From the pasture; The valiant story of my '66 Valiant

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  1. AircoolerKirk

    AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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    I am a Volkswagen guy mostly, and one day last week I got a call from a buddy of mine regarding some VWs in a pasture that needed "saving" and he thought I was just the man to do it. So in spite of temperatures in the mid 20's and a glaring lack of common sense, we drove two hours into the wild. Once there, we met with the property owner who was a super cool guy. He had a couple Isettas, some pretty interesting aircraft and an extensive hovercraft collection. Yes, hovercrafts. He was selling cars off to get more hovercrafts, and while I don't understand the fascination with hovercrafts, I can appreciate the like of something random to tinker on. I liked him immediately.

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    He was incredibly proud of this, and I told him quite frankly and in no uncertain terms how very much I WOULD NOT go up in that. He laughed. I didn't.

    From his shop we walked out back into the field to take a gander at the Volkswagens. To get there, you first have to walk past some oddities (of which none are for sale):

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    Which got us to the back, back where the VWs were kept. He had a pretty decentish blue '68 bus that I wanted immediately, but to get it I had to agree to take some other bastard VW children. Their story however is a tale for another thread.

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    While "negotiations" were hot and heavy, I countered by saying that I would meet his price "only if you throw in this Plymouth behind me". Now to be fair, I hadn't even looked at that Plymouth, didn't know what it was, or if I really wanted it. I just thought we needed more for the loot he wanted and thought I could make a buck or two on it. So when he said we "might could work something out on that", I was then forced to look at the Plymouth and see exactly what my foot, en-route to my mouth, had possibly just purchased. Turning around, I instantly liked it. Liked it, like wanted it for keeps liked it.

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    For one, it looked super clean. Its a boxy little two door, and has a neat look. I like boxy little cars, and I can't afford a Nova, so why not? For two, as our hovercraft loving host began to tell me about the Plymouth, my want for it grew. He shared how it was a one owner car, purchased new by his Aunt in 1966, and powered by the "leaning tower of power", slant6. The Aunt, Alene, drove it from 1966 until 1998 when she died. At that point, the faithful little Plymouth was relegated to a series of temporary resting spots (but never title transferred) before ultimately landing in the pasture with what is alleged to be a bent push rod. Adding insult to injury, the passenger rocker was damaged badly when being unceremoniously dumped in its vegetative resting ground.

    And there it sat, waiting. As the years went by, the tires went flat, then split, sinking its neat little 13" wheels into the mud where they began to rot. From there, Kingdom Animalia Order Rodentia moved in, and in short order.

    And there it sat some more. Through two decades of rain and neglect, culminating in this 25 degree day, and this (yours truly) star struck moron.

    So I bought it. (and the VWs, but that's a different tale for a different time)

    As the daylight failed us, we made arrangements to return for it on a day there was not 8" of standing water in the pasture. It would be nearly ten days before the rain would stop and I could get permission from him to return for it. I was at work when my phone chirped, and I looked down.

    "HEY I THINK WE CAN GET A CAR OR TWO OUT TODAY, CAN YOU COME UP?"

    Excuses were given to my boss, vacation hours taken, trailers obtained, work clothes donned, my buddy was collected, and away we went.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
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    • AircoolerKirk

      AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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      When we arrived, our host suggested we take the closest cars, but with severe and inclement weather coming, I was only interested in freeing one car, the Plymouth. Strategically located at the bottom of the pasture, behind every other car, it waited. He was agreeable and we got started. One by one, using his tractor, some chains and a willingness to get muddy, we drug each of the cars to dryer ground, clearing a path to the Plymouth. It took over an hour and a half, as navigating a tractor through a quasi swamp while encumbered with dead automotive treasures can be tricky. Eventually, we made a sodden path to an awaiting freedom trailer. I did my best to air up the tires. The passenger side duo aired up and while damaged, managed to hold enough air to roll. The rear drivers was pretty much the same, other than leaking slowly around the corroded bead. However the front drivers wheel is badly ate up from being submerged in the mud, and would not hold air long at all. At this point I didnt even know if it would roll, so lets start small.

