Major Chris Craft Commander Restoration (and engine tune up) under way now

Major Chris Craft Commander Restoration (and engine tune up) under way now

Curt
Curt

August 31st, 2005, 8:51 pm #1

Note: This thread was recreated from our emails, in order to share the info and photos with others, Paul



Hi, I just recently got a 1967 CC 38' Commander with twin 427 CID
300 HP engines that has been sitting moored for the last 25 years
without moving. NOTHING worked when I got it (not one system or
piece of equipment), but over the last 2 months I have got most
stuff functioning (sort of!). I'm now trying to tune up the
engines.

Can anyone provide the tuneup specifications for these engines? I
searched the forum, and the internet, and so far I've come up with
this as sort of an average from vintage Ford sites (didn't find
anything for CC):

Plugs: Autolite 45 (current replacement for BF-42's)
Plug Gap: 0.034
Point Gap: 0.017
Dwell: 26-31 degrees
Timing: 6 degrees BTDC (SEE EDIT COMMENT)
Valve Lifter Clearance: ???
Firing Order for Port Engine: ???
Firing Order for Starboard Engine: ???

If someone can verify and/or correct these that would be great.

Also, can anyone tell me the following:

What distributor cap contacts go to which sparkplugs for both the
Port and Starboard engines? The guy I got this boat from really
has
thing cobbled up, and I'm starting over on engine primary and
secondary wiring.

Here is a representation of the cap from the top:

a e
b f
c g
d h
x X = the coil wire.

If someone can tell me which cylinder's sparkplug should hook to
each distributor cap terminal (1 thru 8 matched to a thru h on the
cap) for each engine that would be really great!

Also, I do not know how Ford numbered the cylinders on their 427
engines. Is it like this (looking down on the top of the engine)?

Front
5 1
6 2
7 3
8 4

If anyone would like to see the boat I'm restoring, I have a pic
at:



Thanks in advance!!!!
Curt.....







For anyone interested in following this story, here are more threads to document the full restoration and recommissioning of this elegant boat.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/message? ... 1125793376


http://www.network54.com/Forum/message? ... 1127439175


http://www.network54.com/Forum/message? ... 1128661264






Edit comment: 427 timing is set to the leading edge of the dimple at 500 rpm in gear per CC directions, which is 10-degrees BTDC.

Regards,
Paul
Last edited by FEfinaticP on October 25th, 2015, 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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P
P

August 31st, 2005, 8:55 pm #2

Last edited by FEfinaticP on May 7th, 2010, 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Curt
Curt

August 31st, 2005, 8:56 pm #3

It is funny that I found one of the links you provided
> below via a google search last night, but not the 2nd one. The info on one
> of the links you provided really fixed me up -- thanks so much!
>
> I had some real challenges the last two days. On the port engine I had 4
> exhaust valves stick (literally frozen), and the push rods came off the
> rocker arms. One of the push rods got jamed up under the rocker arm shaft
> and bent up like a pretzel! I was able to free all stuck valves after a lot
> of work, and replaced the bad push rod -- and got the engine running
> smoothly again. I can hardly believe there was not serious damage to the
> engine (like a valve punched through a piston), but so far things seem to be
> OK and I continue to keep my fingers crossed. But after fixing the valve
> problems, the raw water pump impeller on that same port engine destroyed
> itself, and I had to tear the pump apart and replace the impeller. Now I
> notice that the starboard engine seems to not be pumping raw water properly,
> so tomorrow I guess I'll be tearing into that.
>
> I imagine I will be chasing problems like this for the next year or so after
> firing up engines that have sat unrun for 25 years! So far nothing too
> expensive or unfixable, and I have my fingers tripple-crossed.
>
> Looking forward to bringing this old Commander back from the grave!
>
> Thanks again, and best wishes, Curt....
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Paul
Paul

August 31st, 2005, 8:58 pm #4

Hi Curt,
>
> Glad the info helped you. The 427 blocks are pretty good quality iron alloy and should still be in good shape, don't know if you're raw water or heat exchanger cooled, but those heat exchangers ALWAYS cause overheating problems if running hard because they're a poor design (basically too small for the big motor).
>
> Marvel Mystery Oil is what I'd use to help free up the lifters and cam lobes, etc., etc. It's a good top oil treatment, and works wonders on lifters. I'd watch that oil filter, as it could get clogged fast after sitting that long.

