Local Hero

Posted on January 10th, 2018 by Dave under Bikes, custom bicycles.

Here are links to a two-part interview with local racing legend John Frey with whom I have had a long and fruitful collaboration. The article and pictures speak for themselves.

Retro PEZ Talk: Chrono Legend John Frey Part 1!

Retro PEZ Talk: Chrono Legend John Frey Part 2!

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Another Auto of Interest

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by Dave under albuquerque custom cars, auto restoration, Uncategorized.


1954 Arnolt Bristol

1954 Arnolt Bristol

Well, I’d heard the name before. Usually I’d thought of them as a British built variant. Like the AC Bristol or the MG Arnolt. I recently learned about an Aston Martin Arnolt (by the way, I want one of these…)

Historically it’s an interesting tale. Starting at the end of WWII as part of the war reparations acts the British were awarded access to many German manufacturers. Essentially the underpinnings are BMW mechanicals. The engine is, I’m told based on an aircraft engine. The engine featured a slightly modified version of BMW’s six-cylinder pushrod engine of 1,971 cc (bore 66 mm, stroke 96 mm). This engine, considered advanced for its time due to its hemispherical combustion chambersand very short inlet and exhaust ports, developed 130 horsepower[1] at 4,500 revs per minutes. In order to maintain a hemispherical combustion chamber, the valves had to be positioned at an angle to the head. In order to drive both sets of valves from a single camshaft, the Bristol engine used a system of rods, followers and bell-cranks to drive the valves on the far side of the engine from the single camshaft. The car weighs in at around 2100 pounds, so acceleration was brisk for the period.

2 Liter BMW

2 Liter BMW

There is  nice write up here  www.danjedlicka.com/classiccars/arnoltbristol.html rather than me writing it again. Hmm, can’t get that link to link.. copy and paste might work??

This car was recently purchased in Sweden and arrived at my door with some brake issues. Leaking front wheel cylinders, worn linings and rusty Al-fin drums. The brakes are Lockheed as fitted to Jaguar XK 120 and 140 models. The fronts are “self adjusting”, well maybe  ;~)

As is usually the case many of the original parts are missing or have been bastardized in some way. Now begins the time consuming task of gathering the right stuff, which are as rare as hen’s teeth in most cases.

The new owner hopes to use the car for European invitational rallyes and prestigious US based shows. It will likely draw  crowds due to it’s rarity.

Front end view

Front end view



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A new old toy for me…

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.
Tags: ,

As some of you know it was necessary to sell my “collection” of fun old cars to satisfy the demands of my divorce last year.. The results of which left me on a bit of a financial shoestring.

I knew I wanted something to bang around in and take to the club meetings or even a few laps up at the race track. The first affordable possibility was a ’60’s TR4. It had sat outdoors for years and had been stripped of most everything..even so I drug it back to the shop thinking I could take my time (probably years). I stared at it for a few days, even pulled it indoors for a start at cleaning all the crud out of the body work. Then the light came on.. WTF am I doing.. It would have cost a fortune to restore (don’t they all!) It needed every single part to be worked on, replaced or repaired.. I called the tow truck and had it shipped back to the owner..

Then, one sunny day, a friend I’d recently met told me he was going to purchase a car that I had referred to him a few weeks earlier.. It was a 1968 Triumph GT6+. Visually a sort of attractive automobile. I had no great love for Triumphs of the “spitfire” series. I have always been disappointed with the marque in general. Saw a fellow roll a TR3 in the 60’s and be killed, my father always groused that they rode like a buckboard, I always disliked the Rube Goldberg front suspensions/steering, lack of HP from the TR6’s.. in other words they didn’t float my boat. Well, he sent me pictures of the car, which I knew a little about having belonged to a local LBC club member. This member had decided he wanted the car the factory never built. A Spitfire with a 6 cylinder engine.  The 6 cylinder only came in the fastback enclosed bodywork. Well he set about taking a very nice example and removing a lot of parts to make his “Spit6” and this car was left outside for about 12 years before he sold it to another enthusiast, who parked it his his garage for a couple years before selling it to my friend. Here’s a couple pictures as I first saw it..GT6 1DSC03048

It was sitting pretty forlornly in this guys garage. The exterior trim had been largely removed and the paint was badly oxidized from sitting in the sun.

GT6 4DSC03044

The interior, especially under the dash, had been disassembled. The original seats were missing and a pair of Miata seats were there, but not yet installed. Apparently, that is a popular up-grade? Here’s another shot.GT6 2DSC03047.

Maybe they are good for the Spit6 or straight Spitfire, but even with them sitting on the bare floor, my head rubbed the head liner and I’m not a big guy. Under the bonnet (hood),again, a number of items had been removed. Here’s the only picture taken on the day it was picked up..GT6 3DSC03045


Well, much like the TR4 at the beginning this car sat for a couple months, mostly in my way, in a corner of the shop.  I just could not wrap my head around the idea of owning a Triumph after all the years of mostly negative Juju. Friends and customers would comment all the time.. ” I like the lines”, “..a paint job would be easy now” ,”parts are available from so and so” and so on. Well, I was at the painting supplier one afternoon and thought I’d get a new bottle of aggressive compound and spend a couple hours seeing if the paint would clean up some. As I was quite sure I wasn’t going to strip it for a proper re-spray. And here it is after the first pass..IMG_4942

Well, that put a new spin on it. I next set to getting it running. Fresh gasoline, new battery, some cursory wiring, an alternator, a fuel pump…well, quite a bit of stuff as it turned out. However, it started up and sounded great mechanically. The exhaust was a pair of undersized glass-packs and it was way too loud for the highway, sorta OK for short around town runs.

The Rotoflex couplings (the Triumph half solution to proper half shafts or CV joints) were replaced. The differential howled at any speed over 60MPH and was rebuilt at great expense. New tires were mounted. I had subsequently purchased 2 more GT6 “project” cars, from which I was able to harvest a lot of the missing trim and interior bits. The good news is that the gearbox and the overdrive were good to go. The interior carpeting and panels were either replaced or repaired. I just wanted to get it to a decent state of respectability and reliability.  So as it is today, after about 200 hours and a couple grand in parts this is what I have. A nearly rattle free, spunky, fun to drive, eye catching little British gem. It actually gets more comments from other passersby than my really nice Healey 100 did. Who knew… Here are a couple more pictures..IMG_5049IMG_4964IMG_4966IMG_4965

Perhaps over the winter I’ll consider new carpeting and all the upholstery and a new paint job by springtime.. Right now I’m enjoying it and turning down offers to sell it.. Who Knew


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Moss Motors write up… sweet

Posted on September 26th, 2014 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.


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Road and Track…tandem that is.

Posted on September 6th, 2014 by Dave under Uncategorized.

Just about have this tandem ready to roll.. This is a 1st time try at using a triple crank and an outside timing gear. The spacing was a little tricky but, it worked out just fine and the chain lines are spot on.
This was a track tandem that I decided would never get used in Albuquerque.. (where’s the Velodrome Porter?) The mistake, I may have made is thinking there are a plethora of braze on derailleurs for triple crank sets.. BTW it’s 56/48/30 the timing rings are 46’s 32-12 cassette. The Spirit frame is 11 lbs. The all steel fork is, well steel.. overall built weight is 29-32lbs ish…
I’m going to give the bike to John Frey (Nat. records holder) to use as his own. Hopefully some buyers may notice that steel bikes still work just fine, thank you very much. He already has me roped into a couple century rides in the next month or two.. God how he hurts me… I’m getting too old for this shit..

Spiirit tubes..crazy riders

Spirit tubes..crazy riders


Triple crank-right side/outside timing drive

Triple crank-right side/outside timing drive

Watch for it in a group ride coming soon.. Dave

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Grace, the Healey from Heaven

Posted on March 31st, 2014 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.

As many of you know or should, Grace is a now famous old ’53 Austin Healey which travels the US visiting children with a generally terminal cancer and their families. Grace and her care taker (John Nikas,  Drive Away Cancer on Face Book) have been dropping in at my shop for all the years that John has undertaken this truly marvelous project.

