COAL: Dirty Dart Volume Three


From the salvage yard to the street, the Dirty Dart rises to face the potholes and texting drivers of modern society. Is that a happy thing?


I’ve probably driven the Dart 200 or 250 miles since my last update, which is not bad considering I own five other vehicles.  I have replaced the original plywood load floor (yep, plywood) with a much classier piece of 1/2 inch particle board.  10 bucks at Menard’s and I can now carry items in the back–woo hoo!


This sucker is a bit of a leaker, however.  I replaced the pinion seal, which dried that leak up.  Approximately five miles from the time I started the engine, the water pump developed a significant leak from the weep hole, so I swapped in a 20 dollar remanufactured pump.  This is a good thing about old cars, and the slant six in particular: the water pump, from start to finish, took 1.5 hours to replace, and I was not rushing.

My transmission guy replaced the A-903 (Never heard of it? Neither has anybody else!) three-speed’s unavailable gaskets with RTV, which sealed up those prodigious leaks, but it’s still leaking from the shift shaft seals.  I’ll leave those two until I feel like tilting the transmission over to replace them.  The engine is dripping oil from a bunch of places–I think it has a bit of a rear main leak, and I’m not touching that one for now…that’s why I have drip pans in the garage.  The other day, I replaced the spark plug tube seals to eliminate them as a possibility.


My saintly mother took a two-day period to “deickify” the interior, and she wants to go over it again.  New carpeting and door weatherstripping are next on the list, and I still need to adjust the windshield wiper parking location.  I had to install aftermarket temp and oil pressure gauges, because I have a feeling my dashboard’s printed circuit has seen better days.  The temperature gauge was working (but reading high), but now it reads low, low, low all the time (it does have voltage at the bulkhead connector, and the IVR is working).  I still haven’t demystified the fuel gauge, but the problem does not lie with the sender.


When I bought the Dirty Dart, I joined a website called “For A-Bodies Only,” and a member from southern Michigan gave me a front bumper and some other odds and ends for free!  He didn’t want any money, only to clean out his garage a bit, and told me he would have scrapped it if I didn’t want it.  Sold!  I picked it all up after I went to the Motor Muster car show in Dearborn.  Compared to the ugly, bent, rusty bumper it came with, this is a huge improvement.


If anybody has a “Bevis Dodge Inc. Little Rock, Ark.” badge you’d like to sell me, let me know!  Most people I’ve talked to urge me to leave the Dart’s exterior as-is, with peeling paint and patina galore.  That jives with my feelings on the subject as I drive the car around.  I always ask, “will I enjoy this car more if I do “fill in blank” to it?”. In the Dart’s case, I don’t think I will if I paint it.  It’s kind of cool as-is, in a dorky way, of course.


So, there’s the Dirty Dart for now.  Little stuff keeps breaking as I drive, and it tried to kill me the other day when the fast idle cam screw came loose and jammed the throttle halfway down, but I keep trying to work the bugs out.  The other day, I decided to put the Dart at my off-site storage spot and work on the other cars.  Absence makes the heart grown fonder, at least for a few weeks.