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1955 Ford Part 67: Show & Tell at School

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

"Show & Tell at School"


Throughout this month I plan to post a few articles that I have written for the Y Block Magazine. Over the past several years, helpful technical information I have submitted has been published by Bruce Young the editor. If you are interested in subscribing, you can find out more by visiting this link: Towards the bottom of that page there is a link with which you can contact the magazine.

Daniel Jessup and 5th Grade Students with a 272 Y Block

Remember the first time you learned what an internal combustion engine was or how it worked? A lot of us most probably began our “wrench-turning” days at an early age. Maybe we hung around dad when he did the work on the family car in the driveway out front on a Saturday afternoon. Or maybe we can remember back to our first time that dad let us drive the tractor by ourselves to plow the field or haul the wagon. Whatever our first experience was, somehow, someway we crossed paths with an internal combustion engine. Years back some of you old-timers may have had the good fortune of the Ford Y Block introducing you to all things 4 stroke!

To hear of kids these days falling across anything Y related when they are little is very rare. Only from the occasional outing with Grandpa would something like that take place. However, this past month [Blogger's Note: this was back in 2012] I had the great opportunity to take some youngsters down to the garage and make their first introduction to THE 4 stroke internal combustion engine of the ages. This is how it went…

Recently, I trailered my engine run stand and rebuilt 272 to the church property here in Winchester, Virginia, where I work so that I could prepare the block to be placed on a pallet and shipped off to Colorado. One of our academy teachers got wind of the fact that I was going to have the Y Block and run stand on site for several days so she came to me with a great idea.

“We’re currently taking our 5th grade through a brief section on the workings of an internal combustion, four stroke engine. Think you could help?” the teacher said.

“Of course, let me know the day and time and we can be ready for you in a jiffy,” I replied.

The day that we were scheduled to bring the class down to the garage the ambient temperature had reached 15 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s cold. The bus garage where we met has no insulation and is only heated by two diesel-fired tube units. You know the kind. They sound like a jet engine and incinerate anything located in front of them within a 3 foot distance. The kids certainly didn’t care… who would at 5th grade? When you are that age, gettin’ out of the classroom is where it’s at!

Using the Y Block to explain the workings of a 4 stroke internal combustion engine

About a half hour before they arrived, I fired up the heaters and wheeled out the Y Block. I wondered if it would be hard to start, it was so cold. Two weeks before I had replaced the radiator with a good unit from a 1954 passenger car, and I had installed an electric fan instead of the open fan blade that the run stand had been sporting. (a little dangerous for the hands of course, so I am glad I did all this before I had those kids checking things out) There was also a Holley 390 cfm four barrel sitting on top of the intake, a new choke lever, a new electric fuel pump (no more mechanical), and a tachometer. The more I tinker on this thing all it needs is a transmission and a steering wheel and we would take off! But I digress… I closed the choke with the lever and turned the key. The 272 fired up like nobody’s business… cold? what cold? The 272 has stock internals but it had recently received new bearings, rings, camshaft, lifters, timing set, and a tolerance check when I worked on it the previous month. The compression is excellent and she purrs like a kitten. The oil pressure is 50 psi when the temperature gauge for the coolant is reading 190 degrees Fahrenheit. I ran the engine for about 20 minutes or so and then shut her down in anticipation of the students’ arrival. The temperature in the garage had finally risen – we were now up to 25 degrees!

The teacher knocked on the door and in traipsed several students. I looked at her and asked, “Is this all?”

She kindly replied letting me know that several of her students were ill that day because the flu bug had been going around. (I nodded and then winced a little knowing that we were taking these kids down here in this cold garage for 30 minutes or so for our little vocational lesson.) The students were all bundled up pretty good, and I had already received a bunch of smiles from the boys so I came to myself and got to work explaining the 4 stroke internal combustion engine using our ol’ Y Block. It was surprising to see how well the kids paid attention. We had shut down the heater tubes and all that could be heard was me talking about air/fuel mixture, intake stroke, compression stroke, ignition timing, etc. Even the girls listened well and asked good questions. the ambient temperature was a “balmy” 25 degrees in the shop! Of course, everyone wanted to see and hear the engine run. Since the run stand has open headers, we handed out ear plugs, and the teacher even donned a pair of ear muffs. While the school yearbook photographer took photos, the 5th graders giggled with delight and clapped their hands at the great Y Block exhaust note.

“Rev it up, rev it up!” they shouted. Of course I obliged and everyone had a good time. (Later on that day, several of the teenage boys came down to let me know that beyond a couple of concrete walls in school about 200 yards away they could hear that great sound.) I shut it down and was pretty proud of myself at what the kids had learned and all that I had taught them, until I let one young boy open his mouth.

“Hey Pastor Jessup, Pastor Jessup, I know what this engine is!” one of the blonde-haired boys quipped.

“You do?” I said. “What is it?”(Now mind you, when the lesson began I had briefly mentioned the 272 Ford engine, and since I have worked at this church and this academy for 10 years now, all of the kids know that I am a Y block nut. This is the same school that gave me Y Block valve covers for my birthday for crying out loud! But this kid was new, so I gave him a chance.)

“It’s a small block Chevy!”…

Yeah right, kid! You get an “F” --- “It’s a small block Chevy!” he said. I looked at the teacher (she knows me well) and just shook my head.

“Fail,” I muttered. The funny thing was that some of the other kids started laughing and giving the new kid a hard time. “The fleecing of our youth,” I said to myself. “Everything’s a small block Chevy.” This is just another example of how the general public and our popular culture have been inundated with all things scrub (to borrow terminology from the Y Block Magazine). It gets depressing… even the children have been brain-washed! Well, I am doing my part to change that in the little, tiny world I influence, and we have a good time doing it too. The kids had a great time and the teacher thanked me for showing the kids all of the nuances of an engine. And of course, the Y Block delivered!

Until the next project, my name is Dan, and I am addicted to Y Blocks!

There are plenty of helpful tips in the Y Block Magazine from issue to issue. Some are as simple as the procedure I just described, yet others dive deeper into such aspects as rocker arm geometry, connecting rod length, parts identification, etc. From to time I do list back issues on eBay or in a classified forum on one of the websites. Contact me at if you are interested.

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