Chapter 24: Exhausting Repairs

The Deuce

Now that the Deuce is mobile, I start to focus on the little things. Like how the exhaust leaks are driving me nuts.

I’m not talking about a little bit. It’s as if half of the exhaust doesn’t make it to the muffler, making it sound farty. A nice loud farty V8.

Thinking it is just leaky header gaskets, I had bought some standard “cardboard” style gaskets. Header bolts come out easy enough and the old gaskets crumble out. There is obviously a lot of blowout past the gaskets. The old gasket were really nice, metal reinforced, multilayer gaskets…with all the material blown out and just some metal mesh left in areas.

I also had a set of new header bolts that I wanted to use, because why not. They were a little shorter, but not much. Well, turns out that little bit was annoying.

The header flange was no longer straight. This made install fun. The instructions were to start the front and rear most bolts and drop the gasket between the header and the head. Well, between the valve cover hanging over and the wavy header, that wasn’t going to work.

So I place the new gasket against the header with one of the center bolts pushed through and trying to mount the header and get the bolt started without everything moving. A lot of swearing later, it works. And I had to use the original, longer bolts just to make my life easier.

Getting all five remaining bolts started, most of them the old bolts, takes more time than I care to mention. Let’s just say that an hour or two later, all six are started. I tighten one down and then can get a couple of the newer bolts to grab. Tightening those, I can remove the other old bolts and reinstall new ones, one at a time.

Go to the other side, repeat. Takes just as long. Torque it all up, reinstall spark plugs and check for random tools in random places. It’s late (as usual) so I’ll wait until morning to fire it up.

The next morning, I get it fired up and it sounds moderately better. Now this was during the transmission swaps of the last chapter, so I end up taking it for the first drive and it goes. It just still sounds like crap. Not nearly as many leaks, but it just doesn’t seal very well.

I end up driving it like that for a while until I finally decide to get some good copper gaskets ordered, both header and collector gaskets. The noise just bugs me.

When the parts arrive, decide to make it easier on myself and remove the mufflers first. These are the typical short jeep mod where the exhaust exits in front of the rear tires out both sides. In this case, the point AT the tire, but details. Next, I remove the headers and just let the hang against the frame rail.

When I pull off the paper gaskets I had run for a week, I notice that the compression on the gasket is not even around the exhaust ports. Huh. At least I know why it is leaking. Why is there a mis-match? I take the passenger side header out, the easy one, and the problem is obvious.

Header vs gasket

As you can see, the dogleg on the header does not stick out as far as the gasket. Checking the head, the gaskets match just fine. Luckily, I also have a set of headers from the donor Humpty up in the loft. I pull them down for a quick side by side comparison.

Humpty left, Deuce right (well, Deuce wrong)

Now that I know the problem, the solution is relatively simple. I already have the passenger side out and it’s an easy swap. Luckily, I had a young helper who smashed his fingers getting the driver side out. Headers lined up well enough to the head, but the copper gaskets were a bit off. We just enlarged a couple mounting holes and it was all good.

I mean, it still took an hour to get all 12 bolts installed, but we got it done.

I wanted to try the exhaust I took off Humpty as they seemed to be newer mufflers and went to the back of the jeep. After mocking them up, however, it was clear that the tires would rub on the exhaust with axle flex. The pipes went between the tire and the rear shock. There was just no way it would work. I went out to look at Humpty to see where they had mounted them, and that’s when I realized that Humpty probably never moved with that exhaust. It’s engine had last 5 minutes after a rebuild, so no chance to test the exhaust out.

Going back to the original Deuce mufflers only caused a bit of an issue. Seems the correct headers were a bit longer and not exactly in the same exit location relative to the floor. Being lazy, I just loosened the pipe clamps on the exhaust and made it fit. Just not well. But it bolted up to the collector and the body mount. And, once again, the exhaust was pointed directly at the rear tires.

Time to fire it up! I get it going and let it idle a bit. There is a tiny bit of leak at the headers, but I was really confident that the header bolts were not properly torqued. There was no way to get a sockets on 8 of the 12 bolts, so not torque wrench. I was lucky to get an open ended wrench on most of them. And it wasn’t a long wrench.

Shut it down and let it cool a bit, before taking the spark plug wires off and tightening the header bolts again. I also tighten the collector bolts, but that is a bit of a lost cause due to a poor alignment of the muffler to collector. I’ll fix that later. I promise.

Fire it up again and realize that I have to manually provide a little throttle on warmup even though I noticed an electronic choke on the carb. Hmmm. Something to tackle a bit later.

The exhaust is sounding so much better. No leaks at the headers! Once I figure out the collector joint, I’ll be happy with it. As it is, I’ll drive it.

Jump on the internet to figure out how to adjust my carb. The first thing I learn is that I have too much carb for my engine. It’s 600 cfm, which is good for 396 to 502 cid. The Deuce has a 304. Oh well. Second is that the electronic choke is adjusted so far lean, that it never activates the choke. O.k.

I crank the adjustment back to the default neutral and … wait for it…it works. Holy shit. Who would have thought? Obviously not the previous owner.

Now that the engine has cooled down, I can see the choke working. I decide to test it out. As soon as it fires up, the engine revs high. Huh. Make sure the gas pedal isn’t caught or kinked. Nope. It’s just that the high idle screw is cranked. I guess if the choke never engaged, the high idle never mattered.

So, I crank it down until it barely touched the throttle plate arm. Fire it back up and it idles well. Turn it up enough for a nice high idle. And as the engine warms up, the choke automatically opens up and drops to regular idle. I think it’s working correctly now. What a concept. I even dial in the idle speed and fuel/air mixture.

Now the Deuce starts easier and sounds quieter. Once I get the collector gaskets figured out, I’ll be happy.

In the meantime, I’ll just drive it.

After a week, it is finally warm enough to drive to work. Well, home from work, as that’s when it’s the coldest. The exhaust is so much better. Now I can really hear the super swampers pounding the payment, the suspension creak and pop, and other various rattles. What was that noise?

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