Doug Novak

The Odd Ball and Weird Issues you've had

51 posts in this topic

A friend who was familiar with Fords, but not VWs asked me to look at his girlfriend's 1968 Beetle.  It started and went into all gears just fine, but would not move.  The friend was mystified as the car could also be rolled, so the brakes weren't locked up.  I asked the friend to start the car and put it in gear, then went around to the rear wheels and listened for the one that had a rubbing noise.  The friend was astonished when I popped off the hubcap and showed him that the axle was spinning, but not the brake drum and wheel.  The drive axle splines had taken out the mating splines in the brake drum due to the axle nut being insufficently tightened after the last time the drum was off.  VW is serious about tightening the axle nuts to 254 ft.-lbs.

 

Another VW story, but not a firsthand experience, is the story of the Beetle whose engine cut out intermittently when the husband drove the car, but never when the wife drove it.  Turns out it was a defective ignition switch, only cutting out when the husband's heavier key ring was in the ignition.

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I was heading to the gas station with my 15 Olds to get ready for a tour.  I made it about a block away before I was afflicted with a failure to proceed and came to a halt   the engine would merrily rev but the car wouldn't go.  A few people in the neighborhood helped get it back to the house where the car was disassembled and it was eventually found that the square key holding the pinion gear to the driveshaft was split right down the middle allowing the driveshaft to spin away while the pinion did nothing.  The repair took a great deal of time taking the rear end down and apart but cost less than a dollar for a new square key.

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Few years later I had the 1600 in my Westphalia rebuilt. Fall passed just fine but the first 30 degree morning after less than a minute idling the engine suddenly froze. Winched into the garage & took back to machine shop. Year warranty. They went through it and returned. Fine until next sub 30 degree morning (Texas so not often) and froze again. Took back to shop. Refurbished everything & replaced. Next 30 degree morning same-same.

 

This time the shop went through everything and finally found the issue. Somehow part of the first rebuild was an align-bore and the center main was .003" off center. Fine warm but when cold to would contract and freeze.

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Had a 1973 Chevelle I bought new, the SS350 with auto trans.  Driving it home from work one day in the fall of the year we had a huge rainstorm that dumped so much water it was pounding on the roads.  Had to drive through one of these big puddles and later on down the road, the car started to loose power.  Figured it was damp ignition so got it home and dried everything, even though there was no indication water in the ignition was the problem.

 

Drove it around and it still lacked power and was now making a noise that was coming from under the car.  Couldn't figure it out so I took it to my friends repair shop. He drove it and came back and put it on the lift.  He proceeded to cut off the header pipe that went from the crossover pipe to the muffler.  He cut it in sections and finally discovered the pipe, that was constructed as a pipe within a pipe, had come apart and collapsed inside while the outer pipe looked fine.  The exhaust was constricted keeping the engine from breathing.  A new pipe from NAPA fixed the car!

 

So thinking my friend was a genius, I asked him how he knew what the problem was?  He said this was the third one he had done and they were happening when a cold rain had occurred.  One of them was his sisters Chevelle so he knew exactly where to look on my car.  The dual wall pipe was not as good idea for GM.

 

Terry

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I've heard of that double wall pipe problem on many early 70s GM cars, from Chevrolets to Buicks. No power, idles but may not even do more than 25 mph. Very common problem.

 

Speaking of these, I've seen TWO 73 Caprices with the rear seat burned from muffler failure! It splits open on top and hot exhaust gas blows onto the floor pan. 

 

Frank DuVal

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A freshly restored 1960 Corvette. The right rear brake light sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. I added a ground wire to it and it was still intermittent. I ended up taking the steering wheel off and doing some rework on the directional detent / return spring. The problem was that the spring was not holding the directional switch lever centered and it was causing loss of contact.

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I had found a beautiful, low mileage, 1948 Buick sedan for a friend of mine who wanted to tour in comfort.

 

One day I was visiting him, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and it was drizzling rain (you know, Louisiana, the state half under water and half under indictment)..We had to take two cars to a local Mall show, so I got in the Buick and he was driving another old car, I followed him.

 

A block or so from his house, I turned on the Buick windshield wipers.  Every time they would cycle, the horn would honk.....so it was "swish..HONK..swish - swish...HONK..swish - swish...HONK..swish".

 

My friend pulled over, I pulled behind him, "Why are you honking at me?" he asked...I said I'm not, your CAR is honking at you......we found a horn wire next to the wiper mechanism, with insulation worn off, so wiper mechanism was grounding horn every time they cycled...(as you all know, most horns have power feed to them all the time and are grounded to operate).....fun stuff!

