"This engin is in the worse shape we have seen in awhile. It is by far the worst one we have ever tried to bring back to life."
The Leader spent much of its life in the state of Pennsylvania before going to Montana with a Jerry Landus and his Father Skip. After a few years out west the engin has ended up back in Ohio. On a Thursday, January 7th 1999, the engin was delivered to the garage door of my house. It had made over a 1700 mile trip and seen more states than most humans, but this in itself is another wonderful story. Upon arrival of the engin we started to give it a good look over. The engin deal was done over the internet and neither party was aware of what they where getting into. A big chunk is broken out of the head, the valves are frozen solid, the rocker arm had been broken but brazed, long ago. The rocker support was broken, the mag looks to be of no value as it is split due to the winter weathers and the bracket was broken. No babbit in the bearings, caps or lowers or con rod. The cap is missing from the conrod and it to is frozen solid and does not move in the piston, as well as the piston is stuck about 1/4 from the top of the stroke. The last thing of visual looks is that the crankshaft is very badly pitted.
Can this engin be saved? We think so. If you want, stick around and read as we will post everything that we do get done to it as we go along with pictures when they get processed. This will read like a diary and we hope you will enjoy it.
1) This morning we went out to the garage, it was 10 degrees outside and no heat inside, and took the wrench to the head bolts, 6 of them, of which 5 were still on the engin. All 5 nuts came off with no problem. Only 2 bolts holding the hopper onto the base, 2 are missing, and they came out. This might not be as bad as it looked. Went to take the bolts out of the mag-no luck. Ground the heads off and they still broke off in the back of the mag. As noted earlier the rocker arm had been broken so wanted to be very careful with this, the bolt would not budge. We took the grinder and ground the head of the bolt off and removed the arm. The first of many fires was lit in the hopper and it burned for about 1 1/2 hours. She does seem to be a toughy...
2) Today we built the fire and let her burn for about 5 hours in the engin, this will take time as it is cold out and very, very stuck. While the fire was burning we started taking out the head bolts. 4 of them came out fine and the other 2 want to be real snug, will try them again the next time as would really like to NOT break these off in the block. The brass drain plug was solid in the block and with the heat in the engin we decided to get it out and that is now done. It did need drilled and then hacksawed till it released. We also spent time cleaning out some of the crud in the bottom of the hopper and found that the lower side of the block has a 9 1/2 inch crack in it. This might be a problem...
3) Today with the fire in the piston we got the other 2 head studs out of the block, this is good. We chased out the bolt holes as they are 1/2-13 and seem to have weathered the engins life just fine. The first batch of soup, electrolysis, was started today and we needed to get cheaper soap as it did not work as it should. After getting the cheapest in the store we did get one heavy layer of rust off of the engin head, this thing is really rusted. Oh and the piston did not move yet but look for it to the next time or so that we work on it.
4) Today we cleaned the parts that had been in the soup already, head, rocker arm, mag bracket, and the rocker arm bracket (both pieces together). After boiling in the soup the parts come out with a black coat of gunk on them and need a good washing, a wire brush does a good job with this. Once the parts are scubbed we put them under some heat to dry the remaining water from them, now to remove a couple more bolts and to prime them with paint to prevent more rust. The head broken chunk is much worse than first thought. It is broken into the valve seat and also very badly pitted from the elements.
5) Leader used a valve body system in their engins and we did get one of them out with out much trouble. We took the impact wrench and a 1 1/4 socket and worked the intake out. Now the exhaust is of another story. Once the weather changes for the better we see we will need to boil the head again to maybe release the exhaust valve. We boiled the governor arm and got all but one bolt out of it, even the 10-24 set screw.
