View Full Version : Earlies for Idiots

04-26-2001, 12:38 PM
hey all,
i will be the first to admit that i am mechanically challenged. i just bought a '64 GMC van for 1k . it ran good for a couple weeks and now its crappin' out on me,.. to be expected of course. what do you expect for a thousand bucks. any how, heres my problem. the engine has been, kinda, sputtering an it eventually stalls out on me at speeds of anywhere to 30 to 50 mph. it does leak oil and i cant see where its comin' from because of all the years of grime. i am afraid to steam clean it for fear of blasting away whatever may or may not be holdin' things together. i would eventually love to put a rebuilt engine in, may be even an automatic. can anyone give me any advice or suggestions?
thanks tons,

04-26-2001, 02:17 PM
There are two ways to approach your engine work. You could fix what immediate problems you can assess and continue from there, or you could have the entire engine pulled and rebuilt at once. Obviously, there are pros and cons to both methods.

If you are like everyone else here, you don't have a couple thousand laying 'round waiting for an engine to rebuild. I suggest the piece by piece method.

If you are not planning on doing the work yourself, find a nice, patient mechanic who likes older vehicles (which may prove harder to find than window channel felts!). The mechanic can give your van the look-over to determine the sources of your problems.

If your van is leaking oil from "everywhere", part of your stalling problem could be from fouled spark plugs. Take one out and check it over. If it's full of oil, change them all out with "oil burner" plugs. A full tune-up wouldn't hurt at this point and is still a inexpensive step in diagnosing your problems.

Does the van smell of gas (the petroleum kind) when it stalls? If so, you could need a carburetor adjustment or rebuild. Now would be a good time to get to know a good local carb shop. Note: "GOOD" carb shop.

Be sure to keep posting your questions and discoveries as there are loads of mechanics here that can help you through anything. Yes, anything.

Here's a personal note as to your being mechanically challenged. When I bought my first early, so was I (four years ago). Since then, I was told by everyone, just ask questions, then get out there and get your hands dirty. If you mess up, ask more questions. In other words, there are many harder things to do in life. It may get frustrating when it just doesn't seem to come together, but you can work it out.

All it will take is for you do fix something you thought you couldn't and you'll be hooked. There's a feeling that comes with that sort of accomplishment that's just impossible to describe.

My neighbors have often seen me start up the van after working for hours, heard me yell "Oh yeah!", then watched me wander up and down the driveway covered in grease, fists in the air (wrench in one hand, rag in the other), like a prize fighter after a TKO.

In addition, you'll end up saving a ton in mechanic labor fees.

Oh well, enough rambling.

04-26-2001, 04:50 PM
hey thanks smiley,
i appreciate the advice. i would love to do the work myself. are there any early auto mechanic books you could recommend? what tools would i need to get goin'? like i said. i know that engines need water an' oil,.. thats about it. however, i do have the drive (no pun entended) to learn. so, again, any advice is appreciated.
thanks again,
ps: i dig this site!

04-27-2001, 06:28 PM
If you need a few lessons on how your vans basic systems work this site explains them thoroughly: www.autoshop-online.com/auto101.html (http://www.autoshop-online.com/auto101.html)

Tools you need are going to be dependant on how much work you can/want do yourself. To start with, get a multi-piece ratchet and wrench set with plug socket(s). You can often find a set with a pair of vise grips which is a definite bonus. And of course you'll need flat head and Phillips screwdrivers.

Do not just go steam clean the engine. For under $5 you can get a can of engine cleaning foam. It works really well, just spray it on, let it foam, scrub with a brastle brush and tooth bruash and rinse off with your garden hose.

Now your engine trouble could be any number of things. But the most likely is either a gas flow problem or a simple electrical problem. First, go read up on how engines work and identify all the visible peices of your engine. Then do the basic opperating checks.

Good luck

04-27-2001, 07:26 PM
Speaking of those hard to find window channel felts... what has been the best solution so far to cure the rattles and wind noise in the cab?? any one with suggestions let the secret out, door and window sealing is my next weekend project.

04-27-2001, 09:56 PM
Your stalling problems could be a Vacuum advance problem. I found a leak in the line of a friends 76 Nova straight six. He had the same symptoms as you.


04-28-2001, 11:06 PM

Standard procedure to solve early van rattly-noisy problems is to install a louder stereo http://www.vcvc.org/ubb/smile.gif


05-01-2001, 11:49 AM
hey, thanks everyone!
tony66 are you refering to the fule pump?
scott thanks for the link! really informative.

05-01-2001, 12:54 PM
The vacuum advance is bolted to the side of the distributor. It advances and retards the timimg based on acceleration. If you have a hole anywhere in the vacuum's line, it won't work properly. If the vacuum advance unit has gone bad, it's a rather inexpensive fix too, if that's the problem.

05-01-2001, 02:33 PM
ya know, it sounds like that may be the problem. i'll check it out! thanks again smiley!