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Thanks West - you have a keen eye. 'Tis a Grand Prix, after all. Can't get much by these car guys, I'm surprised Roger didn't let me know about that first - he must be busy! I think the paint will remain Beat Up Maroon for a while, but I kinda like shiny Beat Up Maroon.

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Well...For sure it's not a Monte Carlo. You are right, I'm sort of busy: the kitchen has been remodeled; all windows' frames are painted. Since one week, we are moving furniture pieces in a room or another to let some working space...It should be over at the end of the week...

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Ah, the fun of home improvement! I don't know why I called that a Monte Carlo, probably the same reason why, when my wife asked me to drill a screw out of a trash can holder contraption yesterday evening, I promptly drilled the wrong screw out. I was tired!

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Well, it's my first day in months that I haven't worked on the Avanti. Feels kind of weird to have the garage back to park my daily driver in. Kind of miss the old girl in her place in the garage - we need a 3 car garage, for sure. Ah well, she's in a good place, getting good care. I heard from the shop today - a message on the phone when I got back from picking up my daily driver from storage. They said they are making good progress on several fronts and they will be needing a headlight switch in addition to the other parts we determined to be needed.

Let's see....headlight switch, 2 condensers, brake drum nut, rear parking brake cable, wiper inserts. Already ordered and on the way soon, I hope.

While I await more news, a couple of pictures of an R3 engine that belongs to someone I know very well.....hope he doesn't mind me sharing....shhhhh.

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Sort of quiet this week in the garage downstairs, with the Avanti away having "work done". And for the first time in months I am slowly returning to normalcy, with some free time at night. As the bruises fade and the muscle aches subside I turn my thoughts to what's next. Well, I could check out the hubcaps that came with the car. After all, I hope and dream I will be putting them on the car in the next couple of weeks.

Believe it or not, I hadn't really looked at the hubcaps since I have had the car, there were just so many other things taking priority. When I first saw the car online I spied, in one of the pictures, the hubcaps laying on the front seat. And when I bought the car and contracted to have it shipped to its new home I prayed the hubcaps would make the trip without being pilfered during a truck stop layover. They made the trip safely - I took a quick look at them and placed them in the trunk. That's where they stayed for almost 5 months.

Tonight I had a look at them - I was pleasantly surprised. I am so happy they survived 23 years in a Texas field without being, a) stolen, B) used for target practice. They look pretty darn good for their age. And tonight they got cleaned up - probably the first soap they've seen in a couple of decades.

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West - they are nice, but brand new ones are all spiffy, like unimogjohn's that he purchased several weeks ago for his Avanti. Mine are one grade below spiffy ;-).

Rocktown, surprisingly, the hubcaps are not heavy but they are well made. Solid, not tinny. They have the slightly curved, springy metal ringing the inner surface just inside the outer rim that holds them on. Just line up the valve stem of the wheel and bang them on with a rubber mallet around the outer edge. Or your hand, if you're young enough. I'll use a rubber mallet.

Speaking of the chrome plating process of the '60's, when I had Courtney, the mechanic, look at the car he was admiring all the chrome and stainless steel that went into the car. He was impressed with the quality and heftiness of it. And he noted, like all of us do, that they don't make it like that anymore.

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A little soap and water goes far doesn't it?

Interesting story about these Avanti hubcaps. They are modifications (actually added stampings) of the original '53 thru '55 Studebaker caps. They were made by Lyons, who made may of the OEM hubcaps back in the '50s and '60s.

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And here there are - I knew I had seen those caps somewhere before! Hmmm...should I paint my Avanti pink? Dale Earnhardt's first racecar was pink...

Just kidding (about painting the Avanti pink, not Earnhardt's race car, that was pink).

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Today is Monday, April 23. I went to see visit my girl in the "hospital" - things are coming along nicely. They hit it pretty hard last Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday, accomplishing a lot of the things on the list. They got the fuel line and filter fitted, rebuilt the distributor, installed new heater hoses, torqued the front end components, filled and bled the brake system (had a hell of a time with that, so I hear), replaced the transmission gear oil, replaced the universal joints, replaced the rear end gear oil, and replaced the shocks. I forgot to ask about the rear axle bearings, but I'm sure they probably got to it as well.

Most of the parts I ordered from Dave Tbow arrived today shortly before my visit. I stopped on my way and got a little over 7 gallons of gas, which I carried to the shop in 2 containers. Dumped that in the tank - first gas she's seen since December. I wanted to see if the gas gauge worked so we hooked up the battery and turned the key on. I was disappointed. Nothing showing on the gauge. I'm still hoping it's a fuse - my theory is that after the old sender unit got juice after all those years with nothing going on it decided to pop the fuse. That's what I hope - I expect I'll be going back by tomorrow and I'll suggest taking a look at that.

