The whole process takes two hours and makes a classic car immeasurably safer
Classic cars are never quite as good as we thought they were back when they were new. That 500-hp Chevelle you had in high school really only made 260, and it handled like dump truck. Add 40 to 50 years into the mix and it is bound to be significantly worse off for wear, especially the steering. Manual steering is not awful when properly set up, but when a manual gearbox gets some age on it, the slop comes in fierce. If your steering box has more than an eighth of a turn of play, then it might be time to rebuild it.
Rebuilding a manual steering gearbox is not difficult and is much cheaper than buying a new one. Plus, if you have a valuable classic, keeping the original versus installing a replacement maintains the value of the car. This was the situation for my 1966 Corvette, as I was keeping it stock. Instead of converting to power or rack and pinion, I opted to rebuild the original Saginaw manual gearbox with a kit from Borgeson (p/n 921039). The kit comes with everything you need to rebuild a worn gearbox including bushings, gaskets, bolts, and the most important parts: the worm and sector gears.
This is a recirculating ball gearbox, which is essentially a giant double-grooved ball bearing assembly. The worm gear—the part of the gearbox that is connected to the input shaft—is a machined block that has the gear teeth on one side and two machined grooves inside the block. Metal ball bearings ride inside the block, providing the bearing surface for the grooved input shaft. As you turn the steering wheel, the bearings spiral through the worm gear block, moving the block up or down the input shaft. This movement is translated to the sector gear, which is attached to the pitman arm. As the ball bearings roll on the shaft, worm block, and each other, each component slowly wears down. This is where the slop comes from.
Eventually, you have to turn the wheel to take up the extra space that is left behind from the wear. This can become significant and that is dangerous situation. Yes, you can compensate for the play, but this also leads to lane drifting as the steering system will wander left and right without the tension inside the gearbox. The solution is a complete rebuild with a new sector and worm gear assembly.
Recently we have spent a lot of time rebuilding Stromberg carburetors for a few of the projects currently in the shop. While rebuilding them Steve and Matt found a few common issues that were found in the majority of the carbs. Matt decided to put together a video covering the common issues we found as a part of our hot rodding 101 series. Be sure to comment below if you have any other issues you seem to find with every Stromberg!
The relationship we have with our classic cars tends to be a love/hate affair. We love the styling and the nostalgia of cool American iron from more than a half-century ago. However, suspension and braking systems are below par when you consider what’s sitting on showroom floors today. Drum brakes have their place, and obviously this arrangement is appropriate on a concours-restored show car where originality and show judging are paramount. However, if you drive your classic on a regular basis, maximizing your own safety and the safety of others depends upon getting your braking system up to date.
There was a time when you had to rummage through salvage yards to find a suitable disc brake package. These days, there’s a wealth of new disc brake kits for a wide variety of classic cars, from the Model T all the way up through the cars of the mid-20th century. Your decision should be based on what meets your personal needs and tastes. If your classic ride is a completely stock example, all you need are OEM-style front disc brakes, a dual-circuit master cylinder, new brake lines, and rear drum brakes.
If you have a performance-oriented model, or you’d just like a measure of braking performance beyond what the factory offered, the aftermarket may be able to assist. You may be surprised by the breadth of applications covered today, for both front and rear disc brakes.
Particularly important is the decision to convert your single-circuit hydraulic braking system to a dual system, meaning two separate circuits for the hydraulics fore and aft. American cars had single-circuit hydraulic braking systems prior to the 1967 model year, when dual braking systems became federally mandated. A dual-circuit braking system includes a two-chamber master cylinder, split between front and rear systems. The purpose of this is to maintain partial braking should there be a hydraulic system failure somewhere —a single leak should then affect only one circuit, not both as it does with a single-type system. In factory dual-circuit systems there is usually a pressure differential valve of some sort and a warning light to let you know you’ve lost either system. The pressure differential valve used on many vehicles has an internal “shuttle” valve that must be recentered once the trouble is corrected to turn the warning light out and enable proper bleeding of the system.
Why opt for disc brakes? Drum brakes are prone to fading under hard use and, when wet, will often become seriously compromised. Disc brakes, on the other hand, are very effective stoppers.
They provide excellent braking force but are also more effective at dissipating heat, enabling them to endure severe use with good resistance to brake fade —the compromise in friction that occurs when the braking components become overheated. Even a front disc/rear drum system, with the split circuitry of a dual system, can offer a substantial improvement in braking performance and safety.
When you’re considering a disc brake upgrade, first determine if your car was ever available with disc brakes; if you determine it was not, investigate further to see if a system from a later version of your model offered discs. For example, a 1963 Plymouth was not offered with front disc brakes, but the parts from the right 1973 Plymouth could be adapted.
Of course, the aftermarket can simplify that process by providing whatever you might need for a disc conversion in kit form, eliminating the need to search out vintage parts from a salvage yard and the guesswork that can be involved in attempting to merge those items with your car. If you go this route, bear in mind that brake pad friction materials should be chosen based on the kind of driving you’re going to do. The daily commute or weekend getaway doesn’t call for hard friction materials designed for racing.
BRAKE FRICTION MATERIALS
Some years ago, asbestos was commonly used in brake shoes and pads, but when the health risks became clear, the material was phased out. When working on a vintage car, use caution with unknown friction materials —the brake shoes on a 50-year-old car may well be old enough to contain asbestos.
These days, we have three basic types of brake friction materials: Non-asbestos organic, semi-metallic, or ceramic for high-performance driving. Non-asbestos organic compounds are the most common type of brake friction material and are made from bonded organic fibers that retain shape by a resin or glue. Organic brake linings are made from a combination of several proven plant-derived fibers. Non-asbestos linings have a small amount of metallic content in them, typically brass to dissipate heat while contributing to abrasiveness (friction) for better stopping.
