A Tune-up out of Guilt or One Set of Points Outlasts the Clintons.
R. Kwas 7/00, Revised 1/00, 1/03
I'm considering doing a tune-up on the Snow-Weasel! Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but I couldn't resist writing about it, since the car is running fine despite my best efforts to all but ignore it in the last 50k! miles (except for oil/filter changes, and standard wear-out items - also, a swisscheese sheetmetal replacement session - but that doesn't count - I'll be writing about this separately because the work was done in 304 stainless steel!, and worked out so well. See article: John Z. DeLorean had it Right). I had wanted to do one, honest, in 1992, just before a road trip to Chicago, but the car was running so well, I put it off - after all, ignition spares and tools were on-board for the "flights" and at the very worse, I could do one on the road, incurring at maximum a 10 minute delay. Both legs of the 950 mile one-way, necessary-stops-only trip were uneventful (at 30mpg), and I didn't have to tell some airport security "specialist" that yes, I had packed my bags myself and they had been with me the whole time - that alone is reason enough for driving. After my return, I considered doing a tune-up again, but the car continued running so good, it became kind of a life test to see just how far and long the car would go before something caused it to stop...I figured that would be the ignition points finally closing up. I'm still waiting for that to happen! Almost a decade, including yearly frigid New England Januarys came and went, so did two or three batteries, a few sets of brake pads, and few hundred gallons of premium fuel turned into the mileage equivalent of two global circumnavigations, but not a one ignition failure - ever! Oh yeah...also, a windshield (comprehensively shattered by a suicidal pigeon at high speed - both Snow-Weasel and pigeon moving in opposite directions, giving an estimated car-bird closing speed of 100mph - the experience is not recommended if you're pregnant, have a heart condition, or are prone to surprise-induced loss of bowel control), now I have kind of an idea of what a bird-strike in a fighter aircraft must be like. Luckily I guess, the bird never suffered, and I didn't flip the car ala Firestone (of course whom would I have sued?). All this mind you, while tooling along, making the occasional global amateur radio contact by way of an on-board, 100W, full coverage Ham radio station, operating on Delco-Remy power and which, thanks to modern electronic miniaturization does not displace the right seat passenger; or transporting the canoe to the lake for some summer downtime. I guess I'm operating on the fringes of the bell curve in my true SUV (Swedish Utility Volvo) -- but that's where I like it...and this IS America!
As the year 2000 approached, that became kind of a milestone, to which I've also made it in the "Y2K compliant" Amazon, with about as much of a problem as the rest of the world had. The obvious next milestone we should try for I guess is the next millennium, (starting with 2001, I'll spare the reader the nth explanation), but I'm feeling kind of guilty about it, and it does take a bit of cranking lately to get her started. Currently at 232k miles, maybe I will do that tune-up this winter...out of guilt (first though, the temperature must be below freezing before I'll get to it...builds character, and the beer stays cooler), but when Cameron Lovre writes of "problematic points" on page 40 of ipd's latest catalog (he advises me that this is what he hears from customers), I just just have to ask: Problem? What problem?
Did you happen to notice no mention of clutch hydraulic rebuild kits in the list of consumed items? I hadn't forgotten...there were none consumed! Want to know why...see tech article: Amazoning with Silicon Brake Fluid and O'ringed Clutch Slave Piston on SwEm Kits Page.
The Snow-Weasel is truly The Car of the Future, Yesterday...and Tomorrow!...and when I finally do that tune-up, watch for close-up pix of those points (whatever's left of them) in this space.
Update I: Made it! Its January 2001...tune-up time...but with current temperatures here in New England, that beer might just freeze solid! I guess I'll remove the distributor and do most of that tune-up inside...am I getting wimpy?
Update II: Upon removal of the distributor and inspection of the points, there was an amazing amount of actual contact material left. However, as a normal part of distributor service, before removing it from the vehicle, I checked the centrifugal advance (CA) mechanism by lightly trying to turn the rotor against its return springs. It was frozen!!!...I had a hint of this from the extended heavy return spring (which is extended only at high RPMs and certainly not when motor is at a standstill), visible through the points plate holes (see green arrow). This certainly explains the difficult starting I had been experiencing...time for this distributor to undergo a SwEm intensive care maintenance program. See: Detailed CA Servicing
Snow Weasel xxx003 Bosch distributor with >50k miles since last service, showing expected heavy points wear, but lots of material left (and I have seen worse in my travels)! Heavy CA spring is extended indicating a locked, advanced, position of lobeshaft. Note also: Lube on lobeshaft where points rubbing block makes contact. Rubbing block even still has a convex contact surface indicating it is not worn (and at that mileage, that's truly impressive!).
Both CA springs extended due to a lobeshaft which is frozen onto the mainshaft. Inspection showed it was due to gummed (possibly overheated) lubricating oil between shafts.
Picture after SwEm major distributor service.
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