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Please feel free to contact me with any and all helpful advice, it'll all get printed and may save someone hours of grief!  

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    55-60 transmission interchange

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    Applying a black oxide finish.

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    Winter storage.

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    Mirror fitting template (54).

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    Hotting up sixes and eights.

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    Speedo gears.

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    Rear spring bushings.

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    Rear bumper end caps.    

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    Late model engine fitting.

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    Rewiring a car.

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    Alternator conversion.

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    Ignition tuning.

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    Carb tuning.

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    Wheel alignment.

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    Radiator caps.

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    Radiator hoses.

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    Fasteners.

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    Hei conversion.

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    Brake troubleshooter

 

A quick money saver, if your air shock pipe is tatty don't spend £30 on a kit, see your local compressed air specialist 6m for £2.

                                                                               

Here's a quick lesson in 1955-60 trans interchange:

      The bellhousing(s) interchange from 1955 through 1960. However, the 1958-60 is      slightly different, and allows
      the use of an 11" clutch.  The 1955-57 is restricted to 10.5" clutches.  There was another comment about
      interchange and I'll add to it.  PMD made a major change in 1958, switching from the sturdy Buick-Olds-
      Pontiac perimeter frame to the fragile Chevy X-frame. Thus, clutch linkage and column shift mechanisms (auto
      or manual) are affected.  This continued until PMD Design finally saw the light, returning to perimeter frames in
      1961...
            The Oldsmobile automatics all interchange, however there are driveshaft length, front yokes, column shift mechanisms
      and kick-down linkage differences, depending on which model is selected for a particular chassis...
            Manual transmissions come in mulitple flavors, and like the Automatics, Pontiac did not make their own, rather
      acquiring them from the Buick, Chevy or Oldsmobile Divisions until 1958, at which time Borg-Warner also became a supplier.

      1937* - 1955 = Buick Light-duty   3-speed w/5-bolt top cover
      1956  - 1957 = Buick Heavy-duty   3-speed w/6-bolt top cover
      1958  - 1960 = Chevy Light-Duty   3-speed w/4-bolt side cover
      1958  - 1960 = B-W T85 Heavy-Duty 3-speed w/9-bolt side cover
      Late  - 1960 = B=W T10 Light-Duty 4-speed w/9-bolt side cover

      1) 1937-38* floor-shift tops bolt to the later trannys, the Light-Duty stick using 5-bolts, the Heavy-Duty stick using
         6-bolts.  It is not necessary to remove the column-shift selector mechanism, only the stamped-steel top cover...

      2) Although the Buick manual gearboxes are the same as those used in Pontiac and Oldsmobile, the extension housings are
         different.  Buick used a torque-tube (closed) driveshaft, while Pontiacs and Olds used an open drive shaft.  To
         switch between, you need the open drive mainshaft and the rear extension housing.  The case and the gears are
         the same, within types...        

      3) Attempting to use the "good" 1956-57 Buick trans or one of the B-W's in a 1956-56, requires a modified driveshaft,
         as the big transmissions are a couple of inches longer than than the little ones, AND the 1949-56 Olds rear
         end is much smaller than the big 1957-64 Olds/Pontiac unit...

      Like the automatics, the manuals come in different lengths as do the driveshafts, and the front yoke needs to be a
      10-spline item, which are pretty scarce these days.  Of all the manuals, the 1956-57 units are by far the strongest
      (and nosiest!), with gear width(s) nearly double that of the Borg-Warner T85 or T10 units...

Rick
Pontiac-1950s
Co-Facilitator
 

                                                                                     

Applying a black oxide finish

Old Cars Weekly October 25, 2001

By: William C. “Bill” Anderson, P.E.

 

 

Black oxide is a finish commonly applied to small fasteners and brackets used in the assembly of automobiles. Its principal advantages are speed of application and economy. Also, it is not dimensional, i.e., it is not a coating, but rather a finish absorbed into the metal. However, it lacks long-term durability and parts so finished ultimately rust over time when exposed to repeated wetting and drying.

There are specialty paints that approximate black oxide. However, they alter the dimensions of the finished piece and are easily chipped during assembly. For those wanting the real thing and not a paint copy, there are two alternatives to produce a black oxide finish – purchase of a new piece finished in black oxide or use the Eastwood Company’s Metal Blackening Kit (see Figure 1).

As mentioned in a previous column, I do not favor-refinishing fasteners, particularly those whose strength is critical because the ravages of time degrade the fasteners’ strength. However, for non-critical fasteners or in those circumstances where the restorer wants to use a fastener with a specific head design or other unique feature that cannot be purchased new, restoration on an existing fastener is required.

Applying a black oxide finish using Eastwood’s kit is simple. However, this simplicity does not mean that care is not required to ensure a good result – a uniform finish that completely covers the metal piece. The process is a chemical and like any chemical process accurate mixing of ingredients, proper operating temperatures, and rigorous attention to each step in the process is key to success. The accompanying photos and the following text explain how to do it. I am also including a few of my observations regarding the complete instructions provided with the kit and related recommendations. At $49.95, the kit is economical and will do many pieces before the chemicals need replenishing.

The blackening solution is a mild acid. Therefore, wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands and safety goggles to protect your eyes is important. A pair of rubber gloves and a set of goggles are supplied with the kit. Because water rinsing is required, having a sink close by the area where pieces are being treated is helpful.

Before proceeding to finish parts, a few preparations are necessary; Eastwood supplies on pint (16 ounces) of blackening solution. This must be diluted in the application jar provided. The dilution specified is to add distilled water (it is important to use distilled water to prevent contamination of the solution) to within two inches of the top of the application jar. This required 40 ounces of distilled water or a ratio of 1 part blackening solution to 2.5 parts water for those wanting to make a larger or smaller batch. Second, it is important that the solution be at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If your shop is too cold, the solution temperature can be maintained by using a water bath (a tub of water in which the application jar rests where the water temperature is controlled); (see Figure 2). The Eastwood kit contains 32 ounces of sealant and a separate application jar; no dilution if the sealant is required. If the application jars supplied (they have a three-inch opening) cannot hold the piece needing plating, any clean, appropriately sized plastic container can be used. The application jars are also used to store the chemicals between uses.

Step 1 is cleaning the piece to be finished. There must be not rust, grease, etc., on the piece. The finish cannot cover rust and grease and oils will act as a barrier to the blackening solution. The best way to prepare each piece is to first remove any oil or grease then use abrasive-blasting to remove rust and finish up with a soaking in muriatic acid (a weak acid available in most hardware or building supply stores) as a final cleaning. Abrasive blasting can leave a surface that appears free of rust, yet retains rust particles not visible to the naked eye. Even microscopic rust can prevent the blackening solution from uniformly coating the piece. This is the reason for using the muriatic acid. If a blast cabinet is not available for rust removal, then wire brushing followed by soaking in a rust remover such as Oxy-Solv is necessary.

