Bruce's '72: 2005-2020

Updated 4/22/2020 (newest update on top)

4/22/2020 - Move Along, Nothing to See Here...

Seriously. My Nova has been in storage since November, 2010, and I haven't put any significant miles on it since 2003. Pathetic. I look at it lovingly every year, but that's about the extent of it. I even decided to sell it to my nephew a couple years ago, but life got in his way and that deal fell through. I'm glad I still have my Nova, though, even if it's still in storage.

That said, and I know I say this every year, but I hope this is the year it comes back to my garage. I just want to get it running, blow out the cobwebs, and fix that vibration! If I can accomplish that in 2020, I'll be thrilled. Maybe I'll be able to stop driving a minivan every day. Hey, I'm 50 years old, it happens! And then maybe I can finally get back to the turbo project. Or just drive it. Yes, I should just drive it for a while. Enjoy it for what it is. Doesn't have to be perfect, doesn't have to be all-powerful, just enjoy it!

Sorry for dragging you through my mental struggle.

I've already told my daughter she'll need to start parking in the driveway soon to make room in the garage for my Nova. I just need to line up a trailer and then get the all-clear for this Coronavirus thing so I can actually go get the car and bring it home.

5/14/2015 - On The Road Again...Again?

February turns to October, and October 2009 turns to....2015. Not cool.

Replaced the spindles and bearings in October of 2009 and it simply didn't solve the issue. After the winter of 2009/2010 and then the spring and summer of 2010 passed with a complete failure to get the vibration fixed, I was tired of my car taking up space in the garage. I was tired of looking at it. I was getting frustrated. So in November, 2010, I put it in storage. Just for the winter, right? I just needed it out of my garage for a while. Well, it's been there ever since due to time, space, and financial reasons. And loads of frustration.


I tore the front end apart again and got the old spindles out in about 70 minutes. Not too difficult except for removal of the bolts that hold the spindle to the steering arm. I mucked up one of the bolts and one of the nuts, but I chased the threads on both and they're ready for reinstallation. Unfortunately the bolt holes in the spindles seem to be a hair too small, even after wire-brushing the bolt shanks. That's where it sits now, and I'm debating whether to pound the bolts through or try to drill out the spindles slightly. Pounding them through would make for a very snug fit, obviously, and snug is good when it comes to front end components. However, it'll make it VERY difficult to remove them later when I'm fighting the tight fit as well as rust. I hope to do the Cheap Big Brakes thing over the next year, which will require removal of one of the tight bolts to pull the caliper bracket, but I'm leaning toward pounding the bolts through.

I got the new spindles mounted up to the ball joints and the passenger's side is ready for final torquing of the spindle bolts. Driver's side is nearly there as well.

I really don't want to replace the front bearing races again, but I think it's the only choice. The vibration still exists after about 150 miles and is slowly growing worse, which tells me the bearings might be getting damaged. Again, why didn't I replace the spindles last time around?

By the way, the parts I ordered from on 10/14/09 arrived in three separate packages on two different days, the last of which was 10/20/09. Six days for shipping is average, and not a problem if you're prepared for it. Also, paying $15 total for S&H on two brake drums, a set of shoes, two wheel cylinders, and a hardware kit is pretty good! The bad news is now I have to replace the drums, shoes, wheel cylinders, and hardware on my daily driver.

10/15/2009 - New Spindles

The new spindles have arrived! Imagine my surprise when I opened the first of two separate spindle boxes and found two spindles inside the one box. Apparently they're sold in pairs? Oops. Hope it doesn't cost too much to ship a pair of spindles back (I never did send them back, by the way). Anyway, now I just have to find some time to get them installed.

10/12/2009 - Cheap Big Brakes?

As long as I'm replacing the spindles, last night I very nearly pulled the trigger on buying the parts for the "Cheap Big Brakes" upgrade made famous by David Pozzi. Basically you use a factory drum brake hub and slap on mid-'70s Corvette 12" rotors (technically 11.75" x 1-1/4") and use mid-'70s half-ton pickup calipers (to accomodate the extra rotor width), then modify the caliper bracket to relocate the caliper mounting holes 3/8" outward (not radially). Discount Brakes has stock-replacement rotors for under $40 each and calipers are under $40 each including the core. Throw in some good pads and I'm under $200 to upgrade to 11.75" x 1-1/4" rotors (upsized from my stock 11" x 1" rotors). The increased diameter gives more surface area and better leverage, and the thicker rotor offers better cooling, in theory. There's some debate about that.

