Category Archives: Projects

Tempest Update – I Love the Smell of Gasoline After Midnight

It’s been nearly a year since my last post about the Tempest, so let’s quickly get up to speed: Shortly after that post, I threw in the towel and had a co-worker (who is a part-time professional mechanic) fix the transmission leak.  I felt a little vindication when it took him a couple days and a few attempts to figure it out – it turns out that there was a missing o-ring on the kickdown cable connection at the transmission that was the culprit.  It also explained why the car only leaked when it sat for a while – the missing o-ring was above the sump and therefore only submerged when all the fluid drained back out of the torque converter.

With that fixed, I decided to just drive the car through the fall and pretty much ignore any flaws that weren’t going to kill me.  The car was parked in the garage all winter, but between the horrible weather and my other to-do list items, I didn’t really touch it until this past month.  With spring around the corner and the overwhelming gasoline fumes that tend to accumulate in the garage after I drive the car finally getting the best of me, I decided to finally get around to replacing all the rubber fuel hose in the vehicle with proper steel lines.  I bought new pre-bent front-to-back lines off of Craigslist, and made a second attempt to bend a new line from the pump to the carburetor.

I invested in a tubing bender that would accommodate 3/8 line, and set about making the new fuel line.  The tedious process went something like this: bend, check fitment, bend again, check again, bend again, check again, get lazy and try to bend it by hand, fight off tears when the line nearly kinks, check again, swear, and finally force the line into place.  God forbid I ever have to do this again, but I think I’ll take the time to remove the power steering pump and upper radiator hose to give better access to the front of the engine.

With that complete, I moved on to the main fuel line.  I quickly realized that you aren’t meant to install a pre-bent line with the body still attached to the frame.  I persevered through a couple hours of pushing, pulling, more swearing, and some awkward bending, and the line is pretty much where it belongs (or close enough).  All that’s really left is to install new rubber hose to connect the line to the tank and the inlet of the fuel pump, and we’ll be in business.

As of right now, that’s were it sits.  The weather has been rainy and chilly yet, so I haven’t really missed any driving opportunities.  I should be able to get everything buttoned up and ready to drive by next week, and that’s all I’m doing to the car for a while.  I have a new exhaust to install and I plan on dialing in the steering a bit (more on those later, hopefully), but if all goes according to plan I’ll be driving the Tempest earlier in the year than I’ve ever driven it before.  That’s really a testament to my laziness over the winter more than anything else.


Anybody Want To Buy A 1967 Tempest With A Leaky Transmission?

I finally pulled myself back from the insurance fraud ledge last month and got back in the garage.  Replacing the fuel pump was easy enough, and I ordered the best gasket I could find to fix the transmission leak.  While I was waiting for it to arrive, I decided I would replace the weepy, patched-in-several-places transmission cooler lines.  I removed them (getting a nice coating of transmission fluid on both my legs and directly on my chest in the process) and eyeballed their length to get the appropriate replacements from the parts store.  The plan was to turn these:


Into something resembling these:


Being that these were relatively thin 5/16 lines, I was able to bend them by hand without kinking them (for the most part).  I could probably use another 4-6 inches on the one line for a prettier routing, but it doesn’t look too amateurish.  I made sure the lines were clear of any moving suspension parts and weren’t rubbing on each other or anything hot.  If anything else, that’s one less leak path to worry about.

The new transmission gasket still hadn’t arrived, and I was feeling pretty confident after that line-bending exercise, so I decided to go back after the similarly patched fuel line between the pump and the carburetor.  Again, the goal was to make the line on the top look like the line on the bottom:


I quickly realized that 3/8 fuel line is much harder to bend than 5/16 transmission line.  I made the first few bends by the carburetor without mangling it too badly, but by the time I got to the bends behind the water pump and to the fuel pump, it looked like I’d invited a manic chimpanzee to help in the garage.  To make matters worse, I had slightly unbent the original line when removing it from the car, and it didn’t want to line up with the pump anymore.  After kinking that line to oblivion, I angrily cut both ends off and replaced the whole thing with a length of rubber hose.  Not much more than a temporary solution, but it will do for now.  I’ve since purchased an el cheapo tubing bender and another length of line, so we’ll see how that goes.

