Monday, August 31, 2009

Heidi - How We Got To This Point

Heidi's history with us was all presented by my eldest daughter, Brianna, on a Geocities' website. Since they've shut down, I've decided to condense all the history in one post. I apologize for the length, but I'll include links to pictures.

4/13/02: Trailered the car to our house. What a job getting it onto the trailer. Pictures taken before we moved the car.

4/14/02: Emptied out the interior and clean the outside and the seats. Smells a lot better too. Can't get into trunk because the ignition key (only one that came with car) won't work. Pictures taken as the cleanup goes on.

4/20/02: Mom took the wheels to the tire place to have the old tires removed. They found a wasp nest inside one of them. Luckily no one was hurt.

5/1/02: Dad took all the old GM keys he has and found one that would work for the trunk. Found all the headlight assemblies and front chrome in the trunk.

6/15/02: Moved the car back into the garage.

7/27/02: My dad and I removed the gas tank and flushed it out.

8/3/02: Shook a chain around the inside of the tank and flushed some more.

8/4/02: Painted the outside of the tank with POR-15

8/24/02: Coated the inside of the tank with sealer from Clark's

9/14/02: Brushed off the loose rust under the car where the gas tank lives. Primed with Rustoleum rusty metal primer.

10/12/02: Rebuilt both carburetors with kits from Clark's. Dad lost one of the springs, so we couldn't finish the job. He'll order a new one soon.

10/18/02: Dad did one of the jobs that I didn't want to. He painted the underside of the car in the area where the gas tank gets installed.

10/20/02: We adjusted the carburetors, then it was time to see if the engine would turn. We removed the spark plugs, put a little oil into each cylinder, put a wrench on the crank bolt and pushed. Nothing moved. Dad put an extension on the wrench and really leaned on it. The only thing that moved was the engine on its mounts. Dad sprayed PB Blaster into each cylinder, and said we'd wait to see if it works. Worst case is we have to take the engine apart. We hoped the PB Blaster would work. Also got the gas tank strap cleaned and primed.

10/22/02: We tried to turn the engine by hand. No luck. We sprayed some more PB Blaster through each spark plug hole then Dad whacked each cylinder with a hammer to help the situation.

10/28/02: Moment of truth (at least one of many). We hooked a battery up and tried to turn the engine with the starter. Only clicks, no motion. Disappointed, I went back to my homework, while dad started the disassembly process. He drained the oil, removed the exhaust pipe, muffler, and one of the shrouds. This will be more of a project than I'd thought. Here's some pictures.

10/29/02: Dad decided to dive right in. I was glad that it was him and not me that discovered the rat nest after removing the top shroud. He also filled a box with the rest of the shrouds, oil cooler, coil, generator mount, fuel pump, and marked baggies filled with nuts and bolts. I'm glad I don't have to remember where everything goes.

11/2/02: It was time to get serious. We removed the nuts that hold the heads onto the engine. Only two of the long studs pulled out. Dad said that this wasn't anything that Loctite couldn't fix. Once all the nuts were off, we lowered the back of the engine and then we removed the heads. More PB Blaster was sprayed into each cylinder.

11/23/02: We did some beating and banging. With dad on his back on the floor and me working above, we traded whacks with the sledgehammer until we got four of the six cylinders off. It was getting late by that time, and after twenty minutes of trying on the last two, we gave up and dad sprayed more of this PB Blaster into the two still stuck cylinders. He keeps telling me that this Blaster stuff is great, but I've got my doubts. We also took apart one of the rear wheel brake assemblies to access the bearings. Dad pried off the cover, and found a sealed bearing that he had no idea how to clean and repack with grease. Time for another e-mail to Virtual Vair.

11/29/02: After letting the heater make the garage bearable, Dad and I removed all the front and rear brake hardware including the backing plates.

11/30/02: Dad took three boxes of parts to NAPA to have them run through their parts washer. After six cycles, most of the grime was gone. Now it's time to spot clean what's left, prime, and paint gloss black.

1/15/03: Dad and I finished spot cleaning and primed all the parts with Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer.

1/30/03: Dad and his friend Bill removed the front suspension assembly, and I got the pleasure of cleaning it all off and painting on the primer. While I was doing that, Dad and Bill removed the last two cylinders from the engine. It turns now, yeah!

2/12/03: Dad painted the crossmember and the area of the car body that would be covered by this part.

5/10/01: Dad and I re-installed the front suspension assembly. I bolted the brake backing plates back on and then he and I put on the new front brake lines - both metal and rubber. We also got tires put on the wheels.

5/17/03: We rebuilt the front brakes with new cylinder kits and shoes and then repacked the wheel bearings and installed the front hubs. We put the gas tank back in. Dad removed the tunnel cover and discovered that the fuel line probably should be replaced. It's really covered with rust, but he said that he'd brush it all off and see if it's solid before he spends the bucks. He said that he knew he was going to replace the rear brake lines, but hoped nothing else.

5/15/04: After sitting in the garage in NY while we were living in VA, my car finally got moved to its new home in Baltimore, MD. A two-car garage, but my car’s currently sharing space with dad’s LeMans.

8/22/04: A plan of attack. Strip the paint off of the areas that have lots of surface rust. We started with the trunk-lid.

8/28/04: More paint stripping. I worked on the engine-lid while dad wire brushed the trunk. We also took off door handles and locks in preparation of working on the doors.

10/31/04: Paint stripping complete. After many hours, we've got all the paint and old bondo off. In fact, we've now got the whole exterior sanded down to 120 grit. Go see the pictures to take a look at the bodywork we've got ahead of us.

11/1/04: Dad sprayed rust converter on the pitted areas and the rusted out holes. Click here to see some pictures.

11/7/04: Dad and I masked the interior, headlight holes, and tires/wheels. Then we wiped down the entire car with thinner, then the special grease/wax remover. Dad then cleaned up the garage and hung plastic over the stuff on the walls. Then he sent me away (only one breathing mask). He put three coats of etching primer followed by three coats of primer. Go see the pictures.

4/10/05: After a long winter of not working on the car, Dad drug me out to the garage to put Bondo on the small dents and dings left after he hammered on the car. Dad kept the spreaders and mixing board clean while I mixed and applied. Sorta like frosting a cake, which I was never really good at.

4/17/05: Time to sand. My arms could only last about an hour and a half, but Dad and I got most of the Bondo smoothed out. It's going to need a second coat to fill in some voids and places where we sanded down too far.

5/1/05: I was too busy studying for finals, but Dad finished sanding the Bondo and put on the second coat until he ran out of Bondo.

5/17/05: More Bondo and sanding.

5/22/05: Even more Bondo and sanding.

6/12/05: Last coat of Bondo.

6/26/05: This weekend Dad, his buddy Bill, and I removed the drivetrain and completed the disassembly of the engine. The plan is to combine the running engine and transmission from Dad's white 4-door with the differential from this car. Click here to see the pictures we took.

7/6/05: Last sanding of Bondo, lots of cleaning and lots of masking.

7/9/05: Dad and I took turns laying down three coats of primer all over. Then we wet sanded, rinsed with clean water, and wiped everything down with clean rags.

7/10/05: Dad sprayed three coats of paint (Glacier Gray). The only real issues were some fisheyes and a moth that landed in the wet paint and had to be scraped off. The color is more blue than I'd expected, but I really like it. Go see the pictures.

7/14/05: I cleaned all the trim pieces.

7/16/05 & 7/17/05: A very busy weekend for us. I put POR-15 on the following parts: rocker molding strips, inside surfaces of bumpers, a few brackets, a headlight bucket, tunnel covers, and heater vents. Dad and I installed the following: bumpers, letters, Monza medallions, wheel and rocker trim, window fuzzies, trunk lock, door handles and locks, and taillight assemblies. Still plenty to do, but the stuff that's on really makes the car look great.

7/23/05 & 7/24/05: Another busy weekend. My big project was painting the floor of the car. Together or separately Dad and I assembled the following: master cylinder, headlight buckets and bezels, three headlights that came off the car, the front grill piece after bending and tapping it back into shape, the trunk wire harness, wiper motor and jack hold-down spring, the trunk and passenger door weatherstripping, the door paper, door panel, armrest, and handles on driver door, the gas tank sender unit. We also bought a new battery. Click here to see the pictures.

7/30/05: Dad and I worked on the electrical system checking to make sure that there was 12V at all the connectors when the switches were closed. Everything we could check works. Yeah!

8/7/05: Dad installed the new brake pads on the rear. The first set he got were too big, and these barely fit.

8/14/05: Dad put the car up as high as possible on the jack stands to install the new gas line. Even then, he had to do a lot of bending and swearing, but finally got it in place.

