Monday, January 4, 2016

Two Steps Forward; Blah, Blah, Blah

Yeah, I like making strides forward, but I abhor going backwards. That, however, is how the last couple days have been.

Yesterday, Mikhaila and I spent an hour or so in the garage adjusting Scarlett’s valve lash. With the low compression ratio in cylinder number two, I was hoping maladjusted valves would be the cause. We started by lowering the front end off the jackstands and onto wheels for the first time in quite a while. We then put a wheel on the right rear and lowered it to the ground. Up went the left side as high as the heavy-duty jackstand and jack would put it. Mikhaila wielded the wrenches while I directed the removal of the valve cover and the checking of the valve lash. All valves seemed to be too loose (meaning probably not the cause of low compression). We got them up to spec and then repeated the same procedure to cylinders one, three, and five. We were going to move on and begin bolting shrouds back onto the engine (being the optimist that I am), but that was stymied by the fact that I’d forgotten we hadn’t yet riveted the rubber seals to the side shrouds, or the front shroud for that matter. With the hour heading towards nine PM, we decided to turn out the lights and heaters and head into the house.

On to Ringo’s and his frustratives (see sidebar).

About a week ago, I went out to the driveway to tackle two issues. First, the maddening driver’s door. It took a few minutes to remove the fresh air grill and carpet from the left front footwell exposing the door-hinge bolt heads. I loosened all six of them, but not so much as to let the door move. A rubber mallet provided the impetus to adjust the door in its opening. I was trying to bump the lower hinge slightly forward, but all I accomplished was knocking loose some rust from the bottom rear corner of the door. With each hinge bolts a turn looser I was able to get the door moved where I wanted it. I screwed the latch plate back into place and now the door closes without slamming. We’ll see how long that lasts. Out came the power grinder with a wire brush on to clean up the rust mess I’d just made. After getting rid of all the loose stuff, I liberally applied a coat of POR-15 to stem the rusty tide.

On to the second issue – no choke on the left carburetor. I backed Ringo’s rear up onto the ramps and, after exhaustively (pun intended) trying to get the coil and rod out, I ended up having to lower the left exhaust manifold to provide passage. A spare head gave up a new rod and the stash gave up a set of three GNP exhaust donuts. A few minutes later, the engine was running and I was listening to make sure the exhaust was leak-less. With that confirmed I reinstalled the dangling lower shroud, rolled the car off the ramps, put away the tools, and called it a day.

Now, jump to this morning – the first time I’ve driven Ringo in a week and a half. While his engine started right up and settled into a proper idle, pulling on to the beltway a few minutes later seemed to require more effort than usual. As we neared the end of my ten mile commute, the engine started stumbling, and as I made my last turn into the parking lot a steady stream of backfiring ensued. I dropped the transmission into Low and matted the gas pedal to ensure I’d make it into a parking spot. That maneuver was rewarded with a very loud backfire, but I did barely make it into a spot. As soon as I braked to a stop, the engine died. I got out and surveyed the damage – yep the entire seam of the muffler had been blown out. I quickly pulled the tops off the two air cleaners to see the state of fuel. The right side seemed okay, but the left side seemed to have two problems. One, the throat had a cloud of gas in it (stuck needle and seat perhaps – running rich = exhaust backfiring), and two, I couldn’t see a shot of gas when I blipped the throttle. Good thing the towing equipment’s in the bed of the truck.

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