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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Enjoyed reading along... your story brought back a lot of memories (and a couple nightmares I'd like to forget).

I agree that it is best to set goals and tackle one project at a time, while trying to keep the car in "driving" condition... whenever possible. When things don't go right, just take a deep breath (... after you've already thrown some tools and created some new words) and pick up were you left off. I have also learned to do some research before starting any new car project... even when I'm sure that I know what to do. There is always something that I learned during the research phase that often saved my a$$. Oh, and take lots of digital photos (that can be used for re-installation reference) before taking anything apart.

Just a bit of friendly advise... I would replace the glass fuel filter above the water pump with a steel fuel filter. One bad "jolt" and this glass filters can easily shatter. I heard of a few horror stories of these types of glass fuel filters breaking while the car was running and caused an engine fire.
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I use the fuel filter linked below.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Sorry for hijacking this thread... but I just wanted to point this out for those attempting the Guldstrand Mod AND using the stock upper control arms.

I have read that you may also need to trim away some of the upper control arm mounts (red circle) due to interference between the stock control arms and the mounts during control arm movement.
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I decided to go the easier... yet more expensive route to improve my Nova's handling. I installed new tubular upper control arms with additional positive caster designed into the arms... AND also installed 1/2" taller upper ball joints for improved negative camber gains.
  • NOTE: A cost effective compromise would be to remove the existing cross shafts in the stock upper control arms and install offset cross shafts in their place... along with installing 1/2" taller upper ball joints.
Which ever route one goes with the above suggestions, you should also install taller tie rod ends to reduce the bump steer with the improved suspension geometry.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I guess my chief concern with all of this would be if too much positive caster could be a bad thing because with the Guildstrand mod you're getting more positive caster + QA1 design for more caster.
If you are installing replacement upper control arms that provide additional positive caster, you do not want to do the Guldstrand Mod too. Too much positive caster can push the front tires too close to the fender's wheel opening.

Sorry if I missed it... but what QA1 front suspension system are you installing?
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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The resistance in a power steering box is controlled by the torsion bar inside the box. I don’t know if you can make any adjustment to it without knowing what you’re doing. @RifRaf has discussed it on this site in several posts maybe he can chime in to enlighten us.
I did touch base with unstable in another post with regards to his steering/handling concerns.
... but as I kept reading the additional posts (I've been away from the computer for a few days),
I noticed that unstable has viewed the information about the various types of steering box torsion bars (T-bars) and is on the right track (see quote below).
I was looking at this thread: Steering box upgrade and impressions where @TheBandit changes to a heavier T-BAR and I think that's going to be what I want to do.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I've been reading your posts and I think you are doing a fine job with your upgrades. The most important thing that you are doing is asking questions and doing your research with regards to planned car projects.

When your at the point where you need to get a front end alignment (after you replace front steering linkage components), I think will will notice additional improved handling once you get your Nova aligned with "modern specs" that are more in line with your new steering/suspension upgrades.

Recommend Front End Alignment Specs:
Caster:
+5° Drivers Side / +5.5° Passengers Side
Camber: -.5° Both Side
Toe-in: 1/16" to 3/32" Total Toe-in
(+ = Positive / - = Negative)
 
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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I'd love to get fatter tires at some point, I think it's fairly involved though and I'm bleeding money on this build.
I noticed that you are getting a new 9" rear. Are you going with a stock width?... or getting it narrowed?

The reason I ask is because a lot of 3rd gen owners have installed 255... and even 275 wide tires within the stock rear wheel wells (with a stock rear and stock leaf spring location), but it usually requires getting custom offset wheels.
Since you are buying a new rear, you may want to looking into how much it would need to be narrowed so you could use "off the shelf" wheels to fit a wider tire within your rear wheel wells without the extra cost of having to purchase custom offset wheels.

I know you have a lot going on... but just something to think about.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Glad to hear the change in spark plug wires netted positive results.
My back is screaming and I'm thinking to myself I HATE THIS CAR how am I ever going to find the motivation to tear the rear suspension out and install a new rear and suspension when I can't even put this back together without dropping and losing pieces into the headers and cross member.
If you think you hate your car now... just wait until you begin to remove the bolts holding the front spring eye brackets in place (Red circles in photo below). Only kidding... sort of. Maybe you'll be lucky.

