Monday, January 30, 2012

A Sad Lack of Fruit

Many times my spouse, the lovely Loriann, isn’t completely up to date on all my automotive accomplishments. She ends up discovering how I spent my endless hours in the garage via this blog. This morning I warned her to not read today’s post due because it would only frustrate her. She’s quite patient of my endless hours in the garage, and I know much of that tolerance is because she feels, for the most part, it’s time well-spent keeping the fleet on the road. This past weekend, sadly, my efforts were not rewarded by fixed issues.

First project: Ringo and his blankety-blank transmission. Still grasping at the slight hope his lack of upshifting could be solved easily, I removed Heidi’s governor and installed it in Ringo. A quick spin around the neighborhood the problem was still there. Further research on the forums yielded another possible cause (no output from the rear pump) and a test (push start). I tried this test on a downhill section of street near the house. I put the shifter in N, turned off the key to stop the engine, put the key back in the On position and shifted into D. The speedo read about 20 MPH and the engine would NOT start. Additionally, there was nasty sound coming from the rear end as soon as I turned off the engine. Now the published speed necessary for push starting is 18 MPH, so I figured I hadn’t been going fast enough, so I drove a couple blocks further to a steeper section, got the car up over 25 and re-tried the test. This time the engine started up, but the nasty noise was still there as soon as the engine was turned off. Okay, the pump works, but there’s something else going on. One other recommendation I’d read was to use a ATF additive, so after parking the car on the street, I walked to the FLAPS and bought a pint of Lucas trans fix and dumped it down Ringo’s tranny filler tube. And then another extended test drive to circulate the liquid magic throughout the tranny. I know it’ll take a while for it to work its magic, so I parked Ringo at the curb and moved on to the next task.

Second project: Heidi and her backfiring and poor idling. I had decided this issue was a carburetor with a vacuum leak, so step one in fixing the problem was rebuilding a carburetor using the new parts that recently came my way. Last week, I went through my stash of carb bodies, tops, and throttle shafts and found a set suitable for renewing and gave them a good 2-day soak in my can of carburetor cleaner solvent. Since there was some play between the throttle shaft and bores in the body, a seal kit (Clark’s C1473) was installed per their instructions. The pieces from one of the NOS carb rebuild kits were installed (needle-and-seat, accelerator pump, gaskets), along with a NOS choke pulloff, with the balance of the bits assumed GUPs from my carb part jar. Spoiler alert: “assumed” will come back to bite me. I pulled off the suspect right carb and bolted down and hooked up the replacement and Heidi rewarded by firing right up and settling into a sweetly smooth idle. Each blip of the throttle elicited a responsive and willing rev of the flat-6. Once the engine had heated up and the chokes were wide open, I set the balance between the two sides and found the idle speed in Drive right at the specified 500 rpm. The lovely Loriann’s daily-driver was in the driveway, so I eschewed the test drive trusting that the effortless idle and willing revving indicated problem solved. Thus ended my Saturday’s car time.

Third project: Lucy and her broken speedometer. For the last few months Lucy’s odometer has been sticking nearly every time the tenth of a mile wheel goes from 9 to 0. When it sticks the speedometer needle jumps around wildly. Once the wheel unsticks itself (which happens eventually), the needle settles back down. Then, last Friday, I glanced down at the speedometer during my commute home and the needle was bouncing around more wildly than usual. After a few seconds of this, the needle dropped to zero and the odometer wheels stopped turning. Irr – a broken speedometer cable. Fortunately, there was a brand new replacement amongst the stash of new parts I was recently given. So, yesterday afternoon I put Lucy in the garage and decided the best approach was to first clean and lubricate the odometer and speedometer before installing the new cable. While I was under the dash unhooking gauges, switches, and sockets I noticed the existing cable had been repaired with a splint of sorts (two small hose clamps holding a split piece of rubber hose over a break in the sheathing of the cable). After disconnecting the cable from the rear of the speedometer, I pushed the inner core in as far as it would go and tried to give it a spin. It wouldn’t rotate which meant the cable wasn’t broken. Not really wanting to climb under the car and run the new cable, I adjusted the splint in the hopes the only problem was the fix had slipped over time. With the gauge set out of the car, I tore down the assembly to get access to the speedometer and odometer. I then sprayed brake cleaner on and around the odometer wheels and the speedometer mechanism. After giving ample time for the cleaner to evaporate I squirted in generous amounts of liquid graphite attempting to fully coat the rotating parts. I tested it by driving the shaft with my variable speed drill running backwards. I got the needle to go up to 50 or so and sit steadily while I ran it past the sticking point without any indication of an issue. With a cleaned lens, I reassembled the gauge set, installed it back into the dash, put everything back where it belonged, and called it a day.

The fruits of my labor, part 1: sunk float? Having chosen Heidi as my ride of the day, I climbed behind her steering wheel, started her engine, put her shifter into Drive and proceeded to get about twenty feet down the driveway before the engine died. CRAP! Shades of a leaky float. Since I was too far down our driveway to push her back, I coasted down to the street and parked her against the curb. Guess I should have tried testing that float I’d selected before trusting it as good. Thank goodness I had a backup vehicle.

The fruits of my labor, part 2: speedometer cable. After backing Lucy down the driveway and out onto the street, the first test of the speedometer fix commenced. I watched the needle bounce around as I accelerated away the house. “No worries,” I thought; “It just needs a few minutes to settle down and it’ll be fine.” Instead of settling down, a few minutes later it flat-lined back to zero. CRAP! Another assumed GUP lets me down. Guess I should have taken the time to install the brand new cable.

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