Monthly Archives: March 2012

As Seen on Craigslist – 1975 Plymouth Fury

Far be it from me to question Jimmy’s sales tactics, but I’m pretty sure NO ONE has ever had trouble “handeling the power” of a “bad boy” smogger 318.  And this may just be due to the Craigslist-quality photos, but I would argue that the paint color is closer to “Schlitz” than “Champane.”  Having said that, this isn’t that bad looking, with the tasteful (for the ’70’s) black stripe and the vinyl roof treatment creating – dare I say it – an attractive basket-handle effect with the c-pillar.  Remarkably for a malaise-era Chrysler product, it looks to be rust-free with a clean interior and if you squint, the styling isn’t entirely dissimilar from an earlier Challenger or Charger.  Since this is equipped with a tried-and-true Mopar small block, you could throw a carb, cam, and headers at the engine and have a fairly respectable street machine without too much work.  Still, $8k is sky-high for this car, unless Joe Dirt’s younger brother is looking for a ride.  Of course, that sort of clientele is probably Jimmy’s bread and butter.

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As Seen on Craigslist – 1967 Chrysler 300

I don’t mean to continually harp on the same subject, but can you imagine trying to haul this monster to a stop using the (possibly manual) drum brakes shown in the first picture?  That said, it sounds like a runner with the bigger cam and carb installed, and would look pretty menacing in satin black.  I wonder what went wrong with the paint – it might take more than some sanding to correct a completely botched job.  I’m also jealous of this seller’s garage, since it appears he can hold a 19-foot-long car with room to spare.  I’d have to knock down a wall to get this in my garage, so I’ll pass.


Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Extraction

I spent a handful of nights in the garage over the last week, slowly but surely making progress on my transmission replacement.

The above off-kilter photo is the pan of the existing tranny.  You can see the fluid dripping off the pan bolts, one of the reasons I’m eager to replace this thing.  I started by dropping the pan and disconnecting the cooler lines to drain as much fluid as I could before I removed the entire tranny.  Miracle of miracles, I was able to get most of the fluid into the drain pan and very little on myself.  While I was under here, I also disconnected the vacuum line to the modulator, the shift linkage, the speedometer cable, and the kickdown switch.

Next, I unbolted the driveshaft from the rear axle.  Before I dropped it out of the way, I marked the u-joint so I can put it back in the same position.  I vaguely remember reading somewhere that putting the u-joint in a different orientation could result in a driveline vibration.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but better safe than sorry.

I slipped the front of the driveshaft out of the transmission and kicked it out of the way gently rolled it aside.

With that task accomplished, I moved back to the transmission and removed these two bolts, which separated the transmission mount from the crossmember:

I next spent about an hour trying to remove the two brackets that hold the crossmember to the frame, so that I could slide the crossmember back to give the tranny room to drop out of the car.  It took a while because of the location of the bolts in the frame and the condition of the brackets.  I’ll be replacing these:

The next step was to remove the three bolts that hold the torque converter to the flywheel.  However, because this is the direct connection between the engine and transmission, every time I tried to loosen a bolt, the engine would freewheel and the bolt wouldn’t turn – I needed a way to keep the engine from turning over.  I thought about trying to wedge a screwdriver into the flywheel somehow, but thought better of it.  I decided to call it a night and do a little more research.

A quick internet search revealed two suggestions: the seriously old-school method, which involves removing a spark plug and feeding rope into one of the engine cylinders.  When the engine turns over, the piston will bind on the rope without damage, allowing you to loosen the torque converter bolts.  I like leaning on tried-and-true techniques, but this seemed time consuming and a little too old-fashioned.  Instead, I took the second suggestion: putting a socket and long breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt and wedging it against the frame.  Using this method, I was able to easily remove the three bolts, leaving just the six bellhousing bolts that fasten the tranny to the engine block.  The bottom four we relatively easy (once I got the dipstick and ground strap out the way), but the top two were right at the top edge of the engine and a bit of a reach from under the car.  Of course, it didn’t help that  in my late-night delirium I nearly herniated myself trying to loosen one of them by turning it to the right.  As they say, lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.  I persevered, and now the only thing holding the transmission in the car was friction on the locating pins that are pressed into the engine block.

