I wrote in my previous post that the transmission has no reverse. And now we already know why and I actually got a rebuild kit for it yesterday, so only thing I need is some inspiration and couple of days... below is a short slide show about what went wrong...
They say it's better safe than sorry. Or measure twice cut once. What I did was just opposite and it is very unusual to me as I always (mostly) try my best or at least have focus on what I'm expecting as out come when I start doing something. With this transmission I made the only (bigger) short cut in this project and it came haunting me before I even got that thing out of garage. But as my buddy Teemu said, better now than in Belarus. Definitely.
I wrote in my previous post that the transmission has no reverse. And now we already know why and I actually got a rebuild kit for it yesterday, so only thing I need is some inspiration and couple of days... below is a short slide show about what went wrong...
This week I went to my garage in order to drive that thing out. Before when I was moving it back and fort in garage I noticed that it had delay when shifting to reverse, but I thought it would be just low fluid level in the tranny, because the level was actually little bit under the minimum. So, I filled the tranny to half way max (can't fill it to the max when it is half-warm because the expansion of the fluid which will raise the level as the tranny gets hotter), but the problem didn't go away. Actually, it got worst after running the car for moment. Soon there was no reverse at all, but just some whining noise when put it on R. Well... I jacked it up, drained the tranny and drop the pan and for my nightmare I found it to be "full" metal and friction material like stuff...
I really can't understand. This is something so absurd. I have some ideas what is causing this, but I will need to pull the tranny and dis-assembly it to check and verify. I will need to new parts, that's for sure. And time and I guess I will need to collect some inspiration, too...
Oh, well. Shit happens some time... I will back as soon as possible... :/
Hi everyone again! It's been a bit over a month since my last post when I wrote a to-do-list and assuming it to be done by end of June. The end of June came and ques what...? So did I finish my list! Yep, but as I was assuming I probably forgot something from the list, I definitely did. Regardless forgotten things like torsion bar adjusters (component found in front suspension) , electric fan, rear bumper, front turn signals and parking lights and "painting" and some difficulties I faced on the way I was able to complete it in time! Well, kind of because the rust protection ain't done and front inner fender wells are still waiting for installation, but at least I have a worthy explanation for that. After all there was a whole lot more things to do and I still completed in time, but I could't get that thing out of my garage and still haven't! But I guess Signet will see day light next week. And because I could't get it out, I could't do the rust protection because it must be done outdoors. (it's pretty messy thing...) After spraying under body coating I can install inner fender wells.
What is keeping Signet in garage is about four tons of American steel in more or less mobile condition and some 500 kilos of slant six motors and parts. Plus some shop equipment. I share my garage with few other guys and my space is in the back... When emptying the way out I realized I actually own over a ton of slant sixes and slant six parts. A ton of beauty.
To be honest I'm pretty tired of this rebuild. And I'm more than happy that it is just about done. Although I haven't drive a bit (hold on, wait, I drove about one meter back and forth in my garage! Do we count that...?) it is safe to say that we're pretty much done. Most likely there will be some "entry level issues " that'll keep my hands greasy for some time, but at least I'm able to get this thing to inspection and license plates back on. I'm hoping I'm not too optimistic, but next week seems to be the time window when I'll take it to the inspection. When writing this Signet is already on wheels waiting for me to hit the key and roll it out, but unfortunately I don't have a pic of it in this current condition.
As the title says, the topic of this post is the final assembly, so I leave the driving out videos (that I don't even have at presence) and closing words and other chattering about the rebuild for my next post. Not sure, but I'm planning to put together a post about this rebuild in a nut shell, from start to finnish, my ideas and feelings and some ideas of the future. Actually I was planning to make this current post one of such, but I realized that it would be too much stuff for one post, because I already have a ton of material regarding the last steps of the rebuild.
Slideshows have become some sort of trademark of this blog, o why not continue the good old fashioned way. Enjoy:)
(I wrote most of this post like three a clock in the morning, so please forgive me there probably will be some grammar and clerical errors...)
