The Rustpuppy Logs   <  ^  >

Subject:   Rustpuppy Log day 1

Date:       Wednesday, September 29, 1999 7:41 PM


Today was another scorcher 80 degrees here and sunny.  (Indian summer with a vengeance, soon it will be 45 and raining)..

Still with some doubts about the smooth shifting of the TH350 (with a shift kit) in the newly invigorated Rustpuppy I checked the fluid and found it only about a pint low.  Not enough to make a difference.  I expect the smooth 1-2 shift is because the right rear tire spins and takes up the thump, and the 2-3 shift is smoother because the extra torque of the motor is allowing the 2-3 clutch to slip just a little.  The rpm changes quickly, the big thump is just missing.. 

I replaced the grille on Rustpuppy (finding out too late that you can get it on upside down. I found out when I tried to put in the two center hex screws)  Oh well it was off and back on in just a minute.  The Junkyard Dawg don’t even got no grille so I will be in the market for a 75 LN grille next year, any aftermarket parts available??

Then I invented a new improved coolant recovery tank.  The stock job which fits nicely in the right front fender has a crack and cannot hold coolant so I have been running Rustpuppy with a bit of air in the radiator for some years now.  That causes extra corrosion and a coolant recovery system is really good for your motor. 

Soo.  I took an old plastic gallon jug (laundry detergent came in it) and jammed it down in that perfect little nook nestled between the right side of the radiator and the frame.  On a Disco Nova with the battery in the trunk it makes a perfect location for a coolant recovery tank.  Left the cap off and stuck the overflow hose down in to within an inch of the bottom it and filled it half full of water.. 

Then as the shadows grew longer and the sun started to set it was time to get out on the road with Rustpuppy and the G-Tech Pro mobile dragstrip..

I was gonna just get the feel of the extra power on the old country road and do a 0-60 time.  The first time I tried nothing happened except a lot of noise and smoke from the right rear tire.  I realized that you must feather foot it off the line with the open 3.08 axle Rustpuppy has (and the hard compound highway type 215R70-14 tires)

Another few tries came up with a best of 6.4 seconds.   Before the best Rustpuppy has ever done was 8 seconds flat..  We are getting somewhere!

Suppressing my excitement and doing my Yogic breath exercises I cruised Rustpuppy south a couple more miles to the place on Highway 101 that I use for the quarter times..

They had recently repaved the spot and enough time had passed to wash away the oil yet leave the relatively sharp gravel points showing.  Looked like a nice fast track..

Then It was several breaths and “Go like hell..” down the highway.  I could see the blinking 0-60 time out of the corner of my eye and it was 6.64 (slower than my best by .24) but I had feathered it a little too much on the start.  (had an old section of pavement to launch from and had not much bite) 

Then the 1-2 shift came up and hit me in the back like a defensive tackle from the NFL since I was on the biting part of the highway and there was just a loud short chUUrrp from the much suffering right rear tire.

The amazingly soft 2-3 shift came up quickly as the tranny is set to shift at full throttle at 4400 rpm.   (higher would be better)

Then the blinking for the quarter started and I got off quick and coasted back down to about 60.   I could see the G-Tech blinking the results but I forced myself to relax and watch the road until I could turn off on to the old highway and stop.

The very best that Rustpuppy had done before (when I first got the G-Tech and before the Goodwrench en Mexico cam rotted out) was 16.4 @ 87..

Today it was...

15.16 @ 94.2...

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy..

Rustpuppy is runnin good and I haven’t even started tuning yet..



There was just a tiny tad of misfiring just as I passed 90 mph and I wonder what could be causing it..  Could it be tired old valve springs? 

More to come..   (and Aren, I am working on the “Comet From Hell” report)

Rick Draganowski

(lookin for high 14’s)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log day 2

Date:       Thursday, September 30, 1999 5:17 PM


Not a lot today but I ran Rustpuppy’s weight (race ready with driver is 3900) and quarter MPH (94.2) through the equation which is supposed to guess your horsepower (wonder how accurate those jibbies are?)  and came up with about 300 horsepower.  I was impressed since Rustpuppy’s motor is an old junker and really needs a rebuild.  I cranked the motor specs through Dyno2000 and came up with the attached chart.  Not bad at all.

Some bad news marred my triumph yesterday as I heard from Chuck Butcher in Baker City (about 500 miles away from here)  that the Junkyard Dawg (nestled safely in the far corner of the junkyard) is gonna have to be moved right away.  He has found a place to store it but it’s gonna cost me 25 bucks a month so the pressure to figger out a reasonable way to get  the motorless Dawg across the whole diagonal length of the state of Oregon is really on...

And my finances are stretched to the limit already...  Oh well... It will all work out...

Kwitcher whinin...

I tested Rustpuppy yesterday evening and she still has the hot starting problem from the 13 degrees initial advance so I am gonna set the timing back 3 degrees and see if that will cure it.  35 degrees total now and going back to 32..

I wonder how much the quarter times will change?  We will see..

More to come..

BTW Aren I have been working on the “Comet From Hell” story each day for as long as I can stand to...  It is gonna take several more days.. 

Rick Draganowski

(15.16 @ 94.2 with a total of 1600 bucks invested, happy, happy :-)


Subject:   Rustpuppy Log day 3

Date:       Saturday, October 02, 1999 8:20 PM


Went to town yesterday in Rustpuppy.  Beautiful day, sunny and about 70.  Kept my foot out of it to avoid unpleasant complications so it was just a scenic drive and a chance to fill Rustpuppy up with some 92 octane (had to put in some gasoline from the mower can to get to town).  Ran like a clock and started fine at the 7.5 degree static advance..

Today was sunny at first but the temp had dropped and the cold fog was in by this afternoon.  Like a Werewolf of London picture it was thick and the temp was down to 50..  Real Oregon coast weather.. 

The first thing I noticed when I checked Rustpuppy for starting was that the choke was not working correctly.  No fast idle and dies without some gas.. 

Oh well,  the modification to the choke pushrod was just a guess.  I messed around with the choke in the fog for a while and was able to torture the linkage to get the correct length (see picture, it was straight to start with, the little screw was just there to prop it up so you could see the bend properly). 

That out of the way I got back on the road to see if the choke was allowing the secondaries to open when the motor warmed up a little.   It almost seemed not to be as Rustpuppy seemed to be on Prozac or sumptin.  The roar and tire spinning insanity was much reduced (and sorely missed)..   

Back at the tree (shade tree in front of my shop where all the Rustpuppy work takes place) I found that the secondaries were indeed opening and the choke was fully off..   Hmmmm...

I cranked the distributor over (in the advance direction) about the amount I retarded it to get Rustpuppy to start nice when hot.  Then back on the road in the dense fog (only about 50 feet visibility so no racing allowed)

But,  the big roar and insane tire spinning was back with a vengeance as Rustpuppy loves the right timing combined with 50 degrees with 100% humidity air.  More power!

So back at the tree I checked where the static timing was after the tweak..  It was right back at 13 degrees to put the total advance back up to 35 degrees. Cutting it back to 29.5 degrees total advance took all of the Moxie out of ol’ Rustpuppy so I gotta figger another way of beating the hot start problem.. 

I crawled around by the starter to see what could be done to provide a thermal barrier between the headers and the starter and it is really snug in there.  A header tube runs almost the whole length of the starter about ¼” away and another one is almost touching the solenoid..   It must be gettin hotter that the hubs of hell in there.  

Hmmm, forced air ventilation through the hole left by the absent heater..  Stick cement siding and aluminum sheet sandwich between the headers and the starter...  Modified windshield washer to spray cold water on the starter..

Ideas, ideas....

