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Pulling Engine

Precautions

  • I would advise you to remove the front end grilles first (the MOST important part) and place them somewhere safe. You don't what to be leaning on the fragile plastic or chance the engine hitting the grill.

  • Put blankets/covers on everything (fenders etc.), and go s-l-o-w.

  • Sweep the area you will be working in to remove any sand or other obstructions for the wheels of your engine puller and stand!

  • Also, spring the extra $$$ for a 4-wheel engine stand; you can't have one that is too sturdy.

  • Make sure you rent the most solid hoist you can find. Follow the instructions closely as to adjusting the beam length of the engine puller or cherry picker. The shorter the beam length, the more stable will be the engine in the air. The beam length must be great enough to lift the engine over the radiator support though.

  • Also, use a strong chain and grade 8 bolts. Just spend the extra $2 for some bolts that you won't have to worry about snapping when the engine is in the air.

  • If you have access to an engine tilter, I think it might make the extraction/replacement go a bit more smoothly.

  • And don't forget to allow yourself plenty of time. Possibly double what you think now. Safety is foremost. Think out each step - even use a checklist.

  • When pulling and installing, it always helps to have a second pair of hands and eyes, and to help watch for anything you may have forgotten. Like the way the trans cooler lines snaked through that exhaust manifold, before the motor gets high enough to damage any parts that may start to stretch.

  • Remember to block the wheels and it may be helpful to have a couple of 2 ft. pieces of 2X4 handy to aid in keeping a few hundred pounds of swinging free weight away from easily damaged fenders and core support.

  • Buy a package of Ziploc (TM) or plastic snack bags and a roll of masking tape. Group and label fasteners in the bags, noting any special features. For example, "Water pump fasteners - large bolt with stud goes in upper hole on driver's side".

    Put all the bags in a box to keep everything together. Label all wires and connectors. Make sketches or take Polaroid photos or videos during the disassembly process. In addition, having more than one of the same car makes it very easy to figure out where something goes - you've got a full-scale model.)

  • I side with the crowd that doesn't recommend putting jack stands under the car. With the car free to roll, you can lift the engine a tad and roll the car back or forward in tiny increments to get the engine right where you need it to be.

  • Despite the fact that you are certain that you've drained every last drop of every fluid out of the engine, the first upward motion will dislodge gallons of every conceivable fluid. Plan for this and either pull the engine in a place where you can tolerate the spills or spread plastic sheeting under the car before actually pulling the engine.

Getting Down to Business

  • Remove the hood. Make sure all of the washer nozzle hoses and the hood light are disconnected before you unbolt the hood.

    Scribe a line where the current hood hinge is on the hood, so that when you go to bolt it back on, you can get it somewhere close to its original alignment. Needless to say, the hood is absolutely a two-person job. This will keep you from hitting your head on that damned divider, on different vintages of Cutlass' anyways(!), and just make the task a little easier.

    An alternative to scribing is to drill a 1/8 hole through each hinge & into the hood support framework while the hood alignment is right. When reattaching the hood to the hinges, a 1/8 drill bit can be used to exactly align the hood to the hinges. This also keeps those marks off the hood; leaving only an inconspicuous machined hole.

    Another alternative is to shoot some spray paint on the hinge area at the same place. This can clean up with lacquer thinner when complete, and you won't have to worry about scratches on the show quality engine compartment It is going to be that way, right? There's never a better time to make it that way, especially if you have a garage, time, and another vehicle to drive during the process.

  • Don't forget to disconnect the ground strap that goes from the back of the cylinder head to the firewall! And label all connectors, so that things go back right the first time.

  • Drain the coolant from the radiator and the block. The block coolant drains are the 9/16 hex-headed pipe plugs toward the front of the block, just in front of the motor mounts. They'll look just like bolts, if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, except for the fact that they don't attach anything to the engine.

  • Remove all hoses. If you cut the ends off in the course of removal, remember to save those ends along with the main segments so that when you're cutting the new stock to the right length, you do end up with the right length and don't find yourself half-a-foot too short. Consider getting the correct hoses and checking each out before you cut the old ones.

  • Drain the oil from the block, and while you're at it remove the oil filter mount (it's coming off anyway, right?). That'll give a bit more clearance.

  • Disconnect battery, starting with the (-) negative terminal first. Also remove the (+) positive cable.

  • The alternator comes off easily after the wires are disconnected, and can be removed from the car.

