Friday, June 24, 2022

 They shoot horses, don't they?

This classic image says it all.

I remember this as a movie title about a dance marathon during the 1930's. I never really got the connection between the title and the movie's story. It just sounded like a reminder of the sadness of reality. I'm only dealing with cars as a subject.

A lot of, if not most, regular people end their relationships with their cars by simply trading them in on another newer model. They have driven the car for years, and a number of miles sometimes determined by a lease agreement. Whether the car was purchased outright or with monthly payments, it eventually reaches a point where it has accumulated a certain number of miles. This makes the advantage of holding onto it seem more than offset by the risk of the need for future repairs. Besides, these people don't want to have to think about a car, on any other level than on making the payments. This is a strategy to avoid having to invest in serious costly repairs. We're talking about cars that are three to seven years old, well within their original service life.

Others will trade or sell their existing older car because it appears that it will need a sizable investment in repair in the near future. Usually they have just paid a sizable amount for a major repair and they decide to get out while the goings still good! It's hard to sell a non running car and get anything out of it, so they will decide to spend just enough to get back into running shape, just so they can sell or trade it in! These cars are generally older, anywhere from seven to ten years old, or more. This can be a good strategy but the costs of the repair must be contrasted against the decrease of the total value of the car. Transmission repairs usually fall within this thinking. However if the transmission has failed, other costly repairs such as brakes, suspension and cooling system repairs are likely to be needed soon. Maybe the smart thing is to cut and run.

Even the guys that mess around with really old cars will move on. They will find something more interesting, or they can now afford something a bit ritzier, or they too have decided that they have reached their financial limits with a particular vehicle. So it's sent on down the road.

People move on for a lot of good, logical, practical reasons.

Sometimes cars are gone due to factors beyond the owner's control. That would be if the car was severely damaged in a collision or natural disaster. Or stolen and never recovered

Hobby and collector cars are usually a different matter. Though usually older, they were sought out and held onto by the owner for primarily emotional reasons. Even so, practical considerations can overrule an owner's emotional connection with his car. Sometimes they also reach their financial limits for repair. Many never want to get rid of the car, so they will hold onto it, even if it will probably never be repaired or restored. Usually these guys will have more than one car, often several, and the old non operating car will be pushed to the side and eventually be forgotten. These will be the real barn finds.

There will often come a time in the relationship between a car and it's enthusiast owner that will be a time of reckoning. Holding onto a favored vehicle may become almost impossible due to changing life conditions. Lack of finances, lack of space, physical limitations to the owner, poor health, and the greater demand of other responsibilities. These are familiar situations.

So why the lengthy preamble?

As I've written, I feel that this is a turning point in my Mustangs' ownership.  I've have owned the car for 13 years. I bought it with 150,000 miles on the clock.  It is now a twenty six year old car with over 216,000 miles on the odometer. Up to now, I've been very consistent with keeping up on maintenance and repairs, and as a result the car has rewarded me with a lot of fun, trouble free miles. But you can never escape the reality that the car has a lot of miles on it. While the 4.6 Ford V8 is legendary for high mileages, it does have to wear out someday, right? 

I thought that day was far off. 

Besides tearing the engine down for inspection how can you determine the condition of a motor? There are a couple of tried and true methods. But first, think about the major symptoms; blue smoke from the tail pipe indicates that oil is being burned after making it's way past the worn rings and cylinder.  Rough idle with evidence of a miss in one or more cylinders. This is usually evidence of worn valve seats which leak compression pressure. Another symptom that can often be overlooked because it is a silent killer: low oil pressure.

As the main, rod end, and camshaft bearings wear, a greater quantity of oil escapes and lowers the overall oil pressure in the engine.  This leads to greater metal to metal contact within these contact points and frequently leads to seizure and fracturing, exploding, metal. Catastrophic failure is the result. You won't miss that! 

Most of these symptoms don't apply in my case.

