Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lucy - How We Got To This Point

Lucy came into our lives with Ringo as part of a package deal. The previous owner had bought the two cars with the intention of creating a his-and-hers pair. His wife, however, never really got excited about the little cars, so the two languished for a year and a half. Then an ad was placed in the local Corvair club newsletter, and I answered it. A week or so later, I'd struck a deal for the pair. I've been blogging on the Motortopia website, but have decided to move all my Corvair blogging to this site. Following is the Reader's Digest version of the Lucy-related blogs.

May 7, 2007: After sitting in my garage untouched for a year, my 1963 Chevrolet Corvair coupe is now on the road to being put on the road. Last week I was involved in a car wreck and my daily driver (a nicely kept '96 Mazda MX-6) was heavily damaged. I believe that it will be totalled, so I'm scrambling on deciding how to replace it. One of the first options that came to mind was to pay a Corvair mechanic to do the hard work necessary to get my Corvair on the road. Last weekend I cleaned the car and started checking out the electrical systems. They are not all in good working order, so I'll be starting the chore by cleaning all the terminals in the fuse box.

May 15, 2007: I connected the battery cables to a 12V power supply and began going over the electrical systems. Here's the status of the checks:
Headlights - All four work in the hi-beam mode only. It looks like the hi-lo switch is bad. Note that some of the headlight bulbs are the desirable T-3.
Taillights - All work
Parking Lights - All work.
Backup Lights - Both work
Blinkers - All work except for the left rear. I'll be doing some research on the wiring diagram today.
TEMP/PRESS idiot light - Works
Wipers - Not working
Dome light - Not working
Radio - Not working
Starter - Worked when I bought the car

Today is sandblasting and priming day. I'll be spending my lunch hour in my employer's machine shop.

May 18, 2007: After removing, disassembling, cleaning, lubricating, reassembling, testing, and installing the hi-lo beam switch and the blinker switch, I've got fully functional headlights, brake lights, and directional lights. I also bought a battery and hold-down hardware and installed them as well. I finished sandblasting and priming the air cleaner assembly. I tried bondo'ing over the rust-through in one of the housings, but the jury's out on whether it's an acceptable fix. I've decided on yellow for the color for the air cleaner assembly. I've got to prime over the red primer with gray primer for the yellow to look right, so I've got some paint work for tonight and tomorrow night. All of this work is in preparation for towing the car to the Corvair Ranch this Sunday where I'll leave the car with Jeff and his guys to do the work required to get the car roadworthy. On the list for them are:
- Drop gas tank, flush, seal, and reinstall
- Inspect and clear gas lines
- Refurbish brake system (replace hoses, rebuild MC and wheel cylinders, check lines)
- Check and adjust e-brake cable
- Lube front and rear wheel bearings
- Inspect and lube front suspension and steering
- Rebuild carbs
- Install provided tune-up parts
- Change oil and filter
- Adjust dwell and timing
- Adjust carbs for idle
- Replace fanbelt
- Inspect clutch linkage and lubricate
- Inspect tranny linkage and adjust
I'd love to do the work myself, but I just don't have the time what with keeping two other Corvairs and my wife's daily-driver (a Suburban with over 250,000 miles) on the road.

May 21, 2007: Yesterday dawned rainy, but it stopped when my 13-year-old daughter, Victoria, and I were ready to load Lucy onto the tow dolly. The rain never prevented us from having a wonderful day together at the Corvair Ranch's Open House. I left my car there under the care of proprietor, Jeff, and his crew to get it on the road for me. The timing of the Open House was perfect. Victoria and I took lots of pictures (posted on the linked album) as we walked the acres of Corvairs in various states of rust and dismantling. I enticed her to join me by promising her she'd see every kind of Corvair made so she could best decide which body style she wanted as her father-daughter project. It didn't take long for her to confirm her thoughts on a Late Model Convertible. Now I've got to find a suitable (read cheap and solid) car for us to roadify (do the necessary work to get a safe and reliable car on the road). During our walk around the yard, we were joined by Ed Bittman. A retiree from FL and owner of multiple Corvairs, Ed had great stories and insight and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. Jeff put on a great spread for lunch and the prizes given away at the end of the day were quite nice. We spent five memorable hours there, and I will be back again next year.

May 30, 2007 : I'm now responsible for keeping three early-model Corvair daily-drivers on the road. I picked mine up from the Corvair Ranch yesterday after proprietor Jeff made it drivable. In addition to completing the laundry list of stuff listed in a previous post, he and his people replaced a bent pushrod and tube; installed a new fuel sender, accelerator pedal bushing and pivot, u-joint, and a door latch. It made the drive home without a problem. It sounds so cool going through the gears. This is my first manual transmission Corvair after many years of driving Powerglides, and I love it. My two Corvair-driving daughters are already fighting about who gets to try and drive my car first. There are still some things that need my attention before the car will be a good daily-driver. They are: no seat belts; the odometer and tachometer don’t work; the speedometer is VERY bouncy; the vent doors are rusted shut; the radio, wipers, dome light and dash lights don’t work, and GEN/FAN idiot light doesn’t work.

