This car actually belongs to Jon Class, a good friend of mine. It's a nasty, ugly, greasy 4-door grocery getter with the indestructible Dodge 225 "Slant 6" engine. It's the perfect first car to tinker with and learn about cars - the engine is about as durable as they come - even if the !@#$%^ cylinder numbering is straight out of hell... (Who else on God's green earth would put cylinder #1 at the back of the engine?!?!???) The body is worthless so you don't care too much what happens to it - unless you're Jon and have way to much cash invested in buying this fine example of Mother Mopar's rolling iron... :-) *
I've created a tech page for holding all of the Slant Six Tune-Up Info we've gathered. Go see that page for all the gory details, including a Word doc file how to do slant six tune-ups that was used to give the Valiant here it's first one.
Jon purchased and installed a new Petronix Ignitor kit and was in the process of installing a Blaster coil and MSD box when the car made it's way to my house. (Apartment complexes tend to get grumpy about immobile old cars, so I offered the usage of my side driveway... Little did I know it would be for 4+ years. :-) We did find out that the Blaster coil does not play nice with the Ignitor kit unless you have an MSD box in the system. The Blaster coil apparently does not have enough resistance (even with the factory ignition resistor still installed) to make the Ignitor system work properly. This was very non-obvious from the docs, so beware of this. The car will run in this situation, but it will run like crap. Swapping back to the points coil made a huge difference. Go figure. Do what works. Credit Jon with coming up with this one - I would have never thought that the "performance" coil would have made the car barely run...
What Was - and Hints of What Was to Come
The pictures here are of various things we've been working on to get the car running better. Nothing special, or in any particular order. The wiring diagrams are included since we're working on getting an MSD box installed in the car, and on fixing some wiring butchered by a previous owner who clearly wasn't very wise in the ways of electricity.
These pictures are of Jon's new toy(s). We'll be installing this pretty soon. Mmmm, good!
Before you email me to ask where we got the intake, it was from Chris at ProLineFuel, but since Jon bought his intake, it appears they have closed up shop. Their website at http://www.prolinefuel.com closed down and has since been taken over by a simple "links to other sites" website. Bummer. All of the parts are available, but you'll have to scrounge them up yourself.
I decided to shuffle some of the cars at my place around a bit so the "active" projects cars would be in front of the garage and I could work on them more easily. So, Jon's Valiant is now over by the garage. Check out all the cheesy stickers on the back window. I'm gonna go scrape 'em all off one of these days if he's not careful. :-)
Basic Improvements and Cleanup
We've done more work on the car (during which Jon finally removed those nasty stickers) and the car is nearly ready to fire back up again. We de-grunged the engine and engine compartment with my pressure washer, too bad we forgot to clean the driveway afterwards - you can see some of the presents Jon's car left on my nice new driveway. Anyways, Jon scored a brand-new head from some guy who advertised it in the local Buy and Sell that we swapped on (the old one was in need of a rebuild, this was cheaper and better), and we finished wiring stuff up for the MSD box - we even put split loom wiring covering over all of the harness sections in the engine compartment. Much nicer looking than loose wires, and much easier to work on than a taped up harness. What's next? Well, the thermostat housing isn't seated right; the thermostat probably slipped while we were installing it - Ford and Mopar love to put the thermostat vertical, and it's just A Bad Idea™. I filled it up with water to pressure test the system and as soon as it got high enough to fill the housing area, it all just ran out as fast as I could pour it in. Oops. Oh well. Gotta fix that, put the rest of the nuts on the intake/exhaust and get the valve cover painted properly. We'll just use this valve cover to start the engine and see how stuff is working; the spare one will get cleaned, painted, and installed later on. Hopefully we can re-use the gasket; we'll see.
After fighting with the intake and having to figure out what washers go where, Jon decided to scan in the relevant picture from the '68 manual he had lying around and post it here for all to see.
We did get the engine assembled and running again, and even managed to get the valves adjusted reasonably well and the car tuned pretty decently. The timing is probably completely off in space, but that's mostly due to the lack of a timing tab to use to set the timing with... More stupid Mother Mopar tricks.... *sigh*
We saw a Super Six setup out at Black Diamond Auto Wrecking on 7/20/2002. It's long gone because that particular junkyard is no more, but I'm leaving the pictures here to document what one looks like.
While we were out there, we saw another dash setup that could be used on the Valiant and took a few pictures of it for fun.
We found a neat way to clean and de-rust parts using Electrolysis. Check out my page on using Electrolysis to clean parts - it has some good shots of the valve cover we're cleaning up as well as the tank and other stuff we used to do the cleaning. The final shots of it painted black and ready to install are below. Not bad for the limited amount of work and elbow grease that was put into it!
Below is the trailer that I borrowed to go help Jon get a parts car for his Valiant. We took pictures of the parts car on the trailer, and as we dismembered it we were sure to capture the fun. We ended up striping the car of all possibly usable parts and carving the remaining hulk into bits small enough to transport to the recycling place in the back of my Suburban. It was fun to carve the car into nothingness with a Sawzall after stripping it of all parts, and we got plenty of photos to document the deed. Note that the section devoted to the parts car that was originally here got too big for this page, so I moved it to it's own dedicated page.
Brake and Suspension Upgrades
We've started upgrading the suspension and brakes - first was the main disassembly work. There is still more to do so we can get everything out and all of the little bushings replaced and all of the parts cleaned so they can be re-installed nice and clean. We also found the brake leak that caused us to have to get started on this now - the left rear wheel cylinder was toast and leaking badly. All of the painted surfaces on the brake shoes and hardware had the paint bubbling off! On the other hand, the brakes apparently had a recent brake job done on them before Jon bought the car. Other than the one bum wheel cylinder, things appeared to be in serviceable/usable shape. We've collected enough details on this swap to create a tech page out of it - be sure to read up on all of the details.
After a very long hiatus (think 6+ months), we finally decided to get around to putting the car back together - what a concept! I also bought some special tools to enable us to work on the front end - the ball joints and the upper control arm bushings are a bear to remove and install without the right tools. (Good thing I found the tools cheap. Bad thing I had already bought some of them through Snap-On at 3 times the price I should have paid. Oh well.) After using my newly bought tools to remove the upper ball joint and press out the bushings, the upper control arms were completely bare and ready for final cleaning, paint, and (gasp!) re-assembly. Yay.
Cleaning and Painting
Stuff was not only cleaned - it was been painted and bolted back onto the car. Assembly seems easy - just follow all the nice neat little diagrams and simple instructions, right? If you believe that, you must be new to this sort of thing. Nothing ever goes right, and you always miss some key step and end up taking stuff apart, doing the missing step, and then putting stuff back together again. Welcome to life. Occasionally, you get a bright idea and life gets easier. Jon had just such an epiphany while we put his torsion bars back in - check out the tech article on Installing Balloon Seals that resulted from his "ah-hah!" moment. It seems pretty obvious in hind-sight, but hey, I didn't think of it while I was under the car calling the balloon seals entertaining names, so maybe it's not so obvious after all.
Also, beware of the lower control arms sliding off of their mounting point. The polygraphite bushings we used are naturally slippery and were a hand-fit into the lower control arm. In the final scheme of things this isn't a problem - the lower control arm is sandwiched onto it's mount/bushing by the torsion bar, so it can't go very far. But, to get the torsion bar installed you need to have the lower control arm all the way onto it's mount/bushing. Easy, right? Sort of - except for two things. This style of arm uses a strut rod and the lower control arm must be rotated pretty far down to get the hex shaped cavity on the control arm to align with the hex end of the torsion bar. Why is that an issue? As the control arm rotates down, the distance from the strut rod mount to the end of the control arm become shorter. If the strut rod is already mounted (as our was), rotating the lower control arm down causes the control arm assembly to move in such a way that it tends to move rearward and start to come off it's mount/bushing. (It sounds and looks really odd at first, but if you look at it long enough, the physics do actually make sense.) It can't fall off, but it can make installing the torsion bar a knuckle busting, "new language learning" experience. The solution? Two-fold. One, use a clamp to hold the control arm as close to the proper mounting position as possible by clamping it to the K-member. Two, remove the adjuster bolt (along with it's associated mounting block) from the lower control arm and rotate the hex opening in the control arm down to where it would be if the arm was rotated down lower.
