Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's Cooler... Than Bein' Cool?

Ice cold. Which is the exact opposite of the weather in June in the Phoenix area. Sure, you've heard the urban legends about melted asphalt, and frying an egg on the sidewalk (neither of which is true, by the way), but even more horrifying is the actual proven fact that an AMC Eagle can overheat in such conditions. Yes, I still have the Eagle. It clings to me like a scared child, and I can't help but feel sorry for it and give it food and shelter.

Several times in the past few weeks, the following scenario has played out...

After driving from downtown Gilbert to the north end of Tempe, I pull into a parking spot at work, nervously eyeing the coolant temperature gauge on the dashboard. After I shut down the engine, I wait about 15 seconds, and I start to hear a low, gentle rumbling sound from under the hood. The coolant is boiling. Bubbles of water vapor are surging into the coolant reservoir, from the connecting hose at the top of the radiator. No steam comes out from underneath the hood, but the message is clear: you're really pushing it, dude. 

In a perfect world, I would be able to drive a moderate distance on the freeway during the hottest part of the day, during the hottest part of the year, in the hottest metropolitan area in the country, with the air conditioning on full blast, in a 30-year-old car, without the engine overheating. Is that too much to ask? I for one have refused to take "yes" for an answer.

I tried modifying the fuel mixture. It helped a little, but not enough. I put in a brand new thermostat. It helped a little, but not enough. I know that radiator was made to handle some pretty serious heat, so something's not quite right. Then there are all the other classic cars (of which there are a lot in this town) that you see driving around, apparently shrugging off the heat like it ain't no thang.

So on Monday it was, as always, time to consult The Internet. Inspired by some posts on enthusiast forums, I realized that there are probably all kinds of rust and mineral deposits in the radiator from when the car sat idle for months and months. That, and just the fact of having so many gosh-danged miles on it, and being so old... you get the idea. And all of that inibits the flow of coolant and probably heat transfer as well. I read about a heavy-duty liquid rust remover you can get at Home Depot, and I ventured forth to procure some.

Last night I made a solution of said rust remover and ran it through the radiator a couple times, letting it sit for a while in both instances. I also washed the outside with it, including the millions of thin copper fins running between the coolant passages. This was with the radiator out of the car, of course. 

After a very thorough rinsing with water this afternoon, the radiator is back in the car, with all the coolant, and all the hoses hooked up. Based on preliminary observations from a small road test, it looks like the radiator is dissipating heat a little better than before. Tomorrow will be the real test, though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The Eagle has been reluctant to leave the nest, it seems.

I've put in on Craigslist, Cars.com, and the AMC Eagle enthusiast forum, and I've received a grand total of 5 replies. 3 from obvious scam artists, 1 from a possible scam artist who wanted $200 to sell it for me, and 1 from a guy who wanted to trade for a lowered Buick Roadmaster in poor condition. No offers, no test drives. This is my first time selling a car, but I thought I'd see a little more action by now. So... I think if this continues, I might have to sell the Altima instead. It's a bit more of a known quantity in the used car world, you could say, and people might respond better to it.

And the Eagle's been improving a little, too. The cruise control now works, all of a sudden. Its primitive cooling system was mildly overheating on the really hot days last week, and a couple of tweaks, including leaning out the fuel mixture, seem to have worked to solve that problem as well. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fly Away, Eagle! Fly Away And Be Free!

FOR SALE: 1985 AMC Eagle 4-door 4WD Station Wagon, base model. 156,xxx mi.

- 2WD/4WD Select Drive system
- Automatic transmission
- 256 c.i. (4.2L) straight-6 engine
- Roof rack
- AM/FM, power brakes, power steering
- Passes Arizona emissions, has new current AZ registration
- Clear title

Recent work:
- newly rebuilt transmission (less than 1K miles), including new torque converter, front pump, and cooling lines
- newly rebuilt carburetor
- new tires and stock-size wheels
- new front driver's side CV axle
- new lift supports on rear hatch
- new front brake pads and rotors
- new driver's seat belt
- new U-joints on drive shafts, rear shaft professionally serviced and balanced
- new spark plugs and ignition wires
- new catalytic converter and tailpipe
- new shock absorbers
- new battery

Also of note:
- heater works
- factory A/C blows cold. Has been professionally retrofitted to run newer, widely available R134a refrigerant.
- recent professional wheel alignment
- virtually rust-free, with zero frame rust
- INCLUDED: copy of original factory service manual AND engine and transmission overhaul manual

I have spent the last 9 months restoring this vehicle to full functionality from non-running condition. It's a great car to work on yourself, since it was built before the days of complex engine computers. Mechanical parts are cheap and easy to get, and require no special tools. Great as a daily driver, weekend 4-wheeler for the desert or mountains, or all of the above! If a Jeep and a station wagon got together and had a baby, this Eagle would be it. Has and will continue to turn heads and make friends in unexpected places.

Minor flaws: There's a slow ATF leak (just check and top off every so often), and some small tears in the driver's seat upholstery. Paint job is aging but serviceable. Otherwise, it's in good shape and ready to fly!

$4500, or make me an offer on this American classic.

email: adam.hill131@gmail.com
text or call: 480-318-0142