First of all, the car doesn't trail a cloud of smoke. Secondly, the motor idled fairly smooth until the CEL lit, and it still wasn't that bad even withe misfiring on cylinder #4. The oil pressure hasn't seemed especially low at least as indicated by the gauge. Generally the cylinders and valves will go out before the oil pressure becomes a real problem. 

My symptom was the misfire and CEL. At first all I did was a compression check on cylinder #4 and the results were surprising, because they were pretty high at 180 psi. There obviously wasn't a bad valve, leaky ring, or blown head gasket issue, so it was probably ignition. After checking, I found some real problems with the plug wires.

I ordered a new set from Winchester Auto and had to wait a day for the order to come in and another couple of days to install them.

It's good to keep them in order.

I decided to check all the plugs and see what they looked like. They looked about the same clean, dry, and almost white

I went to Harbor Freight and bought a new compression gauge and measured all cylinders.

I brought the first tester back because it didn't have the right size fitting.

Again I was surprised by how high the compression was in light of the high mileage. I made a record of the results that I will keep in the car's maintenance file. This will be some valuable information going forward.  With modern cars, spark plugs are only removed at infrequent intervals, the plugs in my '94 Cadillac had a recommended replacement at 90,000 miles. I wouldn't think of doing a compression check at less than 100,000 miles, anyway, unless it was being done to diagnose a problem.

First, I pulled all the wires and plugs.

When the wires arrived I have to admit that I was kind of hesitant to install them. What if they didn't make any improvement? What next? 

Then it would be time to check the fuel injectors.

I'd been running different scenarios of failure in my mind. Would drastic action need to be taken? Maybe replacing the engine with a remanufactured unit? That would lead to a whole list of other related replacements.

As in any repair scenario the moment of truth arrives, finish the job and just see what happens. So I installed them. They were not the Motorcraft units but made by Belden/Eichlin with a lifetime guarantee. They also claimed higher performance from the delivery of higher voltage. That was a measure of confidence. I carefully installed each wire and worked out the best routing. I like the plug wires to be as neat as possible and the wires seemed to be a bit thicker and a smidge longer than the OEMs. 

Before I installed them I measured each wire and recorded the resistance. This will give me values that I can use in the future to check them. That will go with the compression test results in my service file.

I fired up the motor and backed it out of the garage. It fired instantly and laid out a bit of smoke from the fuel that had been injected during the compression test. I'd also added a bit of oil to the #1 cylinder for the second compression reading, so a bit of blue smoke was part of the mix. But the engine settled into a smooth idle and there wasn't any CEL lit anymore! I didn't hear that misfire either. I let it idle and warm up.

After I was satisfied I reinstalled the tower brace to take it out for a test drive. 

Man, did it feel much stronger, especially as it wound up to higher revs! It also felt much crisper off the line, and throttle response was satisfying. It really reminded me of my NorthStar Seville, which I drove quite aggressively when I first got it.

My driving style has really mellowed out over the years, I don't speed around and dart through traffic. I drive very steadily anticipating traffic conditions. I do try to achieve the best fuel economy. When I rented a new 5.0 GT I just drove the same and I got 28 mpg. on the trip home from Southern Ca. 

Every once in awhile I'd accelerate hard in my old Mustang. I'd noticed lately that it hesitated and was a bit flat as it reached higher revs. Honestly, I'd just attributed that to age and a general lack of use. 

Needless to say I was extremely pleased with the results. I learned a few things about diagnostics, and I'm going to keep a few of the old wires as an alternative, if I need to switch one out to check the wire function in the future.

Now the question is: What should I do with this car?

I dodged a bullet and the need for an extensive as well as expensive repair. So everything is fine... for now. I took the car down to get a smog check, which it passed easily, just in case I decide to sell it.  Maybe it's time to shake things up a bit.

Friday, June 17, 2022

 My Daughter took her Mustang 120 miles away. Part Two.

It still ain't any closer!

The saga of the errant power seat.

