What Does This Mean?

As a result of a stray meteorite dropping from a construction overpass at Willow and 101

It means I’ve got to drive my 1970 Challenger to work.

After being spoiled by these new cars like my Outback with all their new technology, it’s back to getting workout driving the Challenger until I can get my windshield replaced. Without power steering and a heavy clutch and manual transmission, so sophisticated safe devices and a keyed entry.

It’ll be fun, but just not as mindless as commuting in a late-model driver.

See yah!

 

 

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

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Serendipitous Rendevous – How I met the 2008 Prototype

Blog Note: I was looking at old drafts I hadn’t published and found this one needing a bunch of old photos lost in archive. I found them…

 

Since you all haven’t noticed the link on the side that takes you to the 2008 Challenger prototype article, I decide to blog about my experience and stick the link to VALID CONCEPT in the article (se below at the end of the text).

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It was April of 2006 I got connected via Trans Am Challenger Owners Registry with an auto writer named Richard Truesdell who had a spot with the 2008 Dodge Challenger prototype. He wanted to gather a group of the original Challenger owners in the San Francisco area to meet him and the prototype at Laguna Seca Raceway for the two-day photo shoot in May 2006. He was particularly interested to hookup with vintage T/A owners to key on the Trans Am connection with Laguna Seca. Two of us T/A owners would respond, Reno Debon and myself.

At the time, I was attending Chinese Medicine School getting ready for finals and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to indulge in my hobby was put to some test. I was offered to stay with the rolling publicity shoot for two days but opted only to stay aboard only for the 1st day shoot at the Laguna Seca in effort to go back home to Menlo Park, CA and then to Santa Cruz, CA to catch my late afternoon acupuncture classes.

The afternoon before, I drove my garage queen T/A the 90 miles drive down to Monterey, with my friend Rock Woo driving my Ford Explorer with repair tools just in case. It was the longest drive I would take with the T/A in restored condition and it ran very well.

We needed to be ready to begin in the early morning the next day so I sprang for a nice room at Carmel Valley Ranch to catch some zz’s beforehand. Actually, the night we arrived, Rich Truesdell hosted all the Challenger owners to a dinner at one of the seafood restaurants on Cannery Row where we had some spirited talks about the motor world.

The next day started early with photo shoots beginning in the parking areas of  Carmel Valley Ranch trying a variety of ideas.

Eventually we made the winding drive to Laguna Seca to find areas to shoot. Rich was hoping we could get on the track, but for some unfortunate reason, we were not allowed not take our Mopars, even the prototype under the finish line straight away under the large banner there. I’m sure they were afraid of a bunch of donut patches showing up as if by magic on their pretty racetrack (one that I had driven on with my Mustang for my first open track with the NorCal Shelby Club).

Instead we found a couple of parking areas, one in the infield. We tried multiple configurations of staging our Challengers, included is the group shot with all participants including the secret agent Chrysler guys who were traveling  with the new experimental production vehicle. I can’t remember exactly, I think the prototype cost $4 Million?

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After a very busy morning of shooting, I had to leave, rededicating myself to the study of Chinese Medicine of where I had a perfect attendance record (believe me, it was torture that I  made myself to leave).  I  sacrificed going on a group cruise to Cannery Row and later to take my T/A with the two other vintage Challengers (a Hemi and and the other T/A) asked to continue on later to beautiful Big Sur for “on the road” shots the you can see in the linked article “Valid Concept.”

Now it’s 2016, I no longer have my Red T/A, and now all that is left are the memories, a few photos, this little article and my Acupuncture License. I can spend a life time needling myself out of this self-induced musclecar-deficient depression.

You can check out several photos below.

CKY

 

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CLICK ON THE VALID CONCEPT IMAGE below TO GO TO RICH TRUESDALE’s ARTICLE FEATURING OUR THE CARS IN THIS BLOGPOST

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PHOTO BLITZ with Captions

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Early morning at the resort, helping a fellow Challenger owner jump start his semi with my unscathed vintage battery.

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Photographer Truesdale loved this shot, two dudes screwing with their classic muscle cars. Me with my previously unscathed show battery terminals. Buzz Graves with his orange Hemi-Powered machine

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Dig it! The Prototype teams up with some real T/A Challengers.

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Rear end shot in one of the parking lots of Carmel Valley Ranch.

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The Chrysler guys were joking about how we had to pack our cherished cars together, remembering the many times they’ve had to cram cars together at the factory. My friend Rock is in the background. Yes, we had to hide in our cars while the shots were made.

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What do you do with a bunch of vintage Challengers? Make a sales ad.

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Secret Agent from the Chrysler Plant

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The Three Amigos, Reno Debon, Challen Yee, and Buzz Graves with the HEMI Shaker.

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Get back to your cars, Let’s try it this way

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No, let’s try it this way… no that way…

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So this is how you get some of those weird shots. Don’t forget your athletic cup.

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Let’s fuel up and head to the race track. Nice way to attract attention.

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Reno Debon’s T/A

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We’re on the roll

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Overlooking Laguna Seca

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Laguna Seca parking area

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My old pride and joy. The unintended garage queen.

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The Reno Debon T/A and Company

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Have you seen this style name plate?

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On an infield area at Laguna Seca, the photo group starts small with the prototype and the two vintage T/A’s in attendance.

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Move them doggies around

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Yeah, Baby. That’s some real Mopar

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Drivers! To your Cars!

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Let’s try it this way!

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Action Shot! Challenger T/A door opening, write it up.

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Post it. A rare picture.

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Another Rare picture, a vintage blue on blue 1970 HEMI car owned by Jeff Lederman.

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We got to highlight each of our cars, I went first because they knew I had to leave early.

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Nice pic, but yes, that ladder is very close to my car.

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Yes, very close.

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It was fun while it lasted. Once in a life time photo shoot. Hope you enjoyed my little walk back in time.

 

 

 

*****

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

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Torsion Bar Adjustment

Getting a more personalized or stock look with a Torsion Bar Adjustment

One of the unique features of a classic Mopar is the front torsion bar used in place of the commonly used coil spring front suspension. The torsion bars have an adjuster which allows control of the front end ride height without replacing any parts.

