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Dusterbd13 Dork
7/22/14 7:43 a.m.

There's a company that i deal with that makes premanent vynil covers for most seats. Fit over existing upholstery. Theyre in the northeast. I think its lebaron bonney. Check with them and see if you can get matching covers for all the seats. Should only be about 400. Ive done a few sets. Good product.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
7/22/14 9:24 p.m.
The_Jed wrote: What's the diameter of the steering wheel? That thing is huge!!!

"I'll take "Things she said" for $800, Alex."

What is, sixteen inches?

After the interesting (maddening) saga of getting the new wagon home, I decided the first thing to do would be to relieve the engine of its peculiar (frustrating) tendency to stall at any requested throttle position besides "idle". And so, after convincing the Big Block to idle somewhat (frighteningly) unsteadily, I began making various adjustments to see what improvements could be had.

Placing one of my fairly sizable mitts about three-quarters over the carburetor opening immediately smoothed out the raggedy-lean idle, and even allowed me to, with my other mitt, rev the engine a little. Step One, then, would be to dig into the carb.

If you've never read this old GM publication, it's worth a perusal. I've narrated a portion of it to my 6 week old daughter, and let me tell you, it puts her straight to sleep in my arms. It's that good. One of the exciting topics covered by this instructional is the air-fuel ratio, and how critical the carburetor is in achieving an air-fuel ratio that is the Goldilocks for the engine. GM didn't use the Goldilocks reference, probably because it was still under license by Disney at the time, but they should have.


Although the prior owner of the car attested to having "rebuilt" the carburetor, I wasn't 5 screws into the Stromberg Model WWC before I discovered a problem.


I've rebuilt a carburetor or twelve in my time here, and one of the first things I learned about rebuilding carbs was to clean the parts immaculately prior to reassembly. This concept includes removing all traces of previous gasket material. Although I'm sure it was pleasant for the carburetor and the gasket remnants to reminisce together about happier days in the 1960's, keeping the engine happy this did not.

Two cans of carb cleaner and 30 minutes later, I had the 2 barrel atomizer reduced down to its component parts. Pictured here, arranged on an old tire. Hey, it was a nice day, why not enjoy a bit of sun whilst working on the car?


At this point, having cleaned every part like I was wiping down a crime scene, the Stromberg started to go back together. I was fortunate enough to locate an exploded view online that helped very much with ensuring I didn't have any mysterious leftover parts.


Once reassembled, the old 383 cranked and fired right off. The idle was noticeably more regular, and after warming up it was even possible to put the transmission into gears other than "P" or "N" and move the car under its own power. She wasn't running "great", but she was at least running "well", and sometimes that's all the motivation you need to press on.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
7/23/14 8:29 p.m.
JFX001 wrote: Good choice, the only add I would suggest is A/C for the child.
AngryCorvair wrote: 2. air conditioning: vintage air is probably the easiest.

I seem to be sensing a theme...

A/C is definitely, absolutely, for sure on the "maybe" list. On the one hand, it seems like areally good idea for a young human. On the other hand, kids grew up without A/C for dozens of years at least before an evaporator was shoved up against a condenser. And paying $1500 for cold air to be blown at my face seems...extravagant.

JFX001 UltraDork
7/23/14 8:42 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse:

I don't have A/C in my personal vehicles, but nowadays somebody would probably report you to Child Services for not having it for your kids...

gjz30075 Reader
7/24/14 5:56 a.m.

It sounds like you have a vacuum leak somewhere.

I rarely use AC in any of my DDs. It's just who I am.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/24/14 6:02 a.m.

I'm enjoying this. I don't want one, but it's fun to watch.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
7/24/14 7:02 a.m.

I just realized, looking at that picture of the carburetor disassembled on the old tire, that the tools pictured there- the flat-bladed, screwdriver, the 7/16" Gearwrench, the 5/16" socket with extension, and the air compressor (that red piece on the far left of the shot) were the only tools I needed to rebuild it. Including the steps involving removing it from the engine.

gjz30075 wrote: It sounds like you have a vacuum leak somewhere.

The vacuum lines consist of:

1) One to the brake booster, which splits off and supplies the heater control inside the cabin

2) One to the PCV valve

3) One to the vacuum advance on the distributor.

I've checked them all and there don't seem to be any leaks. That said, there could be a small leak in the intake manifold gasket or something like that. I plan to investigate further. Still, rebuilding the carb properly made a WORLD of difference in how she ran.

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock UltimaDork
7/24/14 7:22 a.m.

Brave man rebuilding a carburetor in the grass.

I would have knocked all those little bits of the carburetor into the grass starting a four hour scavenger hunt looking for all the pieces and ending up in me frantically searching eBay for replacement carb.

noddaz GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/24/14 8:39 a.m.

Very good.. But this will fix it...

volvoclearinghouse Dork
7/25/14 8:04 a.m.
noddaz wrote: Very good.. But this will fix it...


Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of this:

That would scoot mommy's hauler along nicely!

