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Just went through the process of swapping exhaust manifolds. My valve was free spinning (the spring fell out) so I replaced it with my old one (shaft fused to manifold, so I cut it out). I also had my coolant professionally flushed with a vacuum pump to ensure no air pockets and I had my waterpump replaced with the one I had rebuilt by the Dutchman. I've noticed significantly cooler operations as a result (not pegging on the freeway unless I hit traffic). I drive my car at 80 when I can on the freeway. 


I did also put new gaskets between the head and the manifold. I know it's a big no no but the manifolds had exhaust leaks from the original configuration. Not only is the ticking noise gone, but the manifold is more isolated so heat isn't being absorbed as much by the cylinder head (in theory).

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83° with 34% humidity. Not ideal conditions to check what I wanted, but a great day for a ride. 

As expectedb needle right on the N during the ride to the next town but a much lower increase while idling in drive for one minute in the parking lot. After the hot soak the needle was just a little above the N on the way back. In the 2nd lot after 2.5 minutes idling in drive.

0721181532.thumb.jpg.3645d3fc09fc5e91d213b8a8b1268f0f.jpgthen it pretty much stayed there while going to fill it up. 

In the past I used to run a 160° thermostat and the needle was always below the N.  This spot looks like it would represent the 180° mark to me.  So I will drop the pipe someday and see about getting the butterfly out of there all together. Meantime I'm just gonna drive the tires off of it. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last night while cruising around I noticed the amp meter running at a slight discharge with my parking lights and radio on.  So after a momentary panic I found a place to stop and check the tightness of the kill switch.  That seemed to make it better for part of the ride but after gassing up, I noticed it more when I put the headlights on. 


Today I unscrewed the kill switch and noticed the contact point was dirty. 



And after using some 400 grit sand paper



Reinstalled with a dab of Oxyguard.  This seems to have corrected the problem.  Took it for 10 miles tonight and had no discharge while moving,, which is the way I expect the system to perform.  Matter of fact I had some distinct charging early in the ride, which I also expected as the battery recharged.  


Anyway, I'll monitor it more closely for a few rides and see.  This may have been the reason my battery let me down in mid July.  I haven't changed that yet and it seems to be working just fine since I slow charged it back then.  Tonight it did seem to start easier too even if it was a little bit run down.


Will be nice if this fixes the situation.

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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  • 10 months later...

Had one bout of sluggish turn over this past few days so I threw the charger on the battery and found a replacement.  Today I installed the replacement and it started the car just like I had hoped.  But on the way home from the parts house after about a 15 minute ride, I put the headlights on and the ammeter dropped into the discharge zone.  So looks like I have a generator issue that may be at the root of the old battery failure.   Still the old battery was over 9 years in use, so I am happy to replace it now.  But gotta do some testing to see if more work is needed. 

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Just a follow up:  I am sure this is nothing new to many of the folks here, but it was new to me.  


After my friend/mechanic said the generator was good but diagnosed a faulty voltage regulator, I pulled the previous VR off the shelf.  First off, if you've seen my garage, and it was a miracle I even found it.  And after I did,  I sat down with the manual to see if this one was salvageable.  Way back  I had a generator rebuilt and brought this VR with me to be set up with the generator.  It did work for a while but I remember it failing and I had another generator rebuilt and sourced a new regulator.  So I opened this one up and it looked pretty solid and clean inside:




And I read and read that manual till I finally figured out that the air gaps on the Current and the Voltage regulators were too wide.  So I reset them and put the top back on last night. 




I thought about this as I  turned in and first thing in the AM and decided to open it up again as I never addressed the excessive airgap on the Cutoff relay.  


When I opened the feeler gauge I realized that I had used that wrong too.  




I forgot the basic set up meant the smaller gauge was at the tip, and the larger was inboard, thus  I set the two airgaps too tight. 

I reset ALL the airgaps and then reassembled the unit. 





And then just some general clean up of the base






And then I replaced the one on the car. 