In the past, on my first Challenger (1971), I needed to increase  my tire clearance when I changed from the stock 70 series tires on skinny 14 inch wheels to F-60’s on 15×10 inch mags.

Check out the size of those mags and tires on my first car. No doubt needed to crank up that fender clearance! Taken in 1981 by my friend Mike Avery in San Diego, while we were in the Navy,

Check out the size of those mags and tires on my first car. No doubt needed to crank up that fender clearance! Taken in 1981 by my friend Mike Avery in San Diego, while we were in the Navy,

Today, I want to increase the front end height, not for tire clearance problems, but to change the appearance of 1970 Challenger to appear more stock.

Before I changed my suspension, the car rode about two lower, due to worn leaf springs. After I changed to “stock height” HD rear leaves from Firm Feel, the rear end rode higher than I expected. Replacing the front torsion bars increased the front end height (about 3 1/2 inches) but that was easily adjustable.

My initial desire was to keep the same front end height as before the suspension work, but the previous ride height was way too low for the new rear springs and the car looked “jacked up”.  At the suspension shop, we raised the height and kept a slight rake on the car although the guys at the shop thought it looked better leveled out…

Alternately, in the 1970’s a lot of guys raised the front ends high to give their Mopars a bit of that “Super Stock” look.

After driving the car for almost a year, I think giving the car a more decided “level-look” rather than a “slightly raked” look matches what I want out of the appearance, so I wanted to raise the front end to emphasize more of a showroom look than modified look.

 

Making the Adjustment

In order to do this, I decided to do it manually, meaning no power assisted tools. I first used my non-ratcheting breaker bar, but figured out it would take too long when I could only get about an 1/8 of a turn per pull with the car on the ground. I ordered a long handled ratchet to get the job job.

I looked on-line and found a nice black-parkerized Proto 16-inch ratchet, the same length of my breaker bar, and it gives me adequate leverage to pull on the adjuster screw while laying on the ground. If using a standard depth 3/4 inch socket, it’s helpful to use a short extension to both clear any undercarriage obstruction and allow ground clearance for the swing of the ratchet handle.

Before the adjustment, the distance from the ground to the apex of the froth wheel well (using the center of the wheel cap for a reference) was 24 inches (BTW, I am running 235/60/15 BFG’s, the equivalent to the old F-60’s which was the largest option sized tire for the E-bodies, only the T/A model had the larger G-60 on the rear).

After approximately 5 complete turns of the adjuster in a clock-wise, or tightening direction,  increased the height by approximately 3/4 inch. I did this pulling on the ratchet about an 1/8 of a turn at a time x 40 pulls.

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A standard 3/4 inch half inch drive socket with a short  extension (not shown) would work well to help clear the lower control arm, under-carriage, and allow ground clearance when adjusting the torsion bar. Photo taken on my non-ratcheting 16 inch breaker bar.

 

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If you don’t have an air driven power tool and your Mopar on a rack, you’ll need at least a 16 inch breaker bar/ratchet like this one to have enough leverage to make it reasonably easy to turn the torsion bar adjuster. A 10 inch long ratchet could work if you are Arnold Schwarzeneggar in his prime.

The one I used I bought myself for a Christmas gift, a Proto 5350BL. All the reviews suggest this is a quality tool that will not strip out on you when you on a high torque situation, like when you need a breaker bar. A torsion bar adjuster is not extremely hard to turn but I hate cheap tools.

The one I used I bought myself for a Christmas gift, a Made in the USA Proto 5450BL. All the reviews suggest this is a quality tool that will not strip out on you when you on a high torque situation, like when you need a breaker bar. A torsion bar adjuster is not extremely hard to turn but I hate cheap tools.

Here's the general area under the passenger side lower control arm. Notice the lower control arm is braced with a piece of sheet metal from FirmFeel. This stiffener plate is recommended for heavy duty front sway bars to reduce the stock lower control arms from twisting into mush with hot cornering.

Here’s the general area under the passenger side lower control arm. Notice the lower control arm is braced with a piece of sheet metal from FirmFeel. This stiffener plate is recommended for heavy duty front sway bars to reduce the stock lower control arms from twisting into mush with hot cornering.

Here's a closer look at the adjuster for the torsion bar. Tighten (clock-wise) to raise the front end. I turned mine about 40 1/8 turns to raise the car 3/4 inch, or approximately 5 complete turns to raise 3/4 inch.

Here’s a closer look at the adjuster for the torsion bar. Tighten (clock-wise) to raise the front end.
I turned mine about 40 1/8 turns to raise the car 3/4 inch, or approximately 5 complete turns to raise 3/4 inch.

Here's a look at the driver's side in the daylight. You get a good look at the lower arm stiffener that is welded to the lower arm to strengthen it.

Here’s a look at the driver’s side in the daylight. You get a good look at the lower arm stiffener that is welded to the lower arm to strengthen it, plus you can see the torsion bar adjustment screw head protruding from the plate.

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Here’s how I measure the height of the car, from the ground to the lower lip of the fender well moulding.

Be consistent and specific on your adjustment. It started at 24 inches, I raised it to 24 3/4.

Be consistent and specific on your adjustment. It started at 24 inches, I raised it to 24 3/4. The photo is a bit of an angle looking downward, you’ll need to look directly perpendicular to sight your measurement.

 

 

BEFORE and AFTER SHOTS

In the back parking lot of Palo Alto High School, the boys' gym in the background. Same building as in 1980 and many years before, but we didn't have the cool looking Viking Ship paint job back in then.

BEFORE ANGLE: In the back parking lot of Palo Alto High School, the boys’ gym in the background.

BEFORE ANGLE- side view

BEFORE ANGLE- side view at work last Summer

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UPdated driver’s side

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UPdated passenger side

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UPdated side view,

So what do you think? Car’s have this great capacity for personalization and the torsion bar setup on your Mopar makes tweaking your ride height a snap.