Mandatory rant... Most GM's use a much better design for the lower control arm - both better in terms of ease of working on it, but also better it terms of how it performs. Ford uses a similar crappy system to this Mopar setup on many cars - including the famous "Mustang II" front ends that the hot-rod crowd loves so much. (To be fair, I'm not sure who the "Let's be like stupid" award goes too since I have no idea who started it first.) This is strictly a cost saving measure - it's cheaper to build the strut rod setup, and it's not enough to matter to most drivers of "lower end" vehicles.
The GM lower control arms have two mounting points, much like the upper control arms do. This is better because end of the arm moves in an arc perpendicular to it's mounting points on the car - just like you'd expect it to. It goes up and down and as it does so, it moves in and out in relation to the centerline of the car. The strut rod arrangement causes the end of the arm to have two competing centers of rotation - and the net result is that as the arm moves up and down it will still move in and out due to the inner mount, but it will also move fore and aft due to the strut rod. For the triple whammy, for the Mustang II setups, the hot rod crowd sells conversion kits (known as tubular control arms) to eliminate the strut rod (by adding a second mount point to the lower control arm) and strengthen the arms themselves (if they flex under load, your handling suffers). Mopar get no such love from the aftermarket, though a clever metal fabrication person could make the arms and build the mount points - the K-member could easily accept the needed pieces, possibly without any modifications. Oh well. Back to busting my knuckles and scratching the freshly painted lower control arm getting it installed...
Ranting aside, it all came together at long last. It looks like it has a front suspension again, and stuff is just in need of a final tightening and greasing to move ahead - it's all finger tight and none of the cotter pins are installed yet. That and Jon needs to go buy the foam seals that go behind the splash shield along with new rotors, calipers, and flex hoses. After that we can move on to brake lines, the master cylinder, and the other fun stuff like bleeding the entire brake system to finish this up. Maybe before 2004? *sigh*
Brakes, brakes, and more brakes
After some more time doing nothing for no good reason, we finally got the calipers and pads mounted and started working on the master cylinder setup. Jon finally made up his mind and decided to go with a non-power assisted master cylinder. I think he's nuts; the other Mopar lovers he chats with says it'll be just fine. All I can say is that I live on a big hill, so the cars first trip off the hill will reveal if he is, in fact, nuts. :-) Note that two pics with the off-white firewall are the "reference pictures" of the factory master cylinder setup in Jon's 1963 Dart. Yeah, we need to shoot some more pics of this to keep track of it all.
For the brake hard lines, we used all of the ones from the 1976 Duster so we did didn't have to make up any new lines and to minimize the number of connections. There are minor differences between the two bodies - the Duster has a wheelbase that is about 6" longer and the shape of the inner fenderwell around the clutch linkage, proportioning valve, and master cylinder is a bit different. Because of that, we had to do some careful tweaking on the prop valve to rear axle and prop valve to right front brake hard lines to make everything fit properly, and Jon did a stellar job of making the lines look like they factory meant them to be there. We also had to drill out the hole that goes through the "frame" near the driver's side torsion bar mount to allow the larger nut on the rear line to slide through the existing hole. The proportioning valve itself mounted to an existing hole in the frame that was further forward than the mounting hole used by the original distribution block - my guess is this was used for disc brake optioned cars because it worked perfectly and only minor tweaking to the master cylinder to proportioning valve lines was required.
