I have a friend named Jim that owns a tired 1956 Continental Mark II. Since this is the 60th anniversary of the Mark II he's getting invited to shows and wanted to get there safely.
He came to me for direction and I introduced him to my car-savant, Dave, to find out what the car really needed, Ho-Boy, it needs a lot.
Whenever I do a car for a friend what I do is have an agreement that the main goal is to make it as safe as it was new. Typically that means every single piece of rubber and every brake component gets rebuilt or replaced. New tires are essential, especially if they don't have date codes. Electrical and vacuum problems are fixed and everything tested to make sure the car is roadworthy.
Dave is working directly for my friend, but it's being repaired in my toy box. I'll handle procurement of parts. I love having Dave around doing his indy work. There are just some jobs that require two people. An extra set of eyes on a problem doesn't hurt, either.
This my pal, Al's Mark II engine compartment. In many ways it was worse than Jim's. This is what a non-airconditioned engine compartment is supposed to look like.
Jim's will soon look like Al's. Mark II engines are very difficult to pull as they have to come out with the trans. The combination is so long that the radiator, bracing and grill need to be removed. We try to avoid that.
The engine in Al's car was stripped of valve covers, intake, exhaust and all the ancillary piping and wiring before a messy clean-up began. On Jim's car we backed it out the service bay in my messy shop and brought out the high-pressure washer.
For Mark II fans, what's wrong with this picture?
When I first looked at the car I did the thing that most Mark II owners do and asked if it had its original engine. That's one of the Holy Grails, like the Porsche world. Since the Continental Mark II got its engine parts from Lincoln the engines were interchangeable, but the original build of the Mark II engines got closer scrutiny and held tighter tolerances. There's a myth that all of the engines were dyno tested, but that doesn't seem right, from some people memories.
However, the Continental engines were sequentially marked, and enough is known about their use that one can tell if theirs is an original engine. Unfortunately, mine is not original, either, but it is from another Mark II so it's stamped with a serial number that's known to belong to a car that there is no current record of. This car has the alternative Lincoln 368 engine, commonly used as factory replacement once the remaining Continental engines got used up. Further evidence is that this engine has its original Ford Blue engine color.
Mandatory secondary hood prop. Looks terrible as a lowrider.
First things first. Removing the front drum revealed the last time the brakes were fully serviced was 1975. That prompted us to look at the brake cylinders. They were bleeding and rusty, a strong indicator very old brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic allowing moisture to settle into the lowest part of the brake system, the brake cylinders. Lack of regular flushing after a rebuild leads to this problem. Bleeding brake fluid alone is not always the cure as damage may already have begun.
Peeling back the rear seals revealed a fluid/water/rust mix.
Pulled back the front revealed that the damage had seized up the pistons, like what happened to my car on the Pebble Tour.
Jim has a brand-new reproduction headliner that we'll install when it's done.
Dave pulled the radiator and sent it off. It wasn't visibly leaking, but had two splits that showed up under pressure. It was full of rust gunk, so Dave pulled the drain plugs and power-washed the inside of the engine until repeated back-flushing rinsed clean.
The water pump had a closed drain hole and water running through the bearing. That's never good.
The intake comes off for black gloss powder-coating, The valve covers have been polished. They should have polished high spots and glass-beaded low spots. Lots of taping will be required. The exhaust manifolds will go to JetHot for ceramic coating. The stainless exhaust wraps will be polished. I can never be sure of JetHot's silvers, so these will be black, like mine. The power steering pump leaks. I've ordered a rebuild kit. The fuel/vacuum pump was bypassed completely, so none of the vacuum features like windshield wipers, antenna, heater controls and spritzers worked. I have a kit coming for that, too. The generator isn't charging much until 2,000 rpm, so it likely needs brushes. This has the stock '56 Holley carb, infamously known at "Tea Pot" for the fact that they tend to boil over. If the float sticks fuel will fill the oil bath air cleaner, earning another nickname of "Fire Dome" when the cars burned up. The choke on this car doesn't work so a kit is coming for that, too. It'll get new tires, but we're reusing the old brake drums and shoes. There's plenty of wear material left on the drums. As long as the original chamfer on the drum is still there the drum is within spec. The fact that the shoes are already arced to the drums he'll have no break-in period. They brake and master cylinders will be replaced or rebuilt.
When next you see it there will be a lot more room to work in the engine compartment.