 

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

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It’s Alive

yellownight

The 383 R/T… It’s Alive

With the kids out on a playdate at their friend’s house and my wife busy on her own in the house,  and good weather, I finally  got around to putting the transmission filter in, putting the pan back on and filling the Torqueflight back up with Dextron 6.

I was anxious to get the car running again, if for anything else, to burn some of the aging gas through the engine and to keep the seals lubricated.

A few details I learned about the Torqueflight are:

The serial number and date code are located on casing on the driver’s side, directly above where the pan seals. The date code has to be calculated from  a starting date of July 29, 1961.  You can use this 10,000 Day Chrysler CALCULATOR  (link goes to MAXWEDGE.com) to discover your date of manufacture. For example, I think mine is 3267, which equals Wednesday, July 8, 1970.

Although my Challenger was originally equipped with a 4-speed, whoever replaced the transmission used a correct date (at least year) 727.  There’s another 4 digit code after that says 6396, if that’s the date code, that means the transmission is from 1979. The whole number is PK35158451 3267 6396. If anyone out there can tell me something else about this, I’d be happy to know. I know PK is the factory = KOKOMO.

I decided to use the larger filter that I had to replace the smaller filter that was on the valve body. Most references I’ve seen show the large filter and the final opinion came from the guy at the O-Reilly store I spoke to when I bought tranny fluid.

I also did not use any sealant with the pan gasket. There are several references on the internet that warn you not to put any sealant to avoid junk from floating into your transmission fluid. The new black material-rubber gasket lined up well with the pan holes while inserted the screws.

The fluid capacity for a Torqueflight is 9 quarts, but I only used 7  quarts to fill up while checking with the tranny in neutral and the engine running. There must have been some residual fluid in the tranny, probably in the the torque converter. And I was happy to get the engine running again.

Add fluid quart by quart, and once it shows up on your dipstick, be careful to add maybe a 1/4 quart at a time to avoid overfilling. I used a funnel that fits into the dipstick holder and offers a wide mouth to pour fluid.

Dextron II, from what I’ve read is the best choice for your daily driver. Dextron VI seems to have replaced Dextron II, so I used D6. I’ve read Type F can be used for reach application but it could cause additional wear.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve driven the car, I needed to take it out for a spin.

Ever since I bought the car in 2006, I’ve never driven it with any confidence, it’s been laid up at home or hiding in various shops the last few years. But tonight, I finally was able to take the car out and drive it without worrying if something was going to break.

It’s not as powerful as my 440 but the 383 4 barrel feels and sounds every bit the Mopar big block. Even with stock dual exhaust without headers, the acceleration has a great reminiscent feel with good torque pulling through the automatic and I think 3.23 rear gearing.  Nice for a stock engine.

The 383 Hi Performance option (335 HP) has a horsepower peak at 5200 rpm and a whopping 425 Ft lbs of torque at 3400, so out of the showroom you had a high revving engine with the torquey big block which makes a nice all around combination.

Slowing the yellow Challenger down, the drum brakes feel solid and get the job done.

The car needs an alignment to center the steering wheel, but I remember well the feel of the stock steering wheel and the power steering is something that’s appreciated after arm wrestling with my 440 with manual steering!

Now it’s back to another week, albeit Thanksgiving week and I was glad to get in a couple of hours on the yellow Challenger.  It’d be nice to keep this car, but I do  plan on selling it. I’m a little hesitant but I know at some point I need to follow through.

CY

 

 

 

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This is the new large filter with screws torque in. I’ve had this filter for a few years, hence the surface rust.


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This is the driver’s side, the tranny ID number and date code are on the rail right above the pan.


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Challenger R/T Ranch

 

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

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Poop on Pertronix Distributor for 440

I had hoped to tell you how I put in my new Pertronix Flame Thrower III distributor on my 440 but instead I have another point to make that some of you who are considering the swap will want to know.

I had put in a Pertronix distributor on my 340 six pack Challenger T/A and that wasn’t a problem, but the 340, although it is situation on the rear of the block, has more clearance standing straight up and down and away from the cylinder heads (unlike a 440).

Visually the new distributor is significantly larger, but I did not expect to run into clearance problems.

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The first indication my one-day installation wasn’t going to happen was when I tried to seat the distributor into the block.

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Without the hold-down bracket, it is easy to see the area where a small gap can be seen. The distributor cannot fully seat without some metal relief on the head.

Being an experienced mechanic, I did not force the distributor down into the seat. I noticed a small gap in the hold down area.

Upon closer inspection, I could see the larger distributor housing was touching the cylinder head at the point of a casting ridge.

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This photo was taken before I tried installing the new distributor, so there are no scrape marks to be seen in the area that is circled.

I thought about this for a few minutes, thinking, I bet the guys on RoadKill (that amazingly entertaining show) would probably take a grinder to cylinder head and get the needed clearance but I realized I’m not set up to grind, nor can I take a risk on my driver just to put in this distributor.

Disappointed, to say the least, but saving the part of the future.

 

PART II

Chevy at Work

This is not a Mopar, but I just wanted to post these photos for  Roger (left) at work who is a proud new owner of a 67 396 SS Chevelle. Jim (right) owns an old restored 340 Dart. I’m waiting for him to drive that to work.

Congratulations Roger, nice ride.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2015 ChallenYee.com TheDodgeKid.com BestBuckBuck.com  TeamBetterLiving.com All Rights Reserved.

 

Summer Driving Impressions

In the middle of this hot summer, my normal daily driver, a 1994 Camry, decided to have a transmission slippage problem. The final straw was when the old Toyota would not move, but at least we were only a block away from home. Amazingly, seemingly out of nowhere, two neighbors came out and helped me push the Camry back home while my wife steered the car.

While I am investigating solutions, including  getting a new car and/or getting the old tranny replaced, I’ve had to drive the white 440 manual transmission Challenger to work. The 45 year old muscle car becomes my daily driver.

