Unusual Autorack Loads

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Unusual Autorack Loads
Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, November 9, 2019 12:31 PM

From a Facebook group called "Open Autorack Memories".  What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in one of these cars?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, November 9, 2019 1:40 PM

Horse trailers and campers.  Real outside the box thinking!

"If it fits, it ships!"

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, November 9, 2019 2:03 PM

In both cases they fit on there perfectly as if the railcar was built just for that purpose. 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 9, 2019 2:04 PM

It would be interesting to know how they loaded the campers.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, November 9, 2019 5:29 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
It would be interesting to know how they loaded the campers.

Much the same way porcupines make love.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, November 9, 2019 5:35 PM

Miningman
In both cases they fit on there perfectly as if the railcar was built just for that purpose. 

It is more likely that when they were designed, someone at the trailer/camper manufacturer knew the clearance dimensions and made sure the construction would fit.

My guess is that the campers ride on skids, probably of wood, and are pushed further in with forks set very low to the deck, taking care not to let any 'tilt' happen.  They come off by being pulled, with the same attention...

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, November 9, 2019 5:45 PM

Truck campers are usually designed to be not much wider than the pickups they will ride, so they can go anywhere that the truck can.  You also still need to be able to see around the camper with the side mirrors. 

My family had a truck camper when I was growing up, and it is amazing how many places it could go while riding a longbox F250.  We could even cross Edmonton's High Level Bridge (Miningman will understand that reference).

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:56 PM

As someone who did my share of camping with my parents as a teen in the 70's, I am very familiar with all types of campers/RV's. I am not surprised the campers fit, I am just curious as to any special equipment the manufacturer may have developed to allow for easy/efficient loading given the tight clearance and lack of wheels.......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, November 10, 2019 8:01 PM

SD70Dude
From a Facebook group called "Open Autorack Memories".  What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in one of these cars?

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Just noticed the stock trailers all have one axle set of tires removed - wonder why?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, November 10, 2019 9:29 PM

BaltACD

 

 
SD70Dude
From a Facebook group called "Open Autorack Memories".  What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in one of these cars?

Image may contain: outdoor

 

Just noticed the stock trailers all have one axle set of tires removed - wonder why?

 

I have seen this before in the transport of all sorts of dual axle utility trailers.

It does make them ride lower, and it likely makes them easier to maneuver with some sort of trailer dolly or small tractor.

Looking at the picture closely, notice the height of the rspective axle hubs, it might have been the difference between fitting on the lower level or not........

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 11, 2019 9:10 AM

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Looking at the picture closely, notice the height of the respective axle hubs, it might have been the difference between fitting on the lower level or not........

I see no difference in height between upper and lower level.  Do you mean by only a half-inch or so?

The potential height difference achieved by leaving the front wheels off is a consequence of the walking-beam suspension on these two-axle trailers; they use the same principle as locomotive equalization around a central pivot, and the net effect of having one set of wheels 'off' is indeed to lower body height.  You can see the walking-beam deflection in a couple of the pictures.

Note that these trailers are equipped with brakes (probably electric as the couplers don't appear to be set up for surge) and the forward drums are not in contact with anything.  That either indicates that all the travel in the tilting beams is taken up (which I think is likely) or that blocking has been inserted under the forward trailer axle, perhaps of the same kind used to support the trailer noses via the couplers.  I doubt there is blocking there because it would spoil the 'three-point' stability of having just the rear rubber wheels and the coupler supporting the arrangement.

They will be aware that an unloaded trailer will bounce on the suspension and that this would affect 'contact height' at the rear as well as allow potential 'swing' contact, for example on rough track in curves.  The logical thing to do on these if that were a concern would be to snug the rear platform down with something like a load binder; I see no evidence of this.

I think you are probably right that these were loaded with a trailer dolly or tractor, from what is now the 'forward' end of the car, and they will be unloaded much the same way.  Every one of them except top right could be pulled off with a typical bumper-pull hitch on a small truck ... probably that one, too, if you lifted the trailer nose enough first, and knew really well what you were doing backing up the ramp!

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, November 11, 2019 9:10 PM

Overmod

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Looking at the picture closely, notice the height of the respective axle hubs, it might have been the difference between fitting on the lower level or not........

 

I see no difference in height between upper and lower level.  Do you mean by only a half-inch or so?

