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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
139897

I picked up this 1984 el Camino for a whopping 2700 bucks from someone local. Besides the massive hole in the hood it , it had a nice straight body. No real rust no bubbling. My wife thinks I paid too much. But I love it. I got a few odds n ends things from Dixie restoration depot. New window switches and a new interior door handle. I flushed the radiator and cooling system. Put a rebuilt edelbrock carb on that a friend gave me. And got it running pretty well.
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So I was driving down the hwy the other day and heard a horrible noise followed by a dead engine and the sound of metal bouncing down the highway. With no clue as to what it could be, I ran to the part in the highway and knew right away that I was in trouble. The crankshaft pulley came off and bounced down the highway.
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So now I don’t know what to do. If the crankshaft isn’t bent can I replace it with a new one and put a new belt on and go? Should I rebuild the motor? Or I have a friend that has an lt1 with transmission that both are freshly rebuilt. He has offered it up for the low low price of free. So I was thinking of going that route and putting a carb on it to avoid any of the fuel injection stuff.
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I’m just looking for some advice on what to do with the ole girl next. She doesn’t look like much , but I think she’s a keeper. Thanks guys.
 

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Welcome to the site.
Have you actually looked to see why the pulley same off? Bolts backing out or sheared off in the crank flange? Next would be to check and see if the motor turns over by hand via a screwdriver against the flywheel or if you can get a tool on the front of the crank. If the crank pulley came off it would explain the noise under the hood but not the engine dying so I'd look into that. It looks like you have centerbolt valve covers on the engine in your Elco now so I'd say it likely isn't the original engine. May be worth keeping if it isn't trashed but I wouldn't rebuild it vs swapping in a free LT1 motor. The only real issue with LT1 motors is the optispark distributor going out and any modern replacements being junk. Other then that they can make great power and are one of the best sounding small blocks GM has made.
If you really like the car then do what it takes to keep it on the road. Lord knows mine was a basket case when I bought it and several years later it's finally presentable.
 

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Yes, that Optispark ignition system on the LT1 suffered water intrusion problem with being so close to the water pump, IIRC.

Rick

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Hi purgonza, welcome from Idaho. Glad you've joined us. You have a very nice 84 and you got it for a good price. Have fun with your 84 El Camino and the community.
 

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_pgonzo, whether the motor is ok to run depends on if the harmonic damper/balancer pulled out of the crankshaft snout or came apart. A picture of the engine front would tell us a lot.

The SBC hamonic damper/balancer is made up of two metal pieces bonded together with a rubberized material.This rubber material is the main dampening component. Over time, combined with repeated cycles of hot and cold, this bonding material deteriorates and weakens. If your harmonic balancer came apart and the outer ring separated from the inner piece connected to the crankshaft, what you'll need to do is remove the failed part and install a replacement damper/balancer. If your balancer pulled out at the crankshaft snout, I suggest you check the crankshaft and make sure the key is not damaged. If the crankshaft and key are not damaged, then install a replacement damper/balancer. Lastly, be sure to install a balancer bolt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Welcome to the site.
Have you actually looked to see why the pulley same off? Bolts backing out or sheared off in the crank flange? Next would be to check and see if the motor turns over by hand via a screwdriver against the flywheel or if you can get a tool on the front of the crank. If the crank pulley came off it would explain the noise under the hood but not the engine dying so I'd look into that. It looks like you have centerbolt valve covers on the engine in your Elco now so I'd say it likely isn't the original engine. May be worth keeping if it isn't trashed but I wouldn't rebuild it vs swapping in a free LT1 motor. The only real issue with LT1 motors is the optispark distributor going out and any modern replacements being junk. Other then that they can make great power and are one of the best sounding small blocks GM has made.
If you really like the car then do what it takes to keep it on the road. Lord knows mine was a basket case when I bought it and several years later it's finally presentable.
I have read about the opti spark being trash. But I also read there was a manifold I could get that would relocate the distributor to the back of the motor like the small block that’s in it now. I haven’t had anymore time to look at it since it happened . I was on my way to work and had to have it towed there. When I get back into town I’m gonna have it towed to my house and get everything sorted
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
_pgonzo, whether the motor is ok to run depends on if the harmonic damper/balancer pulled out of the crankshaft snout or came apart. A picture of the engine front would tell us a lot.

The SBC hamonic damper/balancer is made up of two metal pieces bonded together with a rubberized material.This rubber material is the main dampening component. Over time, combined with repeated cycles of hot and cold, this bonding material deteriorates and weakens. If your harmonic balancer came apart and the outer ring separated from the inner piece connected to the crankshaft, what you'll need to do is remove the failed part and install a replacement damper/balancer. If your balancer pulled out at the crankshaft snout, I suggest you check the crankshaft and make sure the key is not damaged. If the crankshaft and key are not damaged, then install a replacement damper/balancer. Lastly, be sure to install a balancer bolt.
As soon as I get back in town I’ll take a picture of the balancer. I didn’t notice a key on the crankshaft or the balancer but the part also did not seem to be damaged.
 

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_pgonzo, whether the motor is ok to run depends on if the harmonic damper/balancer pulled out of the crankshaft snout or came apart. A picture of the engine front would tell us a lot.

The SBC hamonic damper/balancer is made up of two metal pieces bonded together with a rubberized material.This rubber material is the main dampening component. Over time, combined with repeated cycles of hot and cold, this bonding material deteriorates and weakens. If your harmonic balancer came apart and the outer ring separated from the inner piece connected to the crankshaft, what you'll need to do is remove the failed part and install a replacement damper/balancer.
Had a 79 Vette once, the outer balancer ring did exactly that but in reverse. Walked back into the timing cover, the noise crept up slowly so there was a groove but it never got through!

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright , sorry it’s taken so long to reply I’ve been states away. Just got back to work today and snapped a few photos for you seasoned vets out there. Maybe you can tell me what went wrong and how to fix it. Maybe not , either way here it is.
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There is the inside of it all and the outside looks like this……
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The entire assembly came off and went skirting down the highway behind me. Remarkably no one hit it, nor did it seem to suffer any real damage. They just don’t make em like they used to.
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there is the tangled mess it left behind.
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Is there a bolt that goes into the crankshaft to hold the balancer/pulley on? I think I’m just realizing what happened.
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Looks like the bolt that holds it on came loose. Lucky for you the shaft of the bolt did not break off inside the snout of the crankshaft.

Rick

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You need a new front seal. (Easy) You need a new bolt and washer. (Easy) I don’t see a key so you need one of them. Emery paper the inside of the damper and the crankshaft. The damper is pressed on or tightened in with a bolt and then the bolt and washer that holds it. A little oil on both might make it easier. I don’t know if that motor came with the serpentine belt system that is on it. You might want to measure when the damper is fully installed that the pulley lines up before installing it. Previous owner might not have installed it all the way on to line up the belt. Tough to believe that you didn’t lose the belt before that damper came off. You should have overheated and stopped charging.
Good Luck, Tom
Before anything make sure you can turn the motor over. Bump the starter to see if it turns.
 

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When you reinstall the bolt, you’ll need to torque it to a crazy high number of ft/lbs (150 plus; check an asssmbly manual for whatever that engine is). I’m guessing the previous owner either forgot that step or thought ‘several ugga duggas oughta do it!’.
Patrick
 

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Get an installer. Don't hammer it on or use the crank bolt to suck it on.

You should be able to get one from Auto zone.
 

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Wait a minute. You said the engine died. None of this will make the engine die. The pulley falls off, some racket ensues, but the engine still runs! Now, if the timing chain fails, all this can happen, and the engine dies. As one one the previous posters said, turn the engine over by hand and see if the valve train still works.

Hans
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wait a minute. You said the engine died. None of this will make the engine die. The pulley falls off, some racket ensues, but the engine still runs! Now, if the timing chain fails, all this can happen, and the engine dies. As one one the previous posters said, turn the engine over by hand and see if the valve train still works.

Hans
It ran for just a few seconds after a really loud noise but then the engine died. I never tried to start it after that but I did bump the starter a time or two today when I got it home from work. It was free and didn’t make any crazy noises. So I bought a new harmonic balancer , a bolt and washer, then an oil pan gasket set and a transmission filter and gasket. Gonna try and get it all back together soon. I spent most of the day today getting it over here and rounding up parts. Tomorrow I’m going after a pickup truck and have work the rest of the day. So it will be a day or two before I can get a good amount of work done on it but as I said before if all else fails I got an LT1 for free. I just gotta go and pull it. I’m really hoping that this new balancer will fix the issue. I love the sound of the motor that’s in it. And it was good and strong before all this mess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
140203

not really did die. That is a piece of piston skirt, and some other debris .
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it looks pretty rough in there . Idon’t know what happened but it was catastrophic. Check this out.
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And this….
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It carved up the crankshaft a bit.
Only one thing left to do. Pull it out I guess.
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gonna get some bolts for my engine stand later today and tear into it some time next week.
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An Lt swap isn’t sounding so bad right about now. It’ll cost less than a new crate motor I’m thinking.
 

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An Lt swap isn’t sounding so bad right about now. It’ll cost less than a new crate motor I’m thinking.
and you'll get it installed faster. the other nice thing is that you know have spare parts from the one you pulled
 

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Agree, go with a crate motor and take your time and build the heck out of the old one.
 
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