Talked with Dave at Blackline and he asked for exactly the engine information I would expect him to want to know to set them up for MY engine.  He even asked how I liked my Engle 120 cam on the street!  Always great to deal with shops that know what they’re doing.   My optimism is growing and they haven’t even shipped yet. 

Stan Galat posted:

Yeah, but they'll still be "as new". If the problem persists, he'll be able to look elsewhere.

I've been coming to the SOC for 19 years, and Gordon was here when I arrived. This is the first time in my recollection he's ever given up, so I'm wishing him the best.

Same here. Just don't want anyone getting their hopes up too early. Hope for the best prepare for the worst. And if there is still a problem he'll have one less place to look.

Well, they worked sorta-worked well for years, just “not right” and I lived with it.  They were better before I rebuilt them this time and screwed them up. So, I figure that if they come back rebuilt properly and pre-tuned to my engine specs (which I send out with them) then the only wild card left is manifold gaskets, which will give me popping ( not snapping as with a clogged jet ) or idle speed hunting.  Both easy to find and fix.

After talking with Dave at Blackline, I have confidence that he understands what’s going on and knows how to fix it, based on a LOT of experience.  

Experience that I do not have - Simple as that.


Gordon, I think I get why you're letting Kodak do the rest.

After 20 years of putting up with this, you're certainly the best judge of when enough's enough.

But frankly, I wasn't expecting them to run right immediately after resetting everything to 'factory' specs. If I've learned anything about these carbs, it's that nothing is predictable. You've got to start with whatever you've got, listen, and then gradually nurse it to where you want it. And at least some of the numbers end up being not what you were expecting them to be.

Mine likes 57.5 idles. Moving down one notch to 55's makes all hell break loose. The bibles and the gurus say that shouldn't be. But on this motor, it is.

I had everything dialed in perfectly for like, a year. One day, someone following me said I was running 'a little rich'. I changed the mains down from 140's to 135's and, again, all hell. I had to change all the mixture settings and L to R balance to bring things back in line. But it still would only run right when warm OR cold - not both. I gave up and went back to 140's. But it still ran like crap until I was gradually able to dial it in again. A month later, I was finally back to where I'd started.

I'd think with everything new, it would take at least a few weeks of tweaking to get balanced again.

Another thought is that, after 20 years, wouldn't the main shafts (what the butterflies are attached to) be loose in their bushings (or bearings, or whatever they ride in)? I thought that all carbs had to be rebuilt in time to fix that.

In any case, what you're doing should get any such issues resolved.


I can deal with a little bit of dialing in.  We dialed in Snowmobile carbs, some of them three-barrel, some of them multiple singles, for years so that part isn't new and I know how to take it slow and one step at a time.  I could partially mask a fault on the Dells by playing with jetting and got it to run OK, but there has always been something fundamentally out of whack that I haven't understood enough to cure it, nor do I have a selection of parts (other than a bunch of jets) to change basic airflow characteristics.

I just believe that these were never really "tuned" for my particular engine requirements from day one, like matching venturii size, air correctors, jet size, all that jazz, to what the intakes, cam performance and exhaust expect to see.  All I did was buy a pair back in the mid-1990's, supposedly set up for a 2,110 right out of the box, when in retrospect I just got a generic pair of 40mm Dells (that I now believe might have performed better on an engine with a milder cam).

What really made me a believer in Dave at Blackline was that he asked for the head and cam specs and compression ratio, along with basic carb specs right at the beginning of the conversation and made a few comments as we went along that were dead on with what my air/fuel gauge has been telling me (and I thought it was just a cheap gauge giving me false readings).  Without ever seeing the gauge in action, Dave told me what the engine should be doing and that's what the gauge said, too!

Anyway, I'm boxing them up, and, listening to Horace Greeley, I'm "Sending them West, young man!" to the land of Shake Tauffler to see if they can become born again for their second act.

While you're waiting, weld in an O2 bung. Unless you already have one, I think I remember you having a narrowband a while ago. You are welcome to borrow my wideband gauge and sensor and that way you'll really KNOW it's set right. They are definitely less expensive now than they've ever been. And god forbid it still acts up when you get the carbs back, you'll at least be able to follow what's going on and fix it.

At $125 this is pretty cheap, and is the one I own. Mine is wired up to a cigarette lighter. I have a plug in the exhaust bung as once you are dialed in, it's not needed. I got rid of my self-caused rich bog due to the velocity stack air interfering with my Jet Doctor air. The AFR gauge really made it obvious what was happening.

Good luck, Gordon

Yeah some things get fixed much faster by using someone else with experience rather than learn it yourself  but I like Danny’s solution that bung allows you to tune your carbs with some intelligence rather than faith

i have one on my subie and my tuner wants me to have an ecutec tune done by him to alleviate some nuances that sometimes these custom cars bring to the écu which makes it try to adjust near the high range at times not giving you any leeway after this for self learning  

I've had a heated O² sensor since 2004 or so.  