8/20/05 - 8/22/05: Another big weekend of progress. I worked on the defroster doors making sure they were freed up and lubricated. My Opa (Dad's dad) was visiting and he and I bled the brakes and then installed the carpet. While we were doing that, Dad was laying under the car installing the heater box and blower and the tunnel covers and priming the underside to prevent any rusting. Opa lubricated the He found a couple of small rust holes that he'll fix. Opa and Dad installed the rest of the heating ducts under the backseat, the air vents and kickpanels, headlights, and some odds and ends. Dad got the turn signal to work, but discovered that the wiring under the hood somehow got crossed. When the directional is set for left, the left rear taillight blinks, but it's the front right blinker that's going and vice versa. A little cutting and soldering will fix this problem.

8/26/05: I'm off to college, so Dad will be reporting on the progress.

10/1/05 - 10/2/05: Work completed included installation of the new top by mom and dad, cleaning and installation of the rear seat and passenger seat. Click here to see the pictures we took.

10/8/05 - 10/9/05: I'm home! Time to put some life into my car. Dad and I spent Saturday taking the drivetrain out of his '63 Corvair sedan and Sunday putting it into my car. We did trade differentials so the big leaf spring would bolt up correctly. By Sunday night I was able to drive it out of the garage. There's still plenty left to do, but I had to get back to St. Mary's. Click here to see the pictures we took.

10/15/05 - 10/16/05: Dad's update. "Installed the following: differential dipstick tube; rear leaf spring; engine seal sheetmetal; hot air hose in the engine compartment; driver’s seat; borrowed headlight and turn-signal bulbs; new rubber boots at the throttle shaft and automatic transmission dipstick tube; battery cable/fuel line grommet; wiper fluid reservoir and tubing; rear chrome grill. Unfortunately, the axle seals in the differential leak badly, so they'll get replaced."

10/22/05 - 10/23/05: More from Dad. "Big weekend! Finally drove the car on public roads! First, though, I finished off the top by readjusting the quarter window attachment and installing the front and hidem strips. Also cleaned and installed the rest of the weatherstripping, cleaned all the windows, cleaned and preserved all the interior vinyl, and topped off the differential oil. Driving the car was great. It rides much differently than my decrepit '63 sedan - much tighter feel to the suspension and steering. Also, it's quieter inside since it has functioning weatherstripping compared to the '63's lack thereof. Did discover that the gas gauge works, but the speedometer doesn't." Here's some pictures he took.

10/24/05: Dad's update: "Installed the speedometer cable from the '63 and the new rear shock absorbers. Also discovered that the glovebox door was not latching thus the light wasn't going off causing the drain to the battery."

10/26/05: I'm jealous. Dad got to drive the car on the highway. Here's his report: "At 30 MPH, the speedometer needle started bouncing and there was a clicking from under the dash. At around 40 MPH, the needle flew all the way to the right and the clicking turned to screeching. I pulled over and disconnected the cable. No noise, but also no indication of how fast or how far I'm driving. That'll need to get fixed. Got about 10 miles down the interstate and exited. At the end of the offramp, I noticed that the car was very sluggish. To make a long story short, I had to find a parking lot, jack up the right rear, and fix the locked up brake assembly. Drove the rest of the way to work without incident. Coming home had its excitement too. As I was driving the long uphill at the end of I-70, I noticed that I really had to floor it to keep up speed. Not good! By the time I got home smoke was coming from the right front wheel. I parked in the garage and didn't touch anything until after dinner. By then everything was spinning freely. I took apart the two front brake assemblies and swapped them side for side. After pumping the brakes about a hundred times, I found that the problem seemed to follow the assembly. I replaced the springs with some spares and crossed my fingers. I also decided to install the front shock absorbers while I had the front jacked up. The last bolt to remove broke off. Time to call it quits."

10/27/05: Dad's update: "Drilled out the broken bolt, but damaged the thread of the welded nut. Enough for one night."

10/28/05: Another update: "Bought a longer Grade 8 bolt and a nut and finished installing the last shock absorber. I also tried to stop the oil leak at the differential dipstick tube. I clamped some rubber fuel hose over the cracked tube and crossed my fingers."

11/5/05: I'm home and it's top-down weather. Thank You Lord. Dad had done some messing around with springs at the brake that seemed to be locking, so we thought all was good. Well, after about an hour of stop and go driving, I could barely pull away from a light. I parked the car and called Dad. He came and jacked up one side of the car and found that both the front and rear wheels on that side were locked up. He decided that it must be the master cylinder, so he loosened the main brake line fitting there and bled off a little fluid. Now I could easily turn both wheels. Problem fixed - we hoped. I drove it home without incident. After which Dad jacked it up and found that the wheels still turned. Because the weather was so nice, Dad also sanded and primed the moth spot (see 7/10/05) and a scratch he put in the fender.

