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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Love the Smell of Ignition in the Morning

Late last week Glinda became undriveable. The tach needle was jumping around and the engine wouldn’t idle only staying running if I kept the rpms above 2500. I limped her home thinking the issue was with the dying ignition switch. I surmised that the contacts inside the switch were failing and the engine was not getting enough electricity to run properly. The replacement GUP switch from the Corvair Ranch showed up in Saturday’s mail, and I installed it that night. Upon first firing up the engine, it was still running rough – crap, not the switch. I hopped out to look at the engine, but it died before I could get the lid open. I wiggled all the electrical connections that may be causing the issue – nothing appeared amiss. I hopped back behind the wheel and turned the key. A single backfire and the engine was running smoothly again. I took her for a spin around the neighborhood and everything seemed normal.

Yesterday morning I turned my attention to Ringo. I finished sanding the Bondo, blew off all the dust, wiped down the area with cleaner, masked off and shot the entire area with three coats of red sandable primer. I’ll let it cure for a day or so before wet-sanding the primer in preparation for some coats of Black Cherry Pearl.

This morning I grabbed the keys to Glinda, buckled up behind her steering wheel, and turned the key. Her engine reluctantly fired into a stumbling idle – crap. I let the engine warm up a little with my foot finessing the throttle, but to no avail. To determine if it was a carb blockage, I pulled off the air cleaner and peered down the venturis while blipping the throttle – healthy squirts of fuel indicated the issue was ignition. I confirmed that when I fetched the timing light, hooked it up, and cranked the engine – no spark. Off came the distributor cap, rotor, and dust shield exposing the points. Using the remote starter (jumper wire from the purple wire connector to the positive on the battery), I watched the points move, but saw no spark. I was at a fork in the road – either replace the points with an unknown GUP or reinstall the electronic ignition module and coil. I opted for the later. Fifteen minutes or so later, I had everything in place and hooked up. The momentous turn of the key was immediately followed by a smoothly running engine. I let it warm up as I put some of the tools away and then plugged the vacuum line, adjusted the idle speed to around 500 rpm, and checked the timing. It was reading a little above 16 BTDC, so I loosened the distributor’s hold-down nut, bumped it a bit to get to get it to around 15 BTCD, and then tightened the nut. After reconnecting the vacuum advance tube, I set the idle speed to 800 rpm, and shut off the engine. I put away the rest of the tools, washed my hands, and inspected my work clothes to make sure I hadn’t leaned against something untoward (must be why I wear black slacks a lot of the time). When I finally pulled away from the curb, I’d only lost an hour of my day. The drive to work was wonderful with Glinda’s engine pulling strongly in all gears well above 4000 rpm – yes, that’s over 80 mph. Bonus, I can cross an item off the To-Do list.

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Been Way Too Long

Wow, nearly a month since I last posted. Pretty sad. Anyway, what’s been happening? Well, Mikhaila and I are pretty close to dropping Scarlett off the jackstands, Ringo’s had some work done, and Glinda’s been a reliable daily driver.

More specifically, Scarlett has a re-sealed Powerglide, a Safety-taped shifter cable, two borrowed carbs from Ringo (since I’m sure they work), a solid brake pedal, a coated and installed gas tank, a new in-line fuel filter (by the left rear wheel), hooked up throttle linkage, front seat belts, and all four tires bolted on. In addition to coming off the jackstands, all she needs to get out of the garage under her own power is some gas in the tank, ATF in the transmission, and some ignition system adjustment.

I closed off the opening created by the shredding tire with a membrane tape carpenters use to seal around house windows. It has a strong adhesive backing, is plenty tough, and comes in a roll that’s four inches wide. I also applied Bondo to the treated rust-through around the right rear wheel well. I’ve decided that I will spend my car time this winter working on Glinda. With Mikhaila off to college, Scarlett will vacate the garage and Glinda will take her place. My current list of prioritized projects is:
  • Treat body rust appropriately
  • Get replacements for the racing carburetors and install
  • Paint and install the correct dash (no transmission shifter)
  • Replace the ignition switch
  • Tighten up the front steering (maybe replace the box with a quick-steer unit)
  • Weld in floor patches
  • Weld in the trunk bottom
  • Relocate battery
  • Dye the gray racing seat black to match
  • Install both racing seats in place of the front bench
If the kitchen project goes well, I may even prep and paint the car. I’m torn between Summit Racing’s Teal Green Metallic and Bright Aqua Pearl. Then again I may go crazy and shoot the car with Orange Pearl.
Regarding Glinda’s ongoing carburetor saga, she’s still showing far better mileage with the stock carbs, so I’m on the verge of sending the modified ones back for replacement. The next fill-up and spark plug inspection will tell the tale.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Little Electrical

Last evening Mikhaila and I worked on her current daily-driver, Glinda, addressing issues that have nagged this car for many months. First, we tried fixing the current right rear taillight socket, but to no avail. We ended up replacing it with one from my mass of harnesses hanging from a garage rafter. Next, we put a new blade terminal on the end of the ground wire for the left rear side marker. Mikhaila took care of replacing the failed front blinker bulb. Finally, we moved on to adjusting the front headlights. Sadly, the first one we went to adjust broke as I turned the screw. Not having a replacement, we jammed a piece of wood between the bumper and the bottom of that headlight ring which will keep the bulb from flopping. The other side adjusted just fine.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ninety-nine Percent Positive

The other day, as I previously posted, I swapped out Glinda’s modified carburetors for the newly rebuilt ones that were meant for Scarlett. Since that change, she’s been running wonderfully for Mikhaila’s in-town trips. Yesterday morning I couldn’t resist claiming Glinda as my day’s ride. During my brief test drive of a couple weeks back (right after swapping carbs), I could tell that the throttle response was significantly better, but it still a thrill as I headed down the beltway’s on-ramp, transmission in third and pedal to the metal. The tachometer climbed above 4000 rpm with no hesitation and very little needle jiggling. A shift into fourth gear and back to WOT and soon after I was going eighty. What a huge difference. Later that day I pulled into a gas station and put less than seven gallons of high-test into the tank. According to Glinda had averaged over 17 mpg since the carb swap - where she’d been before the swap.

When I got home, I pulled the #1 and #6 plugs and checked them for fouling – nice and clean tip and ground electrode. #1 looked clean all over, while #6 had a little black buildup around the face of the plug body. I didn’t clean them, but put them right back in and will check again after another couple hundred miles. If, after that, the mileage is still good and the plugs are still clean, I’ll be asking the source of the modified carburetors to replace them. I’ll also, at some point, put back the Pertronix Ignitor and coil since they weren’t causing the rough-running.