Splicing wires doesn’t seem like it should be rocket science. Touch one bare wire to another, make ’em stay together, and you’re off joyriding in your uncle’s hot rod at 3:00 a.m. But as it turns out, splicing wires can be rocket science, with even NASA formulating standards for how to securely and safely make these connections. Nevertheless, gearheads continue to employ a variety of different wire-splicing methods, insisting theirs is the strongest or the most conductive or the most resilient. So let’s semi-scientifically determine which is the best.
For this test, I’m considering just straight splices—wire to wire—and not any sort of tap, crimp, or plug-in connectors. (Splice versus crimp is a discussion for another day.) I’m also looking at low-voltage automotive wiring, not household or small appliance wiring, and focusing on the splice, not any covering like heat-shrink tubing or electrical tape. While many kinds of splices exist, I’ve narrowed down the test methods to four, all of which are commonly used in auto repairs. I’ll evaluate each on the tensile strength of its mechanical and soldered connections, and I’ll make a note of other attributes, including aesthetics and how the splice affects the wiring itself, all of which is 20- to 22-gauge and comes from my Nissan Leaf’s harness.
Let’s introduce the splices:
Instructions: Strip a half-inch to an inch of insulation from both wires. Give each wire’s strands a light twist to keep them from splaying. Lay the wires parallel with the bare ends side by side. Twist the exposed strands together
Wire Color: white
This is the simplest splice, typically capped with an orange wire nut and shoved behind a dashboard. We’ve also seen it referred to as a Pigtail Splice, but aren’t pigtails curled?
Palm Frond Splice
Instructions: Strip a half-inch to an inch of insulation from both wires. Splay each wire’s strands into the shape of a palm frond. Lay one set of splayed strands atop the other. Twist the strands together.
Wire Color: yellow
Also referred to as a Wedding Splice, this method provides many points of contact between the individual strands.
Instructions: Strip one to two inches of insulation from both wires. Cross the bare strands about a third of the way up. Wrap each bare wire around the other at least three times.
By popular request- How to assemble a Ford Model A motor (“engine” for you sticklers) and I also reveal my “secret weapon”, Willie Baechler from Baechler Machine Shop in San Andreas, California. 209-754-4646 is the telephone number if you want a Model A motor properly rebuilt. He is the BEST! Period. Shop address- 730 Industrial Way San Andreas, CA 95249. Next video in this series, I’ll show how to install the valves, cam, adjust valves, etc.
I remember the days when you only needed a roll of duct tape and a lubricant in your toolbox. These days there are so many automotive chemicals it can make your head spin. Lubricants, penetrants, cleaners, adhesives; where do you start? In this DIY, Kyle Smith breaks down what he thinks are the essential chemicals you should always have handy in your garage. #DIY #KyleSmith #NeverStopDriving
Good discussion from the HAMB on the dangers of tightening the water neck on the Model A Ford without breaking it!
I have seen and broken my share of water necks in the past and had resorted to gently hand tightening the necks. i recently bought a water neck from Brattons and it came with this “trick” to avoid breaking them. i did not have any old paper matches but used a couple strips of cardboard, cut from a the backer of a note pad. the trick makes sense as it loads the out side of the ear instead of trying to snap it off. such a simple solution and it worked. just wanted to pass it on.
Took the Sport Coupe for a Sunday run, and about 5 minutes in there was a loud noise consistent with a transmission issue.
Got the car back to base, jacked it up and put it on stands. Once safely in the air I drove the car in first and second gears, and the noise seemed to be coming from the speedo area. Another symptom was the jerky operation of the rolling Stewart Warner speedo display.
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The power to the car was switched off , speedo cable was disconnected and the dash assembly removed and taken to the bench. You can the reproduction chrome dash in this slideshow
The speedo and other items were removed from the current dash assembly as the opportunity was taken to replace the repop dash with an original heavily patina’d item obtained from an auction in Holland.
The speedo was extremely notchy in operation so some 3 in 1 oil was applied to the gears and the speed spun over a number of times. This seemed to do the trick, but until the car is driven again it will be hard to tell.
All the items were moved into the new (old) dash assembly including a new repop script ammeter, which was a terrible fit requiring two cardboard shims to be made for a tight fit. The dash was then refitted and the lamp, ammeter and ignition switch all tested after switching the power back on.
The car was once again run up on the jack stands and the noise had disappeared. Once the testing was finished the car was lowered and road tested, again the noise was no longer apparent and the speedo operation was smooth. Happy all round with the easy fix and the original dash in place
As it looks as if the car show circuit will begin to slowly open up in 2021, it was about time to give the Sport Coupe a bit of a tune up. Plus some pinking/detonation had been present under heavy load on the last few times out.
First task was to break out the tools to make life a bit easier.
1/ NuRex timing wrench
2/ D&B Quick Point Gap Setter
First off the points gap was checked and found to be within specification
Please note these are the “modern points” however the tool works on both types of contact breakers. Prior to adjusting the points they were given a quick clean with some emery cloth, the distributor cam was lubricated and few drops of oil added to the distributor oiler.
The NuRex wrench was then used to set the timing, following the clear and simple instructions on the tool
The instructions state to have the spark lever all the way up, this works better for me with the lever one click down. They also state to make two turns, however I’ve always found that one usually does the job. You’ll need to see if either of these suggestions work for you as results will vary from vehicle to vehicle and may be better to use settings on the tool first time out
As you can see the result was a very pleasing idle with good power on road test afterwards, will need to see if the detonation issue is cured.
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