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63 Bonneville

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  • #16
    Nice car.
    I used to own one of those in the early 1970's.Loved it!
    The first V8 I ever rebuilt.
    Sadly it got wrecked and I had to let it go.
    They look sorta like a big '65 GTO from the front with the stacked headlights and all but the Bonnie has got bigger hips out back. LOL

    For vacuum leak: also check the PCV valve grommet in the pushrod cover (valley pan).
    If it is the original it is as hard as a rock and will not seal creating a huge vacuum leak at that point.
    You have to remove the old one carefully using a razor knife , picking tool & shop vac to keep debris from making it into the pan baffle.
    TheA/C climate control system vacuum motor operated baffles and the 1/4" & 1/8" rubber vacuum lines supplying them can have numerous leaks too given the age of the car.

    The 389 engine you have may even have the big valve heads on it.

    The available engines for that year could be either 2V , 4V or 3x2v (tri-power) depending on how the car was optioned/delivered/ordered.
    The available compression ratios and fuel requirements for the 389 that year were as follows:
    2V & 4V 8.6:1 91 octane

    2V & 4V 10.25:1 98 octane
    & Tri-Power

    HO 4V
    & Tri-Power 10.75:1 super premium 100 octane
    (high output)

    If the engine is the original never been apart and you can document it properly to determine if it is an 8.6:1 engine you should be able to run it on todays premium pump gasoline.
    If the engine is of the 10.25:1 or higher variety forget running it on 93 or 91 or whatever # is masquerading as premium fuel these days.
    Mine would not run well on anything less than 96 octane and that was with an adjusted tune up to compensate.
    Anything less octane is asking for real trouble which =DETONATION,messed up rings , pistons & bearings etc.
    A lot of people make that mistake with old cars that are pre- unleaded gas era.
    Do not be tempted.
    If you have to drive it to move it around get some race gas and blend it in with currently available premium gasoline . You can add some Hyperfuel Max Octane Boost to crutch it.

    With 100K on the clock my advice is to save up your money and eventually take the engine to a reliable/ competant Pontiac engine specialist and have the engine rebuilt to run on today's available premium octane gasoline. That would include a new: camshaft,lifters,valve springs, pushrods, rocker arms, dished pistons ,rings, bearings,hardened exhaust valve seat inserts for unleaded gas. bore & hone, any balancing + all the usual new stuff required by rebuilding.
    The block, rods , crankshaft , heads & valves can be re-used if they pass inspection.

    If the engine was ever severely over heated there may possibly be cracks between 1 or more pair of the intake & exhaust valve seats. Been there done that.

    If the engine has any lifters ticking I would say the cam is shot. New lifters & valve adjustment will not fix that problem.

    The 63 pontiacs use "stud oiled" rockerarms. The rocker arm studs actually have a tiny oil passage in them that gets the oil to the rocker arm pivots.New it works fine as an engine ages the stud oiling system becomes a problem.If the engine is high mileage chances are one or more of these studs is partially blocked or totally plugged with crud.
    This causes oil starvation to the rocker pivots,valvesprings and valve guides.
    Pontiac ditched that system around 1965 and went with 100% pushrod oiling for the valve train.

    From the pics you posted you show a pic of the original 1963 Carter AFB carb tag.
    Those carbs did use an exhaust heat assisted choke.
    The choke heat tube assy. extended into the exhaust heat cross over that is in the manifold heat crossover beneath the manifold plenum. It is sealed by a gasketed plate where it is fastened to the manifold. As long as it satys sealed to the manifold and the heat exchanger tube loop does not have a hole in it all will be OK otherwise there would be a nagging exhaust leak on the manifold there allowing carbon monoxide gas to possibly get into the passeger compartment.

    The two automatic transmissions available were:
    The 3 speed RotoHydramatic (also refferred to as the "Slim Jim") transmission which is an inherently low performance weak piece. Not Desireable if the power levels are up from stock.
    The Slim Jim is usually found on the economy 2V low power cars.
    The 4 speed Dual Coupling Hydramatic (Pontiac dubbed it the Super Hydramatic)
    The selector on the 4 speed hydramatic lays out : R , L ,2 (or S) , 'D' , N ,P
    (Two distinct and separate drive positions.)

