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26 years later, my Fleetwood sounds like it should

Tue 04 Sep 2018 22:36:28 | 0 comments
In 1992 I bought my black 1965 Fleetwood Brougham here in Montreal as a winter car to replace our dying green 1970 Sedan De Ville.  It was bit rusty, had a beautiful interior, cost $2,000 and every hundred miles I had to add a quart of oil and change a spark plug.  

After the first engine job in 1993, it still burned oil, so we immediately did the rings again and off I went with my sweetie on our honeymoon.  However, it alway sounded trucky because of warped, leaking exhaust manifold gaskets.  I would change them, they would sound allright for a few days and then they woud burn out.  I was told to have the manifolds machined and the left one, being a flat surface, was easy to do, whereas the right needed a jig etc.etc. and no one wanted to touch it.  I kept changing gaskets and I came to love the car, even though it sounded like a piece of crap.  We have driven over 160,000 miles since we bought in in 1992.

In 1998 I tried another engine shop, RM, in Montreal North.  They did an uninspired engine job that sent vibrations through my steering column at approximately 32 mph.  I went back to them and they determined that it was, in fact, the engine that was vibrating, but they refused to admit that it would ruin my motor and I lost interest in having any further work done by them.  And it still sounded like a truck.

We put lots of mileage on the car but it always vibrated and was noisy.  My local drive shaft shop had balanced the shaft at least twice with no particular improvement.  My search for a smooth running engine continued as we wore out the 2nd crappy engine job.  

By 2014 it was losing power and needed a major overhaul and a buddy in the car hobby recommended another mechanic to take on the engine problems.  He and his friends were racing enthusiasts and seemed to know their way around high performance engines.  He and his crew did the engine over the winter and I picked it up for the following summer.  It ran poorly,even with a balanced crankshaft, and developed new vibrations.  The OPG new rotary a/c compressor threw its main bearing twice and I got one from Classic Auto Air that still works well. Eventually we changed the ignition coil and finally, it started properly!  Then the new electric Holley fuel pump died prematurely and that was fixed.  Still vibrated, though, and was noisy.  

I got a low mileage transmission from a buddy in Vermont and we put it on, to minor improvement - it shifts nicely.  

The main improvement did not occur til the propeller shaft was rebuilt, for a whopping $750.  It seems that they thought my u-joints were smooth when they were not, and no matter how many times they would balance it over the 25 years, there was no improvement til they changed everything.  It was worth every cent.  Suddenly, there were almost no vibrations, except from the radials that the chassis was not designed for.  I could go 80-90 mph, even 100, but it still sounded like a jalopy.  So I decided to look again at manifold gaskets. 

After a brief look at what was out there, I chose the REMFLEX brand of one piece (per side) gaskets, designed to compress to take up the gaps in wavy manifolds. Found on ebay through Summit Racing.

Damned if they didn't work like a charm!  In the interim, my exhaust had developed all kinds of leaks, but they were fixed in an afternoon by Alexei at Guido Garage.  Now it's like driving a new car.  Twenty-Six years later.  Of course, I notice it much more than my passengers.  Now for some body and upholstery work!

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