After so many posts on Operation Stude, we’ve finally turned the curve and are putting things back together! With the happy little piston rings replaced everything was ready to assemble! The entire engine rebuilding process has shown me how simple and predictable an engine is after you get to know the basics – I’ve also become more acquainted with the difference between doing the job and doing the job right. Ethan has been a good encourager (and sometimes what feels like slave driver!), not letting me get away with shoddy work.

Rebuilding an engine includes ALOT of cleaning and attention to detail. Sure, I could’ve done this job in a fraction of the time if I only wanted Studie’s engine to run…but I wanted something which I could be proud of.

Putting an Engine Back Together

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-22First the crank was placed back in, with it’s brand-spanking new main bearings and rear main seal gasket. When bolting down stuff in an engine, be sure that you’re referring to proper torque specs for your engine. I easily found the torque specs for my small block Chevy by Googling it – or they can also be found in your car’s manual. Many things also have a specific order to be torqued, the crank being one of them.

My GearWrench electronic torque wrench makes an easy job of getting proper torque – sometimes a little muscle is required (mechanical work can be a great workout!)

Inserting the Cam

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-21Next, I replaced the cam (which after doing, I realized I probably should’ve waited on this until the pistons were in…but it doesn’t make much of a difference).  I was eager to do the cam, since Ethan was the one who took it out – we’ve been practicing a “watch and learn” then “do and learn” approach. Which on an engine, works great…because often something has to be repeated 8 times, one for each cylinder!

We didn’t do anything to the cam when it was out but inspect it and wipe it down, removing it enabled us to check both it and it’s bearings. Just like the crank’s main bearings, the cam also has a number of bearings surrounding it. Since cam bearings require a press to change, they’re a bit more difficult to change than the crank bearings. My cam bearings didn’t show much wear, so we decided to leave them be.

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-23Inserting a cam is simple, it just slides right in. A steady hand is important here, as you don’t want to bang the cam around. Slowly spinning the cam while inserting until its lobes are in the correct position to get through…don’t ever forcefully push it in.

Replacing the Pistons

After the crank is in, it’s time to replace the pistons…a super exciting part (and a little daunting to me)! You can do this job by yourself, but it’s much simpler to do as a pair – with one person holding the piston and another guiding the rod. Just as when we took the pistons out, we used some spare fuel hose to fit around the bolts on the connecting rod.

In order to replace pistons in an engine block, you’ve got to have a piston ring compressor tool. It compresses the rings into their grooves so the piston can slide up and into the cylinder. With it wrapped around the piston, the piston is held at the cylinder and then the head is thumped using a rubber mallet.

On my first try, I hadn’t compressed the rings enough and it almost got stuck. Work patiently, if something isn’t going right, start over rather than trying to push through (again…you never want to force things when putting engines together).

As the piston head enters the block, person #2 can use the hoses to help guide it’s connecting rod up to the crank. Once it’s in place, the end of the connecting rod is bolted together.

As noted before, parts were carefully kept track of and each piston went back into the cylinder that it originally came out of. One-by-one my engine block filled up with pistons!

Replacing an Oil Pan

The last thing to do before turning the block to right side up is replacing the oil pan. Before your oil pan goes on, the oil pump needs to be put back on. I almost forgot a part of the pump on this one, luckily Ethan caught my mistake!

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-24I gave the pan a last wipe down, making sure I wasn’t putting any debris into my engine – then we did the oil pan gasket. Most gaskets are very important, because they keep things from leaking…but the oil pan gasket is particularly important and can be tricky to put on correctly.

We used Permatex Hi-Tack Sealant and formed a light bead around the entire pan rim, continuing even around the outer edge of the bolt holes. On the parts where the flat cork meets the rubber seal, in front and back, a dallop of Right Stuff was used.

Next, the gasket was placed on and another light bead of Hi-Tack Sealant was applied, just like before. Finally, the pan was carefully placed on and pushed down. Using nice new bolts, we screwed them all in finger-tight. Using a torque chart for my particular engine the oil pan bolts were torqued down in two steps – once to just halfway and a second time going to the full torque amount.

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-25The reason you do this in two steps is you want the pressure to be put on the oil pan gasket evenly, creating a continuous seal and no leaks. In the final step, Ethan instructed me to keep an eye on the gasket material near the bolt I was tightening, making sure it wasn’t beginning to “squish out”or deform from over-tightening.

how-to-rebuild-an-engine-replacing-cam-pistons-crank-oil-pan-26With the oil pan buttoned up, we finally flipped it to right-side-up on the engine stand! It seems like forever since I’ve seen her in her proper orientation! I’m excited to power through the final steps of an engine rebuild and get Stude on the road again…it isn’t far from here!

Happy Trails,

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