Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Water neck O-Rings

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So, I got some new O-Rings for my water neck today. They’re Viton rather than regular rubber, which means it’ll work with a higher heat range. And viton doesn’t “learn” a compressed state (that’s why Holley uses it for carb needle valve tips), so reusability should be better (combined with the slightly harder material I selected) – and it’s just a hair thicker than the regular replacements. But I had to get like 20 of the things. So, if you have a leaky Mr Gasket or similar O-Ring water neck (2 1/8″ inside diameter o-ring, 1/8″ thick), lemme know – I have way more than I need, and I know several other people have these things leaking all over their hoods.

In the quantity I got, they cost me about $3 each, so I’m willing to drop them in the mail for that price. If you want one, contact me – or just send the money via PayPal to and I’ll drop one (or however many you want) in an envelope and send it to you.

Here’s a couple of pictures of them, showing how much better these fill out the groove than the ones you get at the parts store:

The wagon lives! Sortof.

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Well, I finally tracked down the reason the ABS light was activated in the wagon.  Apparently, battery voltage is one of the tests performed by the Bosch system used in the ’95 Caprice and friends.  Thanks, awesome website!  Anyway, my leaky air shocks were running the battery down and causing the low condition, even though the cool gear-reduction starter GM used on the LT1 (which, as long as you have the bigger flexplate/flywheel, you can also use on a Gen 1 smallblock or any of the big blocks, BTW) was cranking it over just fine.  So, the Battery Tender took care of that.

But I still have a problem with the transmission, and a power steering leak.  The steering leak is easy enough; I just have to replace the lines.  I’m gonna go ahead and put in the cooler return line used in the cop cars, since it has the extra loop of line which works as a steering cooler, and only costs a few bucks more.

The transmission is weird, though.  I blew the pump up a year or so ago, and just fixed it recently.  Now it runs, but what’s happening is that the computer tells the transmission to enter second, the transmission says “hey, I’m in second” – but it stays in first.  And since the shiftpoints are controlled by the road speed (which is annoying when you change tire sizes / gears / etc), you have to continue accelerating to the speed where it would normally do the 2-3 shift – except that you’re actually still in first.  So, the engine’s screaming,but the computer thinks all is fine because you’re supposedly in second.  Once it shift to third, the 3-4 shift happens as normal.

Now, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on.  I’m a tad concerned that I’ll have to pull the transmission back out an rebuild it.  But I don’t want to take it back out.  I’m considering just changing the shiftpoints to just skip second gear.  The thing makes enough torque that, with the better rear gears, I could drive it that way – or probably sell it to someone a little less mechanical.  But that’d be mean, and I’d probably feel bad. :)  So, it’ll get fixed.  Anyone with thoughts on how to do so is welcome to contact me. ;)


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There’s now 7 cars in the fleet. I’ve acquired a 1989 BMW 325i. It runs well, but has some minor cosmetic details which need adjusting (just clearcoat on the roof and new seat covers). The windows have been tinted and the stereo replaced now, though, and it’s been all cleaned up otherwise. I’ve been driving it for a few weeks, and nothing’s fallen off (well, the A/C stopped working when the compressor clutch died and the refrigerant leaked out the front and rear seals on the pump, but who needs comfort?), so I’m happy that I can pretty much just leave it alone.

Its probably about time to get rid of a couple of vehicles, since no one uses the prefix for seven (septavehicular?), while five and six are in common use. And Beth will probably stab me in my sleep if I get another just to say that we’re octovehicular. The Wagon and the Scooter are for sale, as a result… :)

it’s alive!

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So, I found a couple of pretty big vacuum leaks on the truck tonight. Fixing those has made a big difference in the idle quality, and got rid of the popping in the exhaust. :) Hooray for all of the air going through the carb. :)

also, the tailpipes are all welded up and exerything is clamped in place. So I now have a 3 inch mandrel-bent full exhaust with an X pipe. Soon i’ll be able to get focused back on fine-tuning with the innovate box and wide-band O2. Maybe I can get better than 9 mpg… :/

Identifying Chevrolet starters

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So, I always have a hard time differentiating between a 153 and 168 tooth flexplate and the starter that matches.  The bigger flexplate (168 tooth is 14″) uses the starter with offset holes, and the smaller one (153 tooth is ~12.75″) uses the starter with in-line holes.  Big and small blocks all use the same two basic starters (I’m not sure about the LS engines). I really like the smaller body gear reduction Corvette/Impala LT1 starter with the small flexplate, just because that starter is so much easier to install due to light weight. :)

There’s a great thread at Chevytalk which has pictures and words and stuff.  So, I’m sticking that link up here in order to prevent myself from forgetting in the future.