The potential height difference achieved by leaving the front wheels off is a consequence of the walking-beam suspension on these two-axle trailers; they use the same principle as locomotive equalization around a central pivot, and the net effect of having one set of wheels 'off' is indeed to lower body height.  You can see the walking-beam deflection in a couple of the pictures.

Note that these trailers are equipped with brakes (probably electric as the couplers don't appear to be set up for surge) and the forward drums are not in contact with anything.  That either indicates that all the travel in the tilting beams is taken up (which I think is likely) or that blocking has been inserted under the forward trailer axle, perhaps of the same kind used to support the trailer noses via the couplers.  I doubt there is blocking there because it would spoil the 'three-point' stability of having just the rear rubber wheels and the coupler supporting the arrangement.

They will be aware that an unloaded trailer will bounce on the suspension and that this would affect 'contact height' at the rear as well as allow potential 'swing' contact, for example on rough track in curves.  The logical thing to do on these if that were a concern would be to snug the rear platform down with something like a load binder; I see no evidence of this.

I think you are probably right that these were loaded with a trailer dolly or tractor, from what is now the 'forward' end of the car, and they will be unloaded much the same way.  Every one of them except top right could be pulled off with a typical bumper-pull hitch on a small truck ... probably that one, too, if you lifted the trailer nose enough first, and knew really well what you were doing backing up the ramp!

 

Maybe my comments above were not clear or well explained?

I know very well how such a suspension works, I own a dual axle trailer, and big F250 to pull it, I have a strong automotive/trucking background having grown up in a family in the trucking business, worked in the automotive industry, sold MATCO tools, and built/restored several classic hot rods from the ground up.

Yes the suspensions are clearly just hanging at the end of their travel on the axles without tires, this lowers the height of the vehicle from the road in this situation.

I made no comment respective to the lower vs upper deck of the flat car.

It is visually obvious on all the trailers that the suspension is at the ends of its travel, again lowering the body of the trailer.

I believe this was done fo two reasons, first to improve clearance for the lower deck trailers.

Second, to make the trailers easier to move and maneuver with a trailer dolly or small tractor.

Additionally I am more than familair with circus loading of trailers onto railroad flat cars. My father worked for the Southern Railway in the early days of PiggyBack, and early PiggyBack is an area of special interest in my railroad modeling.

Yes each trailer would have been backed on the flat car. It is very likely this was done with a small tractor with a front hitch. My choice would have been a GRAVELY 4 wheel riding tractor with its high traction rear engine design. A front hitch would allow the driver a good view for this "backing" operation, and provided better control.

In those days, the trucking/railroad industry developed various "yard jocky" tractors with reversed driver positions or dual driver positions for this purpose with semi trailers. It stands to reason anyone shipping a lot of utility trailers by this method would have invested $800 in a good machine to speed the loading of their product.

Leaving the tires off one axle would have little effect on the actual backing operation, but likely makes sharp turns in the factory/loading area much easier, especially if done manually with a trailer dolly or with a small yard tractor rig. Dual axle trailers don't respond well to abrupt lateral hitch movements.

Even in situations where height clearances are not an issue, I have seen dual axle trailers shipped new with tires only on one axle. This seems the likely reason - maneuverablity.

Agreed, I can see no evidence of binders, the tongues are resting on wood blocks, not on the dolly wheel. It could be the frames are secured with binders we cannot see in the photos.

Surely electric brakes, I live in horse country and I've never seen a horse trailer with surge brakes. As a 62 year old with lots of trailer experiance, utility trailers and camping trailers, since I started driving at 16, I don't like surge brakes, they feel like they are beating up the tow vehicle. 

While suge brakes have been a round a long time, they are more commonly found on rental trailers and boat trailers, typically rental construction equipment.

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 11, 2019 11:45 PM

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Maybe my comments above were not clear or well explained?

You certainly didn't explain yourself when it came to the difference in height; that's why I added a description for others on the forum who are not familiar with how these suspensions work.  Had you done so initially, with all your frequently-vaunted experience and expertise, I would not have had to say anything about it.

I think you are right about using a small hydrostatic-drive tractor for the loading; I wonder if any of the companies that made these trailers have information about the specific equipment they used.

