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Thread: Creation of the Red Baron - Phase 4: Power

  1. #1
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Creation of the Red Baron - Phase 4: Power

    In this thread I will attempt to document the design, fitment and build-up of the power plant in the red car. With some pics and details of planning, collecting assorted parts, machining, fitting and assembly along the way. These pics and details are not necessarily in time order, so things may appear out of order. I'm sure most of y'alls can deal with that.

    Original plan:
    - 325-350 WHP
    - Pump petrol (which means 91 ACN octane petrol)
    - 7500 MAX RPM
    - 2.3L Turbo sized clutch
    - T5 gearbox

    Some engine inspection pics after coming back from block machining. Started with an 86 SVO block and bored it to hold 3.810" (+.030") forged pistons from Race Engineering, bushed full-floating Crower rods at 5.5" CtC with a .927" pin size, and a thin moly faced top ring (0.047"), 0.047" second ring and a 3-piece PC-style oil control ring set.
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    The bottom end is studded and strapped with an RE lightened 2.5L crank. Since the crank is a small journal and the block is a large journal design, spacers are required to fit the crank main bearings. These spacers must be align-bored as a set after the main caps are machined for the straps.

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    Note machined (lightened) counterweights and balanced crankshaft. Pic of stock 2.5L crank is shown in Post 3 below.

    Img_3722.jpg
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    Dbearing.jpg
    db2.jpg
    Img_3769.jpg
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  2. #2
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    One of the 2.3-2.5L main bearing spacer shell after align boring.
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    Test fitment of rotating assembly, rods, & pistons.
    Strapped.jpg

    After all the assorted inspections were done (bearing clearance checks, piston-to-wall checks, deck height for each rod/piston combination, cc'ing everything, ring fitting, all gasket surfaces lapped, all thread holes chased, etc.) it's time to clean and paint.
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    Lapping plate and compound on head gasket surface.
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    Washing/scrubbing. Lather, rinse, repeat - scrubbing each and every oil passage.
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    Assorted cleaning implements. Img_4053.jpgImg_4054.jpg

    Dry. Note all previous paint was removed so surface rust will show up almost immediately.
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    Bag to dry over night.
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    Mask and paint outside of block.
    IMG_4059.jpg
    IMG_4060.jpg
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  3. #3
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Mask and paint inside of engine.
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    Cleaning/prepping of assorted engine parts. Running a bottoming tap (12x1.0mm) in the flywheel bolt mounting holes and polishing the rear main seal surface.
    Img_3991.jpg
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    Lightened 2.5L crank.

    Img_4028.jpg

    Stock 2.5 crank.

    51692503-Slide6.JPG
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  4. #4
    Half Boost SVOC's Avatar
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    Very nice

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    Originally Posted by Meotchh
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    Anyone who owns an SVO belongs in a Psychiatric hospital.

  5. #5
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    I started with a new (as in newly released) Esslinger D-Port aluminum head. I was told by Esslinger it flowed better - as cast, out of the box - than any iron head they had ported. I was also told it would be specially custom machined to work with the cam specs I intended to use - which was a 0.575" valve lift roller profile. Needless to say what I received was not at all what I was expecting. Sure it was aluminum, but the chamber and seat machining were extremely rough, the retainers contacted the stem seals at 0.450" (which means it wouldn't even be right for a stock lift cam), the casting material is extremely soft (can easily mark it with a fingernail and its' full of bubbles), and the flow numbers were disappointing - lower than the mildly-ported iron head I was replacing (not to mention that we couldn't measure to 0.600" lift because it wasn't properly machined).

    In any case my machinist talked me into fixing it locally (for a fee!) rather than sending it back to Esslinger (for either repair or a complete refund!) so here's some "as-received" pics.

    Chamber2.jpg
    ExhaustPort.jpg
    FordLogo.jpg
    Image1.jpg
    Image2.jpg
    IntakeCoolant.jpg
    LifterBore.jpg
    RearBearing.jpg
    SideView.jpg
    SparkPlug.jpg

    Yes, those are monstrous dual springs.

