I had about three hours with the car today - three hours to figure out what the everloving fuck is keeping it from functioning properly...you know, in spite of all of the effort I've expelled toward fixing shit that I find that's gone wrong. Or parts I've broken and replaced.
Anyway...I started with the fuel sender not working. This is a typical issue for these cars because of the ground path the sender takes and, often, how poorly the sender itself is grounded to the tank, which is supposed to be grounded to the car via the bolts that hold the tank in place. I tested my theory by adding a ground wire from one of the bolts on the sender to the stock ground wire for the right side headlight. It worked - an easy fix and easy first win. I was foolishly optimistic.
The next task was to check the front end to see if I could address the wander in the steering. I pulled the upper control arms off of the spindles and checked the tightness of the upper assembly. The Bentley states that the top control arm assembly should be just loose enough to allow the upper assembly to fall to the bump stops on its own. The person who put this front beam together or checked it last was a functional copy of an 800# gorilla. It took all I could muster to get the upper assembly to move at all - both hands to get it at a 90° angle from 'mounted'. I loosened the bolts on the right side, made the 'by the book' adjustment and put it back together. I also checked the tie rod ends for tightness and added two cotter pins at the outer ends. Apparently the alignment shop didn't think they were necessary. I took notice that the inner tie rod ends did not have the nut locks in place so I took care of that as well. And I noticed that the steering box that's supposed to be 'rebuilt' is leaking gear oil from the bottom seal. I'm suspecting that the issue resides with the steering box. The work that I did put the front beam closer to 'within factory spec' but didn't resolve the issue. The wander is still present so I did not resolve this issue.
Next up (before I became aware of my previous failure) was to fix the dead bulb in the dash on the turn indicator light. I took most of the dash apart to get the gauge cluster light out, re-seated the bulb that seemed to be loose and put it back together. Again, like the previous failure, I was unaware of if I'd succeeded until I was ready for a test drive some 45 minutes later. This one was also a failure. I think the bulb contact within the cluster back is loose and that's why the bulb doesn't work - the tiny little LED bulbs are hard to seat and I may have pushed too hard on this one. I briefly considered pulling it out and swapping it with another one but decided against pulling half of the dash apart.
Then I figured I'd try my hand at getting the turn signal cancellation to work properly - so I took the front part of the housing apart, checked part fit and attempted to put it back together. It took a bit of concentration and manual dexterity but I succeeded in getting it all back together with the correct cancellation action - only it doesn't work. I don't know why. Everything that I can see shows that it should work. The little lever comes down right when it should and the levers that 'trip' and catch to return the arm to it's neutral position function but the arm doesn't move. So, I spent 30 minutes screwing around with for no net gain. I have come to the conclusion that I fucking hate the Koln columns. Everything is so much harder on them than it should be...I bet if I pull the SWF column out of the closet and swap it with the Koln column that the turn signal cancellation would work. I'm also going to look for slightly larger LED bulbs for the cluster. Between the two, I'll get it to work properly.
To finalize my day of failures, I did a few more small adjustments on the engine to see if I could get it to idle more smoothly. After fifteen minutes, I jumped in the car, started it up and discovered that I'd somehow put it right back to where it was 6 months ago. The idle is higher, the carburetors are in sync but the car's running really rich and doesn't settle back down like it should. In addition to that, I had the misfortune of touching one of the chokes and got burned. So, like an idiot, I checked the other one and burned myself twice. Both chokes are at least 3x hotter than the carb bodies and I suspect that's an indicator of something.
I'm going to get a dwell meter/timing light and see if I can get this back to the right settings, pull and check the plugs, etc. I feel like it'll be a win if I can get the engine to run right - then I can focus on the front end and get that dialed in.
Some days, I think this car is going to be great...but today I closed the garage thinking that I should exit the hobby and use the money to pour a new driveway. I spend more time frustrated by either a lack of progress or a lack of time to get problems solved.
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