What to Look for When Buying Used Engine Parts

Used engine parts can be a great deal, if you know what you are looking for. They can also kill your engine. Here’s what to look for in used engine parts. Most of the places that you’d go engine parts hunting are swap meets. Bring a cheat sheet of engine codes and casting numbers with you, or you might end up with a completely different part than you need.

  • Intake Manifolds: Most factory performance air intakes are fairly easy to identify because there is a casting number and date code on them. Cast iron intakes are virtually indestructible, but are fairly heavy. Aluminum intakes offer better performance, but are more susceptible to problems. Look at the thermostat’s counterbore, as it is common for that area to get rusted and corroded on aluminum intakes only. If it’s not too badly eaten away, any good machinist can repair it. If it’s badly eaten away, look for another one. If you really want it, however, the bad area can be cut out, and a new piece can be welded on and machined to the original shape. It’s common to see other problems, and if it looks like it’s been modified, make sure that it was done well!
  • Pistons: Careful with these. Most new pistons are relatively inexpensive, but you can score a good deal on them at a swap meet if you know what you’re looking for. If there’s a full set of them and they’re still in the box, you’ve got a great deal. Get them if they fit your car. If they are used, be sure to clean off all of the carbon deposits from the tops and inspect them thoroughly. Also, check for ring lands and grooves on them – this means that something was wrong with the engine that they came out of, and that they are damaged. DON’T buy those! If they don’t fit your engine, they make great pencil or screw holders.
  • Connecting Rods: Used connecting rods are very difficult to evaluate without the proper equipment. Yes, it’s easy to bead-blast and hone an old pair, but you need to take them to a good machinist to make sure that they are good to put into your engine.
  • Camshafts: If it’s unused, in it’s original box, and has full documentation from day one, you can definitely consider it. When buying used camshafts, it’s very difficult to tell whether it’s a stock, weak camshaft or a high-performance camshaft. Plus, modern camshaft technology has advanced so much in the past 50 years that it’s worth it to just buy a brand-new camshaft. It’ll be easier to get one that’s essentially tailored for your driving style.
  • Exhaust Manifolds and Headers: Exhaust manifolds are sturdy parts, but can be abused and broken. It’s not uncommon to find a broken stud in an exhaust manifold. Luckily, they are fairly easy to remove. Used headers can be a great deal or a massive head ache. Ask the seller what they fit, rather than, “will they fit on my Challenger?” Check the welds and flanges on the headers – if the flanges are warped, they will not seal against the head, resulting in exhaust leaks. You don’t want to be like Freiburger and Finnegan from Roadkill. Also inspect headers for dents and scratches that could have come from bottoming out or from hammering them into place.
  • Carburetors: Have a carburetor cheat sheet on hand when you go looking for carbs. You can determine it’s original application and CFM rating. The overall appearance of a carburetor is a good indicator of it’s health. Rebuild kits are available for nearly every carburetor under the sun, so it makes it a good deal less risky to buy a used carburetor.
These are aluminum intakes for Chevy big-block V-8s.
These are aluminum intakes for Chevy big-block V-8s.
People will try to sell you pistons in conditions far worse than this. They don't even make good pencil holders!
People will try to sell you pistons in conditions far worse than this. They don’t even make good pencil holders!
These are brand-new connecting rods for a Chevy small-block V-8. You can luck out if you know what you are looking for at a swap meet.
These are brand-new connecting rods for a Chevy small-block V-8. You can luck out if you know what you are looking for at a swap meet.
This guy lucked out and found a camshaft for his Dodge pickup with the Cummins diesel engine at the Pomona swap meet.
This guy lucked out and found a camshaft for his Dodge pickup with the Cummins diesel engine at the Pomona swap meet.
This is what you'll see when you go in search of headers at a swap meet.
This is what you’ll see when you go in search of headers at a swap meet.
This is the sight you'll see when you go to a swap meet to find carburetors.
This is the sight you’ll see when you go to a swap meet to find carburetors.

The World’s Hardest Car Quiz!

No, I haven’t passed it yet.  I recommend taking it…over and over again.  My best score to date on this has been 60%.  And I thought I knew a lot about cars.  Go figure.  Try to take the quiz and pass – it’s harder than you’d think (even if you ARE a natural test-taker!).

http://www.carwow.co.uk/world-hardest-car-quiz

Tell us your score(s) – we won’t make fun of you for failing (I’ve done that a few times with this quiz)!

The whole point of this quiz is to have fun…so do that!

Why Driving a Surplus Military Truck May Not Be a Good Idea

While this happened a while ago, I’ve been having fun with lots of other posts.  Anyhow, here goes.

Huntington Beach, CA police had an eventful night on September 10.  Officers responded to a call of a suspicious military vehicle around 7:45 p.m.  They found an elderly man driving a surplus military transport truck through town.  Early on, officers heard several loud pops.  These turned out to be backfires.

This elderly man led police on a chase for a short distance, reaching speeds of up to 10 mph.  Yes, 10 mph!