Grace has had some health problems of her own over the past 17 months. The past months have been used to slowly collect the necessary parts, some by donation and some from John’s own pocket to get Grace back on the road again. Seems that the past 150,000 miles she logged eventually holed all four pistons, wiped the cam lobes, and cracked the crankshaft to name a few.

The car was towed in from Iowa last week by Jim and Judy, an Arkansas family, who have taken up the slack with a Triumph Spitfire while Grace was on the mend. No, they didn’t tow it with the Spitfire.. Syn is the owner of Ginger, another DAC car who accompanied them on the cross country trek.

Here are a few shots of Grace as she sits today:

Looking a little forlorn

Due to the modern rear main seal and fitting the back plate it is easier to not use an engine stand at this point though my knees would argue..IMG_4751_1


The deck has been milled so many times that the pistons now protrude 0.042″ above the deck height. The steel head gasket measures ~ 0.060″ Pretty close to the head, but modern engine building dictates that zero tolerance is OK. This creates a “quench” zone, which keeps carbon build up to a minimum. The rod “stretch” is in the 10 thousandths range, so no worries on this build. Room to spare here. Modern piston design nearly eliminates any piston slap. The crank design has two additional counterweight throws and no offset, so this engine should easily rev well beyond the original 4800RPM red line. Sweet.

Misc. parts awaiting re-installation.

We are waiting for some parts from England that have been lost somewhere between Iowa and here. We hope to have Grace off life support before the end of the week. I’m going to eBay a bunch of misc. items to help cover some of my out of pocket expenses. Keep your fingers crossed if you are following the Drive Away Cancer thread on Face Book.

As it sits today. new wiring harness and LED lamps installed.

As it sits today. new wiring harness and LED lamps installed.

Just bought a new Windows 8 computer and switching computers has created the usual mess. I’ll try to get it sorted out. Suffice it to say that Grace is up and running and sounding healthier than ever.. more to come.

Installing the rebuilt engine

Installing the rebuilt engine

Starboard side

Starboard side

From a purely seat of the pants calculation I reckon that Grace is now making a bit over 130HP. It started with 110 in it’s 100M form, the small quench zone added 16HP according to the machine shop, the lightened reciprocating mass and the increase in bore and the lightened flywheel and sundry other items should get it there. A dyno test would be nice, but that isn’t up to me.. The best part is that it should be much more durable. On the busy freeway it was showing 105MPH in 4th gear at 5200RPM and still pulling like the  proverbial locomotive. With the Overdrive engaged I would guess 130 plus is possible. I’d like to drive it at sea level! We’re a mile high here.

Well that about wraps up this saga of Grace’s travels from my perspective. She and John are heading for NC in the next week, so we’ll see how it goes and what effect the rebuild has on gas mileage, which wasn’t especially good before.  Watch the DAC link above for the next reports from John.


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French autos of interest

Posted on March 1st, 2014 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.

1955 Talbot Lago Grand Sport

Click on pics to enlarge-arrow back to text


Ou la la…  This is a nice vehicle, despite its French origins. A big 4.5Liter straight 6, with twin cams in the block and triple Solex carbs. The other neat feature is the Wilson or E.N.V pre-selective transmission. Move the column mounted lever to the gear you want before you want it. Push the “clutch” pedal and it’s in that gear. Takes a few minutes to acclimate to thinking ahead, but it’s really pretty clever. It’s originally a British design, but Lago bought the patent rights in the early 50’s and made some minor changes.

Unfortunately, the reason it’s here is that the reverse selector is on the blink. The engine and gear box must come out to rectify the problem. It’s a very expensive bit of sheet metal to have to work on. Only 19 of these cars were produced!

Here’s a shot of the engine..

BIG Six Cylinder 4.5L

Here’s the driver’s seat view.. By enlarging this shot the gear selector is clearly visible on the right side of the steering column.

Interior picture

And here’s the offending gearbox innards. Each of the block like structures on the left side are the selectors for the respective band operated planetary gear sets. The reverse is the bottom left most..

E.N.V. gearbox in neutral

And here’s a couple more shots of the car.