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(I could just sit and wait for Rustpuppy to cool off every time I stop the motor :-) 



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log day 4

Date:       Monday, October 04, 1999 5:37 PM


I noticed last night that the dome light got really dim when I was messing about with the hot start problem.  I had been getting the alt light on dimly for about 6 months and theorized that the battery was going a little low so I put it on the charger last night. 

Since a flat battery is only one way to get the low voltage at startup I went through and checked the connections on my homemade trunk installation.  Aha! the hot cable was a little loose and could easily have caused the problem.

I fixed that and piled into Rustpuppy for another hot soak road test.  I notice that the choke was not going fully off within the first half mile as normal and stayed on enough to block the secondaries of the Q-Jet for about a mile and a half.  When the choke finally kicked off the roaring spinning madness returned. :-)

So back under the shade tree I switched off, waited a few minutes and tried to start hot.   The starter was a little slower than when the motor was cold but spun the motor fine and it took off running without any problems.  The extra resistance of the loose battery terminal was fouling me up.  Happy solution but time will tell....

But the choke was still not right.  The pushrod length is critical on the Q-Jet and I was now about 1/8” too short instead of ¼” too long..   So I pulled it off and tormented the poor linkage some more to get the rod effective length about 3/16” longer.  Gonna have to keep testing until I can get it exactly right.  This is an important adjustment and can cause a lot of the Q-Jet problems impatient rodders have.. 

Today made the arrangements via phone and fax to get a new home in Baker City (450 miles away)  for “Junkyard Dawg” and even though it is gonna cost me 25 bucks a month I am relieved..

There is always something.  As the list knows I was lazy about keeping the header bolts tight on Rustpuppy and they loosened up enough to have one fall out and be lost.  I have the Nitro Seal steel and carbon composite gaskets and I thought that letting the bolts go loose did not damage the gasket.  I was wrong and I am gettin at least one and possibly two header leak ticks.  The cylinders that were not firing well (or at all) with the flat cam must be pounding the header gaskets with their powerful and noisy breath..

So for best results I gotta go in an pull the headers again and put in new gaskets to quiet them down..  Oh well, I really like workin on Rustpuppy...

I gotta go now and look for the rod cap for Trinidad Zepeda..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(startin hot, for now)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log day 4 addendum

Date:       Monday, October 04, 1999 7:29 PM


After finding the rod cap for Trinidad I went back to Rustpuppy for a couple of things.  I found that the socket which the left rear taillight/brakelight/turn signal bulb plugs into had rotted away to the point of no return.  I spliced in a new socket I had bought at NAPA in a few minutes.  I noticed the official Echlin part has the small print “Made in China” on it.  Hmmm... 

In any case it is really important to have turn signals and brakelights working right on your old Nova as even when the other drivers know what  you are doing they are a risk.  And making a left turn without signals is a dance with death in serious traffic..

Darkness had fallen and the evening was cool and windless and there seemed to be no traffic at all on Hwy 101 so I made a snap decision to take Rustpuppy for another trip to the G-Tech Mobile Dragstrip..

I got down to the new paving with the good bite and Rustpuppy seemed to be running strong and eager.

I staged right in the middle of the road (no traffic remember) and got one of the best starts ever.  Running fast after dark on the narrowest part of the causeway is a little challenging and my old nerves were fraying fast but the blinking quarter signal came up quickly and I coasted back down to a sane speed and waited again until I was pulled off the narrow highway and stopped before reading the G-Tech.

Hot dog!  

15.04 @ 97.3

Rustpuppy loves the cool humid coast air and always ran best in the evening..

Rick Draganowski

(lookin for 14’s..  :-)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 5

Date:       Saturday, October 09, 1999 7:04 PM


A mixed bag of Nova wrenching.  Due to the press of life’s business I had little time to mess about with Rustpuppy till today. 

Rustpuppy still has a slight miss, most pronounced at idle and very small throttle openings and smoothing out at higher rpm.   I guessed that the settings for the idle mixture were off due to the change in cams.  The stock cam was still mostly ok the last time I fiddled with the needle valves.  So after warming Rustpuppy up to operating temp (190) I first closed the needle valves and counted the exact turns to find my starting point.  Both valves were open exactly 2 turns.  I then set them to 1 ½ turns each and started the motor. The idle was definitely worse.  (for safety’s sake I turn off the motor to adjust the carb since the rear part of the fan blades are not shielded (custom fan shroud) and I do not want my forearms minced)  Setting the needles back to 2 turns improved the idle.  Then I tried 2 ½ turns and the idle degraded so the 2 turns were optimum all the time..

More on missing, when I did the 94mph quarter (first one) I noticed a miss above about 4000 rpm which I assumed to be just weak valve springs.  But (another one) when I did the 97mph quarter (best yet) I cannot remember any high speed miss.  Hmmmm...  Any ideas anyone?

The idle non-adjustment happened last Thursday..

Now for today, Saturday...

I must confess to the list that I had put off changing the master cylinder on Rustpuppy (bought the replacement last winter) because of the possibility that I would be concentrating on the “Junkyard Dawg” and Rustpuppy would be languishing and eventually salvaged for parts..   But the Flat Cam Project invigorated Rustpuppy to the point of making me feel very strange about having a brake defect that is not corrected.  (slow application, pedal to floor, fast application, brakes good)

A few days ago I had run another quart of water (and a few snorts of Marvel Mystery Oil) into the vacuum line I piped into the passenger compartment and noticed that Rustpuppy seemed even more peppy than usual.  After a little run on the country road I considered taking Rustpuppy out on 101 for a try at the 14’s and 100mph..

Either it was my guilty conscience or something more but that evening as I drove down toward the highway I swear I could hear the beating of the wings of the Angel of Death and I turned around and returned home.  I could “run” Rustpuppy no more until the master cylinder was replaced..

Today was the day on the master cylinder replacement project.  I debated pulling off the hood and left hood hinge assembly since there is so little room to work for an ol’ cripple.  But I decided that I could manage if I just took my time.

There are three nuts on the 4 studs of a manual brake 76 Nova.  The top two are for the master cylinder and the bottom drivers side one is for the bracket which holds the proportioning valve.  They are not handy but with the aid of a 3/8 drive universal joint and box wrench I got the nuts off (dropped 2 out of three and only found one, damn, one must be wedged in the frame mount or something)  The two fittings were pre-WD-40’d and loosened so they were ready for the tubing wrench.

I then went to the bench (cardboard box with piece of plywood on front porch of shop) to ready the new (Raybestos rebuild) master cylinder.  I had the bench bleed kit from the Help! section at Car Quest and three cans of DOT 3 brake fluid so I was set.  After mounting my portable vise to the plywood with two clamps I had the new master cylinder clamped in by one of the mounting ears and ready to bleed.

The bench bleed kit comes with plastic fittings and a cheap bit of hose and a clip.  The fittings go in the two ports, cut the hose into one shorter and one longer piece, push onto the fittings and secure with the clip on the center divider of the master cylinder.  Fill the master cylinder  to about ¼ inch of the top making sure the ends of the hoses are immersed.  Then using a big Phillips screwdriver slowly pump the cylinder until the bubbles stop.  Then unclip the hoses one at a time and plug the ends with the tiny plastic plugs in the kit.  Replace the cover on the master cylinder and it is ready to go in. 

I then pulled the fittings off the old master cylinder and it came out easily.  Putting the new master cylinder seemed to be impossible until I realized that the bracket went on over the cylinder lug and not under.  Because of the hood and the hinge it is really difficult to see in there.  Feeling a little like an idiot I pressed on.

I had to pull out the plastic bleed fittings to get the master cylinder into correct position so brake fluid was slowly dribbling out of the open ports.  The rear fitting went on easily and was snugged up in a trice but I could not get the threads started on the front one and was becoming more and more frustrated.  The short piece of steel tubing connecting the front master cylinder port to the proportioning valve must be holding the fitting at a slight angle.  But because of the hood and hinge I could not see what was happening.  Finally in frustration I cried out to the Creator..

