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Top End

Bottoms down, buttoned up and the engine is rolled back upright.


We're getting there!


Time to wrap up the major reassembly by getting the top of the motor back in place.

install the freeze plugs
Step 1
  • Check fit each plug
  • Use a file to make sure the plugs are round and free from burrs
  • Using a brass drift for a punch, start each plug in its hole.  Then follow up with a small punch to work around the edges until the plug is completely inserted.


  • Give the center of each plug a healthy tap with the round end of a large ball peen hammer.  This expands the plug and seats it to make a seal.



install the Head
Step 2

We're assuming that the machine shop already assembled the head (valve seats & guides, valves and springs)

  • Make sure the mating surface of the block is clean!  Place the head gasket on the block --  double check to make sure it's a 261 head gasket with steam holes and not a 235 gasket (w/o steam holes)
  • Placing the head on the block is a two-person lift for two reasons:  1.  The block is HEAVY!  and 2.  To ensure its done slowly and carefully.  If doing it by yourself, use an engine hoist or chain falls to lower the head onto the engine.  Use locating pins in place of two of the bolts.
  • You kept track of where each head bolt goes, right?  There is one with a hole drilled in it that goes where the oil is supplied from the main gallery for the rocker arms.  Obviously, we want this bolt back where it belongs.


  • Torque the head according to the pattern found in the shop manual at pg. 8-11.  (Essentially, though, you start at the center and work outwards) -- use the three-step method at right.



3-Step Head Bolt Tightening Process


1st Pass

  • Use the pattern found in the manual
  • Torque to 35 ft-lbs

2nd Pass

  • Use the pattern found in the manual
  • Torque to 65 ft-lbs

Final Pass

  • Use the pattern found in the manual
  • Torque to 90-95 ft-lbs


lifters and pushrods
Step 3
  • Apply assembly lube to the sides and bottom of each lifter and drop into place.
  • Roll each pushrod on a known flat surface to ensure it isn't bent.  If bent, replace.
  • Drop each push rod into place.



Jerry applies assembly lube to the bottom of a lifter.  Note the oil supply line is installed in the background.  Installing the lifters is easier if you wait until *after* you install the lifters to put the oil supply line back in the block as shown ;)

Oil Supply Line

oil supply system
Step 4
  • Now you can install the oil supply line
  • Make sure it's been cleaned..
  • Once installed, make sure it doesn't rub against any push rods -- that would be "bad."



Oil inlet/outlet ports

  • Temporarily install a plug in the port where the return line from the bypass oil filter attaches to the block.
  • Install a temporary pressure gauge in the port where the feed line to the oil filter attaches to the block (outlet from main oil gallery).

Gauge installed in oil outlet port showing initial oil pump test pressure.  We are not quite at that point yet...

Step 5
rocker arm assembly
  • Carefully set the reassembled rocker arm assembly on the head, making sure the push rods go into place and aren't misaligned.
  • Torque the four bolts evenly to 25-30 ft-lbs.
  • Working through the firing order, set the valve clearances.  For each cylinder, piston should be approaching top dead center (both valves closed, but right before the intake valve opens ...)
  • Valve adjustment -- Set clearances to the specs you determined earlier when checking your cam.  On this cam (Elgin part no. E-293-S), the proper clearances turned out to be .009 inch for the intake valves and .014 inch on the exhaust valves (hot).
Step 6
oil pressure test
  • Woo hoo!!  Time to move the engine to the test stand!
  • Fill the block with 15W-40 motor oil.  Oh yeah, the dip stick ...  You can pour it in through the road tube hole, or on the top of the head (be careful!)  Check for leaks.
  • Use a rod of some sort, milled at one end to insert into the oil pump like the distributor shaft does (a scrap distributor shaft works perfectly for this).  Insert the other end into a powerful drill.
  • Spin the oil pump until it pressurizes -- WARNING -- When the pump pressurizes, it will cause the drill to suddenly experience a lot of torque which may cause it to rip out of your grip.


  • Once pressurized, look for ~80 psi on your gauge.  If less than 60, you may have oil pump issues.


  • Run the pump until you have good oil drips coming from the rocker arm assembly.  Do not run for long after that or you will rinse the assembly lube from the rocker arm assembly and other places.

Good oil pressure --  good flow coming from the rocker arm supply line.

Major reassembly is now complete!  Time to wrap things up, so let's move on to...

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