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May 31, 2006

i hate wiring

edited again for i forgot a pic

doin' some work on Steve's Buick. I took more pics, but the camera battery died.
It's been said that when you have electrical work done, the last thing replaced was likely the only real problem. Well, I'm still waiting on the last piece for these door locks, and the rest is fixed :)

burnt relay
no power here
no power here either
but there was power there on the other side. s'posed to be power to all the orange wires at all times.

I had to cheat a little. I ran a new wire
from the driver's orange wire through the doorjamb inside to the harness, once i determined that particular wire was bad somewhere between. For the wire to the relay I had to really cheat. I cut it and spliced to an always hot wire, rather than removing the dash, steering column, and wiring harness to find where exactly the open wire was. The stupid Haynes manual was useless of course. No wiring diagrams for locks or windows.

So now i'm just waiting on a new switch for the driver's side, so the locks can be operated from both sides without trading the pass. switch.

The relay is under the driver's seat, which sometimes has standing water. Go figure. Electrical components under seats or on floor never seem to fare well.

I couldn't find where the water was getting in, so i opened up the floor pan drains, which had been covered. I hope it helps.

Somewhere during all of this, the passenger window decided it would only operate from the driver's side. The driver's rear wasn't working, so i guess I'll be doing windows tomorrow. Did I mention I hate wiring?

I need to look at the stereo tomorrow too, and do the rear struts.

I also replaced the passenger front interior door panel with the original, and had the door lock rekeyed... or rather, retumbled? The lock cylinder now fits the original key. I had new lock tumblers put in to fit the original key. The Chevy dealership on Capital did it for a fair price in very little time.
The door had been replaced, and the lock was not swapped. The original panel was a bit damaged from the removal, but at least it was saved. The wiring harness for the power seats was not saved, so the seat on the passenger side is now stuck in place. I had to use a piece of the replacement door panel on the old panel. I have no idea why they had been separated. I had to line up a slew of staple holes and push staples back in. I'm glad they used robots for that at the factory so all the holes lined up.
I thought I had pics, but they didn't come out.

May 30, 2006


Hendrik stopped by with his VW today. One of the rear brake pads had made it down to the metal.

It's fixed now :)

May 29, 2006

fender gussets

Jason brought his GTO by today with some tire problems. One of the tires was separating. Pretty scary. Sean took pics. Maybe he'll post them.

I finally replaced my missing fender gussets. They disapeared many years ago while the car sat collecting rust at my "friend's" body shop for about a year.
A few months ago I went to install some filler panels, used on the A/C cars for better radiator air flow, when I noticed the gussets they attached to were missing. I'd had the fillers since i bought the car, but I removed them before taking the car to the body shop, and just never bothered to put them back on.

I bided my time and found some gussets cheap (Thanks Yellowbird!), and bought some new stabilizer bushings for the fenders.

First pic is a "before" pic, actually taken months ago... you might remember the post, or find it. It was in one of my first entries.

One of the gussets was cut (did I mention cheap?) so I had to repair it.

The last pic is as done as it gets today. I need to replace some of the bolts with more correct ones. Not because it needs to be a "correct" concourse judged car in a show, but because they look and fit better.

PS, many big pics.

002gussets&fillers.JPG 003fender_stabilizers.JPG

006repair_gusset1.JPG 007repair_gusset2.JPG

008reapair_gusset3.JPG 009repair_gusset5.JPG

010repair_gusset6.JPG 011stabilizer_bottom:top.JPG

012wahh.JPG 013hoorayyy_gussets .JPG

May 26, 2006

Forzda B2500 Ranger

The blame lies with Ford on this one, and with Mazda for using it. They call it the B2500, but it's a Ford Ranger rebadged.

The brakes were thumping, the tires were wearing funny.

The rotors had been turned at or near the discard thickness, and with excessive runout (I blame poor bench lathe use). The pads look OK, but reusing old pads on new rotors tends to be noisy, and wont last as long. Pad clips will also be replaced on this model.

There was also a leaky axle seal on the rear, so I'll be replacing both. The labor is the same for one or both, and they're the same age. Seals are cheap.

The tire wear I was just blaming on it being a Ranger, but it turned out it had bad ball joints. I feel dumb, because i thought i checked them, but realized my inspection procedure was based on an earlier model. I re-inspected, and yup, upper right joint was way loose, and lower was a little too. Eventually we'll do the ones on the left side too, but not today.