May 31, 2007: Spent a few hours in the garage last night crossing items off the To-Do list. I installed front seat belts that I'd pulled out of my junked '63 sedan (they are original '63 Custom buckles). Unfortunately, the webbing is green, but "beggars can't be choosers". My wife is insisting that I install shoulder belts in this one since I'll be putting so much time behind the wheel in it on my 40 mile commute. I found a company near my house, Andover Restraints, that I'll be going to for new belts when I get to that project. I still have no idea how I'm going to anchor the shoulder belt portion. Any ideas, please shoot me a message. I also free'd up the vent doors and front seat runners with PB Blaster. I determined that my wiper motor works, but there's not enough current being supplied to it - must be a corroded connection somewhere in the circuit. I found that the tachometer is not wired up to the distributor, so I'll have to run a wire from the engine compartment to the dash to get that working. I bought a new dome lightbulb, but that didn't get me light. It looks like the ground portion of that circuit has got a problem since there is 12 Volts at the one terminal. I messed with the headlight switch until I got some voltage at the dashlight fuse terminal. I'll pull the switch and clean the contacts dashlight dimming adjust and that'll make that circuit reliable. That's all I had time for.

Jun 1, 2007: Another evening in the garage, and only two things are left on the To Do list - tachometer and dome light. I was able to get the wipers to work by running a wire directly from the fuse box to the motor thus bypassing what I believe is a broken wire. I replaced all the light bulbs in the dash and have got the dash light dimming circuit to function properly. I also got the radio to work by rewiring the system and removing the amplifier. Even the cassette deck works. The PO installed a nice 6X9 speaker in the center of the dash, so I'm going with a front-back stereo setup using an old speaker I had lying around. I'll need to build a nice enclosure for it eventually. I wired up the tach, but couldn't get the needle to move. I'll remove it from the car, disassemble, clean, and reassemble with the hopes that it will be functioning after that. The dome light has an open on the ground side of the circuit. Some sleuthing will be required before that fix is made.

Jun 5, 2007: Yesterday, I went to four different stores to try and find the right wiper blades that will fit the Corvair. Finally ended up with 16” long ones that will have to have 1” cut off them to fit. Have they stopped making them? It looks like the same thing is happening with tires. The closest metric size to the original 6.5-13 is 185-80/13 and there are very few around. I need to replace the tires on both my ’63 and my daughter’s ’61 pretty soon, and I’m having a heck of a time finding them.

Jun 8, 2007: I've been commuting in my '63 'vair for the last three days and I've discovered that the leak at the bellhousing to differential joint Jeff (Corvair Ranch) had warned me about is pretty significant. The fluid is 90 wgt oil and it leaves a nice 8 inch diameter puddle in my parking spot at work. Yesterday morning before hitting the road I put the car up on jackstands and checked the oil level in the differential. It was down about a half cup, so I topped it off. I'm calculating that I can make the two days of eighty mile commutes each without losing too much. Today I'll be ordering the requisite throw-out bearing seal (see picture) from Clark's along with any other parts that I may need. I don't want to drop the engine and split the drivetrain only to end up having it sit while I wait for a part to show up. I'll also be ordering new rings and the pertinent gaskets and o-rings to do a ring and valve job on my daughter's '64 'vair 'vert. It's only running on five cylinders due to no compression in #6. Since I don't know whether it's a bad ring or a bad valve, I'll be replacing the heads with spares and the rings with new. That project will commence next Wednesday.

Jun 11, 2007: I was worried about losing too much transmission oil through the leak, so I checked the fluid level last night. After about 200 miles of driving, it was down about a quarter of an inch. It only took about a half cup to bring up to the full mark. Not too much considering the ample puddles it creates.

Jun 13, 2007: Lucy has been missing the right muffler hanger since I got the car. It's sagging was bugging me so since I was already late for work, I used a couple of tie-wraps to pull it back up into position.

Nov 13, 2007: Ordered a set of good ignition wires for Lucy from Silicone Wire Systems. She seems to be running smoother with the Pertronix, but it’s been wet and there’s still an occasional miss. Tonight, I’ll be in the garage tweaking Lucy’s timing (I forgot to pull the vacuum line when I checked the timing after the Pertronix install), installing rear seatbelts (now that she’s got her rear seat back), and installing new thermostats (they control the rear duct doors – the old ones that are currently in there keep the doors wide open all the time making warm up time a lot longer).

