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The exhaust work for the car is finally finished!

I took the car to a local shop, ELBIE'S AUTOMOTIVE, for the exhaust work.  Brent did a terrific job of fabricating the pipes.  I didn't have the old pipe for a pattern, so he did it from scratch.

The pipes from the Langdon headers are 2 1/2", to match the flanges on the headers.  From there they run down and under the transmission crossmember to a pair of Smithy mufflers, with a crossover or balance pipe just ahead of the mufflers.  The mufflers are 2", so Brent flared the inlets to match the larger pipe.  The pipes from there back are 2", to a pair of chrome rolled edge tips that extend a tad past the rear bumper.  The pipes run parallel all the way back and exit together on the passenger side.  The OEM type rubber hangers were fab'd to mount to the inside face of the frame, and off of the rear crossmember.

There were a couple of tricky bends, and the clearance between the right tie rod and front most head pipe is tight when the suspension is up all the way, but it looks like it will be ok.

The sound is great!  The balance pipe evens out the tone a bit, to a nice cam burble at idle, and a cool growl when you mash the pedal... 

To hear the exhaust and various other sound clips of the car, check out the sound page from the main index of this site.


Nice tidy shop
head pipes from below
head pipes
Smithy's with crossover

rubber hanger
side shot
up and over the axle out the back


rolled edge tips
look from the rear


Lots has happened since the last update of the engine page.  I received the headers that I had sent to HPC to get the ceramic coating.  They look terrific, I'm very happy with the work HPC did.  And, since they are coated inside and out, they should last a long time without rust issues.

I mounted the headers, finished mounting the intake and did some temporary wiring to try and start it up.  I turned the engine over by hand with a wratchet untill the oil pressure came up.  I also spun it over with the starter for a bit to make sure it was turning over like it should, and then re-connected the battery.  When I turned the key, it roared to life and ran like a top.  I haven't done any real tuning other than setting the timing thus far, but I don't think it will need much.  The carbs may need to be leaned out some, but run great right out of the box.

Other than taking care of a fuel line leak, re-sealing the water pump, and an oil pan gasket leak, everything seems to be working like it is supposed to, HUGH sigh of relief!  I've anticipted the first startup for along time.  It was worth every minute to hear it purrrrrrr.

The throttle responce is quick, I can't wait to get it out on the road and see what it'll do!

The trottle linkage turned out to be very simple.  Since I removed all of the stock linkage with the old head, I had to figure out a new setup.  My solution was to use a new Lokar throttle cable.  The cable mounted to the gas pedal arm like it was made for it, and pulls the cable when the pedal is pushed to the floor.  I used an old chrome throttle bracket that I had laying around to mount the other end at the base of one of the carbs.  See the pics below for detail.

A few months later, after getting the transmission installed, the rear wheel bearings and seals replaced, and finishing the brakes, my boys and I took the maiden voyage around the block.  We had no fenders, exhaust, or glass, but it was a total thrill to drive the car under it's own power for the first time in nearly four  years!  Click on over to the sound page to see the maiden voyage video clip.


headers coated
headers installed
headers installed

headers with HPC ceramic coating
the new headers installed
another shot

Lokar throttle cable
cable and linkage on carbs
cable mount at carb base
gas pedal end of cable under the floor


Engine rebuild update:

I bought a remote oil filter from http://flatattackracing.com and mounted it to the firewall.  The filter has a sort of '50s beehive look to it, but inside the polished cap is a standard spin on filter.  No mess changing the filter.  The oil lines from the block, which I had made at my local NAPA store, attach to the bottom rear of the filter.  The lid seals to the oil line passages in the cannister with o-rings, so the lid with filter attached can be taken to the work bench to change the filter. 

While I was at it, I mounted the finned coil cover made by O'Brien Truckers, to the firewall.  The coil isn't in there yet, but that is next in conjuction with the wiring.

I sent the tube headers to HPC for a coating, inside and out, of their aluminized ceramic stuff that will make them last much longer and reduce the heat they throw off into the engine compartment.

