Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Little Progress is Still Progress

I spent a lot of this past weekend on the road with Victoria shopping for a replacement for her recently totaled Mazda5 (not her fault for those keeping score). It was quite enjoyable sampling the best deals on Acadias in the Baltimore-Washington area even if I was just a passenger. I did, however, squeeze in some car time.

Friday evening, due to some automotive logistic issues, the lovely Loriann, much to her chagrin, had to drive Ringo. Upon her return to the house, she immediately informed me that the driver’s door would not latch. I was able to get the door to finally latch, but it obviously needed some attention. The next morning I rolled him into the driveway and proceeded to readjust the door in its opening. I needed a second body to tighten bolts while I moved the door around, so the lovely Loriann, being the only one at home, was asked to help. She braved the mess that is Ringo’s interior (thank you Ariel) and, after a few tries, we were able to get the door into a position where it would close without SLAMMING. In the midst of all that, I was reminded of the looseness of his armrest, so I fixed that by finding a larger thread bolt, rounding off the points of the bolt-head, and grinding a slot for the screwdriver. I was then able to tighten both fasteners and the armrest doesn’t dangle with a risk of being ripped off. Finally, I used a few small shiny screws and re-anchored the flopping interior door panels. Ariel was pleased.

Whenever I’ve had the chance (which is highly infrequently) I’ve been working towards completing Glinda’s 4-speed swap. Lately I’ve been replacing the flywheel rivets with 25mm bolts, washers, and nuts. This project is almost finished as is refinishing the clutch/brake pedal pieces. They are currently primed awaiting a coat or two of black paint to hold back the rust.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Yes, Progress Was Made

Can I say that my winter of discontent is gone? Not quite, but the light at the end of the tunnel went from a hazy blur to a noticeable circle. Saturday had the beautiful weather that was predicted so working in the driveway was pleasurable. Attempting to stick to my to-do list of Friday’s post, I started by installing the pressure gauge using some 3/8” fuel hose, and a spare fuel pump nipple. With the engine idling the current fuel pump (call it pump #1) showed a reading of 10 psi (remember stock is 3-4). I was giddy with joy over this failure. It appeared that I’d found the source of Glinda’ horrendously low fuel mileage. Not to fix the failure. With two GUP pumps on the shelf, I decided to see if either of them has the right output before I popped open pump #1. Well, pump #2 was only slightly better at 9 psi, while pump #3 was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of fuel pumps with a reading of 14 psi. Not wanting to un-mount a pump again, I removed the five small cap screws holding the pump sandwich together, cut off about a half coil from the internal spring, and reassembled the pump. That brought the pressure down to about 12. It took five more disassemble/cut the spring/reassemble/test cycles before I got the pressure down to just a hair above 4 psi. In the end, I’d removed about two coils from the spring leaving only four. I didn’t have a chance to do a test drive to see if the quick-throttle bogging was gone, but once the rain washes the salt away, I’ll be able to get her back on the road.

The next task on the list was to install the new stereo. That went well, and the tunes that come out of the two six by nines on the package shelf sound awesome! At that point, it was time to knock off for the day.

Sunday afternoon it was Ringo, not Glinda, that kicked off the car-work. Ariel had gone to drive him to church Saturday morning and discovered his left rear tire was almost flat. She limped him over to the house, and I jacked up his left rear, pulled the tire, and quickly found the leak-causing nail. A few minutes later, the nail was out, the hole was plugged, the tire was tested and then re-installed on the car. When I’d gone to Ariel’s work to deal with the broken pin in Ringo’s door, I’d noticed the driver’s door was very difficult to latch. To address that problem, I moved the strike plate as far out as it would go. This made it possible to get the door to latch without slamming it and it doesn’t seem to have affected the fit. TYL.

With Ringo roadworthy again, I decided to divert from Glinda’s to-do list and focus on prepping the 4-speed swap parts as opposed to installing the pedal assembly. Out of the portable garage came the transmission and after some quality time on the receiving end of my grinder-mounted wire brush, it looks like something usable. As I was turning the housing around, clear 90 weight oil oozed out the hole in the differential mounting face and it looked clean. I’m not going to mess with the tranny since the optimist in me equates good oil with good transmission – it’s easy that way. Next out onto the grass for a good brushing was a bellhousing that had the letters LM written on it. I’m praying I marked it correctly. It too became clean-looking and was set in the garage for clean storage. I noted that I’ll need to replace the engine seal that is part of the bellhousing. Next I dug out the pressure plate, flywheel, and associated fasteners. The flywheel feels tight, so I’ll be able to replace the rivets with screws without any troubles (fingers-crossed). Finally, I gave a glance at differential that came out of Phil’s Corsa and the broken end of the output shaft reminded me I need get a replacement differential or rebuild this one with a new shaft. I’m going with option number one if I can score a stock open one for less than $100.

What a joy it was to make some headway in getting Glinda’s transmission swap. There are a lot of work left to do, but I’m confident now that I’ll be able to squeeze it all in before the Memorial Day weekend track day scheduled in New York.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Will It Happen?