 

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Here is the Challenger as it sits in the covered parking lot at work. Better to keep it out of the sun during working hours., especially through the recent heat wave where temps reached near 100. Manual steering makes it a chore to get in and out of 90 degree spaces. A couple of muscle car enthusiasts spotted my car at work and now I have new friends at work.

90 to 100 degrees in the Bay Area, and how does it feel to drive a 440 Six Pack Challenger in traffic and boiling summer heat? How has the cooling system handled keeping the engine from puking coolant in traffic jams? How has it been driving a manual transmission with a CenterForce clutch? How has the Richmond 5 speed been shifting?How much gas am I sucking up? What kind of modifications would  I like to make to the car after using it to commute for several weeks?

Keep on reading for answers to these questions and more…

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Adding a bottle of WaterWetter to my distilled water-filled cooling system. It’s good to mix it up with some distilled water in a jug before adding it to your radiator. You should drive the car immediately to normal operating temperature to ensure thorough mixing in your system.

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I haven’t checked this home made coolant screen at my upper hose connection to the radiator for months. It was still there and this is the little crud that was captured by it. I replaced it with a new copper mesh screen.

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In the underground parking lot of a Whole Foods Market, doing some grocery getting with with th skids and  the 440 six pack Challenger. Right before I was pacing a blue Cobra roadster going down El Camino Real. THe traffic was too heavy for me to catch up with him but it would have been a pretty sight for onlookers to see a Cobra and a Challenger lined up at a stoplight on a Sunday afternoon in Silicon Valley. Nothing like stalking a Cobra to keep your mind focused on driving.

 

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Here’s we’re parked in downtown Menlo Park in front of one of my favorite restaurants, Vida Bistro, where my wife and I got engaged in 2000. But today, I just parked her to take the kids to the local Stone Cold Creamery for some ice cream. Good thing the reverse lights work on this car! And getting out of these spots is easier for steering the manual box.

 

 

How does it feel to drive a 440 Six Pack Challenger in traffic and boiling summer heat?

It is hot, especially wearing work attire. Although it’s nice to have the A/C from my other car, opening the windows makes the heat tolerable. Wear sunscreen to keep from getting burned!

I’ve got a little exhaust fume problem. Opening one window tends to suck in some exhaust into the interior, but opening both sides tends to keep keep the smell in check more. The fumes and for general performance I want to add a multiple spark ignition to the 440.

 

How has the cooling system handled keeping the engine from puking coolant in traffic jams?

The cooling system has worked admirably, quite admirably, despite sitting in traffic jams, stuck mostly in first and second gear creeping  along in near 100 degree heat. The temperature gauge tended to rise into the middle range on the temp gauge, which from my experiments with the laser thermometer means the temperature is closer to 220 degrees rather than 180-190. The engine never regurgitated any coolant.

When I changed the mesh filter in my upper hose, I noticed I was slightly low on coolant, but still covered the radiator core. When I topped the system off, I added a bottle of Water Wetter and mixed it first with some distilled water before adding it to the radiator and overflow jug. Putting it in right before driving helps ensure thorough  mixing. Adding it seemed to do a better job controlling the temps.

 

How has it been driving a manual transmission with a CenterForce clutch?

Survivable. The pedal pressure is reasonable for a performance clutch. What takes muscle is shifting the transmission when it gets moody. Sometimes coming out of 5th gear to down shift it feels like the shift pattern gets  a little confused. This problem would never occur with the 4 speeds I’ve had in the past.

 

How has the Richmond 5 speed been shifting?

With the 5 speed Long shifter on the Richmond, the 1st 2nd gate is spring loaded, where the natural alignment (unsprung) is the 3rd-4th gate. 5th requires pushing against a spring and reverse (under 5th) requires downward pressure which virtually eliminates the chance of accidentally going into reverse and thereby scattering your transmission across the highway. So when you’re coming out of 5th, sometimes the resistance going to the 1st-2nd gate is not enough to keep from missing a clear shot into 3rd or 4th. Does that make sense? The result is, you have to be more aware than you would normally like to make a well executed downshift. Usually the down  shift  goes hard into gear also requiring a momentary conjuring of The Incredible Hulk’s arm.

Getting into gear most of the time is like what you’d expect, a nice low effort throw and snap into gear, but sometimes it doesn’t go into 3rd with the  Midas Touch, it takes Rocky Balboa to ram it, but it goes.

My old Ford Toploader with a clean shifter and I’m sure a good 833 Mopar tranny shifts a lot easier than this monster. 3rd gear takes the most muscle as sometimes I just have to just have let that gorilla know who is boss. Actually, I think it would be nice to have a 6 speed TREMEC and be able to keep the RPM’s low on the highway and get better mileage. Right now, with the 2.94 rear axle gears, 65 mph (about) in 5th gear puts the engine at about 2300-2500 RPM, which is not bad, but the engine has so much torque, and in reality, typical cruising speed is 70-80 mph near 3000 RPM.

I’ve considered changing tranny oil from the Mobil 1 that’s in there now, to Pennzoil Synchromesh Fluid, which is similar to what’s used in Corvette transmissions. I’ve read is can help make shifting easier, but for now, I’ll opt for the added protection of the more conservative and heavier Mobil synthetic (which is what I used in my Mustang’s top loader).

Road and Drag Racing Tip: When performance driving, with the way my car is running with the Richmond, I plan to stay out of 5th gear. If I treat it like a four speed, shifting is a lot more predictable. 5th gear( which is a direct 1:1)  with the 2.94’s I’m running in back is just meant to be “cruise” mode.  If I’m in road course mode, pretend it’s just a four speed. Moreover, 3,000 RPM launches work out with minimal tire spin if I don’t mercilessly hammer the throttle right off the line .

 

How much gas am I sucking up?

I fill up once a week (4-5 days of driving) going to work. 30 miles to work and back, I’m estimating about 10-12.5 miles per premium gallon in commuter traffic. If I start stomping on it, that can change quickly. My old 71 Challenger with a 383 (2 barrel cam) got about 15.5 on the highway with 3.23 gears on regular gas.

