Captainkirk's Duster project
As the winter played out, I learned some things. I learned the 318 was a strong, gutsy little motor. I learned that E60's on snow with a manual tranny and a gutsy little motor isn't the most efficient means of transportation. I learned about snow tires (Remember snow tires?) I learned about mononucleosis, and how laying on a cold garage floor can make it a much worse ordeal than it already is. At least, when I wasn't sleeping, I was reading, trying to figure out why the little 340 wouldn't play well with others.
In the end, it was so simple it was stupid! I'd installed a "newfangled" AM/FM /cassette deck with the money I'd recieved as a high school graduation present. Naturally, the crackling of the Mallory through the FM had to be dealt with, so I'd purchased a brand new set of Hi-perf carbon core silicone ignition wires so I could groove to the likes of Peter Frampton and such. Anybody wanna hazard a guess as to what happens to a motor under hard accelleration with very high compression and under a heavy load with high manifold pressure (such as high gear?) Who'da thunk it?
In the end, that's all it was. I had an epiphany while tossing the idea around in my head during my recuperation. So as soon as I was better, and the weather turned spring-ish, I put my theory to the test by yanking the valiant little 318, slapping on the newly aquired 4-speed with a bran'-new Hurst Competition Plus and dropping the 340 back into the Royal Throne. I put in a new set of plugs (Autolite AG-32's) with a brand-spankin' new set of 8mm solid core wires, fired it up and stalked off to some deserted road to test my theory.
JEEEEEEHOSAPHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The thing ran like a scalded dog! Not only did the motor not miss a lick, but the 4-speed made a difference like I wouldn't have believed! And wind......man, I'd never seen a motor wind up that quick! Any of you who are cat owners, or have ever owned a cat, ya know how they rub around your legs when they're hungry? And when you're half asleep, reaching for the coffee pot, there they are, rubbing around your legs. And sooner or later, you step on their paws. You know that sound? Yeah, that's what this thing sounded like when I pounced on it. Only deeper;lower. And the cam; lordy, that cam! The thing would sit at the traffic lights with this rump, rump, rumpety rump idle, the front of the car shaking like the back of a horse trying to get rid of a pesky fly; you could hear the compression of those pistons thudding against your eardrums and smell the unburned gasoline in the exhaust, and then the light would change...and there goes that pesky cat again, yowling like you broke it's paw! In retrospect, it's probably a good thing my hometown had a small police force that was spread rather thin. I never got on a first name basis with any neatly-dressed individuals in shiny black shoes, but I won't deny the opportunities were present! I'll never forget the time I was tuning my 650 DP for full-throttle jetting. The procedure here is to avoid breaking the tires loose, do a full-power run through all four till you reach top speed (or chicken out) and then push in the clutch, kill the engine and coast to a stop. At this point the perpetrator should pull a spark plug and check the coloring. Sounds simple, anyway. So me and my buddy Jerry decide we'll give it a shot, right? I turn onto this 2-lane country highway, accellerate up to about 30, and then just pound on it! The motor is howling like a werewolf over a fresh kill and I can feel the front end topping out the shocks as I'm powershifting at 6500 between gears. I probably hit close to 100 before I chickened out and killed the motor and casually coasted to a stop on the shoulder. Jerry's mouth was hanging open in this disbelief-kind-of look and his eyes were as big as saucers. I said "Feelin' alright, bud?" and hopped out of the car and popped the hood. I grabbed a spark plug socket and ratchet from under the seat and started to pull #1 plug when he emerged from the passenger side, still looking sort of dazed. He then began to babble expletive praises of the little 340 while I modestly told him "Aw, shucks, 'twarnt nuthin'......." or something to that effect. Just then a county cop coasts up behind us, pulls over and gets out. This is Not Good. This might be Bad, even.
"What seems to be the trouble?"
(As if you didn't know. As if you didn't hear that werewolf howling mere seconds ago.)
"Uhhhh......I think I fouled a plug" (gulp)
I'm sweating bullets. My hands are shaking; I almost drop the freaking plug.
"Anything I can help with?"
Yeah. let me have at least one phone call and holster your weapon?
"Uhhhh, I think I have it fixed, I'm changing the plug now."
The motor is trying to rat me out.....ping, pop, ting! Tick, tick, tick. Sorta like a scorching hot frying pan when you put it in the sink....
(Look, just cuff me and get it over with....)
"Yessir, officer, but thanks anyway!"
He walks back to the squad and sits there while I thread the (properly colored!...jetting spot on!) spark plug back in, connect the wire and shut the hood. Jerry shoots me an I-don't-have-bail-money look and hops in the pax side. I start the werewolf...er, motor, and ever-so-sloooooowly ease out the clutch and limp off down the road like granny on the way home from church, nervously watching Officer Friendly in the Rear View sitting on the shoulder 'til he's out of view, then we both let out a HUGE sigh of relief.
All Jerry can mutter is "Damn! Damn, this thing is a MONSTER!"
(You're preaching to the choir, bud!)
(to be continued)