While it helped me make things a bit better (and was great at pointing out a clogged jet and/or manifold leak), I was not experienced enough to fully understand what it was telling me or how to change things for the better.  The gauge apparently was pretty accurate, but my understanding and experience was lacking.  My brother would have known how to fix this, but by the time I got serious about fixing it he had passed.  

Time for a new chapter. One that starts out in a much better state.

Lots of times, starting the learning process from a point where nothing is badly broken is really helpful. The thing that makes carburetors so difficult is the multiplicity of factors involved: venturi size, velocity stack height, float height, main jet size, air corrector size, emulsion tube type, idle jet size, accelerator pump jet size and adjustment, etc. Every change has some secondary outcome.

Also factor in the number of potential problems, not just “tuning issues”, which are often not bad enough to be obvious, and present as tuning issues. Carburetors go out of sync, intake manifold gaskets develop leaks, idle jets partially plug, ethanol in fuel attracts moisture and collects in the fuel bowls and creates a jelly, crud gets stuck in transition ports, etc. Ignition and mechanical problems also seem like carburetor problems, probably because there are so many things to go wrong there, it just HAS to be there, right?

Getting the carbs back in tip-top to start with provides a good starting point. Good on you, Gordon for biting the bullet. 

Gordon Nichols posted:

Yeah, but if I keep this up I’m gonna start looking for Five Cent Racing sponsors to help pay for stuff.....   🤨

I knew that “Yankee Thrift” was eventually going to pop its head up.

A long time ago a guy told me, “Son, if you wanna’ run with the big dogs you’re going to hafta’ learn to pee in the tall weeds”.

A less obtuse version of that would be, “If you want to play, you have to pay”, or the ever-ready, “Buy once, cry once”.

Feel free to choose the idiom that suits your situation the best. 


Life was much less complicated when I was living on an expense account.  

Hey, BTW - I just finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein and now I wanna see the movie.

Not at all what I expected, but it was a terrific read (I literally finished it at 1:45 AM last night) and I expect the movie to be pretty good, at least.  Several nice tutorials on track driving and some common sense views on dealing with life (and death).  

Stan Galat posted:
Gordon Nichols posted:

Yeah, but if I keep this up I’m gonna start looking for Five Cent Racing sponsors to help pay for stuff.....   🤨

I knew that “Yankee Thrift” was eventually going to pop its head up.

A long time ago a guy told me, “Son, if you wanna’ run with the big dogs you’re going to hafta’ learn to pee in the tall weeds”.

A less obtuse version of that would be, “If you want to play, you have to pay”, or the ever-ready, “Buy once, cry once”.

Feel free to choose the idiom that suits your situation the best. 


I like the one that says " figure a way to do it on OPM ".  It's worked nicely for me from time to time. 

Gordon Nichols posted:

Life was much less complicated when I was living on an expense account.  

I'm not sure how to break it to you, but out this way-- I've got to pay for stuff "out of pocket". No "expense account" nuthin'-- not even a $1 hot-dog off the roller at Circle K.

mppickett posted:

I'm guessing that in this case OPM means "other people's money" rather than "Organic Pest Management."  :-)

Exactly Mike but I do it in a useful and legal way though. Spent a lot of time sailing in the Carib, Bahamas and Florida years ago as a yacht charter agent. Been in the ring with Mike Tyson while managing ( not so well ) a Canadian Heavyweight boxer Conroy Nelson. Latham Coliseum , NY Nov 22, 1985. etc. 

Gordon Nichols posted:

I've had a heated O² sensor since 2004 or so.  

While it helped me make things a bit better (and was great at pointing out a clogged jet and/or manifold leak), I was not experienced enough to fully understand what it was telling me or how to change things for the better.  The gauge apparently was pretty accurate, but my understanding and experience was lacking.  My brother would have known how to fix this, but by the time I got serious about fixing it he had passed.  

Yes, I thought so. I think they are all heated. But is it wideband? As I recall, it was a narrowband unit which is pretty useless on a non-EFI car. The best way to use one is to have someone else drive the car as you watch it or vice-versa(do it with Chris, he's who I'd choose). Or datalog it, they do have an output channel.

When we last left our intrepid DIY auto hobbiest, he had thrown in the towel on his twin 40mm Dellorto Carburetors and declared defeat - those pesky Dells had proven to be his match and refused to run as well as everyone knows they should (Re-read from the top of this thread to get the whole, sad history).  They were pulled, drained, aired out overnight then tagged and bagged and sent via UPS to Dave Hogland at Blackline Racing out in Murray, Utah, not all that far from the Bonneville Salt Flats (See?  Blackline Racing - Out on the Flats!  Building engines that WIN!)