From the research I've done, it seems like if I do decide to go to a 4 barrel carb, the thermoquad is a good choice for street driving and fuel economy. The spreadbore design gives small primaries for off-the-line response and economical cruising, with toilet-bowl secondaries for when you need to pass. Chrysler used TQ's on some engines in the 70's, so they're out there.

Back to reality...

Since this engine sat for so long, and likely hasn't been apart, ever, I decided to remove the radiator and take it to a shop to have it flushed and pressure tested. While the rad was out, I hooked up a garden hose and proceeded to produce a milkshake:

I also back-flushed with the garden hose, and kept going until the water ran clear.

The radiator (and the gas tank, to be discussed later...) went to ABC Radiator in Baltimore. They should be ready next week sometime.

The Town and Country comes ever closer to being street-driveable again...

volvoclearinghouse Dork
7/26/14 7:17 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: There's a company that i deal with that makes premanent vynil covers for most seats. Fit over existing upholstery. Theyre in the northeast. I think its lebaron bonney. Check with them and see if you can get matching covers for all the seats. Should only be about 400. Ive done a few sets. Good product.

Checked 'em out, pretty cool website. When we get to the "improving where we put out butts" phase of the project I'll definitely keep it in mind.

While we're waiting for the Radiator and Gas Tank to have 48 years' worth of crudding up undone, I decided to install the electronic ignition upgrade. In 1966, Chrysler was still futzing about with mechanical spark control, and while I'm normally a fan of old school technology, electronic ignition is one of those things that I have begrudgingly accepted as as de-facto improvement, pretty much universally.

There's a few ways to go about this. The Perktronics setup costs about $120, and drops right into the stock points dizzy, with only one extra wire to run. However, Mopar developed a very decent e-ignition system in the early 70's, which has the added benefit of off-the-shelf parts availability pretty much anywhere. There's various places to pick up a Mopar e-ignition setup, and kits range from $150 on up.

But, of course, I did it cheaper.

If you know what you're looking for, you can piece an e-ignition system together for much less. From RockAuto.com I sources a rebuilt distributor ($48) from a '72 Newport- the first year they offered electronic ignition on the model. I also grabbed a new cap and rotor, though the points pieces are interchangeable. An electronic ignition box was a laughably cheap $14. The only thing left was the wiring harness, which Rock didn't carry; luckily Jegs had the Mopar Performance harness for $26, including shipping. So, for a total of $88, I pieced together the whole thing.

When the parts began dribbling into my mailbox, I was amused by this:


How old could this ignition box be? 20 years old? 30? It was "MADE IN U.S.A.", so who knows. It's definitely been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for some time.

The hardest part of the conversion is figuring out where to mount the box. I wanted it to be as far from the hot engine as possible, but near enough to the coil, distributor, and +12V switched power for the wiring harness to reach. I finally settled on this layout:


You can see the ignition box in the upper left. I lucked into a flat place on the firewall that had some clearance behind it so that the fastening screws wouldn't penetrate the heater box.

After that, everything almost assembled itself. The dizzy was a drop-in replacement, the black wire went to the (-) coil terminal, and the blue wire went to switched 12V+. In about an hour it was all together, and, feeling ballsy, I turned the key.

Immediately the engine sprang to life. I barely had time to enjoy the characteristic Mopar starter whine. Wow. And I hadn't even installed the new plugs and wires yet. I let it idle for about 15 seconds, but since the radiator was still out, I had to cut it off before the engine got hot.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
7/30/14 7:23 a.m.

Nothing major to report. I did remove the old fuel pump and replaced it with a new one last night. I also flushed the fuel line of the nasty old gas, cleaned it with carb cleaner, and blew it out with the air gun. And I installed a new fuel filter...which I will probably re-do, I don't like where it's sitting now (right above the exhaust manifold).

The radiator and gas tank are still at the refurbishers. I'm hoping to have them back by Friday, so I can rock and roll this weekend. Unfortunately, I am going to be out of town for work all next week, so nothing will get done in my absence.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
7/30/14 11:05 a.m.

next up: dual-circuit master cylinder, yes? ;-)

volvoclearinghouse Dork
7/31/14 6:49 a.m.

Yes. However, I need to drive it first to find out if I'm going to want to go the full Cleveland and install discs up front, or if the stock drums (which, as I recall from my '69 Newport, were actually pretty decent) will suffice. The direction I take with the front brakes will dictate which dual master cylinder I get. For now, it has a relatively new stock (single) master that will at least let me test out the brakes.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
8/4/14 4:51 p.m.

Gas tank and Radiator are still getting redone, and unfortunately I'm working out of town all week, so I can't get anything done on the car anyway.

TeamEvil HalfDork
8/4/14 4:54 p.m.

What's that wagon's area code? It'll probably be listed on the ident plate on the firewall . . .

volvoclearinghouse Dork
8/4/14 9:24 p.m.

It doesn't fit in only one.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
8/6/14 8:08 p.m.

