Removal and Installation Repair Information On Your Imperial's Engine


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Question from Dan (318):

I am REALLY close to getting my engine out, but here's what's left. I need to get the transmission bracket off the passenger side. (The driver side one came off when the bolt broke off the block -just wonderful- -NOT!)

I am trying by soaking with penetrating oil. Also, how the heck does the flex plate access cover come off? It seems like it is captured by something other than the bolts. Is it hooked into the starter motor opening somehow?

One more thing. Can I leave the engine mount bolts in, but loose? It looks as if the engine just lays there in the u-shaped mounts and is just held in place by the washers and bolts.

Reply from Dave:

The starter does "capture" the (so-called) access plate, and you will have to remove it to get the plate off. In earlier years, there was a little extra plate on there, - one that you could get off just by removing two bolts. That was actually an "access cover". Guess the bean counters figured out a way to save 15 cents per car............ And don't forget about that one (useless) 1/4" bolt hiding up there on the pass side above the brace.

Yes, - you can leave the mount bolts in but loose. Be sure to loosen them plenty, - or the large washers will get hung up on the K-frame brackets. The brackets have a pretty good "lip" on them, and will get you almost every time.

Question from Charles (392):

I have a 1957 Imperial which is a rust bucket, and I was lucky enough to find a 1957 Southampton with no rust at all. The Southampton doesn't have a drive train, so I am going to transfer the drive train to it from the rust bucket.

Is it easier to remove the engine and transmission together (392 Hemi) or separate them.

The most important thing is... I am a novice, I have never changed an engine before. I do have a 10 ton engine puller with an adjustable lifter to change the weight around while lifting.

Should I put the front end up on ramps (heavy duty)?

Since I am scrapping the car later (Imperial) I have been removing parts, would it be easier to remove the grill and slide it out with all the front removed? ie: radiator, frame for radiator, and grill.

Also what additional parts should I remove to keep for spares, since I'm parting it out?


From Philippe:

I've done this on my car several years ago and I advise you to remove the whole assy (engine + trans). You must of course remove the grill, radiator and hood before removing the engine. You can do this on ground, no need to put the car on ramps.

Beware of the distributor and cap, you must remove it before lifting the engine. If your car has A/C, there's a very little gap between rear of engine and heater-A/C housing (note also that there's some oil lines at rear of engine to remove).

If you scrap the car, remove also brake parts as MC and bellow, in factall parts around engine. The more space you have around, the easier it'll be. Weight : engine is around 700 lbs, trans around 250 lbs.

From Dave:

It is indeed easier to remove (and install) the engine & trans as an "assembly". Especially if you have removed the radiator support/grille/bumper/etc first. I'm not sure what your "engine puller" looks like, - but if it's one of those "cherry-picker" things, - be sure you have the boom set back so it will support the weight safely, - that 392 & cast-iron TF is HEAV--EEY!

From Pete:

I just finished doing an engine/transmission swap on Daimler/Chrysler product and I pulled the engine and trans as an assembly. I used an engine crane aka "cherry picker" on a smooth concrete floor.

I've been doing this kind of stuff periodically for 20+ years and seeing that weight raised high enough to clear the radiator support STILL gives me the willies. There's more than enough weight (potential energy for you engineers) to do serious damage to your car and kill you too if something screwy happens. On the swap I just did, the factory manual made it quite clear that the front wheels should be blocked up about 10" in order for the transmission tailshaft to clear the floor during engine/trans removal. That made the necessary lift height even scarier.

So, while removing the powertrain as a unit is easier for someone with the right tools and experience, you may want to remove the engine and trans separately. The trans is not too tough to drop out the bottom, and when you remove the engine you don't have to tilt it severely so the trans comes out. I'm pretty sure that the 57s were built using a body drop. That is, the frame, suspension, steeering, and drivetrain were all assembled and then the body was lowered onto the nearly complete chassis. That indicates to me that removing the engine and trans as an assembly might be very tight. Especially on a car with factory A/C.

As far as dismantling the donor car... I wouldn't do anything to the donor car that I wasn't going to do to the recipient. That way you can use the donor car operation as a dry run to see how things go. If parts get bashed up or broken you know what NOT to do when you do the other removal. That's the philosophy I used when I did my latest swap since it was an unfamiliar vehicle: make my mistakes on the car that was expendable, not the keeper.

From Kate:

It may be one heck of a lot more work to pull all the radiator support hardware, grille, etc to get that engine and tranny out as a unit, but I can guarantee you that it is worth the extra effort!

NOT having to lift nearly half a ton of fragile metal parts out of a rats nest of iron protrusions and hoses, wires etc and getting it high enough and angled enough to have the tailshaft clear the floor AND not hang up and damage anything in the process is worth the extra time by itself.

The OTHER important benefit of having the front end stuff out of the way is that you will not have to mate up the engine and transmission while you are under the car, swearing a blue streak and hurting your (already bashed) fingers, and those of the other person you will have to have helping you reef the darn thing in!

I have seen too many shadetree mechanics do considerable damage to input splines, bolt flanges, starter parts, etc., to take this advantage lightly. Mating up an engine and transmission on the ground outside is a job. Doing it blind while half of the parts are not in sight and just that little bit out of alignment is a long and painful stay in purgatory. A little extra time will likely save you untold misery and possible injury - to you and the car!

Follow-up from Bill:

Not going to disagree with you here at all, there're advantages to doing it that way for sure. Another method I've been using however, which solves just about everything, is the old bottom-out method. Those of my cars which are full frame models don't lend themselves to this, and I don't know exactly how the '67 and later Imperials are put together under there, but if you need to pull both the engine and trans together, or put them back in together, on an A, B, or E body this method is great, and duplicates the way the factory did it. I use piano dollies to hold the K member and trans, and before getting my hoist, I used my cherry picker on the bumper brackets to raise the car up.

Again, may be something about '67 and up Imperials that don't allow it, I have no experience with them. And as far as pulling just the motor off and back onto the auto trans with the trans in the car, I guess practice makes it go better, if I just need the motor I always do it that way now.

Question from William (392):

I am pulling the 392 out of my in-laws' '67 Coronet next month. By opening my mouth, I am self selected to take over the "project". (moral of the story: Don't criticize how something is being done, unless you want the job for yourself). Anyway, the motor is stock, probably been regasketed once in it's life and that's about it. Because it is going in a "muscle car", they want to liven it up a bit. I am inclined to keep it fairly mild, as it will be street driven primarily by people who shouldn't be allowed to drive bicycles, never mind cars. It is mated to a A727 (which will be rebuilt, and a slighty higher stall TC installed), and turns 3.23 gears in an 8.75" rear. I am limited to stock iron manifolds, due to the installation job. The car currntly runs a single Carter AFB (model unknown). I am looking at Hot Heads for obtaining parts, and will have the machine work done locally. I have never built a Hemi before, is there anything I should know?


From Patrick:

Even though I do own an engine hoist, however it is somewhere in my storage container out here. The following is a method I have chosen and has proven to work a number of times.
From my local hardware store I have purchased some rather large chain and grade 5 nut and bolts to fit through the chain link(s).
Being careful not to break off any important parts connected to the motor I route the chain around the engine and loop the chain at the top. I use the nuts and bolts of course to close the loop. I repeat the process until I am satisfied I am supporting the engine appropriately (all things considered)
Myself I open the doors to my storage container and use a heavy 4 inch pipe over the opened doors and hoist the engine up from there.
Fortunately this method has proven to work a number of times and I would imagine is the least expensive method available to me.
A very heavy and strong beam could be used if you have a place that will indeed support the weight of the trans and engine. No matter what my suggestion is to have some help there during the removal to stabilize the engine and so on.

From Jeff:

My advice for pulling the engine would be to get a pull-plate rather than attaching chains to old and delicate engine parts. Pull-plates run about $40 and are bolted onto the intake in place of the carb. I used one to re-install a 318 in my '73 Satellite years ago after dropping it 5" on removal using the chain on manifold bolt method. Watching 600+ pounds drop back into the engine bay was a bit scary particularly since my hand had been where the engine landed only seconds earlier.

From Paul:

There sure hasn't been any shortage of suggestions on how and what to do. I'd say that, no matter how you do it, the most important thing is safety, not the engine or the car. Use the right tools, and follow instructions. Also, have a buddy there to watch. The best way to do this is in a garage that is all set up to do it in the first place. Obviously, since few of us have that, we end up renting tools that we are not use to handling, and working in our own garages.

What ever you do, DON'T DO THIS: Over 20 years ago a friend and I decided to pull the engine out of the car. He had done it "many times before". He used a "come-along" and a rope thrown over a rafter in his garage. The engine was undone, lifted out of the car, and the car was pushed out of the way. One minute later the engine hit the floor with a loud BANG! It could have killed us both. We managed to save the engine, but no matter what, if some one had been hurt, it wouldn't have been worth it. True story....

Question from Charles (1957):

After several years of trying to replace parts to save my '57 Imperial, the rust demon has finally gotten too good of a hold of my 57 Imperial. I find the only way to save the majority of it, is to find another, more rust free body. What is the easiest way to pull the engine and transmission? Is it easiest to pull engine/trans together? Or separate? How much wiring is there connecting the transmission to the push button dash? The engine only has 62,000+ miles and runs very strong, a little blow by at the valve guides, but nothing major. The 392 is good and the trans. has just been rebuilt. Is there any real difference between a 57 to 59 Imperial? I'm just looking for a rust free (or as much as possible) body and those 3 years use the 392. I figure I can use most of the parts off my 57 on any year. Most important does anyone have any info on a salvage title in California? I guess that's about the only way I'll find a good body. I appreciate any info and ideas..... especially if they know of a good body for those years.


From Philippe:

It's a very heavy assembly but it's better than have two assemblies which are not very easy to take apart. You'll have to remove speedo cable, trans. cable, hand brake cable and some wirings as neutral safety switch (and all the engine wirings + distr. cap). remove also the front end grille, it's easier.

>Is there any real difference between a 57 to 59 Imperial? 