Now at this point I want to say that for some reason I thought the one that was on the car was a transistorized unit.  But when I lifted it off it felt almost as heavy as this nice old Delco unit, so I took the cover off.  And there were the three mechanical relays just like the Delco EXCEPT there were no adjustment screws to alter the operating range of the individual relays. This was news to me, and I thought about all the times I had used the battery cut off switch and then just connected the battery and never polarized the generator.  I always thought; I didn't have any problems and that the transistorized unit did not need the polarization process.  The manual though, is very clear that anytime you disconnect the battery you need to polarize the generator before starting the car or you could damage the regulator.  So it would appear that my failure to polarize the generator for the last ten years may have been the root cause of my situation.


Anyway, since I always disconnect the battery when leaving the car parked in the garage I decided to make myself a polarizing tool. 




An unused rubber water fitting cap, and a piece of flat metal bent so that you can only hit the bat and gen terminals simultaneously, without mistakenly hitting the field terminal.  


And the VR functions within voltage specs as indicated in the manual. Now I wonder if that previously rebuilt generator was actually still good?  

2019 7 2 56 voltage regulator service (1).JPG

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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After two evening cruises I can say this is like a different car.  It runs smoother, idles better, and the off line hesitation is significantly reduced, virtually eliminated!


With a volt meter on the battery, engine idling, headlights and radio operating, after 10 miles of driving the voltage at the battery is 14.2 tonite, vs the 12.6 I was getting with the other VR. The headlights and instrument lights are definitely brighter.  I am wondering if that 14.2 is actually too high, but it just feels so much better overall I am not inclined to change it lower.  


I think this repair has been most fortunate! 

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Voltage regulators are generally temperature compensated, so it varies, but 14.2 is about exactly what you see on older cars.


14.7 is more like it on anything modern. GM was one of the first to turn up the heat in the mid 70s when the "freedom battery" came along, European cars were some of the last, with quite a few of the German, Italian. and French ones still running down around 14.2 in the mid 90s. Of course that is a rash generalization, and there are probably a bunch of exceptions.

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Those are called "Go No-Go" gauges. They make the "Go No-Go" method of adjusting valve tappets easier. If the spec is .017, you would use a .016/.018 gauge, the first part slides in easy and the other part should stop.


I do it with standard feeler gauges, but the type shown in JohnD1956's link are much faster.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's Christmas in July (for me) at least. 

One reason I could not get to the National this year, was because my steering wheel looks like this:










Everytime I drive it this car, the wheel bugs me.  And although it is still mostly complete,  I just hated to look at that thing year after year. 

Then I saw a wheel done by Quality Restorations Inc, in CA on a friends car.  And Linda endorsed making a purchase.  


The wheel arrived today:




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And even though my car is light years away from any restoration,  I was like a kid on Christmas morning with my new toy!  The new plastic is guaranteed not to shrink for life.  Whose life is still in question, but since this lives in the garage I don't think it will be a problem. 


The plastic is translucent.  On the dining room table you can see light thru the cast material on the spoke




That's how I remembered this car when I got it.  It was one of the things I loved about the car! 


Anyway, just got back from a short drive and it feels so smooth!  And I am very happy with the wheel.





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On 7/3/2019 at 10:07 PM, JohnD1956 said:

I am wondering if that 14.2 is actually too high, but it just feels so much better overall I am not inclined to change it lower.  


I wouldn't change a thing -- it sounds to me like your ignition system is thanking you!  ;)

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On my drive last night I noticed the horn ring had some rotation to it, and it rattled.  So looking at the original wheel I realized the new one did not have these rubber isolators:




And being 63 years old, or thereabouts, I had little hope I could get these off in one piece.  The steering wheel provider said those isolators were installed before the center ring of the wheel was welded on,  so I could try to slice em and peel em off to reuse, or just wrap a few laters of electrical tape in the location on each spoke of the wheel.


I wasn't too keen on the electrical tape alternative so I went to the hardware store today and they had some 1/2 and 3/8 diameter vinyl hose. It comes in an oval shape.  The 3/8 " was not big enough to get totally around the spoke, and the 1/2 " was too big.  But I took a foot of the 1/2 " , figuring I could cut it down to size. 



