Monday, June 30, 2008

Please Don't Let Them Sit Silent!

Last week I was excited that the car received so much positive attention at the Burr Ridge car show along with the many thumb's-up while driving out there and later, back to Michigan.

Sunday morning came and with the car cooled from the previous day of driving between Chicago, Burr Ridge and Michigan, I now wanted to see what was going on with the cooling system. I opened the radiator, as sure enough...there was transmission fluid floating on top of the coolant. It was bright red and I wasn't very happy!

Fearing cross-contamination of coolant in the transmission, we agreed that we wouldn't drive the car further than the Ford dealer in Three Oaks. The internal transmission cooler is obviously leaking into the radiator and it is unclear if coolant is seeping into the transmission. Instead of driving the car on Sunday, we decided to tinker with other areas of interest.

1. The gas filler area drain-tube was clogged and needed to be opened. We tried 12-gauge copper wire from under the car to dislodge the offending blockage. From the top, we could get the wire about one inch into the drain hole. The blockage felt solid and I wondered if the factory workers forgot to drill out the drain tube. Mario and I cut a 10-inch length of heavy coat hanger wire and used the drill to slowly get through the clog. It worked and we no longer have standing water around the gas cap.

2. The leather seats being 30 years old need significant conditioning. We've driven the car only the past three weekends and noticed the seats were starting to show stress marks and heavy creases. Mario and I each chose a seat and vigorously massaged an entire bottle of Zymol into the entire seat. We did this over and over until the leather soaked up the conditioner. The last bit was applied just after putting the car away for the night. We let it soak in over night. Come Monday morning, the seats seemed to be a bit more pliable and not as dry to the touch.

3. We installed the new wiper blades that we ordered from British Victoria.

Wanting a better sounding radio, we also inspected the dash and cowl area to see how easily we can replace the current pioneer cassette player. The car originally was equipped with the equalizer/amplifier, however it is no longer attached to the dash. Just a bent bracket remains on the underside.

Later in the day we decided to take the car back to the Ford dealer to have the radiator, hoses and belts replaced. Without further ado, we removed the hood assembly by methodically removing the fore and aft retaining nuts and carefully counting the washers being used as shims to keep the hood aligned with the cowl and the grill shell. We figured it would be better for everyone if the hood was kept safely at Ken's house while the car was in for service.

Mario phoned the dealer midweek and learned that the radiator is basically a custom part and needs to be recored by an old-school radiator rebuilder. We spoke to the shop who exclaimed that he'd never seen a six-core radiator from any passenger vehicle. He promised a class-A job when finished, however the cost will be in the neighborhood of $1,200 for the rebuild.

Another nagging problem is that the car is sputtering and stalling at low idle when fully warm. Given it has a new fuel pump and filter, Mario insisted that the garage drop the fuel tank to see if any rust or corrosion could be blocking the fuel take-up. Just as I popped in on the garage this past Saturday morning, they already had the fuel tank dropped. I saw no rust, sediment or corrosion within the tank. To my relief, it was bright and shiny inside. I thought...well, there goes $65 worth of gasoline out the window! We also did a quick underside inspection. The left muffler seems to be a bit heavy, I'm sure it's filled with rust scale...or worse...a mouse condo!

Today is Monday, June 30th. I'm off work this entire week, taking some vacation days here in Michigan. I was hoping to play with the car all week...wanting to install a new radio and the power window kit, along with a missing snap for the convertible top. Instead, the car is sitting on a hoist at Three Oaks Ford with the radiator 35 miles away being rebuilt.

What a let-down!

I just returned from an estate auction nearby. Up for auction is a 1975 Dodge Charger SE, Gold Edition with only 48K on the odometer. From what I saw while inspecting her car, the door sticker shows a oil and lube service was performed locally in 1995. The mileage on the sticker is about 200 miles less than what's currently on the clock. Here too, is a car that the owner let sit for thirteen years without driving. Under the hood is a bright and shiny fuel filter. The heirs and auction house must have gotten the car running for the bidders with the least amount of effort or investment.

As I walk around the car, two men were discussing the carb being varnished and the old gas making the car run a bit rough! I simply smiled and walked away. I have my own neglected car to deal with and I'm not ready for another, thank you very much! Too bad, the car is very clean without any rust on the body and the cream colored interior is in excellent condition. I only wish I could say the same for under the hood!

So...anyone and everyone who reads this blog...please drive your cars! Don't let them sit still and silent, they are mechanical objects that need to be driven.
Ron Zarantenello

1 comment:

sarah said...

I love how excited and happy you are about this car!! You'll have to drive it up next time I come home.