Thursday, March 19, 2015

Glinda’s Back on the Road

For a few days, spring had sprung here in Maryland. A couple steady rains had washed the corrosive chemical down the storm-drains and into the bay (don’t get me started), so it was safe to bring out Glinda and her un-galvanized body. I had decided last fall that I was done with unnecessarily creating corroded metal projects, so Glinda spent the snowy months under a big tarp. Last Sunday I pulled the tarp off and fired up her engine. It took a few seconds of cranking to re-fill the carburetor bowls, but she finally rumbled to life and settled into a nice, throaty idle (I really love the Flowmaster muffler).

It wasn’t until today, though, that I drove her to work. She behaved fairly well. There’s still some hesitation and bucking at higher rpm, so I’ll be tearing down the carbs for a thorough cleaning. I got a bit of a scare when doing a full throttle test and I thought the throttle was stuck in the full-open position. I need to check and make sure that all is well before I try another pedal-to-the-metal maneuver.

The voltmeter is still reading above 15 most of the time, so I ordered a replacement that, once installed, should prevent the alternator from burning up the battery. While the wallet was open, I also ordered a new set of spark plug leads for Scarlett. I was tempted to buy a battery box in hopes that it would motivate me to weld in Glinda’s replacement trunk floor and do the battery relocation, but I held off since the chances of me finding the time for an unnecessary project are slim to none.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Had a Dream

It must’ve been the recent purchase of a VERY nice car for the lovely Loriann – a ’10 Dodge Challenger R/T – that caused me to have an extraordinary dream. No, not the kind of dream MLK had, but the kind of dream one has in their sleep. The kind of dream we have no control over. In this dream, the fleet was gone, and all we were left with was the Challenger and the LeMans (fully restored, of course – it wasn’t a nightmare). The driveway was empty providing an unencumbered path to the garage, and the garage was cleared of all spare ‘vair parts and tools so we could – and this is what made the dream unbelievable – park both our daily-drivers inside. This has never happened to us before. There’s always been at least one old car in the family, and not since living in Pittsburgh an eternity ago has a daily-driver had the luxury of enclosed parking.

Sadly, it was just a dream, and my barely-a-two-car garage is still filled with Scarlett and car stuff, while the driveway is looks like the beltway at rush-hour. Do I see a day when our home only accommodates two cars? Doubtful, especially if the trend of the last few years continues. The graph below tracks our car ownership starting with our first year of wedded bliss. I guess it’s expected that the number of cars would rise as our fleet of daughters reach driving age. The scary thing is we can’t seem to stem the tide of a growing fleet of Corvairs, even after the eldest had me sell Heidi. If this trend of expansion continues, we’ll gain another Corvair by the end of next year and add a sixth by 2019. In other words, the trendline must make a turn down immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The List Dwindles

Bundled for the cold, Mikhaila and I went out to the garage yesterday afternoon for a couple hours of quality Scarlett time. I’d purchased all the parts I thought would be necessary to get us to the brakes-are-done point, so we voraciously attacked that project. We bent the new front left brake line to match the old one and routed – Mikhaila on her back under the car and me jumping between right front wheelwell and under the dash. Next we bent and installed the left front followed by finding and popping in the grommets. Sadly, one has gone missing, but I’m hoping I’ve got a GUP sitting in box A4 (see previous post on inventorying). After bench-bleeding the new dual master cylinder, we bolted it to the firewall and moved on routing the last two brake lines. Since the threaded holes in the side of the master cylinder were larger than the stock lines, I’d bought adapters. The thickness of the rear adapter (for the front lines) forced us to re-bend the end of the existing brake line, and then, once it was lined up, we discovered I’d bought the wrong adapter. So, we moved on to the new line connecting the front port of the master cylinder to the existing brake line fitting under the dash. We carefully located and drilled a new hole, ran the grommet over the brake line and stuffed one end of the tube through the hole. After popping the grommet into place, bending a generous U in the tube, and screwing it into the adapter on the master cylinder, we climbed under the dash again and found the tube I’d bought wasn’t long enough to make the bends to connect to the rear line. Now I have two reasons to go back to Napa. Hitting that dead-end forced us to move on to other endeavors. I decided it was a good time to make a list of the minimum amount of work necessary to get the car on the road. We came up with the following list:
  • Buy brake line fittings, short brake line, and replacement lightbulbs.
  • Bend and install brake line and install the fitting.
  • Install seat
  • Bleed brakes
  • Buy spark plug leads
  • Take muffler and pipe to muffler shop
  • Install exhaust system and spark plug leads
  • Check fluids
  • Borrow battery
  • Start and run engine
  • Check transmission
  • Check compression
  • Scrape paint off windows
  • Check lights
The sooner we can get Scarlett on the road, the better for our attitudes.

With the garage finally warm and some time before dinner, we decided to continue working. The easiest task to cross off our list, we felt, was checking the lights. I grabbed my 12V transformer and we hooked it up to the battery cable ends. I had Mikhaila turn the key, but instead of seeing idiot lights illuminated on the dash, we saw and smelled smoked coming from the transformer. The + and – terminals are unmarked on the transformer, and when I’d recently put new leads on, I'd gotten them backwards. It was toast – literally. Taking that as a sign, we shut off the heaters, turned off the lights, and locked the door as we headed back to the house.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It Had Been Too Long

Even though the garage was at least ten degrees colder than the outside temperature yesterday, I didn’t hesitate to fire up the kerosene heaters to make it tolerable. After an hour or so, I ventured out to work on Scarlett. Mikhaila wasn’t feeling well, so I was on my own. That meant I pick tasks carefully – try to finish off jobs she’d find very uninteresting. I started by putting the drums back on all four corners – wheels and tires won’t be far behind. Next, I rummaged through my collection of fanbelt idler pulleys, selected the smoothest spinning (but not too freely) one and mounted it to the engine with a new fanbelt. I then hooked up the temporary input fuel line (the one with the rubber hose on the end to feed into a gas container) to the fuel pump. Once we get a new set of plug leads and bolt on an exhaust system, the engine will be ready to start. Speaking of exhaust system, I removed her muffler from the broken exhaust pipe, pulled a GUP pipe from the rafters, and then spent the next half-hour cleaning old exhaust packing off the two flanges. I still need to take the pipe to a muffler shop and have them expand the clamp depression out of it.

Other than hacking away at solidified exhaust donuts, the other time consuming project was attacking the whole brake routing thing. I measured all the fittings and discovered the parts Clark's had sent me were not going to work. The master cylinder has two different diameter holes for the front and rear circuits. The existing line that goes from the master cylinder to the T-block that feeds the front two wheels is smaller than its associated master cylinder holes, so I'll need a reducer for that one since the one Clark's sent is too small for the master cylinder. Then, the line that feeds the rear wheels is smaller than the coupling Clark's sent, so I'll need a new coupling as well as a reducer for the master cylinder. I wrote everything down and will spend some quality time at the local NAPA to get the parts needed.

Other than general straightening up, the only other task I undertook was installing a vertical magazine rack. It was very difficult finding an open spot on the wall, so I ended up rearranging my pegboard to make room. With it hanging, I filled each slot with manuals and catalogs. This freed up room on a shelf that I quickly filled some stuff that had been sitting on the floor.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Day of Waste and a Day of Headway

Last week I e-mailed a response to a Craigslist seller of Corvair bumpers. The body of my e-mail made an offer and told the seller I could drive up Saturday morning to get the two items. His short reply on Thursday was, “Sure, that’s fine.” My immediate response back was a request for an address and a phone number. Friday came and went and no reply, so I sent another e-mail. Saturday morning the lovely Loriann, Mikhaila, Victoria, and I decided to head north even though I still hadn’t received confirmation for pick up that day. I had my Blackberry, so while I waited we shopped (not for car parts) and took in some Lancaster-area attractions. By 4 that afternoon, there was still nothing, so we headed back home bumper-less. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon the guy finally checked his e-mail and replied. I guess all the optimism in the world won’t trigger someone to respond to an e-mail. While he’s still holding the good price, I’m not sure I’m willing to blow off another day driving up into PA to fetch them. We’ll see what happens with the rest of this month.

On the headway-front, Mikhaila and I spent a fruitful couple of hours in the garage Sunday afternoon. She applied POR-15 to Scarlett’s underside and to a few of her own body parts. Hard to believe she was able to spread it so far since she was covered head-to-toe. While she was spreading paint, I was readying the engine for starting. I bolted on two carburetors with fresh gaskets, found the best gas lines in my stash and installed them to the new-looking fuel pump. Wanting to save some tasks for Mikhaila to accomplish, I diverted my attention to the brakes. I installed the two new rear brake lines and screwed in the tube fittings coming from the front of the car. We’ve still got a ways to go with brake system including bolting in the dual master cylinder new lines up front.

Once Mikhaila was up from under the car, I had her help me install the alternator (yes, Scarlett has been converted from generator to alternator). Next we were going to put on the fanbelt, but I vetoed that due to a dry-feeling bearing in the idler pulley. I know I’ve got a few spares in much better shape, so we’ll catch that next time. The last item before we fire up the engine is a new set of spark plug leads. I’ll be ordering these from Silicone Wire Systems, but I need Mikhaila to pick out a color first.

I just noticed I've now had over 75,000 hits on my blog. Cool!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Hate When This Happens

The “this” I’m referring to is not having the right part at the right time. Sadly, Mikhaila and I had last night’s brake work stopped by not having the right brake hose. I am, however, getting ahead of myself.

Back up to Saturday. I started the sunny day by placing portable heaters in the salons of both Ringo and Glinda in hopes of drying out any dampness that may have leaked in from melting snow and pelting rain. This was in preparation for enclosing both cars in tarps. Since Glinda’s carpet was quite waterlogged, only Ringo was dried out by afternoon’s end. With a Sunday filled with rain predicted and daylight quickly fading, I went ahead and encased both cars in Harbor Freight’s finest silver tarp-age. While I removed the heater from Ringo, I kept it going in Glinda.

