TUNING A SIX PACK

Bill Monk

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I'm sure some of you guys have read this before but I'm looking for opinions on it. Chime in please.

When tuned properly Six pak cars turn on! faster & run far better than single 4 barrel cars exc a thermoquad. If you want your six pak car to run like it should do the dance and have the right tools to make it happen. Patience must be used throughout the process. Much of the information here can be used on a 4 barrel as well.

Some theory of operation:

Things to Remember:

Six pak engines run AND idle on all three carbs at all times.

The outboard are always contributing fuel…always

Only the center carb has an acceleration pump

The car must idle and run/drive like a normal car before attempting any secondary action or wide open throttle passes.

Whacking the throttle in neutral to see if the outboards open is not a legitimate test!!!

Over jetting will not allow you to get the idle mixture correct as the jet size does contribute to what happens in the idle circuit. Please review the theory of operation in the Mopar Performance Engine book.

Tools needed: A good vacuum gage, quality tach in the car and dial back timing light/digital tach [snap on timing light with numeric readout].

A good ignition system.

MSD, Mallory chrome mopar box, NO orange boxes unless you know for sure it is early 80’s vintage. Anything made after 1988 is questionable.

Quality distributor cap & rotor
Firecore spark plug wires
Spark plugs of the proper heat range. Clean and gapped
0.040 mopar box
0.050 msd cd type ignition
Engine well grounded to the body & battery.
Vacuum adv distributor with heavy enough springs to hold advance until 1200 rpm.
The distributor phasing has been checked and corrected as necessary IMPORTANT
Distributor vacuum port on carb disconnected and plugged at carb


ATTENTION -195 degree high flow thermostat- ATTENTION
THIS IS IMPORTANT

60%water-40% coolant with a bottle of water wetter
Stewart components has the best thermostats

Pay attention here: If you run a lower temp thermostat, raw fuel will collect in the intake. That fuel burns off in the cruise mode and the air-fuel mixture goes lean.
This is transparent unless the a-f ratio is being monitored with a wideband a-f meter
There will be problems getting it to idle and drivability.

Make sure the timing is 15 - 18 deg btdc [advance] at idle. THIS IS IMPORTANT
Set the timing marks at 15 btdc and align the leading edge of the rotor with the LEADING EDGE of the cap contact-this is one reason the phasing was checked.
Car in neutral-auto or 4 sp, emergency brake set.
A good quality vacuum gage is required
Connect vacuum gauge to direct manifold vacuum source.

The heat crossover should be blocked on big & small blocks
Note: in temps below 40 degree it will take a good while to get the car warmed up. Block heaters will eliminate the long warm ups.

Automatic cars: be sure there is enough stall in the torque converter or the car may be a real pig idling in gear and have poor get-up & go.

Beware of mopar orange ignition control boxes that retard the timing etc. Orange boxes built after 1988 tend to have issues.

Preparation: on the work bench
Outboards: Remove the lead plugs
Set the outboards idle adj screws out 1/8 turn ccw THIS IS IMPORTANT
Be careful when seating the idle screws to set them before the 1/8 setting. Gently is the word. If you look inside the carb bore you will see the needles poking in ever-so-slightly. They should be equal.

Install the BLACK springs – Just do it, ignore everything else you have read.
Install the BLACK springs – Just do it, ignore everything else you have read.
Yes I repeated that, explained way below

If you have the jetable metering plates, If so read their instructions and follow them.

Center carb
Set the center carb idle adjustment screws at 1.5 turns out [ccw] THIS IS IMPORTANT
Be sure to adjust the idle screw until the throttle blades are closed and the transfer slot is exposed no larger than a square. [Carb will have to be off the car to see this] You only want about .040" of the transfer slots exposed below the throttle plates. If the idle screw is adjusted too high, you will be into the transition circuit, exposing too much of the vertical rectangular slot. Many times the idle screw is adjusted incorrectly to compensate for other issues. This puts the carb into the transition circuit and at that point you have no mixture control on the center carb.

