Dodge Day Afternoon, pt. 3

What a thrilling weekend *I* had. Working on cars, rocking a house party, shooting guns, friends in from out of town…

What follows is more auto geekery, and if you’re not into that, trust me- nothing that follows will be the slightest bit interesting.

I took Friday off from work and went to work for my buddy Mike, at his garage. (He recently had to let his office manager go…)

I went there ostensibly to be a warm body to answer the phones and fend off salesmen, but I got put to work running errands and fetching up some breakfast before I was even in the door.

As things slowed down around lunch, I rolled the Dart in and put it up on the lift. Boy, is it nice to be able to walk around under your car. I immediately identified some things that “needs doin’.” While I have pretty much stopped the power steering fluid from leaking from the pump and the return hose, there is still a pinhole leak in the steering gear itself. A new steering gear is $159.00 from AutoZone (refurb) and a custom steering gear with the police package on it (which makes the steering less mushlike) is available from these guys for $299.00.

I tell ya, I don’t know that I mind the mushy old Dodge power steering enough to spend an extra $150. I don’t even mind the pinhole leak enough just now to jump into that job. I checked into the stop-leak stuff that my father’s mechanic recommended to stop the dripping of a power steering pump, and it would void the warranty on the new power steering pump I just bought. It is, unfortunately, also a temporary solution at best, since what it does is cause the gaskets to swell temporarily and plug the gaps that have opened from years of wear and tear.

Also noticed, while I was underneath, the muffler has a couple of cracks in it, and the exhaust pipe is a little rusty. Time for a glass pack? OK, not really. But it’s going to need a new muffler sooner or later.

The most noticeable thing this week is the “thump” when I accelerate hard from a dead stop. That turned out to be a motor mount that has collapsed under the steady drip drip drip of power steering fluid for all these years.

Also, Friday was “New U Joint Day.” I had almost forgotten. Good thing someone sent me a “Happy New U Joint Day” card a little early.

Mike called his parts supplier and they brought over a couple of U Joints and I got to work. Pulling out the drive shaft was exactly as easy as you would expect it to be on a 30 year old car. Four bolts, a little tug and start walking. I carried it over to the bench and vice. Getting the old U joints OUT , on the other hand, was a trial. Also, once I managed to bang the old U Joints out of the yokes, the yokes turned out to be slightly less than parallel… like someone had been hitting them with a big hammer… whether or not this was me has been debated between Mike and I. (I think it was the last guy, personally….) I took the brass hammer and the punch and pushed the yokes back into position.

We did manage to seat the new U Joints, after a fashion, and they were turning freely once we’d worked that out.

I also put eight new spark plugs in- all Champion Platinums.

Saturday, I rose early and went to meet David Elder. David is the President of the North Georgia Mopar Club. This guy has about 19 A Body Mopar cars, a 1970 Dodge Van, a 1961 Seneca and a big 1958 Dodge D-500 truck in his driveway. HUGE truck. Dodge’s idea of an excellent cargo hauler back in the 1950s.

The cool thing about the D-500 is that you can tell that they were made for export, since the cab is perfectly symmetrical. There are holes in the firewall for all of the controls, the steering wheel and the pedals on the right side as well as the left. The ignition key is dead center in the dash. We used the D-500 to deliver an engine jack to a friend of David’s who is putting the finishing touches on a PERFECT 1967 440 Charger (with about 29k miles on it and factory paint. PERFECT car) before it goes up to the 40th Anniversary of the Charger celebration at the original factory in Michigan. That’s later this summer. Someone will then probably hand the owner a suitcase full of money. If I had it, I would, except that no one will probably ever drive that car on the highway again. Which is a shame. ANYWAY….

Dave’s friend offered to help me put the motor mounts into the Dart when I get them. He recommended the performance mounts from this Mopar aftermarket company from Seattle. They were $30 each. NAPA has regular motor mounts for $9.00 each. I hope his feelings aren’t hurt when I go to NAPA.

I went back to David’s and kicked the tires on his ’68 Valiant and his ’65 ‘Cuda race car. He gave me a spare intake for a 2-barrel carb (because everyone has extra ones of those since they toss them aside on their way to 4 barrel racers) so that I can take it and have it “tanked” at some engine rebuilders (that is, submerged into a vat of solvent) to get the carbon out of it. That way, I will only have to spend one day when I pull my clogged one off, along with the valve covers, etc….

