Road Trip and Lots of Progress

I took a road trip to my parents’ house a couple of hours away. Well, normally it’s a couple of hours away on the highway at modern car speeds. I plugged their address into Google Maps and enabled the Avoid Highways option, so it turned into a 4 1/2 hour trip instead. It was a rainy Saturday morning, but was a nice drive nonetheless. I mounted a cheap action cam (Amazon link) to the windshield and filmed the trip.

The last time I was there working on the car, we found that the brake master cylinder was very old and weepy, explaining the near non-existent brakes. Also, the swing axle boots were completely destroyed. I ordered a Dorman master cylinder (Amazon link) and Beck Arnley swing axle boots (Amazon link) and ended up sitting on them until this trip.

We found that the car backs nicely up my dad’s ramps and that was super convenient.

Got the axle boots changed without any drama. The old hose clamps were much higher quality than the ones that came with the new parts, so we reused those.

Once the axles were sealed up properly, we checked the transmission gear oil and if there was any in there, it was well below finger-checker level. Put nearly two quarts of 75W-90 in before it was spilling over.

While that booty was up in the air, we continued the hunt for the mysterious clanging sheet metal. My dad found that adjusting the heat exchangers further out, adding more clearance around the exhaust headers, we could clang them around even less than before. We thought we had that mystery solved, but spoiler alert – something is still clanging around under there.

Up front, we found the last person who had the master cylinder out mounted one of the bolts in the firewall with no washer, so it was sucked in so tight, we had to try a bunch of different wrenches and sockets, trying to find one that would bite onto the little bit of exposed hex head.

A 1/4″ drive ratchet and socket ended up doing the trick, but the ratchet was so small, we couldn’t get any leverage on it to break the bolt loose. Ended up using a 3/8″ extension on the end of the 1/4″ ratchet as a cheater pipe and was able to get it broken free.

Once we had the old master cylinder out, we noticed the brake warning light switch was badly cracked and had been leaking, so with a couple of quick searches of parts stores in the area, I found an O’Reilly about 20 minutes away that had the part in stock (O’Reilly link). I was honestly quite surprised. I phoned ahead to make sure they could actually lay hands on the part. Sure enough, it was there.

Horizontal crack is noticeable in the pic above

For the trip home, I went the normal highways route, again recording video. Fun fact, I was able to make it up Black Mountain on I40 in 4th gear, never falling below 50MPH. Last trip I made, I was in 3rd most of the way up, struggling to even get it up to 50MPH.

Clang, Bang, What’s The Problem, Ma’am?

The last couple of times I went out beetlebuggin, there was a terrible clattering coming from under the car. It definitely sounded like sheet metal rattling and would only happen when going over an especially rough patch in the road, like railroad crossings.

I still don’t have a garage or a lift or even a paved driveway, so it’s still a challenge getting decent access under the car to investigate. I went around, man-handling all the fenders, doors, and running boards, but couldn’t get anything to make a sound. I jacked up each corner and got each wheel off the ground, one at a time, and couldn’t find anything.

There is a drainage ditch at the end of my driveway and I have found that straddling the car across it gives much more (safer) access to the undercarriage.

From under there, I was able to find that the bolts connecting the heat exchanger to body heater pipes were missing and those assemblies were just loosely flopping around. There is a threaded bracket on the undercarriage, but I wasn’t able to find a bolt to fit, so I did the right thing and zip tied them snugly in place. The hose clamps were really loose, so I got them tightened up as well.

Took a little test drive and the clanging didn’t happen as often, but was still there on more extreme bumps in the road.

At Hominy Creek River Park