63 Wildcat water pump bolts etc...

Discussion in ''Da Nailhead' started by CTWildcat, Mar 31, 2021.

  1. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    I've had my '63 Wildcat over 11 years now but aside from changing the oil every spring and some other basic maintenance I haven't done much over the last several years. Was lucky to have Tom Telesco do a bunch of work on this car in the first few years of ownership which shook out the initial issues, and in the last 3 years I've given it a new exhaust, master cylinder and tires. But that's been it aside from minor stuff, and the car has faithfully done what I've asked it to--which is drive a few hundred or maybe 1,000 miles between April and October--every year with very, very few problems. Hasn't ever leaked much of anything either, which you may find hard to believe after you keep reading and see the photos below.

    Now thanks to one little bolt head I've been forced to deal with some long overdue maintenance items. When the weather started warming up a few weeks ago I pulled the Wildcat out of the garage because it hadn't run in a few months. Immediately noticed a scraping noise from the engine and found this water pump bolt up against the back of the fan pulley: fullsizeoutput_4a15.jpeg

    Put a wrench on the bolt and while there was some resistance--notice it was gobbed with silicone--it would not tighten at all. This car had an aftermarket AC system (non-working) on it when I got it, and though I removed nearly all the components there was still the bracket shown in the picture, an extra pulley bolted on the front of the lower pulley (also seen in the photo) and another bracket just off to the left, also bolted to the water pump. I figured the time had come to remove all that stuff since I had to investigate the rogue bolt head anyway, and next thing you know we're here:
    IMG_0113D.JPG I guess I was lucky that I only snapped a bolt head on one of the smaller bolts (upper left) , and it came off so quickly and easily I don't think any more finesse would have saved it. It didn't prevent the water pump from coming off, and enough of the bolt was exposed that after applying some Kroil, I was able to use pliers to carefully unscrew it without issue. Everything else came out without trouble though some of the bolts look pretty awful:
    Before I go much further and get in over my head, I thought I'd consult the experts here on the forums. My plan so far includes:
    1) Having the radiator cleaned out/refurbished/repainted. There's a good local shop I've used in the past that has lots of experience with older brass/copper units. This one isn't in bad shape but it does have some bent fins and I might as well while I address everything else.
    2) Clean everything thoroughly. As you can see everything is pretty nasty and gunky. That lower pulley especially was so caked with gunk inside it took awhile to even find the bolts. I've heard people use WD-40 and Simple Green for engine compartment detailing--anyone recommend anything else? Anything I should/shouldn't clean with Brakleen or similar?
    3) Replace all the hoses, thermostat, gaskets and hardware. Maybe makes sense to replace the water pump as well? Doesn't seem to be in bad shape and the bearings seem fine, but what would you do?

    My questions/issues/problems before I go further:
    1) Back to the original problem bolt, which is 2nd from the bottom in the above photo, I'm not sure what's going on here. There is definitely a piece of bolt stuck deeper in this hole, though I'm not sure it has/had any connection to bolt head that came out. It looks like with this one somebody just gunked this little broken bolt up with silicone and prayed it would plug the hole. Finally enough heat cycles just popped this "plug" out. So I will need to drill into and attempt to remove whatever remains in this hole.
    2) As for the other bolts & bolt holes, some of them were pretty rough & rusty looking. What's the best method for cleaning out the holes safely? And I'm guessing at least the worst ones should be tapped? Then there's the issue of the length of the bolts, since where there were brackets/spacers for the aftermarket AC, longer bolts than the originals were used. I have an original service manual but it doesn't address the size of the hardware here.
    3) What else does it make sense to do having come this far with disassembly? I'm thinking I might as well pull the fuel pump and at least open it up and inspect it, and replace the lower hose while I'm at it. But how about the timing chain cover? Sure would make cleaning up the water pump area and nasty bolt holes a lot easier, but this is where I start to think I'd be in over my head.

    I have many more questions but I've already written more than enough for now. All your advice is very much appreciated, and I'm looking forward to spending some more quality time under the hood and getting the Wildcat back on the road better than ever.