If you have new carbs (untouched) they will have 62 jets in the center carb & a 6.5hg power valve. Starting point jetting stock 340 use 62’s, highly modified or stroker use 64’s, big blocks start with 64, stroker 65.

You must know what power valve is in the center carb. Typically a 6.5

Reminder 195 degree thermostat required.

Temporarily change out the brass sight plug on the fuel bowls (all 3) with clear sight plugs, to see the float level without any gas spills. See thru sight plugs deteriorate quickly so use only as a tuning aid. Do not leave them installed on the carbs.

Do not use an idle solenoid to set idle rpm.
A properly tuned car will have no “run on” issues

Factory style linkage, no progressive/ mechanical linkages!
Installation: use the gaskets made by oh company spec p/n
Do not over torque bolts.
Make sure the linkage is set properly. The rods should fall into the hole on the carb lever at the idle setting position.
Check the linkage for any binding, manually open the center carb to wot and see if the secondaries will rotate open.
Have an assistant floor the gas pedal and check for wide open throttle

Fuel pump: Carter street pump only.
Factory style fuel lines only.
Use rubber hose only for tuning purposes, typically on the front carb as this is the carb you remove to rejet the ctr. .
Fuel filter should be in the stock location.

Ready set go

Start car & allow engine to reach operating temp. Set idle to 1000 rpm

Fuel level adjustment THIS IS IMPORTANT, this is best done idling at 900 - 1100 rpm
The slotted screw on top of the needle n seat is just a lock screw.
To adj the float level loosen the lock screw to rotate the seat nut.
Turning the adjuster nut counter clockwise will RAISE fuel level in the bowl,
Clockwise will LOWER it
Make only small 1/2 turns and wait 3 or more minutes so the fuel levels off before rechecking level. Patience is a must!!

FUEL LEVELS
Center carb the fuel level is at the bottom of the sight plug hole
Secondaries just starting to come over the bottom of the sight plug hole
This is critical so get it right.

Set idle for 900 rpm
If the car won’t idle:
Is engine vacuum reading at least 2 hg higher than the power valve rating? If ok proceed, if not correct power valve issue and proceed.
Note some engines only pull 5 hg of vacuum so use a 2.5 power valve.
Advance the initial timing a bit to see if it helps idle.
Be sure operating temp is 195-210
Be sure there are not light springs in the distributor.

Now set the initial timing to where it wants to be. Somewhere between 10-20 degrees BTDC. The engine will tell you by increasing vacuum and rpm at this point. In some applications the engine does not care, so set it to 12-14 degrees BTDC.


Rule of Thumb Chart:
Cams with 106-degree ctrlines seem to like initial timing set at 16-22 BTDC
Cams with 108-degree ctrlines seem to like initial timing set at 12-18 BTDC
Cams with 110-114 degree ctrlines seem to like initial timing set at 8-14 BTDC

Re-Set the idle rpm for 8-900-See if you have "control" over the idle mixture screws on the ctr carb.

Using a good vacuum gage adj center carb mixture to highest reading of vacuum.
This is where the digital [numeric readout] tach is better than the vacuum gage as you can see the instantaneous rpm. If you do not have control over the idle mixture between 1-2 turns out ccw of the mixture screws there are issues that need to be taken care of before proceeding. Over jetting contributes to this problem.

Typically if you have the center carb idle mixture screws between 1 to 2 turns ccw and the idle mixture/rpm properly set you may not have to adjust the outboard idle mixture any further.

If you are 2 turns out on the ctr carb idle mixture screws and the idle is still too lean - the outboards need to contribute more fuel to the idle. Open the idle mixture screws on the outboard carbs another 1/8 turn ccw. Now they will be out a total of ¼ of a turn ccw. Now go back and reset the idle mixture and rpm.
If you need richen the idle mixture-set the idle mix to 1.0 turns out ccw

Starting with the front carb, adj the mixture screws one at a time 1/8 turn ccw, after turning each screw wait and see what the engine vacuum and rpm do. Obviously if you have a wideband a-f gauge you will see what is happening. It’s a balancing act, just remember about the ctr carb and it’s proper settings. Also remember you have ½ turn ccw left in the ctr carb to richen the overall mixture. The end spark plugs will indicate of the out boards are to lean #s 1&7 / 2&8.