The fitting went on instantly.  Prehaps just a coincidence but I think of it as a small miracle..

With the fittings tightened and checked again and the two master cylinder nuts tightened (a lot, GM had them torqued a bunch) and the missing nut nowhere to be found (and left off out of spite) it was time to sit in Rustpuppy hit the brakes and see how much air was in the lines..  At first I pumped the pedal very lightly and released and paused to let whatever air was in the short lines rise up into the cylinder and be purged.  After about 20 or 30 delicate applications of the brake I hit it hard to see how spongy it was.

It was not spongy at all and felt good.  I pushed hard and could hear the rear brake shoes creaking (rust everywhere) but the brakes feel good.  The going to the floor on light application is no longer happening and a road test showed the brakes to be performing excellently well..  I have the premium brake pads and shoes on Rustpuppy and the rotors and drums have been expertly detailed (by me).

Even though my fingers and right thumb are sore from struggling with the stubborn front fitting I felt like the day was a complete sucess..  (the whole job took about 2 ½ hours, including about 15 minutes of lookin for than damn nut)

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(smelling vaguely of brake fluid)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 6

Date:       Monday, October 11, 1999 8:12 PM


Mysteries and possible solutions today.  I had found the 400 starter to get the measurements for a heat shield yesterday (and Ray Bucked it and hurt my ankle just a little when it bounced).  Fortune smiled and it landed on the side which does not break off..   That project is pending.  I had cut out some aluminum flashing,  two layers folded to provide a place for several layers of heavy aluminized building paper.  I have yet to figger a good way of mounting it but it will have rubber molding (cut windshield wiper hose) to prevent shorting to hot wires..

On another front I have been going around and around with a phantom electrical problem with Rustpuppy.  Sometimes the voltage reads normal 12.5 to about 14 and sometimes it is crap 10 to 12 on the custom dash voltmeter.  I had planned to swap out the alternator with a known good spare (I never throw nuthin away) but today I did somemore investigation.  Putting a DVM on the stud terminal of the alternator with the lights on and the motor running showed the voltage as normal.  Hmmm..  The same meter showed the voltage at about 2 volts lower in the passenger compartment.  Hmmm..  I strongly suspect the connector in the main harness is corroding up or mebbe the fusible link from the starter to the harness connector is messed up.   I will look into this more tomorrow..  Considering the corrosion problems with everything it is most probably the seven c’s.  (Coastal Curry County Cheap Car Connector Corrosion) Time will tell..

Anyone got a wiring diagram for a 76 Coupe?

Now for something completely different.  I have noticed severe cornering wear especially on the left front tire outer tread.  There is some corresponding wear on the other side but it looks like most of the insane cornering was done in right turns..  I have been puzzling over this for a couple of months and Sunday when I was testing the new master cylinder the answer may have come to me. 

When I turn Rustpuppy right I brace my left knee against the door and comfortably hold my body against the g-forces.  But on a left turn the right leg is spoken for (on the throttle too much) and the arms are busy with the steering and there is nothing on the flat ol’ beige bench seat to prevent painfull stress to present itself to my ol’ cripple lower back.  So like a trained animal I have been avoiding high G left turns without even knowing why and the results are obvious on the tires..    I need some kind of attachment for the seat back to provide a place to brace my right shoulder against.  Has any of the list members ever seen or heard of such a critter?

In the meantime I gotta rotate the tires left to right pronto as tiny ends of the steel belt are presenting themselves on the hardest hit left front tire..  (I really gotta get new tires soon..)

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(still havin fun...)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 7

Date:       Thursday, October 14, 1999 8:49 PM


Electrical and charging issues were the project the last couple of days.  I had aborted an attempt to make what would have been the perfect run (lookin for 14.7@98) on 101 a few days ago because of perceived charging problems (it was night) so I fiddled with the system and came to the (erroneous) conclusion that the alternator was going ditzy.  I dragged out the old alternator which came on the 250 six that Rustpuppy was born with and cleaned it up and gave it a quick rattle can rebuild yesterday.

But, before switching alternators I decided to do some intelligent troubleshooting.  (Don’t want to be one of what Ray Buck calls “parts changers” mechanics.)

I ran some fine wires from the main power stud on the alternator and a good motor ground into the passenger compartment so I could monitor the actual alternator output with a good digital voltmeter. 

It was great!  About 13.5 to 14.5 volts dropping to about 12.5 volts at idle..  Hmm.  The voltages measured in the dash wiring were too low. (10 to 12.5) Especially with any load..  Hmmm..  Because the problems had been coming and going I have suspected corrosion problems in the wiring harness was causing the problem (remember the seven C’s) 

Today I loosened the bolt securing the main dashboard wiring connector (which backs the connector out) and then tightened it again.  Effectively reseating the connector (I did not want to pull it all the way because I had been too lazy to pull off the battery cable for safety)

Amazing!  Shazam! The voltages in the dash wiring and on the aftermarket voltmeter were back up to almost what I read at the alternator! 

Naturally I decided to take Rustpuppy out for a run..  

But the elements were against me.  Instead of perfect conditions we have a cold front coming in with rising humidity and a very faint dew forming.  The perfect traction needed to launch Rustpuppy with the one legged differential and the bitsy tires was not there.  I could not control the right rear wheel spin so the best I could do was one run (the first one) of 15.16 @96.  and the two others were even crappier... Oh well...

But, the elusive 14’s are garanteed since I have promised myself not to try again until I move the 215R70-14’s from the back to the front discarding the front cornered off tires.  The rear will be gettin two of Junkyard Dawg’s future 7 inch Rallye wheels shod with either 235R60-14 or 245R60-14 tires..

(I hope the Dawg won’t mind..)

That should improve things at least a few tenths...  We will see..

I retorqued the carb mounting bolts as promised (and they were loose).  The cardboard heat Isolation gasket GM uses compresses and must be retorqued..

Remember to use a really short grip on the wrench when tightening the carb bolts on an aluminum manifold.  About 2 ½” and then snug with one hand..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(still stuck with the best of 15.04@97.3 on Rustpuppy)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 8

Date:       Friday, October 22, 1999 7:08 PM


This was going to be a short and lighthearted report but events have intervened.  I have been sick with a damn kidney infection so not much Nova work was done.  I was laying around and able to give Aren a bad time on the reply to address issue.  Anyway this is the report.

The weather has turned here and it has been cold and foggy for days.  Since I wanted to be able to drive the newly invigorated Rustpuppy the lack of a defroster became a serious issue.  It was a major stumbling block to getting the v8 Nova rush I seem to require on a daily basis.. 

I had bought a couple of electric heater/defrosters from the J.C. Whitney folk and needed to get the best one going.  I could find no reliable high current source (the heater pulls 15 to 20 amps) so I wound up running a heavy (about 10 or 12 gauge) wire from the connector which used to drive the heater, air conditioner fan motor).  It was  unswitched and unfused so I threw in an in line fuse holder with a 25 amp fuse. 

The actual defroster is mounted on the dash with double sticky trim installation tape and the finished job looks bad but works pretty good.

The other subject is traction versus throttle position.  I have been messing around with the tire spin problem (right rear lights up too damn quick).  I gotta 3.08 open rear end with pretty hard 215R70-14 highway tires.  I found that if I do a bit of a burn out (1 sec or so) and then stage while the tire is still hot it helps but it is tricky to not put a little too much throttle.. 

On looking into the throttle position versus the beginning of wheel spin I found that the wheel starts spinning before the throttle is open enough to start opening the secondary barrels of the Q-Jet at all!

Now I have the crazy idea of fabricating up a traction bar for just the right side.  I am thinking that when the springs wind up the downforce on the right rear tire would give me a better launch.   What do you all think of this one?