  • Remove radiator, fan shroud, fan, belts.

  • Remove the fuel line at the fuel pump, drain the excess gas from the hose, and either put a bolt in the hose end or tape it up.

  • Pull the AC compressor off the head, move to the side.

  • Unbolt the PS pump and bracket from the engine (should only be three bolts/nuts for a post-67 car - one to the timing chain cover, one to the water pump, and one to the exhaust manifold) and set it aside in the inner fender with the hoses still attached. If the car is detailed, you may want to wrap the pump and bracket in cloth to prevent scratches. Also, consider wiring the pump temporarily in place, as the first bump will tip it over and send the PS fluid racing for the ground.

  • Disconnect exhaust from manifolds. Drop down, and possibly remove from vehicle.

  • Put a drain pan at the tail of the transmission as oil will flow out, disconnect shift linkage and speedometer cable, unbolt the transmission mount from the crossmember. Remove the driveshaft.

    Now place a jack under the transmission and raise the transmission an inch above the crossmember, remove the crossmember from frame. Now lower the transmission an inch or two to allow more gear oil to drain from the tailstock of the tranny.

  • Remove the torque converter shield to access the three flexplate (on an auto car) to torque converter bolts, which are located 120' apart around the flywheel. Mark the torque converter position relative to the flywheel so that the engine and transmission can be re-joined (!) without the fear of a balance problem. Not sure how important this might be, but it doesn't cost much to mark it. You can use a short socket extension stuck through one of the big holes in the flexplate to keep the motor from turning over when trying to remove the torque convertor to flywheel bolts. Disconnect torque converter from flywheel.

    In addition, you can only adequately access these bolts from the point where the starter contacts the flexplate, so you'll have to remove the starter first. This is a space consideration, though. If it's tight, get it out of there. On the other hand, I've always done the box-end wrench thing to get the bolts out of the converter - accessed easily from the bottom once the converter cover was removed.

    Label those wires with masking tape and a permanent marker! You don't want the identifying label to rub off or fade!

  • Support the transmission if leaving it in place, remove bell housing bolts (yeah I know that is a manual tranny term). I use a small (2-ton) floor jack with a piece of thick plywood under the pan to support the transmission. It doesn't need to be very heavy, just enough to take the tranny's weight off the engine. The small jacks put in 80's GM cars are low profile and they work well.

    This allows me to reposition its height when pulling or installing the engine; very helpful. In addition, if you want to pull the tranny as well, the wheels on the jack make it easy to roll the tranny forward, hook it to the hoist and pull it out (just watch out for all that fluid from the yoke opening; best to drain the tranny first if you're removing it).

    Motorcycle tiedowns work well for holding the front of the tranny bell housing up a little bit. One hook through a bolt hole (some even have loops for that purpose stamped right onto the tranny case), and the other end up somewhere near the cowling (wiper motor, hood stop bolt, etc). Doesn't need much. You'll want to do the same with the exhaust, too, but it's not as critical. I should add that you might want to have this done before the engine is way up in the air, just in case.

  • Slipping around in ATF while trying to wrestle a 700lb engine is not something to be experienced more than once. If you want to leave the fluid in the transmission - you can't get it all anyway, consider using a plastic plug on the end of the transmission. It will keep the transmission from leaking at the universal/drive-shaft connection. I usually put the plug into the transmission snugly & then tape it so that it won't get knocked out while wrestling the transmission around. These plugs are sold at places like NAPA for a couple of dollars.

  • If you are pulling the trans with the engine, at least unbolt the converter from the flywheel before pulling. You'll thank me later. (Like when the engine/trans combination is on the ground in front of the engine hoist, and you can't figure out how to get at those bolts.)

    After unbolting the torque converter from the flexplate (There! I said it!), be sure to physically force the converter as far back in the bellhousing as possible. You may find it necessary to lightly pry between the converter and the flexplate with an appropriate tool to break the pilot on the converter loose from the end of the crank.

  • Disconnect all wires, including starter battery cable & remote wire. Most American cars had a large bulkhead connector at the firewall (under the wiper motor on the newer A bodies, moreso under the left hood hinge on the older ones. This comes out with one bolt. After it's unplugged, you'll notice there are two halves to it. Seperate them, one half stays there, and the other half drapes right over the engine. From here, you only need to worry about the battery cables and the rear head ground strap (which you probably yanked out of there trying to get to those **** bellhousing bolts...)