After cutting the first isolator, I tried to remove the original isolator so I could fit my new one where it had to be on the wheel.




And I was so surprised to find that the original one was still flexible enough to come off without breaking!




And, in fact, all three came off without breaking!




So I glued them on the new wheel with some silicone adhesive. 




And when I finished reassembling the movement ands rattle were gone.


And then the horn started to act up! It works sometimes, and not others.   Looks like I will have to perform the repair Old-Tank outlined to make it reliable. 




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  • 5 weeks later...

During the replacement of the steering wheel project I had trouble with the door hinge and posted a request for help in the post war technical section.  Here is a link to that thread: need help w 56 door hinge


Based on the helpful replies I sourced two spring washers from the local hardware store.  They call em "wavy" washers now if you're looking for any.  Anyhow, I tried to reinstall this part onto the new washers to see if that was all that I needed:




The washers were held in place in a wheel bearing grease pack, and are still in place after several attempts to do this.  And while it went in easy enough,  the problem was the "catch assembly would not fold, as required, and I could not move the door from the wide open position. 


Inspection of the catch showed what looked to be a deformity.  In this picture you can see the top and bottom slots are off center.  However, from what little I could see, both slots aligned with the pins inside the hinge and engaged the pins while allowing the two fastener holes to align.  So it seems it was made this way.  It is pretty stout metal versus what the pins appear to be so I tend to doubt it was deformed in operation of the unit while installed.  But I do not know that for certain. 




Here is the spring side of this unit.  I can see that there are three moving parts.  And while the unit freely moved on the pin joint, I do not have the strength to fold the joint where that spring is. 




This spring is definitely pinned into position already, but I wonder if the spring assembly was also pined to the hinge with a bolt or something?  


And if you can believe this, my small parts manual pictured below does not have any reference to a door hinge, so I am hoping someone does have an interchange manual or something so I can try to source a new hinge?  




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  • 2 weeks later...

John, I can't really help you with your spring question, but my guess is that its a door override spring so when its fully open, its less likely to come crashing back closed without a helpful hand. It looks like the two ears of the spring are resting on each of the two pieces connected to the spring pivot pin.


On the subject of your steering wheel, it looks awesome! Is it cool to ask how much it cost you?

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  • 3 weeks later...

revisited the brake adjustment this week.  As I read the manual I was surprised to see the recommended brake bleeding procedure called for the opposite of what I had always done.  The recommendation is to start at the closest wheel to the MC, drivers side front, and end at the pass side rear.  I always did it the opposite  except this last time, when instead, I just left bleeders open for a gravity bleed as I replaced the wheel cylinders

Anyhow, I also followed the manual for the most part in the brake adjustment. Namely all four wheels off the ground, tighten each till wheel just barely turns by hand, then back off 15 notches. 


Since I prefer my brake pedal high, I tightened the wheels till they just hardly moved by hand but then individually I tightened each wheel till I could not move the wheel, and then backed off 7 notches at each wheel.  At this state, the wheels turned without any brake shoe contact.  After a test drive I backed off the pass side front another 2 notches, reducing the pull to the pass side front.  Later I went back and backed off another two notches and now I have the slightest pull to the drivers side front.  And I can get my entire foot under the brake pedal when it is depressed.  


Now I have to address that horn.  Wanted to use it yesterday when I was almost wedged between a tractor trailer ,who decided he needed my lane for a wide left turn, and a commercial van who was pacing me looking at the car.  Good thing the brakes work well! 

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3 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

As I read the manual I was surprised to see the recommended brake bleeding procedure called for the opposite of what I had always done.

I have bled brakes every way but by the book and am convinced it makes no difference.   "Maybe" if on a completely dry system you might pull air from a line while bleeding another line...just bleed again.

I too back off 6-7 clicks after tight and write down for each wheel; then when I adjust after 10,000 miles I know how much difference...usually 2-3 clicks.  New shoes are checked every 1000 miles until stable.

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13 minutes ago, old-tank said:

I have bled brakes every way but by the book and am convinced it makes no difference


I agree.  I have not had problems bleeding a brake system from the furthest to the closest. Maybe they just had to write something?

