Collect inlet solutions and parts

As the year draws to a close, it’s safe to say that my ’69 Charger survived another season of daily use. But I dutifully work on the to-do list that stands between it and its former glory. Every year the car comes back stronger and more reliable. I’ve spent more time behind the wheel of the car than under the hood and even managed to take a few short road trips along the way.

In the absence of any major issues lately, my vision for this car has matured to the point that I’m not only sure of what I’m trying to achieve, but I can take some important steps towards it.

However, that won’t happen overnight. My standards for a personal car may be low, but there’s a lot of work to be done before I can even think about painting the family’s warhorse. Fortunately, I’ve found enough mechanical work to keep me sane in the meantime.

Hank O’Hop

Where we left off

Last time you saw the car I had just finished installing the dual quad intake. That was in August and I believed in multi-carb induction. My time with it since then has only cemented my love for it.

The only thing I wanted to change was the direct coupling between the carbohydrates. Progressive couplers are plentiful, but they can get pricey if you’re looking for an original unit. Modern progressive clutches are relatively inexpensive, but I didn’t want to just spend $100 on something I wasn’t sure I’d really need. So I built a progressive coupler using some scrap I had lying around, along with some knickknacks I picked from the hardware bins at Ace Hardware. I used an eBay listing of an original 2×4 Hemi coupler that sold for $400 as inspiration and came up with a pretty ideal solution to my problem.

Hank O’Hop

As happy as I was with the original product, eventually I really started to dial in this system. The real reason that drove me to a progressive clutch is better street manners and an improved economy. Even if there’s no such thing as a thrifty tune for a 440, every little bit counts. It’s also worth noting that the change from opening both carbs at the same time to gradually opening one and then the other changes the tuning requirements. Over the next few weeks I fiddled with different combinations of jets, rods, springs and accelerator pump settings to find what worked for my needs.

Along the way, I found inconsistent fuel mixtures between banks, with the driver’s side running way too rich. Jetting, carburetor cleanings or switching to an electronic distributor to eliminate as many variables as possible evened things out. One thing led to another and I cracked open the top. Unsurprisingly, I fell down a rabbit hole. Actually a few of them.

Hank O’Hop

Dial in a rough casting

Removing the manifold revealed three issues to address, the biggest of which was a colossal lump in the casting I found on the driver’s side of the intake. Clearly a reason for the fuel mixture imbalance I had seen.

Offenhauser 360 dual quad manifolds aren’t as weird as their 360 Dual Port counterpart, but they’re still pretty weird compared to other mainstream manifold designs. This inlet has a split plenum design which at first glance resembles a double plane, but is more closely related to a single plane in that the runners all get a straight shot to the plenum. Only instead of having a single, wide-open plenum, dividers in the casting separate the driver’s side from the passenger’s side.

There’s a gap in the bulkhead halfway between the Carters, right where I found the piece of knurled aluminum between the front and rear carburetors on the driver’s side. I can only guess how something so horrible could have happened, but I had no choice but to deal with it if I wanted optimal performance.

Hank O’Hop

I was actually quite excited to find this mass in the manifold, as learning your weaknesses offers the opportunity to make improvements. This thing was already running great, even when it wasn’t right at all. I’m willing to bet that its presence caused fuel to fall out of the suspension, collect at the bottom of the manifold and cause the rich driving condition I was experiencing. This smoothing out should go a long way.

It should come as no surprise that there are all sorts of edge imperfections that can be found all over the manifold. Of course I put my burrs and porting sanding rolls to work getting the whole package into shape as it is removed from the engine.

Getting the valve train in shape

With the manifold out of the way, I decided to tackle a job I had put off for far too long. Despite fretting about this thing, I’ve been working with the stuck pushrod length. It has never been a problem for this use. Still, I know that budget cuts are holding me back in terms of performance and the overall health of this project.

Placing a straight edge across the valve stems revealed that the intake valves on each cylinder were set significantly higher than the exhaust valves – a result of the valve work a previous owner had done to these heads. This meant I needed shorter pushrods on the exhaust valves. A pushrod gauge confirmed that the same lengths would work for each cylinder and that I would only need shorter pushrods for the intake valves.

Ideally, adjustable rocker arms find their way into the engine bay. However, this is much cheaper than a good set of rockers for this motor, which cost around $500-$1,000. I also have other plans to move forward, and I want to spend the time and money studying the 383 that will eventually take the place of this 440.

C, D and E hit on our way from A to B

Things never go according to plan, even if the plan is to solve the problems you encounter. At some point, a major roadblock was bound to appear. In this case, mangled intake wires chose to block things.

This particular hole had thread repair work done before and that fix failed. This put me in a situation where I had to close the gap and start over. I eventually got it done, but the track chewed and spat out enough taps and small drills to drive me crazy. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s cheaper to just have things done by professionals.

Hank O’Hop

However, this major hiccup did not discourage me. It was a good opportunity to remember to understand and respect my personal boundaries, and to remind myself that this is not the part you should rush into. Take it easy, bond with the machine and treat it right, because that’s important.

So to practice what I learned, I took the time to clean each lifter before putting the power plant together for one last hurray of 2022. Probably not necessary, but it was one of those things my mind needed to to feel like I was doing things the right way.

Hank O’Hop

Franken robbery, paint and the hunt continues

Now that those bike battles are over, I can finally take advantage of a winter workshop and do some cosmetic work. Again, a real vision for the car has been developed and I’ve already started collecting what I need to make it happen, including a Hurst Competition Shifter to replace the wacky console shifter I’ve been doing it with.

Among the collected parts is a donor roof, as my current trim has a few rough spots that need repair. I’d opt to replace the whole thing, but the top part of the Charger sheet metal is pricey and hard to pin down. So I’ll have to do what I can with a scrap roof that a local Mopar nut and friend of mine took off his project. I think it can be done, but it won’t be easy and I will really test myself. Fortunately, only a few small spots need work.

I also managed to get some paint. I need some more to mix, but I’m still not going to reveal the exact plan at this stage in the game. You’ll just have to stay tuned if you want to see how this homemade hotrod turns out.

The ride and its affiliates may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. read more.

More of The ride

Leave a Comment