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      Taking great care to not damage any suspension or bumpers, I hooked up the chains. It was a marshy sucker down there. Once connected, I got inside to "steer" as my tractor power drug me backwards. We were very very careful not to damage the bumper or lift too high causing damage, as I read some bumpers are one year only. Not sure if these are, but just in case, doesn't cost extra to be a bit careful. The Gods of fortune were smiling upon us, as after two gentle tugs, all four wheels began to roll. Away we go!


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      Steering a dead Plymouth past dead farm implements, with one super flat tire and three soft tires, was kinda spooky, but we made it! Once out of the pasture, and standing on three and a half legs, I was able to better evaluate what I was working with. That rocker is pretty badly damaged, but it doesn't impact the door function at all.

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      Also, all his dogs were super cool.

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      I was pretty happy to have the original owners manual and associated paperwork. This little thing on the glove box door is interesting too.

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      With a little finesse, we got it loaded (more air = more ground clearance over that trailer) which means I can get it into cover before the storms. I know this is going to need a ton of work, and I know I have a long hill to climb, but I am SUPER excited about it. To the point that I really wish I hadnt just bought a big ole jeep Grand Wagoneer project currently occupying shop space and all its assorted new parts. But I made myself a deal that I would get the Grand Wag running first, and decide where to go with the jeep from there. Either I'll set it free or roll it to the back to wait on some other day.

      I am slowly turning into that old man that is going to "FIX ALL DEM CARS SOME DAY". More to come Constant Reader, stay tuned.


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      Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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      • JoeSBP

        JoeSBP RLTW!

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        That is an absolutely solid find. If only that type of thing happened to me..

        Also what type of VW stuff do you have? For a time I had the privilege of being the caretaker of a very nice 1968 Zink C4....
         
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        • Woody'sScamp

          Woody'sScamp FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          Great story and a solid 2 door Valiant. I can see it on the road in no time, nice find.
           
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          • B-onefan

            B-onefan Well-Known Member

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            Great Car! My first car was Identical other than factory a/c. Wish I had never sold it. Still hope to find it someday. I’m located near Abilene, so if you get out this way, look me up.

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            • halfafish

              halfafish Damn those rabbits, and their holes! FABO Gold Member

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              That's a great story, and a neat find. And I share your passion. When I found my car, it was like finding a soul mate. Love at first sight, and I made a deal for it immediately. I have the identical car, except mine is three-on-the-tree. Same year, same color, same trim level. And I have a radio. I got mine 45 miles north of home, and i'm only the 4th owner. If you toss out the 2nd owner who only had it 18 months, I'm the third owner in 53 years. And I will continue to be that owner till I'm pushing up daisies. It's a local car, living in the same 5-mile radius until I took it an additional half hour away. Mine is a stone-cold survivor, being all complete and original to the showroom floor except for the radio (said 2nd owner was a dipshit who cut out the tabs for a DIN radio), and the addition of a manual choke with cable, which doesn't hurt my feelings a bit. A few photos of the soul-sister to your most excellent ride. Oh, and I have the parts car for anything I might need, same year, same model, same color, same trim except an auto instead of a stick. A few photos of the gal...


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              The parts car. Hit hard in the ass, but everything forward of the back window is good.

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              • RustyRatRod

                RustyRatRod Bla de blizhibliz de blatde blizi bla bla FABO Gold Member

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                I've said this before, but the 66 is by FAR not my favorite year A body, but I gotta say, yours really is super cool. I really like it. I tell you what, though, this ole boy "RIGHT HERE" would fix that parts car. That thing isn't too far gone by a mile if it's solid underneath.
                 
                Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
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                • Hellrats

                  Hellrats Just another dumbass FABO Gold Member

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                  Man how I wish I could find something that clean. But in Ohio it just isn't gonna happen. Nice find you have there :thumbsup:
                   
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                  • 65wgn440

                    65wgn440 Well-Known Member

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                    Nice find ! Like the story but must make one edit ; should read " LEANING Tower of Power " !
                     
