Friday, November 13, 2015

Is It Nearly Thanksgiving Already?

Where does the time go? Two weekends away make for very short weeks. Ringo has been patiently waiting for his turn at daily-driver-ship. This morning that opportunity came and he rewarded my trust with an event-less drive. He’s now been placed in permanent rotation – at least until he finds a new owner. There are still a couple issues I’d like to resolve in the near future. First, the TEMP/PRES light does not illuminate (I’m hoping it’s just a bad bulb). Second, the recently replaced ignition still doesn’t reliably energize the starter. In fact, the last few times I’ve had to use the hotwire in the engine compartment to get the engine going. Fortunately that works every time. I’m not sure if it’s the solenoid since it works if it sees voltage directly from the battery. I measure the voltage at the purple wire connector and got more than 12 volts with no load. I guess I should try and measure voltage when I’m attempting to energize the starter and see if there’s an issue with the replacement ignition switch showing a high resistance.

Glinda is still performing satisfactorily. I put 10 gallons of gas into the tank yesterday and indicated she’d gotten 18 mpg since the last fill up. No long distance trips, hence the drop in mileage from 19+.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ringo’s Ready to Roll

Last Sunday afternoon I took Ringo for spin around the block and found that, once they were bedded in, the new brakes seem to work fine. The tires squealed a little, so I checked the pressures and found the fronts needed a few psi to get them up to 22 (to go with the 32 psi in the rears). I found that the idle speed, once the engine had warmed up, was a bit higher than desired. I popped the engine lid, and noticed the choke on the left carb was binding. I tried adjusting the rusted rod and broke it. Irrr. I’m sure the engine will still start with only one carb being choked, but we’ll see. I then pulled a wheel off Scarlett to temporarily use as Ringo’s spare. After bolting it into its mount in the engine compartment, I shut the lid and moved on to Glinda.

She needed me to fix her wipers. Starting with the easiest thing to do, the first step in troubleshooting was to look at the schematic in the ’68 manual and test the switch. It checked out, so I moved on to the drive end. To access it, I removed the air grill at the base of the windshield which also required me to remove the wiper arms from their shafts. Two loosened nuts after that and I’d disconnected the arm mechanism from the drive. Three Phillips-head screws held the drive assembly to the firewall and they came out easily. Once I removed the two long bolts holding the motor to the rest of the assembly I could tell the bushing at the far end of the motor shaft was not turning freely. Knowing I had a GUP drive assembly on the shelf, I decided to not repair Glinda’s, but bolt in the GUP. Everything went back together easily, and I remembered to adjust the at-rest position of the wiper arms before pushing them down on their splines. Everything now works and Glinda’s daily-driver-ness has been improved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Three Steps Closer to a For Sale Sign

This weekend I was actually able to spend a lot of time working on cars (some Corvairs even) while still completing the major house project I had committed to. Saturday I spent a couple hours redoing Ringo’s rear brakes. This was one of those projects where one thing led to another which led to another. First, as I was disassembling the right rear to install the GUP e-brake cable, I noticed the shoe linings were in pretty rough, cracked shape, so I went to the box of GUP EM brake parts and pulled out two forward and two rear shoes to use. Once I got the right side put back together I moved over to the left. There I found the liners in even worse shape (had it been that long since I’d changed them?). Anyway, I put the parts back together including lubricating and turning down nearly all the way the adjusting wheel. Next, putting the hub on was much more difficult than it should have been. I made a closer inspection to ensure nothing was amiss with my work and I found the rear shoe wouldn’t retract completely to the post. Close inspection showed the one piston was seized in the wheel cylinder. A few persuasive taps with a hammer and the piston retracted and seemed freed up. I completed the brake reassembly, mounted the tires, and dropped his rear off the jackstands. After firing up the engine using the hotwire under the hood, I let the engine warm up thoroughly while I put away tools. Next, I backed him up onto the ramps so I could properly adjust the emergency brake cable length. Once that was done to my satisfaction, I drove him back down, and moved on to the more pressing project of the day – the new kitchen.