11/6/05: Decision day. Does someone drive me back to school, or do I drive Dad's daily-driver Mazda back and keep it until Thanksgiving? If we choose the latter, Dad will be relying on my car to make the eighty mile roundtrip commute he does every workday. While mulling over this decision, Dad spent a couple of hours sanding, masking, and painting over the primed spots - that turned out nicely. Then he shot some WD-40 into the back of the speedometer and turned the hub by hand. It turned smoothly, so he hooked up the speedometer cable. At nine PM, he somewhat reluctantly gave me the keys to his Mazda and I drove back to St. Mary's.

11/7/05: Dad sent me an e-mail telling me that he made it to work. He wrote that the car still seemed to roll easily, so maybe he's fixed the brake problem. I hope so. He told me that the speedometer is reading about ten percent fast due to the tires being smaller that stock. Oh well, I can do the math.

11/8/05: Another e-mail from Dad. He told me that he decided to replace the master cylinder with the one from the '63. He's ordering a new replacement from Napa that will go in because the one from the '63 looks like it's got a small leak at the seal. He also ordered a replacement tube for the differential dipstick and a couple pairs of red seatbelts from the Corvair Ranch. He said that the brakes still aren't right. He also told me that he installed the wiper motor and the turn signal actuator from the '63.

11/9/05: Another update from Dad: "The brakes seemed to be working fine now with the master cylinder from the '63. I installed light bulbs for the license plate and courtesy light. I also modified and installed a battery hold-down bracket and replaced the leaky oil-pressure sender with the one from the '64's original engine. That wasn't easy because I had to remove both the generator and the fuel pump to get the proper socket over the sender's body. My to-do list is getting mighty short."

11/17/05: Dad's almost done, so this may be the last update from him: "Installed the new master cylinder. What a difference. I recently finished spatter painting and clearcoating the trunk, replacing the rusted shroud, and installing a new oil pressure sender and a couple of grommets. The car's been very dependable getting roughly 20 mpg commuting on a mix of highway, country roads, and city streets. "

11/19/05: One more update from Dad: "Some odds and ends completed - replaced all screws on the leaking fuel pump with bolts, lockwashers, and nuts (no more leak); replaced the leaking differential dipstick tube and incorrect dipstick (had to drain some excess oil out); touched up some tiny scratches; removed the radio and began gutting; adjusted the brake light switch so it isn't always on; readjusted backup light sockets so the lights work; replaced the failed passenger side thermostat; and installed rear seatbelts from the backseat of the '63 (too bad they're green, but I'll find red ones at a swapmeet someday)."

11/27/05: Everything checked out, so back to school I went, but this time driving my Corvair.

12/1/05: I've driven into town a couple of times without incident, but tonight when I turned the key some smoke came out from under the dash. I told Dad, and he told me to buy a fire extinguisher.

1/10/06: While driving home from my job the car backfired and died. It wouldn't start back up again, so Dad came to my rescue. After making a small adjustment to the points, the engine starts right up. I drove it home without a problem, but when Dad tries to adjust the dwell and timing, he can't the engine to run. Worse than that, there was a BIG backfire and the back of the old muffler blew out.

1/11/06: Dad ordered a new muffler and a tune-up kit from Clark's.

1/14/06: Dad and I installed the new muffler, points, condenser, rotor, cap, and spark plugs. The car still wouldn't run, so we took off all the plug wires and replaced them with the ones off of my sister's Corvair. The engine finally ran. Dad drove it around the block and all seemed well.

1/15/06: Time to go back to school. I left the house around 9 PM. I only got about 25 miles down the road when the engine backfired a couple of times and then lost all power. I coasted onto the shoulder of the road and called Dad. He threw a bunch of tools into his car, and drove down to try and fix the problem. While I was waiting for him, I tried cranking the engine, but nothing turned. This was a new, not-so-good problem. When Dad got there, he discovered that we'd forgotten to tighten the distributor clamp bolt, so he thought that the timing had changed. He static timed the distributor, and then we decided to try and push-start the car with his. He explained how the Corvair is one of only a few automatic transmissioned cars that can be push started. His car pushed mine up to 40 mph, and the engine was turning, but not running. He ended up pushing me to the nearest offramp, which fortunately had a Park-and-Ride. We move all my stuff into his car, lock my car, and drive back home.

