Road Testing

The weeks and months (four months) of planning, research for parts, my own minor maintenance on the vehicle, and Ed Olsen's work re-installing the rebuilt engine were potentially done.  On Feb. 14th, Ed finally took a drive of about 60 miles on New Jersey's Palisades Interstate Parkway.  He got back to me that the car was running rough and didn't have much power.  But, he said, "I have nothing to compare it with having never driven the car." Ed races a dirt bike.  I hoped that maybe he instinctively felt the Volaré should show some torque at the rear wheels.  Come on 225 cubic inches!  Get up and go.

Ed also reported an oil leak from the engine.  When I heard that news I searched the message boards for reports of an oil leak after an engine rebuild.  On a hunch, I narrowed my search including "2106" in the search string, that being the identifying number for the grind done on my stock cam at Oregon Cam Grinding. The cam never had anything to do with the leak but miraculousy I hit on a message with someone's similar experience.  The post said, "First an oil leak, at the back on the pan.  This video was taken with engine at 1500 rpm's . . .  Got the timing set at 16 with the vac advance disconnected." The post was answered: "That is too much.  Back it off to 10-12 and try again.  More advance will lean out an engine if the mix remains constant and is not into the mains on the carb . . ."

Ed checked out the video and said the leak matched the one on my newly rebuilt engine.  But, he added, he and Charlie could fix it.  They determined it was caused by a defective rear crankshaft seal.  To replace the seal, the transmission had to be dropped.  With the car back on the lift, Ed found two other things that needed fix-ing.  One, the rear U-joint was worn out and had to be replaced.  The other, the insulation on the speedo-meter cable is worn through at one place, causing a slight leak of transmission fluid.  I found an NOS Mo-par cable, part number 3593590 for sale on ebay.  As of March 2nd, it has yet to be put in.

With the transmission reinstalled and the u-joint fixed, and ignition timing set to 14° BTDC, I got to take another ride about a week later. I didn't need to log 60 miles to confirm Ed's first impression.  Back at the shop I went over mine.  Idling and acceleration were rough, with vibration felt in the steering wheel and in the seat.  Through the windshield the hood ornament and hood outline shook like a dragster.  There was a slight flicker of the speedometer pointer, which I imagine was caused by the general shaking of the whole car.  Topping off my complaints, the engine seemed unusually loud.  That was eventually improved just by lowering idle speed.  And there is a strange noise, like a whirring, at 60 mph or so. Ed believes it's fan noise.

More to come . . . to write about Ed's changes: 1) replacing the NOS Mopar distributor and Standard Blue Streak cap with my original Mopar distributor and a new brown Mopar cap; 2) work on the transmission mount, including modifying the mount by combining elements from my old mount and a new one, with pictures.  Will describe my second test drive and my impressions.  As of my third and fourth trips behind the wheel, the ride seems somewhat steadier, but there is still vibration, not as bad.  It's especially felt in the steering wheel.  Acceleration form a standing start is still slow and there's still the "strange noise".  Ed is recommending softer subframe isolators and a fan clutch.  But the car didn't have a vibration problem before the rebuild, and there was never anything like the "strange noise".  Before the carb rebuild, hesitation and stalling was common.  That is no longer happening but the car is still unusually slow to move from a standing start, and at noticeably higher rpm than I remember.

Worn speedometer cable, noticed when transmission had to be removed in replacing defective crank seal.

Crossmember, transmission mount with Ed Olsen's modification, counterweight bracket and counterweight.  Click on picture to open window accessing ten pictures by Ed showing the crossmember and modified mount in place.

Flexplate, a suspected component effecting possible out-of-center condition between crankshaft and sleeve on snout of torque converter.  See "Day 2" pictures of original installation below.  Part number 2801 745, "Plate, torque converter drive".

Dave Zatz, webmaster and editor of, takes a ride in the Volaré and offers some comments"

"I own a 1974 Plymouth Valiant, which is my second Valiant and third A-body.  Driving Gene Yetter's 57,000-mile Plymouth Volaré was a surprise and revelation.  I knew the interior was far nicer, with optional velour seats and a dashboard oriented towards the driver; but I didn't know how smooth and comfortable the ride could be.  I'd driven police Diplomats, which have a similar suspension, but they're tuned for handling, not comfort.

"On the road, the two-barrel slant six is a major improvement over the single-barrel, though nowhere near the power of the V8s. The Volaré hood is higher and more curved, and the ride reminded me more of my B-body 1977 Fury than my own Valiant.  I didn't put it through its paces -- it's not my car -- but I got the idea that the high comfort came at some cost in handling.  This particular car had a bit of play in the suspension.  Still, wind noise seemed much lower than in my Valiant, and overall, the Volaré was every bit the leap forward that the magazines said it was, back around 1976 when the F-bodies were introduced to the car-buying public."