If the idle is too rich no matter what you do…Most times you are over jetted or you have other issues. Over jetted carbs will have poor idle control. At idle fuel flows from the float chamber thru the main jet then into a the small angular but horizontal passage that leads across to a vertical passage and onto the idle feed restriction where it is mixed with the air coming in from the idle bleed. Remember this. Do not over jet!

Beware of other issues such as poor intake sealing, carb gaskets backwards, the wrong pcv valve, a vacuum leak from the brake booster or other places, wrong pwr valve, wrong thermostat etc.

Recheck idle rpm and set to 8-900

Drive car like a normal person, no wide open throttle. Is the car rich? Jet down 2 steps until you find the min jet size. You will know when you are lean as you will have no power.

Now reset the initial timing again. Somewhere between 10-20 degrees BTDC. The engine will tell you by increasing vacuum and rpm some point and then falling off. In some applications the engine does not care, so see chart.

Re-Set the rpm for 900-See if you have "control" over the idle mixture screws. Using a good vacuum gage adj each mixture screw to highest reading of vacuum. If you have a wideband afr meter set to 14.7. If you don’t like this number set it at your number reading. See how close you are between the vac gauge and af meter and digital tach.

Recheck idle rpm and set to 800-950 depending on engine build, hook up vac adv and make sure car still runs/drives properly.

How do you know when you are "there”?
If the car gets up and goes seamlessly you are there
The engine when hot soaked restarts immediately without touching the throttle
The car will idle at 700-900 rpm in neutral and the response is crisp.
There is no smell of raw gas in the exhaust.
The bottom of the intake is not soaked with fuel. Open a carb and look in
The spark plugs are clean and white.
The engine when cold starts easily runs and drives smoothly from the get go.
When the engine is rev’d and the throttle released it immediately returns to idle.
The vacuum advance is hooked up and the car drives well.

OK if you made it this far it’s time for the Secondaries

The reason you put the black spring is to delay the opening of the secondaries until the engine is ready for it. The engine will run fine on just the center carb till at least 3000 rpm. The air fuel mixture spikes lean when the secondaries open, but at higher rpms this is transparent and has no affect on performance. The opening of the secondaries should be seamless, but very apparent and usually scary to the uninitiated.
Some cars may enjoy a lighter spring.

The secondaries rods should be disconnected and removed and the vac signal blocked.

Please do this safely and with regard for others….
Go out and drive the car on the center carb and determine what rpm the car starts to fall off in power. Take note.
The car should have a ton of power just with the center carb.
Be sure to several wot runs.
Please do this safely and with regard for others…

Reconnect carb linkage and vac lines; be sure to set the length of the rods properly.
Now go for a drive and see what rpm the six pak hits.
Please do this safely and with regard for others….
Hold first gear or 2nd gear, run up to 2500 rpm, and floor it. What should happen is the secondaries open without any hesitation and the cars gets up and really goes.

The long vacuum hoses for the outboard carbs need to be exactly the same length.

Pulling a vacuum on the hose should make the vacuum pod open the throttle blade and hold a vacuum

The best way to dial in the secondary air fuel ratio is with a wide band air fuel meter.
A fine tuned seatofthepantsometer and spark plug reading will work for the more experienced.

If you made it this far and the car is bogging when the six pak opens you need to go back and recheck starting at the top. Bogs are usually from the secondaries opening too soon!!

Notes:
Automatic cars with too tight of a converter will cause significant idle rpm drops when in drive, the car will not run at it’s full potential so be sure to use the correct converter for the application.

Some cars like staggered jetting.

Reminder 195 degree thermostat required.

If car spits fuel out of the vent it means the o ring on the needle seat is bad.
 

GetX'd

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Wow - I wish I had the experience to do all these recommendations to my six pack myself. Unfortunately I don't. And my carbs are in need of a good tune. I was thinking of Promax which seems to get mentioned on this site a lot. But good info above... I hope.
 

Bill Monk

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Wow - I wish I had the experience to do all these recommendations to my six pack myself. Unfortunately I don't. And my carbs are in need of a good tune. I was thinking of Promax which seems to get mentioned on this site a lot. But good info above... I hope.
I bought an angled throttle base from them so I can adjust the srews while on the car but I haven't installed it yet. They aren't going to be able to tune them though unless you can take the car to them. There is no way to tune carbs off the car.
 

RJRENTON

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With regard to the previous treatise six barrel / 6 pack carb car tuning, the best way, in my opinion, is to just have at it and proceed. One does not need such a derailed explanation. I've done all the above to my RS23V0A*******, and it runs quite well. Not all mods are needed.
It also my opinion re power valve circuit is not entirely correct....there is no mention of the channel restrictions which are the fuel metering devices....the power valve determines when extra fuel is added not how much. Also fuel level in all carbs is somewhat critical as it determines when the booster venturii begin feeding fuel. The higher the static fuel level is, the mixture will be richer.
The reader is referred to HP Books on Holley csrbs.....an excellent explanation as to the ins and outs of carburation. Remember that your next doors neighbors cousin's brother in law buddy has no clue how a carb works.....do your own du diligence.....don't take someone else's word...you'll be better off.
Bob Renton
 

OH71RRunner

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Long post....
I found a somewhat simplified version of tuning tips and used it to tune mine. Wow! What a difference it made.

Not my info. Came from another forum. Saved the context, but not the page. So, I'm sorry for not being able to give credit to original author.

