Friday, October 30, 2009

Will I Get Any Car-Time This Weekend?

The last few weekends have been pretty jammed up with family and house stuff. I really wanted to get Victoria out to the garage to work on Glinda, but that hasn’t happened. There’s a lengthy list of Lucy projects in addition to working with V on her car. Top of that list is installing the reworked carburetors that showed up in yesterday’s mail. Then there’s the spare engine project that’s just sitting in the way on the garage floor. I really should determine whether it’s in good enough shape to leave together or if I should just tear it down into pieces that can be shelved.

Also in yesterday’s mail were two 1.5 by 2 inch ABS plastic couplers. They’ll be used to raise the air cleaner to improve (read: smooth out) the airflow into the carburetors. They won’t, unfortunately, just be a slap-on improvement. I’ll need to fashion gasketing at each end out of RTV that prevented from sticking to the carb and air-cleaner metal using wax paper or plastic wrap.

Guess we’ll just wait and see what the weekend brings me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Parts Packed Prior to Postal Passage

Last night I boxed up the free Corvair parts I’m shipping to ‘vairists across the county. Sunvisors and smog pump to Virginia, seat tracks to Pennsylvania, jack and lug wrench to California, and a shifter to Ohio. It’s nice to help out the Corvair community.

I got my welding helmet in the mail yesterday, so I had to try it on – as did a couple of the kids. Claudia, our 12-year-old Korean exchange student, was full of questions and comments like “You can’t see through the window!” I’m now ready to make metal messes in the garage. EXCITEMENT about something new!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Carburetor Expert Diagnosis and Repairs

I shipped my balky carbs to Wolf Enterprises last week. Following are excerpts from his work on them:

“I got the carbs and the problem was obvious. Whatever was used to seal the top vents had deteriorated and was throughout the carbs and was plugging the venturi clusters….
- removed one of the double gaskets under the inlet seat - throwing off the float settings (floats not level)
- very worn and leaking throttle shafts - put on seal kits
- one base vent always open (air leak) - removed, adjusted and replace
- chokes tripper arms on the throttle levers out of adjustment
- right carb fast idle speed adjustment on the cam
- replaced a cracked choke tripper lever”

So it appears the root of the problem was clogging caused by the epoxy I’d used when installing the vent tubes. I guess Loctite’s General Purpose epoxy is not impervious to gasoline. On the definite upside Grant fixed and tuned the carbs, so I’m quite excited about seeing how much nicer Lucy will run with excellently setup carburetors.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everything Checks Out

I checked for a battery draining short last night using a broken, yet electrically functional, taillight assy. By disconnecting the negative cable from the battery and inserting the taillight bulb in series, I could see if any device or a short was drawing current with the key off. The light stayed dark, so everything is off and there are no shorts. I turned the ignition key to ON and the lightbulb went off. All’s good. Oh wait. The dome light was still off. A slight turn of the headlight switch knob and on popped the light. Guess I bumped it when I messing about the night before.

Yesterday I placed an order with the Corvair Ranch for a new pressure switch to replace the leaking one in Lucy's engine. Also on the shopping list was rebuild kits for the front and rear brakes of Victoria's car, Glinda. That's the next get-Glinda-on-the-road project she and I will undertake.

On the welding front, I was all set to start using my MIG welder, but I decided to buy a different welding helmet. The one I'd bought at Harbor Freight is auto-darkening, but I read about a chin-activated helmet. I feel this type will be safer for my eyes because I'll control when the tinted lens comes down, not depending on electronics to darken the lens. I jumped online and bought one on eBay. Hopefully, it'll arrive this weekend so I can start making sparks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Perfect Electrical Storm

Needing to address a few issues on Lucy, I pulled her into the garage last night. First on the list was removing the right side rocker trim that had been flopping for a few weeks. Due to rust, the attachment screw at the front had no decent metal to thread into, so it fell out. Since I’m going to weld in a patch in the near future with my new-to-me MIG welder, I decided now was a good time to see how severe the decay was. Not too bad considering the significant patch I had to buy and have welded in the same place on Heidi’s fender.

Second, I needed to fix the unreliable wiper switch. I pulled it out of the dash and disconnected the leads. Since Lucy originally had a one-speed wiper motor, I had put in new wires with separate connectors when I upgraded her to a two-speed motor. This meant I would need to pay attention to which connector went to which lead on the switch. I didn’t. Discovering my error, I re-plugged the connectors to where I remembered them going and tested the switch. Lo-and-behold the switch worked reliably for a dozen or so actuations. I re-installed the switch into the dash and all still worked wonderfully.