  2. telriv

    telriv Founders Club Member


    You would have to go to a hardware store to find bolts the correct length. I MAY have some used original ones in better shape. DON'T use a regular tap as it will make the bolt hole oversize.. You need cleanout taps & dies for this. A cleanout tape is a few thousanths smaller in diameter & the die is slightly larger in diameter so that you don't remove any material from the threaded parts.
    I just recently worked on a '64 Riv. in Danbury which required gobbs of work.
    I am retired now BUT do work on peoples cars at their houses as I have no choice as social security barely pays for the taxes on my home.

    Tom T.
  3. Babeola

    Babeola Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2021
  4. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    Tom--great to hear you're still working on Buicks around here. I think I'm going to try removing the timing chain cover this weekend and see if the broken bolt stands proud of the engine block enough to get pliers on it. In any case it will really help with the cleanup process even if it makes things a bit more complicated. Hoping to get through it on my own but if I get in too deep I'll let you know if I need a house call.

    Babeola--thank you for that link, that's certainly the best thing I've seen with regards to new bolts, and although I don't need all of that hardware at the moment it wouldn't hurt to have it for future use.

    I was able to drop off the radiator with the local shop this morning and incredibly it's going to be ready for pickup tomorrow. They said there were two tiny leaks in it, no big deal, it was mostly just filthy w/ chipped/peeling paint. That's one thing checked off the list anyway. Will post an update once the timing chain cover is off.
  5. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    So I don't know how I got the idea I could potentially pull the timing chain cover and reveal some of the broken bolt standing proud of the engine block. I guess that's what happens when you spend too many days away from the project, but anyway clearly the broken bolt is in a shallow hole that does not carry through to the block. In any case, I started the process of removing the timing chain cover to aid with general cleanup and potentially the removal of the broken bolt.

    Unfortunately the REAL problem is an entirely different broken bolt (or maybe even 2 bolts?) in the passenger side hole of the water manifold. The photo below shows a drinking straw inserted into this particular hole:
    The second mark down shows how far the straw goes into the hole above this one. The third mark down shows how far the straw goes into the holes on the driver side of the water manifold. Next photo shows the straw out of the hole:

    From the end of the straw it's about 1 1/4" to the first mark, 2 3/8" to the second and almost 2 7/8" to the third.

    I was really hoping to get a lot further with this but I think I'm already out of my league. I think I could handle removing the broken water pump bolt since it's visible and pretty easily accessible. But I can barely even see what's going on with the water manifold, and attempting to drill into something I can't see and hoping to hit dead center is a daunting proposition. Any advice from those with more experience and expertise?
  6. telriv

    telriv Founders Club Member


    IF you have the 4 bolts out of the water manifold it's just a matter of lifting it up & out, unless the broken bolt will not allow it. Then that's another story.

    Tom T.
  7. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    When I wrote the last post I was convinced that the passenger side of the water manifold wasn't moving without removing the broken bolt. I had whacked both sides with a rubber mallet and while I could tell the driver's side had some give it felt like the passenger side was on there solidly. But I went back later and was more aggressive about it and to my surprise the manifold came off without too much trouble.


    Now the broken bolt is pretty well exposed, and though vice grips aren't getting any movement on it yet I'll let some Kroil sit overnight and see what happens. In any case I feel a lot better about removing it now that I can actually see it, and even if I can't remove it right away at least I can continue removing the timing chain cover and other components for cleaning.
  8. Dan Hach

    Dan Hach Well-Known Member

    Maybe alternate heat and penetrating fluid. Beware of fires of course. Could you weld another bolt to it and pull it that way?
  9. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    Dan--welding is not something I have experience with though I was considering putting some heat on it. Never tried that either, but after multiple rounds of Kroil it's still not moving. Clearly that bolt has been in there for decades and doesn't wanna leave. In any case I'm not worrying about it just yet as I still have plenty of dismantling & cleanup to do before that water manifold is going back on.

    Progress has been slow last several days but last night was able to loosen the crank bolt by bumping the starter with my breaker bar wedged against the frame, a method several others have described on this board and others. This was my setup:
    The oil catch pan is there just to keep the bar from resting on the tranny cooler lines. Put a random piece of old hose on the handle to soften the blow and eliminate any loud bangs. Worked like a charm and the bolt was loose after turning the key for maybe half a second, and it came out the rest of the way by hand. For others attempting to remove theirs, I should mention--it was very difficult to find information on the size of this bolt, and MANY places online say the bolt head is 1 1/8". People are selling replacements that have a 1 1/8" bolt head and say it will fit a 401. That may be true, and I don't know if other '63 cars originally had a 1 1/8" bolt here (maybe on the 425?) but this one is a 1" bolt head.