Next is to get the headers mounted, run the necessary wires, and try to fire it up for the first time.  Can't wait....


Flatattack filter
Rear mounting side
Lid off, spin on filter inside
Filter installed on drivers side of firewall

coil cover
Oil lines
Oil lines attached to filter Lines into block, one over the other
Coil cover installed


Engine rebuild update:

Been along time since an update, so here goes-

Since the last update, I've reinstalled the engine, fab'd the clear red ignition wires, and some of the throttle linkage.

After getting the engine back in the frame, I had someone via e-mail ask how I plugged the hole in the rear main bearing cap, to keep the oil from running out with the new neoprene type seal...  My reply was, "what hole"?  Sure enough there was a hole, about 5/16" diameter, from the outside of the bearing cap clear through to the inside face, or directly into the oil pan side of the cap.  Long story short, I pulled the engine back out, removed the flywheel and bell housing, dropped the oil pan and rear main bearing cap.  I used JB weld to fill the hole, as I couldn't see any other way to do it.  Put it all back together and back in the car.  What a pain!  It's good to go now however, just have to gather a few more parts before fireing it for the first time.

Also, before I pulled the engine to fix the oil hole issue, I installed the 70lb 230 flywheel from under the car with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  Believe me, its much easier to do before putting the engine in the car.  I discovered a bit of erronious advice in the process.  The original 218 flywheel bolts were installed from the engine side of the crank flange, so I assumed that they should be installed the same way on the 230 crank.  In order to do this, the bolts had to be put into the crank flange when the rear main bearing cap was off, as the bolts are too long to go in otherwise.  As it turns out, the bolts for the 230 crank and flywheel DO NOT go in the same way as the 218, they go in from the transmission side, with the nuts on the engine side of the crank flange.  I pulled the bolts out when I had the bearing cap off to fix the oil hole, and put them in the other way.

New to the engine project is a set of stainless steel tube headers from Tom Langdon of Langdon's Stovebolt Six.  I sold the cast iron manifold I had split to another plymouth owner.  The new headers dump symetrically about the oil pump, so the head pipes will be much easier to bend as the oil pump will not be in the way of the front dump.  The only clearance issues with the new headers were two of the thumb screw bolts that hold the valve tappet covers on.  They had to be trimmed about 1/8" for the front and rear tubes to clear.  I mentioned this to Tom, and he is going to modify the headers so that they won't hit the screws.

Also new, is the Mini HEI distributor, from Langdon as well.  This is a direct swap item, for the stock unit, I will be using a round coil (optional from Langdon) mounted in a finned aluminum coil cover to the firewall.  The HEI unit uses early 80's GM parts that are readily available, and is maintanence free, with centrifugal and vacuum advance.

The photos below show the clear red spark plug wires, and Rajah tips.  I'm going to try them, but I've been advised by Tom Langdon that they may be a problem with the Mini HEI, and that I may need to replace them with a good set of insulated plug wires.  We'll see what happens.

Now to finish mounting the intake and headers, get a battery and cables, and fire it up!

rear main
rear main
rear main
tube headers
hole in rear main cap
interior side, one hole goes all the way through.
hole filled with JB Weld
New Stainless headers from Langdon's

engine installed
just in...
mocked up again-
clear red wires

rajah wire tips
langdon's mini gm hei


Engine rebuild update:

Well, its been a while since the last update.  I have not done much with the car in the last few months, but have done some work on the engine.  It is just about done, just a few little things left to put back on and its ready to go back into the frame.  Here's a few photos of what it looks like now.

The air cleaner cover is an O'brien Truckers item, from Hot Rod and Custom Suppy.  It is sitting a bit high in the photos here, as I still have to adjust the carb bolts that hold it on.

I have to paint the exhaust manifolds also, they will be manifold grey.  