Will the winter of my discontent come to an end this weekend? Will Glinda become more than just the object of my rejection? Can I find the source of her gas-hoggedness? Will the 4-speed swap begin? I pray the answer to all these questions will be a resounding yes come Monday. The weather is predicted to be tolerable, there aren’t any house projects scheduled, and Ringo is currently roadworthy (TYL).

With TwoTone in the driveway, Glinda has the place of honor (in the garage). My plan is to start my car-day by checking her fuel pressure. It’s supposed to be 3-4 psi. Anything higher than that will cause the level in the carburetor bowls to be higher, and thus reduce gas mileage. There is a fix to reduce the output pressure of the pump, and that is to shorten the length of the pump’s spring. I’m praying this is the problem, and that the fix goes easily. Next on the agenda is installing the new stereo and speakers that have been sitting on the garage floor for a few months.

Item three is slapping on the IROC wheels and tires I bought at Rich’s parts sale. I posted the following doctored up JPEG on Facebook today to get opinions on how I should colorize the wheels, if at all. For now I’ll put them on plain, but painting the insets of the spokes body color is a leading candidate for change.

Finally, I’ll begin the 4-speed swap by installing the pedal assembly. I won’t care if the third pedal can’t do anything – I’ll just zip tie it out of the way. Hopefully, this will leave me time to gather together all the parts and pieces that I’ve collected for this swap allowing me to determine what I’m missing. Finally, I’ll check the condition of the flywheel. My hope is that it’s in good enough shape for me to replace the unreliable rivets with 7 mm bolts.

Come Monday I’ll report back on what, if anything, I actually accomplished.

Monday, March 3, 2014

One Daily-Driver Corvair

There’s been a lot of snow this winter, thus a lot of salt, and since I’m sick of fixing rust, I’ve parked Glinda except for the occasional jaunt to the store. That means Ringo is the only consistently driven member of the fleet.

Until Friday he’d been behaving, but that day he had a failure that, while not fatal, was certainly inconvenient. Ariel had just driven him to her job, and after climbing from behind the wheel, she went to close his door, and it jammed about halfway shut. She called me and explained her plight – it wouldn’t be prudent to park a car in a mall parking lot with its door seriously ajar. I was in line at Taco Bell at the time, but told her I was on my way. While I was en route, she fiddled with the door until she got it to close enough to catch the first latch. Thanks to California Corvair Parts for the photo.

When I arrived, twenty minutes later, I opened the door and discovered a pin had fallen out (see photo). One of the small linkage pieces was jammed against the door frame by the now-unfettered spring. Not having come prepared with any tools, I went searching for something suitable to pop the spring out. Ringo’s glovebox contained a Phillips screwdriver, while the lovely Loriann’s daily-driver (we swapped vehicles for the day), provided Chrysler’s equivalent of a lug wrench. With them, I was able to pry out the spring without having it take flight into any body part. Once the spring was out of the way, I carefully aligned the two linkages and closed the door tightly. Until repaired properly, Ariel had to use the passenger door for ingress and egress.

Yesterday, I rolled TwoTone out into the driveway just as it was beginning to rain (of course) and quickly threw a tarp over her and tied it in place. I then drove Ringo into the garage and tried to replace the missing pin. Sadly, I couldn’t find a pin of proper diameter, nor could I find a locknut that would allow me to use a bolt/washer/nut solution, but I did find a pin from an old-house hinge that, while smaller around than desired, will do the job until I get a high-strength bolt with locknut from the hardware store.

With Ringo ready for Ariel’s retrieval, I put Glinda in the garage. My hope is to get to checking the fuel pressure with the gauge setup that recently arrived from

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Too Much Fuel?

Last Sunday I reinstalled the re-rebuilt carburetors onto Glinda with high hopes that the quick-throttle bogging of the engine would be gone. The reason I could bring myself to this state was that the carburetor that had not been showing an accelerator pump shot miraculously fixed itself. I was going to tear it down on the workbench, but gave the linkage one more blip and lo-and-behold out came a couple squirts of gas from the accelerator pump port.

Anyway, the carb went on, followed by the spark plug leads I’d borrowed for TwoTone’s startup, followed by the air cleaner and spare tire. The engine fired right up and settled into a thousand-rpm high idle. Success!

Or was it? The next morning I drove the car to and from work and sadly watched the gas gauge needle drop nearly an eighth of a tank. Tuesday I drove the thirsty beast again and watched the needle drop below three-quarter tank. Argh!

Maybe the fuel pressure is too high? I ordered a fuel pressure gauge setup from Amazon that should arrive today, so I’ll be checking. It’s supposed to only be four to five psi. Higher than that overfills the bowls and will cause the engine to run rich. I’m praying this is the case.