A week prior to tackling this task, I highly advise you get a can of PB Blaster and attach the little straw to the spray nozzle and insert the straw thru openings in the rear frame rails so you can pre-soak the threaded portion of the bolts holding the spring eye brackets in place (Green arrows). Also spray the threaded portion of the bolts used in the rear shackles.Spray all of these locations every day for a week prior to the rear suspension/rear end removal.
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Unfortunately, the cage nuts that are holding the front spring brackets are known to break when trying to remove the bolts. Even when using the PB Blaster as suggested above, it is "hit or miss" as to the success of this task.

I sprayed all of my bolts for a week prior to my rear suspension R&R several years ago... and I still broke 3 out of the 6 cage nuts used at the front spring eye bracket. If... and when the cage nuts break (you'll know it when the bolts just free spins), you'll have to get creative with the bolt removal. I recall shoving a flat blade screw driver into the openings in the rear frame rails to "jamb" the cage nuts in place while I removed the bolts... and I needed to use a sawzall to remove the seized spring eye bolts to separate the front of the leaf spring from the bracket. I also recall creating a lot of new cuss words during this task.

Also do some research on rear suspension J-nuts... your probably going to need 6 of them.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Also RifRaf, if you have some recommendations as to how much I can narrow the rear and still run what I have without having to buy new wheels and tires, I'd do it if it's going to make life mo' betta' in the future.
I replied to your PM.
In a nutshell, if you were going to narrow your new rear end... you would need to install all of the new rear suspension components (leaf springs, bushings, traction aids, etc) and install you current rear to get some baseline measurements (wheel/tire clearances from both sides of rear wheel wheel + wheel/tire clearance to leaf spring) to determine how much the wheels would need to move inward on each side (towards the axle) to center the current wheels within the wheel well... and also avoid the rear wheels/tires hitting the leaf springs.

My PM gave some examples, but since each Nova has some variations... you really need to do the install as stated above + take some measurements + do the math if you decide to go this route.
I would hate to provide a generic "narrowed rear measurement" based on my 74 Nova's rear end
set-up only to find that your Nova is slightly different.

Your rear end builder may also be able to provide some guidance. Just let them know what you are trying to accomplish.
 
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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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is cylinder number 5 an absolute butthole of a wire to put on with headers?
I am not sure if you already mentioned this, but what kind of heads are you currently running on your engine?..,. and what spark plugs are you using?
The reason I ask is because different heads (stock iron vs vortec vs aluminum) use different length spark plugs (see image below).
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The red line represents where the plug is installed into the head.
The green and yellow line represents the portion/length of the spark plug that extends out from the head.
  • The bottom Autolite spark plug is a stock plug for an earlier model sbc iron head.
  • The middle Accel spark plug is a "header plug" used in the same earlier model sbc iron head that has a shorter length to increase the "spark plug boot to header" clearance. When I ran stock iron heads, I installed the Accel "shorty" plug only in the cylinders that I had tight "spark plug boot to header" clearance. Some people also use lawnmower spark plugs for the same purpose.
  • The top Champion spark plug is used in an aftermarket aluminum head. As you can see, the length of this plug that extends out from the head is the shortest of all 3 plugs shown. This set-up seemed to provide the best "spark plug boot to header" clearance.
As far as the "rich smell"... I agree with Ace that you need to get the ignition timing (especially the initial timing @ idle) adjusted/set correctly before attempting to tune the carb.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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The kit came with a distributor too but I’m really questioning whether mechanical only advance is a bad idea. Thoughts?
For a mostly driven street car (without any electronic timing control)... I would go with a distributor that has vacuum advance function. When connected to a full time vacuum source and adjusted correctly (rate + amount of advance), the VA will provide improved idle and cruise engine performance. VA will also aid with the carb adjustments.
For additional info, see below.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Glad to help! Since you already have the MSD ignition box, the distributor in the link below might be an option.
This Summit brand distributor appears to be very similar to the MSD 8361... but costs a lot less money.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I've been using this Summit distributor in my car for 6 or 7 years. It works great with my MSD box.
I did change the VA canister to one that is designed for the vacuum profile of my engine,
xten57, Thanks for providing the "hands on" info!
Just curious... do you remember what VA canister was originally installed in the Summit distributor?... and what VA canister did you change it to?
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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When you installed the new MSD distributor into the engine, did the base/collar of the distributor drop all the way down onto the intake manifold?
Sometimes you will see about 1/2" of gap between the base/collar of the distributor and the intake manifold. This is because the tang in the bottom of the distributor's cam gear did not go into the slot of the oil pump shaft. If this is your current situation, the rotor will not be correctly aligned with your original reference point (#1 cylinder) because the rotor will continue to rotate as the distributor drops down all the way onto the intake manifold.

