Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Too Much Fuel?

Last Sunday I reinstalled the re-rebuilt carburetors onto Glinda with high hopes that the quick-throttle bogging of the engine would be gone. The reason I could bring myself to this state was that the carburetor that had not been showing an accelerator pump shot miraculously fixed itself. I was going to tear it down on the workbench, but gave the linkage one more blip and lo-and-behold out came a couple squirts of gas from the accelerator pump port.

Anyway, the carb went on, followed by the spark plug leads I’d borrowed for TwoTone’s startup, followed by the air cleaner and spare tire. The engine fired right up and settled into a thousand-rpm high idle. Success!

Or was it? The next morning I drove the car to and from work and sadly watched the gas gauge needle drop nearly an eighth of a tank. Tuesday I drove the thirsty beast again and watched the needle drop below three-quarter tank. Argh!

Maybe the fuel pressure is too high? I ordered a fuel pressure gauge setup from Amazon that should arrive today, so I’ll be checking. It’s supposed to only be four to five psi. Higher than that overfills the bowls and will cause the engine to run rich. I’m praying this is the case.

Oh, and the bogging? Still there, but not as bad.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Spinning Wheel

It’s always a unique experience waking an engine after decades of dormancy. The last time I’ve done this was when Ariel and I were working on Redvair ( This time TwoTone’s powerplant joined the land of the living after at least twenty years of inactivity. It all happened as follows:

Yesterday afternoon it only took about fifteen minutes for the heaters to get the garage warm enough that I could comfortably remove the stocking cap from my hair-challenged noggin. First task of the afternoon was to install the borrowed starter/solenoid which went in easily including attaching the battery cable and the Start and Run wires. After turning off the heaters, I touched the purple Start wire to the battery’s positive terminal, but got nothing but sparks. I swapped in another battery cable and was rewarded with a spinning engine once the starter wire was energized. I let the engine spin a little before it was apparent it wasn’t going to start. I’d forgotten to set the point gap, but once that was set, and the static timing checked, I gave the starter the juice again and the engine caught and smoke filled the garage. Success! I let the engine run just above idle for the few second it took to burn all the gas from the carburetor bowls. Doors and windows were then opened to dissipate the fog that had enveloped the rear of the garage. I escaped to the backyard catch some fresh air and snagged the gas can from the garden shed – yay, it contained some fuel. Back into the garage to remove the other rear wheel so I could test the tranny. With TwoTone’s rear securely raised on jackstands, I then refilled the carbs and refired the engine. The smoke was less, but the valve clattering didn’t seem to be any quieter. After it ran out of gas, I put the shifter in Drive, refilled the carbs, and energized the starter. This time, instead of staring at the engine, I gave a quick glance at the rear wheels. The right rear hub was happily spinning clockwise – the correct direction. I repeated the fill-shift-start procedure this time testing Reverse, and the right rear’s rotation had reversed. Success.

After escaping the exhaust-filled garage to let it air out for a few minutes, I returned and pulled all the spark plugs and then proceeded to do a compression check on all six cylinders. All but #2 came in at 160 to 180 psi. #2 could only move the gauge up to 92. I think that it would improve with some more running. I’m going to call the drivetrain a runner.

With that experiment complete, I pulled the borrowed the starter and reinstalled a placeholder. Off the jackstands and then off with the loaner carbs. Other than pushing her out of the garage once the snow melts, I think we’re done with TwoTone.

However (and it’s a huge however), I’m toying with the idea of trying to push out the front dent. The metal seems to all be there and it’s un-torn, so who knows what kind of result I could get. I figure it’s worth a try and then the car would be more saleable.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Blues

In another attempt to decry my credo, “Don’t Do It,” the lovely Loriann took pity on my car-less state and shooed me out into the cold Saturday air to finally get some car-stuff done. Sadly, it didn't work as I was thwarted at each turn.

