Friday, April 30, 2010

CPotD #96 (Red-Hot Truck)

Car show season is starting and I’m excited. I probably won’t make it to many given all my family and fleet maintenance responsibilities, but I will enjoy all the photos that will be posted on the web. Today’s CPotD was recently taken at the Helen, GA SpringFest. With Mikhaila still stuck on having a FC truck, I’m getting excited about adding a Rampside or Loadside to the fleet. It won’t be any time soon unless something falls into our lap, but I still can look and drool.

I really like the details on this vehicle. The wheels from a later model GM car, the front spoiler, the diamond plate engine cover. Nicely done.

We’re Charging Again

Last night I worked to get the charging system to put out its required 14+ volts of DC. I knew it was either the generator or the voltage regulator. My first check would be to replace the regulator with a used one off the shelf to rule out the easy part. I had wanted to do the alternator swap which would include the voltage regulator, but the pressing need to get Lucy immediately back on the road overrode that desire. After nearly twenty minutes of searching, I couldn’t turn up an EM regulator, but I did find a couple serviceable generators and a generator rebuild kit. In order to remove the generator from the engine, I first needed to remove the fan belt and pull the idler pulley rearward to give me access to the forward-most mounting bolt at the pulley end of the generator. Then off came the nut and washer from the opposite end followed by the final mounting bolt back at the pulley end. With the generator off the engine I could see there wasn’t much life left to the two brushes, so I replaced them with the two new ones out of the rebuild kit. All that was required to do that was to remove the two long bolts and pull off the rear cover to give me access to the brushes and the two associated screw terminals. The new brushes went into place easily and reassembly was uneventful as well. My first couple generator installations were painful and frustrating, but I must’ve learned and remembered the tricks, because this time all went smoothly.

Next on the punch list was putting the second modified carburetor back on the driver’s side. I know that I’ve removed and installed enough carbs by now that I could probably do it in the dark if I had to. With the carb in place, the fuel line hooked back up and the choke linkage reattached, I fired up the engine. It idled fairly well, so I left it to warm up while I put all the tools away. About 10 minutes later, both choke butterflies were fully open, I so hooked up my clear tubing with the oil in it and adjusted the idle speed screws until the oil was steady. Surprisingly the throttle linkage for the driver’s side didn’t require any adjustment – just slid into its mating hole.

Still left on the punch list are replacing the push rod tube o-rings, welding the valance patches on, installing the front spoiler, adjusting the brake pedal rod, and bolting in the passenger side harness. Gonna’ be a busy weekend when you add in I still need to deal with Ringo’s brakes first thing tomorrow morning.

Today I drove Lucy to work and there’s still a hint of bogging at high rpm with wide open throttle. Doesn’t make me happy, but the car is drivable. I’ll take the carb that I pulled off with me to the track on Monday just in case. It goes without saying that I’ll be toting enough tools to do the swap trackside if necessary.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

CPotD #95 (The Inside Shot - WOW!)

I knew it wouldn’t take me long to find a suitable CPotD when I clicked on the link to the CorvairCenter forum’s thread called, “Pictures of non-original color Corvairs,” but I thought it would be an exterior shot. Typically, I’m turned-off by non-stock interiors, but this mildly customized EM is stunning.

Here's photos of the exterior and engine of this work of art.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time for the Alternator Swap?

Last night Lucy’s generator light came on while I was driving to pick up Mikhaila. I pulled over to make sure the fanbelt hadn’t come off – it hadn’t – or a wire had come loose – nothing amiss there either. The only other things that could go wrong are the voltage regulator or the generator itself. Neither of which I could diagnose or repair on the side of I-70, but either of which could mean I was running on the battery alone. I continued on and was able to complete my travels. A quick check of the output of the generator verified it was the culprit. 1.68 volts is not enough to charge a battery. The rest of the day was booked with church stuff, so Lucy is out of commission until I get a free evening.

I’m thinking that rather than just replace the generator with a GUP off the shelf, I’m going to go ahead and do the alternator swap. I’ve got all the parts, and now I’ve got the excuse.

