Pontiac Renovations, part 28.

So, a new year and new things to do on the car. After having done a little work to clean some of the paint I decided to try mix up a color match for the 1957 Ford blue that is on the car.

The first attempt was not too far off but didn’t look right- the blue dried a lot darker than it mixed up. I tried again.

The second attempt came out a much closer match. Acceptably good, I touched up a few more of the spots where the paint had been knocked off, to try and protect it a little.

I touched up the back of the car to tidy it up a little. It all needs cutting out and new metal letting in but that’s a little ways off happening yet. It makes the car look better from ten feet away, at least.

I also made an attempt to flatten out the faces of the intake/inlet manifold, as it was not sitting well enough in all places to seal. Apparently common with long manifolds like this, it has warped with age and heat/cool cycles. I managed to get all but the center two exhaust ports flat enough to sit into the gasket; really it needs to be put on a milling machine and be milled down like the deck of an engine block. For now it is good enough that I can double-gasket the center two ports to get them to seal.

A little bit of pleasant weather allowed me to bring the car outside and start smartening the paint up. The roof has lost a lot of the clear lacquer, and I was trying to figure if I had wanted to polish the paint or not. If I were to polish it, re-applying clear lacquer would be difficult without almost completely stripping the paint back. In the end I decided to polish it up to seal it and protect what color is left. The mid-blue on the rest of the body responded well to wet-flatting and polish.

The roof has a nice gloss to it when finished well. I just need to carefully blend in the edges of the remaining clear coat.

The rear light lenses on this car are unique to the year- they are very bulbous compared to the preceding and following years, and are slightly smaller so the more common 1952 lenses, popular with hot-rodders are available easily and cheaply but these are not. The sun had done a number on these so I decided to try sanding one down and giving it a few coats of red lacquer to try and get a little more life out of it. the result is not perfect but looks much better than it did. I am also considering finding some reflectors to put inside because they are quite dim, even with LED’s inside.

I soldered in the brass overflow tube to the radiator and polished the radiator cap up. I do need to replace the cap as it is the wrong pressure (4lb instead of 7lb) but in the interim it looks better.

I took the front right brake to pieces because it was not really providing much int he way of braking effort and was quite snatchy. The lower adjuster was fairly easy to free up but the top one which has a large nut to hold it in place was stuck fast. I ended up having to borrow a larger socket from a neighbor and with most of my weight on a 5 foot extension bar finally managed to get it to free off.

Only a small portion of the threads had gone rusty but that, coupled with it having been done up by a gorilla, had meant it took upward of 2500lb/ft to undo. I cleaned it up and refitted it.

Armed with a copy of the manual pages pertaining to the brakes, I checked the shoes were free to move, both brake pistons were free to operate and then set the clearances and adjusted the shoes.

A few things arrived in the mail. first, someone sent me a gift of a replacement dome light cover as mine was long gone. This is a Chevrolet item but is not dissimilar to the Pontiac one and fits the same light assembly.

More goodies, in the form of a new “diode trio” for the alternator- the purpose of which is to feed half-wave rectified DC into the voltage regulator circuit to allow it to boost or drop the armature winding on the rotor and thus increase or decrease the output of the alternator.

Apart came the alternator again. Buried down in the depths is the offending article.

The diode trio was replaced (orange and black pieces, black being the new one) and the alternator reassembled. This provided a good output- I wired it temporarily to the ignition switch to get it to make the ammeter move. What I didn’t think about was how it was actually wired in; when I switched off the ignition the alternator was disconnected from the battery and no longer had a regulated reference so went into a free-running wobble which fried the 12-to-6 volt converter unit for the fuel gauge.

The car had also developed a bad misfire once it warmed up a little, resulting in clicking valve followers. I decided to pull the head off and soak the valve stems in Marvel Mystery Oil (which is essentially just mineral oil) to see if they would free up.

The oil was unsuccessful in freeing the valves up adequately- with the engine cold they would work perfectly for about 15 seconds before getting stuck open. In the interim I had ordered a replacement DC-DC converter for the fuel gauge which thankfully got it working again. I prefer it to have taken that out rather than burn the gauge coils or sender unit up.

My parents came to visit just before Christmas break, so the car took the sideline for a little while whilst much needed repairs were done to the house and workshop. The decking was replaced, and the roof repaired to the workshop and the walls replaced where they had rotted out as a result of the leaky roof.

The workshop was made significantly more airtight than it was, the little window unit air conditioner was taken apart and the mud dauber nests all removed meaning it had a chance of dehumidifying and cooling the area.

I painted the walls and doors white to cheer them up a little. After having done that I decided that it was too plain and needed something to make it a bit more interesting.

I bought some oil paint and painted a mural of the car, which was a nice distraction from the fact the car wasn’t running well.

I stripped the top end off the engine again and removed the valves (with thanks to Lloyd from the H.A.M.B. for the tool), a couple of which were very very difficult to remove from their guides.

I cleaned all the valves up, and let the collets and springs soak for a while to clean them up also.

I made a tool from an old toothbrush and a length of wooden dowel.

This allowed me to soak cleaning fluid down through the guide and scrub away any dirt.

I then made a second tool from another piece of dowel and a worn-out piece of 220-grit emory paper. That was spun down each guide to gently hone it, then the brush used to sweep up any debris.

I then started lapping the valves into the seats- they had been replaced by the previous owner but not matched (nor cleaned, from what I can tell) so this helped until I reached the third exhaust valve which didn’t want to lap in evenly. It turned out to be bent, from having hit a spark plug- guessing someone put the wrong length plug in and started the engine.

I ordered a replacement valve and once that came in the engine was reassembled.

The valves are awkward to get at even with the correct tools, but eventually I put them all in and set the clearances by eye.

I bought some tube and fittings and reconnected the oil pressure gauge. Now all my gauges work (though at 14.4V on the alternator the temperature gauge over-reads significantly. In that picture it should have been pointing just below 180) which is a nice thing to have.

I connected up the vacuum system from the manifold through to the pump and up to the windshield wipers. The vacuum motor is tired and really needs a rebuild. The washer pump is also similarly tired so work needs to be done there to make better.

It is nice to see the parts going back on the car though. Each makes it one step closer to working well.

Onward and upward. With the air filter removed the Carter makes a nice noise with the throttle opened up. It does run smoothly now.

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