3… 2… 1… IGNITION!

Today’s the day the RETROvan became ready for its first test flight, and just in the nick of time for Independence Day.

Nearly four weeks after the discovery of a cracked intake manifold, Brett from McFarland’s Mobile Mechanics has finally installed the remaining new parts and fluids:

  • 1 foot of 5/16” low pressure fuel hose
  • 1 foot of 5/8-inch heater hose
  • 2 gallons engine coolant (full strength)
  • 6 AutoLite spark plugs
  • 6 quarts Type F transmission fluid
  • 6 spark plug wires
  • Distributor Cap & Rotor
  • NAPA AFP 4208 Fuel Pump
  • NAPA 787147 Oil Sending Unit Pigtail (aka Cigarette Lighter Connector)
  • NAPA BK 8251006 Thermostat Hi-Perf 
  • NAPA RAY 2449622 Power Premium Plus Starter
  • NAPA FIL 1271 Oil Filter (Gold)
  • NAPA FIL 3034 Fuel Filter (Gold)
  • Edelbrock 9129 Internal Allen Head Pipe Plug Fittings – Set of 2
  • PerTronix 1261 Ignitor for Ford 6 Cylinder

And then there’s the 6 quarts of special “old school” (high sulfur) engine oil that was supplied by Portland Engine Rebuilders.

These are all parts I intend to stock up on for the inevitable breakdown. Nervous or otherwise.

Shortly after my third trip to an auto parts store in one afternoon, just to find one last 1/8″ pipe plug, the engine coughed and sputtered and then roared to life. With a few tweaks Brett got it to settle down to a steady purr. And then the entire back of the van started rumbling with harmonics, probably because it had been gutted. It reminded me of a hound dog shaking off in your face after a swim.

After Brett Gorilla Taped the limp accelerator pedal back to its linkage, I bolted the ugly driver seat back on and broke moor.

Video of the RETROvan’s First Flight!

The drive up and down the street was exhilarating, like when a long lost friend awakes from a coma. Or as my wife likes to say, like stripping off your clothes and diving into a volcano. Or as our cat Mazy might think, like a 3rd of July parade that nobody knows about.

I later realized I had forgotten to release the parking brake the whole time.

So now, finally, I can focus on all the less-dramatic stuff, as I inch closer to the assembly phase of the project, hijacking our garage as a staging area and workshop:

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