The flex line in the rear was a stock 1976 Duster piece. The flex lines in the front ended up being aftermarket braided stainless steel lines from Russell with an adaptors supplied by Russell to hook up the hard line and a special banjo bolt adaptor to hook up to the calipers. The custom lines were needed because we opted to mount the calipers to the rear for future sway bar clearance, and none of the factory lines would fit. We tried the Volarie lines, but they were the same as the original Duster lines - either the brake hose supplier in our area has their catalog messed up, or the Volarie line are no longer made. We gave up hunting and used the custom lines - they were more expensive, but they worked and they look a lot cooler. The brakes will probably be firmer too. Anyways, it worked out best to use 15" lines with a 90 degree bend in them at one end. We mounted them so the end with the 90 degree bend was hooked up to the caliper and the brake lines went towards the rear and down along the caliper and tightly as possibly, then they looped back up to the original hard line mount.
We had to grind clearance for the calipers on the rear top edges of the lower control arms just outboard of the shock mount - at full lock the calipers hit the control arms hard, and that's bad. It caused the caliper to move along it's slides as if the brakes were being hit and that forced the inside pad into the rotor. The result while driving would have been the inside front tire suddenly locking up when you turned the wheel too hard - a very unexpected, scary, and potentially dangerous thing to happen while driving. So, we had some fun with the grinder and fixed it by grinding a relief in the lower control arm so the caliper would clear at full lock - you can see the relief we ground out in the photos below. The section does not appear to be needed for strength - it's just up near the shock mount and not down near the ball joint - so I felt comfortable doing this small modification.
Driveshaft and Warning Light
Jon took the driveshaft to go get it shortened - the new 8 1/4" rear has a much larger center section than the original 7 1/4" rear so we needed to take the size difference out of the driveshaft so it will work with the 8 1/4" rear axle we put in the car. Drivelines NW in Seattle does nice work - the driveshaft was nice and pretty when we got it back and bolted in without too much trauma - once we drilled out the bolt that Jon broke off in the pinion yolk in the rear axle and replaced it. Once again, we neglected to take pictures of stuff before we installed it.
I put in a small warning light for the proportioning valve so that if stuff fails, we'll know - hopefully before it's too late. I had previously re-done some of the wiring and while I had the harness out of the car, I added some wiring hookups for later gauge additions, and one of them was exactly what I needed for this bit of wiring. If you look at the diagram for the instrument panel way, way, way back at the top of the page, what I did was splice in a wire and connector to G-5 right near the ignition switch. This is on the same circuit as J-2 - the power to the coil and is the only circuit that is hot in "run" and "start" but not "acc" which is what you want for many of these circuits. (For reference, Q-2 is hot in "run" and "acc", and S-2 and J-3 are hot only in "start".) Since this connection is un-fused (the power to the ignition switch comes right off the main slice on the car side of the ammeter), I added a small in-line fuse holder, then a double-connector so we can add other gauges and whatever later on. So, that explained, I ran a new wire from the in-line fuse holder to a small red indicator light, then from the other side of the light I connected a wire that ran out through the firewall and connected to the wire that plugged into the proportioning valve. If the front or rear of the brakes fail, then the wire inside the proportioning valve connects to ground, and the light goes on. When the brakes are repaired, the first time you step on the brakes, it will disconnect the wire inside the proportioning valve and the light will go off. Simple, easy, effective. Also, I added an extra wire on the ground wire of the light, but left it coiled up and taped off under the dash. At a later date, I can add a small self-grounding switch (the same kind that you usually see in the door jambs that control the courtesy light) to the parking brake mechanism and the brake light will then warn the driver about both - just like a later model car would. Lastly, I didn't want to drill holes in the dash for this - the car is far from done and we may decide to physically mount the warning light differently later on. So, I made a small panel out of a piece of scrap aluminum and mounted it where the ashtray used to be using the existing hole at the top of the ashtray area. This gives us room for another few small switches or lights if needed and is reasonably nice looking. I could paint it blue to match the dash if I really wanted, but I'm not that concerned for now.