10/11/2009 - Back in Action

I cleaned out the gummed-up squirters in the carb and I've put about 60 miles on the car since the repair. It's 90% better, but still not totally solved. There's still some mild vibration around 60-65 mph and it already seems to be getting worse the more I drive. I'm sticking with my bearing/spindle theory, though, and I've got new spindles coming in this week. I'll replace the inner bearings again as well, just as a precaution.

I also made another decision: I'm tired of the pin-on hood. The quick full-access is great, but it's not worth the hassle of having to completely remove the hood every time I want access, and I've slightly damaged my vinyl roof a couple times because the roof is the only place to put my hood when it's off. I even had the hood slide down and chip paint from my fender. Not only that, the pin-on alignment has never been great and it's caused another annoying squeak as the hood moves relative to the pins. Enough is enough. I removed the rear hood pins and bolted the hinges back on. Ahhhh, much better. At least until next time I'm upset because I'm having trouble working around the hood hinges...

Oh, and the unthinkable has happened! I was at a friend's house over the weekend with my Nova and when I was leaving my wife told me to do a burnout on the way out (gotta love her!). It wouldn't happen. WTF? Granted, the air temp was about 38 degrees Fahrenheit, the car had been sitting for about five hours, the carb has no choke and is out of tune, and the car basically hasn't been driven in six years, but still. Can't even turn the tires? I swore to myself that will NEVER happen again. Embarrassing! I'll be ordering up a line-lock and spending some quality time with my carburetor very soon.

Now, could someone please make it stop snowing?

10/8/2009 - On The Road Again?

Man, February turns into October awfully quick! Nothing happened with the car during the summer, but I've now replaced the inner and outer front wheel bearings, races, and inner seals. I took it for a test drive and....I think the problem has been solved, or at least a Band-Aid has been put on it. I'm elated at the possibility, but kicking myself for thinking way back in 2003, "I guess it could be the bearings, but they're not that old so I'll skip it and try other things." Idiot! That was Stupid Decision #1.

Stupid Decision #2: Not replacing the spindles while I had the front end apart this summer.

I had consciously decided that since I knew my spindles were suspect I'd replace them regardless of whether the bearings solved the problem because even if that occurred, I was concerned that temporary use of bad spindles might wreck my new bearings. That was a good decision. Not following up on it was a bad decision. Now I need to order spindles and take my front end apart, again, to install them.

I'll do a little more driving this weekend to make sure it drives okay, and then order up some spindles and tear back into it. Sure, it's approaching mid-October, but I could still conceivably get a couple months of driving in before winter.

Oh, one more problem (what else is new?): my accelerator pumps are stuck again, or at least not squirting. The levers seem to move fine, at least some, but nothing comes out. This is getting frustrating. Sure, I didn't drive it all summer, but it sat for less than eight months. I'm hoping old gas has something to do with it, or else I may have to fight this battle every spring. I'll pull off the fuel bowls and see what's up. At least it doesn't need squirters to run.

2/14/2009 - Wheel Bearings, Spindles, and Springs

I had some time today so I jacked up the front end and started poking around, looking for any possible sources for the vibration. Nothing. Everything is very tight. That's a good thing, but I sure wish I could have found a bad tie rod or something to easily point out as the problem. Oh well. One thing I did notice was that when grabbing each of the front tires by the top and bottom and rocking them, there was some noticeable play there. I took off the wheels, calipers, and rotors and the bearings looked fine, but after a quick cleaning I found something not quite right with the spindles. The driver's side is shown at left, passenger at right.

Seems to me the driver's side inner wheel bearing's inner race is spinning on the spindle. There's some black stuff adjacent to that clean, shiny band, too, which I think is baked-on grease thanks to the additional heat created by the spinning inner bearing race. Just a guess, but it seems logical since the passenger's side bearing's inner race doesn't appear to be spinning on the spindle and there's no baked-on grease on that side. The bearing itself seems to be in good condition.

My plan is to remove the baked-on grease and see how much damage has been inflicted on the spindle. If it's significant, I'll replace it. If not, I'll try new bearings and see what happens, mostly because bearings are a whole lot cheaper than spindles. If I need new spindles to fix the problem I'll do it in a heartbeat, but I'd hate to buy new spindles only to find out they had nothing to do with it.