Premiere level Triple A delivered on the 200 mile tow. They did give my Daughter a bit of grief about not getting it fixed locally, and told her that they would not cover the move from our house to the shop. That irritated me but I figured that we could deal with that later. Either way, it made it down to my driveway soon enough. 

I booked an appointment with the transmission shop for the next week. They are a busy shop which is a good sign! 

While the car was here I decided to look into the power seat problem. The seat wouldn't move back and forth, it would cock to one side and get stuck. I did a deep dive into the Internet to learn all that I could on the subject. What I learned only reinforced what I had learned a year or so back. The seat motor assemblies are very prone to breakage, and they are very expensive, 900.00 sourced from Ford. Used items usually run from 130-300 dollars. And of course Ford does not make any service parts available. After watching several videos I learned that the seat tracks are not a separate bolt on part to the seat, they are now an integral part of the lower seat frame! 

This was an unwelcome surprise, it meant that a manual seat track could not just be easily installed in place of the original, the replacement unit had to be detached from the seat back and existing frame. That called for removing the seat back and side trim as well as  disassembling the upholstery cover and foam bun. (It turned out that this was not exactly true, as I would later discover.)

When I bought my '96 Mustang the electric seat was stuck almost all the way forward, causing my knees to almost touch the dash. The seat motor would not move the seat back, but I was able to squeeze in and test drive the car. I figured that it would be an easy fix, so I bought the car anyway. 

I soon discovered that the motor assembly was a 400 dollar part and went and pulled the manual track out of a car at the wrecking yard for 15.00. I was no longer able to tilt, or raise the seat height, but I found that I could find a comfortable setting anyway. So no problems there. The track bolted to the bottom of the seat which was easy to accomplish. 

Since my old Mustang has cruise control and a tilt wheel, I find that it is easy to shift positions on a long drive. I don't usually change the seat position on trips, except in my truck, which doesn't have cruise control. On long trips I'll move the seat back and forth to different positions to vary the angle of my legs and ankle.

On one video the guy found that seat movement was blocked by a c cell battery that had fallen between the seat and console and obstructed the movement. Of course I was not so lucky. I found that the seat did move when I unbolted it from the floor initially. I removed the seat and cleaned and lubed the tracks. Upon re- installation it seemed to work, then it cocked sideways and stopped. I unbolted the seat and tilted it to the side so that I could watch it work. 

The outside spiral drive of the track would not move, but the inside drive did, that's what would cock the seat. If I manipulated the spiral drive it would work intermittently. The angle drive gears in the 90 degree drive were damaged. At least the plastic gear was broken and probably missing some teeth. There is a "traveler" that moves back and forth on the spiral drive, this is attached to the movable part of the seat track which then moves the seat back and forth. 

The use of a nylon gear eliminated any noise, or  the need for lubrication of the 90 degree power turn. But it also eliminated a trouble free life for the unit! There were many respondents on the forums that had the unit fail while the car was relatively new and still under warranty. There were also guys that had to fork over the money for a new or used assembly. Of course there is no guarantee how long any of them will last.

I guess Ford engineered the part to last just long enough through the warranty period, and they figured the demographic of their customers was young and slender and not too heavy! 

It isn't so much that the unit will eventually fail, what frosts me is that it is not serviceable, just fork over the dough and buy a new unit! And it is quite expensive and complicated to replace. Now I know why I've seen some late model Mustangs with racing type seats, you can buy a new pair of seats and mounts for what replacing just that motor assembly would cost. 

My preference would be to replace it with the manual unit. There was some doubt on the forum that a manual unit was ever used, they are quite rare. I'd never seen one. 

I went off to the local wrecking yard, Pick and Pull. There used to be two locations in San Jose, now there is just one. I was going to see if I could find any car with a usable seat track, manual or powered. When I made my way to the Ford section I found a single S197 Mustang, an '06 V6 five speed coupe. It still had the seats in it, so I hoped for the best. What I found was a unicorn! A manual driver's seat car. This also had a manual height adjuster. I checked the function and it worked fine. 