I also strongly agree that maneuverability would be a principal reason to install only the rear tires.  I did wonder at first if decreased possibility of wheel/tire theft was a factor, as this was said to be quite an issue with automobiles shipped in open racks.  Another characteristic of those walking-beam suspensions is that you would have to jack the trailer CONSIDERABLY more at its rear or side frame to get the rear wheels far enough elevated to remove easily...

Surge brakes (in my opinion at least) are no more successful on these trailers than they were when applied to railroad trains.  It was a clever idea when vehicles weren't easily equipped with trailer controllers, or somebody wanted a self-contained "proportional" brake that didn't require reliance on a battery for safe application -- for example, on the kinds of rental trailers you mentioned.  Not so clever if you care about smooth, non-porpoising stops, or adjustable brake proportioning relative to actual load.  

Amusingly enough, I actually have a fairly long history towing double-axle trailers with an almost comical range of passenger cars, in lieu of 'larger trunks' or roof loading and the like, and for such things electric braking is essential (as are good air shocks or auxiliary springs!).  I in fact often liked to set my electrics up to provide just a little more application than the car service brakes gave, to preclude any likelihood of jackknifing -- that would be near-suicidal with any surge brake system.  

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 6:10 AM

Sorry if my first post was not clear to you or others.

My favorite tow vehicle back in the day was the Checker Marathon, my father an I owned a number of them starting with a 1969 wagon he purchased new.

And for the record, the tractor I suggested is not hydrostatic drive. The rear engine GRAVELY four wheel tractor, who's driveline remained basically the same from 1971 to 2001, is a gear drive 8 speed cast iron transaxle with separate forward and reverse clutches providing instant forward and reverse as good or better than a hydro drive.

Once a ground speed is sellected for the task, one simply operates a single hand lever or foot pedal, depending on year and model, for forward and reverse operation. moving the pedal to the opposite direction will act as brake, and separate transmission brake or independant wheel brakes were available.

 

This one was built in 1995 and still runs like new, cuts grass, and easily clears 2' snow falls. And that snow blower, and the mower deck are drive shaft driven, no PTO belts.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 7:40 AM

Marathons are some of the greatest vehicles ever produced.  I was never privileged to own one, but I still miss them in New York taxi service ... and it has been a long, long time.  They had the comparative misfortune of doing a complete, expensive restyling right at the point that American automobile styling changed dramatically, and were stuck as being kind of the Zil (which itself was crudely copied from one of the late, overblown Packards) of American automobiles right to the end.  But they were some of the last of the grand old American tradition of building it right and running it forever.

BTW, Checker made some of the very best styled 1930s automobiles.

I had no idea Gravely built geared/clutched transmissions -- my knowledge of the company is mostly from the 'legendary' walk-behinds that were advertised in Popular Science, Mechanix Illustrated, and all those other 'Boy Mechanic' delights from the '60s.  We inherited a big old Gravely from the '40s when we bought the house in Englewood ... my father sold it before I was old enough to fire it up myself.  Now you have me questioning whether those were hydrostatic as I remember.

I had great fun, for a while, with a diesel Walker mower, one of the marvelous unfixable machines of zany American practice.  That has individual reversible hydro drive through stout sealed gearcases ... with both hydros driven by one long, Weller-tensioned belt.  The mowing and accessory decks are driven from a stout shaft (square on the older versions, splined on the newer) ... which, when you get under to see, and it ain't easy, is driven by a NON-tensioned belt.  And I take your point about PTO seriously as a result.

Then, of course, there is the gear drive in an older Troy-Bilt Horse tiller (known to several friends independently as That Big Red Thing), and the clutch arrangement in it too.  Near the beginning of the long, strange, sad story of the Tomato Trees, I was aerating 'wetland' soil in progressively deeper passes at high speed when the tines encountered large oak roots.  The tiller, weighing multiple hundreds of pounds, and me water-skiing after it with my arms out, launched without hesitation, and went neatly 24' through the air between tread marks.  

No visible damage; it didn't even stall.  I expect your tractor is built the same way.  It's always good to find something still well made.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 9:04 AM

The original GRAVELY walk behind is not a hydro either. It is a two speed planetary transmission with a wet disc internal clutch, which typically outlasted the engine. Later a two speed differential gave the walk behind 4 speeds. The core design did not change from the 30's to about 2004 when they stopped production.

I grew up cutting the lawn with a 1950's model L walk behind, then later a rider. The first riders used the walk behind trans, but they quickly developed the eight speed gear box with external clutches for the riders.

The riders do have a direct gear drive internal wet PTO cutch, no belts, no electric clutches.

GRAVELY has been part of Ariens since the mid 80's, but the product did not really change until those markets simply changed. Today they make hydro zero turns.

Checkers, great cars. We put over 300,000 miles on each of three of them.

Styling details aside, the Checker was the perfect shape for a practical car. Just look to day at mid size and larger SUV's and crossovers. Today I drive an EcoBoost Ford Flex, looks a lot like a Checker........it has the same basic dimensions.

More later, got to run,

Sheldon

PS - If you are interested, later I can share many of the simple secrets that made the Checker so durable.

    

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 6:17 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Styling details aside, the Checker was the perfect shape for a practical car. Just look to day at mid size and larger SUV's and crossovers.

Or some of my favorite cars, the '76-'79 box Lincolns.  50-50 weight distribution, back doors and openings wide enough to accommodate substantial furniture, one of the best 4-wheel disc brake systems ever applied to a car of any size ... the only thing wrong with them was the gas-guzzling drivetrain, and that can be swapped out with a variety of modern 'alternatives'...

Today I drive an EcoBoost Ford Flex, looks a lot like a Checker........it has the same basic dimensions.

Of course, you are leaving out the 'secret' -- the two turbochargers.  That makes the 3.5 an entirely different story from most other Fords, not excepting most of the 'performance' cars.  My wife now has an X5M with the S63 in it, which is the same basic philosophy with 'internal twins' for both banks.  But I'd rather have the S63 in something like a Flex, with lots of room in both front and back, plus commodious and well-dimensioned space 'in the rear'.

I waited over 15 years for Ford to build a 3/4 ton "four door Bronco" with a diesel engine - front seat, back seat, eight-foot closed bed.  What we got instead was the Excursion: less usable room inside it than a Nineties Surburban, far more unwieldy, parts that broke and broke and broke, and a power cerebrovascular accident for a motor...  

... but they redeemed themselves with the Flex.  If only they'd given us the six-cylinder modular diesel that was 'in the works' up to 2015... now that would have been fun...

If you are interested, later I can share many of the simple secrets that made the Checker so durable.

Yes! Yes!  You've described some of these in the past, and it's a subject that never, ever grows old.  What is interesting is how many of them translate perfectly well to much more modern manufacturing and design techniques...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 8:03 PM

Yes, I liked those Lincoln's too.

The Flex is a dream, we have owned two, only because the first was totaled in a crash, it's crash worthiness saved my wife and grand children. The 3.5 EcoBoost is cool, a 4800 lb station wagon as fast as my 1963 hot rod Nova SS convertible.

Checker bought all the mechanicals from others in the industry, so what made the Checker so rugged and dependable? Here is a list:

Front suspension, borrowed from the nearly 6000 lb 1949 Lincoln Continental, a suspension also used on the 55-57 T-bird. If it was strong enough for the Lincoln, how could it wear out under the 3500 lb Checker.

Rear axle, Dana 44, like a Dodge pickup truck. 

Transmission, thru most of the 60's, the automatic was the Borg Warner version of the FORD FMX, a heavy duty three speed developed jointly by B-W and FORD for light trucks and full sized cars, like the Lincoln. In the 70's they switched to GM turbo400, like my 1 ton MATCO step van had.....

Engines, Chevy inline 6 and small block V8's starting in '64. BUT, the Chevy engine in a Checker was special. GM had a taxi/police engine option, which included forged cranks, rods and pistons, high tin alloy blocks like Corvettes, and other "high performance" parts, but with medium HP cams and carburetation. Make 250 HP in a block built for 350 HP, change the oil and you have formula for a long lasting engine.

The extra cost of these engines was part of what made the Checker "pricey" considering it's simple appointments.

The frame is X braced, and the drive shaft runs thru the center of the X, giving the car its unique high floor and no drive shaft tunnel. 

People look at a Checker and think it is heavy, but actually the weight is typical for its size and era. A mid 60's 6 cylinder A-11 taxi weighed less than 3500 lbs and would get about 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with a 3 speed stick.

The A-12 Marathon had a nicer dash board, two tone upholstery, and an amazing long list of possible options. They generally weighed a little more, 3700 lbs +/-. In the 60's all Checkers has full instrument individual Stewart Warner gauges.

My father's '69 Marathon wagon with a 327 V-8, auto, power steering and brakes, would get about 20 mpg highway pulling an Appachie popup. The sticker price of that car was $3,750, he paid $3,450. I learned to drive on that car.

The Checker was no sports car, but it drove and handled well for its era. The turning radius was amazing for a 120" wheelbase box on wheels. They had good weight distribution and drove well in all sorts of weather. I know, I easily have 250,000 miles of Checker driver seat time.

In taxi service 500,000 miles with just a trans overhaul and engine top end overhaul was typical.

The '69 wagon my father purchased new was on the road until '88, at about 320,000 miles, my sister crashed it..........

Checker stopped making cars in 1983, but made stampings for FORD and GM until finally going out in 2009. That industry slowdown was too much for them to weather. 

Back to Ford for a minute. I don't always understand their marketing choices, and they all have product problems at times. but we have been driving Fords for the last 25 years with good results. Admittedly I have not owned a diesel truck, nor would I buy a diesel truck in today's world of tight clearance, computer controlled, fuel injected, variable cam timing gasoline engines.

Very happy with the Flex, and the first Flex (also an ecoboost), a 2008 Volvo based Tuarus, several Explorers, several police special Crown Vics, and two pickups.

My current truck is a 2015 F250 4x4 extended cab long bed 6.2 liter gas engine. It has been trouble free for 102,000 miles. The engine performance is exceptional, the 6 speed auto is amazing. It replaced a 2000 F150 4x4 4.6 liter that lasted 245,000 miles for me and went on to another owner.

My 1963 Nova SS convertible that got over 20 mpg and did 0 to 60 in 5 seconds is a story for another day...

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 9:37 PM

SD70Dude

From a Facebook group called "Open Autorack Memories".  What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in one of these cars?

No photo description available.

I would call this one a "10 double bedroom sleeper" privatelySmile

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 14, 2019 7:29 AM

A few other Checker tidbits:

The rear quarter panel sheet metal bolted on for easy repair.

Door shells were the same front and back.

Available options included bucket seats, 4 speed floor shift trans, power windows and locks.

The base model stick shift trans was the Borg Warner non synchro first gear three speed on the tree, but could be had with a floor shift and/or overdrive.

The back seat could be ordered pushed forward from the roomy taxi position making the trunk larger while still having lots of leg room in back.

In addition to the 120" wheelbase sedan and wagon, and the 6 and 8 door Aerobus, they offered a 129" wheelbase limo. Talk about leg room......

With the back seat down, the wagons had a 100" x 50" cargo floor, perfectly flat. Yes, you could carry plywood or 8' lumber and close the tailgate. And here is a forward thinking option that predicted the future, you could get a power folding back seat in the wagon.

Before the Chevy engines, they used 6 cylinders from Contential Motors, both flat head and OHV versions.

They also experimented with Chysler V8's in the early sixties, using them in the early Aerobus models.

And in the late sixties offered the Perkins diesel for a few years.

That's all for now,

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:20 AM

Did the 327s use the 'truck block' architecture, a corresponding destroked version of the typical 350 that was in Blazers etc.?  There was a corresponding automatic that as I recall had beefed-up internals; I had one in a one-ton car hauler (admittedly behind a 454, so that might have been a different unit) that was supposed to require special attention in rebuilding.

The point you made about engines is essential in considering the Ford 6.0L engine.  As the VT365, the engine made considerably lower horsepower, but appears to have had at least a reasonably successful career in schoolbus and similar power.  Ford saw ways to make much more shaft power out of that engine and paid many, many prices with the weird detail design.  

If you make the appropriate changes -- the list is long, and some of the items both expensive and 'contrary to Federal law' -- you can indeed make long-term reliable horsepower out of a 6.0L.  I routinely got over 26mpg indicated out of the Excursion, loaded for trips, on roads (to Florida) that were far from flat, so the combination of pilot injection and relatively high boost (on the 2003s, at least -- listen to 'em whistle on spoolup!) certainly worked.  But I submit that an injector design that requires complete rebuild should you accidentally run the truck low on fuel ... and that includes clogging in that wacky excuse for a 'fuel conditioning module' under the chassis ... is not a particularly sensible design, nor is putting a leak-prone oil-to-water cooler directly behind an EGR cooler that leaks if you look at it funny, but directly ahead of the high-pressure oil pump intake for the very precise injection system.  Which of course is using ordinary sump oil, in the absence of any kind of bypass filtration from the factory...

What you end up with after the 42-odd modifications is a pretty stout engine that will run reasonably well if you keep the filters changed ... oh, did I mention you need one in the coolant?  What classical diesel engine needs that? ... but of course by the time you get there you're still less than half of the way to where even a fairly simply modded 6BT will be ... for much less money and relatively fewer parts.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:40 PM

Overmod
Did the 327s use the 'truck block' architecture, a corresponding destroked version of the typical 350 that was in Blazers etc.?  There was a corresponding automatic that as I recall had beefed-up internals; I had one in a one-ton car hauler (admittedly behind a 454, so that might have been a different unit) that was supposed to require special attention in rebuilding.

327's and 350's were outgrowths of the 265 cu.in. engine that was introduced in 1955.  Subsequently the engine had production as 283, 327 and 350 cu.in. versions.  All are referred to as 'Small Block' motors.

The 'Big Block' V8 was introduced in 1958 at 348 cu.in.  it was later produced in 409 and 427 cu.in. versions.

Both versions have been used in both cars and trucks.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, November 14, 2019 10:50 PM

Overmod

Did the 327s use the 'truck block' architecture, a corresponding destroked version of the typical 350 that was in Blazers etc.?  There was a corresponding automatic that as I recall had beefed-up internals; I had one in a one-ton car hauler (admittedly behind a 454, so that might have been a different unit) that was supposed to require special attention in rebuilding.

 

OK, if you are not familiar with the history or architecture of the small block Chevy V-8, that's a big story to tell.

I will try to tell some of it.

At the 1954 auto show Chevrolet debuted a new lightweight V-8 engine that was simple and inexpensive to build, and indroduced a number of new features never before used, including the floating rocker arm, fully self adjusting hydraulic lifters, use of fewer separate external casting parts, and require only about 1/3 the number of sand molds to cast each block.

It was the 265 cid engine introduced with the totally new 1955 car.

There are basically 3 generations of this engine which was the mainstay of Chevy V-8's from 1955 to 2003, and eventually became the GM corporate V-8.

The first two generations shared high levels of parts interchangeablity and can be hard to identify from each other visually. They are highly backwards compatable with previous versions and vehicle chassis.

Small block V-8's have been produced in the following displacements: 262, 265, 283, 305, 307, 327, 350 and yes even 400 cubic inches.

And within each displacement mutliple different HP and torque versions for numerious different applications over those many years.

All 1st and 2nd generation engines share common deck height, cylinder spacing, cam center, and other critical dimensions.

There was no seperate architecture for trucks vs cars, but there were numerious evolutions to improve strength and power while maintaining parts interchangeablity and capatibility. Your 350 in a Blazer might only differ from a 350 in an Impala regarding compression ratio, cam shaft selection, valve size and carberation.

Yes the 327 is the same family as the later 350, looking under a hood in 1969, or 1973, it would be nearly impossible to tell one from the other without block numbers and detailed knowledge of each application.

These engines are still popular with hot rodders today, and the wealth of aftermarket engines and parts is staggering.

The new third generation inline 6 cylinder that Chevy would indroduce in 1962 would actually share design features and a few parts with the small block V-8. These were produced from 1962 to 1988 in displacements of 194, 230, 250, 292 cubic inches.

These are the two engine families Checker used. Checker used 230 and later 250 6's as their base engine starting in 1964.

They used V-8's in various HP configurations of 283, 327, and 350 cid before switching to the GM V-6 near the end of production.

As mentioned before, Chevy made heavy duty, high performance and standard duty versions of many of these engines. The details of each product are a long and complex list. But the versions used in Checkers were a special taxi/police grade product until near the end.

Starting in late 69 Checker did offer the 350, and yes it was a four bolt main bearing, all forged component, truck grade engine like your Blazer woud have had.

The 327 engine was similar.

