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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another day; Another car!

As you likely gathered from Marty's post; we spent almost all of Monday working on another car. While doing some research for the trip I'd found a junkyard that semi-regularly posted project cars to Youtube (link). Just before we headed out on this trip they posted a 73 Javelin and it made our list of cars, however the owner wasn't able to show it too us Saturday so it didn't go anywhere. 

Knowing this, I came up with an idea Sunday night to see if we could do a straight up trade for the Catalina. The owner, Chris, had done a lot of work on the car so I thought it might be a little better driver than the Catalina. It turned out I was right Chris was open to the idea of a straight up trade. We met him at Pep Boys in the morning and he checked out the Catalina and then invited us up to view the AMC Javelin; saying the trade would work for him. After a 40 minute drive up into the mountains we finally reached the car. Overall it looked pretty good. 
A "beauty shot" from later in the day

The body was in great shape but the engine definitely didn't start or run as well as the Catalina and the interior was as bad or worse. However, this car is one that we hope we can sell to someone in WI as they are pretty rare. So we started determining what we needed to fix and dug into it. 

First, it was missing the front right shock. We had two junk cars with shocks and after a good amount of effort we got one out but then found one of the bolts was bent. 

One of the donor cars; actually an AMX believe it or not!

We then went to the next car and grabbed a shock. That one had some odd bolts on it and I later figured out they had different threads because the nuts went on tight and then ended up stripping the threads. Long story short after maybe 3 hours on the shocks we have one in, held on by one of two bolts and the other has stripped threads. That should be ok as long as we don't take it over any sweet jumps.
The shock installed (finally)
Second, the tie rod end was bent at about a 20 degree angle. We pulled one off one of the junked cars and put it on. However, the car had been setup to work with the bent one so we had to do an impromptu alignment in the yard. We found a broken measuring tape and Marty and I measured from the approximate same point at the front and rear of the brake drum and got them pretty close with just a little toe-in for safety.

Third, the Chris had a supposedly rebuilt carburetor that worked better. The car would idle but it wasn't very smooth and the Chris said it didn't drive great (stumbling etc.). Jon swapped the carb while I was working on the shock and we verified it started with just a little adjustment. We figured that task was done (we were wrong.)

Fourth, the brake feel was awful; it was obvious they weren't working well. Chris figured it was the brake master cylinder and he had a new one on one of the junk cars so I pulled that off and we installed it on the car. Once we got it installed we bled the brakes until the fresh fluid came out. However, the pedal feel was as bad or worse. Now this car has drum brakes all around. Drum brakes in the rear with discs in the front isn't uncommon but even the Catalina had front disc brakes (that felt great by the way.) After all that work the brakes were still not usable. Chris had gone through the front brakes so we pulled off the right rear drum and found that the cylinder was leaking. At this point we decided to try get the car to a shop that Chris had near-by where it would be easier to do brake work. We figured we could use the emergency brake for the short drive. At this point the car started dying and wouldn't keep running.

So, the fifth significant problem was that the car wouldn't keep running. It would idle if you put fuel in the carb but wouldn't keep running. Chris had put a new fuel pump on it and didn't want to break things down but I finally convinced him to check to see if fuel was getting to the carb, and it wasn't So we then checked the pickup line from the tank (by removing the rear wheel and blowing in the line. The pickup line was clear. I then pulled the line off the engine driven fuel pump and we put it in a plastic bottle of gas and verified it would start; it did. 

We finally tried to blow on the main line from the tank to the front of the car. Sure enough; that line was plugged. Chris had a pancake air compressor in his truck but no air gun attachment. I rigged up a air fitting to the fuel line with duct tape and he charged the compressor with a generator he had in the yard. We put a bottle on the front of the line and connected the air compressor and blew the line out twice. 

Below is a picture of what came out; our best guess was that a mud dauber made a nest in the line at some point.

However we weren't done yet. Even after fixing the fuel line, the car didn't continue to run properly. We spent another hour or so working on the carb and finally decided to call it a night. After spending almost 9 hours out in the hot New Mexico sun, minus a small break for lunch, we were beat. We drove back into Albuquerque, booked the same hotel again, extended the car rental again and crashed.

We brought the original carb back and Jon just cleaned it in the sink. Pro tip; do this outside. The hotel room STINKS. 

 The plan for today is to go install the original carb and replace the rear brake cylinders and hope the car is good to go. Our confidence level with the car will be pretty high based on all we have done but we still don't know if it drives well. Time will tell! 

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