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  • 1 month later...

Since my car still has an intermittent hesitation off the line, which is exaggerated whenever there seems to be a stressful situation, I tried something a bit different on Sunday.  As I reported in another thread, leaving the car show I encountered heavy traffic.  What I did not say was that there is a steep road from the show site to the Rt 9 highway, where cars are traveling 55 mph. At the intersection I had to turn left timing my move between southbound and northbound high speed traffic.  That intersection, along with creeping up the hill,  caused me to expect hesitation and a potential stall condition just when I would be entering the traffic.  


Instead, I used low gear for creeping up the hill and entering the highway.  In low, the '56  pulled the hill (easily) at just barely above idle, which is an engine speed below the hesitation point.  I just creeped up the hill without any problem, and when I made the left onto the highway it jumped out like a scalded cat!  Pushed it into drive and away I went,  with no hesitation or issue.  Shortly thereafter I had hit another traffic jam climbing the slight grade to a 4 way intersection in the heart of Rhinebeck.  Once again I dropped it in low and just putted along till I was clear of the intersection and tipped er into drive.  


You all probably already know this, but it was new to me and it made for a much nicer drive. 

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I would really like to figure that mystery out one day with the old Rochester carbs. Everyone on the internet seems to rebuild them "wrong". It was really night and day when I put the WCFB on. 55 carbs are more plentiful than the 56 carb, maybe keep an ear out for one? I guarantee it will make your driving experience more pleasurable without that bog.

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  • 6 months later...

Finally tackled that pesky horn issue.  I thought the horn contact( Part AJ in the explosion diagram below) on the steering shaft had to be replaced.  Since I could not find any information on how to do this for a '56 with Power Steering, here is how it went:





I say a '56 with Power  steering because that was the first application of a flexible joint (rag- joint)  between the steering gear and the steering column. The '56 with manual steering still used the gear and set up from previous years.   So I started by just getting things out of the way.    The washer jar was the first thing to go.




And just removing that created a lot of space.   But eventually I also removed the bracket for the jar since it is only 3 tiny hex head screws.




Next the steering wheel.  Note, I used a 1/2 -3/8  socket drive converter to protect the horn button contact.  I had previously damaged the insulator there when replacing the original wheel a few years ago. 






That's not blood on the threads.  It is paint so I knew which side was up on the shaft and to realign the steering wheel.   At the end of this project I saw in the manual that there is supposed to be a factory mark on the shaft and the steering wheel for top side alignment.  I am not taking it apart again to find them.


Note:  What you cannot see in this picture is a spring with a pair of seats that is positioned a bit lower than the signal light switch plate.  That spring and seats should be removed at this point, instead of how I did it later.  You just pull it up and it should come off.  No snap rings or other hold devices, except a dose of rust like mine.  Protect your eyes and hold the parts from flying into the back seat.




Next I disconnected the shift linkage.  Note: there are three washers here.  One behind the cotter pin as shown in the mirror, one at the boss on the piece of linkage, and a spring washer between the lever and piece of linkage.  Try not to lose them. They are very thin and the hole in the center is rather large.  The cotter pin will be near impossible to reinstall if you have to source new washers. 





Then I loosened but did not remove the two piece bracket between the firewall and the steering column.  




Next up is removal of the brake pedal.  Remove the two screws on the pedal to the piston rod.  Unbolt the hinge shaft from the steering column end. Then I had to put a vice grip on the slotted left end and tap the flat of the vice grip to get the hinge pin out.  NOTE:  Make note of the way the hinge pin is originally aligned because it has an offset to allow for alignment pf the pedal to the piston rod.  If your brake pedal does not return correctly after you are done, re-aligning this hinge may be all that's needed to correct the situation.


After the brake pedal is off remove the rubber insulator pad.  It is held on with 4 screws,  and it is a thick rubber that appears to be vulcanized over a metal plate.  It is open on the top of the column but it takes a bit of a twist to get this off without distorting the piece too badly. 