First, with great anticipation, I swapped back in the recently re-rebuilt carburetors onto my ’68. These were the ones that bogged when I floored the throttle too quickly. I had high hopes given the reputable rebuilder went over them extensively. All I did was pull them out of the box and bolt them on the engine. After a few cranks of the engine to pump some gas in the bowls, the engine fired up. Even though the engine wasn’t warmed up, I couldn’t resist and gave the gas pedal a quick, three-quarters stab. Well, the problem is still there. Just to verify, I let the engine run until both chokes plates were fully open. Then I adjusted the idle to roughly 550 in Drive, synched the two sides using my length of clear tubing, popped the trans back into Neutral and did a blip or two. The bog was still there. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the right carb does not respond with a squirt of gas from the accelerator pump. That would explain the symptom. I put this in an e-mail to the rebuilder and he quickly responded that he was quite surprised since he “checked the pump shots before finishing them and both were working.” He offered to send me a replacement pump, or even swap these carbs for two stock ones. I’ve got at least one spare pump that I know works that I’ll try next.

At that point, Mikhaila joined me in the garage where we proceeded to finish prepping TwoTone’s engine for starting, and, hopefully, running. First, though, I had her take some photos of the painted floor so that when we try to sell the car and it's interior is full of parts, we'll have a record of how solid the floor is. We mounted the recently pulled carbs so we knew there would be gas in the bowls. We pulled the battery and spark plug leads from Glinda and installed them in TwoTone. Next, we marked the distributor’s exact location with the timing mark at 8 degrees BTDC. After pulling out the distributor, we primed the oiling system using the drill-mounted special shaft. With the distributor back in place, we excitedly put 12 volts to the coil and then she touched the purple wire to 12 volts to energize the solenoid, but nothing happened other than some sparks from the lead touching the battery terminal. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since the engine has sat for over thirty years, but I was still disappointed. I had Mikhaila help jack the car, rest it on a jackstand, and remove the left rear wheel before I sent her back in the house to warm up while I removed the starter. A test on the ground confirmed it was dead. I went to my milkcrate of starters and pulled out all four, but none of them worked either. After another half-hour of unsuccessfully swapping solenoids onto different starters, I gave up and called it a day. Yesterday, I drove to Vince’s house and borrowed a known, good starter/solenoid and will, hopefully, soon get the opportunity to put it on.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Luna to Get Some Lovin’

Last night Victoria was over at the house and I asked her if she could carve a couple hours out of her very busy schedule each week to work on her convertible with me. She, and I think I detected some enthusiasm, said, “yes, how about Saturday or Sunday?” Excellent! Let’s call this step one towards cancelling my “Don’t do it” credo.

Now, what task will we tackle first? As you can see in the sidebar, eleven options are available to us, but some are not feasible right now (install top, sand and paint) and some are not critical to make the car roadworthy (clock, bearings). That still leaves some jobs we can knock off before spring arrives, but what should we start with – what would properly kick off a series of weekend sessions? Well, at this point, the disappearing gas is the most annoying trait of this ‘vair, so I’m leaning towards tackling that issue.

My plan (I feel I type that a lot) is to put the car on jackstands so we can get underneath and go searching for visual clues of leaking fuel paying special attention to the tank and the rubber hoses. Note: since this project and some of the other ones on Luna’s list require getting her up off the concrete, I’m putting jackstands on my Harbor Freight shopping list so we can just leave her without leaving me stand-less. If we can’t find the leak visually, we’ll try audibly. I’ll stuff a rag in the fuel filler, disconnect the line at the pump and gently pressurize the system with air while Victoria can listen for a hiss. My hope is we find a cracked hose. If it’s the tank, I’ll get to find out how long the seller’s offer of “going through his stash of part to provide anything I need to get the car on the road.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Should I “Just Do It”?

The lovely Loriann recently wrote an article for our church’s newsletter titled Just Do It. In it she shared that the Nike slogan is her New Year’s resolution, and ended the missive with the encouragement for all of us to “Just Do It” a little more in our lives.

With the cold weather icing any impetus to go work on cars, I’m feeling rather frustrated with what has become my credo – “Don’t Do It”. Should I drag Mikhaila out to the garage to work on TwoTone? Nah, don’t do it. Should I finish prepping the front end to weld onto TwoTone? Nah, don’t do it. Should I disassemble the Powerglide that I’m planning on rebuilding? Nah, don’t do it. Should I install the stereo in Glinda that I bought months ago? Nah, don’t do it. You get the message.

So what am I to do to get out of this funk? Maybe changing some of our plans would put a new perspective on things. Hunting down and acquiring a TwoTone replacement is one change that is currently afoot. Giving up on Glinda’s PG swap and diving into the 4-speed conversion could be another change. Moving Luna into the garage extension and putting the LeMans into the portable garage so I can easily access and work on it is also a possibility.