First up, a basic oil change and figuring out what the hell kind of engine someone shoved into our darling sheet metal wildebeest.
Based off what the seller told us, and what we can pull from the serial number on the engine block, we narrowed it down to a Chevy small block 283 or 307.
Since we knew it was a Chevy engine from the get go, we used the Chevy decoding feature on NastyZ28.com to help transcribe the numbers...
Partial VIN = 19W435422
number breakdown as follows:
(9) Model Year 1969
(W) built in Willow Run, Michigan,
which was known for building Novas.
(435422) is the unique serial number
Engine Code = V0228DA
(28) 28th day of Feb.
(DA) Chevy SB 283 or 307
I was particularly fascinated in researching this information, as it's the first time I’ve ever been part of a vehicle re-build. Makes me wish I would’ve learned this stuff when I was younger, but in all honesty, the interest wasn’t there until I was in my thirties.
Actually, it's really asinine that we don’t require all kids, regardless of gender, to take both shop and home economics class in middle school.
I know Rob would certainly appreciate not having to explain the purpose of every little wire and knob coming out from under the hood, just as much as I’d like to not have to constantly explain the difference between TSP and TBSP.
Anyway, with all that new information at our fingertips (Thank God for the internet) we're inclined to believe the engine is of the 307 variety and likely pulled from a ‘68 or ‘69 Chevy Nova.
I can't say either one of us knows diddly pie about a 307, but there are no shortage of opinions out there from other world wide gear heads.
In a nutshell, it would seem we're blessed with a truy "bulletproof" engine, or possibly stuck with a "wheezing boat anchor."
All we really know so far, is that it seems to start up fairly consistently, despite having to fondle the choke with the precision and lighthanded caress compared only to that of a harpsicord tuner.
After researching the Willys Wagons a bit more, we now know that an after market engine conversion of this type is not the optimal fit, especially when it comes to the gearing. Therefore, we've definitely gained an appreciation for the original L6-226 Super Hurricane engine that came stock, and in retrospect, perhaps we should’ve held out for something with more of the original componentry. However, because of our limited budget and need for something that was already up and running, we’re content having one with an engine that seems to be in pretty decent condition.
Remember how I used the phrase "bulletproof," just a few short sentences ago?
While changing the oil (10W-30 non-synthetic), Rob discovered the oil pan had a pretty big dent in it, so he took it off to hammer it out. Inside the pan, there were a couple of toy surprises way worse than the disappointing plastic compass you used to find in a box of Cracker Jacks.
Lo and behold, peeping out from the shallow pit of Vietnam war era sludge, was the chipped end of a piston and his partner in crime, a full metal rod.
It's time for a beer.
After Happy Hour, and a few deep breaths, we reminded ourselves that we had just driven the thing 45 miles home from Denver without incident, and decided to proceed with guarded optimisim.
Rob inspected our current engine, did a head count of the rods, and ultimately determined that none of them were damaged. From what we can surmise, the metal remnants were from a previously thrown rod that led to a rebuild or engine swap down the line.
Somehow, we lucked out on that one, but now we both feel a little more on edge about what else may possibly be lurking in the bowels of the beast.
After cleaning out the sludge, Rob then hammered out the dent in oil pan, and determined it should be sand blasted and re-painted along with the air intake housing and cracked valve covers our friend Daryl had patched for us.
We decided to paint everything in the classic Chevy Orange, not only because it’s readily available at most auto supply stores, but because from a design standpoint, orange is a naturally good
complement to the teal and white
exterior paint job we’ll eventually restore it to.
Once he began reassembling the newly painted parts back onto the engine, he also noticed the heather hoses to engine block had corroded at the fittings, so no fluid was flowing through heater core. Fortunately, this was a fairly easy fix as the heater fitting was available from O’Reilly, although since we needed the longer version, it took about a week to get here.
While waiting for that to arrive, Rob also went ahead and put in a new temperature sensor (aka sending unit) to connect to the new temperature gauge. More information about this can be found on the New Wiring Harness post (coming soon,)