Oh, and the bogging? Still there, but not as bad.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Spinning Wheel

It’s always a unique experience waking an engine after decades of dormancy. The last time I’ve done this was when Ariel and I were working on Redvair ( This time TwoTone’s powerplant joined the land of the living after at least twenty years of inactivity. It all happened as follows:

Yesterday afternoon it only took about fifteen minutes for the heaters to get the garage warm enough that I could comfortably remove the stocking cap from my hair-challenged noggin. First task of the afternoon was to install the borrowed starter/solenoid which went in easily including attaching the battery cable and the Start and Run wires. After turning off the heaters, I touched the purple Start wire to the battery’s positive terminal, but got nothing but sparks. I swapped in another battery cable and was rewarded with a spinning engine once the starter wire was energized. I let the engine spin a little before it was apparent it wasn’t going to start. I’d forgotten to set the point gap, but once that was set, and the static timing checked, I gave the starter the juice again and the engine caught and smoke filled the garage. Success! I let the engine run just above idle for the few second it took to burn all the gas from the carburetor bowls. Doors and windows were then opened to dissipate the fog that had enveloped the rear of the garage. I escaped to the backyard catch some fresh air and snagged the gas can from the garden shed – yay, it contained some fuel. Back into the garage to remove the other rear wheel so I could test the tranny. With TwoTone’s rear securely raised on jackstands, I then refilled the carbs and refired the engine. The smoke was less, but the valve clattering didn’t seem to be any quieter. After it ran out of gas, I put the shifter in Drive, refilled the carbs, and energized the starter. This time, instead of staring at the engine, I gave a quick glance at the rear wheels. The right rear hub was happily spinning clockwise – the correct direction. I repeated the fill-shift-start procedure this time testing Reverse, and the right rear’s rotation had reversed. Success.

After escaping the exhaust-filled garage to let it air out for a few minutes, I returned and pulled all the spark plugs and then proceeded to do a compression check on all six cylinders. All but #2 came in at 160 to 180 psi. #2 could only move the gauge up to 92. I think that it would improve with some more running. I’m going to call the drivetrain a runner.

With that experiment complete, I pulled the borrowed the starter and reinstalled a placeholder. Off the jackstands and then off with the loaner carbs. Other than pushing her out of the garage once the snow melts, I think we’re done with TwoTone.

However (and it’s a huge however), I’m toying with the idea of trying to push out the front dent. The metal seems to all be there and it’s un-torn, so who knows what kind of result I could get. I figure it’s worth a try and then the car would be more saleable.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Blues

In another attempt to decry my credo, “Don’t Do It,” the lovely Loriann took pity on my car-less state and shooed me out into the cold Saturday air to finally get some car-stuff done. Sadly, it didn't work as I was thwarted at each turn.

First, with great anticipation, I swapped back in the recently re-rebuilt carburetors onto my ’68. These were the ones that bogged when I floored the throttle too quickly. I had high hopes given the reputable rebuilder went over them extensively. All I did was pull them out of the box and bolt them on the engine. After a few cranks of the engine to pump some gas in the bowls, the engine fired up. Even though the engine wasn’t warmed up, I couldn’t resist and gave the gas pedal a quick, three-quarters stab. Well, the problem is still there. Just to verify, I let the engine run until both chokes plates were fully open. Then I adjusted the idle to roughly 550 in Drive, synched the two sides using my length of clear tubing, popped the trans back into Neutral and did a blip or two. The bog was still there. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the right carb does not respond with a squirt of gas from the accelerator pump. That would explain the symptom. I put this in an e-mail to the rebuilder and he quickly responded that he was quite surprised since he “checked the pump shots before finishing them and both were working.” He offered to send me a replacement pump, or even swap these carbs for two stock ones. I’ve got at least one spare pump that I know works that I’ll try next.

At that point, Mikhaila joined me in the garage where we proceeded to finish prepping TwoTone’s engine for starting, and, hopefully, running. First, though, I had her take some photos of the painted floor so that when we try to sell the car and it's interior is full of parts, we'll have a record of how solid the floor is. We mounted the recently pulled carbs so we knew there would be gas in the bowls. We pulled the battery and spark plug leads from Glinda and installed them in TwoTone. Next, we marked the distributor’s exact location with the timing mark at 8 degrees BTDC. After pulling out the distributor, we primed the oiling system using the drill-mounted special shaft. With the distributor back in place, we excitedly put 12 volts to the coil and then she touched the purple wire to 12 volts to energize the solenoid, but nothing happened other than some sparks from the lead touching the battery terminal. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since the engine has sat for over thirty years, but I was still disappointed. I had Mikhaila help jack the car, rest it on a jackstand, and remove the left rear wheel before I sent her back in the house to warm up while I removed the starter. A test on the ground confirmed it was dead. I went to my milkcrate of starters and pulled out all four, but none of them worked either. After another half-hour of unsuccessfully swapping solenoids onto different starters, I gave up and called it a day. Yesterday, I drove to Vince’s house and borrowed a known, good starter/solenoid and will, hopefully, soon get the opportunity to put it on.