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KE55 Build – Part Five

The mighty Ke55 is back with a vengeance for another build update. It’s been a busy few weeks and as anyone with a build or project can testify to, it can be challenging to keep the momentum going. Anyone who has been following along with the past few build entries will remember the issues I’ve been having with the cylinder head and trying to get it apart. In short a number of tools I have tried have been unsuccessful, and it’s seriously delayed the cleaning process. This entry will be short and sweet, and from here I can finally get properly stuck into refreshing each component, making them look like new again.

As I previously mentioned, a number of speciality tools designed to remove the valve springs in the head all failed to do the job correctly. Following research, and the advice of an experienced mechanic I decided that the old-school way was best. After placing an appropriately sized socket on top of a spring, I’d give it a good hit or 2 with a hammer. The sudden force on the top of the spring popped the locks straight off, and it allowed both the spring and valve within it to be removed. 

While I was hoping to do things with the utmost care, it proves that sometimes the old ways are best, even if that requires being a little bit more rough. As I would be putting fresh locks and retainers on the springs anyway, it’s not a huge issue and it was unlikely I’d do any damage to the springs or valves themselves.

The previous owner of this engine had told me the head had been refreshed but after inspecting the disassembled head I find myself questioning what exactly was done. The head gasket had been replaced recently, however significantly worn valve stems (likely to have been there from factory) indicate it’s likely no work has been done inside the head itself.

To make matters worse, two of the intake valves were bent and it took an effort to actually remove them from the head itself. This is no doubt the result of the previous owner continually  redlining the engine and over-revving it to within an inch of its life. This does confirm what the previous owner told me, however he led me to believe the issue had been fixed and the head itself would now be good to go. 

At the end of the day it’s quite common to find signs of abuse and neglect when disassembling any engine (let alone one that’s 40 years old). The block and it’s internal components were in surprisingly good condition so I guess you can call it Murphy’s Law that problems would be found with the head. I was hoping to avoid excess machining but I’m not off to a great start with the head needing to be reconditioned and the valves needing to be reground. 

If nothing else, at least the engine is now completely in pieces. With this done, I’ll be cleaning components with every chance I get. Let’s hope both  the filter on my parts washer and my patience both last… 

Nick Williams

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