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Clampy, Moe, & Jack

131 0305 Pep01 Z
Posted October 20, 2004

The Pep Boys Keep Clampy Alive

Keeping your truck in top shape is not that hard, but it takes a little time. We decided that if we were going to keep cruising the back alleys and terrorizing the high-profile streets of Los Angeles in our free farm truck we needed to do some basic maintenance. Plus it's common knowledge that when you drive a high-performance vehicle like the Clampster, you quickly attract the attention of members of the opposite sex. Now considering this, plus the fact that we have an image to uphold, we didn't want to get stranded somewhere for something silly like having no oil in the engine. Tune-up time it was.

As we were making a list of what we needed to do to get another 195,000 miles out of our rusted '86 Toyota, a fellow editor asked, "Does a normal tune-up really give you any more power?" "Well, sure it does," we thought, and we'll prove it by heading to a local dyno before and after the tune-up. To make the job quicker and keep our landlady from giving us another lecture--"No more oil spills in driveway, bad, bad very bad!"--we decided to take it to the experts at Pep Boys. Considering that these guys change more oil in a week than we will do in our entire life, they are qualified as experts. Plus, this way we could make a few garage guys famous.

To see what power gains we would get with a normal tune-up we headed first for a dyno. The guys at Street Rod magazine have a dyno in their shop that they happily let us use for this test. The initial 88.1 hp from Clampy's tired 22RE four-cylinder wasn't scary, but pulling our rusted truck into a shop full of beautifully built street rods sure was. We still have nightmares of Clampy launching off the dyno and destroying some sweet ride owned by that bearded guy from ZZ Top. It was just a bad dream. It didn't happen.

We were surprised at what happened in our dyno test. The massive power gains were not there, but when you consider what all we did you will easily see why. If anything, the simple fact that the Pep Boys did their job exactly right was what gave us lower power readings, but the benefits of a longer-lasting rig were worth the power loss. Follow along and we'll explain.

Did We Make Power?
So did we see amazing power gains? Well not exactly. Upon returning to the dyno our max horsepower dropped from 88.1 to 83.6 and max torque dipped from 118.5 to 111.9 lb-ft. How could this be? Well our theories ranged from excess drag caused by filling up the tranny, transfer case, and rear axle to specified levels to the clean fuel filter causing the engine to run too rich. Both were a little farfetched. What we finally did was reset the timing to 8 degrees before top dead center instead of the manufacturer's recommended 5 degrees and did a retest. This indeed got the power back to pre-tune-up levels of 88.1. Now the reason the manufacturer recommends a certain timing is to get the best emissions for the vehicle, and since we didn't test that, we can't say whether it was affected or not. We can say, however, that the 4.5hp loss was never noticed in the driver seat. In fact at some points we thought we had gained power. The verdict: A basic tune-up did not give us more power, but it may have given us better emissions, and it will definitely keep Clampy on the street and trail a bit longer. Thanks Pep Boys for a job well done. Now do you think a 195,000 mile motor will survive nitrous? Hmmm.


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