Category Archives: Pontiac

Pontiac renovations, part 20.

Windshield defroster heater

I continued dismantling the engine compartment, from the firewall was removed the windshield defroster heater. It was disconnected when I got the car, and had shown signs of leaking.

Heater box in pieces

I spoke to a guy who rebuilds the heater valves. This one is a thermostatic Ranco valve, and it leaks around the spindle seal. The thermostatic portion of the valve was checked and is fully operational.

Heater matrix

I flushed the heater matrix out. Not much dirt came out of it, surprisingly. It is free flowing both ways and doesn’t appear to leak.

Orbital sander

I buzzed the rust and paint off the heater box with my orbital sander.

Outer clamshell

I applied rust treatment and painted the shell semi-gloss black.

Removing rust

All the screws were very rusty. They looked as though they were originally plated with chrome, but that was long gone. I sanded them down smooth in my drill.

Shiny screws

The screws were then pushed into the side of a cardboard box.

Then the screws were painted gloss black enamel.

Reassembled heater box

The heater box was then greased (spring loaded parts) and reassembled. Once the valve is rebuilt, it’ll go back onto the heater frame and be connected via hose to the rest of the system.

Horn, drilled

Someone kindly sent a pair of (mid sixties) Delco horns for the car. While they aren’t visibly the same, the tone they produce is the same. The brackets were too short and at the song angle so I drilled out the spot welds to remove the brackets.


I bought a length of bar stock of the same size as the original brackets.

Measure and mark

I measured up, marked out, drilled and filed two brackets to shape.

Horn brackets

A few holes drilled for welds and the brackets are offered up to give a visual representation.

Horns with brackets

Having filed surfaces down I decided to clean up and paint the horns. They were rubbed down with a wire brush and painted up in gloss black enamel, as per original spec.

Nice finish

I do like gloss black enamel. It produces such a wonderful result straight out of the can.

Paint scraper

Being as I was working in the firewall area, I decided to start removing old rust and paint, in order to be able to apply new.

Bare metal

I ran out of time after this photograph was taken. There’s a lot of nooks and crannies to sand, with some areas that I cannot fit the sander in. A finger sander/powerfile would be the tool of choice here.


The original written code for Starmist Blue was written on the shell. I had sanded over it but it’s etched into the metal. It’ll not be visible after paint, but it’ll be there.

Glove box badge

The glove box badge was originally all silver. However, over the years the silver has fallen off. Previous keeper had painted red over the back, which looked horrible as a lot of the silver was still present.

Brass brush

I attempted to mechanically remove the paint from the back of the badge. It did remove quite a lot but still, not enough.

Partially clean

The net result was poor. I spoke to a few people and they suggested oven cleaner. Apparently it doesn’t attack the plastic but removes the paint.


They were not wrong! All the paint came off nicely.


I dripped cream colored paint into the lettering with a piece of small gauge wire.

Lettering done

With the lettering looking tidy, I took my pillarbox red paint and converted the back side of the plastic.


Overall, very pleased with the results.

Restored badge

It looks good now. Not perfect but a lot better than it was.


Finally reattached that to the car. It needs to look nice, it can be seen from outside and the passenger has it right in front of them all the time.

Pontiac renovations, part 19.

Car, pushed outside.

I pressure washed the car and the engine compartment down, working to remove more dirt from the chassis.

Cleaner engine compartment

With that washed down, the car was parked back into the garage and left to dry.

I ended up having to buy a couple of tools. An inch-and-a-quarter socket to remove the nut from the bottom of the Pitman arm and a puller to remove the arm itself.


That allowed me to remove the rather sizeable nut holding the Pitman arm on.

Securing nut and washer

Which then allowed me to pull the Pitman arm off the cross shaft.

Pitman arm splines

With the arm removed, the cross-shaft could then be removed and checked for condition.


The ball race was a little slack but otherwise good, the plain bearings that carry the shaft are worn, and in need of replacement but for now I’m going to repack the box and come back to the problem.

Steering box lid
Steering box

I took the ball race apart to clean it up in gasoline. There’s a mix of the wrong type of grades of grease in the steering box and a lot of it had congealed badly.