    All the senders, solenoids, alternator, starter, etc, can stay attached until it's sitting on a stand in the shop, where it's much more comfortable to swap that sort of stuff out. I find it much more convenient to line all the wiring up out of the car, and not have to worry about routing things cleanly after the fact.

  • Remove as much as you can. Yes, you can probably leave the carb and water pump on, but it only takes one slip to gouge a fenderwell or break a carb casting. Why risk it. Definitely pull the carb and distributor for their protection. If you string a chain across the engine as a point to hook up the hoist, it will rub against the carb, and you don't want that.

    Consider pulling the carb, water pump, distributor cap and plug wires, hoses, exhaust manifolds, starter, and anything else which I can get off easily.

  • Remove the long bolts that connect the motor mount halves (you may have to lift the engine slightly).

  • The factory will often leave what appears to be lifting eyes on the engine. This is NOT the place to attach the chain. I would strongly discourage one from using the "U"-shaped factory lifting straps sometimes left on the engine. These are apparently not intended for engine lifting, as they will bend and distort under the weight of the engine. Attach the chain with bolts to the heads!!

  • Good location points for the GRADE 8 bolts w/washers is at the front of one head to the rear of the opposite head w/about a foot of slack for attaching the hoist. There should be no slack between the attaching bolts & the WELDED LINK chain. Slack will cause the bolt head to take all of the strain. Either use 2 bolts to locate the chain on the hoist hook or get one of those nice balance bars that allow for adjusting the tilt of the engine while lifting it. The bolts or bar will keep the engine from suddenly tilting one way or the other - causing severe damage & possibly dropping the engine. The engine position must be sturdy on the chain as you will be using a lot of force in positioning the engine as you try to get it out.

  • Or, remove the left rear & right front intake manifold bolts. Replace with either 3/8 -16 threaded rod about 4-5" in length and attach a chain to the threaded rod. Use a large flat washer and nut on each threaded rod to chain link.

  • Perhaps plan on using some kind of cloth covering for the chain to prevent scratching up those rocker arm covers or anything else that might get rubbed when the engine is pulled.

  • If you use a chain to pull the engine, get the proper engine lifting sling which has a lifting lug attached through one of the center links. In this way, the chain cannot slip on the hook of the engine hoist. If you must use a plain piece of chain, thread a nut and bolt through a nearby link on either side of the hook to limit any sliding. Best bet, by the way, is to get an engine tilter - especially when reinstalling.

  • A good way not to scratch the engine at all is to use nylon belts. Wrapped under the bottom of the engine, but use the chain as a safety hook up. I have used the belts many times and they don't leave a scratch.

  • Sweep the area again, and clean it up. Remove any obstructions like bolts and tools that might be lying on the pavement. Also remove any unneeded tools from the fenders.

  • At that point you should be ready to lift. You may want to let some air out of the tires to lower the radiator support.

    Attach the engine hoist and slowly raise the engine 4-5", move the crane away from the car a little and jack up a little at a time while keeping an eye on the bellhousing to firewall clearance.

    Lift the engine just enough to clear the front radiator support, and then once it is clear, lower it as close to the ground as possible before you move the engine to the place where you will get it on a stand. Believe me when I tell you that a 455 lifted high on a hoist can fall over very easily when being moved around, especially if the spot has even the slightest of an incline.

    Or, whenever possible, I lift the engine up and leave it there. Then I roll the car back out from under it. Then I let the engine come down. Only then will I try moving it anywhere. It's a lot less distressful that way. With the vehicle flat on the ground, the engine doesn't have to go as high, either. Just remember to support the tranny before you move the car, or else the driveshaft and u-joint will grind chunks out of the floor hump.

  • Following engine removal (assuming trans is staying in car), be sure that the converter doesn't slip off of the tranny input shaft. This is usually not a problem if the tranny is supported as others have indicated, however if you accidentally let the front of the trans down (so that the tranny pivots on its aft mount and the driveshaft hits the inside of the tunnel), the converter could slide off.

  • Scribe marks, paint, or locating holes notwithstanding, the hood will not be perfectly aligned when you reattach it. DO NOT blindly slam the hood the first time. Check for alignment carefully and adjust as required.
[ Thanks to Dave Wyatt, Frank Boerger, Bob Barry, Bill Culp, Andrew Green, Charley Buehner, Jason Labay, Joe Padavano, Scott Mullen, Steve, Glenn for this information ]
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