I slipped a floor jack under the transmission, slid the crossmember as far back as I could, and wriggled the tranny around until it cleared the floorpan and the exhaust.  It was at this point that I discovered, despite my best efforts, that there was still a fair bit of fluid in the transmission, and it was pouring fluid all over the floor from several orifices.  Good thing I keep a thick piece of cardboard on the floor.  The next struggle was trying to get the transmission out from under the car.  Of course, even though the car is up as high as I can get it, there wasn’t room for the transmission to clear the exhaust or the frame while on the jack.  I gingerly pushed it off the jack and dragged it out on the floor.  Success!

Completely spent (and with a sleeve-like coating of grease and grime on my forearms that required fifteen minutes of scrubbing to remove), I went to bed.  Up next, I need to order some parts, and then start figuring out how to get the new transmission in the car against the pull of gravity.


As Seen on Craigslist – 1985 Ford F-150

I don’t normally troll Craigslist for anything this new, but I was bored the other day and decided to see if there was anything from the 80’s that was worth looking at.  The only noteworthy thing I found was this ad, which has to be a joke.  There are ships at the bottom of the ocean with less rust than this truck, despite the owner’s description of it as “minor.”  The wheels and tires are probably worth some change to the right person (i.e. not me), but no one in their right mind would pay this much for a mid-80’s Ford truck with a quarter-million miles, no 4th gear, and no stereo.  But hey, it only needs “minor work.”


As Seen on Craigslist – 1950 Ford Panel Truck

This is definitely one of those ads that you have to take line-by-line:

  • “A very rare and solid truck.”  OK, but just because something is subjectively “rare” doesn’t make it valuable.  I don’t have much desire to look like a suburban milkman.
  • “Set up for a Ford small block and has a 4-speed trans in it.”  In other words, somebody hacked the frame up to wedge a modern V8 in it, but didn’t bother to sell the engine with the truck.
  • “This car was out west sitting in a barn since about 1975.”  That may be true, but “out west” might be Indiana in this case.  I get the appeal of “barn finds” when they are desirable cars that were driven hard and put away wet, but somebody stashing a delivery truck in a shed isn’t that compelling.
  • “No Bondo, 95% rust free.”  I buy the first part, but apparently this guy has a much different definition of rust than I do.  I’m sure he means that the car is solid (which I would have to see to believe), but nobody in their right mind considers this “rust free.”

At the end of the day, this is one of those things that is probably worth the asking price to the right buyer.  I just don’t know who that is.


Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Pre-Op Checkup

This grimy monstrosity is the used Turbo 350 transmission I plan on putting in the Tempest, but first I needed to make sure it wasn’t completely used up.  So my first step was removing the oil pan to check for excess sludge, metal shavings, or broken parts bouncing around in there.  Of course, since it was on that dolly, that was easier said than done.  I started by trying to tip the tranny on its side, which only led to my garage looking like a crime scene as a large puddle of red transmission fluid spread out on the floor from the dipstick hole I forgot to plug.

I decided tipping it over was a bad idea, so I needed a way to get the tranny up in the air but still have room to remove the pan.  Out came the floor jacks and a 2×4:

From this somewhat precarious position, I was able to loosen all of the pan bolts (except the few that were already missing).  Even with just one bolt remaining, I wasn’t able to tilt the pan down far enough to drain the old fluid out, so I loosened it to just the last few threads, shoved a drain pan under the thing, and carefully held the pan in place with one hand while I unthreaded the bolt with the other.  Miraculously, I was able to get all of the fluid into the drain pan without turning my floor into a reenactment of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  A quick examination of the bottom of the pan and the old filter revealed a little sludge, some excess RTV (a no-no when working with transmissions, but probably necessary given the missing pan bolts) but no metal shavings or part fragments.

It’s not pretty, but at least it looks like the transmission is still serviceable.  A little cleanup and I feel fairly confident that it will work in the car.  I finished up the evening by pulling the input and output seals for replacement, cheap insurance against leaks since they looked pretty dry and shrunken.  Next up, pulling the old transmission out of the car.