One fun part was that the parking brake cables on the 8 1/4" rear were too long to work on this car. Compared to the stock parking brake cables on the 7 1/4" rear, the the lines on the 8 1/4" rear had an extra 6" or so of line after coming out of the cable housing where it clips into the frame on each side. The result was that it was impossible to adjust all of the slack out of the parking brake cable - with 6 extra inches on each side, that made for a full extra foot that needed to be accounted for. I suspect this is because the later model cars had about a 6" longer wheelbase, and this is where the factory opted to put the extra parking brake cable length at. Anyways, the fix here was to swap the parking brake cables from the 7 1/4" rear onto the 8 1/4" rear, which was not a fun task. I had to remove all of the brake stuff from both rears, remove the parking brake cables from the backing plates, re-install the proper parking brake cables in the 8 1/4" rear, and re-assembly the brake shoes, springs and other assorted hardware. For added insult, it decided to start raining once I got everything torn apart. The good news is that I found a handy tech tip for removing the parking brake cables form the backing plates that came in real handy here. Normally it's almost impossible to do - there are 3 or 4 little spring "fingers" that stick out on each side of the cable where it comes through the backing plate that prevent it from pulling out. All of them must be compressed at the same time before the cable will slide back out of the housing. Remember that these clips are inside the drum, and are thus subjected to all of the nasty grim and goo that ends up inside the drum on an older car. Yay. Lisle makes a tool (which I own) that is supposed to make this easy, but it wouldn't slide over the clips on these units for reasons I could not figure out. How did I get them out? By slipping a small worm gear clamp - the kind used on fuel lines and radiator hoses - over the clip and tightening it. The clips get compressed all at once, and the cable can be slid out of the backing plates. It took a bit of fussing about to get the clamps tightened in the right places to make it work, but it was surprisingly easy once you figured out the first one. Installing the cables was a simple "push in until they click into place" operation, though there is always some rust/dirt/crud in the way that requires some extra force to be applied. Annoying, but simple to do. The result was cables of the right length on the 8 1/4" rear. Of course, after I got them installed, I found out that they cables were nearly frozen from sitting outside for a few years, so I need to mess about with some penetrating oil now and free them up. *sigh* It's always something...
We got enough stuff done, removed it from the jack stands and took it on the inaugural test drive up and down the block at about 7pm on 12/20/20004. Still a few odds and ends to handle before it's done and fully roadworthy, but it is once again on the ground, capable of moving under it's own power, and the brakes actually work pretty decently. The pedal feels a bit soft for both my taste and Jon's taste, but that could be inherent to the brake system we created. It doesn't feel spongy like it has air in it, the pedal just needs too much travel before it puts pressure on the brake pads - either the pedal needs less leverage, or the master cylinder bore is a touch too small. Either way, it works acceptably.
We finally managed to find time to put it on the trailer, drag it to the local Les Schwab and have some tires put on it and an alignment done. Jon needed at least one new rim, and all they had were the cheap-o-rama '70s style white steel rims you see below. (They say "cheesy 70's van with shag carpet" quite loudly if you ask me.) We needed a matched set on one end of the car, so Jon bought two, averted his eyes and had them put on the car. At least it's going to roll straight and on good rubber now. Jon can put some sexier tires and wheels on it sometime later.
Speaking of wheels and tires, one of Jon's friends put 16 x 7 Centerlines on his 1966 Dart and they look pretty decent. He used a set of 225/50R16 Dunlop tires and uses 4" of backspacing, though he says he really should have gone with 4.5" of backspacing.
Jon even managed to find time to go get it re-titled in WA and registered. It's actually legal to drive if he insures it or someone like me with "broad form" insurance is driving it. For those not in the know or in a state that doesn't support this, a "board from" is when you insure yourself for liability, not the vehicle. That means I'm insured no matter what I'm driving - very handy and much cheaper than insuring per car when you have a fleet of 5+ beaters you only want liability insurance on.