Rear quarter-my favorite

Front view

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The House on Arno NE

Posted on January 19th, 2014 by Dave under Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

A surprising number of folks have asked me about the round adobe house I call home after seeing the couple snippets over on the Picasa gallery. So, OK here’s a bit more about it.

First, Arno. Arno was the name of one of early Albuquerque developer Franz Huning’s sons.  His two other children, Edith and Walter also have streets in their names. The general location is near downtown on the edge of the so called North valley. Officially it is the Stronghurst neighborhood, reported to be the 1st such association in the city’s history. I have not researched all of this but I’m fairly confident someone will quickly point out any errors…

This property is 3/4 of an acre and the neighborhood was re-platted into really odd shapes and sizes in the 50’s and 60’s. It has a SU or special use zoning. This one being part of an old veterinary clinic belonging to the parents of the 1st owner of the hovel, err, house.

The first owner was one Stanley “Ivor” Williams. Williams was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Taliesin West school of architecture. I think this was Ivor’s first house he built, along with a couple friends on a shoe string budget. It was about 1964.

Wright was a fan of plain, simple, low ceiling structures leaving the details to the contractor to figure out on their own. Stanley was in complete agreement and when my ex-wife and I purchased the house it could best be described as a dark, poorly finished cave. She loved it, I hated it. My fate was sealed.

Click on pix to enlarge. Use “Back Arrow” to return to text.

Snow day

This is the picture most have seen. The roof is shaped like a floppy Mexican sombrero, the tallest center structure is the central column from which everything cantilevers from and which houses the heater for cold days like this one..

Early Fall I think

This is roughly the same shot, inside the gate. The floor joists for the main living area are just visible poking through the left side, under the rectangular window. Ivor used wood protrusions through the walls in all his subsequent buildings. These pictured lend themselves to a simple out door table top.

The front door is pretty unique. It pivots inwards on two offset bearings. Note that the threshold is sloped!

To the right of the door is a second addition that the second owner added as a home office or guest room with a bathroom. Good thing too, as I spent the first two years remodeling the round portion!

Image of New Mexico Architecture

This is the south side. Floor joists pretty obvious here. Also note that the swimming pool has a pass through into the interior of the house. More on that later. In the background are the garages and workshop which I added and where I spend most of my days. This pool is a PITA, as the walls at either end make it very problematic to cover, but after a hot summer bike ride, the pool is the best. A true conundrum.

Looking West from the street-see Google maps ;~)

And here is from the North side looking West

..another Google maps view-nice summer day

OK, enough of the outside..

front door and Kachinas

I’m shooting down from the upper lever (that of the joists) and the steps in the left corner ramp gently to the below ground level master bedroom. The shape of the adobe bricks is pretty easy to see.

The Column

With my back to the door, this is the heart of the structure. It was 33 bare 2 x10”s  before I covered it with chicken wire and plastered it. The heater sounded like a C130 taking off when it started and just blew hot air randomly about the open spaces. The low wall to the left was added to keep people from falling onto the entrance level small sitting area, which was previously dirt with a small “pond”. I removed about 1100 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and rock from the inside, which are now large berms used in the landscaping..

Column too

Another shot of the column from the upper level looking back towards the door.

Very NM like space

This shot shows the entrance level, the upper level with the living room in the back left, the kitchen back right and the opening into the master bedroom. The roof joists are visible pretty clearly and why I like the place. It’s like a huge spoked bicycle wheel on it’s side. Nothing much is either level or plumb.

North wall

This is the dogs domain, they are old, this is ground level, no steps to navigate. The door in the background is the bathroom entrance. This was a half height wall originally. Winter bathing was quite cold and pretty exposed, so walls were added, as were the exposed vigas and the Bas relief Kokapelli .

By now I was getting pretty artistic with the plaster so I went for full  effect in the bathroom…

Sun-Moon rain storm..

