Hotchkis Adjustable shocks

After the succesful rear Bilstein shock upgrade on the ’73 Dart, I decided I had to upgrade the KYBs on the front as well.
Decided to purchase a pair of adjustable front shocks from Hotchkis.

Again, similar to the rear shock upgrade, the results were remarkebly positive. The car now handles like a how a more expensive modern luxury car would tackle speedbumps.
Gone are the days that one has to really slow down enough for speedbumps to prevent slamming the car or oilpan into the pavement, while other traffic can just ride over them.
No more ‘drama-afterhandling’ when encountering speedbumps ‘at speed’. The car handles the bumps very controlled and mature.

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’73 Dart Rustrepair

The rust-issues on the daily Dart are becoming slighly ‘worrying’.
Reason for me to start of repairs in the form of a simple patchpanel, formed from a flat piece of sheetmetal.

Ofcourse I should have used a larger piece, but still, I can’t say I’m displeased with the result.

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6.1L Hemi

For ‘some reason’… a 6.1L Hemi has found its way into my stash.
Come on, who else could pass up on an engine that delivers 425 horsepower in stock form…? 😉

Some assembly required ofcourse.

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Bilstein RCD shocks for the Dart

Today I installed a pair of Bilstein RCD shocks on the rear of my Dart. The previous shocks were a pair of Monroe Sensatrac Loadleveler shocks.
The ride quality after installing the Bilstein shocks was greatly improved, making the car handle speedbumps for instace, much more ‘grown up’; No more ‘after-bounching’, just a single spring movement was all that remained when going over a speedbump.

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CB Performance BlackBox Programmable Ignition

Purchased a BlackBox Programmable Ignition system from CB Performance the other day.
With this system you can program and custom tailor the entire timing curve on your ignition. I also comes with a vacuum connector to sense the engine’s load.
This kit seemed one of the most affordable programmable ignitions today with vacuum-sensing capabilities. I found this very important when deciding which system to choose.

To install the BlackBox ignition, some rewiring is needed. Also the distributor has to be installed with more inital advance, so the BlackBox has time to alter this ignition advance digitally.

While the ignition wiring in my ’73 Dart was old already I decided to leave the stock wiring and install new wires, with a switched relay to make sure full battery power would reach the new ignition system.
I also decided to convert the stock 9/12v Mopar ignition to a simpler 12v system, one with a single 4-pin GM HEI-module, and later on a MSD 8207 SS-Blaster coil.

After installation in the car and the software on a laptop things were hooked up and a baseline ignition was loaded into the program. After a few checks the distributor advance matched the software’s digital advance, the tweaking of the ignition advance table can begin.
The fun thing of this is that now you can alter the ignition curve with a few simple clicks, instead of having to completely disassemble the distributor, change the advance springs and/or slots. Trial and error time is greatly reduced this way.

After some playing with the timing map while focussing on the lower rpms first, I got the engine running nicely. Then with some ‘dry engine revving’ in the garage I was able to tweak the mid-rpm ranges, but without a sensible vacuum-input, these were only baseline numbers.
More programming would be needed on the road.

I doesn’t need mentioning that in order to get full benefit from this system, one would have to put your car onto a chassis-dyno and spend a few hours going through the rpm and vacuum-ranges to be able to get a good working timing map.

During my garage-tuning session, I was fighting laptop issues (battery-charger couldn’t keep the laptop running long enough) and later on some engine kickback issues popped up. Possibly related to the firmware on the box, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Because the Dart is my daily driver, I couldn’t risc of getting stranded oneday, so I disconnected the BlackBox ignition for now and just rely on the HEI-module and MSD SS Blaster coil instead, which have been working flawlessly up till now.

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New engine for the ’65 Chrysler 300 convertible

Last month I bought a 400ci engine to use in the ’65 300 convertible. I wanted the get the car running again for the upcomming two-yearly checkup and to enjoy a few trips with the car this summer.
The engine was still bone stock with unbored cylinders and even had the factory steel headgaskets under the heads in place.
Cylinder wear was remarkably low so I decided to leave the cylinders as is and just install a new oilpump, a set of ‘915’ closed chamber heads, new cambearings, timinggear set and a slightly hotter cam than stock. I spend some time on the oilpump by portmatching, cleaning and chamfering the ports internally and to the engine block. I did similar oilpump-work some time ago, in this article.

New powerplant in the engine bay

New powerplant in the engine bay

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Steeringbox mountpad reinforcement

The steeringbox mounting pad and brackets on a Mopar K-member leave a lot to be desired when it comes to rigidity.
After some assessments I decided to weld a simple curved plate from the mountpad to the K-member.
The result already was a very noticable improvement in steering-response, which felt much tighter after the modification.
More reinforcing is still possible but that will be probably addressed at a later date.

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A518 TransGo reprogramming kit

Some time ago I acquired an A518 Overdrive-transmission with stall convertor Lockup-function.
Before replacing this transmission inplace of the current A518 in the Dart, I decided to install a TransGo Reprogramming Kit to improve the shift qualities of the transmission.

Pics of the transmission and TransGo-kit;
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Comparing colors…

Compared the orange color of my Dodge Dart against that of an original Plymouth Superbird today in front of SixPack Speedshop in Wateringen, The Netherlands.
Looks like somewhat of a match, except for some gloss on the paint… ;o)

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5.7 Hemi oilpan modifications

The 5.7 Hemi’s original steel (truck) oilpan had to be modified in order to fit between the Dart’s K-member and steering-centerlink.
I decided to cut up a bigblock Mopar oilpan and use the pan-rail of the Hemi-pan.
After a few tests I welded a small piece of angle iron between the pan-rail and pan-sump and started melting everything together. A friend of mine made sure the welds were good enough to not let any oil seep through and for good measure I decided to let a layer of solder seep in and onto the entire welded area the fully secure the pan.

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