1/16/06: Dad got up early and packed even more tools into his car and drove down to the Corvair. He was able to get the ignition switch/starter to work. He did a bunch of sleuthing and found that the coil was sparking, but the spark wasn't getting to the plugs. He replaced the new cap and rotor - still dead. He called Ken Hand who told him it may be the condenser or the coil. He replaced the new points and condenser - still dead. He replaced the coil - bingo. It started right up, and ran nice and smooth. At that point I showed up with Mom. She and I had decided that even if Dad was able to get my car running, I wasn't going to trust it to get me to school. So, I took Dad's car on to school, and he drove mine home.

1/19/06: Heard from Dad. Here's what he reported: "I went out to drive the Corvair home from work, and it wouldn't start. The now-familiar sound of an engine without spark was all I heard. I went inside work and borrowed a multi-meter to check things out. I also called Ken Hand again who gave me a plan of attack and a bunch of valuable information. I followed his plan and discovered that voltage at the positive terminal of the coil was not what it should be with the points open. From that, and his description of how a load resistor worked, I determined that the noise-suppression condenser attached to the negative terminal of the coil was shorting directly to ground resulting in no spark at the points, thus no spark from the coil. I disconnected that condenser, and the engine started right up. Looking back on it, this was probably the problem since the first time the car died two weeks ago." I still wanted to have him drive the car for a week or so more to make doubly sure all the gremlins have been killed.

5/19/07: It's been a while, and the Corvair's been, for the most part, behaving. Over the last few months though, it's been having idling problems (dying at stoplights) and seemed to be down on power. Today, I drove it to the local Corvair club's tech session. While there, some Corvair-savvy guys did a compression check and found that one of the cylinders was way down on pressure. Gary (the savviest Corvair guy around) adjusted the carbs so the idling problem wasn't so bad. He also adjusted and lubricated the steering box - that made a big difference. He told Dad that the Pittman arm bushing was shot.

6/5/07: As I was driving down Rt. 40 a tree fell onto the road. I was in the fast lane and there was a car next to me. I moved all the way over into the island, but the car next to me still ran into me. Here's some pictures of the damage.

6/7/07: The insurance company's not going to do a thing for us. Says the accident wasn't anyone's fault. Dad is driving my car up to the Corvair Ranch and will pay them to do the repair. Jeff's giving Dad a great deal - what a guy.

6/15/07: The car's back and looks great. The paint doesn't quite match, but maybe it will once we buff out the rest of the car's paint.

6/16/07: Dad rebuilt the heads that had originally come off the Corvair. The plan is to swap the heads and put on new rings and gaskets. This partial overhaul will solve the compression issue.

6/30/07: Dad put the car up on jackstands and the overhaul began.

7/14/07: Overhaul’s finally complete and the Corvair got put back on the road. Highlights of the overhaul include me wirebrushing all the carbon buildup off of the pistons, honing the cylinders, and putting on the rings. It has a lot more power and idles nice and smooth.

7/16/07: I've been watching the oil level and it's been dropping quickly. Dad's hope is it's just the rings seating themselves.

8/21/07: I leave for school tomorrow so Dad decided to install the new Pittman arm bushing and horn. He got it done, but putting in the bushing was a major pain. In order to press the assembly together, he had to take his bench vise off his workbench and use it to push the bushing and its sleeve into the Pittman arm's hole. It’s nice to have a working horn. This car hasn't had one since we've owned it.

8/22/07: Putting oil in the car had become an every-other-day or so affair. Dad's given up on the ring seating thing. It was time for me to head back to school, so, after packing a case of oil in the trunk, I drive the ninety miles to St. Mary's. During the trip, the car shot two quarts of oil out the dipstick and out the exhaust pipe. NOT good. Add to that it felt like it's down a cylinder again.

9/5/07: Dad drove his Corvair down and we swapped cars. He's going to tear the engine down again and check to see what he did wrong. After cleaning the plugs and topping off the oil, he drove off down the road. Later I heard from him that the engine had gotten its power back again - clean plugs make a big difference.

9/10/07: Dad pulled all the spark plugs and found that the left bank of cylinders seems to be firing fine, but the right bank is very oily. He did a compression check and found that cylinder 5 is down on pressure.

9/12/07: Dad put the car back up on jackstands and pulled the right head. He didn't find anything amiss - the rings were all where they belonged and the cylinder walls all seemed undamaged. The ring gaps and cylinder bore checked out to spec. He thinks it's an issue with the head, but since that looked fine too he put it back together again anyway.