when there are troubles, it usally due to someone unfamilar with there tuning or functions, or attempts at trying to improve them,......which usally results in "problem" carbs, starting, stalling, flooding issuse!.....seeing your have "new" carbs/ set-uo,....I'd recommend you use a Carter street pump, don't use rubber hose, it's problems down the road!, use a factory style/ repro steel, or stainless steel fuel line kit,a good quality hi flow fuel filter, AFTER the pump!, not before!, you'll restrict the fuel flow, Factory style linkage, no junk progrssive/ mech linkage!, change out the brass side float screw on the fuel bowls (all 3 bowls) with Holleys clear sight plugs, this way you can see your float level, and no gas spills trying to adjust, their like $4 each,.....when setting the fuel level, I've found that it's best to bring it up to half the height of the clear sight plug, (can't do this with the brass sight screw!, unless you have X-ray vision, hence the need to install the clear plastic sights).....plus "if" you ever have a starting problem, just shaking the car side to side will slosh the fuel in the clear site, and you'll know wether or not you have fuel in the bowl,....after you have basically installed the set-up, and started the car, and set an acceptable idle after warm up, with the engine running, set the floats, start with the center carb, the slotted screw on top of the float adjuster, is just a lock screw, you can remove it for now, the 5/8" nut is the adjuster/needle seat nut, rotating it counter clockwise will raise fuel level in the bowl, clockwise will lower it, make small 1/2 turns let the car run a bit, check the fuel in the clear site window, half the window is ideal height, esp. in the front and rear carbs, when they dump in, you don't wanna lean the engine, which on a sixpack car, might "melt" a piston or two!....really!, been, there, done that!....after you set the fuel level in all 3 carbs, reset the idle on the center carb, by disconnecting the linkage on the end carbs, if your using an idle solenoid, make sure it's energized in the up position contacting the center carbs solenoid idle arm screw, set the desired idle, that keeps your car running, factory specs are a guide line, your cam, vacumm, etc, will affect your desired RPM range, after you establish this idle, this is what your car will run with, now de-energize the solenoid, using the idle srew located on the ceter carbs main throttle shaft, set the idle to a bare minimum running idle, this is were your throttle shaft will close down too when you shut off the car, and the idle solenoid de-energizes, if later you have shut down problems of the car desieling, (sputtering run on after shut down) keep lowering the idle screw on the center carb main shaft, untill this is condition is eliminated, the idle solenoid was added to maintain an idle, and allow the throttle blade to choke off the engine on shutdown if needed, when it de-energized, after your center card idle is set, now comes the fun, start the car, in idle, the front and rear carbs are still disconnected at their main throttle linkage, (important note: make sure no vacumm source is hooked up to the front and rear carbs when main linkage is disconnected, cause any reving you may do, might tip in a end carb! with vacumm!, and if you can't shut it down in time, you might lose an engine!....seen it done!)to properly set the fuel/ air mixture idle screws, start with the center carb, hook up a tach.......warmed up, good idle (low)....turn the fuel/ air mixture screws (2) located on each side of the center carb metering block, do one at a time, run it in slowly, until the engine begins to stumble, slowy back it out watching the tach needle, stop when you've obtained the highest rpm reading,....you can also do this with a vacumm gauge attached to MANIFOLD vacumm, I like to use both at the same time, ...repeat the process for the other side, when done, now re-do-it, again, just to confirm settings, now some of the end carbs, have their fuel idle screws "plugged" with lead, they are located in the base, in the front of the carb base plate, under the bowl, if plugged, dig out lead plug, most people think ones for fuel, ones for air , their not!, you'll adjust these screws just like the center carb, except you can't just use a vacumm/ tach gauge,....look into the top of the front end carb, you see 2 small projections in each bore on each side, just below the neck, these are the air bleeds, block off the outer bleed using your finger over the small tiny hole, with the motor running at idle (low), it should stumble or pick up in idle, when you block off, either outboard bleed, set the front carb first, pick a bore, left or right, with it's coresponding baseplate idle screw, block the bleed off with your finger,(make sure the carbs throttle plate is fully closed) do one side at a time, when you block the bleed, if the idle increases, too much fuel, remove your finger, turn the base screw on the side your blocking the bleed on, in, one turn, block the bleed again, listen for the idle, (you could use a tach gauge at this point), if it stumbles/ decreases, no fuel, back the base screw off a half turn, block the air bleed again see where the "idle" is,......keep adjusting in this fashion until there's no change in idle, no increase/ decrease, you now have the ideal fuel/ air ratio for the vacummm requirement on your motor, complete this for both sides of the front carb, shut off the motor, disconnect this carb remove it, re-install it in the rear,....install the rear carb, now in the front, adjust this carb like you did to the last one, after you hook up everything, now here's when most guys will balk at this move,....they'll insist the air/fuel mixture won't be 100% by moving the tuned front carb to the rear, well if your truly familiar with the sixpack set-up, you know getting to the rear carbs base screws is fustrating to say the least, unless your squeezeing every ounze of effeciency out of the motor, this technique is far better than leaving the factory setting/ lead plugs in, with is usally a lean set-up,,,,,,, after setting this relocated carb up, if you wish you can "play" trying to "tweak" the rear carb, this may include a round of removal the "tweak" the screws to obtain that last ounze of "tuning", I've yet to see a "tool", truly capable of fitting into the installed rear carbs "idle screws"......anybody?,

Well, when your "done" setting the air/ fuel "idle" mixtures on the end carbs, connect the end linkages, to the end carbs, do it with the idle solenoid energized, the rods are threaded were they join together on the center carb, they install on the end carbs with rod clips, there is a F/R or left?right handed clip, energize solenoid, do the front carb first, make sure the linkage is pulled far forward on the center carb secondary rail, thread the rod, in or out, until it fits nicely in the hole, then proceed to the rear, repeat this proceedure, now check the linkage for any binding, you should be able to chrack open (engine off!) the center car, WOT, and manually open both carbs by rotating the front carb throttle arm, close the center carb, check all linkage for binding, readjust if needed, now de-energize the idle solenoid, see if any bind is preventing the center carb from closing on the main throttle shaft idle screw, you may have to comprimise on some idle/ and or end carb linkage adjustments to have an ideal, functioning set-up, but once you take the time to do this, you'll appreciate your efforts!,....as far as altering the end carb secondary springs in the vacumm pods,.....I like a sixpack to come in quick,....you'll have to buy 2 sping kits, replace with the "white" springs if you want a quick responding set-up,....if you what a mid range set-up use the "yellow" springs,.....any thing in the brown or black range is worthless.
 

