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I took delivery of my '64 GTO on March 28, 1964. I got married a week later, and by 1967 we had two kids (and that was all). By 1969 the car had 75,000 miles on it, and that was my excuse to at least do a valve job. It was also the main family car and my work transportation, so being down very long would be a problem. If a valve job is good, an engine rebuild must be better. So my plan was to come up with a rebuildable engine, build a short block, then take my engine out. All it would need then would be a valve job, put the new heads on the rebuilt block and it would be good to go. I had no Pontiac specific knowledge, little engine knowledge, and very few tools. So I bought a friends '60 Pontiac convertible. I started taking it apart when I found the '60 engine was not compatible with my car. The guy that told me that paid me what I paid for the car, and he took the car and the parts. Everything I read said '61-'64 389's were the same. So I went to a junkyard in LA and purchased a '62 engine. It couldn't have been making much valve noise as the top was nothing but sludge. I completed the short block, and was getting ready to remove my engine. I turned the rebuilt short block over on the stand and something stood out as being different. Upon closer inspection I saw that there were no holes in the block to bolt in the starter. Oh well, I can get those put in. So I laid a starter down to see where the holes would go, and it wouldn't sit flat. The solenoid was hitting a casting web on the block. These blocks were used with a bell housing mounted starter. This is how you learned things in the olden days - the hard way - long before the Internet. So I removed my engine to rebuild it. I disassembled the new short block, saved the moving parts and sold the '62 block. During the process I noticed a set of '63 Pontiac Super Duty heads (#980) for $200 at Service Center. I had read they were great, so I bought them. I got the whole engine assembled, and staged a completed engine picture. I just laid the intake manifold on, and just used the outer bolt holes of the headers for the picture opportunity. B/T/W, I installed an Isky 280/280 cam because of what I read in the car magazines.

- - - - To be continued, it's a long story - - - -

GTO Old 9-69 1 adj.jpg


GTO Old 9-69 2 crop adj.jpg
 

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Taylor that is a good story of people like you that work for what you could get.the best way to learn about these cars.That is where I got my knowledge from is to listen and learn from you and others and that never stops.My Dad turned me on to GTOS when I was little owning a 67 and 69 when they were new.Thanks for the old pics brings back a lot of old memories
 

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Even though we haven't met, or maybe we have and I just can't remember, but I use to live in Riverside 35 years ago and your name and car were well known among the Pontiac guys I hung out with.

I'm in the San Diego South Bay now.
 

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Bear with me, I've never written this stuff down before, so it might come across a bit confusing. However, I hope not too much.

It's hard to tell in the picture of me by the engine, but the heads are the 980 '63 SD heads. I did not know there would be big trouble trying to use them. The first thing I noticed when I put them on was that my pushrods were too long. I'm thinking OK, maybe that's the way they were. I had no one to review my info with, so I was totally on my own. OK, so I have a new set of pushrods made 1/4" shorter than my old ones. Now I'm ready to put the manifold on. Again, I'm going by what the magazines say is the hot setup. So I "upgraded" my '64 tri-power to a Holley 3310 (780 CFM, vacuum secondaries) on top of an Edelbrock EP-4B aluminum manifold. On top of that I used a Stellings top flow air cleaner. Man, I'm really going to be fast now. Again, I'm inexperienced so there's a lot of questions I didn't ask. More on that later. I try to bolt up the intake manifold, and it is too high on the heads. After a lot of measurements, it needs to be cut 1/4" to line up with the heads. OK, I get it milled 0.250" Now everything bolts up. I assemble the clutch and transmission and install the engine. Everything seems to be OK until I try to install the headers. I cannot get them between the frame and the heads. Again it seems like the mysterious quarter inch problem. I could not find a solution to this so I took the heads off and sold them back to Service Center. The only thing that made sense was that someone milled the heads 1/4", even though that's kind of hard to believe. So now I have a valve job done on my heads and install them. The problem now is that I cut the manifold 1/4". I didn't have the money to buy another manifold, so I figured I'd get a spacer made at work. I measured the thickness of two intake manifold gaskets, calculated the shim thickness required and had aluminum spacers made at work. At least it didn't cost me anything. B/T/W, I didn't even get far enough to find out that my headers would not have lined up with the siamese ports on the SD heads. The bolt spacing is wider. Now I'm ready to start the engine. I get it running, break it in, but the lifters sounded funny. Long short, the further down the oil path for the lifters, the worse they sounded. After a lot of checking with others (I had no reference books), I learned there is a plug at the end of the lifter oil path in front of the distributor. I didn't even know it was there. Now what do I do?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Even though we haven't met, or maybe we have and I just can't remember, but I use to live in Riverside 35 years ago and your name and car were well known among the Pontiac guys I hung out with.

