Time for a quick update on the Cadillac. Last time you read about the caddy, I shared my discovery that it had the rather desirable “Switch Pitch” variation of the Turbo 400 transmission. As such, I decided it was best to have it examined before I put the car back together. I took it over to Alphonso’s Transmission in Goleta, hoping that it just needed to be cleaned up, and perhaps have a few smaller parts repaired or replaced. Unfortunately, this was not to be. As he started dismantling the transmission he very quickly discovered that the main forward band was broken, the forward drum was burnt, and the 2/3 clutch pack was nearly worn down to the steel. So, the only real choice at that point was to go ahead and rebuild the transmission completely.
Now, I’m totally stoked that the trans was rebuilt, and Alphonso has been building these things for longer than I’ve been alive, and did a spectacular job. I also have a brand new variable pitch torque converter. All for the (quite reasonable) price of $1100. Problem is, I only had $600 to spend, which I was hoping would be enough to get the trans repaired, and buy a few small parts I needed to get the car back together. Instead, I had to borrow the rest of the money from our savings. This means for the next 3 months I’ll be paying our savings back from the caddy’s fund, at which point we’re expecting our new son Tate! So as you can imagine I’m not going to have the time, nor the presence of mind to be working on the caddy for a while after that, and I won’t have any money to spend on it until then.
As a result, I’m trying to do little things on the caddy until Tate is born that don’t cost me anything. So I’m tearing the motor down a bit further, and trying to clean it up. I popped the timing cover off to check the timing chain/gears. Turns out this is yet another part which is going to need replaced! The chain is SUPER loose, like enough that I almost feel like I could cause it to skip a tooth with the slack. Also, apparently in the late 60’s it was all the rage to install and market “silent” timing gears. I had the same get-up on my 1967 Ford Thunderbird. It’s essentially a hard plastic cam gear for the timing set, which is supposed to reduce the normal timing set noise. I seriously don’t get this, since the other noises that these machines make more than drown out any noise that the timing set might make. But, I digress.. The point is that the hard plastic cam gear is also showing signs of stress, with hairline cracks forming down the middle of each tooth. It’ll definitely have to be replaced.
I had hoped that I could just throw the engine back together without buying a whole lot more parts for it, and as such had sorta planned not to inspect it too thoroughly. With events unfolding as they have, I think I am going to go ahead and check all the rest of the clearances and see what else (if anything) may need replaced. Depending on how things turn out, I may or may not stick with this motor. As I’ve stated before, the 429 is a low production motor and the parts are surprisingly hard to find, as well as expensive. If I find that it needs more than bearings (a cam, or some machine work for instance) I may simply sell this motor to someone who’s working on a numbers matching restoration and buy a 472/500 to put in it’s place. The good news is that my 429 is in generally good shape, and certainly does not need a lot of work, so it should have some reasonable value to someone who’s looking for original parts.
So that’s where we stand. I had hoped to have her all back together and be driving ‘er by now, but it looks like I’m going to be taking my time even a bit more, and being even a bit more methodical. I can’t wait to experience that finely crafted and tuned transmission! ;-)