Pontiac renovations, part 6.

I started working through some other items on the to-do list- plenty of little things that need to be completed. First was the air filter bolt that I’d had sitting in ascorbic acid for a couple days to remove the surface rust. After a quick cleaning with wet-n-dry paper I put it into etch primer and then gloss black enamel.

I cleaned the exterior of the carburetor down a little and noticed the instruction to “OIL INSIDE SCREWS”. I removed the lid to inspect the mechanism- the throttle pump mixture enrichment system.

An interesting set of levers and slides and springs. Oiled with regular engine oil and reassembled, clean.

Subtle colors.

I bought some lengths of fully copper cored wire. 16AWG pink (for dimmable dash lighting) and 14AWG purple (not sure which circuit yet, possibly side/tail lights).

3.9mm bullet connectors.

Also, the box of bullet connectors I ordered arrived. The car takes 3.9mm connectors mainly, which are not the standard I’m used to. Lucas used larger 5mm ones, Delco decided something smaller was good.

The connectors fit the smaller of the two sizes of bullet connectors used on the car. The brake light switch is no exception.

I removed the radio from under the dash to give a little more room to work. Apparently it’s a special model designed to fit in a standard radio hole; I find it wasn’t the right size, but that’s the way it goes. I think I’ll be hunting for a junked radio and will probably gut that and replace the innards with something a little more modern and give audio-in capability, too whilst retaining the original “Chieftain” radio look.

Original “Chieftain” radio faceplate.

I removed the original radio escutcheon and polished it up. It is pitted but responded well.

At this point I was left with the three after-market gauges under the dash. The ammeter will disconnect easily, the oil pressure gauge will also come out without too much trouble but the water temperature gauge required the engine to be drained of coolant before it could be removed. I undid the drain tap on the side of the engine block and nothing came out. So I pulled the entire assembly out- still nothing. I poked with a screwdriver and was rewarded with black rusty sludge.

Heath-Robinson pipework.

I found that the old vacuum line had the correct union fitting on it so screwed that in, attached a length of pipe and tried to put city water pressure onto it to clear it out (60psi). That did not work, so I hooked up the pressure washer (4400psi) to it. I blew the pipes off a couple times but eventually the blockage cleared.

I flushed the engine from as many different directions as I could- backwards from the drain, in from the heater takeoff on the head, in from the radiator (through the water pump).

Lots of regular iron oxide. The factory manual states to use plain water as coolant. I’m not going to go down that route- instead, it’ll be having a proper mix of antifreeze and rust inhibitor.

Finally rinsing clean, I let it drain down. 

I cleaned up the drain tap and reinstalled it.

I then turned my attention to the wiring. I removed the two clamp plates on the firewall. One has some instructions about the fuses printed on it (very faded and worn off) and the other has the spring clips for the in-line fuses and also clamps the main wire bundle and speedometer cable.

Started cutting out and undoing wires. Fought with the coil resistor as it had been done up very tightly into the metal and had rusted in.

I removed the neutral inhibitor/reversing light combo switch. Taken apart, cleaned and reassembled- it wasn’t very bad inside but the contacts were a little pitted. Reassembled and readjusted to the correct position. 

I got a little gung-ho with the cutters. None of the original wiring is in any really useable shape, particularly where it has been damp on the exterior of the car. The shellac washes off, the cotton absorbs the moisture and rots, and the rubber absorbs the moisture from the cotton and goes all hard and cumbly. Once it’s gone the water gets inside and the aluminum turns to powder, especially with an ionic charge on it from the battery all the time.

I rubbed down the metal of the firewall with a stainless steel wire brush to remove the worst of the loose oxides.

Then liberally applied rust neutralizer, which turns purple in contact with rust.

Once dry, the rust converter turns black and forms a surface suitable for paint.

The fuse-holder/wire clamp main plate was soaked in ascorbic acid for a couple days and then brass-brushed, primed and painted with gloss black enamel.

The car’s wiring calls for two, 14 Amp inline fuses. I think this is a design feature left over from before the auxiliary fuse panel was included, and these will likely have been the only fuses on the car. This is the only remaining intact one, and the steel case was in poor shape. It took a fight to undo it.

The component pieces- the cups that the fuse connects to are brass and have had the wires soldered on. I shall replace the wires. It received an overnight soak in ascorbic acid, which did not really do much (reason for this possibly later).

I took a countersunk screw and clamped the fuse holder body in the chuck of my drill.

I then spun up the holder and held low-grit sandpaper against it to remove the worst of the corrosion.

Finished up with 1500-grit wet-n-dry paper just to give it a bit of a sheen. There were traces of copper to be seen, and the corrosion on the surface look more verdigris than red iron rust. The fuse panel shows “Gray” and “Gold” fuse holders to identify which is which. I’m thinking the “gold” one was actually copper plated- maybe brass.

A quick session to electroplate the surface to try and prevent it from deteriorating too quickly.

Side by side comparison is quite striking. I wanted “careworn”.

Put together temporarily so as not lo lose the component parts, it looks much better.

It was a little cold when I painted the front of the holder, so it bloomed and went matte. I have since re-painted it, but this is the location of the fuse holder is here, both the wires just loop in and go back inside the car.

Leave a Reply