Step 2 is immersion in the blackening solution (see Figure 2). On a piece of metal that is truly rust-free, rusting will begin almost immediately. Therefore, proceeding immediately from the acid cleaning to a thorough water rinse and onto the blackening solution is necessary. The intermediate water-rinsing step is necessary to prevent the acid from contaminating the blackening solution. Eastwood recommends leaving the piece in the solution 20 to 60 seconds. Also, moving the part around to ensure that all surfaces of the piece are treated, by swirling the part on the end of the hanger (see Figure 2), is important. Bolts and such can be rolled around in the application vessel with a plastic or wood stick and then removed with a magnet. While Eastwood cautions against leaving the part in the solution too long, it is also important that it be left in the solution long enough. Therefore, I recommend erring on the side of a longer, rather than a shorter, time in the blackening solution. Also, I recommend doing only a couple of pieces at one time in step 2 to minimize flash rusting, letting any extra pieces in processing wait in the muriatic acid.

Step 3 is application of a sealant (see Figure 3). The piece being treated is removed from the blackening solution, rinsed in clean tap water for 10 to 20 seconds, and then placed immediately in the sealant solution; no intermediate drying is required. The piece should be left in the sealant for two to three minutes, then removed and left to air dry. Drying may take from one hour to overnight depending upon conditions.

If you have correctly performed all the steps, the result is a uniform matte black finish (see Figure 4). However, if the part was not thoroughly cleaned or flash rusting occurred between the cleaning and blackening steps, rust color will appear once the blackened piece has dried. When the piece is wet either after the cleaning or blackening rinse, the rust color will not be obvious. If this occurs, re-clean the piece and start over.

Properly performed, Eastwood’s Blackening Kit will economically provide an attractive, protective black finish. The kit will do many pieces, and, each chemical component can be purchased separately.

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Keep spring in mind when planning winter storage.

Old Cars Weekly

October 25, 2001

By: Wallace A. Wyss

  

            Even though spring is months away, there are things that can be done while preparing for winter storage so the car is ready the first warm spring day. What do you do first? Here’s a compendium of information on how to store your car for the winter. But keep in mind, different sources have differing recommendations, and some tips contradict one another. Determine which works best for you now or in the past.

            First of all, some people argue that storing a car can be bad. Greases liquefy, springs settle, and gaskets, bushings, and bearings can dry out. These hobbyists believe collector cars should be driven on nice winter days to keep everything lubricated.

            When the roads are too bad, some suggest starting the car in the garage if there is adequate ventilation. This will prevent lining the underside with road salt, but won’t lubricate the rear end or the transmission like a nice long drive will. If you do insist on intermittent storage with occasional drives, top off the tank each time.

            The tips that follow are for those committed to storing their car during the entire winter:

 

·        Store it dry: Water and moisture are the enemy, so avoid dirt floors because they harbor moisture. Concrete floors also give off moisture, though it is not as much. To keep the moisture from gathering on the underside of your car, line the floor with a layer of insulation. That may mean a sheet of plastic or a 4ft. by 8 ft. sheet of plywood.

·        Raise the car off the ground:  You want the tires off the ground so they don’t dry rot of get flat spots. The weight of the car may also permanently damage the tires. Raising the car also allows you to turn the rear wheels by hand every once in a while to keep the transmission and rear end gears coated with oil. Placing the jack stands under the axles and suspension rather than the frame keeps suspension components from fully extending themselves, a type of stress the parts weren’t designed to withstand.

·        Top off your fuel tank: A car’s exterior isn’t the only place the water should be kept away from. Water can also form inside the gas tank. Some experts believe that filling the gas tank with fuel leaves less empty space in the tank for condensation to form. Adding alcohol will also bind any water present. Other sources recommend avoiding alcohol because it is corrosive to white metals and can do damage to fuel gauge sensors, line couplings, and carburetors. Fuel stabilizer in, run your engine to make sure it gets up to the carburetor float bowl. Proponents of the empty gas tank recommend draining the tank and disconnecting the carburetor gasoline line at the fuel pump to allow gas to grain from the line. They then recommend disconnecting the line from the tank to the fuel pump and blowing the line out with air. The, crank the engine over five or six times to empty the pump and reconnect both gasoline lines.

·        Plug it up: There are several recommendations for the spark plugs. Some believe owners should remove the plugs and spray in light oil. Others buy a bottle of carburetor treatment or transmission fluid and pour it down the carburetor until the motor stalls. If you do this, expect to change the plugs before starting the car up in the spring. Other sources recommend dumping oil down the carburetor to lubricate everything, but again, expect to change the plugs in the spring. A light machine oil like WD-40 will offer enough protection when sprayed down the carburetor.

·        Crank it up: Fill the crankcase up with a light preservative oil, completely submerging the crank and all the piston rod bearings. Always park the car with fresh oil.

·        Disconnect the battery: Any auto parts store can supply a turn-off switch for your battery so you won’t have to remove it. If you do remove it, store it outside of the car and place on a trickle charger. Trickle chargers maintain the charge whenever it goes below a certain amount. Make sure the battery is not set on cement outside of the car. Place it on a block of wood to keep the current from being drawn away.

·        Top off the brake master cylinder: Brakes suffer from not being used for long periods of time. Over time, brake fluid absorbs water and when the system is not being used, the water gathers in the hydraulic fluid. It will cause pitting in the master and wheel cylinders and ruin the rubber seals. Topping off the master cylinder will give less room for condensation to form. Some people drain all the fluid and put in D.O.T. 5 fluid, which will not absorb water. But only put in D.O.T. 5 if you are prepared to bleed the whole system before taking the car out. Also, be forewarned that D.O.T. 5 is slippery stuff and will find leaks that the old brake fluid didn’t.

·        Set up a picket line for vermin: Put mouse traps all over the storage place in a line that’s easy to follow to check them all. Patrol your trap line periodically. Imagine the smell if you catch a few and they rot in your storage place. You wouldn’t be able to pay people to ride in your car! If you live in a wooded area, beware of raccoons. They are clever beasts, and can find a way into your garage if there is one. Check the building for any holes. Check under leaves that may have gathered against the building or even roof air vents for possible areas of access. Air vents can be covered with a screen. Check over the entire building and see if there are any leaks animals could enter in, but especially check for water leaks. I remember a friend's house that had a leaky roof. Water pooled in the roof, then the pool became ice and a huge mess followed. Reject any storage that shows leakage, best evident through stains or monitoring in a rainstorm. Also, plug the car’s tailpipe, carburetor and air intake enough to keep out mice in case they make it past the traps.

