Friday, November 17, 2017

A quick update on progress

My last post was on October 25! It is now November 17...almost Thanksgiving. The weather has definitely turned the corner to colder days. We've had a fair amount of rain over the past few weeks as well. It makes it hard to get motivated to go out into the ramshackle carport to fight with the parts I can't get to budge.
But, I managed to get a few hours in, here and there, during my days off.
The struggle with the distributor went on for several weeks. It resulted in more trips to Home Depot and Harbor Freight than I had hoped, but I finally found the winning combination: brute strength and a mid-sized pry bar.

It was a moment of sheer joy when that thing popped out. I was happy to have been warned that the distributor in my car did not have gears attached...that the end simply looked like a flat-head screwdriver. If I had not known that before removing the part, I would've thought I had broken the end off!

Once that was out of the way, I was able to loosen all the bolts on the intake manifold. I have not taken it out yet, however. I have a list of things I'd like to have done before the snow falls and/or working conditions are less than ideal.
So, even though I'm feeling good about moving forward with the engine, as far as removing parts and cleaning out the gunk, I'll likely be saving that for Spring.
In the meantime, I made the decision to forgo welding the trunk. The hole was fairly large, and definitely a welding job for someone in the know, but I just did not see myself attaining that skill (or equipment) in a timely manner. Instead, I chose to use a resin/fiberglass patch.

I had already done some patching over the small holes with Bondo body filler. It is unfortunate that I didn't think to just go with the fiberglass from the start, but I am hoping the overlapping of fiberglass over filler won't be too problematic.
I still have to get out there to sand and see how it looks, since the day I did it, I ran out of time doing other chores. ugh...life.
With that patch ready to sand, and then the trunk ready to prime (and possibly paint, in the future), I can finally get the new fuel tank in and tie up the fuel lines. With that done, I can finally finish hooking up the new brake lines and finish the front brake conversion and re-assemble the rear drums. The new shocks can go on, all around; and, I can get the tires mounted and ready.
Spring can be all about getting the engine and exhaust squared away and with any luck, it'll be on the road by summer.
Now, I'm not counting my chickens, by any means, but I'm finally at a place where I feel like I'm moving steadily forward.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Still at it...

Wow! My last post was in August! And it's almost November!?
It's not from lack of work...not that I'm 'killing it' with the progress, but I am making more of an effort to actually get out there and work before the weather gets too cold.
Upside, this year, is that I bought a lamp this past spring, which turned out to give off a ton of heat, so working later into the year is not out of the question.
This will be a short post. The past couple months have been a little hectic: in-law visit, vacation, dead fridge...you know...life getting in the way.
Hubby took a trip back to Ohio to see his folks and help a friend move, so I took some extra time off to concentrate on the car...but then the fridge broke and I spent a day fixing that instead. And, I'm not gonna lie...when I have the house to myself I become very unmotivated to do anything more than binge watch my guilty pleasures and get up early and bake.
But anyway, I did spend a day cleaning and sanding the rust in the trunk and getting a little bit of patch work done.
The trunk had so much rust that the jack stand had rusted to the spare. I had to knock it out with a hammer.

Sweep the big bits of rust, vacuum the rest...sand and brush, vacuum again...and on and on....

Removed as much rust as I could and prepared to just spray with filler. It was still sturdy, no give to it, luckily.
I managed to get the valve covers off to expose an unsettling amount of rust. So I spent some time cleaning those as well.


