Thursday, October 16, 2014

Suspicion Confirmed

As most of my free time over the last couple weeks has been devoted to house projects, there hasn’t been much going on in the garage or driveway. However, I was able to spend a couple hours working on Glinda last Sunday. Previously, I’d removed the starter, disconnected clutch, shifter, and throttle linkages, and unbolted the transmission from the cross-member. That left disconnecting the drive axles, strut rods, fuel lines under the car and disconnecting the electrical plugs in the engine bay which I made quick work of. With the transmission and ATV jacks in place, I removed the two nuts at the rear engine mount and lowered the drivetrain down. At that point, I remembered the exhaust system had to be removed, so back up went the jacks, off came the four nuts and muffler hanger and the exhaust from free. With the jacks lowered again, I unscrewed the remaining bolts holding the trans-axle to the bellhousing. With the help of a prybar, I separated the engine from differential and exposed the clutch area. With the pressure plate and clutch disc removed, my suspicion was confirmed – I had left off the ring that was supposed to be under the heads of the flywheel bolts. I grabbed the ring off the workbench, and, with the aid of air tools, had all the clutch parts properly assembled in less than fifteen minutes.

Now all that stands between me and an installable drivetrain is bolting the trans-axle back to the bell housing and helicoiling the stripped transmission hole. Maybe Saturday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Beat Goes On

Sunday afternoon afforded Mikhaila and me the opportunity to spend some quality time tearing apart Scarlett. Per her previous request, we focused on brake disassembly. We were able to safely remove the four brake hoses, all four brake assemblies, the four wheel cylinders, and the master cylinder. I loved her comment about how she was so much dirtier than I was. “It’s because you’re doing all the work,” I replied. We took lots of photos of the brake assemblies as we dismantled them to ensure we got everything put back correctly. My next task is to get the tubing parts to complete the dual master cylinder conversion and to find the wheel cylinder that’s hiding somewhere amongst my GNP stash.

After two hours, the mosquitoes starting biting, so I released her to go inside, and I turned my attention to Glinda. Since I was already dirty and there was a couple hours before dinner, I thought, “what the heck.” After placing her rear up on jackstands high enough to get the tires off the ground, I set the ignition to ON, and shorted the purple starter wire to the positive battery terminal to make the engine spin. As soon as the engine started turning, I heard and felt some clunking that I perceived as coming from the starter/clutch area. After a second or two of slow turning, I decided to pursue investigating that area before starting the engine. I slid under the car and removed the starter and took a series of photos slightly rotating the engine between shots. I didn’t really see anything significant like bits of metal or broken teeth, but I didn’t go more than forty-five degrees or so before moving on.

One issue that I definitely needed to address to rule out as a cause of the banging was the ineffective bolt hole in the front of the transmission. This stripped hole was allowing the drivetrain to shift from its designed orientation. I removed the loose bolt, made a quick trip to Home Depot to buy a replacement bolt one size longer, and then slid back under the car to try out my fix. With the other two bolts still snug, I drove the new screw into the hole. Even though I felt I was engaging more threads than before, the gap failed to close and the bolt failed to tighten.

At this point, I knew the only fix would be to install a helicoil in the failed hole. To prep for that operation, I disconnected the clutch, throttle, and shifter couplings, put the jack in place to support the transmission, and removed the bolts holding the trans to the support. I then lowered the trans to ensure I could get access to the bad hole (which I could). After that I placed the transmission on a jackstand and put all the tools away.

Once I was cleaned up, I went to and placed an order for 3/8-16 helicoil kit. It should arrive in a couple days.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Money Still Being Spent

While I may be ignoring Glinda and her issues, it doesn’t stop me from I was perusing the entries in the CorvairCenter forum when out jumped one entitled, ‘for sale " Pert 2"’ A Pert 2 (actually called a Pertronix Ignitor II) is an electronic ignition module that fits under a stock distributor cap and replaces the points and condenser, and I was going to buy one with THRaF money, but a change in priorities made that $117 purchase unfeasible. Anyway, I clicked on the link and found the seller was only asking $50 for a slightly used one. Cool! I don’t mind used as testified by my Craigslist tendencies. A quick message to the guy, and I was hooked up. I will, however, need to buy a new coil (a Flamethrower 2), but I was going to do that anyway given Glinda’s rough running at higher rpm.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Done With Racecars For a While

Sunday afternoon Mikhaila joined me in the garage for some quality Corvair time with her car. While I returned to Luna her borrowed wheels, Mikhaila continued cleaning Scarlett's (this post marks the date where she agreed to give her car a decent name in place of RedVert) seats. So far it appears the original upholstery will be usable.

Once Luna was down on the ground and the jackstands were available, we put Scarlett up in the air and removed her wheels to give us access to the hub ends of the brake system. I had given Mikhaila options as to where we start first on her car: engine, brakes, bearings, fuel. She chose brakes. We’ll be doing this job in stages with stage 1 being inspection of what’s there. From what we could see, the lines and hoses are actually in pretty good shape, but we’ll be replacing the rubber hoses anyway. To improve access to the rear fittings, we undid the outer ends of the heater ducts. While under the car, I noticed the exhaust pipe has rusted through in one spot, so I decided we should also remove the exhaust system which helped with brake fitting access as well. We sprayed both ends of all four hoses before moving on.

I’m anxious to determine the condition of the engine, so Mikhaila and I went to work prepping the engine for starting. After removing the spark plug leads, we discovered mice had moved heater box insulation to the volume under the Upper Shroud (turkey roaster). That meant that we needed to remove that shroud to clean out all the finned passageways of the heads and jugs.

We accomplished that in surprisingly quick order by removing the alternator (this EM’s been modified), the vacuum balance line between the carburetors, the PCV valve tubing, and all the screws holding the shroud in place. Since the top shroud is sandwiched by the front shroud, the three screws for that piece had to be loosened. With the top now free, we finagled it off the engine. Mikhaila then gave each spark plug a generous shot of penetrating fluid which we decided to let sit and work its magic for a day or so.

Some of the parts Scarlett is missing include the side shrouds. John had allowed me to go through his stash of used parts and I did uncover a side shroud, but it ended up being for a turbo engine, and won’t work for us. The last task for Mikhaila and I before knocking off for the day was to go through my GUPs and see if I had the sheetmetal that Scarlett required. We found side shrouds (with good seals), a rear engine mount cover, and a couple lower shrouds (both with good thermostats). I really need to get rid of all the excess crap I’m keeping on shelves. It makes it very difficult to find the right GUP. Wait, the crap are the GUPs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It Was Fun While It Lasted

My day at the track was fantastic while it lasted. Yesterday morning I pulled into the paddock around 7:30, and, after tightening a wheel bearing nut, got Glinda to pass tech inspection. While waiting for the 8:30 drivers' meeting, I walked over to drool all over a super-cool '68 Model 500 and meet Geoff Flynn and Mike Pietro. I’d been communicating with Geoff on Facebook for the past few weeks following his documenting the work they’d been doing on the car. They, like me, took it to the wire on making some significant modifications to Mike's 27,000 mile, basically original car which they then drove down from Albany, NY for the day. A couple of great guys.

While we were chatting, Smitty Smith walked over to join our conversation. He’s an older gentleman with MANY years of wonderful Corvair experiences. I could stand and listen to his stories for hours, but we were being called over for the driver’s meeting.

I sat down in front of John Egerton, a fast driver with a rare EM racercar. He had to hassle me about “going over to the dark side” (my decision to sell my EM street/track car and focus on racing a LM). After being instructed on how the day would be run, Group A (the non-Corvair cars) racers headed out onto the track for 20 minutes of getting acquainted with the twists and turns of the Thunderbolt circuit. I was in Group C, so I took advantage of the wait by driving around the paddock area to heat up Glinda's transmission. Shifting into first, when she's cold, is almost impossible. I needed to engage third, let the clutch out, and then second and let the clutch out before I could get first gear. Frustrating, but at least all the up- and down-shifts seemed fine between second, third, and fourth.

When I returned to my parking spot, I found my newly arrived neighbors were Brett Aston and his son. I’d met Brett at the 2012 Convention Autocross, where we ran in the same group, so we’d spent a lot of time chatting while waiting for our turns. A really nice guy with the fastest 2-carb ‘vair I’ve seen (I’m sure a good part of that speediness is his skill behind the wheel).

