Son of a bitch.
As Corey introduced earlier this week, Blast Cars visited the Little Foreign Car Garage in Waltham to catch up with my old friend Ken “Skipper” Hull, who has been in the business for more than four decades.
I’ve known Skipper for about four years. I met him in October 2009 at the Weston Antique Car Show when I interviewed him for a Boston Globe feature on his racing prowess. Skipper races a 1972 Porsche 914-6 in the SCCA-NARRC and rarely loses.
Furthermore, SCCA is an amateur circuit, and not only goes Skipper not get paid for his efforts, but each race costs him thousands of dollars.
“For me, the challenge, the goal, and the love is to make an old Porsche compete with the newer cars and still beat them,” he told me in 2009. This is a car guy.
So we brought the 1987 Dodge W150 Power Ram to his garage on Thursday night to get his opinion. The Shop Truck was performing flawlessly on the way. No stalls. The shocks really are just there for show, but other than a bumpy ride, the 12 mile journey from Hyde Park to Waltham was uneventful.
Then we got there, and the truck pissed all over itself. Antifreeze spilled out the bottom, and steam, well, steamed from the top.
I got to clean it up while Skipper started doing what he does.
Clearly, the truck overheated, and we didn’t know why. This was supposed to be a social call, not a service call, but Ken took a look anyway.
It turns out, there are a few more problems under the hood than we originally thought. First of all, the shiny, clean Holley carburetor is not even close to correct or original. It’s a single barrel. According to the service manual, the 1987 W150 came with a 4bbl carburetor. That might explain some of our stall problems — which is what I suspected all along. The mixture is too lean, and the engine is not getting enough fuel. It’s great for gas mileage, but awful for doing things like driving from one place to another. Skipper made an adjustment, and the stall problem has been better, but not perfect.
As for the overheating, there are some vacuum lines that were cut off by the previous owner, and there appear to be other mechanical problems that we’ll get into later. After a fun tour of the shop and a few minutes looking over the truck and replacing the coolant after the engine had cooled down, Ken sent us off with a mechanic’s blessing.
It took him about 15 seconds to determine that we had more engine problems than we can handle on our own.
Personally, I’m very hopeful that LFCG will take on The Shop Truck’s engine portion, and Ken advised us that — if we really wanted him to dig into the truck again — we should give the engine bay a full de-greasing and power-wash, to clean up the workspace. Corey and I did just that, which we will detail in the next entry.
And after that, we’ll discuss something interesting that we found when we went to do the engine bay wash:
Cardboard blocking the radiator. Maybe that was helping the engine overheat…
Anyway, I drove the truck home without incident. More later.