After 3 different fires in the block and my lack of patience we have decided to try and blow the piston out with grease. We obtained a 1" thick steel plate and marked and drilled the holes. Then cut a head gasket and bolted it together, after the third tube of grease the gasket let go and we started filling the hopper with grease. We pulled the plate and cleaned out some of the grease and again cut another head gasket and sealed this one. The next tube of grease was almost in when the second gasket let loose, we pulled the plate again and cleaned everything as good as we could and sealed the new gasket with sylicone, once again it let loose. We turned down a piece of wood to fit into the piston and sealed the plate once again, this time we thought we had it. A loud bang and we thought that maybe the piston had broken free, but the wood plug had snaped and this sounded like a gun firing. Still stuck and grease pumping back into the hopper once again.
We pulled the plate off and cleaned the grease out and once again built another fire in it.
6) We have now cut and wasted 3 head gaskets as we tried it one more time. This gasket was cut from the "GOOD" stuff and was permatexed and still blew out! We now have a 2 gallon bucket full of old grease and still a stuck piston. We have now split 4 different blocks that we had turned down and fitted into the engin. We have swung the BFH till our shoulders were hurting and have now went back to the fires.
Todays fire was built for 6 hours in the head and still no luck. So far we have burnt 2 gallon of brake fluid, 1 gallon of paint thinner, and 3 gallon of kerosene. This has been mixed with 3 quart of tranny fluid, and about 2 gallon of used oil. Total count on the no luck grease has been 12 tubes, all now inside the hopper and in the 2 gallon bucket.
Today we also found 2 more cracks in the block, one is in the head end of the block and might be fatal! Also for the first time the con-rod moved up and down some today as it has been frozen solid too. The good things of the fires is the bore is closer to the proper size as it is now opening up, closer to the 5 inch dia.
We found some new penatrating oil called "Panther Pi$$", this stuff does contain ammonia and is real foamy out of the can. We are unsure if it is any better than the rest but at this point anything is worth a shot.
We have been spaying the flywheels down every time we work on the piston and will continue this, also we have been trying to get any and all old bolts out of the base and other parts. Two bolts are out of the base and one has been drilled twice now and is close to the sawing and removing of it. The timming gear still will not budge and will be sprayed as often as the flywheels, the set screw has been drilled out and fluid is put down that hole for hopes of it getting in and around the shaft.
7) Here it is Tuesday the 16 of February, 1999 and we have had some real nice weather outside. Today we built the fire with luck and here is how this happened.
At about 9:00 am we went into the garage and got the engin out and blocked her up outside. We then put about 15lbs. of charcoal briquettes into the water hopper and sprayed them with starter fluid and lit it. We then got the portable air blower and set it in front of the block and plugged it in, moving air into the charcoal and creating a small forge effect. This fire burnt for about 1 1/2 hours until the hopper turned a glowing orange. We then unplgged and removed the blower and poured a 5 gallon bucket of water into the hopper! At this time we stood the engin on end and inserted the wooden plug and grabbed the BFH, a 12lb. sledge, and swung away. We split 3 different plugs and stopped as we were out of air and to check if it had moved... YES it had and we were now tired of hammering, it had moved about 1/8". We then loaded the block into the truck and headed for the ahbor press, after securing it in the press and inserting propper blocks, 4 1/2" steel plug, we started to lower the press onto the piston. This is a hydraulic press and is rated at 40 ton, we never exceed 5 ton and that was when it was into the lower end of coming out. The piston did moan and groan and did not slide easy but it did come out better than was expected.
After the piston was out and with some visual inspection it looks as thou the penatrates had never made it to the rings, or the fire had evaporated it from around the piston. The bore, where the piston sat, looks good and the lower end seems to not be bad, some pitting but maybe not into the ring travel. The upper end is still rough, but the piston does not travel this far and a good honing might be enough to make it a good block to use as is.
This, to me, was a very important milestone as now we know just how bad the block was and also that the piston is in reusable shape. We did take more pics and need to get the film developed so as to be able to post them for all who wants to see. We will now keep spraying the flywheels and start working harder on the bolts in the engin that still remain and the other stuck parts.
8) The pictures have been developed and here are some of them, we will just number them and you can click onto them and back to the next. (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11). They are in no real order but you can see the piston is out and does not look bad.