The next afternoon I’d promised my buddy, Jonathan, I’d come over to see if we could, together, solve his Corsa’s starting woes. Of late, the engine won’t consistently crank when the key was turned – the starter would spin, but the pinion of the Bendix drive wasn’t always engaging the ring -gear on the pressure plate. Additionally, the last time he’d tried to crank the engine, the solenoid got stuck in the start position and the starter just spun away. The only way to stop it was to disconnect power to the starter. We did a bit of checking of the wiring and everything seemed to be in good stead (12 volts to the purple wire when the key is in the Start position, power to the engine with the key in the On position, etc.). After those checks and reconnecting all the leads, lo-and-behold the starter stopped its incorrect spinning and responded to the turn of the key again. We hadn’t, however, fixed the inconsistent cranking. The engine would only turn on every fifth or so turn of the key, and once it did start cranking it wouldn’t even make it a full revolution before the pinion would pop out of engagement and the starter would uselessly spin freely. Jonathan removed the starter and we connected it directly to the car’s battery and watched the Bendix as I shorted the S terminal to 12V. Strangely, the pinion would pop out upon the starter being energized, but it would not stay in the full out position. After a second or two it would begin to slowly draw back into it’s at rest position even though the starter motor was still spinning away. Hmmm. Bad starter perhaps? He’s going to go get another rebuilt one and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

After returning home, still wearing grungies, I went back to work on Ringo and replaced the balky ignition switch (seemed to be the theme for the day).

The last task for him was to replace the front seat belts. The ones he'd been sporting since Ariel and I put him on the road came out of my LeMans and allowing them to disappear with his sale would no do. The shelf contained a number of replacements, but I chose a set of new (although probably circa 1975), brown ones from Pep Boy's. I'd bought these at part's auction a few years back.

Now Ringo sits at the curb awaiting a round-the-neighborhood test drive and transmission fill before a few days of daily-driving. Once I'm sure the bugs are worked out, the Craigslist ad goes up.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Touring is Fun

It was a beautiful day - great weather, delicious beverages and snacks, and even better conversation with the small group. With only three couples in their Corvairs, changing plans became much easier as the mood stuck us.

The lovely Loriann and I met Tommy and Kathy (also from Baltimore/'63 Monza) amongst the apple trees of Distillery Lane Ciderworks (southwest of Frederick, MD). After purchasing our tasting tickets and snagging our complimentary goblets, we wandered the grounds and made the tough choices as to which of their dozen different drinks to imbibe. Finally, we were out of tickets and it was time to move on to our next destination, Creek's Edge Winery.

An enjoyable drive of roughly a half-hour took us across the Potomac into Loudin County, VA and ended at a rustic barn serving as the Winery's stand-in tasting room for the day (a wedding party had taken over their real tasting room). We were pleasantly surprised to find a live band tuning up as we bellied up to the bar and began tasting a flight of really good wines. After finishing our generous portion of the first on, Rory and Rita (Silver Spring/'66 Corsa) walked up and joined us. They shared the details of their morning's adventuresome trip in a rough-running 'vair. They'd recently took delivery of the first Corvair a few weeks ago and Rory, a capable mechanic, has been learning the nuances of the flat six while fixing the few previous owner screw-ups.

As the band started playing, it became necessary to go outside so we could converse without yelling. Six (or was it seven?) generous glasses later, we all wandered down to the meadow-cum-parking lot where the guys made some adjustments to Rory's car and discovered something else the PO had done wrong (distributor installed a couple teeth off, so the spark plug leads were one contact off). We ended up leaving the distributor alone, but thanks to Tommy bringing a timing light (who knows?) we got that and the idle speed set.

We then had to make a decision as to the next winery. One had three miles of gravel road to traverse while the other had just one. The adventurer in all of us won out and we chose more gravel over less. Another thirty minutes of driving deposited us at the pond-side old home housing the tasting room of Corcoran Winery. We selected a picnic table in the sun where we spent at least an hour eating meat, cheese, and bread while drinking two bottles of their delicious Apple Wine.

All of a sudden it was five o'clock and we realized we still had one more winery to visit. The next one on the agenda was at least a half-hour away - too far. We'd passed another one just a few miles before arriving at Corcoran, and, thanks to a quick check on the internet, we knew that Village Winery would be open until 6, so that's where we headed next.

Our server/entertainer for the next hour was the owner/farmer/winemaker. Bottom line: he was a hoot and an effective salesman since that was the only place Loriann and I spent more than the price of the tasting. Especially good were his non-alcoholic drinks made from Elderberry and Chokeberry and a new salad dressing he came up with that will be at your local Panera any day now.

Friday, October 2, 2015

When It Rains, Blah, Blah, Blah

When it rains and you’re driving a nearly fifty year old car, chances are good the wipers will stop working. That happened to me today as I was running some lunchtime errands. Something to add to Glinda’s to-do list.