A New Knuckle for Lucy

I hate being short-term memory challenged. I posted yesterday about my weekend’s car activities and completely left out the most significant accomplishment – the replacement of Lucy’s right-side lower balljoint. The new knuckle (I love GM’s term of steering knuckle instead of balljoint) showed up from Rafee Corvair last week and I’d borrowed Gary’s balljoint tools, so I was ready. My initial plan was to do the R&R (remove and replace) at the CORSA of Baltimore’s Saturday morning tech session, but fatherhood reared its rewarding head, and instead I helped take Mikhaila’s Girl Scout troop (led by the lovely Loriann) on a day of field trips.

Thanks to the all the anti-seize I put on the front suspension fasteners during Lucy’s previous front-end rebuild, all the nuts and bolts spun off freely and the lower control arm was resting on my workbench in less than thirty minutes. Using Gary’s circa 1960 balljoint press and the right combination of cylindrical spacers, I had the old one off quite quickly. Pressing in the new one, however, was much more work. I wasn’t careful enough and I started it slightly skewed. After a few turns of excessively difficult torquing, I discovered my error and repositioned the press. It took some more sweat-inducing wrench pushing, but I finally got the new knuckle properly seated. Reassembly of the suspension parts went smoothly. I even got the slot in the castle nut aligned with the hole in the balljoint bolt on the first try.

CPotD #94 (Corvamino)

I limit my blog reading to a handful of people I like to call blogsmiths. To me, a true blogsmith combines the written word with adequate photos and video to produce an informative, entertaining consumer of roughly five minutes of my day. The fact that they write on subjects automotive in nature moves them to the top of my list. One of my favorite blogs is He’s been “serving useless content from an undisclosed location since 1997,” and I’ve been an avid reader since at least 2005.

What does this have to do with the above CPotD? Well, Chuck’s posting of yesterday included photos of two unique Corvairs that participated in the rally he wrote about. The first was a nice looking UltraVan, while the second was today’s deserving Wacky Wednesday subject. When I commented to him that I was going to feature his photo in my blog, he graciously responded with more photos.

One of the Chuck’s readers appropriately called this vehicle a Corvamino. I imagine if Corvairs had actually been built by GM’s ute-loving Australian division, Holden, one could have purchased a Corvamino from their local Chevy dealer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CPotD #93 (A Cradle for this Baby)

I’ve written about the Bill Thomas/Doug Roe car before, but other than posting some links to well written histories, I didn’t have much to say at the time. Today, I’m featuring it for Track Day Tuesday’s CPotD. There are many performance improvements applied to this car that are worth discussing, but I’m limiting my comments to the re-engineering that allows the removal of the rear panel.

Every Corvair left the factory with the engine supported at its rear by a centrally located engine mount. Obviously, the car in today’s photo has changed things. A cradle was built to hold the engine. This makes it easier for engine swaps. Quite a bit of tube framing has been added to meet the structural requirements. A mechanical engineer such as myself appreciates this level of ingenuity – or is it enginuity?


Much of last weekend was spent doing non-car activities – Girls Scouts, church, and a trip to and from Millersville to fetch Victoria and her friend after a weekend of college life. I was, however, able to squeeze in some car time, but since it was Loriann’s birthday, my efforts were focused on a couple tasks for her PT Cruiser.

With those out of the way, I was free to work on Lucy again. Yesterday, I began fitting the first of two patches to fill in the opening I’d cut in the front valance. Starting on the left side of the cutout, I taped some paper over half the opening and traced the outline. After cutting out the pattern and transferring its perimeter onto a piece of sheetmetal, I carefully snipped and ground away until the metal matched the top and left profiles of the opening. At this point, the sheetmetal is still flat, not curved like the valance needs to be. Also, the patch is way too long for the opening. Since the paper is too flimsy to accurately be formed to the curvature, I need some stiffer stuff before I can continue. I’m going home from work today with some recycled file folders. My plan is to match the bend at the pinch weld with the folder material, attach it to the car, form the curature, and mark points of intersection with opening. Then transfer all that to the patch. With the patch fully cutout and the flange bent, I’ll get out the MIG welder and use plug welds to attach the flange to the pinchweld. Then I’ll bend the patch to get the edges matched up before butt-welding the side and top edges to the car body.

I take solace in the fact the front valance is not frequently scrutinized.

CPotD #92 (Massive Motor for Monday)

“This is what happens when people say you can’t do it. It’s a 164 cu in with 63 turbo heads, an Isky 280 cam, a 77 HEI distributor, and a Chevy Citation fan. The 4/71 blower is 12% under- driven to make around 8 psi and many hours of machine work !”

