Hey everyone! Not sure how many people read the content published on Hagerty Media but I have a weekly advice column, Piston Slap, that is a Q&A for just about anything related to cars. Right now I need more questions to answer!
I've covered everything from Blue Flame C1 Corvettes not getting fuel, to a 1980 Buick that needs to be transported from Egypt back to the good 'ol USA.
If you wanna join in on the fun, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can tell a good story and enlighten people on the interweb together!
Have to check some resource material first so I don’t remove all doubt about being a dummy. But I just might have one or two questions coming up on a particular project. 👍
How about distributor the correct way to check and/or add up the timing specs that equal total advance, how to check, and how to dial in your total advance? Due to so much misinformation by way of forums and the internet (just look at some of the terrible youtube videos on how to dial in your total advance), it's a simple deal that is made a black art by way of bad info.
Another would be tuning your carb. Carb tuning is especially critical when you have a big car, high gearing, etc. Ever notice how the carb that runs like a scalded dog on a low geared, light weigh car stumbles on a heavy car with an automatic? I am in the process of tuning out an off idle stumble on the LTD with a dual feed Holley.
Those would be my two suggestions.
Good suggestions but this column is a question and answer format. That's what I have noticed really works in getting people engaged on the blog side of writing. (which is kind of a different ball game compared to communities like this one!)
Sajeev, if you're really stuck for a topic how about a question on something that might come up in a case of dire necessity. I'm talking about the relative merits (which I suspect are few) and drawbacks (likely more) of using a can of fix-a-flat compound.
I'll use my '97 Esprit as an example as the spare tire is basically symbolic. The spare is a 125 width mini that just fits in the nose of the car. A 245 width front tire won't fit there, much less a 285 width rear. A road tire should fit in the trunk but only if any and all luggage is jettisoned. That ain't happening, especially if my wife is on the trip, and she wouldn't be too happy with a grimy wheel & tire on her lap in the passenger seat. So a lot of the time the idea of replacing a flat with the donut spare is a non-starter. Plus, I wouldn't trust the donut anyway.
If I get a flat, plan A is to call Hagerty Plus. But if that isn't possible for some reason, e.g. in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, I carry a can of fix-a-flat as plan B. Luckily, I have never had to use it.
So the issue is, do those things actually work. Can you drive on a tire with that "fix"? Can it inflate the tire on the ground or do you have to jack the car up anyway? Even with the simplifying assumption of even weight distribution and no extra luggage or passenger weight a rear wheel on the Esprit is holding up about 840 lb of car and I wonder if a can could overcome that weight or if it would just deposit a big ball of goo inside the valve stem. How much of a mess of the wheel and tire would it make if it did work?
I'd much rather have these questions answered in your column instead of in real life.
WRLotus, I have used fix-a-flat and the results were mixed. The first experience was returning from Biloxi Miss. Crusin' the Coast. Used it on the spare tire of my beloved 63 Ford Falcon SPRINT. After mounting the spare it was found to be low and I used the stuff as a substitute for air. It got me home. The last time I had to use it was returning from Daytona Beach (speed week) motorcycle rally. Spent the night in FT. Lauderdale and found the back tire on my bike flat ( a nail that I left in the tire). A near by auto parts store had some on the shelf. I bought a can designed for RV's.(it was a big can). I had the bike running and after injecting the stuff I took off as fast as I could for distribution. Otherwise it just makes a glob inside the tire. It lasted all the way to Gulf Shores Alabama before I had to air it up. I always keep a can of it in all my vehicles now. Better safe than sorry. As to your concern about leaving a bid gob of goo......YES it will. Try to get moving and the wheel rotating as soon as you can after injecting your tire.
Thanks for that, jonZ. It always helps hear the voice of experience.
I'll keep on carrying a can of the stuff around in each of the cars just in case it's needed as a last resort. And try to remember to replace the can every few years since it won't have an indefinite shelf life.
The other thing that might help is that when I go on a long trip I usually leave the useless spare at home and use the space for my roadside repair kit. That includes a 12V air pump to adjust pressures but could be used to keep a tire up if it is losing air slowly. And I agree with your approach of leaving the nail, or whatever, in the tire until it can be fixed properly. Taking it out just leaves a bigger hole in the tire.
@hyperv6 Would love to cover it, send me the question because this is a Q&A type of deal. I'm really not in the state of mind to write fake questions for my column, but if all else fails I guess I might have to! 🙂
Hey Sajeev, Please don't do anything fake. The media will take care of that. Lets keep it real. If this column don't get many responses then start another. I learn allot here and enjoy the comments and advice. Thanks and Happy new year.
Although a steering column would be a great topic......Stock, IDIDIT, etc......some of us and I mean me.....may be a little challenged with the technical aspects of everything automotive. At my age I would not be a good source for advice other than my experience with old cars and a good work shop manual.
WRLotus, Thanks for the reply. I have made repairs with tubeless tire plugs/kits at home when I was young and BROKE! Not a very safe option but at the time it was all I could do. The 12v air pump along with the fix a flat is a main stay in all our vehicles now. What's the old saying?........ounce of prevention better that a pound of cure. At my age now I'll take roadside service any day! No pun intended but a flat tire is a sinking feeling. My wife and I both drive extended cab trucks for our dailies and the spare is a B---h to get to.
jonZ, I'm with you on the roadside assistance. The best way to deal with a flat is to watch someone else fix it on a dry, level concrete floor.
There are a bunch of things I did when young and broke that seemed reasonable,and even kind of fun, back in the day that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole now. I don't like to be foolish with my money but I have learned that there is a lot of truth in the observation that there's no substitute for cubic dollars.
