Post #1: Where we are so far.


In April ’05, I happened across an ad on Craigslist offering a Plymouth Acclaim for sale…”cheap”. Having just been through a month of downtime with the Intrepid due to a failed water pump and damaged valvetrain, a third car seemed appealing, especially a Plymouth, and especially cheap.

I contacted the seller, and found out it wasn’t running, but was sitting in the Oakland Mall parking lot. I headed over to have a look.

After I got back, I did some online digging, since the picture of the car clearly had an eBay logo embedded. That’s when the true story of this little Acclaim came out…

The car had been owned by a guy in Flint, MI. He had purchased it for a song from J&M Motors over on John R, and was in the process of fixing it up when it developed a rod knock. So he dumped it on eBay to the guy I bought it from, who lives in Cleveland.

The kid from Cleveland had no idea what he had gotten himself into, despite the fact that the eBay listing was very clear: the engine was damaged, and on its last legs. He attempted to drive it from Flint to Cleveland. He got as far as Oakland Mall before it finally quit running.

So after some haggling, and some other idiocy on the part of this kid, who apparently thought he would try to get more money from me for the car, we finally settled on $50 for the car, plus a few extra bucks for FedEx of the title. He shipped the keys, I sent the money, and there we were.

Well, it turned out the keys didn’t fit the doors, and somebody had pried their way in previously, so I did the same. The steering wheel was cut, as if somebody had removed The Club rather, uh, forcefully. And the engine in the car, a 2.5L 4-cylinder, didn’t match the VIN, which called for a 3.0L V6.

It all came clear. This had been a stolen car that somebody had swapped a replacement engine into.

So, I had it dragged home.

After awhile, I came across a listing on somebody in Akron, OH had a 1986 New Yorker Turbo they were parting out. Everything needed to go. So I contacted the guy, and asked him how much he wanted for the engine, transmission, wiring harness and computer. He answered back that $200 would cover it, and he’d throw in the axle shafts as well. A deal was struck! I went down to Ohio with the minivan and the $60 used engine hoist I purchased, and picked it up.

I found at this point that my reasons for wanting the car were evolving. Instead of just having some alternative transportation, I saw an opportunity to make a project out of this and turn the car into a turbocharged sleeper, a la the Gus Mahon route. Soon, the plans were beginning to firm up in my mind.

After a considerable amount of work, I pulled the dead engine and transmission out of the Acclaim. I then set about the work of transferring engine mounts and various other things over from old engine to “new”. Along the way, I resealed the valve cover, which the seller said had a leak.

For some reason, the seller had removed the distributor from the engine, so one day I went to turn it over by hand to set the #1 cylinder at top dead center. That’s when I discovered the engine was seized.

So, I put a lot of penetrating lubricant down the cylinders, and tried turning the engine over many times over the course of several days. No luck; it was locked up tight. So I purchased a $40 engine stand on sale from Murray’s Auto Parts, having decided I would tear this engine down and repair it.

I separated the engine and transmission, and mounted the engine to the stand. I had left the torque converter mounted to the flexplate, since I couldn’t turn the engine to access the mounting bolts, which naturally face the engine block and are covered by the bell housing when the transmission is mounted. Well, when I started removing the mounting bolts, the engine started to break free. About a day later, after more penetrating oil, it was turning freely again.

So I decided to paint the engine, as long as I had it on the stand anyway. I cleaned it all up, and then shot a coat of purple engine paint on it, with some yellow highlights on the Turbo insignia on the valve cover, just for a little flair. It turned out pretty good!
Naturally, once I had the engine looking nice, I couldn’t attach a filthy, nasty-looking transmission to it, so I ended up painting that, too! So I’ve got a purple engine and transmission. I set about reassembling the two together. For some reason, once I had the transmission mounted to the engine, the engine would no longer turn freely! Now what?

Well, as the guys on the MML were finally able to tell me (and after about half a dozen attempts at reassembly!) the torque converter must be completely “settled” down onto the transmission input shaft. Sometimes this is difficult to do (yeah, no kidding!) Finally, this evening, I managed to get that done correctly, and the engine and transmission are reunited once again.

I’ve been meaning to blog this project, since it’s big enough to deserve its own site. So we’re now all caught up; I left some details out for the sake of time, but we’ll get to those eventually…

No Responses Yet to “Post #1: Where we are so far.”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: