The update: I’ve got a Carter AFB carburetor in two dozen pieces on the workbench downstairs. It’s waiting for the rebuild kit, which should be here later tonight. I want nothing more than to pull up a stool with a cold beer and start re-assembling it, but I have to focus tonight on studying for my welding test, which will be tomorrow at 5:30. Will I fail at life if I don’t pass this test? No, but I’d sure like to walk away with some new knowledge and the ability to MIG weld with a better idea of what I’m doing.
In the greenhouse, I’ve got three store-bought tomato plants in tubs which seem to be very happy; two are flowering and they’re all at least 3′ tall. I originally thought I’d buy more but we haven’t been to a garden center in weeks, so I’m going to re-pot one in its own tub and let them do their thing. In some ways being this busy all spring is a good thing, as I finished out last year’s planting season very discouraged by my yields. I don’t think I was cut out to be a farmer, but I do love having fresh tomatoes.
I’m just gonna leave this right here, because it’s exactly what I need this week:
I’m stopped at about the 8:00 minute mark on the first video, as there’s one bolt that just won’t let go. It’s soaking in PBblaster overnight, and if it doesn’t budge, I’ll bust out the torch and heat it up tomorrow after welding class. Stuff like this makes me glad I’m a Hagerty member, because these are excellent videos with just the right amount of detail.
First and foremost, Happy Anniversary, Jen. I love you.
We did not have any spectacular anniversary plans because we drove down to my Father-in-Law’s house to continue helping him sort his house out. We got a lot done in two days—not as visually impactful as previous weeks, but we’re making steady progress.
I drove the Scout down separately from the girls because I had it stuffed with tools and four new tires for the Chrysler. The first thing I did after we got settled was to jack up each corner and put new shoes on the old girl; she looks so much better sitting on fresh tires. When that was done I jacked up the front end, put a 1 1/4″ socket on the crankshaft, and gave it a tug with the breaker bar. It moved! Putting a socket wrench on it, I got one full revolution going both ways, which means it’s free!
Next I pulled a heat shield off the steering column so that I could get a smaller ratchet on the socket stuck on cylinder #7, all the way up front on the driver’s side. With some careful maneuvering I got the socket and the plug off, and dumped some Marvel Mystery Oil down that cylinder as well. Then I replaced all of the plugs with fresh ones and reconnected the old wires (new ones are on the way).
Then I pulled the alternator off, flipped the bracket around and re-mounted it; it fits much better but I need to find some bushings to help secure it in place (I’d guess the originals fell off when the old unit was pulled in 1980). When I’ve got those I can mount it up permanently and hook it back up to the electrical system.
Clean and rebuild the carburetor. I’ve got a kit coming with new gaskets, needles, floats, and hardware. I’ll douse the whole thing in brake cleaner and get it set up for surgery tomorrow.
Order plug wires, a rotor for the distributor, a new coil, and some fan belts.
Order a drum brake kit for the fronts—If I can get it to stop reasonably well when it’s running, I’ll drive it to a brake shop and have a pro go over the whole thing properly.
Read up on testing for spark, using a multimeter to test the coil, and diagnosing distributor issues.
Other than that, I did a lot of stuff around the house, like fixing his garage door, fixing a window, further organizing his garage, and hauling a load of stuff to the dump. It was unbearably hot this weekend, so I was covered in grime at the end of both days. But I had fun driving the Scout—even in heat, it is a ridiculously fun road trip vehicle—only having to pause under a Shell awning for an hour to let a thunderstorm pass by.
Welding class is beginning to wind down. We spent half last night’s class burning wire on MIG machines, practicing lines and tweaking settings. SO SATISFYING. Then we went back into the classroom and reviewed welding symbology for the final test next Thursday. I’m very interested in continuing lessons with MIG in particular—it’s the best of the methods for working on cars, and offers the most flexibility—but I just made a down payment for Invisalign to straighten my teeth, and I’d like to pay that off first before I do anything else.
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There are four shiny new Hankook tires mounted and balanced to the crusty Chrysler rims I brought home, waiting to be reinstalled on the car this weekend. When I got them back from the shop I sprayed the rims with Simple Green, let them soak while I took the top off the Scout, and then power washed everything. They look no better but at least they aren’t covered in PBBlaster and cat litter anymore.
Doing my research last night I searched locally for anyone else with a ’66 Chrysler and found a guy in Accokeek with a set of fender skirts for a ’66 Newport, which is the body style Bob’s 300 is based on. His car has one good and one rusty replacement fender skirt but the parts-hoarding part of my brain is screaming GO GET THEM as loudly as it can; I’m ignoring that voice until I know the car will run. The sheet metal on Chrysler products of that era changed year over year, and from the research I’ve done there were only 2,500 of these convertibles made which makes replacement parts more scarce than Scout parts.
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Meanwhile, in other Rare And Unusual Items news, we’ve got a date on the books to move the fridge I helped rescue from a basement in the Before Times. It’s looking like a Scout moving and wrenching day is on the books for Saturday, which includes hauling a friend’s roller Scout and tractor up to his girlfriend’s house, moving the fridge down to my place, and putting a windshield in Bennett’s truck. It should be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends.