I have tried to send you a question but it keeps coming back or the link is dead.
Here is the question. When charging an AGM battery what is the proper way to charge it and if I don't have an AGM charger is there a way to charge it with a conventional charger?
This should help with how to use an AGM charger and how to link a battery in to use a conventional charger.
Ultima has a lot of good tech on this if you need to have a tech resource to link to the story. Also many people here use these batteries so it may be a good one to use.
Ultima Customers tend to also be the ones I get the call from most on so called failed batteries when it really is just a battery too low to work with a conventional charger and they just don't know what to do.
Thank you @hyperv6, I emailed it to myself (since I live via Outlook these days) and I will add it to the queue. Not sure why it didn't work for you, I am getting a fair bit of questions today (I asked for the same request to be submitted internally in Hagerty's intranet). BTW, I will probably have a Fiero question for you in the coming weeks. 🙂
Wow, you definitely have the knowledge and passion...you are gonna be a very valuable resource for me. BTW, here's mine...Jack Baruth wrote about it before he came here, and yes I hate the lace wheels on it: https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a31825/first-drive-1988-zimmer-quicksilver/
They were a rare sight back in the day and more so today. Most I have seen are trashed or in really good shape no in between.
I got into Fieros back in 1980 with a magazine article I still have. I went to buy a new TA but the insurance due to my age was too much. So I bought the Fiero. It was a daily driver for 3 years.
I then was in a hard accident but the car held up well and I kept it. I got a truck and started to fix it up with many of the parts available back in the day.
Started showing and doing well.
I have collected a ton of Fiero history and went on to be the President of the Cleveland Fieros years ago.
Over the years I got to meet and know many of the Fiero program people.
I have collected many rare things too. I have a full set of the fitted luggage. Some of the rare body parts. The Herb Adams VSE suspension kit.
The best thing I have is 13 1990 Fiero emblems. They are prototypes
that GM made about 120 of but only 25 are know to be left. They are raised up emblems that are a little different than the original. GM even gave me the engineering drawing for it.
Most of my former club went on to Corvettes. I hope to buy one soon but I will keep the Fiero. It was my first car and with the modifications I made it my own.
It is not the fastest car but it is fun to drive and when I go to shows there is nothing else there like it.
Also it was my first new car. I would kick myself for not keeping it.
I did entertain selling it once. Right after I got it I was offered a Ferrari Dino. The guy wanted $15,000. I considered it but thought it would rust and where would I get parts. About 5 years later the prices skyrocketed on these. So I can say I turned down a Dino for a Fiero ...lol!
I have experienced everything a Fiero owner can experience. I was the local celebrity when I bought it. People would follow you and stop you to see the car.
Then with the bad PR you were scorned for your choice.
Today it is once again cool as so many come by and say I had one or with I had one of those.
The funniest compliment I have gotten more than once was. “I don’t like Fieros but I like yours”
I only have a Fiero badge on the nose. Many people have no clue what the car is. One event they parked me in with the exotic cars at the show not the Pontiac’s. It was even more funny that it drew a crowed even parked next to a 275 Ferrari coupe. You just can’t get away with things like that in a Chevelle.
GM has used it for display at one of its events. I have had it on the turn table at Summit Racing’s retail store in Akron. I drove it though an office buildings hallways to put it on display one place.
The best is when I got to Indy and on the track for triple digit laps. Then into victory lane with the original 84 Fiero Pace car. Even my wife got a few laps in over 100 mph.
Being different has its benefits. I may not get rich off it but the experiences have been grand.
I love your take on this hobby. Just to start things off, here's what we have in mind for the Zimmer: http://www.nathanbittinger.com/fieroaddiction/ls4-general-info
Would love your thoughts, haven't pulled the trigger yet but it will likely get shipped to your neck of the woods (somewhere in OH) for a friend of a friend's shop to perform the conversion for us (with my guidance on what to do, as they are not GM savvy).
I have not done a swap but I know many that have.
The LS is the best swap right now. Not expensive, many parts for the engine and light weight with an all aluminum engine. The old V8 swaps sucked with cast iron blocks and heads.
The one mistake many do is have people do a Fiero swap that have no experience. Often the swaps can get extended and too much for some. It also can affect durability too. I have seen a number of cars go to a swap and never get finished.
Not judging your people as I don’t know them. A well experienced shop can do this but they need skills and knowledge as there is not a lot of guides on this.
You may want to get on the Pennocks Fiero Forum. There is a number of guys with swaps there. Also some on Facebook but I am not on FaceBook so I can’t recommend.
The king of the swaps was V8 Archie. He used to do the best swap kits. He is semi retired but will do a job once in a while from what I have heard.
A Zimmerman might bring him out?
If not he may be able to give guidance and suggestions on what to use and who to use for help.
Yeah this shop is a friend of a friend type of thing, and they have fabricated their way into swapping newer Porsche powertrains into 914s. Odds are they can do it, but they have no experience with GM stuff. So it's a leap of faith to some extent, but not a crazy wild leap.
The V8 Archie kits look amazing, but he doesn't make anything specific for an LS+Automatic combination. For that reason its likely best to just get an LS4 donor car and follow the instructions from that GM Tuners website.
The worst part is the electronics but now there are stand alone harness and computer set ups that make it clean and easier to set up.
Exhaust most do it their own way in many cases. Everyone likes something different.
Cooling at least a 3 core radiator.
Not sure if you have flushed the coolant yet. But to fill it get the rear up in the air and the nose down. Fill from the rear till the radiator is full. Cap it and then back fill to the back. Keeping the back up higher lets the air go to the back at the high point. It is a trick an old Exotic car mechanic taught me.