Monday, September 25, 2017

Where 'Ya Been, Bucky?

I haven't posted since July, so you might wonder what's happened to ol' Bucky.

Well, I'm just busy with other stuff lately, so I haven't written much here.

[What kind of stuff, Bucky?]

Well, way back in 1979, my father-in-law bought a new car.  It was an Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale.  He kept it nicely, and when he wanted to get another new car, he sold it to us.

We still have it.

It has been in the garage since March of 1989 when we got it from him, and have only driven a relatively few miles in the succeeding 28½ years.

It has a 4.9 liter (301 in3) V-8 manufactured by Pontiac.  That year was just after the dust up and lawsuits that ensued when owners who thought they were getting "Rocket Oldsmobile" engines were actually getting engines made by other GM divisions.  This Pontiac engine has a Dualjet two-barrel carburetor made by Rochester.

Options include air conditioning, analog gage package instead of idiot lights, AM/FM stereo radio, cruse control, power door locks, and driver reminder package.

The red velour seats and the carpet are very nice, and quite comfortable.  The power steering provides effortless, one-finger steering, even when parking.  I like that a lot.  It is not like the heavy labor you have to exert with today's barely-there power steering. 

A trailer hitch, auxiliary transmission cooler, power CB/radio antenna, and curb finders were added over the years.  What are curb finders, you ask?  Well, they extend from the body in front of the right front wheel and behind the right rear wheel, and telegraph noise to the driver when parking that he is getting close to hitting the curb with the tires.

They work like a charm, and save the white sidewall tires from a lot of scuffing. You can still buy them. 

Everything on the car was original except the alternator, water pump, horns, master cylinder, ignition lock cylinder, headliner, battery, hoses, tires, speedometer cable, and maintenance items. That's doing pretty well for such an old car, I think. 

I decided to get the car out a few months ago because the garage I was keeping it in was no longer available.

...and I learned something when I got it out of there: Things don't work well on a car if you don't drive it regularly. 

So, I put my mechanic's hat on and set to work.

After so many years unused, it needed rear brake cylinders.  Both were seized in their bores, and would not actuate the drum brake shoes.  While I had it apart, I replaced the shoes and the various hardware that holds the pieces together on the brake back plate.  Not too bad a job, really.  The front disk brakes were OK. 

Next I tried to start the engine.  No go.  Cranked fine, but would not start.  I checked that there was gas, broke the fuel line and it spurted out as it should.  The gage showed full.  I checked for spark.  OK.  I checked for compression, and found it to be to specification, and nearly equal on all cylinders.  Good.  I rebuilt the carburetor, cleaned the EGR passages as long as I was in there, replaced the fuel pump, and changed the fuel filters.  (The original in the carburetor inlet and one I added in the line between the fuel tank and fuel pump.) 

Where'd the carb go?
Before rebuild.
Before rebuild.
The carb rebuild kit is a very nice one I bought from  I bought some extra fuel bowl gaskets because that gasket can get ripped a little every time you open the carb.  (I opened it a few extra times while I was troubleshooting the no-start issue.) 
EGR passages beneath EGR valve.

By the way, both QuadraJet Parts and The Carburetor Shop have good online troubleshooting sections.

Alas, the engine still would not run well.  Rats.  Now what? 

I put in more time with the thinking cap on. 

By using my little remote video camera inserted through the filler pipe, I found that the fuel tank was pretty corroded inside, and I found that the tank was nearly empty instead of nearly full as the dash gage had indicated.  I figured that by the time I cleaned the old tank and coated the inside, I could replace it with a new one from Advance Auto Parts.  It turned out that the fuel gage sending unit was corroded too, causing the needle to show that the tank was full.  So I replaced the fuel tank and sending unit, the latter including the fuel pickup and return, and the sock filter.

Are you old enough to remember that the fuel filler pipe is behind the rear license plate on these cars?

I also checked for the integrity and correct routing of all vacuum lines using this diagram.

To be sure everything was ready to make the car drivable, I also replaced the spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor, and spark plug cables.  Despite the air conditioning compressor and evaporator housing positioned above and near the right bank of cylinders, the spark plugs are easy to reach and change.  That's good! 

After all that, and a tank fill up of fresh non-ethanol fuel.  It started and I went to adjusting the idle mixture and RPM with this tool from Advance Auto Parts, .AutoCraft AC667.

I had not rebuilt an automotive carburetor for more than twenty years, so I had to be careful to relearn my skills there.  For that matter, I have not driven a car with a carburetor since this one went into storage.  After all that work, the engine now starts and runs well.  Whew.  Looking back, I can now see that the real problem with the engine not starting and running well was probably decade-old, sour gasoline in the tank.  If I had drained that, I might have gotten by with a lot less work, but changing everything that I did resulted in a reliable, clean fuel system, and other well-functioning engine systems as well. 

To finish it off, I flushed and refilled the cooling system, changed the oil and filter, replaced the battery, and put on a set of new whitewall tires. It is getting difficult to find whitewall tires now, as many cars don't come with them any more.  I think they look good on older cars like this one, so I had to find them.  WalMart to the rescue with Hankook Optimo H724.   They seem to ride and handle nicely.  The tire jockey at WalMart noticed that the right side of the car sits slightly lower than the left due to age.  He therefore deduced that the shock absorbers were bad.  That shows that even someone who works with cars every day has no idea about the function of the vehicle's springs vs. its shock absorbers.  Sad. 

Now some lipstick and powder for this old girl. 

The body side moldings were yellowed and coming loose, so I bought a new set from ebay seller automotiveauthority, cut them to fit properly, and put them on.  The moldings come with sharply tapered ends on front and rear, but those ends do not look anything like the originals on the car.  

Ugh.  Ends not at all like the originals.
I cut and glued the proper end configurations, using 3M Plastic and Emblem Adhesive, so they look right.  I took a lot of pain to get them positioned in the correct place and on straight.  I used an aluminum straightedge I bought at WalMart and stuck a self-adhesive magnetic strip to the back to help keep the moldings straight and lined up from one panel to the next. 

Configuring the ends to look like the originals:  



I put clear nail polish on the cut ends as instructed by the seller so the thin chrome film won't peel off.   

The front and rear ends of the moldings are made like the originals and look quite similar.

The rear bumper fillers were originally made of a flexible material that was turning yellow and literally falling to pieces.

I bought a new set from ebay seller vpexpressparts and finished them with primer, color coat, and clear coat purchased from Automotive Touchup

They came out very nice.  The new pieces are harder plastic than the originals, but with some trimming and filing, they fit pretty well.  The color matched well, and the aerosol paints seem to be top notch.

The trunk mat is original and like new, and the spare tire, jack, and hold down hardware are as they were when new.

The spare wheel cover is one I picked up many years ago just for this car.

Now I have a 38-year old car that looks very nice.  It has only about 86,000 miles on it, and runs well, drives well, and stops straight. It is surprisingly peppy for the engine size*, curb weight**, and carburetor type.  The body has never been damaged, it has the original paint except for the bumper fillers, the engine has never been touched internally, it doesn't burn oil, and the air conditioning works. I have the original Owner's Manual and other literature, as well as a Service Manual. 

I splurged a bit and bought a "1979" license plate for the front from ebay seller theoldcarlover.   He sells them with any year you want. 

See what you think of my "new" car.

I have driven it a bit, but still don't have a garage for it.  Reluctantly, I have it up for sale. 

Wanna buy it?  SOLD!

Next time, I'll write about motorcycling.  I promise.


*     140 Hp at 3600 RPM, 235 ft lb torque at 2000 RPM, 4" bore x 3" stroke, 8.2:1 compression ratio.
**   ~3583 lb.  

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