    The transmission serial number plate is tan.
    The prefixes on the tag are as follows:
    PBS-63= 4V Starchief and Bonneville series
    PAS-63=Tri-Power or police 4BBL,
    PES-63 economy 2BBL engine
    They are a fairly reliable trans but are very complex in their operation.
    Under normal driving conditions they perform well but will not take operator abuse very well.
    I blew 3 of them up racing (youth ,exuberance+ stupidity).
    The secondary fluid coupling does not withstand power downshifts over 75mph very well.
    That is why the Turbo Hydramatics succeeded them beginning in 1965.
    #55 AA/RP-


    • #17
      Killer info. I do have some numbers and info from the car.
      Engine code: 38P
      4 speed auto
      63 Bonneville Vista


      • #18
        That would make it the super hydramatic.
        The transmission was also used on Cadillacs , Oldsmobiles & some Buicks.Even some of the late 1950's GMC trucks w/ Pontiac engines had the 4 spd Hydro.

        R- reverse
        L - 1st & 2nd gear only
        2 or S - 3rd gear allows 1/2/3.
        'D' - 4th gear allows full range 1-2-3-4.

        If the throttle is stomped the trans will downshift into the next lowest gear depending on what speed & gear the car was in at the time. That is providing the downshift linkages between the carb ,trans and accelerator pedal are present and adjusted properly.

        The proximity of Low & reverse on the selector can be a problem for operators who don't pay attention.
        There is no reverse lockout on the selector so you cannot just grab the selector and slam it into low without looking or you will most probably have selected reverse. Whoops! Do that at speed and it could be a disaster fort the car and the trans.
        The L-R layout is good however for rocking the car back & forth if stuck in sand /mud/snow.

        The rearend/differential on these cars is pretty bullet proof.
        Lots of competition cars and fuel dragsters from the late '50s up to the late '60s used these Pontiac & Olds rear ends exclusively with great success.Of course they were using after market gears and axles but the basic housing had the strength to contain the power they were throwing at them back then.
        Summers Brothers used to make axles gears and other parts for them but I think they are long out of business now.
        There are other vendors still selling the parts for these and servicing them as well.
        I have an exploded diagram of the AFB carb for that year and photos of what a finished one should look like.
        I'll dig those up and post 'em here for you.

        You probably want to drop the gas tank out of the car and get it cleaned out.
        There is also a sealer treatment you can apply to the interior of the tank to save it from rusting.
        You have to remove the tank to apply it . It is a 3 step process. Some of the resto companies market it.
        I some bought some of it from JC Whitney in 2007 for a tank on a Ranchero I was working on and it worked very well.

        Here is a website for 1963 Pontiacs that may be of some value to you.

        There is a VIN decoder there and a lot of other cool stuff on these cars.
        I like the video of the 11 second tunaboat.

        Here is a possible parts source for hard to find stuff.

        Just be sure to read their terms & conditions.

        Glad to help you
        #55 AA/RP-


        • #19
          Carter AFB carb kit instructions

          Here are the instructions for the AFB in PDF.
          I have had them since 1972.
          They got chem dip carb cleaner splashed on 'em back then so I laminated them with clear vinyl shelf liner to keep the from getting any more dirt on them when getting used in the shop.

          The pics are of a 1965 Pontiac manifold and retsored AFB carb for a 389 engine.

          There is very little difference between the two years.
          The external vacuum operated dashpot was standard. it keeps the throttle from slamming shut too fast which could possibly cause the car to stall.
          This 65 model has square transmission "kickdown" plunger switch on the driver's side of the carb You can see it plainly in photo#7.
          Probably for a TH 375 or 400 equipped car. I do not recall if the PG had an electrically activated downshift then.
          The slim jim & the 4 speed hydro were gone by then.
          Attached Files
          #55 AA/RP-


          • #20
            I was wrong about Summers Brothers being out of business .
            The company still shows up but their offerings for the 57 thru 64 Olds /Pontiac differentials are very limited .
            I only saw spools offered.
            Axles and other parts would be special ordered from them or custom made by them.
            There are however other sources for parts and gears available.
            Because of the growing restoration market for old hotrods and drag cars there has been enough interest in these differentials to make it profitable for other companies to offer these parts again.
            The 57 thru 64 Olds/ Pontiac rear ends are actually in many ways superior to the venerable Ford 9".
            The only reason they fell out of favor was because GM quit making that rearend in favor of the cheaper to produce 10 & 12 bolt rear ends that followed in 1965. Useable wrecking yard cores started disappearing in the mid 70's.
            9310 alloy gearsets for drag applications became virtually non existant.

            To the rescue FABCRAFT METAL WORKS
            They even offer all the replacement suspension bushings including a a bolt on rear antisway bar kit.
            That will really improve the road handling of these big cars.
            They have a lot of other cool stuff for these cars if you were turning one into a drag car.
            Stuff that I used to have to make for myself or search wrecking yards for is noe reproduced.
            Knowing what I know now I would not go that route.
            Wanna go racing start with something light weight to begin with.
            Here is a good article about the differential stuff.

