I pulled the head and sure enough the #two exhaust valve was partly eaten away. The cylinder bores looked good, no scoring and only the faintest ridge at the top of the bore. It was definitely worth rebuilding. Time for a trip to the machine shop. Checking around, I found that Dave had been killed in a private plane crash, so I needed to find a new machinist. Import engineering, a one man shop on San Pablo in Albany was recommended to me.
I went over and talked to Ken, the proprietor at Import Engineering and found that he could do all the things that Dave had done, he even had some of the same machine tools. I left the head with him to receive new exhaust valves and to have the intake valves re-ground. When I went back to pick it up, the entire head had been glass beaded (a process like sand blasting) and it shown like a giant multifaceted jewel.
I took the head home and was looking at it when a small photographic composition presented itself to me. Well, I had recently acquired a new macro lens for my view camera and here was something to do with it. In fact, it proved to be a lot of something to do with this new lens. When I wanted to add the valve cover, intake and exhaust manifolds to the photographic project, I went back to Ken and he became very interested in what I was doing and let me use his glass bead cabinet to clean-up these other parts. A couple of months and five 100 sheet boxes of Tri-X later, I was ready to put my car back together.
How many of us have seen an automotive head. They are actually quite common. If you own a car you own one of these. But have you ever seen it. Study its shapes and forms closely. Despite its at first seeming complexity, it is really quite simple, but also very sophisticated. And quite elegant in its own way.
This is an aluminum alloy head with an overhead camshaft and semi-hemispherical swirl cross flow combustion chambers. The cross flow design helps the engine to breath, while the swirl chamber better mixes the fuel air mixture which improves combustion and reduces emissions. The way it works is that a timing chain driven by a sprocket on the crank shaft, turns the cam shaft via the large sprocket chain wheel at the front of the head. The cam shaft cams actuate the rocker arms on the rocker shafts. The rocker arms depress the spring loaded valves. As the valves open and close the fuel air mixture is admitted from the intake side and the exhaust gases are allowed to escape from the exhaust side. As all this is going on water is pumped through the water galleries to remove waste heat and oil is pumped through the rocker shafts to the rocker bearings and through an oil pipe to the cam lobes.
Now look at the photos again. Form follows function. Every detail contributes to the overall function of the design. The architecture of the head is a certain way for certain reasons. There are far to many details and reasons for things being this way and that way for me to go into it all here. But as I study the design of this head, I can see its Teutonic origins and the passion of its engineers for automotive performance.
Edward Weston used to eat the vegetables that he photographed. He ate his photographs. I get to drive mine.
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