When we left Project Hako last, the carbs were in, the fuel system was all set up and we were ready to turn the key and see what happens. Of course when you do this, it’s a good idea to wait until a few friends can come over: one to hold the fire extinguisher, one to juggle the throttle to keep the car running, one to stand on the other side of the engine bay to keep an eye out for fuel leaks, and one last guy standing by with the ambulance on speed-dial.
So that’s what we did.
And here’s how it starts up and sounds.
As you can hear, it starts up very easily on the key, and then settles to a very busy, lopey idle. The carbs seem to be working fine and there are no leaks to worry about.
But as I tried to tune the Webers, the car began to fight me. The idle was so unstable that half-turn adjustments on the mixture screws (which is a big adjustment) were having no effect at all. And the airflow through the carbs was so weak that it hardly registered any reading at all on my UniSyn carb balancing device. The vacuum gauge showed a very low reading that was fluctuating wildly too.
Pulling the plugs showed that they were pretty fouled, wet and black (although it could still idle and was easy to start).
Something was definitely amiss, so the first step was to eliminate the obvious variables. Check the ignition timing. But when we did, the timing marks were not on the right side of the engine where the ignition timing marks were bolted onto the block:
It seems that I have a combination of an early pulley (which has the marks on the driver’s side) and a later block (which has the marks on the passenger side). This was a little confusing at first, but it wasn’t hard to measure up the right spot and mark TDC with some paint.
The ignition was a little too retarded for a hot engine, but not so much that it would have caused such terrible idling. So with a deep breath, we unbolted the cam cover to have a look inside…and what a surprise!
It’s…NEW. No more than a thousand kms old. And furthermore…it has a rather big cam in it.
So now the poor idling and manifold vacuum at idle makes sense….this cam needs to idle at more like 1800rpm, not 800rpm!
It was pretty much at this point that I gave up and went to bed! When we bought the car, Red Megaphone had very little knowledge of what had mods had been done, so it’s a very interesting situation. We know that at the tune that the car was delivered, it wasn’t really driveable: the clutch didn’t work, the carbs were leaking, and the whole thing was generally untuned. But the engine looks like the previous owner poured some money into it not very long before selling it, and it almost looks like he was in the middle of a hardcore upgrade and rebuild but then gave up when it was only 90% there.
I’d assumed that the car was going to be an easy cruiser, a big capacity lazyboy with a stock cam, but the situation is rather different now, it’s all a bit more serious. I’m not so sure how I feel about the whole thing, but it is a nice surprise to discover that the engine is fresh (and of course I wonder what other mods are inside). But it doesn’t change anything, we still have to get the car going and registered (although how we are going to pass the emissions test will be interesting now!)
The next step is to get the car tuned and driveable, so I’ll have another go at setting up the Webers, and resetting the ignition timing. The brake mastercyl should be ready tomorrow they say, so possibly sometime on the weekend the car will come off the stands and be theoretically driveable (but then again, I’ve said that a few times and something always came up to delay things!).