427 restoration

427 restoration

Joined: May 5th, 2010, 4:31 am

May 21st, 2010, 6:36 am #1







I just completed an overhaul/restoration of my port side 427 and I wanted to show everyone how it turned out. While the engine was out, I also took the opportunity to clean-up the engine room. Here is a picture of the finished engine. The rest of the before and after pictures are at the end of this post.



My port engine has been a problem over the years. I bought the boat 14 years ago and had both engines completely overhauled after two seasons. At the time I had a transmission problem and figured the engines were 30 years old and were probably due for service. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have touched them.

Since then, I had two separate incidents of a blown piston on the port engine (uncontrolled detonation). Finally solved that problem with an NOS Mallory distributor. There were several theories (e.g. fuel starvation, too much initial advance, etc.) but I believe a sticking advance mechanism was the root cause. Three seasons ago I had a problem with stalling that got progressively worse to the point where the engine would not run. No one seemed to be able to figure it out then the season ended and I let myself get talked into another re-build (very dumb). To make matters worse, the job that was started in March, didn't get done until September. So I didn't even bother to put the boat in the water. Fast forward to last summer and the supposedly fresh engine had all the symptoms of a bad intake valve (stalled when put into gear, blowback through the oil filler cap, "chuffing" through the carb) and low oil pressure at idle. It also was leaking oil at the rear intake manifold. After all this, I finally came to my senses and decided I was done with outside help.

In March I had the marina lift the engine out and I pulled off all the ancillary equipment, Paragon and front engine mount. I found a machine shop in Chicago that passed my 427 intelligence test and they came out and picked it up. The shop's inspection revealed that the intake manifold gasket had been installed backwards causing the bad valve-like symptoms. The low oil pressure was due to a poor grind on the crankshaft, you could see the uneven wear on the crank bearings. No gasket, just sealer on the intake manifold caused the leaking oil. The shop (Windy City Engineering) re-ground the crank and went through everything else, bearings, heads, etc.

While the block was at the machine shop, I cleaned and repainted all the engine parts and the Paragon. When the block came back, it was a fairly simple matter of painting it the correct color and re-mounting everything. I did spend a significant amount of time on little details like a new wiring harness, painting all the drain valves/plugs their original red color, finding a new grommet for the PVC valve, the black oil filler cap, polishing the copper cooling tubes, water pump impeller, hoses and so on.

The exhaust manifolds had to be installed after the engine was back in the boat as they blocked the mounting bolts. 427s are a tight squeeze in a 31' Sports Express. I mounted the manifolds by myself using a couple of 6 inch bolts that I cut the head off from to use as guide studs. I attached a lifting strap to the front lift ring to get it into position, the back aligned up great by setting the manifold on top of the engine mount bracket. Slide the manifold "up" the guide studs, slip in the gasket, wiggle the manifold to get the head bolts started by hand and that was it (big sigh of relief at that point-no cross-threaded bolts!).

The engine cooling tubes had to be replaced as their ends were mostly all crushed by over-tight hose clamps. I found a place called Chicago Pipe Bending & Coil Co. They were able to cut and bend the correct 1 and 1 1/4 OD tube using my old tubes as patterns. The copper tube for plumbing you find at the Home Depot has nominal outside dimensions meaning they are a little smaller than actual. It is also thinner walled and difficult to bend smoothly without kinking. This shop used schedule K pipe which is thicker, heavier and significantly more expensive, but the extra beef means there is no chance of crushing the ends with a hose clamp like the old thinner OEM tubes.

My engines have copper exhaust collectors that had what you would either call a "rich patina" or "cruddy tarnish" depending on your perspective. Three hours with a wire brush chucked into a drill, the Makita buffer and super-duty rubbing compound restored a shiny finish that tied in with the new polished copper cooling tubes. We'll see how long they stay that way but for now they look great.

While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to clean-up and paint the 2/3rds of the engine room I could get at. Cleaning up forty plus years of oily skank has got to be the worst. It was only about 50 degrees in my "heated" storage building and a power washer was not an option. So for me it was "lather, rinse, repeat" about 3 or 4 times, a variety of stiff brushes and using a shop vac to suck up the dirty water in between. Then prime and paint with Bilgekote. I do have two tips to pass on. The fiberglass on the bottom was a little "ragged" from scrubbing so I re-coated the whole area with about a gallon of fresh resin before painting. This provided a much smoother substrate for the finish. The second tip is one word, "Penetrol". If you don't know this product, it's an additive that makes paint flow easier and brushstrokes disappear. After brushing Bilgekote for 10-15 minutes it feels like you're painting with honey. The Penetrol makes a big difference. P.S. I think I'll buy stock in Interlux (Azko Nobel). Anyone that can sell a gallon of grey paint for $100+ is a genius (not to mention the $200+ gal. bottom paint).

I also had to fix a problem with the engine hatches. There was some rot on the ends of the mahogany stringers where they stick out of the fiberglass sandwich. One needed a new piece (dutchman). On the others, I used Smith's epoxy filler. I also slathered the underside with some fresh resin.

Heres the engine being pulled out in March.



Two photos of the engine room before. Love that high tech Celotex insulation and the roofing nails. Well it was 43 years ago.





Here is the engine room after. I used the 1 inch mylar faced sound deadening insulation attached to the bulkhead with 3M spray adhesive for foam that worked great.




Before and after photos of the engine components prepped and painted.
















Pics of the finished engine. It never looked this good when it was new!






This is the untouched starboard engine. It looks a lot better in the picture than it does in real life. If you have a really sharp eye, you might notice the distributor is missing. I sent it out to Mallory to be re-built and marinized. It pre-dated the spark arrestor regulations and had no bowl vent (protected or otherwise) and hence required a vented cap. Mallory did a fine job replacing all the internal parts. I removed the Pertronix unit before I sent it in and probably should have told Mallory this as they installed new points and a condenser that I just had to remove anyway. I just got it back this week (4 weeks total). They charged $180 including shipping, new rotor and cap.



Copper cooling tubes, note crushed ends. I cleaned up the only good one just to see how it would turn out. Wound up replacing the whole set.




Here are both engines in the cleaned up engine room. I included the second picture to show the copper exhaust collectors. The third is just a close up of the supplier tag on the collector. It reads Kay Industries Detroit.








I threw this picture in for kicks. Can you identify this contraption? It is particularly useful at making it extra difficult to get access to the outboard side of the engine. Ill give it away a bit by saying I actually have the 5 foot rod with the ball on the end that is used with it. What I cant believe is that I actually wire-brushed it and re-installed it given that Ive never used it and likely never will!



Three pictures of the hatch repair.







I found this waxy braided wire sleeve that matches the original equipment. Its a little problematic as the finish tends to wear off even with gentle handling.



The valve cover sticker was the crowning touch of the project. I was spooked a little by this job as I was afraid I wouldnt get it on straight!



Next winter, I'll pull the starboard engine, clean-up, repaint and detail. I'll also finish the engine room painting. But now it's time to launch, make sure everything is running right (crossing my fingers) and enjoy the season.

Keith Ferrio
Commander & Chief
31' 1967 Sports Express
FSA31-0031





edit comment: Photos archived and thread cross-linked to the parts list!
For anyone doing similar work on a 427 marine engine, check out this link Keith has provided, with all of the parts, hoses, etc. listed. Wow, what a nice resource, many thanks Keith !
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1276233896


Last edited by FEfinaticP on July 2nd, 2017, 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Eric Jensen
Eric Jensen

May 21st, 2010, 11:28 am #2

Oh brother! It's like reliving a bad dream to read some of the early misfortunes you had. OUTSTANDING job on that engine. I smell "Photo of the Day!"
Eric
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Paul
Paul

May 21st, 2010, 11:59 am #3







I just completed an overhaul/restoration of my port side 427 and I wanted to show everyone how it turned out. While the engine was out, I also took the opportunity to clean-up the engine room. Here is a picture of the finished engine. The rest of the before and after pictures are at the end of this post.



My port engine has been a problem over the years. I bought the boat 14 years ago and had both engines completely overhauled after two seasons. At the time I had a transmission problem and figured the engines were 30 years old and were probably due for service. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have touched them.

Since then, I had two separate incidents of a blown piston on the port engine (uncontrolled detonation). Finally solved that problem with an NOS Mallory distributor. There were several theories (e.g. fuel starvation, too much initial advance, etc.) but I believe a sticking advance mechanism was the root cause. Three seasons ago I had a problem with stalling that got progressively worse to the point where the engine would not run. No one seemed to be able to figure it out then the season ended and I let myself get talked into another re-build (very dumb). To make matters worse, the job that was started in March, didn't get done until September. So I didn't even bother to put the boat in the water. Fast forward to last summer and the supposedly fresh engine had all the symptoms of a bad intake valve (stalled when put into gear, blowback through the oil filler cap, "chuffing" through the carb) and low oil pressure at idle. It also was leaking oil at the rear intake manifold. After all this, I finally came to my senses and decided I was done with outside help.

In March I had the marina lift the engine out and I pulled off all the ancillary equipment, Paragon and front engine mount. I found a machine shop in Chicago that passed my 427 intelligence test and they came out and picked it up. The shop's inspection revealed that the intake manifold gasket had been installed backwards causing the bad valve-like symptoms. The low oil pressure was due to a poor grind on the crankshaft, you could see the uneven wear on the crank bearings. No gasket, just sealer on the intake manifold caused the leaking oil. The shop (Windy City Engineering) re-ground the crank and went through everything else, bearings, heads, etc.