It’s nice after I fill up because the fuel gauge stays on “F” for about a day, before it starts it rapid descent toward “E” (the 16 gallon tank). Quite frankly, it makes my want to opt for the 4 cylinder option (instead of the V-6) on my next daily driver, just to reduce the trips to the gas station, just to restore the Yin-Yang balance to life. That’s not to say it isn’t fun driving the big Mopar, it IS fun and it get’s attention from car enthusiasts in a way that a Honda Accord  would never get.

 

What kind of modifications would  I like to make to the car after using it to commute for several weeks?

So much time is spent under 3000 RPM when commuting, it is worth getting a multiple spark discharge ignition. I like the Pertronix Billet distributors. Despite retiring the Prestolite Dual Point, which was old and ran like hell, I used a Pertronix in my 1970 Challenger T/A and it worked like a charm, and that only had the basic Pertronix Ignitor. The one I’d get for the 440 uses a Ignitor III with has a hotter, multispark, and rev limiter unit inside. More power, better gas mileage – what’s not to like? That’s what’s great about modifying a driver and not having to adhere to the requirements of a show car.

I’d like to get my seats reupholstered because ever since I’ve had it, the driver’s seat right side is sagging, probably from the hard driving as a drag car. Plus I hate the “drug dealer” tuck and roll upholstery.  I like the stock looking Legendary stuff I have in storage. I’m getting used to that also, but I’m sure it’s not good for my back’s alignment.

It would be nice to finally get the exhaust smell removed from the interior. I have already reduced much fumes by, in the past, changing the trunk seal and the grommet that seals the gas filler tube to the gas tank. But it still can smell. I’m hoping the Pertronix ignition will help.

The manual steering is okay, and although it takes strength to turn that thing in a parking lot, what I would really consider fixing is removing the about 10 degrees of play in the steering. The excess play makes driving down a straight highway more of a conscious effort than it should be. It’s pretty tolerable in most circumstances. Driving the car on a regular basis helps a lot in getting used to how much muscle it takes to handle it. If you’re used to driving power steering most of the time, it can be a pain, but once you eliminate the memory of wimpy arm power steering, you accept the fact that having another inch on your biceps is a welcome addition to your physique.

Whether that’s just an adjustment or requires replacing the steering box, I have yet to figure out. It would be nice to have a faster steering ratio, ala, my old GT-350 clone (which had about a 2.75 turn lock to lock) or my old T/A which with a fast pitman arm had about a 3.5 turn lock to lock is something that is nice. I like the manual box because of the road feel, but steering can be a pain in the arm, literally. And between the Richmond tranny and the manual steering, driving this Challenger can be a real work out. Stay in shape if you want to drive a non-power assisted muscle car.

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Reminiscing about the Mustang: I remember I actually liked using the 70 series (Michelin) tires in my Mustang on the street instead of the 50 series Comp T/A tires I used on the track since turning the 70 was a LOT easier with the manual steering box and fast arm. Handling with 70 series had much to be desired (pretty much mush), but nothing you couldn’t handle through slide control. The Mustang was lighter and had  a 289 which helped.

 

 

 

 

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2015 ChallenYee.com TheDodgeKid.com BestBuckBuck.com  TeamBetterLiving.com All Rights Reserved.

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1970 Dodge Challenger Trans Am

The following write up was what I used for my car show placard when I showed my Challenger T/A at car shows.

Article and Photos by Challen Yee

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1970 Dodge Challenger Trans Am

By Challen K. Yee with excerpts from “Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda” by David Newhardt (2000)

“Chrysler was a bit tardy in getting a factory entry into the SCCA Trans-Am racing series. Both Ford and General Motors had been slugging it out with Boss 302s and Camaro Z-28s. “The gang at Mopar wanted some racing glory to rub off onto their line of street cars, so they dove into the fray for the 1970 season. The rules required that the manufacturer build 2,500 street models of its racing car. To this end, Chrysler released All-American Racers (AAR) `Cuda and its cousin, the T/A Challenger…

“2,142 Challenger T/As were put on the road. All of these were built in a five-week period in March and April of 1970.

“Unlike the racers, which had to use a 340-ci engine destroked to 303.8 ci and topped with a single four-barrel carburator, the street versions were powered by a Six-Pak-equipped [three two-barrel Holley carbs combining for over 1300 cfm] 340-ci engine.

“The iron block was stressed relieved, and the main bearing area, while delivered with a two-bolt main, had plenty of material for the fitting of four-bolt main bearing caps. [Furthermore, the block had a higher nickel content and the heads were also a special T/A item designed to allow more radical porting by the use of an offset rocker arm system which relocated the valve pushrods].

“The engine was rated at 290 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, but redline came up at 6,500. “The Challenger T/A was modeled after the Trans-Am racer Sam Posey wheeled around the Trans-Am series. Its fiberglass hood was influenced by the belly air scoop on the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and Dodge pulled it off beautifully.”

(The following excerpts are from David Newhardt’s “Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda”).

The standard rear axle set was 3.55:1 which according to Car & Driver magazine’s July 1970 issue helped deliver 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.3 seconds at 99 mph. Optional gear sets included 3.91 and 4.10 housed in the mighty Dana 60. The transmissions, both the A-833 manual and the A-727 automatic were “big-block” pieces designed to be mated to the hot performing “small-block” 340. Some of the distinctive standard equipment on the T/A models were: front disc brakes, E60x15 Goodyear tires in front and G60x15 on the back, higher rate front and rear sway bars, torsion bars and rear leaf springs, side exit exhaust, frame stiffening features, special stripe and decal treatments, fiberglass hood, and front and rear spoilers. Some of the many popular options included: fast ratio steering, rally gauges, dual painted mirrors, vinyl tops, and a myriad of awesome colors for both interior and exterior.

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The Annual Concours is no longer being held at Stanford University. Not sure for which political reason.

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Non-matching numbers TA engine out of a AAR Cuda that got totaled in the late 1970’s. The father of the owner saved it in a garage in central California until I bought it through an Ebay auction. The restoration was meticulously performed by Restorations By Julius in Chatsworth, CA.