Got to go now,

Sheldon

  

    

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 15, 2019 10:51 AM

Thanks!  

I was laboring under the idea, gotten from a friend in my bright college days, that the 350 'truck block' was a GMC engine with greater deck height and considerably more mass in the block casting (among other differences to a 'standard' 350).  Upon reading your notes and doing a little additional checking to be sure, that just ain't so.

Apparently even the idea of higher nickel content in at least some of the truck blocks is uncertain.

Apparently there were taxi/police 283s before the changes to 327, and Checkers were given those, too.  So a long history, of one of the best of the best engine designs.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 15, 2019 11:24 AM

Your welcome.

283, 327 and early 350's used for higher hp and/or higher torque applications had the better alloy blocks. By the early eighties, with the industry woes, some of that went away. But that was after Checker stopped making cars, and long after 283 and 327 versions stopped production.

I have lots of stories, including a 350 that actually still ran with a broken crank shaft, and was fixed by simply replacing the crank and bearings. It then went on to run many more years.

More later,

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, November 16, 2019 11:00 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I have lots of stories, including a 350 that actually still ran with a broken crank shaft, and was fixed by simply replacing the crank and bearings.

Did it break in torsion between #2 and #3?   Keep telling!

I have a very similar story about a 6.5TD (which even with all its woes is still one of my favorite engines) which failed there and ran some unspecified number of miles.  The reported problem that brought it into the shop was slight roughness ... which turned out to be the timing problem related to injecting the rear six cylinders with the slightly ... irregular ... timing provided to the injection pump by the "engine" of two cylinders that was driving it.

Apparently the broken area in the main was continuously fretting to and fro which slowly increased the 'excursion' between the two pieces until the irregular timing became noticeable enough that the owner shopped it ... to have the injection-pump timing adjusted.  He reported that the power appeared to be down 'about a quarter', too...  Big Smile

I do think he also had to replace that vibration-dampening crank pulley.  I had the same part go out on mine, after the air-conditioner compressor seized at speed and snapped the serpentine belt -- it took three so-called 'diesel mechanics' to figure out what the issue was.  Easy to fix... once you know it is there.

I suspect there are few other engines that will run at all with a broken crank, let alone relatively symptomless for many miles... Surprise

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 16, 2019 2:45 PM

Overmod
I suspect there are few other engines that will run at all with a broken crank, let alone relatively symptomless for many miles... Surprise

I have broken the crank on several of my 2-stroke race engines - it was very noticeable and I could keep the engine running long enough to drive the car back to my paddock space.  Engine would not restart.  Dealing with 2 cylinders is different than dealing with 8.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, November 16, 2019 6:41 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Before the Chevy engines, they used 6 cylinders from Contential Motors, both flat head and OHV versions.

The family '63 Marathon had the 6 cyl Continental, the '68 Marathon had a Chevy 283.

They also experimented with Chysler V8's in the early sixties, using them in the early Aerobus models.

The family '65 6dr Aerobus had the Chrysler 318, the size of the engine prevented installation of an automatic tranny, had to make do with the 3sp BW non-synchro manual. The Aerobus did turn a lot of heads when we were driving around in it.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 16, 2019 8:37 PM

OK, a little back story. In 1980 at age 23 my father who was selling MATCO TOOLS helped me also start in the MATCO TOOL business. My territory was southeast Baltimore, his was southwest Baltimore. My tool truck was a used MATCO truck, a 1976 Grumman step van on a Chevy 30 series chassis, powered by a 350 small block and a turbo400 trans.

The day came  a few years later when by virtue of hours and miles (tool trucks spend a lot of time idling), the engine needed replacement, my father wanting to help, had a customer on his route who was rebuilding engines and he got me a good price on a long block that was supposed to be a heavy duty truck version - a few short cuts were taken as I would find out later.

I installed the new engine one weekend, everything was good at first. 

About six months later the trans needed work. I had saved a 350 and turbo400 from the one of our Checkers which had reached about 350,000 miles and had several problems not economical to repair at that point. But both needed rebuilding.

One of my customers who I trusted ran a trans shop,  I had him overhaul the spare trans and swaped them one weekend.

Then a few weeks later..........I was traveling on the beltway across town to pick merchandise from a warehouse, and as I came down off an exit ramp and stopped at a stop sign, the truck began making the most horriffic banging noise. I shifted the truck into neutral, the noise stopped, the engine idled smoothly.

