Engine Assembly

5/31/00 Engine Assembly

I stopped by François Sicard’s shop to see how my engine was coming along. The heads were still at the machine shop getting new guides, but are expected to come back any day, so François began the assembly on the bottom end of the motor. He honed the cylinder walls to remove any surface rust, and grooving made by the top compression ring. Some of this was already done by the previous “rebuilder,” but François made sure everything was done right. If I had the money, I would have bored this motor out to the the next available piston size, but we are going to keep the standard size pistons because a new set of pistons would run over $5,000 dollars. François feels that the engine will run fine with the standard pistons since not a lot of material was taken off the bores. Besides, I DON’T HAVE $5000 BUCKS FOR PISTONS!

Measuring everything is crucial, and François showed me what was previously done wrong. The “rebuilder” honed the cylinder walls, but bought a standard set of piston rings to replace the old ones. When these rings were installed, the end gap was way too large to seal the combustion chamber efficiently. I believe the Ferrari specifications call for .040 mm clearance (don’t quote me), but the clearances on these rings were easily triple this size, with some almost at .50 mm! Since we want to save the standard pistons, but honed the cylinders, the correct way to fit new rings is to buy a set of oversize rings, and file each one down to spec. This insures consistent compression, and keeps the oil from going past the rings.

The main bearings were brand new, so François began the process of setting the newly cleaned crank back in it’s place. He told me my crank was in real good shape, and felt that this was normal for Ferrari. The crank is a beautiful piece of milled steel, and doesn’t usually crack. François said, however, if it were a Maserati crank, he would have done much more than clean it up and reinstalled it. Even though Maserati also used billet steel cranks, their steel was inferior, and often cracked. Normally I would have taken this as brand loyalty, but François’ reputation as being one of the country’s best Ferrari rebuilders validated his statement!

As my crank was placed in the bearing saddle I found another reason why I’m having François rebuild my motor. He turned the crank as it sat with only the bottom bearings in place. He alternately turned the crank with a handle and his hand. As the oil worked it’s way around all the bearing surfaces, he had a concerned look on his face. He could still feel the tightness in the crank as it spun in its bearing saddle. Something didn’t feel right. As he checked things like end play, and looked at the way the oil was spreading across the journals, he slowly found the culprit to the tightness. François removed the crank and found the first bearing shell showing a slightly different wear pattern than the other bearings. This bearing was slightly out of alignment, and dragging on the crank. This was the kind of stuff that can only be learned by doing, and doing many times. François’ experience and immeasurable senses are what guarantee a great rebuild.

We stopped the assembly until François can locate the main journal measuring and boring tools specifically made for a 330 engine. It will be another process where he will use a blue dye to show the high spots in the journal so he can remove the appropriate amount of material.

As I think about how lucky I am to have François rebuild my engine, I also can’t believe all the mistakes we’ve found in my engine from the last person to work on it.

1. forgot to install crucial cam housing seal that would make engine oil pour out if it was started.
2. mixed up piston #9 and #6 in their respective bores
3. installed an oil control ring upside-down.
4. used standard sized piston rings, even after honing the bores, and didn’t measure end gap, so none of the pistons were the same.
5. Main bearing journal slightly out of alignment causing excess friction on the crank.

All of these factors would have led to some kind of failure, and I’m so glad this engine was never started in this state. Having an engine poorly rebuilt is bad enough but when you consider I’ve seen advertisements for Ferrari V-12 engines for sale at around $30,000 dollars, it’s foolish to trust an amateur rebuild with so much at risk!

I went back to my shop to continue chipping away at the mountain of work still ahead of me in my restoration. I reinstalled the coils in the engine compartment and wired them to the electrical harness. I’ll need to order up some miscellaneous grommets and rubber boots for the coils, but these pieces won’t be necessary to drive the car. I also installed the hood latch mechanism that sits over the coils, so another portion of the engine compartment nears completion!

The next area to complete was the right side of the engine bay that houses the air horns. Unfortunately after I installed all the pieces, I found that something is causing them not to work. The air pump seems to work, and does push some air, but no sound comes out of the horn. Even after I tried compressed air through each horn, nothing seems to work. I’ll have to save this project for another day!

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