The trouble this time...the thing that has got me frustrated and questioning my sanity...the intake manifold and distributor.
My hope this month was to get the manifolds swapped out (original back in)...but there is one bolt that is inaccessible (as far as my ability) without removing the distributor (which I was really hoping to not have to do).
There is a bolt just behind that red lever that I just can't manage to get to. My hinged wrench kind of gets in there but then I have no leverage to get the power I need to get the bolt loose.
Okay, fine, I give...I'll remove the distributor. Off to the YouTubes I go...'mark this, mark that'...take the cap off...slip it right out...
Um...no...it does not 'slip right out'. In fact, it feels pretty cemented in there.
Not budging at all. Tried a flathead screwdriver to loosen the seal and pry, but again...space is limited there.
I've tried all I can think of and can only guess that the seal is just really tight and maybe I can pry it out with a mini pry bar. Or, worse, is that it's somehow fused/rusted at the gear end, inside the engine. (that thought, of course, makes me want to cry)

With the wind and the rain today, I'm not likely to get out there and work, but somehow, sometime soon I need to figure out a way the get the distributor out...or at least a way to get that hidden manifold bolt out.
Here's hoping my next post is about how I finally figured it out!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Patchwork fuel line

Two posts in one day!? ugh, I know...
To be fair, this is my documentation of this madness, and my memory is crap so I need to get stuff down before it's gone.
Again, I had one real goal today and that was to work on the car for a few hours. My secondary goals were to finish up the fuel line and possibly continue drilling the bolt hole. Then, of course depending on my energy and state of mind, maybe move onto something else on the list.
'Real goal': accomplished. I worked for about 3 and a  half hours before succumbing to hunger. I forgot to eat before heading out to get to it. I also forgot I got up at 4 and was out the door at 5 this morning for a 30 minute run. And 3 hours seems to be my 'time to beat', I did okay.
'Secondary goal #1 (fuel line)': accomplished!
It was very slow going, as I am still not skilled at the art of line bending. It was terribly frustrating and it's not the perfectly bent line I was hoping to install when I bought a 'pre-bent line', but somehow I managed to get the line in and bolted/bracketed in.
 As I mentioned with my first post, today...these two lines needed to be connected...
 

After some more cutting and bending and fighting and cursing and comparing the new bends with the bends in the old line (which of course I kept for reference!) and more struggling...I finally got bends to match up enough to get the new line into the hooks.
Not an exact match, but the new line is in tight and ready for the new tank!
I wasn't really sure about adding the rubber line. I've watched multiple videos about it. I've double checked fuel hose ratings. I changed the blade in my utility knife. I had my box of assorted clamps. And I've put off enough stuff due to anxiety that I just had to do it. 
I think I did a pretty good job!
I mean...it looks right...
Next up was the front end. This where I had to do more research. I was under the impression that the original lines were 3/8, rather than the 5/16 that they actually were. So I bought a sending unit in 3/8"....and fuel line for 3/8"...but for some reason, my new pump to carburetor lines are the proper 5/16". So after some inquiries in the forums, I was told that if I had 3/8" from tank to the front, that I could simply get an adapter to connect the 3/8 fuel line to a short run of 5/16 line to the fuel pump!
So, I did!
before..
after!
That was, after all the struggle with getting the line to shape/fit in properly at the rear...then realizing I needed to do more bending at the front end to get the line tight into it's final bracket, just about all I could do. 
I spent a little more time trying to figure out the grease fitting issue but I didn't want it to put me in a mood, so I backed off.

I feel good about the time I've spent on the car over these past couple days. It's not a lot on paper, but forward progress is forward progress!

