Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Various cracks in the engine block are found.

Restoration Part 11. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of Contact page.

August 2007.
The cylinder head had already been up to Lockstitch in Rochdale, where it received major surgery due to various cracking and corrosion issues. Unfortunately, when the cast iron engine block went away to have the crank reground, a plethora of cracks were discovered in the block itself. If it was a common engine, there would have been little choice but to replace it with a better unit. However the 331 Dodge straight 6 is a very difficult engine to find any parts for, let alone a replacement block, so the only option was to look into repairing it. One crack in the engine block had us very worried that it was beyond hope of being usable at all.
Taking the engine away to be machined
One very heavy engine seen here being lifted from my ancient trailer, ready to be assessed to establish whether it could be repaired or not. If it had been beyond repair, my only realistic option was to re-engine the Dodge with something more easily found, which I'd not have been happy with at all.
Close up showing the hidden core plug
While the engine was away being looked at, I also asked them to replace all the core plugs. The one shown in this picture has been replaced - this is usually covered by the gearbox bellhousing, so is hidden from view when the engine and 'box are assembled. When the two were split apart, this hidden plug was badly corroded and showed signs of leakage. It would only have been a matter of time before it burst, had the engine not been lifted out for full re-furbishment.
Just some of the cracks that had to be metal stitched
This photograph gives some clue as the extent of work that was required on the block, the green arrows pointing out just some of the tiny cracks that were found when the head was removed. One valve seat in particular had to be removed - a serious crack was discovered, running from behind the valve seat, across to the cylinder, and down the cylinder wall behind a liner that had been installed 50-60 years ago. Until the liner had been removed, we had no idea how bad the situation might be. It turned out that this crack extended some 2.5ins down into the bore itself, behind where the liner had sat. Fortunately Lockstitch were able to get down there and stitch this crack, leaving them to then source a suitable liner and machine it down to size before fitting it. The remaining seats were either re-cut or replaced as necessary, the valves themselves being ok.
The refurbished engine block
This photo shows the engine block once it had been returned to VHC following the machining work. The block was also pressure tested while away, to make sure no other cracks were lurking, and the waterways flushed prior to a ceramic coating being applied. The combination of the work done to the engine block, and the cylinder head a month or two earlier, was unexpected to say the least - I did have this engine running a few years ago and it sounded as sweet as a nut, but the looming issues found during this stripdown confirm that we had no option but strip it all down for checking and repair. The crank is still to be done.
Dodge engine diagram
The illustration above shows the general layout of the 331 cu in Dodge engine, a unit that also saw use in later WK-series trucks, and some industrial applications.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 10 - Fabrication work to the rear body frame.
Next Page: Part 12 - Trial fitting the front wings and other bodywork.
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