Monday, November 21, 2016


My two daughters that still own Corvairs joined me in the driveway Saturday to work on their respective convertibles. About 3 PM, the nice-and-sunny turned into windy-and-more-windy - a cold front swept into our driveway and almost swept away the portable garage and Scarlett’s tarp. In the midst of the gale, the girls soldiered on with their tasks.

Mikhaila was removing broken bits from Scarlett’s left front and cataloguing all the pieces we’ll need to replace. When she finished that, she undid the two bolts holding the trunk-lid latch in place and the turnk was open. She emptied it out and we then worked together to try and push some of the mashed metal back out. I’m not thinking I’ll get away with not replacing large sections of sheetmetal, but I do want to make it easier to cut out the bad and make patches and only with the body in some semblance of straight can that happen. We used the tire jack and an assortment of blocks of wood to push on the front panel. It worked somewhat, but we’ve got a ways to go. After she’d turned into a Popsicle, I released her to go inside and thaw out.

Victoria’s goal was to get Luna running again. She started by installing a pair of recently rebuilt ’68 vintage carburetors including reinstalling the linkage pieces and hooking up the fuel lines. Next, she dropped in and hooked up the battery. Finally, before turning the key, she injected fuel into each carb’s bowl using a syringe. Sadly, when she turned the key, we discovered the battery had gone dead. This is the one that was in Glinda and had gone bad, but I’d recharged it and it seemed to be holding the charge. I was wrong. The plan now is to pull the battery out of Glinda and use it to get Luna running and into the garage.

Friday, November 18, 2016

So Much To Do, So What Do I Do?

There’s a guy here in Maryland who recently posted on Facebook that he’s looking for a daily-driver Corvair. Given all the work ahead of me with Scarlett and, probably, Luna, I’ve been toying with the idea of trading Glinda for something more modern – like a mid-90s MX-6. So, after some thought I messaged him that I’d sell Glinda for $2200. He says he’s interested, but nothing’s happened.

If Glinda didn’t need so many little issues dealt with, I wouldn’t even consider giving her up, but she does, so I am. In addition to the items on the To-Do list (see sidebar), here’s a mostly complete list in no particular order.

Install the Cobalt rear seat

Clean and reinstall the carpet
Fix the courtesy light
Repair and install the GUP driver’s door panel

Replace the rear bumper

Install the GUP steering box
Splice the broken oil pressure gauge tube and replace the ferrule at the rear of the gauge
Remove the heater fan and clean and lube the motor
Replace the package tray cardboard with something that will accommodate speakers
Install a good mount for the racing harness shoulder belts
Bolt down the fourth hole of the each Cobalt front bucket seat
Weld in a new trunk bottom

Rebuild the blinker switch
Plug the smog hole and AT dipstick hole in the engine bay

Replace the gauge panel with a GUP I’ve got from a manual shift car (need to choose 500 or Corsa style)
Replace the hood with a GUP I’ve got

Eradicate rust: rear shock towers, multiple body locations

Paint the car orange

Kinda’ daunting given all my other commitments (put big sad face here). She runs really well right now, so I do love to drive her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Making Moves?

My dad’s been visiting the past few days, and the other day we stood in the garage and discussed my desire to park two Corvairs in the garage and still have enough room to work on both. My mindset was I needed to empty the space of spare parts and little-used tools, but I hadn’t decided where to put these items. The easy answer is haul all the parts to the Corvair Ranch and sell the little-used tools on Craigslist, but that would mean someday having to buy back a head or a sunvisor or a rust-free piece of engine shrouding to deal with a dropped seat or busted stitching or a cancerous piece of sheetmetal respectively. So, getting rid of ALL the parts is not an option, nor is getting rid of the tools I’ve amassed over the years. So, additional options needed to be explored.

My solution to the problem? A grand plan that deserves a flowchart of course (see above). Since both Glinda and Luna are at risk of leaving the fleet, I’ve considered multiple permutations. A little background here since I don’t think I’ve ever gone into detail on the lean-to rear stall I built behind the garage fairly soon after we bought the house. The previous owner had sunk some 6X6 posts into the ground along the back fence, so I finished the project he started by bolting a header along the tops of the posts, nailing up 2X4 rafters and sheathing, followed by underlayment and shingles. Currently, the walls are old Harbor Freight tarps. The following photo was taken before we moved into the house over ten years ago. The red chunk in the photo represents the end view. The enclosure is just large enough to accommodate a ’65 LeMans (17’ by 6’).

In order to execute my grand plan, beyond moving the cars around, I’ll get to cut a doorway in the solid brick wall of the garage; install a decent door and doorframe in the opening; screw plywood to the six-by-sixes to create three solid walls on the rear stall; lay down some flooring (perhaps recycled pavers or gravel); put in a couple light fixtures; and then move the shelves, workbenches, and parts, and nearly all the tools out to the revamped space. The result of all this will be as follows:

My dad attempted to talk me out of my plan with his main concern being my cutting a thirty inch wide by eighty inch tall hole through the foot thick all brick wall. I think he had visions of the roof falling in. His recommendation was to build a platform in one corner of the existing garage and move the parts and any possible tools up on to that. That would, he felt allow me to gain floor space for the two cars with less time and money expended than my grand plan. I wasn’t sold on that idea since I felt the support posts and framing would interfere with the floor space and I wasn’t getting any new area to accommodate a workbench. Also, there’d be a lot of work and hardware to create the platform he had in mind.

So when will I get to this grand project? I have no idea. Even though the new kitchen is basically done, I still have projects in the laundry room and half-bath, not to mention the rowhouse basement. No rest for the weary.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Exhausting Work

Night before last, I finally got some time to work on Glinda’s leaky exhaust. I had thought that the donuts (gaskets) between the exhaust manifolds were the only failed parts in the system, so I backed Glinda up on the ramps to do a remove-and-replace (R&R). After letting the pipes cool down, I unbolted the two manifold flanges and the hanger strap and slid the exhaust assembly out from under the car. The next chore was to clean off the old gaskets which had hardened to into rings of rock. My quarrying tools of choice were hammer, small cold chisel, and a couple screwdrivers. Way too many minutes later most of the old stuff was off and I was able to wirebrush the rest off at the bench grinder. I’d previously purchased a couple new gaskets from Gary the Corvair guru a week ago, so I slipped them on and slid myself and the assembly back under the car and bolted everything back together. With the engine fired up, I immediately noticed I hadn’t solved the entire problem. There was still exhaust escaping someplace other than the tailpipe. I slid under the car again and felt around until I found pulsing hot air from the top side of the joint where the straight pipe goes into the crossover pipe. Out came the assembly again and my MIG welder made molten metal closing up the crack. Sadly, the last extraction broke the rubber piece of the muffler hanger, so I had to R&R with a GNP that I had sitting in a cubbie. Once the assembly was properly bolted into place, the only exit available for the exhaust was outlet of the Flowmaster. The car sounds soooo much nicer now.

One other quick task I did before calling it a night was to get out my Vernier calipers and measure the journals of the crankshaft I’d removed from Corsavert. For the mains, I got 2.0985 for all four. The manual says they’re acceptable between 2.0978 and 2.0988 for #1 and #2 and 2.0983 and 2.0993 for #3 and #4, so I’m good. For the rods, I got a range of 1.798 to 1.800. The manual says they need to be between 1.799 and 1.800, so I’m a thousandth low on two. The reason I did this was I wanted to see if I could buy standard bearings and begin assembling a 140 horsepower engine for Glinda. I think I’ll buy the standards and cross my fingers that my measurements are a hair off. The proof will be when I check the assembly using Plastigauge. That’s more accurate than a Vernier caliper.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Scarlett’s Gonna’ Get Safer

I started this blog post on Tuesday the 27th. Due to a busy schedule I never got farther than the first paragraph. Sadly, the title of this post and the initial paragraph were a bad omen. Here’s that paragraph.

I have been extremely fortunate that none of my daughters (or myself for that matter) have been injured while driving our Corvairs. Glinda has been the only ‘vair we’ve owned that had shoulder belts. Well, that’s gonna’ change. Today, I bought a pair of front bucket seats out of a Chrysler Sebring convertible. I want to make sure that Mikhaila doesn’t hit the steering (or anything else) if she has an accident.

Now jump ahead to last Thursday when, on slick pavement, Mikhaila lost control of Scarlett and drove her into a guardrail. Mikhaila is pretty banged up, but thankfully nothing that won’t heal in a few weeks. Impacts of note were: the right knee to the heater controls resulting in a flap of skin that should have gotten a few stitches, but she refused; her chest and under her chin collided with the steering wheel and left some nasty bruises and painful breathing, but fortunately negative x-rays; and a bump on the back of the head where a speaker flew up and whacked.

Scarlett did not come through the incident nearly as well as Mikhaila. Amazingly, the bumper is basically still in its stock location and the front wheels still point in the same direction, so I was able to hitch the towbar to her front end once I pulled some of the fender away from the right front tire. The flat-tow home from the tow-yard was, thankfully, uneventful.

So, what are we to do? I’ve not been in the mood to evaluate all the damage, but at the very least she’ll need a new front panel (Clark’s doesn’t sell a replacement) and valence ($126 from Clark’s), as well as a right front fender from at least the center of the wheel forward ($110 from Clark’s) and a trunk bottom ($113). A visit to the Corvair Ranch will be required to get a used front panel, wheel-well, and a replacement bumper. Since the steering and alignment seem to be working properly, I’m thinking the damage is just to body panels. Mikhaila and I have a lot of cutting and welding and bodywork in our future before the car is ready for the road again.

And those Sebring seats? They will go in before Mikhaila gets behind the wheel again.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Quick Trip to the Pick-a-Part

Yesterday evening I spent about forty-five minutes in the garage between getting home from work and dinner. Since Glinda is now running on the two racing carbs, I wanted the spark plugs to be clean so I can best determine if the fuel mixture is not too lean or too rich. I pulled all six of plugs and wire brushed them back to silver goodness. The photos below show their condition as they came out of the engine. Plugs 2,4, and 6 are on the side that had the race carb on it for a couple weeks now and they look a little sooty (rich), while the 1, 3, and 5 plugs were on a stock carb and they look like the mixture was pretty close to right on. I’ll drive her a bit and recheck the plugs. I may go to a slightly smaller jet from the #53 that’s in both carbs. With a little time left before dinner, I yanked off the stock throttle linkage assembly and starter the reinsallt of the fancy after-market setup. I didn't complete the project, but it's nearly done.

At lunch today I popped over to Crazy Ray’s to see what was available. I’ve been toying with relocating Glinda’s battery out of the engine bay, so I was looking for a BMW so I could harvest their battery cable. BMW typically puts their battery in the trunk and uses a long, thick cable to get the juice to the fuse panel. Within the first couple minutes of entering the yard, I came upon a 3-series. About a half-hour later I had a cable in my now-filthy hands. My Leatherman’s knock-off did a great job freeing the cable from its German home. I came back to my desk at work and promptly ordered a battery box off Amazon. Now it’s just the effort of the install and I can cross another item off the To-Do list.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nothing to See Here

Victoria has committed to spending at least four hours a week working on her convertible during the Fall and Winter, so the first step was dealing with Luna’s home. Wednesday evening she and I spent an hour or so putting a new cover on the portable garage. It was nice to rip the nasty, worn out one off and expose Luna in all her ignored glory. She’s in need of a good cleaning since the resident cats like to nap on her. The plan is to get her running first so we can drive her between the portable and permanent garages allowing us to do the work in heated comfort but not tying up the heated area when she’s not available. In order to make that happen, I first need to end the carburetor adventure I’ve been on.

That started last night when I successfully got the second modified carb functioning properly on Glinda’s engine, but not without some shenanigans. To catch up: a few weeks back I used the newly modified bases (relocated jets) and tops (vents tubes added) and put together two racing carburetors with GUPs and new gaskets. I bolted them on to Glinda and the left carb flooded – stuck float. I pulled the top, checked the float (it was fine) and needle-and-set (also fine), put it all back together, and re-started the engine. This time there was no flooding, but the left side of the engine was not working right. I swapped back on the previous carb and set the racing carb to the side. Fast forward to last night when I tore down the misbehaving racing carb and blew out all the passages before putting everything back together with new gaskets and installed it onto Glinda’s engine. This time the engine fired up without any gas geysers. I blipped the throttle a few times while looking down the throat of the left carb to see if there was a squirt from the accelerator pump, but there didn't appear to be any. I shut off the engine and tried to blip the throttle again only further this time, but the throttle wouldn’t go past halfway. Irr. I investigated and discovered the linkage rod was hanging up on the tip of the tab that rides on the fast idle cam (see the surfaces indicated by the purple arrows in the above photo; the upper surface is the tab while the lower one is the surface the throttle rod sits against). Off came the carb so I could bend the tab back into place. Once I was convinced it was out of the way, I reinstalled the carb and made sure I could get full throttle travel. I also verified that the accelerator pump was squirting as it should. With those two hurdles crossed, I re-started the engine and happily felt that the engine was finally behaving properly. This was confirmed by both chokes opening simultaneously. I shut off the engine and hooked up the clear tubing to each carb’s vacuum port. With the engine running again, it only took a couple turns of the left carb’s idle speed screw to stop the bubbles from moving in the tube.

By that point, bedtime was fast approaching so I put away the tools, reinstalled the air cleaner, and called it a day.