Cough and Sputter

The bird ran reliably for a couple of years with a phenolic space under the carburetor body. I took that spacer out earlier this year, but thought it best to return to the “last known good” setup. I searched around my shop for some 20 minutes, finally turning up the spacer and some gaskets, but not the long studs I needed to complete the installation.

Since we moved, searching around for things (and never having them turn up) has become a way of life. I gave up on the studs after looking in all the obvious places (and some not quite so). For now, at least, the I’ll have to do without the spacer.

The carb reinstallation was routine; the hardest part being the fuel line, which is getting rigid with age. I gave the carb a couple of shots of starter fluid, turned the key . . . and, well, it ran. Sorta.

Broken rotor
Not entirely sure how this could happen, but there it is.

A month or so ago, I started the car to move the it out of the garage. After an overnight battery charge, it fired right up and ran normally while I backed it out (and again when I drove it back in that evening.) Now, with the carb rebuilt, it barely ran, and as the choke opened, it ran even worse, finally sputtering and quitting.

I was able to restart it a few more times, but it coughed and backfired, completely refusing to idle, almost as if the . . . timing . . . was waaaay off. But that couldn’t be, could it?

I pulled the distributor cap, just out of curiosity, and was a little shocked to find that the rotor had somehow snapped, cocking the lead enough to point at the wrong cylinder, but not  far enough off to keep the motor from running at all.

I had run out of time for the day, but I have a spare rotor and cap. (And I’m pretty sure I know where they are, too.) If I get a chance tomorrow, I’ll install them and try the motor again.

A Ten Letter Word

Ready to rebuild
A clean place to work

Sometime around mid-summer, I took the ‘Bird for a short errand—about a mile, maybe two—parked it for about 5 minutes, then came back and tried to restart it. Frustratingly, I found myself once again cranking and cranking with nothing to show for it. Finally, I walked home in defeat. Later that evening, when the motor was stone cold, I went back, and it started up at the first touch of the key.

I can’t rely on a car that will only start when cold, so for some months now, the T-Bird has been parked, and I’ve been driving my truck, which is even older that the car. It has its issues, too, but it at least it starts reliably.

Before I forked over $300 for another carburetor—and I’m pretty sure this is a fuel-related problem—I bought a rebuild kit for the Edelbrock. Last weekend, I finally cleared a spot on the workbench, pulled the carb off and set to work.

The kit I got was very complete. It had a variety of gaskets for different Edelbrock models and included a new, metal accelerator pump

Old gaskets
Some of the gaskets in the primary circuit had delaminated and were difficult to remove.

The worst-case scenario here is tearing into the carb and finding nothing wrong. Everything looked pretty clean inside, but I found two potential issues: the wrong gaskets under the primary venturies and no clips connecting the needle valves to the floats.

I don’t think the gaskets were a big deal They’re either original or were part of the last rebuild kit I used, and the car ran fine with them for some time. The missing clips I can’t explain—I really don’t know how long I’ve been running without them.

While I doing the final adjustments, I could see that without the clips, the needle valves didn’t always release properly when the floats dropped. It’s entirely possible that the valves could stick when hot and starve the motor of fuel, so perhaps this is the solution I’ve been looking for.

The carb is ready to go—I’ll install it early this week and try a couple of test runs.