I'm in the San Diego South Bay now.
Part of the reason for that is because my GTO was a "regular" on the street. I started racing it when it was a high 12 to low 13 second car in the quarter. This was from about 1973 to about 1985, and then I retired it from that function. As time went on it kept getting faster until it ran 10.80 at 129.31. That's a story of it's own. I was out every Friday night at the local MacDonald's in Escondido for at least 10 years. I had more races than I can remember. The car was known mainly for the hood scoop, secondly for how it sounded later on, and for winning a lot of crazy street races. Most everyone hated the hood scoop, but I didn't care. Initially I installed it to be able to have a functional cold air box. I made one for the four barrel and for the tri-power. The carbs didn't really like it, so I took off the cold air boxes but I've maintained the scoop. This picture is when I had the car painted in 1992 with the fiberglass scoop. Now it has a metal scoop.

GTO Hood - Paint.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
B/T/W O52, my given name is Jim Taylor. What is yours. I would bet that we have a lot of mutual friends and/or acquaintances. I know a lot of guys in the Pontiac clubs in the Riverside/Orange County areas.
 

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OK, I'm picking up from discovering that I did not install the Allen plug at the end of the lifter galley. I had just gotten everything installed, and I really didn't want to take the whole assembly out and start over - even though that's what I should have done. So I took out the transmission, the clutch and flywheel, and looked at the back of the block - from under the car. I took out the distributor and started working on getting the freeze plug out of the back of the block - without it falling into the engine. I figured worst case I'd have to take the engine back out. OK, I got the freeze plug out successfully, but the Allen plug is about 3" or more from the back surface of the block. AND, if I drop the plug - pull the engine out. So I got some aluminum bar stock, I think it was 3/8". I cut off about 4" and had the end machined down to the size of the recess in the Allen plug. BUT - how is that going to work? I can't afford to drop the plug off of my special tool (which I still have somewhere). So I applied a judicious mount of gasket sealer between the plug and the tool, and tried to be very careful inserting the tool straight enough and successfully get the plug threaded into the hole. Amazing, I got it in. It may have been a lot of sweat and sore muscles, but it was in. Now I reassemble everything and it is running pretty good. Now I'm ready to go to the track and tear it up. Previously my car had run a best of 13.70 at 101.12 at Lions. It was all stock except for headers, and it had 3.23 gears. My first outing seemed like the car was running out of gas. I never got a complete run. I still had the hood insulation on the car, and the air cleaner sucked it right down. OK, easy fix. Remove all of the hood insulation. I go back out to the track and my best performance was something like 14.4 at 96. All that time and money to slow the car down. The Holley needed a lot of work, and a single pattern cam is not what most Pontiacs like. That can be explained another time. I barely got it running reliably before we moved to Escondido in July of 1970. Not fast, but reliable. I ran it this way for about 3 more years before I worked on it some more. That's where I'll pick up next time.
 

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I’m diggin it OMT, I’m privileged to hear any
And all You say about any and all of your trials and techniques in those early years with few avenues of resources to help you out.
The emotions you recall Jim ,touch us all,at some time Both in our fun and our sordid Pontiac journeys..
We’ve all been there with that thought..
“What the hell do I do now?”damn it
Or “THAT did it ,sounds great now”...yes!