> Of interest, when I bought my Commander with 427s, one cylinder didn't even have ANY compression because the valve was set too tight. It was an intake valve and it was so far open it wouldn't compress air, and the fuel was actually igniting in the exhaust manifold and popping on occasion. Pretty unnerving at speed.
>
> I would pour some oil down into the lifter area, prior to cranking the motors, as I'm sure the oil pumps have no prime, and the cam lobes may have rusted a little. That's the main worry, any corrosion on the critical parts. For that reason, I would expect there to be some level of rust in the oil system, and the filter should take it out. I'd most certainly use a new filter, and new oil, and would cut the filter in half after running a while and take a look for whatever it caught. Never done it, sounds like a real mess, but it might be revealing.
>
> Were the engines run while this boat was docked, or did they essentially sit for ten years?
>
> regards, Paul
Last edited by FEfinaticP on August 31st, 2005, 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Curt
Curt

August 31st, 2005, 9:00 pm #5


From the looks of things it appears that the previous owner started the engines periodically over the 25 years he owned the boat. From talking to other folks at the moorage, it seems they wouldn't see him on the boat for 2 or 3 years, and then he would show up and work on it for a while. And the last few years he can no longer walk, so he quit coming to the boat. At any rate, the oil was really dirty and old looking, so I don't think it had been changed for many many years. We changed the oil before getting the engines fired up the first time.

When we pulled the valve covers off to see what was banging around in the port engine a couple of days ago, we found 4 push rods out of their sockets due to sticky valves, and one rod bent badly (held by my friend Jim who it turns out is a pretty good mechanic):
We replaced that rod, bought a valve spring compressor tool and removed the springs from the 4 valves which were stuck (one at a time, with piston near top). Used penetrating oil plus Mystery Oil and vice grips on the top of the stem to get each valve where it was possible to move it, then chucked the valve into a drill motor and spun it while working it up and down. Got all 4 stuck valves nice and free without having to remove the heads. Compression of cylinders 140 to 160 -- I think that could improve after we get a few hours on the engines now that the valves are freed up.

Several people (you included) have mentioned Mystery Oil as good stuff -- never heard much about it before, but we will be using it from now on. The dry dock guy also has antique planes, and says Marvel Mystery Oil is used in the fuel every 3rd tank to keep the valves from sticking (a comon problem with old radial engines apparently). So now I'm a believer. We poured it liberally on the valve trains, changed oil filters, and put a quart in crankcase. Will be adding some to gasoline once we get the boat out of drydock (currently getting bottom cleaning and painted). We will also be changing filters several more times over the next few engine hours.

Anyway, the top of the heads under the valve covers looked pretty good on the port engine (aside from the stuck valves). No sludge and no visible rust except for a fine coating on the inside top of the valve covers. Once we get out of drydock, we will run the boat the 20 miles back to her mooring at about 1400 rpm (same speed we used going to drydock) -- I want to baby the engines until we can check the valves in the starboard engine, and until we get a few more hours under our belts. And also no instruments on the boat work, so I don't want to work the engines too hard until I can get all of that sorted out. We are using a portable tachometer to tell the engine speed until I get the onboard instruments working or replaced.

You mentioned heating problems. We are experiencing some. I have an infrared non-contact temperature gun, and checked things continously on the 20 mile trip to drydock. The port engine expansion tank was running about 225 degrees, and starboard about 185. No real hot spots on the engines or exhaust tubing that worried me.

The engines are fresh water cooled. I checked the raw water pump impeller on the port engine yesterday and it is in good condition, and we are getting good raw water flow through the system. When I get the boat back home I will try to check the fresh water thermostat (if I can find it), and next take the heat exchanger off and disassemble it to see if it is clogged. Thanks for mentioning that the heat exchanger is undersized -- that makes it even more important that I make sure it is clean.

