Getting back on the road

So Cal V8

Active Member
Hey Steven,

Did you have any luck find a 2200 TC head? Maybe any potential UK shippers might consider shipping it to Ireland if they won't send it to the US - if so, I'll be there in August - I could just boot it out of the plane as we cross Jersey on the way back to the left coast...


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No luck on the 2200TC head. But at least I’ll have her back on the road soon. Harvey’s advice has saved me doing the piston rings.


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Quick update. Today’s apparently some sort of holiday here. So I celebrated by trying to get things back together.

Used a bit of paraffin oil in the ports to test the seals of each valve earlier in the week. No. 1 exhaust was the only one showing a slight leak. So my friend Ike (he has a 2600 SD1 (running well)and a 2000TC (not yet running at all) came over and we tackled lapping the valve and retesting. No more leaks!

Once I had the head back on and timing chain set up I ran another compression test. No. 3 was still low on pressure at 100psi. Bugger! I tested the rest and they were still at 180psi. I dropped a bit of oil into the spark plug hole and rerun the test, 200psi. So my guess is a cracked ring or something. Head is off again. I’ll have to order a set of piston rings and probably a new head gasket (this one was on for all of 30 mins).

So the good news is the cylinder walls all look in excellent health. No scoring or anything, a quick hone and they’ll be ready for new rings.

This was the first engine build for me a good few years ago. I wonder if I didn’t gap the rings properly when I fitted them. I guess I’ll find out and hopefully there’s no further damage. I’ll check the bores for straightness with the new rings to be sure there’s no blow by. There’s no steps at the top or anything so fingers crossed.

@harveyp6 looks like the rings could hold paraffin without pressure but was no good with air pressure. At least oil in the bored proved its piston and not valve related. I should have done the oil in the spark plug hole test the first time around.

Hey ho....
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I guess that it comes rather late as an advice, but i have built and favour a leak down tester instead of a compression tester. OK, the later will tell you that you probably have a problem, but with a leak down tester you should know somehow with more precision.
However, at the end of the day you still have to do the work. At least in your case it sounds relatively easy.


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A bit more activity. I pulled the sump and pistons today.
No broken rings on removal, although I did break a ring when removing it from the piston.
After removing the piston rings from no. 3 I found a weird wear pattern on the bottom compression ring.

Yellow arrow shows no wear and green arrow shows wear.

There seemed a lot more carbon on the piston and in the ring lands compared to the others. I did break it when removing the ring. I wonder if it was stuck and caused irregular wear and sealing. The oil test on compression testing seems to point to a ring seal issue.

Anyways, new rings to be ordered after cleaning all the pistons. The cylinder walls were all within spec. No problems with wear after measuring ring gaps at various points on the cylinder. I did run a hone through them as the they were rather polished, that will help the new rings bed in and also help oil stay on the cylinders walls. Now just have to wait for parts to arrive.



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I forgot to mention. I think the extra carbon issue may be my fault from early last year.

I had The he’d off to replace the o ring in the head gasket. It was weeping at the back as they can do sometimes.

When I did it I didn’t drain enough coolant, not realizing I loosened the head bolts, removed the cam and cam carrier and left things for a day in the garage. Next day I go out there, lift off the head and find coolant in the piston crowns. Not only that, the coolant had softened the carbon buildup to the consistency of black yogurt. I wiped it off, but now wonder if I pushed some down the sides of the pistons where they got into the ring lands and caused the problems I’m seeing. I thought I had got away with flushing the oil and that was it. Maybe not?


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Well, after a lost set of piston rings (thanks Royal Mail/United States Postal Service). I finally have the parts together for the rebuild.

Today was fitting new main bearings (existing ones were barely marked, but I was in there) and new big end bearings, the rod bearings had some scoring, I think from when the bottom timing chain tensioner lost its rubber foot and ground away the aluminium plate a little. No signs of anything in there now, but I blew out all the oil ways and flushed as best I could. I checked fitting of the shells on the big end bearings before fitting because I noticed the ones I took off had been ‘pinched’ between the rod and the cap, all seems in spec this time. 4-6 thou when only one nut is torqued to spec.

I made sure the gaps on the rings were all within spec. Once fitted to the pistons I slipped some rubber hose over the rod studs to protect the journals as I fitted the pistons to the cylinders.

With luck I can get the head back on tomorrow.



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Cylinder head back on, sump back on, oil refilled.

New main bearings, old ones had hardly any wear so I’ve kept them as spares. New big end bearings, there was some scoring on them, possibly caused by the chain tensioner failure allowing some aluminium into the oil. New camshaft bearings (guy selling the big end bearings had them sitting on the shelf and offered me a deal so changed them anyway).

