Page 6 of 7 ... February 2012 - August 2012
After years of prep work (and taking time off for other projects), we finally had everything ready to install the 409. We carefully lowered it into the 63 this evening and it went right into place without any trouble.
Now the work begins on installing all of the external engine parts and pieces.
First to go on were the original exhaust manifolds that we got with the 409 (I sandblasted them and painted them with POR Factory Manifold Gray high temp paint). Next was the new exhaust system from Shafer's Classic Reproductions. Then came the distributor, water pump, fuel pump, and engine wiring harness.
In this pic, the new distributor cap, rotor, and plug wires have been installed. The fuel line (pump to carb), oil filler tube, and power steering pump have also been added. The air cleaner is just an aftermarket one from Summit Racing that we'll be using temporarily until we either find a good used original or buy a reproduction.
Readers with a sharp eye may notice that there is now a different harmonic damper on the engine than in the earlier photos. The damper shown in the earlier photos is a generic aftermarket replacement for a small block Chevy. The timing mark on that damper was about 10° off and I had used some white paint to make a new mark in the correct location. However, while we still had easy access, we decided to replace it with a correct remanufactured original from Damper Doctor.
There are no holes in the 409 heads that can be used to install the temperature sending unit for the Autometer gauge. And the intake manifold only has holes for the temp light switch, bypass hose, and heater hose; all of which will be used for their original purposes. So to avoid drilling an extra hole in the intake, I made a small spacer from some 5/8" thick aluminum to go between the intake and thermostat housing. After taking this pic, I painted it Chevy orange so it blends in with the intake and thermostat housing.
At this point, we've bolted the radiator support, radiator, and fan shroud into place. The alternator, fan, and belts have also been installed.
We started up the 409 for the first time today. It fired right up and ran okay but we soon discovered that the power brakes weren't working. A quick check with a vacuum gauge revealed only 8 or 9 in. Hg. of manifold vacuum.
After verifying the ignition timing and not finding any vacuum leaks we came to the conclusion that the low vacuum was a result of incorrect valve timing. Back when we built the engine, we decided to re-use the existing cam and lifters since they were still in good condition. We did replace the timing set since the chain was loose. Unfortunately, we didn't have any specs on the old cam (the lobe lift measurements were consistent but didn't match any of the stock 348/409 cams). So I just installed the timing set "straight up". As it turns out, that wasn't such a great idea.
We decided to get rid of that old "unknown" cam and replace it with a new Isky H-647 cam (#0911 from Show Cars Automotive, Inc.) along with some new lifters. We were able to set this one up with a degree wheel now that we were working with a new cam with known specs. This solved the low vacuum problem and the engine runs great.