Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Entire Fleet Is Grounded Until Further Notice

For the first time since November 27, 2005 no member of my family is relying upon a Corvair for transportation. Let me repeat that. The run of over eight years where I HAD to have at least one Corvair roadworthy has come to an end. See the Car Status sidebar.

About a month ago, I told Ariel that Ringo was not roadworthy anymore. She was granted temporary usage of the truck, while I pressed Glinda back into daily-driver duty. Two weeks later Ariel bought a Honda CR-V. Her life has already dramatically changed – no more “creepy, old guys” approaching her at gas stations; no more people yelling at her at stoplights about their mom owning one of those; and, most importantly, no more dreading the impending (and inevitable) Baltimore Beltway breakdown.

While it was nice to experience normal throttle performance again, Glinda’s failing transmission was utterly annoying. Left-hand turns of any magnitude prompted a downshift. This was really upsetting when I was doing 50 on an offramp. It got to the point where I had to pop the shifter into Neutral before coasting through and then put it back into Drive once we were straightened out.

With all four members of the fleet congregated in my garage and driveway, it’ll be interesting to see which one will be first to make its way back onto the road.

Coincident to the V8 Corvair e-mail, I also received the announcement of an upcoming track day. This one just two hours away at the New Jersey Motorsport Park. All (and I emphasize “all” in a significantly sarcastic way) I need to do before then is finish Glinda’s 4-speed swap and get a helmet. I have all the way until September 8 to do what needs to be done.

Speaking of the V8 Corvair e-mail, I received a follow-up e-mail, so I’m convinced it’s not a hoax. However, while the seller said things like, “I don't expect anywhere near my original purchase price” and “LET’S TALK,” I can’t believe he’ll entertain the kind of offer my savings and the lovely Loriann would allow. Also, buying it would necessitate selling Glinda, and she needs work before that can happen. Oh well, time will tell.

Probably a Hoax Not A Hoax

I received two intriguing e-mails late last night offering to sell me a ’66 V8 Corvair. Here’s the body of the ad:


In both cases the sender went on to include a phone number and a reply-to e-mail address – the same in each e-mail.

Initially, I was skeptical of them, but some sleuthing this morning has given me some hope that it’s on the up-and-up. A few Google searches on the e-mail addresses and sender’s names turned up that sender #1 was, indeed from Parkville. So, I replied to the included e-mail address and am now waiting for a response.

Regardless, the words, “WELL DONE” and “VERY FAST” indicate to me that this vehicle will be out of my price range unless the seller really wants to sacrifice $$$ to ‘KEEP IT INT THE “FAMILY”’.

The following photo is one I pulled off the web just to illustrate the insanity of how close a V8 ‘vair’s engine is to the driver.

UPDATE: I just received the following e-mail:

I will try to get some pictures sent to you sometime today; this was a spur of the moment decision. I paid $8500 for the car several years ago, and had it shipped here from Texas. It was basically a shell and a motor. I spent a lot of time getting it "street" legal. Except for the 302 Z-28 motor in the back seat area, and the Chevy 14" rallys it looks stock. Sounds good too. It's silver with stock black interior. It has a stock am/fm radio, and optional stereo multiplex these I did not get around to testing or wiring up, a stock Corsa dash and glove box with original paint. I also have a complete telescoping steering column and steering box, I did not get around to installing. It has drum brakes, I have the disc brake conversion brackets. The radiator is under the rear deck lid with two puller fans, I don't care for the front mounted Kelmark version. I have a lot of other parts and a whole bunch of literature, everything I have will go with car. As far as price goes, I don't expect anywhere near my original purchase price. So I say, LETS TALK. Feel free to call me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Two-and-a-Half Hours to Fix a Switch

Actually, it only took a half-hour to fix switch, but it took two hours to finally decide that that was the problem, remove it, and then reinstall it after the rebuild. When both the gas gauge and the wiper stopped working, I jumped to the conclusion that GM’s construction of the switch uses a pot-metal (soft) housing retaining the plastic, copper, and steel of the switch’s internals, contacts, and connectors. The basic function of the switch is to connect combinations of blade connectors to the housing, and, thus, to ground. This completes different 12 volt circuits running through the wiper motor causing it to spin slow or fast. As I posted before, when I was installing the clutch pedal, I had to undo all the wire bundles under the dash. I surmise, then, that I yanked on the wires going to the switch, causing the contact-to-housing connection to fail. I ended up removing the switch from the dash, disassembling it, cleaning the contacts, coating them with di-electric grease, stacking all the pieces back into the housing, and then crimping the housing to the insulator making sure I caused the housing to touch the correct contacts within the switch.

With the switch back in place and the wipers wiping again, I turned my attention to the other dash-mounted failure – the gas gauge. I removed the screws retaining the heater controls and pulled it out of the way to give me access to the back side of the gauge. I then pulled off the connector, turned the key to ON, and measured the voltage at the tan wire – 12.4 V which just happens to be the reading on the voltmeter that’s bolted under the dash. Therefore, the sender is still connected to the gauge, but providing no resistance to the electron flow, indicating – to me – the float is on the bottom of the tank even though the tank is full of gas.

