Engine Block, T-Case, and Oh Ya – What About Tools?
We all know that the engine is the "heart" of a vehicle, it just happens to be the first step of my build. When Big Mike came to me over a year ago and said that I was going to be the one to rebuild my truck, I laughed - hysterically, I might add - until I realized he was serious. He then walked over to a corner of the Shop and with a gleam in his eyes told me that in the early 90's he had a 1979 Chevy Silverado half ton with a 350 Small Block / 4 Bolt Main, that he had named "Grumpy". He continued with how much he loved that old truck and the fact he was running 35" tires, when they were considered 'BIG', (I snorted, knowing the RSO Sniper runs on 46" Interco Super Swampers). He reached up on a shelf and pulled down a gray cast iron engine block, and said that he was saving it for something Special and wanted me to have it for my truck. This was the first of many "Awww Moments" surrounding this build and to say the least I was touched. Plus, it meant I didn't have to tear my engine down and take the chance that there was a major problem with the block.
Big Mike's '79 Chevy Silverado
Grumpy's Heart - 350 Small Block / 4 Bolt Main
We loaded up the block and delivered it to Brian at County Auto Machine, here in San Jacinto. Brian went through a process of prepping the block for me. First the block is Hot Tanked - Hot tanking is a way to clean dirty cast iron engine blocks. The block is lowered into a big metal tank with a caustic solution in it. The block soaks for many hours while the solution slowly circulates around it eating away the old paint, rust, debris, and grime. Second, the block was Magnafluxed - which is a test on the block of the structural integrity of the cast iron. The block was then Decked - Decking a block is to ensure a good, flat surface so a good gasket seal is achieved, plus it must be the proper deck height, which is the distance from the crank centerline to the deck surface. Lastly, the block is Line Honed - this is where he shaves the main caps of the block to allow room to bore another hole in the main journal to re-align them, making them round and straight before delivering the block back to me. From there, the first thing was to mount the block onto an engine stand. I re-cleaned the block in preparation for paint to ensure a clean dry surface. Even though I was getting ready to store the block for a while, it was essential to paint the block right away to prevent rust. Once the block was painted (a simple process of smooth even strokes with a rattle can high temperature engine paint) I then re-oiled the cylinders and main journals to install the main caps and freeze plugs with sealant in order to store the block until I am able to start putting the engine together. With all of that completed, I placed a long piece of brown paper in around the block length wise to absorb any moisture (further rust prevention) and then a plastic bag around the entire block and top of the engine stand to help prevent dirt, dust, and debris from attacking my beautiful engine block. SPOILER ALERT: this will NOT be a 350 Small Block when I am finished.
Carefully Painting My Engine Block
Proud Moment - Block is Painted & Prepped for Storage
Engine Block Storage - Moisture Prevention
Now, in case you didn't know a transfer case is only in 4 wheel drive, all wheel drive or multi-powered axle vehicles. It transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles through the drive shafts, it also synchronizes the difference in rotation between the front and rear wheels. Many contain a set of low range gears for off-roading. Why would I need such a thing? It's simple - kinda, I am a woman after all and as such I am not satisfied with just a 2 wheel drive rig. Oh no, she shall be 4 wheel drive. YES, She Shall! So the search began for a donor. When low and behold, one fell right into our laps. All I had to do was remove a few bolts to dismantle the transfer case from the transmission and voila, I got a T-Case. If only everything could be this simple!
Separating the Transfer Case from the Transmission
Oh ya - What About Tools?
When I started this project, I was just using Big Mike's tools. After all, he's been building and repairing vehicles for over 30 years so he has EVERYTHING I could possibly need - right? I had no idea when he and Tyler asked me to come out into the Shop (after they had ran errands in early July) that they would surprise me with my own tool box! A blue tool box even, my favorite color. I was so excited, I said it isn't my birthday or Christmas, why? They told me that they wanted me to have my own, because of all the things I do here at the Shop, they felt like I deserved my own box. Needless to say, I am a girl and I cried - Happy Tears. Big Mike and I immediately started putting it together, my excitement growing by the second. That first week Big Mike bought me my own creeper - yes it too is blue, my own magnetic led flashlight, and Billy surprised me with a complete set of socket holders. I swear, these boys spoil me!! At first, I rummaged through a box of sockets left from the previous shop, filling up my holders with what I could find. Billy loaned me a few wrenches and air tools and that got me started on this project. Since then, Big Mike has been filling up my tool box week after week with both new and used tools that he or the RSO Crew have duplicates of. I would have never thought in a million years that I would want tools before shoes but that is exactly the case (for the moment at least). Now, I'm not saying that I'd turn down a new pair of shoes, that's just crazy talk but Big Mike took care of that too with a new pair of Safety Girl Steel Toed Work Boots. I do have the best of both worlds.