While the block was at the machine shop, I cleaned and repainted all the engine parts and the Paragon. When the block came back, it was a fairly simple matter of painting it the correct color and re-mounting everything. I did spend a significant amount of time on little details like a new wiring harness, painting all the drain valves/plugs their original red color, finding a new grommet for the PVC valve, the black oil filler cap, polishing the copper cooling tubes, water pump impeller, hoses and so on.

The exhaust manifolds had to be installed after the engine was back in the boat as they blocked the mounting bolts. 427s are a tight squeeze in a 31' Sports Express. I mounted the manifolds by myself using a couple of 6 inch bolts that I cut the head off from to use as guide studs. I attached a lifting strap to the front lift ring to get it into position, the back aligned up great by setting the manifold on top of the engine mount bracket. Slide the manifold "up" the guide studs, slip in the gasket, wiggle the manifold to get the head bolts started by hand and that was it (big sigh of relief at that point-no cross-threaded bolts!).

The engine cooling tubes had to be replaced as their ends were mostly all crushed by over-tight hose clamps. I found a place called Chicago Pipe Bending & Coil Co. They were able to cut and bend the correct 1 and 1 1/4 OD tube using my old tubes as patterns. The copper tube for plumbing you find at the Home Depot has nominal outside dimensions meaning they are a little smaller than actual. It is also thinner walled and difficult to bend smoothly without kinking. This shop used schedule K pipe which is thicker, heavier and significantly more expensive, but the extra beef means there is no chance of crushing the ends with a hose clamp like the old thinner OEM tubes.

My engines have copper exhaust collectors that had what you would either call a "rich patina" or "cruddy tarnish" depending on your perspective. Three hours with a wire brush chucked into a drill, the Makita buffer and super-duty rubbing compound restored a shiny finish that tied in with the new polished copper cooling tubes. We'll see how long they stay that way but for now they look great.

While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to clean-up and paint the 2/3rds of the engine room I could get at. Cleaning up forty plus years of oily skank has got to be the worst. It was only about 50 degrees in my "heated" storage building and a power washer was not an option. So for me it was "lather, rinse, repeat" about 3 or 4 times, a variety of stiff brushes and using a shop vac to suck up the dirty water in between. Then prime and paint with Bilgekote. I do have two tips to pass on. The fiberglass on the bottom was a little "ragged" from scrubbing so I re-coated the whole area with about a gallon of fresh resin before painting. This provided a much smoother substrate for the finish. The second tip is one word, "Penetrol". If you don't know this product, it's an additive that makes paint flow easier and brushstrokes disappear. After brushing Bilgekote for 10-15 minutes it feels like you're painting with honey. The Penetrol makes a big difference. P.S. I think I'll buy stock in Interlux (Azko Nobel). Anyone that can sell a gallon of grey paint for $100+ is a genius (not to mention the $200+ gal. bottom paint).

I also had to fix a problem with the engine hatches. There was some rot on the ends of the mahogany stringers where they stick out of the fiberglass sandwich. One needed a new piece (dutchman). On the others, I used Smith's epoxy filler. I also slathered the underside with some fresh resin.

Heres the engine being pulled out in March.



Two photos of the engine room before. Love that high tech Celotex insulation and the roofing nails. Well it was 43 years ago.





Here is the engine room after. I used the 1 inch mylar faced sound deadening insulation attached to the bulkhead with 3M spray adhesive for foam that worked great.




Before and after photos of the engine components prepped and painted.
















Pics of the finished engine. It never looked this good when it was new!






This is the untouched starboard engine. It looks a lot better in the picture than it does in real life. If you have a really sharp eye, you might notice the distributor is missing. I sent it out to Mallory to be re-built and marinized. It pre-dated the spark arrestor regulations and had no bowl vent (protected or otherwise) and hence required a vented cap. Mallory did a fine job replacing all the internal parts. I removed the Pertronix unit before I sent it in and probably should have told Mallory this as they installed new points and a condenser that I just had to remove anyway. I just got it back this week (4 weeks total). They charged $180 including shipping, new rotor and cap.



Copper cooling tubes, note crushed ends. I cleaned up the only good one just to see how it would turn out. Wound up replacing the whole set.




Here are both engines in the cleaned up engine room. I included the second picture to show the copper exhaust collectors. The third is just a close up of the supplier tag on the collector. It reads Kay Industries Detroit.








I threw this picture in for kicks. Can you identify this contraption? It is particularly useful at making it extra difficult to get access to the outboard side of the engine. Ill give it away a bit by saying I actually have the 5 foot rod with the ball on the end that is used with it. What I cant believe is that I actually wire-brushed it and re-installed it given that Ive never used it and likely never will!



Three pictures of the hatch repair.







I found this waxy braided wire sleeve that matches the original equipment. Its a little problematic as the finish tends to wear off even with gentle handling.



The valve cover sticker was the crowning touch of the project. I was spooked a little by this job as I was afraid I wouldnt get it on straight!



Next winter, I'll pull the starboard engine, clean-up, repaint and detail. I'll also finish the engine room painting. But now it's time to launch, make sure everything is running right (crossing my fingers) and enjoy the season.

Keith Ferrio
Commander & Chief
31' 1967 Sports Express
FSA31-0031





edit comment: Photos archived and thread cross-linked to the parts list!
For anyone doing similar work on a 427 marine engine, check out this link Keith has provided, with all of the parts, hoses, etc. listed. Wow, what a nice resource, many thanks Keith !
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1276233896

Hello Keith and a big WELCOME ABOARD !

I'm working on my first cup of coffee this morning, tuned into The Forum to see what was going on, and I'm stunned at the images you posted. The workmanship is exquisite and the photography brings it out in living color.

This is the kind of work that assures your boat will remaint a top rated classic, and it is becoming more rare these days to find exquisite boats like this with original 427 power. A pair of big motors like this in a smaller hull should be a real joy to fire up at the docks and to apply that power out on the water. A very robust package for sure and a very sporty boat design, compliments of Mr. Avery! This same power was used in the 47' Commander, so in this boat the big dogs should be quite happy and understressed.





The 31 Sports Express, also referred to as the Sports Cruiser some years by Chris Craft, is one of my alltime favorites. Here is a good thread for anyone wanting to see a lot of good info on the 31' Commander lineup, including the 31.
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1171645795

Having one in this condition with these motors, pushes this boat directly into collector territory. People sometimes buy the boat for the hull and they don't care about the motors as long as the boat goes. Some people are motorheads (like me) and I appreciate the power for the provenance and historic value. Last year I saw a 1965 38 Express with the original 431 Lincoln big block motors, and the boat was a well maintained user boat, with a little patina here and there but still in great original but not necessarily what some people would call "show condition". It was however, show condition in my mind and it made it into "The Legacy of the Fiberglass Chris Craft Commander" book, because it reflected so much pride of ownership and respect for the original boat. Although the big Lincolns are sometimes maligned for being fuelish, there is really no basis for this as the motors are actually quite efficient when compared to the 427 or just about anything else pushing a boat that size.

Seeing the pride of ownership readily apparent when I look at your photos puts me in the same frame of mind I get into when I go to a high end classic car show and look under the hood, or go to one of those race boat regattas or boat shows up in Clayton New York where people are obsessive about quality and detail.

When you see a great looking hull with this sort of a power combination it is quite unique and very much appreciated. I would think this particular model would be near the top of the Commander desirability list, it has it all. Thanks so much for sending in these fabulous photos, please send in some of the boat, of yourself, your family and friends too.

I love seeing super quality work like this and I sure promote it, but it reminds me of how much time I need to be spending in my own engine compartment, and sheesh, I have to do the teak again this year too!!

Regards, best, wow!

Paul
Forum Moderator














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Paul
Paul

May 21st, 2010, 12:05 pm #4

Oh brother! It's like reliving a bad dream to read some of the early misfortunes you had. OUTSTANDING job on that engine. I smell "Photo of the Day!"
Eric
You are so right Eric, but it's going to be tough selecting that photo, there are so many good choices!

Hope you and yours are all doing well,

regards,

Paul
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Steve
Steve

May 21st, 2010, 12:23 pm #5







I just completed an overhaul/restoration of my port side 427 and I wanted to show everyone how it turned out. While the engine was out, I also took the opportunity to clean-up the engine room. Here is a picture of the finished engine. The rest of the before and after pictures are at the end of this post.



My port engine has been a problem over the years. I bought the boat 14 years ago and had both engines completely overhauled after two seasons. At the time I had a transmission problem and figured the engines were 30 years old and were probably due for service. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have touched them.

Since then, I had two separate incidents of a blown piston on the port engine (uncontrolled detonation). Finally solved that problem with an NOS Mallory distributor. There were several theories (e.g. fuel starvation, too much initial advance, etc.) but I believe a sticking advance mechanism was the root cause. Three seasons ago I had a problem with stalling that got progressively worse to the point where the engine would not run. No one seemed to be able to figure it out then the season ended and I let myself get talked into another re-build (very dumb). To make matters worse, the job that was started in March, didn't get done until September. So I didn't even bother to put the boat in the water. Fast forward to last summer and the supposedly fresh engine had all the symptoms of a bad intake valve (stalled when put into gear, blowback through the oil filler cap, "chuffing" through the carb) and low oil pressure at idle. It also was leaking oil at the rear intake manifold. After all this, I finally came to my senses and decided I was done with outside help.