When i was pressing the old upper joint out, it disintegrated

The new joint has a much tougher, greasable design, plus it has a cool blue polyurethane dust boot.

The new lower one is also a better design, taking after the new upper. Here i am pressing the new lower joint in.

Here are the new parts installed on the right front.

I did the same to the brakes on the left front.

These are just a couple pics of me doing the rear axle seals. I just dig the way the differential ring gear looks with its long curved teeth ;)

The straight toothed cog sticking out behind the ring gear is called an "exciter ring". It sends a signal to the ABS module via a hall effects switch, together making the speed sensor for the rear antilock brakes.

This last pic is looking all the way through the axle tubes through the center to the other side, with the axles removed.

I just think that's kinda neat.

These rear brakes are still nice and clean. We caught the seal in time, unlike on Rebecca's Astro van from /2006/02/saturday_adventures

May 25, 2006


noise coming from the majig

here's the thing that was his home

and here is the new majig at home in the thing

some might call the majig an "upper control arm with integral bushings and ball joint, for a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII". I prefer majig.

May 24, 2006

gas tank emblem

small project.
My fuel tank emblem lost all of its color years ago, before i even bought the car. I could buy a new one... for $50, and it's not even the right one. It looks sort of right, but it's for the 1967 model, so doesn't have the finger tab to open the fuel tank door.
Here's the high dollar replacement:
Mine won't look as good.

I bought a kit in the crafts section of the local super store made for kid's fake stained glass projects. My first attempt was an utter failure. The stuff doesn't melt and puddle well. It kind of gels up. So I crushed the pellets for better coverage and less overflow between the sections, and turned up the heat.

turns out the red stuff will eventually turn to a thick liquid, but the black just turns into a tar-like substance. If I was to do it all over again, and I had the patience, it would come out better, but i doubt i could ever get a concourse quality piece this way. Mine is just a driver, and the chrome on the emblem is a little old anyway.

For anyone attempting this, I would recommend trying an old style marble pill crusher if you have one. I didn't. This stuff is tougher than it looks. Other than that, try wrapping the pellets in an old T-shirt rag of the same color as the pellets, and repeatedly beat on them with a sledge hammer against an anvil. Wrap more than one layer around the pellets... they will break through, and you will get some of whatever they're wrapped in mixed with the pellets, so dont wrap them in aluminum foil ;)

Cook the black first. Not only do you not have to worry about mixing the colors, but the heat needed to sufficiently melt the black will ruin the red, so you'll need to scrape it out and start again. I never actually got the black competely smooth, but it's close enough for me.

The directions on the kit said 375* for 20min. I had the black up to 500* for two hours, but I'm not sure it did much more. I added a little more to some thin spots and went again for an hour. Any spillage to the other chambers needed scraped out and then a little more melting time.

The red took about 400-425* for half an hour to an hour for the pieces to melt together.
After much experimenting, it may be more the amount of time letting it sit than the heat. I didn't get the red pieces as small as i wanted this time around, so there was some joining over the 'feathers'. While it was still gel-like, I used a toothpick over the chrome and emptied out a little red, then more melting time. (toothpick wont do much to the black)

Now I need to get some clear coat spray, smooth it out, and I'll be done.

May 20, 2006

copper vaporization

yeah, right. That's what the guy working at NAPA today attempted to pass (in more than one way) off on Margaret when she came in with her cratered brake pads... brake pads which I installed recently. We're not buyin' that.

She had been getting some grinding noise and feeling while braking, most notably from the right side. When I took the right side pads off a small chunk of brake dust fell out into a small pile. That doesn't normally happen with disc brakes unless they've been extremely overheated... to the point where the rotors almost glow. Rotors change color after that (blue pearly usually). Her's looked fine, and cleaned up well.

Anyway, on both sides the brake pads had little craters in them. That's not really normal. I'd expect some lines, but not craters. One of the ones on the right appeared to have a hairline crack.

I think it's because I must not have bedded the pads aggressively enough last time after installing them. They were still not completely seated several weeks later when I installed the timing belt... a sure sign that she was not overheating them with her driving, and that nothing wrong in the system was causing excessive heat.

On to vaporization. My first question should have been to ask why NAPA would manufacture a brake pad that would vaporize at normal brake temperatures. Well, I knew they wouldn't, so I ask at what temperature copper vaporizes.

