Friday, January 8, 2010

One Year! (part 2)

Today (Jan. 8th, 2010) marks the anniversary of my '81 Citation X-11 being delivered. When I left off, I was releasing the delivery driver from the clutches of his remaining vehicle, a monstrous Ford Excursion or whatever the biggest of their SUV's is called.

I took a few minutes to look under the hood and get some pictures, and quickly found troubles. No headlights. No radiator cap, just a rag stuffed in the neck, and plenty of brown rust stains on the underside of the hood and down the sides of the radiator. No battery hold-down. No cowl-air induction "air box" (this diverts air from the hood scoop opening down to the second air cleaner snorkel; the denser, cooler air gives the engine a little more ooomph). Leak at the back of the brake master cylinder. Most of the vacuum lines missing, blocked off, or cracked and worn out. EGR valve disconnected. No AIR (smog) pump. The whole AIR system was missing. Gas cap broken.

As a plus, it was a legitimate X-11 and there was a K&N air filter in the air cleaner. Those are pricey.

By Saturday the 10th, I'd made up a list 4 pages long--stuff to fix, other stuff to check, and of course the list grew from there. A year later, I'm on the 4th revision of the list, which is maybe 3 pages, and there's a second one with the stuff that got done.

I've been pleased with how little of that second list required money, just some cleaning or adjustment.

By Jan. 23, I was still working on getting the engine to run. It was still doing the crank/catch/run a few seconds/quit thing, and it wasn't until I unplugged what was left of the vacuum lines and blocked the ports off that the problem went away. A little adjusting, and the offending part was working properly...and the engine caught and stayed running. Still sounded like hell, rough idle, shaking, smoking.

For the first time, I drove her. It was just out of the yard, out to the street, so I could turn the car around and park her properly nose-in (the delivery guy has backed the car into place). A small thing, but a success.

By the end of the month, the car had insurance and a tag; on Feb. 6, I drive it to work for the first time. Lots of fun--the little critter corners like a cat--but also some hassle. If I let off the gas while slowing down at a stoplight or to make a turn, the engine would die.

I fought the carburetor problem for another 3 months--I'd set it up, and within 2 days the problem was back. It would purr happily for a drive to lunch, then flood out to the point that the spark plugs were black with carbon. After being stranded three times--the last on Cinco de Mayo, on my way to work (car died in front of a cemetary)--I'd had enough.

Part 3, tomorrow.

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