Now for something entirely different.  I had been thinkin I was fighting a miss problem at idle and low rpm since Rustpuppy has been running with the Performer 400 cam.  Today I think I realize that the idle is fine and I am just being sensitive to the moderate lope from the bigger cam.  I am so used to the tractor like 400 rpm the 350 motor had with the stock Mexican Target Master cam that I was being fooled.  What an idiot I am sometimes..  The giveaway is that as soon as some throttle and load is applied the seeming miss goes away..

Now for the bad news.  When I was out running Rustpuppy in the fog today I noticed the water temp started going up higher than I have seen it before.  Usually Rustpuppy runs about 180 on a cool day.  As I drove the temp kept going up to 190, 200, and then to 210 before I got home.  There was no smell or sounds of boiling but the temp was high.  I went in to write this letter and let Rustpuppy cool down and then I went back out to check the water before this paragraph started.

Damn, the radiator was about half empty and there is a big wet spot on the front right of the core..  It took almost a gallon to fill up.  The radiator is toast.  It is already losing it’s fins from the salt corrosion so it is not unexpected.

Fortunately I had purchased a almost new 2 core radiator from one of the list members many months ago.  The new Modine job did not go in after the Flat Cam Project because the drain valve got clobbered in shipping and was bent over with the solder seam broken open.  It needs fixin before it can be used..  I think I will just pull it all the way off and solder a flat piece (mebby a penny?) over the hole.  I never use the drain and always drain the radiator by pullin the bottom hose anyway. 

Anyway my Nova fun is over until I get the new radiator fixed..  I am not gonna put an egg or even Barr’s Stop Leak in Rustpuppy now that she is running good.  She deserves a new radiator..

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(it is always something..)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 9

Date:       Saturday, October 23, 1999 7:04 PM


The last report brought up the issue of the newly leaking radiator on Rustpuppy.  The leaking radiator (came with Rustpuppy back in 76) is beyond hope as the fins are corroding away and only the paint is holding it together..

Today I messed about with repairing the new (to me) radiator that was damaged in shipment from New York.  You know, it looks suspicious but a good Nova list member said that it was legit.  The radiator had been removed by cutting both hoses and snipping off the tranny cooling lines with snips or a bolt cutter..  Hmmm..  Hot radiator?

In any case I straightened out the drain fitting and cleaned it up with a wire brush to get the brass showing all around.  A few minutes work with a propane torch and some rosin core solder seems to have fixed it right up.  Time and pressure will tell..  Tomorrow I will pop it into Rustpuppy and look for leaks..  The lower hose fitting was bent a little and I hope the solder is not cracked there.  If it is it is not a big deal,  just have to pull the radiator again and solder it up..

I rolled around on the ground lookin at Rustpuppy’s rear spring (just the right one) and measuring it for the spring clamps.  Rustpuppy’s springs have gray plastic (I think) pads on the rear of the spring with a projection which goes through the lower leaf.  I wonder exactly how and where to put the clamps..    Anyone?  Bueller?

I cheated and filled up the leaking radiator to take Rustpuppy out for a short spin.  I left the pressure cap loose to ease the leak to just a drip..  It was spraying throught the grille onto the front bumper with the cap on at operating temp..  No problem (just drove a couple miles) and I got my Nova seat time in for today.  I really love that rusty ol’ car...

More to come..

Rick Draganowski



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 10

Date:       Tuesday, October 26, 1999 6:34 PM


I got the newly repaired radiator in late Sunday because my day was used up due to two very important “Honey do”’s and did not even have time to do more than round up the aluminum stock for the spring clamps and print out the drawing.

On the radiator, it went in slick as a fish’s private parts and appears not to be leaking at the solder job I did.   But, the coolant recovery kludge which worked perfectly with the old radiator before it blew it’s mind may not be working.  I took Rustpuppy for a little run on Sunday night late.   On Monday it was cold and raining so my seat time was limited since my home made defroster system was overwhelmed by the adverse weather.  The radiator was a little low after cooling so I topped it off to do further testing the next day, today. 

My ISP was tanked completely on Monday (their uplink severed) from 8:30 am till after bedtime so I could not get in on the Nova list cravings which I seem to have aquired.  They also were whining because when the uplink came back on line the backup of E-mails crashed their E-mail server so they were forced to upgrade.. Hmm..

Today I logged on right after noon and had 166 messages waitin..  Great!

The weather cleared this afternoon and I got some serious Nova seat time.  (going fast again) The sun was just setting and I was practicing staging on the good asphalt strip I have found on Hwy 101.  (no G-Tech as I haven’t rigged a socket for the power yet)

I am getting a little worried about the soft 2-3 shift Rustpuppy’s TH350 has.  I ran up to 5000 rpm in second and when I manually upshifted at full throttle the shift was uncomfortability long (almost as bad as stock)..  I wonder if I have something starting to mess up in my otherwise perfect tranny?

It feels a little odd to shift from second to third at 85 mph but I like it..  Rustpuppy’s 350 motor sounded sweet and did not miss a beat and was still pulling strong at 5000rpm.  It was a treat..

On the radiator test, the temp stays exactly at 175 degrees or lower no matter what I do.  The old corroded 2-core would heat up to about 190-200 when I was being abusive to ol’ Rustpuppy.  Happy happy, joy joy...

But if the solder joint is a little cracked where the lower radiator hose fitting is attached (bent up in shipping) I gotta pull the radiator again and do some more soldering..   The way to tell is that a tiny leak will suck air when the radiator cools down so the coolant recovery system will not work and you wind up with air in the system..  (bad thing as it promotes corrosion)

Time and testing will tell....

On the “Tires for Rustpuppy” project.  I finally remembered that the figger the local tire man quoted me for the 245/60R-14 Goodrich Radial T/A’s was 86 bucks, not 68 bucks each.  And he don’t even wear a mask..   (must be losing my short term memory)

Gonna keep looking for an honest local tire man..  (could be a long search)

The only tires the Tirerack has listed for that size is the Goodrich, Dunlop, and Goodyear Eagles.   I like the Eagles but they are really expensive so that narrows it down.   Anybody had any experience with the Dunlop jobs??  I know the Goodriches is good..

Thinkin about lookin for some used (previously owned) tires..  Hmmm...

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(seat time is good)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 11

Date:       Thursday, October 28, 1999 7:23 PM


Great day today!  We been having typical Oregon coast fall weather the last few days (3 inches of rain with 50 mph winds) and today it cleared up so I took Rustpuppy to town to get gas and get in some seat time in the sun.. 

I was runnin a little low (just above E on the gauge) and figgered I would get a lot of gas.  I estimate that there was at least one or two gallons left.  But..  (another one!) the charge slip read 16.48 gallons.  I do not think the 76 Nova had a tank that would hold almost 18 gallons.   I suspect that my local friendly Texaco dealer may be ripping everyone off.   Oh well..   And the 92 octane cost $1.749 too.. ($1.75)

Anyway the repaired radiator is NOT LEAKING!!  And that makes me happy.. 

Rustpuppy is running beautifully (if you ignore the idle lope) and feeling really strong.  The hot start problem is not showing up at all even with the 13 degrees of initial advance and the pinging at low rpm going up the mountain is no more.  Limiting the 22 degree vacuum advance can to 12 degrees really made the difference.  I could probably go back to regular gas but not quite yet..

I still gotta mess around enough to get into the 14’s..

On the traction front.  One of the NovaListers suggested that I had a weight distribution problem in Rustpuppy.  I don’t think so.  In reverse the left rear wheel spins first and in first the right spins first so I expect it is just a torque distribution problem..  I have not made the spring clamps yet.  (something always comes up, chores, work, eating ,sleeping, goofing off.. something..)

