Chapter 8: The serious stuff begins….soon

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Out in the sun to wash off some accumulated grime

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A nice little touch, the last time the car was rego’ed, well, when it expired anyway

It sorta surprised me when getting into this project how long it takes people to complete car restos. Often you hear numbers like 2 years, 5 years, 10 years….more sometimes, and you think, “Christ, what are these guys doing, turning one bolt a month?”

It’s not until you start one of these things that you understand why. Of course there are the critical path things like waiting on parts, which can be a few days if you’re buying off a parts website and waiting on delivery, to a couple of weeks waiting for an ebay auction to end for that little fiddly bit that you need and is either not available/crazy expensive, or sometimes longer for really difficult parts that need to be fabricated/hunted down.

But, that sorta time spent is nothing for me compared to the time it takes for me to actually get some quality time on the car, and not just an hour or so, a good solid day of work where you can get heaps done. I just don’t get the opportunity to do that. I have 2 great young kids under 3, including my youngest, Nicky at only 5 months old. They always, always have to come first. Then I have to spend quality time with the wife, outings, birthdays, friends visiting out of town, work (obviously), and now, at this time of year uni semester has started (which I have been doing part time for 6 years…seems like forever).

Long story short, it has been 9 months since I bought the car. In that time I have turned it from an old, rusty, oil stained inanimate object that had to be pushed around, and stopped with chocks of wood/bricks due to lack of brakes, to what it is today, and old, rusty, slightly less oil stained object that can actually move under its own power and be stopped by a foot on the brake. I have no doubt that a decent mechanical shop could have done in a day and a half what I have achieved in 9 months.

But, that is the life of the amateur restorer, I work when I can. When the kids are napping, or late at night. After which I sneak in smelling of grease and oil, and grab a late night shower in the guest bathroom, where i can scrub the muck from my hands and under my fingernails so I don’t get divorced from staining the sheets with 40 year old val grime.

So if you ever read this and think “This guy never seems to get anything done” well, that’s why.

Anyway, enough self flagellation, what’s been going on? Well the brakes are done! After starting what i thought would be a couple of week job in October (well actually August, if you count sending the MC off to get rebuilt “brake work”). Here I am nearly 5 months later with operating brakes. The upshot was, after trying to salvage as much of the original equipment as I could, the only real original equipment in the brake system are the shoes (good old asbestos ones, they’ll kill you but they work good) and the metal lines. everything else is new or rebuilt. It’s probably a good thing, the single circuit brakes don’t give you second chances if something pops, so best that what is there is solid and newish.

The work list:

  • Rebuilt master cylinder
  • 3 new flexi lines
  • 4 new wheel cylinders.
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New lines and wheel cylinder installed

Now i haven’t taken her on the road yet, but a push on the pedal will stop the old girl rolling forward after a quick squirt in the backyard, I’m calling it a success. I have now fixed my mind on a “danger ride”, basically a good test drive to try and highlight what needs attention before licencing (lots), and see if there is anything I haven’t already accounted for (I haven’t tried the gearbox out of 1st and reverse for example). In prep for a drive, I changed out the tranny oil. The box was supposed to hold 2.3litres and had about 1 litre left, hopefully some of that has just seeped out the seals while it was in storage so it hasn’t done too many miles half full. I threw some quality penrite stuff at it so hopefully the old girl appreciates my efforts. I also topped off the diff, which belying its oil stained appearance and only took an extra couple of hundred ml, good result. (btw, if you look at one of these old mopar diffs and wonder how the hell you will get the odd looking star shaped plug out, the drive of your 1/2 inch ratchet will fit perfectly). I also chucked some new (er) wheels and tyres on that my VF owning bro in law lent me. While I have those i will rip mine off and get the old tyres peeled off so I can clean the rims up and repaint em the factory white.

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White wall loaners courtesy of my B in Law and fellow Val enthusiast, Karl

The other job i tackled was changing out the 30 year old spark plugs. It was pretty cool to see the old ones were KLG’s. I haven’t seen them for years, and Dad was pretty happy to see them and tell some old spark plug war stories. I replaced them with NGKs, give the old girl some oriental flavour. While i had them out I decided to change out the plug tube seals as well. The slant 6 plugs go down through the head, and are sealed with a little rubber oring, much like the 426 hemi. I like the thought my little 6 banger shares some heritage and design aspects with that beast. I changed them out as they are apparently a big source of top end oil leaks, and my old girl seems pretty typical of that. Hopefully a new set of plug seals and a new valve cover gasket will solve 90% of my oil leak issues. As one of the below images show, the old ones had red paint on them and were probably original equipment.

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The old plugs, installed in the late 70’s most likely

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The plug tubes, new seal and old stuffed one

Now I am working on getting a temporary movement permit this weekend and go for my first spin. Basically in WA you can pay 22 bucks and drive your unlicensed car on the road (for the purposes of going somewhere for repairs, I think i may overlook that bit for now). I must say i am a bit excited, I hope it all goes well and there are no disastrous hidden surprises (3rd gear sounding like 3 nuts being rattled in a can for instance.)

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