Soaking in gasoline

Reassembled, tightened up a little then peened the nut. Most of the slack in the ball race is now gone.

Clean cross-shaft

Then to stop it from deteriorating, I gave the steering box lid a coat of paint.

Painted black
John Deere “corn head” grease

I bought a tube of corn head grease, a polyurea blend grease that will sag down once it’s been pushed out of the way, ideal for this application. It’s also designed to only become fluid where it’s worked. Around seals it stays very solid and doesn’t leak out so badly.

Chassis leg and brake master cylinder

I then started cleaning up the chassis leg on the driver’s side. The brakes needed looking at because pressing down on the pedal would sometimes cause it to jam, and it would always make a bad noise.

Bent fillet

The fillet plate had been installed incorrectly, was bent and fouling the brake pedal.

Rust treatment

I hammered it flat again, rubbed the rust down and applied rust converter.

Fillet painted and in place

I painted the panel up, and fixed it in place correctly.

Sounds deadening material

The original sound deadening was added back to the fillet.

All set in place

The clutch pedal blanking plate was fitted, after having been found sitting in a crook of the chassis, which looked like it had been there years. Then the top sections were added. Looking better and the pedal moved smoothly past it.

Brake pedal

Then, I took it all apart again to remove the brake pedal. The clevis pin was missing it’s R clip, and wouldn’t come out to be serviced. I ended up having to hammer it out. Repainted everything up after that.

Painted pedal

The grease point was a large glob of dirt, and upon removal, showed that it had not been greased in a long time.

Grease nipple with old grease

That was all cleaned, the operation of the nipple was checked, and everything reassembled.

R clip

I bought a new R clip for the clevis.


Finally, I finished cleaning the area and started to add some paint to the chassis.

Pontiac renovations, part 18

Engine, stripped.

I stripped all the ancillary parts off the engine, partly in preparation to clean and paint, partly to reduce the weight while lifting because the gearbox needs to be split from the engine.

Clean gearbox.

I started to degrease the gearbox in prep for removal. The manual states to make sure everything is scrupulously clean before beginning any work at all on the device. I can see why, there’s no filters to clean any dirt from the oil. That may be the reason it’s not changing gear, too.

Buick Sonomatic.

I turned my attention to the radio at this time. I bought a similar set from a 1956 model car- the internal structure of the radio being somewhat similar to the ’51, with the intention of removing the tuner section and replacing it, along with using a few parts to convert the ’51 radio natively to 12 volts operation. Surprisingly, the ’56 radio actually still worked when powered up. This was a good thing, it at least showed I had a good base to start from.

Chassis comparison.

The later model radio uses a slightly different audio amplifier (transformer phase inversion rather than active tube operated inversion) but the rest of the RF and IF is very similar. The IF stage has been cheapened a little and the component count is a little lower. Overall the ’51 is a better quality design, at the behest of higher power consumption.

Power supply transformer.

I librated the 12V supply transformer from the newer chassis, along with the vibrator socket.

Transformer can open.

For some reason, the manufacturer decided to put a capacitor inside the can they potted the transformer in, then crimp it closed like a can of spam. I carefully opened the lid and removed it, instead favoring a flying lead, so an external capacitor can be used instead, saving having to open it up again.

Broken tuner case.

The tuner and oscillator coil housing was suffering from zinc pest and had fallen apart. I removed it from the chassis, and it completely broke into two pieces, the ends where it was crimped crumbled like pastry.

Removing retaining lugs.

I tried to squash the lugs down on the new one to where the frame was removable, but that didn’t work. Instead, I ended up removing the lugs entirely by grinding them down with my Dremel.

Tuner frame removed.

The frame was carefully removed, however it is still strong, not weakened like the old one.

New coil frame on old tuner.

The coil frame fit the old tuner perfectly, bringing the assembly back into line, as the old coil frame had expanded in size.

Securing the lugs.

I hammered the flares back into the securing lugs to hold the coil frame into place.

Circuit board, aligned.

Fixing the circuit board to the new frame straightened it out. The entire tuner assembly now moves correctly without binding.

Multi-cap can.

