|In 2019 I saved up enough money to get the
55 year old Nailhead in Sherman the Buick rebuilt. Getting it rebuilt
locally was not really an option, because the city nearest to me has one
speed/machine shop, and has a reputation for doing it their way or the
highway. The concern here is you can read all over the internet that the
Buick 401 has some peculiarities, and if not paid attention to, will lead to
failure of the rebuilt engine in short order. Primary examples are oil
gallery plugs that are a non-standard/non-stocked size, heads that do not
need valve seats installed, in fact attempting to install seats can result
into cutting in the water jacket, and difficult to install camshaft
Because of these reasons I sought out a Nailhead Expert to perform the rebuild. There are a few of them around the U.S. There is Russell Martin in Grass Valley, CA, Tom Telesco in Stamford, CT, and Dave Gaines in Cooper City, FL. I'm in the southeast US and went with Dave Gaines. Note that I toyed with the idea of sending it off to Jasper Engine's "Authentic Custom Engines" as they have a Nailhead right on their main page, have pricing in line with others, and will run it on a dyno. I called them twice over the years, and the second time they have instituted a policy of cutting the heads to put valve seats in. Even if the customer doesn't want it, they will do it or not rebuild the motor. No thanks, this isn't a Chevy.
I crated the Nailhead up and shipped in to sunny Florida. Episode 1, below, shows the process.
While the engine is being rebuilt I took time to paint and coat parts such as the exhaust manifolds, pulleys, and power steering pump. Most coating products are from Eastwood. I also attempted to use Evapo Rust gel which did not work for my situation. See parts go from rusty and dusty to primed and painted. All that in episode 2, below:
Next up, the engine has made it to the rebuilder and is disassembled and evaluated. The heads need new rocker shafts and arms, and once they arrive they get reassembled A crack is discovered in the block and it is shipped cross-country to California to see if a fix can be attempted. We learn a lot about motor freight, re-weigh fees, and what repairs are used for cast iron.
|We fast forward to episode 9 of the series to see the Nailhead get picked up and installed.|