Bathroom Turtles

Master bedroom entrance

Here’s the base of the column. The ramping brick floor curves up to the next level. The squarish base was added, as there was nothing but a small concrete pad supporting the column (read house!) The storage area doors on the left are about the only thing of Ivor’s that remain. He really liked railroad ties and rough cut lumber. The “circular” is repeated a lot, as in the floor, the master shower, kitchen work surfaces, even the master bed originally.

bedroom details

Floor detail, very big fireplace, adobe banco seating, dirty laundry…


Background is Imelda’s walk-in. The glass blocks face back to the dogs sitting area. The bedroom has an Asian feel, which surprisingly is very similar to Native American design.

Kitchen looking at the West wall

Only one of the living room …

This was a gathering at “the party house” looking from the kitchen entrance south towards the big, what else, round window in the living room.

About the pool in the house, I can’t find a good picture, so I’ll tell you I didn’t like it. No security and an air gap, so I fit a 1” thick piece of Plexiglas, had a guy add rock sides to the gunite and turned it into the new fishpond/water feature. Here’s the winter treatment to keep some of the leaves out of the pool.IMG_5096


Sort of like a Christy draped work of art..

Well, that’s the basics. Now that I’ve started a story, it should be easy to add additional pictures and text as I can.

Thanks for taking the tour.


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Gabe’s MAX frame

Posted on May 27th, 2013 by Dave under Bikes, custom bicycles, For Sale, Tandem bicycles, velodrome.

Just a quick notation on my “restoration” services. This frame from 1991 was one I’d made for one of the shop’s team riders.  Gabe was/is very hard on his equipment. I don’t recall seeing as many dents in any one frame or fork before.  Of course he explained it away as being this crash or that incident…. here’s a look at it when it arrived a couple days ago..

Well used MAX Porter click on to enlarge-arrow back

The frame was at the bike store hanging in the repair area. I asked about it and the guys said that he wanted to build it up again and ride it as his last “lightweight” (steel-bamboo) had broken in half..  Anyway, not wanting him “out there” on one of my frames that was as beat up as this old race bike, I offered a Bro deal to make it at least presentable again and the “deal” allowed me some discretion in how it would look..  His fork was the worst as it had been laying in the dirt in his back yard for years…

really rusted steerer tube

The fork had been in one of the previously mentioned crashes.. a crit where he’d got off line and sucked a marker cone between the blade and wheel..  I always liked the look of the MAX crown and the fat aero blades though they never fit worth a damn and required excess filler to look half way right. Nevertheless I spent some extra time to make this one safe and functional again..  Here’s a couple after the repair shots.. even still I missed a big ding in the top tube.. maybe a decal will cover it, just like the old PowerBar decal in the first picture..

AH! Signal Green.. like FM pumps..

seat lug

a real pump peg

Well, it is what it is.. probably good for a couple more years hammering from an old guy, but former National jersey winner..

As usual send me your comments and critiques…


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Valve job.. ’57 Maserati 3500GT

Posted on April 7th, 2013 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.

You’ve probably already seen some pictures of this car herein previously. According to Maserati build records only two of these cars were built in 1957, so it’s VERY rare!. Here’s another look.. click on photo to enlarge-arrow back to text.

1957 Maserati 3500GT Paris show car-really!

Well, as good as it looks, I became concerned that the car simply was making too much induction noise at highway speeds to make it a comfortable “touring” car. I let it go for awhile until the owner and his wife both agreed to let me at least check the cam timing to see if it was off to the degree that valve overlap would allow poor filling and emptying of the cylinders yielding a lot of  Ross Perot like sucking noise. Well to my surprise the timing was a few degrees advanced on the exhaust cam, but probably not enough to cause the symptom we were experiencing.

Most manufacturers have very clear and well defined marking showing where the engine should be timed for optimum daily usage. There are many variants to this setting for specific racing needs. Maserati, and now this is my wild ass guess, ran in  the engines before delivering to the end user, and this one being the “Factory” show car that year probably had Guido or some engineer do a little extra tuning. I say this because the marks on the cams that should coincide with the marks on the retaining caps were hand scribed with an electric pencil and labeled “PM” with an arrow.  See photo:  followup note: no, I’m told by all the experts that this was the way they all were..

Factory markings?

