March 31st, 2008

1966 Newport

Newport update

Hello, classic-car fans! What have I been up to since buying my new 1966 Chrysler Newport? (Yes, I did end up buying it. Thanks to all your input!)

First up, I gave it a good, long once-over. It's in far better condition than I had thought, with nary a spot of rust, even under the fenders (I pulled the wheels to lube the chassis). It looks like a car that's only a few years old. This makes me very happy.

Also, I've been eBaying hot-rod components for the big-block 383 under that long hood. Speed parts I've acquired so far include:
  • Cool, vintage, finned-aluminum valve covers. Cuz, y'know, shiny! Aluminum valve covers like these also provide better cooling and crankcase breathing, plus offer more room for the next item.Collapse )

  • 1:1.6 ratio roller rockers. This adds about 10 horsepower through lower friction and better valve control, plus the higher ratio opens the valves a bit faster and wider for better breathing, which means added torque.Collapse )

  • Vintage Edelbrock DP4B Aluminum intake manifold. This allows the engine to breathe about 50% better. I chose this one because of comparison results published in last year's Hot Rod magazine that showed this manifold offers the best overall torque and power for my engine, not the highest power at the top end, which typically means less power for normal driving. Exactly what I wanted for driveability.Collapse )

  • Four-barrel 725 CFM Road Demon Jr. carburetor. My engine has a 2-barrel on it now, and that's the primary limiting factor for increasing performance. Also, 2-barrels work less efficiently than four-barrels due to the size of their throttle openings and because they're not progressive like a 4-barrel. The Road Demon Jr. carbs are famous for increased fuel-efficiency at low throttle while still offering much-increased power (over a 2-barrel) at full throttle similar to other 4-barrel carbs that are more focused on top-end power. Plus, y'know, it's a demon! *g* Collapse )

  • Comp Cams Xtreme Energy 268° intake/280° exhaust camshaft. A cam is the brain of the car, determining how long the valves open, when they open, how deeply they open, and how much their openings overlap with each other. The stock cam is pretty tame, severely limiting power output for this engine in exchange for sedate, predictable manners. The cam I bought allows the engine to breathe much better, letting in more air and fuel at greater throttle openings.Collapse )
Parts I still need to purchase:
  • Exhaust headers. These let the engine breathe better on the exhale, necessary because performance parts that increase intake only work well when the engine can also exhale the same amount. A bonus is a slight increase in gas mileage.Collapse )

  • Performance radiator. The stock radiator works, but I can tell it has some minor leaks, and the brass-and-copper stock design can have trouble getting rid of the extra heat made by producing more power. I found an aluminum radiator on eBay that's a direct fit for full-size Chryslers and is about the same price as having my radiator flushed and overhauled.Collapse )

  • And, y'know, putting it all together. This will be at least one solid weekend's work.
All in all, this combination should be good for 420 horsepower and 430 pounds of torque - more if I were to up the engine's compression ratio, but it was rebuilt not long ago, so I don't see a need to mess with the block or heads just now. That's a pretty big bump over the stock output of 270 horsepower and 385 pounds of torque. What I also like is that now the power:weight ratio is the same as the more-typical muscle cars of the era such as Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, and so on. Hopefully, I'll not complelely destroy gas-mileage (except when taking full advantage of the new carburetor). Oh, and bonus: Replacing lots of iron and brass parts with aluminum ones will remove about 80 pounds from the front of the car. That's like adding a free 8 hp while improving the handling.

And the best part - besides how this stuff'll transform my sedate sedan into a hot-rod - is that my supreme eBay-shopping skills helped me find everything for half or less of regular retail prices.

I'm going on a road-trip at the end of the semester, so my self-imposed deadline to finish building the engine is mid-May.



EDIT: I just discovered another cool thing about this car: This was one of only 9,400 six-window sedans made by Chrysler that year (Chrysler made 200,000 Newports, alone, in 1966), and it was the last year for such. One of the main reasons I wanted this particular car was that it's so pleasant and open to sit in the back seat because of those extra windows in the C-pillar. Who knew this was such a rare car? Oddly, that doesn't seem to affect the value of it, so I don't feel bad hot-rodding it *g*


James Gunn special reading April 11

I just got this from a colleague who works with KU's CLAS. So exciting! It was just announced that Jim has won the KU Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, and they're honoring him with, among other things, a reading:

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of English will present a reading by a 2008 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award Recipient and internationally renowned science fiction writer, James Gunn, titled, THE BEST OF JAMES GUNN, on Friday, April 11, at 4:00 PM, in the Auditorium in the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, a reception will immediately follow in the Spencer's Central Court.

Spread the word!

clarke childhood's end

SFRA Conference call for presenters

Hello, SF scholars, teachers, and fans -

Below is a note from Karen Hellekson, requesting y'all to get in your abstracts for this summer's Campbell Conference / SFRA Conference happening here in Lawrence, Kansas, July 10-13. Want to build up that resume by giving a professional presentation on SF?
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I'll make another post soon with more info about the Campbell Conference; in short, we're running a special "Teaching Science Fiction" program in conjunction with SFRA. Hope to see you this summer!