory air pump (which wasn't even on the donor van to begin with, not that I would have used it at all).

Randy's brackets are designed for an original '62+ style Mopar alternator, but is designed so that the alternator sits back in the brackets quite a bit, requiring the use of the outer belt groove, as seen here:

BPE4725.jpg


However, the '87-89 alternator has a few things going for it, which might just work in its favor, depending on how I go about this. The pulley sits farther forward on the snout, so I might have a chance to align the inner groove with that of the Sanden, allowing me to keep the two-belt setup. I believe the Bouchillon bracket is supposed to be installed with washers/spacers against the water pump as well, so a bit of back-and-forth with the brackets and the compressor might yield the ideal result that will also work for the alternator. I might have to break out the MIG welder to offset the mounting studs for the Sanden on the rear bracket, but it may just work without any major modifications.

vra6uv.jpg


If nothing else, the mounting ears will let me mount it without any issue, and the roll pin will allow for some adjustment. We'll see if the back clears the head.

-Kurt

 
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I'll say one thing right now: That Magnum exhaust manifold looks like it means business - even between the wider shock towers of a B-body. This is the #53006618 (RH) '92-3 Magnum manifold that everyone says flows like a header.

2znyhk6.jpg


Clearance is just shy of 1/2" to the shock tower. I don't expect the engine mounts to flex that far.

Going to hold off doing the other side until I can order the Firm Feel box - but in the meantime, I can re-gap all my spark plugs to 0.50 in preparation for the HEI conversion*.

-Kurt

*Yea, yea, I hear you all about the Chebby part. At least it's a super-simple modification into the Mopar ignition system, and is notably better over the Mopar electronic ignition box. Four wires, that's it. It's not quite as much of a mess as Duraspark.

 
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Some good, unexpected news - I don't need to get the Firm Feel box, which means lots of play money for the rest of the parts I need.

For those interested in the change of heart:

Until today, I had the (incorrect) belief that the Mopar power steering box is the direct cause of unbelievably skittish handling, courtesy of my '69 Valiant (my first Mopar, and a 22k mile car that is tight as a drum - hence, I have no reason to believe the P/S box to be worn). The Valiant presently has its original 13" rims with P185/70/R14 tires on it - about 2" smaller in diameter than the original factory 6.50x13" bias-plys - and I'd already installed offset control arm bushings and had the front end realigned to the specs given for radials online (not the old bias-ply specifications that have been pre-loaded into seemingly every shop alignment computer ever made).

That said, the tiny 13" rims have given very little options for me to put decent tires on it, so I recently acquired a set of mutt SBP rims (three 4.5" width, one 5.5") to experiment with, along with a pair of decent, unused P215/70/R14 tires from a garage sale. I wanted to get an idea of how much tire I could stick under the Valiant (answer = the P215's fit with room to spare) and whether I'd have to make significant adjustments to the torsion bar ride height:

zvrg5s.jpg


^Gasser Valiant!

After throwing the wheels on and doing nothing to the alignment, I took it around for a spin, just for fun. I didn't really expect anything different, but for the very first time, not only did the car track perfectly straight, I could feel it pull itself back to center after exiting both left and right turns.

"So THAT's how the stock steering is supposed to feel!"

I'm not sure if it is because the caster was increased with the back end on the ground, whether the larger sidewall deflects better, or if the control arms are in a sweet spot with the taller wheels. But having learned how to drive with 4-turn Saginaw slushbox steering gears in every single Ford I've had (and driven virtually no other steering box since), I immediately felt right at home and comfortable with the now-correct steering feel.

With that said, I therefore expect the Satellite's box to feel no different than the Valiant on the P215's, provided the alignment is in spec. Hence, no need to spend an arm and a leg on the Firm Feel box - all I want is centering, not stiffness. Maybe I'll go for the fast ratio pitman arm in the future, but not now.

I didn't have an opportunity to photograph it yet, but the engine has both exhaust manifolds on it now. Looks impressive.

