So finally, after working towards this moment for a month, I hooked up a heavy duty battery, turned the ignition and…the val started!
But firstly, an update from last week. I managed to get some quality time with the val over a few late nights and a weekend, which enabled me to put in the prep work required prior to turning the key in anger. Some heavy duty scraping with a razor removed most of the dessicated 47 year old gaskets from the thermostat and waterpump mounts, and they were mounted with new hoses without issue. I’m a little bit concerned about the water pump, as it did weep a little once I filled the system with water, but I had been quite conservative with the mounting bolt torques, so nipped them another quarter turn and all seems ok so far. I need to talk to a Val expert about the lower radiator hose too, which seems to foul on the fanbelt unless it is tied back.
An oil and filter change was next, and a new chrome dipstick (Ted Bullpit style) was added seeing as the original didn’t have a dust cap. I now had a dirty, oily, rusty slant 6 with some nice shiny bits hanging off it. Things had been pretty sluggish electrically when I used the jumper leads last week, so I took all the terminals off and cleaned the cables and mounting points with a wire brush, then chucked in a massive 750CCA battery. I figured that I might be turning this old girl over for a long while and would need the big capacity.
With the fuel line disconnected and the spark plugs out I gave the starter a quick test and the motor turned over strongly, much better than last week. Good. Next up was fuel. I was a little concerned about the very elderly juice that had been sitting in the tank for 30 years, and removing the cap revealed a pretty nasty varnish smell. I borrowed a handy little snake cam from a mate who builds racing engines to have a look see inside, and it revealed a pretty ugly sight. Most of the tank walls were covered in a black scaly crud, the remnants of the old evaporated fuel. Sucking fuel out of this tank was going to be a no go unless I wanted to clog the new fuel filter I just added in 5 minutes. I resolved to drop and clean the tank later, but I was itching to get the Val started, if nothing else as a bit of a moral boost after a month of not much. I figured the best course of action was to remove the fuel line at the pump, and run a line into a small container of fuel (aka, an empty beer stubby). A quick suck at the carby end of the fuel line primed up the pump and line, and I was good to go.
Just to kick things off I primed the float bowl with a cup of juice. I then made sure the 100 tools I had sitting in the engine bay were clear of the fan and belt, opened a beer, and stuck the keys in the ignition…paused a beat…then let rip.
The starter whirred strongly. I pumped the accelerator twice and…VROOOM! First attempt the mighty slant six burst into life! I couldn’t believe it, I was set for the long haul thinking a distributor overhaul was probably on the cards before I coaxed life out of the donk. But no, here she was, a motor that hadn’t even been turned over in nearly 30 years running strongly. I let out a big “WOOOO” and took a drink. 10 seconds of holding her at a fast idle and I released the accelerator, and the beautiful old donk sat there idling peacefully, maybe a bit less refined than the day it rolled off the line in South Australia, but still pretty nicely. Now for the next test, I got out and moved a few things out of the way, jumped back in the drivers seat, trod on the clutch and snicked her into first. Easing out the pedal resulted in the car moving under it’s own steam with no complaints! Heaven! Back into reverse, and I rolled her back into the shed nicely.
All in all a raging success. No rattly big ends, no noisy tappets. After a brief, light smoke smelling richly of fuel from the exhaust, probably from the excess fuel I poured down the carb, there was no noticeable smoke hanging in the shed. The start up revealed the odd expected minor issue, the flange at the base of the exhaust puffed a little bit and will need a bit of attention but all in all, very happy.
A monumental achievement for me met with little excitement from Anna,
“Oh that’s good”, was about all I could extract.
Seeking some validation I quickly rang my Val loving brother in law who was excited as me to hear that she was going.
So I now have a car that actually runs. Now I need to stop her. The brakes are non-existent currently, mainly due to a bone dry master cylinder…hydraulics don’t work so well without fluid. Given this lack of fluid, the greenish tinge around the filler port, and the stripped paint on the firewall underneath the cylinder, I’m guessing it has a rather large leak in the seals. Given it’s age, and the fact brakes are rather important, I am going to shoot the MC off to a brake specialist to get it rebirthed with a rebuild and stainless resleeve. It’s less than 200 bucks so worth it for peace of mind. While that is going on I will probably drop the fuel tank and work on cleaning that out, and maybe whip off the drums and see what the linings are like.