·        Seal your car in a plastic box: This is another way to prevent vermin from getting in. And not only will a plastic covering keep the dust off, it will prevent moisture from entering. Companies like Car Jacket and PDK can supply these bags at a reasonable cost. Contact Car Jacket at 800-522-7224 or PDK at 800-735-2822. Most bags sold by these companies come with a desiccant to absorb moisture.

·        Prevent moths: Owners of prewar cars with wool and cloth interiors should especially beware of moths. One clever idea to prevent moth damage is to use diatomaceous earth, a natural insecticide, sprinkled over the carpet and seats. It can simply be vacuumed out in the spring. Radio stores sell this product.

·        Use a care cover: If you are going to use a car cover, get one that breathes rather than a plastic one. These should be used indoors where they can’t get wet. If allowed to get wet, they will trap moisture against your car. A cover used indoors will also help keep animals out and protect the paint from bird droppings.

·        Drum brakes: Back drum brake shoes off from the drums to keep them from rusting in place. One they are backed away, the inside of the drum can be coated with a thin layer of grease to prevent rust.

·        Convertibles: Don’t store the car with the top down. If you do, it may retain stains of any condensation that gets in between the layers of the top. Leaving the top up prevents animals from entering the car’s interior and wrinkles from wrecking the top.

·        Security: Install good locks. I suggest the type of padlock where the lock case curves to cover the part that goes through the hole as these are harder to cut open with a bolt cutter. Paint or cover windows, if possible. If there is electricity, install an outdoor motion light.

·        General tips: Wash and wax the car prior to storage. Some believe it’s worthwhile to apply a fresh coat of wax and let it set without buffing. Experts also recommend applying car was to chrome parts. A few even suggest applying a film of oil to parts, but this collects dirt and is hard to clean later. Your car’s best friend is cleanliness and dryness. Last but not least, keep a list of what you did so you can do it all in reverse when you take the car off the stands in spring. With a fresh oil change again in spring, your car should be ready to go.

                                                          

 

Mirror fitting template.

For 54's, click to enlarge OutsideRearmirrorTempl.jpg (13293 bytes)

 

                                                                          

 

Hotting up flathead sixes and straight eights.  

Since several pontiac-1950er's have asked in the past about hot rodding the flathead sixes and straight eights, here's what I've learned over the years...

Flatheads respond to hop up tricks, regardless of the make or manufacturer, and have done so since the day's of the Model T. Obsessed Ford fanatics have been known to wring 100+ hp out of a Model T block, simply by using a Rajo Cylinder head...

All of the things you've read about over the years are applicable to Pontiac 6 and 8 cylinder flat motors.  Multiple carbs, dual exhausts or headers, cams, compression, milling, filling, porting, relieving, balancing, ignition, etc...

The attached picture shows a fairly sophisticated 1954 Pontiac straight eight.  It was built for one of PMD's show cars, the Bonneville Special #2 (The Green One).  The cylinder head is aluminum, and provides about ~8.5:1 compression.  The 1954 block is preferred over earlier versions, primarily because of full pressure oiling and more displacement.  The intake features four Zenith side-draft carbs, each of which is positioned over a pair
of intake ports.
    The exhaust consists of steel-tube headers, paired by firing order.  I've been told that the block was ported and relieved, and that Isky provided a 3/4-race cam.  Pistons are aluminum, and the rods drilled for additional piston pin oiling.  

4-Carb-Flatmotor.jpg (618361 bytes)

 

                                                                                     

                                                                                                              

Speedo gears

GM makes a variety of speedo gears for their transmissions.

Replacement speedo gears are made of nylon, and come in a variety of colors and sizes. As you correctly surmised, there is a direct correlation between speedo gear size and the rear end ratio.. i.e. A "red" drive gear will correctly mesh with  four of the twelve possible driven gears, that cover the overall final drive ratio spread of a "medium" rear end ratio application...Although I don't have the speedo gear chart with me, here's my recollection as to what it says:

Drive Rear End

Gear Ratio

High series 2.56-2.89

Med series 3.07-3.23

Low series 3.42-3.73

Race series 3.90-4.30

You can interchange between series, but not among...The best way to get the correct matching "pair" of gears, e.g. the drive gear and the driven gear, is to run the car on a chassis dynomometer. This takes into account all of the variables, including tire diameter... Obviously, you should think about speedo accuracy requirements  before you reassemble the trans, since the drive gear is pressed onto the mainshaft with the extension housing removed. In the dyno situation, after the computer determines the correct "pair", the car is placed on a hoist, the driveshaft and rear extension  housing removed, the "wrong" drive gear pressed off, and the "right" one pressed on. The computer has already selected the right "driven" gear, which slips into the speedo cable housing  (bolted to the extension housing)...You might try:

 http://www.bobsspeedometer.com  or   http://www.paspeedo.com 

Be prepared to supply tire diameter and rear gear ratio when you talk with them... 

Good luck! 

Rick Gonser

POCI Senior Technical Advisor

pontiac-1950s@yahoogroups Co-Facilitator

 

Rear Spring Bushings.

   The bushings in the spring ends are no problem, the bushes found in a casting riveted to the chassis are. They have a very thin outer wall making it nigh on impossible to remove with a piece of threaded bar and a suitable socket. I found it far easier to drill and grind out the rivets and remove the casting, then replace the bushings in a vice. I found this out the hard way (about 6 hours and an air-chisel!). look in links for suppliers of the bushings.  

 

                                                            

Rear Bumper End Caps.

    A common tin-worm area for our cars, these are available new, but at £200+ a pair are out of my range at present. I ground out the rot, repaired the holes with glassfibre and matting, then filled and sanded, finishing off with body colour. I think they look ok, and what's more cheap too!

 

endcap2.jpg (56543 bytes)  rear_bumper.jpg (86937 bytes)

Fitting a late model engine. 

    Providing you have the facilities to fabricate new engine and transmission mounts this isn't as difficult as it seems. The main difficulty being space for the exhausts be they cast or tubular. John Hugentober and I both bought cars with this job having been done to a less than amazing standard. it is a tight squeeze, cooling is luck of the draw,  in my case I supplemented the standard radiator with twin Peugeot fans on a homemade bracket, this proved marginal so I removed the standard grille bringing the temp down by 5 to 10 degrees. See the pics below for more gen.  