mini staycation: a.k.a. restoration marathon

Okay...both of those things are misleading.
I took an extra day off from work to get 2 days in a row to work on the car. And, it's only a 'marathon' to me in the sense that I have never (that I can remember) worked on the car on consecutive days. It's quite a big deal, for me actually! I'm glad I did it, too, because I actually feel like today I can really finish some things!
FINISH!
I almost think the idea of getting something actually checked off my list, rather than just adjusting the task, is a little odd. I mean, this whole project has been 'well, that's a problem...I'll just move on and come back to that.' It's literally a big pile of unfinished projects under the umbrella of 'car restoration'. Yes, I know that is basically every single car restoration (or home restoration), and although the years I've spent on this may seem contrary to this point, but I like to finish a project and move on. It is hard for me to have a thing that needs attention day after day after day (a good reason that I don't have kids!).
But I'm getting away from he important stuff here...per usual...let's just move on to the meat of the story.
So yesterday was Day 1 of my 2-day build-a-thon. 
The long and short of it: I made some progress but did not get as far as I had hoped.
My daily goals are set pretty low, since I have a history with this car.
#1: get the old headers out, by cutting whatever pipes are in the way of pulling them up and out
#2: finish drilling the tank strap bolt hole
#3: if all that gets done, move onto Day 2 list
Seems simple. Easy. Straight-forward.
Well, it is all that, but it's also just a day in the life of my first car project.
I made surprisingly good time with the pipe cutting! My original plan was actually to get to the tool store early and pick up a pipe cutting tool...a flaring tool, maybe...see if i could find anything that looked like it would be helpful in getting my u-joint grease fitting back in (I think the rear axle may have to come off for me to fix that silly mistake)...but the stores didn't open until 8! I thought I could get in by 7:30, but 8 is too late...commuters and beach-goers are already crowding the roads by 8.
So, I went at it with my mini hacksaw and the blades I had left from the bolt cutting I had to do previously.
6 blades...both ends and as far into the middle as I could get. I had to skip my yoga after all the sawing and drilling and mowing the lawn and whacking the weeds the day before...I could barely lift my arms to feed myself by yesterday afternoon!
But, of course, I had the proud moments of solving my problem.
In the past, I start work on the driver's side of the car. Probably because that side of the carport has more clearance. But, the driver's side headers were packed in around the steering column and I just wanted to do the easy side first, for once. After the first cut was so awful, I tried to be more methodical about the angle I cut the rest of the pipes. I was able to cut 3 on each side to pull the headers out.
 

The middle bolts, on the driver's side, were a little tricky to get to so I thought I could cut that one first, to get a better angle at the bolt. However, I didn't actually pay close enough attention to where I was cutting so I didn't get in close enough anyway. To add insult to injury, when the pipe was cut, and I tried to pull it out, it was getting stuck on something...and the tie rod got in the way of pulling it out from underneath. So there it hung. I was hoping I could get away with cutting just 2 pipes but the two left in this picture are basically stacked so they wouldn't clear the steering column if I pulled up. So I cut the pipe all the way to the right, which was a little tricky in the end, since that first pipe was still hanging there. 
But I did it. I cut 6 pipes using my mini hacksaw. It wasn't really that difficult and didn't take all that much time, to be honest. The hardest part was starting the cut. 
Finishing the cut was a bit tricky on some, too. 

This is the last pipe I cut. You can see the first pipe I cut, stuck hanging off the one I'm cutting.
Once I got the headers out, I cleaned up around the spark plugs and swept up all the metal shavings and other such debris from the years.
 The plugs look new to me, but I didn't take any out to see how they look on the other end.
I have the old valve covers, which I think would be fun to put back on, but I really like these Mopar ones, too. The old ones are just red.

Today's plan is to, first of all, get an earlier start. Since the sawing and drilling are the loudest tasks on my list, I can go out as early as 7 or 8 today. Maybe do some more drilling at the end of my day.
I'm hoping to tie up the fuel line issues: 
fix the broken line near the wheel well
cut this extra bit off and bend behind that wall
add rubber fuel hose to connect the two cut ends
 I'm nervous/anxious to finish up all the brake stuff I still need to finish. I'm not really sure why. It's almost like I don't want to finish it. I guess because it's the only thing that is really new. Everything else is just replacing old parts. This is a new system to this car and I don't want to fuck it up.
A big part of it, though, is thinking about getting all these new parts in and then it just sits there with all the new parts rusting away while I try to figure out the engine.

