August 2003

Well a new month and a new world of hurt. The distributor issue is still a problem. I have made sure of cylinder one by sticking my finger in plug hole #1 and cranking the engine to fine TDC. Manually rotated the crank to be sure it was lined up just right. Checked the wires for correct placement and firing order. All good.

Getting spark if I put a plug in the end of the wire, but it won't jump out of the wire to a ground. Bad spark??? An email has suggested that I need a later model regulator. Will have to look into that.

Now to the new world of hurt issue. I decided to put the old dist back in to make sure that works and to start the car so I can check the vacuum lines. Anyway after removing the electronic dist, a Rube Goldberg thing happened and the hold down bolt flipped into the open dist hole on the block. I cannot see it or touch it. I'm pretty sure it went straight down. Some people's email have suggested that it might be in the lifter valley (I hope so). Or it might have fallen into the sump, which is NOT a 10 minute job.

Picked up a Jensen CD/MP3 player the other day but had to return it because it was missing the trim ring on the face and they couldn't replace it. Awfully swell of Car Toys to tell me this before I went through the purchase ordeal. :(

Started in on the console reassembly. It went pretty well and I was able to get the antenna working automatically from the new Kenwood radio/CD player. I was pretty surprised to find the water damaged front speakers actually sound OK. All back together now and looking good. Made one little goof by putting the drivers window switch in upside down. Couldn't read the label. Turned on the lights to make sure everything was lit and found the center bulb for the seatbelt warning light was dark. Not too concerned about that one. After a few minutes I noticed smoke drifting up through the shifter. Tore the side panel off again to find the cigarette lighter bulb socket had shorted out with out a bulb in it. Taped it up and called it good. (pictures here)

Now to address the bolt issue. I removed the intake manifold and cleaned up a bit. Was surprised to find the only gasket was the aluminum valley pan with some embossed ridges for sealing. Not much of a view from here. (pictures here) There's a small opening along the bottom of the valley that reveals the cam and lifters. Toward the front is a little larger opening. Put a bright light on it and saw what looked like the end of a bolt. Put a magnet on the end of a flexible grabber and carefully pulled it out. If it has gone any farther I would have been pulling the engine I think. As a bonus, the washer came out with it. Put it all back together and reconnected the linkage. The new gasket covered the exhaust cross over for the choke. Maybe that'll help keep the carb cooler.

Back to the distributor. Almost put the original back in but went for the new one again. After getting all connected I tried cranking but no fire again. Had the neighbor crank while I looked at the connection. He got a bit of a fire and it back fired up through the carb. (On my arm of course) He noticed that it fired up as he was letting off the key at a certain point. After some investigation, I found I had the run and tach wires reversed on the coil posts. Swapped them around and it starts beautifully. So, what's different between starting now and not last week? Not sure. Aside from the manifold, nothing I think.

In the mean time I decided to paint the fan shroud so I can't really run it for long. Was able to set the timing to about 5 degrees advance. Seems to run well there at idle. After doing this I read the tuning instructions and found that they say to set it to 5 degrees before TDC. Not sure it'll run there. I'll have to experiment after getting the fans in place. The can of paint says to let it cure for five days. Not sure I can wait that long.

I let the engine warm up and set the timing to 5 degrees before TDC. Seems to run OK, a little slow. Checked the idle mixture screws and have them set at 1.5 turns out. Need to check those again. Will probably have to set the idle speed up just a bit. After making some adjustments, the engine needed cooling and only one fan came on. Bummer. Did some checking to find that there is power and the fan does work. Looks like the relay went south. Found a generic one for $8. Plugged it in and now both fans work.

OK now for the test drive. Drives and accelerates OK. Just OK. Seems to be muted, not very crisp. Doing the testing without the vacuum advance connected. Will need to do some experimenting with jets and rods I think. At least I can drive it now.

Took the car out for a bit of a run across town. It was raining most of the time. Only a small leak at the mirror. On the way home I noticed the radio cutting out. Then the engine seemed to be having trouble. The volt meter was dropping and the gas gauge was going down too.

When the volt meter got to about 10, the engine died at a busy intersection and wouldn't crank again. Thought I found out where empty was on the gauge. Fortunately a good Samaritan stopped and offered to give me a jump. It fired up right off. Almost got home and really ran out of gas. (I think) Still low voltage.

Put more gas in and fired it up again. Now the fuel gauge is higher and the volts are too. I think the fuel gauge is going down because of the low voltage.

A good friend of mine drove 300 miles to visit for the week and do pretty much nothing but lean over the engine compartment of the Jensen while I was at work. Friends like that are hard to find! After a couple of days he pretty much decided that this is a very cool car. (Another one hooked)

My friend owned a Dodge Coronet with a 383 and could get some serious performance out of that. He was able to dial in the timing (12^ BTDC) and carb for me and get it running like it should.

He managed to get the charging system working again after some fiddling with the wiring. Problem was, it didn't stick. We then replaced the alternator to be sure of that. The voltage regulator appeared to test OK. I had previously filed all the grounding connectors I could get my hands on to be sure of those. We double checked this and that but still not charging. We were about to give up for the night without being able to cruise the local Sonic drive in, when my friend took out a hammer and gave the voltage regulator a couple of good shots. Not sure if that was frustration or experience. Magically the volt meter came up to 13.5 volts and all looked to be working. The fuel gauge is working now. We changed clothes and drove off to join the Friday evening crowd at the drive in burger joint. (Fridays and Saturdays prove to be a great old/classic car show)

Heard some strange noises along the way. Realized the fans weren't coming on any more and the overflow bottle was bubbling. It's always something it seems. This morning I found a loose wire associated with the fans and now they're back on line. M

y friend rerouted the throttle cable to the inside of the carb linkage so it would have a better angle to pull. Replaced the return spring also. The pedal feels smooth and consistent. He also adjusted the kick down linkage so that it stays in the power band for longer. Doesn't shift into third until about 45 MPH. Not sure I like that.

After replacing the voltage regulator, I drove around a bit this morning in about 85^ weather. The car is a pleasure to drive now, smooth and responsive. The oil pressure stayed about in the middle of the gauge for the first time since I've been driving this beast. Interesting note; either the improved charging/system voltage is making the oil pressure gauge work better, or something happened to make the oil pressure higher and more consistent. Hmmmmmmm.

I adjusted the downshift linkage. It was keeping the transmission from shifting as soon as I thought it should. Tomorrow I'll try to take it up in the mountains for some canyon blasting...

Life is good.

I took the Interceptor out for a mountain drive this morning. It seems to like the altitude. (9000+ ft.) Just purred its way through the canyons and over the passes. Achieved 14 miles per gallon too. The adjustment to the kick down linkage seems to be good for mountain driving. More testing is in order. The fans hardly came on. The oil pressure was right in the middle of the gauge most of the time. (Still more stable than before) On the way back home I topped out at just about 110 MPH. The darn thing runs, starts, and generally performs like a truly fine automobile. My laundry is cleaner and the house no longer needs painting. Simply amazing!