Once I described what they had in them, what the engine is and how they had been responding, Dave described, to a "T", how they had been acting (even corresponding to my air/fuel mixture gauge response) and told me of a "most likely" fix:

  1. Drop the primary venturiis from 34mm to 32mm
  2. Drop the Main jets from 162.5 to 130
  3. Drop the idle jets from 65 to 45
  4. Drop the accelerator pump jets from 60 to 35

Dave cleaned them and rebuilt them with the above jetting and tuned them on a 1915cc engine with similar characteristics to my 2,110 (cam, compression, etc).  He also noted on my poop sheet that I run Bosch Platinum 8-range plugs (W8AP) and recommended that I go to an NGK non-platinum BR6HS spark plug gapped at .032 (for my Magna Spark II hotter coil) because he hasn't had a lot of good luck with Platinum-tipped plugs in VW engines.  I used Platinum plugs on a LOT of snowmoblie racing engines (both carbureted and EFI) with great luck but, hey!  PLugs are cheap, right? so those got swapped out, too.

Remember, my biggest complaints were a big hesitation/bog right off-idle and a transition hesitation at almost any speed above idle.

I am THRILLED to tell yah that both of those are totally gone and these things are running so smoothly they feel exactly like the EFI in my Nissan Rogue.  

I pulled them from the shipping box, did absolutely nothing to them, installed them on my intake manifolds, connected the linkage and started it right up.  I saw none of the coughing or puking that I had become used to at cold start-up and it settled down to a nice idle after about 15 seconds (?!?!?!?).  A quick road test around the neighborhood showed zero hesitation at any rpm up through third gear and when you stomp on it at any RPM (below 3K - it's a quiet neighborhood) it just simply takes off - no hesitation, no lag, no bogging, it just goes.

Stan was right about me, I'm a cheap kinda guy living on retirement income and having this done was not inexpensive, but considering that I spent 20 friggin YEARS trying to figure them out and failing (and probably spending almost as much over those years in wrong parts and labor and just messing around), I think this was money VERY well spent.  It certainly pays to pay someone who really knows what the hell they're doing and the guys at Blackline certainly do.  They have a 3 week backlog on Carb stuff and a 6 Month backlog on engines, but these guys are really, really good.

If I had started with carbs that had been running and were appropriately set up for my engine I would have started out on a much different foot, but that's whiskey under the bridge.  I've finally gotten to where I want to be, this engine is running like a watch and it is really fun to drive.

Snoopy Dance


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I know what you mean Gordon, with the often low quality results of purchased work when it comes to our cars and with the dwindling mass of good techs you feel, especially when your retired that you need to get good value for your money. ok, you can say, cheap, frugal etc etc.  And while they may describe the behaviour sometimes you end up chasing a problem and spending more money digging a hole.  This is the story with my Fuch front wheels we thought the tires were still worth keeping and after spending more than nearly twice the money for new tires on chasing a balance issue I finally just changed the tires and voila it was cured... DUH... yeah big DUH.  


GREAT NEWS on your fix. 


Good news, Gordon.

It's comforting to know that you can still get what you pay for if you do your homework first.

I wonder if half of our tuning woes don't come from not wanting to be the guy with the little girly-man jets or venturis. After all, everyone knows that bigger jets make more power, right?

And why have Weber 40's when real men run honkin' 44's?

I'm betting your gas mileage will be better, too.


Thanks, Ed.  

Admittedly, the really large jets I was running was to compensate for the change I made to the horizontal discharge tubes before I had ever run the carbs on my engine.  I drank the "Hot VW's" Koolaide about getting every possible horsepower gain from the engine way before I even had an engine, so when the article said "you can get 10 - 12 more hp with this kit", I went for it, little knowing that, yes, it gives you a bit more boost, but all of it on the top end while making the rest of your driving (at least in my case) less than a great experience.  Getting to something more drive-able from that point went slightly beyond my understanding of what's going on in a carburetor and how it all inter-relates, so I was lost.  Give me a basically working carb that needs to be jet-tuned and I'm OK, but when the basic working structure is flawed to begin with I simply didn't know how to proceed (without spending a bundle on parts that didn't fix the basic problem).  In the past, every time I did carb tuning it was on something that had been running, but needed tuning after something else on the engine changed - usually something pretty minor.  This went beyond my experience.

What Blackline did for me was two things:  (1.) they made sure I didn't screw anything up when returning the carbs to stock from the horizontal tube debacle (and finished the reversal by removing a couple of lead port plugs I installed as part of the kit) and (2.) set them both up based on the specs of my particular engine; displacement, valve size, intakes, exhaust an, most importantly, what the cam is doing.  That, in itself for someone who never had stock, working carbs in the first place, is priceless, so for the few hundred it cost me to get there it was money well spent.

