Chapter 9: Release the beast

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White walls all fitted up

Well, it feels like something monumental has happened, a milestone reached, the summit of the hill scaled. The Val finally had it’s first spin on the open road for nearly 30 years, and went flawlessly.

After sticking on Karls tyres I figured a little squirt down the back roads was in order, just to make sure that there wasn’t something obvious that I had missed. Was the gearbox going to shift gears? Was the motor going to cough and rattle under load, was the diff going to let out an almighty whine? Well thankfully none of those things happened. I drove the car smoothly about 5km down the road, and came back with not a worry. Even the speedo worked and showed  that I managed to get the old girl up to 50 mile an hour before I backed off and realised that I still didn’t really have enough confidence in the steering or brakes to be travelling at such speeds.

Everything went very well: The temp needle climbed to 1/3 of the gauge and steadied nicely, and no coolant was seen to be squirting from anywhere, so everything is ok in that regard. The steering seemed nice and tight with no wandering. The brakes…worked, I think that’s the best thing you can say about 4 wheel drum brakes with no power assist. They slowed the car to a stop (eventually) when a large amount of force was applied, which is all this car, which will be treated as a nice sedate weekend cruiser, really needs to get by on. There were no major rattles, whines or creaks anywhere so I don’t think there is much to do in the way of driveline and suspension work. I think I might replace the tie rod ends, which have rotted rubber dust boots, the shocks obviously (which are originals) and maybe replace the rear spring bushings but that is about it. The rear springs have sagged an inch or so, but I think I might just wind down the front ride height (an easy job with torsion bars) to compensate and bring her back nice an level.

 

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Much better stance with the larger tyres

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Gabs enjoying the old girl

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Can’t keep her out of it

Things are a little tight budget wise at the moment with Anna still on maternity leave, so the big jobs required for rego will need to just hang 5 for a couple of months. That said, there are lots of little cheap jobs that I can get started on in the meantime. So far the list reads:

  • Get a temporary transport permit and drive her to the car wash to de-grease the engine and tranny. The leaky valve cover and spark plug tube seals have resulted in a nice thick coating of goop and dirt over the motor. I’m hoping the car wash de greaser soap and a high pressure wash will fix that. Don’t really want it on my lawn/drive.
  • Pull out the old buggered vinyl floors and clean up the floorpan. It still has the beautiful mouse poo smell, and a bit of surface rust. It just needs a good wash out, rough up with some sandpaper and an application of rust inhibitor. Nothing fancy, will all be hidden with carpets.
  • Replace rear spring bushings
  • Replace tie road ends
  • Service universal joints
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First pictures in her natural habitat

That should keep me occupied for a while, and then I need to look into getting a replacement exhaust and muffler. The current equipment is holier than Jesus and makes the old girl sound a bit rugged. I would like to lose the fencing wire exhaust mounts too that rattled every time i went over a bump. Then its new shockies time (maybe gas ones in the back so i can support the saggy leaf springs a bit), and finally just getting the little rust spots fixed up.

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Looking sharp

Now that I know for certain that the car is running nice out on the road, it feels like everything else is easy (even though as a whole it seems a lot of work.)

I took a couple of shots of the old girl down the local beach carpark, which was basically the point at which I decided enough was enough and turned for home. Something that was nice was that I got a few admiring glances while i was out and about. I can’t wait to have her on the road and have that all the time. The other nice thing is that my 3 year old daughter Gabriella loves the car to bits and always wants to just sit in it and play with dad. Unfortunately she won’t be able to come for a ride, even when it’s registered, for years given she needs child restraints by law and the val is sadly lacking them. The time will come though

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