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My friend Scott Douglas. “The Shelby Kid” and the Ford guy at school,  he’s owned several Ford products in his life including a Shelby like this one. Shelby’s are also one of my favorite non-Mopars, having been a Mustang owner in the past I had a lot of fun with the NorCal Shelby Club at open tracks.

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Simply one of my favorite non-Mopars, and with respect for my old departed friend Rick Elliott, who was the Chevy guy in school.

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Let’s end this article with my old garage queen MoPar. As life would have it, I no longer own this Challenger. Sure was nice.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2015 ChallenYee.com TheDodgeKid.com BestBuckBuck.com All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating Problems – Part 5 -FINAL

The long-awaited final part has finally arrived for the overheating issue.

I ran the Challenger without a thermostat for drives to get the maximum clearing effect to catch crud in the copper screen trap I installed in my upper radiator hose. I had also been draining my coolant after every extended drive to flush and dilute out as much old coolant and the green stuff as possible before I pour in the Water Wetter. 

I’ve read several accounts that Water Wetter mixed with normal anti-freeze/coolant will gum up your cooling system as well as not working or not working well. As I mentioned before, I used to run Water Wetter with distilled water in my old open track car. Spilling that on the track was less of  nuisance than dropping coolant. The best cooling is effected by using pure distilled water, but you need the anti-corrosive and lubricating properties of a product like Water Wetter added.

 

The thermostat gasket managed to last a few removals of the t-stat housing before it died so I replaced the gasket.

The drained coolant, after sitting for a day has what look like a powder sitting at the bottom of the plastic jugs I’ve been storing it in. I’m guessing its the remnants of Bar’s Stop Leak or something. With each draining, the amount is decreasing and is almost negligible now.

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top side (radiator end) of hiflow thermostat. Removing it from system to flush engine block at high RPM.

top side (radiator end) of hiflow thermostat. Removing it from system to flush engine block at high RPM.

Better cooling performance with a thermostat

I’ve heard that cars can run cooler with a thermostat rather than without one. I think it depends on the design of your cooling system and the positions of the inlet and outlets. On a typical engine with the inlet and outlet on the front, there is a certain amount of inefficiency in regards to the coolant that is in the rear of the engine.

What I noticed was that not only did the engine run cooler, based on my temperature gauge reading, but the subsequent draining yielded more fluid that smelled more like coolant and less like plain water. I take this to mean that there is better mixing of fluid coming back from the radiator in through the engine passages than without a thermostat.

The temperature gauge without the thermostat read in the low “normal”range, but after the thermostat was installed the reading in slightly below the “normal range.”

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Effect on water pump churning and installed thermostat

So, it appears, with the thermostat installed and resisting the flow of coolant back to the radiator, the water pump has time to churn the coolant inside the engine passages, allowing more mixing before the thermostat opens at the set temperature.

 

Some extra crud sitting in the upper hose. Clean it.

Some extra crud sitting in the upper hose. Clean it.

Here's the flakey cast iron crud, including some pieces of gasket seal. Also need to brush out crud from upper hose. Copper screen is reusable but check it before reinstalling.

Here’s the flakey cast iron crud, including some pieces of gasket seal. Also need to brush out crud from upper hose. Copper screen is reusable but check it before reinstalling.

rad_crud4

These are a few of the photos I took after before cleaning out the copper filter. I typically get a little less that what you see in this picture as of late.

rad_crud3rad_crud1rad_crud5

At first I was saving the crud from the filter, here is what was in the cooling passages (except for the washer).

At first I was saving the crud from the filter, here is what was in the cooling passages (except for the washer). I stopped collecting it.

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Catching debris before and after thermostat installed

I’ve been running the copper mesh at the top inlet of the radiator, held in place by the upper hose. Before and after the thermostat was installed, a consistent amount of small debris are being caught. They look like small pebble-like cast iron flakes from the water passages in the engine. One piece of copper mesh lasts several cleanings. High RPM runs causes a better flushing action as indicated by the amount of crud being caught.

This process would be a lot more efficient if you could pop the freeze plugs and flush out the engine that way, but if you can’t…. well it takes several rounds to clear out. I ended up adding the Water Wetter finally after I managed to drain out the coolant with just a whiff of coolant smell. The heated water comes out with a brown tint from going through the 200+ degree iron passages.

Here's my running collection of drained coolant. Notice the progression from top to bottom from the traditional 50/50 coolant water mix to virtually pure distilled water.

Here’s my running collection of drained coolant. Notice the progression from top to bottom from the traditional 50/50 coolant water mix to virtually pure distilled water. About 2.5 gallons every drain. You do the math. Yes, I’ve called it quits when it comes to draining. Before I put the thermostat back in I managed to get a non-coolant scent in the drain, but after I put the thermostat back in, I get at least a small scent from the drained coolant. Poinsettias not included.

 

Miscellaneous tips

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 fanbelt1

Lonesome Dove Fan Belt Tightening

How about it you are alone and need to tighten your fan belt. If you have a handy wooden-handled ax  like I have pictured, you can use that for leverage to extend your alternator after you loosen your holding screws.

 

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rad_seal1

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Just in case you were interested in reading the small print on the bottle.

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Pesky coolant drip from the lower radiator hose?

The lower radiator hose had a slow drip, so I sanded the outlet pipe with #80 grit paper and felt for any imperfections in the pipe. Then I used Permatex Aviation Form-A-Gasket Sealer #3 with the intention that I don’t want to have to think about any more leaking there. I only coated the radiator pipe and let it set for the required time before sliding the new uncoated hose on and clamping it. I did that to eliminate any possible dripping of sealant into the hose.

I used the same Permatex product on the thermostat housing. It’s a little messier than using silicon but I gave it a go and it works. Again, no intention of removing the housing unless I expect to replace the gasket. The thermostat should be sitting inside a recess in the T-stat housing and should be not interfering with the gasket. Clean the surfaces first of old gasket and sealant before applying the new sealant.

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Carb Backfiring

I’m not sure exactly what was causing my 440 to pop out the carbs, but the problem appears to have gone away except on rare occasion.

However, I have a few possible candidates for culprits.

After several high RPM runs (over 5000) I could have blown the combustion chambers cleaner or it could be the number 7 plug wire touch a header tube and had a couple inches of insulation burned away, cause for some arcing. I adjusted the routing of the wire away from the header.

I plan on replacing the plug wires later.

I would imagine any multiple carb set up could use some more tuning. Have to keep that for later. Also toying with the idea of replacing the old MP electronic ignition with a multiple spark discharge type.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating Issues – Part 4

Dealing with the potential roots of my overheating problem Saturday morning I started the relatively simple process of installing my tuned-up radiator but simple as it was, I had plenty of opportunities to slow down and make sure my installation was not going to create more problems. The first thing is to make sure the proper washers are installed to prevent damaging the radiator mounts on the rad and the 22 inch yoke which had been custom drilled for a 26 inch radiator. Once I had the radiator securely in place, my thoughts went to the lower radiator hose.

The old and new hose. New one does not have inside coils.

The old and new hose. New one does not have inside coils- which caused me to start thinking.

TO SPRING OR NOT TO SPRING? I bought a new hose and it doesn’t come with the spring like the old one. I’ve read many points of view on the lower hose spring and some people swear by it and others understand it was a necessary add in to prevent the hose from collapsing during the factory installation of the coolant which was done with a vacuum device to speed up the assembly process. Let me explain why I DID NOT install the old spring, which by the way had become three section, presumably because it had rotted. What I was confronted with was the amount of corrosion build up on the intake to the water pump.

The corrosion residue on the water pump end of the lower hose. The growth is matched on the water pump side. The coils are from the hose, in three pieces.

The corrosion residue on the water pump end of the lower hose. The growth is matched on the water pump side. The coils are from the hose, in three pieces.

Here's the same old hose on the rad end. Clean because I suspect there are no  electrochemical reactions occurring on this end.

Here’s the same old hose on the rad end. Clean because I suspect there are no electrochemical reactions occurring on this end.

YES, OPPOSITES ATTRACT – THEY ATTRACT CRUD For you plumbers out there, or sexual relationship experts, you know if you put two joints together that are dissimilar electrically, you will end up with a corrosive and ultimately a leaking joint. While my lower hose to water pump connection wasn’t leaking before, I believe the hose coil forced up against the water pump caused some electro-chemical reaction that creates this nasty crud (see the photos). The corrosion build up can be easily cleaned off with a wire brush. When you do this DO  NOT BREATHE THIS CRAP as it comes off like dust (I suggest wet it down first to reduce the dust) and wear gloves to protect your hands. It doesn’t take too much imagination that the corrosion from this joint, this little corrosion farm, like atherosclerosis, could have contributed to the crud in my radiator and my entire cooling system. This is basically a reason for your cooling system to have a stroke. So if you are going to use a coil inside your hose, it needs to be electrically neutral and able to handle the hot coolant environment.

Here's the nasty crud build up on the water pump inlet. before I wire brushed it.

Here’s the nasty crud build up on the water pump inlet. before I wire brushed it.

Here's how the coil and the water pump make contact and produce a prodigious amount of crud. Didn't think about this until I started the installation process.

Here’s how the coil and the water pump make contact and produce a prodigious amount of crud. Didn’t think about this until I started the installation process. The new hose, by the way, installed perfectly and was easy to slip on.

COPPER SCREEN – CRUD CATCHER OTF (on the fly) Instructions   The next job was to figure out how to install the copper screen on the upper rad connection. Basically poke the material so it is concave into the input and then use a scissors to trim enough material to fold over the edge of the input pipe so that the hose can hold it in place – but not too much that it interferes with where the clamp cinches down.

Here's how I roughly fit some copper screen into and around the lip of the upper rad inflow pipe. Then trim to size with a scissors.

Here’s how I roughly fit some copper screen into and around the lip of the upper rad inflow pipe. Then trim to size with a scissors.

Here is the copper screen fitted to the upper connection.

Here is the copper screen fitted to the upper connection.

Sliding the hose on and over the copper screen.

Sliding the hose on and over the copper screen.

And with the upper connection fully inserted into the upper hose. Copper screen should not interfere with the area involved with clamping to avoid leaks.

And with the upper connection fully inserted into the upper hose, I am ready to move clamp into position. Copper screen should not interfere with the area involved with clamping to avoid leaks. Ready to catch iron flakes and other debris that can clog the cooling system.

Here's a view of the upper tubes before I added distilled water into the hole.

Here’s a view of the upper tubes before I added distilled water into the filler hole. Compare that to my older photo (PART 2).

TEST DRIVE Preparing Next comes adding distilled water to fill up the radiator, then starting the engine. Adding more water as the level goes down getting sucked by the pump.. I ran the engine without the cap and waited until the thermostat opened up, and the old green coolant began running through the rad.   LET’S ROLL I took the car straight out to the highway and began some high RPM runs. Based on the temperature gauge, the engine was running noticeably cooler with the temperatures rising at a slower pace than before. I have a 5 speed (5th is 1:1) with 2.94 rear gearing so 4th and 3rd gear high speed runs got pretty exciting. The Mopar has a whole different life above 5000 RPM like it can go a lot faster. I still get this weird carb pop, but oddly enough it usually only happens once when I take the car out when I accelerated harder under load, or in a higher gear (depending on car’s the speed)- that’s another problem I need to work on later. Taking the Challenger back home, there were no weird burning smells. I idled the car on the driveway and took some temperature checks with my FLUKE laser thermometer.

After a couple of high RPM stretches on the highway, this is the maximum reading on my rally temp gauge. THe last shop visit including fixing this gauge which wasn't working. For the moment, my life centers around what this gauge does.

After a couple of high RPM stretches on the highway, this is the maximum reading on my rally temp gauge during the test drive and at idle in the driveway on my return. The last shop visit including fixing this gauge which wasn’t working- before fixing (replacing) the gauge, it barely reached the lower normal mark. For the moment, my life centers around what this gauge does.

