Steve's Tolman Project 78th page...

Oct 8th, 2006

It Lives!

This morning the 66 Chrysler 300 came back to life. The lifters rattled, the engine smoked under the hood, and the six year old stale gas had a rather unique smell to it as it burned and exited the exhaust. But it ran, and I was happy.

Six years ago on a road trip up around Alturis, the car started losing power. We were climbing a mountain, and the car struggled. Got to the side of the mountain and into Alturis, and parked for lunch. Car wouldn't start, and a local mechanic proclaimed that the cam shaft was broken. He hemmed and hawed and stalled for quite a while and never would commit to what it would cost and how long it would take to get us back on the road. So we fetched a U-Haul truck and trailer and hauled the car back to Vallejo. We parked it in storage for a year, and then parked it in our garage for another five years.

When we got back from Alturis we bought our first new vehicle, a 2001 Dodge Dakota 4x4. We soon forgot about the Chrysler going back to being primary transportation, and so it sat.

A few weeks ago Rebecca convinced me to drag it out of the garage and sell the beast. So I dragged it out with the truck and removed the plywood and wood scraps leftover from the boat building project. I had plywood on the roof racks and on the hood, rolls of fiberglass on the trunk, and miscellaneous stuff here and there on and in the car. When I finally got all the wood and stuff off the outside, I started pulling stuff out of the inside. It was a time capsule from the road trip to Alturis. An old pair of boots, umbrella, maps, camping equipment etc were in the trunk and in the passenger compartment. So I washed the car, pulled all the junk off and out of it. Vacuumed it, pumped up the tires and got it ready to sell.

The first fellow who showed up to look at the car kicked the tires and asked a bunch of questions. He said though it had some rot, that the undercarriage was in good shape, and he thought seat covers were available and the engine would probably be easy to fix. Said it wouldn't cost more than $250. I told about the history of the car, how I'd bought it from a little old lady, who'd gone blind and couldn't drive anymore. How it had 67,000 original miles on it when I got it, and the work I'd done to the car over the years. And I told him how my wife was mildly interested in me till she saw the car, and became more than mildly interested. He talked me out of selling the thing.

So after scratching my head, staring at the engine for a while, and taking a gander at my mopar engine rebuilding book, Idove in. Ran compression check on all cylinders. Compression was at factory specs. And so I started taking it apart. Pulled off the radiator, fan, the water pump , the power steering pump, the alternator, valve covers, water pump housing, harmonic balancer, timing cover, and discovered that I didn't have a broken camshaft, rather I had a broken timing sprocket. It was missing almost half of the nylon covering and aluminum teeth. I was elated since a timing chain, gear and sprocket set was cheap and easy to install compared to a camshaft.

Installed the new timing set, and turned the engine over. It was smooth and had no binding! And so I started putting all the other parts back on. Added a bunch of carb cleaner to the gas and a bottle of Sea Foam additive, filled up the crankcase with oil, filled up the radiator with water for now, held my breath and cranked up the car. It didn't start. Had a neighbor come over and he helped me check all my plug wires, and the static timing. Car sort of wanted to start but no go. Neighbor left, and I got to thinking that perhaps I'd put in the distributer 180 degrees out of whack. So I pulled that off, rotated the rod 180 degrees, and it started with a belch of smoke and rattling of lifters!!!

After bleching smoke for a while the engine quieted down and idled smoothly. I retimed the engine while it was running and then took the car for a spin around the neighborhood. Satisfied that the car was indeed running well enough to go beyond the neighborhood, I took the beast out on the freeway. Ran it through the paces and probably left a cloud of noxious old gas fumes, but it ran reasonably well. Pulled in front of the house and the radiator gave up. I ended up with about three holes in it, spewing anti-freeze and water everywhere.

Radiator on order...

Found a great deal on a radiator from It got here quickly, but had a couple areas that UPS smashed for me, and at least one hole. I

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