TIMING QUESTION: Can you tell me where I set the timing on these engines? I found a degree scale marked on the harmonic balancer on the front of the engines, but no reference pointer on the engines. I have been thinking that the pointer is missing, but now I'm wondering if I should look at the back of the engine for a window over the flywheel -- it just occured to me that perhaps they have timing marks on the flywheel. I can't really check that until we get the boat out of drydock, but perhaps you know?

Thanks again,
Curt in Portland OR

PS, below is a pic of me on the boat:












edit comment: Link added to thread "we can now change these in our sleep"

http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 130464250/



Last edited by FEfinaticP on June 16th, 2006, 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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P
P

August 31st, 2005, 9:03 pm #6

there's a pointer at the flywheel right ahead of the transmission. Most people would look at the front of the motor, but there is a detent in the flywheel that the pointer points at, and the motor should be timed at 500 rpm while engaged in drive (thats tough to do at the docks, so be careful).


Regarding impellers, if you have not changed all of them, you need to as they don't like sitting in the bent position for years on end. The blades come loose and get wedged into the water flow system too, and can cause hot spots.

If you are raw water cooled, does this mean you are running salt water through the engine block. Lemme know on this.

Thanks, Paul
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Curt
Curt

August 31st, 2005, 9:05 pm #7

Hi Paul,

I am fresh water cooled (raw water pump supplying water to a heat exchanger which engine coolant also runs through). I just bought new raw water pump impellers (Jabsco profile "X" for Sherwood Chris Craft raw water pumps) and installed them on both sides.

I now have the boat in drydock for below-waterline survey, hull cleaning and painting -- here is a pic. This boat has been sitting in river water for the last 25 years without being pulled, so the old bottom paint is kind of tired:

Regarding timing the 427 engines -- I found a window with a pointer at the back of the engines looking down onto the flywheels. On the flywheels there is a round drill-divit, and then a few degrees away a little tick mark. Can you tell me if the drill divot is where the timing should be set at idle? I set it there, and then when reving the engine up the timing advances to the tick mark. So I'm guessing I have figured this out right, but I don't have the original instructions so I'm not sure.

Also, the distributors on these engines appear to be capable of holding two sets of points each, but we only have a single set installed in this boat. I assume that is OK. I have the point gap set about 0.020"

Thanks!
Curt in Portland OR..
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Joined: July 15th, 2005, 8:09 pm

August 31st, 2005, 9:30 pm #8


(yes, the pointer on the flywheel is the timing pointer, it points to the drill mark in the flywheel, the motors are to be timed at 500-rpm while in gear, which is somewhat dangerous, but that's what the owners manual says)

get the Pertronix ignition system. You set it once and forget it. It's an infra-red or magnetic pickup and it's very reliable, it's the best thing you can do to a vintage motor.




Here's what they say about it

LOOK AT THESE FEATURES:
A solid-state electronic system... "never change points again!"
Test results show the Ignitor delivers twice the voltage to the spark plugs, increasing horsepower, fuel economy and plug life.
A 2:1 improvement over point type systems in current fall time for increased coil output.
System is designed for use with most point-type coils, optimal performance achieved when used with our Flame-Thrower 40,000 volt coil.
Rotating cobalt magnets, mounted on the distributor shaft, trigger an electronic switching module (Hall effect integrated circuit)
...no points to burn, pit and corrode
...no moving and rubbing parts to wear out.
Electronics are molded in epoxy, eliminating deterioration from dirt, oil, grease or moisture (better foul weather performance).
Fits entirely inside the distributor, no "black box" to clutter your engine compartment. Stable timing... no need for any adjustments.
No complicated wiring makes installations easy. Compatible with 12-volt negative ground systems (some applications available for 6-V negative ground and 6 and 12-V positive ground systems)
Works great in stock point-type distributors as a trigger for multi spark CD ignitions, eliminating the need for expensive aftermarket distributors.
California Resources Board E.O. #D-57-2, legal in all 50 states and Canada.
Guaranteed for 30 months, We Stand Behind It!
<a href="http://www.pertronix.com</a" target="_new">http://www.pertronix.com</a>/









Many of us have done it, and I don't know of one single person who had a bad experience with it.

With dual points, you'll have twice the opportunity for something to go wrong. Buy three kits, keep one on board as a spare (but you may never need it).