I decided to just take the entire seat. It wasn't that bad, not too dirty, just a bit worn with a gouged area near the drivers side seat hinge. I'd checked the price of just the power seat track and it was 35.00. I figured that the seat would be a lot more, maybe over a hundred bucks, sometimes they'll charge you for every little single part! " Oh, that still has the head rest, 10 bucks, the seat belt latch, 15.00, the side trim 10.00, the seat adjuster lever 5.00, etc, etc. but I had a new plan in mind. 

I was pleasantly surprised when they asked if the seat was power or manual. When I answered manual the girl said, okay 49.99! What??? She didn't even ask if I wanted the warranty (?) or charge me a core charge!

I quickly paid up and scooted out of there, ( start the truck!!) maybe the manager would show up and tell her to tack on those additions. A couple of years back I bought a radiator and some coils and other stuff for my XJ6 at the location in Newark. I had left the wiring connectors on the coils like they were tomatoes on the vine. The cashier asked if I wanted the connectors, I told here I'd take them if they were only a couple of bucks. She said that they were 5.00  apiece, and extra 30.00 please. Obviously I quickly disconnected them! 

My plans for this seat are two fold. First, I'd like to just bolt the complete unit in my daughter's car. Yes it's kind of ugly and doesn't match the rest of the interior. But I'd rather not tear this and the original seat apart, ...yet. I'd rather swap them out and keep the original seat at home with me, while I search for another power unit. Then I can repair the seat. It only takes four bolts to remove and switch them. That's something that I can easily do in her parking lot. I can easily carry the seat in my truck or the Flex. 

Second, I can keep the seat, at least the manual mechanism, as a spare for my next Mustang. I have been seriously considering getting a '13 or '14 Mustang GT. I was really bummed out by the power seat problems and the thought that I wouldn't be able to replace it with a manual unit, but now I can. For some reason that thought really killed my enthusiasm for a newer car, since I was intending to make my newer Mustang another long time ownership vehicle. This thought hadn't bothered me much about my XJ6 or the Flex. I'm not planning on keeping the Flex for a real long time, and I never really thought too much about the Jag, as there never was a manual seat available on this model.

I don't think that my daughter will be too crazy about the junkyard seat, but I'd rather have the original seat with me where I can work on it, If not, who knows when I'll have the car in my driveway again? 

Today is the day that I'm to take the car to the transmission shop. I called Triple A to arrange for the tow. I didn't volunteer any additional information and they didn't bring up the previous long distance tow. That tow would have cost me at least 500.00, possibly even more. I probably would have rented a car carrier trailer and used the truck to bring it home on my own.

More to come on this story. I've been working on my '96 Mustang during this period also. Kind of like walking and chewing gum. The more cars that you've got the work there is to do.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

 Bad Moon on the Rise?

I had quite the bad experience with this gauge, however
I did obtain the first reading.
The dark round gauge is kind of like a bad moon, especially if it delivers bad news.

Nobody wants to receive bad news, but sometimes you just have to deal with it.

A compression check can tell you a lot about the condition of the hard parts inside your motor, the pistons, rings, valves, and even the head gasket. There is no other way to find this out, at least there hadn't been for a long time. Now there are leak down tests which can be performed after the compression test. These pressurize the cylinder and can help pin point the specific location that the cylinder is losing compression. 

This traditional compression check can be performed at home with only a few tools and one piece of equipment. The compression pressure gauge. The gauge reads the amount of pressure within the cylinder as it completes the compression stroke of the cycle, just prior to ignition. If the compression is low, it is bad news. Especially if it is catastrophically low, like zero! That means that you may have a hole in the top of the piston, or a badly burnt or hung up valve. Usually it is just sort of low, that can mean worn cylinder and rings, worn/burnt valve seats, or a leaking head gasket.