Bill Monk

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I'm familiar enough with the six pack to agree with some of both and disagree with some of both for example, I tend to agree with the first opinion on the vacuum secondary springs with regard to using a heavy spring. Of course the best way is to progressively use heavier springs until you find the lightest one that doesn't cause a bog but for most of us, these are street engines and that's a lot of trouble. His logic makes sense on using the black spring. I also agree with the second writers advise on dialing in the air fuel on the outboards using the airbleeds. No doubt an air fuel gauge is the best way but I've never had one so there you have it
Anybody else want to throw your opinion at these?
 

62MAX

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Same as above,this has worked for me for many years,quick ,simple and effective,second paragraph.


Picture 194.jpg
 

BadBee

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Any Suggestions for THESE DIRECT CONNECTION SET UPS??
 

biomedtechguy

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According to what I have seen a couple of places, do NOT leave the clear plastic float bowl screw-in plug "windows" installed. The plastic decays and you get fuel everywhere, or worse! Put the brass plugs back in after you are satisfied with the float level adjustments.
 

BadBee

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Thanks,
These have the original brass plugs which I like anyway.
 

Bill Monk

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According to what I have seen a couple of places, do NOT leave the clear plastic float bowl screw-in plug "windows" installed. The plastic decays and you get fuel everywhere, or worse! Put the brass plugs back in after you are satisfied with the float level adjustments.
Agreed, I left a set in a carb and when I did tried to remove them, they broke. Don't leave sight plugs in the carb.
 

66Satellite47

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Bill, just read through your tuning advise. From my fading memory, you hit on everything that would lead to success. In the early '70's 6 BBL's were not well understood and therefore didn't work all that well for most of the "street" buyers. That's why so many setups were available for used purchase. I bought a modified setup with a 500 center carb & "manual" linkage. I converted the center carb to vacumm & started trying to tune. My cam was a big high high lift/long duration piece for drag racing. So everything you said applied accept the idle points. But right on with everything. I found an incredible improvement from tweaking the end carb idle mixture screws, even in the drag race application. Power valve consideration is something that seems to get overlooked. The WOT transition was significantly improved. Playing with the secondary springs is needed just to see what the individual motor wants. GREAT JOB.
BTW I did follow the DC jet mods & drilled the end jet plates. Bad results. Small swirl marks from the drill screwed up the fuel flow. Back to stock plates ran great. Also went to set of stock '70 carrbs including stock center & worked great with stock end jet plates and small increase in center jets. Again end idle screw adjustment & spring tuning made all the difference. The stock '70 setup seemed to make as much power as the 500 cfm center setup with my 446" motor.
 

Sixpactogo

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I agree with most of these tuning do's & don'ts except for blocking off the heat crossovers. If the choke is properly adjusted there should be no issue with crossover heat except for burning off the paint. For me, it is a right of passage. Ma designed them in for a reason and I believe some things are better left alone.
 

68 HEMI GTS

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Some interesting thoughts on this one... hmm, I can only get mine to run 10's in street trim..? Gotta be doing something wrong..:realcrazy:

IMG_0765.JPG
 

66Satellite47

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I agree with most of these tuning do's & don'ts except for blocking off the heat crossovers. If the choke is properly adjusted there should be no issue with crossover heat except for burning off the paint. For me, it is a right of passage. Ma designed them in for a reason and I believe some things are better left alone.

Heat crossover good for an everyday driver. Blocked for a cooler intake & more HP.
 

68 HEMI GTS

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i like to leave my heat crossover open, very very open...

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66Satellite47

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Anyone verified the difference in HP? I can't believe it could amount to enough to offset the driveability.

I know I haven't. But I know that when Ma Par designed it's most powerful wedge motors, they didn't have heat crossovers. True, if it's cold, you can't just start the motor and drive away if the crossover is blocked. If that's the type of driveability you expect, keep the crossover.
 

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