9/14/07: Still going through oil like crazy. Dad found a guy willing to give him a '64 4-door that runs, but has a rusty body. Dad's original intention was to just get the suspension off because he's upgrading his car, but the guy said that he could "borrow" the drivetrain until he found the problem with mine. Dad jumped at the opportunity and plans a Saturday trip to tow the gift back home.

10/6/07: Dad drove down and towed back the 4-door.

10/12/07: Dad was a busy guy. He first gave the engine in the 4-door a tune-up and drove it around the block making sure that it's running right. He then pulled the drivetrains out of both cars and put the replacement into my car before calling it a day. He's still got to hook up everything, but the hard part is done.

10/15/07: Dad spent his evening hooking up the drivetrain. He got it almost to the point of wheels-down before he had to quit for the evening.

10/20/07: Dad discovered that he's not gotten the transmission shifter cable installed correctly. The car would not shift into neutral. He ended up removing the pan in order to properly guide the ball on the end of the cable into the receptacle inside the transmission. A light coat of RTV, and the pan went back on again.

10/22/07: The transmission was filled with fluid and the car was pushed out into the driveway for final adjustments of idle speed and timing. Dad ended up swapping carburetors a couple of times to get the best running combination. He set the timing per the manual. He couldn't get the idle speed to go low enough with the vacuum advance connected, so he disconnects and plugs the vacuum tube. After taking the car out for a test-drive, he discovered the throttle wanted to stick a little.

10/26/07: Dad changed the oil and filter because it looked like gas got into the crankcase. He also replaced the fuel pump thinking that the gas leaked from there. He then drove the car around town this evening, and found it to be reliable.

10/27/07: Dad went out to start the car this morning and found the battery dead. Thinking it was all the stop-and-go driving with headlights and wipers running didn't allow the old generator to recharge the battery sufficiently. He swapped batteries with his Corvair and drove off to run his errands (including buying a case of motor oil). He stopped at Gary's (the savviest Corvair guy around) house to drop off borrowed tools, and they discussed the gas in the crankcase issue. Gary told Dad he should replace the needle-and-seats in both carbs because gas will leak through the carbs, past the valves and into the crankcase. Dad went home and did just that.

10/28/07: The next afternoon, Dad tried to start the car to take Mom to a meeting. Dead battery again. A thorough inspection exposed a nearly broken negative battery cable. Thinking he'd found the issue, he replaced the cable and swapped a fresh battery in. The car started and drove great the rest of the day. Then, when I was all ready to drive it back to school, the battery was dead again. All that was left to replace, Dad felt, was the old generator (the one that came with the replacement engine). He did that, in record time, and sent me on my way with a set of jumper cables in the trunk. I made it to school without any problems.

11/6/07: I went out to drive the car into town and the battery was dead. Dad had decided that the problem was a drain somewhere in the wiring of the car, so he sent me a battery disconnect switch and a wrench. I installed the switch and tried to jumpstart the car, but the battery was too dead to jump.

11/18/07: Mom showed up at school with a fresh battery. My sister was down visiting me, so she was going to drive the car back home. With the fresh battery, the car started right up and drove home without issue.

11/19/07: By using an old taillight socket wired in-line with the battery, Dad found that the connection between the positive battery cable and solenoid terminal was the culprit. The terminal was not screwed in tightly, so Dad presumes that the exposed portion of the cable lead was touching the oily surface of the solenoid and slowly leaking current to ground. Some simple tightening with wrenches and the drain was stopped. Somehow, with all the electrical messing around the fuse on the power supply to the radio had blown. A new fuse got the car full of tunes again. Our hope and prayer is that the car makes it the next month without any more issues. After that I'm gone to Oxford without the car for a semester of studying abroad. Sometime this winter or early spring Dad is planning on rebuilding my engine again and swapping it back into the car.

4/17/2008: I’m still at Oxford (actually at this point I’m touring in Austria with my mom), so I’ll let my dad do the updating since he’s been doing the work. Since Brianna’s coming home in a week, I guess it’s time I started putting her engine back together so it can be swapped back into her car. About a month ago, I was at the Corvair Ranch and picked up the re-bored and honed cylinders, new oversize pistons (with a set of installed rods) and rings, and a re-sleeved head. I also bought rod bearings (the GM boxes were dated late 1959). Jeff (proprietor) gave me an incredible deal on the whole package since I'd recently hauled up a Corvair to add to his collection of parts cars. Now it was time to put it all back together. After thrashing during my free hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and late into Monday night, the engine is ready to come off the stand. I should really take some pictures before I pull it off and post them. Last night all I had time to do was pull the car into the garage. Tonight I should be able to have the borrowed drivetrain removed from the car.

