Just a little, but in several different areas. It all adds up...
In the engine, we set about torquing all of the bearing caps back down to spec, after having checked the clearances with plastigauge a few weeks ago. (And yes, we used an assembly lube instead of just leaving a sheen of motor oil on everything.) We realized that we made a mistake earlier in judging bearing condition by only inspecting the lower halves. The upper halves have some accelerated wear (that I forgot to take pictures of).
It’s hard to justify going so far as to replace bearings without just turning it into a full rebuild with fresh piston rings and whatnot. After a lot of hemming and hawing, my brother decided to skip the bearings for now. This was a difficult decision to reach, and he’s not entirely proud of it (same here). But after much deliberation, he’s decided to “send it” while preparing for a more intensive rebuild at a later time. Maybe even find a second engine in the meantime to rebuild in his spare time while driving the current one, and swap them when ready.
We disassembled some more of the front suspension, and pressed the old wheel bearings out of the steering knuckles. It was tricky, thanks to the dust shields that cannot be removed until the wheel hub is separated from the knuckle. But we managed to work around them and took a minute to make a modification that will facilitate reassembly.
Many cars have dust shield that are open on one side, and we found that we could do the same for these without sacrificing much rigidity. The bolts will still hold them down securely, and we can press the new bearings in without having to be so delicate about a thin dust shield in the way. (Unfortunately, the wheel speed sensors didn’t feel like they were going to come out, so we had to work delicately around them. Hopefully they still work.)
We’ll continue with reassembly, and press the new bearings in after some more rust is cleaned off of the knuckles.
Speaking of rust, we haven’t cut away any of the rotted frame yet, as we are waiting to get some repair panels to decide just how we’re going to go about patching it all back together.
We did, however, get a hold of one critical item that will be necessary for the repair: