Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it

On Monday, I ordered up the new engine and transmission.

Basic specs:
* 1904, full flow, external oil filter (I'll add a remote cooler as well)
* Spanish or Italian Weber 40 IDF carbs
* LeenAPK programmable distributor
* Vintage Speed carb linkage
* Vintage Speed exhaust
* ProStreet Freeway Flyer transmission (taller 4th gear)

The estimate for delivery is mid to late August.

On Tuesday, I collected a handful of contacts for media blasting and powder coating.  The subframe, axle tubes, spring plates, and various other small parts will be cleaned and powder coated for both the engine build and the suspension rebuild.

I'll be shedding stock parts as this build progresses forward as there's little chance I'll go back to stock at this point.  I'm looking to build a super reliable daily driver that looks stock but has upgraded brakes, engine and transmission.

The engine crate of parts will be departing tomorrow for California.  One chapter closes to greet the following events...

Sunday, June 18, 2017


 The day started with me pulling out a bunch of wood I brought to Atlanta from Chicago - old shelf wood - and determining the size of the crate.  After a bit of back and forth, I settled on roughly 36"x36"x24" and started squaring up the pieces because they were not straight.  Made a trip to Home Depot for additional wood and screws and came back and got into it.
This photo is why my blog is so boring - I went from nearly nothing to completely packed without taking a single photo.  Somewhere in this crate is the engine - strapped and bolted to the crate, the complete exhaust, engine tins and about ten boxes of parts.

Tomorrow is the day I figure out what's going to replace this engine and get it on order.

Another piece of welcome news: The box that vanished for a couple of weeks was scanned in Atlanta - so there's a chance it could be delivered tomorrow.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fishing with a chum bucket

I pulled the carburetors yesterday and let them air out to have the remaining gas evaporate before my plan to put them in a box and ship them off to be checked out...but before I did that I noticed that the manifolds had been black powdercoated - both inside and out.  Then I took notice of the warped nature of the right side manifold (the one that was running hot) - the left one wasn't real flat but it looked a lot flatter than this one.  The thing that you can't see is the crack on the other side - so I can't even hammer it flat and make use of it.
After that, I pulled the engine - the plan was to crate it up and ship it off to California to be rebuilt by a guy I was referred to - one who knows the 1500 S engine...but then I got a message from someone else looking for a couple of parts - we chatted briefly and struck up a deal for the it's still going to California - just to a different place.  The engine has been paid for and it will be crated tomorrow.  I also sold one of the two remaining ZV/JCU 4R3 distributors.  I'm now down to the one NOS unit and a handful of spare parts for it.

So the tough decision about what to do with this engine has been made.  The next decision of what to buy to replace it will come on Monday when I place my order for both the engine and transmission.  The early 6 volt transmission will get cleaned up and sold, with or without axles.  I'll be selling the starter as well since it's got the 6 volt pinion on it (someone can use it).  I'll pull the early trans out, clean up the subframe and get it ready for paint, a new transmission and engine.  I'm hopeful that once this all goes back in - the car will run well and I'll actually get to drive it for a while without having to work on it so much.

I suspect it'll be quiet here for a while as I wait for the new engine and transmission to arrive.

Friday, June 16, 2017

One fish, two fish...

While standing over the engine today, I looked down and noticed that the spring and flap rod were crossing paths in what I thought was an odd I pulled the spring off the intermediate lever and swapped sides with the flaps rod and reattached it to the intermediate lever.
 As soon as I attached it to the intermediate lever, the flaps sprang open.  So, a minor victory in that I don't necessarily have to tear the engine apart to fix the flaps.
But the crux of the matter remains - the head on the 1/2 side has a tweaked valve that'll require pulling the head, ordering parts and waiting for them to show up before I can put it back together...and there's no way to know if even that will resolve the problem that's been haunting me with this engine.

The carburetors are being packaged up and shipped out for re-work - there's still something that's not quite right about them.  I'm not sure if this is throwing good money after bad at this point...or if I should even bother since it's money I could spend on the new engine.

I called up the transmission shop today and got pricing for the transmission rebuild for a 1904.  It'd be possible to get it in three weeks.  The engine would take another four to five weeks to be shipped to me once I sent all of the Type 3 specific parts to California.  That's basically the whole Summer with no car to drive - just sitting in the garage - and that's kind of a bummer.

I need to make some decisions rather quickly here...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Red light, green light...

I'm on the fence about ordering up the 1904 engine and related transmission.  Part of me wants to figure out this 1500 S engine and part of me just wants to replace it, get rid of the old parts and move on with life.  I want to drive the car - not wrench on it for the next five years.

