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Engine rebuild. Review and Suggestions Request

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    Posted: August-02-2018 at 8:08pm
Hey guys, just pulled the engine out of my 1976 Ski Nautique. Going to have the flooring and carpets redone and want to work on the engine while it's out. I need some people with much more experience to chime in and make sure I'm not overlooking something or planning to do something that doesn't make sense.

Engine: 1976 (I Think) Ford 351W
Hours: Counter says 950+ but the previous owner (my grandfather) said it never worked while he owned it
Power expectations: No major power bump. Any increase from the rebuild will be a nice side effect though.
Goal: Very reliable engine that won't need a rebuild for a long long time
Budget: Not trying to cheap out anywhere, but definitely don't want to spend a lot on extra stuff that isn't really necessary


Plan is to pull the engine apart and check everything for excessive wear, breakage, etc. Obviously replace as necessary.

I will probably totally strip the block and have it cleaned, magnafluxed, and re-decked if necessary. I have a set of rebuilt GT40p heads that I got on ebay from Windy City Engine & Parts. I know that these will give me a bump in power, and I'm not necessarily seeking out more power beyond this.

Ignition: My grandfather had the dizzy replaced with an electronic ignition. I believe it's a DUI unit but I'm not 100% sure right now.

Heads: Am I ok with the springs that came with the GT40p? Should I definitely go with roller rockers? If so, do I need the heads machined to accept them? If I go with roller rockers, should I go with adjustable rockers in case my stock pushrods are no longer the correct length after the head swap?

Camshaft: Plan is to reuse the original so long as it's in good shape, which I expect. I know Cam Research is popular with people on this forum. However unless you can convince me otherwise, I don't think I need to change the cam since I'm not seeking out extra power. Right?

Lifters: I will probably stay with the same style lifters since switching to roller lifters/cam would require a new cam and extra machine work on the block. Right?

Pistons: Hope to reuse existing pistons, connecting rods, etc. I'll put new rings on all the pistons.

Intake: Reuse original probably. Since I'm not building for power, an intake probably won't do a whole lot?

Other questions: When should I paint the engine? Do it piece by piece before putting it all back together? Anything else I need to consider?

Please let me know what you guys with experience think. This is my first time doing this so treat me like the idiot that I am :) Don't assume I know anything...

TIA!
1976 Ski Nautique (PCM 351) - Currently under major renovation: floor, carpet, interior, gel coat, engine overhaul
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-02-2018 at 8:19pm
Originally posted by robdubbleu robdubbleu wrote:

Hey guys, just pulled the engine out of my 1976 Ski Nautique. Going to have the flooring redone and want to work on the engine while it's out.
TIA!


Rob,
I'll let others comment on the engine and I'll just comment on the "flooring". Don't forget the stringers. There's a good chance they may need attention and possible replacing. Post some pictures and report back when you're into it.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonny Quest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-02-2018 at 8:31pm
Joe in NY and Duane in Indy will have good information and suggestions for you. Keep in mind that the reverse rotation engine may limit some of your choices (cam, distributor, etc.)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-02-2018 at 9:16pm
Originally posted by 8122pbrainard 8122pbrainard wrote:

Originally posted by robdubbleu robdubbleu wrote:

Hey guys, just pulled the engine out of my 1976 Ski Nautique. Going to have the flooring redone and want to work on the engine while it's out.
TIA!


Rob,
I'm let others comment on the engine and I'll just comment on the "flooring". Don't forget the stringers. There's a good chance they may need attention and possible replacing. Post some pictures and report back when you're into it.



Thanks! I had the place that will do my floor check the stringers (last Fall) and they drilled 2 small holes in the stringers to check them. One in front of the engine and one behind. Both showed nice dry, golden wood. So the belief right now (before the rest of the floor comes up) is that they should be ok and not need replacement. However, if they've got problems on the ends, they'll get added to The List!