At this point I loosened the u bracket under the steering column.  and then I worked out the wires on the Neutral Safety switch, and then dropped the fuse block to mark and remove the signal switch wires that are plugged into the back side of the fuse block.  Also pop out the gear selector light from the top side of the steering column.  Yea!  no broken wires!   Then I removed the bolts for the master cylinder and then unbolted and removed the floor board plate.





Now I removed the two bolts on the flexible collar ( Rag-joint) that held the steering column flange.  Leave the steering gear side alone.  I did have to put the steering wheel on temporarily to rotate the shaft and get to the bottom bolt.  I suggest getting that bolt out before removing the steering wheel.  The design of the joint will allow the one bolt to be removed and the shaft rotated back to center without damage.


Then I removed the upper u bracket and the column fell into my lap.  It is a tight fit because you have to work the bracket and shifter lever through the hole at the top.  I could have removed the master cylinder to make that easier, but that did not seem any easier to me. 




Note the orientation of the two foam blocks at the bottom of the steering column for reassembly.   Also note that the cover for my Neutral safety switch is missing.  I will go over that in the next post. Further, in this picture I have not yet removed the auxiliary horn button I put on the column so that I had a horn.  That thing worked but it was such an annoyance to hit when desired.  Also note the orientation of the horn connector (part AC in the explosion diagram) which is just to the left of the inside black foam ring.   




End of part 1

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Part 2  


I removed the horn contact.  Again, note the orientation of the contact.  You'll see why later.




Next, before you loosen this clamp at the bottom, note the gap between the bottom of the painted column and the aluminum spring retainer.  Loosening the bolt will allow the spring retainer to move out.  And, if you removed the spring with it's seats at the end under the steering wheel, the entire steering shaft will simply pull out at this point.  It took me two days to locate the spring and seats when they flew off under pressure.   




The horn contact ring is shown.  From others I had seen the ring was seriously deteriorated.  But mine was still in relatively good shape.  This lead to the diagnosis that the ring was simply misaligned with the horn contact thus causing the problem.  I thought if I had just put the horn contact on in the reverse position from the picture above I could have saved all this effort.  I decided to make that switch when I reinstalled the steering shaft. 




I did have to call for help as I do not have a heavy duty soldering iron.  My friend  Adam came to the rescue. 






If you look at the end of the ring you will find multiple slots.  These appear to be factory made slits in the ring.  We soldered the slits together and then ground the outside smooth with a drum bit on my Dremmel tool. Note:  The black plastic insulator slid on the shaft so we did not have issues with melting that.  While you can still see the slits in the photo below, they are all bridged and solid at this point.  From here we conducted a simple continuity test to make sure the wire to the horn was not shorting.  We did that test multiple stages to be sure.





Below the spring on the left is the one that shot across the room.  There are two seats.  This full circle one, and one with a split.  The full circle one is shown in the explosion diagram as part AU, and the seat with the split is not shown in the diagram that I can see. However upon re-installation it was obvious the ring with the slit sat inside the spring and was installed after the spring was placed on the full circle seat. 




Horn contact being re installed





Cover for the Neutral Safety switch  being installed.  Note: I mistakenly tried to pop this cover off while the column was in the car.  I did not know about this rivet.  The cover came off but it partially split to do so.  I was able to glue it back together.  One can use a small flat head screwdriver to pop this rivet out from the right side of the column when the column is installed in the car.  




Another continuity test while spinning the steering shaft. 




Prep for reinstallation.  This caulk is available at your hardware store.  It comes in white and grey.  It is the same caulk I used in my heater core replacement and appears to be the same material used during original assembly of the car.  It is great stuff. 




At this point I reassembled the car.  That's when I discovered the shift was jammed and would not release from Park position. 


End part 2



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Horn Repair Part 3

Two additional aspects of Part 2 are:

1- I put some silicone glue around the steering shaft,  at the lower end of the black plastic insulator, because it seemed to me that the insulator and horn ring could move rather easily on the steering shaft.

2- As I installed the column It was obvious that I did not find the right up and down location of the column and  there was a rather large gap between the chrome horn ring on the steering wheel and the signal light collar.  Attempts to correct that have not yet been successful.  