In March I had the marina lift the engine out and I pulled off all the ancillary equipment, Paragon and front engine mount. I found a machine shop in Chicago that passed my 427 intelligence test and they came out and picked it up. The shop's inspection revealed that the intake manifold gasket had been installed backwards causing the bad valve-like symptoms. The low oil pressure was due to a poor grind on the crankshaft, you could see the uneven wear on the crank bearings. No gasket, just sealer on the intake manifold caused the leaking oil. The shop (Windy City Engineering) re-ground the crank and went through everything else, bearings, heads, etc.

While the block was at the machine shop, I cleaned and repainted all the engine parts and the Paragon. When the block came back, it was a fairly simple matter of painting it the correct color and re-mounting everything. I did spend a significant amount of time on little details like a new wiring harness, painting all the drain valves/plugs their original red color, finding a new grommet for the PVC valve, the black oil filler cap, polishing the copper cooling tubes, water pump impeller, hoses and so on.

The exhaust manifolds had to be installed after the engine was back in the boat as they blocked the mounting bolts. 427s are a tight squeeze in a 31' Sports Express. I mounted the manifolds by myself using a couple of 6 inch bolts that I cut the head off from to use as guide studs. I attached a lifting strap to the front lift ring to get it into position, the back aligned up great by setting the manifold on top of the engine mount bracket. Slide the manifold "up" the guide studs, slip in the gasket, wiggle the manifold to get the head bolts started by hand and that was it (big sigh of relief at that point-no cross-threaded bolts!).

The engine cooling tubes had to be replaced as their ends were mostly all crushed by over-tight hose clamps. I found a place called Chicago Pipe Bending & Coil Co. They were able to cut and bend the correct 1 and 1 1/4 OD tube using my old tubes as patterns. The copper tube for plumbing you find at the Home Depot has nominal outside dimensions meaning they are a little smaller than actual. It is also thinner walled and difficult to bend smoothly without kinking. This shop used schedule K pipe which is thicker, heavier and significantly more expensive, but the extra beef means there is no chance of crushing the ends with a hose clamp like the old thinner OEM tubes.

My engines have copper exhaust collectors that had what you would either call a "rich patina" or "cruddy tarnish" depending on your perspective. Three hours with a wire brush chucked into a drill, the Makita buffer and super-duty rubbing compound restored a shiny finish that tied in with the new polished copper cooling tubes. We'll see how long they stay that way but for now they look great.

While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to clean-up and paint the 2/3rds of the engine room I could get at. Cleaning up forty plus years of oily skank has got to be the worst. It was only about 50 degrees in my "heated" storage building and a power washer was not an option. So for me it was "lather, rinse, repeat" about 3 or 4 times, a variety of stiff brushes and using a shop vac to suck up the dirty water in between. Then prime and paint with Bilgekote. I do have two tips to pass on. The fiberglass on the bottom was a little "ragged" from scrubbing so I re-coated the whole area with about a gallon of fresh resin before painting. This provided a much smoother substrate for the finish. The second tip is one word, "Penetrol". If you don't know this product, it's an additive that makes paint flow easier and brushstrokes disappear. After brushing Bilgekote for 10-15 minutes it feels like you're painting with honey. The Penetrol makes a big difference. P.S. I think I'll buy stock in Interlux (Azko Nobel). Anyone that can sell a gallon of grey paint for $100+ is a genius (not to mention the $200+ gal. bottom paint).

I also had to fix a problem with the engine hatches. There was some rot on the ends of the mahogany stringers where they stick out of the fiberglass sandwich. One needed a new piece (dutchman). On the others, I used Smith's epoxy filler. I also slathered the underside with some fresh resin.

Heres the engine being pulled out in March.



Two photos of the engine room before. Love that high tech Celotex insulation and the roofing nails. Well it was 43 years ago.





Here is the engine room after. I used the 1 inch mylar faced sound deadening insulation attached to the bulkhead with 3M spray adhesive for foam that worked great.




Before and after photos of the engine components prepped and painted.
















Pics of the finished engine. It never looked this good when it was new!






This is the untouched starboard engine. It looks a lot better in the picture than it does in real life. If you have a really sharp eye, you might notice the distributor is missing. I sent it out to Mallory to be re-built and marinized. It pre-dated the spark arrestor regulations and had no bowl vent (protected or otherwise) and hence required a vented cap. Mallory did a fine job replacing all the internal parts. I removed the Pertronix unit before I sent it in and probably should have told Mallory this as they installed new points and a condenser that I just had to remove anyway. I just got it back this week (4 weeks total). They charged $180 including shipping, new rotor and cap.



Copper cooling tubes, note crushed ends. I cleaned up the only good one just to see how it would turn out. Wound up replacing the whole set.




