Willys Engine – Assessing the Damage

We finally got the engine on a stand to be able to disassemble and examine the damage. Engine stands seem to be better suited to V8 engines. The arms work great for attaching to the bell housing bolts. For an inline 6 cylinder, they don’t work as well. To deal with this situation, my cousin made me an adapter plate that bolts to the engine and mounts easily to the stand. It also has a cut-out so the end of the crank isn’t in the way.

Once it was mounted, my son and I spent an evening taking it apart. It was a good time of learning and removing the mystery of the internal workings of an internal combustion engine. There’s not much fundamentally different from this 50 yr old engine from the ones of today. Seeing the insides and understanding what the components do give a new perspective on an engine and turns it into something other than a black box.

Most of the components came off easy enough though we had a number of broken bolts from age and rust. The difficulty came from the intake/exhaust manifolds. There was one bolt that I couldn’t get a wrench on. 1/2″ was too big and 7/16″ was too small. That would make it somewhere in the 17/32″ range and I don’t have a wrench for that. I tried a 13mm and that didn’t fit either. So we pulled the head so I could show my son what a flathead engine looks like and how it works. We decided to call it a night and think about it some more.

I went out the next night and found that a 13mm wrench did fit but only after some gentle persuasion with a hammer. Seeing that it was going to strip, I was able to use the box end and wedge it on with a screwdriver. Pulling with all my might it wouldn’t budge. Hitting the wrench with a hammer didn’t help. Whacking the wrench with a bigger hammer made no difference. Finally, some good momentum and a significant hit with a sledge hammer (no, not a full swing) made it pop. I didn’t care if it broke loose or simply broke, as long as it doesn’t strip. Some more hits and more pops and it was coming loose and finally success.

Once the head was off we thought we found the source of the engine knock. We were able to spin the engine and hear the sound coming from cylinder number 1. After some more inspection, we saw that cylinder number 3 has some deep scoring and will likely need a sleeve for repair.

I went to the machinist this morning to get a ballpark price on simply getting it back into running order. I don’t really want to dump a bunch of money into a rusty old truck. To do the minimum reasonable amount turned into about a grand. Hmm, I think I’m going to have to rethink our plans on this. Maybe if I could find another engine. The future is unknown. Maybe I sell it and refocus back on the Challenger. Decisions, decisions. 

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