Ford Escort Restoration Project

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Updated: June 19, 2014

BRINGING BETTY TO LIFE

David McCowage and the students from The Northern Sydney Institute, part of TAFE NSW, are continuing to restore the ACM Ford Escort by preparing the engine. The students have rebuilt the starter motor and on their first attempt to crank the engine, the brushes were corroded to the commutator so the first crank tore the brush holder apart. It seemed the magnets were strong enough but the weak link was the brush holder.

Innovative work from the students has resulted in the starter spinning on the bench. The engine was slowly rotated from the crankshaft nut and another problem was discovered: the engine would only rotate one half of a turn, before lockup. A bore-a-scope was placed in the cylinder which showed the cylinder was reasonably rusty. The pistons were unable to move beyond the rust line in the bore. It was decided to make an effort to rotate the engine with some lube and force. The battery cables were replaced and the fresh starter was installed. Fuel, compression and spark. The fuel cap was intact and the fuel smelled okay and a small sample did not show any water or rust.

As the engine cranked, it sounded like there was compression. That little carby and points worked together to push the little baby pistons down through the spindly conrods and spin the crankshaft to the point that it ran under its own steam. No one could believe that after many years neglected in the bush Betty burst into life on the first crank, a bit of a long crank. The burning oil that was placed in the cylinders made it look like a steam engine.

One student near the rear of the vehicle noticed strange looking creatures flying out of the exhaust. A family of lizards had set up their home in the exhaust system. The forensic apprentices determined that they had been dead for some time. Lizards in the exhaust and possums in the cabin. What would come next? Perhaps a snake in the trunk or venomous spiders lurking.

All this work was to prepare for the maiden run on the dyno. Would we need stronger straps to hold the torque or would the engine expire and leave a puddle of oil on the floor?

The next line of business was to ensure that the brakes were working so Betty could be placed into the rollers. The students have taken the calipers off, dismantled, cleaned up and given Betty a brake service whilst waiting for new brake parts. Fresh brake fluid was added and the system bled. Remarkably, after years in the weather the boiling point was still 151 degrees.

We have the groundwork in place for a test drive and a driveline inspection prior to some gentle engine testing. Stay tuned and thanks again to all our supporters for supplying Betty with her bits and pieces!