I did a little research, and copper vaporizes around 4600*F. That's plenty hot.
Let's think about this. The brake rotors are designed to absorb heat from the pads, and especially to keep heat away from the brake fluid (it will boil between about 300-400*F, depending on moisture content). I've seen rotors get up to about 600*F after spirited driving. They glow around 1500*F. They would melt probably around 2500-3000*F.

As far as I know, the pads and rotors will have similar temperatures, with the rotors being able to dissipate that heat fairly quickly. I just don't think the copper vaporization theory holds water. Any engineer who can tell me differently gets a cookie.

I was reading up a bit, and some types of brake pads are bedded at the factory at high heat (about 900*F) which may burn out some of the resins, creating small craters. These may or may not be that type. I have not run into this before, having done several thousand brake jobs between 1990-2000, but that doesn't mean they're not out there.
It would not explain why they were not bedded in right away, and does not explain the crack. It could explain some noise, as the holes can create pockets for brake dust to accumulate and stay between rotor and pad. Pad spreader springs like on many Mazdas and Toyotas might be an advantage in this situation. Most Hondas have none.

May 19, 2006

but i dont wanna

I switched to an internally regulated alternator on the firebird today. sigh.

I didn't really want to, but I found one on a shelf in the garage. It might have been one i had for the Oldsmobile I used to own.

My 'lifetime warranty' externally regulated alternator blew a diode, so i took it off for return. I was looking for my original to swap the pullies (the new one comes with the wrong pully) and I found this internally regulated one.
I went ahead and hooked it up, changing the wiring in the laziest way I could think of to eliminate the other regulator, and of course it works much better than the external kind ever could. Dammit. If it ever goes bad I'll have to buy a new one.

Now I have a brand new $50 transistorized regulator hanging unplugged and useless by the fender, and a LT warranty alternator sitting on a shelf.

Oh, I also put the shiny chrome skirt things back under the doors because I was tired of slicing my jeans on their mounts, and also didn't want it to happen to anyone else.

It's too big

It can be difficult to find a match when all you have to sort though is arrays of analogous packs.

Ummm, so I need to replace a bunch of my fuses.
I replaced them with ones from a 30amp pack a long time ago.

I had a weird problem with my blinkers today.
My aftermarket gauges operate.(ed) on the same circuit. The fuse probably should have blown, but instead it carboned up the fuse at the fusebox. Wiggle the fuse and all starts working again. Repeat. Now everything works fine.

OK except now my alternator light is on dimly. Crap. Blown diode. At least i have a lifetime warranty on the alternator. it's still charging.

So I have to replace the alt. and maybe the BRAND NEW REGULATOR. Dammit. And find the correct fuse, no, a huge pack of the correct fuses, so I can can blow a bunch of them while I find the short to correct the problem without blowing another alternator/regulator.

At least I hope that blowing cheap glass fuses will accelerate the diagnostic process. OR, I could just unplug the gen light. It still charges the battery @ 13V and will continue to start, I'm sure. 13.5 or 14V would be better.
I hate dim headlights.

Actually, most likely I will never recreate the problem, because I am a dumbass. As long as I have the gauges on a different circuit from the turn/stop I might be OK. I was running the gauge lights and the volt meter (seperate from the gen light) on the same turn/stop circuit.

I think i might separate them... gauge lights on the headlight circuit (duh) and volt meter where it belongs.... somewhere I need to buy a bunch more wire for and look in a book, crap........ but it was so much easier the way i had it.
Did I mention I was once certified in automotive electrical systems? It's my car, I can play ;)

Oh BTW, it has nothing to do with the 'chickkenconverter' below (AFAIK). That has it's own 10A fused circut, and still was working.
It might have to do with the volt gauge mentioned which I recently decided I wanted.... not entried

May 16, 2006

2006-05-16 19:29:53

I finished up the trailer brakes today.
1st I changed the transmission fluid on the 323. It's all done. The K10 is also all done, and gone. Brian said it drives like a completely different truck (that's a good thing).
I also stopped by the GM dealer to order the last parts for my lockup switch on the firechicken.
The parts counter attendant noticed the ASE certification patch on my sleeve
and gave me a 10% discount. Score!

It went kinda like this:
"Where do you work?"
"err, really just out of my yard"
"Well you can't buy that patch at Sears and Roebuck."
"yeah, I took the tests, but they're expired."
"So where do you work? I need a name."
"ummm, scott's garage?"
"OK. Scott's Garage. Is Shemp your first name or last?"

May 15, 2006


i decided to go ahead and get a little muddy.

I got one side done.

I need to stretch for a bit before I can do the other side, but it'll just look like this side reversed anyway. Working so low isn't too good for my posture.

trailer brakes

Looky what UPS just brought :D

too bad I should wait until the ground dries up a little before I can install them on the trailer. It's in the yard, so it would be muddy to work on it there, but also muddy to shuffle vehicles around in order to back it into the driveway :(

cam's out

Sean gave me permission to pull the camshaft on the Cougar. Hopefully a new one will be here soon. There's nothing wrong with this one except the profile is too radical for street use. The engine was built to be raced.
I had it almost out but realized it was a bit too long to clear.

"OH NO", thought I. "Surely removing this hood brace will be a chore."
Nope. 2 bolts, right on top, and the part which had been in the way, was no longer.


stuff in my way

almost out


May 13, 2006

Off with their heads!

I was at Carolina Auto Masters last month, and my Cougar dynoed a mere 260HP. On the second run, it puked copious ammounts of fluids on the car and some of the Tar Heel SCC members. Yuk.

So I drove it 40 miles home after filling the radiator and parked it. Scott was between cars and he did an initial test using a condom on the radiator kneck instead of the cap. The condom filled up seconds after starting the car. He pressurized the cooling system, and coolant squirted out of cylinders #2 and #6.

Wahhhhh! But I worked on it today, documented a bit after the jump. and slide show at http://www.flickr.com/photos/47702694@N00/sets/72057594134038747/

I got a look at the Dip Stick and there was the tell tale sign of coolant in the oil: icky white stuff. Usualy it's more brownish, but I just changed my oil and it didn't get a chance to get fully mixed. So I marked the wires and started pulling the headers off. Scott got his hands dirty too and did a lions share on the tough looking engine.

We got the manifold off and everything looks normal except for the occasional globs of oil/coolant mayonaise. I built a hideously expensive pushrod organizer andpopulated it with pushrods and rockers.

Now I could check the torque on the head bolts. Almost all gasket makers claim that you do not have to retorque the heads, but don't you believe it. My heads are aluminum, and the lower bolts were touching the headers. The bolts should have been at 85 ft/lbs and because of static friction, a torque wrench should not be able to budge the bolts 'till 90lbs or so. The upper bolts seemed fine to 80 ft/lbs but all the lower bolts moved between 50 and 60 ft/lbs. Damnit.

So off with their heads! Even with studs the heads were easily removed inside the car. I haven't done this job with a 351W in a Mustang since 1985 and I got all weepy and nostalgic, even though this time it was a Cougar. You can see that with the high compression and the loosening heads the fire ring was Blown fire ringstretched into the water jaket leading to loss of compression and that ugly milk shake mayo mess. Exactly the same thing happened on the other side.

Well, I need to mull this over for a bit. The camshaft I have is a bit too lumpy so I'm going to select another one since this is a great time for it. I have 11:1 compression, so it needs to be pretty radical to bleed off the excess cyllinder pressure, but milder than my current 232/232@.050 specs. There are t-storms comming, so I coated the cylinders with lube and wrapped it up.

I need a nap.

May 12, 2006

Chicken Converter

I finally got around to wiring up my 'lockup' torque converter in the Firebird... except for 2 more pieces I need to make the vacuum switch work.

The lockup function on an automatic transmission is supposed to save on fuel mileage and keep the transmission running cooler. It basically provides a direct connection between the engine and transmission. In normal operation there is generally a little slippage (like if you have a standard trans and your foot is partway on the clutch pedal, but not quite as significant).

Anyway, the car came with an old 2speed automatic. That was soon upgraded to a 3spd, and now to a 4spd with Overdrive... a must with today's fuel prices.

The problem with the lockup converter is it has to know when to unlock, otherwise you can end up with shuddering and a host of other problems. Since I dont have a computer to tell it when to unlock, I had to hook it through a couple of switches. I also am using a manual switch with an LED light to tell me if it is working correctly, and to manually disable it if I need to. I might eventually eliminate this switch, but it looks kinda cool all lit up ;)

One switch is on the brake pedal. I'm using a 'cruise control' brake light switch because it has 2 connectors, one normally open, the other normally closed. This will unlock the converter when I apply the brakes.

