Chapter 22: Homer’s Bad Time


While I’m struggling to get the Deuce’s transmission and transfer case rebuilt (don’t worry, that story is next), I’ve been driving Homer.

But not all is well.

One of the most annoying noises is that there is a loose bolt that holds the tub to the frame. Not too important, right? It only rattled when you hit a bump.

The top of the bolt was pulled down into the floor and the bottom threads are rusted to the nut. And the nut is up inside a bracket welded to the frame.

I can’t get to it with the grinder and a dremel seems just as sketchy. I remember that I had brought a nut splitter back from my dad’s pile of goodies, but it’s made for bigger sizes. I try it anyway. Immediately, it twists and while it starts to make a nice line in the nut, it does it at an angle, which won’t work. I give up and drive it like that for a couple of weeks.

While working on the Deuce’s transmission, I run across the small nut splitter I completely did not remember. Oh well! It works as it should and I toss the old hardware away.

Throw on some new hardware with a nice fender washer on top and the tub is now secure to the frame. As intended.

Next up, is to figure what is going on with the motor. It’s been hard to start, backfired under a heavy load and when coasting down a hill, and just generally seems low on power. First check, timing.

OK, that might be the issue. 12 degrees out. Instead of 5BTC, it was 7ATC. Oops. Grab the top of the distro, and it turns relatively effortlessly. Sigh.

Turn off the engine and loosen the hold down bolt. It didn’t seem too loose, but the bolt head is hard to reach with the fuel filter/line in the way. Honestly, it’s a struggle.

Firing up the engine and set the idle speed on the carb as it’s a bit low. It’s nice to have a working tach! Adjust the timing to 5BTC and Homer is purring like a happy cat. Turn off the engine and tighten the distributor hold down bolt. It sucks. Now the engine is nice and warm, and there still is no room to get a good purchase with the wrench. I succeed by flipping the 9/16″ wrench over, using the 12 point box as well as the open end, and even grabbing a 12 point 14mm box wrench that is luckily a half turn off. Finally, I feel good torque.

As I’m about to start it back to double check the timing, a thought occurs to me. I grab the top of the distributor… And it turns effortlessly.

Oh, come on! (I might have thrown in a few more colorful words.)

Well, that was my original problem. Constantly variable timing. Unfortunately random. And unfortunately, it’s time to head to work. I’ll pull the distro completely tomorrow. Arg.

On my next day off, I decide to tackle Homer’s timing. Set the engine with cylinder #1 at TDC. I check the distributor to see where the plug wires are located. Well, that doesn’t match the manual. The #1 wire is at the #5 location. Humph. As I pull the cap, the rotor is indeed pointed to the #1 wire, but it is where #5 should be, basically rotated 120 degrees.

Ooooaky. After a lot of staring and mental calculations, I decide that the previous owner did that to rotate the vacuum advance away from pointing forward. When I rotate it to where it should be, the vacuum advance is close to the fan belt, but it does clear. And because they trimmed the vacuum hose, it’s a bit short.

I finally say screw it and decide to put it back to stock. Since the distributor cap has plug numbers molded in, I might as well make them correct. I have to cut a new vacuum hose but whatever.

It took a while to get the timing close. Using a test light hooked up to the negative coil wire, I turned it until it just came on. But it would shut off when I took my hand off the cap. Finally got it close enough that I could dial it in with the timing light while my wife cranked the motor over.

When timed, Homer fired right up. Nice! Wait for it to warm up and then do one final adjustment to the timing and tighten the distributor down. With the proper wrench, it is actually easy. And stays in place this time!

I notice a bit out oil vapor puffing out of the breather. Um, that would explain the oil usage. Put the air filter and vacuum lines back together and go for a spin.

Homer starts out well, but at higher speeds, I get a few misfires. In top gear (third with overdrive), there is more than I’m comfortable with. So, it isn’t the timing.

Back home, I reset the fuel mixture screws and start to dial them in again. Crank them in until idle speed drops, then back the other way until is drops again, then back to high speed. Go for a drive. Still stumbles at high speed. Purposely crank the carb to the rich side and I still get the issue. I pull the air filter and it gets a little better, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. I notice that I’ve got more and more oil vapor fuming out back into the carb when I pull the filter.

Well great. Time to do a bit more research. Could I have an issue with small jets? Bad vacuum? Blowby? Dwell time on the distributor? Man, I got no clue. To the internet!

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