Monday, January 12, 2009

Obsolete knowledge...

When my nephew turned 16 my sister found him a '67 Galaxie 500 for his first car. One owner, good body and driveline, $800. His older brother took it to school with him and reupholstered it in his classes at WyoTech and it's done well for the kid.

Just before Christmas he complained of it "dieseling", trying to run after the key was shut off. Before I could gather things and go take a look at it I "dinged" my back up and only got around to it yesterday.

In attending some classes in the early 80's they were talking about the electronic revolution in automobiles and stating that not only would electronic ignition and fuel injection soon become standard, but they would be doing away with the distributor as well. I couldn't believe it at the time, but most everything on the road now is sans both distributor and carburetor.

Which brings me to my "header"...

I dug out my "dwell meter" and a "timing light", "feeler gauges" and "plug gap gauges", "distributor wrenches" along with some other tools and went to tune his car before he went to work yesterday afternoon. It turned out Brett had put points, condenser, cap and rotor and plug wires along with a set of plugs in it somewhere along the way; the point gap was OK and I double checked it with the "dwell" part of my meter. The timing was way overadvanced, so I pulled it back to "stock" then reset the hot and fast idle speeds. In trying to readjust the idle fuel mixture (made passe by fuel injection in what is in most of your driveways) I discovered a vacuum line that was off and another that was plugged. The one that was plugged was the "main feed" for the dash with all of it's vacuum controlled A/C and heater doors and switches. Since Jordan had been complaining of no heat and no defrost, I'm hoping that is fixed now. The doors definitely work now and didn't before, so as long as the thermostat is the right temp and the heater core isn't plugged he should have heat. A good thing as they're predicting 17 for a high later in the week!

The "vacuum advance" in the distributor is also "blown" (another function that magic box now takes care of) and with it being 20-25% of the gas mileage, I told him on the next warm Saturday I will come up and pull it. NAPA seems to be the only source of them lately, and they will have to match up numbers and order it. Since he only drives a few blocks to school and work it's not such a big deal, but when he starts college in the fall it will become a much larger issue!

I wonder how many more times I'll use those old tools before I'm "gone"? Of course, I also have Dad's "flathead" valve spring compressor and special tappet wrenches along with his "flathead" Ford manual as well...I've never used them, but had always planned on it somewhere along the way.

Dillon spent the weekend with us. Friday night, since he's been digging through car magazines when he's here, I let him watch "American Graffiti". Saturday found me digging up some photos of the yellow "Deuce" coupe from the movie and we made him two t-shirts with the coupe on them and two from aircraft photos I've collected through the years, a B-29 and a B-52. He was delighted with all 4.

The "critters" all seem to have settled into "toleration" of each other. Throwing 2 8 year old male cats into a house with a 2 year old male cat and a 13 year old dog and having them all survive proves to me that humans have no excuses...none...for some of what we do to each other!

My back is doing much better, though it will still "complain" on occasion. Usually sleeping is the worst as after I doze off, I tend to roll into positions that make it say "Hey!" when I try to get up. Especially if the phone rings, lol!

May the week be very kind to each of you!



Shinigami Liz said...

I absolutely loved hearing about all the work you did on that car (which was very kind of you to do also.) I've been away from the factories for only 2 weeks and already miss hearing stories like that, even though I wouldn't have any clue how to do any of that stuff myself. But thank you for the warm memories of my dad and his friends that story brought back to me.

I'm happy to hear that your back is finally feeling better and I hope it stays better too.

Anonymous said...

A 67 Galaxie 500? For 800 bucks! What a nice deal! What's under the hood? Those old cars were great to drive, even though they don't have the suspension and handling of the newer cars. I still have those tools, I have a very worn out 1972 GMC 3/4 ton truck that needs those kinds of tools.

Samantha said...

Wow, now that brings back some serious memories. Like the Galaxy 500 convertible my Dad bought new the year after I was born, that was a '65. Then of course was the small fleet of '67 Country Squire Station wagons with the 327s in them we went through and made last until the 80's when my Dad finally broke down and bought a new Datsun B210. Back in the day my Dad decided I needed to make myself useful, and taught me how to tear down one of those bard and rebuild-repair them. Tach, Dwell, and Foru degrees before Top Dead Center all mean something to me.

I tend to avoid working on the new stuff, thought I'm sure if I had to, I'd be able to manage it. Though to this day I still do my own disc brakes because I can't see the prices they charge, and the obsession they have with turning the rotors every time they change the shoes... So I do it myself. I can pull the wheels, pull the calipers, remove the worn shoes, compress the calipers and install new shoes, and put the whole thing back together in under an hour. Without breaking a nail! Makes my sister-in-law hate me that much more. She opens boxes for a living and can't get her nails to grow, my, I periodically have to cut an 1/8th of an inch off them to keep them from getting too long. So it makes her crazy to see me do a break job and not even chip them.

I'll be honest, I miss good old motors I could really get into, and the monster engine compartments they lived in. distributor & carb based systems never bothered me. EFI and all the computer crap, just kinda makes me twitchy.

Glad the back is back up to snuff, I can so relate to feeling icky.

As to the critters, yeah they ALWAYS make humanity look anything but humane. Sad really.

As to being gone, no worries Lad, you've got time yet. No need to rush it. Stop and smell the roses, visualize the vistas, and touch the sky my friend, you'll miss them on the other side. Trust me, I know of what I speak.

Anonymous said...

An ex-girlfriends father had a red Galaxy 500 back in the early 80;s when I was back in London, it was fun parking that around those little streets I can tell you :-)

robin andrea said...

Love hearing how you analyzed and repaired your nephew's car. It reminded me of listening to the radio show CarTalk on NPR. It's amazing how entertaining car repair can be. Nice job, alan. Back injuries take time, so be good to yourself.

Sassy said...

Fix my car next?


jl said...

hi alan,

thank-you for your words...they never fail to lift my spirit...

i guess that's the decision we have to make with our be open and trust in people, which will unavoidably lead to disappointment at times (the nature of human relationships), or to close a part of ourselves off to avoid pain. i choose the former because i believe the latter is a waste of the life i now have.

i think now, after all these years, that i have finally come to know that risking is living, being open is living...and i can accept whatever comes my way as a result, (even the sadness and hurt) because i prefer to live a life that is full and rich...and quite frankly, because i get to know people like you, quite extraordinary... :)

Anonymous said...

800 bucks? I am so jealous! What a beauty! Post a pic??

beckyboop said...

Man Alan, you sound like you are quite the wrench! Great skills to have. I'm sure your nephew has a great respect for you and was thrilled...Uncle Alan is pretty cool.

von Krankipantzen said...

SWEET! My first car (at the age of 22 sadly) was a 66 Valiant Slant 6 and my bro and dad worked on it just because it was fun. I can remember the only tool I had in the trunk was a sturdy screw driver as that would take care of anything what was jammed, sticking, or loose while on the road. I believe I paid $660 for it and that seemed like a lot. I hope your nephew watched what you did and learned something. Have a great rest of the week.