The above quote by the owner of this masterpiece, Dave Bolduc, was lifted from the’s list of “corvairs and their owners:”

A perfect engine for southern California where it never rains from late-spring to mid-fall. Never an issue having to protect the engine from the elements.

Friday, April 23, 2010

CPotD #91 (Nice Article)

Check out The Truth About Cars. It's a nice read. Have a great weekend. 'nuff said.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CPotD #90 (Less is More)

Back in the fifties, the more chrome on a car, the better. With Chevrolet, the top of the line Impala had far more chrome trim than the bottom of the line Delrey or Biscayne. When Chevy came out with the Corvair, they took a different path. From the outside, the top of the line Monza (Model 900) had less chrome than the lower level Model 700. The big difference was the chrome strip that ran around the entire beltline of the car. My first Corvair was a ’62 Model 700 and I thought the beltline strip was so sharp looking.

Today’s CPotD was found while Googling images for Corvair Model 700. It was the nicest one that popped up, so it got the honors. It’s a ’60 that’s been impeccably restored.

Another interesting difference between Monzas and the lower levels was seat covers. Vinyl for Monzas and cloth for all the others. In many people’s minds, one of the most beautiful Corvair interiors is the ’62 Model 700 in red. The cloth used for the seat covers is a brocade. Reminds me of something you’d see in a Cadillac.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

CPotD #89 (High and Wild)

It’s pretty easy to see why today’s CPotD is exceptionally qualified for Wacky Wednesday. My post of this morning about water-pumper powered ‘vairs was a good segue to this highly modified car. It appears that an EM body was bolted to the chassis of a 4WD truck – probably an S-10 pickup due to their nearly matching wheelbases of roughly 108 inches. Many purists would argue that since this car is so different from what GM intended, it can’t be called a Corvair, nor could it qualify for CPotD honors. I’m a lot more liberal in my classifications, hence this car’s appearance today.

A Toothless Grin

Since I was busy working on Loriann’s car last night, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the work I’d done on Lucy the night before. So this morning I snapped this photo with my cellphone. With the smile-shaped opening, it looks like Lucy is flashing a toothless grin. Note: don’t get me started on the whole “front of the car must look like a face and be anatomically correct” thing.

This image also reminds me of what certain customizers have done to their ‘vairs when they’ve converted them to water pumper power. The typical V6 or V8 installation requires a radiator with the associated body openings for cooling air inlet and exhaust. Most of the time the radiator is placed in the trunk so the inlet opening is in the front valance area just like Lucy’s current condition.

Now I just need a couple evenings to form patches and weld them on. Since I’ve got the metal to do the work and the one bay of the garage is still open, I’m only fighting one of the TTTs (see sidebar).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Valance and Carburetor Ramblings

Last night I attacked Lucy’s front valance with a vengeance. First, I taped off lines to guide my cuts. I wanted to keep the cuts straight removing just enough material to give me solid metal to weld the patches to. With the cutting wheel mounted in my grinder, I began the spark-filled endeavor of slicing off rotten rectangles of metal. I decided the lower cut would be flush with the pinch weld so the patches will have a flange that’s plug-welded along their bottom edge and butt-welded everywhere else. Will save me some time and make it easier to form the patches. With the opening complete and all the loose rust blown away, I opened my can of Rustoleum rusty metal primer and liberally coated all exposed surfaces inside and out. Lowered off the jackstands and the front license plate residing on the front dash, I can drive Lucy again. Which I did today.

That brings me to the carburetors. Last weekend I swapped just the right-side carb. Now she’s running great – good power in all gears up to 5000 rpm. For those keeping score, I’m working with three different pairs of carburetors. Lucy’s racing carbs are ones I appropriated from Old Betty and have had their jets relocated and vent tubes put in the cover. Lucy’s originals just have the vent tubes added. Finally, Ringo’s pair have no modifications. None of the cars have their full set of carbs currently mounted. My primary need is to get Lucy’s faulty carb fixed so she’s ready for the track. Then I’ll worry about getting Ringo’s right side refurbished and reinstalled.

CPotD #88 (Street Appropriate?)

