Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, I want to wish you and yours a very, merry Christmas. Prayers for safe travel and special times for all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CPotD #21 (Clean)

There are some creative ‘vair folks that can’t help but try to improve on what Chevy provided. Many are successful, but some not so much. Today’s CPotD is of a subtly modified late model 2-door that’s quite the inspiration. Modifications include removal of chrome like the grill bar, rocker molding trim, and model script, shaving the drip rails and painting the headlight bezels. Many of these changes I’m considering for Betty. Now that I have a welder and am not afraid to use it, some of these changes have become feasible.

Heidi Headway

Last night I sanded the primer over the driver's side body patches trying to blend the edges with the adjacent paint layer. Then, with the heaters firing on high, I re-installed the lower engine shrouds so Brianna will have heat and Heidi will warm up quicker. With the garage and car temperature finally above 50, I applied three to four coats of paint over the primer and partially into the paint.

There are only two more tasks left before she’s ready for Brianna to take her back to VA. Finishing the patchwork on the passenger side and installing the new end-link assembly for the transverse rear spring.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CPotD #20 (How to Get the Young People Involved)

The international Corvair club, CORSA, has been struggling with decreasing membership for a number of years now. The median age of the membership keeps going up since there are very few young adults choosing a Corvair as their hobby. There’s been quite a bit of online conversation as to how we’re going to reverse this trend. How are we going to get young people interested in working on and driving an old car.

For the past seven years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work on Corvairs with three of my daughters. Each of them is still enthused about their car. Many times, however, they’ve not been so enthused about going out to the garage or driveway to work with dad. Boredom and frustration are two of our biggest enemies. Boredom when the task is menial or repetitive. Frustration when the job doesn’t go as planned and one, or both, of us gets angry. The reward of the car is not enough to inspire them to spend hours getting greasy, sweaty, cold, and sometimes bloody. The other day, however, Victoria asked me when we were going out again to work on her car. That is a triumph in getting a young person involved.

What have I been doing right so my teenager actually wants to go out and work on their cars? Five big factors come to mind.

First, I challenge them. Handing out screwdrivers and wrenches is not their idea of contributing to the project. I put the tool in their hand, give them clear instructions, and let them do the work.

Second, I try to be consistent. Life has a tendency to get in the way of our projects – other cars need work, the house needs attention, Girl Scouts schedule meetings. Regardless, we try to squeeze in at least an hour every Sunday accomplishing something on their car.

Third, I allow flexibility. If a task is not going well, move on to something else. If bolts aren’t coming loose, or worse yet breaking, it’s time to move on to something different. This means I need to be prepared with alternate tasks and the associated parts or materials.

Fourth, I try to show patience. There are times when they don’t follow directions, they don’t understand my clear instructions, or they’re not strong enough to torque that nut off. It’s not easy to get past those times without hard feelings, but I must or working together will be chore not a pleasure.

Finally, and this brings me to today’s CPotD, I try to start them off young. When I towed Betty into the driveway, I gave my camera to 11-year-old Mikhaila and asked her to take pictures. I also had her steer while I shoved Betty into the garage. Giving the young ones fun little helping tasks plants a seed of car "like" in them that I hope to cultivate into a love of their car someday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

CPotD #19 (Spring is Only a Few Months Away)

With a snowy weekend forecasted for Baltimore, I needed a photo like this to give me the impetus to fire up the heaters in the garage and keep wrenching on my track car.

Many of you have heard of Yenkos. Yenko Camaros. Yenko Novas. Yenko Chevelles. Yenko Stingers.

Yenko Stingers? What’s a Yenko Stinger?

A Yenko Stinger is a modified Late Model Corvair and Charlie Doerge's website is chock full of Stinger info.
Today’s CPotD (courtesy of the NECC website) is of Dave Edsinger’s beautiful (and wickedly quick) YS-018.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CPotD #18 (The Eternal Optimist)

I went searching for a quote that would best sum up the dangers of optimism, and I found this one attributed to Winston Churchill. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Well, the car in this CPotD came with plenty of difficulties and opportunities.

From this picture and others I took at the time, this car appeared to be a viable candidate for roadification (see Pertinent Definitions on the sidebar). However, and you can quote me on this, Bondo covers a multitude of sins.