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In the mid to late 1970s here on long island, N.Y. I was on my way to a weekend tour with the VMCCA chapter, The Long Island Old Car Club. It was late October and I was driving my 1931 Franklin Airman Derham bodied victoria brougham. I took my parents along with me as they liked these long weekend car tours as well. A group from New England was coming down to participate , and arrived by ferry over the long island sound. Anyway I was driving along about 55/60 mph the Long Island Expressway for about an hour and it was very damp , overcast , with a slight mist, just enough to make you need to use the wipers every few miles. Without warning the car started to break up, sputter and then died, so I pulled over onto the shoulder and my Dad and I got out and I opened the left side of the hood to look at the engine to see what was/wasn't going on. The car has a updraft carb that is hung at the side of the engine off the intake manifold. the whole neck of the carb where it mounts to the intake manifold was pure white. Not ever having seen this before I thought it was white hot, my Dad who had learned to fly an airplane at Roosevelt Field in pre WWII era , and got his pilots license at that time, commented to me "that isn't white hot it's ice" "The airplanes I used to fly used to ice the carburetors often if the conditions were right, and they were air cooled  just like the engine in your Franklin " So we stood there for a few minutes and sure enough the ice melted, the car started up and off we were on our way again and car ran great and I never had that ever happen again. I drove that car over 50,000 miles before I sold it to a friend a few years ago.

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You know, if I read your post not knowing about ice and carbs...but I used to be a pilot, and that was a discussion....and a friend of mine has a 1912 Stoddard Dayton speed car, eat your heart out Mopar guys, this car has a Hemi engine, an early design of hemispherical combustion chamber....one day he had it running, shut it off, and asked me to look and touch the carburetor....a nice little frost on it, and cold as all get out when touched.....the engine pulls a lot of air, thus making the air expand slightly, thus cooling the air and with enough "draw" making cold and ice.......just remember, when air expands, it gets cooler, think about the air coming out of your air compressor....

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Evaporating gas absorbs a lot of heat too. Put a little gas on your hand and blow on it, see how cold it gets. Alcohol even more.

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17 hours ago, Walt G said:

In the mid to late 1970s here on long island, N.Y. I was on my way to a weekend tour with the VMCCA chapter, The Long Island Old Car Club. It was late October and I was driving my 1931 Franklin Airman Derham bodied victoria brougham. I took my parents along with me as they liked these long weekend car tours as well. A group from New England was coming down to participate , and arrived by ferry over the long island sound. Anyway I was driving along about 55/60 mph the Long Island Expressway for about an hour and it was very damp , overcast , with a slight mist, just enough to make you need to use the wipers every few miles. Without warning the car started to break up, sputter and then died, so I pulled over onto the shoulder and my Dad and I got out and I opened the left side of the hood to look at the engine to see what was/wasn't going on. The car has a updraft carb that is hung at the side of the engine off the intake manifold. the whole neck of the carb where it mounts to the intake manifold was pure white. Not ever having seen this before I thought it was white hot, my Dad who had learned to fly an airplane at Roosevelt Field in pre WWII era , and got his pilots license at that time, commented to me "that isn't white hot it's ice" "The airplanes I used to fly used to ice the carburetors often if the conditions were right, and they were air cooled  just like the engine in your Franklin " So we stood there for a few minutes and sure enough the ice melted, the car started up and off we were on our way again and car ran great and I never had that ever happen again. I drove that car over 50,000 miles before I sold it to a friend a few years ago.

 

 I forgot about the carb icing story. When I first started reading this I thought it was going to be about the time I found you stuck on an LI expressway overpass, once again on the way to a car show. If you remember, that time it was motor oil spray flooded the wire towers of the distributor cap, thus insulating the sparkplug wire terminals. Couple of paper towels wicked out the oil and cured it at the time. Then the later addition of Franklin's cure of a tower base distributor cured it permanently.  :D

 

Paul   

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I was a poverty stricken college student in '66 or so driving an older MGB. The car had been hit it the rear and water could easily leak into the trunk. Being a long time British car driver I was all too familiar with having to tap on the underbody mounted electric fuel pump every now and then to keep it running. On this occasion in question tapping on the pump didn't help. Next morning I removed the pump in 14 degree weather. The electrical end of those Lucas pumps had a vent that consisted of a plastic hose that went thru the trunk floor. I took the sealed top off the pump. Turned out that the points in the pump had acted like a miniature pump and had pulled in silt from the trunk, silt that had accumulated there due to the crash damage to the trunk lid, The silt was packed in the pump so solidly that the points could no longer move. It could barely be dug out with a screw driver. I removed the silt, cleaned up the points, rerouted the vent and away I went. 

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In the late 1970's, bought a 1972 Oldsmobile 442 convertible.  They were starting to become collectable even that soon after being built.

