Dodge Dart Rebuild [Part 4]

Dodge Dart Rebuild

Part 4


Ok, haven’t posted for a little while, because the work does not make for exciting posts.

Remove door panels, remove all the engine stuff readying it for removal, remove all the leaves from inside the doors, put stuff in bags so I can find it later, install in a new 20A circuit in the garage, find bits of my leather gloves next to the dog, you know, that sort of thing.

(I WAS going to remove the engine this Wednesday, but on my way to collect an engine stand, my minivan,  jealous of all the attention thrown at the Dodge, decided that a left turn lane was the place to display its annoyance.

Sitting at a light, the dash went black. Ten seconds later the car died.  Click, click, click went the starter. Dead dead dead in the left turn lane on a busy street.

Some nice men stopped their car and helped me push it to the side of the road, and the tow truck arrived in half an hour. Which was nice. But it means I had no way of picking up the engine hoist.

(I want to call it a cherry picker, does that show my age?

Where does the term cherry picker come from anyway? Oh, it comes from actual cherry picking, when they put someone in a basket and raised them up so they could, um, pick the cherries. Which means that a cherry picker is a raised platform to hold a human to work.

But that means, officially, an engine hoist is not a cherry picker, because it does not hold a human aloft.

Damn it, now I am slightly annoyed that the description does not exactly match the item, which really should not annoy me. But, damn it, it’s not really a cherry picker.

But engine hoist is such a boring term. I like cherry picker.

Another one of the worlds problems that really has no solution.)

First guess on the Minivan problem: alternator, but the internet also says check the connections under the air cleaner. When I bought a new battery a couple years ago, the AAA guy said I also needed an alternator, but I checked it later and my meter said it was putting out 14.6V, so it was fine.  Cross your finger that its a loose connection.

Alternator $175, blah, that’s more than this minivan is worth.)


OK, back to the Dodge.


Lets start with the rust.

Lots ‘O’ Rust.

Door panels, behind wheels, floor pans (which will arrive after Christmas).

But I found something new.

Yes, I knew there was rust on the cowl.



After sitting for years, leaves filled up the cowl and doors, not allowing the rain water to escape through the specifically designed water escape holes.

That was understood, but it wasn’t until I put my hand on the fresh air vent under the dash that I found how much the rust had eaten away inside the cowl.

The fresh air vent was loose.

After a bunch of fiddling I dropped it down and found that there are two arms that hold it up, they hook on the metal under the dash.

There was nothing wrong with the fresh air vents or the metal arms, but there was lots wrong with the metal under the dash.


It works like this: Fresh air enters through the grill in front of the windscreen. When it rains, so does water. The only way to stop the water from entering the car is a lip of metal surrounding the hole that allows fresh air down into the car, but not the water.

That lip of metal is no more. It is an ex-metal. It has passed on from this existence into the world of Iron Oxide.

I pulled the heater/fresh air vent from the opposite side, and Look! More Rust!

I will need to make two new metal rings and then slide them up into the body and then weld them from under the dash.

It will be fiddly and annoying, oh well…



Under the dash, with a view of the fresh air vents. That bent piece of rusty metal, that should be attached to the car, that should.


The fresh air vent, with the two metal arms that hold it in place, with a crown of rusty metal, which should be attached to the car.
I will need to make a piece of metal like this and weld it under the dash.



Now I cut my first piece of metal out of the car.

Measured the thickness: 0.040 to 0.037

18 gauge: 0.0478

19 gauge: 0.0418

20 gauge: 0.0359

So the metal is 20 gauge, (allowing for paint and stuff to make it seem thicker.) but I will probably use 18 gauge for repairs, we will see. I am accepting opinions on thickness of replacement metal.


First piece of rusty metal removed from the car.
Exposed is the other side of the round vent hole under the dash.




The Head.


I took the valves out and everything seems good.

When I usually do a valve job, I do a little polishing and porting with my Dremel. Nothing major, just a little more cleaning then they did at the factory. While looking at the valve seats, I noticed that the exhaust valves had huge ridges both above and below the seats.

The intake does not have these ridges.  Evidence indicates that the exhaust valve seats have been cut out and inserts installed. Note: this is a 1963 car, but the engine is from 1966/7, so it’s probably an unleaded upgrade.


With the valves removed, the exhaust port shows the huge ridge under the seat and the smaller ridge above the seat.


My first thought is to remove the ridges, because the smoother the flow of air, the better breathing the engine and the better power.

But there is a huge problem, under that metal is the water jackets that cool the head and valves. If I cut too much then I will break into the water jacket, or maybe even if I don’t break through right now, I might weaken it for a crack to appear later.

How can I find out how thick the head is next to the valves?

Answer: Internet!

I came across the website

And it is a goldmine!

Goldmine I say!

Here is a picture of a slant 6 head cut in half!


(More info: the engine in my Dart is a six cylinder, and it is slanted at 30 degrees, thus, people call it the Slant Six.)

Hmmm, on the site they discuss putting in bigger valves, now I don’t want to do that, but maybe someone put in bigger valves in the past, which might change the amount of metal available for grinding.

So I measured the valves:

Exhaust: 1.355

Intake: 1.615

That is correct for stock valves.

Then there is enough metal to cut the small amount off and not have any problems.

(!! I hope !!)

But it always makes me nervous in cutting metal in a head, I always feel like I will be driving across a 100 degree desert one day and the head will crack because of some little grinding I did in my shop.

But what the hell, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

So I cut off some metal.

I wish I could say that I did a perfect factory job, but no, it’s just me and my shaky hands and my Dremel, so I make mistakes.

But I didn’t make the BIG mistake, which would be to accidentally grind the valve seat.

(I guess cutting through to the water jacket would be the HUGE mistake, but I didn’t do that.)

No, I didn’t accidentally grind the valve seat or cut through to the water jacket, but I did make some grind marks right next to the seat, which might, in future dates make it easier for a valve to burn. But I’m just going to have to live with that.

Later, when I have the intake/exhaust gasket, I’ll do a little cleaning to match up the head and the manifolds.



After grinding the ridges from the head.


That’s all for now, but stay tuned for the next Dodge! Dart! Rebuild! installment:

“Why the hell doesn’t the engine spin?”



Comments are closed.