            One other note for your 51 year old 100,000 mile plus '63.

            If this car is all original including the suspension (never been rebuilt) I would dare say all the suspension bushings front & rear need replacing.
            The inside & outside tie rod ends , centerlink ,& idler arm probably need replacing as well.
            That is the only way to keep these cars tracking/steering straight without scrubbing all the tread off the front tires.
            Been there done that.

            The timing chain on that engine if it is all original needs replaced ASAP.
            The stock cam sprockets were aluminum w/ nylon coated teeth.
            GM started doing that in the late 1950s' / early 1960's and as far as I can understand it was for noise reasons. You cannot hear the timing chain at full throttle, dual exhausts with the radio plaing loud.LOL
            They are ready to fail by 80 to 90 thousand miles ,sooner if the car had overheating problems.
            The cam sprocket teeth get so worn that you cannot properly time the engine .The timing mark wanders all over the place when you put a timing light on it because the distributor is driven off the cam and there is so much slop in the cam drive the distributor cannot be set dead nuts on time.
            If the loose chain jumps time you will not be able to start the car. It may backfire through the carb a couple of times but it will not run. Further attempts at starting will,only make things worse.
            If the chain totally leaves the sprocket at speed there may be some damage to the timing cover.
            Do not continue to crank the engine with the starter at this point.
            The safest/easiest way to check is to take take the sparkplugs out, take the distributor cap off , turn the engine by hand a few degrees and see if the rotor moves at all. If it does not that is a sure sign the chain is kaput. If the distributor rotor moves but you cannot get the distributor to jive with the timing mark it has jumped teeth on the cam sprocket.If there is any binding or the engine will not turn do not force it, it is time for teardown inspection of the timong chain and oil pump.
            In either case there will be a bunch of shredded nylon cam teeth in the bottom of the oil pan.
            It is mandatory practice to pull the pan and remove all this debris.
            Inspect the oil pump pickup screen at this time to make sure it has not injested any of the debris from the cam gear or chain.Make sur the pump drive is in tact and that it all turns freely.
            Failing to do so will invite the possibility of debris getting sucked up into the oil pump causing it to jam /sieze and twist or break the oil pump dive shaft . If the engine kept running at that point it would be without any oil pressure and would soon seize the bearings on the crank and rods .Catastrophic failure. Damage to the distributor and cam gears may even result.
            Replace the timing chain crank & cam sprockets. Get a set that has all steel sprockets.
            While you are at it replace the distributor or get it totally reconditioned/rebuilt if it is the original 1963 worn out Delco unit.
            May be the time to convert to an electronic ignition like Pertronix.

            To improve the road feel of the car I had ,I replaced the stock shock absorbers front and rear with Monroe Load Leveler shock absorbers (that's what they called them back then) ,now Monroe calls them Sensa-Trac Load Adjusting.They have an external coil spring on them. The fronts are flatwound to save space.
            From what I can see the rears are still available through Monroe.
            The fronts may be a little tougher to source. Might take some cross referencing to find a fit for the fronts.
            AC/Delco & Gabriel have similar products.

            The brakes need inspected and thoroughly bled w/ all new fluid added. If that's all it takes you got lucky.
            But anything that has been sitting that long is gonna have some pitting/ rust in the slave cylinders and /or the master cylinder. Repace the flexible rubber brake lines ( 2 in front 1 in back.) if they show any signs if cracking/weather checking when flexed by hand.
            These big cars only have a single resevoir master cylinder. The braking hydraulic system is not split front to rear, if you get a leak you will lose all braking.GM did not really get hep to that until the late 1960's.
            These cars did not really stop well given their weight and the speeds they could attain. So do not hot dog it until you really get some seat time in this thing.
            If you are not going the full on showcar restoration route with this and intend for it to be a regular driver the braking system should be upgraded to a power assited dual resevoir split system with front disc brakes.
            Just enjoy it for a nice big road car that has style & performance.
            If mine had not wrecked i would still have it to this day.
            Last edited by sprint250; 08-13-14, 01:21 AM.
            #55 AA/RP-


            • #21
              And Pops thinks his posts are long. Lol.

              yours truly,
              The Lord of Hardcore

              This is not something you buy. It's Something you Build!


              • #22
                No. YOU guys do. Mine are usually short and sweet the way I see em. LOL
                I'm the Rick in prick.


                • #23
                  I say it all and get it done.
                  Just full of good information too .
                  Me needs to get rid of/ share all this 'ere knowledge with thems that can appreciate it matey. AAAARGH LOL
                  #55 AA/RP-