Pinto heads + EJ/red motor + Willys Jeeps - Morley's Workshop 410

By: Dave Morley

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leaking valves 2 leaking valves 2

There's more Pinto head news, even more EJ/red-motor discussion, counter-rotating crankshafts and Willys Jeep circuit protection...



Head lines

Having figured out last issue that the cylinder head gasket on the RS2000 was, indeed, toast, the next step was to see what other mayhem had occurred when the radiator dropped its guts on the freeway. The big danger was that the cylinder head was cracked and, from what I’ve learned by talking to folks who know their Pintos, it wouldn’t have come as any surprise to find that that was the case. The cast iron head is a bit famous for cracking across the exhaust-valve seat when it gets a bit hot, so I was kind of bracing for the worst.

But before we started looking for cracks, the other possibility we had to rule out was that the head had got so hot it had warped. The best way to check for that is to get something you know has a dead straight edge (we used a bit of tool steel Bondini had lying around), place it on the head’s sealing surface and then shine a light behind the edge. If you can see any light sneaking past the straight edge, bingo, you have a warped head.

The good news is that the head appears to still be straight. Had it not been, we’d have had to give it a skim to true it up but, in this particular motor which is already running a fair bit of compression, I’m not sure there was much wriggle room left. As in, if we’d skimmed the head, we might have brought the valves into contact with the pistons when it was all back together. However, with the straight-edge telling us everything we needed to know, we progressed.

Leaking -valves

Luckily, Bondini had access to a crack-testing kit and was able to check the head across all the exhaust-valve seats and combustion chambers. And, again, we’ve been blessed by the Pinto angels, because nothing in the way of cracks showed up. Bewdy!

But we did perform one other little test while we had the head on the bench. And that was to see if the valves were leaking. By filling each combustion chamber with carby-clean, we then blew some compressed air into each port. If you aim the blast of air directly at the back of the valve, chances are you’ll overcome the spring tension and lift the valve off its seat. But if you aim it slightly away from the valve and simply build up a bit of pressure inside the port, you’ll spot a leaking valve by the little trail of bubbles that form in the carby-clean. And guess what? Three out of the eight valves were, indeed, having a bit of a dribble. So it’s out with the spring compressor and in with the lapping paste.

I think I’ll take the opportunity to change the valve stem seals while we’re at it, especially since the gasket kit I bought includes them. I also asked nicely and the man at the gasket shop allowed me to swap the standard head gasket for a better quality one.

We’re not back on the road yet, but I get the sense that we’re out of the worst of the woods. Stay tuned.

Meantime, the red-motored EJ Holden has reared its head one more time, with ex-Holden plant manager Graham Docker weighing in. His view from the inside is a very interesting one. Check it out below.

Write to Morley c/o or Unique Cars magazine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166  

Here's my tip

Grime game


I don’t really do product plugs here. And let me assure you that there hasn’t been a truck delivering graft to my hacienda. But when it comes to getting workshop grime off my paws, I’m a recent convert to Swarfega. You’ve probably heard of it; Pommy invention that extended the life of silk stockings. Then along come nylons and the stuff has no market. Except, by then folks had figured out that it was great for cleaning hands. True or not, it’s a good yarn.

These days, the pump bottle version has biodegradable abrasives and even a moisturising agent. And how good is it? Well, printers use it to get ink off their hands and, as a bloke who used to work in a print shop, that’s saying something.



Here we go again

Holden -ej

I have read the various claims made in respect of red motors in EJ Holdens over the past couple of years and I feel it is time we put the arguments forward in respect of the environment that existed at that time. The facts are these:

• Holden’s manufacturing management rigidly followed the released Engineering drawings, and considered them the "Gold Standard" and no individual manager could depart from the Drawing Specification without approval.
• A suite of documents was utilised to make temporary and permanent changes to Engineering Drawing Specifications they being: Engineering Deviation Permit (EDP) Engineering Change Request/Notice (ECR/ECN) and Manufacturing Change Request/Notice (MCR/MCN), and these documents had to be duly authorised by relevant departments/personnel before a change could be made.
• File copies of these documents were placed in Archive Files, but whether those files still exist is unknown  
• The 149/179 red engine was produced in a new plant (Plant 10) and was completely independent of the Grey Engine production in existing Plant 5.
• New foundry was built adjacent to Plant 10 to produce the castings for the 149/179 engines.
• The grey engine manufacturing facility continued for some time after the introduction of the 149/179 to satisfy service requirements.
• At the time of cessation of the EJ Model in excess of 1,000,000 Holdens had been produced with grey engines.
• Holden was exporting more than 10,000 cars per year to more than 55 countries and there were many small batches (50 or so) of distinct variations.
• NASCO supplied complete grey-engine long motors, short motors and all components to satisfy the million plus existing customers in addition to the REPCO (Goldstar) organisation offering remanufactured grey engines.
• NASCO Industrial division IDEC supplied complete grey motors for Industrial applications such as cement trucks etc.
• The 3.888 (9/35) diff ratio was not offered on EH models, only the new 3.36 and 3.55 ratio were offered with the 149/179 engines.
• Due to the design of the engine mounting system the 149/179 required a new front cross-member, transmission cross-member and significantly redesigned transmission.  
• EJ commercials continued post the August 1963 introduction of the EH until February 1964, when the EH commercials were released.
• Holden commenced exporting LHD cars in 1960, with the first being the FB exported to Hawaii.
• Holden exports to South Africa in 1966/67 were HD/HR models and were fitted with 149 cubic inch or 230 cubic inch Chev six-cylinder engines sourced by GM South Africa. 
• In 1968 Holden released a 130 cubic inch red motor (3.031" bore x 3.000" stroke} and a new 3.90 (10/39) diff ratio for the export-only HK Kingswood 130, to take advantage of the lower tax regimes in some countries. These were also were sold in South Africa beside the larger Chev-engined versions, fitted during local assembly as above.

The claims of red motors fitted to EJ, possibly relate to the fitment to commercial vehicles post the introduction of the EH model for the sole purpose of selling EJ commercials from September 1963 to January 1964. There is no reason to suspect that Holden ran out of grey engines, as the factory was still operational. This change would have required as a minimum an EDP and would have required that the subject vehicles be fitted with the relevant cross-members, transmission and 3.55 diff ratio. A copy of this EDP would have been sent to Archives and if the files still exist it should be possible to sight the EDP and therefore confirm the existence of the red motors in EJs.

The large number of EJs produced ( approximately 155,000) the potential low numbers of red motors fitted and the very low numbers of EJs existing today, statistically suggests it would be near impossible to locate an original factory conversion if, in fact, they ever existed.

The export of EH Holdens fitted with grey motors is entirely plausible as Holden Export Division was very motivated and seized all opportunities to increase volume. The export markets were very small and an order of 50 cars, even if somewhat special was grasped.  The interchangeability of components between models in this era allowed the Export Division to create models which consisted of a combination of current production parts and service parts.

Holden following the cessation of the 138 grey engine were left with an issue in relation to engine capacity-tax in some countries and hence the development of the 130 cubic inch in 1968. Again, a grey motor in an EH for export would have required most probably an ECN and as such a file copy would have been sent to Archives and the same comments as above apply. 


In summary, the variations mentioned would have been authorised by EDPs or ECNs and File copies would have been placed in the archive files. The question is of course DO these archive files still exist? If they do, a search will validate the above, and if the files have been destroyed, than I suspect such claims will remain folklore.

Oh, by the way I worked in Holden’s Manufacturing for close to 35 years including some five years as plant manager of the engine complex, and the above is based on my personal knowledge gained over this period. 

Graham Docker,

Oh boy, we’re getting into the nitty-gritty here, Graham. But it’s experiences such as yours that continue to suggest that the red-motored EJ may have actually happened. And it’s interesting to note that even with your vast experience and obvious eye for detail, even you aren’t convinced one way or the other.

The one thing your information does seem to put to the sword, however, is that the red-motored EJ came about because Holden had run out of grey motors. But as you point out, since the plant was still producing all the grey-motor parts for industrial use and for the spare parts industry, just running out of the things doesn’t seem too likely. Which brings your other theory that a special batch of EJs might have been manufactured for export all the more tantalising.

Coincidentally, in recent weeks, I’ve been talking to a mate who owns a bar in Thailand (yeah, I know…) and is keen to import a few cars he’s seen running around. One of them is a HJ Holden that looks to be about Belmont spec, but, according to the paperwork, appears to be fitted with a 138 cubic-inch engine. I’m tipping it’s the smaller red motor rather than a grey, but it’s certainly a specification that we didn’t see here in Australia. If memory serves, the 138 red was an LJ Torana fitment. Kind of gels with your information on the 130 cubic-inch red motor for export markets in 1968, no?