The alternator is an externally regulated MoPaR unit, and the bracket was very easy to fab.  I just used a length of threaded rod and a piece of brass pipe for a bushing, and used the original generator bracket to hold it all together.  Took all of an hour to put it together.

intake and exhaust side


alternator front
alternator rear
alternator bracket


Engine rebuild update:

Here's a few shots of a bit of progress on the engine.  I've installed all six pistons, so now the bottom end is complete.  I received the new rear main seal kit from VPW, which was the neoprene rubber seal and rubber "tabs" that go under the bearing cap.  This seal seemed like a much better seal than the type that bolts on to the face of the block and bearing cap, so I used it.  My block and bearing cap had the groove machined to accept the seal, apparently some do not.

My next step will be to install the oil pick-up tube, cross over tube, motor mount plate, timing gears and chain, chain case cover, and oil pan.  I'll post photos as I go.


installing piston
assembly lube
all 6 installed
installing pistons
measuring bearing clearance
installing rod with assembly lube
all 6 pistons installed


Engine rebuild update:

I'm finally in the process of putting my 230 back together.  I brought the block back home from the engine shop that did the machine work, and cleaned it up a bit.  The engine shop reassembled my valve train for me, including the cam and  new cam bearings.  They also did a complete balance of the crank, flywheel, rods, and pistons.

I had them send my cam out for a regrind, which is supposed to be a 3/4 cam grind. 
The spec's they gave me for the grind done on the cam are:

366 lift
226 duration from .050"
112 deg lobe separation

I've since been asking others about this grind, and have been told that these numbers aren't much different from the stock cam, or that they don't seem to add up.  I can't seem to get a straight answer about what to expect from this grind, so if you or anyone you know has an opinion on cams for these hopped up flatheads,  please drop me an e-mail.  I 'd like to know how this will perform, or if it isn't a good grind, what would be ideal for my application.

The second issue I ran into with the rebuild was the used 230 rods that I bought from VPW.  I compared them to my original 218 rods, and noticed that they didn't have the oil hole in the top of the wrist pin end of the rod.  Apparently these 230 rods were from a marine/industrial engine type, which did not use the hole.  Several people told me that since the marine/industrial engines didn't turn high rpms, they didn't need the hole.  Since I want my engine to be a bit higher performance than stock, I drilled the holes in the ends of the rods to match the 218 rods and then had the balance checked.  Drilling the holes didn't make a significant difference in the balance, so I assembled the rods and pistons, which are now ready to go into the block.

The third quandery I came to with the engine, was checking the main bearing clearance.  My NOS 230 crank and the bearings are .010" undersize.  First, when cleaning the new bearings, I noticed that one of the shells was gouged by another bearing shell in the box during shipping.  I called VPW, and they offered to overnight a second complete set of bearings.  Once I got the new set, I used green plastigauge to check the bearing clearance, and all four mains measured out at .002".  My Plymouth repair manual quotes the maximun desirable clearnace as .0015", or 1/2 a thousand less than I had.  So, asked around, and was told by four differrent sources, including Vintage Power Wagons head mechanic, that despite what the book says, .002" is perfect.  They also said that a slightly greater clearance is better for a higher performance engine.  So rather than have the crank turned down to the next bearing size, I'm going to leave it as is.  

While installing the crank, I started putting the bearing caps on from the front.  When I got to the rear main cap, I discovered that the two rubber seal pieces that go under the cap were not included in my Seal Kit from Kantor Auto Products.  So I'm waiting for a new seal to arrive from VPW that includes the two pieces that go under the cap.

In the mean time, I'm going to fit the pistons to the block and check the rod bearing clearance.

Stay tuned, more later....   Pete

crank installed
new pistons

new 230 crank installed.
new pistons and 230 rods ready to go into the block.

Here's a handy formula for calculating the engine RPM for you car at a given highway speed:

Engine RPM= 168 x TR x MPH / tr

TR = rear end ratio  x   transmission final ratio
tr = tire rolling radius

Here's my car:

RPM = 168 x 3.9 x .7 x 65 / 13.75  = 2168 RPM @ 65 MPH

3.9 is rear end ratio
.7 is the overdrive reduction (30%)
13.75 is the radius of my tires

Without the Overdrive, the rpm is 3097 @ 65 MPH!  What a difference.  It should
cruise along happily down the freeway with the overdrive, and get better fuel economy too.