By the way, straight from the Mopar-obsessed horse’s mouth: best way to get crystallized carbon off of the inside of a valve cover? Easy-Off oven cleaner. Coat your valve covers in the stuff, put them in a black plastic trash bag and let them sit in the sun for ten minutes. Apparently, this breaks up even the worst carbon crust on a valve cover.

I didn’t get a whole lot done on the Dart today. I did pull the door panels off of both doors on the passenger side- hit the lock mechanism on the rear door with some WD-40 and it finally goes up and down without a fight. AND I FIXED THE RATTLING IN THE WINDOW on the front door. That was driving me nuts. The mechanism is anchored by some sort of metal pin that attaches to the door frame. It must have had a rubber washer at some time, which is now gone, and it was rattling and banging whenever I had a passenger who let the window down even a crack. That problem was fixed using the rubber band that came with some broccoli. THAT’S why I never throw anything away.

I will probably head back over to Dave’s friend’s garage next weekend to install motor mounts, and he thinks he can roll out the dent where someone backed into the passenger side (before I bought it). He also thinks that I can hunt down a rebuilt RV-2 air conditioning compressor, replace two hoses and the condenser and be on my way to ice cold R-132 air conditioning. That would cost about $200, which of course seems extravagant now and totally won’t in about two months.

That’s all the big stuff.

It’s going to get oil changes every thousand miles for a while to try and ease the sludge out without having it slough off into the oil pan, clogging the intake for the oil pump and causing my lifters to collapse.

Then, time to dig the bondo out of the lead seams on the rear of the roof, re-bondo, sand and then get the paint touched up.

At some point in all of this, I should clean out the interior. OH, and buy a washer bottle. Damn things are $40. Sheesh.

dirty hands, clean conscience…..


  1. #1. Save up for the better motor mounts, trust me.

    #2. Don’t buy the high buck power steering unit. Go for the Auto Zone rebuilt. Unless you swap in a rack and pinion front end (you won’t be doing that anytime soon), you won’t see much of a difference.

    #3. Save up for a Flowmaster exhaust. With that 4-bbl carb and intake combo it’s relatively inexpensive horsepower.

    I’ll be back, gotta empty the dog.

  2. Steve

    So nice to see you have a new hobby. It’ll guarantee that you never have too much time or too much money. Heh-heh.


  3. That way, I will only have to spend one day when I pull my clogged one off, along with the valve covers, etc…

    When you have the intake off, check any passages in the head that also pass through the intake (water jackets etc) and make sure they are clean too.

    I agree on the Easy-Off. Been degreasing engines with it for years. A tip: Put the parts out in the sun for a couple hours to get them warm before you spray the shit on. Forget about ’em for a couple hours.

    Buy new power steering lines when you replace the box.

    Air Conditioning???!!!! Rip all that shit out and throw it away. Robs horses = don’t need it. 😉

  4. Air Conditioning???!!!! Rip all that shit out and throw it away. Robs horses = don’t need it.

    Brother Fixer, you must live somewhere where cool ocean breezes caress your skin from sunup to sundown, because in Georgia at 5:00pm on a workday in July, you’ll trade a third of your horsepower for a cool drink of water and enough breeze to rustle a dead cornstalk. Trust me on this one.

  5. I’ll read the rest later, but I’ll try and save ya some money. If the leak is in a hose, yeah, do what Fixer says. Come to think of it, always do what Fixer says. If the leak is in the metal body part, you can close a pinhole with a center punch. Put the point right next to the hole and hit it (no, no – with a hammer!) at a slight angle toward the hole. It may just peen enough metal over the hole to stop the leak.

  6. Easy-off works good to de-crud motorcycle exhaust pipes, too. You can do the black bag deal with straight ammonia as well. I’ve been cleaning my BBQ grill that way. Just put the part in the bag with an open container of ammonia and let the fumes do the work.

  7. God, I love these threads so much. If the Dart starts to look and act like a car that doesn’t need fixing (fat chance of THAT happening), I am going to have to go get a new beater and start over.

    ’66 Fury in anyone’s barn?

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