Monday, January 16, 2012

Heidi’s Got Problems With Gas

Last Wednesday, I got behind the wheel of Heidi for my morning commute and cranked over her engine. It started, but not easily. It seemed to idle okay, so I got out to scrape the frost off the windows. Before I was done, the engine died. This isn’t unusual, so I wasn’t concerned. Back inside I restarted the engine and pulled away from the curb. A few feet later, the engine died again and would not restart. I ended up driving Lucy to work that day and the rest of the week.

Saturday afternoon I grabbed a handful of tools and headed out to the street to figure out what was ailing her. I pulled the air cleaners and turned on the engine. Immediately, gas started mildly geysering out the vent hole of the left carburetor. Thinking it was a stuck needle-and-seat, I pulled the top off, tweaked the assembly, and put it back together. A refire of the engine and the geyser continued. Off came the top and a shake of the float elicited the sound of sloshing gas. I went to my stash of carb parts and found one sad-looking float sitting in the bucket. I tested it for leaks by submerging it in a bowl of water and looked for air bubbles. There were none, so I put everything back together with the supposed GUP, cranked the engine, and all seemed well. I let the engine fully warm up idling at the curb and then took it for a run to the kerosene station. For the most part she ran fine, but still had a bad miss at hard acceleration. I decided then when I got home, I’d use up some of my new parts by replacing the points and rotor and giving Heidi a tune-up. Then, while sitting at a stoplight, I noticed then idle speed was lower than it had been before. I put it in Neutral and blipped the throttle and engine speed rose as usual, but the idle speed was still way down. Guess the carbs aren’t copasetic after all. And then, while driving down the driveway, the GEN-FAN light came on. What now? Once parked in front of the garage, I popped the hood to see if she’d thown a fanbelt, but everything was in place. Out came the multimeter and a check of the voltage output of the generator showed less than 3V coming out - the generator was toast. While a quick tune-up would have been okay out in the elements, I decided a generator swap warranted pulling the car into the garage, so out rolled Ringo and in went Heidi. From the two generator prospects on the shelf, I pulled the one nearest the car and swapped it in. The light went off as soon as the engine started running, so I’d picked the right candidate. From my new supply of NOS parts, I found a new set of points and a rotor and, after putting them in and adjusting the timing and idle speed, looked to fix the idling issue. A few tests and I’d determined the right carburetor (the one that had had the float issue) was not flowing fuel at idle. As soon as I blipped the throttle it responded though. Since I could, with a slight idle speed screw adjustment, keep the engine running at 500 rpm with the tranny in D, I decided not to work any more on it. I then took the car out for a spin. I was able to get up to 50 mph without any stumbling. At that point L was home from working a party and she and I went out for dinner.

This morning I’d planned on driving her to work, but there is still a carburetor problem. The engine would not idle and it felt like the engine was only running on three cylinders as I went to pull away from the curb. Thank goodness Lucy is running fine, so I drove her to work instead. I’m thinking the float I’d put in was bad as well and has filled up with gas like its predecessor. I'll do a quick check once I’m home this evening.

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