Hot Rod Forum banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
1979 Chevrolet Malibu 496-TH400-9" (cruiser). 1992 Chevrolet S10 355-700r4-7.625" (daily driver).
Joined
·
238 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The first half of the title is a widely recognized aphorism. In this hobby, striving for perfection can make good either better or worse. Compare the 2 outcomes. Is better really that much better than good? We all know that worse is really much worse than good. We all know that neither outcome will be perfection. The "madness" sets in and away we go looking for it anyway. The "acceptable" range for bearing or clutch pack clearance, endplay, end gaps, straight, flat, heavy, light, etc. Acceptable to whom? We obsess about leading zeros or decimal points in our measurements and think anyone only measuring to 1/1,000th of an inch or whole grams must build their cars with vise-grips and hammers. As a consequence of our desires for perfection, we are generally pleased with the outcome.

All too soon we realize that we never really left the "cult of imperfection." This is when the "madness" comes and maybe this time it doesn't go well. Our Eagle eyes spot what looks like a little sag in the paint on the trunk and think "I can take care of that. Just a quick, little...." A couple of hours later the trunk lid is on a sawhorse and you're trying to remember where your 50 grit DA sandpaper is, so you can get it all back to bare metal. Or we decide a bearing clearance is a tad tighter than we'd like. It was "within spec" just not within our specs. "Let's get this polished, it's not smooth enough anyway." The next thing you know, we're looking on Summit Racing's website for .001" undersized bearings. There's more, but I digress.

The second half of the title is dedicated to what I thought was a cool story. It was told to me by a retired Ford technician. He said in the 70's Ford had a recall on their 400 engine. They had a problem with the engine block cracking in the lifter valley side of the water jacket and contaminating the oil with coolant. I don't recall what models. Ford came up with a solution that kept the shops very busy. It was called a "bare block" repair. I think the "bare" block had cam bearings, core plugs and gallery plugs. They were instructed to transfer everything else out of the old block and into the new one. As most of you know, the coolant contaminated oil did what it does. He said nearly all of the bearings were largely void of babbitt and showing copper. The crankshaft journals made that washboard clicking sound if you lightly dragged a screwdriver along them. The cam, lifters, rockers, piston skirts, etc....all of it with obvious wear and galling marks. They were told to put all of that stuff into the new block. He said they had so many engines apart and so many vehicles waiting that they just put the first engine in the vehicle waiting the longest. They had no idea which engines went with which vehicles. It all went together and in they went. He said when they would start these engines for the first time they would all cringe at what was expected to be a disaster....but the disaster never happened. He said not one customer returned with a complaint in the time that followed. He said when he went to "Ford school" and talked to other technicians from other shops, they said the same thing. All of those engines, in all of those service departments and no one could recall a complaint.

I've thought about this story a few times while reading discussions on this forum. I see advice on this or that and do my best to give the advice I think would serve someone well. I never want to lead anyone in the wrong direction. I think of that story and some of the things I put together in my youth and I find it difficult to avoid telling someone to "just run it."

One thing worth mentioning is that they did follow the "cleanliness is next to Godliness" rule. That left me with the indelible idea that I could really get away with quite a bit if I needed to...as long as I kept things clean. I've never had it come back to haunt me either. Just like those guys in the 70's with their bare block repairs. Did bad really serve good better than perfect could have??? Hmmmm.
 

·
Registered
1979 Chevrolet Malibu 496-TH400-9" (cruiser). 1992 Chevrolet S10 355-700r4-7.625" (daily driver).
Joined
·
238 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just watch some Pakistani truck repair videos on Youtube if you want to see "good enough" put to work.
Amazing what they can get done.
I have seen a couple of those videos. That's a great example. Good call on that!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
994 Posts
We as hot rodders get very obsessed with fits, finishes, tolerance, and balance. Example: A friend of mine with a 302 Ford V-8 with AOD in a street rod had a slight imbalance at 60 to 70 MPH in overdrive. After checking tire balance, drive shaft balance, and anything else we could think of, with car in park and in overdrive on jack stands at 70 MPH and engine at about 1900 RPM we decided to add a washer to one of the four bolts that attach the torque converter to the flex plate. We had four possible locations for the washer and tried each location and noted the vibration as shown in the drivers door hinges with the door wide open. This vibration was very slight and I would have ignored it, but we finally decided which location was best, and it was evident on the jack stands and on a super smooooooth highway at 70 MPH. He was happy and life was good. A few months later, he decides to drop the tranny and bring the torque converter to a shop that rebuilds and balances torque converters. Gets it all done and installed in the car and the vibration is slightly worse than when we started. I threw my hands in the air and said "I don't know what to tell ya". He's still driving the car all over creation. That was all about a year and a half ago. Obsessed (anal)? I'd say.
Chasing oil leaks and minor noises are also good ones to drive a person crazy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
331 Posts
This thread reminds me of my teenage years. I had a Buick 350 all in parts in the corner of the garage and decided to rebuild it. None of the rod caps were on the rods so no clue which went where. To add insult to injury, I ended up putting the rod caps on backwards also. Beat the snot out of that engine in a 79 Monte Carlo and sold it years later still running strong. Probably never should have made it around the block but it ran for years like that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,245 Posts
When ever I think of perfection the rickshaw scene from nacho libre comes to mind.


Perfection? No rickshaw is "perfect". But they all work better then they should considering the questionable ways some are constructed.

Get the wheels moving then you can go back and swap things out for upgraded things. But perfection out the gate is the cause of many build failures.




History is littered with engines that were considered questionable.

Look at Rudolf Diesel's story. People telling him left and right for years that the engine simply would not and could not work. Failure after failure until he finally found the correct mix of pressures for combustion to have it running. Not only running. But running on cheap byproduct fuels that allow for world wide freight today.

Have you ever looked at a Turbo prop engine? So you want to hang the propeller off a gearbox and turn it with a turbine? Oh and to add some more fun your going to have this propeller variable pitch with a cam setup? I imagine that idea was welcomed with open arms when it was first introduced.

People care way to much about what other people think is perfect. If it functions as you need it to then that is better then having it not functioning because it is being "perfected". Sure it can be better. You can always improve. But cars are meant to be driven. Respect the function first then look at the form.

A majority of people are going to accept what they are told to accept. If a manufacture is forced to recall something they are going to "fix" the issue the cheapest way they can. You can probably fix it "better" if it is a wiring issue or such.



The below is what I strive for.

The 5 car garage, house paid off, bit of cash in the bank, building and playing with toys, and occasionally telling people where they can take there opinion of perfection. That's my idea of a perfect semi retirement. I tried to "retire" at 35 and frankly it is boring. No wife, kids, or bad habits, It is not that hard to retire and live within your means in your 30's. Semi retired is much more fun and I will be semi retired only "needing" $400 a week till I drop.

Most people don't "get" that I never wanted to be married or wanted kids.

The idea of perfection is getting into debt right out of high school by going to a university. Marrying someone around 23. Having one or two kids before 28. Being divorced around 30. Paying for the kids till your in your mid to late 40's usually getting married a second time along the way. By 50 to 55 your divorced a second time or one of you has died and around 60 you start thinking of how your going to live the next 30 years.

Yea... XXXX perfection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
761 Posts
It also depends on what you call "perfect"... real close or 20 yards away?
It also depends on you are able to do (I do not have the ability to build a perfect car);
It also depends on what you want (I do not want a perfect car);
I love my cars, they are far from from perfect, but I built them myself (mostly!) and they are mine. What would I do with a million dollars show rod anyway?
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top