The 1950 Chevrolet 3600 pickup set to donate its heart to the Redline Rebuild garage put up a fight simply to leave the spot where it was slowly returning to the earth. So you might be surprised to hear that Davin immediately wants to see if the straight-six will run, with minimal time investment. It’s in the shop—so why not, right?

“This series of engine is known to be durable as all heck,” says Davin. “It looked pretty complete and nothing I saw on first glance said it shouldn’t run. Seemed like a fun thing to try.”

Luckily, he takes us along for the adventure of getting the long-decaying engine turning again. After creating some space by removing the radiator and hood, Davin pops the hood off. With a fresh six-volt battery in the battery box, a push of the start button actually brings motion.

Fresh plugs replace the tractor plugs in the cylinder head, and, while the plugs are out, the cylinders get a quick shot of PB Blaster to break up any accumulated rust. Of course, to find out whether the electrical system is healthy enough to throw a hot spark, Davin connects the coil while cranking the engine. Unfortunately, the first time he connects the power to the coil, he uses his right arm as a conductor. Ouch.

“I don’t know what’s worse about shocking myself then—that I did it, or that I know it’ll happen again at some point in the future. I even know better!” declares Davin when I ask him about the zap.

With a smooth rumble the trusty engine thrums to life, if only because of the raw gas Davin’s pouring down the carb throat like a sad automotive version of foie gras. The Chevy rejects just enough with a backfire that it spits a flame right over the roof. Let’s just say the straight-six was celebrating its new life with some fireworks.

Once the engine fires off and avoids burning down, it’s off to the races to get the 216 pulled from the truck. A few bolts required the heat of a torch, something to be expected with any truck that has been used as a workhorse at some point in its life.

A quick cleanup in the parking lot shows an engine with some real potential. Will it be as nice inside as out? We’ll find out on the next Redline Update, because Davin will be breaking out the wrenches to prep this engine for the machine shop.

Be sure to subscribe to Hagerty’s YouTube channel to receive updates with each video that goes live.

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You know Davin Reckow and the rest of the Hagerty video crew are in for a whole heap of work on the next Redline Rebuild project when the first tool they use is a shovel.

The crew was preparing to pluck this truck from a treasure trove of cars not far from Hagerty headquarters in Traverse City, Michigan.

The truck was first discovered by Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter while he looked through a treasure trove of cars not far from Hagerty headquarters in Traverse City, Michigan. Davin tagged along during that episode and noticed a 1950 Chevy five-window truck that looked to be worth saving.

Davin’s rescue mission didn’t have a great start, however. In the way was a fifth-generation Thunderbird showing previous rust repair on the quarter panels, and it was nearly ripped in two when it was unceremoniously hauled out by the rear axle. Although the T-bird was parked for less time than the truck, its lower stance and apparent predisposition for corrosion did it in. Davin remained hopeful about the truck, even as the Thunderbird was loaded onto a flatbed and hauled off.

With the route to extraction and resurrection prepped, Davin dug out the truck’s rocker panels so that it too could be dragged onto the flatbed. Ever upbeat, Davin commented, “I prefer to look at is as clearing paths for new opportunities.”

Once the truck was on the flatbed, Davin was able to take a better look, and the project appears promising. The truck is currently residing in Hagerty’s garage, where its six-cylinder awaits the next step. “The truck is here,” Davin said. “I can’t promise anything after that, but we’re gonna give it our best shot!”

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The Redline Rebuild team has been busy. In the past few months, at least three engines have spewed their parts onto just about every flat surface in the shop. The Ford Model A is the last of the trio to get put back together, and thankfully, no parts went missing in the flurry of engine rebuilds that have filled special projects editor Davin Reckow’s days and weeks. Davin sat down with lead videographer Ben Woodworth to discuss the details behind the build.

Davin and the Model A engine have a bit of history, as he was team lead for Hagerty’s 2016 Swap to Street build, where this car was brought to life with parts located at the Hershey Fall Swap Meet. In less than 100 hours, the team took the car from a rolling chassis to driving from Pennsylvania to Hagerty headquarters in Traverse City, Michigan. A massive oil leak from the rear of the engine kept it from completing the journey.

