Frank Badalson sets the bar in Hemi engine restoration. Here’s how he does it.
By Cliff Gromer and Frank Badalson Photos by Cliff Gromer
A correctly detailed engine goes beyond “pretty.” A nice fresh orange paintjob and shiny metal on a ’71 Hemi may get you compliments from the average Mo’fan at car shows and if that’s what you’re looking for, you might as well skip this article. What we are showing here is what the Hemi looked like when fully assembled at the factory and ready to go into a car, complete with transmission and exhaust—from the bottom. It’s the fine details that separate a platinum quality engine restoration from the also-rans, and it’s the fine details based on research and his 45 years experience in the Mopar world that has made Frank Badalson one of the premier Mopar restorers in the hobby today. You’ll find all these photos and more, such as his world-famous paint drips, on our free website so you can knock yourself out by inviting over all your friends and blowing them up to full screen size on your 80” plasma TV.
Original Hemi oil dipstick tube and handle. The insulator for the tube covering is below the retaining bracket. Top of tube is bare as it is taped off during painting. Handle has the proper rubber insulation.
Right below the fuel pump is right side motor mount (always painted) showing the unique-to-Hemi Marsden (slotted) nuts attaching the rubber insulator to the K-frame. The underside of the K-frame shows the unique nut with spin washer, properly plated. There are two of these.
Configuration of the heat tubes at the back of the intake-one is painted on the line. The unpainted tube that goes to the H-pipe is put on afterward and has a correct clamp, nut and bolt. Nipple at top is for power brakes. Generally, these areas were taped off during paint leaving bare spots. Also note the Hemi-only auto trans dipstick tube mounts to the outer heat tube stud. Correct clip holding the Reverse wire neutral safety switch wire oil pressure sending unit and oil pressure resistance wire bracket on the bellhousing.
General shots of all the linkage hooked up and kickdown linkage shows the correct hookup and positioning of the spring front and rear carb springs and kickdown spring. Note correct carb gaskets and studs.
Closer view of the kickdown linkage. Note detail and plating. Bellcrank on Hemi is not painted—it’s not part of the engine assembly and is installed later (a lot of restorers get this wrong.) Kickdown linkage slide, unique to Hemi, incorporates a hole for the auto throttle linkage return spring. Correct Hemi throttle cable is also unique to a Hemi in that incorporates a hole for the retainer clip and the washer. The other side of the linkage is where the throttle cable ferrule will go onto the inner portion of the stud. Note the length and style of the stud. Also seen is the upper solenoid adjusting bracket.
The ML9 on the base of the carb signifies a build date Nov./Dec. ’69. The 4742S is the Carter assigned number. This is only a ‘71 thing–a modified ‘70 carb. You don’t see this for ‘70 Hemi engines. The front carb tag is black (for auto and 4-speed). This is an original black which from age and heat turns to a brownish or copper color like the one here. The top number always corresponds to the carb base number. The lower number is the assembly date. Here, the 3499 is the 349th day of ‘69 which puts the final assembly in December. Tag dates are typically keyed to the carb base date. The rear carb tag (also the original) is blue denoting auto trans. A 4-speed car would have a red tag. The large number in the lower right corner corresponds to the last 2 digits of the carb part number in the Chrysler parts book. Note that these are not the only carbs used for ’71. However, they are found on many. We do have documented original ‘71 Hemis with ‘71 carb numbers. With the advent of repro tags we’re seeing a lot of mistakes regarding the carb base date correlating to final assembly. Many restorers have not thoroughly researched this and are unaware of the proper dating structure and use random numbers. These dates are not random, there are specific dates for tags keyed to the build/assembly of the carb.