Later that week, the new transmission gasket finally arrived.  I decided to replace the pan as well, in case there was some flaw in the original that was causing me trouble.  I steeled myself for another fluid bath, but I actually came out relatively unscathed and was able to catch any of the fluid before it flooded the garage.  The new gasket and pan went on quickly, and I followed the strict two-step torque sequence that came with the new gasket.  I topped off the fluid (a two-day exercise, since I ran out of fluid at 2AM the first night) and slid a clean piece of cardboard under the car to check for leaks.

The next morning, I pulled the cardboard out and found just two small drips.  Satisfied, I actually drove the car to work.  A few minutes after I arrived, a coworker broke the news that my car was leaking.  By lunchtime, I was officially the Captain Hazelwood of my company (unfortunately, I wasn’t drunk either).  Disgusted, I nursed the car back home, parked it in the garage, and put a clean pan underneath to catch the brand-new fluid for reuse.

After cooling my heels for a bit, I think the next step is to verify where the leak is coming from.  I’ve been over this pan and gasket so many times that it’s time to step back and reevaluate.  To that end, I plan on purchasing a UV dye kit and pinpointing the source of the leak.  Stay tuned…

Carburetor Rebuild Project – Success, Sort Of

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.


Seen here in its natural habitat – the gas station.

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.

Carburetor Rebuild Project – Mother%$&*#@! Flare Nuts

I dove back into my carburetor project this week, starting with the intake manifold.  If you’ll recall, the leaking carburetor combined with oil wicking up the threads of the manifold bolts had stained my pretty Pontiac Blue Edelbrock intake.  After tearing apart my tool box and basement looking for my teflon tape (that stuff is never where you last left it), I busted out the masking tape and newspaper.  Before long, I had a shiny blue engine again:


You may also recall that the fuel line from the pump to the carb is partly rubber and I intended to replace it.  I jacked up the car and rolled underneath, ready to face my nemesis: flare nuts.  Yet again, my attempts to use the correct tool for the job were thwarted by a stubborn line nut that wanted to round off when I used the right flare wrench.  I broke out the vice grips again and didn’t make any headway either.  The offending connection is now soaking in penetrating oil; I’m going to give it one more shot before I let sleeping dogs lie for the time being.

Moving on, I turned my attention back to the carburetor on the bench, and finished buttoning it up.  I ballparked the APT setting, assembled the new accelerator pump, slipped in the new air horn gasket, and mounted the air horn back on the carburetor:


It was almost too easy – the pessimist in me is starting to think I forgot something.  I’m sure I’ll either think of it at 4AM or remember it when I’m stranded on the side of the road, gasoline pooling at my feet.  Anyway, all that’s really left is to hook up the throttle and transmission linkages and the various fuel and vacuum lines, and we should be good to go.  Unless a rogue flare nut knocks my eye out or something.


Carburetor Rebuild Project – Actual, Tangible Progress

It’s been about two months since I spent any meaningful time in the garage, and I finally mustered up the energy this week to revive my dormant carburetor rebuild.  I cracked open my repair guide book, put some appropriate tunes on the stereo, and got to work.  I immediately noticed that I was missing the air horn to the carburetor.  As it turns out, I had soaked it in Chem-Dip back in February, drained the cleaning fluid, and left it in a sealed metal bin under the workbench.  Unfortunately, since I neglected to rinse off the dip residue, it had dried to a crusty, sticky coating.  Cursing myself, I spent the next 2o minutes re-cleaning the part.  I liberally hosed everything down with aerosol carburetor cleaner (only squirting myself in the eye twice!) and then blew everything dry with some compressed air.

Moving on, I mated the carburetor baseplate to the main body with a new gasket, screwed in the larger jets from another Q-jet I had lying around, reseated the accelerator pump check ball, installed the fuel inlet, dropped in the needle and seat, hung the float and set it at precisely 1/4″ below the gasket surface, and gingerly installed the power piston and primary rods – which tested my patience by refusing to drop down through the main jets.


