Sunday, August 26, 2012

swappin parts

so one of my fellow vanner friends out in Ohio, Mike Nemec, had his old distributor still sitting on a shelf (he put a v8 in his astro) and sent it out my way via another friend in exchange for a cigar the next time I see him.

There are 2 screens in the bottom of the OEM distributor that are supposed to be vents, and apparently GM found they didn't work so well, and issued a tech bulletin to punch them out for proper air flow and drainage of moisture.
I popped those out on the "new" one.

Today was my day for swapping it out, never done one before, and much to my surprise, it was simple and easy. 5 minutes, done.  I had a couple of the wires backwards at first, and once I got them sorted out, the van ran fine.

I also put a new MSD cap and rotor on it, as well as replacing my coil (older MSD for new style MSD)
(yes, I realize a wire is missing, see below)

I noticed that the post for the #2 wire on the old cap was discolored,

so I looked inside the boot and it was all corroded, and when I went to check the other end on the plug, I discovered why....

so now I need to order a new set of wires.. and I have headers, so I can't just use any "direct fit" set off the shelf.  my current wire set is 4 moroso and 2 accel wires, so now I am looking for new wires, might get another moroso set, so they are all the same.

UPDATE 7/10/2014

I haven't had any issues since doing all this when driving in the rain, but I also haven't had to drive in any tsunamis like the one that caused this...  so I came up with an easy fix in just in case.

12"x24" magnetic sign, primered to match the hood.

Almost can't see it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


So yesterday, I decided to clean out the garage and get it ready for tearing the van apart. (has been more a storage and staging area for other projects over the summer)
A friend came over to help me move a couple larger items, and we got to talking about what happened with the van, so I get the bright idea to hit the starter so he can hear it... and I'll be damned, it starts right up and runs perfect.

OK.... I guess that rules out the timing gear/chain. So now I'm looking at it as a moisture issue, because there was water flying area from under the hood.
I have a louvered hood, and with the crazy freakish rain we were having, I think I had way too much water get in under the hood.  the cap and rotor definitely need to be replaced, and the terminal on the coil is cooked.  I'm also concerned about the rust on top of the distributor, no idea what is considered normal and what is bad...  

so I am ordering cap, rotor and coil, and debating what to do about the distributor as I research it more.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

it finally happened....

This weekend I had planned on heading to Super Somer van and truck show in Somers, CT.
The trip started off like any other, last minute packing, store stops, etc..  and then I'm off and running.  Van was running great, but the weather sucked!  serious rain... having to run the defroster to keep the windows clear isn't any fun when your hot and damp already.
I'm trucking south on 95, my GPS is tossing out alternate routes to avoid multiple traffic hang ups, it's still raining like hell and it's getting dark... suddenly I hear a "pop" and the van dies... oh crap.
I'm in the middle lane doing 70 and slowing down quickly, I'm trying to head for the breakdown land but have a tractor trailer next to me, thankfully he sped up and I was able to get all the way over.
I hit the key... van turns over, no fire, and it sounds awful.. I'm pretty sure the timing gear broke.
will have to wait till I can get the front end ripped apart to get at it and see!
Thankfully I have AAA premiere, which has a 1 time (annual) 200 mile towing, I was 130 from home, so I had to use it.  but man... it was so worth it... 130 miles at $4.00 a mile!?
After 1.5 hours, the driver finally shows up, and he gets the van up on the ramp without touching the air damn (thank you!) and we get on the way.

  this guy couldn't maintain the speed limit if you lit a fire under his ass!  we would be doing 60, then 40, then 60... he was drifting all over the road, texting, taking calls...  a drive that should have taken 2 hours took over 3.
BUT!  he redeemed himself when we got to the house... he backed the truck up and dropped the ramp right at the garage door and lowered the van right into the garage.  of course, it's ass backwards... but there was no way we were getting in the other way around.

 I'm really bummed I didn't make it to the van run.. I was really looking forward to it, but I'll call it a blessing in disguise that it happened now, and not say... a couple weeks ago on the way to/from the nats?!

 All in all... I have owned the van since december of 94, and it has 244331 miles on it, and this is the first time it has let me down and needed a tow.  I can't complain about that at all!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

music to my ears...

So last year I upgraded all the batteries, and installed a solenoid to keep the rear batteries separate when not charging, and moved all of my aftermarket electronics to the rear bank (stereo and lights, etc)

I never really put it to a good test last last night I went to my brother's house and he wanted me to park by the fire and play music, great!
I had the toons cranking, bass going, and 1 set of neons running for almost 4 hours straight, rear batteries were still holding up nicely, and as I was planning, the front battery was 100%. No issues starting at all.

I need to set it up and just let it play music till it dies to see how long that will last.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Spring..

time to come out of hibernation.

Most of the time over the past 4 months that I have spent in my garage has been to make it a use-able work space.  The previous owner left it a mess, and all the electrical and lighting needed a lot of improvement.

I have finally arrived at a point where I know where most things are, and have sufficient lighting and power to see and do everything I need to do out there, so now it's time to start working on the van!

I gotta tell ya...

it's so nice having my own garage and having all my tools in one place finally!

It has been a VERY long time since I have touched the brakes on the Ghost... when I first bought it I did everything, drums, shoes, spring kits, rear cylinders, rotors, pads, etc...that was in 1995.  Since then I have done the pads a couple of times, but that's it.  So I decided that this spring it was time do go through everything again.

Last weekend I changed the oil (Amsoil Signature series) and did the front brakes.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the rotors were still in great shape with plenty of meat on them, so I only had to do the pads (which were in dire need of replacement!)

 In the process of doing the front brakes, I took the old dust seals/end caps and cleaned the rust off of them and painted them, no one will ever see them, but I will know!

Such a minor detail, but it made me happy, lol!

This weekend I did the rear brakes, the drums looked to still be in good shape, but I replaced them anyway.  I will sandblast the old ones and repaint them and keep them for spares.

The old shoes were just about gone.. so new drums, shoes and springs.
I feel a lot better about driving it this summer now.

I also lubed the front end and took care of some other pre-season items.
I bought a creeper, was all excited thinking it would make life easier working on the van... the van sits so low that I can't get under it!  DOH!  oh well.

Monday, March 26, 2012


So for those that don't know, I bought a house.
the Grey Ghost spent it's first winter in my very own garage!
The garage is heated with a wood stove, but I spent most of my time out there getting the garage cleaned and usable.. the previous owner left it a bit of a mess.
it will be nice having a dry, clean, well lit and secure place to work on the van.

it has been a while since I have touched the brakes, so I am planning on doing front and rear complete.. rotors, drums, shoes, pads, spring kits, etc...  I did all that in 95 when I first bought it, it's been 100K plus mile since, and other than changing the pads a couple of times, they haven't been touched, so it is probably time. (I have had them inspected on a regular basis, so I know they have been safe up to now!)

I'm looking forward to many van projects in this garage!