That was that. When publishing this post I have already put this thing on wheels and cleaned the way out. So, hopefully next week we get to first highway test and... inspection! Say tuned:)
It's been a good bit of time since my last post again, but today I finally made it to my garage. I started my day making a list of all the "bigger" jobs there is left to do. well, it ain't too long anymore. I probably forgot something from the list, but it should be pretty accurate. It looks something like this;
-Head lights and grille
-Inner fender wells (front only)
-Right side front quarter window
-Wheels and tires
-Seats and some other interior stuff
-Shifter and linkage (gear selector lever)
Yep. That's all. Before the road trip begins I will need to do some extra armament like roof load carries, extra pair of lights in the front etc, etc, but I will leave for later and now focus on getting Signet in driving condition, inspected and license plates on it! Next week I will go to garage like every day and I'm hoping to see some good progression. Actually I planning to get everything done by the end of June, which means I have like three weeks to hit my coal... We'll see about that, but it sound very doable to me.
By the end of June... hopefully, probably :)
One big step is taken. As mentioned in my previous post, we fired up Signet's new heart, the mighty 225 slant six engine! It's been little bit over a month since that and I guess it is about time to write about. So, Signet's motor is in running condition. And actually, it is almost ready for highway testing! But before that, I guess I will need to put in at least one seat, some headlights in the front and I guess it should have wheels underneath it. Other than that, it's good to go!! But to be honest, there is still lots to do before we can call it done. But the first road test is already nerve tingling close:D
Below is the first alea iacta est video about Signet's re-birth, so please enjoy!
3rd of March we did what we were planning to do... Fired up Signets new heart! The 225 was running nicely and we got that on video, too. However, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, so this post is not yet about the start up. I have some pictures and few words to say about the accessories surrounding the motor and other stuff and I want to publish the material in the order it was created, sooo this post is about the accessories and such:)
Light my fire
I already wrote about the carburetion previously, but having fuel and air mixed in desired mixture won't get you going unless you have something to ignite the mixture at correct time. As for my ignition needs I was considering two options. Electric or points type ignition. While electric one offers better spark and more accurate timing with basically zero maintenance, the beauty of mechanical "points type" breaker system is in the simplicity. It is safe to say that if you have spare points and screw driver handy nothing can stop you. Ok, maybe a spare coil would be a good idea too, but coil failure is so rare and unlike event that I wouldn't worry about that too much. Also, electric systems can be picky about the coil and you must run a certain type of coil or you may get bad spark quality or even burned ignition controller, but points type ignition can usually run almost any type of coil out there and still get you where you're going. Of course it matters what you have in there in means of spark energy and duration and so on, but in case of emergency you can basically use whatever you can find.
Signet ain't high performance car. It ain't pollution controlled neither. Hotter spark of electric ignition wouldn't hurt, but probably wouldn't offer any noticeable different in performance nor fuel economy. Just some less maintenance that comes in expense of simplicity. It wasn't clear to me in beginning and I was really considering these two options, but the simplicity won, again. Points will get the job done just fine and offers if not better reliability, but ultimately simple construction that I can always fix no matter what's the problem. Important thing that counts with this car, so I went down the points line. Also, points ignition is not sensitive for failures in your charging system like fluctuating/too high battery voltage or busted diode in alternator that can create alternative current in you electric system. While these kinds of failures can easily interrupt or destroy electric ignition systems, the points type won't mind at all.
For my cooling needs I had a huge aluminum left over radiator (brand new though!!) from some of my previous projects. Actually a ´65 Valiant with blown big block. I never completed that car with the 572cid big block, but ran a lot with different small blocks, including blown 360cid. It was a nice car, but I sold it some years ago. Anyways, the radiator that I have for signet was originally bought to cool down forged induction big block. It is definitely large enough to keep signet's 225 cool even in hottest Thai summer day. As you probably know, I'll be heading to Thailand with this car some day, so there will be weather conditions on the way that are tough for cars cooling systems. In this case, I'm not expecting any overheating problems though:D
Another thing to keep cool in this car is the transmission. Automatic transmissions are known to create some waste heat, always. The torque converter inside automatic transmission always create some waste heat and that heat must be dissipated somewhere somehow in order to keep the transmission fluid temperatures in acceptable level. My pick for this job is a aluminum transmission cooler, actually a brand new left over piece from that very same '65 like the radiator! It should be large enough, but I'm still planning to install transmission temperature gauge in the dash so I can keep my eye on the tranny temps. Just to make sure I won't burn it.
