Pontiac Renovations, Part 29.

New workshop lighting

I finished up the workshop by replacing the original light fixture with a newer one. I still want to fit more lights but a couple of 40W tubes work for now. Better than having to fight flipping the light switch repeatedly to get the room to illuminate.


I bought a new set of points to fit in the distributor. The old set was a bit pitted (which did clean up) but the fulcrum was worn and the points would not align very well by themselves. I’d been seeing some misfire at higher engine RPM so figured it was worth a shot at replacing the points. It didn’t help much but it did at least eliminate that as being the cause.

Vacuum motor

Having been parked up int he garage for a while, the wipers stopped working. I took the motor apart and tried soaking the rubber seals in mineral oil to try make them swell up a little, but this was to no avail. It really just needs to be rebuilt. There is a firm in NY state that’s doing Trico wiper motor rebuilds so they’re on the to-call list.

Driver’s side brake drum

After the wipers, the car went on a little hiatus. I decided to finally do a little work on the car and adjust up the driver’s side brake because it would snatch and lock the wheel if the brakes were pressed moderately hard, instead of braking progressively. This is a sign of badly adjusted or contaminated brake shoes in drum brakes. I jacked the car up, pulled the wheel off and took the bearing race to pieces.

Front outer wheel bearing

With the outer bearings removed and cleaned I took a look at the brake shoes. They were greasy from where the bearings had been over-packed, which is never a good thing. The shoes also showed signs of having over-heated and the lining on the leading shoe is beginning to fall apart.

Bad shoe lining

Given that, I turned my attention to the drum, which was in good shape, albeit very greasy.

Crab pan

I traded a six-pack of beer for an old, beaten up aluminum pot from my neighbor, which I beat back into shape with a lump hammer.

Brake soup

I put the brake drum into the pot, filled it with dish soapy water and boiled it a few times to remove the grease. This proved most effective.

Fresh brake drum

I beat the bearing dust cap back into shape and painted the lot to stop it from flash rusting.

Brake fluid

I had tried the brakes with the drum removed and saw that only the rear shoe was being operated. I held the rear shoe and prevented it from moving and applied force to the pedal, which freed up the front piston. The wheel cylinder then began to leak badly from the newly moving piston. No good! Time for new hydraulics.

Warning lights

I made a little warning light panel to fit under the dash. The alternator has provision for a no-charge light (an accompaniment to the ammeter) and someone had fitted an oil pressure switch to the main oil gallery (in accompaniment to the oil pressure gauge).

Letter punches

I borrowed a set of letter punches and used them to press an impression of letters into the plastic of the light lenses.

Warning light panel installed

I decided on era-appropriate descriptions- GEN (for GENerator) and OIL. I dabbed a bit of black paint into the recessed letters.

After purchasing some correct Wattage bulbs, both lights function as expected. The OIL I decided to be orange because it is bright and that one I am much more concerned about. the oil pressure gauge is heavily damped, so doesn’t give a quick reading, the light comes on immediately below 5 PSI. The GEN light flickers and comes on at low RPM which is normal for this engine. I would need a smaller pulley to prevent that from happening, but it charges well over 800RPM.

Dual points conversion kit

Turning back to other issues with the car, I went on the look for a replacement distributor or vacuum advance plate. Someone turned up a new-old-stock dual points conversion kit, which I bought. This solved a few problems, primarily the lateral wobble in the old plate because it was bent and worn. Second, it extends the life of the points and decreases the need for routine inspection, cleaning and gapping. Third, it has an added benefit of extended dwell which allows the coil to saturate fully at high RPM (admittedly much higher RPM than my engine can achieve but the principle is sound).

Single points distributor

I took the distributor out and dismantled it.

Painted distributor

Being as it was out, I cleaned the rust off and painted the body.

Dual points distributor

I fitted a new condenser to the set and reassembled it with the dual points plate in, which moves very smoothly compared to the old one and also keeps the points in the correct plane with respect to the cam.

Spark wire manifold

Continuing with the ignition system, I removed the spark wire manifold, which was missing a part and also was all dented and dirty.

Straightened sheet metal

I hammered the sheet metal back into shape. I turned my attention to the lead-out tube which was missing the lower half (the curved section).

Lead-out tube lower panel

I bent, hammered and shrunk the metal into shape.

New spark plug wires

I painted it all up and fitted a new set of spark plug leads.

Wires fitted to engine

I gave a test-fit and that showed a significant improvement over the old set of leads; 4 new spark plugs of the 8 that I had ordered arrived, so I fitted them, switched out a couple of the older plugs and managed to get the engine running on 8 cylinders again. I need to tidy up a little bit but that’s progress, at least.

Back to cosmetics, the horn push had always been a sore point for me- the center of the emblem should be bright red, but with sun and time it had faded to a pale brown. I managed to take the thing apart by carefully bending the lip of the chrome surround ring up.

Lacquered emblem

I cleaned the old lacquer off, masked up and painted new red lacquer with the remnants of the red in the can I used for the rest of the badges on the car.

Reassembled horn push

I polished the clear cover as best as I could and reassembled it. A significant improvement, especially considering it’s right in front of you when you sit in the driver’s seat. Shortly after that, a mysterious benefactor sent another one that was in very good condition, with almost no crazing to the lens, which was very kind.

Slam panel

finally, I took the time to rebuild the cable and latch for the slam panel. All reassembled, the hood finally closes correctly and can be pulled open from inside the car.

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