Dec 3, 2007: I've now got the wheels I wanted for Lucy. Saturday morning my wife told me that if I REALLY wanted the 14” 280ZX wheels as my Christmas present from her to pull them and buy them and she'd "wrap" them for me. She was kidding about wrapping, but I would love for her to "wrap" them in 205/60-14 tires. So I went to Crazy Ray's with three things on my list. The thermostats there were bad. I forgot to check on a wiper switch. The wheels were quite the adventure. I walked back to the corner of the yard where I'd seen the 280ZX last. The area had been reorganized and the car was not in that area anymore. Not wanting to believe that they'd crushed it, I walked row after row until, on the last Nissan row, I found it. Now, however, it only had two of its wheels mounted. The rear end was gone with the car supported by stacked wheels. I was able to look though the two stacks and found that none of the wheels were the ones I wanted. I removed all the lug nuts from the two front wheels and hailed the forklift to lift the car and I removed them. The forklift drove away and I started comparing tire treads to those supporting surrounding cars trying to find the other wheels. The second car I looked at had a three-tire stack and the bottom two had the same tire tread. I tracked down the forklift and after he lifted the car, I pulled out the wheels. They were the missing pair. Yeah!

Jan 2, 2008: Cleaned up Lucy’s new wheels with the old tires that were on them and installed two of them for looks. Found that the wheel studs are not long enough, so I’ll be looking for ones that are about ½ inch longer. The picture is deceiving with the car sitting much higher due to rear-end camber.

Jan 9, 2008: My plan had been to make the following swaps:1. Front suspension from Heidi 4-door (Powerglide) into Lucy. This gives me a swaybar, something GM didn’t put in std. ‘63s.2. Rear cross member from the 4-door into Lucy. This allows me the chance to refinish/rebuild complete without having Lucy off the road.3. Rear a-arms and springs from the 4-door onto Lucy. This gives me the improved transverse leaf spring setup.4. Differential from the 4-door into Lucy. This is necessary because of the mounting pad on the bottom of the differential that retains the leaf spring.5. Use Lucy’s transmission, tranny mount, bellhousing, clutch, and engine as-is.I’d read a couple of things that led me to believe I could do this. I posted on the online forum and found out that it won’t work. Here’s what I’m finding out:1. The front suspension thing is okay.2. The rear cross member from an automatic car isn’t the same as one from a manual car.3. A-arms and springs are okay to swap from one crossmember to another.4. Differentials will not swap. Automatics are different from manuals. I’d figured this out a while ago and was planning on swapping the internals from one into the other, but I’m now finding out that the cases are different and supposedly can’t be swapped.5. All these parts will swap.What options does all that leave me?A. I can swap just the front suspension and call it a day (cheapest approach). This would, however, require me to install travel-limiting springs in the rear to prevent suspension tuck-under. I lose the benefit of the improved rear suspension, but I save a lot of time and the expense of rebuilding the rear suspension. This option would also allow me to put the rear suspension back under the 4-door and I could dolly it to the Ranch rather than have to strip it more and cut off the roof. I’m out the cost of a dolly, but I save a LOT of time and would only have to make one run in the Suburban instead of two. Hey, I just had an idea. I wonder if I could safely use my utility trailer as a kind of tow-dolly. I’ll have to measure the heights to figure that one out. I could still do the swap sometime in the future using parts from the Ranch if I find it’s necessary.B. I could get a manual ’64 differential case from the Corvair Ranch and swap in the internals from Lucy’s. The downside to that is it adds more time to Lucy’s being off the road since I’ve got to factor in the time it takes me to do the swap (and I’ve never done this thing before).C. I could spend more money and buy a complete ’64 differential from the Ranch.D. I could save Heidi rear suspension parts that I’ll need and deal with that part of the swap later. That leaves me with the moving the 4-door issue.I’m really leaning towards option A. I also kind of like the idea of adding the custom springs. It would be something you’d not see very often.

Jan 23, 2008: Spent a couple hours in the garage last night working on Lucy. First task was finding some mounted tires that weren’t age-cracked like the ones on her front. I dug up a couple that were being used as spares in Heidi and ‘61, but still had good life on them (they came with the white ’63 4-door I’d had earlier and were basically new when I got it). The car actually handles differently with the different tires. I DON”T like the look of the wire wheel covers on the black (instead of red) wheels with blackwalls. Not worth the $30+ and time to have them remounted. Also, I was going to change the solenoid to fix the starting spinning but not engaging problem, but when I was removing the wires running to it, I discovered that one of them was barely connected at a splice. Thinking that was the reason her starter didn’t want to engage on cold mornings, I re-did the splice and gave her a test start. Of course, she cranked right over. Thinking I’d solved the problem, I buttoned her back up and went inside. This morning, she did her same old thing. It did engage on the second crank, but I’ll still need to replace the solenoid. Oh well, at least I already have a replacement, and I know exactly which tools to pull out and where to stick my arms through to access the nuts retaining the leads. The job’s always easier the second time.

