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’42 Mercury Woodie: Fire in the Hole

by Dave on May 1, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE – Pardon the delay in posting this update. We delivered Carl’s woodie on Wednesday afternoon and hit the road the next morning for the LA Roadster’s Fathers Day Show. I’ll post photos of the event in the next couple of days.  If you haven’t been following this woodies’ progress (Part One, Part Two) here’s a quick recap: The car was treated to an amateur restoration decades ago, had served its past owners well, covered tens of thousands of miles, and was long overdue for a rehab.

The engine and transmission were obviously on their last legs, but as we spent more time under the car, we found other problems as well. The aftermarket fuel pump had been attached precariously to the rear cross member with a big plastic snap-tie, the hot wire splice was a bare connection, and the ground was spliced with a wire nut. Hoses and wires draped over the exhaust system and, when the driver side pipe was added for dual exhaust, its routing prevented full travel of the clutch pedal. The wiring under the dash looked like a snake farm, and none of the circuits appeared to pass through fuses.

It’s as if this woodie had broken down in the 1960’s on a surf safari to Ensenada and the young owners had patched it up just well enough to get back across the border. Somehow, by good grace and great karma, those patches had held all these years. But at this point, the woodie had a good chance of becoming a rolling bonfire.

A project like this needed a Patron Saint. It might otherwise have been a goner. When Carl originally brought the Merc into the shop we discussed rebuilding his motor. When it rolled out of the shop it had a hot little flathead, a rebuilt transmission, rebuilt linkage, a new fuel system, rerouted exhaust, the switch to 12V completed, and more. There’s still much to do, but kudos to Carl for stepping up and doing everything safely and correctly. This is one lucky woodie.

When the motor came out it had valve issues and near-irreparable cracks. The arm and pin in the third photo are part of the clutch linkage. The elongated hole is an indication of its years in service. It was originally round.

Most of the wiring had been replaced – or just bypassed.

We were fortunate to locate a new block and, now in Carl’s car, it features a 3 5/16 bore, an Offy intake and heads, forged pistons, new valves with adjustable lifters, a couple of rebuilt 94 carbs, and a refurbished ignition system. The combustion chambers in the new Offy heads come rough cast, so we spent some time polishing.

We also modified a later model Mellings oil pump to fit the pan, installed the cam and valve train, installed the rotating assembly, and buttoned it all up. We’d already rebuilt the trans, so we bolted it up with a new clutch. These cars ran little nine inch clutch disks and there may be issues with it holding up to the bigger motor. We’ll let Carl put some miles on the car and then evaluate it.

Gary added a pointer to make timing easier.

Here’s a peek, assembled, on the engine stand:

Rebuilding a flathead and early transmission involves a lot of vendors — and a lot of shipping.

Carl did a nice job cleaning up the engine bay, and the new motor looks pretty sweet sitting in there. Much of the wiring is temporary, a complete rewire of the car is next.

From → Past Projects

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