I felt that the engine “ran” pretty well as it was and rather than spend many hours to set the exhaust cam to where one would think it belonged I decided to check some other parameters for the issue. First was to check the compression reading, note to self: (ALWAYS DO THIS FIRST YOU HARD HEAD) well, the reading were horrible, 5 cylinders were at 60PSI or less and only one cylinder managed to get to 100PSI.  The compression ratio for this beautiful engine is only 8.2 to 1, nevertheless, even at Albuquerque’s altitude I would expect no less than 150PSI on all 6 cylinders.  The carbs were “chuffing” out air at various RPM’s, not unlike many 911 Porches tend to do. I’d recently had a friends TR4 with a similar presentation and that was severely receded valve seats. The seats are generally pressed in and are the seat upon which the face of the valves rest to allow the pressure of compression to occur as the piston moves. Warnings of seat recession was widely spread with the demise of leaded fuels, but that never really materialized except in a few racing engines that weren’t properly built with hardened seats and valves to handle the new unleaded fuels. Remember that “valve jobs” were the most common repair and bread and butter of shops before unleaded fuels. Now I see maybe one or two a year.. sigh..

OK, so the owner gave me the go ahead to pull the head off as see what exactly was causing the lack of compression. First the valve clearances were all over the map. The Factory called for 0.1 mm (0.004″) intake and 0.2 mm (0.008″) exhaust. The readings were as wide as 0.013 to 0.0, only 2 or 3 of the 12 were close.. The valve clearances are set by means of hardened discs of different thicknesses between the valve stem and an upside down “bucket” that is opened as the cam lobe rotates.  Well, the good news is that the seats don’t appear to have much recession, but they will have to be reground and the valve faces will need to be re-cut. I have not pulled the valves out of the head yet so I can’t report on the condition of the valve guides, springs etc. Here’s a shot or two of the removed head, block, and all the miserable silicon that some previous mechanic used to keep the coolant from leaking out.  Tedious job to remove it..

wet liner cylinders, tiny brass(?) combustion seals, Silicon mess...

Head and Carbs on the bench..

top side with cams still in place- note dual spark plug design

note difference in operating temp of these valves.

Next, I’ll disassemble the remaining removable bits from the head and deliver it to the machine shop…  The head is at the machine shop for their part of the job. Parts are ordered and I spent several tedious hours today cleaning up the block deck and liners of all the silicon schmutz and gasket remnants.

cleaned and ready to re-seal and add coolant gasket

The starter has been sent to the re-builder to check for condition. All the new compression may be more than a tired starter can handle and it’s a PITA to remove when the carbs are installed.. ditto the oil filter..

While the head is at the machine shop I’ve started to do some general clean up and repairs to other under the hood items. First on my list was to blast the 2 exhaust headers and then coat them with a graphite product I’ve used for many years with nice results. One of the headers was wrapped with heat cloth tape the other none. Turns out there was a reason. The rear wrapped one was nearly cracked in half on the underside (luckily). Being of cast iron construction they are problematic to repair without special  mostly Nickel alloy rods or high silver content brazing wire, which I happen to use for the bicycle department. Here are some pictures of this process.

Badly cracked rear header-click on this

Raw repair prior to surfacing

Double click on this one above. There must be about 3 troy oz. of silver in that repair..

finished and coated front side

finished and coated backside with repair

Then I spent the rest of the day removing the old paint and cleaning up the cam covers of casting flash and other imperfections. I polished the raised lettering and outlines and finished with a new coat of black “wrinkle” paint as was original. The owner wants the letters painted red as was done previously, but I may try to talk him out of that, as I think the black and polished aluminum looks classy enough. We’ll see.

restored to like new--well, almost..

So I’ve been pondering this next picture. It is a straight edge laid across the tops of the wet liners with the copper “fire ring” sitting in it’s normal position. The gap you see back to the deck is nominally 0.087″ which is huge in my thinking of what the outside perimeter gasket to seal the coolant jacket, is capable of. Perhaps this is why there was so much silicon used by the previous builder. I haven’t received the new gasket set yet, so I’m in the dark until they arrive. The old one is visible in the earlier picture of the underside of the head and I think we can all agree that it isn’t that thick.. a conundrum..

wow..tiny text.. click on twice?