Monday morning: I feel like I got hit by a truck. But we made a bunch of progress at the FiL’s house, and the Chrysler is one step closer to being on her own feet.
We began with more filing and organizing inside the house, and then I turned to the garage. First, I installed a fix for one of the rollers on the garage door, which had broken off at some point in time. At home, I cut down a plate of flat steel, bolted it the original plate, and greased the bearings. At Bob’s, I bolted the new assembly to the door. I put two nails in the ends of the tracks to keep the door from falling off when raised, and re-routed the spring wires to work the way they were installed—they’d fallen off the pulleys at some point, binding up the top roller, which led to it breaking off. With that done, I raised the door and assembled two wire shelves we’d bought for more storage out there. After moving a bunch of stuff out of the kitchen and organizing the shelves, I turned to the Chrysler.
All four tires are at least 40 years old, totally flat, and completely dry-rotted. I brought a quartet of new jack stands with us and started getting the car up on them starting with the front; in about a half an hour she was off the floor and ready for the next phase. I hit all the lug nuts with PB Blaster and moved to the spark plugs while they marinated.
The biggest concern I have right now is that the crank doesn’t turn. I don’t have a socket big enough to sit on the crank bolt—the interwebs tell me it’s titanic 1 1/4″ —but just putting a hand on the pulley wheel doesn’t budge it. That’s not a good sign. I don’t think I have a socket that big, so I’ll hit the Lowe’s this week and grab one.
Chrysler 440 plugs are apparently oriented almost horizontally compared to International’s design, something I wasn’t ready for; when I put an expandable funnel down the first hole and poured Marvel Mystery Oil in it, I promptly dribbled it all over the floor. I think I got each cylinder filled by tapping on the funnel, but I’m going to need an easier way to get the oil into the passages—probably a funnel mated to a hose. And due to Chrysler’s awesome engineering, one of my 9/16 long sockets is stranded on the #7 plug; they decided to route the steering wheel column directly behind it with about 2″ of clearance to spare, so I have no way to get the ratchet onto the socket without pulling a rusty heat shield off the column. It’s soaking in PB Blaster but I forsee a need to drill the bolts.
Moving back to the lug nuts, I got a bunch of them started and had Finn remove most of them. As they soaked they began to come loose, and one by one the wheels came off. The passenger side front was the most difficult; I had to bust out Bob’s plumbing torch and heat the nuts up in order to break them free. The passenger rear tire was frozen to the drum but all of the other wheels came off easily once the lug nuts released. Now I’ve got to find a local shop with a compatible tire in stock and get them mounted and balanced.
The carburetor is much simpler than my Thermoquad and came off easily—only three linkages and a couple of hoses. This car was built before smog laws went into effect so it’s blissfully simple compared to the truck. I’m going to soak the carb and get a rebuild kit ordered so we can have something useable to fire it off.
The new alternator is a carbon copy of the one I found in the trunk, but when I mounted it up I found that it sits way too close to the fuel filter and looks like it sits too low. I’ve got to find some good photos of an optimal installation and adjust it to fit better, then thread the belt back on. The connections on back are simple to understand. Once I have that sorted I have to move on to the cooling system, which is empty as far as I can tell.
By the end of the day, my back was singing Ave Maria and my stomach was grumbling loudly; we packed things up and got on the road at about 7. There’s plenty more non-car related stuff to tackle, but I’m looking forward to putting shoes on this yacht and setting her back down on the ground.
So plans have changed a bit and we’re headed back down to Lexington Park for more work at my Father in law’s. In looking at the Chrysler in the garage I’ve been putting together a plan to resurrect it, carefully, without blowing up the motor. Here’s a rough outline of the approach:
Turn the crank pulley and see if the engine turns. If not—and in any case—on to step 2:
Pull the spark plugs and pour Marvel Mystery Oil down the cylinders. I was able to get my spare 345 in the garage freed up and moving again with this technique, and I hope to god the Chrysler block isn’t frozen solid.
Pull the carburetor off the engine, cover the inlet, and bring it home for soaking and a rebuild. Well, I’ve actually got several options here—
I can rebuild it as best as I can to get things moving.
I can buy a rebuilt Carter AFB (the stock carb) from an online vendor and swap it onto the engine.
…At this point a rebuild is the cheapest option and I don’t need to have it run perfectly, just enough to get onto a trailer or move under its own power.
Jack it up and put it on stands so we can pull the wheels off and have new tires put on. All four tires are completely shot, so this is mandatory. Plus then we can sweep underneath and see what’s going on with the exhaust and frame. One thing to remember: The driver side has left-hand threads and the passenger side has right-hand threads.
Install the alternator. We found the original alternator in the trunk, removed at some previous time, and I have no idea what’s wrong with it. A $40 replacement from Rock Auto is packed and ready to put in.
Drain and replace the oil. God only knows what’s in it, and it’s a quart overfull anyway. So that’ll come out and be refreshed.
