Winterizing Your Chevelle


Winterizing Your Chevelle



Well here in Indiana it's that time of year when most of us prepare our Chevelles for the winter hibernation. There are certain desirable things to do, some more important than others, but all are a good idea. You've heard of most of these, so if nothing else they'll serve as a reminder.

1. Most important is to check the coolant freeze protection. A cheap tester is available at most auto parts stores. Ideal is -34 deg F which is usually a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water. Even if you store the car in a heated or attached garage, a garage door accidentally left open for a few hours can be disaster to an engine block if the anti-freeze mix isn't up to snuff. If necessary, drain enough coolant and add anti-freeze to get the proper mix.

2. Charge your battery beforehand and at least once a month. If the car is stored outdoors or in an unheated area, it's good to remove the battery and store it in a heated area away from open flame. I don't like trickle or automatic chargers since they've been known to malfunction and catch fire. Better is to start the vehicle and let it fully warm up at least once a month. Better still drive it around the block a few times when weather permits. If a battery gets below a certain charge level it's ruined and can't be recharged.

3. Change the oil and filter. The acids, diluted gas, water, dirt, etc., suspended in the oil can eat away bearings and aluminum, rust metal, create sludge, and other not-good things.

4. Check and air up the tires. Check them once a month too. They'll lose pressure over time. Low tires will tend to develop flat spots too.

5. Wash or otherwise clean the car outside and in. Contaminants left on the paint, chrome, trim, etc., can stain, etch, etc., over time. Trash, rags, towels, clothes, etc., left inside can attract mice to set up house. Ideally also wax the paint especially if stored outdoors. Cover the car if possible whether outdoors or inside.

6. Add "Sta-Bil" or similar fuel preservative to the gas tank and run the engine long enough for the mixture to replace the gas in the carburetor. If the car is being stored for a long period of time without running, it's a good idea to remove the spark plugs, spray some WD-40 or similar into the holes, turn the engine over a few revolutions, then replace the plugs.

7. Take precautions to keep mice out of the car. Keep doors closed and windows up, close vents, plus put a repellant in the interior and trunk. Some use moth balls but the smell is strong and will linger in the Spring. Others use Bounce dryer sheets (I do) and replace them periodically when their fragrance weakens. Also it's a very good idea to put mouse traps under or around the car (I do), not inside, and check them daily. A dead mouse inside a car will smell horrible and it's almost impossible to get rid of the smell. Poison isn't a good idea since a mouse can eat it outside the car and go inside it to die. Some also put steel wool in the tailpipe openings to keep mice out. Be sure to remove it before starting the engine though. Mice can destroy upholstery and wiring.

8. A very good thing to do if you can't drive it periodically is to start it when possible and let the engine warm up fully. This will keep seals lubricated, prevent rust from forming, evaporate condensation, prevent carb deposits, etc. If nothing else, hit the starter and turn the engine over a few times. That will compress and relax different valve springs, flex the seals, and lube the cylinder walls.

There are no doubt other things that can be done to prepare for Winter storage but these are probably the most important. Now you can kiss your "baby" goodnight and tuck her in for a long winter's nap.