I gutted the main multi-capacitor can, which contained 3 separate devices. It will be re-stuffed with modern capacitors, and will look the same when mounted in the chassis. It was also polished, because shiny.

Pontiac renovations, part 17.

Having fitted the air cleaner assembly to the engine to test, I decided that there was no time like the present to finish cleaning it. I had done the main body but had the air cleaner element and the oil bowl were still dirty and as-found.

Oil bowl

The caked-on dirt- very fine prairie dust mixed with decades-old oil had done a moderately good job of protecting the metal from corrosion but it was time to clean it up and use paint for that purpose instead.

Bare metal.

All the dirt came off with some elbow-grease. The metal is in good shape for its’ age.


The outside was given a coat of etch primer, after having been wiped over with rust converter.

Gloss black enamel.

Final coat in black enamel. It hardly looks black, it reflects so much light. This enamel gives an incredible gloss straight from the spray-can.

Dirty filter element.

Next up, the filter element assembly. Again, more of the same scrub, scrub, scrub.

Filter element coming up clean.

Again, it came up remarkably well to bare metal with just a wire brush.

New filter mesh added to element.

All of the original filter mesh was gone. I’m not sure if it was cotton wadding type or steel, but some mice had been in there and had left none at all.

Filter element painted.

The inner element assembly is visible from the outside, so again, primed and painted in gloss black to match the rest of the assembly.

Entire air cleaner assembly fitted to engine.

All together and looking rather good, for the first time in many years.

Checking alignment and clearances of air cleaner.

I adjusted the mounting bracket that I had made, having seen a photo of a factory install. the filter sits almost directly over the mounting stud, with just enough clearance for the water pipe to the top of the radiator.

Washer bottle frame.

Next up, I did a little research and found that only the later Trico model screen wash brackets were blue. The early ones were plain mid-silver.

Pale blue-gray final color.

I chose a very pale blue instead, keeping the the car’s “blues” theme.

Paint color testing.

I experimented with some new paint colors. Off-the-shelf is a poor match for any bodywork colors on the car. On the left of the arch, by the washer frame is French Blue. On the right is navy. I think the navy will possibly tie in better because it’s close to the color of the roof.

Trico screen-wash reservoir and pump.

I bought a used washer pump/bottle off eBay for a good price. It was complete and looked to be in good shape. I took it apart, found the seals to have dried up over the years. Pressed them flat again and cleaned it all up.

Dissolving old under-seal.

The outside of the jar was covered in under-seal over-spray. It was left to sit in gasoline for a couple of hours and it all wiped off.

Jar fitted and filled.

Keeping with blues on blues, it was filled with fresh screen-wash and tested. It works in a strange fashion- there’s a spring-loaded double-ended plunger into two separate cylinders. Vacuum is applied to the top cylinder and the piston moves up, bringing the lower piston up and drawing fluid in from the jar. Release vacuum and the spring pushes it back down, expelling fluid from the top pipe in a stream until the piston bottoms out.

Delco radio set.

Next “new” item was a radio set. the car did come fitted with a radio but it was a “modern vintage” style tape deck. First, it didn’t fit, second it was missing a dial knob, third it was ugly. I decided I was going to retrofit the original AM Sylvania/Delco radio. They pop up on eBay from time to time in varying states of disrepair. This one looked moderately good and had the correct dials to match the rest of the dials in the car. There are four variants of knobs that I’ve seen, depending on what model variant you bought. Plain black plastic for the basic model, black plastic with a silver insert for the standard, silver outer with a black insert for the Deluxe (what mine has) and all silver (I think for the Catalina Coupe).

Undoing the front panel.

Disassembly of the unit was straightforward, just a number of 1/4″ bolts and a few nuts holding things in place. My idea was to gut it and fit something modern if it was in bad shape internally, or refurbish and restore if it was in good shape.

Radio circuitry and tuner.

Inside, it’s in really quite good condition. It’s pre-PCB so all the components interconnect each other and solder directly to the chassis in places. The tuner was jammed up solid.

Lubricating moving parts.

All the moving parts were lubricated. The tuning mechanism was then free to move, including the preset buttons. Unfortunately the metal case that holds the tuning coils has what is known as “zinc pest”, where lead impurities in the alloy react and cause crystalline fractures to grow. The metal then becomes weak and breaks like shortcrust pastry. It has expanded a little and bent out of true but for now isn’t too bad.

