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Loud engine noise - hammering

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Before I pull the engine and transmission, I was hoping someone might be able to help me understand the source of this noise. It's a loud hammering sound that sounds like a main bearing failure. However, it diminishes significantly when I push in the clutch pedal. The previous owner mentioned to his daughter (she sold me the car) that the engine needed a shim or spacer? This is all I know and the previous owner has since passed away. The engine runs very smoothly. It was rebuilt with virtually no run time and the oil looks very clean. Absolutely no smoke on start up. I believe he transmission was also rebuilt. The car went through a frame-off restoration 10 years ago. It has been sitting since then.
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