Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Gen Camaro Fuel Tank and Lines

The article featured on this page is from the April 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine

Story Larry Weiner

Owning a vintage Chevy is very rewarding in many ways. These vehicles were so beautifully designed that they cause both envious admirers and proud owners alike to gaze upon them longingly, even when they are parked.

Vintage Bowties are the perfect conduit for making new friends, to say nothing of the pride associated with exhibiting them at shows, or even at the local cruise night. For many of us, one of the greatest rewards of ownership is the satisfaction of working on our favorite Chevy.

As one who came of age during the height of the muscle car era (and fondly remembers the 1960s as though it was only yesterday), I must continually remind myself these memories now date back over 40 years ago. When vehicles reach that age, sometimes simple, routine maintenance is not enough. Some parts you might not think about often are reaching the end of their useful life cycle, thanks to the passage of time, mileage and the climate.

One of the parts that will require attention after the passage of four decades or more is the fuel tank. Constant exposure to the elements, combined with storing thousands of gallons of gasoline over a lifetime of service, in addition to the added insults of the numerous chemicals used in fuel formulation, moisture accumulation, and the inside of the tank degrading from old age, all contribute to the need for servicing this vital component.

Sometimes, the fuel tank may need little more than boiling out and it’s ready for many more trouble-free miles. If yours is suffering from rust or physical damage, it may be time to consider replacing the original fuel tank with a new one.

If you are working on a popular classic muscle car like the 1967 Camaro that is the subject of this story, the solution is easy. Reproduction fuel tanks are readily available. For our Camaro, the original fuel tank had been painted at some point, which we could have removed, but it also suffered from a couple of unsightly dents that would have been problematic to repair. Like the tank, the fuel tank straps were also showing their age.

The steel fuel line from the pump to the carburetor had been replaced with a correct reproduction by the previous owner, and the main line from the tank to the pump was the factory original. The line suffered from corrosion and surface rust in some areas, making it a prime candidate for replacement. The flexible rubber lines at the tank and pump ends exhibited cracking and general deterioration. After considering our options, this seemed like the perfect time to replace the fuel tank, tank straps, the main fuel line and the flexible rubber lines.

The new fuel line was a perfect match for the tired original we removed from the Camaro. The new fuel line fit perfectly. Our goal was to achieve OEM grade results with the fuel storage and delivery system. Follow along with us as we upgrade the fuel system on the 1967 Camaro SS.

1 Remove the rear license plate to access tank-to-filler neck hose and loosen screws in the Wittek tower clamps in preparation for tank removal.

2 Loosen the screws in the mini clamps on the rubber hose connecting the fuel tank hard line to main fuel line. Remove that hose and unbolt the bracket that locates fuel tank hard line to the frame.

3 Remove the screw retaining the ground wire for fuel tank float assembly.

4 At the center of the trunk near the fuel filler neck, unfasten the male end of the positive wire lead for the fuel tank float assembly from the female end attached to the trunk harness. Push the rubber seal in the trunk floor downward to release it, followed by pulling the wire and end through the hole.

5 Remove the retaining nuts from both fuel tank straps and carefully lower tank to the ground.

6 The tank has been lowered to the ground and is ready for removal.

7 A photo of the upper filler neck is for reference when installing new tank. The filler neck hose will slip over the upper filler neck when the new tank is installed.

8 The original tank shows locations for placement of anti-squeak straps, insulator and fuel line routing from fuel tank sending unit assembly. The positive wire from the sending unit is held in place by the two pieces of tape that are still on the top of the tank.

9 Remove the positive wire from the fuel tank sending unit assembly by gently pulling up on it at the rubber boot.

10 The original tank straps are ready for removal.

11 Remove the self-tapping screws from tank straps.

12 Unhook the tank straps from receivers in floor support and remove the tank straps.

13 Using a flat blade screwdriver and hammer, carefully hit the tab on the fuel tank lock ring and rotate it until it releases. Spray a lubricant on the lock ring to allow for ease of removal.

14 Carefully remove the fuel tank sending unit assembly, noting that the fuel pickup and float assembly are a tight fit through the access hole.

