Breathing Life into the 440

Not a lot to report on this update... except the car is now running and can move under its own power. Now THAT'S a milestone!!!

I may have mentioned this before but I've been working towards getting the Polara running so I can move it out of the garage on a daily basis and have the room in the garage for building a project for the wife. She wants a new entertainment center and I need the room in the garage to build the thing. This means the Polara will be on the back burner for a bit while I finish her project.

So what was done since the last update to get to this point. Most of the work involved installing everything the engine needs to run.... plugs, wires etc. Also checking the ignition electrics including the ignition switch and making sure power is being provided to everything that needs it. This may sound easy but when you're starting a car that has been completely custom wired, there is always something that might through a monkey wrench in the works.... and this project is no different.

The fuel line was run and included a filter. This is a temporary installation and will be replaced with a hard line and different, better quality filter in the future. But for now it is functional and that's all that is needed.

The distributor was purchased off e-bay and there is always the possibility that something will be "wrong" with any electronic parts purchased used, but I inspected this one closely and all appears to be in order. The seller also included the plug wires. According to him all was removed many years ago when he changed ignition systems and everything just sat on the shelf for a few decades. I have no reason to doubt this as I do the very same thing sometimes. Besides his feedback was excellent. This is a stock Mopar electronic distributor and all I did to it was install a new cap and rotor. I cleaned the wires and checked and adjusted all the connections so they fit properly.

A quick word on spark plug wire routing. I like to keep things simple so nothing exotic here. I just used wire separators to keep things neat.

Finally a stock coil was installed. Again no rocket science here. To recap... This is a low compression 440 with a stock-ish bottom end rebuild. Heads have SS valves and the springs are matched to the Hughes hydraulic cam. The exhaust uses stock 426 Street Wedge manifolds and 2 1/2" pipes out to Cherry Bomb turbo mufflers. No exotic ignition system is needed here.

And as Paul Harvey would have said... "and now the rest of the story".

I had lying around an old battery I had used on the deuce. It was still good when I replaced it with an Optima a few years ago so I decided to give it a try on the Dodge. To make a long story short, it would not hold a charge.... so I hooked up my charger to provide some juice so I could check for voltage at all the proper places. Everything checked out OK but I wanted to rotate the engine to set up the timing and check the starter engagement. The battery didn't have enough juice so I set the charger on start and flicked the switch a few times to rotate the crank and get number one on the compression stroke. No problem and everything worked perfectly......until I smelled smoke.

As it turns out the "start" setting on the charger overloaded the memory circuit on my el-cheapo stereo and smoke was exiting the front of the radio. Well OK so its fried... no big deal. I'll replace it later.

The wife offered to buy a new battery as payment for my services building her a new entertainment center. So off to Wal-Mart we went.

With all the little stuff taken care of it was time to get things running. Timing was initially set at 10* for first start and the carb was primed. With several "wanta run" tries we finally had enough fuel in the carb for it to run. Cam break-in went very well. I apologize for not filming the first start but I don't generally video then anyway. Way too much going on during initial start to worry about a video camera. So after doing a little carb adjusting and timing tweaking here is a video of her running. 80 lbs. oil pressure at 180* temp. Can't complain about that.

That's about it for now. I'll be working on the wife's entertainment center for the next month so the next update will probably be in September. See y'all then.

Check back often for more updates...

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