One more thing related to cooling system is actually doing something very opposite. Instead of trying to keep something cool, it is heating up something! Yes, the cabin heater. It is related cooling system because it uses the engines waste heat to heat up the cabin. It has a small "radiator" inside where the engine coolant is circulated which in turns heat the air travelling trough it. I probably won't need the heater in my destination, but there is places on the way where I most likely will... I'm using Signets original cabin heater with no modification. These cars came with pretty good heater from factory and with my 400 000 kilometer experience of year round driving with A-body Mopar right here in Scandinavia I can tell that the heater is just about as good as it ever needs to be...
Below is a slide show about the cooling system:)
One piece at a time..
Oookay, and now all the rest. Starter motor, alternator and some other stuff. Cooling system wasn't really an accessories at all, but I included in this post anyways. It's something alike anyways... I also included fuel line in this post, but it ain't engine accessory neither. But the engine won't run without one, sooo, I included it as well. I made it out of same copper tubing that I used for transmission cooler lines. Some folks don't like to use copper tubing in their cars because copper act as cathode for iron (=steel= your cars body) which will become anode causing it to rust in points where the copper touches steel. However, that can be easily fixed using rubber or plastic isolation in mounting points. I've been using copper transmission lines and fuel lines in my cars and never faced a single problem. Good sides of copper is that it is very easy to work with, it withstand all possible chemicals you will ever need to use in your car and it don't corrode so it basically lasts forever. Make your lines out of copper and you will never need to do it again. Also, it's affordable and easily available. Plastic would also work for fuel lines and it is (of course) cheaper and lighter than copper, but I leave it for tuning guys.
Below is a slide show of all rest accessories and "accessories":)
Oh yeah. Everything is now all set up for initial start up. Wait, no, we need fluids. Coolant, engine oil and transmission fluid...
Fluids in except engine coolant, but I will leave it for later. I'm gonna pour it in just before we start this thing, because I didn't have it handy when completing the accessories... Must remember to buy when I come here next time! I mean my garage:) Ok, everything is ready for the first start up!! So, please keep coming back because the monster is waking up soon!! :)
I was about to begin this post with some piece of electric music... But after listening through every singe electric song man ever made and didn't find any music,, I decided to go with this.
As the tittle says, this post is about signets electric system. I've been postponing this section for so long that I kinda had to do it now. It was basically the last missing piece to get signet up and running. And now it's completed! To be realistic, there is still a lot of work left before we can actually hit the road and even after this thing is ready for highway there will be some outfitting, such as load carriers and other equipment.
So, the electric system is done. Since last post many other thing have been completed, but I just haven't had time to put up a post. I've been busy so to say, but ain't it most important thing that the project goes on...?:D If Planned schedules come true, the first fire up will take place 3. march and as I promised there will be video of the rebirth!
Okay, and now to the point. Signets wiring harness was entirely busted. In terrible condition with all kinds of DIY solution, jump wires and other suicide solution. Needles to say that it was a lot easier just replace the whole wiring harness. But after all, I decided to reuse the original tail light cables. Everything else is either from one '67 parts donor or completely new. Although vintage cars don't usually have much electrics they still have some and if that some is not working properly you might find yourself in trouble. The electric job looked very miserable to me. And I guess you understand when you look at the pics how it looked like in the beginning...
First thing to do was, naturally, removing the old harness completely. I've been there few other times with my previous projects (with A-body mopars) so I didn't need to make any what-belongs-to-where notes for myself to easy the installation. I just rip them out and started installing the new wiring harness. While at it, I did some modernization like added power relays to ignition switch (main power) and driving lights. Other than that, it remains pretty much as it came from the factory. It was kinda funny that I took 50 years old wiring harness and just plugged the connectors and everything worked right from the start. Incredible reliable technology, they don't make this stuff anymore... True plug and play experience! :D
I shoot one million pics of this project, but not too many was very self-explanatory, so I tried to pic those that makes any sens, that somehow cast light over what I did. Below is a one more slide show...
