The Fifth Year: More Paint, Less Smoke

Do odysseys end? Well, this one hasn't yet, and I appreciate you reading on.

Reading through the site, it looks like this is my "Things to Get Done" list:

  • Color sand to get rid of the paint nibs.
  • Paint the engine compartment and inside the fenders
  • Undercoat the underside of the car.
  • Fix the oil leak between the head and the block.
  • Address the loud exhaust.
  • Check the front suspension and replace the rubber bushings with urethane.
  • Make sure I have something to do.
  • It's now late April 2006, and I think I did pretty well. I haven't yet color sanded, but I will. I'm nervous about doing it because I don't want to end up doing more harm than good to my paint, so I'll bring the car to the Sherwin-Williams store and pick the brains of the very helpful people there to be sure I do it right. But I bought the 1500 grit sandpaper. That should count for something. I haven't undercoated the car, but there's enough leaked oil and leftover undercoating that it's well protected, and I will get to it.

    Painting the engine compartment took a lot more wrenching time than I expected. There's an awful lot of stuff that has to come off. Most of the parts I've had off at one time or another, so there were no surprises.

    6x5yis2IMG0001 (125K)

    Removing the suspension and steering was a bit tricky. I used the "long bolt method" to remove the springs; the slow and safe way. But with the engine out, you need an assistant to stand on the front of the car to compress the spring enough to put a block of wood under the shock arm. Maybe even two assistants, if they're light.

    6x5ycpIMG0001 (69K)

    Finally got everything removed.

    6x5yIMG0001 (120K)

    The next steps were to clean with Simple Green, then Kleen Sol wax and grease remover, then wire brushed everything, ground off the surface rust, used some rust converter where I had to, then hand sanded. I didn't spend nearly as much time on this part as I did on the visible parts of the car. Just couldn't motivate myself to make these inner surfaces smooth and pretty. I thought I might regret it, but there's so much stuff that goes back in, and it's so dark in the engine compartment that now that it's back together I don't notice the problem spots. Unfortunately, when I took pictures after the cleaning and sanding and before the primer, I inadvertently had my way-too-fancy digital camera on a setting that requires a tripod. So the pictures are pretty useless. But maybe even a defective picture is better than none. (The car is not actually vibrating.)

    6x5ybpIMG0001 (84K)

    So I masked everything and put on three coats of the epoxy primer.

    6x5yIMG0002 (79K)

    It's amazing what a little experience will do. Not so much in the quality of the paint job, but in the process. It wasn't an adrenaline-overload situation like the first time. I knew how to mix the components, so I just shot paint and took frequent breaks to walk around in the fresh air.

    6x5yIMG0003 (84K)

    Time to start bolting back on the pieces and parts. What a great improvement in the working environment!

    6x5yIMG0004 (107K)

    I've got to mention that I really caught a lucky break on this winter's work. I probably paid more than I should have for such a rusty car - you just don't know what's there until the paint comes off. The front suspension is often just a money pit on these cars. Guys seem to spend a ton of money and tear out handfuls of hair because the fulcrum pins are seized into the wishbones. The previous owner must have spent that ton of money because I think both wishbones and all the pins had been replaced, probably not long before he took it off the road. So disassembly steps that are often a nightmare for other people went very well for me. I did have trouble getting one upper fulcrum pin out of the kingpin, but the vise did the trick.

    6x5yvpIMG0001 (123K)

    I reassembled the suspension using the Prothane bushings from Moss, but put new rubber bushings on the anti-roll bar because of something I read about keeping rubber on the ARB. I haven't driven enough yet since the change to have a strong opinion, but I think I'm glad I did. The ride seems a good bit stiffer with the urethane, so I'm glad I kept the rubber on the ARB.

    Now for that oil leak between the block and the head at the left front of the engine. When I took the engine apart I thought I might find some obvious cause, like a failed or incorrectly installed head gasket, or a crack in the block or head, or the carcass of a bumblebee or something in the joint. This is what I found.

    6x5ygtv (99K)

    I measured the flatness of the block with a proper straightedge borrowed from RAD Machine and couldn't get my thinnest feeler gauge of 0.0015" under it anywhere. RAD very kindly resurfaced the head at no charge. He took off less than 0.004". But what I think solved the problem was the difference that Payen made in their head gaskets. The new one has an imbedded O-ring right where I need it. More pictures of the block and head surfaces are here.

    6x5ygc2 (42K)

    So I reinstalled the engine on 4/23/06

    6x5yeiIMG0001 (119K)

    I didn't realize how much that oil leak bothered me until I went for my first run in the car and saw that the area was dry. What a great feeling. It had gotten to the point that I would have to plan the beginning of every ride to try to find a secluded area to leave the trail of smoke.

    As for the noisy exhaust, it's still pretty loud out of the tailpipe, but I didn't realize how much noise was coming from under the hood. The exhaust manifold I'm using was bought on eBay for about $5. I spent a lot of time this winter using a flat file to make sure all the connecting points would be flat to the block. I think I started with about a 0.012" gap and brought it down to zero. When I had my head under the hood for a while after the initial start-up this spring, I was amazed at the difference. It really does sound like a sewing machine in there now. So I'm convinced that I was getting extra noise up front that's now gone. I still think it's loud, so I'll probably try another company's muffler. Hope to have it on for the Spring of 2008.

    6x5yuhvIMG0001 (108K)

    So I guess that just leaves the "something to do" part.

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