Im sure most everyone here would agree
With that, and truly ,the guys like you are who actually bought and rebuilt and raced GTOs when they very first appeared Are in rare air; We are highly fortunate to be able to hear what you can share with us now..
Thankz OMT & keep goin don’t stop this story!
Jetz
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
During the several years that I ran it as described above, it was frustrating that it had a bog in between each gear. That seems simple enough, just improve the accelerator pump. Remember this is a Holley 780 (3310). So I installed a 50 cc Rio accelerator pump. Didn't fix the problem. I started doing other mods to the carb to try to improve the driveability. This is when I started going to the speed shop in town. They helped me identify more mods to the carb, but it never really fixed it. At that point they said there's a guy I should meet. He's a Pontiac guy and he does contract work for them. They gave me his number, we talked and set up a meeting. He had just come home from the hospital recovering from a collapsed lung. So entertaining an ignorant Pontiac person would be a diversion for him. This ended up cementing a live long friendship. To finish the carb story, the final mod I made was to slow the opening of the secondaries so it would not nose dive between gears. After getting to know my new friend better (another Jim), he suggested that I try the Pontiac Ram Air cam they started using in late '66. This is commonly referred to as the 744 cam, but we called it by the stamping on the end of the cam. The "H" cam. So I go to the local Pontiac dealership and order an "H" cam. The parts man was unbelievably knowledgeable, and it pained me when he retired. So I get the cam and put it in. I go back to the track and it doesn't run much, if any better. The odd thing about the cam was that it never had an RPM where it woke up. It just felt the same through the RPM range. Neither my mentor nor I could figure this out. Around 1973 I took the engine out for a complete rebuild. When we looked at the cam Jim laughed. He said "that's not an "H" cam." I asked how he could be so sure. The "H" cam is the only one that has a flat nose (I'll explain that another time). The lobes on this one were pointed. We looked at the stamping and it looked like an "H". But on further inspection it was a poorly stamped "E". It was the smallest cam in the Pontiac parts book. Plus the intake lift was only about 0.375". We don't know if it was an honest mistake at Pontiac, or if it was the result of skulduggery. Again, not being particularly bucks up I'm looking for a way to save money. A friend of mine at work had a '68 Firebird that he had been racing. He decided he wanted to make it a pro-stock car, but he was at a standstill - with a lot of parts. Nope, he was going to get back on it so it wasn't for sale. This was 1973. However, he already purchased RAIV heads so I bought his 16's to use in my build. I get it done, and all the previous problems are gone. It runs pretty good, and the performance noticeably improves at about 3000 RPM. I take it to the track and it ran something like 13.40 first time out. By now I had purchased a set of Jim's old slicks. They were 8" wide. I was on my way home from work one day when there was a very loud bang. I shut the key off immediately and coasted to the shoulder. Tow it home and start taking it apart. It turns out slicks and a stick shift are brutal on the drive train. The main issue was that I had broken the crankshaft right after the first journal. But I got the key off fast enough I hoped the block would be OK. No such luck. It was cracked from the mains to the cam. The reason was that the two piece balancer on the 64's wouldn't handle the extreme stresses. Running slicks made the RPM change dramatically. making the rubber mounted portion of the balancer move. This resulted in the crank being out of balance. The other observation was that my original M-20 showed radical movement of the cluster pin. The starting line launch forces started egg shaping the case. Now it's time to start over again. B/T/W, that engine only lasted about 6 months.



