These days, not much surprises Davin when it comes to events in the engine assembly room. Elements outside his control, however, can provide an entertaining change of pace. Take for instance the incorrect bearing size setback he discovered last week. His plan was to pivot to the transmission, but instead he got something unexpected. A surprise, but not such an unpleasant one.

The first set of bearings that were ordered ended up being too small for the finished machined crankshaft, but a replacement set arrived faster than expected and allowed progress to roll forward (almost) without a hiccup. We say “almost” because Davin might have had the proper bearings, but he lacked the proper tool to check the oil clearance on those bearings. Without micrometer that will do the job, he had to resort to a very basic tool that he doesn’t use often—Plastigauge.

“It’s not that Plastigauge is bad; it’s not,” said Davin about the measuring material. “It’s more that I find it to be a little inconsistent and I don’t have any way of confirming what it tells me with hard numbers.” No matter; it will have to do for this engine, since there is a bit of a deadline looming. Instructions for using this tool are simple: assemble the connecting rods to the crankshaft with a small piece of Plastigauge between the bearing cap and the crankshaft, torque everything down, then disassemble and use the Plastigauge package to determine the clearance. Davin first thought this engine to be a bit tight, but then he remembered that the journals on this crank are much smaller than he is used to.

With a few other parts already installed, the Mini engine is effectively sitting now at the short-block phase. The cylinder head is next, and if the rotating assembly was any indication that will come together quick. Or maybe there will be another odd hurdle? We don’t know, but regardless we will be back next week with another Redline Update. Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an oil-soaked minute.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The green paint on the Austin engine has dried and the infamous self-peeling tape has left the building, which means it’s assembly time for Davin. Of course, assembly is a lot more than just bolting things together, and this time around there are tips to be shared and lessons to be learned about why the engine assembly process is, well, a process.

The bare block is cleaned, painted, and ready for the fun part of installing the bottom end. Before Davin can go about pressing the cam bearings into place, he needs to reference the photos he took during disassembly. You hear him talk about taking reference photos before and during every rebuild, and it’s moments like this when they can make your life so much easier. The cam bearings have a few relief cuts and directional oil holes that need to be clocked correctly. A quick look at photos from disassembly makes the process fast.

Next up, it’s time to check the machine work. This isn’t Davin saying he doesn’t have faith in the team at the machine shop to do it correctly, but more of an assurance that once he starts putting pieces together everything will actually work. Bearings can be accidentally packaged wrong, measurements can be goofed, and if either one of those happens you want to know before you are trying to torque things down and wondering what happened. In this case, it comes down to confirming the rod bearings are incorrect. Davin was optimistic and ordered standard-sized bearings before dropping the crank off at the machine shop, where it was discovered that the rod journals would need to cut one size under after all.

That hiccup is not going to stop Davin from making progress though, and he pivots to installing the crank. Same process, measure the assembled bearings and fresh crankshaft to make sure that oil clearance is correct before slathering it all with assembly lube and torquing down the caps. It was also a quick projects to assemble the valves into the cylinder head before the roadblocks stacked up enough to hinder progress.

New bearings will be in shortly, so be sure to tune in next week to see the continued progress on this engine and the many other projects currently running in the Redline Garage.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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