Also with the moist old asphalt on our old road (Oregon 9 covered wagon tracks) the wheels spin really easy and I notice that one time everything was balanced and both rear wheels spun for about 30 feet..

With some bigger tires and the spring clamp and I am sure that 14.7 @ 98 is possible on the good new bitey part of ol Hwy 101.

I am setting up a customer’s computer system in the lab the next few days and will borrow it to transcribe the video snaps of Rustpuppy so they may be available as soon as early next week..  

Another weird thingie.  With the new radiator the temp runs right at 170 on the highway, before with the sorry old finless (mangy looking) one she ran 190.  Anyway what is weird is that at exactly 2600rpm Rustpuppy used to go exactly 60mph.  Today at 2600 Rustpuppy was going 62mph...  Hmmm could the 20 less degrees of heat in the transmission fluid change the slippage that much??

I gotta get the socket for the G-Tech Pro to plug into installed asap..  That and the first spring clamp are on the front of the front burner..

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(attention to details is good)



Subject:   Vortec Madness!

Date:       Saturday, October 30, 1999 7:33 PM


I was messing about with Dyno2000 today and the following interesting issue became obvious..   By taking Rustpuppy and pulling the stock heads off and swapping on a set of cheap Vortecs good things happen..

Thoughts start flooding my ol’ head.... 

Let me see,  heads, valve covers, rockers, manifold,  mebbe 600 bucks if I do it on the cheap...   Hmmm...

I could modify the heads to use the screw in studs and guide plates myself..  Hmmm..  Already got roller rockers..  Hmmm..  

Is there an adaptor to use ordinary valve covers on vortec heads??

I need a new manifold for the 400 anyway..  Hmm..

Pardon the mild brainstorm...

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(I could always use the heads and stuff on the 400..  hmmm..)



Subject:   Tires for Rustpuppy

Date:       Saturday, October 30, 1999 9:12 PM


I called and ordered the new tires for Rustpuppy on Friday.   I am gettin two B.F.Goodrich Radial T/A 245R60-14’s for the rear wheels.  I got some 7 inch wide Disco Rallye wheels (slated for Junkyard Dawg someday, thank you so much Rob Roberson) so I will take a couple to town next week when the tires come.  (everything has to be shipped in here at the end of the world)  Rustpuppy has 215R70-14’s on standard 6 inch rims now.  (The front two are shot from excessive cornering wear).  I’ll be putting the best two 215’s on the front and the big meats on the back..  (14’s here I come!)

On the price..   Ouch!!    90 bucks each..   But wait,  you may say.  Tirerack has them for 60 bucks each you say.   Hmmm.   Take the 60 bucks, add 15 bucks each for shipping from Vegas (really are at the end of the world here) and then 10 bucks for mounting and valve stems and then 5 bucks for balancing and Voila!  90 flippin bucks..   Oh well..  I really gotta have tires (little steel wires showin on the left front) and the common cheap tires are 55 bucks sooo...  What’s 35 bucks each more for the best (according to good sources)?  Flush 180 bucks..

The best thing is the size of the big meats..   Rustpuppy’s speedometer is dead accurate up to about 70mph (above that the spider nest stops it) and the big tires will not change that..   Hoo haa!

See the great engineering info (love that data) I bagged from the B.F. Goodrich web site.

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(big tires is good)



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 12

Date:       Sunday, October 31, 1999 9:43 PM


Wheels and tires were the big project today.  Started with the left rear and jacked ol Rustpuppy up with my little floor jack by the shock mount.   The moon and the five lug nuts were off in a trice.

Wham!  The forces of darkness rose up and I found the wheel was frozen to the hub (by rust) and immovable.   A little pounding with a 4 foot 4x4 got me nowhere.   I am damn glad I didn’t have a flat in the rain and find out on the highway.  But I had an idea.  I put three of the lugnuts on and left them loose a little less than 1/8 inch.  Then I let Rustpuppy down and took her for a little ride.    Almost right away I could hear the wheel rattling around and it was free!  I snugged the three lugnuts up and returned home..

Aren made inquiries about the rolling radius  of the old ER78-14 tires and I promised to look into it.  I found that my spare is a cracked old FR78-14 Michelin X tire.  Anyway I mounted it on the left rear to take the radius measurement.  

Then I addressed the left front (the booger with the steel belts showin on the outside sidewall).  It was froze to the hub too.   Damnation! this salt spray rust is the pits..  Same procedure on the front to get it freed up..   I put the not bad lookin left rear on the left front and that is as far as I am goin on the tire swapping since the right rear has a sloooowww leak and I am retiring it when the new tires show up next week..  It is the one catching hell since the cam swap and the tirespinning circus started.

It was a lot more grovelling around on the ground and jacking Rustpuppy up and down than I expected but it was fun anyway..

Anyway I got everything organized to take the measurements for Aren.  When I had the FR78-14 out I measured to overall diameter to be 26 inches exactly..   (the tread is about an inch narrower than the 215R70-14)   The rolling radius (on the car with the weight on it) of the FR78-14 is exactly 12 inches.  The 215R70-14 is exactly 11.5 inches.  (this is measured on the rear axle out on a smooth bit of road)

No for something a little different.  I am uncomfortable goin fast with both steel belts showin on my left rear tire so only G-force measurements at low speeds will be done until I get the new tires on Rustpuppy.

I did some G-force testing today.  I was on the old road (best part) and it has been dry and sunny so my traction is almost as good as it can get on the test stretch.  Staging in the middle of the road the best I was able to pull was 0.75G of acceleration.  That was with a perfect launch with just a tiny bit of wheelspin but not full throttle.

What do you G-Tech Pro owners with good traction pull??   (need to know this bad)

I checked out the runout on the two 14x7 Rallye wheels I am puttin the Goodrich’s on and they are perfect.  (thanks again Rob Roberson)  The third one is perfect too and the cosmetically challenged one only has about 1/8 inch of runout at the big garf..   It looks much worse than it is..  (make a good spare)

The wheels is in the Suburban to take the trip to town and I am really looking forward to seein them big meats..  

Rick Draganowski

(not gonna show the white letters,  Rustpuppy is not a billboard)


Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 13

Date:       Sunday, November 07, 1999 9:11 PM


Rustpuppy’s got two new tires!  The B.F.Goodrich Radial T/A 245/60-14’s showed up last Thursday.  I went to town in the Suburban Friday and took along a couple of disco Rallye (7” jobs, thanks Rob Roberson) to get the tires mounted on.  They were beauties..    Big.  Wide. Impressive.  But..

No more whitewalls for poor Rustpuppy.  The whitewalls along with the light blue paint made Rustpuppy almost invisible to the noble law enforcement.  The delicate, innocent look that made my driving habits less noticable is being lost.  Replaced by a purposeful, almost arrogant appearance which may cause quite bit of magnetic attraction to the above mentioned public servants.

Oh well.  Now Rustpuppy looks a little silly with the whitewalls on the front and fat blackwalls on the back.  Silly and almost a public hazard..  (sorta like someone changed wheels for racin or sumptin)

Now for some technical stuff.  The stock 6” wheel with the 215/70-14 (the poor right rear which is pretty baldheaded from spinning) weighs 37 lbs..  The 7 inch disco Rallye with the Goodrich tire weighs 49 lbs..

The clearance on the tight side (drivers side) between the sidewall and the inner rear fender lip with the 215 tires was 1 ½ inches.  Now with the 7 inch rims and the 245 tires it is 5/8” (the passengers side with the big tires is 1 1/16”) 

I haven’t tested the fit in the front yet but I will before I order the two for the front.  (not too soon as this is gettin expensive, $180 bucks Friday for the two tires)

The first road test of the new meats was a big disappointment.  Oh, No!  I could only get about 0.65G out of the fancy-schmancy new “performance” tires.  How could this be???  The skinny tires did a best of 0.75G with 0.65G being normal..