To be continued. There was a lot of ""continuing" in this overall odyssey.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So now I am sitting with a broken crank and block. Since it broke at the first journal, there was only one main bearing supporting the crank. This allowed the front journal to flop up and down. Fortunately I had forged pistons so the shape of the combustion chamber was stamped on top of the two front pistons. I was running the '62 forged rods, AKA "rubber rods". So I go to my friend at work again to check on his status (another Jim - I swear half of the men in my age group are named Jim). This is late '73 or early '74. By this time his wife is fed up with all of the parts in the garage, and she actually moved out for awhile. He was now ready to sell. He's lucky, as the car would have grenaded right away. He cut out the firewall of a unibody car to set the engine back. But he didn't do any stiffening. He bought an Isky 330 Super Legara solid roller cam as his plans were to turn 8000 RPM. He had TRW forged pop-ups, RAIV heads, dual Holley 660 center squirters on top of a Weiand plenum which in turn was on top of a Doug Nash manifold for dual Dominators. He was also reusing the factory cast rods. So I paid him $500 for everything. Remember this is '73 or '74. This included the 400 Firebird with a T-400 and a 4.56 posi, the hood with the added hood scoop (like on my car at the time), and all of the engine parts. I already had his heads, so all I needed was the short block pieces. I sold the RAIV heads for $200, sold the complete tunnel ram setup for $200, and had the junkyard take the car, trans and hood for $125. It seem to me I sold something else for $100, but I can't recall what. He also told the machine shop to bore the block 0.030" without giving them the pistons, then ordered 0.030" over TRW forged pop-ups (12:1). Calculated compression for me was going to be 11.4:1, which I didn't like. So I called TRW to see how much of the dome I could have machined off the top of the piston. When I finally got to an engineer, he was quite helpful. He said the minimum dome thickness should be 0.180", so I had the tops machined to yield this thickness. That got my compression down to 11:1. At the time we could still get good gas, so this was marginally OK. I hand fitted the pistons to the block, putting the largest piston in the largest hole. My largest piston to wall came out to 0.006", so I had the tighter holes honed to yield 0.006" across the board. This wasn't really bad for that piston design, but you could easily hear them when the engine was cold. I side polished the factory cast rods, installed new Pontiac rod bolts, had the rods resized and then assembled the short block. Oh, I remember where the other $100 came from. I sold the giant roller cam and used the "H" cam in my engine. I can't remember if I was able to reuse my old cam, or if I had to buy a new one. Degree the cam, new chain and gears and I'm ready to rock and roll. I was still using the RA/HO exhaust manifolds from the previous build. The #16 heads were OK, so they went on top. I was still running the 780 Holley, and by now I had installed 3.90 gears in the 10 bolt with a new to me M-20. Time to check it out. First time out it ran 13.05 at 105, but by now I was fed up with the Holley. My original Pontiac friend had lots of parts, and he was kind enough to sell me a complete '66 tri-power. When I first put it on it was still not running quite right, but I had to go to the track as soon as I could. Right away 12.90. I eventually got this combination to run 12.65 at either 108 or 109. During that era I wanted the car to be a sleeper, and I was very successful. Everything looked and sounded factory stock. Cast iron exhaust manifolds, and it idled at 700 RPM. I remember going into MacDonald's one Friday night as some young guys were coming out. One of them said to the other (pointing at my car) "that's a 12 second car". The other guy said "no way, it's got a 10 bolt rear end and it idles too slow". I ran it this way for a couple of years. At first I had to convince people I would be competition, they just knew Pontiac's didn't run. After that most of them did their best to stay away from me. Now my car is no longer a sleeper, so I wanted a killer cam. I didn't care if it slowed the car down. So I put in HO Racing's HC-03 cam. It was a hydraulic flat tappet with 244/252 degrees at 0.050" and 0.500" lift on a 110 LSA.

That's where I will pick up next time.
 

