WarWagon – The Emissions Saga, part three

Charlie down at JeePerformance got the valve seals installed into the WarWagon today and I went down there at about 3:30 to pick it up and have another go at passing the emissions tests.

When I got there I paid the $500 for the valve seals, valve cover gaskets, new spark plugs, an oil change, new filter, and 5 hours of Charlie's time… Again, not bad concidering Charlie is a specialist in Jeeps and has one of the best reputations in the Midwest for off-road performance work.

So I wander out to the Jeep, hop in, and fire it up – and am immediately met with a slight miss. I figure “new plugs” and let the engine get good and warm before passing judgement. Well, it continues to miss, just slightly, across the entire RPM range so I shut it down and walk back inside to get Charlie…

This is the best part of working with Charlie – he's all about doing the right thing, whatever it takes, and as such he returns with me to the Jeep and we start figuring out what the new issue is. He pulls vacuum lines, fiddles with the air injector, runs the engine through the RPM range, and comes to the same conclusion I did – timing.

So Charlie pulls the line on the vacuum advance for the distributor and the whole distributor turns… The set bolt has worked loose and as all he did was pull the plug wires off the plugs and lay them over the radiator, he didn't notice it.

He runs back into the shop and returns with a very cool digital timing light, an old bathmat to drape over the radiator, and pockets full of tools, and right there gives the Jeep a tuneup. While he's at it he discovers that the vacuum advance was tied into a vacuum switch and is getting full vacuum all the time, so he re-routes that to manifold vacuum, fixes the switch, and plugs a leaky manifold vacuum tap too.

Total cost for this hour of work? Zero… But I'll buy him a case of whatever he wants next time I'm down there. 😉

With the WarWagon now running the best it probably ever has I bounce over to the emissions station there on Federal, again. This time I get an entirely different lane with new folks who I have to once again train on the WarWagon.

The first lady I see walks around the Jeep, looks at the front wheels, then comes over to tell me “If your wheels touch the doghouse we'll have to throw you out.”

I blink, “Doghouse?”

“The covers for the rollers where the wheels turn during the test.” she says.

“This is a 1976…”

“Oh!” she says, “Just an idle test then.” And I nod.

She has me shut down, pop the hood, and unlock the gas cap, and I dutifully do so and retreat to the customer holding area.

A few minutes go by as the fellow running the lane looks under the hood, in the fuel filler, and crawls around under the Jeep… This stops all progress on his lane and the lady in the holding area with me starts to get hot under the collar.

He motions me over. “What size engine is this?”

I respond, “It's a 360… I think thats a 5.9 liter in newspeak.”

He moves his finger over the listings, “I can't pass this. It needs a catalytic and a fuel restrictor.”

I blink, “What?”

“The book here says this car had an air pump, catalytic converter, and a fuel restrictor for unleaded only.”

I note where he's looking in his book, “How heavy would you say this Jeep is?”

He looks at the Jeep, “3000 pounds?”

“Try 6000 pounds. You're in the car section of your book – turn to the back and look under AMC truck.”

He does so, “The only thing listed here under 1976 is a 6.0 liter and a 6.6 liter.”

I roll my eyes, “Trust me, a 6.0 liter engine is also a 360… The other is a 401…”

He shrugs, “I'll have to call this in…” I nod and return the the holding cell with the now livid lady.

While the nice lady foams at the mouth the guy calls in and they have him verify all sorts of stuff, and after 15 minutes or so he motions me outside again.

“You're right, it's a truck and didn't have a catalytic or a fuel restrictor.”

I nod, “Just to give you a quick pointer; if you don't see 'unleaded only' printed on the gas gauge, it didn't have a catalytic converter or a fuel restrictor on it.”

I walk back to the holding pen and the lady in there is now approaching homicide as the guy running the lane leaves for a break. She goes out and raises holy hell and they bring this girl over to finish her Honda and do the WarWagon.

The girl gets the Honda out easy enough then stalls the Jeep twice trying to get it into the building… I walk over and explain 'granny gears' to her and how she should start off in second. After that she gets the Jeep into the stall just fine.

Now the fun really begins…

She can't get the hood up and goes back inside the Jeep to look for a release. I wave and point to the front of the hood and make lifting motions. She returns to the hood and once she finds the latch can't generate the lift required to get the hood up. So I ignore the “employees only” sign and assist her, then return the holding area.

With the hood up she gathers the RPM sensor and clips it onto a random wire under the hood, and walks around the Jeep twice looking for the tail pipe… I wave and point again, this time at the passenger rear wheel which leads her to the object she's seeking.

Ok, all set, she climbs into the Jeep and fires it up… I note to myself that watching her jump when that big 'ol 360 wakes up is the funniest thing I've seen in a while. The test wont start though – the monitor that I can just barely see keeps saying it's waiting for idle RPM.

She tries twice then starts making preparations for the proximity tachometer… I step back out and mention, “I don't think you're clipped to a plug wire.”

She double checks and sure enough, she's clipped to a vacuum line.

Ok, she tries it again and this time the sensor sees 700 RPM at idle and then the test tells her to speed up the engine – she does so and reaches a smooth 2600 RPM before the monitor tells her to once again drop the Jeep to idle… But it won't go below about 1300 RPM.

She stops the test and comes into he holding cell to tell me that she's never seen anything like that before and is going to call someone over to look at it.

I ask, “can I look at it?”

She says, “You're not really supposed to be out here.” I nod, “True, how about I stand over here and just have you start it real quick so I can hear the engine?” She agrees and, yes, the cold idle is engaged.

I brazenly walk over to the Jeep, fiddle with the carb linkage while she reiterates that I'm not supposed to be there, and I discover the problem…

While she was looking for the hood release she had pulled the choke out…

I quickly explain what the choke does as I reach in the Jeep and push the knob back in, opening the choke and releasing the cold start on the carb, and the engine idles down immediately.

With this I return back to the holding cell as she re-runs the test and…

The WarWagon has passed Colorado emissions!

I will be puttng colector plates on it in the morning so that I never have to go through this again!