Front panel, ready to be cleaned.

The rear of the case is painted silver and is in very good condition. the front had been painted black and was covered in surface rust. I sanded it down with fine grit paper on my DA.

Front panel, stripped.

Back to solid, clean metal. Most of this will not be visible as it is mounted behind the dash, with just the chrome dials and scale showing at the bottom. The sound passes out through the large circular grille in the middle of the dash.

Front panel, still wet in satin black.

It was given a coat of primer and then a coat of satin black paint, to match the original finish.

Copper coat.

The speaker mounting screws would have been untreated steel originally, and as such had also gone rusty. I scrubbed them down with a wire brush, cleaned them further with ionic removal in a salt/vinegar bath and then plated them with copper.

Nickel coat.

The copper coating was then given a nickel coating to protect the screws and give a modestly shiny surface.

Dial knob comparison- dirty vs. clean.

The dial knobs were very grimy.When the set first arrived, a cursory glance looked to be missing chrome in places. It turned out to be thick dirt, all of which cleaned off with a wire brush.

Radio reassembled, clean.

I test-refitted the front panel, bezel and knobs. Looks much better than it did.

RF, IF and audio pre-amp section.

I turned my attention back to the circuitry. It’s a bit of a mess of seemingly randomly-placed components but there is a degree of logic to the assembly. I had started to measure some of the values (the Rider manual uses M notation for resistance in the k scale, and Meg for M) and quickly discovered that my tube meter was not functioning.

Heathkit VTVM in pieces.

I took it apart and had a poke about. The tubes both lit so the heaters were all good, there was voltage at the plates and no signs of any stressed components on the board. I twiddled the calibration pots but that was not the problem. It ended up being a poor contact on the connection to the meter. There’s a battery in the circuit that gives a permanent positive bias and that had made the brass peg of the meter’s terminal corrode slightly.

Working meters.

I cleaned the terminal up, re-calibrated the meter as per the factory manual and checked the voltage of a 9v battery I had on the desk. Both meters agree, which is good. I ran out of time to carry on, but all the test equipment is in place. What I need now is a 12V power transformer, the 12V variants of the tubes, possibly replace the rectifier with a couple of diodes and add a modern solid-state vibrator to generate the high voltage.

Pontiac renovations, part 16.

I was reviewing finances and made an executive decision. I cleaned up the head gasket to see what condition it was in.

Cylinder head gasket, block side (copper)

As it turns out, really very good shape. I figured I’d reassemble the engine using it- which isn’t really a very good idea, but changing the head gasket with the engine installed in the car is a simple task so down the road it can be done with ease.

I purchased a roll of 1/32″ gasket paper from NAPA up the street. I began tracing out the water pump gasket to create a new one, as the original was in poor shape.

RTV sealant

I found the tube of RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) sealant I had bought to redo the GTA’s engine. Still in good condition as it is actually really very high quality stuff.

A light smear of sealant added to the water pump back-plate face to aid in sealing, as the surface is only moderately good.

Gasket applied, sealant to the other side and torqued down to the engine block again.

I ran a die through the threads of the manifold studs to remove rust and dirt. This aids in reassembly quite significantly as once the manifolds are on, access to the nuts is limited, and being able to spin the nut on with one finger is a help.

I’m not totally sure what happened to this stud, but there are signs that the engine had fallen over at some point. Either way, the metal surrounding the hole for it was distorted. This was leaking through into the exhaust port (the hole goes through to the water gallery behind) and had caused the valve to stick.

I gently filed the surface to try and make it flush.

You can see the high spots around the stud hole, looks like it’s been leaking for a while judging by the amount of rust. The surface is now only recessed, rather than raised. The recessed sections are not very deep at all, so a new gasket should now be able to seal properly rather than being lifted off the surface by the high points.

I then set about cleaning up the head bolts with a steel brush and die. Cleaned the head and shank first, ran the die down the threads to clear them, then wire-brushed the threads before giving each bolt a light coating of engine oil.

Repeat x30.