Then I realized that I had been running 20 lbs in the old tires to get some traction and I’ll bet the tire guy put in lotsa air as he is used to putting tires on for pickup trucks.   He did, the Goodriches had about 38 lbs of air in them and on the light end of Rustpuppy were hard as rocks..

Soo, even though it was gettin late and there was a storm coming, I let the pressure down to 18lbs.   Then I went out for one more test before the roads get wet..   The first time I tried on the best piece of old pavement (where I got 0.75G with the old tires)  I unexpectedly hooked up with a 0.79G hit.  It pushed me back in the seat and when I put the brakes on the inertial reel in the shoulder belt caught and I felt like I was being clamped between the belt and the seat and couldn’t breath.  Exciting moment.. 

I did some calculations based on the footprint sizes of the tires and found that I need to reduce the pressure in the Goodriches to 15.5psi to get the same effect as 20lbs in the old skinny tires..  

Any problems with running that low on the rear (light) end of a Disco Nova??

As soon as the rain stops and the roads dry I will be taking Rustpuppy out for a run on the good asphalt part of Hwy 101 and see what she can do now..  Then I will put on one spring clamp and see what that does..

Seriously lookin for 14.8 @ 98...    Muscley car stuff..  What fun.. 

Saturday before I swapped the tires and wheels I washed Rustpuppy and took a bunch of video to convert to snapshots.  I promised the pictures and they will be made..

More to come..

(big tires is good)


Old 215 on left New 245 on right.




No more whitewall..



Subject:   Rustpuppy Log report 14

Date:       Sunday, November 14, 1999 11:40 PM


Lotsa time went by but not much Nova work happened since the last log but pretty important news occurred today.   I posted to the list about tire pressure in the big meats (245/60-14) that Rustpuppy is wearin in the back now and was cautioned that running below 20psi could be a problem.  Also the great advice to check the quality of the Rustpuppy tracks to see if the outside edge of the black streak was darker than the middle.  I did and it was..  So I cranked the tire pressure up to 25psi and that should be just right..

I have been less than happy with the traction I was getting with the new tires.  It seemed like I had even less than with the old skinny jobs.  (215/70-14)   A few days ago I went out for a run (15.43@97.4) and had way too much wheelspin in first gear and then again in second gear.  I assumed that the road was still too damp (we have had about 5 inches of rain the last two weeks) and had never had time to dry off properly.  But there was another factor at work.  I think that when you buy brand new tires they are coated with something and still have traces of the mold release used when they were made.  I think that the outer skin of rubber may even be contaminated chemically with the mold release so good traction is impossible until this layer is gone.

Today I had an urgent trip to town (35 miles total) and took Rustpuppy.  The sun had been shining and the humidity has been down so the roads are back up to standard. On the way back (and real near this end) I decided to pull over and set up the G-Tech Pro..  (sombody stop me...)  It was dark, clear, no wind, and no traffic..  Perfect!

I didn’t know it but the traction inhibiting factors were gone.  Nuff miles and really dry roads..

I was amazed by the first run..   It was uncanny..  No wheelspin at all!!  The tail just went down and the nose up and I went..  I could tell that the motor was pulled down by the low stall speed torque converter (out of the old truck) so the g-forces of the start did not feel as wild as with the .79g launch with some wheelspin.  But the time told the tale.

It looks like now there is traction the converter needs a higher stall speed..    Poor old Rustpuppy is doomed to be a 15 second rod..  The time was 15.04@96.8...   The low stall with the good traction is limiting Rustpuppy to about .7g or a tad more on the launch and that loses about .15 or .2 seconds on the e.t...

Sooo now if I put in the higher stall converter stored under the workbench I may get the tractions problems back..  Hmmm..  This can go on forever..

For now I am tickled pink with the new tires and not a bit concerned that I am not getting Rustpuppy into the 14’s   (maybe not ever, but what if...)

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

Subject:   Rustpuppy Log  report 15

Date:       Thursday, November 18, 1999 7:36 PM


Well we finally had a dry enough day to take Rustpuppy out for a run.  The road was perfect, there was no wind, and Rustpuppy had no traction problems.  She made her best run yet.   But I am not quite rejoicing  yet..  The launch was perfect, just a deep CHURP! and then it felt like being shot from a slingshot.  The rear slid a couple inches to the left because both rear wheels slipped for a moment.  Second gear seemed to come up way too soon as the motor was just beginning to pull hard.  (1-2 shift is at a lame 4200rpm) Then it was go like hell tracking straight and happy.  The time was 15.02@97.7 .  Poor Rustpuppy is doomed to be a 15 second rod..  There seems to be a vast chasm between 15.02 and 14.99...  Sigh...

Horsepower is the limit now.   I am diverting the effort on the spring clamps (not really needed now) to doing something about 3 things that I think would help..

1)  Do the super-tuning on the timing and carb that I have been puttin off because of the traction problems.

2)  Do something about the TH350 shift points.  I think that they are 4200 1-2 and 4400 2-3..  I need about 5400 to get the best out of the Edelbrock Performer 400 cam..  But I would be happy with 5000..   Here is the idea I got.  The shift points at full throttle are determined by the little flyball governor gadget.  Ol’ Draganowski is thinkin of pulling out that little item and grinding on the weights to reduce the mass which will raise the shift points as the governer would have to spin faster to trigger the shift..  What do you all think..   (no fancy kits required)

3)  I gotta get the high stall converter (lurkin under the workbench) installed to get back into traction problems.  But I got no money and the weather is foul for a motor R/R.  I don’t think I am flexible enough to try the pull the tranny without pullin the motor trick..   I would have to take it to a “Real” mechanic and then pay the shop rate..   What would the flat rate be for R/R a TH350 with no complications???


On another note.  The header ticks seem to be healing up.  I am keeping the bolts tight and I think the Nitro Seal steel and graphite gasket is deforming and sealing better.  So.. Since it is not broke I ain’t gonna fix it and am leaving the headers on..  The sparkplugs are brand new as I twisted myself into a knot changing them during the troubleshooting phase of the Flat Cam Project..  So I am leaving sleeping puppies lie.

I drained the plain spring water out of Rustpuppy and threw in 1 whole gallon of anti-freeze.  I wonder what that mix would be.  What is the water capacity of a 350 Nova with the factory 2-core radiator and no heater..  Hmmm..  Class? Bueller? Windle?  I was worried about the corrosion problems with the Edelbrock manifold from the “Water from Hell” highly corrosive stuff we got here.  (sorta like running salt water in your radiator..)

I am gonna view “Rebuilding Your Automatic Transmission” video again to brush up on the governor R/R..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(Rustpuppy is at 15.02@97.7!)



Subject:      Proper carburetor..

Date:      Saturday, November 27, 1999 8:11 PM


I was making some pictures for John Soliday and happened to make this one for no good reason. I am painting the air cleaner too (Just for you, Ray Buck). This is what a proper carburetor (750CFM Rochester QuadraJet) looks like to all of you poor Holly victims.

Rick Draganowski

(Never a bog if your motor and the carb is tuned intelligently..)


Subject:      Rustpuppy Log report 16

Date:      Tuesday, November 30, 1999 7:10 PM


The Ron Sessions handbook on the TH350 is ordered and on the way.  Alex Bilan scanned in 15 pages and sent them to help with my slow painful education.  (bless you Alex)  I was so impressed that I had to “Rush right out in a Buying Frenzy.” and had Steve at my local NAPA get it on the way.  (the Camaro Z28 governor and the books, (ordered the rebuilding your smallblock book also) should be here tomorrow)

Ray Buck bought a shift point kit (I think from B&M for about 36 bucks) and is gonna share his information as well as his results.  I am hoping to pull together a comprehensive guide to programming shift points on the TH350 and have it available on the Rustpuppy website..  There is a lot to it if you include the details..

