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Info, updates, trials, and testaments
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So far so good! Weber 32/36, I.E. headers, ansa resonator/muffler, I.E. mech. dizzy, no more fuel smell and all timed up! I haven't taken the valve cover off yet and am a little suspicious about the valve clearances. Very mild tapping sound (again, very mild - really only noticeable when starting cold with the hood up and my ear toward the valve cover). Also, a little lower on power than I would have hoped for... actually - not so much lower on power, rather: seems less peppy and responsive through the rpm range that I would have expected after the conversion from smogged california spec to where I am now. I've never done, or seen anyone do a valve job on an M10 (aside from some youtube videos) and was wondering if anyone could throw me some tips.
My name's Guillaume (but you can call me Gui, or Gil... or G... to avoid problematic spelling and pronunciation), and I work on mostly older cars and motorcycles. I started at a young age, watching my Dad race at Lyme Rock and Watkins Glen in his '64 Lotus Seven definitely helped set the pace for me. Now, old cars have been somewhat of a family hobby with my older brother Charles living in LA (who in the last 5 or so years has gone from more-or-less uninterested in cars to a full blown car guy, with a Triumph Spitfire!). After recently moving to Northern Vermont my dad decided we needed a garage to keep the flammable oily bits and toys separated from the house, and so that projects could be worked on during the very common cold months. Last year, while perusing eBay: a Fjord blue 1976 2002 with white stripes came up for sale in CA (some of you may have seen it) in the $5k range. I saw the car and absolutely loved it - but knowing my father's natural response to over-enthusiasm, and the number of great toys our family collectively drools over every week, I said "Yeah, nice car!" and left it at that. Naturally, a few days later the eBay auction was won - and so the story begins...
The BMW was shipped from CA to VT by truck, and eventually arrived with a good coating of road grime and the remaining evidence of various forms of continental US weather. Regardless, being the tough little S.O.B. that it is - started up first crank. I must mention that I was suspicious of the car from day one; why was such a charming, attractive, and definitive driver's car struggling at auction. What was really wrong with it?.... All the red flags and alarms that should have been going off in my head were immediately overpowered by the excitement of the BMW's arrival and apparent willingness to be driven!
I did the basic checks before going for the first few short drives (>20miles) and suspicions began to get under my skin. Nothing goes this well (we do, after all, also have a Lancia Scorpion - some may say I'm experienced in the world of confusion and occasional misery). Nothing was wrong... So, I built up some courage and decided to drive it up to Montreal on a nice late summer day. Everything was going well! Temps were normal, the handling was wonderful, steering precise, engine not surprisingly powerful but the torque from the inline-four made it amazingly smooth and easy to drive. Overjoyed, although still not letting my guard down completely - I stopped for fuel right before getting onto the Pont Champlain into Montreal and quickly got something to drink and paid. Hoping to avoid those gremlins well-known to invade a perfectly functional classic car the instant it sits for more than a few seconds. Again, it started first crank - I took a second, checked the temps and listened carefully for anything out of the ordinary, and continued onward. Optimistic about the future relationship with such a great, cheery, soulful little car. I turn right out of the gas station, and keep the blinker on for the on-ramp 500ft in front of me for the bridge. Again, smooth torque, comfort, enjoyment.....
Disaster. The engine lost all power and I was now on the side of the road right at the beginning of the on-ramp (which in Quebec, are government property - therefore anyone broken down will be towed by the appropriate government approved tow truck and no, you can't do anything about it). Eventually I was in the front seat of a rather inappropriately massive wrecker bouncing across the bridge into Montreal. The garage where the car was supposed to have been parked under its own steam is down an alley, which is entered via a downhill one-way street. Kindly, the tow truck driver agreed to leave the car upstream and I would do the rest. At this point.... my memory starts to get a bit fuzzy.
Next thing I know, I'm walking rather vigorously in an area of Montreal nowhere near the garage and the car, on the phone with my Dad (who luckily, is a doctor). Apparently I had called to give an update and made absolutely no sense over the phone. I had forgotten that my older brother (who was visiting from LA with his girlfriend) had decided to also go to Montreal that night and meet me there), forgotten more or less everything. The confusion, and disconnection was obviously a bit alarming to my Mom, who passed the phone to my Dad. He suspected that I had inhaled a good amount of carbon monoxide at first, soon after it was clear that I had spent an hour and a half inhaling gasoline fumes. The vigorous walk I was told to go on was to try and reintroduce a good amount of oxygen back into my brain. That night, my head hurt - badly.
The next morning, after meeting back up with my brother and his girlfriend. I was at the computer with a coffee and a cigarette when I felt the room spin faster and more powerfully than any late-night over consumption of alcohol has ever given me. When I came to, I was on the floor. This was a seizure! How nice. Again, panicking certain members of my family, and definitely scaring myself a bit. The BMW was parked (in a sort of automotive time-out for bad behavior) in that same spot in the garage in Montreal for a year.
Lesson: Fumes are serious, and I had some serious work to do on the car.