 

Great car, in great shape, low mileage.  I was a temporary Plant Manager at a plant in Greenville. Mississippi (home to Doe's Eats Steak House, one of the best steak houses in the country, but I digress..)

 

On the test drive, to buy it, I had to be a little sedate in my use of the accelerator.  Of course, with the big engine and 4 speed, what young guy wouldn't really put his foot into it, after it was bought, right?  Well, if you took off and floored it, it would be very quick off the line, then hmmph hmmph hmmph the engine would lose all power and the car would coast to a stop.  Hard accelerate, then hmmph etc. Happened only when hard accelerating.....

 

Took it to local Olds dealer (remember, car was only a handful of years old at the time).  They said, oh, bad carburetor, so they changed it.  Same thing happened.  Oh, then a bad fuel pump, so they changed it.  Same thing.  Finally, they took off gas tank to check fuel line.

 

The fuel line inside the gas tank had a little nylon sock on the end of it, as a pre-filter for the gas.  Every time that big old four barrel started gobbling lots of gas, the little sock would collapse into itself, blocking the gas intake.  They removed it and that was it, car would accelerate fine after that....

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Dad had a '69 Chevy Puck up truck he bought new, and after many years a problem with the Three on the Tree Column Shift linkage developed. The linkage would sometimes hang up in gear, usually in 3rd gear, while at an up hill Stop Sign or Red Light with traffic behind me. We would have to turn the engine off, put the emergency brake on, grab the large screw driver on the dash, run out, pop the hood and use the screw driver to force the shift linkage to Neutral. Then we could restart the engine release the brake and shift to 1st gear to get rolling again.

 

I eventually took own ship of Dad's truck, after his passing. I fixed this problem by buying a 3 Speed Floor Shift conversion Kit for $36 from JC Whitney. Installation was simple. I still have Dad's truck but there have been many changes made over the years, including an engine and 4 speed transmission swap, but the original steering column linkage, no longer used, is still there and every time the Hood is up I look with fond memories of that darn Shift Linkage we had to deal with. 

IMAG0255.jpg

Edited by Doug Novak (see edit history)
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in 1975, a woman brought in her new olds cutlass to the dealership where i worked. after sitting for 2 days, when put in drive, the car wouldn't move for at least 60 seconds. doing all the necessary diagnostics, i narrowed the problem to the direct clutch pack in the 350 trans. i removed the trans (getting burned by one of those new fangled catylic convertors) resealed the entire transmission, and waited 2 days. i started the car, put it in drive, and nothing happened. called GM, and they acually sent a trouble shooter out from hyda matic. he said to put a modulator on it and left. still not fixed. out of frustration, i pulled the tranny out, and put another complete overhaul kit in it, and waited 2 more days, still not fixed.after spending some time at the bar across the street, i was sure of my diagnosis. next day, the figured maybe i got a seal wrong (didn't), so out came the trans again.went up to the parts counter, and discovered i had run them out of overhaul kits, so the got one from an aftermarket supplier. i put that one in, and lo and behold, problem was fixed. 2 days later, got a service bulliten from olds, saying there was a" slight chance" some direct clutch piston seals were cut wrong, and a fix was "on the way".so i collected my 7 hours flat rate pay for 6 days work, and headed back to that local bar.

 

 

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Quote

 

My favorite, but happened to an older friend when he worked as a L.I. dealership mechanic in the late 50's.

 

Dealership owner's wife got a new car. Drove it a ways and the engine stalled and wouldn't restart. Called the dealership and they sent out a mechanic. By the time he got there, he couldn't find anything wrong and the car started fine. This happened several times. Finally the dealership owner told the service manager that his wife was making his life miserable - find out what's wrong with that car or look for a new job.

 

The service manager went to the dealer's house and asked the wife to drive the car while he road shotgun. She got in behind the wheel, pulled out the choke handle all the way and hung her handbag on it.

 

Problem solved.  

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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I had an '89 Buick Century with a 3.3 V-6 that would periodically stumble and then set the check-engine light.  Couldn't find the cause.  I checked everything I could think of, and then sent it in to the shop at the Pep Boys I was working at.   Their top tech (former NASCAR guy...very good diagnostician) spent 2 hours and didn't find the problem.  It was a dark damp afternoon, and on the way home from Pep Boys the car acted-up again.   I opened the hood in exasperation, and found the problem:  One of the spark plug wire boots had a split on the coli-pack end, allowing the spark to jump to ground.  The combination of dim daylight and damp weather made it easy to see the arcing. 

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1 hour ago, PFitz said:

My favorite, but happened to an older friend when he worked as a L.I. dealership mechanic in the late 50's.

