Time, that’s all we need is more time.
I had reached an interesting point in the project where the engine was in, some of the accessories were bolted into place and I was faced with a lot of wiring decisions to make and execute. Usually on a car project you can start feeling pretty darn good at this time as once wiring is done, its usually only a few more steps to firing the beast up and sealing the deal.
Anyone that was in the mid-Eastern United States from about the end of July to late September can tell you that this was a brutally hot and humid weather period. On a normal summer day, I might go through a couple of t-shirts but this time around 4-5 was more the norm than not. And anyone can tell you that it takes a ton out of you just to bend down and check the air pressure in a tire when the temperatures and humidity are staying that high too. So things slowed down a bit. I tried my best to either work on the Jeep early in the day or sometimes late at night, but that didn’t always work out.
But the real show stopper was another project. This one has been in the works for a very long time and is an upstairs area that was a walk-up attic. I started putting walls up, finishing flooring, installing electrical and insulation years ago but with other things taking a higher priority it was always a situation of working on it when I had some time or was just in the mood to mess with it. The finished area is about 750 sf and has a central room, dropped bedroom area and a small storage closet.
One of the things that was needed was finishing off the wallboard for the ceilings and the bedroom area. We had an opportunity to hire some people to take care of that and the snowball effect kind of took over. Unfortunately the people we hired were not very good at the actual finish work and while I am not great at it, it had to be done. There were endless days of putting mud on and sanding it off trying to get everything straight. Then more time for painting and finishing up a few electrical outlets. Next it had to be trimmed out along with getting that trim painted so that the carpet could be installed. Overall and pretty much right in the middle of this crazy weather, we spent about 8 weeks getting it to the carpet stage. This was also 8 weeks that the jeep project didn’t make progress.
So we fast-forward back to the Jeep and it’s a mad dash to figure out the new wiring that had to integrate with the old stuff. A lot of wire tracing and probing with a light tool was going on with sometimes the results just not making any sense. I finally reached the point where everything “seemed” to be ready to go, so our initial test was just spinning the engine over – and it did, continuously. The Chinese had struck again, a brand new starter solenoid sourced from Advance Auto Parts would engage, but not release. Each time I tried it the starter stayed engaged until I pulled the battery cable. So it was back to the store to exchange it for another one. The new one worked and I moved on to attempting to get the engine started. I filled the carb bowls with fuel, gave it a few squirts and hit the key, nothing. No pop, spit or any kind of attempt to fire up. Okay, we need fuel, air, compression and spark – that’s it and I was sure of the first three. So I took the number one spark plug wire and connected to my little homemade spark tester (an old spark plug welded to a ground clamp), spun the engine over and nothing. No spark – brand new Pertronix distributor out of the box. I decided maybe the coil was the issue, it too was a Pertronix piece to match the distributor. I borrowed a known good MSD coil and still – nothing. So I marked the distributor where I had it installed to make it easier to line it back up and pulled it out. I went through the wiring on it to see if anything had been knocked loose but no luck with that either. I then decided to set it up on the bench and test it there to see if I had made a wiring error but that didn’t produce any spark either. So it was arrange for the return of the defective one and obtain a new one. Round Two to the Chinese.
While waiting for the distributor to show up I moved on to finishing up the new gauge installation. I installed mechanical oil pressure and water temperature gauges replacing the factory supplied electric units that were basically non-functional. I also had the exhaust system to install. The engine was equipped with a set of Hedman Headers for the engine conversion and I obtained a 2″ exhaust kit from Speedway Motors and Turbo style mufflers from Jegs Automotive. There was some cutting and welding to be done getting things lined up and in place but overall the worst of if was finding room along the transaxle on the passenger side. It’s tight even for a two inch piece of pipe. The next piece that had to be reworked was the shifter mechanism. With the additional width of the V-8 engine, the original piece that translates the movement of the shifter to the transmission was about 5-6 inches wide. I cut it down to about 3 inches and welded it back together plus made a plate to hold the lever for the engine side.
At this point, everything that needed to be done was done – I just didn’t have any way to fire the engine.
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