Now, either the paperwork is faulty, or this 1974/75 Belmont is a real weirdburger with the lot and I’m mad-keen to get a look at the thing when it finally arrives in a container. I’ll keep you all posted.

And, of course, the other question is: How do we get access to Holden’s archives to see if we can find the documents you’ve speculated on?


Backward step

Scania -vabis -truck

Re Trivial Pursuit on page 109 of November 2017 issue and the subject of engines that run backwards: There are examples of engines that rotate in a counter-clockwise direction that I have had intimate experience with. The examples that spring most readily to mind are those manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and Scania. Displacements range from 12 to about 14 litres, and are of V8 design. Power outputs range from about 350 to 700 horsepower.

Actually, controlling operating temperatures has proven to be a major cause for concern for these European designs when operating in inland Australia, where ambient temperatures of 40 degrees are common, particularly when multi trailer operations are involved. Weights in excess of 100 tonnes are common in these types of operations. Some manufactures have installed secondary radiators/electric fan assemblies, mounted vertically behind the driver’s cabin, in an effort to control operating temperatures. Some have been more successful than others but most of these systems are more trouble than they are worth, resulting in coolant leaks and cooked engines. However I digress.

The major implications with counter-clockwise engine rotation, in my experience, are, but not limited to, the following:

The design of the engine start system, that is, the direction of rotation of the starter motor and drive pinion.

The design of the alternator fan or fans to operate in a dedicated counter-clockwise direction. It should also be noted that some applications have two alternators installed and some alternators have two fans.

The design of the air-conditioner compressor to operate in a dedicated counter-clockwise direction.

The design of the engine cooling fan/viscous hub assembly to operate counter-clockwise.

Constant-mesh manual or automated constant-mesh transmissions will normally happily operate in either direction however, the transmission oil pump must be of a design to operate with counter-clockwise input shaft rotation. I hope you find these observations interesting.

Mac Carter,
Townsville Truck Electrics, QLD

Hey Mac (great name for a truck mechanic, by the way) thanks for getting in touch. And yes, it is interesting. I’d kind of figured you’d need a starter motor set-up to spin the right way (even though air-starters might throw yet another spanner into that mix) but I hadn’t thought about the ramifications on stuff like alternators and their integral fans. Meantime, I get where you’re coming from with constant-mesh gearboxes being happy to spin either way, but you’d still have to have the correct diff orientation or you’d get 15 reverse gears and one forward ratio. (Or am I as thick as a brick and have missed something?) And yeah, the direction of the transmission pump would be critical, too, otherwise you’d be pumping the fluid away from the bearings and torque converter. Or would pumping the fluid around the gearbox in the `wrong’ direction just lubricate everything backwards? Hang on, that doesn’t sound right, does it, because the pump would never be able to pick up fluid… So many questions raised here…

My only real experience with running stuff backwards comes from watching VW nuts adapting Subaru transmissions where there’s a need to flip the ring and pinion gear in the transaxle’s diff to avoid five reverses. Formula Vees, which turn the VW engine-gearbox unit around to make them mid-engined, require flipping the ring and pinion in the diff as well. My other experience has been flipping the blades over on electric cooling fans to put them in front of the radiator and turn them into `pushers’ (as opposed to `pullers’) when there wasn’t enough room between the engine and the radiator in whatever Frankenstein shitheap we’ve been cobbling together over the years.

The thing that really amazes me, though, is that, given the use of proprietary parts over the years, a standardised direction of rotation hasn’t been agreed on. Very few manufacturers make their own alternators, for example, preferring to buy them in from specialist manufacturers. And surely, you’d have more choice if your engine rotated in the same direction as everybody else’s. Then again, in a world where we can’t even agree which side of the road to drive on, that was probably never gonna happen.


Unearthing talent

Willys -jeep -truck

Some time back I restored a 1958 Willys Jeep CJ3B and all seems well. But I was always concerned that these old girls never had fusible links in the wiring system, relying solely on a circuit breaker at the rear of the light switch.