But since the shifter would not rotate, I decided to pull the column again.  The good news is that it only took 45 minutes to get it out this time.  


I did spend some time looking at this lever action.  This is where the adjustment in section 5-36 of the factory service manual is performed.   This provides the stops one feels when selecting any of the gears. 




The red arrow is pointing to the "spring" in the procedure.




I also checked this spring which is noted as part # AA in the explosion diagram, thinking I had dislodged it and that was jamming the shifter.   But this is obviously not the problem. 






Then it dawned on me that the only other thing was the horn contact.  Sure enough, the way  I installed it the horn contact it blocked the transmission control shaft in the column when pulling on the shift to rotate out of Park.  This meant pulling the steering shaft out, removing the nice bead of glue I installed, and then reassembling everything and realigning the horn contact ring/insulator assembly to the window in the column and reversing the horn contact



Then it was back to reassembling the car.  So far the horn works great.   Hopefully I won't have to do this again, ever. 




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As reported in another thread, I discovered I had failed to tighten the vacuum line at the power brake booster decades ago. Either that or the hose deteriorated enough that it just came loose.  Whichever, and whatever, correcting this appears to have nearly fixed my off line stumble in addition to providing a smoother performance overall.  It also appears to have corrected the stiff brake pedal feel which would be an obvious observation except it never felt like I did not have power brakes. The GS has manual brakes so there was something to compare it to.  


At anyrate I am just glad this was found and fixed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

What a dunce!  I sure can make mistakes!


Usually when I am done using the car I will use the battery disconnect switch after it is parked in the garage.  But I forgot to disconnect the battery last night AND I forgot to turn off the radio too.  I was so surprised when it spun over with no problem this morning despite my neglect.  Gotta love those great big truck batteries! 


Anyway here it is after it's AM bath!    







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On 6/4/2020 at 4:28 PM, JohnD1956 said:

Anyway here it is after it's AM bath!    


That's sure one nice Riviera -- those whitewalls are lookin' sharp!  ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

This past week I allowed the Super to be used by a local independent film producer, who is working on a 3 episode pilot documentary.  It is yet to be sold so I do not know if it will ever be shown to the public.


History on the Road0001.JPG

 The filming started in the Albany, NY. area last Tuesday, which turned out to be among the hottest days locally this summer,  and went thru yesterday, Saturday. 


History on the Road0002.JPG



The crew stayed at a hotel in Sharon Springs NY and while I could have stayed there if I wanted to, I didn't  because of other reasons.  Anyway, Wednesday through  Saturday I commuted the 40+ miles out there via the NYS Thruway and the 40 miles  back via Rt 20.  I show 600 miles on the odometer for the entire week so taking my usual 10% correction that will make 540 miles of use since Tuesday.


History on the Road0003.JPG


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History on the Road0005.JPGHistory on the Road0006.JPGHistory on the Road0007.JPGHistory on the Road0008.JPGHistory on the Road0009.JPG


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This event has taught me several things:


1) Don't be so vain as to want your car in a film at any price. 

2) Don't use a car that has mechanical issues of any sort.

3) Make sure of what you are being asked to provide. 

4) Make sure you know how the car will be used. 

5) Make sure you know WHO will use the car.


Overall it was a good time, with some minor issues and a few major concerns.  But over all the days  the Super performed extremely well under some trying circumstances.  Circumstances that really ratcheted up my blood pressure a few times.  It was most fun just driving the commute.  But these folks found a lot of interesting places I never would

have known about.  


 History on the Road0010.JPG


History on the Road0016.JPG


And the car really was praised by the film crew and by so many local folk that if it could blush, I'm sure it would!   


Now I have to attend to some other adjustments that would just serve to make it a better driving experience for me.   I am sure no one else noticed the several flaws I knew about but haven't yet fixed.  But they were always on my mind and I gotta get some of them corrected.


BTW,  As far as the argument goes about the younger generation not knowing or caring about the old cars;  I can say that nothing could be further from the truth!  Maybe younger kids cannot afford theses cars, yet.  But they certainly are interested... Including one 9 year old boy who knew it was a 56.   


History on the Road0015.JPG

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