Series II, Part 3: Cracking Into The Head

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Progress on my 1959 Series II continues, this time by cracking open the heart of the beast and removing the head along with the help of Bryan and a few other friends along the way. The reason we chose to tackle this job at this point is because it would give us a look at the internals to gauge the health of everything inside the block. We figured that if there were any problems inside the block, it might not be worth working on anything else.

As we began removing all of the ancillary components that attach to the engine, things became more complicated. With the valve cover removed and the camshaft assembly still bolted in place, we assumed we had everything except for the coolant temp sensor removed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t remove it without first taking out the radiator. Finally, with the radiator removed, the sensor came out of the block, and we attempted to remove the head…with a small sledge hammer. Nothing.

It wouldn’t budge, not even the slightest. We stared at the head, assuming that after almost sixty years in service it must be thoroughly rusted to the block. If you’ve ever removed the head from a Series truck, you probably already realize what we were doing wrong. With some help from our handy Haynes manual, we learned that the entire camshaft assembly must be removed, because the bolts that hold it in place go through the head down into the block. Lesson learned: Read the manual before embarking on a project, not during or after.


The old head gasket removed; New head gasket from Bearmach installed

With the assembly very carefully removed (I had momentary fears of the entire assembly exploding in every direction), the head came off the block faster than you can say Solihull. With great relief, the cylinders and pistons looked to be in good condition. Before we could reassemble the head, we thought it best to run a thin film of automatic transmission fluid into the cylinders to give them a rinse and provide some much-needed lubrication to the pistons and cylinder walls should the crank need to be turned. A few weeks later, with the help of some other friends, I placed the new Bearmach head gasket in place and got everything bolted back together, being sure to follow the torque specs per the Haynes manual.

Now that this job is done, we’ll next be rebuilding the Weber ICH34 carburetor that looks like it could use some love.


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