15 Upon removal of the fuel tank sending unit assembly, check the condition of the fuel pick up screen. Note that this screen is torn on the seam and must be replaced.

16 Here’s a comparison of the reproduction fuel tank by Spectra Premium and original fuel tank.

17 We’re showing how the fuel tank corners are the same.

18 The reproduction fuel tank strap by Spectra Premium versus the original strap.

19 Here’s a look at the reproduction tank-to-filler neck hose as compared to the original.

20 Comparison of reproduction and original fuel tank-to-sending unit gasket. Note the frayed edge on original gasket. Replacement is a good idea.

21 Remove the main fuel line from the tank to the fuel pump by releasing it from retaining clips on the right side of frame from back to front of vehicle. Note routing of line and location of clips, as this will make it easier to install the new line.

22 The original fuel line is compared with reproduction fuel line manufactured in the U.S.A. by Inline Tube.

23 The fuel tank sending unit has been cleaned.

24 We’ve placed the reproduction fuel pickup screen on the fuel sending unit fuel line end.

25 We’re putting it back together, reinstalling the cleaned up fuel tank sending unit into the new fuel tank.

26 Hang the new tank straps and tighten the self-tapping screws in preparation for installing fuel tank.

27 After cleaning the tank surface to remove protective oil coating, apply silicone cement to permanently place new anti-squeak strips and the rubber insulator pad.

28 Slip the new filler neck hose and loosened Wittek tower clamps onto new fuel tank neck. With the help of another person, hold the tank up to vehicle trunk floor. Pull the tank straps onto tank strap bolts and tighten. Carefully slip the filler neck hose over the upper filler neck during the installation process.

29 Tighten the Wittek tower clamps on the new filler neck hose.

30 Reinstall the ground wire and be sure that rubber sleeve on the tank fuel line is positioned so that the tank strap bolt head does not contact the line.

31 The new fuel line from the tank to the fuel pump is installed.

32 Install new rubber fuel line from the mechanical fuel pump mounted on the engine to the main fuel line. We used original style 3/8-inch green fuel hose pinch clamps to secure the line.

33 Install new rubber fuel line from the tank line to main fuel line, again using the correct 3/8-inch green fuel hose pinch clamps to secure the line.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

All Original 69 Nova Example

The article featured on this page is from the April 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.


Inside An Original 1969 Nova Engine Compartment

Story Wayne Scraba

Cars can serve as learning tools, like this super-low mileage 1969 Nova. It’s a 9,317-mile virgin car (although it was repainted once, but the rest of it is pretty much as-produced).

Under the hood, it’s had maintenance – the spark plugs, battery, radiator hoses and air filter element have been changed. The rest is exactly like it left the assembly line.

While this little coupe is only a 307 Powerglide example, there are plenty of similarities inside the engine compartment to the more robust SS350 and SS396 Nova examples. The car is a very late 1969 build; it rolled off the Willow Run, Michigan, assembly line on third week of July, 1969. It’s probably one of the last 1969 Novas built. You’ll note it’s a bit dirty (mainly dust and road dirt). We didn’t wash the engine compartment on purpose. There are several fragile vintage markings and tags we didn’t want to disturb for the purpose of capturing the archaeological details.

1 The underhood area is completely blacked out (semi-gloss black). You can see a bit of overspray here, but we’re sure it is primarily due to the repaint. The hood catch assembly is medium-gray phosphate-plated. Ditto with the fasteners.

2 Hood hinges, hood springs and associated fasteners are all medium-gray phosphate-plated. As a tip, if you have phosphate-plated parts and they’re looking a bit dodgy, try spraying them lightly with WD40, then wipe off the excess. Otherwise, you’re better off having the parts re-plated.

3 Two things are important here – the routing of the forward (headlamp) wiring harness and the routing of the windshield washer hose. Both run through the push-in plastic retainers on the driver-side inner fender panel. Note the wiring for the water temperature lamp (idiot lamp) sender on the driver-side cylinder head. It exits past the wiring harness, just past the first retainer.

4 The Saginaw steering box is natural in color (unpainted) with an aluminum top plate. Check out the routing of the power steering hoses. Note the orientation of the hose clip. The yellow spot is an inspection sticker.