In the first picture you can see the parts that came today on the trunk lid, received a new parking brake cable, wiper blades, and condensers, still waiting on a rear axle nut and headlight switch. In the second picture you can see the fuel line and filter and make out that fan shroud repair I had to undertake, since I haven't found a replacement yet. In the third and fourth pictures you can make out the new shocks and see the cleaned up rear end cover they removed to change the oil. Oh, they also installed the new parking light lenses, amber and clear, with new seals, I'll have to get a picture of that tomorrow. I wasn't going to go in tomorrow but I think he's going to make an attempt at cranking her up - I don't want to miss that!

This afternoon I ordered a few more items, a battery hold down, a couple of "J" bolts for the battery hold down, and two chrome clamps for the supercharger hose. Oh, and we went ahead and ordered the correct size battery - I was going to wait, but what the heck, might as well get it done, eh? Maybe I can sell the other battery for 50 bucks - new, barely used. Now I've got to go search the garage for the axle nut washer - one is missing and I'm sure it was on there. I can't seem to find one to buy, so I gotta see if I temporarily misplaced the original one.

More tomorrow.....

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Thanks Paul and John - we're getting there! John, I was looking at that spring before (I have a couple of pictures of your engine I took when I was out there) and I couldn't figure out where yours terminates. There is a spring hook that goes under the rocker cover nut, and I'm thinking that is where it originally hooked. Anyhow, it was missing from mine when I got the car (along with a few other things), so I'll have to see if I can scare one up. I left the spring hook off because it was all rusty (huh, imagine that), so I'll have to stick that on I guess.

I talked to the owner of the shop this afternoon to get an update. They're making more progress, but are running into the usual time consuming delays, such as rusty nuts and bolts, corroded electrical fittings, etc. The brake cable replacement task took several hours due to the rust situation. And, of course this all adds to the cost - we had an in-depth discussion about that in our conversation. I wanted to make sure that they understood that there was a limit to the budget and when it hit a certain point then it was "done". Hopefully it will be running and drivable at that point. So I think we're on the same page there - it's a great shop with some very capable people and I would like nothing better than to turn the car over to them and say, "Have at it", but I'm just a working stiff like lots of people. So, I have to take it a little at a time - as it is I've stretched the budget beyond anything I ever imagined at the beginning.

So, among the items I mentioned yesterday, the shop installed the torque bar bushings, put a correct battery in her, installed the rear parking brake cable, re-packed the rear axle bearings, and had a new axle washer fabricated (can't get those anywhere, probably a hundred thousand of them sitting in an old building in South Bend somewhere). As I got off the phone tonight the shop owner said his mechanic was holding the timing light and motioning for him to fire it up so they could set the timing. Sounds like progress to me.

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Chris, I just love it when a plan comes together. Hopefully, your car will be running and driving tomorrow, and you can take her home on the weekend.

Yes, the spring terminates on the valve cover nut. It is not a heavy loaded spring either. I think that SI sells the correct pair.

And on money, who knew that I would be into a bit north of $30K when I started my refresh. I am still glad I did it. It has been very rewarding to bring my Avanti back to life and on the road again.

As always, keep us posted.

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Nothing going on in Avantiland for a few days, while the shop owner and crew are indisposed. Hopefully Monday will be the day things come together - hopefully. The suspense is nerve wracking, let's get this thing together and drive it! Meanwhile, I ponder future work on the car. I think the next substantial things I tackle will be the front and rear glass rubber. The ones on the car are, of course, petrified - I can't hardly stand to look at them and I certainly won't let any water touch the windows. Not until I replace the rubber. I've worked on a couple of these before, once I helped a friend replace the seal on the windshield of his "56 Ford pickup and I replaced the windshield seal on my Volvo P1800E by myself. It went surprisingly well - not so sure how the Avanti will play out.

One thing that causes me some trepidation is the chrome (stainless?) trim that runs the length of each gasket, front and rear. I can never imagine getting that back on at all, let alone correctly. I've been reading about the seal replacement on Bob Johnstone's Studebaker website and deriving some encouragement from that. I expect I will tackle that sometime before the end of this year. Whew! Gives me indigestion just thinking about it - much earlier on in this thread someone (sorry, I can't place the name) recounted their ordeal with trying to get the windshield back in their Avanti, 3 days and much frustration, to the point he was wondering if the windshield even fit the car! Yikes! Hopefully that was one of the early models that had some "issues" with fit due to the fiberglass tooling.

