Wednesday, August 30, 2017

1951 Belair: engine complete

According to Wikipedia, the 1951 version of this motor was likely a 216 cubic inch variant with siamesed head (3 intake ports, 4 exhaust), 4-bearing crank, and splash lubrication for the big ends, making 90 horsepower. The bigger 235 unit, with fully pressurised lubrication, was used in trucks and in cars with PowerGlide transmissions; the 3-speed manual cars finally got the 235 in 1954. In a very interesting little tidbit, Wikipedia claims the engine made it into Bedford trucks in Britain, which Austin then copied for its own line of trucks. The Austin copy, with fully pressurised lubrication, eventually wound up in 6-cylinder Healeys! I had no idea. I'll bear this in mind when I build up my EmHar model of the Bedford.

The engine came together well, although I got lazy and used a distributor from the parts people (with two wires cut off). For the distributor mount, I drilled into the front cover at about 45 degrees from vertical on the left side. In theory this would work at 1:1, using a skew gear driven off the crank; in practice getting the right ratio might be challenging, and it would also mean lengthening the timing cover as the distributor drive presently sticks straight through the timing chain. But hey, these are minor details for the 1:1 guys to work out.

The intake trumpets are Detail Master parts, drilled and pinned to the manifold with 1/32" brass rod. I left the brass rod sticking out to the ends of the trumpets to mimic a venturi, although I suspect the Hilborn system didn't have these.

The Fisher labeling on the valve cover came up really well with some dilute black paint. And the header is lovely. I can't imagine the stock distributor surviving underneath the manifold for very long, though.

So overall it's moving along well. The chassis is next which will involve some thought, as the trunk floor now becomes the rear package shelf. There will also be a decision as to opening and hinging the tailgate and rear window. The standard setup is three rows of seats, the second being narrow to allow people (children I am assuming) to crawl through the right side to the back. So seats for 7 or 8 if you don't carry too much luggage.

These cars were known as Tin Woodies, as the wood siding was painted on, unlike the previous generation (up to about 1950) which had actual wood in a decorative if not structural application. There are cars out there that have been converted to real woodies, at great expense, and with excellent results. Rather than dechroming and customising the wagon body, I think I'll build it stock except for the engine, lowered chassis and maybe a surfboard. I'll go for the wood, and maybe even the fender skirts from the AMT kit.

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