1985 Pontiac Firebird - CHP Garage


Back in the Jan. '09 Shop Talk, I listed a few of my personal misadventures and even inquired about a few of your own. I have to say, all of the emails were great. Most made us laugh, while a few made us cringe from the descriptive details. Here are a few we've selected to share with everyone, and if you included your address, expect your CHP plate in the mail shortly. The rest of you, keep them coming.

I was working on a '64 Chevelle with me on a creeper, and the front end of the car lifted up on axle stands. When I was under there, I noticed that the steering linkage was hitting the oil pan when the steering wheel was turned hard to the right. The oil pan had an indentation that had almost worn through the metal. At the time, I figured that I should be able to just touch that spot with the MIG welder and build it up so that it wouldn't leak.

I disconnected the negative from the battery and grounded out the MIG welder. I no sooner touched the welding tip to the oil pan when a loud and violent explosion took place. Obviously I was terrified, figuring I had blown up the motor. When I crawled out from under the car, the first thing I noticed was that both the valve cover breathers were missing, including the dipstick. Since the hood of the car was up, these pieces obviously went flying somewhere, but where? Turns out the valve cover breathers hit the hood. I was lucky on one side because it hit the framework on the underside of the hood. However, the driver-side valve cover breather put a major dent in the surface of the hood. I later found the valve cover breathers in different locations on the shop floor, but I still wasn't sure what happened to the dipstick. After looking everywhere for it, I found it embedded in the drywall at the other side of the shop.

Thankfully no one was standing looking into that engine bay when I did the welding. I guess that the gas/oil fumes that were in the crankcase exploded when the MIG wire heated the oil pan metal. Other than the dent in the hood, the car wasn't damaged and that dent is still in the hood. Of course, the story gets retold every time someone asks about the dent. Thanks for a great magazine. I have been a subscriber for many years now.
Ken Lepard
Via email

Flame On
My first real car was an '85 Firebird. It started as a bare-bones 140hp 305 five-speed combo, and after a few years and a few combinations it was sporting a decent 357 SBC backed by a TH-400 with a nice loose converter. This was my college ride, and though it was rough and aging, it was a blast to drive! However, it suffered from a hard-to-trace drivability problem. The car ran great, but I could never seem to get the jetting quite right. It was equipped with an Edelbrock 750-cfm carb, and jetting changes necessitated removing the top of the carb to access the jets at the bottom of the float bowls.

One particular night at school around 11, I decided it was time to rejet the carb yet again. Unfortunately, the only light available was from a single bulb far up on a pole in front of my trailer (yes, us automotive students had some fantastic accommodations). I pulled the car directly under the light and got to work. Though the light was fairly dim, removing the eight screws that secured the top of the carb went quickly, and I proceeded to remove the small clip attached to the accelerator pump linkage.




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