I would call someone like Maryville Marine, to be sure you got the right part fot the Eaton (Mallory) distributor. Here is a number that I know will work for you, I don't recommend getting these from an automobile supply house, get em from this group (Marine Parts Source) 866-388-0390.

This is a very easy conversion, you keep your dist cap and toss the points. As a matter of fact, I may do a special post on this one later.


regards, Paul
Last edited by FEfinaticP on September 1st, 2005, 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bill Rayson
Bill Rayson

August 31st, 2005, 10:12 pm #9


From the looks of things it appears that the previous owner started the engines periodically over the 25 years he owned the boat. From talking to other folks at the moorage, it seems they wouldn't see him on the boat for 2 or 3 years, and then he would show up and work on it for a while. And the last few years he can no longer walk, so he quit coming to the boat. At any rate, the oil was really dirty and old looking, so I don't think it had been changed for many many years. We changed the oil before getting the engines fired up the first time.

When we pulled the valve covers off to see what was banging around in the port engine a couple of days ago, we found 4 push rods out of their sockets due to sticky valves, and one rod bent badly (held by my friend Jim who it turns out is a pretty good mechanic):
We replaced that rod, bought a valve spring compressor tool and removed the springs from the 4 valves which were stuck (one at a time, with piston near top). Used penetrating oil plus Mystery Oil and vice grips on the top of the stem to get each valve where it was possible to move it, then chucked the valve into a drill motor and spun it while working it up and down. Got all 4 stuck valves nice and free without having to remove the heads. Compression of cylinders 140 to 160 -- I think that could improve after we get a few hours on the engines now that the valves are freed up.

Several people (you included) have mentioned Mystery Oil as good stuff -- never heard much about it before, but we will be using it from now on. The dry dock guy also has antique planes, and says Marvel Mystery Oil is used in the fuel every 3rd tank to keep the valves from sticking (a comon problem with old radial engines apparently). So now I'm a believer. We poured it liberally on the valve trains, changed oil filters, and put a quart in crankcase. Will be adding some to gasoline once we get the boat out of drydock (currently getting bottom cleaning and painted). We will also be changing filters several more times over the next few engine hours.

Anyway, the top of the heads under the valve covers looked pretty good on the port engine (aside from the stuck valves). No sludge and no visible rust except for a fine coating on the inside top of the valve covers. Once we get out of drydock, we will run the boat the 20 miles back to her mooring at about 1400 rpm (same speed we used going to drydock) -- I want to baby the engines until we can check the valves in the starboard engine, and until we get a few more hours under our belts. And also no instruments on the boat work, so I don't want to work the engines too hard until I can get all of that sorted out. We are using a portable tachometer to tell the engine speed until I get the onboard instruments working or replaced.

You mentioned heating problems. We are experiencing some. I have an infrared non-contact temperature gun, and checked things continously on the 20 mile trip to drydock. The port engine expansion tank was running about 225 degrees, and starboard about 185. No real hot spots on the engines or exhaust tubing that worried me.

The engines are fresh water cooled. I checked the raw water pump impeller on the port engine yesterday and it is in good condition, and we are getting good raw water flow through the system. When I get the boat back home I will try to check the fresh water thermostat (if I can find it), and next take the heat exchanger off and disassemble it to see if it is clogged. Thanks for mentioning that the heat exchanger is undersized -- that makes it even more important that I make sure it is clean.

TIMING QUESTION: Can you tell me where I set the timing on these engines? I found a degree scale marked on the harmonic balancer on the front of the engines, but no reference pointer on the engines. I have been thinking that the pointer is missing, but now I'm wondering if I should look at the back of the engine for a window over the flywheel -- it just occured to me that perhaps they have timing marks on the flywheel. I can't really check that until we get the boat out of drydock, but perhaps you know?

Thanks again,
Curt in Portland OR

PS, below is a pic of me on the boat:












edit comment: Link added to thread "we can now change these in our sleep"

http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 130464250/


That's one bent pushrod you got there! WOW.

BRayson
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Joined: August 25th, 2005, 5:45 am

September 1st, 2005, 2:50 am #10

Yeah, bent big-time! I still can't believe a valve didn't break or push down through the piston.

Best wishes....
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