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El Camino Nitrouso

Part 4

When we last left our merry band of miscreants, they had just witnessed El Camino Nitrouso's first burnout. Engine builder Bill Weckman was behind the wheel. The rationale was if he broke it he had to fix it, which certainly made sense to the Burkster who was bankrolling the project.

After the burnout/shakedown it was time for Burk to take the El Camino Nitrouso on the 60-mile cruise from the Granite City, Illinois shop of Bill Weckman to the Burkster's garage in O'Fallon, Mo. The band of gypsy's loaded up the Dodge Caravan with a few hand tools, a flare gun, several coolers stocked with emergency rations, and a map of Missouri. In the meantime, Burk and Martin had the oil changed and the gas tank filled, checked the air in the tires, and kicked them. We were ready for adventure.

That's when the first glitch occurred. The gas gauge was in-op and the wipers didn't work. Oh well, the sky looked clear and the crew in the Caravan had those coolers filled with emergency rations.

The dysfunctional duo pulled the El Camino's seat belts tight and pulled out followed by Dad Burk and son-in-law Adolfo Araiza in the aptly named Dodge Caravan. As the convoy headed towards the Mississippi River I could swear I heard the voice of Ward Bond holloring "Wagons Ho!" It must have been that corned beef we ate at O'Donnell's Pub before leaving.

The trip was relatively uneventful, except for stalling out in the tollbooth crossing into Missouri when I accidentally hit the nitrous button. Fortunately, the bottle was turned off, but the gasoline solenoids were still working and flooded the engine. Made a note to fix that before driving again.

The rest of the trip to the home garage was uneventful except for the occasional honk and thumbs up from a few motorists and the fact that the gas gauge started working about halfway through the trip…I thought. Once the group arrived at the garage and the first blush of success paled, we took a closer look at the El Camino and found that it was a long way from being ready to be a daily driver.

The drivetrain, brakes, and lights all mostly worked. It turned out that when I pulled the light switch to the on position, the needle on the gas gauge went to "E". I also discovered that most of the dash lights didn't work and either the stock 1967 headlights didn't offer much in the way of illumination or I was going blind. The first order of business was to the replace the stock lamps with some aftermarket halogen units. It was while performing this task that I discovered that most of the dash lights also didn't work. While looking under the dash for the fuse box I discovered that the last owner apparently cut most of the wiring under the dash with a chainsaw. There were cut wires going nowhere and everywhere. That was also why there was no power to the wiper motor. As it turned out, the wiper motor also was full of water and rusted. A new motor from AutoZone and some new wiring fixed that problem (above photo).

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