With the deck of the block cleaned, I placed the head gasket down.

Then cleaned the head and laid it down onto the gasket, aligned it and did all the bolts up finger tight. I then added the spark plugs to prevent any dirt falling through the holes into the engine.

Taking a copy of the factory manual’s tightening sequence, I first did all the bolts up to 25 lb/ft to gently settle the head down, then did them all up to their final torque of 60 lb/ft.

I made some (admittedly far too thin) gaskets up for the manifolds. I need to order a set of the correct metal/composite sandwich gaskets, which are nearly 1/8″ thick.

I refitted the manifolds, carburetor, vacuum line for the distributor, spark plug cap and wires, coil, fuel pump and blocked the vacuum port on the manifold with a bolt. I hacked together some pipework for the fuel pump, to test and see if it was going to operate. Took a little while to prime but it did draw fuel successfully through.

It started up and ran nicely. I did see that the gearbox is not leaking from the tailshaft, rather from the engine end of the casing, possibly the front seal where the torus connects.

I then cleaned up the thermostat housing, the head surface and added a little black enamel to the bolts and washers.

Spent a little time bending and hammering the bracket for the air filter assembly. With the engine removed from the car, access is greatly improved and I was able to see underneath to measure and adjust the bracket correctly. I learned also that the air filter sits much closer to the engine than I had originally thought.

I dug a tachometer I had out of storage- I bought it way back in 2004 from a now-defunct store in the UK and brought it with me.

Connected it up and presto! It reads nicely- it’s even more accurate if I select it to 4-cylinder. The gearbox bands need to be set with the engine running at 700 RPM, so it’s important I have a working tachometer. It’s also much easier with an electronic one, rather than having to hold a mechanical one to the crankshaft pulley. Plus, I cannot see that AND adjust the gearbox at the same time…

The fuel pump has become a little wet around the seams too, so that needs a new gasket.

Finally, I fitted the thermostat housing to check for clearance between it and the air filter.

Pontiac renovations, part 15.

Continuing engine work, I started to clean the engine block deck.

Razor blade to clean the surface of the deck.

There was a moderate amount of carbon buildup in the combustion spaces. The cylinders nearest the center show heavier deposits, of which the deeper sections were a nice deep brownish red, indicating good running conditions. The outer cylinders had a darker color, indicating a different mixture burn. This makes sense due to the style (and length) of the manifold, with the carburetor in the center. The manifold was also not tightened evenly when I got the car and was not sealing uniformly.


Scraping off the paint and wire-brushing the surface liberated the VIN stamping, which matches the plate riveted to the body. A=Atlanta assembly plant, 8=8 cylinders, U=1951, H=Hydramatic automatic gearbox, 4381=serial

Top end clean

I cleaned the carbon deposits off the cylinders and valves. One valve had stuck open- the exhaust valve on cylinder no. 8- the result of a leaking gasket. It had drawn coolant in and made the valve stem jam in the guide. Gentle, repeated force and penetrating oil freed it up.

Dirty threads.

The head bolts all required very different amounts of effort to undo. Most of the bolts go through the top of the deck into the water gallery, and were both full of sludge and old sealant.


I ran a 7/16″ 14TPI (standard coarse) tap through the holes to clean them up. As the head bolts are tightened to a torque, the threads need to be clean in order for the torque reading to be correct. A dirty thread will increase the amount of torque required to turn the bolt and as such, the bolt will not have the correct clamping force applied to it.

Dirt removed

This procedure removed a lot of dirt, but also started to dull my tap. The original sealant was white lead, which is incredibly hard. I shall be using a more modern sealant designed for sealing threads that go through into coolant.

Clean thread

I flushed the threads through with carburetor cleaner and tested for cleanliness by screwing a bolt into the hole, which was able to be inserted with ease.

Cylinder head internals

I bought a new wire brush and finished cleaning the old carbon from the combustion spaces. The engine is quite high compression for the design (7.5:1) and any glowing carbon deposits will cause preignition. Any lumps will also impede flow, which is already limited due to the design. There was quite a lot of carbon stuck to the head around the exhaust valve areas.