I decided to fit an isolator/master switch and as I was just about finished, some random bloke wandered past and said "You’ve done that wrong, it should be on the negative cable from the battery not the positive". My response of, ‘Gee that’s great advice, would you like to do the next one?’, or words to that effect, simply gave Old Mate time to disappear and I did not have the opportunity to ask him to explain.

My thoughts were that most of the sparks come out of the positive side, so that’s where I fitted the switch.  Any thoughts? Positive or Negative? And why?

Vaughn Becker,
Taroom, QLD

You wouldn’t reckon it’d be this simple, Vaughan, but I put your question to a few blokes who should know the answer and I think it comes down to personal preference. See, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve isolated the negative or positive side of things, without a complete circuit the sparks are not going to fly.

However, I’m going to hitch my wagon to Old Mate’s and say that I prefer to have the isolator on the negative battery cable. And here’s why: If it’s the positive lead that’s isolated (meaning the negative is still connected) and you, working around or near the battery, drop a spanner on to the positive terminal that then touches the car’s body at the same time, you’re going to get a textbook lesson in inadvertent arc welding. If you are as dumb as I am, you’ll make a desperate lunge for the spanner (or whatever it is) which, by now, will be approximately the same temperature as the sun and welded to the car, meaning that you’ll also suffer third-degree burns as you try to prise that mongrel 14mm open-ender off the inner-guard.

If, however, the negative lead is the isolated one, you can do the same clumsy, ham-fisted thing and nothing will happen. And even if you drop a spanner on to the negative terminal and it also touches the car’s body at the same time, all you’ve done is complete the circuit. But it shouldn’t end in sparks, tears and the smell of cooked flesh like it will if the positive terminal is suddenly earthed while the negative lead is hooked up.

Submit, & be healthy

Volkswagen -1600

Firstly, great magazine. I’ve had the car bug for more than 50 years and my doc says the only cure for it is submission.

I am contemplating buying a late (2004 - 2005) BMW E46 330i or 325i sedan (preferably five or six speed manual). I would love an M3 but they’re too expensive (to buy, insure and maintain).  Which is the best engine - the three litre (170kw) or the 2.5 litre (141kw)? 

I have seen a 2000 323i (2.2 litre 125kw) but maybe it’s a bit underpowered.  Obviously, the 330i is the best performer but which is the most reliable, refined and smoothest? Sorry for all the questions. Keep up the great work.

Gary Black
Sunshine Coast, Qld

Mate, I’ve gotta meet your doctor. All mine ever says is that beer and pizza is bad for me. Meantime, you’ve found one that reckons cars are good for you. A cure for what ails you, even. Mind you, I think anybody reading this already knows that the beneficial therapy that comes with messing about with cars far outweighs the bad stuff like skinned knuckles and burn-holes in your T-shirt from welding upside-down.

As for which BMW E46 to buy, I’m going to fall back on my default position and just say buy the biggest engine you can afford. Essentially, these BMW straight-sixes are pretty much all the same engine with different bore sizes and states of tune differentiating them. They’re all smooth, they’re all gorgeous and they’re all around in decent numbers. So buy the most engine that will fit inside your budget. Otherwise, you’ll spend the rest of your ownership with the thing wondering what might have been.

To be honest, all the cars you’ve mentioned will do the job, especially with a manual gearbox which allows you to extract the absolute most from these high-stepping sixes. But while the 323 and the 325 are fine, the 330 had some real stomp when it comes to overtaking. And let’s face it; a car like this is supposed to make you feel good, right? Even your doctor agrees.

When shopping, the thing to watch out for with these things is a full service history. If it doesn’t have evidence of the proper maintenance, look elsewhere. Have you heard of VANOS, Gary? That’s BMW’s name for variable valve timing and it was a standard fitment on the engines we’re talking about here. Anyway, VANOS is a hydraulic system that runs a very fine filter and tiny little oilways and orifices. So, if the previous owner has skipped oil changes, the oil can become sludgy enough to block these weeny little oil galleries and cause the VANOS system to snuff it. And it’s a big-dollar proposition to put right.

Beyond that, these seem pretty robust units, capable of going the distance. My pick? A 330i coupe with a manual gearbox, a factory sunroof and no body-kit. Make it metallic charcoal with ox-blood red leather. Ta.

