Bruce's '72 Nova: 2001

Summary:
Rear Gears and Axles:
I started pulling the rearend apart to put in the new (to me) Richmond 4.10 gears and upon inspection of the axles, I found that there was a lot of pitting where the axle bearings ride.
Dang! How to fix? Replace the axles. The cheapest well-respected place to get new axles was Tom's Differentials, where I ordered up a pair of Tom's Kick Ass axles, Torrington bearings, CR seals, and ARP 1/2" thread-in wheel studs, all for $299 including shipping. Yeah, the studs are a bit long! I can't even get my center caps on. Tom's didn't ask what length I wanted, so if you get some studs from them, be sure to specify the length you want!

Shifter:
I bought a used Hurst shifter to replace the mid-'70s Monte Carlo shifter that I've been using since 1990. The Monte shifter worked fine, but it didn't have a neutral- safety switch, which is required for NHRA-legality (and for just plain ol' safety) and it wasn't a very cool shifter. I had to modify my center console somewhat to make it work and also fabricate some brackets to bolt to the shifter, so it took some time, but I got it all worked out. I finished making a new cover for the console, too. Here's the new shifter:

Torque Converter:
I bought a new 4000-stall converter from Midwest Converter Technologies to replace my too-tight B&M Holeshot 2400. That one just didn't work well with my Comp XE274 cam and my slow 2.00 60-foot times prove that (compared to the combo I was running the year before, milder yet quicker). I love the new converter! Definitely buy Midwest if you need a converter. The tranny temp never gets over 200 degrees even with only a cheap tube-and-fin cooler and sitting in stop-and-go traffic in 100-degree weather. Try that with a 4000-stall converter from one of the other companies! This is my daily-driver, remember. It cruises almost like my old 2400-stall, but when I punch it the tach jumps right up to about 4000 rpm. Go to www.raceconverters.com and buy one. Now! My 60-footers dropped to 1.86 with some tirespin and no tuning of my traction bars. HUGE improvement! I'm looking for 1.80s next time out.

Hood:
And finally, I converted my Unlimited fiberglass cowl-induction hood from a bolt-on to a pin-on. It was always pinned at the front, but now there are hood pins at the rear, too. Why? The hinge springs didn't quite hold the hood up so I got tired of dealing with that, I also got tired of working around the hood and hinges to get back by the firewall, and the hood kept so much light out of the engine bay. Now I lift the hood off, lay it on my vinyl roof, and I can easily access everything with plenty of light. Another advantage is I'm 6'2" tall and my car is somewhat low, so I really had to bend over to get under the hood. Not anymore. Here are some pics:

Unfortunately, along with the advantages a lift-off hood provides, there's one disadvantage. When the hood is on the roof, it's easy to forget about it! I had it on the roof in mid-August and was moving my car around the driveway so I could do another project in the garage. As you might have guessed, I forgot about the hood and punched the gas to get up the driveway. Strangely, that didn't cause a problem. The problem came when I hit the brakes as I approached the house and the hood slid forward along the roof and fell down into the engine bay. The hood is fine, but the leading edge trim hit the top inside corner of my right fender and took off a couple small chunks of paint and somehow (I'm still not sure how) the hood put a small tear in my vinyl roof at the very front, almost in the center. I wonder if that happened when I gassed it? There are those studs holding the front trim piece to the hood, maybe one of those cut into the vinyl as the car accelerated forward and the hood tried to stay where it was? A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force...

Oh well, it's a street car, right?

Late Summer Status and Problems:
Nothing exciting to report, unfortunately. As a result of a big bog upon hard acceleration and because my engine started running crappier and crappier, I rebuilt the carb (Holley #3310, 750 cfm, vacuum secondary). It went well, the rubber umbrella valve in the accelerator pump basically disintigrated in my hand so I figured that was the main problem with the bog.

I reinstalled the carb and the bog is better, but not gone. Hopefully some adjustments will eliminate that problem.

Two new problems have presented themselves, however.

First, when in top gear at about 45+ mph giving it some good pedal (anywhere from half- to full-throttle) for solid acceleration, it sounds like it's missing or like there's a huge vacuum leak or something. WAA uhh WAAA uh WAA uhhh, and so on. It's not like I'm giving throttle and then no throttle, it's not nearly that severe, but it's very noticeable. Maybe a lean surge? My oxygen sensor readings are very low (lean) under acceleration (when above the power valve's opening point (100 mV)), but this problem occurs even when the PV is open resulting in a rich condition (900 mV), too, so it doesn't seem to relate to the air/fuel ratio. Odd. But before I can address that issue, I have a more immediate problem: My driver's side motor mount is broken. I happened to drive with the hood off for a few miles and immediately saw what was going on. When I punch it from a stop the driver's side of the engine lifts up about 2 inches! Here are a couple screen shots of the video I took showing it at rest and when I punch it.

And here's the 120 Kb video itself (click on the image to load and view the video).
Not good. I've seen it move even more than in the video, too. I made a limiting strap for the short term so I could feel more safe driving it until I have a chance to install my new Energy Suspension polyurethane engine mounts. Then I'll start trying to figure out what's up with the carb!

Autumn Update:
I got an engine-limiting strap installed, I just made one out of a braided battery cable. It's working great. Now, however, I have a power steering fluid leak! ACK! When will it end? I think it's just the return line, so it should be really easy to fix.

The Latest:
The limit strap broke. The stranded wire broke right at the terminal. I have no idea how long I was driving with it broken, I probably didn't lift the hood for two weeks. Oh well, no damage seems to have occurred. I'm done driving it for this year so I'll just replace the motor mounts this winter.

Here are the final 2001 specs for my car:

My Engine:

The Rest of the Driveline:

Chassis and Suspension:

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Copyright 2009 Bruce Johnson and Craig Watson