Can you remove the inner fender wells on a stepdown?

I am giving serious though to pulling the head off my poor old 51 Hornet. I did a compression test today that more or less told me there is a strong likelihood of burned exhaust valves. The engine seems tight in other respects and has 35psi of oil when hot, so I am thinking of popping the head off and taking a proper look inside. I don't know if the engine has ever been apart before, the head gasket has gold paint on it. 

If I do need to do a quick and dirty valve job, I'll want access to the gallery, especially #6 as that is the non-compressing cylinder.  Someone told me that the inner fender sheet metal can be pulled out. A cursory look suggests that it can be done, and I really don't want to take the manifolds off if I can avoid it. Is there anything special that needs doing or watching here?  Do you just block the hood up with a stick or something, since the hood prop would have to go?


  • Make sure you prop that HEAVY hood up well!   Yes you can adjust valves with the manifolds in place.
  • You can remove the dust shield on the passenger side with little problem as it is bolted to the fender on an offset to accommodate getting at and removing the side valve cover plates. You aren't able to do this as easily on the driver side . This however  still means taking off the tire and unbolting the inner dust shield at the body to frame brace and the radiator support channel. Dave's suggestion is well taken. Get a 2X4 to help brace the hood .
  • Sorry, but it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to do a valve job without removing the manifolds.  
  • You could get some valve grind compound and a suction handle then 'Lap' the valves to improve compression. However, if a valve is burnt may need manifold removal.

  • Good luck trying to  do a valve job without removing g the manifold!
  • Its a PITA to remove the inside fender and prop the hood, alternatively its a PITA to remove the manifold. 
    BUT adjusting the valves over the fender with the manifold off is way easier than trying to do it through the wheel well with the manifold on.
  • edited March 2
    In 1972 I had a 49 Commodore coupe with a hornet motor. I took off the passenger side inner wheel well and drove it that way. Those valve were adjusted on a regular basis. Why? I was young and dumb! Still dumb but not too young-----
  • I have done them also without much hassle. Maybe it is harder Down Under because of the steering on the right side?
  • It's relatively uncomplicated to simply adjust the tappets, quite another to  do a valve grind with the manifolds on.   R.H.D.  makes no difference on r.h.d. Step-downs. 
  • Removing the inner fender does give you a little more room to work.
  • Good one John. I am just a tad to big to fit that way.  Ray
  • removed mine on my 52 wasp to adjust the valves
  • Or you could do what I had done.  With the triple Webers the inner fender panel must be modified and pushed out toward the tire or they will not fit.  Bent Metal did the modification and incorporated a removable panel in the fender so I do not have to remove the inner fender panel to adjust valves or access the carbs.  Works great, he does great work.  But maybe a bit more expensive than removing the inner panel, however, now that it is done it is almost a pleasure to adjust the tappets.....except for those darn headers....


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