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Classic/Antique Car Repair/1958 Plymouth Fury Engine


QUESTION: This is likely not your usual type of question, but I wondered if you might be able to help. I'm an author of romantic suspense stories, and I have a heroine who drives a 1958 Plymouth Fury. I need the car to break down (because how else will she meet my garage-owner hero!) ... I need the cause to be something he can't immediately fix, and to be something that may take a while to get parts to repair it, requiring the car to be towed to his garage. Would you be willing to give a girl a clue on where to start figuring that out? My hero really needs to sound like he knows his stuff when he explains it to her :-)

ANSWER: I have had requests like this before. My sister In law is Robin Wells, the romance novelist. So lets see what we can dream up here that will stand the test of a technical proof reader. Being a Fury model lets put kind of a rare engine in the car one that one would have to order parts for. Lets try the 350 CID Golden Commando engine with the twin 4 barrel carburetors. So lets say our, your heroine is driving down the road, maybe a little too fast and the engine develops a loud knocking. She pulls over and good samaritans stop, listen and the consensus is to have the car towed and they know just the place. He diagnosis the problem as a broken valve spring. The job is only a several hour repair but because it is a rare engine the part will have to be ordered from the factory and that could take several weeks. Now that should be enough time for the story to get a little steamy. If you need more time built into the story line there is always the possibility that there was damage done to the cylinder head when the spring broke and that would not be known until the old spring was removed. That could then include scouring junk yards for a used head and other parts or ordering new from the factory. Hope this helps, good luck. As a published author it would be nice if you could credit me , thanks.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Brad - that is absolutely perfect. Thank you so much for such a great answer and for truly getting into the spirit of the question :-) ... It will be my pleasure to credit you in the acknowledgements. This is my fifth book and will be published at the beginning of September.

As a (hopefully) quick follow-up ... would it be possible to give me a couple of the steps he'd have to go through to fix it - not hugely detailed and not all the steps - so I can add a little color commentary to his thoughts ... for example:
he would need to disconnect the ____ using a ____ ....
removing the _____ was fiddly because ______ ...  
getting ____ done was the easy part, the tough part would come later when he needed to ______

You don't need to fill in the blanks necessarily ... those were ideas of the kind of thing I need. Just one or two examples would be awesome.

after hearing the knock he would probably recommend removing the valve cover for a visual inspection. Once finding the broken valve spring he would remove the rocker arm shaft and rocker arm assembly. at this point the project could go one of two direction , just order the valve spring( a 2 hour job), a factory order, or having spotted some damage to the valve itself, need to remove the cylinder head ( 10 hour project. There could be more complications once the cylinder head is removed adding more time to the job. To remove the cylinder head requires removing the intake and exhaust manifold. Quite often when removing the exhaust manifold one or ore of the bolts will break due to being rusted in place, requiring more time to drill out the broken bolt. The possibilities for delays are endless. Need more let me know. Brad

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Brad Sears


All automotive including antique and collectible. However if the car has been modified I can only answer in general terms and maybe get you pointed in the right direction.


Automotive tech instructor. Syndicated auto columnist 1970's though the early 1990's. Syndicated auto radio talk show, Ask Brad About cars, CBS Radio 70's through 90's TV Show "Last Chance Garage" 1980's PBS-TV syndicated. Auto instructor for the following companies: Fram Autolyte Holly Carter AMF Ford Motor University Of Conn Blue Hills Technical School Sugar River Technical Center Grew up in a family garage in Needham Mass and turned wrenches from the age of 14.

Manchester Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph, Motor Service Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics (Saturday Mechanic early 80's), Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and lots more.

More than I care to remember. Basically Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State Teachers College, Tufts University, and a lot of factory schools along the way.

Awards and Honors
Moto Award winner. And much more.

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