After the carburetor was back in, and completely hooked up, it was time for the testing and tuning phase of the operation. Whereas before I had to tune the idle speed pretty high to have just a chance to avoid stalling, now it idles at a reasonable speed and gives no sign of stalling.
After a first road test, a little tuning, and a second, longer road test, the engine still hadn't stalled even once. I broke out the carb cleaner, sprayed it all around the carb, and the vacuum hose connections all over the engine. No identifiable change in idle speed. Not only that, but the engine runs smoother and actually quieter (yay!) than it has until now. I tried all the things that used to make the engine stall - gradual braking, braking to a stop or for speed bumps, hard steering while braking at low speeds, letting off the gas suddenly after prolonged higher RPMs while parked, doing any of the above with the A/C on full - and no stalling. Not even a threat of it, where the engine lugs and the voltage light comes on briefly and you have to jab the gas pedal in the nick of time.
Coming back from the second road test after the rebuild, my expression was something like this:
It might sound like no big deal, but this is, to use an over-used expression, a "game changer". Especially if the fuel economy improves as much as I believe it will, now that there are no identifiable vacuum leaks. Of course, this doesn't really help my decision about which car to sell, but it does mean that there's a greater likelihood that either choice would be equally viable. Here's my updated "to do" list:
Cure the stalling problem
- 4-wheel alignment
- flush brake fluid
- interior cleaning
- new gas springs for rear hatch
- replace 4WD actuator
- new under-hood insulation
- fix cruise control
- new paint job
- new audio system