Protective coat of oil

Everything was them coated in thick oil to protect the now clean surfaces from rusting.

Wire brush to remove paint and rust

I began to clean the exterior surfaces of the head, as the paint was coming off in places.

Spark plug wells

The spark plug wells were thoroughly cleaned, as they were full of rust and engine grime.

Prepped cylinder head

With the entire cylinder head prepped by wire brush, I wiped it down with carburetor cleaner to remove the last of the oil and dirt.

First coat
Second coat

I had looked at the original colors these engines were painted. There is some consternation among the car club members as to which shade of blue or green or blue-green that should be used. Some people say the grass green color is correct, others the deep Brunswick green, others the mid blue-green. I decided to plump for a color called “deep turquoise”, which is close in hue to the blue-green used in the early to mid-50’s.

Delco R45 new vs. old comparison

I bought a replacement spark plug to get all the plugs matching AC Delco R45. Unfortunately the design has changed and the new plugs are smaller. I may end up ordering 7 more of the newer model.

Spark plug

Older Delco plug in the well of cylinder hole 8. I think I shall get some phenolic resin right-angled plug caps and make up some wires to go to the distributor.

View into the water distribution tube from the water pump

One of the last items to check was the water distribution tube. I had been advised to remove the water pump and inspect it, as the thing is made from thin sheet brass and they have a tendency to disintegrate. The function of this tube is to accept the water output from the water pump and flow out from there into the areas surrounding the exhaust valves. Therefore the hottest part of the engine is cooled first, with the water then circulating away around the rest of the engine before returning to the radiator to be cooled. Mine is in good shape, so now all I need is gaskets and some fresh oil to reassemble the engine. Then, the valve clearances need to be re-set accurately (this is easier with the engine out) and the engine portion of this is done.

Pontiac renovations, part 14.

When I removed the engine from the car, I had undone some of the cylinder head bolts in order to attach the lifting chains. As such, the whole lot needed to be slackened off and re-torqued down in the correct order.

Collection of head bolts.

The bolts were all very randomly tightened, mostly due to dirt and rust in the threads, by the feel of it. I decided to remove them all, take the head off, give it an inspection and clean, chase the cylinder head bolt threads through in preparation for refitting.

Block side of cylinder head.

The cylinder head came off without any trouble. It doesn’t appear to have been leaking badly and the deposits were a little dark but still within acceptable range.

Head gasket.

The head gasket is in moderately good shape, although it appears to have been reused a few times already. I think I shall be purchasing a replacement. The head and deck facing surfaces were a bit dirty. One valve was stuck open (far right in the image below, no. 8 exhaust), as the coolant gallery had weeped past the gasket, drawn in and made the valve stem rusty enough to stick. I coated it with penetrating oil, freed it up and now it operates correctly again. I had noticed one cylinder was down on compression the last time the engine was run- this will be why.

Cylinder block.

The deck itself appears to be in good order. The top is straight and level, though it required a clean. With no compression the engine turns over moderately smoothly. I think the bearings have been replaced without the crank having been ground. It feels a little tight between power strokes, indicating mild ovality of the crank journals. I can turn it over with my 8″ ratchet, so I’m going to leave it as-is because the oil pressure was very good and there are no other issues.

Hone marks on cylinder walls.

Two of the bores show fairly heavy hone marks still.

Worn shiny bore; 0.040 mark on piston crown.

The rest are quite mirrored but are not scored. All of the pistons are stamped 40 thou’ overbore.

Clean piston crowns- pots 4 and 5.

A rag with some carburetor cleaner on was all the pistons needed to come up clean. I do not think this engine has seen many miles since it was last apart.

Gasket scraper.

I started to clean the cylinder head up and came to a rapid halt- the blade in my scraper was no more good.

New tools.

I went to the store and bought some more tools- a box of 100 #9 razor blades for my scraper, a big wire brush to take the black paint off the engine and a tap set to chase out rusty and dirty bolt holes.

Making a start on cleaning the cylinder head faces.

With a new blade, I was able to start cleaning the cylinder head. In the image above, the baked-on dirt in the corner between the bolt hole and coolant passage is visible still. Although very fine, this is enough to cause a new gasket to weep.

