August 31, 2003

It's ALIVE! Well, it’s running, and I can’t believe it. I finished hooking up the rest of the fuel injection connections, put on the new ignition wires (used a little of that dielectric grease) and and then went to reconnect the battery so I could time the engine. No juice. I guess I expected that since the battery had been sitting since April, but I had forgotten about it. I took a trip over to AutoBarn and picked up a 10 amp battery charger. I only had to charge it a couple hours, and during that time I did some more tidying work, like attaching the air cooling bellows, filling the oilbath air filter, put oil in the engine, took out the seatbelts so I can wash them, etc. When the battery looked like it was holding a charge, I put it back in and turned on the ignition to set the timing. It was at this point that I realized that the fuel pump was staying on, even though the engine wasn’t running. I suddenly had a pretty scary gasoline leak on the left side of the engine. I turned off the key and found out the leak was coming from one of the injectors. It didn’t appear to be coming from the hose, as it was all dry. The injectors were both soaked. I replaced the one that seemed to be leaking the worst, and put the injectors back on the engine. Turned the key and the other one was still leaking. It looked like it was actually leaking at the point where the plastic part of the injector meets the lower body part. I took my second NOS injector and replaced the leaking one with it. No more leaks… At least on that side. There was a slow leak on one of the right injectors, and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving that as it was. It seemed like it was leaking in the same place. I took one of the injectors I got in Connecticut on Tuesday and tried it. No leaks.

Setting the timing turned out to be fairly difficult as sometimes I’d turn the distributor and the light wouldn’t go on. Plus, the vacuum canister was hitting the generator. Eventually I opened up the distributor cap and made sure the points were opening and closing correctly. They were. I got to a point where I didn’t turn the distributor so much as try to make sure the light went on when I turned the engine past TDC. It took a while, but eventually I got it. I was still missing the oil breather hose, but I thought I could try to start it up. My wife and stepson had brought me dinner, so they came out to see if it would start or not. I turned the key, and it started immediately! Victoria and Christian were soon in a fog of grey smoke, so I turned off the car, eventually turning it back on to rev the engine up and down a little, like they say to do when you first start one of these engines.

Needless to say, I’m quite amazed that it started. I remember I used to have problems starting my go-kart when I was a kid, and engines used to always seem like this big, unlearnable thing for me. I know this is probably only the beginning, and hopefully I won’t be driving down the road someday and learn the hard way that I made a mistake somewhere, but for now, five months after I first picked up the car, I’m celebrating one small victory.