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Garage Notes
4V Carburetors
All of us with old Cougars usually drive our cats once a week or less during the winter months. If you're like me, you'll take off hard just for the fun of it and to feel the power once or twice on your weekly drive.

I recently changed out my Holley Street Avenger carb and, in the process of dumping the fuel out of the fuel bowls, I noticed the front primary gas came out nice and white while the secondary gas came out brown! I concluded I had not pushed the accelerator pedal hard enough to open the secondary butterfly plates for long enough, so the gas went bad (gummy), which will clog up all those tiny passages and air bleed holes and make for a poorly running carburetor.

My solution is to soften the secondary vacuum spring so those secondary butterfly plates open easier. Another solution: Add Stabil to each fill-up to help the gas last longer and also lesson the effects of today’s gas with ethanol. — David Ayers (#18)
Tires on Old Cars
Because we don't put a lot of miles on our old cars, our tire treads wear very little and look good for years and years. So, it might surprise you that I had a BF Goodrich Radial TA come to pieces on my '67 at 60 mph on a back road (I managed to keep it in the road), even though the tire had at least a quarter-inch deep tread.

It turned out that the tire was almost 10 years old. According to the experts on the Internet (so, it must be true), tires that are 5-years old are iffy, and 10-year-old tires are dangerous. I just took the spare out of my '67, and it still had the factory sticker on the tread but was 11 years old. I reluctantly agreed to a new tire from my supplier, and he informed me that when the brand new tire was removed from the rim, the bead came apart from the sidewall!

So, I strongly recommend you check the dates on your tires. For those of you who don’t know, the tire date of manufacture is in an oval that follows the DOT number, on the sidewall. The numbers in the oval will usually be four digits, with the first two being the week of the year and the second two being the year. So, a code of "4317" would mean the tire was manufactured in the 43rd week of 2017 and is approaching four years old.

For your safety and the safety of others, take a look before driving off to the next show! — David Ayers (#18)
How to Test an Ignition Coil
Checking the health of your car's ignition coil is as easy as two simple resistance tests. Using a standard multimeter (digital is easiest) check resistance across the primary windings of the coil by putting the test leads on the threaded "DIST" (negative) terminal and "BAT" (positive) terminal. Check the resistance measured against the specifications in the ignition section of your shop manual. On a '68 Cougar, for example, the resistance should be 1.4 to 1.54 ohms at 75 degrees. Then, test the secondary winding by putting one test lead on the BAT terminal and the other in the center terminal (the large one that's connected to the center terminal on the distributor cap). Again, on a '68, that reading should be 7,600 to 8,800 ohms. Your specifications might differ depending on year, so consult your manual. Any readings much outside these ranges might indicate need for a new coil.
Convert Your Cat to Modern 3-Point Belts
Convert your Cat to modern, three-point seatbelts with affordable solutions, such as this Summit Racing product. "I bolted them into the factory holes in my '70 and they fit and worked perfectly," former DCC President Jim Karamanis says. "This is a good and affordable way for folks to convert to modern two-piece, three-point seat belts. These should be a plug-and-play, bolt-in replacement for '68 and '69 hardtops with stock, four-piece systems; and '70 to '73 hardtops with stock, three-piece systems. They could even be made to work with '67 Cougars, if you're willing to weld a nut in place."
Diagnose a Bad Fan Clutch
If your Cat has an overheating problem, the culprit might be a faulty fan clutch. If the fan clutch spins freely, it is done. It should have some resistance at all times. Warm the engine up and then turn it off. If you can spin the fan more than halfway around with a moderate push, the fan clutch is shot. Also, check for a wobble—when they start to go, you often can feel a wobble when you move the blades forward and backward.
Polishing Small Trim Items
Here's a tip for bringing small metal items, such as fasteners, back to like-new condition: Use a rock tumbler. A former member reports that an overnight ride in a tumbler with brass polishing media removed rust from hard-to-find hood molding clips for his '69 Cougar.
1968 Side Marker Bulbs?
The correct replacement bulb for the front side marker lights on a '68 Cougar is an 1178A, an amber bulb. The shop manual listing for a "97NA" bulb is a typo. The 97NA is no longer available and, being a single-contact bulb, likely would short the double-contact wiring in the side marker receptacle.
Distributor Check with a Dwell Meter
If you have a dwell meter, you can perform a simple "dwell hold" test to check the health of your distributor. First, verify that dwell is properly set at idle. Then, with the meter attached, briefly increase engine speed to about 1,500 rpm and note the dwell reading. An increase of more than 3 degrees indicates excessive wear to the distributor cam or bushings. Also check dwell at idle. Anything more than a slight flutter could indicate a worn distributor. Excessive distributor mechanical wear can cause inaccurate timing and abnormal spark advance.
Hood Alignment
If you can't get the rear corners of your Cougar's hood to seat completely when closed, slightly loosen the bolts attaching the hinges to the inner fender panels on the side you want to lower and lift the hood to its maximum open position. Then, tighten the bolts. Because the hinge has an over-center spring arrangement, lifting (tilting) the hood will actually cause the hood to sit lower when it's closed.
Is it a Cleveland or Windsor 351?
Owners of 1970 and later Cougars might wonder whether they have a Windsor or Cleveland 351 engine. The problem is that from 1970 on, Cougars with an "H" as the fifth character in the VIN received 351, 2-barrel motors, but the H did not indicate if the engine was a 351C (Cleveland) or 351W (Windsor). Here are a couple quick ways to tell the difference:
  • 351C—thermostat housing on block; eight-bolt valve covers; fuel pump bolts run vertically; small (14 mm) spark plugs.
  • 351W—thermostat housing on intake manifold; six-bolt valve covers; fuel pump bolts run horizontally; large (18 mm) spark plugs.
Parasitic Battery Drain
Is your car eating batteries? With a little detective work and a simple tool, you can can locate the problem. First, make sure no accessories, including courtesy lights, remain on with the doors closed and the car off. A faulty switch can keep a glove box light illuminated, for example, and drain your battery in short order. No problem there? Then disconnect the negative cable and connect a 12-volt test light between it and the negative battery post. If it glows bright, you have a parasitic drain somewhere. Start pulling fuses, one at a time, checking the light with each. If you pull a fuse and the light goes out, you've found the circuit with the short. Now, grab a wiring diagram and look for broken or pinched wires grounding out to the body or other metal. If the test light stays on with all fuses pulled, disconnect the output ("BAT") terminal on the alternator. If the light goes out, you've found the culprit: a faulty diode in the alternator, which must be replaced or rebuilt.