Believe it or not, this is what it’s supposed to look like.

With that done, I’m probably about halfway finished with this thing and it should be leaking gas back onto my intake manifold in no time.

Carburetor Rebuild Project – Research and Stasis

It’s been quite a while since I provided an update on my “easy” winter project, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been entirely slacking.  Unlike last year, when I was deterred by the thought of lying on cold garage floor with transmission fluid in my hair, I’ve actually had the itch the work in the garage but not the time.  In the meantime, I’ve done a good bit of research and some additional cleaning.  In the process, I’ve learned that reman carbs like mine are a bit of a hodgepodge of parts, and fully rebuilding and tuning them can be a bit of a crapshoot.  As a result, I’ve decided to scale back my plans a bit and focus on cleaning, regasketing, and a limited amount of tuning – just enough work to get the car running smoothly and cleanly.  Rather than throw a bunch of money, time, and parts at a carb that may not ever work 100% correctly, I’ll minimize my investment and move on to another fuel mixer if this one doesn’t run right after that.  With that in mind, I ordered a basic rebuild kit today (rather than the more extensive and expensive kit I was planning), and I’ll throw in the fatter jets and rods from one of my spare carbs (rather than meticulously measuring tiny idle tubes and air bleed passages in an attempt to match parts and maximize horsepower).  Once the kit arrives, hopefully everyone in my family stays healthy long enough to give me the time and energy to spend a few late nights in the garage getting everything buttoned up.

Carburetor Rebuild Project – Teardown

I mentioned in a previous post that I planned on completely rebuilding the leaky, out-of-tune remanufactured carburetor on the Tempest.  I found a few spare hours this past weekend and tore into it.  Here’s the Rochester Quadrajet (originally intended for a late-70’s Buick, procured from eBay a few years ago) that I started with:


After a disconnecting a half dozen vacuum lines and the throttle linkage, a few turns of the wrench later I was faced with this:


Those brown stains are the result of a leaking carburetor and oil seeping up through the threads on the intake bolts, something I’m going to remedy later.  I placed the carb on the newly-cleaned workbench and took stock:


Doesn’t look that bad, actually.  Of course, it’s recently been remanufactured and I’ve had it partially apart two or three times since then too, so it shouldn’t look too beat.  I’ve found golf tees make great vacuum hose plugs.  One of the things I need to fix is the fuel line going into the carb:


Somebody replaced the metal line with a rubber hose connecting the fuel pump to a stub of hard line going into the carb inlet, and it kinks a little along the way.  I need to route a new steel line from the pump to the carb.  I started removing the screws that hold the air horn (the top 1/3 of the carb) to the throttle body (the middle third of the carb), including the two that hide down under the choke blades (which can be scary to loosen when the carburetor is still on the engine):


I removed the air horn, pulled out the float, needle and seat, power valve, accelerator pump, and various other springs, check balls, and clips, separated the throttle body from the base plate, and soon my work space looked a lot more cluttered:


There’s a lot of small, strange looking parts, as well a million little passages and holes in the carb body itself.  Thankfully, I’m equipped with the good book:


This (and this one, which I’ve ordered) is generally considered the go-to book for this sort of thing.

With everything torn apart (except the choke linkage, which is insanely complicated and not worth the hassle of disassembling), I broke out the big guns:


I’ve had that bucket of Chem-Dip (“The Good Stuff, Smart Choice!” it says so on the can) for a few years now, which has allowed it to age into an ominous color and even more ominous scent.  It just gets better the longer it sits and the more it gets used, so by now it just about burns the hair out of your nose.  I made sure to put on some gloves before cracking it open, because I’m sure there isn’t enough soap in my house to get the smell off.  I dropped the small metal parts into the little basket in the can and left them to soak for a few days.  The larger parts will get a good scrubbing and a liberal dousing of spray cleaner to get through all the little holes and passages.  Up next, I need to order the correct rebuild kit and get a little education on the right jets and rods to get this thing running right.  Assuming I don’t get addicted to the fumes from the cleaner, that is.

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