What’s it like to order a carburetor from Amazon? I found out
There I was, once again the victim of another unrealistic project timeframe, trying without success late Friday afternoon to rebuild the two-barrel carburetor on my Sunbeam Tiger’s 260 Ford. Perhaps you remember from an earlier article my “success” rebuilding it. Twice again I had taken it apart, twice again I had squirted noxious carburetor cleaner through every orifice I could find, and even soaked the body in a gallon pail of goop-dissolving solvent. There just aren’t that many parts in an Autolite two-barrel carb, which got me thinking maybe the casting had a crack I simply couldn’t see or some other problem I’d never fix. Local auto parts stores were a no-go, their shelves lined with Edelbrock and Holley four-barrels and nothing to meet my needs.
That’s when a friend on Facebook threw me a link to a two-barrel carburetor on Amazon. For just $94, the Everything Store would ship it to my door by Sunday. I still don’t see how Amazon does it, but no matter. The carb looked a bit bigger than I needed, designed to suit everything from a 289 to a 351, but I figured, “Close enough.” I decided to take a chance and clicked “Buy,” wondering whether I’d be pleasantly surprised, or tinged with the smoke of a burned C-note.
True to the seller’s word, the carb arrived by 10 a.m. Sunday. It arrived in a nondescript box, making me wonder if I wasn’t involved in some kind of illicit, underground knock-off parts racket.
Opening the box revealed a shiny carburetor in a plastic bag, with a smaller bag of gaskets. No instructions, but it was a genuine Autolite 2300, a newer version of the 2100 that I needed. They work exactly the same way, but the 2300 features more ports for vacuum-operated accessories, an automatic transmission kickdown linkage, and additional bowl venting. It also includes a provision to electrify the choke. Everything looked good overall. I’m guessing that these carbs are rebuilt offshore and repackaged for sale online. At first glance, it seems to offer a great value, given that other rebuilt units cost several hundred dollars and require a core exchange. Buying this one let me keep the original in case I decide to rebuild it one day.
The next question: Would it fit? My stock 260 intake uses slightly smaller diameter holes to draw in the mixture from the carburetor, so I swapped in a spare 289 spacer to ensure I wouldn’t have any interference. At this power level, I wasn’t too concerned with the slight difference in opening sizes, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t cause the throttle butterflies to bind in the intake when wide open.
It took a little trial and error to fit the carburetor properly. I needed to adjust the throttle linkage between the pedal and the carburetor, and I had to experiment with gaskets because the base of the 2300 is shaped differently than the early 2100 it replaced. I simplified some hose routing by eliminating the hot water running through the spacer, although I may go back to that later on. I connected the distributor advance to one vacuum source and used another to connect a manifold vacuum gauge. This is a great way to fine tune your idle adjustments, and it offers a general check on engine health as well. A quick trip to NAPA for a fitting that would let me adapt the original hot air choke tube and fuel inlet provided the final pieces to this puzzle.
With everything buttoned up, the moment of truth was upon me. Turning the key one click to the right pressurized the fuel system and filled the float chamber. I gave it one pump of the throttle to set the choke, as it was about 35 degrees in my garage, turned the key, and my Tiger roared to life. I fiddled with final settings, happy to get things adjusted so the idle sat steady in proper range on the gauge. Turning the idle screws carefully out on each side resulted in smooth running, and it revved nicely without bogging.
Time for a test drive. The car ran nicely, although clearly a bit richer than before. I can replace the jets and power valve with parts a bit more appropriate for a low compression 260. I’ll continue playing with it, but I give this Amazon two-barrel five stars so far.