Holden VB Commodore Piston Fix - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens, Photography by: Glenn Torrens

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holden commodore piston fix 11 Classic cars are a great, relaxing way to cruise to the local pub. Or frustrating enough to drive a person to the demon drink! holden commodore piston fix 11
holden commodore piston fix 12 First task for my engine fix was to drain the fluids and remove the cylinder head holden commodore piston fix 12
holden commodore piston fix 13 Removing the sump requires lifting the engine within the engine bay – hence the engine lifting bar holden commodore piston fix 13
holden commodore piston fix 10 With the sump off, and the big-end cap removed, the bruised No 1 piston and its rod are finally on their way up and out holden commodore piston fix 10
holden commodore piston fix 7 Thankfully the spare piston I’d sourced was identical to the damaged one from my engine holden commodore piston fix 7
holden commodore piston fix 6 Test-fitting the second-hand piston confirmed it wasn’t wobbly holden commodore piston fix 6
holden commodore piston fix 14 Replacement piston slides home – hose offcuts on con-rod bolts guard the journal against abrasions holden commodore piston fix 14
holden commodore piston fix 4 My ‘new’ piston - dressed in a ring compressor – ready for installation holden commodore piston fix 4
holden commodore piston fix 3 The sump is clean as a whistle and ready to be reinstalled holden commodore piston fix 3
holden commodore piston fix 2 holden commodore piston fix 2
holden commodore piston fix 1 holden commodore piston fix 1
holden commodore piston fix 8 holden commodore piston fix 8
holden commodore piston fix 9 holden commodore piston fix 9

Glenn sorts out the piston woes in one of his ever-expanding fleet of Commodores

Embarrassingly, I’d damaged one pot in my 1979 VB Holden Commodore wagon’s 3.3-litre engine. Bugger! I hoped I could simply fix the damage in No 1 cylinder by removing the cylinder head and sump and replace the damaged piston without the hassle of a complete strip-down.

holden-commodore-piston-fix-12.jpgFirst task for my engine fix was to drain the fluids and remove the cylinder head

I asked around my Holden-loving mates for an old engine I could strip for a piston and rod. Luke The Towie put me in touch with his mate Blake who had an old motor that I could – hopefully – use one piston from. We did each other a favour; Blake got rid of an old engine he didn’t need, and I got the engine parts I did!

holden-commodore-piston-fix-13.jpgRemoving the sump requires lifting the engine within the engine bay – hence the engine lifting bar

To remove the sump, the engine needed to be lifted within the engine bay so after I removed the cylinder head, I used a borrowed engine lifting bar (thanks Juddy!) to raise the engine. The sway-bar was dropped, too, allowing me easy access to the con-rod bolts before the damaged piston/rod was slid out. The ‘new’ second-hand piston was removed from its donor and checked for size (thankfully both engines were factory standard so the dimensions matched – neither had been bored over-size) and the rings from my engine swapped to the ’new’ piston.

holden-commodore-piston-fix-10.jpgWith the sump off, and the big-end cap removed, the bruised No 1 piston and its rod are finally on their way up and out

Then – to cut a long story short – it was simply a matter of reassembly: Piston and con-rod installed (also using the same con-rod bearing); sump on; engine block lowered back into the car; head re-installed with a fresh gasket; manifolds re-installed; fluids re-filled, and the electrics connected.

holden-commodore-piston-fix-7.jpgThankfully the spare piston I’d sourced was identical to the damaged one from my engine

I checked my work and thankfully the engine fired instantly. At last, several weeks after disaster struck during what began as a relaxing afternoon fixing a few simple things, I was once again able to go cruising!

holden-commodore-piston-fix-4.jpgMy ‘new’ piston - dressed in a ring compressor – ready for installation

 

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