Truck Update #1

Oh boy, do I have a fun little adventure to describe, but that must wait until I detail some of the work done on the green machine.

Heli-Coils are cool

In my quest to get a decent vacuum from the motor, I noticed that my carburetor to intake manifold bolt holes were stripped in one spot. I purchased this neat tool called a heli-coil that can fix that by 1. tapping the old hole, destroying the old threads, 2. adding new, larger threads, 3. inserting the actual coil, shaped like a spring, that is the same size as the original threads. Solved my problem in about 30 minutes time.

Fuel pump replaced

The old pump was probably original, and it was indeed the cause of gasoline mixing with my oil. The way this happens is that the fuel pump gets its pumping action from a lever that inserts into the engine block all the way to the camshaft. As the camshaft turns due to the starter motor or normal combustion operation, the pump is actuated, squirting fuel towards the carb. The problem is that over time, the diaphragm within the pump that keeps the engine oil and gasoline separate wears out, allowing the two to mingle. Didn’t cost much to fix, and wasn’t too big a deal.

My Nonstop Adventure

George Carlin had a great joke about “nonstop flights” in his routine about airlines. As he joked, “I insist my flight stop! Preferably at an airport!” Well, I went for a nonstop drive a few weeks back.

I pulled out of the driveway, got up to about 45MPH, and was getting ready to turn right at the post office. As I hit the brake, I realized there was no way I was going to make the turn. It was braking but just barely. I decided to continue straight, shift down to 2nd gear to make the vehicle slow down under heavier load, and crawl into the antique mart about 40 yards from that failed turn. Very slowly, I crawled the truck home with its severely gimped brakes. I am quite glad this happened less than a mile from home.

A few days later, I had a friend hold the brakes while I went underneath the truck to investigate. The 49 year old brake line going to the rear drums decided to squirt me in the face. Rude, but at least it helped in the diagnosis. I pulled it into the garage and set about replacing the brake line.

It wasn’t the easiest task on the truck, but I finally have replaced the old line, brake hose, and a few flare nuts that weren’t working too well. I had to learn all about making double flares in steel tubing, using flare wrenches (highly recommended for this work), and guestimating the length of tubing required.

Bits and Pieces

While I had it laid up, I also fixed some smaller issues. The axle breather hose (or whatever it is) was shot, so I replaced it, as well as a patched in rubber fuel hose which spilled nearly a gallon of gasoline in my catch jar, floor, and my shoulder. I hope I’ll have the good sense to siphon my gas out next time I do something fuel-related.


The main to-do right now is figure out why the motor just won’t pull a great vacuum. I have replaced every gasket it could be, including the intake manifold gasket, I have tightened everything with a torque wrench, and have rebuilt the carburetor. I have removed all vacuum leaks (the intake used to leak). Frankly, I’m running out of ideas as to what is the cause. To get a good vacuum, I have to run about 19 degrees advance on the distributor and idle the truck at 1100 RPM. This seems very excessive to most of what I have read on forums about 347 stroker motors, and its a bit noisy with those lovely 6 inch glasspack “mufflers”. Also, 19 degrees advanced makes it quite a pig to start, but any lower and it lopes pretty bad.

I’m dearly hoping it is something stupid that I have missed, like maybe something isn’t right with the carb despite the rebuild. When I first did the rebuild, the truck wouldn’t start; turned out the floats in the carburetor got stuck.


There have been times where I wanted to throw up my hands and give up on this truck, but as long as I don’t try to rush things, things usually work out. I’ve been in no hurry with this truck, because it has been exhausting in some aspects like the brake work and the clutch replacement. If I hurry and get frustrated, I may end up giving up, so I instead take my time and try not to get angry at a 49 year old truck that has sat neglected for years. Really, it is quite the testament to the truck that it runs at all considering the sorry state I bought it in. In short, it requires the patience of a saint which I am working to acquire.

Future Projects

Despite the frustration, I do have some thoughts on how to make a little money in the future doing this kind of thing. I don’t want to be a trained mechanic working for some company, but I think there may be a small market for car flipping just as some people flip houses. Just like house flippers, buy a rough but somewhat valuable and desirable older car in restorable condition for cheap, get it mechanically sound, pretty it up as much as can be done affordably, and sell it. I think there is some serious potential with this idea, and once I have the necessary money to invest in a larger garage, I will most definitely give it a shot.

I vaguely mentioned biodiesel in a previous post, so I’ll mention it here again. After many trials and errors, I have finally made 1 liter of decent quality biodiesel from soybean oil, methanol, and sodium hydroxide (lye). While I have no vehicle to run it in, I think this could be a money saver for me once I acquire a diesel kraut car from VW or Mercedes and find cheaper materials. Once I’m more confident in the methods on making biodiesel, I’ll provide you with instructions and recipes on how to make your own. Big caveat: don’t think you’re going to run large quantities of biodiesel in 2007 and newer diesels. Due to emissions regulations and questionable design decisions, these vehicles aren’t suitable for large quantities. Stick with pre-2007 diesels. Old VW TDIs are ridiculously fuel efficient (as much as 50MPG), and Mercedes 4 and 5 cylinders are million mile motors (seriously, research mileage on the 240D and see what I mean). Most diesel trucks before 2007 are fine as well.