Finally, it was my group's turn to enter the track. I lined up second on the pit lane behind Brett, and, after he was through turn 2, I was waved onto the course. Soon after heading out, raindrops appeared on the windshield, but fortunately it wasn't anything more than a slight drizzle - the track never looked or felt wet. The first two laps were run under yellow flags to keep our speeds down, but after that, they cut us loose. I drove another eight or so laps, braking later and accelerating sooner at each corner. Most of the turns were taken in third gear, while a couple were fast enough that they could taken in fourth. Two annoyances quickly reared their heads. First, hard turning would cause the engine to bog (running only one race-modified carb), and, second, the engine didn't want to pull much higher than about 4500 rpm in third and less in fourth. At the end of the front straightaway, the speedometer's needle was bouncing, but I think I the engine was turning around 4300. That calculates out to about 90 mph.

I actually passed someone on the track – an experience I’m not really used to. Another unusual occurrence for me was that throughout my track time, no one came up behind me.

Way too soon, the black flags came out signaling us to exit the track since our twenty minutes were up. As I coasted into the pit, I heard a racket coming from Glinda’s rear end and saw the tachometer bouncing around. After parking near the truck, I pulled off my helmet, unbuckled my harness, climbed out, and immediately popped the hood of the still-banging engine compartment. Nothing appeared loose, but it was making a metal-hitting-metal sound. As soon as I gave the throttle a little blip, the noise went away immediately only to come back as soon as the rpms dropped back to idle. One of the racers walked by and told me it was just a starved lifter clattering, but I didn't believe him. Brett came over and thought it sounded like a noise his car had made when one of the transmission mounting bolts had come loose. Remembering that one of the three bolts attaching the transmission to the crossmember never really torqued up, I jacked up the right side, lowered it onto a jackstand, and slid under to investigate. Sure enough, the bolt had backed out and there was now an eighth-inch gap. I grabbed a wrench and with only some optimism started tightening the bolt. As soon as the gap started to close, I'd hear a pop and feel the bolt loose its torque - a stripped hole. Brett went through his collection of spare parts, but couldn't find a new bolt. I was sent to the trailer of another racer who, it was thought, would have a helicoil, but he didn't.

Knowing I had to have all four of her wheels spinning to get her home, I made the hard decision to hitch Glinda back up to the truck and go home. I'd been fighting a head cold, and I didn't have a decent camera with me, so I was not enticed to hang around to take any videos or photos. While I was packing, John wandered over to find out what was going on and to share a couple great David and Goliath stories where he and his unsafe-at-any-speed car beat some impressive competition. A nice way to end my time at the track – a reminder that it’s the people, not just the track time that make me enjoy these events so thoroughly.

After a long two-and-a-half hour drive home, I pulled up in front of the house. Later, I unhitched Glinda from the truck and fired up the engine. The noise sounded worse, but I was able to get her backed up the driveway and parked by the garage.

Combining the shifting problems and the noise, I’m more inclined to point my finger at something inside the transmission. I will, though, helicoil the stripped hole and get everything back in line before I go pulling the transmission apart. But NONE of that's going to happen any time soon. I'm done with working on Glinda for the foreseeable future. All my Corvair time is going to be spent working on Mikhaila's car.

Highlights of the day were: spending time with Corvair racers, getting some green flag time while being oblivious to my car’s woes, listening to the awesome-sounding engines as they raced around the track and cruised through the paddock.

It’s All in the Prep

Last Friday night seems like a week ago already; so much has happened since then. I’ll put off my write-up on yesterday’s track event for a second blog post.

Friday evening I had some driveway time available to me, so I took on the task of giving Glinda a tune-up. I’d sprung for the good stuff when I placed my order with Clark’s so I was optimistic that, once done, she’d run smoothly up into the higher revs. The job went surprisingly well. I got the new points and condenser installed without dropping any of the tiny screws – TYL. I got the plugs changed without stripping out any threads - TYL. I got the rotor and cap changed without crossing any wires. With all the new parts in, I adjusted the point gap to an indicated 34 degrees on the dwell-meter and the distributor twisted to an indicated 12 degrees BTDC (before top dead center) on the timing mark. With that done, I cut down and installed the two-and-a-quarter inch tailpipe I’d recently bought. This would ensure that the hot exhaust gasses would exit aft of the car’s body. While I was fitting the pipe, I discovered the bracket I’d clamped to had broken, so I needed to re-clamp – this time grabbing more metal under the clamp.

