It has been a long time since I have been able to do much about my hobby. I have always enjoyed fixing old cars. My love of all things mechanical began as early as I can remember. My earliest memory is of a train set that my dad bought for me before I was born. I remember seeing some of the model rail cars sitting on the shelves in his study. I remember them sitting on the shelves to the left of his desk which looked out the window, facing the setting sun. Later on in life I took this love of all things mechanical and tried to fix an old car. I was hooked. I never got the car running but decided to take classes in college to learn about cars. We had a lab in that class, and in the lab we were required to completely take apart an engine, measure all of the tolerances and and put it back together. My engine did run after that. About three years later I had the opportunity to buy an old Triumph GT6+, the photo is of its engine compartment. When I got it almost nothing worked, the tires where flat, the body was rusted and dinged and the windows seals were disintegrating. Over the next year and a half, I fixed the car up. I got it running and began to enjoy it.
We sold the car a few years ago, so I have been investing time into my relationships with my wife, children, family and friends. Now I have begun the process again. My brother kindly said he would let us have an old 1967 Mercedes-Benz 230 sedan that he has garaged for the last eleven and a half years. I picked it up last summer and we have been working on it slowly. This time the kids are old enough to join in and the sedan will be more comfortable to ride in that the little sports car. If you look in my blog you will see other post on the status of the repair.
What is your hobby?
One down and one to go! If you have to ask which one is done and which one is not then you are not looking closely enough. The clean carburetor on the left took about 8 to 10 hours to rebuild. I have never rebuilt a Zenith 35-40, multistage, twin port carburetor with a diaphragm, so it took a really long time. The most frustrating discovery was that the engineers placed a short screw in the middle of the carburetor to keep it all together. It only took me about 2 hours to figure out where that was and how to remove it. When I get to the second carburetor it should take me about 3 hours. I was very pleased to find that the first carburetor was not all gummed up inside and that it cleaned up very well. The first carburetor had a torn diaphragm that was probably affecting performance the last time my brother drove it. Otherwise it was in excellent condition. The Germans really built precise, well manufactured equipment in the 60's. When I get a free afternoon it will get done.
This is what the engine bay looked like recently. The old battery that was on the right is out, the air filter holder and cover to the twin carburetors have been removed and I was trying to get the carburetors off. There are four bolts that hold each carburetor onto the intake manifold. The two on the outside of the engine were fairly easy to get off. The two on the inside took so much longer. There is absolutely no space to work so I actually resorted to taking off the valve cover. That made the job much easier but it still took about 4 or 5 hours to remove both of them. I am in the process of rebuilding them with new rebuild kits.
We are still working on the old car. We have already taken out the gas tank. It smelled horribly of old rotten gas. It really is a repulsive smell. We took the tank to an old fashioned radiator repair shop in La Habra, Ca, near where we live. It is the kind of repair shop that reminds you that old radiators are not made out of plastic, unlike new ones. It is the kind of place that reminds you that old radiators are very difficult to replace, so you repair them. It is dirty, messy, a little disorganized and full of dangerous chemicals. This shop is one of the few that remain in our area that will recondition an old gas tank.
The gas in the tank had been there for nearly twelve years. There was still about two gallons of the putrid smelling fuel left in the tank. When the owner had us look inside is contained a dark sludge, that was what we left of the fuel. He removed the fuel level sending unit and showed us the gummy dark sludge that was covering it. Very sticky and slimy. The owner promised to remove every trace of the offending fuel, clean the inside, re-coat it with an epoxy to prevent the inside from ever rusting again, and to soak the fuel level sending unit in solution as well to clean it up. As you can see from the photo he did just that. We are thrilled. We have the new fuel lines as well and the tank should go back into the car soon, perhaps after the second carburetor is rebuilt.
So, we made the trip. It was rather epic. Since we had to be back for other reasons the trip was rather rushed. We left Friday evening at 7:30pm and we walked back into our front door on the following Tuesday at 7:30pm. The second day was the most difficult, we traveled 766 miles in one day. The picture was taken of the car on the trailer that we used to transport it back to California. I took the picture at our friend's house in Portland, Oregon on Sunday afternoon. We left later to spend the night in southern Oregon. The total miles were 2258. All this was done in four days, which I would not recommend. It was a shame to pass so many beautiful places in Oregon and not have much time to spend there.
The car does not run right now. At the least we will need to drain the eleven and a half year old fuel and add in fresh fuel. We will need to change the radiator fluid, the oil and the air filter, and put in a new battery just to see if the engine will start. The rear differential appears to be leaking fluid. I will need to check the level of the fluid before we attempt to drive the old car. I do not want to burn up the rear axle if there is no fluid in the differential.
I have all of the service record which begin in 1967! Some from Spain, some from France, and one from New Jersey. I don't quite know how the one from New Jersey fits in. Later records have notes from different mechanics that the overhead cam and the timing chain and all its accessories need to be replaced. There is even a note from one mechanic that the timing chain appears to have skipped. I am not sure how difficult it will be to find these pieces.
No matter which way this turns out, I am thrilled. I love old cars. I love the smell of oil and the challenge of keeping them going. This is not my first time with an old car, I've done this before, so I know what I am in for.