The most simple (cost effective) solution is to have a shim or spacer, whatever one cares to call it, water jet cut and surface ground out of sheet aluminum to the correct thickness. This will return the deck height to the same as the wet liner height.  I can use the rubber perimeter coolant seal as a template as the spacer is not terribly dimensionally critical except for the thickness. This will also correct the overall height of the cams which will bring the valve timing back to original. Pretty sure that I can have it done locally, another plus.

Yesterday I cleaned up and painted the cam cover end plates, oil filler and tach drive plate.

More assembly prep work..

In the process of changing the oil filter cartridge..

old oil filter cartridge

I found this along with a fair quantity of silicon

collapsed internally

sealant remnants that had migrated into the lubrication pathways.. The filter had imploded and was not filtering much of anything. God only knows how much of the filter material has migrated and is possibly blocking the oil passages or bearing feeders… what next?

Yesterday I bought a sheet of 3031 Aluminum sheet at 20 Ga or 0.032″. I was hoping for 19 Ga (0.036″) but couldn’t find it locally. Nevertheless, it’s in the hands of the water jet operator along with the template for the spacer. I’m confident that with a light coating of sealant on both sides plus the OEM gasket the height will be within the allowable factory variation spec. (+/- 0.1mm [0.004″]) Regardless, it will be FAR better than what I started with..

Here’s a couple more shots of the cleaned up engine bay, the water pump and the very unique leather wrapped oil line.

Driver's side

passenger side

Water pump

Leather wrapped oil line for dash gauge

The owner dropped by with a couple hardback Maserati books and I found a picture of the early 3500 engine and in my meager attempts to bring the car back to it’s  original appearance I noticed that the water pump was also black wrinkle paint finished, like it is now..

Factory finish for the water pump

still waiting for the machine shop to finish…

Here’s  today’s new issue. The old tach drive cable had broken at the engine end. The female screw cap that mated to the male cam cover plate had broken at some point and the cap was replaced with workable bracket that kept the cable inserted into the back of the cam. The new cable and housing look to be just the ticket, but the overall length of the square cable is too long. Ask any instrument repair shop and they will tell you that the maximum insertion into the back of a mechanical tach or speedometer is 3/8″.  This new one is ~ 7/8″ too long and would instantly ruin the tach. Plus it has no retaining collar to keep the cable from migrating into the tach. Luckily we have a nationally respected instrument repair shop (MoMa) about a mile from me. I’ll run them both over this morning and confer with Margaret and Joey and see what the best fix is. Here’s some comparative photos.

top=old / bottom= new

top=correct insertion length, bottom too long! Note collar on top cable

engine drive ends. Note missing retaining flange on top cable.

Finally got back to work on the Maserati this last week. I got two versions of the water jet cut spacer. One was 0.032″ the other was 0.40″. Here’s what it looks like..

Head spacer and gasket

And while that was being cut I managed to get a factory fan. It has 6 blades, the car has some Japanese single blade, no doubt why an electric fan had been added. The new fan was taller than the radiator shroud which was dead flat. I un-soldered it and and beat it into submission on a sandbag and then English wheeled it into a fairly pleasing radius that cleared the blades. Hmm, the “program” won’t upload the shroud picture I want, so here’s how it used to look instead..note that the blade it pushing up on thee shroud.

A bit of a clearance problem...