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                    • Dicer

                      Dicer Diceman FABO Gold Member

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                      Where O Where do you gentleman locate these cars? Excellent find, and story....makes the car just that more interesting.
                       
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                      • AircoolerKirk

                        AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                        Thanks, done!
                         
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                        • AircoolerKirk

                          AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                          Why the 66?
                           
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                          • AircoolerKirk

                            AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                            I love those seats! I may steal that idea when interior time comes.
                             
                          • AircoolerKirk

                            AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                            Thats awesome! I had a formula Vee project for a long long time with aspirations of finishing it but never did. I have a soft spot for those. I do a lot of hiking and camping, so I have a bus I take and camp out of. I also have the beetle I drove in HS patiently waiting on me to restore it, but I keep finding new (Plymouth) things to spend my money and time on instead.
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                            • AircoolerKirk

                              AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                              When we last left the brave little solider, she was listing hard to port on two rotten, ruptured, rolling rubbers. Luckily for me, I get bored and need things to piddle with. So I took the two trashy twins with me, to see what could be done. One day and some elbow grease later, I get the tires dismounted at home.
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                              The tires were crap, and the lips are heavily chewed, but just to have something to mount tires to, so she can stand on her own two feet, I think this will work! My junk pile has one good roller, and I will see what else is around. Next day, another bit o progress as they get lightly blasted.
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                              Pretty quickly, two craptastic tires and some rattle bomb black were applied. BOOM! I am roller mobile yet again.



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                              This is not my final look obviously, but I need her to be mobile. While I was out there, I filled up the slightly crusty looking radiator, to see if it holds. Pretty sure it will need replacing at some point, but at least this way I know if it gets replaced sooner or later. Locking it up, I make plans to come back next weekend.

                              Next weekend arrived, and due to the glorious weather, I decided to piddle around on the Plymouth to see what's going on. This was the first time I was able to actually lay hands on her and see what I had. Over all, the body is very clean (other than that damn passenger rocker), but I haven't inspected the motor. Heck, I didn't even know if it would turn over. Doors open, hood up, tunes on. From jump I notice the radiator is still holding water! Basic win.


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                              First thing I wanted to do was to check the push rods, as the guy I got it from said one was bent. Dunno, but lets dig in and check. Valve cover off, shows me that its black, but not sludged or gross. Fairly clean given the age of the car honestly.

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                              I looked and rolled the motor over and everything I could think of, but couldn't see any that were bent. Weird. I already spent $6 on a box of push rods for this car, which seemed super cheap, so if I find something later, bam. Good to go. New Valve cover gasket, bolt everything back up. I'm sure I will be revisiting house de valve later on, but for today, that will do pig, that will do. Checking the oil, shows me that its amber colored, and is as full as it should be.

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                              Taking the breather off, I see that I have one old single barrel Holley carb that almost assuredly needs a rebuild, as nothing on it spins or moves very freely. I spend some time lubing, cleaning and such till it at least moves around, for what I am about to attempt. I will either rebuild this, or replace it later, depending. From here I observe my "house battery" i keep around for dead automotive revivals, wont hold a charge. So I run to the local parts house for a battery and in doing so nearly set my truck completely on fire, AFTER picking up five gallons of gas, but extinguish it in the car wash and come back. I replace the rat chewed positive battery cable with a new one (negative cable is worn, but not badly. New one doesn't fit the bolt/hole in the block) install the house battery and check my lights.

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                              I even have actual blinkers! I step on the brake pedal to check the brake lights, but the pedal is frozen completely solid. I mean like rock hard don't move, want brakes you cant haz no brakes because there is no brakes. Oh well. That single master cylinder and antiquated front drums were due for a rebuild anyway. Ill probably try to find a bolt on (read that as I dont fabricate) good quality disc brake kit for the fronts. Back to the 'lectrics. I have a dome light, dash oil light and some sort of buzzer when the key is in the ignition. Sweet. Time to set up my intricate fuel system.

