Whoa, Pard ...Put the wrenches down for a moment...
We're not ripping the victim open just yet. If you've ever watched a procedural cop show on TV, you know that a critical 1st step is identifying the victim. So let's make sure the victim in front of us is what we think it is.
The next of kin (previous owner) ID'd the vic, right? We all know of previous owners who swore the engine was one thing when it turned out it was something different all along and that they were mistaken.
Let's start at the top. And lookie here, a nice little plaque on the valve cover confirms it as a 261 -- Case closed, right?
Wrong. Although a pretty good clue, it only confirms the valve cover itself came from a 261. There is no way to confirm it is original to the engine. And even if it is a 261, is it an early 261 or a late 261?
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No problem. We just check the serial number stamped in the boss behind the distributor ... Oops ... There isn't one. It's blank. That means we have a replacement engine (crate motor) and we still don't know what it is for sure.
Oh wait, 261's all have those "captain's bars" cast into the block behind the starter ... Those aren't there, either. Hmmm, But not all 261's have Captain's bars -- the 1st year castings (1954) did not have them. AND ... this block has the high-mounted water pump (a feature shared by the early 261's and all previous sixes. So, it's either a 1954 261 or it's a 235...
Let's move on to ... The casting numbers!
Like finger prints and dental records, the casting numbers will reveal the victim's identity.
The first one, in front of the distributor boss, reads "3733950."
Checking our casting number guide, we discover that this block is, indeed, out of the 1954 mold. But ...
Cross checking with the casting date code (behind the distributor boss), though, tells us this block was cast in February of 1959.
Why is this important?
Knowing that this is a replacement engine for a '54-'55 1st Series application, they used the older mold to cast it (to get the proper water pump placement, among other things). This is important to us because it will help us understand some things we will discover as we get into this particular engine.
With the engine on a stand and all the ancillary systems removed (water pump, thermostat housing, generator, starter, intake/exhaust manifold, valve cover, push rod cover), It's time to start disassembly!
Now would be a good time to send the head off to the machine shop for several procedures:
Now that you've successfully decapitated your engine and gotten the head safely into the hands of the machinist (who will have it for awhile ...), let's flip the patient upside down and start on ... the block!
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