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Automania/Repair & Maintenance


by Bob Hagin

Q. I have a 1957 Ford station wagon and it has 100,000 miles on a rebuilt 292 cubic inch V8 engine. It has a stick-shift transmission with and overdrive on it. It has a two barrel Holly carburetor on it and it idles as smooth as silk. I've checked the timing and the dwell and they both seem to be OK. When I let up on the gas when it's traveling at between 30 to 50 MPH, the engine get just a slight miss or bucking sensation. If I let up on the gas all the way or step on the gas just a little to pick up speed gradually, there is no miss or bucking sensation.
G.E. Carmichael, CA

A. Age is an enemy in high-mileage vintage cars and your Ford qualifies. I'd start with the fuel delivery system and run a couple of cans of a gas additive through the fuel tank to try to clean out any deposits that may have built up in the delivery lines, the interior passages of the carburetor and the tank itself but change the fuel filter first. Spraying down the air horns and the external parts of the carburetor is a good idea too. Doing this while the engine is running at a high idle (1500 - 2000 RPM) might help loosen up deposits that have built up on the back of the valve heads and/or in the combustion chambers. Although the timing may be OK at idle, check the total advance when the engine is at a higher speed to make sure that you're not getting too much advance from the vacuum unit. Some older Fords had a method of adjusting the total advance via an adjustment that's accessed through the nipple that supplies manifold and/or venturi vacuum to its diaphragm. It utilizes a long-stemmed Allen wrench.

Q. I have a 1987 Chevy S-10 pickup with a 2.8 liter engine and an automatic transmission. About two years ago the transmission failed at 125,000 miles and I had it rebuilt by a nationally known transmission rebuilder. The transmission now has about 20,000 miles on it. I've now noticed a strong "burning" smell when I drive the truck five miles or so. It burns some oil (a quart every 2000-3000 miles) but it's due mostly to leaking valve cover gaskets. I have let the truck idle for a half hour or so and didn't get the smell so it is from something that operates when the truck moves. Could the transmission or its fluid be burning up already or have something else looked at? What can be done if it is the transmission?
P.G. Alexandria, VA

A. It's an easy job to check for a transmission that's burning its fluid. Take it for a ride on the highway and when you stop and shut it down, pull the transmission dip stick and sniff it. If it smells burned, that's probably the source of your burned odors. If this is the case, change the fluid and hope for the best but don't get your hopes up - it may need another overhaul. The way to rectify this is to get a higher-quality rebuild and have an aftermarket ATF cooler installed. You could also put the truck up on a lift, run it in Drive at whatever your normal road speed is for five miles while someone checks it underneath.

Q. I recently visited Boston and took a ride on one of the amphibious trucks that takes tourists around Boston harbor. I remember hearing of a passenger car that was also capable of going on land and in the water too but no one can tell me anything about it, not even the people who operate the tour I went on. I think that an amphibious car would make a great vehicle for fishing on lakes.
A.J. St.Paul MN

A. The only land/water dual purpose car that I ever saw was the Amphicar, a strange little machine built in Germany from '61 to '68. It used a British Triumph car engine and was propelled in the water by twin propellers in the back. I've never driven one but people who have tell me it's neither a good car nor a good boat. Just 600 were built.

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