Now the electric system completed. I will need to install the instrument panel back on the dashboard, but I leave off for now because I need to replace the speedometer cable before installation. However, I cleaned it and all the connectors and replaced burned light pulp and now it seems to be in good working condition.
I didn't face any bigger problems at this project, except windshield wiper motor. Can you imagine, only seven years under the open sky in the junk yard and it was rusted stuck. I can tell you, it was hopelessly stuck. I mean stuck for real. You can ask my hammer, it's stuck.
When I brought this car to my garage and emptied it of all the trash and junk, I found a small brown box in the trunk. In side the box were windshield wiper motor. I didn't pay much attention to it back then, but I remembered that box now when I struggled with Signet's wiper motor. I found box and saw that it is similar looking motor. Even better, it worked when I applied power to it. I seemed like the wiper motor problem was resolved. So I started removing the old one which didn't take longer than five minutes, but when compering these two motors in my hand I noticed one, but tiresome difference... the out put shaft was about 1,5mm smaller on the "new" one. Argh. I believe, that the wiper motor were broken before Signet came to me. I can't be sure, because I don't remember testing it, but it probably were. And someone at some point were to replace it, but faced this small difference and gave up and put the motor in the trunk where I found it two and a half years ago... And now I needed it, but faced the same problem like the someone before me... Would it be so? Probably.
But I didn't give up so easy. I really needed a wiper motor and only difference seemed to be the out put shaft. Would it be possible to pop the lid open and change the out put shaft from signet's original motor to the spare motor...?
Ok, now windshield wipers works, lights works, ignition works, heater blower works, turn signals works, everything WORKS!! So, I will need to add some engine coolant, oil, transmission fluid and do few other things and just hit the key:) wait a minute, It needs some gasoline too. Must find a fuel tank.
Carbs are not dead. And I'm not talking about nutrition. I've been asked many times about Signet's technical details including the fuel system, if it's gonna be whether fuel injected or carburated. The question might sound odd agains the fact that Signet were made in 1969 when all large scale mass produced cars were carburated. And Signet definitely did not make an exception in that matter. But those who know me in person knows that I'm performance minded enthusiast leaning to EFI's instead of carburetors and I have build several aftermarket EFI-systems over the years. A big fan of DIY EFI's like Megasquirt. So, with that in mind the question isn't that odd at all. Actually, at some point I was considering EFI-system for Signet too, but dropped that idea pretty quickly.
So, Signet is gonna be carburated. With this project there is three main factors to define everything, reliability, cost and performance. In this particular order. On a long long road trip the reliability is the key factor to take you where you're going, but cost also play an important role because I'm financing this from my own wallet and the budget is tight. With cost I mean the actual cost of building Signet and the cost on the go which we can think as economy, fuel economy to be precise . Performance isn't so important, but it matters some. Driving with a car with total lack of performance ain't nice and it ain't safe neither so performance matters a little. We must have enough power to move the thing at same speed with other cars in the traffic, get on the go at traffic lights and ramp up the hills, pass a truck perhaps and so on. It is self evident that we're not looking for any racy performance here, but just something to get you around with ease. These are the factors. And although EFI can easily beat carburetor in economy and performance, it can never beat carbs in the key factor number one, the reliability...
Let there be carburetor...
And there was carburetor. The self evident God's gift to the mankind, the glorious Carter BBD! Haha. But honestly, it's one of my favorite carb models. There is many good carburetors out there of many different makes and models. But there is bad ones too, so picking up a good carb for the application takes some planning and comparison.
My goal were set by the three main factors mentioned before and I was lucky that I already had something to fulfill my needs. The 225 engine I installed in Signet is (as mentioned before) from '80 dodge aspen and it came from the factory with two barrel Carter Carburetors BBD, which is surely one of the most manufactured OEM carburetors of all times. Not the most, hell no, but near the top with millions of made during their production age. There is many different variations out there, but all of them share the same basic construction, decades after decades...
