San Diego Swim-In Woes

Countdown Clock to Amphicar Forums Shutdown


steve reich


You may hear more from others, but the event (4th Annual San Diego Swim-In)
overall was fun. Great seeing Amphicar people that I haven't seen for a
while. I think we had 8 cars.

My problems started when I hit the road to get to the lake. Car was great
when I put it away a few weeks ago, but today it lacked power and even
back-fired when I slowed down. Got to the lake and started to give rides.
There's a steep ramp, and I almost didn't make it up to the top. So, I
limited the number of passengers to two. Later in the day, someone
suggested that it might be as simple as a vacuum hose. It was worth a look.
That's when I found out the forward cylinder wire was off the spark plug.
Easy fix, you think, but the wire would not stay on. My wires require the
little screw on plug tip, and it was nowhere to found. Trip to the auto
store was easy, but they had the usual do-dos working so it took an hour to
get a spark plug (wrong size because the correct size was a special order
item). Got back, and the tip wouldn't screw on tight, but it was good
enough. Wire still wouldn't fit. Why, because the tip was still in the
wire. How can that thing screw off when it's attached to the wire? Anyway,
popped the tip out with an awl, screwed it on, and I was back in business
with full power. It's amazing the difference that a single cylinder makes.

Gave a few more rides, raised a few more dollars for the San Diego Humane
Society (Nice idea, Amphipoda). Now it's time to meet a friend and ride in
his 1997 Viper. Problem is, the Amphi won't start. Usual diagnostics, is
it flooded? Is it getting gas? How about spark? Hey, I had this extra
spark plug and someone suggested we could use it to see if there was a
spark. Oh, did I mention that the starter worked only intermittently from
the ignition switch? We were pushing the solenoid starter button to
activate the starter.

The car suddenly starts while someone is holding the extra spark plug to see
if we are getting a spark. I suggest he pull the wire off and attach it to
the cylinder plug. He declines the opportunity with some weak excuse that I
couldn't quite make out but involved the words "no way", "shocked", and
"electrocuted". I shut off the ignition, we attach the wire and try to
start the car again. After several seconds of cranking with no results, I
stop and magically the car starts. An astute observer notes that the car
actually started when I stopped cranking. He then goes into a story about
flywheel still spinning, 12 volt coils, resisters, and starting overrides.
I get the basics of the description, but have no idea where to start. Coil?
Distributor? Solenoid?

Anyway, the Amphicar is started, I say my "good-byes" and "thank yous" and
head up the road to Jeff with the Viper. I pass him on the road because he
went to look for me since I had told him 30 minutes ago that I would see him
in 5. I go to his house, park the car on the street with the motor running
and jump in. Short ride, because I am now late to head home. So on some
surface street we go 0-100 in about 5 seconds. Good brakes on this 450 hp
car, too, considering it weighs about the same as an Amphi. A few more
trips to 60 in about 3 seconds and he takes me to my Amphicar, which is
still running. I suggest that we meet soon and plan on how to fit an engine
his size into the Amphi. I mention my starting problem. He tells me what
to look for. OK, this has been a long story, but I wanted the experts time
to think about diagnosis. Got it, yet?

Jeff told me about the 6 volts, 12 volts, and starter override. He said,
check for a loose wire at the ignition switch. So, I did. Found it.
Tightened it, and Amphi is now at home, waiting patiently for the next
adventure. Do you see now, why I always travel with tools.

Safe, fun, swimming.

'64 red (I SWIM 2) problem child
'64 red (AMPHICR) waiting to get new fiberglass door skins and rear quarter

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