Engine update:

It turns out that the rebore on the cylinders could be accomplished in .030" over, so I decided to go with that rather than .040" over, just in case I ever need to do it again I'll have something left to work with.  The additional .01" only adds about 1.5 Cu In to the engine, so I'm not really losing that much by staying with the .03" over bore.

I ordered all of the engine rebuild parts, including the NOS 230 crank, 230 rods, and 230 flywheel, from Vintage Power Wagons.  They have one of the biggest supplies of parts for these engines, and Steve was very helpfull and knowledgable too.  Steve recommended using stainless steel exhaust valves, due to the high temperatures of burning unleaded fuel, and running high rpms with these little engines on todays roads.  So as soon as I get the big box of parts, I'll take the valve train stuff to my engine shop and they will take care of that part of the assembly.  They are also taking care of the cam regrind (3/4 cam, or RV type).  Then I will do the rest of the assembly.   

I also got the oil pump, water pump, and fuel pump from Vintage Power Wagons, as their prices were similar to the other suppliers, and they don't require a core (or core charge).

More later....


Engine Update-

I have decided that I can't afford the have the engine completely rebuilt by someone else, so I am going to do the dissassembly/reassembly myself.  The only aspects that I will send to the machine shop are boring the cylinders, the valve work, and I am going to have the cam ground to an RV type (3/4 grind).  The deluxe engine rebuild kit from Kanter contains everyting for the rebuild except the cam, so I'm figuring I will have $1,970.00 into it including the machine work, an NOS 230 crank, new 230 rods, new water pump, and new fuel pump.  The prices I was getting for a total rebuild for a stock 218 were $2,500, and included in the $1,970 are the water pump, fuel pump, $670 for the crank, rods, and flywheel, and $150 for the cam grind.  So I'm saving almost $2,000.00  for the 230 conversion by doing it myself.

As you can see from the photos below, It was definitly time to rebuild the engine.  The main bearings were scored, as well as the rod bearings.  And the pistons were all but useless.  I can't believe the engine ran as good as it did, after seeing the pistons.  The top compression ring was broken on all six pistions, and the bits and pieces of ring had pounded the ring groove clear through the top of the piston on #2 and #6, and nearly through on the other four.  At first I thought maybe it had beed running lean and had burned the holes, but it was just the rings beating their way out.  It must have been this way for along time, judging from the small bits of ring which are worn smooth like river stones.  The top ring was completely gone from the #6 piston, having escaped through the hole in the piston, and is probably in the muffler now.  This also explains the dents in the top of the piston.  Its also interesting to note that the cylinder walls are not scored, I thought for sure they would be after all the rattling around of the rings on all six pistons.

So now I'm ready to take the block to the machine shop, and as soon as the rebore is done, I will order the rest of the parts to match and begin putting it back together.  I will take photos of the process, so stay tuned.....

crank shaft
 block from bottom
 crank wear at gear end
 crank wear at clutch end
cam gear
check out the wear on the cam timing gear teeth
#6 piston with hole
almost worn through, look at the bits of ring
the ring groove on the #2 piston is big enough for two rings
almost worn throught
#2 piston with hole


I'm finally getting around to the engine, which I was only planning on repainting and adding external performance mods too.  I figured that I would run it as it was untill it really needed rebuilding since it seemed to run fine and didn't burn much oil or smoke at all.  It turns out that it really needed rebuilding already. 

I bought the Edgy head, which neccesitated removing the original head.  When I took the original head off, to my surprise I found two bad pistons, which you can see in the following photos.  I'm surprised it ran so good prior to pulling the engine out of the car.  The compression in #2 and #6 must have been low judging from the holes in the edges of the pistons.  Also, there is considerable wear in the cylinders, so reboring is in order.

So, now that I am faced with rebuilding, I am going to make a 230 out of the 218.  The block is the same for both engines, but the crank and connecting rods are different.  The bore and pistons are the same, but the stroke is longer on the 230, by 1/4".  I talked to Tom Langdon about the engine, and he said if it was his, he would bore it .060" over, use the 230 crank and rods to get 238 cubes out of it.