 

Dealership owner's wife got a new car. Drove it a ways and the engine stalled and wouldn't restart. Called the dealership and they sent out a mechanic. By the time he got there, he couldn't find anything wrong and the car started fine. This happened several times. Finally the dealership owner told the service manager that his wife was making his life miserable - find out what's wrong with that car or look for a new job.

 

The service manager went to the dealer's house and asked the wife to drive the car while he road shotgun. She got in behind the wheel, pulled out the choke handle all the way and hung her handbag on it.

 

Problem solved.  

 

Paul

 

  What in the world kind of a car had a manual choke in the late '50s?

 

  Ben

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The choke vs handbag story has been around a long time. A friend even adapted it to a Corvair, lady put transmission lever in Low to hang...

 

Now if it was early 60s, then Falcoln had manual choke. 61 (only year) Corvair had manual choke. 

 

Frank DuVal

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2 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

 

  What in the world kind of a car had a manual choke in the late '50s?

 

  Ben

Strange as it seems given the onslaught of emission standards by 1970, Mustangs with the Boss 302, Boss 429, and 428 CJ engines in 1970 had a manual choke.  I'm not aware of any American cars using a manual choke later than that, but I think there were some imports.

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1 hour ago, Frank DuVal said:

The choke vs handbag story has been around a long time. A friend even adapted it to a Corvair, lady put transmission lever in Low to hang...

 

Best not tell your wife that story. It a pretty sexist thing to joke about. Expect to get told off!

 

In about 1973 I was doing topographic surveying to provide data for an irrigation scheme. For a while my truck was a J1 Bedford twin cab, probably about a 1971. I was heading across a paddock and we ran into some irrigation water - this paddock had border dyke irrigation already in place and it was flooded. We hit a water race at about 60 kph and bounced our way across. The windows were open about 1" and we all got soaked (4 or us).

 

Later I was crossing another paddock with a larger ditch, this time dry. It was too deep to go straight across without bottoming front or rear on the ground so I went diagonally. Halfway across, the horn came on. One front wheel was up, the other down in the ditch. I suppose a wire had been pinched somewhere. I couldn't see it. I drove on and the horn stopped immediately that wheel came up. It never happened again while I was driving that wagon. Damn good truck too.

Edited by Spinneyhill (see edit history)

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I had an 84 Renault Le Car with a hand choke. Last one I saw and possibly the newest car I owned with a carburetor. It ran great and was super economical.

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Several years ago I bought a used Dodge 1/2 ton. It was a very solid truck. Drove it 2 years, no problems. Then when turning in my driveway, it quit running. Everything dead. Looked around under the hood, but didn't see any problems. OMG I hate electrical problems! Got in the cab, turned on switch, turned on radio so I would hear it if I found a problem under the dash. After wiggling a few things with no luck, the radio started playing. I was surprised because I hadn't touched anything. I thought about it a little, but couldn't come up with any reason for the radio to start playing. When I started to get out from under the dash, the radio quit playing. I then realized the only thing I had touched was the clutch pedal. Pushed the clutch a little by hand, radio started to play. Wait a minute! How can the clutch control the radio? Thought about it a little. When depressing the pedal enough to take all slack out of the linkage, it made a ground!!! Looked under hood again, no ground strap from engine to body. Weird problem, easy fix. Truck ran perfect for 2 years without that strap.

 

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Bought a new '87 Ford F150. Drove it about 2 weeks when a rear tire went flat. Jacked it up, removed the lug nuts and the wheel would not come off the hub no matter how hard you kicked it. Put enough air in it to get it to the dealership. Explained the problem to a very skeptical service manager. Well, 3 hours later they finally got the wheel off using a torch and a grinder, Other rear wheel had the same issue, Turned out Ford had a batch of slightly oversized rear axles. When the wheels were mounted and torqued down the center hole in the wheel was pressed down over the slightly oversized axle. Required 2 new axle shafts to fix.

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3 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Bought a new '87 Ford F150. Drove it about 2 weeks when a rear tire went flat. Jacked it up, removed the lug nuts and the wheel would not come off the hub no matter how hard you kicked it. Put enough air in it to get it to the dealership. Explained the problem to a very skeptical service manager. Well, 3 hours later they finally got the wheel off using a torch and a grinder, Other rear wheel had the same issue, Turned out Ford had a batch of slightly oversized rear axles. When the wheels were mounted and torqued down the center hole in the wheel was pressed down over the slightly oversized axle. Required 2 new axle shafts to fix.

I had the similar problem with a 1962 Buick Special. I got the car free  because of bald tires and the stuck wheels.

I took the lug nuts off heated the wheels and used a BFH. After I got the wheels off I filed the center out. (Olds F85 wheels ?)

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