Engine Removal Guide

This article doesn't cover ALL details of engine removal, but should give you a good idea of how to do it.

Mark any and all wires, hoses, cables, etc. that you could possibly get confused about where they go. Starter wires, vacuum lines, coil wires, sending unit wires, etc. Its better to take the time to mark everything than to start hooking things back up an not know where they go.

Disconnect the negative battery cable.

The motor mount halves are held together by one long bolt on each side on '72 and later small block Chevys, probably earlier than that as well. IIRC, there's a 5/8" head on the bolt and the nut is 11/16". The converter is fastened to the flexplate with 3 9/16" head bolts and the bellhousing has 6 9/16" head bolts.

I suggest removing the distributor to avoid breakage. Its also a good idea to remove most of the accessories from the front of the motor to minimize the risk of damage to the radiator. At a minimum, remove the fan, shroud, and power steering pump. There's no need to remove the lines from the P/S pump, just unbolt the pump and tie it up out of the way.

The hood will need to be removed. You may want to scribe around the hinges on the bottom of the hood to make re-aligning it a breeze. I used some orange paint on my black hood. Nice and visible. Another option is drilling two small alignment holes through the hinge and hood bracing while they're still bolted together. When it comes time to bolt the hood back on, just get the bolts started, slide some appropriately sized nails through the holes to align the hood and tighten the bolts.

Support the tranny with something, and position that "something" towards the front of the tranny pan (use a block of wood to spread the load). It sounds obvious, but its worth saying. Also, after engine removal, don't let the converter hang on the tranny's input shaft very long, as that could tweak the front lip seal and cause a leak later on. The converter just slips off. (to re-install, push it on while rotating it. It will pop back 3 times before it's fully engaged)

If you have air conditioning, do the same as was suggested for the power steering pump. Just unbolt it and tie it out of the way somehow. There's no use disconnecting the lines and loosing all your R-12 or R-134a.

Be sure to use a good lifting device, including strong chains, bolts and hooks. I like to use a "cherry picker" type engine hoist. I've also found it easier to reinstall an engine using chains attached at all four corners of the intake manifold. This keeps it level and is much easier than the corner to corner with one chain method. Another inexpensive option is the lift plate. This is a steel plate that bolts to the carb flange on the intake manifold and you just hook the hoist's hook to the lift plate and start lifting. It's a nice, central location for lifting, which allows the motor to be easily tilted slightly by hand to make it easier to pull out. Some people fear these lift plates, thinking the threads in the intake will pull out. Thousands of people are using these lift plates without problems, even with aluminum intakes, so you should be fine, too. I'd suggest using long studs in the intake and large washers on top of the plate. Obviously using the lift plate requires carburetor removal.

If you feel that there is any risk of bumping the radiator, remove it. There's no use in risking an expensive radiator, it's not that tough or time-consuming to yank.

The rest is pretty straight forward. Here's a basic run down of things you'll need to unhook, unbolt or disconnect:

Installation is basically a reverse process. Getting the tranny and engine to mate together as you drop the motor on the motor mounts is the trickiest part. You may have to vary the height of the tranny in order to get the back together. Just go slow and be careful. Once you get the two motor mount bolts through and 3-4 bellhousing bolts in, the rest is easy.

Never put any body parts (yours or your car's) under an engine hanging on a hoist. You never know when a bolt or chain might break.

When bolting the torque converter to the flywheel, there should be a 1/4" or so gap between the two before you put the bolts in. This is by design, don't fill the gap with washers or anything, just pull the torque converter out towards the flywheel and bolt them together (put some Loc-Tite on the bolts first!). If the torque converter and flywheel hit each other before the tranny bellhousing meets the engine, the torque converter hasn't fully seated. You need to get it to slip on another inch or so. There are two opposing slots in the end of the torque converter that fit over two "bars" inside the tranny (can't think of how to describe it, but if you look at the tranny from the front end, you'll see the bars and understand what I mean). You need to fully seat the converter in the tranny or you won't be able to bolt the engine and tranny together and your car won't go anywhere.

If you have any questions or comments please click the "Contact Craig" link and let him know.

Copyright 2008 Bruce Johnson and Craig Watson