 

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engine_mount_2.jpg (105788 bytes) fans2.jpg (47428 bytes) going_in.jpg (110792 bytes)
engine_dressed_up.jpg (42394 bytes) engine_out.jpg (84656 bytes) wide_view_engine.jpg (105807 bytes)

 

                                                      

 

 

Rewiring the car.

    Not as difficult as I first imagined, I bought all the components and tools for£200, the job itself took me a week. Remove the old loom in one piece, then lay it out on the floor having removed the tape. Then identify each wire and working from these measurements build the new loom. One of the most worthy jobs you can do. the Americans saved money on cars in this era by using wire of JUST enough current carrying capacity. I up-sized all my wires to give a good safety margin. Just think no more breakdowns!!!!! marvelous. one book I can't praise enough is Tex Smith's How to do electrical systems by Skip Readio, it seemed out of date when I bought it but was a mine of information. While I'm in the mood for plugs, Vehicle Wiring Products in Derbyshire (0115 9305454) were used for the wire etc and were very helpful with the multitude of questions I fired at them.....thanks again lads !  

 

 

Alternator conversion.

    I'm not sure where i picked up this priceless piece of info, but if its yours please get in touch for credit! You've helped so many people!

BUY A 105 AMP "CS" ALTERNATOR!!!!

PLEASE NOTE; Always disconnect the battery when doing electrical work on your car!

What I'm going to try to cover is the conversion from an external regulator alternator to a more new "SI" internal regulator alternator. In the latter part of the page, I'll cover changing over to a new "CS" alternator.

I first did the "SI" conversion on my 64 Chevelle using an old alternator that I had around the garage. The bracket configuration is similar to what is in a 69 Camaro (long water pump and the alternator mounted on the shotgun side of the engine).

After the car was on the road for a while, the alternator started acting strange and the voltage output wasn't constant. That gave me a perfect reason to do the conversion to the new style "CS" alternator! There wasn't any problem with the wiring changes, it was just that the "SI" had seen it's years.

I have to add a word of caution here, the colors of the wires called out are the "standard" colors and I can't swear that your car's wiring loom matches. Please blame GM and not me!

When you convert from the external regulator alternator, you no longer need the regulator that is mounted on the radiator support. You also don't need some of the wiring that is present in the loom.

The diagram below shows the original connection at the old regulator. (I'm sorry, but the wire that is colored yellow, is really white)

 

tech_t1.gif (2758 bytes)

 

The next diagram shows how you modify the loom at this location.

tech_t2.gif (1936 bytes)

 

Notice that the blue wire is jumpered to the brown wire. The white wire and the orange wire are just capped off so that they will not short out to anything.

This next diagram shows what you have to do at the new alternator.  

tech_t3.gif (4458 bytes)

The wire that goes from the "BATT" terminal to the #2 terminal is a new wire that you will have to add. You can use a 14 gauge wire.

The white wire (shown yellow) just gets capped off.

You will need a new connector to fit the new alternator and they can be purchased at almost any auto parts shop.

Due to my being bothered by the "extra" wire being in the loom, I totally removed the dead white and orange wires. I also wired the brown wire to the alternator directly. It just gets rid of some extra length of wire.  

The prior paragraph has caused me a lot of e-mail feed back and hopefully the following information will clear it up. In my final wiring configuration, the "brown wire" comes from the alternator indicator light, through the firewall connector, and directly to the alternator. The result is electrically the same as the diagram at the top of the sheet, just cleaner. The diagram above would have the brown wire coming out of the connector at the firewall, going toward where the regulator was, connecting to the blue wire, then the blue wire goes to the alternator. As I said, I cleaned up the wiring (and in the process, dirtied up the wording).

In order to ensure good connections, I recommend that you always solder the connections and then use heat shrink tubing to seal it.

"CS" alternators;

I just got done converting to a 105 amp "CS" alternator. It's fantastic and the conversion was a piece of cake. Here is the low-down;

I got mine from a local rebuilder that was recommended by my local auto parts store. I need to find out what car type, the configuration I got, was out of. I paid a little more than $110 for it and that included the $40 core charge and electrical connector. An "SI" alternator is only good for a $10 core charge and most rebuilders don't even want them. He didn't charge me to swap the pulley to a "v-belt" type. It has a typical "rebuilder" silver paint job that will have to be changed at a latter date.

There are two different physical sizes of "CS" alternators and I recommend that you stick with the smaller of the two. In stock configuration, you can get 105 amps and I feel that this should be more than enough unless you are running a "boom box" stereo playing rap music for the world (I don't like these people!).

The first thing that you have to look for is one that has the "straight flanges". What I'm talking about here is the mounting flanges. One of the flanges is for the pivot bolt. The other flange should be directly across from it and is for the bolt that goes in the slotted bracket. (I'm going to refer to this bolt as the tensioning bolt)

I asked the rebuilder what type (and year) car the alternator that I used came out of and here is the story. You want the alternator from a 89 through 93 full size GM truck. This includes the Bubs and Tahoe's. That's not to say that it wasn't used on other vehicles, I just didn't want to drive him crazy cross-referencing.

The flange for the tensioning bolt is tapped for a metric bolt. The bolt is 8mm and the thread pitch is 1.25 mm. You have to make sure that you get the correct pitch due to 8mm with 1.00mm pitch also being real common. Now you have to get one of those dang metric 13mm wrenches.

You really don't have to worry about the "orientation" of the connector (in the body) due to the fact that it's possible to unbolt the housing and rotate the rear cover.

As far as I know, all of the "CS" alternators come with a pulley for serpentine belts. When I got mine, I had the rebuilder just swap a "v-belt" pulley on it. It's the same pulley and fan as what is on a "SI".

Most of the connectors for the "CS" alternators are four wire. Don't worry!! You will only use two of them and the wiring is the same as the "SI" above!

On the connector that I got, there were four wires and the body of the connector had identification letters. Here are the id letters and the color wires (don't count on the colors to be the same as what you get).

"S", this was a heavy gauge, red wire.

"F", this was a small gauge, brown wire.

"L", this was a small gauge, brown/red wire.

"P", this was a small gauge, brown/white wire.

The red wire from "S" gets connected back to the output terminal of the alternator just like in the "SI" swap.

The brown/red wire from "L" gets connected to what is shown in the diagram above as the blue wire. It's this wire that comes (indirectly) from the idiot light and it energizes the alternator.

The wires from "F" and "P" are not used!

Mounting the alternator was just a remove and replace thing. The only bummer for my installation is that the spacer that goes between the block and the alternator should have an additional support bolt into the alternator (if using the "SI") and there isn't correct placement of the bolt hole in the "CS" alternator.