A track car gets a whole different perspective when it comes to paint schemes. Just about anything goes, and most of the time it looks good. Consider today’s CPotD. I chose a photo of Dave Edsinger’s breathtakingly beautiful Corsa Stinger for Track Day Tuesday because it’s one of the most eye-catching cars on the track or in the pits. If, however, I saw this car in a showroom today, would I think the two-tone look was appropriate? I’m not so sure.

Monday, April 19, 2010

CPotD #87 (What's Missing?)

The subject of this Motor Monday CPotD is the engine in a ’61 Rampside. It’s appears basically original except for the alternator swap. While the patina of this well-used, long-sitting powerplant doesn’t make it too photogenic, I chose this image because of what’s missing.

Because of their inherent design, all FC (see sidebar) and wagon engine compartments had two access doors instead of a single engine lid. The main access was a large panel (seen hinged open in the above photo). That panel, however, could easily be covered by cargo, and since it’s important to be able to frequently check the oil level, GM had to provide a second, rear-facing access door and a relocated dipstick. An interesting tid-bit is the replacement engines came with features to accommodate either dipstick location.

Sunday Afternoon's Car Time

Sunday afternoon was car time. I moved Old Betty out of the garage so there was room for Lucy. With Mikhaila's help, I reinstalled the passenger door. It went pretty easily using the two drilled holes Victoria and I put before we'd pulled the door off.

Within the last week, Lucy's been leaving quite a large puddle everywhere I park her. I’d believed I’d traced it to a leaky valve cover gasket, so I put in a new one I had the shelf. It seemed to greatly reduce, but not completely eliminate the dripping. L The next most likely cause is dried out pushrod oil drain tube o-rings. This fix requires removal of the exhaust system and partial disassembly of the valve train with subsequent adjustments. It’s about a three hour job if all goes well. I’ll wait and make sure the gasket replacement really doesn’t fix the problem.

After replacing the gasket, I swapped back the right-side carburetor. I’ve been experimenting trying to find the source of a miss at high rpm. I’d put on two rebuilt carbs, but the problem got worse, so by swapping out only one this time, I’m hoping to figure out which carb is the culprit.

Next I decided it was time to tackle the rusty front valance. Thanks to good penetrating oil and my impact guns, I was able to remove the bumper without breaking a bolt. Next, armed with my wire-wheeled equipped grinder, I exposed the extent of the rot. I snapped some before and after pictures of the front valance. It’s pretty bad, so I’ll need to get creative with my welder.

Friday, April 16, 2010

CPotD #86 (Convertible Envy)

A glance out the window of my office says it’s sunny and says it’s 82 degrees, so it must be time for me to envy everyone who has a drivable convertible. Today’s CPotD just had to be a drop top ‘vair. A visit to the Flickr Corvair Pool of photos led me to the photostream of RedCorvair1969. I could spend hours drooling over all the images in the thirty sets they’ve posted. In addition to car show shots and scans of fourteen different Corvair brochures, this enthusiast has got scads of photos documenting the restoration of his beautiful red LM ‘vert. Many of those were CPotD worthy, and I’m sure someday this car will be in a CPotD.

Today’s honor, however, goes to a drop-dead gorgeous ’66 Corsa. As you, the reader, must know by now, I’m a sucker for any car painted any hue of orange. So, finding this combination of color, condition, and the mag-style wheel covers and I knew I’d found my CPotD and a new wallpaper for my computer.

Speaking of convertibles, I saw mine yesterday. Well, at least the front grill area. My ’65 Pontiac LeMans is currently going through a lowering process. I’m trying to permanently deform the springs by storing a ton of parts in and on her. A real shame she has to sit there and patiently wait to move to the top of the project list. Someday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CPotD #85 (More Four Doors)

I just received my April issue of the CORSA Communiqué, the magazine of the national Corvair club. Publishing this monthly missive takes a large portion of the club’s budget. There’s a lot of talk in the online Corvair community about whether continuing this publication in its current form and frequency is a good idea. As of a year or so ago, CORSA made the Communiqué available online to members in addition to the hardcopy delivered to our doorstep. Many have recommended that it go electronic only. Others think changing it to a quarterly is the way to go. My opportunities to read anything for pleasure are few and far between, and I’m rarely in front of a PC when it does. So I’m pushing for them to keep the tree-killing version coming twelve times a year.

