When out in the garage, I like to think I live by the “do it right or do it twice” motto. Strive as I might to be that person, the reality is that I’m cheap and will always try the easy route first. And second. On the third go-around I might do it properly.

This phenomenon played out while I was working on the exhaust system of my 1930 Model A Ford. Yet another insultingly simple system that is low-key persnickety. The single union between the manifold and the one-piece muffler/tailpipe combination was leaking profusely, and despite the crusty nature of the tailpipe I didn’t really want to spend the money to replace it if it wasn’t completely necessary. So I ordered up a new clamp, fresh gasket, and small sleeve that fit between the two parts.

Installing these three new pieces was mildly frustrating, but it all blossomed to full-blown disappointment when I started the engine up and the exhaust still leaked. Tell me again why I had such high hopes for this strategy in the first place? Close garage door, open wallet.

The new muffler and tailpipe didn’t break the bank compared to some of the other projects I have tackled in my garage, but this was money I spent begrudgingly, not happily. The entire exhaust is only held on by three bolts, two of which I had futzed with the week prior. Once those were tightened down, the leak was gone.

Sort of.

There was no longer a leak at that union, but with that fairly large leak now gone, the subtle leak where the exhaust manifold sealed to the engine block for the number four cylinder became more noticeable. Time to undo everything I had done thus far and then pull the manifold off the engine. The gasket had blown out, and the cast iron manifold had heat cycled with the weight of the exhaust hanging from it enough times that the number four cylinder outlet no longer properly lined up. Back to the parts catalog. Another charge on the credit card. Sigh.

Then it all got real interesting. The new exhaust manifold would not seal properly when joined to the old intake manifold, so I called Ron’s Machine Shop in Ohio, planning to ship them the two parts so they could machine them, match, and seal. Over the phone, the nice tech told me to spare myself the shipping cost and hassle and just buy a new intake. A new part would be cheaper, simpler, and it would fit the same.

Everything assembled together quickly and cleanly, and now the 200-cube four-banger perfectly putters a fine Model A tune. I don’t regret trying the simple fixes first, but in this case I should have investigated and measured instead of wasting my time blindly hoping I wouldn’t have to replace a few parts. Learn from my mistakes!

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