Thanks!
1976 Ski Nautique (PCM 351) - Currently under major renovation: floor, carpet, interior, gel coat, engine overhaul
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gt40KS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-02-2018 at 9:32pm
Rob, since your original engine wasn't a roller cam this really isn't an option since you want to reuse the block and a lot of the parts (also reducing cost). Having said that, you're wanting this to be a 'long term' and reliable rebuild so I'd rethink that part of your rebuild. A used cam, used lifters and maybe the pistons may last a while, but then again installing them in a fresh rebuild - especially with increased power - would worry me if it were mine. Other things like the intake, exhaust manifolds and probably the circulation pump should work just fine. If you are doing the final assembly, just be sure to use a quality gasket set. Fel-Pro marine seems to be the favorite.
My preference, paint after assembly if it's on an engine stand and you can get to all of it.

Right here is where I expect to see a comment from Keno about using ONLY one color on your engine
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-02-2018 at 11:08pm
Yeah should have also said I planned on replacing the lifters also.

As for the cam, if I replace it, should I have a custom one made? Or are stock cams even available for purchase?
1976 Ski Nautique (PCM 351) - Currently under major renovation: floor, carpet, interior, gel coat, engine overhaul
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gun-driver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 11:05am
Originally posted by gt40KS gt40KS wrote:

Rob, since your original engine wasn't a roller cam this really isn't an option since you want to reuse the block and a lot of the parts (also reducing cost).

A non roller 351 block can be machined to accept a roller cam set up but...Roller cams are not available for RR motors unless you want to drop “at the least” $2,500 just for the cam.
Cam Research would be my choice on where to go for a cam.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 11:33am
Originally posted by gun-driver gun-driver wrote:

Originally posted by gt40KS gt40KS wrote:

Rob, since your original engine wasn't a roller cam this really isn't an option since you want to reuse the block and a lot of the parts (also reducing cost).

A non roller 351 block can be machined to accept a roller cam set up but...Roller cams are not available for RR motors unless you want to drop “at the least” $2,500 just for the cam.
Cam Research would be my choice on where to go for a cam.


Well that totally rules out the roller cam setup! Does anyone sell a stock cam that would work or is going custom the only route to replace a RR cam?
1976 Ski Nautique (PCM 351) - Currently under major renovation: floor, carpet, interior, gel coat, engine overhaul
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TRBenj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 11:48am
You would be best off reusing the old cam and lifters if they don’t show signs of damage. You can avoid the risk/hassles or flat tappet cam break in that way. Just be sure to put the lifters back in the same holes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 1:23pm
Originally posted by TRBenj TRBenj wrote:

You would be best off reusing the old cam and lifters if they don’t show signs of damage. You can avoid the risk/hassles or flat tappet cam break in that way. Just be sure to put the lifters back in the same holes.


Ok after looking at the price ranges for cams and a set of lifters, I'm going to be crossing my fingers that they have no damage!

What about timing chain, etc.?
1976 Ski Nautique (PCM 351) - Currently under major renovation: floor, carpet, interior, gel coat, engine overhaul
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MrMcD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 3:51pm
A new Timing Chain would be inexpensive to replace while in there.
Cloyes offers high quality Timing Sets.

Thinking a little more on this, boats run so few hours your timing set is probably like new and should not need replacing unless it is one of the old Nylon Sprockets on the Camshaft.
Those are known to age and break leaving you stranded.   If yours is a Steel sprocket I would keep the factory part.

For several years the OEM's ran Nylon sprockets on the camshaft, they were supposed to run quieter and were cheap to manufacture.   Around 80,000 miles these sprockets started failing leaving many owners stranded.   The steel gears will not do this to you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 4:59pm
If I have the nylon sprockets, is it easy enough to replace just the sprocket?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MACS81SN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 5:27pm
Unless your engine has really low hours on it and the bores are in really good condition I wouldn’t slap new rings on the old pistons and reuse.   There’s info out there why you don’t want to do this.   I did this to old classic car I have years ago as I didn’t have the $$ at the time to do it right but needed to get it running again.   Ended up doing it the right way 3-4 years later as the compression was down to 50 psi and swiling oil like crazy.