As an additional note; AC Delco sells a "conversion" wiring loom if you are changing from a "SI" to a "CS" and it is nothing but a few short wires and two connectors. One connector plugs into the existing wiring loom connector that was plugged into the "SI". The other new connector plugs into the "CS". What's real important to note is that there are two different types. One is "non-resistor" and the other has a resistance in it. You want the "non-resistor" one if you are going to keep the idiot light. Use the "resistor" one if you are getting rid of the idiot light. Be sure to read the "notes" section of this page before jumping!!

NOTES;

Why go through the trouble? Well, the "SI" alternators are easier to get and have a higher out-put. The "CS" alternators are even better!

What about those "single wire" alternators? From what I have heard from some very knowledgeable people, they tend to over heat and are not as durable. I also would question if the alternator light would function. Hey, it may be called an "idiot" light, but I'd rather it warn me about a problem then sit at the side of the road crying. While in an automotive electrical rebuild shop buying my new CS, the man said that the one wires really didn't have any overheating problems. So, I really don't know who to believe. He also said that it's possible to make up a "single wire" CS alternator.

And what about the idiot light? Well, the electricity that goes to energize the alternator (through the brown wire) comes from the idiot light. This leads to an interesting tid-bit, the alternator needs to see some resistance in this line. That resistance is the bulb! If you try to be "custom" and use a LED, there isn't the correct resistance and the alternator will not work correctly! You can't just by-pass the light!

Why can't I turn off my engine? You wired up the alternator wrong! Hey, it's only two small wires but you can swap them. What happens is that the output of the alternator feeds it's self and even though you turned off the ignition, as long as the alternator is spinning, it feeds the car and keeps running.

Ignition Tuning

     On a mechanically sound car, optimize the ignition timing before playing with the carb. Even if the jets are off, you'll never find the solution until the timing's right.

     Typical stock-type distributor curves have too much centrifugal advance built into the distributor. Assuming the use of 92-octane unleaded premium pump gas, less than 9:1-compression small block Chevys like about 10 to 11 degrees total advance in the distributor (20 to 22 as read on the crank), with 16 degrees initial timing at the balancer (for 38 degrees max crankshaft advance).

     The centrifugal advance curve should start around 1,200 rpm and be all in by 3,500 rpm. A lightweight car with a big solid-lifter cam (more rpm capability) and deep rear gears will tolerate more overall advance that comes in quicker (as early as 2,800 rpm). High compression ratios call for backing down the timing to avoid street-gas-induced detonation.

     Advancing the timing until the car "pings", then backing it off, doesn't always produce the best horsepower. Try advancing and retarding the timing in 2-degree increments to see if the car speeds up or slows down.

     Vacuum advance is good for street cars, as it promotes improved part-throttle fuel economy and driveability. Because the vacuum advance doesn't function under wide-open-throttle, you don't lose anything by leaving it hooked up.

     Hard-Running street cars may benefit from going to a spark plug that's one step colder than stock (but check for evidence of fouling). With high-output electronic ignitions, gaps of around .040 inch are usually a good compromise between getting a strong spark and preserving coil longevity.

Carb Tuning

     First of all, make sure that you've got the ignition timing set correctly before you start trying to adjust the carb.

     Before you make any major carb modification, make sure that the basic adjustments are correct. Set the idle mixture screws to give you the highest vacuum reading or the highest idle rpm using either a vacuum gauge or a tachometer.

     Although it won't affect WOT (Wide Open Throttle) horsepower, a proper accelerator pump shot is important to avoid an off-the-line bog, especially with Holley double pumpers. Fortunately, on a Holley you can play with the pump-cam position, shooter size, and pump cams to achieve optimum response. Non-Holleys may have limited accelerator-pump tuning ability, but at a minimum, they always have a rod you can bend. If your car does have an off-the-line bog, a basic rule-of-thumb is: If the car bogs, and the exhaust is black, the mixture is too rich. If the car bogs and the exhaust is "normal" the mixture is too lean.

     Jets have a definite affect on WOT power numbers. On a performance application running steep rearend gears where fuel economy is not a factor, jet the primaries and secondaries up or down in equal increments, unless the spark plugs offer a visual indication of uneven fuel distribution. Some carbs use metering rods instead of jets, but the principle is the same.  

 

                                                                      

Wheel Alignment.

Wheel Alignment is the mechanics of keeping the steering in proper adjustment. Correct wheel alignment is essential for easy and efficient steering and to avoid abnormal tyre wear. All it takes to throw a front end out of alignment is one bad pothole or one good bang against a curb. Even without abuse, front wheel alignment will change under normal, everyday driving conditions. The change may be so gradual that it is not noticed at first. The first sign of something wrong usually shows up on the front tyres, which develop peculiar wear patterns that will severely shorten the life of the tyre. When these appear, the vehicle should have its alignment checked.

            Having just replaced the front end bushings and dampers on the starchief I had a full 3 angle track carried out and must say it’s the best £50 I’ve spent on the car, it feels like a different car to drive.

Front wheel alignment is determined by the interrelation of three basic steering angles:  

Camber
Caster
Toe or tracking

 

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Camber

Inward or outwards tilt at the top of the wheel.

Too much tilt inward known as negative camber causes premature wear on the inside of the tyre.

Caster

Will not affect tyre wear, but will affect the steering ability and ride of your vehicle.

Backward tilt, know as positive caster, will keep your wheels pointing straight ahead and when turned will raise the vehicle on one side in either direction, thus the wheel returns due to the weight of the vehicle after a turn.

Too much tilt will cause the vehicle to bump shimmy (shaking of steering wheel when hitting bumps) and also give a rough ride.

Forward tilt know as negative caster is not something you want on a vehicle as the steering will not return and will wander erratically.

Too much difference in the caster readings from offside to nearside can cause the steering to pull one way.  

Tracking

Known as toe in or toe out ( tyres running parallel to each other).

Too much toe in or toe out especially, will wear the front tyres very fast.

Too much toe in will show up as a knife edge on the tyre tread to the inside.

Too much toe out will show up as a knife edge to the outside of the tread. Correct toe in is critical.  