A brand new, fully broken in engine will have the highest compression of it's mechanical life. It steadily decreases over the engine's life as the cylinders wear and the rings and valve seats lose their sealing. This is a natural process, just like human aging. Performance declines due this gradual wear and tear, its okay until it declines beyond a certain level. That is why an older engine uses more fuel and oil, loses power, and is not as smooth running as it once was. Since most vehicles have a surplus of power available they can lose some without the driver really noticing. He'll just step harder on the accelerator to achieve the performance that he desires.

Shop manuals are always kind of vague about how high cranking pressure should be, they seldom specify specific numbers for any engine. The primary thing is that all cylinders are within a close range, that will indicate normal wear, without any outliers that indicate real problems in a particular cylinder. After searching the Web I found that the acceptable minimum pressure is 90 psi, but the practical minimum is 100 psi. Ideal pressures would over 150 psi for an engine that has seen some usage and mileage. High pressures could be up to 200 psi in some cases. An engine can run with some pretty low pressures, these used to be the beat up, old smoking oil burners that we would see occasionally limping around town. That's pretty rare now.

Most modern cars have engines that will reach mileages of over 200,000 miles of service.  That means the original, and even long term secondary owners, never see an occasion where the engine requires substantial repair to the block assembly. Failure of the automatic transmission or a blown head gasket usually spell the end of the road for most old cars. Then they end up at the wrecking yard. This doesn't mean that the problem cannot be fixed, any mechanical problem can be repaired, or the mechanism replaced, it's just that the repair doesn't always make economic sense. The repair can cost more that the vehicle is worth. A mechanic's labor is expensive. The cost of repairs has to be amortized over time and the future use of the vehicle. Most of the time the owner doesn't plan to keep the car long enough to make it worthwhile, they're usually ready for something different and newer. 

Can you blame them? No, who doesn't like a new car? 

So where am I with my Mustang?

The first compression test told me that there isn't a catastrophic problem within the #4 cylinder. My hunch is that the misfire doesn't have anything to do with the compression. 

Could it be an ignition system problem? Maybe. This model of the 4.6 engine doesn't have a distributor, but it is also not an individual coil on plug system. With the two coils I'm guessing that it is a what's called a "waste spark" system where two cylinders receive a spark at the same time, but only one receives it at the end of the compression stroke, the companion cylinder receives an unneeded "waste spark. The misfire is indicated at only one cylinder.

It appears that the spark plug is firing, it sounds like the injector is working. It is possible that the injector is not working properly. At least that is my hope. 

I am willing to invest a couple of hundred dollars in getting the injectors cleaned and inspected, that could be the solution. Though there are two things that I should check first.

I'm going to remove and check each spark plug wire for resistance. Then I'll also perform a compression check on all the cylinders. That can tell me about the relative condition of #4. I should have kept the old plug wires, like I did with the coils, then I could switch out the wires to try to isolate the problem. I could also switch a couple of wires and see if the problem follow that plug wire.

This was not the scenario that I had envisioned for my Mustang. I had either thought that I would keep it for a longer period, or that I would sell it while it was still in good running condition. 

I had not anticipated any major problems with the engine.

No need to over react, I'll remove all the spark plug wires to inspect and test them. I tried to run the resistance check on each plug wire. I had a lot of trouble getting any reading on several wires. Especially #1! Not a  good start. I had stuck a long screwdriver into the plug boot to make contact with the terminal. I tried it several times, moving it's position and wiggling it around. I still could not get a reading. I looked at the coil terminal which was clean and shiny. I looked into the plug boot and saw rust and corrosion!!!???

I used some spray terminal cleaner and q tips to try to clean the connection. After a lot of cleaning and scraping I was able to get a reading.

On several other wires I had a similar condition; #2, #6, and #7. I had to manipulate and pull on the leads to get a connection. Could the wires be the problem? 

I recalled the time that we were driving back from  San Luis Obispo in our '90 Dodge Caravan which stalled out and quit, driving back over the Cuesta Grade. We had it towed to the local Chrysler dealer who didn't find a problem at first, and released it back to us. It broke down again north of the grade, and they had to send their own tow. We had come down in two cars to pick it up, so we a least had a ride back home. But it was a wasted trip. The second time they "fixed" it, they replaced the plug wires. I was always dubious about that being the problem but it seemed okay after that. My regular mechanic told me that yes, a wire failure could cause a serious problem. I stored that info away for a later day, but I guess that I still really didn't believe it. 

Well, I found four wires with corroded terminals. I pulled all the spark plugs and they were all clean. I don't think that I'm going to mess with the injectors... yet. 

Next up will be a compression check and a new set of wires. I could skip the compression check, but I'd like to have a record of the motor's condition especially at it's high mileage. This would be a good record to maintain over the years and miles, however I don't remove the spark plugs unless I have to. Generally, I rely on the results of the smog test to give me an indication of the engine's condition. Obviously if it doesn't pass the test there must be something wrong with it! It's instructive to compare the readings every two years. 

Time to move up to the next step in the process. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

 Sell your truck while it's still running...

Yes, I know that I've used this image before.

There's a lot of practical, real life advice in Country songs. I've repeated this bit of wisdom before, and I've consistently ignored it. At my peril!

Oh no, my Mustang just displayed the flashing check engine light!

The CEL or MIL light is usually an indicator of an emissions system related problem. These situations usually don't result in a major loss of drive ability. 

In this case I had been noticing some problems while running. The engine seemed a little hesitant to spin up to higher revs, it sort of flattened out and felt a bit soggy. There was was also a  slight shudder. I attributed it to a lack of use and hoped that it would go away on it's own as I started to use the car more. 

Hope springs eternal, but it just got worse. I was leaving for a long trip of over a hundred and twenty miles when the car felt quite a bit worse and the CEL lit and started flashing. I was only a couple of miles away, not even to the freeway so I turned around and brought it back home. I took my truck instead. 

I felt a little surprised and I'll even admit it, a bit betrayed, my Mustang has always been my no drama machine.

Emotions aside, I had to figure what the problem was and fix it. 

I really had been considering selling the car only a few weeks ago! 

I borrowed a code reader from my Son so that I could obtain any possible trouble code.  

The first thing that I did was to take a careful look under the hood to see if I had disturbed any vacuum lines or wires when I removed the battery. I couldn't find anything noticeable, so I hooked up the code reader. The only code that was displayed was P0304, a misfire on cylinder #4. With this info I could concentrate on the problem cylinder.

It's time for more diagnostics. Of course it couldn't be as simple as a plug wire terminal coming loose, that just doesn't happen like in the old days. Modern plug wires have clip on terminals at the coil, and the plug boots are very long and buried several inches into the motor. Back in the old days, the plug boots were tiny and hanging out in the open, and would frequently loosen and fall off the side of the cylinder head. 

The last time I saw a flashing CEL was because I failed to dry out the plug wells after the manifold leaked coolant. Drying out the well cleared that up.

Once I determined that the terminal caps were in place and I found no coolant in the #4 plug well., I thought that I would pull the plug to examine it. That's a bit of work so I began looking for a simpler course of action. I started thinking about what could cause the problem. 

Trying to proceed in a logical methodical manner, I laid out what I knew.

The plug wire terminals are secure.

There is no coolant present in the well.

I had replaced both coils less than two years ago, Could the coil have failed? I had kept the old coils which were still working when I replaced them. I pulled the new coil and replaced it with the old unit. No improvement.  

The plug wires had been replaced a couple of years before the plugs, that would be around four years ago. Could they have gone bad in that short a time? 

I pulled the plug and found that it was dry, clean, with a white electrode. It didn't look like it was fouled and misfiring. These had been changed out the same time as the coils. 

Back in the old days of carburetor equipped engines, a misfire usually meant that the spark was missing or intermittent. This usually resulted in a wet, gas fouled, spark plug. 

Now, a misfire can result from a problem with the injector, if there's a lack of fuel, that also results in a misfire. 