With very little time on my hands today, I managed to pull the carburetors, right side engine tin and confirm a couple of things:
1. The carburetors are leaking fuel into the cylinders.  The car hasn't been started in what, four, five days now?  The intake manifolds were wet with fuel on both sides.  There's gas in the oil again.  So, they're getting drained of fuel, dried out and shipped off for a second look to a new guy in California.

2. The thermostat flaps are not opening fully.  All of the thermostat parts were painted by the engine builder and I think that paint is crudding up the bushings in the housing.  They open up about 1/4 the way and then it takes a rather firm pull on the rod to get the flaps to open fully.  I don't think the thermostat possesses that much torque.  The only way to really fix this is to remove the front half of the fan shroud - which requires that the engine be pulled out because the flaps rod won't come out otherwise.

I don't honestly think that fixing these two things will solve my issues with the engine but it might reduce the number of things that seem to have gone wrong.  I still suspect the distributor is part of the equation of the problem.  The new distributor is en route and should arrive probably in 4-5 days.  Odd timing since I won't have carburetors unless I get lucky and find the problem right away (slim but possible) and I think it'll take some time for me to pull the engine and fix the flaps issue.  Then I still have the head torque situation to think about as well...although...there's a local T3 guy coming over next weekend and he's expressed interest in both the transmission and the engine (long block) so I may just strip this fucker down to a long block and let him take them both off my hands.  I'd have a car on jack stands at that point and at least the transmission would be ordered but I imagine that I'd pull the trigger and order both of them at the same time.  Lots of parts to ship back to California to the engine builder.

I'm 80% of the way to just ordering the engine and getting this nonsense over with once and for all.  By the time I pull the engine and fix the flaps, I might be 10% closer because I don't think it's going to solve the problem.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You see a mousetrap; I see free cheese and a fucking challenge!

So...let's get caught up, shall we?

I static timed the engine, installed new plugs, reset the carburetors to spec, replaced the plug wires because I found one that looked to be coming apart (yay! New Bosch garbage parts!).  Fired it up.  Idled really shitty so I hooked up the strobe, balanced the carbs (using the snail) and the timing is damn close.  Small tweaks to improve the carb balance and tried to lean it out a bit because it's running rich like an old lawnmower and the car died.  Put it back, fires right up but the engine rocks from side to side at idle.  Any changes that might reduce the rocking prevents the engine from running at all.  No hesitation at all when increasing throttle - just idles like shit and now rocks side to side.

The engine got stupid hot after running for only 10 minutes - so hot, in fact, that the rear bumper was hot to the touch.  I shut it down and contemplated the next move...which clearly had to do with figuring out why it was getting so hot.  I'd had a frustrating day of just finding more problems so I called it a day.

The next evening, I pulled the right side lower sled tin and the thermostat bracket and thermostat.  I manipulated the thermostat flaps linkage with my fingers and discovered that it's only opening about 1/4 of the way.  That combined with what might be a burned exhaust valve on #2 means that, at best, the engine tin has to come off.  At worst, the heads will have to come off.  I then noticed that there was clean oil seeping out of the space between the heads and the cylinders - an area that should be dry - which lead me to wonder about the head studs and or torque rate on them.  This is an early case with 10mm head studs and no case savers - torquing the heads down may result in a pulled head stud - something that would require significantly more work than what's currently on the table.  After a bit of back and forth, I've decided to start sourcing parts for the replacement engine and transmission.  I'm kind of done fucking around with this engine - every time I work on it, something else breaks and it takes weeks to fix it after I've found the parts.  I just keep dumping money into it and it fucks up someplace else.

I'm out of town for a few days for work - but I'm going to continue the trek to getting a better built engine and a rebuilt transmission.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I spend my allowance on all these pretty things

Replaced both rocker assemblies with solid rocker shafts and new adjusters and lock nuts.  Getting the spacing just right took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would but it's done.
The exhaust valve on #2 required more adjustment than the other valves and that leaves me a tad bit concerned that it possibly got fucked up when the engine was running 'not right'/hot.  The tip sticking out of the spring looks to be about the same length as the others but that's all I really know to look for in this situation.  I'm going to try it 'as is' and see what happens.  If the valve is cooked, that might be the end of the line for this engine.  I'm kind of done fucking around with it just to have it break somewhere else.
The tolerance on the shims isn't great so I had to get the micrometer and measure every single one until I found the right combination to get me down to spec.  Out of the hour it took to install them, I spent half that time just putting together the shim combos.
 I also ordered new wheel chocks because when I tried to tighten the axle nut on the rear a few days ago, I also ruined my metal wheel chocks.  As in "flattened" them.  These are some concoction of very stinky rubber and they're taller than the metal version they replace.
Highly likely to the be only EMPI part that I ever buy.  It's low tech so I'm not worried about a part failure.

