Monday, August 7, 2006

Monday, August 7, 2006

Another coolant hose leaking.  I replaced all of the coolant and heater hoses and the car runs fine.  While I was at it, I replaced a few V-belts that were looking a little worn.  Yes.  V-belts.  How old tech can you get other than V-belts except maybe a carburetor.  I don't know, I love a serpentine belt but when you pop the hood and see all of those pulleys and belts, it kind of takes you back to the way things used to be.  TPI and V-belts, almost on the verge of transcending.  The 1980's; an era of constant evolution and change and 1986 was the crux of many changes for the Pontiac Firebird.

Friday, August 4, 2006

August 4, 2006

Well, I ran the TA to work and back (about 70 plus miles round trip) and she did fine on the highway.  In town, she likes to run a little bit hotter.  When she gets to work at the parking lot, she is venting a little steam from near the cap side of the radiator, the coolant in the overflow tank doesn't have a bubble or burp to it.  However, she starts to leak coolant again, not much, just a steady drip-drip-drip that drops perhaps two cups worth from somewhere under the lower air dam and in the middle of the radiator.  On the way home, she uses about an inch worth of coolant from the overflow / reserve tank.  I'll have to slide under her when I get the chance and see where the leak is coming from.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

August 3, 2006

Shade tree failure.  The TA runs fine on the highway but as soon as I pull into the parking lot at work, she barfs up about a gallon of coolant through the reserve / overflow tank.  Steam everywhere from the coolant bubbling in the reserve tank and leaking green coolant all over the parking lot.  Sigh.  I've replaced the thermostat, the radiator is clean enough to drink out of.  Not kidding here, folks, no corrosion or build up at all.  The radiator looks like it just came out of the box and was installed only yesterday.  I sat at work and thought about the problem, the layout of the cooling system, the components, etc.  The car runs fine and only barfs coolant after you park it and turn off the key.  I'm thinking there is an air pocket in the system.  I'll take it to my radiator specialist in a few days and let him look at it.  Thinking that the radiator cap might be old and not holding pressure, I go to Autozone and buy a replacement cap that has a pressure release lever.  The original cap was rated at 15 pounds, this one is rated at 16 pounds.  While I've got some free time, I think of what else I can do to the car and I realize that I'm just two miles from my exhaust artist, Jerry's Auto Repair Center, which has been doing my exhaust work since 1984.  This would be a perfect time to run the car over and have the crew there "Unpimp My Ride" by torching off those stupid ghetto exhaust tips and I might can find some answers to my coolant problem.  Total cost for "unpimping my ride" comes to $74.47.  Given what I have done to the cooling system, the consensus is that I have an air pocket in the system since there is no corrosion in the radiator and the thermostat is brand new.  I'll work it out tonight before dark. 

I load up with coolant at the end of the day (I took a gallon with me just in case ...) and head home.  On the way home, I have to kick the car down from low speed to pass someone.  The car has never felt stronger.  The car doesn't run hot and when I park at home and turn off the key, I pop the hood; no bubbling and no overflow.  Maybe it was the cap after all.  It was a weird problem to be sure.  Some notes here to add to my to-do list.  The throttle body coolant hose is cracked and needs to be replaced.  I need to replace the other small coolant hoses as well on top of the engine.  I didn't get a chance to replace either of the radiator hoses but that's okay because I still want to yank the radiator and get it tested just to make sure.  When I do that, I'll swap in fresh coolant and hoses top and bottom.  During all of this I did learn what a crappy, crappy, inefficient intake system these TPI cars have on them.  It consumes nothing but hot air and how it can even draw enough air to let the engine breathe, I don't know.  Looks like the SLP kit is in my future.  I was going to also drop in a Jet Stage 2 computer chip and lower temp thermostat but since I needed the car this weekend, I didn't want to leave it disassembled while the aftermarket delivered my goods to me.  Maybe in a few weeks I'll order the Stage 2 chip and lower thermostat.  Oil change is coming up soon as well.  Make note on PDA to remind me when it's time.

One other nagging little problem that I am having is that the stock radio doesn't always like to work.  Sometimes when you crank the car, it won't even power up (no clock display, power button doesn't work).  Other times the clock display will come on but be frozen.  No buttons on the radio work.  Other times, the radio works fine.  The subwoofers still aren't hooked up either.  Since the last owner did the stereo work himself, I don't trust his labor.  He also didn't put the center console in like it should be so it's now canted a little bit to one side.  I'll yank the console when I get a day free and check the leads for the radio, see if I can track down why the factory subs aren't working with the factory radio.  I need a replacement power antenna as well since the factory / original one doesn't retract.

Also on the list of parts I'll be buying in the future for preventive maintenance; I've got a worn V-belt on the air conditioning.  Bad worn.  It's starting to sing like a bird and it's gotten really loud so time to replace it in the next few days.  I'll probably go ahead and replace all the V-belts at the same time.  V-belts.  What a holdover from the old generation but still kind of cool.  I miss a serpentine belt but there's just something ... cool about seeing all of those belt driven accessories and those belts.  I'm a sentimental fool for stuff like that.  Fine lines and hold over technology, a mixture of old and new, EFI and V-belts.  Poetry for the eye.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

August 2, 2006

Finished up the thermostat.  It took about three days and three hours total labor (spread over those three days) but that's because I did the job in little bits, I didn't work very long on it each time, I had to go get some spare parts to replace worn parts, and I cleaned and remounted the throttle body in the process.  I cranked the car, let it idle and looked for leaks or problems.  None existed so I ran the car down the road.  The temp gauge hovered well below the middle mark until I sat for a while in the median of the highway and watched the temp gauge head towards the middle point and a little beyond.  I got back underway at speed and the needle again began to fall towards 195 degrees.  I'll run the car to work tomorrow and see how she does.