I created this category, "Tuna Whips", not in the hopes that it would devolve into some weird sado-masochistic fish f*tish place (seriously, Kevin? "F*tish" is blacklisted? Will you please reset the blarg settings so I can type things like F*tish and Tr*nny?), but rather that the 'Chuckers would log in and blarg about their personal machinery. We're all car guys- every one of us has a car (or three) that we lavish attention on, care about, and have a wealth of specialized knowledge on.
And then there's me. I like...cars. Pretty much all of them.
My current project:
Sorry, that was my poor attempt at an artistic photograph. Digital cameras, unless you spend mucho dinero on them, are exceedingly poor at taking artistic photographs. All the kids these days are buying old Kodak 110 cameras and loading their own film to take super-retro looking B&W snapshots. A trend which, if it continues, will logically progress to some 20-something hipsters in 2050 eyeing up then-ancient Canon Powershots like mine to take these weirdly focussed grainy digital pictures. But I digress.
Much less artistic, that's better. This is a 1949 Plymouth Super Deluxe 4 door sedan. Fenders wide enough to sit on, a grill the width of the car, bias ply tires- this is a car the way a car _should_ be built. This is a car built by Men- Men who shot Nazis, bombed the Japanese, and drove Mussolini back to his canoli farm. Men who then came home, married blue-eyed bombshells, made lots of babies, and needed cars to get to their Union jobs at the great industrial engines that made America great. Cars like this Plymouth.
Unfortunately, its been a long time since this Plymouth was driven by a Nazi-shooting, woman-marrying, card-carrying Union member. It's sat in gradually worsening states of disrepair since before I was born. In 1977. So when I started pulling the engine apart, I found stuff like this:
The low compression I'd measured on the #3 cylinder turned out to be holes in the piston. Actually, all the pistons had bits of their tops broken off, a condition not uncommon to these old flathead sixes. It's a testament to the engineering of these cars that this engine actually ran before I pulled the cylinder head.
But wait, there's more.
The water pump was seized. And not only was the water pump seized, but when I yanked it off, the cavity behind it into the engine block looked like, well, I'll let the picture tell the story:
The L-head Mopar engines used this thing called a "Water Distribution Tube" that took water (remember, this was the pre-antifreeze days, when folks ran hose water, perhaps with a little moonshine to keep it from freezing in the winter, in their coolant system) and sprayed it onto the valve seats to keep them cool. This worked better than you'd think. In fact, it worked so well that these motors were known for running cool. This was not necessarily a good thing, as, coupled with the oils of the day (which were pretty much the equivalent of a good cooking oil nowadays), led to sludge. Which these engines were also reknowned for.
That's 50 year old Penzoil on those valves. Yum.
Back to the Water Distribution Tube (WDT). It had to come out. I grabbed onto what little of it I could with some needle nose vice grips and pulled. The WDT should have just slid out. But it had other ideas, most of which revolved around breaking off in the vice grips, sending me flying backwards, clutching a small rusty artifact of the WDT.
Several failed attempts (and more than one beer) later, I wandered off into the tool shed in search of a more appropriate tool with which to extract the WDT. My eyes lit upon a tree saw.
The WDT extends from the front of the engine, at the water pump, all the way to the last valve. The entire length of the engine block- 24 inches or so. I figured it was probably rusted all the way in, so using this tree saw blade and a few cans of PBlaster I gradually chipped away at the rust on each side of the tube. After about an hour of hacking, I ws finally able to grasp a few shreds of tube with the vice grips and slide it out.
Close up of what's left of the rusty WDT:
Since the WDT ws so yucky, I feared the rest of the engine block was similarly afflicted. A check of the freeze plugs confirmed my suspicions.
Luckily Atlas Obsolete sells a nifty kit with brand new freeze plugs and a spiffy new WDT.
So far, I've found broken reciprocating parts, rusted out innards, and a sludge-encrusted valvetrain. What more wonders could the Flathead Plymouth contain? What I drained out of the crankcase portends only good things...
Comment from: zrx1200rob [Visitor]
Well, at least you drained something. A couple of months ago, I figured out how to fill the MG transmission - pull back the 'carpet' (next to the drivers right thigh), pull out the 47 year old rubber cover, remove the fill plug, pour in oil. I thought I would 'top it off'. I added a little over a pint. Then I checked the book and it said it held 1.3 pints. Hmmmm, I had not drained any and added about 1.3 pints. No wonder the passenger compartment was always warm...
09/09/11 @ 21:31
Hey... *I* personally didn't blacklist such benign words as fetish and tranny! Yes, I guess it IS hard to have an automotive blog that bans words like "tranny", which is short for transmission and NOT the "sexually confused" people of a similar name.
So, are you happy now? I allowed these words again on the blog... Tranny, tranny, tranny, tranny! Fetish, fetish, fetish, fetish! Do YOU have a TRANNY FETISH??? I'm not going there if you do...
11/23/11 @ 21:02
And, sounds like no WONDER this car broke down on the side of the road about a month ago... [ahem]
11/23/11 @ 21:12
Hey, the Plymouth is now road-going- I've been driving it around the block periodically. The oil pressure issue was relativey minor and I've attacked all the potential causes I can think of. It's a fun little tool-around-the-neighborhood car- much cooler than a golf cart, anyway.
Did you figure out how to block the sp@m that's been invading the comment section of late?
11/25/11 @ 22:01
"Whaling on the same old dilapidated crap can." - The "Official" Blog of the Tunachuckers Volvo Amazon LeMons racing team.
The Tunachuckers Are: