A Christmas Story

Well, it’s Christmas 2017 and all is right with the world.  The “kids” (at 23 and 16, they aren’t really kids anymore…) have opened their Christmas presents, with a  haul that rivals some third world nations yearly Gross Domestic Product… We have a nice layer of nice white snow here in Massachusetts (the only thing this state has yet to tax…), Mrs. Sonett is swearing at her Zelda game for the fancy new Nintendo Switch game console, and my cat (Maximilian, aka Max) is taking up the entire loveseat by himself for his daily mid-afternoon nap (how does a 9 pound cat completely rule a household of people?!?).  Christmas time always makes me think back to good ole Ralphie in A Christmas Story.  His quest?  To get a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.   My quest?  To get my Sonett running.


To that end, I needed yet even *more* prep work.  Much like Ralphie begged for his BB Gun, I begged my brother Jake for some bead blasting and powdercoating!  First up was my “unobtanium” non-fan-bearing V4 timing cover version 2.0.  What happened to version 1.0?  I tried to weld up the small hole in the front so that it could be powdercoated.  Then it cracked.  Then I tried to get the crack welded, and it burned through…twice…  So, I pretty much ruined a generally unavailable piece…  I managed to get my hands on a second one, and this one is just getting painted!  Jake bead blasted it to gently remove the old paint, and I gave it a coat of POR-15 Detail Paint.  I popped out the old balance shaft seal, and pressed in a new double lip style seal instead.  I also gave Jake the balance shaft pulley, alternator brackets and motor mount covers.  A couple of days later, they were all powdercoated black and ready to go!

I started install my new all-metal timing gears that I bought from Jack Lawrence a few months ago.  Thankfully it’s easy to tell the balance shaft gear and crank gear apart, since the crank gear will have 2 dots instead of 1.  That lets you line it up with both the cam gear and the balance shaft gear.  So I put both the balance shaft gear and crank gear on.  Next up is the timing cover adapter.  So I had that cleaned up to remove all the rust, gave both the block and adapter a light coat of “Right Stuff” gasket maker, and sandwiched in the gasket between them.  With that in place, you can now pop the cam gear on and torque down that bolt.  Another coat of gasket maker, and another gasket, and now the timing cover itself goes on (pro tip from my pal Roger:  make sure the balance shaft opening is centered around the actual shaft stub!).

Just like it’s not a proper Christmas without a great movie or two (love the original Die Hard), it’s not a proper V4 rebuild without replacing the crank pilot bearing.  I gave it a very light coat of Redline Synthetic grease (super high temp drop point means it should stay put) and carefully pressed it into the crank hub.  Next up is my triple modified flywheel!  It was lightened by Dyno Machine, then surfaced by RAD Auto Machine, then setup for my new clutch by Motor Sport Services… yikes, hope I never need to buy another one!  I mounted it up on the hub, and broke out my new ARP flywheel bolts.  The bolts get Loctite on the threads and ARP Ultra Torque under the bolt heads to help achieve the required torque.


With that on, I flipped the block over and installed my new oil pump, oil pump driveshaft, and pickup using the new thin gaskets.  Don’t put any sealer on these gaskets!  Torque them all to the factory spec after working some fresh oil into the new oil pump.  Next up is a new Royal Purple oil filter.  This guy will only be on for a very short period of time to facilitate engine break in.  I broke out my “refurbished NOS” oil pan and some brand new stainless (of course) oil pan bolts, and tightened down the pan approximately 1,477 times to get all of the bolts properly torqued…


With the short block done, next up are my custom heads.  Good friend Mark and I worked on our own version of these heads that we felt could really only be done justice by way of a CNC machine.  It’s hard to explain how nice they came out!  The chambers are all exactly the same!  They are opened up in a way that does a beautiful job of unshrouding the new oversize valves, and getting the compression ratio down to a more reasonable number for use with a turbo (~9.2).  The exhaust port has a new shape; square versus round.  I didn’t like hogging the top and bottom of the port since the majority of the flow restriction is from left-to-right.  So we’ll use a custom CNC exhaust adapter to get the new 1.75″ stainless exhaust pipes to mate up.  The intake had the ridiculously restrictive intake valve stem guide boss machined off, and the ports were opened up to match the gasket openings too.  RAD gave them a very light surfacing and installed the new oversize valves.  They also setup the new heavier valve springs, spring dampers, and seals.

I screwed in yet more ARP studs, this time replacing the factory head bolts.  The studs just get lightly snugged in, not tightened.  All of the torque will happen on the nuts and washers instead.  I oiled up the lifters and dropped them in, then slid the head gasket down onto the block.  The heads slid down the studs onto the gasket, and I torqued them down in three equal amounts to 90 ft/lbs.  It’s worth noting that all ARP bolts will use much higher torque settings than the OEM bolts!

So, over two years later, the engine is finally coming back together.  So, just like Ralphie, it looks like I’m getting my wish!  But given the current political climate, it’s probably for the best that Ralphie didn’t try to ask for a gun these days…!



3 thoughts on “A Christmas Story

      1. I have 25 years on you !
        Welcome here any time.
        Bring your spanners and get my 1968 V4 96 back on the road . You seem to know what you are doing !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s