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                              Even has a squeezy bulb to prime it. Once the can builds pressure it feeds (typically my generator while camping) a steady stream of fuel. I'm not even sure the fuel pump works but here goes nothin.

                              Turn the key just to check, not a damn thing. Not a buzz, not a grunt, not a nothin. Hmm. Channeling my inner caveman, I whack the starter with a hammer. I mean, cant hurt. Then (sorry for the audio):



                              It spins!
                               
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                              • AircoolerKirk

                                AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                                Okay so it spins. Lets see what we are working with. I have plugs/wires/cap etc, but lets see what happens when I prime the carb and feed it fuel. Attempting to use the accelerator pedal, i feel a crunch and notice my heel sinks into the floor. Im pretty sure I know now what lurks under the pristine OG rubber floor mats, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. I open the carb and feed it a dose of fuel straight down the gullet. Now, when I crank the key it drags three times, then catches. Belching and snarling, the slant 6 erupts into life. Unfortunately for my bus, parked directly behind the prehistoric Plymouth, she shoots large gelatinous liquids out the tailpipe. Idling slowly, and erratically, like only a half dead vintage car trying to remember its rhythm can, she stumbles, threatens to stall, changes her mind, and continues to idle on her own.

                                I can clearly hear something going on with the lifters, and much like a stubborn ..uh.. mule.. the carburetor is pretty hesitant to do a damn thing I would like it to do. What it really wants to do, is stay dead, the motor on the other hand, seems pretty eager to rejoin the free world.





                                I went ahead and shut it down, before I damage anything I haven't had time to fully inspect. It does however "run" which gives me hope! Now I peak under the car, and am greeted with a big ole pile of rust flakes. (ignore the puddle, its unrelated. liquid from the heater hoses I disconnected to get the valve cover off).


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                                I can't get under it far enough to see, but my hand tells me there is a big hole up there near the accelerator, and since this aint the Flintstones, its gonna need repair. I also unlocked the gas cap and took a sniff. That gas smells like the dead dinosaurs that made that fuel came back to life, climbed in the tank, died again and started rotting. It was RANK. As replacement tanks are only $100 ish, I'm pretty sure I'll not bother cleaning this one. Yuck.

                                I'm not sure I made much progress, but I have a much better idea of what I need to do now. And its alive!*


                                *Sorta

                                To do:

                                • Peel back vinyl floor and inspect the metal
                                • Research brake options that include a dual res MC
                                • Set valves?
                                • Buy a fuel tank
                                • Buy a fuel pump
                                • Rebuild/Replace Carb
                                • Replace the OG radiator



                                Until next time Constant Reader, I ain't no Plymouth mechanic, but I play one on TV.


                                Editors note: I also found a replacement bumper for this one year only car on one of the faceyspacey pages, and have it on the way. My front bumper is mangled so anything I found would have been better than what I had.

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                                • SSVDP

                                  SSVDP FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                  Sweet!
                                   
                                • GGs66GT

                                  GGs66GT FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                  For a Disc Brake upgrade I used upper control arms , spindle, calipers , hoses, master cylinder for manual Disc / Drum and adjustable proportioning valve and lower ball joint for '73 up A bodies. I also went with two 15x7 large bolt pattern wheels for the front and two 15x7 small bolt pattern wheels for the rear for now. I also have a pair of 15x8 L.B.P. wheels for the axle upgrade latter.

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                                  • GGs66GT

                                    GGs66GT FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                    Great find !
                                    I love it !
                                    Oh btw I plugged one port on the brake block that splits the front left right rear lines a made a new line from the front port ( closest to the firewall) to the original brake block. I then coupled the new rear line from the proportioning valve to the rear system.

                                    If you want to make that slant 6 wake up at freeway speeds change the entire exhaust system to 2 1/4” but you’ll need a muffler that gives it just a bit of back pressure.
                                     
