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Author Topic: Griff's Project #1 (aka MLP)  (Read 11324 times)
Griff in Fairbanks
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« on: April 05, 2009, 07:04:42 PM »

Well, I guess I'd better get this thread going and bring people up-to-date.  Unlike Leeann, I'm going to start anew where I am currently, in the middle of the project, and work my way towards both ends.  (If I was going to try to start at the beginning, like Leeann, I'd update my website instead with earlier aspects of the project.  However, I have to choose between updating the forum or website and actually working on the project.)

Spring is coming here in sunny Two Rivers, Alaska.  (The first picture below was taken less than a week ago.)  Last week, I saw a sure sign of its pending arrival ... a pickup going down the highway pulling a new jetboat.  Recently, I've been outside, shovelling snow off the motorhome chassis (for the second time this spring.)  I'm also almost done shovelling a path to the shop.  (Occasionally wading through snowdrifts to check on something in the shop is one thing ... multiple trips, several times a day, through thigh-high snow is a different matter.)

The second and third pictures were taken after I had already cleaned off the chassis once, just before we got hit with a big snowstorm that left things in town snarled up for most of a week.

The vacation from the project I took this past winter is over and the beadwork I was doing has been put back on the shelf for some future date.  You wouldn't believe how hard is was to take a break from the project ... I was constantly catching myself thinking about the project plans and looking things up on the internet.  Getting started again on the project didn't take any real effort ... I just let myself go and slid back into things like I hadn't even taken a break.

The break, combined with major oral surgery and the MTAS forum crashing, meant I didn't get the things done I'd hoped to finish this winter.  (Or, rather, it means I got a late start on those things.)

With my oral surgery done and paid for, I've untied the purse strings and started buying more stuff I need for the project.  I've ordered an ARP engine and accessory set (ARP #544-9701) to go with the main studs (ARP #140-5402) and cylinder head studs (ARP #144-4201) I already have ... the set should be in by the end of next week.

I've been super busy on the project, ordering lots of other things and working on stuff, which I'll describe in subsequent posts.  Right now, I've got to go to dinner with the wife, son-in-law, and grandkids.


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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2009, 06:06:07 AM »

That's spring?
Get out ...
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Leeann
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2009, 08:30:55 PM »

^ Welcome to Alaska. Just think: Griff chose to live there....
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1973 Concord 20' Class A - 440/727
Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 01:56:27 AM »

^ Welcome to Alaska. Just think: Griff chose to live there....
Sure, where else do you get to engage in the annual spring game of "Which snowbank is hiding which stuff?"  (Anyone who can say which mounds of snow are covering what stuff is waaaaaay to organized.)

Plus, it's fun watching the more neurotic neighbors trying to shovel (plow, bulldoze, etc.) the remaining snow from their yards.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 03:32:16 AM by Griff in Fairbanks » Logged

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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 03:30:12 AM »

MLP's engine:

The engine is a 1969 318-3 LA small block from my first motorhome, a 1970 Explorer Class A on a 1969 Dodge M300 chassis.  (What is commonly called a split year motorhome.)  The engine was running and in reasonably good shape when I tore everything apart.  (Part of the reason we decided to rebuild the motorhome is it was the only vehicle I could get started one very cold winter night.)

We're keeping the block and crankshaft and replacing just about everything else.  I haven't checked to make sure but the crank in the industrial (-3) version of the early LA small blocks is supposed to be a forged steel crank instead of the more common cast steel cranks.  (A work-hardened forged steel crank is just about the best you can get ... that's why a lot of racers stole engines from motorhomes.)

The heads were leaded gas heads and were the special 'cold weather' heads used on a select few vehicles for only a couple of years in the late '60s.  Instead of heating the intake manifold with exhaust gases, like most vehicles, the intake manifold that goes with these heads was heated by engine coolant.  For that reason, the heads and matching intake manifold have to be used together.

I decided to go with different heads for two reasons: I wanted heads suitable for use with unleaded gas (without the hassles of gas additives) and I wanted to go to a small four barrel carburetor instead of the original two barrel Carter BBD.  (The original special cold weather manifold is a two barrel manifold.)

I found a set of new, military surplus unleaded gas 318 LA heads, that's never even had valves in them, on eBay for $50.00 each.  The heads were located in California, the guy selling them was in Nevada, and I had the heads shipped to Outrageously Vintage, in Maine, to have them worked on.