But what is so special about this carburetor that makes me love it..? Well, if we talk about OEM carburetors here, not any aftermarket, race and performance units, with my experience this little carb delivers extraordinary fuel metering and reliability.It has Carters unique "metering rod" main circuit that adjust main jet size according to throttle opening and engine load for ultimate fuel metering through out the RPM range and simple yet well engineered idle-progression circuit with AFR's always spot on. This carb does its job very well, yet still is simple in design, and has no gaskets or seals below fuel level, so it never leaks! And like all carb guys know, if something fails in carburetor it is most likely the needle valve and it usually causes the carb to "flood". A dangerous situation if lots of fuel is flooding all over the engine, but BBD's are build so that in case of needle valve failure the excessive fuel is directed into the carburetor barrels and no fuel is leaked outside of the carburetor. It will ,perhaps, make the engine stall or hesitate , but causes no further danger. And in that very unlike situation that your needle valve lets you down, with BBD's it can be removed for inspection/replacement without disassembling the whole carburetor! Les than 10 minutes work!
There is some other technical advantages in this carburetor too, but I guess I already explained enough. And it also happens to be the OEM carb for Signet's engine which means easy and problem free installation and I also have many of them for spare (actually two in good working condition and maybe two or three for parts...), so this is a natural choice for this application:)
Also, Chrysler small blocks with two barrel carburetor came with similar BBD like slant sixes, but slightly lager barrel diameter. (can't remember exactly how much larger, but something like 3-4mm). Using the "large barrel" BBD on slant sixes gives noticeable gain in performance because of the higher airflow capacity, but has no negative affect on fuel economy or low end torque, therefor it is always a good idea to use one of them on slant sixes! Like the one on Signet's engine:)
(actually, my own research shows something like these large barrel "small block" BBD's are delivering slightly leaner mixture than the "slant six" original small barrel ones and giving slightly improved fuel economy. I did my research on my daily driver using wide band lambda gauge and thousand of kilometers driving, so the results should be accurate...)
I think it was Homer Simpson who said "first step towards failure is trying, never try". Well, I'm not that kind of guy who gives up without trying, but he was definitely right about that. But I have little bit different view over this question. Instead of giving up in advance I like to see every job as a challenge and I believe the first step towads failure is the disrespect for the job you're begining with.
And I just got a small, but tangible reminder to support my beliefs. One day I went to my garage to start installind all the accessories on Signets engine. One of such, not really accessory but something alike, was the exhaust pipe. I was wondering weither to fabricate new one or use the one that I had for spare. The one that I had was an original factory style pipe in excellent shape. It is from the '67 parts donor valiant I bought coulpe years ago (wrote about it before) and it were replaced just little before the car was crashed badly, so it was virtually like new, but rear section was gone. (the car got so bad hit to the trunk that the whole trunk was virtually gone and so was the rear section of the exhaus pipe. Funny). Fabricating the rear piece would not be a big job, so going that way would definitely be the easiest way. It once were installed on a similar car, so it would fit like a glove, right..? Fabricating a new one might give me some more performance and better exhaust tone, but also cost more money and be a whole lot of more work. I guess too much work for such minor advantage. So, picked up the original style pipe and started working. just fifteen minutes and it should be done and I can move on to the next piece. Sure.
But what does it actually matter what kind of pipe you have in there...? Just a pipe big enough to bring out the gases, right? Well, Exhaust pipe is actually one of the rare things where bigger is not always better. It is definitely worth of considering what you expect from your motor and your car. It may seem like too small exhaus pipe would eat the performance of your car, but in most cases it is the too large pipe that will destroy both parformance and gas milage... So factory tail pipe is usually the safast way to go, although not always the best.