The biggest issue it has now is that it runs like crap. The gas in the tank was something like 8 years old by now - it predated the car being drug to my house! So, it's basically turned into varnish and done a nice job of gumming up those pretty Webber carbs Jon installed years ago. We pumped the tank as dry as possible and while we had it on the trailer we filled up with a fresh tank and dumped in a large can of carb and fuel system cleaner. Check out the picture below for the disgusting dark orange color of the gas we pumped out of the tank - I put some in a jar and put it next to something white for comparison purposes. For those who have never looked at gas before, I'll give you a big hint - that's not the color good/fresh/combustible gas is supposed to be. We got about 5 gallons out of the tank and it'll burn in my lawn mower well enough to cut the grass, so I'll dispose of it in a useful fashion. Jon is running the new gas through the car by running the engine for a bit at a time in the driveway - I hear he's about 1/4 tank through it already and the car is running noticeable better already. We really need to put a clear fuel filter on it to keep tabs on the crap coming in from the fuel tank. I'm guessing the carbs will need to come apart and get cleaned/rebuilt eventually, but I'm hoping we can get it to idle acceptably well without going to all that hassle. I'm also not real keen on rebuilding a pair of Webber carbs - I don't think my carb rebuilding skills aren't quite that good yet and I'd really hate to booger them up.
I lied - it now has a bigger issue. It's stuck in second gear. It moves fine, but we can't get it out of gear. The linkage is fine; the trans itself is jammed in gear and won't let go. The good news is that we drug the car to Jon's house for the trans yanking/repair/replacement operations because I had wisely and quickly reclaimed the long-occupied spot the Valiant used to take up in my driveway and I had no space to jack it up. I heard Jon actually cleaned the car (at least the outside) while it's at his house. The basic plan is to drop the trans and unless it's blindingly obvious that it's an external problem we can't see from up top (not likely), Jon will snag a junkyard trans to replace the fragged one with and we'll stuff that in the car.
Step on It!
Remember that nifty looking dual carb setup way, way, way back up on this page? It on the car, looks really trick, runs really good - and has one very serious problem. It has no pre-canned way to hook it up to the factory gas pedal. Ah, the joys of custom carburetion! There isn't even a throttle cable mounting bracket on the engine; we'll need to fabricate one ourselves - most likely from scratch. The only good news here is that the dual carbs are already hooked to each other with the right linkage - all we need to do is get the single throttle attaching point on the forward carb hooked up to a gas pedal inside the car so it all works right. Who would have though 24 inches could be such a long way to travel?
The original setup used a funky mechanical rod and linkage system, and the new carb setup will in no way work with that - the throttle linkage now rotates 90 degrees off from the original carb. Our original attempt to fix this involved trying to swap on a later-model A-body gas pedal setup that uses a cable to hook up to the carb instead of the solid rod, but it doesn't really fit the firewall right and places the pedal in a funky position inside the car unless you do some firewall surgery to make it all work right. So much for the "easy" fix.
I originally had all the details right here, but it turned into a pretty detailed bit of engineering, and the first major project for my new Metal Shop, so I moved all of the throttle linkage details to their own page. It's an intriguing project (at least I think so) and has a good amount of detail so someone else should be able to 1) reproduce it with the same tools I have and 2) use it as a good study in how to go about solving the inevitable "I need a custom widget for this situation" types of problems that you run into when doing custom work. The next step beyond being able to simply "bolt stuff together" is to begin making small custom parts that solve problems and/or are better/nicer than what you can find. This is a great first project for someone at that stage in their mechanical skills.
Clutch Pedal Oddness
When we started getting ready to drive the car again, it had developed an odd problem that neither of us recalled having been there before we started the brake and suspension work many many many months previously. The clutch pedal would not return to the top of it's travel on it's own. It stopped about an inch or two down, but would snap back to the top of it's travel if you pulled it up with your foot. Most perplexing, especially when combined with the lack of details in the factory manuals.
Fortunately, the fix turned out to be simple - this is what happens to an older style clutch arrangement when the clutch linkage is out of adjustment and it has too much free play in it. Adjust the free play to be reasonably within factory specs, and the pedal will again work as designed and return to the top of it's travel on it's own. While I was figuring this out, I had pulled all of the clutch linkage apart to make sure nothing was bent, sticking, or otherwise not happy. It was fine, but since I had it completely out of the car, I took the "gee I should do this since I'm in here" step of cleaning and lubricating every one of the friction points in the linkage. Both ends of the Z-bar where it mounts on little pivot balls, both clutch pedal to Z-bar linkage hookup points, and the Z-bar to clutch arm linkage hookup points. Simple, but the linkage is greased up and ready for lots more trouble-free shifting miles now.
