pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
8/23/21 7:36 p.m.

I'm with Brap.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/23/21 8:07 p.m.

Yeah, that's my thought too. I will likely paint the timing cover and water pump, since bare aluminum loves to corrode and pit up here. Timing cover is at a friend's now getting repaired. Part of one of the bolt holes cracked when I wrestled it off the truck. Both the water pump and cover did clean up nice, though!

Am I nuts for wanting to re-use the 42 yer old OE water pump? It feels great, doesn't squeak, and worked fine. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/23/21 8:46 p.m.

I say paint it, but im quite vain


DarkMonohue Reader
8/23/21 9:19 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

Am I nuts for wanting to re-use the 42 yer old OE water pump?

You were moments away from pulling the heads, and now you want to retain a water pump - a consumable - that is now old enough to think seriously about getting a prostate exam.

You're nuts. Replace the water pump.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/24/21 9:10 a.m.

My 40 something year old water pump on the 240 looked and worked fine until it seized and threw the clutch fan through the new aluminum radiator. I thought they would just start weeping and I would replace it then but in fact they can fail in expensive ways. I would not even think about it throwing that back in. laugh

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/24/21 10:06 a.m.

Ok guys, I ordered a new water pump. laugh

Not worth taking the chance, and frankly, it's a miracle this OEM pump made it 42 years. It deserves a happy retirement.

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/21 11:58 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Good call, I just replaced the fan clutch on my truck after 30 years.  I didn't think the old one was bad, but with the new one my coolant temps dropped 20 degrees at idle in 90 degree heat.  Sometimes stuff just wears out.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/24/21 1:49 p.m.

It wasn't raining on my break today, so I worked on the truck a bit.

New timing set is in and the valvetrain is back in as well and everything is torqued. This Cloyes double roller set is BEEFY. So beefy that the keyway on the fuel pump eccentric doesn't really line up. I don't have a mechanical pump anymore so that shouldn't be much of a problem. So far, I had enough battery to test the #1 cylinder for compression and I got 150PSI! That's more like it.

In this soapy bucket are all of the pulleys, brackets, hardware, and bolts. They were covered in 40+ years of yuck. Bolts will end up in some Evapo-Rust after this.

That's the nylon cam gear. As you can see, it's chunky. And that's why we don't make essential timing components out of nylon, kids.

I'll have more results of the compression testing later.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/25/21 3:15 p.m.



All 8 cylinders are between 125-140psi. In fact, only one (cylinder #6) is below 135psi. From what I read, 100psi is acceptable, and anything north of 120psi in a smog-era LA 318 is pretty healthy, so this is a HUGE win!

I also pulled the brackets, bolts, and pulleys from their bath:

The crank pulley alone had so much gunk on it that it might have been causing balance issues! No joke, there was about an inch of gunk on there. That gunk preserved most of the original paint, which is cool. The rest will get some cleaning and paint before I bolt them back on.  I still need to clean some engine bay areas before bolting it all back together, which will happen soon. It's beyond gross in there.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/26/21 8:34 p.m.

Spent today cleaning, painting, and getting the radiator back in mountable condition. 

Pro Tip: yard flag holders work great for painting small parts! Just don't tell my wife that I borrowed this. wink

Harmonic balancer and pulleys look much better now. 

JB Welded the end bracket back onto the radiator. I also cleaned and painted it, but forgot to take pics of it. Hopefully, it still does radiator things. I was even able to get the petcock loose!

Also decided to pressure wash the engine bay. The frame rails, engine crossmember, and the lower core suport cleaned up nice! 

Tomorrow, more work on the timing cover, some more paint, and we'll get it all back together. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/30/21 10:06 a.m.

It's been a few days, but I've been busy at work.

Got the timing cover back from my friend who had to TIG it back together, and since the casting is 40+ year old crappy aluminum that's been soaked in gallons of oil over the years, it was hard to get adhesion. He basically added a bunch of material and I massaged it back into shape and skimmed it with some JB Weld. It did the job.

Plus, it got painted!

New water pump also got a few coats of Chrysler Corporate Blue.

And then things got carried away and I did this. If anything, it will help me trace leaks better instead of sqinting at an already oily block.

Speaking of oil leaks, the crank seal has been leaking bad since I brought the truck home. This is the OEM seal, and it had a bunch of cracks in it. These also are supposed to have a felt insert that soaks up some of the oil, which was long gone.

That's looking better now. I also installed the new dipstick tube. Had to use the old dipstick, because the one it came with was about 6" too short, but that's ok.

I read that when installing the balancer, you should space it off the timing cover exactly the way it was when you pulled it, so I got it as close as I could. I also painted the timing marks so I can read them better.

The power steering pump actually cleaned up really well. This was a big grease nugget before! And for the first time since I brought the truck home, I can actually adjust the tension. That bolt on the slicer has been snapped for probably decades. I made sure I used plenty of anti-seize on all the bolts so that doesn't happen again.

That looks so much better now. But does it run?


Not only does it run, it runs much, much better than it did before, probably because the timing chain is not a wet noodle. I still need to re-set initial timing, as it's slightly off and causes hard starts, but it sounds healthy and all the vitals are good.

Well, except for this:

The extremely suspect radiator finally popped. It's got holes in the top AND the bottom. So after all of that, I will need to replace that. Ugh.

But hey, the 318 bent 5 push rods and a valve kissed a piston and it runs better now than before, so overall, I'm calling this one a huge win.

JeremyJ Reader
8/30/21 10:44 a.m.

Nice job, man. That engine looks great in there. I'm glad to hear it's running again. 

Norma66-Brent Reader
8/30/21 12:15 p.m.

Good deal man. glad to see shes back running after a scare

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
8/30/21 12:24 p.m.

