Tuesday, October 28, 2014

With Thanks to Mikhaila

Sunday should’ve been a work on the bathroom day, but thanks to Mikhaila’s father-daughter project, I went outside to work on cars instead.

She joined me around 1 in the afternoon to work on Scarlett. Since she’d twisted her ankle (Mikhaila, not Scarlett - cars don't have ankles although some have knees), I had to come up with activities that would limit her standing, so I started by taking out the seats, so she could brush, vacuum, and coat the inside floor with POR-15. I decided it would be a while before we’d be able to reinstall so the seats, so a good storage place had to be found. Since I’d planned on reinstalling Glinda’s bench seat, it came off Luna’s engine lid and Scarlett’s seat took its place.

We then pulled Ringo’s battery, dropped it into Scarlett’s engine bay, and hooked it up to the cables so we could determine the state of the electrical system. It was encouraging when the first thing we checked, the ignition switch, resulted in both idiot lights illuminating. The check-out went downhill from there. I had Mikhaila push down on the turn signal stalk – green light on dash, nothing at the front or rear connector, same thing on left turn signaling except no green arrow on the dash. Finally, pulling out the headlight knob provided no electricity to any of the outer connectors. The next step for this will be checking fuses (something we couldn’t do with wet POR-15 on the car floor.

Finally, we oiled the engine. First, though, we removed the distributor after carefully marking it’s location against the engine as well as the location of the rotor. That gave us access to the end of the pump shaft, which she spun clockwise with the drill-mounted special shaft. She kept this up as I slowly rotated the engine through two revolutions. With the distributor back in place, I had her pull the #1 plug and insert the compression tester fitting. Then, with the gauge attached, she energized the starter spinning the engine and causing the needle to rise. We checked all six with the following initial results: one @ 160 psi, three @ 150 psi, one @ 120 psi, and one @ 60 psi). By pumping a little oil in the low cylinder and retesting, we got the gauge needle to point to 80 instead of 60. That gives me some hope this low one will come up after we run the engine a bit. We’ll need to borrow a couple good carbs first but that’ll have to wait until next weekend.

Amongst working on Scarlett, I fiddled with Glinda trying to get her roadworthy again. I pulled back the carpet to find the end of the clutch cable and inserted it back in its place. I hooked up the clutch linkage, fuel lines (with a fresh filter), and battery, and tried to start the engine. The latter activity didn’t go so well as the engine just spun and spun and refused to fire. I pulled out the timing light to check for spark and found there was none. I hooked up the dwell-meter and found there was none. Arghh. After adjusting the dwell, the engine fired right up, but as I revved it, I watched the dwell-meter’s needle jump around – not good. Since this was occurring with the vacuum advance hooked up, I surmised the points’ plate had play in it. Knowing I had the electronic ignition to install which would solve this problem, I didn’t get too upset. On second thought, isn’t this a fairly new points’ plate?

At that point it was time to put the tools away, and call it a day. The only problem was I had a bench seat sitting in the driveway – a bench seat that wouldn’t fit in Glinda while the racing seat was still installed. I lugged the heavy seat into the garage and it’s now sitting on end blocking the path around the back of Scarlett.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wonderful Weekend of Work

It ended be a very car-full weekend for me. Along with changing the oil and filter in the truck and the lovely Loriann’s daily-driver, I got to spend more than three hours of quality time with Mikhaila working on her car Saturday. I had her clean the engine’s sheetmetal pieces; remove the rusted muffler hanger and disassemble it to prep the bracket for painting; clean a set of sparkplugs, gap, and hand-tighten them into the heads; and finish cleaning the seats.

While she was laboring away, I did the minimum repairs necessary to get Ringo roadworthy. I need to take the lovely Loriann’s car off the road to replace a front wheel bearing, so a Corvair must be pressed into daily-driver service. Since Glinda was still many hours of reassembly away from being drivable, Ringo was the best candidate. There were two issues that were keeping him in the driveway – a broken muffler strap and a seized carburetor shaft. I removed his left carb and thoroughly soaked the throttle shaft with penetrating fluid, working the shaft back-and-forth until it moved freely and completely. With the carb bolted back to the head, I went hunting for the replacement strap I’d bought from the Corvair Ranch a couple months back. I could’ve sworn it was in a small box of parts, but after fifteen minutes of fruitless hunting for the package, I decided to check my shelf of GUPs and GNPs, and there it was – in the cubby marked Exhaust. Go figure. I’d actually put it away. A few minutes of fiddling and Ringo’s exhaust system is now properly restrained. Since his starter has been very reluctant of late to function properly, it was quite a surprise when a turn of the ignition key resulted in a spinning engine. It fired up almost immediately and settled into a clanking-filled idle (a lifter bled down). After about fifteen minutes of idling, the noise went away and I took him for a test drive around the neighborhood. It took a few stops before the rust was rubbed off the drums and the brakes stopped grabbing and squeaking. It’s strange to see an EM parked in front of the house – it’s been a very long time.

Sunday it was Glinda’s turn. As I left off in last weekend’s antics, I needed to install a helicoil before reassembly could commence. I cut the new threads using the supplied tap and followed that up with the helicoil twisted in to the prescribed depth. The last step in the repair was knocking off the tang which I accomplished with make-shift punch.

Next, the drivetrain halves (engine & transaxle) had to come together. Amazingly, after installing the input shaft onto the engine, I got the transaxle to slide into place without any problem. The bolts that hold the halves together were then installed and the drivetrain was pushed into position and lifted into place. I had to remove the center rear seal retainer to get the edge of the oil filter housing to clear. It took some jockeying up and down and back and forth, but by lunch I had the back of the engine attached to the rear motor mount.

Next was the front of the drivetrain. The three bolts that hold the transmission to the crossmember went in nicely. I held my breath as I carefully torqued the one bolt into the newly repaired hole, but it pulled the joint together just fine. With the jacks out of the way I moved on to reinstalling the u-joint caps on the differential hubs. Remembering to use the ratcheting strap to pull the wheels together, this task was quickly completed followed by bolting up the brackets at inner ends of the strut rods. That job went quicker than expected, so in not time I was realigning the shifter coupling with the transmission shift shaft. Once centered, I installed the pin, washers, and cotter pin. Next on the list were the throttle linkage pieces. I found the new rubber grommet that I’d bought and popped it into the hole in the transmission pivot plate before poking the ends in and retaining them with the little c-clips (my caution was rewarded by me not having any pop off into oblivion. The clutch linkage assembly was supposed to follow, but, after getting the engine side of the linkage attached, I discovered the pedal end had popped out of place and wasn’t connected to the pedal anymore. That was a show stopped since I’ll have to pullback the carpet, remove the cover, find the end amongst cables and brake lines, and then put back in place. There needs to be a retainer that holds this stupid thing in place if tension is taken off it.

Sliding out from under the car for the umpteenth time, I spent the last half-hour before dinner putting things right in the engine compartment. That included reseating the engine seal; connecting the ground strap, ground cable, and oil pressure switch; putting the fanbelt back on; and installing the air cleaner. All that’s left on the topside is to connect the battery.

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 Amazon.com 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.