Putting the truck back in drive resulted in the noise resuming, I steped gently on the gas, the truck moved, the noise stopped as the truck began to move. I traveled to my destination, and stopped the truck. After completing my business, I tried starting the truck. It started with some noise, but once idling there was no problem, but again made the noise when placed in gear. Again the noise stopped as the truck began to move.

I drove the truck back across town to the trans shop who had done the trans, which was near my home. 

We put the truck on a lift and removed the torque converter cover, thinking the problem was in that area. We found the problem.

You could grab the flex plate, and rotate it about 5 degrees, and the balancer on the front of the engine did not move.

I was so disgusted, having just replaced the engine. So much so that I told him to bring it down, and back it out side.

I then got in it and drove it about about 20 miles to my fathers house where I would have the room and equipment to work on it.

So this engine was started three times and driven about 50 miles, some at highway speeds, before I pulled the oil pan to find the problem. Keep in mind, in this application, this truck had a 4.10 to 1 rear axle ratio. At 60 mph the engine rpms are well above 2000. So it likely reved to 3,000 even driving it gently those 50 miles......

The small block Chevy uses the rear main bearing as its thrust bearing, and cylinders are numbered odd on the left, even on the right, starting in front, so the rear two cylinders are 7 and 8, on the last rod journal.

Once opened up, I had to remove the 7 and 8 rod caps to actually see the problem. The crank had snaped in half at the rod journal, at such an oblique angle that the two rods held it in alignment, and the front interior face of the block only allowed the crank to walk forward about 1/16" of an inch.

The bearing inserts were obviously destroyed, but no other real damage could be found. The short piece of crank, being the thrust bearing, was traped in place.

After completely removing the crank, no damage could be found to anything else. just a little scuff on the front inside of the block from the crank walking forward.

All this work was done in December, under the truck in the yard.

After visting one of my favorite machine shop guys, I returned in several days with a new forged crank and bearings - we had snow flurries the day I installed the crank.....

It fired up and ran quiet and smooth. 

I also later had trouble with top end of this "bargin rebuild", which reqiured me to replace the heads, cam, timing chain, and lifters. I used the heads from the 350,000 mile Checker engine and had them rebuilt. While doing the top end, I used an aftermarket forged RV profile cam, double roller racing timing chain, and installed a Holley carb to replace the Rochester quadrajet.

After I had done all this work, the engine ran very well for 5 more years of tool truck service, and then when I got out of the tool business, I sold it to a guy who did moble truck repairs. He ran the truck nearly a decade more.

One other note, at this time I was 26, and had about 5 or 6 other engine rebuilds under my belt, but it was the only time I put a crank in laying on the ground in winter.......

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 16, 2019 10:11 PM

Erik_Mag

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Before the Chevy engines, they used 6 cylinders from Contential Motors, both flat head and OHV versions.

 

 

The family '63 Marathon had the 6 cyl Continental, the '68 Marathon had a Chevy 283.

 

 

They also experimented with Chysler V8's in the early sixties, using them in the early Aerobus models.

 

 

The family '65 6dr Aerobus had the Chrysler 318, the size of the engine prevented installation of an automatic tranny, had to make do with the 3sp BW non-synchro manual. The Aerobus did turn a lot of heads when we were driving around in it.

 

We had a '68 wagon with a 230 stick shift, a '69 wagon with a 327 auto, a '73 sedan with a 350 auto, and a 1960 Superba with the Continental.

The Superba did not run when I bought it (really cheap), and I never got it road worthy, but it was interesting to compare all the minor changes between it and the later Marathons.

The '68 wagon developed some transmission issues at about 240,000 miles, the previous owners used it pretty hard, pulling a travel trailer with a six cylinder, three speed, no power steering, no power brakes.

Checker wanted some crazy money for some Checker unique parts for that trans - think Borg Warner three speed that bolts to Chevy clutch/bell housing......

So, I went to the junk yard and bought a Chevy Muncie 4 speed, overhauled it, had a drive shaft made, and bought a Hurst floor shifter for a 57 Chevy bench seat car. Worked great.

I drove that car until I finished restoring/rodding my 1963 Nova SS Convertible.

That's a story for another day.

Sheldon

    

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