I had a chance to take Rustpuppy out for a run day before yesterday and then the rains came back (2 inches yesterday and stupid ol’ Draganowski left the drivers side window down in Rustpuppy, he got a wet backside today with his seat time because the foam in the seat is soaked through.  I am gonna put an electric heater in Rustpuppy tonight to try to dry her out a little..

On the run now things went splendedly.  I had the air cleaner off painting it purdy (cause of the Ray Buck criticism) and I could really hear what the induction sounds of the motor were.   My time and speed was as expected.  15.08@97.5  just a hair off Rustpuppy’s best of 15.02@97.7.

I did notice something which provides me with some valuable data.  Above 4000 rpm after several seconds at full throttle in third gear the intake sounds developed a kind of warble tone.  I had heard this sound at the dragstrip usually when the cars were about to the traps and I was told that it showed a too lean mixture at full throttle.  Doug Roe in his Rochester carb book warns that the stock Q-Jet secondaries are usually jetted (needled actually) too lean for race use.  So I will be pulling out the secondary metering rods and lookin around for a skinnier set..

I could be fooled by the possibility that carb inlet turbulence causing the sound but I would think that turbulence sounds would warble at a higher frequency.

In any case if Rustpuppy is running a little lean at WOT taking the air cleaner off would make it worse and that is what I am going by..    I have always been a little unhappy with the sound of Rustpuppy’s  motor above 4000rpm.   We will see..

Getting back to times and speed I kept track of Rustpuppy’s runs (the ones I wrote down anyway) since the new cam went in and here they are in order of E.T.








The last two were fighting wheelspin.

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(always on the edge of 14’s..)



Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 16

Date:      Wednesday, December 01, 1999 11:02 PM


I must have gone plumb idgit in my excitement.  The fat rod (DP) which came out of Rustpuppy is the top one in the picture..  The skinny job out of the 400 carb (which is now in Rustpuppy’s carb) is on the bottom..  I calculate the secondary mixture will be about 26% richer at WOT (overall mixture about 16% richer)

We will see if the lean WOT warble is gone..  And what the times do..

Then I may dig into the timing..  But,

First I gotta fix the %^&*()#$@  Equus dial back timing light...  (or get another one of a different brand)

Rick Draganowski

(can’t tell up from down,  must be too wet..)


Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 16

Date:      Wednesday, December 01, 1999 10:26 PM


I browsed through the two Q-Jets laying around in the shop.  One old car job with lotsa emmissions stuff had CH secondary metering rods (0.0567 WOT dia)

and the nice carb which came with the 400 truck motor had really skinny DG’s (0.0337 WOT dia).

I couldn’t take the suspense any longer so I went out in the dark, cold, windy rain to pull the metering rods out of Rustpuppy to see if my lean WOT theory holds any water..   The picture shows the DG rod on the top and the big fat DP (0.0686) rod Rustpuppy has been living with all these years..  (Lean!)

Hoo Haa!    I am gonna brutally slam the skinny rods into Rustpuppy to get ready for the next run..   What do you think???

(Even the CH rods outta the car carb would be better..)

I think the PO of the 400 motor sent the carb into one of those supertune shops since all the standard hardware has been replaced with those damn Torx screws and put in with Locktite..  Including the secondary metering rod hangar..  And the metering rods look brand new..  The carb is set up for a mild 400 motor..  Hmmm...

More to come.

Rick Draganowski

(really waiting for the rain to stop now..)

Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 3:49 PM

Subject: Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 16

----- Original Message -----

--- Rick Draganowski <> wrote:

|The carb came on a 77 ¾ ton pickup sold in Ft.

|Worth Texas.  The motor had

|Nothing besides a pcv valve. It was a HD option

|350.  I wish I could have

|kept that original motor for a rebuild...

Hmmm... If the carb was OE on that truck, it should have decently rich secondary rods... But then... =)


Subject:      Governor stuff and a teaser..

Date:      Thursday, December 16, 1999 9:05 PM


I got a clear patch in the weather today (in the dark with a half moon) and cleaned up the governor area through the big hole in the transmission tunnel (did I mention big hole?) and figgered a way to get the gov cover off.  Took the stock gov out and while I was in the shop takin pictures lost about 2 quarts of fluid in the dark (didn’t know it would do that)  anyhoo when I slammed it back together and tried to test it a little on the wet dark slippery roads I skated around in the mud until the idle went down (damn near went down the mountain into my neighbors house below) and when I tried to do something on the asphalt the damn transmission was slipping like crazy (I was sure I killed it or sumptin)..

A serious paranoia attack took place until I went back to where Rustpuppy was parked when I did the work and with a flashlight saw the big puddle drooling on down the hill..

To make a long story short, the 1-2 shift point went from 3800 to 4700-4800 but the 2-3 seems the same at 4400..  Hmmm..  The new (25 bux) governor has much lighter springs (about half the tension) as the ol’ truck job but the weights are almost the same..  Hmmm...  Mebbe the springs control the 1-2 and the weights the 2-3 mostly..  It is a two stage governor acording to the Sessions book.

Anyhoo it is exilirating (and probably expensive) to light up the big 245 tire (note singular) and have It go up to 4800 in first and then take off smokin in second without ever going out.  Lotsa smoke got in since I gotta big hole in the tunnel and the windows down so I won’t get poisoned by the leaking header gaskets (tick, tick, tick...)

The funnest thing is that I can get a downshift to low up to about 45 mph now and ol’ Rustpuppy used to insist on almost dead stop before low came in..   Wow! And the second gear scratches are spectacular  (makes the back end jog sideways..)

I am gonna write all of this stuff up with pictures for the Rustpuppy Log and the web page but it gotta be more lidderate than this stupid letter..  You been doin anything with the shift point kit???

Rick Draganowski

(really been missing my Nova seat time..)



Subject:      “The Hole”

Date:      Thursday, December 16, 1999 10:53 PM


Preview for a selected audience..

Rick Draganowski

(notice the neat grommet to protect my delicate hands)



Subject:    No gas..

Date:      Saturday, December 18, 1999 8:33 PM


I have been in the middle of a big project to change the shift points on Rustpuppy to finally get into the 14’s.   I messed about with the secondary mixture rods on the Q-Jet because I was convinced that Rustpuppy was running too lean at WOT..   Today during testing I ran Rustpuppy up to about 4400 rpm in 3rd (about 101 mph) and I swear she started to act like she is running out of gas..  So the shift quest and the 14’s quest is to be put aside as I look into this problem..

Rustpuppy has the rotted out old rubber tubing on her gas lines at the tank and I am sure that the sock inside is crapped up.  I siphoned out a couple of gallons of gas for the lawn tractor last week and there was a lot of junk in the gasoline I got out..

Sooo..I gotta address this issue..Probably gonna pull the tank and clean it out and replace what is replaceable on the gas line. Ray Buck did a job like this on one of his many, many cars but I can’t remember which one. Ray? Bueller? Anyone know so I can go and look?

Rick Draganowski

(and the header gaskets tickin is driving me nutz, I am gettin paranoid and thinking my Edelbrock cam is flattening. It's always something.)


Subject:      Rustpuppy Log report 17

Date:      Sunday, December 19, 1999 6:16 PM


As the previous messages show I have been fooling around with Rustpuppy’s TH350 transmission shift points. The miserable stock truck governor was shifting 1-2 at 3800 rpm and really holding back the performance (read E.T. I want to get into the 14’s real bad) I had theorized that Rustpuppy was also missing out on getting enough fuel at full thottle. I did a little inspection today and found that the fuel line rubber hoses were in too good a shape to be original. P.O. must have had them replaced.  I pulled the line off at the fuel pump and put my gas siphon pump on it and there is no problem with delivery.  I know that I had just replaced the filter in the Q-Jet so my alternate theory is that there is water in ol’ Rustpuppy’s gas tank and it shows up from time to time screwing up the performance.  Thinking about it more I remembered that Rustpuppy had been doing some mystery bucking and missing at random times.  It is gotta be water..  (puts another random variable in my careful scientific performance testing, dammit!)