There were no 392 in '59!! There's some small differences in the frame: '58 & '59 have longer rear leaf springs so the threaded holes in the frame are not in the same place. '59 have a 413 CI so the front support engine are different. Frames also are different between 4-dr sedan and 2-dr HT (no "X" reinforcement) and 4-dr HT / 2-dr convertible ("X" member).

From Roy:

Unless the frame is also badly rusted, which shouldn't be the case in California, all you need to do is swap the "body", that will eliminate any concerns with title or removing the engine for that matter!

From Dick:

In California, once a car has been reported "salvaged", that blemish stays on it's title forever, as long as it remains titled in California. I have heard that some states do not use this system, so if you could find a friend in such a state, you could have him title it there, then bring it back into California after the DMV archives it records (reported to be 5 years) and you would get a clean title. I have not done this, I am merely passing on what another person told me.

A salvage title does not necessarily mean the car was wrecked and junked. In the case of my 69 Newport Convertible, the car had been stolen and not recovered until after the insurance had paid off. Thus when it was recovered, it got in the system as a salvaged vehicle, and thus had a salvage title. In actual fact, the car was an undamaged, close to mint original car with low mileage. I've since sold the car after enjoying it for almost 10 years, and the new owner understands the history of the car. If you see a near new looking one in the San Jose area, and its license plate is 1MCH964, that's my car!

I do recall a very clean looking Tan 57 4 door up in Eastern Washington state with no engine or transmission running on Ebay about a year ago, I don't know what happened to it, but I recall it sold for around $900. If it was from that area, it should have been totally rust free.

Question from Clint (1959):

Well, I've got the engine unbolted from the trans on the '59, but my brain had an operator error. I 'm going to pull the trans. also and rebuild it, so I should just put a couple of bolts back in the bellhousing and pull the engine and trans as a unit, and re-install the same way, yes? Now then, if I pull these as a unit, do I need to take the grille and stuff off or is there enough room to get them both out? I have the heads and manifolds off already.


From Kerry:

I'd sure pull as a unit if I could. It should clear by tilting it down. One of those adjustable slings that you can crank the angle on really helps as you need to start by lifting straight up and increase the angle as it goes. You MIGHT have to to pull the radiator but I doubt it. Go ahead and take off the oil cooler lines.

From Phil:

While it may be very possible to remove the motor with the radiator in place, as one who is very familiar with Murphy's Law, I'd pull the radiator and stash it in a safe place. A screwdriver is dangerous enough to a radiator, I wouldn't risk swinging a big block and a torqueflite around one if I could at all avoid it! ; )

PS: Also, I've found when pulling the motor and the transmission together in one piece, sometimes you don't have enough clearance for the tailshaft to avoid dragging the ground as you pull the combined engine/tranny combo over the radiator support. Be ready with some jackstands and a jack if you need to raise the car for clearance and pray that your engine hoist will go up far enough!
Be careful, all of this stuff is very very heavy, be sure the fasteners you use for the chain or attachements are strong and in good shape. You don't want that puppy down on top of you!

Question from Michael (1960):

I was hoping someone could give me a clue as to the best way to hoist an engine and tranny out of my car. I have the front clip removed. and I just need to know the best places to bolt the hoist to lift the engine and tranny in one piece. Should I use the intake manifold bolts or a water pump bolt and something at the back of the motor (pump is already off) ????........ It's a '60's 413 and tranny.


From Arran:

In all honesty if it's a hot rod they want swap them a good steel crank 440 for it and save the 392 for a New Yorker or Imperial. In spite of the folklore the early hemis are heavy boat anchors in regularly aspirited form. Unless you hook up a blower and dump in about $8,000 dollars worth of buildup parts, such as aluminum heads and intake, they are really only marginally better then a wedge of similar vintage. After what they will have to pay for rebuilding the Hemi you would be doing them a favor as parts for a 440 are considerably cheaper and easier to come by, not to mention that R.B motors are actually lighter. Hot Heads or Power Play Hemi, same difference, has the parts but you would have to take out a bank loan to buy them. I could go into details but lets just say that $165 for a set of con rod bearings is about four times what I can pay locally for the same set. Anything else that you need can be procured from P.A.W or EGGE machine if you find that you have to go stateside for anything. There is a fellow in the Edmonton area that can supply old engine parts called Gary Automotive. On some parts he is good, on others marginal, and on others way too expensive. Parts Source, on 137th ave., can also come up with a few items, such as con rod bearings and electrical parts, but they will have to make a search first. I have found another Canadian source of parts but I have yet to investigate it. As for machine shops almost any automotive machine shop, in the Edmonton area, could do it for you but get some references from some old car guys in your area first. In all honesty if I wanted to hot rod on a budget with a hemi, this day in age, I would wait for the new Dodge Ram ones to start hitting the junkyard. Another possibility would be to pluck one out of a Lexus or Toyota truck from the same source. To me it makes a lot more sense to use a state of the art fuel injected V8 then using a motor ten years older then the car that you are mounting it in. Especially when a 392 could be used to put one of Exner's beauties back on the road.

From Ernie:

If you are pulling the engine and transmission as a unit, purchase a load leveler, it makes the job half as much trouble.

This page last updated July 19, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club