Fletch Questions Himself
I have a 1969 Chevelle wagon that my son, Thomas, campaigns in Stock Eliminator. Until last season, it had been a cruise night car and sometime bracket bomber. When we decided to make it into a class car, we rebuilt it from top to bottom, replacing or upgrading virtually every component in the car. At the first race of the season, it wasn’t quite as consistent as I thought it should have been, but I laid it off on other factors. Well, at the second event, the car fell off badly, losing a couple of tenths in the quarter-mile. We got the car home and went through everything, but really couldn’t find anything wrong.
Not being able to find anything concrete, I decided that with an all new fuel system, it somehow must have gotten a little trash in the carburetor, and that the problem would be resolved by a simple disassembly and a thorough cleaning. Thomas went to a few more races and the car still wandered around more than it should have, but by that time, I was gone racing elsewhere and he was on his own. He’s a driver, and not really much of a mechanic, so it got rather frustrating trying to diagnose things over the phone.
To make a long story short, during the course of the season, I changed everything but the roof. Multiple carburetors, fuel pump, regulator, coil, ignition box, plugs, wires, transmission, converter, etc. You name it, I changed it, but nothing seemed to help, at least not for long. There would be stints where it would run well, but then it would just slow down 3 to 5 hundredths for no good reason, and when you’re racing in a bracket style format, that just isn’t going to get it done. He still managed to win some races, but it was a constant struggle.
Near the end of the season, it did another major drop off at an event, and I happened to be there that time. I had checked the timing on several occasions during the course of the year, and it was always correct, but this time I physically removed the distributor to inspect it. It is the type with the advance locked, and I had an experience one time where the roll pin had sheared, but somehow it kept coming back to the same position. The inspection revealed the roll pin intact, and nothing else seemed amiss. One isn’t allowed a crank trigger in Stock Eliminator, so the distributor is more than just a plug wire holder, but still, it’s a pretty simple deal.
I put the distributor back in, and went to set the timing. Now when I put my distributor in, I’m always within a few degrees, and I was looking for 35. Fire the car, 10 degrees. Huh? That’s not possible. Pull it back out, bring No. 1 up, pointer at 35, put it back in, 35 degrees. Ok, what was that about? Shut the car off, take a deep breath, and then start it again. 10 degrees. OK, this really isn’t possible, but now it dawns on me, Thomas said the car started hard the other day, like it had way too much timing. Now it’s got way too little. Something is going on here, I’m just not sure what.
Got a restoration question that’s been puzzling you? Send it to: [ m ] Super Chevy, Fletch, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. [ e ] firstname.lastname@example.org [ f ] 813/675-3557