A $100 deal creatively nicknamed Redvair, this Corvair came to me about in June of ‘05 through a fellow car-nut at my place of employ. This co-worker had been witnessing the wasting away of a couple old cars at the hand of a neighbor of his. This neighbor owned a 50s vintage Packard and this Corvair. Both cars were offered to me, but I didn’t have a garage long enough for the Packard (or a wallet thick enough for that matter). I did have the cash and desire to obtain another Corvair. At the time, I was working on Heidi and Brianna was driving the white 4-door which was rusting away beyond saving. So I was looking for another project that, once completed, could become a daily driver, and this one seemed to fit the bill.

I did give it a serious look through, but being the optimist I am, I dismissed slight rust holes and bumpy paint as minor inconveniences that could easily be corrected. After paying the seller and towing it home, Redvair was parked in the driveway and ignored for a few months while work on Heidi was completed. While it sat, Ariel started making noise about how cool it looked, and finally she asked me if Redvair could be her father-daughter project. Up to that point, she’d wanted a VW Beetle and I was grudgingly going to comply with her wish. I was quite thankful when she changed her tune.

With Heidi completed, it was now Redvair’s turn, and time to put Ariel to work. The first thing we did was get the engine running. It actually started up quite easily with new plugs, points, condenser and a borrowed battery. Oh yeah, the fuel was supplied directly from a gas can suspended above the engine compartment. Without a lot of fanfare or clacking valves, Redvair had successfully completed step 1 of its roadification.

Step 2 in my version of roadification is brakes, but we decided to temporarily skip that step and investigate the body issues. With a wire disc on my drill, I picked a suspect spot and carved my way through paint and primer before coming upon Bondo. Through the Bondo I went before coming upon ….. nothing. Most of the metal that had formed this lower front fender and the adjoining floor and firewall had been consumed by rust. The sculptor that had replaced metal with body filler had actually been quite the artist. Unfortunately, Bondo is not designed to be used as a structural member of an automobile with uni-body construction.

This same process of carving and discovering was repeated at rear fender and the front valance before I had a talk with Ariel about the difficulties of this opportunity. “Not to be a pessimist,” I told her, “but there is a much better candidate for roadification than this car.” And there was as Ringo came into our lives less than one month after Jeff, proprietor of the Corvair Ranch, hauled Redvair away.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CPotD #17 (Must've Been a Big Shoehorn)

There have been many creative people who’ve stuffed a V8 engine into their Corvair. Back in the day, at least two companies, Crown and Kelmark, made kits to install a small block Chevy into a Late Model car right in front of the rear differential. Since that was also the location of the rear seat, these V8 Vairs became two-seaters. Others have transplanted entire V8 drivetrains from front wheel drive cars like the Cadillac STS and Oldsmobile Toronado into the stock engine bay, thus retaining the rear seat. Few, however, have successfully squeezed a small block Chevy into the engine compartment of an Early Model.

Today’s CPotD presents the creation of one of those skilled people. Clicking here will take you to the V8 Vairs webpage detailing how Marvin Bookman accomplished this impressive feat.

The engine compartment is amazingly sparse, and I love how he retained the classic Chevy engine orange.

It Wasn’t That Cold

With the end-of-year deadline racing towards me, I went out to the garage last night and made some headway on Heidi’s bodywork. With the kerosene burning, 60 grit sandpaper on my random orbital (DA) sander made short work of smoothing out the Bondo over the four patches. Three are ready for paint, while the fourth needs another shot of Bondo. Next I set about forming a patch for the hole I put in the rocker panel. It’s roughly eighteen inches long, which just so happens to be length of the piece of sheetmetal I’d bought. Using paper taped in place, I traced the outline of the opening and then transferred that to the metal. After following the line with my air cutter, I formed the flange that’ll mate with the pinch weld using a hand sledge and the workbench’s front edge. Some hand-bending made an approximate curve allowing me to vise-grip the patch in place and do some final tweaking. With the patch ready to go, I applied a liberal coat of Rustoleum primer to the backside and called it a night.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CPotD #16 (Look Who’s Got The Keys)

My goodness, it’s been two-and-a-half years since Victoria accompanied me to the Corvair Ranch’s 2007 Open House. At that point, Brianna had been driving Heidi for more than a year and Ariel had been behind the wheel of Ringo since Christmas. It was now time for Victoria and I to begin our father-daughter project. First she had to decided what Corvair model she wanted to call her own, and there’s no better place to see every type of Corvair produced than the Corvair Ranch. According to their website, they have over five hundred Corvairs located on the property, most of which are sitting in rows behind the service buildings. So that’s where we headed. We wandered amongst all those relics for over an hour, and after reaching the back fence, I asked her which one she wanted. She pointed to a late-model convertible and said, “One like that.” So we wandered around a little more until we came upon the subject of today’s CPotD. I told Victoria to get in and try it out. “Really?,” she asked. “Just watch out for the snakes,” I replied. After carfully taking a seat, she said, “Hey the key’s here.” I had her hold it up while I snapped the photo.

Well, Victoria didn’t end up with a convertible, but Glinda is turquoise.

Monday, December 14, 2009

CPotD #15 (Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures)

This CPotD illustrates one way to get a parted-out 4-door to the Corvair Ranch. When I jumped on the offer of a free ’64, I assumed Jeff would be able to come by and fetch the carcass, sans suspension, when I was done playing vulture. He couldn’t since someone made him an offer he couldn’t refuse on his rollup. Without wheels, this car was unsuitable to tow behind the Suburban, so I had to be creative. Since I’ve got a 4X8 utility trailer, and I believed the weight of the 4-door shell wouldn’t exceed its limit, I decided to do what had to be done to get it to its final resting place.

After pulling out the drivetrain and suspension, I unbolted and removed everything I could from the body. The seats, doors, windows, engine lid, trunk lid, and steering column were hauled up to Gettysburg first.

Then I gave Victoria gloves, goggles, and my Sawzall and told her to cut the car in half, but leave all her body parts attached. She did a great job. Don’t worry, I did remove all the chrome before she went crazy with the saw. Here's more of the story on my old blog.

The final trip to the Corvair Ranch was made pulling the trailer loaded as shown in today’s CPotD. When I arrived I noted the load had only shifted slightly rearward.
Here's some more links on the story of the red 4-door:

Friday, December 11, 2009

CPotD #14 (Wide, Open Spaces)

I went through the cars I’ve featured as CPotD, and I noticed the absence of a Corvan picture. The Corvan was Corvair’s version of an industrial delivery van and was part of the Corvair-95 family (so named for their 95 inch wheelbase) along with the Rampside, Loadside, and Greenbrier. Today’s CPotD is of a Corvan with the 8-door option. Standard would have been six doors - two front, two rear, and two on the passenger side. The image is courtesy of the New Jersey Association of Corvair Enthusiasts website, one of the many fine local chapters of CORSA. You can click here for more Corvan info at Rad Davis' excellent webpage detailing all the Corvair-95s.

At one point I lived next door to a real fleet mechanic (as opposed to a poser like myself). Whenever he saw my Corvair, he was inspired to share any one of the many stories about the Corvans and Loadsides he’d had the displeasure to work on. One of the major repairs he had to lot of was replacing the rear axle bearings. He’d tell me how good he'd gotten at pulling axles, then he’d always end his account by saying something like, “they were actually pretty good trucks, but the stupid customers would always overload the hell out of them.”

Heid Work

The other night I fired up the kerosene heaters and spent some time working on Heidi. After cutting away some more rotted metal from the outer rocker panel, I wire-brushed and primed the metal underneath with Rusty Metal Primer. Fortunately, that metal is in good shape with only surface pitting. Next I applied Bondo over around the patches on the driver’s side. The sanding will have to wait for another evening.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

CPotD #13 (Will Betty Get a 4-Speed?)

I just received today's CPotD in an e-mail. This one hundred dollar parts car is for sale, but it has no engine or title. What it does have, however, is a complete setup for a manual transmission (transaxle, pedal set, linkage, shifter, etc).

Ever since I was given Betty, I’ve been scheming to convert her automatic transmission into a four-speed. This opportunity is far-and-away the cheapest one to come my way. It’s a great deal even with the price of gas to one, tow the car home and, two, tow the strip carcass to the Corvair Ranch after I’m done with it.

So what’s stopping me? Even though my typical triumvirate of tribulation is missing the money element, time and space are still there to muck things up. Time-wise, I’m under the gun to get Heidi done before Christmas. Space-wise, I would need to tie up the entire garage for a couple weekends.

First things first. Get Heidi done, and then see if the car’s still available.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CPotD #12 (Inspiration)

One look at today’s CPotD is all I need to remind me why I’ve taken on this arduous task of keeping a fleet of Corvairs on the road. Seeing the smile on Ariel’s face as she prepares to run me down with Ringo never fails to lift my spirit. I’m also reminded that, since she put a lot of effort into getting this car on the road, she’s a more careful driver and car owner. I don’t believe she’d ever let anyone borrow her precious Ringo. The blood, sweat, and tears she’s invested make him too valuable to run the risk of a careless college-mate wrecking him.

There’s also the fact that she doesn’t want to get a phone call from someone telling her her car won’t start. She’d rather be the one making that phone call to me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CPotD #11 (The One That Brought Me Back)

This low resolution JPEG is a poor excuse for a CPotD, but its importance in my Corvair life is too great to pass over. It was this photo and twenty-two others of a 1963 Monza 4-door sedan that brought me back into the fold so to speak. In 2001 I moved to Long Island, New York and my commute tripled to forty miles a day. After a couple months, I decided my current daily driver, a gas-guzzling ’66 Catalina, would not suffice. I wanted to continue driving an old car. I wanted one that got reasonable gas mileage. I wanted my ’62 Corvair back.

I joined the VirtualVairs mail list and immediately posted my desire to obtain a drivable Corvair. Within a day or so, a guy just north of New York City responded with an offer to trade his running old car for mine. We traded photos, and the following weekend I drove to New Rochelle and we made the swap. The seller warned me the car had no heat since the lower engine shrouds were not installed. I took my four-year-old daughter with me for company on the trip, and I can still remember buckling her blanket-wrapped body into the passenger seat.

After installing the engine shrouds, I drove that car nearly trouble-free for the next year and a half until my employer laid me off. After taking a job in Virginia, my family insisted I get a newer car to make my weekly 1000 mile roundtrips from home to work. That meant the Corvair was available for my recently licensed eldest daughter to drive back and forth to school. She did that until she graduated from high school. By that time we were all living in Baltimore. A couple months later, Heidi was ready for a running engine, so this Corvair donated its drivetrain to getting the convertible back on the road. Now it was time to make the call to the Corvair Ranch and ask the proprietor, Jeff, to come fetch this engine-less and rusty Corvair now too rotted to return to roadworthiness.

The next time I saw this car it was laying on its side surrounded by other rejected, dejected Corvairs.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Don’t Like Scraping the Windshield in the Morning

Especially the inside of the window. A combination of rain and snow followed by a sunny day followed by a freezing night resulted in Lucy’s windshield having ice on both sides. I can’t ever remember scraping the inside of a windshield before. Every car in the fleet leaks, so if there’s one Christmas present I actually need, it’s a magic fix for keeping Corvair insides dry.

Bodywork and Brakes

Fired up the kerosene heaters in the garage Sunday and got out the grinder. The flap disc made short work of smoothing out the welds on Heidi’s driver’s side patches. With the three done, I used the wire brush attachment on the grinder and removed the bondo and fiberglass that were temporarily holding the fourth patch in place. Then I rolled out the welder and an hour or so later, that last patch on that side was welded in and ground down to the level I wanted. A generous coat of rust converter on all the exposed metal and I left it to sit in the warmed up garage through dinner. After dinner, Victoria and I went out and installed Glinda’s replacement brake line. We had to make up the nine feet of length out of two lines by installing a coupling in between. We also had to bend the line into place. I’m glad only a week had gone by or I'd have forgotten where the bends needed to go.

It’s so much more fun working with someone else. Not just the extra set of hands, but the conversation and camaraderie. That’s what these Father-Daughter projects are all about. Quality time with each other.

CPotD #10 (Formal Four-Doors)

My apologies for the break in the jpeg, but this image best met my three criteria for today’s CPotD.

First, it’s a four-door hardtop. With all four windows rolled down, there’s something exceptional about the open-air feeling you get with the huge openings running from windshield to C-pillar. For a while my daily-driver was a ’66 Pontiac Catalina 4-door hardtop, and when the weather was nice all the windows would be down while driving. Since they were not power actuated and the car was huge, I had to go around to manually lower each one before getting in.