Here are both engines in the cleaned up engine room. I included the second picture to show the copper exhaust collectors. The third is just a close up of the supplier tag on the collector. It reads Kay Industries Detroit.








I threw this picture in for kicks. Can you identify this contraption? It is particularly useful at making it extra difficult to get access to the outboard side of the engine. Ill give it away a bit by saying I actually have the 5 foot rod with the ball on the end that is used with it. What I cant believe is that I actually wire-brushed it and re-installed it given that Ive never used it and likely never will!



Three pictures of the hatch repair.







I found this waxy braided wire sleeve that matches the original equipment. Its a little problematic as the finish tends to wear off even with gentle handling.



The valve cover sticker was the crowning touch of the project. I was spooked a little by this job as I was afraid I wouldnt get it on straight!



Next winter, I'll pull the starboard engine, clean-up, repaint and detail. I'll also finish the engine room painting. But now it's time to launch, make sure everything is running right (crossing my fingers) and enjoy the season.

Keith Ferrio
Commander & Chief
31' 1967 Sports Express
FSA31-0031





edit comment: Photos archived and thread cross-linked to the parts list!
For anyone doing similar work on a 427 marine engine, check out this link Keith has provided, with all of the parts, hoses, etc. listed. Wow, what a nice resource, many thanks Keith !
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1276233896

Vaaaary cool! Great job on the details for sure, kinda makes you forget about the headaches prior to the finished product..........maybe not.
I can't wait until I have to do the same on my 2 427's but the darn things haven't given me an excuses to do it (I probably just jinxed myself).
Looking forward to be able to detail the engine compartment like that so thanks for the inspiration.
Steve Lendzion
1969 42' Commander
Bear Z Girl
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Joined: July 15th, 2005, 8:09 pm

May 21st, 2010, 5:33 pm #6







I just completed an overhaul/restoration of my port side 427 and I wanted to show everyone how it turned out. While the engine was out, I also took the opportunity to clean-up the engine room. Here is a picture of the finished engine. The rest of the before and after pictures are at the end of this post.



My port engine has been a problem over the years. I bought the boat 14 years ago and had both engines completely overhauled after two seasons. At the time I had a transmission problem and figured the engines were 30 years old and were probably due for service. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have touched them.

Since then, I had two separate incidents of a blown piston on the port engine (uncontrolled detonation). Finally solved that problem with an NOS Mallory distributor. There were several theories (e.g. fuel starvation, too much initial advance, etc.) but I believe a sticking advance mechanism was the root cause. Three seasons ago I had a problem with stalling that got progressively worse to the point where the engine would not run. No one seemed to be able to figure it out then the season ended and I let myself get talked into another re-build (very dumb). To make matters worse, the job that was started in March, didn't get done until September. So I didn't even bother to put the boat in the water. Fast forward to last summer and the supposedly fresh engine had all the symptoms of a bad intake valve (stalled when put into gear, blowback through the oil filler cap, "chuffing" through the carb) and low oil pressure at idle. It also was leaking oil at the rear intake manifold. After all this, I finally came to my senses and decided I was done with outside help.

In March I had the marina lift the engine out and I pulled off all the ancillary equipment, Paragon and front engine mount. I found a machine shop in Chicago that passed my 427 intelligence test and they came out and picked it up. The shop's inspection revealed that the intake manifold gasket had been installed backwards causing the bad valve-like symptoms. The low oil pressure was due to a poor grind on the crankshaft, you could see the uneven wear on the crank bearings. No gasket, just sealer on the intake manifold caused the leaking oil. The shop (Windy City Engineering) re-ground the crank and went through everything else, bearings, heads, etc.

While the block was at the machine shop, I cleaned and repainted all the engine parts and the Paragon. When the block came back, it was a fairly simple matter of painting it the correct color and re-mounting everything. I did spend a significant amount of time on little details like a new wiring harness, painting all the drain valves/plugs their original red color, finding a new grommet for the PVC valve, the black oil filler cap, polishing the copper cooling tubes, water pump impeller, hoses and so on.

The exhaust manifolds had to be installed after the engine was back in the boat as they blocked the mounting bolts. 427s are a tight squeeze in a 31' Sports Express. I mounted the manifolds by myself using a couple of 6 inch bolts that I cut the head off from to use as guide studs. I attached a lifting strap to the front lift ring to get it into position, the back aligned up great by setting the manifold on top of the engine mount bracket. Slide the manifold "up" the guide studs, slip in the gasket, wiggle the manifold to get the head bolts started by hand and that was it (big sigh of relief at that point-no cross-threaded bolts!).

