So after the last update, I got the car on the ground, topped off the transmission fluid and oil, and set about
mangling modifying the kickdown cable at the carburetor. Since nothing is easy, it didn’t go as planned. The existing throttle cable bracket is too far back to correctly secure the kickdown cable, and the “universal” bracket I bought was placing the cable too far forward. I made several attempts at modifying the bracket, only to end up making the universal bracket unusable and eventually cracking the cable housing where it attaches to the carburetor. Resigned to the fact that I was going to have to buy a new cable assembly, I left it loose and got the car started.
After a few shots of starting fluid and lots of gas pedal pumping, the engine was cranking along fine but still wouldn’t start. I started poking around the distributor and realized that at some point in this process I had pulled the positive battery lead from the the distributor cap. With that back in place, the car fired up like nothing had ever happened. Thankfully, the exhaust wasn’t too loud (I think it actually sounds pretty good), so I cycled the transmission through the gears and topped off the fluid again. I moved all my tools and detritus out of the way and gingerly backed the car out of the garage. It was (sort of) alive! I made my way down the driveway and up the street, only to find that the transmission wouldn’t shift out of first. Slightly panicked, I manually shifted the transmission in to second and third, which seemed to work – so I guess it’s more a of a semi-automatic transmission at this point.
Despite that possibly ominous result, I felt mildly relieved to at least have the car running and driving – worst case scenario, at least I can drive it to someone who knows what they are doing. A few nights later, a new kickdown cable in hand, I crawled back under the car to replace the now broken original cable. Once again, what should have been a fairly easy task turned into a bit of a nightmare. At one point, I sounded a lot like the father in A Christmas Story when he is trying to fix the furnace. I wove a tapestry of profanity that rose above my garage and hovered in the air like a storm cloud. At one point I think I had a fever vision (perhaps brought on by the aroma of mixed transmission fluid and flop sweat) of taking a sledgehammer to the car, followed by gasoline and a match. But I eventually persevered (only after realizing that, among other things, there was a rubber grommet on the new cable end that was preventing it from sliding into the transmission), got the cable bolted in, and fixed a dripping cooler line while I was at it.
I stopped there, because I need a piece of angle bracket to mount the new cable to the intake manifold. After doing a bit of research, I believe my no-shifting issue might be the result of my ham-fisted, hare-brained use of a hammer to tap the new vacuum modulator into the transmission case – I think I broke the valve when I did that. I plan on trying the modulator out of my old transmission to see if that does anything. Come hell or high water (or snow, for that matter), I will have this thing running right in 2012.