Second, I wanted a photo from an advertisement or brochure. I love imagining what it would have been like to take your brand-new Corvair out on the road, and until I can afford to restore one to perfect condition, these period photos are as close as I’ll come. This one is interesting to me for a number of reasons. The blue car really stands out against the browns, tans, and yellows of the surrounding and people. The younger-looking couple decided to buy a family car. The windows are all down even though it’s cool outside as indicated by the woman’s long-sleeve dress and the man’s sport coat over a long-sleeve shirt. And it sure looks like the guy’s checking his BlackBerry, doesn’t it?

Third, I wanted to highlight another great website. The Old Car Manual Project is a wonderful place to get lost in for hours. It’s not just owner’s manuals. It’s also dealer brochures, ads, photo albums – “over 38 gigabytes of old car stuff - tens of thousands of pages - the largest collection of classic car literature anywhere.”

Friday, December 4, 2009

CPotD #9 (The One That Started It All)

I have absolutely no childhood memories of Corvairs. No relative owned one. No neighbor drove one. No classmate cruised in one. There must have been a bunch of them on the roads of Fremont, California during the 70s, but none every made an impression on me. So how did I get bitten by the Corvair bug?

I like to blame my in-laws. Back in the mid-60s they owned a Corvair convertible; a 1963 Monza I believe. I don’t remember whether they asked or I offered (probably the latter), but I was to keep my eyes open for a Corvair for them. Since Loriann and I were living in California – one of the only states in the Union that’s been able to keep out the tin worm – we were in a better position to find a solid twenty year old car than they were living in upstate New York. Being an old-car guy, part of my daily ritual was perusing the Antique Car section of the San Jose Mercury classifieds. Ah, the days before the web when your news was delivered once a day on your doorstep in black-and-white instead of 24/7 on your laptop in full color; when you could only get old-car parts at a junkyard, swap meet, or through Hemming’s instead of eBay, RockAuto, or through an online forum. But I digress.

One Saturday morning in 1985 I came across an ad simply worded, “63 Corvair, low miles, $950” with a phone number. I called the seller and set up an appointment to inspect the car that day. Soon after I was parked behind a proverbial little-old-lady-drove-it- only-on-Sundays car; nearly all original with less than 30,000 miles on the odometer. The owner’s daughter relayed how her mom had bought the car new and only drove it when making weekly trips to visit her children in San Jose. Since her mom had recently been placed in a rest home, she was selling the car for her. I looked all over and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I gave it a test drive around the neighborhood, and everything checked out. As soon as I got home, I was on the phone with Loriann’s parents. To make a long story less long, they passed on the car, but Loriann and I couldn’t.

After rebuilding the carbs, the car ran flawlessly. Twice during the decade we owned it, she was pressed into daily driver usage - once by Loriann and finally by me during the year before I sold her. This scan of a circa 1987 Poloroid shows her parked in front of our garage outside Pittsburg, PA. Next to her is my brother-in-law’s Nova he sold soon after. Now, twenty-five years later, we’re both still kicking ourselves for foolishly selling these cars.

In my case, the sale was precipitated by my foray into big-body Pontiacs, but that’s another story. I sold her to a guy from the tidewater area of Virginia who wanted a memorable birthday present for his dad. I don’t know if today’s CPotD is that same car, but it very well could be. I found this photo a few years ago, and all I remember is that it was part of a set shot by someone at a tidewater Virginia area car show. I’d be very surprised if that part of Virginia has more than one 1962 Twilight Turquoise 700 Club Coupe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CPotD #8 (Let's Take A Trip)

When I was only seven years old, my folks bought a new 1968 Volkswagen micro-bus (Type 2b in VW-speak). My dad immediately set about modifying it for camping. Out came the rear-most seat and in went a platform with a foam-rubber mattress, while the center seat was yanked and a homemade plywood camping box took its place. I don’t know where he got his inspiration, but Chevy dealers had been creating campers out of Corvair Greenbriers (their version of the micro-bus) since 1961.

At the 50th Anniversary celebration car show in Cape May, there was a Greenbrier camper with a unique pop-up roof. Sadly, I didn’t get a good picture of it. Since this grainy picture is not worthy of a CPotD, I conducted a semi-exhaustive search on the web for a better photo of this distinctive Greenbrier. I failed, but I did find today's CPotD of a beautiful camper in improbcat’s Flickr photostream. Click here to see all the photos improbcat posted of this vehicle including some of the modified interior.