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                                    • AircoolerKirk

                                      AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                                      Cool weather this weekend, and a surplus of parts in my dining room all pointed towards two things. One, I should probably stop storing parts in my dining room. Except, with no one bitching at me about it, why should I? They compliment my bikes in there real well. Second, it did mean that I should probably get out in the shop. So i did!

                                      Under dark and stormy skies, I decide to revisit the Plymouth for a bit, which means you get a moderately enjoyable post to read.

                                      So when we last spoke, I was awaiting a treasure from the depths of booksypacey, a one year only '66 front bumper. I came home one day a month ago to a large surprise on the porch.

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                                      I bought this thing for what I thought was a song (since its not repopped, and having one redone is a fortune) shipped. I was really excited to see it. Once open, its nicer than I expected for the age.

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                                      Once it came in, I went ahead and ran out to the shop to pull the old one. Man this things beat in comparison.

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                                      You can clearly see where someone in the cars former life drove right into something heavy hard and immobile. It was bent to sh*t.

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                                      So that day all I did was disassemble the old bumper. Once off, I disassembled the jigsaw puzzle posing as bumper brackets and carried the brackets home to sand blast off 53 years of rust, dirt, road debris and general funk, then repaint. After a good solid blasting, came some primer, then Rustoleum! Much better!

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                                      Mounted up. Thought about doing something to the inside of that bumper, but I probably wont.
                                       
                                    • AircoolerKirk

                                      AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                                      So this weekend, I head back out. Opening the door, the Plymouth stares at me, mouth agape, as if surprised I finally came back to work. Close your mouth boy, you're attracting flies.

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                                      Once installed, it looks SO MUCH BETTER. I will have to do a bit of adjustment it appears.


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                                      I then moved to the real purpose of my trip out, to check my valves (more on that later) and drop the tank. I have a spiffy ass brand new one ready to go in. I lift and secure the rear, and climb under to release the tank strap and drop the tank. I had been soaking all the bolts ahead of time, so removal wasnt very bad. Once you lower it, you have to undo one fuel line, and one plug to the sending unit. I have been told to salvage the sending unit or at the very least the capture ring holding it in, as apparently the Chineese do not speak "Plymouth Fuel Sending Unit" and have been unable to re-manufacture one that actually sends you any real data. To drop the tank you also have to undo three screws holding in the fuel filler neck as well plus a vent line. All done, the tank drops free. I mistakenly breathe in and am immediately assaulted with the noxious odor of very very old rotted gas. Luckily the tank is empty, save the fumes. Gagging i drag it out and toss it on my tailgate for surgery. 36 brain cells die in the assault on my olfactory senses. RIP ye brave men.

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                                      A few tippy taps of the hammer and the locking ring swings free. I add it to the pile of things I need to sandblast and clean up at home. A little prying and I get my fuel sender out. Wow. Guess that is a lost cause too. Plus, the tank is rotted around the hole for the sender. Off to the nearest dumpster you go!

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                                      Off to the junk pile with tha lot of ya! So also super nasty and super corroded is the filler neck. I guess i can wire brush this clean maybe and soak it. Dunno, but the only one i found online was $75 on ebay. That buys a lotsa cleaner I think.

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                                      So since it looks like this Canadian made jewel will have to wait for another day to go in. Back in the box with ya!

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                                      So since I can't install the tank lets look under her skirt shall we? Don't mind me ma'am, I'm a doctor. I would snap my glove, but I don't wear them. Doesn't feel the same.

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                                      Well obviously everything under here is old. No rot, plenty of rust. I go ahead and lubricate up all the brake line fittings, shock bolts, etc. Im pretty sure ill just throw all the brake hardlines out and replace them anyway. I suppose now would be the time to find a gasket for that rear end, open it up and change the fluids as well. I don't think I'll replace the leaf springs, but i suppose if i wanted to now would be the time. ($99 per side)


                                      Now lets go see if i really do have a bent push rod like he said.


