3.8 LITRE COUPE
This vehicle came initially for a rear axle rebuild, as the owner was concerned that the transmission noise was excessive. The car has done over 100,000 miles and although the bodywork was in good condition, the interior, engine and mechanical components were a little tired. After some diagnosis, the noise was found to be gearbox related, and along with a few other issues, it was decided that the time had come to bring this iconic vehicle up to concours condition.
The interior was to be retrimmed in Connolly Vomol black leather, new hand made black carpets along with an alloy panel above the centre console. The engine was to be fully rebuilt with some performance upgrades, and fully rebuilt/reconditioned the gearbox. In addition the engine frame was to be removed, shot blasted and repainted. And of course, the rear axle.
The engine was remove from the vehicle, and stripped down ready for machining. On first inspection, the internals looked to be reasonable, if not a little tired, and so the block was sent away to be rebored. The head was to have new valve guides along with hardened seats for use with unleaded fuel.
However! Things were about to get a whole lot worse! The cylinders had already been bored to +20" oversize at some point in the cars life, and would only bore one more time to the maximum of +40".
Unfortunately after boring, the cylinders didn't clean up properly, as the wear on the walls of the cylinders was more than is allowed. So a decision was made to replace all the liners with new ones, which although isn't a cheap exercise, it did mean the block was back to as new dimensions. The corrosion on the core plugs was another factor, but these were subsequently machined to remove any damage.
The cylinder head was a different story. If you watch the video below, you will see the extent of the corrosion. It was so bad, that the water jacket on number one cylinder had eroded away to such an extent, you can see through to the inlet port. Although this could have been repaired, you have to ask yourself a question, "what were the other five cylinders like" The car lived in Spain for twenty years, and I can only imagine that it was run with no antifreeze in the cooling system, and the cylinder head had simply rotted away. I guess its fifty severn years were finally catching up with it.
Fortunately I managed to source another cylinder head from a 3.8 E Type which wasn't corroded, and that was then vapour blasted, fitted with new guides, seats and ported to improve the air flow. Various other upgrades were to be done, which included some new 285º camshafts, a proper oil seal on the back of the engine instead of the original rope seal, and a better exhaust header pipe. As the story unfolds, you will see some of the other upgrades that were included in the build.
The crankshaft was ground +10" and modified to accept the new rear oil seal arrangement. All the alloy components were vapour blasted, or shot blasted and stove enamelled.
Above is the reground crankshaft, which now looks like a new one. Bottom right is the new oil seal modification which comes with a new casting that bolts onto the rear of the block, replacing the old one. In order for it to work, the rear part of the crankshaft is machined to accept the new seal. This modification stops the continuous oil leak that is so common with the original seal.
Below is the bell housing that has been vapour blasted, and all the other alloy components have also been treated in the same manner.
The picture on the left shows the block being bored to accept the new liners.. Below shows the extent of the corrosion on the core plugs. It's a relatively easy job to rectify the problem, and the video shows them being bored out slightly larger.
After the block had been bored, it became clear that at some point, two of the cylinders had oversized liners fitted. We aren't sure why this was done, but it meant that new specially made liners needed to be installed. This was a very unexpected discovery, so there were two choices really, another block or new liners. A 3.8 litre block is a rare thing to source, and even if you do find one, the is no knowing what state is is in. So the decision was made to reline the original block with the specially made liners. This has two benefits, the engine numbers remain original, and the block becomes as new, with factory fresh bores and pistons. Although not a cheap exercise, it means that the engine will be a blueprinted perfect example, with all new internals. The liners that are being used have a top hat shape to ensure no leaks and a perfect finish on the top of the block. Below shows the machined recesses to accept the new liners.
The cylinder head is then machined to accept the new exhaust valve seats. These are made of hardened steel which enables the engine to be run on unleaded fuel without the seats being damaged. The head is bored to accept the new seat, then the seats are cooled so they shrink, then they are pressed into the head. Once all the seats have been fitted, they are machined to fit the exhaust valve. The valve guides have also been replaced so the finished head should be as new.
The cylinder head being cleaned up, just a couple of thou taken off the mating face, leaving a perfect finish.
New followers are installed along with two new camshafts. The cams are 285º Kent profiles which should give a nice strong mid range without sacrificing a smooth idle. The two shots below show the completed head, that is ported, new cam bearings and a complete set of new valves and springs. The head will be stove enamelled gold, and the front portion will be mirror polished. There will be new chrome dome head nuts, complemented with hight polished cam covers. The end result should look stunning.
The block completely refurbished with the new liners and the front cover fitted. The top of the block was decked with the cover in place so the top of the engine is perfectly flat. The next task will be to prepare the block for painting. The paint is a special material designed for the purpose, and the whole block will be gloss black. The head will be stove enamelled gold, and the front part of the casting polished. All the steel components have been stove enamelled, and many parts nickel plated.
The cylinder head on an E Type is very visible when the bonnet is opened, and is perhaps the most visually important part of the engine. As such, great care has been taken to make sure it is as perfect as possible. The front of the head has been reshaped, to remove as much of the uneven shape in the casting as is practical. The surface was then prepared with progressively finer paper down to 3000 grade. (Below left)
Then the surface was polished to a mirror finish, and rest of the head was then stove enamelled gold . The rocker covers will then be mirror polished to match the head, and complete the transformation.
The picture on the left, shows the crankshaft installed in the block with five of the seven main bearings fitted. At the rear of the engine. you can see the newly installed alloy crankshaft oil seal upgrade. This replaces the old original version that used a rope type of seal. Initially it works, but over a period of time these types of seal harden and leak, resulting in engine oil dripping down the back of the engine onto the floor. This new modification uses a conventional oil seal that cures the problem, resulting in a dry engine. The crankshaft has to be machined in order for it to fit, but it is a simple task that is done when the crankshaft is ground. Below shows the six new high compression pistons fitted to the block.
It's not very often that you find a stone in the bottom of your gearbox, but that was exactly what had happened here. How it got there, no one knows, but it has certainly caused a few issues. Below is first gear, which is in a very poor condition and has in turn, damaged the lay gear cluster. Both these items will need to be replaced with new or serviceable items, but they are very difficult to find. The input bearing was badly worn which is easy to source, but luckily the rest of the gearbox was in reasonable condition, certainly good enough to be used again. There will be new bearings and seals throughout, and the casing will be painted to match the engine.