The warning signs suggesting the need for alignment are easy to spot. They include:

bullet    Unusual tire wear. Look closely at all four of your tires. If one or more of them demonstrate excessive wear on one side, or wear in a cupped, scalloped or diagonal stripe pattern at edges or across the tread, or uneven wear but with "feathered" edges on the treads, an alignment could be needed. 
bullet    Unusual steering feel. If the steering feels stiffer than it used to, or if the wheel does not return to the centre position when released, or if the car feels skittish and like it is riding "on tip-toes", your wheels may be out of alignment.
bullet    If the steering wheel is cocked to one side when the front wheels are pointing straight ahead, an alignment is almost certainly needed.  
bullet    While driving, if the car wants to pull to one side, tends to wander or weave, or is subject to front end "shimmy", you should have the alignment checked immediately.
bullet    Or if your car wants to move "crab-like" on the road, with the rear end cocked off to one side while moving straight ahead, you're a top candidate for serious alignment.

                                                      

 

Radiator Caps are Important Too  

Old Cars Weekly, May 31, 2001

By: Bill Siuru

  While radiator caps look simple and do not cost much, they are critical to maintaining a properly operating cooling system. A faulty cap can result in overheating, loss of coolant or major engine damage, so it’s important that the cap is checked periodically and replaced, if necessary.

  To prevent overheating and coolant loss, cooling systems are pressurized, raising the coolant’s boiling point about three degrees Fahrenheit for each additional pound per square inch (psi) above atmospheric pressure. The cooling system is pressurized as the engine warms and the coolant expands. The radiator cap’s pressure relief valve allows pressure to build to a specified level, then allows excess pressure to escape.  

In an “open” system found in older vehicles, excess pressure escapes into the atmosphere through an overflow tube. As the system cools, air enters through the overflow tube and coolant is lost. Therefore, “closed” or reservoir cooling systems are used in later model vehicles. Here, as the coolant expands, it goes through the overflow tube into a reservoir. The radiator cap now serves as a vacuum relief and siphon valve allowing coolant to be siphoned back into the radiator as the engine cools and coolant contracts.  

Radiator caps also serve as a pressure relief valve to prevent excessive pressure in the cooling system after the engine is turned off. Unchecked, high pressure could cause damage to the radiator, heater core, hoses or water pump seal. The pressure cap also prevents radiator hoses and tanks from collapsing due to the partial vacuum that would be created if air was unable to enter.  

Check the radiator cap during routine maintenance, when coolant is tested or when coolant is replaced. Check only when the engine is cool. With the engine off, place a rag over the cap and remove it. Turn it counter clockwise about a quarter-turn until it reaches the safety stop. Allow all pressure to vent before removing the cap by pressing down and turning it counter-clockwise. On some vehicles, the radiator cap is located on the overflow reservoir.  

With the cap removed, pressure test it noting the maximum pressure when the cap valve opens. Caps come in a variety of pressure ranges: 4-pound caps (3-5lbs.), 7-pound caps (6-8lbs.), 13-/14 pound caps (12-16 lbs.) and 15-/16 pound caps (12-16 lbs.). The cap should be replaced if it fails to hold the rated pressure for one minute. Using a cap with the wrong pressure rating can cause over-pressurization or too low a coolant boiling point if the pressure rating is too low.  

Since radiator caps are so important and are relatively inexpensive, just replace with a new one. Also inspect the overflow tube connecting the filler neck to the overflow reservoir for looseness, cracking or obstructions. Check the radiator filler neck sealing surfaces for nicks, dents or corrosion that could impair sealing. Inspect gaskets for looseness, cracking, hardening or other damage that allows pressure leakage and coolant to escape.  

                                                                   

 

“Check those radiator and heater hoses

Old Cars Weekly

June 7, 2001

By: Bill Siuru  

I recently had a heater hose burst on my seldom-driven, 25-year-old car. The hoses all looked great from the outside, but one failed even though I had driven only a few miles and the engine had barely reached operating temperature. The problem was electrochemical degradation (ECD), which causes the cooling system to act like a battery. 

The active metal in the aluminum alloy thermostat housing and radiator are the negative electrodes or anodes. The coolant, with its ionic corrosion inhibitors, is the electrolyte. The hoses containing coolant and oxygen serve as the positive electrodes or cathodes. 

This battery-like reaction produces and electrical charge that leads to the striations within the tube wall. These fine cracks extend from inside to the outside near one or both ends of the hose. The coolant seeps through these cracks, attacking the hose reinforcement as it wicks along the length of the hose. The cracks, accelerated by high tempe5ratures, flexing and vibration, grow larger and deeper. Eventually, the hose springs a leak or ruptures under normal pressure.   

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Engineers at the Gates Rubber Company, who first discovered and diagnosed the problem in the mid-1980’s, estimate that 95 percent of coolant hose failures are now caused by ECD. Failures most often occur in upper radiator, bypass and heater hoses – the ones most likely to contain air when the vehicle is not running. Like rust and metal corrosion, ECD continues to destroy hoses even when the engine is off and the vehicle is in storage. 

A hose may look almost new, but since it goes bad from the inside out, appearance, alone, is not an indicator of when a hose is about to fail. However, you can feel the effects of ECD by squeezing the hose near the clamps. Failure normally occurs within two inches of the hose ends, not in the middle. 

Perform the test when the engine is cool. Use fingers and thumb, not the whole hand, to check for weakness. Check for any difference in feel between the middle and the ends of the hose. If the ends feel mushy, the hose should be replaced immediately. Make sure to inspect heater and other small hoses since the smaller the dimensions of the hose, the faster ECD damage can occur. 

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Gates research shows that hose degradation occurs in vehicles with as few as 25,000 miles on the coolant hoses. Stop-and-go driving or extended idling can accelerate the problem. The solution is to replace hoses, even ones that look good, more frequently. Never let them go longer than four years. 

You can remove hoses and inspect them internally, but why not replace them since by removing hoses you have already done the hardest part of the task. 

Electrochemically resistant (ECR) hoses are now available. For instance, Gates offers hoses made of a EPDM formulation that resists the destructive effects of ECD. The ECR hoses have gone 200,000 miles or more with no damage. Additionally, the Gates ECR hose inhibits coolant from permeating through the hose walls, which results in water loss and an imbalance of the antifreeze. (Too much antifreeze can be as detrimental as too little antifreeze concerning the boiling and freezing points.) 

Finally, replace clamps when replacing hoses. Although today’s clamps are usually made of stainless steel to resist corrosion and damage, they still use carbon steel screws, which can fatigue and lose strength.

                                                                

 

Old Cars Weekly   

June 7, 2001

By: William C. Anderson, P.E.

Focus On Fasteners

 

Underpinning every car restoration are hundreds of bolds, nuts, washers, and screws – fasteners all. Without them a car would be just a pile of metal, wood, cloth, and plastic.   