                                      Parts:

                                      • Rear Shocks
                                      • Brake Hardlines
                                      • Brake Softlines
                                      • Gasket for the axle
                                      • Fuel Sender
                                      • Fuel Tank insulation
                                      • Smarts to not adopt pasture projects
                                       
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                                      • AircoolerKirk

                                        AircoolerKirk Well-Known Member

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                                        So this as of yet unnamed resident in the House of Kirk was sold to me with the caveat, "Shes got'er a bent pushrod I figger." So who really knows? We all know that the people of Tribe Running When Parked and Clan of Wont Take Much To Get Her Back On The Road, know less than nothing about the cars they so willingly try to sell us for premium dollars, but want you to believe they do. So much so that I perfected the fool proof plan of dealing with them.

                                        Ignore everything they say.

                                        That and throw in jibberish too. "WELL THE VALIANT HAS ONE YEAR ONLY CHROMOLY PUSHRODS WITH A .06 CLEARANCE UNDER SPEC BY 30%"

                                        Then sigh real big like its such a problem you may have to drink later. (I mean you were gonna drink later anyway, but they dont know that)

                                        First and foremost I swap the plugs and wires with the recommended brands from some Plymouth forum. Dunno, took a bit, but they luckily all came out easily. I fed the dumpster six very brittle and very ancient plug wires, along with six soiled Champion plugs.

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                                        Valve cover off again, lets pull them one by one and see what we have. I have a box of them on standby just in case. In pretty short order, I see that yes, I do in fact have a bent one. Which is odd, because its pretty glaring, and I didnt see that the first time I had the valve cover off. Hmm.

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                                        She's bent pretty good Captain!

                                        All in all, I replaced four, with this one being the worst. One had a nick on the side somehow:

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                                        But every one of them was covered heavy heavy in oil gunk so i cleaned them each.

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                                        The very last one I pull out, clean, go to re install and TINK. Hit something. Try to re adjust, TINK TINK. What the hell? I peer inside, and there lays a bright, shiny lifter. Literally. I have to close one of my aging eyeballs to squint in, and add in a ton of light, but sure as sh*t, there it is.

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                                        Bizarre and something I have never dealt with. So i text a buddy just to ask, and hes like "bullsh*t" and I'm like nope seriously, and hes like no way, and I'm all "yes way ted", finally he says, well get that big magnet on a stick and drag it out!

                                        *Facepalm*

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                                        Boom, toldja sucka. Lifter. So with nothing else to do, I engage in a very strategic game of reverse Operation, wherein you try to put BACK the vital organs, instead of remove them. Takes some practice, because the center of the lifter isn't magnetic, just the outsides. About 12 min later, about the time my back starts to hurt and I get tired of Operation the game (much like my childhood) it slides home with a very rewarding *SNICK*. Just like that, I'm back in business. I re-install the last pushrod, tighten the valve train back down, and put the valve cover back on. My daylight is starting to fail, and the thunderstorms that have intermittently entertained me all day seem to be getting closer. Two loud cracks of thunder, and distant lightning remind me that im standing in a big metal building with metal tools, and I haven't eaten all day. Time to call it. I still need to set those valves, but that can wait for another day.

                                        Stay tuned for the next episode Constant Reader, as I yet again throw dollars down a well to try to revive a long forgotten automotive relic. When things get tough, do what I do. I draw back to my last pasture project, a vintage BMW. Then I repeat over and over: "At least this aint a BMW."

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                                        • SSVDP

                                          SSVDP FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                          Great read and it sounds like you’re having fun.

                                          And it’s pronounced B. M. Trouble-U.
                                           
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                                          • Hellrats

                                            Hellrats Just another dumbass FABO Gold Member

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                                            Man you should wright a book :)
                                             
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                                            • Dicer

                                              Dicer Diceman FABO Gold Member

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                                              Great story and very pleased that you taking the time to breathe life in the ole girl again.......
                                               
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