-Kurt

 
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The BPE brackets came in today. With the alternator mount where it is, there is no way to mount the '87-89 Mopar alternator to it due to clearance issues with the back of the alternator and the cylinder head. I could weld an extension to the bracket that would place the alternator higher up, but I'd only be asking for more trouble in the long run.

2j2daw6.jpg


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And this is why you always check what lies underneath factory wrapped cables. This is the positive battery-to-starter cable, and it took no effort for the insulation to peel right off the wire, but stay stuck firm to the weaved wrap:

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Luckily, the van cable is perfectly designed for the Denso starter and is quite a bit longer. Soldering a new end onto it shouldn't be a problem at all.

In other news, my radiator shroud arrived. Turns out it's a huge 28" unit (3673819) for a 1973-4 Charger and won't even come close to sliding in the '68 B-body engine bay. I measured the mounting holes on the Chinese radiator, and measured the shroud mounting holes at 25.25" in width, and 12.25" in height. Ring any bells?

-Kurt

 
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What an evening.

I decided to try my hand again at soldering the ends back onto the old radiator for eBay. After failing a few times, I realized that I simply wasn't letting the solder cool. Once I figured that out, I had instant success - but first I had to clean it all up again to re-solder it correctly.

Then I hooked a bike tube up to the hose nipples and pressure tested the radiator; just to make sure I hadn't caused any leaks. I hadn't, but it turns out the lower radiator hose nipple is whistling air just a bit, right in the tightest spot to fix. After fighting with it for 15 minutes, I finally get it clean - and another 15 minutes later, I'm able to get solder on the joint.

So I pressure test it again, and it's leaking out one small pinhole in what I just soldered. Damn. Fire up the prop torch again and the bottom half of the radiator lit up like a broiler oven, nice even flame and all. Turns out I had spilled a bit of rubbing alcohol in there when I was cleaning up the joint. So I smothered it away...and two seconds later, it lights up again on it's own.

At that point, I say F it, and bring out the can of ABC and let it have it. I spend the next 15 minutes trying to get the damn extinguisher foam out of my mouth, and an hour cleaning the work area up of that same lousy yellow dust. Oh well, at least it didn't go down in flames.

Good thing that radiator is just for eBay.

Now, if that wasn't bad enough, my distributor from eBay has been waiting to be installed since I got home from work, but by now, it's too dark (and I'm too pissed) to start dragging tools out to find TDC and time it just right. Nope, not in the mood for that sort of accuracy. So I decide to just open the box and stare at my newfound purchase.

Bad idea.

I thought tasting the fire extinguisher $hit was bad enough. THE FOAM INSIDE THIS BOX SMELLED 10 TIMES WORSE. I took one whiff, reeled back, and proceeded to run outside, unpack that dizzy, and throw out that box faster than I put out the radiator fire. Then I realized the damn distributor has taken on the smell too, and was proceeding to take over the fire extinguisher stench for sheer stinky machismo.

For a moment, this irritated me - until I realized the distributor shaft was jamming when I turned it. "F*!)(#)#*$(@#*$!!!!!. More crap from FleaBay!" was my first inclination. Then I realized the distributor was rattling. Sure enough, on top of the mechanical advance weights was a small rock dancing the rumba. Four pebbles later, the problem was solved. But it still STINKS.

I threw it in the engine for now. Who knows where it is timed - all I care is that the distributor is not within the confines of the house. Hell, I'll consider myself lucky if a rat slithers into the engine bay this evening and takes a piss on it.

-Kurt

 
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Good news today. Intake bypass nipple arrived and I had time to get the engine to TDC at the compression stroke, so both distributor and bypass hose have been installed.

That said, Felpro's master gasket kit had the wrong distributor O-ring in the kit. I couldn't get the distributor seated - not even with some light taps from a rubber mallet.

I happened to have a genuine Mopar distributor O-ring spare left over from my '98 Dodge Ram Van (the Magnum 3.9), and sure enough, the thickness of the Mopar O-ring is smaller. Small enough that the Felpro O-ring had a line cut around its entire diameter from my attempts to seat it.

By comparison, the Mopar O-ring allowed the distributor to slip in with no more than the light pressure one would expect. Feels nice and snug.

35b81ew.jpg


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-Kurt

 

1973grandeklar

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Kurt I really enjoy following along on this build. Even though it is a Mopar, it is nice to see how you work each problem as it arises. It is unfortunately the nature of the beast with this kind of swap, but it would be nice to Not have any issues.

 
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Ok, couple of updates. First off, a decent photo of the dizzy (which looks pretty nice considering its history) and its cap (which looks fantastic):

30bk2lk.jpg


A daylight photo of the engine, for once:

beacur.jpg


And here's where it gets interesting. Since I did not have any 1970+ style front accessories, given the 1968 and 1989 donors, I ordered (the cheapest) 1970 SBM alternator bracket I could find off of eBay.

I test-fitted it today, and found out one of those nagging compatibility issues that nobody tells you on Magnum swap pages ("...everything else fits!"), and you don't find out until it's too late.

The problem is that the Magnum head protrudes farther than the original heads (a known fact), but this causes interference problems with the one-piece bracket brace at the back:

2w71ta1.jpg


99i2cj.jpg


hsp8qb.jpg


It's no problem for me once I chop it shorter and put it back together with the MIG welder, but it's something you don't want to run into if you don't have access to welding equipment - or a friend who welds for beer.

Kurt I really enjoy following along on this build. Even though it is a Mopar, it is nice to see how you work each problem as it arises. It is unfortunately the nature of the beast with this kind of swap, but it would be nice to Not have any issues.
Thank you for the kind words. Even though it is a Mopar, I like to think of it as an honorary member of the '71-73 club, seeing that so many '68-70 Belvederes and Satellites were chasing Eleanor in the original Gone in 60 Seconds. It's almost impossible to watch that film and not want to have the Mustang, a Belvedere, and one of those white Ford Customs!

I'd say this swap is going unbelievably well. I haven't run into anything yet that has caused a problem after the fact or required parts to come off after being installed under other parts. My previous research has served me well.

-Kurt

 
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Modifying the bracket went well, if a bit messier in the back:

2welyqw.jpg


n14coi.jpg


Very tempting to get a nozzle with a pointed tip for the MIG welder, if such a thing exists.

It fits nicely, considering the accuracy needed to make sure the alternator's bolt lined up through the entire curve of the bracket. I installed spacers after mocking it up here:

xqardl.jpg


30szfyr.jpg


However, I'm still not sure if this will work with the 1989 4-pulley setup. Again, have to wait for the Sanden to arrive before I can figure that out. If I deem it wise, I'll extend the BPE brackets to move the alternator mounting up and outwards away from the cylinder head.

In other news, the Magnum exhaust manifolds I bought had a bung for an air injection pipe on the passenger's side. While it was easy enough to buy a Steiger Performance blockoff plate for it, it was a pain to find the gasket, Mopar #53010000. It's available, but try to find it listed in any parts store catalog. It doesn't come up under EGR or exhaust parts.

However, one eBay seller thankfully cross-referenced the Mopar number, and apparently the gasket is best known as an EGR gasket on 2004-09 Nissan Quests with a 3.5L V6, Airtex part number 3F1078. Seller gave these alternate part numbers as well: 14719-4S100, VG179, 70-1150, EVG175, 3F1228, 779-2681, FE337, E879, 2-2580.

Not a great picture, but the gasket is installed:

9ptd7m.jpg


I also found out that I bought the a 727 inspection plate instead of one for the 904. Anyone want to trade?

if615j.jpg


I re-installed the plug wires. Looks like a spaghetti factory, and I'm a bit ticked that cylinder #4's wire is too short (no matter what the wire combo) and the others are a bit too long. That, and they're that bright freakin' red - but I figure the used 7.5mm wires stand a slightly better chance of preventing crossfire than stock 7mm's.

I have, however, cooked up a great idea to route thee wires in a classic way, using the stamped Magnum covers. We'll see if it works.

9iqyba.jpg


And an overview shot, for the sake of it:

9aakpu.jpg


-Kurt

 

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