Jan 28, 2008: Saturday evening I went out to the garage and messed around with Lucy for a few hours installing the new solenoid, tightening a door handle, and installing new defroster ducts from the 4-door.I discovered that the solenoid was not the problem. Irrr. I’m guessing it’s a sticky Bendix on the starter since it only does it when it’s cold. I’ll buy a starter rebuild kit since I may as well do the job right since I’ll be in the starter anyway.

Feb 20, 2008: Last night I finally cleared out the garage floor enough to pull Lucy in. I’ve been finishing the sandblast cabinet, reorganizing tools & parts, and trying to find a location to put my new-to-me parts bin (at nearly 4’ high and 4’ wide it’s a bit larger than I’d thought it would be). I needed to address a problem with Lucy. She’s been having an intermittent rough-running condition that I thought was a coil going bad. As I was replacing the coil, I discovered that the wire from the coil to the distributor was loose. That very well may solve the problem. Only driving will tell. I went ahead and changed the coil anyway with a used one off the shelf. Hopefully I didn’t replace a good one with a bad one.

Feb 21, 2008: Drove my '63 into work today like normal, and she drove without a hitch - no missing. She does NOT like the cold weather. Her speedometer goes crazy until it warms up (althought it's kinda' cool to see it pegged at over 100 mph), and the shifter linkage is REALLY tight.

Apr 8, 2008: Just placed an order with Clark’s Corvair Parts for $230 and one with Larry’s Corvair Parts for $110. This will get me new shocks for Lucy and the parts to fix Lucy’s leaks and put Heidi’s engine back together. It’s supposed to arrive Thursday, so I’ll be able to work on cars this weekend.

April 24, 2008: Last night was a car night. I put a replacement brake switch in Heidi, washed and waxed my ‘63, and swapped Ringo’s and ‘64’s tires back. Interestingly, I discovered the left front wheel hub on Ringo had a little play, so I tightened the castle nut one slot – the other side was fine. Then I started working on refinishing the Nissan wheels for my ‘63. Broke out the 400 grit wet sandpaper and got through phase 1 on a couple of the wheels. I’m not going to be able to make them perfect, but from 10 feet they’ll look awesome. Phase 2 is 1500 grit, then 2000, then polishing with the kit I bought at Charlotte, then clear-coating.

May 8, 2008: Spent some time in the garage last night. Seems like forever since I worked on a car. I pulled the bottom shrouds off of Ringo for the summer and manually closed the heater door since the lever inside the car wasn’t pulling far enough. Then I changed the oil in my ‘63, pulled its bottom shrouds, replaced a couple of headlight adjusting bosses, and aimed the brights. Friday night my eldest daughter and I will start the drivetrain swap on her car.

Jun 23, 2008: After running to the auto parts store and getting light bulbs and installing them, I decided it was time to do the cut-off front coil spring and shock absorber swap. I used my cutoff wheel to remove a coil from each of the two front springs I’d pulled off the 4-door I parted out. Thanks to air impact wrenches (those darn 45-year-old nuts and bolts), I got the front end disassembled enough to remove the coil springs without breaking a single bolt. Starting at 3:30, I had everything back together by the time B got home from work at 8 PM. The front sits lower and I like the look. The new shocks are adjustable and I set them on Extra Firm. This morning’s commute seemed slightly stiffer.

Jun 25, 2008: I’m finally completing the refinish of my Christmas present from my lovely wife – 280ZX wheels for my ’63 Corvair. This is what they looked like before I got them.The past few nights I’ve been polishing them, and last night I sprayed them with clear acrylic from a rattle can. I’m a little disappointed the finished product is more flat-looking than I’d hoped. The upside is the one wheel that still had its clearcoat intact now looks much closer to the others.I discovered that I really need to use stepped lug nuts like those that came with wheel. They are stepped to fit the counterbores in the wheels. The originals had a metric thread (12mm X 1.25 pitch), so they won’t go on the GM studs (7/16-20). It looks like I’ll need to buy new ones.

Jul 15, 2008: Completed the refinishing effort on Heidi front suspension that I plan on installing in my '63. This will get me the anti-roll bar and I'm putting in the quick-steering arms I bought from a 'vair buddy.I've got the wheels installed on my '63 now. The car has got exactly the stance and look I've always wanted for it.

Sep 29, 2008: Got the harnesses installed in Lucy Corvair with the help of my small-handed 11 year-old. I needed her to install hardware through a small access and then hold the wrench while I tightened nuts from the opposite side. That gave me square tubing on the inside package tray to attach chain to which I then attached the shoulder harness to. I'm now ready to hit the track. There are a couple more things I could do, but this makes me legal.