Get to bridge...then, cross it...
I have to stop looking ahead and imagining the road blocks that may (or may not) appear and just enjoy the feeling of accomplishment each time I get to the next step.
I know, I know...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

making an effort

So here we are a week+ into August!
Looks like my plan to get the car back to 'wheels down' by labor day may not happen. It may still, but I'm not holding myself to that. September still offers lovely outdoor weather, but that is the time my in-laws are in town, meaning it's all work and in-laws all the time. This year, however, we've planned our (usually in October) vacation for the second week they are here, so that's a week I won't even be in the country.
But that's okay! I'm really close to being ready to start looking into what's going on with the engine!

Let's see...where did we leave off...
Oh, right...the broken, brand new, fuel line. Which, I'll be honest, I think turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Rather than fighting to fit a line that is obviously too long for this car, I can just put a tiny bit of fuel hose in place of the cut out section and it'll be great. Of course, I actually have to get under there and do that...
I finally got the jack out so I could position the fuel tank to drill the hole for the tank strap bolt.
 Let me just remind this tiny world of Barracuda Diaries readers that metal work scares me. I don't like drilling metal. I don't like cutting wheels on metal. I have such a desire to learn welding but fusing metals scares me (though this is the least of my metal aversions).
When a drill bit gets stuck as I'm drilling...I panic a little.
My brother has a massive scar on his face from a flying cutting wheel from a grinder.
Let me also just give you a little background to my odd trauma visions: every time I drive over a railroad track, I imagine a train plowing right into me. My imagination is both wonderful and wonderfully disturbing.
But back to today's work!

You may remember (or maybe not, since this has been going on for years. so many years) that there was some rust that needed repair on the chassis. The rear passengers side frame had rusted out, you guessed it, at the fuel tank bolt hole. Most likely from the hole in the trunk channel, since it's also where the major damage is to the trunk. My wonderful friend, Patrick, welded a patch for me. Unfortunately, the damage + the new patch left me with no place to attach the bolted end of my fuel tank strap. I've been putting off drilling a new hole.
A) because it was quite an ordeal to get that patch on there, since the sheet metal I had was way too thick so cutting and bending and welding was a pain in the ass for my friend...I didn't want to mess that up!
B) because I had to get it right the first time. I couldn't be drilling holes all over until I finally got it right! I'm a lazy measurer. 'Measure twice, cut once' has always been in my head, but quickly followed by 'just hurry up...it'll be close enough.'
C) drilling metal...ugh!

At first I thought maybe I didn't get the right drill bits (yes, I had to get new bits, as I didn't have one big enough for the larger hole I needed to make). It was so slow going. I actually took a screwdriver and hammered it in after a long time drilling with almost no visible progress, just to see if the metal was indeed getting thinner. It was...so I proceeded. And when I finally got through the patch metal...I had the original layer of metal to go through!! 
WHAT!? 
But then I was in my groove and settled down from my metal drilling anxiety. Unfortunately my legs were falling asleep and I was just beginning.
So the J-hook I have to hang my tank strap is the kind that goes in a large hole then settles into a smaller slot. That meant drilling a larger hole above the smaller hole. 
At this stage, where I'm becoming more confident in my drilling skills, the larger bit kept getting stuck. So, of course, I had to do some problem solving for a problem I was not terribly accustomed to. 
The old me: throw the drill and all the bits. slam my head against the rear quarter panel. cry. pack up until my next day off.
The new and improved me: think about why the bit is getting stuck. look at the tools at my disposal. grab a smaller drill bit and gradually increase my bit size.
However, even the new me has a breaking point and after so much drilling, with numb legs and arms that were also slowly going numb...I stopped before finishing the larger hole. But it's nearly finished and it's not a nagging issue that will continue to cause undue anxiety.

