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Username Post: New [to me] '66 Impala SS... What to do?        (Topic#344868)
Posts: 35

Loc: Hamilton Ontario
Reg: 05-21-17
05-25-20 04:27 PM - Post#2794830    
    In response to jduffett

Well, I'm long overdue for an update...
Back in March, I got my heads and the timing cover and valley cover vapour blasted. They heads turned out great - they look practically brand new. The covers had some pitting, but they end up mostly covered up anyway, so good enough!

One head had two broken exhaust manifold bolts that that had been "fixed" by drilling out the old bolts and installing "studs". I knew this when I bought it but didn't think too much about it since it is pretty common. Turns out the drilling out job wasn't so great, and headers I bought didn't even fit right because one of the "studs" was on such an angle, so I decided I'd pull those studs and install Time-serts. If you've never used them, they're like a helicoil, but better. Not that a helicoil doesn't do the trick, but the Time-serts are basically rolled in instead of staked with the little tangs, and I have way more confidence in them. Since the drilled holes were all over the place and there were still some remnants of the old bolts in the head, I decided to set the head up on the mill to make sure I was positioned right and stayed square. I milled a hole just shy of the tap drill size, drilled to the tap drill size, and then tapped by hand using the chuck in the mill to make sure the tap stayed square.

There are jigs available so you can do this with a hand drill or drill press, though for the money you can buy a good used head. Anyway, the first one went pretty well, but then the second one... Here's how far off he had it drilled:

I kinda just eyeballed somewhere in between the original location and the drilled location in hopes of still being able to tap for the Time-sert. There was a significant portion of the remaining piece of bolt in there, and of course it came loose and I broke off the end mill in the head. Luckily both the bolt fragment and the remains of the end mill weren't actually jammed solid in there, and I was eventually able to get it all out. The resulting hole I was left with was really kinda marginal for the tap drill size for the inserts. If it was a joint with significant load on it, I'm not sure I'd trust it, but I think it'll be fine in this case. It looks pretty good with the insert in, but it's a real mess underneath! Naturally, I didn't stop to take any pictures in the midst of all that, but here's the final product:

Then I put the heads back together with new springs, retainers, and valve stem seals. I was going to get a basic valve job done, but by the time I was doing this we were well into the COVID business, and I just didn't bother. I also installed a trunnion bushing kit in the stock rocker arms.

Next up, I started on painting the block. I cleaned it up as best I could, chipping, brushing, and scraping off old paint and rust, cleaned and degreased, and hit it with the metal prep that came with the PoR-15 kit. Then the PoR-15 base coat, which went on great with a brush.

The engine enamel, however, did not go on that great. They say in many cases it only needs one coat, but four coats later I just gave up and called it good enough. PoR-15 in general has a bit of a scam vibe to it, but I was under no illusions that it was a magic fix for rust. I chose it because I wasn't disassembling the bottom end, and given my ability to prep the assembled short block it seemed like a good idea to use a "system" that would be tolerant of some imperfections. It was also suitable for brushing, which suited me as I don't have the equipment to spray, and didn't want to spray in my workspace either (other cars around). Anyway, I had a hell of a time with it - it seemed to be both too sticky and too runny all at the same time, and there were spots it just wouldn't stick. Now maybe some of that is down to bad prep on my part, but I'm not sure how I could have done much better. I did my research on this in advance, and found lots of people that had good results, but then when I went and searched out problems with coverage and running, I found lots of people that basically had the same troubles I did. I don't think I'd recommend it, and if I had my time back I'd probably just spray bomb it. Realistically, a lot of the block gets covered up and is hard to see, and it looks fine from a distance, so whatever, it is good enough. Hopefully it holds up.

And then I started puttin' 'er back together:

Going back to that head with the inserts, that one I broke the end mill off in, it turns out that not only was he off center, but he drilled right through to the coolant passages. I was maybe a little hasty in putting the insert in, and I didn't think about it too much again until I put the heads back on, but now I'm thinking about how well I'm going to be able to get that to seal up. I'm planning to put a stud in that one, with thread sealant, but by rights I should have put sealant on the insert too. The way those inserts are rolled in with the install tool should make for a pretty small leak path, and I did put loctite on it too, but given how "imperfect" that hole was, I'm thinking now I might either try to smear some RTV under the bottom edge of the insert, or pull the freeze plug and do it from the bottom. In other exciting news, I thought for a bit I had the wrong dipstick tube, but it turns out the old tube was cracked off clean in there and you could hardly tell (from the top side). It took a fair bit of pounding with a punch from the bottom side to get it out.

Anyway, that's where the motor stands right now. In the mean time, I haven't done much with the car itself, but I did score a factory 66 4-speed console shifter on eBay that should be easy to make an adapter for:

66 Impala SS


Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 6
Age: 73
Reg: 05-27-20
05-30-20 08:13 PM - Post#2795288    
    In response to jduffett

Great work. Great car.

No current classic
Past Cars:
62 SS
63 Chevy II
65 SS
67 SS
69 Malibu
76 Corvette
81 Corvette
91 Corvette

Posts: 246
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Reg: 08-15-04
05-30-20 09:45 PM - Post#2795293    
    In response to 65fanboy

Can you post a picture of the shifter handle without your hand on it? That really looks like my 66 bench seat shifter handle, not a console handle.

Posts: 35

Loc: Hamilton Ontario
Reg: 05-21-17
06-07-20 05:53 PM - Post#2795851    
    In response to 65acadian

  • 65acadian Said:
Can you post a picture of the shifter handle without your hand on it? That really looks like my 66 bench seat shifter handle, not a console handle.

I think you're right! It was listed as console application, and I didn't really question it, but looking at this thread, it does look like the bench seat shifter.

Here it is, with the base lined up at the 10" mark on the inside scale:

I think this will work just fine for me, though it would be nice to have the right one!

66 Impala SS


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