The rest of this week is supposed to be gorgeous weather and I intend to be out there, in my car, enjoying it!

Oh, and if any of you guys are in the Salt Lake City/Murray, Utah area, please let me know of a really decent restaurant that I can get a gift card from to send to Dave at Blackline.  He deserves it.

I'm glad you solved your problem, Gordon. Really glad. Blackline does good work.

Don't forget to do a high speed synch on those puppies!

But, had you purchased the WIDEBAND O2 sensor, you could have figured it out. 

I figured out a problem with short velocity stacks/CB Jet doctors/falling on it's face at transition with the wideband. The fix? Taller stacks to disconnect the idle air intake from the rush of air going down the throat. Really, fixed like an a switch, from awful to perfect. Because I could see real-time how lean/rich it was in transition, under load.

BTW, Lenny put the horizontal discharge tubes in his Dells this spring, and bought some jets and jet drills and a wideband. Dialed it right in.

Yeah, Pat Downs told me that the “new” horizontal discharge tube kit (as opposed to mine from 1998) is more suited to stock venturiis and seems to work better.  For me, I’ve got this thing running like the proverbial Swiss Watch and am not gonna change anything.

Well, actually, to that point, I thought it was lacking a bit more idle circuit “kick” when you stomp on it and my elCheapo whatever-band gauge was showing me a very slight leaning swing (although way less than what it used to have) so I cranked up the accelerator pump strokes a tad and that gave me perfection - PERFECTION!!!  Dave told me I might have to do that, too.  I suppose the difference was due to the carbs both being originally tuned on a different engine.  That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.  

Now, I can take off gently with zero hesitation whatever, then can accelerate smoothly in any gear with no lag up to where the Mains cut in and the heads really start to flow and then.......  I LOVE IT!!!!!  💕  It is a gentler car to drive but can still take off like a rocket if you really get on it.  Best of both worlds.

Pearl is absolutely fun to drive again!!

I've been in Europe for a bit (still am-- Strasbourg currently) and missed this, @Gordon Nichols. I'm really, really happy it worked out.

A bit of history:

Back in the early 2000s, when Jake Raby was posting on all of the VW forums, he talked about how Art Thraen's shop (ACE) in Salt Lake did all of his carb work. I paid attention, and called Art when a set of AJ Sims Kadrons was kicking my butt back in 2006. At the time, Art was running ACE as well as a thriving HVAC service company at the same time, so he and I had something in common and hit it off. Art politely let me know that Kads weren't really what I wanted, and steered me into a set of "Dave rebuilt" Dellortos from his shop. They were expensive, but I was desperate. When I got them, they were everything Art said they would be. It was the beginning of a great relationship. Art's shop built 3 motors for me, and I stayed in Art's house twice (once in 2012 and once in 2015).

Blackline Racing is owned by a young man named Justin McCallister, who was Art Thraen's chief mechanic at ACE before purchasing Art's business 5 or so year ago. Dave had been Art's carb guy for many years before the sale of the business, and carried on in that capacity after ACE became Blackline Racing. The sale was a win/win for everybody involved. Art is now happily running his HVAC business, Justin is doing what he loves, and Dave is happy as a clam at the carb bench, doing for other people exactly what he did for Gordon.

When I think back on meeting Art-- he probably kept me in the hobby. I was pretty much "over" the whole thing when our paths crossed. Art got me pointed in the right direction, and got me set up with what I needed. From there, I learned a ton about what was going on.

The service isn't cheap, but when you consider how many guys have just thrown in the towel on carbs (never really getting them right), and how many have gotten out of the game altogether-- I think it's worth every penny they get. At this point, I know my way around a set of Dellortos well enough to do pretty much anything I need to do-- but I've still had a couple of sets rebuilt by Dave in the last 5 years, for the same reason I hire out some of the things I can do myself at work-- this is what Blackline does every single day, and they will come back perfect. Sometimes, it just pays to let somebody else do what they do, so I can do what I do, and everybody can earn a living.

I had a bad backfire last year and melted an entire aux. jet on my 1/2 carb. I got all the parts together from several different places in Europe, took the carbs off and sent them to Dave. During the rebuild, he found some slop in the throttle shafts and that the return springs were binding to some extent. I got the new shafts and springs from Italy, and Dave put them together. All of this happened during the heat of summer, when there was no way I could have gotten to it. It was not inexpensive, for sure, but totally worth it.

I feel good about giving money to the good guys in this hobby. Blackline Racing are some of the good guys.

Truly intelligent people realize their limitations. They accept that they don't know everything and surround themselves with or use the services of people who are truly experts in their fields. In business this is a sign of a good boss and in a hobby such as ours can be the difference between a successful experience and giving up and walking away in disgust.

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