“The car just going to waste in the corner,” Davin says. “It was really fun to drive, but the amount of oil it was putting on the ground was just unacceptable. I thought it would make a fun around-town errand car for the shop, but that meant the engine was going to have to come out and get refreshed.”

The 200-cubic-inch inline-four got more than a refresh. The tear-down showed no significant damage, but refreshing this pre-war mill is more complicated than ordering parts from a catalog—a road trip was required.

“We could have mailed the engine block and connecting rods down to the machine shop and got back ready-to-use parts,” Davin says, “but I was honestly curious as to how the babbitting process worked.”

The process of pouring the new main and connecting rod bearings is really the highlight of this rebuild. For that process, the engine was taken to Ron’s Machine Shop in Shandon, Ohio. Once there, all the machine work was completed, in addition to the babbitt bearings.

Never one to leave well enough alone, Davin snuck in a few performance parts during assembly. A high-compression head bumped the squeeze of the engine to around 6-to-1, a “B” camshaft increased the duration of the valve opening, and a balanced crankshaft keeps it all spinning smoothly. In addition, the interior of the engine bloc was coated with Glyptal, which helps the oil drain back to the oil pan, which is essential since the oil level is critical—the connecting rods are lubricated by dippers that sling into the oil as the crankshaft rotates.

Be sure to watch the full video (which was recorded live) for additional quick tips and behind-the-scenes details; there’s even a question-and-answer session at the end. If you have a question that remains unanswered, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to receive notifications when each video that goes live, since we’ll be offering future opportunities to ask Davin your engine tear-down and assembly questions.

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The Redline Rebuild treatment is not just reserved for post-war, big-cube engines. Since Davin likes to keep things interesting, the project he picked to follow an awesome stream of V-8s isn’t even a new addition to the Hagerty garage. The 1931 Ford Model A from the Swap-to-Street challenge back in 2016 was languishing in a corner, largely forgotten. No matter what our plans were for the four-door as it collected dust, we knew we’d have to deal with the 200-cubic-inch four-cylinder’s penchant for puking its oil out on the pavement.

Before yanking the engine out, we thought we might as well cut loose a little. A few quick donuts on the way from storage to the garage were a salient, snowy reminder that this Murray-bodied Ford could be seriously entertaining. A small crew assembled the sedan in just four days from parts purchased at the Hershey fall swap meet.

The trip home revealed that the engine enjoyed pumping all its lubricant to the ground as efficiently as possible. The tired engine needed love… The kind of love a Redline Rebuild would give.

“I wouldn’t say we ever forgot about it, but the car certainly sat neglected for a while,” said Davin. “When brainstorming future projects, I remembered the Model A and thought it would be great to have it driving again.”

The engine came out—and for as simple as the engine looked, it went under the same process as the more powerful engines that have graced Davin’s engine stand. Parts came off, and once Davin was down to a bare block, the parts were loaded up for a road trip to Ron’s Machine Shop in Ohio. There new bearings were poured for the block and connecting rods, and the crankshaft got balanced and counterweighted.

“The goal was to create a smooth-running and reliable engine. We also put on a high-compression head and upgraded camshaft, but the goal wasn’t performance on this build, but drivability.”

Once assembled, it was time for the first start-up and break in. For this the engine test stand stayed in the corner. Rather than a static break-in, Ron’s Machine Shop gave specific instructions that seem quite strange at face value.

Davin explains how the advice isn’t as strange as it seems: “The bearing clearance is near-perfect fit when first assembled, which created enough friction that the starter won’t even crank the fresh engine. Ron’s told us to pull start the car and then immediately drive it to wear in the critical tolerances.”

With a handful of slow-speed miles under its belt, the Model A is no longer a cobwebbed piece of art in the garage. This sedan gets to live a second (or third, maybe even a fourth?) life starting with that tug from the tow strap. Where it’s headed next is unclear; stay tuned to Hagerty’s YouTube page to get the latest updates on all the cool projects our wrenches are working on.

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The Model A Ford that was reborn during a four-day build at the Hershey swap meet has lived an odd life, but it’s hopefully headed back on the road soon. First, it needs some new bearings, and that is no simple task—even for Redline Rebuild guru Davin Reckow. To get it done, a road trip was in order on the latest episode of Redline Update.

Davin filled a truck with everything he needs to survive—greasy engine parts, camera, and beef jerky, and hit the highway headed for Ron’s Machine Shop in Shandon, Ohio. The Model A engine got torn down and was now in need of fresh main and rod bearings, a process more involved than modern engines.

“These Model A engines utilize poured babbitt bearings, something that requires a bit of experience and tooling that neither I nor our local machine shop have,” said Davin when asked why he strayed away from the usual places with this engine.

Babbitt bearings are the polar opposite of insert bearings. The bearing material is cast in place on the engine block and connecting rods, then machined to final finished diameter. It is not incredibly complicated, but there are a few specialty tools required outside of the molds themselves, which simply don’t make sense to own unless you are pouring Model A bearings on a regular basis. Not your average enthusiast’s idea of an easy weekend task.

“The engine is really designed for maintenance. The bearings are cast with shims in them that if the tolerance grows too large, you simply pull the main caps, remove a shim, and put it back together,” Said Davin. “Rather than requiring a full tear down, you can refresh the bottom end of the short block by simply pulling the oil pan.”

The nice part of the design is that though it is easy to service, the low stress and overbuilt nature of the 40-horsepower engine mean that you likely won’t need to do service very often.

The next steps will be the assembly of this engine, and if you want to stay up to date on the latest updates for this engine and also the other projects Davin has going in the Redline Rebuild garage, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube page to receive notifications with each video that goes live.

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The 401 Buick Nailhead has already bequeathed some good juju to the newest Redline Rebuild project: a 1950s Chevy 3600’s 216 Stovebolt.

Tom Cotter discovered the Chevy pickup in this Barn Find Hunters episode barely 10 minutes from the Hagerty Garage in Traverse City, Michigan. Davin plucked the Chevy 3600, which was sunk almost to the hubcaps in mud, from an equally immobile gaggle of VWs, Oldsmobiles, and T-birds. (The sad T-bird that blocked the Chevy’s path to freedom had a frame so rotted that it broke in half as we pulled it out of the way).

Freed from the Michigan mud and rodents of indeterminate origin, Davin set the 3600’s cracked rubber tires on blocks in the Hagerty garage. His first move is to analyze the straight-six’s electrical system, replacing spark plugs and connecting a new 6V battery to the newly cleaned battery cables. The starter spins—but doesn’t talk the engine into firing.

1950s Chevy 3600 Interior
1950s Chevy 3600

1950s Chevy 3600

Despite that, Davin is optimistic. “For this engine to turn over is phenomenal. We found a receipt that someone replaced a belt in 1970, but we presume the truck hasn’t run since then.”

A new coil disentangled from the Buick Nailhead fails to make the magic happen—until the next day, when Davin comes in with an a-ha moment and a $2.40 part: a condenser.

The Stovebolt turns over and chugs into life, and Davin breaks into a huge grin. He caps the Dawn bottle he used to trickle fuel directly into the carburetor. “Wow, that’s cool. Not only does the starter work, it turns over, and it’ll run.”

The 3600 was Chevy’s three-quarter-ton offering in the ’50s, and, in keeping with its farm-truck destiny, made “more torque than anything else.”

The goal, as Davin quotes “my good friend Matt,” is to get the Chevy to “stop and pull over” status. The ’50s truck won’t be putting on highway miles anytime soon, but some seriously cool rebuilding action is about to happen. Stay updated on YouTube and follow all the details of this Redline Rebuild on the Hagerty channel to see what comes next!

1950s Chevy 3600
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The Redline Rebuild Buick Nailhead has come a long way. It spent much of its race to final assembly under the proverbial yellow flag, as Davin proceeded with caution once he cracked the engine open and it turned out to be a wreck. Yanked from a field, showing signs of having never been properly stored in its life, this 401-cubic-inch Nailhead was nothing if not hard to look at. Yet Davin was intent on turning this V-8’s life around.

The engine didn’t seem to like that plan though; each and every part from step one put up a fight. The torque converter was cut off, along with the flexplate. Let’s not revisit the fiasco that ensued when removing the pistons. Like a superhero in a blockbuster summer movie, Davin was willing to exercise some violence for the greater good.

“I hate to have to destroy parts taking an engine apart, even if I’m not going to re-use them. It just feels a bit wrong to break engine parts,” said Davin, sliding a bin of scrap aluminum piston underneath a workbench.

The fight to get the engine torn down was only part of the battle, though. The second round of action was the block and cylinder heads taking a trip to Thirlby Machine Shop for cleaning and inspection. Davin knew that just based on how things came apart and how they looked, it likely wasn’t going to be a fun trip full of good news.

The block, it turned out, was very tired, with ridges left from the piston rings rusting to the cylinder walls. Seven of the eight holes were so bad that they’d need sleeves installed before going back to stock bore size. The cylinder heads were an even worse story. The valve seats had craters that the Apollo missions would have avoided. When we found out the heads could not be saved, Davin began his search for good core parts that would put this engine build back on track.

“There just wasn’t enough meat cast into the cylinder heads to machine out the seat and press in new ones,” said Davin. “The new seats would have just fallen right out. The block is more of a situation where the amount of machine shop work didn’t make sense when we could still source a better block. We did keep the original block and tuck it in a corner—just in case.”

During the process of saving this engine, a Camaro with a tired big-block 396 rolled into the shop, derailing progress yet again. During that big-block rebuild, a good used block and heads arrived and were sent off to be cleaned at the machine shop. Experiencing déjà vu, Davin walked through the door again with Buick Nailhead parts. This trip was much more positive, though, as he was able to carry the parts right from the machine shop to the paint shop.

To call it a thorough cleaning would be an understatement, but after scrubbing places that would make an engine designer blush, Davin masked off the important bits and let an expert spray some color. That color? Buick Green or Buick Blue, depending on who you talk to. Then it was back to the Redline Rebuild Garage for final assembly.

The tape came off, Davin’s torque wrench started clicking, and oil started flowing. Before too long, a V-8 took shape on the engine stand and was ready for break-in.

“Unlike the last few engines we built for this series, this is a flat tappet camshaft. I had to do a bit more break-in,” David said. “It wasn’t too bad, but it was a warm day and the lack of airflow in the garage really brought the coolant temp up a lot. Luckily it stayed cool enough to make it through the break-in and ensure the cam is set for a good long life.”

So what is next for this Nailhead? It is headed for the engine compartment of a Buick, of course. And when that happens, our cameras will be rolling. Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to get updates when each new video posts so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

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The Redline Rebuild Buick Nailhead has finally reached the assembly phase and Davin has decided it is a great time to share a few tips on how to prepare a short block. From proper oil clearance measurement to making sure the valvetrain is serviceable after assembly, the details matter and Davin makes sure to get it right for this turquoise Buick.

The cylinder heads were prepped, leaving the bare block on a stand as the last bit that needed assembly attention. As the small parts move from a table into the block, Davin talks through small tips that ensure this engine will live a long and happy life.

For starters, the bearings and main caps get installed and torqued before the crankshaft is even in the same zip code. It is important, as the inside diameter of the bearings needs to be two thousandths of an inch larger than the outside diameter of the crankshaft. This minute amount of space allows for critical oil flow. If the crank and bearings were perfectly matched, there would be no space for oil, and if the clearance was too large, the oil would not provide the proper protection and the crankshaft could hammer the bearings due to low oil pressure. Either way, it would be a disaster.

The camshaft is inserted, and the pistons are up next. In the process of laying out the piston rings, Davin finds one that is obviously wrong with its gigantic end gap. Even the Redline Rebuild master is not immune to odd delays and setbacks. He also learned that, unlike so many other engines that share pistons rings with other engines, the 401 Nailhead is unique.

With all the proper rings installed correctly and the connecting rod bearing oil clearance checked, the pistons find their snug cast iron homes. Only then can the cylinder heads get installed and torqued down, allowing the cam to be degreed to the specs from the camshaft manufacturer.

The parts seem to speed off the table and onto the engine, with the final result ready for transplant from the engine stand to the run stand. With fuel, electrical, and cooling connections successfully completed, it’s time for Davin to press the starter button and break in the cam. You’ll have to stay tuned for that, since this update doesn’t include the sound of this Nailhead’s exhaust note.

If you want to be the first to hear it and see the artistry of the Redline Rebuild time-lapse, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to receive notifications when each new video goes live. It won’t be long now before this Buick is headed for a new home under a hood, but that is for another time.

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The paint is dry, which means that assembly of the Buick 401 Nailhead can finally begin. It’ll be easy—just put it back together, right? Not so fast. There’s a proper way to assemble a set of Buick cylinder heads and Davin is here to talk us through the details.

The Buick Nailhead has odd cylinder heads when compared to a small-block Chevrolet or Ford. The quirks of the Buick Nailhead lie mainly in the angle of the valvetrain. Contrary to other cylinder heads that get the spring seats cut at the machine shop, the Buick’s heads would end up in the scrap heap if its seats were skimmed by a cutter. Because the seat is so close to the hole for the pushrods to travel though, removing any material would shrink the seat and create an uneven surface.

So, with this engine, it’s extra important to check spring heights during assembly. Davin outlines the process in the latest episode of Redline Update, leading up to the final Redline Rebuild of the Nailhead coming up soon. Using the valves, retainers, and keepers that will be used in the final assembly, Davin replaces the spring with a special micrometer that can measure the size of shim required to achieve appropriate spring height and pressure. Only once the shims are determined for each valve—and yes, it is important to measure each valve and not just one—the final assembly can begin.

With a set of complete cylinder heads sitting on the table, Davin now has to turn his attention to getting a short-block ready to receive them. Once installed, the rocker shafts will be placed and, finally, adjusted. Though he makes it look easy, this attention to detail is painstaking, a degree of obsession essential to a machine as finely-tuned as an engine. It’s just a few more days until we get to hear the engine fire up and witness the payoff of all this hard work.

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Engines don’t need paint, but they sure look better when they have it. After the last Redline Rebuild update, in which the Buick 401 Nailhead visited the machine shop, the parts are ready for a thorough—and we mean thorough—cleaning and a coat of paint. Davin heads over to the paint shop to get it done in our latest episode.

The first thing you might think is the block was cleaned at the machine shop—so it’s good to go, right? Slow your roll.

“I have always been told to never assemble an engine with parts fresh from the machine shop,” Davin says as he holds a hose nozzle to the oil passages. “With the amount of debris I always end up cleaning out of each passage in the block and heads, I can see why.”

Fine particulate is the bane of a finely-assembled engine. Even small grit can get trapped against moving parts and act as a cutter, wearing down critical parts to the point of failure. A thorough cleaning is cheap insurance and gives peace of mind knowing that all your hard work isn’t going to go to waste just after the break-in process (or even during it).

The key, Davin says, is to use Dawn dish soap, which removes oily residue, together with a wide assortment of brushes. These brushes range from a bore brush to clean the cylinders to a long rifle-style variant that can run through the oil passages in the block to break up and flush out all the fine particles the oil would otherwise pick up and carry to the bearings.

After the water runs clear out of each passage, Davin uses compressed air to blow away the water and any remaining grit. Wax and grease remover take care of the residue from handling the parts and creates a surface to which paint can easily adhere. With masking in place, the paint booth closes and the engine is sprayed.

Davin gets to take a quick break while the paint dries, but then it is wide-open throttle on assembly. If you want to see how the color came out and what other tricks Davin is using to warm over this Buick V-8, subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to receive a notification when each new video goes live.

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