I also bought an OEM cast iron four barrel manifold, originally off an early '70s 340 LA small block, and a Carter AFB four barrel carburetor off eBay.  I decided to go with a cast iron manifold, rather than an aluminum Edelbrock manifold, because I was concerned about possible problems with the differences in expansion rate between an aluminum manifold and cast iron heads, especially in extremely cold temperatures.  (-40F and below.)

BTW - the original set of cold weather heads and intake manifold are stored on the shelf, in case someone needs them to do an authentic restoration.

The new heads were essentially kept stock but were built up as if they were for a race engine.  Porting was limited to gasket matching them to the intake manifold I'll be using.  The heads were cc'ed and fitted with stock-size stainless steel valves and all new Comp Cams components.  I also got a set of Mopar Performance rocker arms and Mopar Performance rocker arm shafts.  Add to this a set of Comp Cams chromemoly pushrods and a set of ARP cylinder head studs.

The engine had the old-style timing chain cover, without cast-in timing marks, so I scavenged a late-style timing chain cover, suitable for use with the better aluminum water pump, off a discarded engine at one of the waste transfer sites.

I managed to find four of the old Cal Comp finned cast aluminum rocker arm covers.  (I'll be using two of them and selling the other two.)  I still have the two original stamped steel rocker arm covers, as well as two more I scavenged off the same discarded engine I took the timing chain cover from.

Inside the engine, I'm using a Comp Cams camshaft, Comp Cams lifters, Comp Cams double-roller timing chain and gears, Eagle SIR rods, Keith Black hypereutetic pistons, and ARP main studs.  I plan to use a standard-type oil pump and I just received a new oil pan, even though the original oil pan was still good.

The engine will be painted all black, except for the valve covers and oil pan.  The oil pan and valve covers will be painted or powdercoated bright red, either candy apple red, red metal flake, red starlight. or mirror red.  The fins on the valve covers will be polished aluminum and clearcoated.  (If I use red starlight powder, I'll clearcoat the valve covers and oil pan with clear starlight powder ... otherwise, I'll use a high gloss clear paint or powder.)  I have also ordered the twelve-point black oxide ARP engine and accessory bolt set, which should arrive next week.

BTW - the transmission, driveshaft, and rear axle will be painted black to match the engine.  The transmission oil pan and differential cover will be painted red using the same paint or powder used on the engine's oil pan and valve covers.  (A buddy has suggested painting a red spiral on the driveshaft, for effect.)

The valve covers will be topped with chrome oil breather caps.  One of those caps holds the PCV valve and the other has the fitting for the oil breather hose.  (The same buddy has suggested adding a hose between the valve covers to equalize pressure across the two engine banks ... I'm considering it and am open to comments.)

I have a Spectre 14-inch dual snorkle air cleaner to go on top of the Carter AFB.  The air cleaner snorkles will be connected to cold air intake in the grill for a ram air effect at highway speeds.  The air cleaner will be painted or powdercoated to match the valve covers, oil pans, and differential cover.

I'm planning on a set of Thorley Tri-Y headers for the exhaust, connected to a large diameter dual exhaust system with a H-pipe or, more likely, a X-crossover.

I'm looking at the March toothed belt conversion kit for the front.  (It's not serpentine but uses the same kind of belts, rather than V-belts ... the belt tension adjustments are also better than OEM.)  A viscous fan clutch and OEM fan will go on the front of the water pump.  The fan clutch will be difficult to see so I may leave it natural.  I haven't decided whether I want to paint the fan red or black or have it chromed.  (I'm leaning towards painting or powdercoating it red to match everything else, to contrast with a black radiator.)

Engine accessories will be limited to the alternator and power steering pump (no air conditioner compressor), most likely chromed.  I will probably use a high-amperage aftermarket alternator with an external regulator.  (I do not like one-wire alternators.)
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 03:44:17 AM by Griff in Fairbanks » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 05:25:05 AM »


The valve covers will be topped with chrome oil breather caps.  One of those caps holds the PCV valve and the other has the fitting for the oil breather hose.  (The same buddy has suggested adding a hose between the valve covers to equalize pressure across the two engine banks ... I'm considering it and am open to comments.)