Oct 15, 2008: Before taking my '63 Corvair to Summit Point Raceway, I was hoping to re-install the dual exhaust and some cables that limit the drop of the rear trailing arm. The latter modification prevents the rear wheels from going to positive camber on sharp turns. I ran out of time, so I decided to only get the cables installed. After drilling a hole in the rim of each rear spring perch, I threaded the cable through, then looped and clamped it with two cable clamps. As you can see in the attached picture of me at speed, I need to tighten the clamps.

Oct 15, 2008: The day went as follows for me: I was the second person to arrive at the paddock after passing through the front gate at 7 AM sharp. The first hurdle was to pass tech inspection and I did. I had to really crank on the wingnuts of the battery hold-down and my rear shocks are marginal, but I got my sticker. The second hurdle was not wadding up the car which I succeeded in doing by staying on-track the entire day. Maybe I wasn’t driving hard enough, but I did have at least a half a dozen “exciting” moments where I was doing some extra steering and at least twice I used then entire track at the end of the main straightaway (suffice it to say I seriously missed my turn-in point). The way the track portion of the day went was as follows: 3 groups of ~13 cars each (divided by expected lap speed) each ran the track for 20 minutes; then open track until noon; 30 minute lunch break for the corner workers; open track until 1:30; 2 cars at a time (matched by speed) on the track for warmup and two timed hot laps; open track until 4:30; parade laps where anyone could drive around and take passengers. The organizers came by at the end of the day and told me they felt I was the driver that spent the most time out on the track. How did my car run? She drove to the track without issue. There were nineteen total turns, three of which are hairpins. After each hairpin she had a fuel starvation issue – I’d floor it and she’d bog down for a moment before coming up to full strength. That was annoying. By the afternoon (right before the timed laps), the fuel starvation was more of an issue – she was missing during the two straightaways as well. My two laps could have been better because of that, but I’m taking pride in the fact that there was only a half-second difference between the two. Out of the times that were posted when I checked that was most consistent pari of laps. I went out during the last open session and the miss was a little worse. Since I still had an hour-and-a-half drive home, I decided (very sadly) to call it a day. I did take Jonathan for a ride around the track during parade laps so he could locate his magnetic door number that had blown off on the main straightaway. Hurdle number three was making it home, and that wasn't pleasant because of the missing. I had to floor it to keep up to speed on any hill. I'm driving Ringo Monza to work.

Oct 27, 2008: As Fall returns full-force, the morning temperatures drop, and it's time the fleet of Corvairs have working heaters again. Since Corvairs are air-cooled, it's necessary to control the amount of air flow that crosses my engine fins. To accomplish this, GM designers put in sheetmetal that encloses the bottom of the two volumes that contain the engine's cylinder and head fins and added two thermostatically-controlled doors. The doors are closed when the engine is cold, thus restricting air flow, and once the engine is up to temp the thermostats expand opening the doors to allow air-flow. The thermostats are quite expensive to replace, so many Corvair owners remove them and the associated sheetmetal during the warmer months when engine heat-up happens without restricting air flow. The heater in a Corvair works by ducting the heated air bottled up in the closed volumes and directing it into the passenger compartment. Therefore, without the sheetmetal, the heater is useless.So, the re-installation of the thermostats has become a Fall ritual around our house. First, it was my oldest daughter’s ’64 a couple of weekends ago, followed by Ringo’s last weekend. Finally, my ‘63 got hers installed yesterday.

Oct 27, 2008: Sometime during the track day, my ’63 Corvair developed a fuel issue. It felt like something was clogging the carburetors. I made it home from Summit Point, but had to floor it to keep up to speed on any sort of hill. I got out to the garage Friday night and diagnosed that the right side of the engine was not up to power. I pulled apart that side’s carburetor and blew out all the passages and put it back together. After reassembly, the engine new run’s like a top again. Once out on the street, I noticed a grinding noise from the rear brakes. I put the car up on jackstands and pulled the rear hubs and found one of the shoes had lost most of its lining. I replaced the bad shoe and took the opportunity to replace Lucy drums with the upgraded finned drums from Heidi I parted out. After adjusting the star wheels to get the right clearance the brakes are good-to-go. With the car off the ground, I reinstalled the thermostats and bottom engine shrouds so I now have heat again.

Nov 13, 2008: My ’63 2-dr daily-driver (Lucy) is running wonderfully. I really need to get it up on jackstands and get the underside coated with POR-15 to stop the rust. Especially important with winter coming on, and the certainty of salt going onto the roadways. My only near-term plan for this car is the purchase of a lightweight fiberglass engine cover (hood) from a guy I met at the recent track day I was at. I’d also love to get a pair of cheap turbo mufflers so I can reinstall the dual exhaust system.