I'm testing out another mechanical fuel pump for now but if it shits the bed, the electric pump is ready and waiting.
Ordered a replacement fuel pump block and this piece of shit arrived.  The hole is off center and not straight.  The supplier offered to take it back but it'll cost more in postage than the refund so I chucked it in the trash.  I don't know why they bother to stock and sell shit parts that are just going to irritate the customer.

I received an email today that my high tech distributor is enroute - so about two weeks from now, it'll arrive and if the engine is functional, I'll test it out.  I'd love to get rid of points and improve reliability at the same time.

Next up is static timing the engine, resetting the carburetors to spec (again) and then trying to fire up the car.  Once that's off the list, I'll install the tach - I think I've talked it to death and am going to 'have a go' at installing it...hoping I don't fuck it up.  Then I'll revisit the horn situation/fuse box, driving lights, etc.  Work is ramping up again and I'm going out of town for a few days so progress will be slow for a while.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

I've done all that I'm likely to do today - I installed the parking brake cables and adjusted them...very little back and forth to get these right and I'm happy about that!

Tomorrow is the day the solid rocker shafts arrive in the mail - I'll probably only get them built up but not likely to have them installed unless the mail comes early tomorrow.  My mail carrier is on vacation starting tomorrow (he made it a point to tell me yesterday) and when he's out the mail either comes at 10am or 6pm.  The delivery time has a lot to do with how much progress I can make.

Until then, I'll start working out how I'm going to mount the electric fuel pump.  This might get me to swap over to a 12 point fuse box - that and the tach that I have yet to install.  I found another set of instructions that seems to be a lot more clear so I'm going to see about getting it set up for install.  I've also got the headlight relays, fog light relays (and the light bar to install) and the horns.  Lots of little things that I can do over the next few weeks to keep moving forward in spite of engine issues.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"I'm a firefighter trapped in a burning house in a silent picture"

Today is the day I decided to not be defeated by the brakes on this car.  The rocker problem is out of my hands until the parts arrive.

Just to 'check my work', I grabbed the 36mm impact socket and put a 4' breaker bar on it, chocked all 4 wheels with 5" tall chocks and I tightened the everliving shit out of that castle nut on the left side.  I only stopped when my weight, combined with the near collapse of the wheel chocks, prevented me from going further.  Jacked the car up and the fucking axle STILL moved in and out.  This only validated my suspicion that I'd have to take it all apart to figure out what the hell was going on and fix it.  And I'd just made that significantly harder to do on one side.  Knowing the now 'gorilla tight' left side castle nut was going to be a challenge to remove, I shifted sides to start taking things apart on the right side of the car.
I went back to the installation instructions, thumbed through each page - making sure I followed them accurately - which is not hard - there's not a lot to do which equals 'very little to screw up'.

I got to the bracket assembly and noticed the spacer again.  The instructions clearly state that the 3mm spacer is only required for swing axle post 1968 (very very few models)...and then I realized that, like everything else in the instructions - that probably only pertains to the Type 1 axle.  In fact, the dimensions they show on the previous page don't apply to the Type 3 - so it's a fair assumption that this also does not apply to the Type 3.

It'd be great if the Type 3 kit got Type 3 instructions.
I pulled on the hub again and watched the distance between where it should be and where the axle moved to - and I started thinking that it was damn close to the thickness of the spacer.  So I pulled the hub/rotor off the splined axle and set it aside.  I measured the distance between the end of the axle spacer (inside the seal in this picture) with the axle pushed in (where it should be) and then pulled it out (where it goes on its own and provides the distance required to eat the surface of a $160 rotor with surprising efficiency.  Yeah, about 3mm, so I continued the tear down and removed the bracket.
Now I'm down to the basic Type 3 rear axle - with exception to the spacer from the CSP kit.  I held the bearing in place and tried to pull the axle out - didn't budge.  Since the spacer that CSP provides is the same OD as the bearing - I'd validated that the spacer is actually REQUIRED for this installation.  I cleaned everything shown here and retrieved the spacers from the cabinet.
My first thought upon retrieving them was 'thank fuck I didn't toss these!'

3mm is just enough space to cause moderate damage and make me question my mechanical abilities for a few days.
Installation of this spacer is simple: drop it in the bearing cover bracket and bolt it to the carrier...and put the rest of the shit back together.  Done.

I wish I'd thought to take a video of the 'axle shift' but I was on a roll and focused on getting it done and completely forgot about it.

The axle, predictably, doesn't shift in and out anymore.  Everything lines up pretty well and I moved on to the left side.  That was tricky - I wound up using two spare tires as wheel chocks, all of my weight and a 6' bar to get the nut to break loose after about 10 minutes of trying.  It broke loose just about the time I'd decided that I probably wasn't going to win this one.  Flash forward about 20 minutes and they're both fixed and everything is good to go.  In hindsight: I should have done a 'push/pull' test on the axles after I'd installed the brakes to check whether or not I'd need that spacer...I will be checking all kinds of shit going forward.

