The Lasalle Engine

      Once I opened up the HC 53 V8 engine, I found that the mice had been living there for years.  Their urine trails in the blocks had destroyed the steel valve springs, cam roller lifters and the aluminium cam roller guides. Finding these motor parts was a real challenge.  Water had mixed with the motor oil in the oil pan which corroded pan and screen.  The removal of dead mice from the oil pan didn’t improve my hope for the engine rebuild. I was able to get help from a mutual Lasalle owner for oil lines and the rotted aluminium guides etc. that I needed.  The crank case was made of aluminium but it was unaffected from years of neglect.  I cleaned and reassembled the water and oil pumps.

     A friend’s father was able to rebuild the heads while members from APAC poured new babbitt for the mains and rods.  Another APAC member did the machining for the rods while a local engine business did the line boring, crank and cam machining.  The original distributor was gone and someone had replaced it with a more modern one.  I lucked upon a distributor restorer in Lethbridge who assured me that he could make it work and it did.  Now on to the fuel system.

     Fortunately, an original Cadillac/Lasalle up-draft carburetor Type 1 and vacuum tank were still attached.  Foolishly, I had removed the vacuum tank float system years before and installed it on my 1927 Chevrolet when that one had failed. I had forgot that I had switched the tank tops which proved to be another error for me.  I never got the fuel vacuum system to work even with a box of accumulated spares in a box.  After assembling that V8 engine myself, I was able to easily start the engine which was one of the most exciting moments in that car’s frustrating life.  But my inexperience played itself out again.

     I had refinished and installed the intake and exhaust manifolds.  In one of the manifolds was a corroded butterfly controlled by a dash lever.  I didn’t know what it was for except maybe cold weather starts.  I could start the car but the carburetor always leaked when the engine was turned off.  Totally frustrated, I removed that carburetor too many times to count to recalibrate, reseal, and whatever else came to mind.  I had it checked and rechecked by fellow car buddies as well.  I installed an expensive car kit as well as installing an in-line fuel pump/fuel regulator and fuel filter.  I put a new fuel line directly through the vacuum tank with a shut off valve among many other adaptions such as finding, rebuilding and installing another rare and expensive carburetor Type II.  Nothing worked.  The car would start and the fuel leaked out the carburetor when the engine was shut off.

     Luckily for me, I talked to everyone who might have some old car knowledge and was willing to listen to my frequent woes.  An older and very knowledgeable antique car owner/restorer happened to mention off the cuff that my problem sounded like a pressure problem.  BINGO, light bulb, whatever, problem solved.  That damn dash lever for the carburetor intake was never moved by me.  It was always shut OFF.  All I had to do was turn the lever to the OPEN position and voila, no more leakage.