Mondial, The Four Cylinder Variety
Mondial, the Four Cylinder Variety
Admiral Robert Phillips and I have been corresponding about his Series II 500 Mondial for several years. An entry in the “Owner’s Section” tells part of this great story. He’s currently preparing the car to show at Pebble Beach and there’s, as always a lot of work to be done!
Here was a familiar sight to me: Ferrari Drum Brakes. The Mondial’s brakes differ slightly to the PF Coupe I was working on as it has alloy brake shoes to save weight.
Robert is restoring the car to the condition when it entered the 1955 Grand Prix of Venezuela where it won in its class, so it’s not going to be restored beyond what this car was like when it was raced. There is a trend to stop over restoring some of these cars, and Robert is trying his best to preserve some of the history and not obliterate its past.
On a recent dialog with Robert, we were discussing how to install the valve springs on this large four cylinder engine. There wasn’t as much trouble installing these valves the last two times in the 60s, but Robert was having some trouble today. I asked François if he had any advice to add, and he described a home made spring compressor that would help get the over sized and highly tensioned springs in place.
François showed me the original Ferrari-issue spring compressor used for the early V-12 cars, but you can see from the bent handle, and the extra bracing brazed in place, the original tool left a lot to be desired. You can imagine how useless this tool would have been with the even stronger springs of the four cylinder engine.
The early Lampredi designed engines used “Mouse trap,” or “clothes pin,” type springs to tension the valves. A pair of them needed to be swung into place and pressed down over the valve stem before the keeper was installed. Using advice from vintage Ferrari mechanics from all over the country, a plan was hatched. More hands and space would have been nice, but Robert made a compressor tool to help him accomplish the task.
With the help of his son, Bryan, and Michael Bayer, they got the top end of the 2 liter four cylinder engine assembled. What still baffles Robert however, is how he managed to so all this in the 60s without all this extra help. My thought was a young Lieutenant has much more strength than the cunning of an older Admiral!
As this car goes together, I’m always sad to watch all the neat mechanical stuff hidden away. Luckily, Robert’s been sending me pictures, and this one is looking up the cylinder bore at the valves and dual spark plug holes. When Lampredi designed this engine, he was concerned with head gasket sealing, so the head was cast with provisions to screw each cylinder into the head.
The bottom of each cylinder was then sealed to the lower block with O-rings for the water passages. With better materials, head gaskets work a little better today (most of the time), so this design was abandoned, but in its time, these engines won a lot of races without head gasket failures!
Just a reminder, I’m looking for a new Vintage Ferrari Project. If you have, or know of a restoration project, please let me know. It would be great to restore another car on this website! My E-mail.
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