    TowerSpringBolt.jpg
    UpperView.jpg

    Some chamber and port close-ups, without valves.
    ]
    04.jpg
    08.jpg
    09.jpg
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  6. #6
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    If you have lots of extra cash and time and are willing to take what Esslinger delivers to a qualified machinist and porter to have it "fixed", then go ahead and get one. The ports need work - the exhausts aren't round, straight or large enough; the valve seats are very rough with lots of sharp edges, the steps into the chamber surface are really bad and the steps in/out of the ports are very rough, with sharp angles; the guide ends in the ports are rough castings and not centered in the airflow path.

    This is the only one I've personally seen and touched. However the castings are the same for all of them (95% of the ports are as-cast) and the chambers, valve pockets, seat inserts, etc. are all CNC machined so - except for minor tool wear when cutting soft aluminum - all should be exactly the same.

    So I *expect* it's typical but I don't have hard evidence to support that. Unless they've made some design changes from "customer feedback".

    Pics after Jeff worked it over.

    02.jpg
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    03-04.jpg
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    07.jpg
    08-05.jpg
    09.jpg
    10.jpg
    11.jpg
    RearBearing-01.jpg
    11.jpg
    SeatEdges.jpg
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  7. #7
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Pics after machining, cleaning.

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    Notice what looks like a dusting of white powder? That's the bubble holes in the casting.

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    More white specs.

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    Intake side has nut-serts installed for the 8x1.25mm holes. No nut-serts anywhere else.

    Img_4580.jpg

    Time for paint.

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  8. #8
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Another minor issue I was not informed about. All of the intake and exhaust bolt threads are the same metric size as a stock iron head. The oil galley plugs are 1/4 pipe same as an iron head. But the cam cover bolt holes are 1/4-20 (versus the iron head size of 6x1mm)???

    So I have to source different bolts for that. Here's what I obtained from ARP, in shiny SS. And, No, that's not the cam cover going into this build. We will cover that one later.

    Img_5327.jpg
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    Head assembly. Iinstall the Allen head screws into the tops of the cam towers with a bit of teflon tape.

    Img_4597.jpg

    Install a valve, seat, seal (with condom to keep from tearing the inside seal area), then the spring/retainer set.

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    Finished valve/seal/spring/retainer/keeper set install. Seven more to go.

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    Some light springs for mapping the cam lobes and checking piston-to-valve clearance.

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    Front seal. Note two threaded holes for button head screws to retain the seal body.

    Img_4614.jpg

    I'll leave this here - out of order, naturally. Measuring the #4 main bearing size with a 3-point bore gauge. More better, more accurate, & more expensive.

    Img_4180.jpg
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  9. #9
    Half Boost
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    Mike, aren't you worried about all of those little bubbles??? That seems a little strange to me.
    Also, I thought you were not supposed to paint aluminum heads?? At least that is what I was always told.

  10. #10
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Mike, aren't you worried about all of those little bubbles??? That seems a little strange to me.
    Yep. it's a very sh1tty casting for sure. Overall I'm very disappointed with the lack of quality of the Esslinger aluminum head and do not recommend them - only game in town or not.

    Also, I thought you were not supposed to paint aluminum heads??
    I can't think of any reason to not paint it. It's not like it gets air cooled on the outside surfaces.
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  11. #11
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Assembly of main bearings, caps, traps, studs, etc. for measuring bearing bore sizes.

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    Implements of measure.

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  12. #12
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Measuring head chamber volume (with valves and spark plug installed). 59.6cc.

    Img_4537.jpg
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    And piston volume. -14.5cc.

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    Measuring crank end play. Target 0.003-0.006", actual 0.0045".

    Img_4257.jpg

    Always check the ring to piston groove before filing them. If it's tight in the goove, don't use it.

    Img_4256.jpg

    Fitting rings to the bores. End gap target for top two rings = 0.015-0.017", oil ring scrapers are set to 0.030". I bought this Childs & Albert ring grinder about 35 years. Been a good friend throughout the decades. Could be that I don't have many friends.