The GUP parking brake cable for Ringo showed up in yesterday’s mail with an added surprise. I’d asked Jeff (Corvair Ranch proprietor) if he happened to have an EM convertible rear window lying around gathering dust. He thought he had, and lo and behold it was also packed in the box. Now Mikhaila and I have all the parts necessary to get Scarlett on the road.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm So Sorry Ariel

Had a nice time Sunday afternoon working on Ringo. I was able to get the engine to start by hotwiring to the purple solenoid wire, but not with the key. Looks like a replacement ignition switch in on hit to-do list. With the engine stuttering along, I put the hand over each carb. The right one behaved properly basically killing the engine by starving it for air, but the left one just made a hissing noise when blocked - a bad vacuum leak. I pulled off the carb and put on a new base gasket, bolted it back on, and refired the engine – no change. I looked and felt carefully around the carb’s mounting area. My fingers and ears told me the leak was between the carb base and top. Remember these carbs were the ones Mikhaila and I hastily rebuilt when Ringo’s original pair were swapped onto Scarlett in anticipation of the “great starting” that never happened. Off came both carburetors and put back in place were Ringo’s original pair. After a few seconds of cranking to fill the bowls with fuel, the engine started up and settled into a nice, smooth, but somewhat high idle. After warming up, the idle still wouldn’t come down until I cleaned the throttle shaft of the right carb which allowed it to close fully and drop the rpm down into the 1000 range with the transmission in Neutral.

I then settled behind the steering wheel, made sure I had a good brake pedal, and dropped the trans lever into D. A few maneuvers to get the car away from the fence, and I pulled the parking brake to keep him from rolling. Much to my frustration the handle pulled much farther that it should and brakes were never applied – broken cable. Irr.

Ringo’s driver’s door has been stuck shut since about a month or so before Ariel stopped driving the car, so that was the next focus of my attention. While still sitting in the driver’s seat, I pulled back on the inside lever hard and slammed my shoulder into the door – lo and behold it popped open. TYL. I got out of the car and looked closely at the engagement of the latch to striker plate – the striker plate was obviously too low. Loosening the three Phillip’s head retaining screws allowed me to slide the latch up. I tightened the screws and attempted to close the door – it wouldn’t fully latch. Moving the plate out about a quarter of an inch did the trick though. Now the door latches nicely with the expected amount of closing force. I feel SO badly that Ariel struggled with this door for far too long. I know I adjusted the plate when the problem first arose, but was never able to get it into a spot where a normal closing force would get it to fully latch – she really had to slam it to get it to fully close. Now it’s fixed – just a few months late.

Back to the brakes. To check out the issue, I backed the rear of the car up on the ramps and blocked the wheels to keep it there. I slid under and immediately found the cross-cable was much longer than it should be. The cable had broken near the right rear wheel, and the only way to replace it is to disassemble both rear brake assemblies which I started to do with the right side.

Running out of time, I needed to take apart the racing carbs so the bases could be sent back to the guy that modified them for replacement. Once the bases were completely bare, I closed up the garage and called it a day.

I called Jeff at the Corvair Ranch and I should see a GUP cable assembly by the weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Okay, I’ll Break The Silence

By my lack of posts over the last few weeks, one can surmise not much is going on with the fleet. Glinda is still reliably motoring down the road getting her 17.5 mpg as my mostly daily-driver. The guy that modified the racing carburetors for me has agreed to exchange the bases of these apparently faulty ones for new modified ones at no charge, but I still need to tear down the ones I’ve got and ship them off to him before new bases will be sent to me. Today I scored two nearly new bucket seats out of Chevy Cobalt. I’d been watching for these during my sporadic visits to Crazy Ray’s and today I found them. The serendipitous part of this find was that someone had recently removed them from the car and just left them sitting on the ground. It was like I’d called ahead and ordered them. While these seats are not as form-fitting as the racing seats I’ve got, they are much more comfortable and far more practical for a daily-driver. Now I’ll sell the two racing seats and hopefully make back most of the $65 I just spent. Permanently installing these two buckets is already on this winter’s to-do list.

Ringo has gotten some attention too. I’ve sanded the Bondo and applied a few coats of sandable primer. I’ve remounted the right rear wheel and attempted to start the car. Even though the batter shows a good voltage, he won’t crank. I need to clean the terminals before he can be fired up. Last Sunday I hosted an informal gathering of Corvairs. I’d been e-mailing and talking with two new owners and invited them to stop by Sunday after lunch. I also sent out a group e-mail to all the Baltimore club members as well as a Facebook invite. The two new owners showed up (one brought along his enthusiastic wife) and one of the Baltimore owners joined us. We had a great time looking over cars, talking about Corvairs, and getting to know each other.

This gathering (even with its lack of Baltimorean attendance) has prompted me to organize a driving tour for next month. I’ve mapped out a convoluted route on country roads between a Maryland cidery (just south of Frederick), and three northern Virginia wineries. In addition to inviting the Baltimore folks, I’m going to put out the word to the Northern Virginia Corvair Club to see if some of them want to join in.