Finally, I needed to deal with the intermittent turn signal switch. Thinking it was corrosion in the switch, I pulled it out, cleaned off all the grease, lubricated with bulb grease, reassembled and tested. All appeared to be functioning correctly. I plugged the switch into the harness and ran a test. Right turn worked fine, left did not. Now I needed to find out where the break in the circuit was. With voltmeter in hand, I verified 12 volts at the blinker module, then 12 volts at the back of the connector, then 12 volts at the connector in the trunk, but no lightbulb lighting with everything plugged in. Walked over to the right front socket and gave it a jiggle – light went on. Cleaned the ground contact and it stayed on. Still wouldn’t blink though. Walked around to the back of the car – no light on the right side. Opened the engine lid and jiggled the connector – light went on. Everything worked at that point. Who'd have thought that both right side lights had problems at the same time.

With all the problems supposedly solved, I put the tools away and went inside for the night. This morning as I opened Lucy’s door to drive her to work, I noticed the dome light was not on. Hmm. Then I turned the key and the engine barely rotated. Double hmm and a "ah crap" thrown in for good measure. I wondered if all my fixes resulted in a short that drained the battery. No time to deal with it then. I hooked up the charger and took a different car to work. Tonight I’ll play the put-a-light-inline-with-the-battery-cable game to see if something’s draining the battery. Hopefully, it was just all my testing last night drained the battery.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Freeing Up Some Storage Space

With my branching out into the new world of Late Model (LM) Corvairs (1965-1969), I now find myself needing more shelf space in the garage. Last weekend I filled a wheelbarrow with parts that I don’t think I’ll ever need. I took a few photos and posted a “free parts” thread on the CorvairCenter Forum. I’ve already had four guys respond. I’m glad these parts will get used instead of dumped.

The free space was quickly filled with the ’64 differential I bought a while ago and the parts that came with Glinda that have been filling her trunk. There’s still room for more. One of the cool things about putting away Glinda parts is finding all the new and nice, used stuff that came with the car. A lot of these parts will find their way onto Betty since Glinda is already pretty complete. I’d started a list of all the spare parts I’ve gathered, but it’s tough to keep up-to-date. A lot of the new parts are still in their Clark’s packaging marked with Clark’s numbers. I’ll need to add them to the spreadsheet and add the description.

New Shoes for Lucy

What a difference new tires make. Lucy hasn’t had a full set of new ones ever since I got her. The tires that came with her, while having plenty of tread, were dangerously cracked and aged. I pressed two decent spares into service and replaced the other two with new, stock size tires. Then, in December of 2007, I got the 280ZX wheels. After cleaning them up and replacing the valve stems, I drove around on the tires that were on the wheels for about a year – yes, junkyard tires. I even spent a long day on the Summit Point racetrack on those Dunlops. A year later, I decided I should replace the junkyard tires before the snow came. A quick trip to local used tire store lightened my wallet by $100 and got me four all-season radials with a reasonable amount of tread left. Now, nearly another year and 10,000 miles have passed and it’s time to break the bank and buy new tires. I did some shopping online and found a fairly limited selection in 195/70-14. I eventually settled on buying Yokohama AVID TRZs from Jim’s Racing Tires. With their 700 tread rating (80,000 miles warranty), these tires will probably outlast the car. Just think, I could double the mileage that’s currently on the odometer before they wear out.

My first drive after installation was on rainy, wet streets. Wow, no slipping and sliding; no tiptoeing through turns. The next day, on dry streets and highways, I could take the on and offramps at 45 with no hint of the backend coming out. Quite, quite fun!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dead Wipers

This morning I turned Lucy’s wiper switch and was met with nothing. This switch has been in the process of failing for a few weeks now. I’ve been able to coerce it into functioning by turning it to high and then back to low, but this time no dice. Had to drive the Suburban to work.

After a couple weeks of trolling Craigslist for welding accoutrements, I gave up and went to Harbor Freight on my lunch hour. I picked up a self-darkening helmet, welding gloves, and three hi-powered magnets that will be used to the hold the patches in place while welding. I decided to pass on their $80 empty 20 cubic foot Argon cylinder when a phone call to the nearby Airgas store revealed their price of $120 for a 40 cubic footer. The downside is they’re out of stock until Monday. Lucy’s front valence will have to wait a little longer before the rust is gone and nice, new metal has filled in the holes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spare Engine Turns Freely

Last night I was in the garage working on the Suburban and when I was finished I decided to fiddle with the spare engine that’s just been sitting. I put the bar across the bolts that I’d put in the harmonic balancer and cranked away. It turned all the way around! I then put the engine on end resting on the face of the bellhousing and cranked away for a few more minutes. After each revolution it got easier to turn. Looks like next I’ll have to bolt a torque converter, differential, and starter on, put some more oil in the crankcase, and see what kind of compression each cylinder has.

Back to Stock Carburetors

Last May, I had a Corvair carburetor expert relocate the jets in two spare carburetor bases. Doing this gave me carbs that wouldn’t be starved for fuel when I was going through high speed turns on the track. I rebuilt these carbs and installed them on Lucy. She did great at BeaveRun and for the following couple of months during my daily drives. Then in July one of the carbs acted like it was plugged. I swapped it out for one of the original ones and the engine ran normally.

I reported yesterday that Lucy’s engine was running rough, but I’d thought I’d fixed it with some high-rpm running. Well, I hadn’t. The problem came back even worse Monday on my drive home from work. Tuesday evening I discovered that the left three cylinders weren’t functioning, so off came the second modified carburetor and on went the second original one. Problem solved. I’ve contacted the expert and will probably send the carbs to him to diagnose and solve the problem(s).

Ariel drove Ringo home for the weekend and she returned to Millersville without issue. While she was here, I installed the bottom engine shrouds and repaired the heater control lever, so now she and her car are ready for winter. They made the roundtrip without issue – thank You Lord.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vapor Lock Delays

Sunday afternoon was CORSA of Baltimore’s second annual Fall driving tour. We were scheduled to drive to two wineries with a visit to an apple farm stuck in between. Three Corvairs showed up at the departure point. We waited another ten minutes or so to see if any other travelers would appear before starting our cars’ engines and heading out. Lucy got to the exit of the parking lot and then her engine died. Hmm. Shades of last weekend. I hopped out and waved the cars behind me around while I opened the engine lid and verified that, indeed, the carburetors were out of fuel.

Vapor Lock (for those of you with modern cars and electric fuel pumps) occurs when an old car is turned off and the engine compartment is hot. The gasoline in the inlet line to the fuel pump vaporizes, and since a pump is designed to move liquid (it is not a fan), everything just sits there until the engine compartment cools off and the gasoline vapor condenses. So that’s what we did, waited. Of course we had to keep ourselves busy while we waited. Gary (the local Corvair guru) was one of the participants, so he and I removed the brand new fuel to verify that it was not at fault. As far as we could tell, it was functioning, but Gary felt that it was not as strong as he’d like to see. He also pointed out that the oil pressure switch was beginning to fail and warned me that when it goes, it’s not pretty – lots of oil gets pumped out quite quickly.

With the fuel pump reinstalled and some fresh gas poured down each carburetor throat, Loriann turned the key and Lucy’s engine came to life. After conferring with Gary, I convinced Loriann we’d be okay to continue. We were. At the first stop, Cygnus Winery, I opened the engine lid to let the heat out while we went inside the tasting room. As we entered, we were met by three more folks from the club. We tasted six different wines and then moved on after buying a bottle of the Port.
Lucy started right up and kept running as we followed the convoluted directions I’d come up with using Google. My aim was to keep us off the main highways. It was really apparent that I’d succeeded when one of the roads I’d chosen turned into gravel – this was not part of the plan. It became a paved road again in less than two miles, so we pressed onward. After another four turns, we were again on a gravel road. This was the last road to our next destination, so the three Corvairs continued. We arrived and I immediately began apologizing. It wasn’t my intention to subject these nice cars to gravel roads. No one seemed angry, so I guess I’ll still be allowed to plan these events.

Loriann and I stayed at Baugher’s Apple Orchard longer than planned (as did the rest of the party), so we never made it to the second winery. On the drive home, Lucy began running roughly. Not threatening to die, but her engine was missing. At one point, as we pulled away from a stoplight, I decided to run the revs up pretty high before shifting with the intention of sucking through or burning off whatever was causing the problem. Sure enough, the engine smoothed back out and we drove the rest of the way home without issue.

Fuel Filter and Emblem Installed

With the disassembled/reassembled fuel pump spitting gas, I ordered a replacement and parked Lucy until she was repaired. The pump from the Corvair Ranch showed up Thursday, so I went out after work and installed it. All seemed to be running fine – no leaks. I also installed the good, used CORVAIR emblem for Lucy’s engine lid. The previous one had lost the V right before the trip to Cape May, so I ordered a replacement in the same order as the fuel pump. It was embarrassing to be showing a COR AIR in a park full of CORVAIRs. This emblem has three little posts that fit into three corresponding holes in the lid. I used RTV to hold the posts in the holes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Wonderful Weekend

The weekend away with Loriann at Cape May at the NJ 50th anniversary celebration of the introduction of the Corvair was wonderful. We got a late start Friday with all the time it took me to swap tires/ wheels between Lucy and Heidi, so we didn’t even try to make it to the Friday night festivities at the host hotel – the party and unveiling of the 1960 model. It was really too bad since they did an “unveiling” of a beautifully restored ’60 to recreate the original experience. All of the audience was dressed in late-50s style clothing. Hopefully someone shot a video and posts it somewhere. Lucy ran great the trip down, although Loriann commented she’s a little loud.