5 We’re not positive what the “BL” crayon mark signifies. Camaros of this era often carry the letters “BTP” (in various combinations) for “Body Trim Paint” somewhere on the firewall (although we suspect their prominence has been greatly blown out of proportion). Because of that, we’re speculating the “BL” signifies “Body Line” or something to that order.

6 This is definitely an original trim tag. The rivets have been dabbed in body caulking. The light-blue turquoise overspray is from the repaint. The trim tag should be semi-gloss black.

7 The original manual drum brake master cylinder is finished in natural (rust) with a gold cadmium-plated lid. The bail wire is silver cad dichromate. The “RC” tag on the bail wire spells out the type of brakes. In this case, it’s manual drums.

8 Both the forward lamp wiring harness and the engine harness have tags located close to the leading edge of the harness wrap. The tags likely indicate what engine/transmission/gauge combination is intended for each harness. For example, cars with optional gauges used a different harness than those with idiot lights.

9 We’ve seen it stated several times over that the windshield washer squirters were “natural.” These obviously are not. If they were unplated, they surely would have rusted over the past 41 or so years. They look silver cadmium-plated to us.

10 The fasteners that hold the washer nozzles in place, along with the (similar) fasteners used elsewhere to fasten the cowl panel, are all silver-plated. They’re not shiny, so we suspect they’re cad-plated like the nozzles.

11 The engine harness stretches over the firewall with the wiring routed to the starter. The lone wire for the heater blower motor is routed over the heater box. The application of body sealer on the firewall was “liberal.”

12 Heater hoses were always routed from the heater box over to the passenger-side fender and back to the intake manifold and water pump. You can clearly see that 1969 model year hoses had raised “ribs.” Later model year Novas had “GM” lettered on the hose. These do not.

13 The top post battery is obviously a replacement, but the battery cables are original spring ring jobs. GM part numbers were found on the cables. Note the “N” clearly visible on the negative cable spring ring. There’s a similar “P” on the positive cable. In addition, the cables carry this “#4 GA. SAE” lettering.

14 Here’s a look at a part of the cable routing: The negative cable runs over the heater hoses toward the stud on the alternator mount (top of the water neck). Note the clip on the alternator bracket. The positive cable uses a similar clip on the subframe crossmember. These are regularly missing in action.

15 This is how the alternator wiring breaks out of the back of the harness wrap. Note the orientation of the boot for the large positive wire. These are often missing or installed “loose.”

16 As you can see by the overspray patterns on the exhaust manifolds, the engine was factory-painted with the manifolds in place.

17 Alternator pulleys on all engine combinations incorporated a silver dichromate plating. Ditto with the nut that holds the pulley in place. This (obviously) is not one of the deep groove pulleys used on special high-performance engines.

18A, B & C Primary engine decals included the “Tonawanda Team” job on the passenger-side valve cover, the “Turbo-Fire” decal on the air cleaner along with the “Keep Your GM Car All GM” decal on the driver side of the air cleaner. Although not shown, the tune-up (emission) decal was located on the radiator support.

19A & B With the air cleaner removed, you can get a better look at the way the spark plug wires are oriented and routed through the original looms. The date code is interesting. The car is a very, very late 1969 build (3rd week of July 1969), and carries a few 1970 pieces such as the grille (not uncommon, by the way). Our interpretation of the wire date code of “1Q-69” is “First Quarter, 1969.” It doesn’t match, and the wires do not appear to have been replaced. Was the production line getting to the bottom of the barrel when it came to wires (and consequently used what was left over)?

20 Here’s a look at the windshield wiper/washer motor. Note the white washer pump base. Many replacements are black.

21 This is how the dual-throttle return springs were oriented on the small block. One was looped around the bolt on the coil bracket, while another was hooked to the the driver-side ignition wire retainer.

22 The vacuum fitting for the transmission modulator line is equipped with a single rubber hose (vibration connection). No clamps were used. The fitting appears to be cad dichromate-plated.

23 The engine dipstick is “natural” in color. Some replacements are colored. The automatic transmission dipstick (although not shown) is also natural.

24 Here’s a look at the original horn relay as well as the original Delco Remy voltage regulator. The date code on the regulator is “9F” or 1969, 6th month (June).