So, for Signet I was planning to fabricate a all new exhaust pipe using 2,5" (63mm) mild steel tubing. 2,5" would be slighly on the large side, but not too big and I believe it would work well with signets current compression ratio and camshaft. Anyways, going any bigger than that is definitely an over kill. My almost twenty years of experiece of different slant six engines tells my clearly, that the 2 1/4" pipe found on '76 up slant sixses with two barrel carbs is the most optimal size for daily driver stock or mild performance 225cid slants with cast exhaus manifold. Older 225's had 2", which is slighly in the small side for top end power and the 2,5" that I was planning to use is slighly in the large side for low end torque, but generally available at affordable price, so it sound like the pipe of my choice. Then the factory style ready pipe came by and I got lazy and decided to save some time and money and go the easy way...
As easy as it might sound, using the existing pipe turned out to be a disaster. Instead of combining all the good like easy of installation and affordable price, it offered me nightmare of installation that will never pay back the loss in performance. I mean, it still is probably the low-cost-solutio, but it didn't fit at all and I had to do hell of a lot of work to make it fit and now I have just an ordinary low-perfoamnce exhaus for the amount of work I could have a free flowing, excellent performance pipe. But I'm not going back, it's in there now and in there it will stay... Next, a slide show...
All in all. If I could foresee how much work this "bolt on" pipe would cost, I would probably go the other way. Fabricate an all new pipe. I don't understand how this pipe were installed in the '67 I pulled it out. I don't remember excatly, but I assume it must have been terrible and inconvenient installation.
Although the installation were not easy and even if it won't perform the best possible way, it is what it is now. I was wondering weither I should use one size larger pipe for optimum mid-range and top-end power for good acceleration and passing performace at highway speed. But in the other hand, the difference to this one size smaller pipe would have been marginal and this smaller pipe will perform the same or even better at low RPM's probably creating little bit more off-idle torque. Anyways, to be honest I'm not very happy with this thing. I feel like I did something that I already knew to be the second best solution. But the voice of reason in my head tells me to move on. This straw will get the job done just fine...But you know, It could have been done better still...
A lot Have happened since the last post, Signet is almost in running condition. Almost, engine and whole drivetrain is in place but some accessories are still missing. But that's just a matter of time, because I have them all, just need to bolt them on and hit the key... Well... maybe it takes some electric works too since Signet virtually don't have a electric system, so to say. Anyways, I'm too excited to wait until the new wiring harness and, oh yes, fuel tank is installed, but gonna make the first run immediately after I get the accessories in. I takes just one jump wire from battery to ignition coil to power up ignition system and a jug will work as fuel tank. That's what I'm gonna do! But not now, that's not the topic of today, so lets begin with engine and drivetrain installation...
I've been there I can't remember how many times. As you probably know I'm big fan of A-body mopars and enthusiast for almost twenty years soon, so this was not my first engine installation:D So, it is safe to say that not any big problems were expected to arise, but there isn't so simple job that nothing can't go wrong. Except this time anything didn't really go wrong, but some parts were missing and (of course) my memory was fooling me once again. Anyways, it went pretty smoothly and I didn't face any bigger difficulties. It also made the job whole lot of easier that I have a suitable shop equipment to lift the engine and transmission together into the car. Jointing the engine and tranny together isn't terrible job weither if you do it before installing them into vehicle or lifting them in separately and jointing in the car. When you have opportunity to do it before installation is the way to go because you will save a lot of time laying under the car when installing the tranny. It seems like showing the progression in slide shows have already become a habbit in this blog, so why not continue on that way. Below you will find the show of the drive train istallation. In the next post I will complite the installation with all the accessories, but not yet fire up the beauty. I have post some off topic videos before, but the first video of this thing really will be about the very first attempt to fire up Signets new heart. So stey in tune!:) But for now, the engine and drivetrain installation slideshow, be my guest:)
Welcome to my site!
Hi everyone! I'm Vallu and this site is about my crazy road trip project called "Alea iacta est"
-The ultimate junk car road trip!-
I'm rebuilding a junk car, '69 Plymouth Signet, which I will then take to a long road trip from Finland to Thailand!
How this all started?
Kuinka kaikki alkoi...?
This is what I'm gonna do!
Homman nimi on tää!
Viljo the jester, mascot of this road trip project!