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During the several years that I ran it as described above, it was frustrating that it had a bog in between each gear. That seems simple enough, just improve the accelerator pump. Remember this is a Holley 780 (3310). So I installed a 50 cc Rio accelerator pump. Didn't fix the problem. I started doing other mods to the carb to try to improve the driveability. This is when I started going to the speed shop in town. They helped me identify more mods to the carb, but it never really fixed it. At that point they said there's a guy I should meet. He's a Pontiac guy and he does contract work for them. They gave me his number, we talked and set up a meeting. He had just come home from the hospital recovering from a collapsed lung. So entertaining an ignorant Pontiac person would be a diversion for him. This ended up cementing a live long friendship. To finish the carb story, the final mod I made was to slow the opening of the secondaries so it would not nose dive between gears. After getting to know my new friend better (another Jim), he suggested that I try the Pontiac Ram Air cam they started using in late '66. This is commonly referred to as the 744 cam, but we called it by the stamping on the end of the cam. The "H" cam. So I go to the local Pontiac dealership and order an "H" cam. The parts man was unbelievably knowledgeable, and it pained me when he retired. So I get the cam and put it in. I go back to the track and it doesn't run much, if any better. The odd thing about the cam was that it never had an RPM where it woke up. It just felt the same through the RPM range. Neither my mentor nor I could figure this out. Around 1973 I took the engine out for a complete rebuild. When we looked at the cam Jim laughed. He said "that's not an "H" cam." I asked how he could be so sure. The "H" cam is the only one that has a flat nose (I'll explain that another time). The lobes on this one were pointed. We looked at the stamping and it looked like an "H". But on further inspection it was a poorly stamped "E". It was the smallest cam in the Pontiac parts book. Plus the intake lift was only about 0.375". We don't know if it was an honest mistake at Pontiac, or if it was the result of skulduggery. Again, not being particularly bucks up I'm looking for a way to save money. A friend of mine at work had a '68 Firebird that he had been racing. He decided he wanted to make it a pro-stock car, but he was at a standstill - with a lot of parts. Nope, he was going to get back on it so it wasn't for sale. This was 1973. However, he already purchased RAIV heads so I bought his 16's to use in my build. I get it done, and all the previous problems are gone. It runs pretty good, and the performance noticeably improves at about 3000 RPM. I take it to the track and it ran something like 13.40 first time out. By now I had purchased a set of Jim's old slicks. They were 8" wide. I was on my way home from work one day when there was a very loud bang. I shut the key off immediately and coasted to the shoulder. Tow it home and start taking it apart. It turns out slicks and a stick shift are brutal on the drive train. The main issue was that I had broken the crankshaft right after the first journal. But I got the key off fast enough I hoped the block would be OK. No such luck. It was cracked from the mains to the cam. The reason was that the two piece balancer on the 64's wouldn't handle the extreme stresses. Running slicks made the RPM change dramatically. making the rubber mounted portion of the balancer move. This resulted in the crank being out of balance. The other observation was that my original M-20 showed radical movement of the cluster pin. The starting line launch forces started egg shaping the case. Now it's time to start over again. B/T/W, that engine only lasted about 6 months.



To be continued. There was a lot of ""continuing" in this overall odyssey.
thoroughly enjoying your story Jim.A lot of what you’re saying I’ve ran into in building my 66 Pontiac GTO with tri-power. When I was building it I was deciding whether to use the original 93 heads or put a set of 16 heads that I had on the shelf as extra parts when I bought the car from a guy down the street. I decided to use the 16 heads... Also used flattop pistons to maintain the 10+ compression rate. Also had a performance cam, not sure what it was now but I know it was something similar to the ram air lift and duration. The car ran pretty fast not sure what the horsepower was but I think it was a little over the 360 stock horsepower with the tri-power even though I ran the Edelbrock 750 on it. I also had the HO stock headers on it also
Not sure if it was the machine shop or what but I ended up rebuilding that motor shortly after that to decrease the compression. Had a 90 pound oil pump on it and I was concerned that at a stoplight the oil pressure was near zero. It ran a little hot too. So I decided to take the motor out and change the oil pump to a 60 pound pump and then I found the issues.

Used dish pistons this time around. When I took the engine apart Three pistons had cracks in the skirt and two of the skirts broke off and we’re laying in the corner of the valley pan. As I said not sure what happened if it was detonation or what but I decided to go with lower compression so I wouldn’t have a problem with pump gas and it would run well for cruising and street use...wasn’t concerned with having a 400 horsepower motor. Obviously I don’t think it has as much horsepower as it did on the first build. And as you probably know it really ran better with that Edelbrock 750 carburetor on it instead of the tri-power. I’ve been playing around with the idea of taking the tri-power off and putting the 750 Edelbrock matched with an older weiand Manifold. Just to see if has more...... Anyway enjoying your story. You must be in your 70s by now LOL I turn 70 in July.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I turn 80 in October. I would keep your tri-power on and fix whatever driveability issues it has. You can start a separate thread for that.
 

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I turn 80 in October. I would keep your tri-power on and fix whatever driveability issues it has. You can start a separate thread for that.
Well I don’t think I really have any issues with the tri power... I was just thinking in general with that 750 it probably has more guts... but maybe not it’s hard to compare with the first build. Definitely had more horsepower in the first build and when I put my foot in it it would throw you back in the seat with the Edelbrock 750... never had the tri-power first build.. i’m curious what horsepower this has now and someday I would like to put it on the Dino to have it tuned and horsepower rating..
 
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