Popped Plug

I've been putting together a ’69 Valiant with a 340 that is stroked to 418 inches. It has a Hughes Performance 904 transmission, with Hughes 3,500 stall converter. The rear is an 83⁄4 with an Eaton TruTrac and 4.10:1 gears. I took it to the track, and right off of the trailer, it made what I think is a very impressive pass of 7.35 seconds while spinning at the line. Then I had bad luck. The cap/plug at the end of the cam popped out and lodged between the starter drive and ended racing for the evening. My question is what do you think caused the plug to come out?

Paul - Via www.moparmuscle.com

Paul, I would say the likely cause of the cam plug coming out is an improper installation. The most common rear expansion plug for the cam bore is a concave flat disk. It should be installed with the domed center to the back of the block with sealer in the bore, driven flush with the locating step in the bore, and then punched in the center to expand the plug and tension it in place. If it is not properly staked into place, it can easily dislodge. An alternative is to substitute a shallow, standard-style core plug in this position, which I find is easier to fit securely and without leaks. I have found that sometimes a leak from the rear cam plug can start off slowly, but eventually it will make itself known. Unfortunately, you are now going to be pulling the engine or transmission to replace the plug.


Big-Block Swap

I have a ’68 Dart 270 hardtop that originally came with the leaning tower of power. I have acquired a 360 engine out of an older Dodge police car, and added a few bolt-on mods. Inside I stuffed a Crane 272 Powermax cam, and I added a set of ported X heads. I know aluminum heads would be better, but I got these heads for next to nothing from a Mopar buddy that switched to Edelbrocks. I have a Weiand Stealth intake manifold and a 750 AFB carburetor. I have the engine detailed on the stand ready to go in, and though it has the stock factory pistons, the heads are milled 0.060-inch, and there is very little bore wear.

I have a built small-block 904, and have a properly balanced 360 converter, but I am wondering about motor mounts. My headers are from tti, and I have a couple of choices about mounting the engine. The car still has the stock six cylinder K-member, and I want to keep the six cylinder torsion bars. I also have a small-block K-member from a 70 Dart. I am wondering whether to go with a set of conversion mounts, or swap in the stock V-8 K-member. I have never replaced a K-member and wonder what is involved.

Ray Fenton - Via email

Ray, although the conversion mounts would be the easiest way to go, replacing the K-member once the engine is out of the car is really very simple. What you will need to do is pull the steering box and linkage, pull the torsion bars and front suspension, and then just drop the K by removing the four bolts holding it to the frame longitudinal. If the front suspension is still the old, tired factory stuff, take this opportunity to go through that too with new bushings, ball joints, and steering components. If it were my car and I already had the required K, that is the direction I would go.


Rust Removal

I recently purchase an exceptional ’71 Satellite. The car only has 40,000 miles showing on the odometer, and judging from the way it looks, I believe this to be the original mileage. The interior is nearly mint, including the dashpad and the carpet. Even the factory B5 blue paint gleams. The only problem area on the car is the top. The car originally had a half vinyl top on the forward portion of the roof, and this was badly deteriorated when I got the car. I decided to get rid of this top treatment and just go with a painted steel roof.

The problem is that once I pulled the fabric off the top, I found it covered with hard glue that seems almost crystallized to the surface. I tried several different solvents to remove the glue, but none seem to dissolve the hardened glue. Another problem is that the steel surface under the top has a number of areas with fairly heavy surface rust. None of this rust goes through the metal, but there is some minor pitting. How would you approach cleaning this up for paint prep?

Maurice Black - Via www.moparmuscle.com

Maurice, this condition is not at all unusual where a decayed vinyl top is involved. I have found the best approach is to start by simply sanding the surface. The hardened glue will fall victim to sanding far easier than to any solvent. I prefer to use a 60 or 80 grit aluminum oxide paper and a good D/A sander to take the whole surface to bare metal. You will also get most of that surface rust off in the process. You should be over 90 percent bare clean metal at this point.

Next, I go with a chemical rust remover or conversion coating. If you work these acid-based products in with a scuff pad and keep the area you are working wet, you can dissolve virtually every trace of visible rust. I like to let the surface dry thoroughly after wiping the excess chemicals. To ensure adhesion, I’ll follow by sanding the treated areas once again with the D/A sander, and then hit it with epoxy primer. This will leave the surface ready for final prep and paint.


Seal Solution

I have a ’77 Fury cop car with a factory E86 440 HP engine and a 727 transmission. One problem is that the transmission has always dumped a pool of red fluid every time it is parked. I found the leak to be coming from the seal at the shift selector, and have bought a new seal to try and fix it. I have a five dollar seal no bigger than a quarter to put in, but I am looking at how to get the job done and the situation blows up out of control. It looks like I’m going to have to pull the transmision to get this silly seal in place. There is just no room to get in there with a hammer and drive it in, and I’m not even sure about the best way to get the old one out. Any tricks you guys can pass my way to help?

Phil Whitman - Via www.moparmuscle.com

Phil, start by dropping the pan and then pulling the filter. Next, remove the shift and kick down linkages just over the left side pan rail, and then drop and remove the valvebody. You can then easily kick the seal out from below. Next, just make a simple “puller” arrangement with a 3⁄8-inch bolt and some heavy washers. Put the seal in place and then stack a few washers above, run the bolt through, and add more washers and the nut on the other side inside the transmission. As you tighten the nut, it will pull the seal in place and seat it in position in the case. Pop the valvebody back in place and hook everything back up. You are good to go without having to go though any major disassembly.