Glass seal replacement - coming soon!

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Straight shooter, the P1800 I got had very low mileage, about 23,000. It was nice, but as with all Volvos it had its certain problems. This car had a problem with the idle setting and seemed underpowered - it was fuel injected and I'm sure that a setting was incorrect somewhere. When I got the car I could not get it to run consistently - when I picked it up I was able to drive it several miles, then it shut down. I tried all sorts of things to get that car to run - even replaced the onboard computer that resides under the front seat. Finally, I talked to a Volvo mechanic and he suggested the fuel pickup filter in the gas tank could be clogged. I thought, "That's not it"... and proceeded to fool around with other options for a couple of more weeks. In a fit of frustration I finally pulled the gas tank and cleaned it out. The fuel pickup screen was clogged! That's also when I found out the car's dirty little secret - it had been in a flood. Yep, I got taken. After I cleaned the fuel tank out the car started right up, every time. Ran pretty nice, but still had some idle and power issues. I did a bunch of work to it, fixed the rusted through sheet metal on the cowl, replaced the windshield seal (since I had it out for the cowl fix), blasted and painted the wheels, put a new grill in, etc. I blew a hole in the side of the transmission by flooring it and dumping the clutch. In reverse. A little, ahem, youthful exuberance on my part. All in all, a nice little sports car, if you can find one well taken care of and un-submerged in water. In the end I got tired of the difficulty in finding parts and the expense of them and I sold it.

Do I like the Avanti better. Way better. Bigger engine, loads more power, more historical, American made. What's not to like?

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More on Volvos - hopefully not too boring. I've had 5 Volvos in my life, the first when I was 15 years old, and in anticipation of my driver's license. My brother Don had a '65 Volvo, the basic 4 door sedan. That car would run until it warmed up (3 minutes, max) and then quit. I believe Don had had enough of it and said, "Here, you can have it, see if you can get it to run." So, I had my first car, free of charge. Just get it to run. It ran great for 2 minutes or so, then complete shut down (maybe it had a clogged fuel pickup!). Despite fooling around with it (and not really knowing what I was doing) we never could get that car to run. I finally traded it to my brother Dennis for a '63 Chevy II station wagon (that he got from brother Steve, see a pattern here?) that needed a motor. I went to a salvage yard and bought a 235 cubic inch 6 cylinder motor and put it in the station wagon. Dennis finally found another Volvo (for free!) and put the motor from it in the '65 Volvo. Drove it for quite a while until, one day, he was trying to navigate a snowy hill and the car slid off the road, down a ravine and into a tree. Curtains for that car, and luckily no injuries to Dennis (boy, he was mad though).

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Next Volvo was a 1968 2 door sedan I bought from my brother Kevin (keep 'em in the family). Nice looking car in good shape. Again, a problem with the dual Stromberg carbs that I believe was somehow affecting the brakes. The car ran sufficiently for the first few months I had it. Then, on a trip returning from North Carolina with my girlfriend I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the Beltway when I noticed it felt like the car was dragging a battleship anchor. Or maybe the whole battleship! The brakes were locking up on the front - I was able to drag it to my girlfriend's parent's house. The front rotors were smoking - I rebuilt the calipers and I believe replaced the rotors. All this was done on a shoestring, always poor in those days. The brakes were still not right, I think it had something to do with the vacuum booster unit, you basically had to stand on the brakes to stop and the engine just didn't have throttle response.

One day I bumped into a family friend and he was taken with the car. He wanted to buy it! I told him about the problems and told him I wouldn't do that to him. He said he could deal with the repairs and kept offering me more and more money for it. Finally I told him, "OK, it's yours!". I ran into him a couple of years later and he told me he had nothing but trouble from that car. Always working on it. I warned him!

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My next 2 Volvos were the best ones. I had a green '69 4 door sedan that I got from, you guessed it, my brother Dennis. That car ran and ran - always started, always reliable. And, contrary to some people's belief that Volvos are bad in the snow, I could never get that car stuck. I would try to get stuck in snow banks and I was always able to rock it back and forth and she would chug out of it. I did have an issue with the steering on the car for a while - the steering wheel developed a "wobble" in it one day and it got progressively worse over time. I tried all sorts of things to remedy that situation. I thought I had a bent wheel, I checked the tie rod ends, the steering arm, the steering box, I even got a new steering column from a salvage yard and put it in. It helped a tiny bit.