    Img_4231.jpg
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  13. #13
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Assembling the crank, bearings, caps, studs, straps, etc. into the block. Yes, it spins freely by hand.

    Img_4196.jpg

    < nap time - much more later >
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  14. #14
    Half Boost SVOC's Avatar
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    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    Originally Posted by Meotchh
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    Anyone who owns an SVO belongs in a Psychiatric hospital.

  15. #15
    Some Boost JTurbo's Avatar
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    Very nice! Keep 'em coming Mike!
    1979 Pace Car ~ 1982 GT T-Top
    1986 1C SVO ~ 1986 GT vert

  16. #16
    Moderator Bob Holmes's Avatar
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    All this for a trailer queen... (how about your engine in my racecar, then we'd be sure to beat that pesky Vince Rinner!)

    Great job Mike, your work is detailed and careful.

    The Esslinger head is unfortunate. Pushing out work that bad is not a great business move. Clearly running their tooling to fast, and the casting itself is not high quality. Did you experience any of the sinking head nut issues that have been reported?
    Enough of that, it was giving me a headache.

  17. #17
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    All this for a trailer queen... (how about your engine in my racecar, then we'd be sure to beat that pesky Vince Rinner!)
    That would put you over the 300HP/Ft-Lb limit. Or is there a special Grudge Match rule set for this special race event?

    Great job Mike, your work is detailed and careful.
    Gosh. Thanks!

    Did you experience any of the sinking head nut issues that have been reported?
    Indeed - everyone has. I have pics of the initial damage and a semi-solution coming later. It was virtually impossible to keep head stud clamping torque on this head as delivered. Every few heat cycles it needed to be re-tightened. Ten heat cycles and half of the studs were down below 45 Ft-Lb from an initial 105. Definitely not a product for a street car although it's kinda OK for a high-maintenace race car or trailer queen (in red shoes!) if you're not afraid of high-maintenance engines (or women). The most common failure form is compression/combustion gasses getting into the coolant when the head lifts - since all those coolant passages surround each cylinder.

    The semi-solution we implemented made it more stable, but the material is still very soft and continues to crush. I cannot recommend this piece for a street car.

    Grrr...

    The interesting part is that I've worked with aluminum heads on automotive and motorcycle street and race engines for over 40 years and have NEVER seen a head bolt washer area sink like this in any other application. I would be totally embarrassed to release a product like this one.
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  18. #18
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    The machined shafts in the head where the bolts/studs go through collapse and crush in under the combined load of having the head bolted down and heat cycling. How much it collapses just due to tightening the bolts is not known. Some pics of the damage. Note that some of the shaft walls were collapsed onto the studs - had to literally use a puller to extract them.

    Some sample pics of sunken holes. You can see how the soft aluminum material crushes down and curls into the bolt holes.
    Img_9542.jpg
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    Head disassembled & ready for machining.
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    Have to use an 8" plus length cutter with a centering adapter to stay in the hole to clear the cam towers.
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    A finished stepped hole.
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    Time to flatten the head gasket surface
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    Lather, scrub, rinse, repeat.
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  19. #19
    Red Captain MikeFleming's Avatar
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    Hardened ARP stepped washer insert.
    Img_9846.jpg
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    Machined step hole and washer in hole.
    Img_9905.jpg
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    A curious side track here. With a shorted deck (milled) head and/or block, it's necessary to check that the alignment dowels are short enough to work together with the head and block. Remember the purpose of these dowels is to maintain perfect alignment between the head and block, whole coincidentally holding the head gasket in alignment during assembly.

    A stock and a shortened head alignment dowel. I shortened these to allow the head to be bolted down to the block - otherwise the dowels would have held up the exhaust side up by about 0.20".
    IMG_4645.jpg
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  20. #20
    Some Boost JTurbo's Avatar
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    I'd be afraid to run that head....
    1979 Pace Car ~ 1982 GT T-Top
    1986 1C SVO ~ 1986 GT vert

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