Okay, I mic'd the spindles and they're both slightly worn and out-of-round. I guess 37 years and 220,000 miles can do that. Certainly could be contributing to what I hope is a bearing problem.

2/10/2009 - It Runs!

I've done a full rebuild on the Holley #4777 650 double-pumper (it had sat for too long and it turns out the squirters were just gummed up). I had it running last week but it'd only run above 1800rpm, as if there was no idle circuit at all.

Craig suggested there might be some crap in the circuit or that maybe I had used the wrong gasket somewhere and a passage was being blocked. I pulled the carb once again, removed the base, and sure enough, I had the wrong gasket between the base and the main body and it was completely blocking the long channel on each side of the base. I swapped out the gasket and now it runs well. Not great yet, but pretty well. Considering how long it's been since it's run for any length of time, I'm happy with it. It's not been on the road since the fall of 2007 and I think the gas in the tank is probably from about 2004.

I also washed the filthy thing for the first time in way, way too long. It really needs a good cleaning and wax job!.


Here it is, already 2009. I can't believe I've put so few miles on my car over the past five years, but it's a sad reality. I don't think the car even moved during 2008.


Adding insult to injury, my Holley's accelerator pumps are stuck. When I go WOT, the springs on the screws compress fully and the pump lever doesn't move at all. Odd, though, since it's happening to both pumps at the same time and it's never happened before. Time to get a carb kit, pull the carb, and see what's going on. Maybe I'll drill out the PVCRs while it's disassembled to allow me to run slightly leaner jetting (safely) with the turbos.


More of the same! No news is bad news. I've eliminated the wheels and tires from being possible sources of the vibration (tested four other wheels/tires at one time and there was no change), and considering the behavior of the vibration I think I've eliminated everything in the driveline as well and I'm 95% convinced it's controlled by vehicle speed. Why? I tried tires with different diameters from the ones I usually run and the INDICATED speed at which the vibration took place was different. When calculating the speed variation based on the change in tire diameter, the vibration happened very close to the same vehicle speed regardless of tire diameter. That (probably) means the driveline and wheels/tires are innocent. But doesn't that also mean the rotating assembly on the front end is innocent as well (assuming the borrowed tires were significantly shorter)? I guess I need to look at the front end, perhaps wheel bearings, or more likely, steering and suspension components. I plan to replace my stock front springs with some Hotchkis 600in/lb springs soon and I'll check the front end very carefully as I disassemble and reassemble it. Maybe I'll finally eliminate the problem that's kept me from driving my car regularly for over three years!


In case you haven't read the history of my Nova, here are the Cliff's Notes for the second half of 2004 through 2006...

After replacing the front brake pads in late July my car started vibrating terribly while traveling anywhere in the 55-70 mph range. I figured it must have something to do with the brakes since the vibration started after I replaced the pads.

I had the rotors turned in early October, threw it back together, and....more vibrations. They were worse when I was on the brakes than off, so I was thinking warped rotors. Fine. I bought a pair of rotors and new top-quality pads. Slapped it all on, change.

I had all four wheels/tires balanced. No change. I replaced the u-joints. No change. My neighbor was a tire guy and he said he thought my wheels might be bent. I got a couple spare wheels from Craig (my 2QuickNovas cohort) and had the tires mounted up and balanced. No change. I borrowed four wheels/tires from a friend and tried them all at the same time to eliminate my wheels/tires from the equation. No change, except for the indicated speed at which the vibration occurred (the borrowed tires were smaller in diameter than mine), which tells me the vibration is related to road speed rather than engine speed, which indicates the vibration has nothing to do with the engine, transmission, rotating driveline, brake drums, and front rotors. But if not something that moves when driving, then what could it be?

I've not done anything with the front wheel bearings during this ordeal so I should replace those as well, just in case. If those don't change anything, I think I'm down to front end components, none of which seem loose or worn, as I completely rebuilt the front end in 1997 and since I haven't driven much since the fall of 2003. It's still pretty fresh, or should be. I've probably got 40,000 miles on it since the front end rebuild.


Here are the current specs for my car (as of 2020):

My Engine:

When blown:

The Rest of the Driveline:

Chassis and Suspension:

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© 2020 Bruce Johnson and Craig Watson