What did you do about the timing chain cover to oul pan surface? Any leaks?

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/30/21 12:53 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

The gasket kit had those little cork "wings". I tried using them, but they kept slipping out on me and both eventually tore. I ended up using Ultra Black RTV and no leaks so far. I fully expect it to leak at some point, because Mopar.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/30/21 1:35 p.m.

A new wrench in the works: For some reason, affordable radiators are sold out everywhere. I've tried my local places and favorite online stores, and no one has one or can even get one. It's to the point that I may have to use one from a different vehicle to get the truck back on the road. My core size is 26" x 18", with the top outlet on the driver's side and bottom outlet on the passenger side. I noticed that the Dodge B-Van radiators are really close, and those are still available, so I may have to try one of those and make some mounting brackets to make it work.

Sonic UltraDork
8/30/21 3:29 p.m.

Summit has an excellent tool online to find a radiator that you can make to work.  I've had to use it for swaps especially when I needed a thick core to put up with a lot more power.  You gradually narrow down the selection based on size, then hose locations, diameter, etc until you find something that works.  That's how we ended up with some sort of circle track radiator in our k swapped Lemons 89 Civic.  

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/30/21 4:21 p.m.

In reply to Sonic :

See, that's why I mentioned it. I had no idea that existed. Thanks!

I have found two similarly sized radiators from other Mopars that may do the trick: the aforementioned Dodge B-van, and the 1970-74 Challenger. The Challenger one is real close, as long as it's the right one. The inlet/outlet are sometimes backwards from what I'm seeing, but I've found some that are correct.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/31/21 7:54 p.m.

I've immersed myself in the research of radiators for this stupid truck for the past few days. I've realized that there were two possible radiator sizes that could come with the truck, and now I know why. The smaller 22" wide core ones came in the 1972-78 trucks and the 1979-80 with the round headlights. The one in my truck, the 26" wide core one, came in 1979-80 trucks with the quad rectangular headlights and the 1981-93 trucks. The crappy part: no one has a direct fit one that I've seen in stock. None of the auto parts chains have one or can get one. All are out of stock forever.

This is dumb. 

I did find one, a "DH Racing" one on Ebay that comes with some electric fans for $320 shipped. The dumb part: the smaller ones for the older trucks are about half the price. I also found one that fits a 1970-74 Challenger that's close to the same size for $150. I may have to take a gamble on that and make it fit. It might blow up in a few months, but it has to be better than what I have now. 

DarkMonohue Reader
8/31/21 9:05 p.m.

Rockauto has nothing in stock. Nothing for my pickup, either, which makes me wonder if there's a worldwide shortage due to lack of labor or logistical issues or something. 

There's a #959 copper/brass unit on eBay: shows a 959 all-metal as well as an aluminum version "in stock", though I don't know what that really means. If you call 1-800-Radiator you should reach a local franchise who can confirm availability. 

Any of the above would inspire more confidence than a generic "eBay brand".


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
9/1/21 9:52 a.m.

After much waffling, I clicked Buy It Now on this earlier this morning:

This is meant to fit a Dodge Charger with a small block according to the listing. The core dimensions are nearly identical with the width being exactly the same, but the overall height and width are slightly different than what's in my truck. The inlet/outlet sizes are correct, the shroud mounting holes are close to where they need to be, and it has a trans cooler. I've heard good things about the Champion radiators from a lot of people. They are a step up from the generic Ebay ones. My friend just bought one from Champion for his big block '70 Town and Country wagon and he's been real happy with it. After some light massaging, it should do the job.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/1/21 11:41 a.m.

I have one in my 240 and it's been great even in summertime Atlanta traffic. Even if it's slightly different size wise it will be easy to fit in there and that core should be overkill for you. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
9/1/21 11:47 a.m.

Ive bought a bunch of champions. Never had too many negative experiences. 

Even when ordering the correct application, they require massaging to fit. But they dont leak, cool good, and are reliable in my experience. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
9/2/21 1:03 p.m.

While I'm waiting for the radiator to show up, I was thinking back at how far this truck has come. Let's just look under the hood for example:

It blows my mind that this is the same truck! There's a lot more to do, but it looks so damn good now under here. I can't wait until I can get it back on the road and tune the EFI system! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
9/6/21 9:13 p.m.

Had a busy weekend, but I carved out a few minutes to wrench on the truck for a bit tonight. The objective: see how off the timing is. 

When I swapped in the new timing set, I figured the timing readings I've been getting weren't accurate on my timing gun or on the EFI screen. The plan was to confirm timing with my timing gun to see how off it was, adjust it, and shut it down before it overheats. Remember, the radiator has two large holes in it. After going through the procedure to set the ECU for a timing check, I fired it up (backfired through the throttle body a few times but eventually started) and I checked the balancer. Now, I had set it to 15 on the ECU, and got it close on the gun before, but the timing mark hopped around due to the stretchy chain. After checking the timing again with a good timing set installed, I found it to be way off. 


Yeah, that's bad. 

So, I set it again and it ran (and started) better. But now there's another problem:

When you start it on the current tune, it will pump up RPM for a bit and kick down like most EFI things do. When it first kicks down to the 850 idle I set, timing is 14-15 degrees BTDC, just as it should be. But then it drops to 7-9 BTDC, like you see here. I'm 99.9% sure this is because of the current tune. I had tuned this when timing was wacky, mainly because I didn't know timing was wacky. It didn't have time to learn, since I couldn't run it for long without overheating. Once I get the new radiator in (whenever it shows up), I'm going to reflash the last known good tune and crank up learning parameters to 100% so it can figure itself out. The good news is everything else looks good. MAP kpa was weird last time I had it running, and now that's normal. And the sheer fact that this thing runs at all is a damn miracle! 


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