Eight Degrees

It was briefly and unexpectedly dry today, so I fired up the T-Bird and broke out the timing light.

Back when I bought this car, it was a bear to start. Things improved over time, but it never lit up as easily, the way the Y-Block did, when I had my old truck. Before the refresh, a week long sit would have meant a few minutes of cranking, with possibly a few cough-sputter-try-agains thrown in for good measure.

Ol Red wasn’t pretty, but oh so reliable.

After the refresh, it fired after about 20 seconds of cranking—just long enough to get the gas flowing—and it stayed running, nice and strong. My sense is that, yeah, that was one tired old cam, and it was good to get it replaced.

I’m also getting the sense that in the time-honored Thunderbird tradition, there were multiple overlapping problems with the motor when I started this project. Solving one, as usual, has just uncovered another.

While the motor warmed, I poured in a couple gallons of gas from a 5-gallon jug. (Not an easy thing, they way that fill tube is arranged.) With a tach and timing light, I set the idle to 800 rpm and dropped the timing down to about 8 degrees advance. There was still some vibration at high revs, but overall, things were smoother than before.

I took it out for a 2 mile spin and what felt like vibration in the garage was more like an occasional misfire or hesitation under moderate acceleration. At cruise, around 40 or less (I didn’t go any faster) it seemed smoother than it ever had. Looking back over my notes, I had bucking, heavy misfiring and even some backfires, not to mention a suspicious ticking sound in the motor prior to this evolution. Most of that is gone, so the work was not without some reward.

I’ll be trading in the ‘Bird for an ark shortly.

The ride, with the new suspension, was sweet. And the lowered stance is pretty much perfect—exactly what I wanted. Oddly enough, it tracks arrow straight, at least at low speeds. (I have no idea how that happened.)

For now, at least, everything seems ok for cruising around town. Rain is forecast for, well . . . pretty much forever, but when it breaks, I’ll run in for an alignment. After that, it may take some new parts, but I’m pretty certain I can tune out the last of the misfire. It looks to be a fun summer with the car.

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