When the man arrived at his business, the police arrested the man for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

The unnamed man was released later that evening.

Maybe driving something this large through town ISN’T such a good idea…

Why You Should Never, Ever Test Drive a Ferrari 458 Italia Like You Stole it

I’ve been talking a lot about Ferraris recently.  However, I don’t quite think this is the kind of publicity Ferrari, or anybody for that matter, would want.  Test-driving a car like you stole it is never a good idea.  Driving a car like you stole it, even if you DID steal it, is also not the smartest thing to do.  Apparently, this German driver thought otherwise.  This 458 was only a month old, but you might have a toilet or toaster oven with a Ferrari logo on it in the near future.

The crash happened in the German city of Hannover.  According to the police, the car was being driven very aggressively, despite wet and slippery conditions.

After merging from the left and initially overtaking a slower vehicle, the driver of the Ferrari then attempted to take a highway exit at speed, at which point the car spun out of control.  Despite the car spinning, ending up on it’s roof, and then flipping back over, the 47-year-old driver and his 69-year-old passenger were miraculously unhurt.

The dealership selling the car had it on display at a stadium in Hannover, which is why it’s got all of the promotional gear.  Talk about oops.  I’ve always wondered what would happen on a test drive if you spun a car.  Now I know.

Speaking of Ferrari 458 Italia’s, there’s been a recent NHTSA recall involving the car because the trunk cannot fully open from the inside.  If you’re a wealthy human trafficker, don’t get this car.  Now your trafficking victims can escape you!

Ferrari 458 Italia that crashed during test drive (Image via Andreas Eickhoff, NW-News)

Out and About in Sonoma County and Oregon!

It’s been a while since I published an Out and About in Sonoma County.  However, that’s because I got some great pictures from Oregon AND Sonoma County!  I hope you enjoy them!  I will provide commentary on ALL of the cars – basically fun facts on them!  I also got some pictures from Mother’s Day Weekend up in Redding, CA.  Those are included as well.

This is my 300th post, so next week, I am doing a giveaway of a Roadkill hat!  Every reader or subscriber MUST leave a comment saying that they wish to be entered in the giveaway.  Remember, leave a comment to get a chance to win!

Oregon:  

The Ashland, Oregon ACE hardware store has this simply stunning 1950-52? Chevrolet 3100.  It's absolutely stunning.
The Ashland, Oregon ACE hardware store has this simply stunning 1950-52? Chevrolet 3100. It’s absolutely stunning.  The thing popping up right in front of the windshield is for the air conditioner.  It’s like the air grabber hoods on the hi-performance 1960’s Mopars – it pulls air in when the switch is flipped on.
I'm simply in love with the Harley-Davidson themed paint!  It really helps accentuate the beautiful lines on these old trucks.
I’m simply in love with the Harley-Davidson themed paint! It really helps accentuate the beautiful lines on these old trucks.
Are you a fan of a classic Vespa?  This stunning 1968 Vespa was for sale for a meager $6,000!  I was working on going 50/50 on it with my sister.  It didn't work.  It  has a 1971 engine for a bit more poewr and reliability.  The sidecar gives it a practical side...
Are you a fan of a classic Vespa? This stunning 1968 Vespa was for sale for a meager $6,000! I was working on going 50/50 on it with my sister. It didn’t work. It has a 1971 engine for a bit more poewr and reliability. The sidecar gives it a practical side…

20140606_123559

This is probably the best Jeep badge that the world has ever seen.  It may be a direct BMW rip-off, but whatever!
This is probably the best Jeep badge that the world has ever seen. It may be a direct BMW rip-off, but whatever!
This simply amazing Jeep Jeepster Commando was probably the nicest Jeep that I have ever seen - I don't care if it's 2WD or not!
This simply amazing Jeep Jeepster Commando was probably the nicest Jeep that I have ever seen – I don’t care if it’s 2WD or not!
How's this for cool?  I've never really seen a '32 Ford dirt track racer before, so this was a cool first for me!  I wasn't able to get closer to it, otherwise I would have done a separate blog post on it!  It was a very cool '32 Ford, though!
How’s this for cool? I’ve never really seen a ’32 Ford dirt track racer before, so this was a cool first for me! I wasn’t able to get closer to it, otherwise I would have done a separate blog post on it! It was a very cool ’32 Ford, though!

