I’ve been burning quite a bit of the old midnight
oil transmission fluid lately, even though I haven’t been as good about posting my results. That might have something to do with my frustration level with the car.
When I last left off, I was ready to put the carburetor back on the car. I bolted the carb to the manifold, hooked up the fuel line and myriad vacuum connections, and got the keys. After three cranking attempts, the engine caught and rumbled to life. I let it idle for a few minutes while I topped off the transmission fluid (more on that in a bit). While it ran great on high-idle, the engine kept stumbling and stalling as soon as the choke opened. I wasn’t terribly worried, so I hopped in and headed to the gas station and “blew out the carbon” on the way there a few times.
I put a couple gallons in the tank while trying to decipher why the car still wouldn’t hold an idle. Actually falling back on my own automotive experience for a change, it occurred to me that the car felt like it had a vacuum leak. After fueling up (and talking to a few curious folks at the pumps), I poked around under the hood. Sure enough, I’d missed an unused vacuum port on the back of the carburetor, which was sucking extra air and causing the engine to stall:
I found a spare vacuum cap in my stash, and the car was much happier. That was about the highlight of the week, as I soon discovered a large puddle of transmission fluid forming under the car. I stuck a pan under the leak overnight and was greeted by about 2 pints the next morning – I had had a small leak at the end of last year, but over the winter it had turned into a full-on gusher. I pulled the car back in the garage and dejectedly prepared myself to take a transmission fluid bath yet again.
A few nights later, I managed to get the pan dropped, a new silicone gasket in place, and everything buttoned back up. After another test drive, pulled back in the garage to the sound of dripping once again. Poking my head under the car, I now found the fuel pump was leaking gas on the floor. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed by this development. While poking around that area (it appears as though my earlier attempt to dislodge the fuel line from the fuel pump managed to crack the weld between the junction block and pump bowl), I also noticed that the transmission was still leaking, albeit much more slowly and from a different location. It was about this time that I went looking for a match and my insurance agent’s phone number.
I ordered a new fuel pump yesterday and have yet to determine if I will try to fix the tranny leak again myself or throw in the towel and take it to a professional – I’ve about reached my limit of laying on my back with red oil dripping down my armpit. At least the leak is manageable and the car is drivable, so I might be dollars (and sanity) ahead to farm it out at this point.