Initial Startup


Initial Startup



So you’ve just rebuilt your engine, installed a new crate motor, or maybe only replaced the cam. Now what do you do to prepare the carb and ignition for the first fire up so that you won’t be cranking the engine excessively and causing undue wear? If a new flat tappet (non roller) cam is involved, it’s even more important in order to prevent cam failure. Ensure everything is lubed properly (with black moly paste on new cam lobes and bottoms of lifters), oil system primed, clearances checked, bolts torqued, hoses and fittings tight, fluids and filters in place, valves properly adjusted, and battery charged, etc. Valve/rocker adjustment was covered in a previous issue. It’s highly recommended to add a bottle of GM EOS assembly lube to the oil on new or rebuilt engines and with new cams. First, DO NOT make any changes or repairs to the carb or ignition system unless absolutely necessary. This just adds another thing that can go wrong and prolong the cranking. It’s very helpful to put the engine at the no.1 firing position at TDC (the zero mark) and mark the position of the distributor rotor blade and position of the dist base before disassembling the engine. Be sure it’s at the no.1 position instead of no.6 by checking to see if both valves are closed on no.1 cyl (they will be partially open on no.6). The following is very important to prevent excess cranking: Fill the primary float bowl in the carb with gas. Make a small funnel out of paper and Scotch tape that will fit in the bowl vent tube and pour about 3 ounces of gas in through the vent. Open the throttle a few times til you see or hear the accelerator pump squirting gas.  Bring the engine to the no.1 firing position (both no.1 valves closed) at the zero mark on the timing tab. Install the distributor with the rotor blade and housing in the same position as marked before removal. You will probably have to rotate the oil pump driveshaft to get the dist to seat by turning it with a long screw driver or oil pump priming tool. Attach a timing light so it’s ready to go as soon as the engine fires. Disconnect and plug the vacuum advance line until after timing is set. If you didn’t mark the dist position or are installing a new engine, etc., put the engine at the no.1 firing position at the zero mark. Install the distributor so the rotor blade is pointing to where you want the no.1 plug wire to be on the dist cap. Mark the location of the no.1 plug wire terminal of the cap on the dist housing by temporarily placing the cap on the housing and marking the housing below the cap. Now rotate the crank (by hand with all sparkplugs removed) to the proper initial advance position on the timing tab (example: 8 deg BTDC). Rotate the dist housing so the mark lines up with the rotor blade and lock it down. This will put timing close enough to fire but will still need adjusting. Make sure the remaining plug wires are in the proper position on the dist cap and plugs by following the firing order (18436572-Chevy) clockwise around the cap.  Install the plugs and you should now be ready to light a fire in it. Adjust timing right away and if it’s a new non-roller cam run the engine at a minimum of 2000 rpm for at least 20 minutes for proper cam break-in. Keep an eye on the oil pressure and temp gauges and have someone watch for leaks. If air temp is warm it helps to place a large fan in front of the radiator to aid cooling.


How to Remove a Windshield



How to Remove a Windshield or Back Glass


If you're particular about who works on your Chevelle, you'd probably prefer to replace your own glass should the need arise.

It's not that difficult and ensures that protecting your paint and trim, etc., is in your control.

This issue will explain how to remove the glass and make your own seal cutting tool. Next issue will be about installing the glass.
 It's good to protect the paint by putting a double layer of masking tape on the paint up against the window trim around the entire perimeter. Next put a  heavy blanket on your hood or deck lid and tape it in place.

 Remove the exterior moldings with the special tool made just for this purpose. Do not attempt it without the proper tool. The tools are available from auto body supply stores and Chevelle parts houses.

 It takes a little practice to get the clips to release the moldings but the main thing is to BE SURE you*re prying on a clip and not on the edge of the glass. Many windshields have been cracked this way.

 It's not so important if you're replacing the glass with new but if you're going to reuse the glass, it obviously is.  Remove the interior trim as well and protect the adjacent surfaces. Special tools are available to cut through the butyl seal that holds and seals the glass to the body but you can make your own like I did.

 Get some thin, strong, flexible wire and cut a length about 24 inches long. Braided picture hanging wire is good. Make sure you have plenty of extra because you’ll probably break the wire a few times. Cut two 4 inch long pieces of wooden broomstick or wood dowel of about  ¾” to 1”diameter. These will be your handles. Drill a hole in the center of each dowel length (across the diameter) just big enough for the wire to pass through. Install a wood screw in the center of the dowel length 90 degrees from the hole. On one handle go ahead and pass the wire through the hole and wrap several turns around the wood screw. Then tighten down the screw to secure the wire.

 From the exterior side of the glass, take an ice pick, awl, or other thin, sharp instrument and poke a hole in the butyl seal between the glass and body to pass the wire through.Pass the wire attached to one handle through the hole and secure it to the other handle. With a trusted assistant on the interior side (I prefer to be on the outside to make sure the paint doesn’t get damaged) cut the seal with a sawing motion of the wire around the entire perimeter of the glass. Be prepared to replace the wire several times and BE CAREFUL not to be touching a painted or upholstered surface with the wire when “sawing”.

 After cutting around the entire perimeter the glass will still be somewhat stuck. Gently but firmly push out at several points along the top and sides of the glass until it slowly starts to move away from the body. Keep working your way along the top until it “hinges” out away from the body and you can pull it loose from the bottom. With an assistant, lift it out of the opening and place on padded surfaces.