Some fasteners are critical in that they hold together those pieces that make the car go, turn, and stop. Others are not critical in that sense, yet they are no less important to a successful restoration. It is not enough that fasteners be of the right size, they must be of the proper strength. The cardinal rule is replacing or reusing fasteners is this: Always replace a fastener with one equal to that being replaced and do not reuse a fastener if it does not satisfy the specifications for the original. 

Many enthusiasts spend hours cleaning and restoring the original fasteners. From my perspective, this is a waste of time. More important, however, is that these “restored” fasteners may no longer have the strength to function properly. Dependable fasteners are a must. Therefore, this article provides some basic information regarding the manufacture and use of fasteners. 

Materials

Fasteners are made of steel. There are a thousand different compositions, each intended for a specific purpose. These many compositions can be classified as five basic types: carbon, alloy, stainless, tool, and special-purpose steel. Aluminum and titanium alloys and plastics are also used to manufacture fasteners. However, this article concentrates on the most common material, steel and its alloys. 

Steel and steel alloys used in fasteners may be heat-treated. Heat-treating is a process that subjects the fastener to heating and cooling in a way that yields specific properties. While any metal can be heat-treated its use for fasteners is to improve strength or hardness. 

Strength

Bolts, and their corresponding washers and nuts, are graded according to strength as well as thread pitch and type. The higher the load and/or the greater reliability required, the higher the grade of fastener. 

The Society of Automotive engineers (SAE) grades automotive fasteners from 1 through 8. The grade is indicated by markings on the fastener head. Figure 1 provides illustrations of these markings and the corresponding SAE or ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) specification, material, and physical properties for each. If nuts are used, it is important that their strength be equal to or greater than the strength of the bolt with which they are used (see Figure 2). The same is also true for washers. Remember, the ratings in Figure 1 are for new, properly manufactured fasteners. 

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As indicated in Figure 1, the grades differ in their tensile strength. Tensile strength is defined as the amount of load required to break or fracture a material by pulling it longitudinally and is expressed in pounds per square inch (psi). Note that Grade 8 fasteners have about twice the tensile strength of Grades 1 and 2. Another criterion is shear strength. Shear strength is a measure of the load applied at 90 degrees from the axis of the bolt required to break or fracture the material. It is about 60 percent of the tensile strength.  

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Failure

Fasteners Can fail for many reasons. One reason is that the bolt is not strong enough for the intended application. Another is that the fillet at the bolt head (see Figure 3) may become scratched, weakening the bolt and causing the head to break off under tension. The purpose of the fillet is to reduce the stress concentrated where the shank meets the head. 

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To protect the fillet, always correctly install a smooth washer. Installing a washer may seem a simple task, but many get it wrong. The correct way is to install the smooth side of the washer towards  the bolt head. Every flat washer has a rounded side and a sharp side that is usually visible and can always be detected by touch. These causes of failure can defeat even a new fastener that is structurally sound and satisfies its manufactured dimensions. This is generally not the case with original fasteners that have deteriorated due to exposure to the elements. 

Still, another mode of failure is fatigue. This can be caused by over tightening or cyclic stressing from repeated loosening and tightening or from the loads applied. For all these reasons it is far better to use new fasteners than the original(s). It also saves time cleaning, bead blasting and plating, which can also alter the original fastener’s characteristics.Sources

Many fasteners needed for automotive restoration can be readily purchased at local automotive supply stores with a little careful shopping. As a general rule, use a  Grade 5 fastener on any component related to control. An excellent source of automotive fasteners is Au-ve-co® products. This company not only has all the necessary grades, it often has the correct finishes (zinc, cadmium, black oxide, etc.) and it is a source for hundreds of unique fasteners used in body and trim applications. The one feature this company cannot supply is the company trade mark of the original fastener manufacturer. Where having the correct head markings are important for show competition, reproduction manufacturers have often filled this need. 

Au-ve-co and other manufacturers of automotive and industrial fasteners do not sell retail, they sell to the trade through sales representatives. Consult the Yellow Pages in your area under “Fasteners” to locate a representative near you. Some will sell to individuals or identify one of their outlets that will. However, you must buy in quantity; typical packages range from boxes of 25 to 100 items. Even by buying boxes, you will save money plus have some left over for your next project. 

It is also important to deal with reputable suppliers. While the “Fastener Quality Act” of 1990 (Public Law 101-592) makes it a crime to sell counterfeit bolts (miss-marked as to grade), counterfeiting continues. 

Application

Having the right size and grade of fastener is just part of what is needed for success. The other part is properly tightening the fastener. Every fastener has a correct torque – under-tightening can cause parts to work loose while over-tightening can exceed the fastener’s yield strength and contribute to failure. Yield strength is the load at which the bolt begins to stretch without increasing the clamping load. Depending upon material, it may be about 90 percent of the tensile strength. 

When a fastener is tightened, it endures stresses of tension and twist. Tension is desired, but twist also occurs because of friction, yet only the tension remains after the bolt is tightened. About 50 percent of this friction occurs at the bolt head and nut faces with 40 percent spread along the bolt threads. 

Figure 4 provides the recommended torque amounts for fasteners of varying size and type. These values are for clean, dry threads. Lubricant or plating on the fastener faces and threads will alter these values. Use 15 to 25 percent less torque if the fastener is lubed with graphite, Teflon, etc. Zinc plated fasteners require 15 percent less torque and chrome and cadmium plated fasteners require 25 percent less. The values given in Figure 4 are a last resort. The best source is the shop manual for your car; pay close attention to any conditions, i.e., oiled or dry, associated with the torque values supplied by the car manufacturer.   

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Keeping them tight

Keeping fasteners tight is as important as the initial tightening. There are many locking devices. Another cardinal rule is that locking devices should not be reused. Helical spring lock washers, the most common, work by maintaining a constant load against the head of the fastener; they should be used on the nut side, not the bolt. Spring steel lock washers with internal or external teeth work by biting into bolt head or nut surfaces. External-teeth lock washers are good for improving electrical contact between a fastener and cable terminal. Castellated nuts used with cotter pins or safety wire are the preferred locking approach for any part that rotates or moves, such as the hub nut on an axle shaft. 

Lock nuts are of two types. The deformable type uses mechanical distortion to bind on the bolt threads. These cannot be reused and often damage the bolt threads. Lock nuts that have a ring of plastic or nylon also create a bind on the threads. These fastener type cannot be used in high temperature applications of 250 degrees or more; some can be reused and others cannot. Finally, there are thread-locking compounds that keep the fastener tight by filling the gaps between the threads of the bolt and nut. There are several types of these compounds; removable, permanent, high temperature, etc. These compounds are especially resistant to vibration. 

Summary

Properly using fasteners is key to a successful restoration. While fasteners are deceptively simple, they are one more part of the automobile that has been engineered for a specific purpose and condition of use.  

                                                          

HEI Conversion.

Replace the resistance wire that ran to your points system, from the fuse block, with a 12guage wire (pink insulated if you want to remain factory compliant) and hook it up to the HEI "BAT" terminal. Okay, so you want more; The points system has two wires running to the coil, one is the above mentioned resistance wire. This wire provides reduced voltage to the coil while the engine is running. The other wire originates from the starter R terminal (the #6 stud furthest from the engine block on the starter solenoid). This wire provides full battery voltage to the coil during cranking only.
All your old points wiring can be eliminated. Trace both back through the wiring harness for neat removal. The resistance wire which sources at the fuse block needs to be replaced, and the best method is to pull off the engine compartment side of the fuse block, (DO NOT WASH OUT THE GREASE! If you do, you will be stranded every time things get moist outside.) and remove the lug corresponding to the resistance wire. There is a small catch on one of the face edges of this lug which needs to be depressed and the lug will pull through towards the "inside" of the fuse block. It takes a bit of patience to remove it. If you want to practice first, and get a few extra lugs (new lugs are apparently available from the GM parts counter), visit an auto wreckers and pull the engine side fuse block. And while you are there, get the HEI "Batt" wire--you'll have a factory plug for the HEI then. (A regular female spade lug is all it takes). I'd recommend pulling the batt wire from a Buick engine equipped car-the distributor is at the front of the engine, and you will have a long wire to run any which way you want.

You finally have the lug in your hands with a bit of resistance wire still attached, carefully pry open the crimp to remove the old wire. Feed your new 12 gauge wire through the fuse block (remember, the lug has to be inserted from the "inside"), strip off an appropriate amount of insulation, gently crimp it onto the lug, and then solder it for a secure and electrically tight connection. Reinstall the lug into its slot, steal a wipe of the grease from the fuse block and coat your new lug. Reinstall the fuse block.
For preventative measure, hook up a voltmeter to your new ignition feed wire and check for 12 volts in the run, and start positions. Dress your wire, hook it up to your HEI, and off you go!!!

Tip #1: If your short term memory is like mine, mark, make a diagram, whatever it takes, to indicate which of the empty slots in the fuse block corresponds to the lug feeding the ignition system.

Tip#2: If you are experiencing part throttle pinging with the HEI, you probably have a 20 degree vacuum advance can. Most HEIs have a ridiculous amount of advance here, which is a detriment when you start experimenting for optimum timing. Pull the distributor cap and you will find a number stamped on the top of the support bracket near the can. This is the cans advance, it can be anything from 8 to 24 degrees. A 10 degree vacuum can is ideal. It is available from AC Delco Parts, or your dealership. Canadian AC Delco part number: D1370A

Tip#3: If you are experiencing a pinging under slight loads or going uphill (part throttle) , hook your vacuum advance to manifold vacuum, this will cut down on the amount of vacuum advance and hopefully rid you of the pinging. Excessive pinging will require a deeper look into your ignition timing and/or mechanical advance rates.

Thought #1: Ported Vacuum or Manifold Vacuum? Manifold vs. Ported, its a never ending debate. Depending on the age of who you ask, and their own experiences you still have a 50-50 chance of one or the other. Ported vacuum is the choice of the factory. It is also my recommendation to start with ported vacuum. Depending on what level of modifications you have done to your engine, your driving style, and your vehicles characteristics its a point of debate. Each presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages. My suggestion is to just try both and observe how your engine behaves for your driving style.

 

This information is only intended as an overview and may not include all the necessary information, data, or facts to complete the swap.
Remember, every vehicle is unique, and research for your particular vehicle is recommended.  

                                                        

Troubleshooting a low or spongy brake pedal and related problems

Old Cars Weekly

January 27, 2000

By; John Gunnell

If your collector car runs like new, you will want to insure that it also stops like it did the day that it left the factory. One sign of brake-system problems is a brake pedal that goes quiet low to the floorboard when pushed down. A second sign of work being needed is a pedal with a "spongy" feeling.

Both of these conditions can exist in a car with manual brakes or one with power brakes. The accompanying diagnosis-and-repair chart is based on a '77 General Motors car which had power disc brakes as standard equipment. In an older car with manual brakes, the basic troubleshooting process would be similar, but you would not have to start the car to activate the power-brake booster.

Also, if the car is new enough to have a brake-system warning light, you will have to turn the ignition on, with the parking brake off, as illustrated in step 1. Apply the service (foot) brake by pushing on the pedal. If the warning light stays off, proceed to step 2. If the warning light goes on, go to step 3.

If your later-model car has a brake warning light that went off in step 1, disconnect the warning light wire as shown in step 2. Then connect a jumper wire as seen in the illustration. If the warning light now goes on, proceed to step 4. If the warning light remains off, check for a bad bulb or defective wiring. Replace the bulb or repair the wiring as necessary.

Whatever year, make and model your collector car is and whether it has manual or power brakes, a low or spongy pedal is probably going to require checking and fixing the master cylinder, as illustrated in step 3. Older cars will have a fluid chamber and newer ones will have two chambers, one large and one small.

The fluid level in the master cylinder should be up to factory specifications as noted in your factory service manual or after market repair manual. If one chamber is empty, check for hydraulic leaks or worn out linings. If there's a leak, you can often fix it with an inexpensive repair kit. However, professionals today prefer using a new master cylinder.

Last summer I took my '53 Pontiac to a Firestone store for what I thought would be a simple replacement of a section of brake line. By the time the job was over, the car had all-new lining and new wheel cylinders. The rear linings came from a local mechanic named Al Suehring, who picks up lots of old-car parts at swap meets. I purchased the rear wheel cylinders at the Iola Old Car Show for about $20.00 each.

When the front wheel cylinders and linings also turned out to be bad, I mail ordered all of the components from Kanter Auto Parts of Boonton, NJ. Fred and Dan shipped them overnight and I go the car back in time for a rally in Lake Geneva, WI.

Getting back to later-model GM cars, if step 3 revealed fluid in both chambers, it's time to go through all the checks in step 4. If the pedal is low and spongy, check for and repair hydraulic leaks. If the pedal is low and hard, check for bad adjusters or worn linings or pads. If the pedal sinks slowly towards the floorboard, you'll have to repair the master cylinder with a rebuild kit or replace it.

After all of the fixing is done, the final step is completely bleeding all air from the brake system and replacing any fluid that you lost with new brake fluid of the proper type.

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