Understanding why this happens is a bit tricky, but interesting. There is a spring on the clutch pedal, but it is designed more to pull the pedal down (add extra force to the clutch pedal) once you get the clutch part way engaged. This makes it easier for the driver to hold the clutch pedal down while sitting at a light, for example. It also provides a small amount of effort to pull the clutch pedal back to the top of it's travel, but only at the very upper reaches of the pedal travel. The middle of the pedal travel is not assisted by the spring in either direction, so if the clutch linkage is adjusted so that the clutch engagement point is in this "dead zone" in the clutch pedal spring's pull, the pedal will tend to stay in that dead zone until you pull it up on it's own or push it back down. The clutch itself will force the throwout bearing (and thus all of the attached linkage) out to a certain point, but once it's done, it's done. If the pedal spring is not yet pulling the pedal up at that point, nothing happens and the clutch pedal seems to "stick" part of the way down and really freaks out the driver the first time it happens. Adjust the clutch free play - which takes all of about 10 minutes once you know how to do it - and you're done.
As a side note, if you have switched clutches to certain non-stock types, some folks say that the overcenter spring isn't actually needed and may cause a "vague" feeling in the clutch pedal. Google for "remove clutch overcenter spring" to find out more about this. I'm not recommending it one way or the other, just pointing out something I learned while searching for a solution to the clutch pedal problems I was facing.
Gauging the State of Affairs
Anyone who knows me knows I love lots of gauges in my cars. I want to keep tabs on just about everything that's happening with the car and how it's running. Once you get into the habit of paying attention to what the gauges are telling you, you feel very much in the dark when driving a car without gauges. Even simple questions like "how good is the oil pressure when the engine is hot?" or "is my alternator putting out enough voltage?" can't be answered while you're driving. Since this car had sat so long since last being driven, had some interesting problems before it was taken off the road, and we had done quite a bit to it to (hopefully) improve things, I recommended a basic set of aftermarket gauges to Jon. The factory dash came with a speedometer, fuel, water temperature, and amp gauge built in so that was a start. We added a tach on the column, and a group of three gauges hanging under the dash in a custom mount - vacuum, oil pressure, and volts. I even made sure to order an oil pressure sender with a warning light contact built in so the original "oil" light in the dash still works.
The tach is obvious and important for tuning and learning about Jon's new dual-carb setup. The vacuum gauge tells quite a lot about how the car is running at any given time once you know how to read it. Oil pressure tells us a good bit about the state of the motor, very important to track when hot - even though most slant 6 engines don't have oiling problems, it's cheap insurance to know how things are doing. A volt gauge tells us a lot more about what's going on with the electrical system than the factory amp gauge - I already know that we only have 13V inside the car while it's running, not the 14V I was expecting. Could be problems with the replacement alternator, could be a bad ground. But, already I have something to go check out.
I still need to do some final work on the under-dash gauge panel and paint it, but it's all there and looks OK for now. It's just far too cold out in January to have any hope of the paint sticking to it, so I'm not going to bother cleaning it up and trying to paint it until it's a bit warmer out. It's easy enough to remove from the car when the time comes. It's inside the car and not exposed to the elements too badly, so it should be fine.
Stuff To Do
The proverbial to-do lists. We add stuff so we don't forget to do it. We take stuff off when we get it done, and do a little cheer.
This one is the list of stuff we need to do before the car is roadworthy so we don't have an "oops" moment out on the road or have to call for a tow truck.
This list is stuff that's not relevant for the test drive and is stuff Jon needs to do eventually. I'm just adding it here so he can't say I never told him to do this stuff.
* In all fairness to Jon, my first car purchased to repair and tinker with was my 1967 Karman Ghia, and it was bought for the same sum of money that Jon shelled out for his Valiant. Mine ran better but had/has way more rust - the floor literally fell out of mine while I was driving it. Mine may be a more desirable collector car, but without floor pans to hold up my seats, I can't do much to enjoy it until I get the welder working and put some new ones in... :-(
Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM