This episode began as many of these do—going forwards, then backwards, then finding a fix to get me back to where I started. Naturally, the fix is something I should have known about before I began. Fortunately I have my new lucky Tiger King shirt to help me through to the big reward at the end!
This example is a good one to know if you’re swapping intake manifolds on a small block Ford, and perhaps other engines as well. Let’s just say that if you don’t want all your coolant—Evans Waterless or otherwise—to end up on your garage floor, you should probably understand this part.
To properly locate the thermostat between the housing and the intake manifold, one of those mating surfaces needs to have a groove machined in it. Well, guess what? The new Edelbrock RPM manifold had a flat surface, as did the thermostat housing from the 289 engine- this gave the thermostat no groove to sit in, and thus it would never seal properly. On the 289, the manifold had the groove, not the housing! The fix was to pull the housing off my original 260, but I would have saved myself a lot of disassembly, reassembly, and aggravation if I had noticed that in the first place.
A few other steps needed to get knocked out while I had the car in the air, including reattaching the exhaust system to the downpipes, bleeding the brakes, installing the speedometer cable, and a few other greasy items that filled my garage with scandalous, inappropriate language as usual. But it was all coming together, and I had a goal in mind this night- this freaking engine was going to FIRE in this episode.
It’s a thing of beauty now, isn’t it? It appears to now hold coolant without leaking, a nice change. Will it hold fuel? Sure it will, no leaks to speak of when the system gets pressurized from the stock electric SU under the rear trap door. Okay, a little one from the fitting at the carb, but an easy fix. My big concern is still timing related—did I get that distributor in correctly? What happens when I turn that key for the first time since this whole thing began?
When you watch the video, you’re seeing the genuine first start of the engine in the car, and my reaction is a mix of wonder and excitement. I’m telling you, FIRST TWIST OF THE KEY the Redline Rebuild 289 came to life. Absolutely amazing. There will be some fiddling with final timing, and some other things pop up that need attention, but overall this is huge. I feel really good about how all this has come together, what a process!
Phase II of this project will still be the installation of the Holley Sniper EFI system. For now, I have to hand it to Holley on this 650 cfm four barrel—it’s tough to beat a smooth, proven fuel mixer like this one. I’ll be doing some testing and refinements with the car to make sure it’s actually drivable outside of idling loudly in my garage. We are on our way to having a monster of a Hagerty Touring Series car again, so get ready for lots more action with the ’66 Tiger!