I spun the engine on the starter motor after fitting the above. Once the oil light went out you could hear the difference in engine speed. Now the oil light goes out after one revolution of the engine on the starter.

Well, long story short, we now have compression.

1: 180
2: 155
3: 175
4: 175

Little worried about no. 2 but hoping it’s just a bedding in thing. Maybe oil hasn’t splashed fully onto the bores, valves all check out now etc.

So next is to fit exhaust and intake manifolds, reconnect wiring, fuel lines and coolant hoses. Should be starting her up in the near future. Took my time today working on her. Temps in the 90’s (34 if you’re watching in colour) made sure of that. Also this is one of the few things in my life that aren’t deadline driven. So working at my own slow careful pace while listening to the Proms via the internet made for a really pleasant day.


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Don't baby it when you get it together. Take it out and when warm run it hard up to max torque rpm and then run down in a lower gear, repeat a few times. This will bed the rings in and you wont end up with an oil burning smoker.
Being all cautious and not loading the engine may glaze the bores and then the only solution is to re hone and start over. The best engines come about by being made to work hard from the get go.


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Thanks for the advice. I've found so much contradictory info on running in. So far I've only turned the engine over using the starter for compression tests. I used GTX high mileage 20W50 oil in there. Having since found out its semi synthetic and that's bad for seating rings I'll be draining that and putting in basic mineral oil before start up. At least I found it out before starting.
good stuff and better compressions than I get. ( not reconditioned though). oils are important an classic. oils ( Castrol) are best. as otherwise we get cam wear and other issues.
on the point of thrashing? a new refurb engine.. I worked for few decades at major engine manufacturer in UK .we tested and ran in new and reworked engines on an almost daily basis. we had a program for. running ( bedding ) in parts and high speeds and loads were NOT allowed for first few hours. risking issues and potential engine. failure. it is advised to run an engine at. normal. road speeds and loads ( not 5 passengers and roof rack) for few. hours and slowly increase things. so case of gently at first then increase until we are at motorway speeds and can apply heavier loads. this gives. rings/honing time to bed in .reduces glazing risks and give stem for any 'high spots' on components to wear away so no localised "hot" spots that can create seizing etc .
not for nothing was the old adage of running an engine in for 1500 miles given ( though with modern engines this is no longer needed). if it were mine..I would simply drive it as. normal ( assuming we not a racing circuit or rally enthusiast using this car)


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I knew there would be a polar opposite reaction to my post, so here is my real world reply.
A few years ago I built up a Ford 289 K code engine for my '65 Mustang Fastback. This is a very special and rare engine so I was keen to get it right, however after a few miles of driving in 'running in mode' I was starting to explore the potential - and it was disappointing.
So I did a compression test and the results were worryingly low.
I previously had read a comprehensive guide from an American auto engineer on the subject of breaking in new engines and he advocated making the engine work hard from the off approach, providing all temps and pressures were good, to ensure the rings bedded and the bores did not glaze, it did make sense to me.
So the Mustang was treated to a good spirited talking to, not to max rpm, but to the rpm that max torque is produced, ie 4500 or whatever, quite a few times and run down by changing down to load the rings on over run.
A return the garage and another compression check revealed an increase of an average of 30 psi per cylinder. I was lucky, I had not glazed the bores.
A friend of mine built a Cobra replica with a Ford 302 and ran that in by driving like a Vicar, it smoked and burnt oil terribly, and it ruined his enjoyment of the car.

Now at work ( I build Aston DBR1 recreations ) every new build gets the 'treatment' right from the off and so far so good, no problems with failures and all engines are smoke free.
The Elan I have owned since a boy was run in by not exceeding 3000 rpm and only light throttle openings, I wish I had ripped that up higher and loaded the rings, I bet it would be a nicer engine now.
Anyway, just my 2p, each to their own.
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Proof of the pudding. Took some time away from work related projects today. Fitted carbs, hoses and electrical connections.

Here’s the first start idle.

This is how she sounds inside after balancing and tuning the carbs.

It was a really hot day here today 98°f (37.6° in colour) but no over heating. When she’s at full temp and been left standing before a restart I notice the oil light stays on for a second longer than I’d like. Next to check I guess is oil pump and oil pressure relief valve. She’s much, much quieter than before, partly down to decent oil pressure again, partly to the now whole exhaust manifold.

One thing I found interesting is that the rear carb was much richer than the front when refitted. I’m sure it was down to the poor compression on the cylinder. It’ll be interesting to see how the fuel consumption changes over the next few hundred miles.