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AMX Project Car Barn Find; Phase 1: Getting Started on Restoration

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restorationAfter getting this wonderful Barn Find home and into the garage for a quick inspection and clean up the next step was to get the original 343 out of the car. We have a date correct 390 with Group 19 heads, intake, exhaust manifolds and other AMC specked performance improvements going back into the AMX.

So far we have pulled the 343, tore the 390 apart and have it off to the machine shop for a .030 over bore, new pistons and balancing. The heads will get a little work and then it will be ready for its new resting place.

The underside; Existing Condition

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

We have just dropped the exhaust pipes from the manifolds.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

You can see the surface rust on the drive shaft and the general light grunge on the lower side of the AMX

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

The AMX has some old Sears air shocks that will be replaced by a more appropriate set of KYB gas shocks.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

A portable saw made quick work of the old exhaust system.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Since all AMC V8 engines use the same block how do you know what it is? Easy, check between the frost plugs and there it is in great big letters, the cubic inches. This is the 390 going into our little red rocket.

The Engine is out!

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

This is the cars original 343 cu in that is coming out to make way for the Big Bad 390.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

The engine bay looks very good, no damage and little in the way of scum.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Looks like some little critters took up residence in this 343 sometime over the past 28 years.

Power Wash

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Time to Power Wash and get rid of 28 years worth of dust and 40 years worth of grime on the underside.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Doesn’t look too bad from under here. This is prior to the Power Wash.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

We did not steam clean or even use any soap on the first pass. Just wanted to blast away the easy stuff.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

This is still prior to the wash.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Existing conditions.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Most likely will need to replace a gasket in the differential.

After the initial Power Wash.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

There it is, 28 years of dirt blasted away. Not in bad shape but we will do a total repaint.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

The missing stripes are tape and were gone before the power wash.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

Even washed the hood while it was off.

1969 AMC AMX engine bay restoration

After the Power Wash we went back over the grime that was left with some Oven Cleaner. We did half the car with the good old Easy Off and the other half with a generic oven cleaner. Why? Why not? The Easy Off was almost $6 per can and the generic was only $2. If it works as well, why spend the money. We will let you know how they compared. We will show you the results in Phase 2.

While the engine and transmission are out of the car it is an excellent time to do some detail work and look for other restoration opportunities. The first thing we did was a quick power wash of the entire car from top to bottom. Yes, the 25 year old dust and grime from sitting in the barn was washed away down the drain. It took eight weeks for me to get up the nerve to wash all that history away but it is gone.

We have heard that the best degreaser these days is good old oven cleaner Easy Off. We went to the local grocery store and picked up two cans of Easy Off at nearly $6 each as well as two can of the generic brand at $2 each and decided to put them to the test side by side. I did one half of the engine bay and undercarriage with one and the other half with the other. I left them both sit overnight for nearly 18 hours.

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