After breakfast Saturday, I drove to Rotary Park in downtown Cape May to help with the parking of cars. The park was a perfect venue with the twenty-some Corvairs comfortably filling the space. We got TONS of walk through traffic due to the proximity of the main shopping area. The highlight for me was when Loriann let a couple of younger boys sit in Lucy. As the older one, probably 7 years old, got out he exclaimed, “This is the best day!” The show broke up around 3, and I was there to help direct the cars safely out of the park. I posted some pictures on Motortopia.

Sunday we took a detour on the way home to buy a welder from a guy in Middletown, DE. After that we had our only mis-adventure of the trip. I pulled into the Elkton, MD McDonalds to use the restroom, and when we returned to the car, we noticed a young gal in the car parked next to us with the hood up. She said her battery was dead, so I offered to give her a jump start. After hooking up the cables, I got into my Lucy and was revving the engine to get more current when the engine speed dropped to zero. Irrr. I checked, and there was no gas at the carbs – failed fuel pump. I was not well prepared, so I didn’t have the wrenches to R&R (remove and replace) a fuel pump, nor did I have a spare pump. I did have my Blackberry and cellphone, so I called the AutoZone just down the street and they said they had a pump for me. We walked there (via K-Mart to buy a wrench set) only to find out the pump they wanted to sell me was not an original mechanical one, but a universal electric pump that would have required significant re-plumbing and wiring. They could get me a stock one, but it would be the next day. Irrr. The only other auto parts store open in town had the same situation. We walked back to the car trying to figure out what we were going to do. Since Brianna had already left for VA there was no daughter available to drive the Suburban with the tow bar to rescue us. Loriann finally said, “Why don’t you make sure it’s the pump and not a clog; then we’ll decide what to do.” I disconnected the fuel lines into and out of the pump and had her crank the engine. I had suction on the input, but no pressure on the output. I pulled the pump off, took it apart, scraped some crap off some of the inside surfaces, banged it on the ground a couple times, blew it out, put it back together, stuck it back on the engine, hooked up the input line, and guess what? It worked when Loriann cranked the engine. Connected the output lines and drove it home without issue. Thank You Lord. She’s still in the driveway until I install a replacement.

The welder I bought is a used Craftsman Professional MIG welder. I’m excited about figuring out how to use it so I can replace rusted body panels on the fleet. Currently four of the five need patching. I only have to buy a helmet and some Argon gas since the guy threw in a regulator, gas tube, and a heavy-duty extension cord.

By the way, Heidi safely and uneventfully transported Brianna and her fiancé to Radford, VA. Thank You Lord for that too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Corvair's 50th Anniversary

Today, the Corvair historian, Dave Newell, posted the following to the list-serv I’m on:

“This is it, folks, the most important date in Corvair history. The Corvair's 50th Anniversary is happening...NOW! 50 years ago, you could have been the first to scurry down to your friendly Chevy dealer's to see and buy the "Revolutionary New Corvair". Today isn't merely the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 Corvair, but the 50th Anniversary of the Corvair itself. This is the critical date for Corvair faithful everywhere, be they '60 cavemen, balls out racers, FC Rampers or Ultravan campers....the BIG FIVE-OH is upon us at this hour. Drive your Corvair if you can!”

This weekend Loriann and I will be in Cape May, NJ to celebrate this occasion. We’ll be driving Lucy and hope to have a dry and wonderful time.

The other night Jonathan ran out of the Argon shielding gas before he was able to weld on the last of the five patches. I needed to cover the hole, so last night I got out the Bondo and fiberglass cloth. This fix will be temporary, but it will seal the opening. This weekend Brianna will prime and paint the patches and use clear RTV to fill in any pin holes she finds in the welds. All this to weatherize. She and I haven’t decided the fate of Heidi. With her nuptials next summer and the unknown future, she may not be able to afford the upkeep of a 45 year-old convertible. If she doesn’t live near me, she’d have to pay a mechanic to deal with any issues Heidi develops. Mikhaila (our youngest daughter) is convinced that Brianna should sell us the car for her. Brianna doesn’t want the car to leave the family, so that may be an option we give serious consideration. For the time being though, Brianna’s going to see how things go with Heidi in southwest VA.