The other switch I don't have hooked up yet. I need to get a couple pieces from the GM dealer. This switch is vacuum operated, and theoretically will only let the lockup function work while at cruising speed, automatically unlocking when vacuum drops, such as when the engine is under load (going uphill, or heavy right foot).

So, here's the pics. First pic is all the pieces i'm using, minus all the wire, hose, and connectors between. Then I have some 'as installed' pics. You can see a blue wire wrapped around the vacuum switch on the fender. Once I get the connector, I'll splice into that. I also need a delay valve in the hose leading from the carburetor.

May 11, 2006

I took a few pics of my Firebird today to post on the Camaro and Pontiac OHC forums relating to ride height. I also finally have the fenders lining up almost right.

First pic is an animation i made a while back ;)

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Got the shocks for the K10. It's all done and drives much better.
I took a pic of the rear shocks and left front pair (quad shocks).
Right front just looks like a mirror of the left, only not so much grime everywhere. The grime appears to be power steering fluid. It looks like it's coming from part of the hydroboost brake booster. It's so grimy and spread out I can't tell the exact origin.


Looks like we'll be doing some work to Sean's Cougar's engine in the near future. Sean took it to Dyno Day a weekend or so ago, and while on the dynamometer it coughed up some coolant and started to run rough.

I was going to do a leakdown test using Sean's new leakdown tester,

but decided first I might want to do a compression test.

Then I decided first and formost I'd do a coolant pressure test.

I never got past the coolant test. With the plugs out, I can hear pressure leaking from the cooling system into at least 2 cylinders, one on either side, 2nd from front. Wahh!!

May 10, 2006

323 stuck caliper

The parts finally came in for the 323 rear brakes. I had noticed that the left rear pads seemed to be a lot thinner than the last time I checked, which was not many miles ago. The rotor was a little darker too, so i took it for a drive, and the left rear wheel was hot. The rest were not.

Anyway, after some short diagnosis, I determined it really was the caliper, not a bad hose, sticking slides, or sticking parking brake cable. Bad caliper. I had Carlota order some loaded calipers for the back.
OK, no go. We'll get Semi Loaded. After much waiting, and bad communication, the calipers sat in the store for a week before they would tell her, not that she didn't poke them about it.

Turns out the semi-loaded DO NOT come with the bracket as advertised. They do come with the caliper bushings. They also come with 3 out of 6 hardware clips, two of which are somewhat unecessary.

Anyway, I did the left side:

I finally found the proper sanding discs which i like to use to make the rotors nice... at a paint supply store. Pretty shiny, eh?
The sanding discs sold specifically for rotor refinishing just aren't up to my standards, esp for a rotor darkened due to sticking brakes.
You may say "why not replace the rotor or have it turned?" Because there is no need. Check your factory service manual. These discs have <.003" runout, <.0003" parallel variation, and <.020" scoring. Turning removes metal, making the rotors thinner, and introduces runout when done on a bench lathe. Plus this car is on the cheap for the Grassroots Race ;)
Not to mention the pounds of dough saved in labor by not having to R&R the rotor on this model.

Anyway, I went to put the old caliper core back in the box for returning, and found the real culprit causing the piston to stick:

The dust boot was torn, allowing the piston to corrode and stick. In light of this, I decided to replace the other caliper ONLY if it could be determined that the replacement would be better. I got to use my handy-dandy rear caliper kaboodle
(I couldn't buy it seperately from the kit)
to push the piston back in.
The right side piston went in smoothly. The dust boot is not torn. The bushings and clips are in acceptable shape. Now lets hold the brakes on and make sure the stress of pushing the piston back in didn't compromise this delicate hydraulic component.
Hooray! All good. That'll save a mint.

Here's a picture of the left side brake pads versus the right. When i checked them only a month or so ago, they were all about the same. Now you can see the left side is down almost to metal, and the right side is only about 1/2 or so worn. That boot has probably been torn since 2 brakejobs ago, and the piston just now came out to the point of where the majority of the corrosion on the piston was... just a guess.

Anyway, I think we'll return the caliper purchased for the right side. The new parts were kind of a dissapointment anyway. At least the caliper works correctly out of the box (sometimes they don't).

May 8, 2006


I got to use another tool which has been neglected in recent years... one of my 4wd hub sockets. Today i repacked bearings, replaced a wheel stud, a steering link, and a steering stabilizer. I also taped up the exhaust, but I don't like muffler tape so there's no pic of that.

I did find an unfortunate reptile who thought that warm brakes were a good place to take a nap. It looks like maybe a silver skink, or some sort of salamander. It's not the first small animal who's made that mistake.

poor li'l bugger

May 6, 2006

K means 4WD?

Brian dropped off his 84 K10 last night. K designates 4WD, 10 designates 1/2Ton Chassis. It's a diesel like Geneva's, but hers is a C10 (2WD 1/2ton).
wanna see something cool? Of course you do!

Anyway, he was having some electrical problems in the back, passenger door wouldn't open from the inside, he wanted the brakes, exhaust, and ft end checked.

I got the reverse lights working, the lisence plate light no longer blinks with the turn signals, and the left outer signal no longer blinks with the right. That's nice.

Both doors work properly now 8D

Steering has one loose link to the steering gear box. Not a problem, just needs a new part. The rest of the steering links look good except for the LF wheel bearing is loose, so the ft bearings will need repacked and set to specs. That will be a good time to replace the broken wheel stud.

OMG! The shock absorbers are original and leaking, including the steering stabilizer. We'll want to do something about that.

Brakes look good except for this:

Somebody got confused and installed this spring backwards, so it was interfering with the self adjusting mechanism. No prob:

I'll take care of the rest when we get some parts and muffler tape (swiss pipes).

During all this, i had a big surprise when the compressed air coupler busted while removing a wheel.
(that's all s'posed to be one piece)

I'm lucky the hose didn't whip around and bite me. Luckily I had a spare coupling from my shop days. I'll need to pick up another spare for the eventual failure of this new(ish) one.

May 5, 2006

Mr. Hankey

he has new tires and shocks/struts.
I'm becoming quite attached to this fine vehicle.

May 4, 2006

more fleeting

I worked on the Chevy C30 again today. The Banana (Ford Box) was out on a jobsite.

no pics. just boring, boring words.

I found the vacuum line hiding behind the engine which goes to the back of the carb, and discovered it goes to a T for the dist. advance and a thermal switch. Looks like the advance was inoperable and the timing was way high to compensate... at least that's why I have to assume it was set so high. I reset the timing closer to specs.

The EGR valve is being ordered, as is the EGR thermal switch. Neither are going to work if the port on the carb wont unplug. I'm betting it's full of gelled up vacuum line. I replaced some of the lines, but need more.

The carburetor choke is worn out too. It will either close all the way when cold, or open all the way when hot, depending on it's set position, but it wont do both (BTW it's s'posed to do both).

i still think there's a problem with the A.I.R. pump (emissions equipment) but the stupid Haynes/Chilton's wont give me proper testing procedures, so I cant prove it yet. "This system is very comlicated and is best left to professionals" Baloney! It's a fairly simplistic system.. plus I am a proffessional, nyahhh.
But... I won't guess on how to properly test the system's diverter valves. It's not practical, and takes more brain power than i can muster on most days anymore. I'm fairly sure it is not supposed to continue to pump hot air into the exhaust during decell. Disconnecting it from the exhaust has no effect on the decell backfire though, at least not yet.
It's also not practical for me to buy a factory service manual for every vehicle out there. I have access to most info in the inexpensive Chilton's/Haynes manuals for many models, but they just dont always cut mustard.
mmmmmm..... mustard ;)


May 2, 2006

fleet maintenence

I got to go out to Russell's business today to work on his dump truck and box van, a 1ton Chevy and a 1ton Ford, respectively. Russell graciously posed for a picture (he's the one on the right who's not a truck).

Both trucks are running poorly when cold, and the Chevy's been backfiring sometimes. The Ford was leaking oil pretty badly.
He had me put a heater core in the Chevy, spray the carb down with cleaner, and do a little diagnostics. I found some oil saturated vacuum hoses, which had turned to mush, a vacuum leak, and a sticking, leaking EGR valve. I didn't yet pinpoint the exact cause of the backfire, though it may be the carb. That also might be the cold running problem, though it did OK today after-noonish.

tightened the valve covers on the Ford and gave the engine a bath, changed the plugs and dist cap. Need to re-adjust the carb on that one too, i think, and look for some good vacuum diagrams of the heater system. I'll be going back probably Thursday.