2020 Spring maintenance

Most years I do annual maintenance every spring in March or April when we get a nice day.   But most years my father does not die.  He passed away in April and since then I have been helping my mother and dealing with a pandemic so the cars got pushed on the back burner.  But it is the last day of spring so technically it is still spring maintenance.  This year I decided to go through the entire Tune Up chapter of the service manual (Section C if you are following along in your copy of the service manual).  I will put the subsection  numbers in as I go

C3: Check battery.   The battery terminals are clean.  Not much else to do here.  Note that some numbers don’t apply to this engine or only apply if we are replacing certain parts.  So some numbers might be skipped.

C4:  Clean and adjust spark plugs.  I did this back in March.

C5:  Torque cylinder heads.  Ha!  Not today.

C6:  Service crankcase ventilation system.

I pulled the PVC valve and it looks like new.  The hose on it was not very tight so I added a hose clamp just for luck.

C7:  Service manifold heat valve.

Well crap, here is the first problem of the day.  When I got the car running this was working but that spring you see should be pushing the valve closed.  As the engine warms a bimetallic strip forces it open.   Something is fubar and the valve is just flopping around loose.  I can probably fix it but that would involve removing the valve and that would involve removing some rusty-ass bolts and I don’t think it is that important.

So here is the low-budget fix.  I wired the valve open.  I will have to revisit this earlier.

C9:  Check compression

I have not done a compression check since I got this thing running so it is high time.  The results were 5/6 excellent:

Cyl 1:  130  Cyl 2:  150  Cyl 3: 150 Cyl 4 60/100 (with oil) Cyl 5 150 Cyl 6 135

Cylinder 4 is still the weak one but it is a little better than last time.  The only way to find out is to tear into it and I really don’t want to.

C10:  Inspect distributor

Yup, looks like a distributor!  Lets look closer

Points are a little offset but are meeting square and look good.  I will leave well enough alone.

I also shot some very short videos showing the mechanical and vacuum advance operation.  Exciting stuff.


C14:  Adjust points (dwell)

At this point I had to get hot.  I drove the car around until it was at operating temperature.  Then I put it back in the garage and attached the dwell meter.  It was about 26° but it is supposed to be 30°.  Time to adjust.  On my Studebaker this is a pain because I have to take the cap off, tweak the gap, put it back together, then test.  The Delco on the Jeepster makes this a lot easier by putting a “window” in the cap so you can adjust the points while the engine is running.

Here is the “window” open with the wrench in the adjuster.  The only problem with this system is the fan is two inches from your fingers.  I am sure a Chevy engineer designed this (Chevy distributors are at the BACK of the engine).

30° and I did not lose any fingers.  Good.

C-14:  Ignition timing

I took about 20 pictures trying to catch the timing mark and this is the only one that I got.  After adjusting the dwell the timing was about 15° BTDC and it is supposed to be 5°.  I set it and tightened down the distributor clamp.

C15:  Distributor primary circuit tests

I almost did not do this because of course my wiring is good.  The test is to tie the negative side of the coil to ground then put a meter between the battery and the coil ballast resistor.  This will measure the voltage drop between the battery and the resistor.

The book value is 0.4 volts and I am losing 1.137 so almost 3 times worse than spec.  This could be the battery cable, ignition switch, wiring, or a connection somewhere.  My money is on the pathetic excuse for a positive battery cable I am using.   This will go on to the list of things to fix.

C16:  Distributor resistance test

This shifts the focus to the wiring between the coil though the distributor to ground.  One terminal of the voltmeter goes to ground and the other goes on the distributor terminal.  With the points closed this measures the voltage drop of the points and distributor ground.

106 mV.  The allowed drop is 200 mV so this is good.

C21:  Service air cleaner

The oil was still clean and full so nothing to do here.

C22:  Check fuel lines and screens

As usual there is some crap in the filter.  I took it apart and cleaned it.

C23:  Fuel pump

I am not going to do this right now

C24:  Manifold pressure

I hooked up a vacuum gauge and started the engine.  Spec is 18″ at idle and I am getting 17″ with a little wiggle to the needle.  I suspect a sticking or bad valve on #4.

C25: Carburetor adjustment

The two circled screws on the left are the idle mixture adjustments.  I leaned each one out until the engine started to stumble then made it richer until it just smoothed out.  One was lean and the other was rich which may explain my spark plug situation.  It also raised the vacuum to almost 18″.  I also adjusted the idle speed.  My tach is not working so I just guessed.

C26: Dashpot adjustment

The dashpot is in the circle on the right in the picture above.  To adjust screw it into the manifold until the shaft is touching the carb linkage but not moving when the throttle moves.  Then screw it out 2 1/2 turns and set the lock nut.

C27:  Check fan belt

All good!

C28:  Road test vehicle

The car runs better.  Good off idle acceleration and it feels good.  Now on to the routine maintenance stuff.

Draining the oil for the oil change.  It looks that bright because I was basically working on the surface of the sun.  Very hot today.  The oil was surprisingly clean.  I may start going 2 years between oil changes.

This oil filter is probably 30-35 years old and has my late father’s handwriting on it.  Some people do not recommend using old oil filters but it is just paper in a metal can.  What can go wrong?

Oil keeps changing in ways that are not ideal for flat-tappet engines like my Studebaker and the Jeepster.  Valvoline VR1 is expensive but it has the additives these engines need and it is still a lot cheaper than an engine rebuild.

I topped off the transmission and transfer case.  As usual a PITA to get to the transmission plug.

Topped of the differentials.  Why is this plug a different size than the transmission and transfer case?!?

I also greased/lubricated everything on the chassis.  I did not take pictures because I was covered in grease.  But it is done now.

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