The Heart Transplant

Today was the day. It took Brett from McFarland’s Mobile Mechanics six hours to remove the patient’s still-beating heart with his bare hands (and a cherry picker).

This process was complicated by the fact that several bolts and two steel panels were rusted together and had to be cut. But at least now I have most of the cockpit panels off, where I can strip and repaint them, and replace any rubber seals. When it’s all done, all the bolts will be shiny new and stainless steel.

The damage for today: $729.34, including transport. And yes, I started a ledger to keep any eye on my investment.

Brett’s tow truck guy delivered it to Portland Engine Rebuilders where Ron took my $500 deposit and put it on his schedule.

We discussed the option to find a rebuilt Ford 292 Y-Block but I decided to just rebuild the original 223 after weighing all the pros and cons. It would mate to the existing transmission. But the extra horsepower would only make a difference in uphill speed at the expense of fuel economy. And it would basically double the cost of this retrofit to change all the mounts, the exhaust system and so on. It would also be a larger engine, which would make it harder to access for maintenance.

So, the rebuild is expected to take three weeks, which is pretty amazing. And the purist in me likes the idea of just restoring the original configuration — at least for the cabin and chassis. There will be plenty of custom add-ons so the size of the engine ultimately isn’t that important as long as it’s reliable.

Before re-installing the rebuilt engine, I’ll have to round up the following parts:

  • New starter (because the recently installed one has a broken tab)
  • New flex plate (because it’s missing a mount ear)
  • New fuel pump (because the bottom gasket is leaking)
  • New fuel filter and 1-foot hose
  • New oil filter
  • New oil coolant thermostat (because you should always replace it)
  • 5/8-inch heater hoses (because some chimp spray-painted them)

Fortunately Brett gave me the names of a few local NAPA old-timers who specialize in finding the right Ford parts, so I’m not too worried… yet.

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