So, how can you tell if the injector is working? A working injector makes a steady clicking sound as it opens and shuts during operation. You can hold a long screw driver against the body of the injector while the engine is running and put your ear to the handle to amplify the sound. The result? 

Number four was clicking away and after listening to the other seven they all sounded the same to me. This doesn't mean that it is working correctly, but it's obviously working somewhat. 

I have found it be useful if I keep a written account of what I'm doing. I will start by listing the problem, then possible factors that I should check. Then I record the results of each action. It helps to keep my thinking organized and I can scan the sheet and quickly review my progress. 

I will also record possible shops that might be helpful in my efforts, for example I listed a shop  (including the address and phone number) that can clean and inspect injectors. I'll list the cost of replacement parts from RockAuto as a guide to the possible expense of the repair. 

All well and good, but where do I find myself right now?

The component that I had not checked was the condition of the plug wire. They are a bit older than the plugs and coils, They might be around four years old. I am always very careful with their routing, and they are much better secured on this modern engine. Besides any obvious visual damage such as corroded or dirty terminals, cracks or burns, I know that it is important to check their resistance. That can be done with a multimeter. I'd never done this, so I watched a couple of videos to learn how to do that. 

Besides a given range of values, the obvious thing is to see how much variation there is between the individual wires. The range that was given on the video was 5-8 thousand ohms per foot, the longer wires will have more resistance. It turns out that the #4 cylinder has the longest wire. 

The #4 wire had a value of 12,750 ohms of resistance. I checked the #5 and #6 wires and they were 7,20 and 7,25, almost half the measured resistance. Is this going to be the problem? Do wires suddenly go bad on their own? Should I just replace the wire set? Maybe I should check all the wires before I do a compression check.

It's  easy to just throw parts (and money) at a problem, but that isn't always the best course. Lot's of times a guy will just replace parts without testing them to determine if they are faulty. This is partly because the guy is a DIY guy with a pretty good understanding of what could be wrong, but he doesn't have the equipment or expertise to make a systematic or "scientific" diagnosis. He also doesn't want to take his car to a shop where he will have to pay for a diagnosis as well as the repair. He usually saves money by doing his own work. So he wings it. The problem is that randomly changing parts doesn't always fix the problem, though it often does. So I could just replace the wires and hope that will fix it. 

I think that I might remove the #4 plug wire and recheck it as well as measure the length to be more accurate. But I might have another option. I have a timing light gathering dust in my tool locker. It is a better unit with an inductive clamp that I place on the plug wire. I remember the cheap old neon timing lights that had to be plugged into the plug terminal, those were so dim and a pain to use! If the wire is conducting the charge it will flash. With modern engines there's no need to set timing any more, but this might tell me something important.

I dug the timing light out of my tool locker where it's been sitting for many years. I hooked up the timing light to the #4 wire and ran the engine. There was a steady flashing light. I tried it on a few other wires and saw what looked like identical flashes. That indicates to me that it is working okay. 

On Monday morning I called Ace fuel systems, they had once rebuilt the carb for my '66 Riviera and had done a terrific job. The shop informed me that it doesn't clean the injectors. They referred me to a shop in Campbell. All Auto and Truck. I phoned and they told me cleaning and inspection is 25.00 each. usually a day or two to get done. That sounded okay, but I will price out the cost of new injectors at my local Winchester Auto. 

At the parts store I spoke with several countermen who have dealt with me over many years.  The cost of their Echlin injectors was 81.00 each, or as a rail set of four for a slight discount.They asked me what the problem was, and  I described what I had found. They told me that if the plug looked good and the injector had been determined to be working, then it was time for a compression test. If it wasn't the spark or malfunctioning injector, it was time to look for mechanical problems. 

This was not what I wanted to consider, as it did not bode well for the future of my Mustang. If there is a burnt valve or bad piston it might mean that it might not be worth repairing. However worrisome it seems, the next step is do the compression test. I need to know the facts before I proceed forward with any plans. One halting step at a time.

Keep calm and carry on!