Time to clean the cars

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It’s Springtime again, and time to fix up the finishes on my badly neglected cars.  There are currently 5 cars and a bike outside my house, which means I’ll be polishing for a while.  Because I had to buy some more materials, I thought I’d put together a list of the stuff I use in the Wagonlicious store (it’s through Amazon, so you can trust in getting good service).  Yes, this is a shameless plug, as I get some small percentage of purchases.  But I also wanted to put together a list of products to answer people who ask me what I use; print it out and take it to your local auto parts store to buy there if you don’t like buying things on-line.  They’re good products whether or not you get them from my store. :)

Basically, I really like Meguiar’s products.  With any polishing compounds, you really need to use a system – Mother’s and 3M also make really good stuff, but they’re not as easy to find (though I do use 3M stuff on fresh paint, because it’s easier to find at paint suppliers that in larger quantities, and I tend to use more when wet sanding a full car).  I also added links to the DA tool and polishing pads I use.  You’ll have $150 in the buffer and pads, but you just can’t get as good of results by hand – and you’ll probably kill your arms if you try. :)  The Porter Cable DA polisher rocks; I can’t say enough good things about it.  The Meguiar’s pads are well-built and readily available, which is the main reason I use them.

I also put the Turtle Wax wheel and interior cleaners I use up there, because IMHO, they’re the best products for those two tasks out there.  I’ve not used everything available, of course, but I’ve used several, and the stuff I have in my store is the best I’ve used – and is mostly the best price.  Also note that just about everything is eligible for Super Saver shipping – so if you spend over $25, shipping is free. I think it also respects Prime shipping, if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

The truck’s ignition saga continues

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So, I’ve been unable to get the old HEI to work as expected. I replaced the starter yesterday and it now cranks over well, but I’m still not getting a solid spark. So I’m going back to the Accel electronic distributor. Tonight I ordered a male-terminal cap for the distributor (to make swapping back to HEI easier) and an MSD Blaster 2 SS. I chose that coil because it’ll work stand-alone, or will work with a CD system (I like the Accel 300+, but MSD boxes are fine  as well).

I guess I’ll know Tuesday evening if this finally resolves the problem or not.

New exhaust

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Last week my new 3″ Flowmaster 40-series delta flow mufflers came in, as well as the Summit universal X pipe kit (and some hedman X-tensions).  Over the weekend, I got the parts halfway welded up and hung under the truck.  I still need to make some new tailpipes and finish welding the seams, but I couldn’t resist driving it in to work anyway.  Wow it sounds good.  It’s a relatively low compression 454, but any big block running through dual Flowmaster 40s and a full 3″ mandrel-bent exhaust sounds awesome.  I recommend them.  They’re surprisingly quiet, actually – I think the X junction and fairly large pipe make a difference there (as well as the delta flow technology).  With full tailpipes, I expect it to actually be a lot quieter than I originally anticipated.  Well, as long as I can keep my foot out of the throttle… :)

Truck running better

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I’ve had some troubles with carburetors for the last few weeks.  Since I had an extra HEI ignition laying around, I thought I’d see if maybe my old Super Coil and plain Accel electronic distributor might actually be at fault.  So, after about an hour’s worth of making some new plug wires to use the new male-terminal HEI distributor (as opposed to the old socket-style cap on the current distrib), and about 1/2 hour of cranking the engine over and over to finally get the stupid timing mark to line up :) it was running with a stock HEI.

Somewhat surprisingly, it ran way better.  I could actually get the carb dialed in properly.  I think the old (15+ years) Super Coil had just gotten weak – probably from sitting with the key on too long a variety of times.  Now to rebuild the Hei with a performance module instead of the stocker.  Oh, and to get the carb linkage set up properly so that I actually get full throttle with the gas pedal mashed instead of the roughtly 3/4 throttle I get now – I’m sure that will improve acceleration. ;)

wagon rear panel

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I took a picture of the interior panel on the [1995 Caprice] wagon’s tailgate / end gate so people can see where the 6 panel retainers are located. Once you take out the screws on the top edge and the four or so screws around the sides, you still have to pop these all out. The two in the middle are the ones that make you think something’s wrong and that you missed a screw – but you didn’t. :)

The replacement retainers are available through Dorman, so most parts stores have them. I got mine at Advance Auto since that was the closest store to me, and they came in a 3 pack identified as GM fasteners.

wagon rear panel