So now I'm checking prices with local machine shops to do the work, since I don't have the time or expertice to do the work myself.  Depending on who does the machine work, I may dissasemble the engine, to save a little in labor.  I'd like to hear from any of you who have done this to your engine, I'd like to know about any pitfalls I may encounter along the way.
head off #6 #2
head off, for a closer look
 # 6 piston, with hole
# 2 piston, with hole
pan off inside pan There is quite a bit of metalic sludge in the bottom of the pan, about 3/8".  The oil pickup tube and filter screen are pretty clogged too.  Change that oil!
engine on stand, pan off inside oil pan

Exhaust manifold update-

Here is the second exhaust manifold split by Mike Yoder from Kansas Kustoms.  This one is the original from my car, sand blasted, split, and re-welded to have a second dump without the heat riser.  Nice work Mike!

Also, Mike Yoder is in the process of developing a cast iron dual exhaust manifold.  If you are interested in having a pair of these for your car, contact Mike and let him know.

new manifold

new maifold



I pulled the water pump and took a look inside at the water distribution tube.  It was hard to see in there with the camera, but the tube looks remarkably clean and rust free.  I am surprised that it is not completely rusted, judging from the color of the coolant that came out of the block.  I am going to try pulling out the tube, to check the other end for corrosion.  If it doesn't want to come out, I am going to leave it alone since it looks pretty good from the water pump end.

water tube this is what the water distribution tube looked like after pulling the water pump.
water distrubition tube

I didn't realize until I pulled the front clip that the NOS manifold that I had Kansas Kustoms split for me was slightly different that the original.  I didn't know that there were more than one version, but apparently so.  The new split manifold could have worked, but I would have had to dimple the firewall to maintain enought clearance between the manifold and the paint on the firewall.  Mike and Kansas Kustoms was nice enough to take them back, re-sell them, refund my core charge, and split my original manifold at no cost to me other than return shipping.  I'm very happy with his work and can't wait to get the split manifold on the car. 
stock manifold NOS split tight fit
original manifold
NOS manifold
its a bit too tight.


My next project on the car is to get the intake and exhaust manifolds installed and set up.  I now have everything I need to put the manifolds on the car except the gaskets, which are on order.  I am going to take the existing manifolds off of the car next week, I am hoping that the nuts and bolts will come off without breaking or stripping.  I have been soaking them periodically for a couple of weeks to help them come off easier. 

I haven't decided whether to take the front clip off of the car now or not, I think it would be much easier to get the manifolds off  with the clip out of the way.  I am also thinking about pulling the engine/transmission for the tranny swap, so that I can really clean the engine and paint it.  I have an engine paint kit from POR-15.  Other than cosmetics, there isn't a pressing reason to pull the engine.  The problem is I don't know where to stop with the dissasembly.  If the engine is out, then maybe I should change the water distribution tube, etc, etc.....

More to come.......


engine parts
 click thumbnail for larger image
Edmunds Custom dual water heated intake
edmunds intake
edmunds intake
edmunds intake

Edgy Finned Aluminum Head, from Edgy Cams


edgy head top
edgy head bottom

Holly/Weber two barrel carbs

I bought the carbs, adapters, air cleaners and linkage from Stovebolt


Carb adapters

These convert the two barrel carbs to the single barrel intake mount

Carb linkage

Aluminum air cleaners

Stovebolts makes these, the base plate fits the two barrel carb and holds a standard air filter.

Here is the NOS exhaust manifold split by Mike Yoder of Kansas Kustoms.  I'm very happy with his work, you have to look pretty close to see the welds.

This NOS Manifold from Mike Yoder turned out to be differrent from the original manifold, so I had him split the original instead of making the NOS one clear the firewall.

This is the air cleaner cover I've been trying to find for some time, after seeing one in a Rodder's Journal.  It's from HR&C Supply.

The alternator is from Speedway Motors, it is part #910-67153


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