Sonoma County:  

 

How'd you like this to be in your rearview mirror?  Sorry if I just gave you nightmares...This 1971 Dodge Charger R/T is equipped with the 426 HEMI.  It doesn't get much better than that!
How’d you like this to be in your rearview mirror? Sorry if I just gave you nightmares…This 1971 Dodge Charger R/T is equipped with the 426 HEMI. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Man, this is just one of THE best engines in the world!  Let me tell you a funny story about this car and another car.  Somebody in a 1949 Chevy lowrider tried to do a burnout.  All he did was send a bunch of smoke out of his tailpipes.  The owner of this fine triple-black '71 Charger proceeded to do a burnout without really having to try too terribly hard right through an empty intersection!
Man, this is just one of THE best engines in the world! Let me tell you a funny story about this car and another car. Somebody in a 1949 Chevy lowrider tried to do a burnout. All he did was send a bunch of smoke out of his tailpipes. The owner of this fine triple-black ’71 Charger proceeded to do a burnout without really having to try too terribly hard right through an empty intersection!
If this doesn't make you drool, then I don't know what will!  This stunning 1970 Plymouth Superbird was SOOOOO cool!  It was in the Limelight Green color, along with the Super Commando 440 cubic-inch V8.  More to come on this iconic car.
If this doesn’t make you drool, then I don’t know what will! This stunning 1970 Plymouth Superbird was SOOOOO cool! It was in the Limelight Green color, along with the Super Commando 440 cubic-inch V8. More to come on this iconic car.
Yes, the Superbird really does make the iconic "meep-meep" from Looney Tunes - as does the Plymouth Roadrunner that the Superbird is based off of!
Yes, the Superbird really does make the iconic “meep-meep” from Looney Tunes – as does the Plymouth Roadrunner that the Superbird is based off of!

Redding, CA:  

How's this for nice?  This is probably one of THE nicest Corvettes that i have ever seen!  It was all-original, so it has the punchy 283 cubic-inch V8 and a four-speed manual.  Plus, it's got absolutely amazing looks.  The only thing that isn't original is the wheels, but they went perfectly with the car.  This would be an excellent car for touring the country with.  One of these days I will do that in a classic car - I promise!
How’s this for nice? This is probably one of THE nicest Corvettes that i have ever seen! It was all-original, so it has the punchy 283 cubic-inch V8 and a four-speed manual. Plus, it’s got absolutely amazing looks. The only thing that isn’t original is the wheels, but they went perfectly with the car. This would be an excellent car for touring the country with. One of these days I will do that in a classic car – I promise!

Break My Window – I Dare You!

You know what usually happens when you park your car in front of a fire hydrant – you get a ticket, your car is towed to impound, and you get a bunch of impound fees to top it off.  Notice the emphasis on usually.  However, the owner of a BMW 335i Coupe wasn’t so lucky.

A couple of days ago in East Boston, the BMW owner parked their car in front of a fire hydrant.  Shortly after that, a fire broke out in a nearby house.  When Boston’s best came, they had no choice but to smash in some of the left side of the Bimmer to get access to the fire hydrant.  They also needed to have more room for the inflexible fire hoses, so they literally bounced the BMW about a foot and a half.  Then, they broke in the windows of the BMW and fed the fire hose through.  Oh, and to add insult to injury, the Boston Police Department towed the BMW, AND sent a $100 ticket to the owner.  As if getting smashed windows, a big dent, and a lot of embarrassment wasn’t enough…

While the Boston Fire Department said that the firefighters didn’t take any glee in doing such a thing as that.  If that makes them sleep at night, okay.  However, the BMW window-smashing went kinda viral on the vast expanses of the internet.  Ex-firefighters said that they all pray to do what their brethren in Boston did to jacka**es.  Conflicting points of view?  You bet.

I’ve got to tell you looking at the pictures and videos of the BMW, it’s definitely a feel-good moment.  Everybody has at least one automotive-related mess up.  While I don’t know the owner’s name, I can quite confidently say that this is one of them.  Bummer to the Bimmer owner!

Ford Wins 12 Hours of Sebring for the First Time Since 1969!

The last time Ford won the 12 Hours of Sebring was back in 1969.  That was when a Ford GT40 MkI beat out a Ferrari 312P.  That was at the tail end of Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari’s decade-long motor sports rivalry.

Now, 45 long years later, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford Daytona Prototype brought the glory back to Dearborn after 12 chaotic and dramatic hours.

The skilled drivers, Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett, and Memo Rojas, managed to get the Ford Daytona Prototype across the finish line a mere 5 seconds ahead of Ryan Danziel and the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03B.  They managed to do this after a late restart bunched the field up.

The win makes Chip Ganassi the only team owner ever to have race titles from the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

As for the GT classes, cars from Stuttgart took the win.  Andy Lally, John Potter, and Marco Seefried won GT Daytona in the No. 911 car.  Amazing pit stops helped Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, and Michael Christensen drive the CORE Autosports Porsche 911 RSR to victory in the GTLM class.

With the Prototype Challenge class, former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Colin Braun helped put the CORE-ORECA Chevrolet FLM09 best reigning class champion Bruno Junquiera.

With the highly anticipated Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, fuel pump issues and 2 spins dropped the leading Vette to 6th, which disappointed driver Oliver Gavin.  Ben Keating and the SRT Viper GT-D retired within the first hour after a truly spectacular fire.

The revolutionary Nissan DeltaWing led its class for several laps, but retired after Lap 104, thanks to a collision on that lap, in addition to a botched pit stop and multiple mechanical issues.