Also, during the afternoon, I took advantage of the Glinda’s now toasty interior to do more repairs to the headliner and sun-visors. Black thread and a curved upholstery needs were my tools to replace the failed seams.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I burned a bunch of kerosene while spending most of the afternoon and part of the evening in the garage working on and around Scarlett. The list of tasks accomplished includes: removing both front brake lines for replacement, grinding down the new wheel cylinder so it didn’t interfere with the drum, installed the new brake hoses with the copper washers, swapped out the old left rear axle for the newly greased one (the one with all the parts), and raising the car up a few notches on each jackstand.

After dinner, Mikhaila joined me and we reassembled both rear brake assemblies. When we went to install the hoses, I discovered that I was in possession of two LM rear hoses instead of EM ones. Not sure how it happened, but back in August of 2013 Clark’s shipped me C332 even though I have C331R in my spreadsheet. This morning I was on the phone with them ordering the right parts. At some point, both Glinda and Luna will be getting new rear brake hoses.

Before calling it a day, Mikhaila and I measured the two brake lines, so I could buy replacements. We got about 29 inches for the left side and nearly 50 for the right.

Monday, January 12, 2015

More Thinning

No, I’m not talking about the top of my head. I’m talking about Corvair parts I’ll never use. Yesterday, bundled against the cold, I tackled the task of replacing the cover on Luna’s home (the temporary garage). I started by removing the tarp I’d tied to cover all the holes in the roof. Then I pulled off the front and rear tarp pieces. Finally, I took off the top in pieces as just pulling on it caused the aged material to disintegrate.

With no walls it was easy to drag out parts and pieces that had been in storage. To facilitate installing the new pieces, I moved much of the contents out from under the frame and into the driveway. It took some fiddling, but I got the new cover installed in a little over an hour. I made sure I didn’t make the restraints tight since I believe the initial installation was too snug and contributed to the early failure of the top where it rubbed on the frame. If I could easily slide a hand between tarp and rail, I called it good.

With the garage enclosed again, I picked though the stuff in the driveway and chose what would stay and what had to go. The two 140 HP engine block assemblies stayed, as did the tub with the 140 heads and the one with the parts I’d gleaned from the 140 engine that was in Phil’s Corsa convertible I parted out. Also staying are a ‘64 Powerglide and mating differential (in case there’s an issue with Scarlett’s), the manual transmission out of the aforementioned Corsa, manual transmission bellhousings (one EM and one LM), Heidi’s original engine block/crankshaft/bellhousing assy (I should make that into a piece of art someday), some piston/rod assemblies and cylinders, body portions to patch Luna’s holes, Scarlett’s set of wheels, and one torque converter with a nice, barely worn ring gear. Moved to the back garage were a spare engine lid and hood (to use for patching holes). That which was left was loaded into the truck for a trip to recycler were four torque converters, two powerglides, a couple automatic bellhousings, a non-posi differential, and the old garage tarp pieces.

Sunday wasn’t the only car day of the weekend. I spent part of Saturday at my buddy Jonathan’s garage. He’d done some significant work on his Corsa’s engine by installing a trick cooling fan setup (based on a vertical Porsche unit) and an upgraded oil system. With all that done, however, he was unable to get the engine to start. The first thing I noticed after I was done oohing and aahing over the new stuff was the spark plug leads were installed wrong. I had him turn the engine to top dead center to verify that they were off by one post. I did a quick inspect of the cap and it looked very used up, as did the rotor, so Jonathan pulled nice ones off his shelf of parts and they were pressed into service. With the leads properly placed, I had him crank the engine - still no firing. I hooked up an inductive timing light and asked him to crank again - there was no spark going to the plugs. Further sleuthing using a voltmeter and the wiring diagram for his electronic ignition module revealed it wasn’t getting the right voltage. We hooked up a wire bypassing the resistance portion of the ignition wire and the engine fired right up, albeit at quite a high idle. Thinking the timing was too advanced, I turned the distributor clockwise and got the engine to slow down, but also causing backfiring through the carbs. Jonathan then discovered some binding in the throttle linkage, so he disconnected the carbs from the linkage and the engine settled into a nice thousand rpm idle. I aimed the timing light’s beam at the harmonic balancer and found the engine to be a little too retarded (is it still politically correct to use that term?). A slight adjustment and the line and the 16 degree BTDC mark were aligned. That’s a little more advanced than stock, but his engine is far from stock. Also, since it was idling at 1000 rpm, the centrifugal advance is probably doing its thing, albeit slightly. He’ll do the final timing adjustments using the twist-it-till-it-pings method. I tightened the hold-down nut, and we moved on to putting his multi-spark unit back into the ignition system. With the wires all in place per the Crane diagram, we tried starting the engine – nothing. The timing light confirmed a lack of spark again. We spent a while double-checking all the wiring and concluded the box must be bad. We put the wiring back the way it was when the engine ran and it started right up again. He’ll be in touch with the Crane folks to see what to check next.