5/6/08: I'm back home and I got a chance to drive my car for a few days. It's going through oil like crazy. Dad says I need to be ready to do the drivetrain swap this weekend.

5/12/08: Dad and I worked hard last weekend, and the car is almost ready. By Saturday at lunch time we had the borrowed drivetrain out and set up on blocks. After that I had to go to work while Dad got the rebuilt engine off the stand and installed the new front and rear crankshaft seals. Then he installed the differential and transmission and raised the drivetrain into place. He'd put the last engine mount bolt in when I got back from my short work day. We spent the rest of the afternoon reattaching all the underside stuff. No work on Sunday since it was Mother's day.

5/14/08: We got the car back onto the ground and finished hooking everything up. I turned the key and she started right up, but ran horribly - lots of valve noise, occasional backfires, very rough idle. We shut it down and decided to call it a night.

5/16/08: Dad was under the car last night and re-adjusted the lash on all the valves hoping that he'd find one that was too loose or tight. He didn't find anything wrong. He decided he'd just put it back together, start it up again, and try to listen for where the problem could be coming from. While putting the distributor cap back on, he discovered that the condenser wire had broken loose from its terminal. He replaced the condenser and she started right and idled so nicely. Yahoo!

5/17/08: The test drive ended in disappointment. While starting up and driving nicely down the street, she barely made it back up the hill. After parking her in the driveway, we found lots of gas vapors coming from one of the carbs. Dad thinks the carburetor is flooding, so he'll buy rebuild kits from the Corvair Ranch when he's up there for their Open House.

5/19/08: Dad got the carbs off and one rebuilt last evening. He said tonight he'll get the second one done and both installed for another test drive. All our fingers are crossed that this gets the car back on the road permanently.

5/20/08: Another test drive after getting the carb rebuilt ended with the same result - lots of clattering from the engine and no power after a few minutes of driving. After consulting with a car-guy at work, we're finally presented with the real problem - the engine is now back to 102 HP compression and the clattering we're hearing is pinging due to the low-octane gas that's in the tank. The tighter engine needs higher octane gas. I run to the autoparts store and buy a can of octane booster, pour it in the half-filled tank of gas, and take the car for a drive. Lo and behold no clattering.

5/27/08: Although I can only put 93 octane gas in my car's tank, I'm thankful that it's running so well. A week's gone by, and I've put a couple hundred miles on the car and there's been no loss of oil and she's running better than ever.

8/16/08: A summer of reliable, fun driving - at least a couple thousand miles worth, and it's coming to an end. I leave for school this week. Dad and I came up with a list of stuff that needs addressing on my car before I leave. I drove his car to work today while he worked on mine. He removed the sunvisors so my mom could re-stitch the failed seams. He also changed the oil and filter, repaired the passenger door panel, re-soldered the failed speaker connection, replaced the glove-box door with one he'd pulled off another '64 Monza, removed the rear seat for upholstery repair (I'll be without it for a month or so), replaced the front plastic emblem, and duct-taped the rear ducting that had disintegrated (that explains the weak defroster).

9/30/08: I'm home for the weekend, and Dad's got the seat fixed and installed.

12/2/08: Dad and I had prepared ourselves to do a Powerglide transmission swap on the car, but that didn't have to happen. A couple weeks ago, she didn't want to shift into gear when first started. I'd checked the fluid level and it was fine. When I got home for Thanksgiving break, I that it didn't want to shift while going down the road either. I told him how I'd checked the fluid level with the engine running and the transmission in Neutral. Dad said that was wrong, a we immediately went out and checked it in Drive and it was barely on the dipstick. We added a pint and a half of transmission conditioner from the shelf in the garage. I've been driving her now for a week, and all's good again.

3/22/09: After a winter of sitting and occasionally being driven, Heidi needs some bodywork attention. The front valance has got rust issues. Dad cut out the bad metal, applied liberal amounts of Rustoleum to the inner surfaces that were unprotected, and then riveted temporary patches over the holes. Once his Corvair buddy, Jonathan, has his welder up and running, he'll get real patches welded in. Go here to see some pictures.