2 Point Mopar Distributor Restoration

The article featured on this page is from the April 2011 issue of Auto Enthusiast Magazine.

A Two-Point restoration

Bringing back a dual-point Mopar distributor

Story Earl Duty

I was at a Mopar event and had opportunity to stumble around the swap meet. During my hike among the offerings of new and used parts, I noticed a number of ignition distributors including the bulletproof cast iron (dual point) unit that became a workhorse for delivering firepower to the V-8 Mopar muscle of the early ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Asking prices for these chunks of iron ranged anywhere from $50 to $400 depending on condition and application. During my 40-plus years of automotive repair, I had never seen one of these cast iron distributors go completely bad. They just rusted up due to age and the elements.

My goal was to take one of these rusted old chunks of iron and see what it would take to refurbish it. For my rebuild/restoration I picked out one of the more common distributors. The one I chose is typical of cast iron dual point distributors that came with a vacuum advance. Should you want to rebuild your own distributor, this would at least give you the basics for your particular cast iron dual point application.

Theory of Dual Points

A single set of ignition points operating at a high speed has a very short saturation time (coil voltage build-up) — whereas the dual points of the Chrysler distributor effectively extends this voltage build-up time, producing a much hotter spark at high speeds. The points are connected in parallel and staggered in relation to the 8-lobe cam. This overlapping of the contacts allows for a longer saturation time and no voltage is released until both sets of points are open.

I started the tear down by extracting the old points, and any related wiring. Next I removed the tiny clip that keeps the vacuum advance arm secured to the rotating breaker plate and removed the vacuum advance (don’t lose that tiny clip). After removing the screws that secured the distributor cap hold down clips, the breaker plate could be lifted from the main housing. This left me with one roll pin at the bottom of the mainshaft, which required a punch and small hammer for removal. Caution:safety glasses are required.

With the roll pin out of the retaining collar, I then used a hammer with a hard plastic head to tap the main shaft out the larger opening of the housing. The removal of one final spring clip at the top of the mainshaft allowed me to remove the one-piece cam lobe and the underlying mechanical weights and springs.

Wipe Away The Years

Cleanup of all parts and pieces was next, where I used a combination of media blasting, “Mean Green” (a readily available cleaning solution), and cleaning solvent.

Fortunately, I have a friend who has a glass bead cabinet and the glass bead media used to clean the parts was micro-fine and removed nothing more than the surface rust. If you don’t have a blasting cabinet, a bucket or pan with quality cleaning solvent will work quite well. You can also use a hand-held wire brush (or sandpaper) for scuffing and rust removal on the cast iron housing prior to solvent cleaning and painting. Just be sure to use chemical-resistant gloves and safety glasses when dealing with any cleaning solvent.

I used a fabricated driver with an OD (outside diameter) of 39/64-inch to press the old bushings out through the large end of the distributor housing. The smaller end of that driver was turned down to 15/32-inch so it would fit inside the old bushings. After removal, the old bushings measured; ½ -inch ID, 5/8-inch OD and were one-inch long. The replacement (bronze Oilite) bushings were readily available at my local bearing and bushing supplier and require little to no oiling.

The mainshaft in our project distributor had very minor wear and required clamping the shaft into a lathe and using fine emery cloth (320 grit) for polishing. If a lathe is not an option for your distributor shaft clean-up, clamping the drive end of the shaft into a vise and using fine emery cloth (320 grit) will suffice. Just be sure to rotate the shaft occasionally for uniform cleaning. By the way, there’s a reason the distributor shaft and the bushings wear – it’s because rarely does anyone take the time to oil the bushings via the oil fill tube built into the distributor housing.

The distributor breaker plate cleaned up quite well in the Mean Green solution and by swiveling the bearing retainers off to the side, I was able to treat the old bearing to a fresh coat of a lightweight lubricant called Lubriplate. After the cleanup and repainting of necessary parts, the reassembly was a reverse of disassembly, with the project concluding by setting the new points with a feeler gauge to .017-inch (each set). Here’s a little hindsight on my part: It would have been much easier to install the points and condenser onto the breaker plate while the plate was out of the distributor.