Disc an’ dat 


I have subscribed to Unique Cars for some years and read it from cover to cover. I noticed with interest in issue #407 your comments regarding a lack of disc brakes on prime movers. I drive a Volvo FM 440 doing metro deliveries. The truck has just passed 10 years old and is equipped with an automated manual gearbox (yes, two pedals only) cruise control, six-position engine brake function, etc, etc. The truck is an 8 x 4 configuration (two steer-axles and tandem-drive, with a long tray, towing a tandem-axle pig-trailer. All up, she’s 42.5 tonnes and 19 metres long.

Enough of the bragging. Now the serious stuff. This particular truck has an enormous disc brake on each wheel (the trailer has drums). The stopping power is awesome when required, but I read the traffic and rely as much as possible on the engine brake, using the service brakes to stop momentum at the lights.

Although the American trucking industry is slow on the uptake, I understand that in excess of 80 per cent of European-sourced trucks are running discs. Mack is part of the Volvo group whose Australasian base is Brisbane. They are assembled using many mechanicals from the Volvo range, including the discs.

As an aside Dave, you may be interested in the prototype truck that Tesla has produced, particularly with respect to torque and acceleration. My boss has a Tesla car and I have asked him for a truck for Christmas!

My daily drive is a diesel Volkswagen Jetta; 5.3 Litres/100km around town, way down into the fours in the bush. Outshines my old V8s in every respect. It’s due for first set of replacement tyres at 70,000.

Peter Black,

Well, there you go…I was wrong again. Or maybe, in this case, just a few years behind the curve suggesting that big trucks still tended to use drum brakes. I’m pretty sure that used to be the case, but as you’ve explained Peter, things have changed. In Europe, anyway, if not in the USA.

I’ve noticed a few other fundamental differences between US 18-wheelers and their European counterparts over the years, too. First, the Euros don’t really bother with that big set of yee-hah exhaust stacks that American truckers seem to think are absolutely critical to a truck’s operation. Fact is, the vast majority of European semis and big rigids have an exhaust that exits to one side, down low, just like a side-pipe on anything else. Maybe that’s something to do with the modern, clean-burning diesels the Europeans prefer which can get away with this without poisoning the entire community.

The other thing is that while a whole a lot of USA-based big-rigs still insist on bogie-drive set-ups, the average European truck has a single-axle drive on the prime-mover. In fact, often it’s a single-axle full-stop. And that’s despite (or maybe because of) the amount of snow and ice the average European truckie would see in a 12-month period. That said, if you’ve been watching the news lately, you’d know that North America hasn’t missed out on the white, cold stuff lately either. Maybe it’s to do with narrow European streets and crowded villages, and the single axle makes the truck more manoeuvrable. I dunno – can anybody shed any light on this?

I have seen a little bit on the Tesla truck, Peter, and I sincerely hope your boss sees the light and buys you one. The Tesla Semi uses four electric motors; one in each of the prime-mover’s rear wheels, so traction should be awesome, and there’s no need for differentials and whatnot.

It’s an impressive piece of kit looking at the specs, too: 0-100km/h with a full load in 20 seconds and a power-usage of something like just over one kilowatt-hours for every kilometre travelled. When you consider that solar panels on the roof of my place can make 22 kiloWatt-hours on a good day (theoretically enough to get the Tesla 20km or so down the road) you can see that this has got to be the way forward. Get 40 or 50 households together and you’ve just generated enough power on a sunny day to get the semi from Sydney to Melbourne! Is it just me, or is that some kind of awesome?




Numbers game

Numbers -game

Anything more than a couple of cars involved in the same crash immediately gets labelled a pile-up. But here in Oz, we’re amateurs. The biggest pile up in history happened in Brazil back in 2011. On a highway in the capital, Sao Paulo, thick fog caused more than 300 vehicles to pile into each other, leaving a two-kilometre trail of destruction. Perhaps amazingly, only one person was killed and 30 were injured. Just to make sure it made the news, a few of the cars involved even managed to burst into flames.

Look out


While we’re on the morbid subject of crashing cars, guess which country in the world is the easiest place to get wiped out on the road? If you said Libya, go to the fridge and get a beer, you’ve earned it. Yep, Libya will bury 73 out of every 100,000 people that drive or cycle on or even attempt to cross its roads and streets each year. Apparently, wearing your seat-belt is for sissies, and a zebra crossing is only for actual zebras. Pedestrians take their chances.



Write to Morley c/o or Unique Cars magazine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166  


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