Rolling Again

I took last Wednesday off and devoted it to a final push. My goal, get the car back on the road. I started the morning with a helper, bleeding the brakes (yet again—more on that later) then started wrapping up loose ends: the last valve cover, engine compartment braces, hooking up the heater control cables, etc. I also welded spacers and bolts to the driver’s seat brackets to make the installation easier and a little safer.

Permanently adding a spacer and bolts to the driver's side seat brackets.
Permanently adding a spacer and bolts to the driver’s side seat brackets.

Since I was about to hide all the wiring behind the left radio access cover (necessary to support the ignition switch), I spent some time wiring up an aftermarket stereo. It requires one always-on power lead and another from a switched source. I took the hot lead from the cigar lighter and looked for the feed wire powering the existing radio. The wiring diagram says it is blue/yellow, which I found, but I couldn’t confirm that it had power. Instead, I tapped into the power feed for the heater blower motor.

To test the power leads, I had to hook up the battery. I was the first time in months the car had seen power, and it was nice to see at least part of the car come alive. The turn signal was ticking and the blower motor came on, as did the courtesy lights–all good things. (Though I spent a few minutes pondering why I couldn’t turn the courtesy lights off until I realized that the light switch must be in the on position.)

The lower valence of the dashboard on the driver’s side is probably the most puzzling part of the whole assembly. It took me a while to line everything up and get it screwed down—it didn’t help that a lot of the screw holes have been stripped over time. In the end, it was not difficult once I figured out how it all tied together.

Passenger side, all buttoned up.
Passenger side, all buttoned up.

For difficult, the clock pod takes the prize. I did that earlier in the week, and it’s a four-handed job: one to hold the pod in place (and not scratch up the newly-painted dash), two to connect the many wires that feed into it (and don’t have a lot of slack to them, either) and another to get the screws started. Four screws hold the pod on, each threaded into a blind “speed nut.” The nuts in the back holes don’t have much metal to clip to. Three times I tried to get one of the rear screws threaded on, and three times the nut slipped off its mount and fell into the recesses of the dash. Finally, I decided that three screws was plenty and another attempt was only likely to cause damage, especially in the mood I was in.

By the end of the day Wednesday, the carpet was fully trimmed and the driver’s seat was in. I only had time to sit there for a moment, contemplating, before other responsibilities called me away.

Friday afternoon, I was able to install the steering wheel, spray a shot of starting fluid into the carb and turn the key. Happily, the engine fired on the first try. I backed into the driveway where spilled brake fluid burned off the exhaust for a while. None of the new gauges registered at first, except the ammeter. Once I got down the road a block, the oil pressure gauge came to life and the temp needle crept up a bit. The gas gauge never moved, but it may just be stuck from non-use.

The shakedown run was very short and slow—the brakes were mushy and the pedal was right down on the carpet. Clearly, there is either a lot of air left in the system or something else is amiss. I am considering having the brakes professionally inspected and bled.

3 thoughts on “Rolling Again”

  1. Good to hear! Especially that it started right away. Sounds like a bad master cyl, but you replaced that didn’t you? Assuming you properly bled the brake system and neither wheel cyl is leaking the brakes should work just fine!

    1. Master and all the wheel cylinders are relatively new–no evidence of leaks. I’m assuming that I screwed up the bleeding. Picked up a vacuum bleeder today and am going to take a second shot at it tomorrow.

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