1981 CJ7 Restoration - 2021.09.18

Put in another long day on the Jeep. I finished the build of the original engine, save for a few errant bolts from the Totally Stainless engine kit that didn't work out, so I'll have to search for fasteners, again. I swear I've spent $200 on excess fasteners to get what I need and will keep adding to the pile. However, it's good to have fasteners on hand.

The other big project is mounting the new motor. I am attempting this solo, so we'll see how this goes and if I can get this done.

First up is the positioning of the head gasket on the original motor. The machinist suggested cutting the heads off of two  7-16"-14 bolts that are long enough to slide through the head. These are used to align the head gasket and align the head as it is lowered onto the block.

Head gasket placed and aligned with the makeshift studs. This type of gasket, from Fel-Pro, has a fibrous coating to conform to minor surface imperfections, so it goes on dry. I cleaned the mating surfaces with brake cleaner, let it dry, then placed the head gasket. Since the head and block were decked, I think we're good here.

The front left head bolt hole goes right through to where the water pump mounts, so this has to be sealed. I used back RTV here and will also coat the head bolt threads when I'm ready to install it.

Just to be super careful, I used my engine hoist to lift and level the head above the block and very carefully lower it. Worked out great!

In a previous post I noted the exact placement of each head bolt and thankfully I managed to keep them stored that way and not have any fall out of my cardboard "map." I installed them according to the tightening pattern noted in the service manual which starts in the center and spirals outward. Each bolt thread got a touch of oil, as well as the undersides of the bolt heads. Torque was set to 85 ft-lbs.

Next come the push rods and rocker arms. I didn't realize it initially, but the machinist had numbered the rocker arm bridges, so I kept it consistent and installed them, 1 through 6, front to back.

All lined up and rocker arms only touch the ends of the valve stems, as required. If this is not the case, it has to be addressed.

To get closer to really finishing off this engine, I installed the thermostat (180-degree Edelbrock), the thermostat housing and the water pump. The Totally Stainless bolt kit for the thermostat housing didn't work out for this engine. The hardware is very nice, but the long bolt wasn't long enough and the place where the short bolt goes is taken up by a stud on my block, and it seems to be a 5/16" fine thread.

Finally, after 3 years, the original motor is rebuilt. It's all back together and ready for storage. It was recommended to me that I spray the internals with Sta-Bil 22001 Fogging Oil, which acts as a preservative and rust preventative. I hope it works since I don't see running this engine for many many years.

One motor done, one more to go.

Now I'm on to installing the new motor into the chassis. Moving things around was quite easy with the engine hoist - one of the most useful things in my garage.

Almost in position.

One of the joys of DIY is learning how NOT to do things. I'd gotten the motor to line up with the transmission input shaft and slide all the way back, but then quickly realized that installing the cover plate that goes between the engine and bell housing isn't a simple drop in.

When I received the motor, it did not have the dowel pins to slide into the bell housing and align things. These pins also take out any excessive slop in the fit so that parts don't wear out prematurely.

After staring at the back of the engine for 10 minutes I realized that the only way to get this plate on is to remove the clutch and flywheel - OR, I can knock out the dowel pins and install new ones since I had the presence of mind to order a spare set. So, I wrenched/tapped them out, got the plate on, tapped in the new ones and got going again. I'm really glad I didn't have to remove the clutch and flywheel.

Bell housing plate installed, as well as new dowel pins.

Getting the bell housing plate on was the smaller of my issues with mounting the engine. To be "proactive," I thought I'd tighten down the frame-side engine mounts since they really shouldn't move at all. Well, long story short, when M.O.R.E. says in their instructions not to tighten anything until everything is positioned and connected, they mean do not tighten ANYTHING! It's amazing how tiny movements here and there allow things to fall into place and get lined up. The real trick was loosening the frame-side mounts, yes, the ones I tightened ahead of the install. Having these loose really provides a lot of flexibility and may even have allowed me to drop the engine down and flex the frame outward slightly to get everything in to position - just a theory.

I can't believe how long this took me, but live and learn. I would guess it took me 3 hours to really get the motor situated it the mounts. Doing things the first time always take a longer than anticipated and I've learned a lot from this.

One more thing. One of the bolts for the driver's side engine mount plate is different than the rest of the 3/8"-16 bolts. It's an M12-1.25mm! WTF? Why is there a metric bolt on my Jeep block?

Finally got the engine mounted.

2021.09.18 - 1981 CJ7 Restoration - Engine Mounting Time-Lapse

If it isn't one thing it's another. After what appears to be a successful motor installation, something just didn't seem right with the transmission mount. I had unbolted the skid plate to give me enough movement to mount the engine, but now the transmission mount won't line up with the holes in the skid plate to secure it.

Funny thing, and this goes back to my theory of things settling with the weight of the motor, I decided to take the skid plate off again to just get a good look at things, and it went back on easier than it has so far. It's never gone on this easily, so I kind of think something changed with the frame geometry when the weight of motor was allowed to rest in the mounts. There is still interference with the bolt threads, though.

I'm not sure what to do, but I got some useful suggestions from the Northern Virginia Jeep Forum where a kind member replied advising that I should try to loosen everything again, even the motor mounts, and see if that gives me enough movement to get all the bolts in. I'll give it shot.

Just a little off - uggh.


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