The machine shop finally called and informed me that they would need 6 new intakes, 6 new exhausts and 12 new guides.. apparently the seats were acceptable. It was decided beforehand that they would disassemble the moving parts of the head so they could measure stem lengths and insertions etc., should they ultimately set the valve lash at their establishment. I ended up doing it since I’ve done many similar heads before and they hadn’t. The two numbers they provided for each bank were useless.. It took nearly 14 hours to get them to plus 0.002″ of the factory spec. An extra 0.001″ was to allow for the seating in of the pads and valve seats. This was the machine shops idea and sounded like a reasonable idea. It took this long because my assortment of shim pads was mostly from Jaguar heads and their pads tend to be much thinner that these Italian ones. So I had to spend many extra hours using my old Sioux valve grinder to grind thick pads to the correct thickness..  After a good nights sleep and with some help from my pal Bruce (HVAC expert) we installed the head perimeter shim atop a coat of Yamabond (a product for sealing the crank case halves of a motorcycle). It goes on evenly and it cures slowly giving us plenty of time to install the rubber perimeter seal (~0.075″) and the 13  (0.050″) ball bearings that nest in precut holes in the rubber seal. These are to keep the rubber seal from squishing out under the 100 ft lb torque applied to the head (I stopped at 95 ft lb) So, after hooking up fuel lines, oil lines, power lines,water lines, linkage, Ex manifolds and the cam covers, cap, tach drive and sundry other time consuming tasks I got the old oil and coolant drained out. Almost ready but, I forgot that I had to reposition the cam timing so the opening and closing was at factory spec. Remember I’d thought this was the issue causing the loud induction noise.

Splined keeper and pin for cam adjustments.

Here’s a look at the new valves..

The green thing is just holding the head for it's picture.

So now for the “bad” news…. I checked the compression before starting the engine and to my disbelief it was nearly as bad as when this project was started. A second confirmation with a leak by tester showed that even with new valves there was up to 75% leakage. Mostly it turns out through cracks throughout the head it self. I pressurized the cooling system and had coolant coming out the exhaust ports. Couldn’t see it on the intake side due to the big Weber’s, but I could hear the air escaping…. Well, what the f… do you do now? Just the previous day I’d informed the owner I expected to see another 100HP.. We weren’t able to “pressure check” the head when it was off because there were just too many holes to start with. I’m thinking that that cracked exhaust manifold may have been caused by the coolant leaking into it. Maybe? Anyway, I put some sealant (Alumiseal) in the radiator and fired it up. Started on the 2nd rotation. Ran it through a couple heat cycles while I picked up and put away nearly every tool in my tool boxes. Then I took it for a short test drive…. Unbelievable is all I can say. This thing flat ass runs. About 90KPH in one block and only half throttle. This engine doesn’t need any stinking compression… I can only imagine if it was at 100%. Yikes! OK I digress. I had the owners come drive it and before it ran out of gas on them they confirmed that it was mega better and quieter too. ;~)

Note: Now that all the dust has settled..I went back today (after it’s been driven 50 miles, head re-torqued, etc.) I got out the compression gauge and checked it with the engine at just off idle and the readings were 150PSI, so that confirms my thinking that the valve overlap was just too much to overcome at cranking speed. I feel better and it will certainly ease any fears of near future problems for the owner..Happy days.

Here’s the new look, well here’s the before pic..

Engine compartment ~Oct. 2012

After the valve job/clean up May 2013

Dolled up 1

Dolled up 2

don't mix up the ignition leads!

Dolled up 3

So what are we going to do about the engine..? Nothing for a while. There are some 3500 heads out there at reasonable prices, my choice is to find a complete engine to rebuild, but the Paris Car show provenance may negate my wishes.. Let’s play it by ear.

I need to install some seat belts (5 point harnesses if I had my way ;~)) and fix some steering wheel cracks… otherwise this story is a wrap. Feel free to email me ( About on the home page or leave comments below)

This was a fun one… dave

PS Let me add a few comments about driving this car. First I can only start to imagine the visceral thoughts that Moss and Fangio and other top Formula I and sports racers must have experienced using this power plant in a race car chassis. Did I mention this is a completely tubular frame? Boosted giant Alfin drums on all 4 corners and a gear box that begs to be shifted just for the sheer joy of it. The torque is prodigious for an Italian car and the engine noises are priceless. It will rev to 8000 RPM… happily (note to owner No, I didn’t push it that far). Did I mention it is an all aluminum body? Absolutely no body roll in fast corners and a nice steering ratio once under way. The Maserati brothers did well with this design. Hope some of you get an opportunity to get a drive or ride in one of these drop dead gorgeous cars..


And as an added bonus, here’s a U Tube clip a friend sent me of this very car a year or two before the current owner bought it at auction.


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