Just called the shop- the radiator and gas tank are ready!!!

ssswitch Reader
8/6/14 9:48 p.m.

As a guy helping out occasionally with a '66 Coronet, this is a really awesome thread to be reading. I have no knowledge of old Mopars and have been cobbling it together a piece at a time, so it's nice to see someone fixing the same problems before I get to them.

Admittedly, we're taking a bit of a different tack as the car has gotten a Hotchkis kit and Summit disc brake conversion thrown at it so far. The brake plumbing has consumed the most time by far.

We are just about to replace the dizzy and cap with parts-store replacement parts, as the Pertronix/Megaspark upgrade was going to wait for the 440 in the backyard at a future date.

Contradiction Reader
8/6/14 10:51 p.m.

This is awesome! What a big, weird, ugly, and therefore cool car! If it were me buying this thing I would dump in a Cummins Diesel motor from a Ram and slam it on air bags and leave the body as is. Probably not legitimate family cruiser material at that point.

I do applaud your motivation and effort though. I've lived in the Midwest my whole life and lamented the fact that anything classic (let along a car more than 10 years old) rusts to pieces and I would love to live somewhere out West where you could find stuff like this still intact. I always thought an old wagon like this would be the perfect replacement for a boring cumbersome SUV. My ideal one would be an Olds Vista Cruiser with the awesome roof windows. Drop in an LSX motor and reupholster the interior with comfortable seats and a good stereo and you'd be golden. And you could probably build it for the same cost or less as a fully loaded brand new Escalade.

oldopelguy SuperDork
8/7/14 5:05 a.m.

You can also use the mopar distributor and a gm HEI ignition module. Some version of the TBI truck has a coil mount with a heat sink built in for the module and it'll bolt on where the mopar coil is now.

I've never had much trouble with the mopar ignition though, so aside from keeping from drilling holes in the firewall I'm not sure it's much of an improvement.

Now the solid state voltage regulators are a whole other problem. I was in the habit of bolting two to the firewall at a time, to speed up swaps when they fail, before just giving up and swapping everything to GM alternators.

SilverFleet UltraDork
8/7/14 9:51 a.m.

I love old Mopar boats, I love wagons, and I love this thread! keep up the great work!

Oh, and Sonoramic V8 intakes are a thing of beauty.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
8/7/14 2:51 p.m.

Thanks for the words of support, guys. I can't wait to get back home (still on the road for work) and pick up my refurbished parts. Nothing makes me happier than being able to restore the old stuff, rather than having to source new. Plus, the radiator cleaning, pressure testing, and restoration was $85. The gas tank flush and seal was $90. No way could you buy new parts for that kind of money. And the gas tank is NLA for these C body wagons.

I've heard that the GM "Heelie" ignition would work with the stock Mopar dizzy, but like you said, the spark box has never given me trouble in any car I've ever had it in (and I've owned me some Mopars...).

The current voltage regulator is actually one of the old mechanical dealios with the electromagnet and contactor. I've had good luck in the past with parts-store replacements that upgrade to electronic. They're cheap, too. But I also am a huge fan of the GM 3 wire alternator. So if the alternator goes, I'll probably just go that route.

I'm really thinking long and hard about the front brakes. Since they've already (as in, before I got the car) had a bunch nof new parts thrown at them, I'm going to give the drums a chance, but I have no reservations at all about converting them if I'm not 100% comfortable driving with them. Or, rather, stopping with them.

On another note, I just picked up a used set of Chrysler Sebring seats for the front; it's my lo-buck solution (for now) to the disintegrated stock seats. Now I just need to find an appropriate (and cheap) seat cover for them, as they will look horribly out of place. Any suggestions that will sort-of match the interior?

Maybe these:

Or these:


The wife likes crap like this.

volvoclearinghouse Dork
8/12/14 5:38 p.m.

While it may seem like a minor accomplishment, the Town and Country now has legitimate license plates to drive on the roads here in the State of Maryland. Now there's extra incentive to get it on the road. I picked up the refurbed fuel tank and radiator today at lunch.

mazdeuce UberDork
8/12/14 8:13 p.m.

Thoughts on AC. I have my big 68 Ford Wagon and I had a Volvo 245 as my kid hauler early on. No AC is do-able with babies, but you need to accept a few truths.
1. You're driving a greenhouse with wheels.
2. They did things differently back in the day.
When it's god awful hot, you need to schedule your day around the heat. Shop early in the morning. Go out for ice cream after the sun is down. That sort of thing. You also really need to leave the windows down when you're parked. This makes a big difference. This was very common back in the day when people were either more honest or more afraid of being beaten for being dirty theives. Having the car be 90 instead of 450 degrees when you hop in is important when you have vinyl seats and babies.
Also check under the headliner to see I'd there are shoulder belt mounts. I know Ford was building them into the structure of their cars by 68 whether they had shoulder belts installed or not. This makes the belt solution easy.
Cool car.

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