I also made a start on de-coking the combustion chambers with a brass brush. It would appear that somebody had made a half-hearted attempt at it, but had missed a lot around the periphery, where the gas flow needs to be smooth and uninterrupted for good power and economy.

Clean cylinder head.

The cylinder head started to come up nicely. I ran out of time to do any more but initial impressions are good. There’s no pitting, marking, cracks or any other problems to be seen. It just needs meticulously cleaning and then it will be ready to refit.

Spray protectant.

I bought a can of heavyweight oil, designed to sit and prevent rusting up of the internals of an engine that’s to be lain up for winter. It also works well to protect engine surfaces that are left uncovered (bores and mating faces) while they are disassembled.

Coating the metal to protect it.

Everything was given a liberal coating of oil before being left to sit up overnight. More cleaning is due. The engine is going to receive a coat of paint also. It should be a deep green, the closest I can see it should be is Brunswick green. I may have to buy John Deere green and Ford blue engine paints and mix the color myself.

Pontiac renovations, part 13.

Work started again on a cold weekend in February.

I jacked the car up to inspect the suspension and surrounding areas on this side. I also started to check for spiders and other biting creatures that may be inhabiting the dark, secluded spaces offered by the wheel wells and back of the radiator cowling.

Thankfully no critters were found. There was a lot of grime- mostly caked on dust, accumulated in old grease.

The car was pulled outside, jacked up and access was gained again by removing the road wheel.

Judicious use of my pressure washer saw a majority of the dirt removed from the underside. Inspection showed all of the metalwork in good condition, although a rub-down to remove surface rust and a new coat of paint are required.

The car was pushed back into the garage and the big drum fan put on in an attempt to dry the car out. This would later prove to have been moderately unsuccessful.

Final task of the day was to clean all the dirt liberated from the underside of the car off the driveway…

I then ended up spending yet more money. The purchase of a 2-ton engine crane, which helpfully folds up into a moderately small footprint.

At this point, work was halted as my (new) trolley jack decided to break. The handle came apart, the disc that the release lever fits into broke clean off.

My lifting chain was also in a worse state of repair- hanging outside but under cover, Louisiana’s climate has seen to the steel in an impressive fashion. There was no way I was going to trust that to lift nearly 900 lbs of metal.

Between times I made a start on removing the front grille and other items that were in the way of removing the engine.

The cross brace proved to be attached solidly to the front clip. I decided to remove the rivets holding it in, with them to be replaced later by bolts.

That just left the slam panel brace in place, which is held in with 4 large sheet metal screws.

I removed the pipework, clips, manifolds, fuel pump and carburetor from the passenger side of the engine.

Disconnected and tied up the accelerator and gear linkages on the driver’s side, removed the coil because it’s moderately loose in the holder (the original 6V coil was slightly larger in diameter).

A little while passed and a package arrived in the mail- the company who I purchased the jack from honored the warranty on it and sent a replacement handle.

This put the jack back into commission, and I tested to see if I could fit it under the back of the car and lift up on the base of the differential case. This was only successful if I first pump up the rear air suspension to raise the car a few inches.

Another special offer coupon arrived in the mail, so I purchased a load leveler to go with the engine crane. This added new chains and lifting eyes all in one go. I also bought a magnetic parts tray, as they are handy to have and it was $3.

I started the following weekend by raising the car up to see how well the jack fit with the leveler. The answer- just about!

I began to make preparation to remove the engine and gearbox. First task, remove the bolts from the front engine mount and clean them up.

Next, remove the last remaining obstruction on the front of the car.

Then, get up underneath and inspect the working conditions and how the propshaft comes off.

Next, remove even more spider webs. Last thing I wanted was to be sprawled under the car and have a spider decide to drop down onto me.

Then, put the back end of the car up on stands because the easiest method to remove the propshaft is to undo the bolts at the rear and slide the yoke off the gearbox end. The brown coloration on the underside of the vehicle is not rust- it is the color of the dirt where the car was previously driven in Mississippi.

I marked the position of the propshaft on the axle end, so it can be put back together in the same place.

The propshaft then pulled off the splines of the slip yoke and was set aside.