The engine cooling tubes had to be replaced as their ends were mostly all crushed by over-tight hose clamps. I found a place called Chicago Pipe Bending & Coil Co. They were able to cut and bend the correct 1 and 1 1/4 OD tube using my old tubes as patterns. The copper tube for plumbing you find at the Home Depot has nominal outside dimensions meaning they are a little smaller than actual. It is also thinner walled and difficult to bend smoothly without kinking. This shop used schedule K pipe which is thicker, heavier and significantly more expensive, but the extra beef means there is no chance of crushing the ends with a hose clamp like the old thinner OEM tubes.

My engines have copper exhaust collectors that had what you would either call a "rich patina" or "cruddy tarnish" depending on your perspective. Three hours with a wire brush chucked into a drill, the Makita buffer and super-duty rubbing compound restored a shiny finish that tied in with the new polished copper cooling tubes. We'll see how long they stay that way but for now they look great.

While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to clean-up and paint the 2/3rds of the engine room I could get at. Cleaning up forty plus years of oily skank has got to be the worst. It was only about 50 degrees in my "heated" storage building and a power washer was not an option. So for me it was "lather, rinse, repeat" about 3 or 4 times, a variety of stiff brushes and using a shop vac to suck up the dirty water in between. Then prime and paint with Bilgekote. I do have two tips to pass on. The fiberglass on the bottom was a little "ragged" from scrubbing so I re-coated the whole area with about a gallon of fresh resin before painting. This provided a much smoother substrate for the finish. The second tip is one word, "Penetrol". If you don't know this product, it's an additive that makes paint flow easier and brushstrokes disappear. After brushing Bilgekote for 10-15 minutes it feels like you're painting with honey. The Penetrol makes a big difference. P.S. I think I'll buy stock in Interlux (Azko Nobel). Anyone that can sell a gallon of grey paint for $100+ is a genius (not to mention the $200+ gal. bottom paint).

I also had to fix a problem with the engine hatches. There was some rot on the ends of the mahogany stringers where they stick out of the fiberglass sandwich. One needed a new piece (dutchman). On the others, I used Smith's epoxy filler. I also slathered the underside with some fresh resin.

Heres the engine being pulled out in March.



Two photos of the engine room before. Love that high tech Celotex insulation and the roofing nails. Well it was 43 years ago.





Here is the engine room after. I used the 1 inch mylar faced sound deadening insulation attached to the bulkhead with 3M spray adhesive for foam that worked great.




Before and after photos of the engine components prepped and painted.
















Pics of the finished engine. It never looked this good when it was new!






This is the untouched starboard engine. It looks a lot better in the picture than it does in real life. If you have a really sharp eye, you might notice the distributor is missing. I sent it out to Mallory to be re-built and marinized. It pre-dated the spark arrestor regulations and had no bowl vent (protected or otherwise) and hence required a vented cap. Mallory did a fine job replacing all the internal parts. I removed the Pertronix unit before I sent it in and probably should have told Mallory this as they installed new points and a condenser that I just had to remove anyway. I just got it back this week (4 weeks total). They charged $180 including shipping, new rotor and cap.



Copper cooling tubes, note crushed ends. I cleaned up the only good one just to see how it would turn out. Wound up replacing the whole set.




Here are both engines in the cleaned up engine room. I included the second picture to show the copper exhaust collectors. The third is just a close up of the supplier tag on the collector. It reads Kay Industries Detroit.








I threw this picture in for kicks. Can you identify this contraption? It is particularly useful at making it extra difficult to get access to the outboard side of the engine. Ill give it away a bit by saying I actually have the 5 foot rod with the ball on the end that is used with it. What I cant believe is that I actually wire-brushed it and re-installed it given that Ive never used it and likely never will!



Three pictures of the hatch repair.







I found this waxy braided wire sleeve that matches the original equipment. Its a little problematic as the finish tends to wear off even with gentle handling.



The valve cover sticker was the crowning touch of the project. I was spooked a little by this job as I was afraid I wouldnt get it on straight!



Next winter, I'll pull the starboard engine, clean-up, repaint and detail. I'll also finish the engine room painting. But now it's time to launch, make sure everything is running right (crossing my fingers) and enjoy the season.

Keith Ferrio
Commander & Chief
31' 1967 Sports Express
FSA31-0031





edit comment: Photos archived and thread cross-linked to the parts list!
For anyone doing similar work on a 427 marine engine, check out this link Keith has provided, with all of the parts, hoses, etc. listed. Wow, what a nice resource, many thanks Keith !
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1276233896

Many of us are car guys and wood boat guys too, and most of us know what we are looking at under the hood. As a result, many of us have done the work ourselves, and some of us like me have the wounds to prove it, sad but true in my case. As an avid fan and participant in the Antique and Classic Boat world for many years, I've seen just about eveything and it doesn't take long to KNOW QUALITY quickly with a glance. It doesn't take long, and it didn't take long looking at Keith's work to tell "this guy knows what he is doing".