This is the corresponding laser temp readout from around the thermostat housing with the temp gauge seen in previous photo. (about 218 F) after several high RPM blasts on the highway.

This is the corresponding laser temp readout from around the thermostat housing to the rally temp gauge seen in previous photo. (about 218 F) after several high RPM blasts on the highway.

Corresponding Upper tank temp - about 212F

Corresponding Upper tank temp – about 212F

Corresponding lower tank temp, about 165 F (almost 50 degree difference). But the undeterminable factor is flow potential which is what is improved by the hot tanking and back flushing.

Corresponding lower tank temp, about 165 F (almost 50 degree difference). But the key factor is flow potential which is what is improved by the hot-tanking and back flushing.

THEN the final test….. I turned off the engine.  AND I did not the massive full bottle regurgitation to the overflow unit.  Before, with the problem, the whole thing would fill up because of the overheating, but no longer! What I plan to do now, is drain out the coolant and then after it cools, pull the thermostat, fill up with distilled water again, run the car again then check the copper screen after the next cool down and draining. * * If you enjoyed this post, please LIKE SHARE COMMENT

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating issues – part 3

FIGHTING THE WAR AGAINST CRUD
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After soaking and rinsing my radiator with 100% distilled white vinegar at least 5 times letting it soak for at least a 1/2 day at a time,  I observed some demineralization but not enough. I could look down into some tubes and see that they were still clogged. I could still see crud at the tops of the tubes as I looked further down the upper tank in either direction from the cap hole.
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 So I considered whether I should get a new radiator or take mine to the shop to get it hot tanked or rodded.
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It’s tempting to shop for a new radiator especially since there are some much more efficient designs out there that are still stock looking, but sometimes you need to hold back from spending cash.
A local shop in nearby San Carlos recommended by my exhaust system guy.  Photo by Challen

A local shop in nearby San Carlos recommended by my exhaust system guy. Photo by Challen

For financial reasons as well as taking a step by step approach, I took my 3 row 26 inch radiator to a radiator shop called “Howard Ave.” in San Carlos, California, an easy drive in the morning before going to work.
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Turns out to be the kind of place I would patronize especially when they understand muscle cars and Vanishing Point, the 1971 movie. They frequently perform work on antique and rare pieces as well as run of the mill daily drivers. Plus, they are easily understandable over the phone.
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For $88 dollars they hot tanked the radiator, made some minor repairs, put a new coat of paint and provided me some copper screen to use as an upper hose filter.
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Talking to the guys about what could be giving me woes made me glad I did not buy a new radiator (at least until I need to rebuild the engine).
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CAST IRON DISEASE
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The guys, Rick and Bill, told me a couple of things about the engine blocks cast in the 60’s and early 70’s that I wasn’t aware of.  One, the casting material tended to release metal flakes which build up into crud and; two,  the water pump is positioned high in relation to the engine cooling passages which promote crud build up in the block that is not easy to flush out, that is, unless you pop the freeze plugs and blow out the crud from there.
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They said that the crud in my radiator is the residue from the cooling passages in the engine that made it to the radiator and it was likely a long term process. After the hot tanking, they said the radiator flowed much better even though it may seem okay before hot tanking. They managed  to get about 50% better flow after tanking and back flushing.
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They run a flow test by standing the radiator upright and filling the radiator from the bottom, waiting until the water comes out the input then releasing the bottom to let the water flow out. The distance the water shoots out forms the benchmark and is measurable.
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I’ve read some people suggest that the water flowing fully (taking up the whole orifice) is an indication that the flow is good, but my radiator, even with the clogged passages was able to do this. So I’m theorizing that that indication in itself is not an adequate indication for a performance engine.
Here's we're filling the rad from the bottom to do a flow test. When the water spews out the top for a second, let go and see how far the water jets from the bottom.  Photo by Challen

Here we’re filling the rad from the bottom to do a flow test. When the water spews out the top for a second, let go and see how far the water jets from the bottom. Photo by Challen

For a fragile radiator, heating up the upper tank to do rodding is not as desirable as it could damage the core, and fragile or thinned tubes could be damaged by rodding. This wasn’t the case for my radiator as it had plenty of strength for rodding but if good results can be had by hot tanking, it is much less risky and easier.
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Considering that I most likely have some weird leprosy-like condition in the engine block waiting for an engine rebuild to solve, I was glad I didn’t buy a 500-700 dollar radiator just to get clogged up by the fallout. (I sure would like to get one of those 4 row high efficiency radiators though – some other time). Also, I just became aware that my radiator yoke, the crossmember is for a 22 unch radiator and someone drilled wide to fit a 26 radiator. It’s cool, I’m not trying to create a show car.
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It’s still possible that crud in the block could still cause overheating problems even with a clear radiator.
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What they suggested to clear out the block without popping the freeze plugs, is what one did with his old Mustang that had cooling system leprosy: he made some high speed runs (150 mph) with an upper hose filter plus no thermostat and flushed his cooling system after each run to resolve his overheating problem. Whether he actually did 150mph or not, well… I get the idea.
Copper screen to be used as a crud catcher before the crud goes into the radiator (at least the big chunks). Photo by Challen

Copper screen to be used as a crud catcher before the crud goes into the upper radiator (at least the big chunks). Photo by Challen

This little education highlights a very important and unheralded aspect of engine rebuilding, renovation and  resolving cooling problems especially since we’re often dealing with over 40 year old technology or old blocks. Some additional attention can be given to your old muscle car’s long term maintenance if its stuck in a shop for a while, especially if the freeze plugs are ever easily accessible and you suspect a cooling problem or not, you pop them off and flush out your block of crud that is likely building up on your old Mopar.
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For the next engine rebuild, I’ll be giving careful attention to the cooling passages and any new technology that can offset the flaking of the old cast iron. Is that one reason they used more nickel in some blocks now and before?
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Anyway, I hope the hot-tanked radiator will get the engine to run cooler.
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In the meantime, if you see me driving around town at 5000 rpm or more, you’ll know why –  “Yes sir, officer, I’m treating leprosy.”

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.