Upon jacking the front end of the car up, I discovered that the rear gearbox seal relies upon the slip yoke’s presence to be oil-tight. Not that it was particularly oil-tight when it was fitted, but this made it significantly worse.

I had wanted to push the car back a little before removing the engine but the front left brake had stuck on where the water had sat inside and rusted up the surface where the shoes were touching the drum. I decided I should have enough room, so began to connect up the chains to the engine, using the head bolts as attachment points as allowed in the manual.

I started to take the weight of the engine, then got up underneath and removed the rear engine mount and loosened the cradle. I also removed the speedometer drive cable from the back of the gearbox.

Up, up and away! Relatively painless removal with all obstacles not present.

Tilting the engine back to clear the oil pan put the gearbox at leaking-point. I deployed kitty-litter to the spill, which did a very good job of cleaning up the ATF.

There was a piece of flaky tape on the back of the gearbox, which I pulled off. Someone had masked up the data plate when they painted the gearbox, and never removed the tape. I assume that D51- indicates the gearbox was built in 1951.

Finally, the engine was set down on wooden blocks in a stable fashion on the floor. I am used to gearboxes dwarfing the engine, however in this case it is definitely the other way around, and that’s not because the gearbox is small!

I need to clean up a little, drain the fluids down and then investigate splitting the gearbox from the engine so I can work on rebuilding the valve block with new seals.

Pontiac renovations, part 12.

Continuing the trend, I made headway into removing ancillaries from the car.

Water pump.

The water pump boss was fitted with three loose studs and a bolt. I will check the threads and see if I can just refit bolts with non-slip washers.

Radiator brace.

After a bit of a clean with the vacuum cleaner, the front strengthening brace turns out to be riveted to a big U shaped channel that is screwed to the sheet metal as a strengthening shape. Next up will be to try and remove that, which will require cleaning and paint before refitting. Then I can see about removing the grille brace and then the grille itself. That will provide very good access to remove the engine.

Ancillaries being removed.

I removed the alternator and a few wires, which cleared up a lot of space. I shall not be refitting that alternator, instead I have my eye on an 85 Amp alternator that is mounted inside a housing that looks the same as the original generator dynamo.

Pontiac renovations, part 11.

I decided to go on a little tangent as a break from pipes and wipers.

Slam panel removed.

Step one, remove the slam panel and strengthening bar. Discovered the bottom of the strengthening bar was not attached to anything. There’s also the remains of a sheared-off bolt stuck in one of the holes.

Strengthening rib, cut.

A previous owner had also decided to remove the engine- but there’s a strengthening rib in the way. It is held in with 8 coarse threaded bolts. 4 of them are small and attach in from the front, 4 are much larger and are accessed from up behind the headlights. Instead of undoing the bolts and removing the bar to gain access to remove the engine, someone decided to chop through the rib with a grinder and forcibly bend it out of the way. A genuine case of brute force and ignorance.

Up inside wheel well.

I took a brush and removed all the spider webs from up inside the wheel well. I carefully took a look for spiders but could not see any. The method here is to leave it a few days as the weather is mostly warm right now and see if any new webs are formed. That way I know I need to break out the bug spray before reaching up inside there to undo the bolts.


I found more metric bolts holding things in- in this case, the radiator. Cut the lower hose off, then fought at it with a pair of Channel-Lock pliers until it was free from the spigot. Fought with it, the fan shroud and the fan until it was safely removed. Fairly heavy staining shows it’s been leaking for a while, the green staining appears to be from the radiator cap, the neck is fractured where it screws on. The brown is more recent, there’s a pinhole where the core meets the top tank.

More empty space.

There’s a little bit more room now. I’m going to investigate removal of the strengthening bar, the top mount for the grille and the grille itself. That will open up a large amount of room to remove the engine without having to lift it up high.

Bolts stolen from the kids’ swing set, I think.

I left off at this point. I have concern over metric bolts with random washers, coming the wrong way out of the water pump pulley. The fan is a generic item, incorrect for the car. I may try find the correct one. Also, the thermostat is missing. I’m not sure what to think about that- either it was broken and they couldn’t find a replacement or it has been removed to gloss over an overheating issue. Time will tell.