To keep the distributor hold down clips and the vacuum advance from rusting, I used Dupli-Color paint (PN EDSGM435 – Light Gray M), which is as close to a new metal finish as I’ve found. I used Seymour semi-gloss black for the cast iron housing (PN 16-838).

1 Prior to starting the rebuild of your dual point distributor, locate a pictorial breakdown of the unit as seen here.

2 Remove the retaining screws holding the points to the breaker plate and related wiring (the condenser and its hold down screw were missing on our distributor). If for any reason you feel you might not remember where something goes for reassembly, break out the digital camera and photograph the teardown.

3 By extracting the vacuum advance screws and the C-clip attaching the advance arm to the breaker plate, the vacuum advance can be removed.

4 After removal of the distributor cap hold down clip screws and the vacuum advance, insert a screwdriver through the vacated pigtail lead opening and gently pry upward to remove the breaker plate.

5 Removal of the mainshaft roll pin requires the use of a punch and hammer. Safety glasses required!

6 To remove the mainshaft from the distributor housing, grasp the housing and with a hard plastic-head hammer tap the shaft out through the top of the housing.

7 After removal of the mainshaft, note the position of these two thrust washers (arrows) and make sure they’re relocated in the proper order during reassembly.

8 Release the spring clip holding the cam lobe assembly to the mainshaft.

9 Document the position of the advance weights and then remove both of them from the mainshaft, along with their attached springs.

10 The layout of parts and pieces ready for clean up, housing bushing replacement, painting and reassembly.

11 My clean up of the distributor parts were – glass bead blast the cast iron housing, hold down clips, vacuum advance, screws and mainshaft. Note: I did not use sand to blast the surface because sand will remove a certain degree of metal from the surface.

12 By connecting a hand operated vacuum pump to the suction port of the vacuum advance I found that our distributor vacuum advance tested perfect and required little more than a cleanup.

13 A thorough cleaning in Mean Green produced a points breaker plate that was again clean and ready for new points and condenser.

14 I used a caliper to measure the mainshaft and found that the bushing wear areas were approximately one thousandth (undersize) from the mainshaft, which allowed me to simply polish the wear damage.

15 To polish the minor wear damage on the mainshaft I clamped it into the chuck on a lathe and used 320 emery cloth to clean up the wear marks. Caution: rotating machinery parts – keep hands and clothing clear.

16 The old bronze bushings are removed by pressing them from the bottom of the distributor out the top. Our new Oilite bushings would be reinstalled in reverse order. Oilite bushings are oil-impregnated bronze requiring little or no external oiling.

17 These original distributor bushings measured 5/8-inch OD, ½-inch ID and one inch long. New replacements made of bronze Oilite material were on the shelf where we get our bushings. Also shown is the fabricated tool used to press the old bushings out and to reinstall the new ones.

18 To cut the oil slot in the upper bushing I simply pressed the new bushing on the end of a length of ½-inch wooden dowel rod. Then with a magic marker I marked the ¼-inch slot on the new bushing and cut it out with a band saw.

19 The new bushings are reinstalled into the housing with the lower being pressed into the bottom of the distributor and the upper inserted into the top of the distributor, making sure the oil slot lined up with the oil fill tube. The upper bushing is pressed just slightly below the lip of the housing allowing room for the thrust washer bevel.

20 Use a small pair of pliers to swivel the bearing retainers on the breaker plate for removal and lubrication of the breaker plate bearing.

21 After lubricating the breaker plate bearing with a lightweight lubricant like Lubriplate, the two parts are ready for reassembly.

22 With new bushings in the painted distributor housing, use a dial indicator to check for play between the distributor shaft and new bushings. Factory specs call for no more than .005-inch. Shaft movement caused the dial indicator to read .002-inch, which was well within specs so no reaming of the new bushings was required.

23 If our distributor shaft had been very tight in the new bushings, an adjustable bushing reamer such as this would have been used. This type of reamer is inserted into a new bushing and by making quarter turn adjustments (at the threaded end) adequate material can be removed from a new bushing allowing for freedom of shaft movement.

24 By following a reverse of disassembly and setting the new points to .017-inch (each set), our refurbished distributor is now ready to resume its intended purpose of sparking a Mopar engine back to life.