Test the ignition system for spark. I have no idea what condition the coil or points are in, so I’ll bring a spare set of plug wires from the Scout down in case one or more are garbage.
I put the pod on the roof of the CR-V this morning so that we can throw the useless tires up there and bring them back up here; I’ll order four new tires and have them mounted and balanced locally, then bring them back down and put them back on. I’m going to try and get through as much of the list as I can—I’ll probably only get up to #4 before we run out of time.
Now you will become adrift in the zone known to early Porsche owners as “Neverland” and your quest will be to find second gear. Prepare yourself for a ten-second-or-so adventure. Do not go straight forward with the shift knob, as you will only find Reverse waiting there to mock you with a shriek of high-speed gear teeth machining themselves into round cylinders. Should you hear this noise, retreat immediately to the only easy spot to find in this transmission: neutral.
So much of this resonates with me, and this transmission section in particular, given the large amount of Volkswagen engineering present in the 914: the entire section on the transmission could very well have been written for any variant of air-cooled VW buses.
I don’t know that I’m currently in the market for a $40K vehicle anytime soon, but this review of the base-spec Ford Bronco really has my curiosity piqued. a 4-cylinder turbo with a 6-speed manual and basic car functionality sounds very nice. I could get used to a modern 4-door Scout-type vehicle.
Jalopnik, a car blog from back in Ye Olden Days, is basically a dried up husk of what it used to be in its prime. But there are a few shining gems left if you know where to look: Last year David Tracy, who has been a correspondent there for years, went on a quixotic trip to revive a Jeep FC-170 in the Pacific Northwest, where it had been abandoned for decades. We’ve been waiting for the writeup ever since; he posted the whole story today. Seeing what he went through to get it running, and where he took it after that, is inspiring to say the very least. More of this, please.
This video totally brings me back; Dad owned a repo agency at the same time this video was produced, so a lot of this stuff is very familiar—”Japanese cars are the easiest to break into” made me nod my head without thinking about it. I remember figuring out how to slim jim a domestic car (24:03) in one afternoon; I’m mechanically inclined but cars were engineered so simply in those days it wasn’t really that hard. He shows a special tool for busting into the Ford Fairmont (12:13); I just made them with coat hangers. The part where he busts into the garage made me laugh; I wonder if this guy got sued or prosecuted for making this.
I was down in DC three weeks ago for a work thing, and because I had to hump a bunch of video gear from the office to my old CEO’s house as well as meet up with a bunch of folks for lunch, I drove the Accord. We were eating at a restaurant I’d never been to before, so Siri took me in and dropped me at an empty parking spot right out in front of the place. I went in, lunch was had, and we left two hours and five minutes later—just enough expired time for the Accord to collect a $50 ticket. The ink was still warm when I pulled it from the wiper blade. Last week I went online to pay it, grumbling, and found a cryptic message that said I owed $0. Puzzled, I waited for the official paperwork to arrive. Yesterday I got two (?!?) letters from the DC government that confirmed things: the officer hadn’t turned in his paperwork on time, so by law I owed nothing. That was a nice gift.
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We got the CR-V back from the body shop yesterday, looking like a half-brand-new vehicle. The list of stuff they replaced was long, but the visible stuff included a new bumper, bumper surround, front fender, and weatherstripping; the rear hatch opens and closes again, and the spare tire hangs straight. It’s good to have our old girl on the road again, even with 150K on the clock, and I hope we can keep her going for another 50. Now I need to bust out the buffer to shine up the sheet metal that wasn’t sanded and repainted so that it matches correctly.
Look at what popped up on Barnfinds.com this morning: a 1966 Chrysler 300 convertible the same color as Bob’s. From what the commentariat says, it’s in rough shape (it’s in Louisiana) and probably worth nothing more than parts. This one is red over white with a white top, and features a 383 with air conditioning. I’d prefer having A/C, but the white upholstery and top look pretty lousy to me.
So my MotorTrend Online subscription lapsed about a year ago, and I’ve held off on renewing it for reasons I can’t really explain. Dirt Every Day was always one of my favored shows on that channel: two guys cutting and welding and building crazy vehicles to take on crazy adventures. Turns out they’ve ended the show—no idea if they’ve cancelled it or if the hosts have hung up the towel. There are some other shows on the channel I like—it’s the best place to see the old episodes of Top Gear, but I’ll have to reassess whether or not I’ll renew it now.
I’ve run across this site in the past, and meant to link to it: Rambler Lore is a collection of information about Nash/AMC Ramblers and the upkeep of a small fleet of them; the author has driven them for 20+ years and does all his own mechanical/engineerig/fabrication. This is the kind of thing I’d love to be able to retire and do with my free time.
File this one under Direct-To-My-Pleasure-Center: a guy produced a 25-minute video about the AMC Pacer for his senior college project, and it was received very well. He decided to expand that out into a documentary about American Motors Corporation, and started the research and production several years ago. He’s self-financing but has an agreement with Maryland Public Television to distribute it. There’s a GoFundMe set up to help with the costs; I threw $50 at it this morning.