Tech Tips


Tech Tips



In this issue I've compiled some helpful tips from other sources, including other HSCA members.
   The first is from Street Thunder magazine courtesy of Mike Sellmeyer: This is a cheap, easy way to find radiator leaks. Instead of an expensive pressure tester, get a rubber ball slightly larger than the filler opening. Take your compressed air blow gun and drill a hole in the ball slightly smaller than the gun tip. Insert the blow gun tip in the ball and push the ball into the radiator fill cap opening. Cap the overflow tube and use 5 to 10 psi of pressure to pressurize the radiator and find any leaks. Do this only on a cold engine and DO NOT use over 10 psi of pressure.
  These are from the same magazine: To remove chewing gum from paint, carpet, vinyl, etc., use peanut butter. (I haven't tried this but others swear it works). To remove tree sap from paint use rubbing alcohol. To get a hard to reach nut started, use a folded napkin or paper towel between the nut and open end wrench to "jam" the nut in the wrench. That will allow you to place the wrench and nut in the hard to reach area without the nut falling out. If trying to get a bolt into a hard to reach area, use a socket and extension with a folded piece of masking tape in the socket to hold the bolt until it's started.
  The following two are from Mike Pell:
  Yearly Maintenance. Do you and your car a favor. At least once per  year, inspect every bolt and screw on your car for tightness. Look for every screw and nut you can reach, as in headlight trim rings, grills,
trim pieces, dash supports, glove box, you name it. I recently found about every screw on my grill and dashbezel were all loose! Yeeesh! How did GM get them to stay tight for 30 years? These screws/bolts/nuts will only help you prevent cracked/broken "pretty" pieces. Don't neglect the suspension bolts, enginemounts, u-joint bolts, wheel studs, gas tank straps, etc, etc, etc. These are the parts that'll ruin your day if they come out.
  Do you feel like your heater is on year 'round? Hot air blowing in on your feet as soon as the engine gets warmed up? Inspect your cowl-to-hood seal. It's an important piece. The cowl vents just in front of your windshield direct fresh air into the passenger compartment via the kick-panel vents; ideally off the windshield If you don't have a cowl seal, or it's not sealing properly, the hot engine compartment
air will go right down the cowl vents and right onto your legs.
  Lastly from me: If you've ever had a situation where your socket extension needs just a slight angle to get the socket on a bolt or nut and a universal joint extension lets the socket "flop around" too much, get some wobble extensions. They have a slight taper where the socket attaches that allows the socket to "tip" slightly on the extension. You can get a set of assorted lengths in 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" drive at Harbor Freight all for around $10.


Ignition Timing (Total Timing Method)


Ignition Timing (Total Timing Method)



This issue's subject is about setting ignition timing using the total timing method.  This is intended for application with pre-emmission engines (generally pre-1975).  This article will be especially helpful on non-stock engines or engines with a non-stock distributor.  As you can recall from the last issue, ignition timing consists of three variables;  initial advance, mechanical advance and vacuum advance.  What is commonly referred to as total timing consists of an initial advance plus mechanical advance.  When setting initial and/or mechanical advance, the vacuum line should be temporarily disconnected and plugged (carb side).  Most factory specs call for an initial plus mechanical advance figure totaling in the area 30-36 crankshaft degrees.  Most Chevy V8's perform best with total timing set between 36-40 degrees (depending on engine, drivetrain and vehicle).  This does not include vacuum advance and is assuming manifold vacuum controlled advance of pre-emmission engines.  Later emission control engines had port above the throttle plate) vacuum controlled advance, which requires lower total timing figures.  To set total timing you must first mark the 36 degree, or total advance desired, location on the harmonic balancer.  To do this, measure the circumference of the balancer with a flexible, cloth or paper tape, measurer or install permanent degree tape to the balancer.  You can also measure the diameter of the balancer and multiply by "pi" (3.14). 

Make a mark 36 degrees clockwise from the existing "0" mark on the balancer.  To find the distance, you must use your high school algebra skills, to find the inches equivalent of 36 degrees.  Example helps here;  if you have a seven inch balancer; 7x3.14=21.98 or 22 inches in circumference. Therefore, X/22=36/360.  Where x=792/360=2.2.  So X=2.2 inches or 2 3/16 inches.  Make your formula then measure the distance clockwise from "0" and make your new mark.  Put on safety glasses for the next procedure.  Also well deserving of  caution is revving the engine while under the hood and in line of belts or fans, if they become dislodged or break serious injury could occur.  Connect a timing light and rev the engine until the new mark stops advancing, that's when the centrifugal advance is completely advanced or "all in". 

Compare the mark to the "o" mark on the fixed timing tab on the engine, then loosen the distributor clamp and turn the distributor until the new 36 degree mark on the balancer lines up with the fixed "0" mark on the tab.  Later you can adjust slightly to what best suits your specific engine setup.  With the engine at idle, note the new advance setting if different from specs.  Reconnect the vacuum advance systems.  If pinging is encountered while driving, you can slightly retard the timing advance, increase the octane of gas or recurve the mech and vacuum advance systems.  If you had to rev the engine past 3500 rpm to get the mark to stop advancing, the mechanical advance in the distributor should be recurved in order establish best performance and ensure fuel economy.