I just wanted to mention this to say you some "start-up" headaches.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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As long as you did not rotate the engine after you removed the HEI.... AND the new MSD rotor is pointed at the same spot as the HEI was prior to removal (and the distributor is fully seated on the intake), you should be ok.

If you are sure the MSD rotor is pointed the same as the HEI rotor was, look at the balancer for the timing mark. Your goal is to get the timing mark anywhere between 8 and 14 degrees BTDC while the engine is approaching #1 TDC firing.
If the timing mark on the engine does not line up with the timing tab as stated above, you may need to rotate/bump the engine over to achieve this setting (remember that the next time the line in the balancer comes around and lines up with timing marks, you will be at #6 TDC firing). Just look at your rotor position to confirm you are approaching #1 TDC and stop rotating the engine when you are anywhere between 8 and 14 degrees BTDC.

Once you achieve this step, reference the exact position of the rotor by using a piece of firm wire (cut up wire shirt hanger) and attaching it to any available bolt on the same side of the engine that the rotor is pointing to (Metal Tab of Rotor). Bend the wire to point exactly towards the center of the rotor tab... but leave enough space between the end of the wire and the rotor to install the distributor cap. ONCE THE WIRE IS POINTING TO THE CENTER OF THE ROTOR, DO NOT MOVE THIS WIRE. If this become too difficult, you will need to come up with an another visual reference that points to the rotor and will not move.

Next, reinstall and clamp down the distributor cap and rotated the distributor so that the center of the cap's #1 terminal is line with the end of the wire you had previously pointed at the rotor.

Install the #1 spark plug wire on the #1 cap terminal and continue to install the reset of the spark plug wires in a clockwise direction following the 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 firing order.
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Once you are able to start the engine and keep it running, be sure to correctly set the timing using a timing light. Once you set your timing, be sure to re-tighten the distributor hold down clamp.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I agree with the others that have suggested to ditch the 2" carb spacer... but when you are re-installing your carb without the spacer, be sure to pay attention that the back of the carb (fuel bowl, pvc port) does not hit/interfere with any vacuum fittings that may be installed into the rear intake manifold runner (red circle in image below).
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Since it looks like you have a vacuum secondary Holley carb (without a secondary metering block), you may not have any interference between the back of the carb and any intake fittings. It is usually the Holley double pumper carbs that have interference issues in this area sbc RPM air gap manifold when a vacuum fitting is installed.

Just something to watch out for when you reinstall the carb (without spacer)... prior to tightening down the carb to the intake. What may appear to be ok could actually be the cause of a vacuum leak.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Gerry, Thanks for taking the time to look... and posting a reply!
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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You may need to pull the carb from the intake manifold to check the following items.
With your carburetor removed, check the adjustment of your primary transition slots. The amount of the transition slot showing below the throttle blades should look like a square (throttle blades are adjusted by turning the idle speed screw).
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Correctly Adjusted Primary Idle Transition Slots shown below.
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To set your secondary throttle blades - First: Completely close the secondary throttle blades until the blades just touch the throttle bores. > Once the secondary throttle blades are just touching the bores, turn the secondary throttle adjustment screw about an 1/8 of a turn to open the secondaries (shown below). This adjustment keeps the secondaries from binding in the throttle bores.
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I recall that you mentioned turning the fast idle screw all the way out... but before starting the engine next time, disconnect the positive wire to your electric choke and confirm nothing is hung-up/resting on the carb's fast idle cam.

Do you recall what you set your ignition timing at idle (vacuum advance disconnected)?
 
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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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+Fast idle, so that we're talking about the same thing. If you pull the linkage to WOT, on the passenger side of the carb on the bottom there's a screw, I backed it all the way out / counter clockwise.
Yes... I believe we are talking about the same thing (see image below).
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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Once you get the engine started, you may also want to disconnect the throttle cable from the carb's throttle arm (just to eliminate the possibility that the throttle cable is still not letting the throttle arm return all the way).

When you go to reconnect the throttle cable, I would recommend loosening the throttle cable bracket so it could be angled upwards (green arrow) so that the throttle cable was in more of a straight line when attached to the carb's throttle arm (red line). Re-tighten throttle cable bracket when aligned correctly.
I am trying to eliminate the "kink" in the throttle cable (yellow arrow) that may be effecting the operation of the throttle lever.
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P.S.... I do have to admit that the throttle cable does look a little weird.
 
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