The bolt hole was actually my second task today.
Today's list started with the super annoying task of cutting the headers out. Silly me, I thought I could just unbolt them and pull them up and out...throw in the old exhaust manifolds and be ready to hook up a new exhaust system!
WRONG.
Those fracking things are jammed in there. Well, I thought, looking at it, that the passengers side just needed one of the pipes cut off, because it was getting caught on the torsion bar. 
cutting this pipe took several hours (over multiple days) to cut through. the hardest part being that last bit where my cuts didn't line up.
After what seemed like an eternity of sawing with my mini hack (see above statement about cutting wheels and grinders), I finally had that pipe cut! Bolts back out and...
STILL STUCK!
Problem solving mode...seemed like I could just cut the opposite pipe out and the other, middle, two should be good to just slide out.
NOPE! 
So basically all the pipes need to be cut off up by the intake manifold. 
after cutting the two outside pipes, it is obvious that all pipes must be cut in order to remove the headers. 
And all of this was AFTER a day of just trying to get the bolts out! I am continually puzzled by how this car was put together in the first place!! I mean, the headers weren't original equipment on this car. Someone put those in aftermarket and they are jammed in there!!
Can you see how tight that is in there!? The pipes are molded to fit around the steering column!! That is going to be such a pain to get out...I'm gonna have to have some major reward ready for the day I tackle that mess!
And the simple act of removing some bolts is made nearly impossible by the oil dipstick do-hickey being so close that I had to wedge the Allen wrench at an angle that allowed me to push a nearly immovable tube out of my way. Then I get to do it all over when I put the original manifolds back in. Yeah.

But today I put in a solid 3 hours (the most I've been able to manage yet) and I feel like I did quite a bit to move forward. 
So I rewarded myself with a lunchtime beer!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fuel line: phase 2

When a broken fuel line means progress...
Here's the story: I bought a tube bender. I picked out one that I thought I could use on the lines as they were already installed, because I was not about to pull it all out and try putting it back in again. As we know, I am a very lazy restorer. Instead, I couldn't wrap my head around how the darn bender worked. In my head, I knew where and how I needed that line to bend, but no matter which way I put the line in the tool, it seemed to want to bend it in the wrong direction. Giving up on that for a moment to work it out in my head again...matching the old line with the new one to see how the bends lined up...I put a little too much force into my manhandling of the line. I felt it snap. I knew I had gone too far. 
you can see the break just below the bend
 I had a minor ...MINOR... moment of defeat. Those moments I'm oh, so used to, when I think 'well, that's just great. More money wasted and my one step forward has yielded 2 steps back.'
But this time was different!
No tears.
No dwelling on the fuck up.
No feeling sorry for myself not getting this right the first time.
That's progress!!!
This time I actually took a breath and thought, 'well, I guess I was right in the beginning. This line needs a section cut out if it's going to fit. And now the car gods have saved me more time struggling and have forced me to just cut the line.' My friends keep reminding me that this is the first time I've done this. I don't have any previous knowledge. This is a huge project for me and I have to stop setting unrealistic goals for myself. I'm doing the best I can, I'm learning along the way, and I have to 'stop beating [myself] up over the setbacks', as they keep telling me.
And this time I did! 
And it felt great!
And now I'm going into another day of car work WITHOUT that feeling of dread that I tend to get after a little thing like the line break!
Using dad's old line cutter, I made a clean cut on one end to see how sharp the blade was. I'll cut the 2 broken ends to fit it in the wheel well and add some rubber line and extra clips to keep it secure to the car (since I accidentally bought two new sets of clips). 
I considered using some of the nylon line and the quick connects I have but that would call for a whole different flare on the lines. Plus, it's right in the wheel well, where there will be a lot of rocks and debris flying up from the tires, so I thought the rubber lines would be a stronger option. See! I'm learning.

