Old Car Frustrations

December of last year, just before I left for Colorado, The 55 died on me.
It all started with the Torque Converter Clutch not engaging in the transmission.
And not only was it not engaging, but it was downshifting the transmission into 3rd gear.
Jimmy the transmission-guy & Holley figured it out and now they’ve got the transmission exactly where it should be.
I had a job that was 80 miles away, so I got up early, and got some miles in before there was any traffic.
The new engine hummed along at 2400 rpm at 74 mph and the torque converter was finally locking up like it’s supposed to.
Giddy-up!
But…
After work…
The 55 died on me.
It would turn over and catch for a second, but it wouldn’t stay started.
WTF…
I popped the hood to take a look.
Nothing looked out of the ordinary.
I went back in the car and turn the key to ignition.
The ECU lit up with a red “ERR” code over the Coolant Temperature & Oil Pressure Sensors.
I went back under the hood and fiddled with the wires from the CTS and the alternator and the electric cooling fans kicked on.
I went back in the car, turned the key and it fired back up like nothing happened.
Weird.
After dinner, The 55 started right up and got me the 80 miles back to LA without a hiccup.
I backed it into the garage where I stored it while I was away for Christmas, and got up early the next morning to catch my flight.
Just after landing in Denver I got the call.
The 55 wouldn’t start…
W. T. F.
I told him not to worry – a friend of ours was going to pick it up and do some work on it while I was in Colorado.
This is the same guy that wired-up the ECU for the new engine, so he knew the electrical system better than anyone.
I texted him and heard back that he was busy.
All good.
Then he stopped returning my texts.
Now what?
I planned on having him take a look at it while I was away…
Now it just sat there.
So frustrating.
When I got back to LA I found out the hard way that my Optima Red-Top was completely dead.
I pulled it out and put it on my Digital 400 charger.
I love that thing.
The next morning when I hooked it up and turned on the key to let the ECU prime I hear the woosh of the electric fans coming on.
The fans shouldn’t come on until it’s up to operating temperature.
When I turn the key to start the engine, it turns over and catches for a second before it dies.
The hand-held display showed TPS “error,” the CTS showed “low err,” and the oil pressure sensor showed “low err.”
Again…
WTF…
I was at the end of my rope and I just want the car to run so I posted a cry for help on Facebook.
Thanks to the power of social media I got a lot of recommendations.
My buddy Jonny Mill texted me and told me to contact his friend Zack.
I texted Zack and less than a minute later he calls me back and we set up a time for him to come over and check out The 55.
When he shows up, I tell him he looks familiar and he says that’s because I interviewed him during the Hot Rod Power Tour at the Atlanta Motor Speedway a couple of years ago.
No way!
It’s a small world after all.
I interviewed Zack about his car, an orange 1968 Plymouth Barracuda that his grandfather gave him.
Zack’s grandfather was a mechanic.
He’s the guy who built Mickey Thompson’s engines for the Bonneville land-speed records.
The ‘Cuda is Zack’s first car.
What do you do with a rusty, old, under-powered 68 ‘Cuda?
You LS swap it!
And that’s exactly what Zack did.
He dropped a built 6.0 LS that’s been bored out to a 6.2.
Coooooooooool.
After reminiscing for a bit Zack dove into The 55.
He then had to call his buddy Peter to come over and plug-in his computer to figure out what was going on.
Peter came over and after awhile they discovered the problem.
There’s an orange wire that comes off of the ECU and branches off to 4-5 of the sensors.
Well, that orange wire is grounding out somewhere between the ECU and the sensors.
But where is it grounding out?
It turns out it was a pinched wire.
Part of the wiring harness was pinched in between the engine and the transmission causing it to ground out.
Doh!
But I’m just glad the problem has finally been figured out.
This whole LS swap thing has been frustrating.
I’m looking forward to getting it back out on the open road and driving it.
The good thing is that Zack got it running again, charged up the AC for me and hooked up the N2O purge system.
And I’m thrilled that Hiro’s reimbursed me for Zack’s labor he charged me to repair the pinched wiring harness.
It’s nice to find people who stand behind their work.
And it’s nuts to me that something as small as a pinched wire  can disable the entire engine.
Like someone said: “If it was easy, everybody’d be doing it.”
I’m leaving in just about 2-weeks to drive out to the Goodguys Spring Nationals in Scottsdale, AZ.
And I’m planning on starting at the Santa Monica Pier and driving Route 66 the whole way out to Flagstaff, and I’ve got a list of some cool stops I’m going to hit along the way.
If any of you are Route 66 veterans, I’d love to hear your Route 66 recommendations.
I hope to see you out on the road
#idrivea55


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s