V8 engine build part 6 – front-end, intake manifold and finishing touches

V8 engine build part 6 – front-end, intake manifold and finishing touches

Been a bit of a busy few weeks on other things, so work on the car has been a bit patchy, but I have been progressively continuing with building up the engine when I can. This post brings together all of the little jobs I’ve done on the build over a number of weeks.

Starting at the front, with the camshaft and timing chain in, the timing cover gasket goes on.

Followed by the nicely cleaned up cover itself. I had bought all new bolts and washers for most parts fitted from this point on, all fitted using the correct Loctite sealant on the threads where specified.

And with the timing cover now permanently fitted I could finally get the crank pulley on one last time and torque it up. This was the first chance I had to properly verify that my little crank nose modification was successful, and I was happy and relieved to find that the fit was now perfect. I had set the crank accurately to TDC before I fitted the cover, so now I could properly fit my handmade timing pointer and line it up accurately to the timing marks on the pulley – again delighted that the fit was spot on.

Shiny new water pump and gasket went on next. I believe the pump assembly is common to other models and easy to find, but the pulley is possibly unique to the GT V8 configuration. I didn’t manage to find an original item, but Rimmers sell this very nice quality reproduction, although it’s not cheap.

Now that the front cover was on I could flip the engine over again and fit the sump properly. I used two new cork gaskets (to hopefully give the best chance of avoiding oil leaks), with blue Hylomar on any gaps in the jointing face, and then bolted it all down with new stainless bolts. The drain plug also received a new copper sealing washer.

Having solved that small clearance issue with the oil pump base in the previous update, and whilst the engine was upside-down, I fitted the new oil pump gears and packed them with Vaseline (or petroleum jelly if you prefer). This apparently is the standard way of priming the oil pump in the Rover V8, as it dissolves harmlessly in the oil.

Then the pump base was properly fitted.

Right way up again, and it seemed like a good time to fit the engine mounting brackets. I believe these are another GT V8 specific part which can be tricky to find in orginal form, but these cast reproductions are widely available from the usual places. The comprehensive fitting instructions make it difficult to fit them the wrong way round 🙂

And now a moment I had been waiting for for a very long time. These beautiful reproductions of the original GT V8 rocker covers were one of the first things I bought at the beginning of the project, somewhat prematurely perhaps, but their time has finally come, and they look amazing!

They’re available in two forms: one for the standard GT V8 manifold and twin SU setup, and the other for 4-barrel carb applications. These are the latter, since I had never intended to source/fit original SUs. Again they’re not cheap, but will make a wonderful finishing touch to the build, so worth every penny in my opinion.

Probably time to think about filling that big gap in the middle, and this lovely Offenhauser JWR inlet manifold which came as part of my box of delights from RPI looks just the job. This, I believe, is the lowest profile manifold available for use in this conversion, so should give me a fighting chance of having everything fit neatly beneath the standard MGB bonnet.

I first installed a new composite valley gasket and end seals, and then got on with bolting down the manifold.

At the front of the manifold I then fitted a new thermostat and housing. On the left you can also see the new adaptor which allows the standard MGB temperature sender to be connected.

At the back, the non-return valve for the brake servo hose is screwed into place. To the bottom of this picture you can see I’ve also fitted the adaptor pipe for the heater control valve – another GT V8 specific, but relatively easy to find part (at a price – there is a theme emerging here).

Speaking of which… Moving on to the alternator bracket, this is another fairly specific part, and I thought I had got very lucky a year or so ago when I found an original one on eBay for not very much money and snapped it up. It was only when I got to this stage and removed it from deep storage to fit it to the engine that I found out it wasn’t the right part at all. It was only a subtle difference in the casting, but there was no way the GT V8 alternator would fit (I think it may have been a P6 bracket).

Another frantic eBay search did turn up a couple of pretty grubby looking original brackets, but then I discovered that Rimmers are now selling a new reproduction casting of this bracket too, for less money than the eBay relics, so I went with this option. And here it is bolted to the head.

Then the alternator itself went on without any trouble, the fitting is completed by the black-painted tensioner bracket you can just make out in the picture below. With all the pulleys now present of course I took the opportunity to test fit the fan belt, and again there was another huge sigh of relief when it all lined up perfectly. I can’t describe how glad I am that I did that engine test fitting all those months back and discovered the crank nose issue, would have been pretty soul destroying to have only discovered it at this point!

Just one final touch was to pop the new distributor in place and check that it engaged correctly with the camshaft sprocket and oil pump – everything was good.

And I think that’s just about it for the engine now until I get it ready to go back into the car. I still need to fit the flywheel, but that will have to wait until it’s off the stand and ready to mate to the gearbox, and I’ll wait until the engine is fitted until I fit the carb and work out all the heater/breather pipe arrangements.

So this is all going to get wrapped up in plastic and moved out of the way whilst I make a more determined effort to finish the bodywork, and maybe one day even get the shell painted!

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