Nov 24, 2008: One evening about a week ago, I went out to drive my ’63 Corvair for a run to the store. Turning the key only elicited the rrr-rrr-rrr of a slow-moving starter struggling to turn the engine. I hooked up the charger and was able to make it to the weekend without addressing the problem.Ever since I got this car on the road, the GEN/FAN light would glow at low RPM, so I’d assume the generator needed rebuilding. Yesterday, armed with my voltmeter, I measured 14-15 Volts at the generator output – plenty I figured. I didn’t get the same level at the battery terminal, so I changed the voltage regulator with a used one. Lo and behold the voltage at the battery was higher and now the GEN/FAN light doesn’t come on. Problem solved? Only time will tell, but I’ve got the jumper cables handy just in case.

Dec 2, 2008: Since I drive my ’63 Monza nearly every day, I get lots of comments. Here’s some that I remember.One gentlemen came up to me and the car last night as I was about to drive away from the liquor store. He told me how he’d swapped a Corvair engine into a VW. “Went like stink.”Another time, again in a liquor store parking lot (see a pattern?), a guy came up to me and launched into a story on how his girlfriend had to have some money to file a restraining order against her previous boyfriend, so he sold his ’62 Monza and gave her the money. A couple months later, she dumped him. He's been kicking himself ever since, and that was twenty years ago. "I'm glad I rarely see these on the road," he continued, "Since every time I do, I get really mad at myself."One more. A guy I work with keeps bothering me about driving my old car every day. “You need to park it in a garage,” he says, but I tell him I’m having too much fun.

Dec 4, 2008: Night before last I started up my '63 Corvair and heard a strange, new sound like a rattling exhaust. As soon as the engine came off idle it went away. Yesterday, in the daylight, I took a quick look-see under the engine lid and discovered the choke kick-down had broke. Second one in the last six months, but since the parts are forty-some years old, I'm not complaining. Last night I pulled a replacement part off a spare carb and swapped it with the bad one. All's good this morning - no bad noises. I guess that side wouldn't idle with the choke open and the engine cold.

Dec 16, 2008: I bought three decent used tires (Goodyears, $80, mounted and balanced) last Saturday in preparation for the drive down to SC for Christmas. I figured driving 1000 miles at highway speeds on the tires that came from the junkyard with the 280ZX wheels wasn't smart.The 280ZX wheels don't fit perfectly around the hubs of my Corvair, so I've been centering them by first installig two tapered lugnuts followed by two of the chrome shouldered lugnuts. Then I replace the tapered ones with the chrome ones and I've not had an vibrations. Saturday, I got lazy and installed the wheels without centering. I measured the runout and saw basically no runout, so I figured I was good-to-go. Not so. Yesterday morning as soon as I hit about 45, the front end tried to shake itself off the car.Last night I redid the lugnuts using my centering technique and everything was smooth on the drive into work - 70+ mph.

Dec 16, 2008: I was going through car receipts the other night and found the one The Corvair Ranch wrote up when getting my '63 Corvar back on the road. I had towed her up there when my previous daily-driver was totalled by stop sign running dump truck. Here's the list right off the invoice:fuel tank sealerfill & vent hoses, clamps, & socknew fuel sender, o-ring5-16 fuel hose, clamps, and inline filter5-32 vacuum haose(2) #54 jets(2) bronze "stone" filterscarb floatcarb base gasket and insulator setset spark plugsaccelerator pedal pivot & bushing(2) rear brake hoses(1) gallon gear oil(1) gallon engine oil and filterused pushrod, tube, and o-rings(1) universal jointdriver door inside latchTotal $279.20Labor $1275.00That is a GREAT deal for work and parts that haven't given me any problems during the 10,000 miles since the car was put back into service. I had given them a couple of Corvair shells, so that was reflected in the great price he gave me. Regardless, their work is excellent.

Mar 4, 2009: I've been working on her on-and-off over the winter. Here's the highlights:- Removed the spoiler since it rubbed a lot. I'll save it for the times I take her on the track.- Installed dual exhaust using FlowTech Raptor Turbo Mufflers. I need to take some pictures and a video. She sounds great and revs more freely than with the single exhaust.- Replaced the aluminum heater ducts with non-metallic. These warm up faster and don't lose heat to the cold outside air as much as the aluminum dryer vent ones did.- Adjusted the camber limiting cables on the rear control arms. I tightened them to prevent the rear wheels from going into positive camber. I also covered them in vinyl to prevent any chafing on the brake hoses that run up near them.- Installed an amp with a connector so I can play my iPod directly into the speakers. This bypasses the old cassette player that had blown out one of the stereo channels.- Installed the 2-speed wiper motor and switch. This also got me the washer pump which I discovered didn't work. The best fix is to install a universal pump which I still need to buy.-Pulled the carburetors and installed vent tubes. These prevent gas was sloshing out the vent holes under hard cornering. Plus they look racy. I really need to take more pictures and add them to my album.- Bought a battery box that I'll install in the trunk to move some weight to the front.- Spent an afternoon at Crazy Ray's Pick-a-part and pulled out a battery harness from a 5-series BMW. These cars have the battery under the backseat, so their harness is fairly long. For the battery relocation project I haven't yet started.

