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1968 Bel Air Diagnostic Test - Playing Doctor

Sneak a Peek Under the Hood and Between the Framerails

By Mike Harrington, Photography by Mike Harrington

Let's back flush the radiator. Since the car has only been in my possession for a week there is no way to know if it has ever been done. The radiator appeared to be in great shape, so there was no need remove it or take it to a radiator shop for hot tanking or replacing. While at the auto parts store, we picked up a basic back flush kit from Prestone.

Back flushing the radiator is pretty straightforward and simple. Just follow the instructions on the back flush kit and you will have no problems. This would also be a good time to replace that thermostat-housing gasket.

Lastly, fill her up with a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water.

Since the driveway is a big mess, let's make it messier, shall we? One of the best ways to make a diagnostic check on the engine is to thoroughly clean the engine bay. How does that help? Well it makes it easier to spot any of those mysterious oil leaks that seem to plague old engines. We used a biodegradable cleaner on our engine bay. Some of the more caustic cleaners, running down the gutters, might not make the neighbors happy, not to mention, the EPA.

After the engine was cleaned, we spotted a small leak coming from one of the valve cover gaskets. We pulled off the valve covers and had a look. The valvetrain looked to be in great shape, no gummy residue build up was present anywhere under the covers.

It just so happened there was a set of Mr. Gasket valve cover gaskets collecting dust in the garage. So on they went.

After scraping the last of the old gasket sealer off the heads, a thin layer of silicone sealant is spread on the new gaskets; no need to go overboard with the silicone sealer, a little dab'll do ya'.

Try 'em on for size. Batten down the valve covers, and that's one more task to scratch off the list.

This next tool has got to be the most useful of the bunch-a four-in-one pro timing light from Equus. When the engine is not running, simply hook it up like any regular timing light and voltmeter to obtain an accurate reading of the battery's current strength.

By Mike Harrington
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