Tuneup part 2: Running better!

The last session had the car running a little better, but still it would pop and backfire if it was revved up much above idle.  Too rough to risk a drive around the block.

I replaced the plugs, which took me hours because I got to learn what wrench combos work around these headers. After all that, It wouldn’t start. Cranked and cranked…nothing. Put the battery charger on for a while and cranked some more…nothing…KA-BOOM!!! Huge backfire out the mufflers that blew craters in the gravel driveway. Scared the crap out of me, and my wife came running out expecting to see I’d blown myself up with the car.

So I pouted for a while and took care of some electrical jobs (grounds, splice repairs, removing extra wiring) while I thought about it some more. The only thing I changed was the plugs…and they were gapped the same as the old ines at .045. I started checking out the HEI wiring and found a suspect…

Turns out PO did a cheezy splice to the HEI power feed wire. Not only was it a bad splice, it was spliced onto the original resistance wire that used to power the points. It was only getting 7-8 volts…surprised it ran as well as it did.

 

Ran a nice new 10ga to the firewall plug and now it starts with a touch of the key, and no more popping or backfiring at 1200+ RPM. Smoooth!!!

Haven’t touched the carb aside from spraying it with gumout last weekend. Will probably do the rebuild anyway, but at least now it runs well enough to get it over to the exhaust shop to get mufflers on it so I can get it inspected.

Progress!!!

Tuneup part 1

The car ran but ran really rough when I got it. Had to crank for a while to get it to start, and it would pop and backfire if you ran it much above idle. The mufflers both have fist-sized holes in them, so it’s probably not the first time it’s backfired.

The timing was waaay advanced, off the top of the tab at idle with the vacuum advance disconnected…probably 18-20* or so? Pulled that back to about 8 initial, and verified the mechanical and vacuum advance was working.

Adjusted the valves a bit conservatively to make sure they weren’t staying open from too tight lash.

Sprayed a bunch of gumout in the carb and that seemed to help…so I ordered a rebuild kit.

Adjusted the idle speed and mixture, and verified the electric choke is working properly. idles pretty smoothly now, but still popping and backfiring when I get above 1200 or so.

Siphoned as much as I could out of the gas tank, didn’t look bad. The fuel gauge seems to be working too… I put in a couple of gallons of fresh gas and a splash of sea foam.

I was bummed it wasn’t running better so I figured plugs were due for changing too. Local auto parts place didn’t have plugs in stock for it (really!?!?) so they put in a warehouse request.

More disassembly

The headliner looked OK, but…there was a mouse hole in it, so…it had to come out.  It’s a good thing I removed it because there was a huge mouse nest in the between the headliner and the roof.  After removing that, I hosed everything down with Natures’ Miracle to kill the smell.  It’s starting to not smell like mice…

After removing the headliner, I discovered that there were wooden shingles wedged in between the roof frame and the skin.  it also looked like there had been a sunroof installed, and the hole had been patched up.  The vinyl roof was probably added to hide the repair on the outside.

a

Brake flex hoses

After getting the car sort of running, I tried to take it for a drive.  The car refused to move.  I let it sit for a while, and then tried again without touching the brakes and it rolled just fine.  A common cause of the brakes locking up is rotted flex hoses.  I replaced the hoses and that fixed the locking up problem.

Starting the cleanup

After several days in the hot sun, the carpet was definitely not drying out, so…out it came.  It smelled pretty ripe.

The floor pans have been replaced from the inside, and there is ice shield on top of that acting as sound deadener.

Decoding

A lot can happen in 50 years, so there was some investigation to do to see what the car really was

the build date is 06A, first week of June (1968) which would make it relatively late in the production run.  It has a NOR designation, so it came from the Norwood, OH plant.

68-12427 translates to 1968 Camaro V8 coupe.

The paint code is UU, which translates to blue.  The butternut yellow was not the original color.  The 712 interior code checks out as a black standard interior though.

The transmission pan gives it away to be a TH350, not the original powerglide transmission.

The block application code is CKL, which decodes to it originally being a 1973 350 from a California application.  Not a particularly rare or high perf model, probably 175hp originally.

The heads are 3998920 castings, low performance smog heads

The Carb is a Holley list 80457, generic 600cfm vac sec with electric choke.

The intake is an Edelbrock Performer, with a 1″ carb spacer.

As delivered

The seller hauled the car in an enclosed trailer…then we pushed it out into the driveway

 

The tape in the cassette player is Beethoven symphonies, including Beethoven’s 5th.

Water had been sitting in the trunk, but most of the stuff flaking off looked like many layers of paint.

The battery cables need work…

New project: 1968 Camaro

 

We went to look at a project car that was advertised on Craigslist.  It looked decent in the pictures, so I arranged to see it.  When we got there I found that it had been sitting outside on the edge of the woods for nearly a year.  There were a lot of interior parts from another car stored in it, and from the smell, the mice had definitely moved in somewhere.  The seller was able to get it running after splashing some gas in the carb, and hooking up a battery charger.  it didn’t run very smoothly, and the exhaust definitely had some leaks, but the valvetrain sounded quiet.  A bit rough, but a good starting point.  After a few days, a price was negotiated including delivery by the seller.