May 28, 2009: A month ago, I carved out the time to do the battery relocation project in my ’63 Corvair. I stripped out the seats and carpet and discovered some rust-through – nothing too significant thankfully. With fiberglass cloth over the holes, I applied a pint of POR-15 to the floors. Then I drilled holes, installed grommets, and ran the battery cable from the trunk through the hole high in the passenger footwell through the hole in the rear center of the interior and out to the starter. The battery box is located as far forward and to the right as possible. I ran the cable to the positive terminal and then tied the cable down at critical spots using nylon p-clips. I ran the pigtail off the terminal to the main supply wire in the harness under the dash and spliced it in. With the main cable in place, I reinstalled the carpet and seats. For the negative cable, I drilled a hole in a support near the battery, cleaned off the paint to get bare metal, and bolted on the end of the cable. Everything worked and the GEN light didn’t come on. Success is a beautiful thing.

May 28, 2009: I sent two carburetor bases to Wolf Enterprises and had him relocate the jets. In stock form, the jet in these 1-barrel carbs are located on the side wall. Under significant g-forces, the gas sloshes away from the jet and the engine is starved for fuel. That problem was a nuisance at Summit Point, but this fix should remedy that. An upside was these bases were in better shape than those previously on the car, so idling and drivability are improved.

May 28, 2009: About two weeks ago, I noticed a vibration coming from the front suspension of my ’63 Corvair. A quick wiggle of the left front wheel indicated I had a loose balljoint. This gave me the impetus to swap in Heidi front suspension (with swaybar), that I’d been prepping for the last year with new bushings (a-arm and control-arm now have polyurethane bushings, while the strut rods and sway bar have new rubber bushings), and new balljoints on the control-arms (the upper’s were still tight). The swap went well, with no broken bolts. After cleaning and repacking the front bearings and installing the carbon-metallic brake shoes I bought from a fellow Corvair racer, it was time for the alignment. I borrowed a very nice Snap-On Camber/Caster gage and set the caster to 4 degrees positive and the camber to 0 degrees. I wanted 1 degree negative, but didn’t have enough shims. Finally, using a straight board, carpenter’s square, and tape measure, I set the toe-in to 1/8 inch. With the differences between the original front end and the swapped-in one, the steering wheel was off, so the last step was pulling the steering wheel and realigning.

May 28, 2009: My '63 Corvair and I are ready for the track! The Northeast Corvair Council’s Time Trials at BeaveRun Motorsports Park are this Saturday, and I’ll be there. I wanted to get a few more things done, but ran out of time. The car’s in better condition for this event than it was last Fall for Summit Point. Last night I thoroughly cleaned the car, both the outside and the engine compartment. I’ve removed the bottom shrouds to improve air flow, and installed the harness on the passenger seat (already on the driver’s side). The projects I didn't get to, but eventually will, are changing to a dual master cylinder and swapping an alternator for the generator. Oh well, more improvements I can do before the next track day.

