We asked and pleaded and finally got our stable of magazine car guys to open up and expound on some of the tricks and hot tips they use in their garages and on their own cool cars. There's only about a thousand years of experience around here and the SUPER CHEVY staff is from the "dirty knuckle" school of writing, so they actually get down and greasy and wrench on their own cars. With all of this supposed know-how, we can only hope that some of these can help you.
A Little Dab'll Do Ya
With RTV sealant, use only the thinnest bead that will do the job. Too much allows the excess to squish into the engine or transmission when the part is torqued. It will harden and could block oil galleys or fluid passages causing a malfunction.
Disconnected fuel lines can be hazardous. An easy way to block them is to use a wooden golf tee pressed into the end of the line. Tees have a wedge-shaped end, so they will accommodate various hose diameters.
Lock It Down
In recent years nylon locking nuts have been shown to be superior to lock washers, will work on anything not subjected to extreme heat (such as header-to-head-pipe installation), and won't back off. If you have the option of using the nylon nuts, do so.
Grease That Pushrod
When installing a stock fuel pump, use a small "dollop" of grease to hold the pushrod in the block while you insert the "foot" of the pump. This prevents the pushrod from sliding out and blocking installation of the pump.
This One Sucks
When doing service work on a carb, take an extra minute to inspect the rubber hoses for the vacuum advance and choke pull. If cracked, they can leak vacuum, destroy spark plugs, and generally ruin performance and fuel economy. Replace as needed; they're cheap.
We should all know this, but here's a reminder: Keeping a fire extinguisher handy in your garage is cheap insurance against losing your car or entire house because of a spark that ignites a fire.
Reversal of Fortune
If your car starts poorly, but idles all right and has decent power up to a point then starts running poorly again, check all the usual suspects: vacuum leaks, carburetor, points, condenser, dwell, and timing. Still without a cure? Look at the coil wires. A coil will function even when the positive and negative wires are reversed, but it won't run that well at higher rpm or during startup. The distributor should be wired to the negative terminal on the coil, while the positive terminal is the hot, or power, lead.
A hardware store turnbuckle, two bolts, and two washers can keep your engine from "torquing over." Run it from the engine to the frame or motor mount bolt on the driver-side.
Don't Drop Those Pan Bolts
When installing the pan on a trans that's mounted in the car, push three or four bolts through the pan rail and the gasket. You may have to smear some gasket sealer around the shoulder of the bolts to hold them in place. Now that the bolts are held in place by the gasket or the sealer, it's a simple task to screw them into the bottom of the trans. Then, you can thread the rest of the bolts in and snug them tight (not too tight as the gasket will push out).
Loctite It Right
Every toolbox needs at least a couple of bottles of Loctite thread-locking compound. Red Loctite (271) is the strongest and should be used on items that won't need to be disassembled any time soon, such as internal engine components. Blue Loctite (242) isn't as strong as the Red and should be used on items that you don't want to come loose but might need to removed at some point, such as brake calipers bolts. Green Loctite is the same strength as Blue but has an agent that penetrates threads that have already been assembled.