This post describes the repair of a Pierce Arrow engine block from 1913. The Pierce Arrow was the largest production automotive engine at its time. The swept volume of this 6-cylinder, 48 hp (36 kW), engine amounts to a whopping 13’500 cc (824 cu in)!
This engine is of the T-head engine type, which is essentially an early form of crossflow engine. This design is characterized by two separate camshafts, one on either side of the cylinder. One camshaft operates the inlet valves and the other the exhaust valves. This makes this engine design quite complex and expensive to produce.
The main advantage of the T-head engine design is the fact that it is not at all prone to knocking – a condition where the gasoline vapour in the cylinder ignites too early by itself due to compression, before it is lit by the spark plug. Knocking was a big issue especially during the early decades of the 20th century, when gasoline sold typically had a very low Octane rating. T-head engines were therefore popular until about 1920, when better fuel became widely available. At that time, the disadvantages of the design started to outweigh the advantages.
The in-line 6-cylinder Pierce Arrow cast iron engine block that we received for repair at our workshop at Lock-N-Stitch in California, USA, was severely damaged. A large piece of the casting had been broken off at the block’s front (timing belt) end.
Our metal stitching specialists successfully reattached it. In order to do so, they installed about thirty Castmaster™ stitching pins over a total fracture length of 160 mm, in material with a thickness ranging from 12 – 16 mm. For additional strength, they also installed two high-strength locks perpendicular to the fracture line.
The fracture line passed through a hole for a positioning dowel pin. To repair that, our specialists first closed the hole by installing a solid Full Torque™ plug, before drilling it anew in the exact location.