So, here I would go, driving down the road with the steering wheel wobbling back and forth. Not a huge wobble of a foot side to side, but noticeable. My girlfriend would laugh about it and say, "Why don't you fix that!?" "Because I can't figure out what it is!" This went on for months, it seemed. Then one night, as I was cruising around with my girlfriend, I got a flat tire. I pulled over and changed the tire, got back in the car and resumed driving. After a while my girlfriend exclaimed, "Hey look!" "What?" "The steering wheel is not wobbling anymore!" "Well, so it isn't," I said. I was so used to the wobble I didn't even notice when it was gone. So, it was the tire. I examined it the next day in the light - it had a hole worn all the way through the tread and belts. I took it to a friend who was in the tire business. He said it was a separated belt. "How long did you drive it like that?" he asked. "Dunno, maybe 5,000 miles." "Ha, I wouldn't be able to drive a tire with a separated belt for 5 miles, let alone 5,000!"

The only other problem I ever had happened one day out of the blue. As I was rolling through a parking lot suddenly I heard a ping, screech! Coming from the engine compartment, screech, screech. I thought I had a main bearing go. I limped home with it and pulled the motor. At the rear of the motor I saw the problem and breathed a sigh of relief. It was the transmission input shaft pilot bearing that scattered, leaving just the bearing race in the flywheel. At least it wasn't a crank or rod bearing!

As I was crouched beside the engine, clawing at the bearing race with whatever I had handy trying to pry it out of the flywheel, my father approached. "You want an easy way to get that out?" "Well, yeah." "Take some wheel bearing grease and fill up the cavity, then find a pin or shaft that fits sort of snug in the bearing race. Stick it in the race and give it a smack with a hammer." I looked at him like he was crazy. "That's not gonna work!" "Try it." So I did. The bearing race popped right out. The look on my face must have been priceless, because my father got a good laugh out of it.

As I always say, experience, it's priceless.

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Well, back to Avanti World today, I'm happy to say. I eagerly took a trip to the shop today to visit my baby and see how things were coming along. I was happy to get to see the car again, even though every time I look her over I wish I could "pretty her up" some. So much damage over the years from just sitting. But, it gives me something to look forward to, gradually fixing her up and making her presentable. She'll never be a trailer queen or show winner, but if I can bring the car back to some semblance of her former glory I will be content.

The work continued, even as I hung around the shop for over an hour. I was so grateful to the shop guys for letting me just hang around and talk and basically get in their way. It was really nice to see things coming together. The rear torque bar bushings are replaced, the rear parking brake cable is replaced, they bled the brakes again while I was there and installed the new headlight switch. The headlights now work, the parking lights work, the signal lights work, and we even got the brake lights to work. The gauge lights are working (cool red lights!) and they even said they got some movement out of the gas gauge. So, we're moving in the right direction.

When I was inching out the door to head back to work (I didn't want to leave) I mentioned something about really wanting to hear her run. The shop guys hopped in and in less than a minute she was running. It was brief, but oh so nice. She sounds soooo good!

P.S. I got a video of the start up and I will post it as soon as I can get it online! I also have some pictures, but I seem to be having trouble uploading them here. I may post them along with the video.

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Chris, give us a status on what the shop has left to do, and when you expect to be able to drive her home. Sound like things are progressing at a pretty good clip. Her homecoming cannot be too far away now.

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Yep, "rocktown", the nets are really cool. Speaking of really cool, I picked up the car! We went to the shop at 1 o'clock today and she was outside, ready to go! I spoke with the shop owner for a few minutes about the car, he said he drove it about 10 miles and was very impressed with how she ran. The only concern he had was it seemed to be running hot. He told me to keep an eye on that. So, I went outside, jumped in and turned the key. She fired right up. I mean, right up. I backed her up, put it in first and away I went, with my wife following for backup. I stopped about a mile up the road and put about 10 gallons of gas in her. The gauge came up to a little past half full. Nice! Then it was a nice ride through the typical Northern Virginia traffic for about 20 miles.

The temp gauge stayed up around 210 degrees most of the time, and at one point it pegged all the way right! I pulled into a local park and opened the hood, expecting the worst. Everything looked good, no boiling over, no hissing or spraying, none of the usual things would expect when a car is overheating. I got back in, turned the key and she fired right up. Down the road I continued, and after about 3 more miles the temp dropped to around 190 and stayed there the rest of the trip. So, I was breathing a little easier. It might be the sender unit or the gauge, another thing to tinker with.