With the PCV valve having vacuum from the intake and if the hose from the other breather cap goes to the the air cleaner like stock I don't believe the crossover would be necessary or beneficial.
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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 03:44:06 PM »

With the PCV valve having vacuum from the intake and if the hose from the other breather cap goes to the the air cleaner like stock I don't believe the crossover would be necessary or beneficial.
That's what I thought.  I pointed out to my buddy that the everything's open to the crankcase under the valve covers.  (He'd just finished a thirty hour shift so he wasn't thinking too clearly.)

The air cleaners doesn't have connection for the breather cap hose but it shouldn't be too difficult drill a hole and mount an OEM type oil breather filter.

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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2009, 03:50:32 PM »

BTW - I plan use marine bilge blowers to either push or draw the hot air from under the doghouse above the engine.  That area is notorious for collecting hot stagnant air in vans, as well motorhomes.

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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2009, 04:34:13 PM »

On engines turning consistently high RPM (7000 and over) we used a tube from one valve cover to the other with the breather in the center. Kept the mess away from the headers.
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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2009, 06:00:15 PM »

On engines turning consistently high RPM (7000 and over) we used a tube from one valve cover to the other with the breather in the center. Kept the mess away from the headers.
That's what I thought ... appropriate on high-rpm, high-output engines but unnecessary (and possibly counterproductive -- K.I.S.S.) on my engine.

BTW - I'm planning on going with stainless steel braided hoses and polish metal jackets on the throttle and kick-down cables.  (Lokar #TC-1000HT36 and #KD-2727HT)

Obviously, the color scheme for the undercarriage is gonna be black with red and chrome, stainless, or polished aluminum accents.  Red Energy Suspension polyurethane body mounts and suspension bushings and boots.

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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2009, 06:20:30 PM »

Black, red and chrome is a good color combination for anything!
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2009, 05:18:56 AM »

BTW - I plan use marine bilge blowers to either push or draw the hot air from under the doghouse above the engine.  That area is notorious for collecting hot stagnant air in vans, as well motorhomes.

Explain, please.
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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2009, 08:57:21 AM »

BTW - I plan use marine bilge blowers to either push or draw the hot air from under the doghouse above the engine.  That area is notorious for collecting hot stagnant air in vans, as well motorhomes.

Explain, please.
Carburetors work best if they're kept relatively cool.  Unfortunately, most carburetors are centered above the engine and heat rising from the engine tends to reduce their efficiency.

Cold air intakes and fuel injection eliminates most of the problems on newer vehicles.  Likewise, most older cars and conventional trucks had enough air flow around the engine to reduce the problem.  However, the doghouses (engine covers) on vans, COEs, and motorhomes tend to collect in a relatively stagnant pocket of hot air right above the engine.  The carburetor and air cleaners sits right in the middle of this pocket of hot air.

Marine bilge blowers are inexpensive inline fans that connect to 3" or 4" duct hoses.  Boaters use them to remove flammable/explosive fumes from the bilge (and engine compartment) before starting the engine.  I plan to use a pair of them to increase air circulation under the doghouse.  (I haven't decided whether I want to use them to push cold air up under the doghouse or to pull the hot air out from under the doghouse.)



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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2009, 06:14:10 AM »

Now that is just cool.

I see bilge blowers in my future.
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Griff in Fairbanks
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2009, 11:44:41 PM »

Now that is just cool.

I see bilge blowers in my future.
Bear in mind I'm still working out the details on this part of the project.  For example, I mentioned I wasn't sure if I'd set them up to push or pull air.  One possibility is to hardwire them into the IGN circuit, so they're always on when the engine's running, possibly with a delay timer to keep them running after the engine's shut off.  Another possibility is manual switch(es), probably with indicator lights to show when they're off or running.  I'd like to have them thermostatically controlled, using a sensor mounted under the doghouse, but that'll take some research and adjustment to get them to work right.  (Probably triggered when the temperature under the doghouse rises above something between 80-120 degrees.)

BTW - one blower should be enough.  I happen to have two left over from a boat project so I'm going use both of them.

Also, note I mentioned I'm going to hook the dual snorkles on the Spectre air cleaner to a pair of cold air intake ducts.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 11:47:06 PM by Griff in Fairbanks » Logged

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