Madd Matt – The Re-Birthen-ing (part 2)

When last we left off it was mid-December.  We had gotten seats in the car, gotten some freebies, had a mockup motor and the t10 trans in the car and had another motor on the stand getting built.

While on the stand I started cobbling together the front accessory drive.  Dug through my parts stash and found a Jeep alternator mount, crank and water pump pulley and the power steering bracket and pump. Test fit it all and it seemed good.  I also plugged the thermostat housing bypass hole with a pipe plug. Then I flipped the motor upside down and installed the oil pan Andy modified. Basically the angled part at the back of the sump is cut off and boxed in straight. We checked the capacity after doing this mod.  Added 1.25 quarts so the pan is 5.25 total instead of the stock 4 quarts. This mod was a LOT of work and makes you really consider the aftermarket pans that cost $400… At this point the “real” motor was ready to go in.

So, we pulled the mockup motor and T10.  The transmission needed the speedo hole plugged so I dug an old speedo cable out of the shed and cut off the cable.  Next we installed the flywheel on the motor and I went to install a new 10.5” clutch I had. I had bought it for a 6 cylinder and for some reason I thought it would work on the 8 but it didn’t fit. Called Doyle and he had a used but good pressure plate and clutch disc.  After some sanding the pressure plate was clean and ready to go. Got the clutch bolted to the flywheel and the bellhousing bolted tothe motor and got the motor into the car! Then we installed the T10. I had gotten the transmission crossmember sorted when the mockup motor was in so that just bolted up again.

In addition to all the motor work we started tackling lots of other jobs.  The rear axles were pulled and got new bearings pressed on (thanks Doyle!).  We also decided to paint the zoomies on the exhaust since it was out of the car.  While the car was on the lift I got a look inside the header collector and realized it was STUFFED.  Must have been a mouse nest. Checked the other side and same thing. Got all that junk out of there.  

Next I started getting the plumbing sorted up front. I was going to use stock hoses but for some reason the Champion aluminum radiator that is supposed to be a direct fit for Javelins has larger than stock upper AND lower tubes.  So I had to order a flex for the upper. That was easy enough. The lower proved to be MUCH harder to sort out. I had to go from 1 ¾” on the pump to 2” on the radiator. I ordered a few hoses and was really having a hard time. I finally came up with a 2” 90* and a 2” to 1 ¾” reducer for the pump side.  Packaging is really hard in this area with a larger than stock mechanical fuel pump. I have a similar issue in the race Javelin. Really makes me want to go with either an electric fuel pump or electric water pump to make the routing easier. But at the same time I like not having another failure point with more electric devices on the car… what to do?

Ok, next up we needed a shifter arm.  The T10 came with a chrome arm which did not come close to reaching where we needed it.  In the spirit of the budget build I found some tube I had laying around and bent it in my vise.  Then welded that to an ?” plate I cut and drilled so I can bolt it to the shifter. And welded a bolt in the other end so I can thread on the shift knob.  Don’t know if this will last long term but we’ll see. I’m at least going to paint it at some point.

Continuing with getting the cockpit sorted I bought and installed a rear view mirror.  And even though Andy and I spent a lot of time getting the seating position sorted I ran into a problem.  Don’t know why but after the seat was re-installed and I got the shifter in I was unable to move my leg from the gas pedal to the brake without hitting the steering wheel.  The wheel that came with the car is an impossibly huge 17” bus wheel. So I broke down and splurged for a smaller, dished, bad-ass aluminum steering wheel. Now I can move my right leg no problem.  And it looks absolutely killer!

However, all was not perfect.  After installing the home made shift arm I found I could not get the shifter into gear.  I took a look and realized the shift arms were not adjusted properly. Spent some time watching videos from GearBoxVideo (Paul Cangialosi) on youtube. Great channel for transmission content.  Also ordered a set of bushings and springs. Got all that installed and adjusted properly (not so easy with the trans in the car) and now we can get all the gears!

It’s GO TIME!  Ok, after a few months work it was FINALLY time to try to fire up the car.  Doyle and Andy came over and we started prepping. First we put water in the radiator.  Almost immediately it started leaking slightly from both head gaskets 🙁 we had already filled the engine with oil and used a drill to prime the system.  Great news we got 60 psi! We put 5 gals of 91 octane in the fuel cell and went to crank the motor to get fuel up to the carb. Oops… starter would not engage the flywheel.  I had bolted up a “mini” starter I got off a v8 wagoneer when I picked up a 360 at the pick n pull. I’m not really sure why but the bottom line is the starter was too short so the gear was never meshing.  Luckily I had a stock starter new in the box that came with the ‘71 sst Javelin I had bought years ago. Only problem is I didn’t have a starter solenoid in the car as the mini-starter has an on-board solenoid.  I did have a solenoid in the parts bin though so we just wired it up temporarily.

With that problem solved it was time to let ‘er rip!  Cranked until there was fuel in the carb and then plugged the distributor wire on and pushed the button.  It cranked and cranked and didn’t want to fire. A couple of times it coughed and we thought it was going to light but no.  Doyle was messing with the distributor because it seemed like the issue was timing. Well after a lot of cranking it finally lit off!  YAY!!!! I was so stoked. We hadn’t put the full exhaust back on so it was open headers. MAN it was LOUD. It sounded like a top fuel dragster.  I was on cloud nine. But confused as to why it sounded so mean. This is still a 8.25 – 8.5 compression motor. But it sounded FULL RACE. We had it at 2000 rpm to break in the cam.  Got about 3 minutes in and steam started coming from the radiator cap (cap was on). I felt like the motor had not been running long enough to get hot so I grabbed a rag and went to pull it off…. WOW!  The instant I got the cap loose WHOOOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thing exploded like Vesuvious.  

Got splashed a little but really the water was not that hot (not scalding anyway) yet was under a TON of pressure.  Magically I got the whole thing on VIDEO 🙂

Sigh… I had wanted this to be a cheap and quick build and we just got hit with a major setback.  It’s so hard to get to the point of firing a car and then realize you have to take it all apart again…  We looked at each other for a few minutes and then grabbed tools and tore the whole motor apart. We could clearly see that the valves were hitting the pistons!  I had intentionally installed the cam advanced but Doyle says I did it wrong and the motor was way too advanced (hence the valve/piston collision). Doyle says he’ll check the heads for flatness and probably get them shaved.  

So that’s where we’re at.  The car is “ready” except for a motor.  Hopefully we can get the heads flat and the timing set on right and reassemble the motor soon for another try. Stay tuned!

aw hell…

1974 Matador-road race, Drive Train, video

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