Given all the time I wasted on these two projects, I didn’t have time to do anything more on the car that evening.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


The lovely Loriann’s daily-driver had a breakdown the other day, so while I wait for parts, she’s driving the truck, and I’m behind the wheel of Glinda. Swapping the right-side carb from Ringo onto Glinda (replacing the one with a noticeably higher fuel level) has pretty much erased the quick-throttle bogging issue. With that problem solved, it’s been difficult not to use the loud pedal more exuberantly. With that, I’m not sure I’m doing my fuel mileage test any good.

It appears that I’ve messed up the grounding of the dashboard when I was installing the new clutch and brake pedals. I first noticed that the wiper switch wasn’t working, and then the fuel gauge is now stuck on E. Monday evening I tried finding the disconnected, wayward wire, but struck out. After some web research, I found the ground strap in an assembly diagram, so that’ll be my next inspection point.

Of course it could also be a coincidental failure of both items, but I deeply doubt it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ringo’s In Rough Shape

Sadly, the tire un-treading incident has left Ringo in a bad way. I’ll take and post some photos in the near future, but the list of bent and busted sheet-metal include: wheel well (some actually torn out and missing, lower back edge of rear fender, wheel opening trim, spare tire shelf, and muffler hanger. These, by themselves, don’t render Ringo un-roadworthy, but added to the other items of issue (driver’s door won’t open, starter won’t energize reliably), and he needs some serious attention before I can let Ariel drive him again. So, for now, he’s taking up driveway space.

Saturday, on the suggestion of a Facebook friend, I drug a bag of tools out to the curb to inspect Glinda’s carburetors. I pulled the lids off both carbs and compared the float fuel levels. The one on the right was noticeably higher (by at least a quarter of an inch), so I removed the pin that holds the float so I could see if the float had some fuel in it. It was dry. While reassembling the float to the lid, I clumsily dropped the small spring onto the pavement. As it fell, I carefully watched its trajectory, but, hitting my foot, it bounced under the car and promptly disappeared from the face of the planet. I crawled around and searched for five minutes, but to no avail – the tiny, gray piece of metal was nowhere to be found. It’s not the end of the world, I thought, since I’m sure I can pull another one from my can of carb parts. Another five minutes was wasted pawing through linkages, clips, floats, springs, and screws without spying a single helper spring. Argh.

At this point I now had an unusable carburetor. Knowing that Ringo’s carbs worked fine, I decided to pull his right-side one and use it in place of the one I’d just screwed up. I started her up to let her get warm and have the carb chokes open. In the meantime, I installed one of the carbs Mikhaila and I had rebuilt for TwoTone onto Ringo’s open intake flange. Back to Glinda, I shut off the engine, connected my clear plastic tubing (with a couple tablespoons of oil in it) to the vacuum ports, and restarted the engine. Three turns of the left carb’s adjustable linkage and the two side were back in balance.

Now I just need to fill the tank with gas and drive her for a bit to see if I’ve affected fuel mileage.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Could’ve Happened to Any Car

Yesterday evening I got a call from Ariel – yes, that kind of call. She was sitting on the side of the beltway since her car was “making terrible noises above 40 mph.” When the noises first started, she immediately pulled over, got out, and checked to make sure all the tires were okay (they appeared fine), and then checked the oil and transmission fluid (both above the ADD mark). At that point she then decided she wouldn’t drive Ringo any farther. Victoria just happened to be close by and getting off work at the time, so she was able to come pick her up. After dinner Ariel and I went back to the car with the truck and tow gear, and I looked everything over and nothing appeared amiss. Since the Baltimore beltway is no place to diagnose a car issue, we hitched Ringo up to the truck and began the trip home. About four miles after setting off, we started here some really nasty banging noises coming from behind us. I immediately pulled over and Ariel jumped out to see what was going on. She discovered the right rear tire was now missing most of its tread. We did a quick tire change (fortunately the spare was in good shape and had air) and were home twenty minutes later. I like the easy ones.

However, I wasn't to get off that easily. As she drove away, I noticed that Ringo's right taillight is not working (nor is his right brake light). I'm thinking the grounding wire has failed. I texted Ariel later in the evening that she needed to come by the house the next evening so I could fix that problem and keep her from getting a ticket.

Needless to say, that sucked up my evening, so I didn't get to do any fuel issue sleuthing on Glinda. Maybe tonight.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Am So Frustrated

All is not rosey with the fleet right now. No work has commenced on RedVert, Victoria is uninspired to work on Luna, Glinda’s fuel mileage woes continue, and Ariel just reported that Ringo’s driver’s door won’t open. Argh!

As mentioned, Glinda’s mileage keeps dropping (we’re down to less than 11 mpg), but I still can’t find why. While it does look (slightly sooty tail pipe) and smell like her engine is running rich, I find it hard to believe that the #52 jets are responsible. These are the same jets that, on the stock carburetors, gave nearly 20 mpg, but on these rebuilt ’66 vintage carbs the mileage keeps dropping. It’s that last bit of information that makes me believe something is leaking and the leak is getting worse. I need to find the source of that leak and fix it. Regardless, I still need to swap in the smaller #51 jets I got from the Corvair Ranch to treat the bogging under quick throttle issue.

It appears I’ll be buying a used door latch from the Ranch and installing it in Ringo’s inoperable door. That won’t be fun. At least it failed in the closed position. Ariel says she’ll finally be a serious car shopper come early July.