Some more interesting info on the campers can be found here, here, and here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CPotD #7 (Swingin' with the Swing-Axle)

Even EMs (Corvair early models – ’60-’64) with their supposedly notorious swing-axle rear suspension can be a blast when driven fast. Here’s a picture of Lucy and I ready to roll off the grid with a couple other EMs at Summit Point Raceway’s Shenandoah circuit. The whole swing-axle sensation is superbly summed up (with pictures) on this Gary Aube webpage, but the bottom line is that under hard turning, the unloaded rear wheel will drop and tilt reducing the contact patch of the tire with the road. Naysayers claimed this scenario would result in the unloaded wheel tucking under if the steering was immediately cranked in the opposite direction causing the car to roll over. It was this unproven myth that caused Ralph Nader to devote Chapter 1 of his infamous book, “Unsafe At Any Speed” to the Corvair and its killing tendencies. In fact, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Board conducted extensive tests in the 1971 the conclusion of which was the “handling and stability performance of the 1960-63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic." Gary’s Corvair Corsa website contains a great writeup here on this topic as well.

I believe this photo-of-the-day was taken by Scott Trunkhill, and I know it’s posted on his expansive website appropriately addressed as

By the way, once we were out on the track, the other two hot cars didn’t stay behind me for long. Since I'm a big fan of both these racing EMs and their owners, I’m sure they will each have their own CPotD someday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CPotD #6 (Safe At Any Speed)

This photo of my Corvair buddy, Jonathan, in his Corsa and on the brakes at Roebling Roads Raceway illustrates that Corvairs make for very fun track cars. Their four-wheel independent suspension, low center of gravity, and light weight are part of what makes these cars such a blast to drive fast. NECC, the host of this photo, “conducts high-speed track events for sports car enthusiasts.” I’ve been to two of their events and have loved every minute of the experience. Fellow Corvair racers are a great group – friendly, helpful, easygoing, and a lot of fun to spend time with. I can’t wait for next year and the next NECC event.

When the Suburban’s Away,....

... the Corvair’s Will Play Fail

We took a risk when we let Brianna drive away in the Suburban. The tow bar in the garage won’t do me any good without a 3 ton behemoth available to do the pulling. So, of course, the first day the Suburban’s out of our driveway, we have Corvair issues.

First, as I’m cruising down the interstate to work, I get a strong smell of gasoline in the salon. I begin to pray that it’s the car in front of me, and before I can finish my prayer, Lucy’s engine dies. I profoundly figure out it is MY car with the problem as I coast to a stop on the right shoulder. I reach into the glove-box for the flashlight before heading to the rear of the car to figure out if the issue is roadside fixable. I immediately discover the inlet fuel line completely unscrewed from its fitting in the side of the fuel pump. A ½” wrench from the toolbag provides the means to reattach the line. Thinking I’m home free, I close everything up, hop behind the wheel, and turn the key. It’s going to take a few cranks to get fuel back into the carburetor bowls, but my old battery is about three cranks short of success. Thank goodness for cellphones. I call my lovely wife, who drops what she’s doing, grabs the gas can from the garage, and drives to my rescue. Twenty minutes later, a splash of gas into each carb, and a jump-start, and Loriann and I go our separate ways. When it’s time to go home, I make sure I walk out with someone who can give me a jump-start, but she fires right up.

Second, Ariel calls me about 1 in the afternoon. “My car won’t start,” she tells me. Since it was raining, she drove to class and now it’s dead in the parking garage. After she explains that Ringo’s engine cranks, but won’t catch, my first thought is she’s run him out of gas. The gauge has been wonky of late reading ¼ tank left when she’s run out of gas. She says she knows there’s plenty of fuel since the gauge is reading ½ and there’s less than 110 miles since she filled the tank. It’s too dark in the garage for her to see whether there’s gas squirting in the carbs when she blips the throttle, so she decides she’ll walk back to her dorm, and come back later with a friend to help her. About ten minutes later I get another call from her. “I got him running,” she tells me. “I guessed that it had flooded, so I held the gas pedal to the floor while cranking and the engine finally started.” WOW, I guess I taught her well. Ariel’s able to diagnose and solve her own Corvair problems now.