Here is a quick collection of "other motors" that have caught my eye over the years, I have hundreds of images but this just shows a cross section of wild and exotic power that other people have maintained and or restored, and you can see the standard has been set. Look at the photo at the end, it meets and exceeds many of the examples here! In a Chris Craft Commander too, imagine that?



Crosley, AquaCar


406 Ford FE world record holder






Chrysler Marine Hemi, Chris Craft Cobra


Dual plug Scripps V-12


Hispano Suiza V8


Cadillac power, Chris Craft Cobra



426 Chrysler Hemi, DANCING BEAR, F-Service Runabout, Curt Brayer


426 Chrysler Hemi, custom installation with forward V-drive, Chris Craft Racing Runabout, Keith Brayer


Old style Chrysler Marine Hemi engines






SOHC version of the Ford 427


Ford 427, 1967 31 Chris Craft Commander, Keith Ferrio




So you can see from this perspective, top workmanship can be appreciated in a boat out of the 1920s or the 1960s. For me personally, since I grew up in the 1960s that is the era I identify with the most, and the 427 was the terror back then, lots of history with these motors, and it is so cool to see a pair of them maintained this well in a great looking classic Chris like the 31 SE.

Regards,

Paul



















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Joined: May 5th, 2010, 4:31 am

May 22nd, 2010, 3:37 am #7

I want to thank everyone and especially Paul, a true motor aficionado, for the special recognition you have given to my 427 overhaul/restoration project. In my mind, there is absolutely no greater achievement than the positive feedback you have given to this project. I am a bit overwhelmed, but very grateful for all the nice comments.

When I started this project, I knew I wanted to go all out. It just felt right. If you are a Commander owner, you know the feeling (Especially if you are a "big dogger" 427 guy!).

Like many of us, I have spent a lot of time, money and effort over the years to maintain what I consider a major piece of American history, my Chris Craft. I read once that "Chris Craft" was one of the most recognizable brand names of all time. In effect, if you asked 10 people on the street to name a brand of boat, the 1st or 2nd answer would be Chris Craft, even to this day. Coke, Pepsi, Levi's, Chevy, Ford, Chris Craft, that's the kind of brand power I'm talking about.

It is this legacy that helps fuel pride of ownership and give one the energy to tackle the tough projects that we all need to do to maintain our classic boats.

I've got some more pictures and stories to tell about FSA31-0031, a.k.a. "Commander & Chief" and I look forward to sharing them with the group.

Best Regards,
Keith Ferrio

Commander & Chief
FSA31-0031

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Greg Gajcak
Greg Gajcak

May 22nd, 2010, 4:24 am #8

Keith - Just spectacular. I hope to see you out on the water soon. I would really love to see that 427 "Art" up close some time. I will be on the lake this Sunday if Weather and Family cooperate. If not, I will be on the lake alone. I have seen you in the Playpen and at the airshow a few times. Please stop by Burham "B" dock some time - I will buy you a drink so I can say "cheers" to that workmanship.
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Eric Jensen
Eric Jensen

May 22nd, 2010, 11:24 am #9

I'd walk or dinghy over ANY TIME to see that work. Greg, I'll give you a ring Sunday.
ej
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Joined: March 7th, 2006, 1:21 am

May 22nd, 2010, 12:22 pm #10

I want to thank everyone and especially Paul, a true motor aficionado, for the special recognition you have given to my 427 overhaul/restoration project. In my mind, there is absolutely no greater achievement than the positive feedback you have given to this project. I am a bit overwhelmed, but very grateful for all the nice comments.

When I started this project, I knew I wanted to go all out. It just felt right. If you are a Commander owner, you know the feeling (Especially if you are a "big dogger" 427 guy!).

Like many of us, I have spent a lot of time, money and effort over the years to maintain what I consider a major piece of American history, my Chris Craft. I read once that "Chris Craft" was one of the most recognizable brand names of all time. In effect, if you asked 10 people on the street to name a brand of boat, the 1st or 2nd answer would be Chris Craft, even to this day. Coke, Pepsi, Levi's, Chevy, Ford, Chris Craft, that's the kind of brand power I'm talking about.

It is this legacy that helps fuel pride of ownership and give one the energy to tackle the tough projects that we all need to do to maintain our classic boats.

I've got some more pictures and stories to tell about FSA31-0031, a.k.a. "Commander & Chief" and I look forward to sharing them with the group.

Best Regards,
Keith Ferrio

Commander & Chief
FSA31-0031
Keith,
Congratulations on an impressive project! Your patience, skill and attention to detail is an inspiration. To make the effort to photograph every step and share it on the Forum is wonderful. Clearly, it's a major undertaking and it looks great!

Thanks for sharing and congratulations!

Bill M
1973 Commander 41, Challenger
Seneca Lake, NYS Fingerlakes
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