Rebuild your carburetor

I know, half of you are saying, “carbu-what?”, and my other reader already did it. Having grown up with fuel-injected cars since about 1989, I myself was not sure what to do with the carburetor, although I knew rebuilding it could help my rough-running situation. My Lancia Beta had sat in a barn or outside for several years, and from working on an old Packard roadster at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum I knew that fuel could turn into a nasty shellack-y mess in cars that are stored long-term without proper prep. To get some basic understanding of how a carb works, I found a page at howstuffworks.com for basics. While they talk about a chainsaw carb, the basic concepts still apply.

Lancia Beta carburetor


Having taken off the carb, I found it wasn’t really all that dirty! The paper gaskets in the carb and between it and the manifold were not in as-new shape, but didn’t look all that bad. The float chamber was a little scuzzy, but nothing like you’d expect for a stored car. I think the DPPO had run the car every couple of months, so that must have helped keep things from settling. Nonetheless, I’d already received my rebuild kit from Pierce Manifolds down in Gilroy, so I forged ahead. A shopmate helped with the disassembly and condition evaluation, and I ended up just giving it a good wash with carb cleaner, and blasted everything out with compressed air. If you’re shaky on this, my best tip is to take some detail pics with a digital camera for later reference. Also, make sure your work surface is spotless – apparently any little bits of grit can mess things up.

Lancia Beta carburetor after cleanup

Here’s the carb, all rebuilt and ready to go back together. I also replaced the accelerator pump diaphragm, which comes separately from the rebuild kit. Basically, assembly is the reverse of disassembly. You do have to make sure the float travel is correctly set.

Sadly, the outcome is that the car still doesn’t run too smoothly. Happily, this was an inexpensive repair at about $75 including parts and materials. Further attempts at resolving this will appear in a subsequent post.

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