In other news:
A couple of nifty tools came in the mail today - a compression tester (now I have two), a spark tester that goes between the plug and the distributor to check spark and a test light so I can static time.  All I'm waiting for now is the solid rocker shafts so I can put them back together and try to get the car running again.  I also bought an electric fuel pump to replace the mechanical fuel pump to eliminate one source of fuel getting into the case.  A fuel pump block off is also on order.  I might try to swap in another mechanical fuel pump in the interim since it's all plumbed for it anyway.

I'm too fucking stubborn to lose.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away...

The first thing I saw when I pulled the driver's side wheel off to pop the valve covers was this shit.  This sucks.  A new rotor is $160...but this looks a bit worse than it really is so I'm going to leave this one on the car for now.

The goal was to pop the valve covers, make sure I'm at TDC and then check the drive gear for the distributor. Once that was established, determine the next steps...but I didn't get that far.
The caliper is rubbing the I pulled on the hub and it moves - meaning that it's not torqued down enough.  I'm going to try to tighten them again with a much larger bar and without the torque wrench to see if I can get them to stop moving.  If it still moves when I've run out of room to tighten, then it'll have to come apart.  I've checked the parts diagram and I definitely put it together correctly - must be the axle nuts...which is weird because I didn't have any problem with the NOS rear drums I installed previously.  Not much I can do about it now other than fix it.
 24 hours ago, the USPS had no clue where the shipment with my cables, however, they showed up out of the blue.  In typical fashion, they stepped on the box a few times before delivering it to me.  I absolutely loathe the postal service at my current address.

I wasn't able to install the cables, however, because the spacer I'd used was slightly too thick so I'm now on a hunt to find the correct thickness.  If I cannot locate the correct spacer, I may try to remove some material from the washers I bought.  Nothing ever just 'fits' anymore.

During the work to check/set the valve gap, I discovered that the intake valve on the #3 cylinder was loose - horizontally.  I quickly noticed that the spring washer was missing - if you look real close, you can see it on the bottom right of the image

The exhaust valves are stupid tight - which is probably why the engine was running hot and rich.  Potentially why the washer broke and why I'm now having so many problems - not likely to be the distributor at all.
No clue where the other half went or currently resides.  I didn't find it in the oil when I changed it and the car hasn't been driven since.

I'm done for a while until I find the little things that, once again, hold up my ability to drive this f%&#@ng car before I lose interest completely.

UPDATE: As I found myself with a little more time, I went back into the garage and pulled the fuel pump - to find a wet gasket that smells like gas.  I cannot say for certain that this is where the fuel that was in the oil came from but it's at least one place.  The initial plan is to swap out to another fuel pump and then swap to an electric pump - another push toward modernization.  I'm not sure how long the old diaphragms will last with the new fuel mixtures - maybe I've already found out...I did chat with another Type 3 owner and we discovered that we had a similar idea: gut an original fuel pump and make a loop out of the inlet and output to retain the original look but feed the system with an electric pump.  Someday when I've got tons of time on my hands, I may try that...
I pulled both rocker shaft assemblies and all of the push rods.  Used a telescoping magnet to see if I could fish out the other half of the washer to no avail.  I wasn't able to find it...I might find it if I drop the drain on the oil but I hesitate because the oil is stupid expensive.

I ordered up new adjusting screws, jamb nuts, solid rocker shafts to eliminate the wavy washer/spacer things and I'm thinking about picking up an electric fuel pump tomorrow.  I will then have replaced a lot of the potentially flawed parts on this engine.  Ironically, the more I spend on this engine to get it functional - the more I want to yank it out and replace it with the 1904 and a rebuilt freeway flyer...but there's a part of me that doesn't want to admit defeat yet.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Digging for clues and solutions

I called to check on the cable shop since I haven't seen a notification about an inbound package (I track everything that comes in or goes out).  They told me yesterday that the cables were 'on the board to ship today' and I requested USPS shipping because it's typically 3 days faster.  Late last night I received a notification that a package was provided with a tracking number but the USPS didn't physically have it.  Today, the status remains unchanged.  We're now a full week later than promised for the ship date.  I guess it's not as if I've got nothing else to do in the meantime, huh?

The distributor drive gear puller arrived today with a few other parts that I ordered to bolster my parts cabinet.

I am hoping to have some time tomorrow morning to get started - first make sure that the engine is at TDC, check the valves and the distributor alignment.  I'll then determine if the distributor drive gear is off by a tooth or two (or is 180ยบ off).  

And another scenario has been brought to my attention - the cam gear can also be installed a tooth off - which would require an engine tear down.  I'm hoping this is not the circumstance - but I'm slowly realizing that this is entirely a possibility.

Tomorrow holds answers - or more questions...