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BangShift Question Of The Day: When Did Your Heart Sink The Lowest?

BangShift Question Of The Day: When Did Your Heart Sink The Lowest?

Without a doubt, the most stressful thing I’ve ever done with a car was the moments when the Imperial’s new engine was fired off for the first time and we started breaking in the camshaft. I wasn’t just tense, I was so drum-tight that if any air escaped my body, it would’ve sounded like a Mariah Carey high note during a Christmas special song, being filmed live. I’m amazed that I even remembered to breathe. In the twenty or so minutes that a camshaft breaks in, all sorts of bad things can happen. A lifter can get munched. A lobe can be rounded down to nothing. Shavings can find their way to brand new areas and scratch them up like a pissed-off cat taking revenge out on Dad’s comfy sofa. And the list goes on and on. The sigh of relief I breathed once we shut down the engine, verified that the oil and filter didn’t look like an eight year old’s glitter-art project, and got everything in tune with each other was probably felt in the middle of Mongolia.

But ask anyone who has been doing this longer than I have, and you’ll hear the stories. You’ll hear about the transmission that lasted exactly one test drive. You’ll hear about mutilated bumpsticks that got so screwed up that a full engine disassembly was required to get all of the shavings out of the engine. You’ll hear about a brand-new U-joint failing, sending the driveline shooting out of the back of the car and into Interstate traffic. (Oh, wait…I’m telling you about that one because it happened to me!) Ultimately, there’s a moment where you just stop what you are doing, look at the mechanical thing that you have sunk so much time and effort into, and wonder if you are being punished for kicking a cat in a past life or something. For me, that was the day I learned that the engine in my beloved Dodge Diplomat ex-cop car had frozen and split during a cold snap while it was out of the car.

Belly up to the bar and let’s hear those tails of fail. And if my words don’t give you an idea of what I’m talking about, take a look at Uncle Tony’s latest update on the Bottle Rocket Coronet build. Here’s a hint: it ain’t pretty.

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8 thoughts on “BangShift Question Of The Day: When Did Your Heart Sink The Lowest?

  1. Matt Cramer

    The latest moment for me was after I got my Dart to start up and run after years and years of sitting. I shut it down, and find an hour later that there’s a big puddle of oil under it. Then I took a closer look at the oil… there’s a lot of water in it too. Rear main seal… and head gasket.

    Could have been worse, though.

  2. Boss 351

    Oil pump drive dislodged from the pump and the crank counterweight slammed it thru my $300 Moroso Cleveland/Fox swap pan. I was left holding the timing light w/ a growing puddle 20W50 in the driveway,….. Another time, A flat intake lobe gave me a reason to rebuild a bullet and deck the block during the rebuild. 13 weeks in machine shop jail, and I get the engine back in the car… Only to have water weeping from a minute, 3-inch crack on the passenger side of the block as I fill the block for the initial fire-up…

  3. Pizzandoughnuts

    Pulling my brothers 389 apart because it started having whanky oil pressure, pulled no. 3&4 rod caps when both bearings are wiped as in tin foiled. Finally got down to the crank, pull the no.3 cap, oh no the thrust bearing had tin foiled and taken the entire main saddle with it. Destroying the entire original engine from his 65’ GTO.

  4. Joe Jolly

    I built my own Ford 390 when I was 17, I picked the pistons, had a cam ground to my specs and assembled my very first engine. My first problem was my inability to install the distributor because I had the valley pan under the intake in backward. 2nd problem showed up after I started it. With open exhaust manifolds and that great lumpy cam, the motor sounded great! Till in didn’t sound great. I had installed 2 main caps on backward,,

  5. Texcuda

    I had a brand new timing set explode within about 3 days of starting the motor. Broke the cam, lopped several lifters in half, and sooooo many metal shards. I was heartbroken at the time.

  6. Brendan M

    Built a new motor for the race bike last year, and on the first pass wound it up to 14,000 rpm and locked it up. Note: when the back tire froze, the track wasn’t the only thing sporting skid marks!

  7. Scott Liggett

    My first engine build way back when I was 20 years old. A large journal 327 that I made into a 350. Bought some double hump heads a nice cam, etc etc. Thought I did everything right. Engine ran great for three days. Then, while on the freeway, the front main cap came off and the crank played hand ball with it until it finally exited the oil pan. I was on the inside shoulder for two hours before some guy came by, didn’t even say ‘hi’, just handed me his cell phone out of the window of his car.

    I cheaped out and didn’t buy a new a new balancer. The outer weight had moved enough to throw the engine out of balance and work the front main caps bolts right out.

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