Saturday, the lovely Loriann posited, “Wider tires means a safer car, right. Well, put the longer studs on.” With that encouragement I dove into the stud replacement project. Starting at Glinda’s right front, I jacked up the right side of the car, supported it on a jackstand, removed the front wheel, followed by the drum, and finally the hub. With a lugnut in place over the end of each stud, I whacked them all out with a hammer and then, using a washer-backed lugnut and my ½ inch impact wrench I pulled each new stud until the knurl was fully seated in the hole. The other front hub went the same way, while the rears had to be done with the hubs still in place.

Once all the studs were in place and the hubs and drums reinstalled, I mounted the IROC wheels and lowered the car back onto the driveway. With some driveway-time still available, I proceeded to install the new throttle linkage kit I bought with THRaF money. It was more of a challenge than I’d anticipated and the end of driveway-time came before it was completely installed. I set the alarm clock for early Sunday morning, and finished the job before the lovely Loriann left the bed.

It took another hour or so that evening to pack parts and supplies in the back of the truck, drive Glinda to the gas station to put fuel in her tank as well as fill two five gallon jugs with hi-test, and, finally, hitch her up to the truck.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Still Trying to Thwart Me at Every Turn

Last evening was supposed to be simple – just bolt on the IROC wheels and take Glinda for a test drive. Instead it ended up being a frustrating evening of Glinda still fighting me on every task.

I should have known that just bolting on cast aluminum wheels in place of stamped steel would not work, but, optimist that I am, I thought the included lug nuts would, like they did on Lucy, accommodate the increased thickness of the wheel. They did not. That left me with a decision; put the stock wheels back on which would, within the next two days, need to be replaced (wouldn’t take them on the track), or remove Luna’s wheels and put them on Glinda as I did when she went to this summer’s convention. The former would require me to buy longer wheel studs, install them into the hubs, and then mount the IROC wheels – all before Monday morning. The latter means I’m good-to-go, just not with the wider, lower-profile tires I’d hoped to go with. Given all the time this project has sucked up, I went with the latter with the option to revert to new studs if time allowed. So an hour later, Luna was up on jackstands, and Glinda was finally wheels down.

At that point, I believed the last required task would be to back the car up on ramps and tighten the stabilizer bar bracket bolts. Sadly, it could not be that easy. Even though I had confirmed a couple times I could shift into all five gears, when it was actually required to happen Glinda said no. I’d pulled forward in the driveway until I was facing Ringo, then when I tried to engage reverse, I got nothing. After ten minutes of struggling, I gave up and got out the jack and jackstands. With Glinda’s rear back up in the air safely on jackstands, I slid underneath and adjusted the shifter by loosening the clamps, slightly rotating the coupler inside the shift rod, and re-tightening the clamps. That did it. With that small adjustment, reverse was available, as were all the four forward gears.

Next, I backed her up on the ramps to do the aforementioned bolt torquing. At this point, since I was already deep into the evening, I decided to quickly deal with adjusting and swapping back on Glinda’s right-side racing carburetor. I pulled the top off the carb, bent the float’s tang so it would shut off the needle-and-seat sooner, and, after removing the borrowed carb, bolted the tweaked one on to the head. Finally it was time for a test drive. It went well, other than the issue with that one carb is still there. I was able to shift through gears, although it will take some practice to always smoothly engage first thru fourth.

Back in the driveway, I added to my euphoria by emptying the rest of the gas jugs’ contents into Glinda’s gas tank and joyfully watched the needle climb towards ½ full when I turned the key to ON.

Being’s it was then nearly bedtime, I called it a day on the high note.

This morning I was on the CorvairCenter forum to find a wheel stud part number (Dorman 610-157), and then on the phone with Napa trying to find twenty of them. I succeeded in that it only took trips to the two nearest stores to round up the four wheels worth.

Regarding the still misbehaving carburetor, I’m going to first install the new plugs, points, rotor, condenser, and cap, and set the dwell and timing before I go any farther. I read somewhere that ninety percent of fuel issues are electrical. If that doesn’t solve the poor acceleration, I’ll try swapping the top from the borrowed carb onto the racing carb and see what happens. If it’s still a fail, I’ll revert back to the borrowed carb even though high-speed turns may cause a partial cut-out.