I’d reuse the cam and lifters, just get everything back where it was. I rebuilt our 81 Ski 7-8 years ago at 1400 hours and the cam and lifters mic’d out fine. Still running fine today.

I’d throw an Edelbrock Performer or equivalent on it as long as your doing the GT 40 heads. I got one off eBay for $60 or so. Even if you buy new it’s a good improvement.   

I tend to carry things to the extreme sometimes, so I ported and polished the heads, gasket matched intake and exhaust and even polished the insides of the inlet and exhaust ports of the exhaust manifold as far as I could get into it.

I didn’t see anyone else mention it, but you will have to open up the head bolt holes to allow for the 351w 1/2” head bolts.

As MrMcD says timing chain is cheap if your going to open it up.   I used double roller but don’t have to.

High volume oil pump not necessary in this application.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TRBenj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 6:13pm
A high quality double roller timing set like cloyes is $40, just replace it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MrMcD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-03-2018 at 7:03pm
Tim, after the Nylon Timing Sprocket failures in the 70's the OEM's went to a never fail Timing set mindset.   That means nearly all OEM's wanted the Timing set to last 200,000 miles to make sure they put the Nylon failure stigma behind them.
A boat with 950 hours is equal to a car with maybe 57,000 miles.
Many engine parts from a boat are in pristine condition unless rust or bad maintenance wiped them out. You are correct though for $40 added to the rebuild put in a new one and don't worry.
!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-05-2018 at 8:40pm
Thanks for all the good info guys! Concerning the GT40p heads I bought, the place that I got them from (Windy City Engine & Parts, via ebay) drilled them to 1/2" and put brass freeze plugs in as part of rebuild. Must have known we boat folk were going to want them :) Here's a link to the same thing from the same people: https://www.ebay.com/itm/263856435715?ViewItem=&vxp=mtr&item=263856435715

What's the best brand of OEM-style rockers (if that's definitely the way to go)?

Will definitely do a timing set. Glad it's a cheap part.

MACS81SN, Thank you for the info advising against new rings on old pistons. I'll now only replace any of that stuff if there's damage or excessive wear.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-22-2018 at 3:21pm
Can I use the original rocker arms on the new GT40p heads (assuming they're in good condition)?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gary S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-22-2018 at 3:36pm
Yes just check the push rod length,shims are available if they are to long
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TRBenj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-22-2018 at 3:48pm
Not the pushrod length that you’re checking really- it’s the lifter preload which can be altered by changing pushrod length (or shimming within reason).

The rocker style used by ‘76 should be consistent with that used through the 90’s, in which case they can be reused on the P heads.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August-22-2018 at 10:33pm
Awesome, thanks guys!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-15-2019 at 2:07pm
So I'm finally getting around to doing this... Question: do I want a timing set for a 1-piece fuel pump eccentric, or 2-piece? This is something I know nothing about...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 10:34pm
Anybody able to weigh in on the fuel pump eccentric question above? Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KENO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Today at 7:21am
If you have a 2 piece eccentric which you probably do, then you need a timing chain for the 2 piece.

If you have a 1 piece, then you get the chain and gears for that.

You'll need to verify what you have.

Here's a picture of a couple in somebody's hand, 2 piece on the left, 1 on the right

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robdubbleu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Today at 11:15am
Thanks Keno! Now... where exactly is that piece located? I'm totally ignorant on this particular matter
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KENO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Today at 3:24pm
Not knowing how far apart your engine is or isn't, you have to take the circulating pump off and then the timing cover, then you'll be staring at the timing gears and in the middle of the upper gear you'll find the eccentric for the fuel pump on your 351

Here's a picture that,'s not a Small Block Ford but it shows the upper gear on the end of the camshaft and it's the shiny roundish thing in the middle of the gear The one in the picture is a 2 piece.



You might want to spend some money on one of the books in the link below about rebuilding a Small Block Ford. There are a few different ones out there, but you'll learn plenty from any of them

And...........you can do a little multitasking and read it while you're sitting on the porcelain throne

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