Jun 2, 2009: Got up early Friday to finish packing and hitch Lucy to the Suburban. Left work at noon, and after filling my two 5 gallon gas cans with cheaper MD gas, hit the road for PA. Met up with Jonathan Kendig and we caravanned the 240 miles to the host hotel getting there around 5. Quite a few ‘vairs were already there, so I visited until dinner. After a restless night of little sleep, I was up early and headed to the track. I mounted my spoiler, checked the air in the tires, marked the sidewalls, and emptied out Lucy all in preparation for the tech inspector that never came. At registration, we received a tech form that we filled out and signed and that was it. Next, it was the drivers’ meeting where the track layout and format for the day were explained. We had been divided into three groups and each group would get twenty minute sessions on the track until three, when the time trials would be run. The passing rules were also described – the two straightaways would be used and faster cars could only pass after receiving a point-by from the slower car’s driver. After the meeting’s conclusion ride-alongs were available for those who’d never driven the track before. I climbed into the back seat of one of BeaveRun’s school cars (an ex-cop car) driven by Chris (one of the track instructors). He drove three of us around the track and explained the proper line pointing out the cones that marked turn-ins, apex, and corner exits. All good info that jived with what I’d read and saw on the web. Then it was time for the first group to line up on the false grid. Once they’d entered the track, my group was called to line up. After a few minutes of standing around, I buckled in, donned my helmet, and got Lucy running to warm up. Suddenly, it was time to head out onto the track. We had been told there’d be two laps under caution before they turned us loose. Those two laps went by quickly. It’s funny how I had to run my caution laps almost full-out to keep up with everyone else’s caution speed. With the green flag out, it was time for me to let a few of the faster cars past me. I was able to stay ahead of a couple, so it wasn’t all embarrassment. I focused on hitting the marks and not pushing the brakes too hard. Street tires make it tough to carry lots of speed through the tight turns, but I was still having a blast. After about ten laps it was time to come in and park. Getting out of the car, I felt a little weak in the knees. The instructor that I did the ride-along with had offered to ride along with me if I wanted pointers, so I hunted him down and asked him to be ready to climb in the next time my group gridded. I had time to check the marks on the sidewalls before they announcement to head to the grid was made. Soon after Chris was buckled in, we got the signal to head out. It was great having a pro along. His advice was invaluable, urging me to brake later, pointing out other small corrections. There was only one mildly scary moment for us when I had to do some quick steering to keep Lucy on track. He calmly explained I should NEVER, EVER lift in the middle of a turn. I had missed the turn in point and had gone into the turn too hot. After that I felt so much smoother and felt like I was wringing the maximum out of Lucy’s tired, old engine and cheap, used tires. At the end of the session, he praised how much I was getting out of a 40-year old car with drum brakes. That made me feel good. I was able to get a couple more sessions in before lunch. During the last one, the first mechanical mishap occurred. I had come out of the hairpin in second gear and shifted into third at 5500 rpm. Almost immediately after I felt a pop under my right foot and I noticed the GEN/PRESS light was illuminated. The fan belt had broken and hit the throttle linkage, so I shut off the ignition. At that point I had just passed the entrance to the pit, so I had to coast through turn 1 where right after there was a pull out area where I coasted off the track. The corner worker called the tow truck and with the session over, I came into the paddock on the end of a tow rope. I ate lunch and then attempted to install one of my spare belts. It was too short. It was one I’d bought at Advance Auto, and they’d mis-matched the length. I’d been able to get it on Ringo’s engine, but it wasn’t going on mine. Fortunately, I had a second spare that did fit. We had time to get two more sessions in after lunch, during which I was really pushing the car. I was able to get up to nearly 85 on the back stretch before late braking into the hairpin. The brakes and tires were really starting give up by the end of the last session, and then the replacement belt flipped off coming out of the same turn. I noticed it soon enough that I was able to get into the pits and coast to the paddock. I reinstalled the belt, this time a little tighter. It only had to make it four more laps of the time trials. We lined up on the false grid for our turn to be timed. The guy running the trials put two cars, staggered, onto the track at once. Each got a warm-up lap, two timed laps, and a cool-down lap. I was about eighth in line. Going through turn 4 on my first hot lap, I carried too much speed and as I hit the apex the rear end started coming around. I tried to keep my foot in it and catch it, but I overcorrected and she went all the way around. I ended up with the rear tires in the grass and the engine off. I was able to get her started and I pulled away. The rest of that lap and the next went off smoothly until I passed by the flag stand. I was expecting to see the checkered flag signifying my cool-down lap, but instead the flagman pointed me through. They were giving me another hot lap to make up for the one I’d lost with my spin. We were told to keep it floored through the flagstand because that’s where the timer was stopping the lap, so I kept my foot in it. As I let up to go into Turn 1, the belt came off again. Not wanting to hold up the show by pulling off and waiting for the tow truck, I decided to coast back to the paddock using the pit exit road. This is like the wrong way on a freeway on-ramp - typically bad things are going to happen. Since I knew they weren’t going to let anyone else on until my laps were done, I felt confident that I wasn’t going to cause any problem. After getting out of the car, one of the older guys came over and told me I needed to go see the coordinator and he was not happy. I walked up to Brian (whom I’ve had plenty of great conversations with) and he asked why I ignored the flagman. I explained that the belt had come off, and his demeanor immediately changed. “Okay, I needed to know why. If you want to, you can put another belt on and get back in line.” All’s good. I was out of that doghouse. I politely thanked him, but turned down his offer. I walked back to the car, feeling good about my one lap – all things considered. It only took about twenty minutes to remove the spoiler and attach Lucy to the Suburban. A five+ hour drive and I was home by 10:30.

Jul 7, 2009: One of Lucy’s carbs stopped working last week, so I’ve swapped back on her old ones – she’s doing fine again. I tried blowing out the passages, and it still didn't fix it. Will disassemble and soak in carb cleaner.

Jul 10, 2008: Pulled the carb out of the cleaner and soaked in water, then set aside to air-dry.

Jul 14, 2008: Reassembled the carb. Not gonna' do anything with it until I find some "extra" time.

Aug 19, 2008: Typical issue. The right, rear tailight stopped working. I went to replace what I thought was a burned bulb, but the bulb wouldn't budge. I ended up pulling the entire socket out and replacing it with one off the shelf. I had to splice in the correct connector, but all's good now. I told Loriann that the day's soon coming that I won't be able to pull a good, used part from the shelf to replace a failed one on a car. Too many cars - too many failures. :-(

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