This is getting to be a habit. It's been about 8 weeks since the last update, 12 weeks since I dropped a different distributor in.
The difference has been amazing. For much of the last two months, I've been making adjustments to the ignition timing and carb settings. Since I'm running the car with a non-computer-controlled carb and distributor, I don't have a manual or sticker for where the base timing should be set. I went with 10 degrees BTDC, plugged the vacuum advance in, then set the carb mixture and idle speed.
Much better. I've had none of the hard-start issues that plagued the car over the last couple of summers. I did have a bad afternoon the day I drove across town to get the X's tag renewed, though. I didn't have any tools. The car stalled as soon as the front tires touched the tag office parking lot and several more times on the way home. I never figured it out, other than the car was running hot. After it cooled down for a few hours, it started right up with no trouble. I got out the timing light a few days later and put things like they should have been weeks before. Fixed.
The next Friday, I went back to the tag office to get the Tracker's renewal. No troubles, no overheating. While I was sitting in line, I thought about the tachometer I'd repaired several months before. It was in a box behind my seat. The dash was only partly put back together from last year's electrical project; all I needed to do to be done was...hook up the stupid tachometer, adjust it, and install it properly.
I'll do a writeup on the tach separately; there's a common problem with GM tachs from the '70s through the '90s where a resistor goes bad and makes the thing read too high, too low, or not at all. I found a website with some decent step-by-step directions. The repair is dead simple if you're even okay with a soldering iron.
The tach worked, needing only some adjustment to read correctly. Once I got that done, I kept going, putting the instrument panel back together (so now I have fully-functional gauges AND dash lights), putting the heater/air conditioner controls back in (so now I have a working heater and defroster for the first time in 18 months), reinstalling and wiring the front stereo speakers, and bolting the steering column into place for the last time.
There's still the glove box to reinstall, but man, does the dash look good. The engine's running better than ever before...though there's still the small matter of getting that freaking dead muffler from last year swapped out.
On an X-11 related note, I recently found a program that let me grab almost all of the Chevy Citations Forever Yahoo Group, which I've been trying to archive for at least 6 years. It's called PG Offline and should work for most Yahoo Groups, as long as you're subscribed. I nabbed everything back to March of 2002. Everything for the 3-4 years prior to that is corrupted and useless. THANKS, Yahoo. Still, the yield was more than 31,000 posts spanning 12 years. That's not bad.
PGO is primarily an offline reader; you can grab a range of posts or the entire archive and look them over without needing to be inline. It also lets you export an archive to an SQLite database for further hacking. I found an SQLite browser which further let me save the post archive as a Comma-Separated Values file.
From here, I'm going to write a little Python code to go through the CSV and save all the posts as conversation threads to make stuff easier to find. There's a ton of technical stuff formerly locked up on Yahoo's servers that I can set free and make available to group members--engine swaps, parts sources and numbers, and like that. We're always getting new members who can't find info about parts.
Next grabbing project will be the group's photo archive. muahahahaha!