I have to tell you, I love this car. All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. It is such a cool car to drive, it sounds so bad (that's good bad, not bad bad), it's so quick. It's just cool all around. Now I know what folks like John Feser, my brother Brian, Nimesh Solanki, and several others were talking about when they said it would be worth it. It was and is.

Last week Paul asked the name of the shop I took it to and I held off saying anything, mostly so I could see how things played out and get a feel for how this was going to come together. Now that I know I can say with pride that the shop is Craftsman Automotive in Falls Church, Virginia, run by Alan Himes, a longtime Avanti guy. A mechanic named Dan (a Jaguar mechanic!) did most of the actual hands-on work on my Avanti and I would not hesitate to let him and Alan have the car at any time to work on it again. The other mechanic, Rob (another Jag guy!) also helped out some on the Avanti. I am very happy with the quality of work they performed, they followed the list I gave them, told me about some other things they found that needed attention, and got the car exactly where I wanted it to be. My hat is off to them. I'll be posting more pictures from today, but for now here is another video, this one showing how nicely she idles:

Flickr: AvantiChris7's Photostream

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Congrats Chris! Drive the wheels off of it........but do watch the temperature. I can't remember, have you done anything with the radiator? I know you cleaned the block out, but the radiator could be plugged up.

And make sure you have a thermostat in it. On my R1 Hawk, I use a RobertShaw High Performance thermostat - and it does make a difference versus the normal thermostats that you get these days with the tiny hole. Summit Racing sells them: EMP Stewart High Performance Thermostats - SummitRacing.com

As you probably know, it's hard to find a shop that will work on older cars and do it right, especially one you can trust. You are a lucky man indeed.

Anyway, again, congratulations for bringing this car back from the brink. Enjoy it!

Paul

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Thanks Dale and Paul - Alan Himes said that's what she needs now, to drive her. I told him I plan on using every excuse I can to drive her! Paul, I have Dave TBow to thank for sending me in the direction of this shop, I asked him several months ago if he knew of a shop in my area and he hooked me up. I'm real glad he did! About the radiator, I didn't have the radiator cleaned or anything, it looked clean, I ran water through it and it ran quick and clean, so I thought I would try it out. I did put a new 160 degree thermostat in it from SI. I'm only running water in it now - I'll keep an eye on it as I continue the "break in".

A few observations from my trip home from the shop, the fender mounted mirror is a trick to get adjusted, then the roof pillar gets in the way. I still think it's pretty cool though. The rear view mirror is interesting too, took a bit of getting used to, but it's not bad. I'm still going to get a big wide one like the race car drivers use - it's always nice to know what's around you. I'm still surprised at how "small" the car seems from inside, I have to remember it's a Lark converted to a rocket ship. I was watching the various gauges and was surprised that the speedometer works, and disappointed that the tach stays at 1500 RPM all the time. The clock doesn't work, of course. The gas gauge works (yay!), the oil pressure gauge works too, showing 40+ psi. As I was sitting at one of the many stop lights on the way home I was looking at the manifold pressure gauge. It was holding basically in the middle "yellow" zone. I gave it a couple of raps with my knuckle and she came up to green where she belongs. And the last gauge, the amp meter pretty much stayed in the middle between charge and discharge, occasionally flipping a bit toward the + side. Of course, I didn't have any lights or anything on, so I think it's good.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow - having trouble with my router here at home.

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I'm posting some pictures from Monday when I visited the shop to see the progress. I walked around and around the car, marveling at all the work that had gone into her. And, as I found out yesterday when I went to pick her up, it paid off. I know I said it before but it bears repeating, she runs great!

Now I get to make a new list of things that come next. Let's see:

1.Put the wheel covers on.

2.Put the glass headlight covers back on - I know I said I was going to put the plastic covers on and hold the glass ones in safe keeping, but I decided to keep her stock. I'll put the glass ones on and hold the plastic as backup.

3. Get the intake manifold hold down clamps and install.

4. Replace the temperature sending unit and possibly replace thermostat.

5. Get the tach working correctly.

6. Install tailpipe clamps to the exhaust brackets on the frame.

7. Install new windshield and back glass seals.

That oughta take me through the summer!

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A couple of pics of the gauges while in traffic yesterday. You can see the temp gauge up around 210 degrees in the first pic. In the second picture she's back where she belongs. Also, that's before I "woke" the vacuum gauge up. Now I have to get my wife's camera and get the pictures she took of me driving the car home. I'll post those later.

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At your place, I would not cool the engine with plain water. Anti-freeze has also rust inhibitors to protect the block as well as other chemicals.

The radiator may be partly clogged by residues if hard water was used. At nearly 50 years old, it's no wonder!

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