    Now of course, the harmonic balancer is stuck on there tight so more Kroil and probably a harmonic balancer remover are needed before I make any more progress.
  10. telriv

    telriv Founders Club Member


    That harmonic balancer is a slip on. No real need for a puller. Just tap the rear/back of it with a hammer & it SHOULD just slide off.

    Tom T.
  11. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    Tom--while doing my prep work I did read that this balancer was a slip on and that many folks are able to slide their off easily once the crank bolt is free. I gave it the rubber mallet several times and got nothing, maybe I was just being too careful, but in any case I got an el cheapo puller set from Harbor Freight and that did the job without too much trouble. Here's the balancer and bolt once they were off:
    fullsizeoutput_4a3d.jpeg IMG_0331.JPG IMG_0332.JPG fullsizeoutput_4a3e.jpeg

    Then on to the timing chain cover. I had prepped all the bolts with Kroil yesterday and none of them were any trouble but the top left. That one was very sticky but I went at it extremely slowly and carefully and it came out just fine. Removing the cover itself didn't give much trouble either, and most of it freed up with just some gentle pulling. Was glad not to have to attempt to pry it and risk damaging the cover. No issues with the oil pan gasket either. Here's the cover out in the daylight:
    IMG_0326.JPG IMG_0327.JPG IMG_0328.JPG IMG_0329.JPG
    Yeah it's filthy but I'm not seeing anything too horrible here and I'm hoping once the broken bolt is out and it's cleaned up and shiny again the cover can be re-used with a new rubber seal. Any red flags I'm missing?

    Here's the timing chain:
    IMG_0323D.JPG IMG_0324.JPG IMG_0325D.JPG
    Again I'm not seeing any glaring issues or damage here, the chain seems pretty tight and the nylon gear teeth look OK. But while I'm in here is there a case against replacing the timing gears with something 100% metal?

    Hoping those with expert eyes can weigh in on what's OK to reuse and what needs replacing. In the meantime I have a LOT of cleaning to do.
  12. Babeola

    Babeola Well-Known Member

    I would replace the timing chain set for sure. The teeth on the upper gear break down over time with heat and oil. You don’t have to go with a steel upper gear, just replace the old one one way or another.
  13. Dan Hach

    Dan Hach Well-Known Member

    I never understood why they went with nylon gears. When I took my engine apart last fall, the gears were completely gone and the chain was working the metal down. I don't know how that thing ran as well as it did. I don't really trust plastic parts in an engine. I bought a steel gear for a replacement.
  14. telriv

    telriv Founders Club Member


    I have those plastic gears in stock made by Cyloes. If the chain seems tight I would just leave it alone. I can see cracks starting in the plastic gear. I ALSO have the newer modern seal that goes in the cover. The gasket set you purchase will have that piece of oil pan gasket in the box.
    REMEMBER the balancer bolt needs to be torqued to 225ft. lbs minimum. I can also supply the larger head, 1 1/8th, balancer bolt.
    How is the sealing surface of the balancer??? It needs to be smooth with no grooves in it. I have the repair sleeves also IF needed.

    Tom T.
  15. CTWildcat

    CTWildcat Active Member

    Here are some shots of the sealing surface on the balancer:
    IMG_0337D.JPG IMG_0338D.JPG IMG_0339D.JPG

    I have made no effort to clean up the balancer in any way so far, so I'm not sure how much of the crud will come off. But I've read that the new neoprene seals are more prone to leakage if the balancer surface is less than perfect. What's the best way to clean this thing up while not damaging the surface? I do have a dremel & wire wheels if that's safe.

    Another rookie question
  16. jmos4

    jmos4 Well-Known Member


    They make a repair sleeve for those, try NAPA, I believe I used one on my 401 back in 2009

  17. telriv

    telriv Founders Club Member

    It would be best to get the Redi-Sleeve even IF your going to use the original packing type seal.

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