While I was grovelling around on the ground on a nice big piece of cardboard (side of a freezer box) I had a chance to check out close up what the insane wheelspinning had done to my new 245 BFG Radial T/A tire.  I could see that each little block of tread had been chamfered on the leading edge.  Evidently this is another factor on break in for traction.  It looks like the tread blocks tilt up under acceleration and when the tires are brand new only the tiny edges are touching the road.  As the leading edges are ground off the amount of rubber on the road increases and so does the traction..  Excellent!

I then planned to take Rustpuppy to town on the next trip and fill up with premium and some Heet or suchlike water fighting additive..

But the weather was perfect and beautiful with clear skies and welcome sunshine so I got it into my head to take ol’ rustpuppy out for just some 0-60 testing.   I tried the first 0-60 time and was rewarded with a flat 6 seconds..  Nice for an old car.   I was a little concerned as the motor sounded a little harsh above 4500 rpm but attributed that to the big hole in the transmission tunnel (covered only by some aluminized building paper) letting in the motor mechanical sounds.

But I should have paid more attention to that sound.  For on the next trial of full throttle 1-2 shift at 4800rpm the horrible sound of knocking came from Rustpuppy’s motor.  I instantly got off the throttle and keeping the rpm below 2000 eased ol’ Rustpuppy back home on the back road..

It really looks like the forces of darkness are winning big time.  Rustpuppy sounds ok at idle but there is a random horribly unpleasant solid knock which occurs one or two times per second and when I revved Rustpuppy up with the throttle linkage and listened close I could definitely hear the deadly rattle of a bad rod bearing (probably spun one) above about 3000 rpm..

Rustpuppy will not move from the spot she is in until this problem is resolved..  Pretty depressing Christmas news.

I am going to put a tarp over her and let her hibernate until spring.  I have really important business to attend to so I will not be at loose ends but I am going to miss my seat time..

More to come...

Rick Draganowski

(Rustpuppy is sick)


Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 17

Date:      Sunday, December 19, 1999 9:44 PM


Yeah I used a piece of 2x2 to listen at the intake manifold and the knock was coming from the motor.  The randomness of it at idle bothers me too but it settles down and sounds exactly like a rod big end above 3000 rpm..    It is pretty mysterious and I am gonna check more before giving up for the winter.   I really hope it is something stupid..

Except for the noise Rustpuppy seems stronger than ever and really wants to go..


I gotta mechanic’s stethoscope and a shotgun microphone and  I will be looking into all possibilities (water pump?) (fan?) (pulley bolts?) (powersteering pump?) (etc?)

It is one of those days...

Rick Draganowski

(just happy it happened close to home..)

Wav Files of RustPuppy's Knock:

<-- Cold start..........warmed up, changing RPM -->


Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 17

Sent:         Sunday, December 19, 1999 9:06 PM

----- Original Message -----


| Oh no,

| Did you use a stethescope? (of some kind) Seems like a spun bearing would
| knock at an idle as well. The random part is what’s bothering me. How old
| is the torque converter? Or am I simply engaging in wishful thinking?
| Could the PS pump be giving up or other accesories? This is truely dreary
| news for Christmas.

| Chuck Butcher

| 62 2dr 400 Sedan

| 74 K5

|Don’t force that, son, get a bigger hammer.




Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 17

Date:      Sunday, December 19, 1999 11:44 PM


Now you got me thinkin.  What if the cam bolts backed out??   Hmmm..  It really seems weird..  I will find out what it is exactly though..  Eventually...

Rustpuppyruns about 45 lbs oil pressure and about 20 at idle..  Hmmm..

And she is making lotsa horsepower...  Hmmm..

I don’t know what a lunched TC sounds like but I heard plenty rod bearings and this sounds like one but not exactly..   Should knock consistantly at idle when she is warm..  This random thing is maddening..

Time will tell..

Rick Draganowski

Sent:      Sunday, December 19, 1999 11:19 PM

Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 17


----- Original Message -----

|Peculiar. Steady above 3K. Why would a bearing knock steadily above 3K
|opposed to randomly at idle? Could you have pitched a vane in the TC?
|I can’t get my thinking to like a bearing, a loose bearing is loose, it seems
|to me. If it’s gonna give enough to knock it ought to do it on every
|directional change, same with a wrist. This sounds like something is
|deflecting under speed, I keep rolling this around, as speed increases belts
|tighten as the unrollered portions move out which would increase the load on
|accs. bearings. The description of harshness seems odd, the bearings I’ve
|had go went quite suddenly, a kind of grind sound and gone, water pumps have
|made a nasty sound for a little while. 4800 shouldn’t take out a bearing
|except in a really worn engine that was going anyhow or low oil. A lifter
|that’s losing it would tend to collapse under speed as it can’t recover. Or
|maybe a broken spring, I’m looking for something that is out of shape or
|unable to recover under 3K loading. I can’t hear it from here and you’re
|scarcely ignorant, but I don’t like rod bearing, a main? That seems like
|it’d take actual load unless the crank was cracked, in which case it ought
|to have broken and that would’ve been real obvious. Drain oil and look for
|particles in oil & filter? Of course, I don’t like any of this.

|Chuck Butcher

|62 2dr 400 Sedan

|74 K5

|Don’t force that, son, get a bigger hammer.


Subject:    Re: [nova] Rustpuppy Log report 17

Date:      Monday, December 20, 1999 11:53 AM


Last night when I left the office to come in I did one more test on poor Rustpuppy and got some pretty convincing evidence. The motor was stone cold and when I first fired it up the knocking rod was singing consistently for a second or so until the oil pressure came up and then it went quiet.

After some thought during routine chores last night I have come up with a theory about exactly what happened.

One important bit of evidence is the fact that Rustpuppy would warm up a lot whenever high rpm running was done.  The temp would go from 170 to about 210.

Here is what I think happened.

When the original cam in the Target Master motor was destroying itself some of the bits of cast iron and steel (tiny but important) found their way to the connecting rod bearings.  Due to the luck of the assembly roulette one rod had smaller clearances than the others.  This rod (we will call it Gomer because it is a misfit) as a result of it’s tight clearances would run hotter than the others and was more likely to have minor metal to metal contacts during high rpm operation.  The metal to metal contacts combined with the tiny bits of metal caused the bits to embed in the bearing material of Gomer pushing up the surrounding metal and decreasing the clearance more.  Gomer’s bearing would get hotter, more metal to metal contact, more bits embedded, less clearance, more heat, etc.

Then at the maximum loading at 4800 rpm yesterday the cycle of destruction caused Gomer’s bearing to actually freeze momentarily to the crank.  Naturally the motor kept going so the bearing material which siezed was wiped out opening up the clearance.  Since I caught the disaster and nipped it in the bud by instantly getting off the throttle and featherfooting it back home the knocking is at a level which is confusing.  My past experiences have been more drastic and serious due to the driver staying on the throttle until the knock was really bad..

Gomer’s clearance now is way more than it should be so the boundary lubrication used during startup cannot prevent the knocking so Gomer knocks loudly.   Then when the oil pressure comes up and establishes the hydrodynamic lubrication the knocking stops.   The random little knocks at idle are due to the cam lope causing varying loads on Gomer which sometimes causes the knock.

All of the above ideas are just theoretical so far but I am almost willing to bet on  them..

More to come..

Rick Draganowski

(Bah! Humbug!)



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