I'm still working on 'test fitting' the fuel tank to get the right placement for the bolt hole. I attempted to do it last weekend but I'll need a second set of hands to make it less frustrating to get the tank in and placed right.
I'm also still working out my plan for the welding projects that need doing...the trunk weld is gonna be fairly large but doesn't have to be pretty...and I can do it while the car is in the port. The floor weld, which I got a full new pan for, will need to be done close to last, I think, as the doors don't open all the way while it's trapped in the carport. Which also means, I have not been able to get the front bench seat out. The car port is looking pretty gnarly these days...the rip from when the storm lifted it off the ground, plus the thinning of the tarp and holes from tree branches that have fallen on top, and now the ripping at the corner poles...but it's been up for a few years.
I just need to make my plan of attack and stick to it from here on out, I think.
Tires need to be mounted, since I'm about done with the brakes. Still need to get the shocks on.
I just want to make sure I don't need to get back under the car before I finish all that up. But then there's the exhaust! ok...too much looking ahead again...focus! focus!

In the meantime, if it rains like it's supposed to today, I have been researching my carburetor.
The manual I have been using for my car is not exactly for my 1967 Barracuda. It's for 'Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant 67-76, 6-cylinder engines/also includes Barracuda (67-69), Duster and Demon'. When I looked for a Haynes manual, this was all I could find for my make/model/year. So it's been helpful, but not exactly perfect. And the Carter BBD carb is not in this book.
I love youtube. And I love the random people out there in this great big world, willing to share their knowledge on the internet.
I really don't want to take my carburetor apart, but at the same time, it would be nice to have it all clean and pretty when I'm ready to put it back in the car. Of course, first thing's first, I'll need to get the old manifold and headers out of the car!

Lastly, I am a little concerned with the positioning of the new ball joints and knuckle on the front brake conversion and I'm hoping that once things are on the ground it'll all line up.
hoping that fills out and sits right once it's greased and wheels are down
I'm also feeling that anxiety about tightening the torsion bar back up, since it's as loose as it'll go without taking the bolts right out. I keep reading the manual to try to get the correct order of operations with this and the shocks and the torsion bar. Unfortunately, I was startled out of sleep by a dream of the bar snapping as I was tightening the bolt. 

So that's where I'm at. I keep going through it thinking 'oh, I just need to finish this up and then that...then I can move onto the engine...ugh...the exhaust...dang, I still need to get the tires mounted. and bleed the brakes once they're done...the welds...the window adjustment can wait...good thing I wasn't planning on putting in a new headliner or carpet!!'
Basically it's almost finished!! hahahahahahaha

Saturday, July 8, 2017

next...

A quick update before moving onto today's project:
After the initial struggles with the brake lines connecting (or rather, not connecting) to the proportioning valve last weekend, I spent the morning of my day off trying to figure out why things weren't fitting as they should. After a friend suggested loosening the valve from the car to get a better angle to see what was going on, I ended up disconnecting all the lines and, long story short, I discovered that the diagram I had drawn myself did not match up with the photo I had. Thankfully, I remembered I had taken pictures for reference. Once that was worked out, I was able to get that all squared away and decided I'd just jump into the headache of getting the fuel line in.

And that's where we are today.
Having wrestled with the original line, trying to get it out in one piece but ultimately having to cut it into at least two pieces to get it out, I knew I was in for another wrestling match.
I had to unbend the pre-bent line in order to get an angle that allowed me to get the line through the one tiny hole where it goes through the frame.
I was able to get it through with a fair amount of struggling...and more bending and straightening of the line.
But, as we know...nothing is that easy, as to just be a little bit of a struggle. It has to be a full on brawl with these parts to get them back in!
I did finally get it pretty much where it should be...see how professional and nearly perfect it seems!
Well...the rear end of the line is a different story...
the bends are just a little off

 It's so close to being where it's supposed to be, going by the clips that are still on the car, but it's just not right.
The bends are right, but just not in exactly the right place.
I will play around this later, to try to get the line to match up with the old pattern and clips, but the bit just along the frame rail is causing a lot of trouble. I'm not quite strong enough to bend by hand and my line bending tool isn't the right size. So, back to the tool store I go, I think, before I can get these bits to match up.
***no tears were shed during today's struggles***