CP Machine Shop versus Fiat 903cc engine

After getting the stuck piston out I started the quest for a machine shop to do some work on the block. Namely, hone the cylinder walls, deck the block and give it the hot bath treatment. I called around to various local shops and found them to be either expensive, didn’t want to work on the small Fiat engine or booked up for weeks. Some of the shops only had hand tools that went that small. I called a tractor shop and they referred me to CP Machine in Fort Wayne, IN. I called the shop and spoke with Ed who told me that they had worked on Fiats before. In fact, one of the Fiat 600 Jollys that had been used on the show Fantasy Island came through the shop on its way to the Fall Auction in Auburn, IN.

Of course the process was not without some hiccups. It is a 40 year old engine after all.

The shop called and said there were some broken springs in the valve train. They said they had looked in their parts bin and called some of their guys but could not find a replacement. That’s OK says I. I have a whole spare engine complete with a head. I went that night after work and tore the head off. I bagged some of the parts that may be of use. I will clean them later and have some spare parts on the shelf.

The number 3 cylinder that was stuck created a big rust area on the cylinder wall that couldn’t be honed out. It needed to be bore and sleeved. Ed sleeved it back to the original specs of 65mm so I can use the original pistons. I’ll make sure I can before I order a new ring set.

The camshaft had some wear on the lobe that operated the pushrod that operated the tappet where the spring was broken. When CP Machine originally called it must have been a counter guy or I just plain heard him wrong. I thought he said the lobe had lost .001 of an inch. I didn’t think that sounded like a lot but it is a really small engine and just maybe … So, I posted the question on the Yahoo Fiat 850 Group. Paul Vanderheijden from Scuderia Topolino said he didn’t think it was a huge amount as did Chris Obert from Fiat Plus. I called back to CP Machine and asked about the camshaft. Turns out that it was actually worn down .100 of an inch. A huge difference.

The question remains:

  1. Do i fix it by welding it up then grinding it down? $150 and I am told that this is really a last ditch effort.
  2. Do I replace it? Up to $500. This is painful for obvious reasons.
  3. Do I tear the spare engine down the rest of the way and take the camshaft out of it to see if it will polish and be usable.

I opted for door number 3. My son and I tore the rest of the engine down to get to the camshaft. It was a fun evening. My son is 14 and anytime that you get to spend with your son at this age is a blessing. There are so many other things that are competing for his time and attention. We got all the way to the camshaft and it will not budge. I mean not a fraction of a mm. I sprayed it down with some penetrator, hoping it will move in a day or so. We shall see. I am not exactly sure how the thing comes out. I will ask the guys at the shop when I pick up the engine and post a how to on the camshaft removal. All the books I have are not very clear.

In the meantime Wednesday is my 15th wedding anniversary. So I guess my time and attention will be elsewhere at least for a day or two. The shop will have the Fiat engine finished this week which is very very cool. I still have lots of work to do before I am driving:

  • Drop, clean and line the gas tank
  • Check the tranny
  • Check the brakes
  • Clean and rebuild the Weber 30 DIC carb
  • Check to see if the radiator holds water
  • Paint the engine block
  • Electrical