7/28/09: I was on her way to Radford, VA to visit my boyfriend, Nich, when Heidi started running very poorly. It was making putt, putt noises and has no power. It won’t make it over the hills. I got off the interstate and called Dad. He had me check and make sure both carbs had gas. I pulled apart the air cleaners, checked, and called him back verifying that, yes, both carbs squirted gas when I moved the throttle. I told him where I'd parked and he told me was on his way home from work to load the Suburban with the tow-bar stuff, tools, spare carb, etc. He got to the car 9. Meanwhile, Nich came and picked me up. Dad hitched Heidi up to the Suburban, and, after a stop at the gas station to wash up and fill up, was back on the road by 10. Another four hours of driving and he was home.

8/3/09: With me in VA, I'll let Dad convey the latest on my car. "As I started working on Heidi last night, I discovered that the end of the one valve stem was damaged by the rocker arm running askew. Irrr. An hour and a half later I had the head off. I tried pulling the lifters out, but the magnet I was using was not strong enough. I need to make a hook tool to pull them out. I may even need to remove the oil pan to access the back side of them to push them out. Since I’ve got access to them, I want to clean them and hopefully stop the clattering. I’ll pick up a valve spring compressor at the auto parts store (loan) this afternoon to replaced the damaged valve with one from the shelf, lap it, and reassemble. I’m hoping to have everything ready to reinstall by the end of the evening."

8/4/09: Another update from Dad. "So last night I went out to the garage around 7:30 with the intentions of swapping the one valve and having the head ready to go. Not to be. I pulled the valve springs off only to discover that the valve guide is all beat to heck and unusable. Here's pictures. That may have been the cause of the rocker going askew or it may have been the result – I can’t tell. Anyway I had to go to the fallback plan. I’d already pulled my last spare head (unbuilt) off the shelf and found the valves that went in it, so I cleaned off the bowl surfaces, lapped the valves and swapped on the temp sensor. After washing off the lapping compound, I left the head to dry. Then it was an hour of getting lifters out. Using a strong magnet, I was able to get five out rather easily, but the last one was tough. Finally, I was to pry it past the point where it was sticking and work it out. I got them all disassembled and the first one soaking in carb cleaner. This morning I went out and swapped in the next one into the solvent. B’s home all day, so she’s going to do more swapping in and out of the cleaner. Tonight I’ve got a Corvair club meeting that I can’t miss, so no work will get done. L gets home this evening too. Thank goodness we’ve got a spare car."

8/13/09: More from Dad. "So after 5+ hours on Monday evening and another hour on Tuesday, I had the engine back together enough start her up. Everything runs great EXCEPT that one of the lifters that I just cleaned refuses to pump up L One of the reasons it took me so long was that getting the lifters back in their bores was even tougher than getting them out. There was no chamfer on either the lifter or bore and the bore is set back from the face of the block opening. Axial alignment had to be perfect to prevent raising a burr. The first two went in cleanly, but not without careful and time-consuming maneuvering. After about 15 minutes on each of the next two without success it was time for a break. I came back and the fifth one slid right in. The sixth one, after 15 minutes, got tapped in and slid home once I got it started. Back to the third and fourth and careful feeling indicated burrs. Out came the grinder with a head just smaller than the bore. Careful grinding of the bore and I was finally able to get those last two in. What to do now? I’ll first try and isolate which rocker is clacking. Then I’ll pull off the rocker cover and verify that all adjustments are correct. If that still doesn’t get rid of the problem, I’ll have to pull the lifter. It sounds like it’s the second one in which is good since that one installed easily."

8/14/09: Good news. Last night Dad went out to the garage to try and figure out which lifter wasn't pumping up. He let the car warm up and revved the engine and the lo-and-behold the clatter went away. Yeah.

8/22/09: Heidi's been running fine, but last night when I pulled her into the driveway the right rear suspension broke loose. '64s have a transverse leaf spring across the rear suspension for stabilization. The ends of the spring are attached to the lower rear control arms with bolts and nuts. One of the nuts had worked itself off the bolt. Dad hadn't put a large enough cotter pin through small hole in the bolt. With jack and jackstands, he was able to put everything back together and this time used the right sized pin. We'll keep an eye on this to ensure there isn't an issue with the nut or bolt threads.

8/31/09: Two weeks and a few hundred miles and all's good with Hedi's engine. Dad and I changed the oil and filter to make sure all the bits and pieces that had been ground off the guide, lifter, and valve were now out of the lubrication system. I'll drive her down to VA Thursday.

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