Today’s CPotD of a beautiful silver-blue ’64 Monza is this month’s front cover. I was talking with Victoria last evening about Mikhaila latest decision to make a Corvair truck our father-daughter project instead of an EM 4-door. I confessed I was slightly disappointed since I really wanted an EM 4-door in the fleet again. To me, all the 2-doors we have are sporty and that’s great, but it would nice to have at least one 4-door to lend some class to the driveway. I don’t think a Rampside can be considered classy.

A Doctor or MacGyver

First story from yesterday. While filling Lucy’s gas tank with fuel, the driver on the other side of the island asked me if I was a doctor. Rather than give a snappy reply like, “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express,” I just said, “No.”

“You must be an engineer then,” he said.

“Yes I am, and how’d you guess?” I shockingly replied.

Pointing to Lucy, he answered, “You must be really smart. It takes a smart person to keep an old car like that on the road.”

He was full of questions after that, and I thoroughly enjoyed answering them. It’s so much fun to chat with people about Corvairs.

Second story. On my drive after work to pick up Victoria from her lacrosse game, Lucy’s GEN-FAN light came on. I immediately shut off the engine and coasted to a stop well off the highway. As I walked to the back of the car, I thought how ironic it was that a guy had just posted that day on the CorvairCenter forum his adventure with his first fanbelt failure. This thought came to mind since I fully expected that opening the engine lid would expose a dangling, ragged belt. Thankfully, I was wrong. The fanbelt was intact and the generator pulley was still under tension. A quick visual check of the wiring indicated all was well there. It was only after I jiggled one of the wires going to the generator that I found the problem. The wire had broken beneath the insulator of the ring-tongue terminal. To fix it, I first grabbed my multi-tool and a tie-wrap from the toolbag in the trunk. Then I stripped off a small length of insulation from the broken end of the wire, slid the insulator off the terminal and slid it over the wire end and up a little. After laying the exposed wire end on top of the open end of the terminal, I slid the insulator back down the wire and over the terminal end thus capturing the wire. The tie-wrap installed tightly around the insulator ensured the repair would last for at least until I got Lucy home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CPotD #84 (Shortys are so Wacky)

The Corvair was the first car produced by GM with uni-body construction. That means there’s no separate chassis that everything mounts to. The suspension, drivetrain, etc. all mount directly to the body. This style of construction makes it easy to alter the wheelbase of the car. With a little imagination and lots of welding skill, “shorties” can be created. A shorty is just like it sounds, a car that’s been shortened. Today’s Wacky Wednesday CPotD is of a ’63 ‘vair ‘vert shorty. The photo is courtesy of, a very fun site to peruse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Balljoint on Order

With Loriann and Victoria’s help, I confirmed that Lucy’s right lower balljoint is failing. I jacked the front end up and placed jackstands under the lower attachment points of the two front shock absorbers. With the wheels off the ground, they pushed and pulled on the wheel while I watched for relative movement between the spindle and the control arms. When they jiggled the top of the wheel, nothing moved, but when they jiggled the bottom, I saw nearly an eighth of an inch of movement where there should have been none. I went online Monday morning and ordered a replacement from Raffee Corvair Specialist. He confirmed it shipped the same day, so I will have it by the weekend. My plan is to do the install at the upcoming CORSA of Baltimore club meeting on the 24th. The local ‘vair-meister, Gary, has got the perfect tool to do this (relatively massive c-clamp with specialized fittings), so I need to remember to ask him to bring it along. One thing I need to verify is whether I’ll need to re-do my alignment once the joint is installed. Hope not.

CPotD #83 (The Pits are NOT the Pits)

Yeah. It’s another Track Day Tuesday! Today’s CPotD reminds me that May 3rd is less than three weeks away. Hold it. Less than three weeks away? CRAP. Lucy’s not ready. I’ve still got stuff on my to-do list. Oh well, time to get even more serious.

Back to the CPotD. While spending as much time on the track is my aim for any track day, the time spent in the pits before, during, and after the event is also memorable. The guys (and sometime gals) that run at these events are so friendly, and I don’t get to experience this level of camaraderie anywhere else. The image above was taken at last year's Walter Mitty challenge at Road Atlanta. The Corvair contingency was well represented. This event is not a time-trial – these guys go side-by-side (and sometimes side-into-side) racing with all different sorts of racecars. While I admire their skills at going wheel-to-wheel, I’m going to limit my racing to my Playstation3.

Monday, April 12, 2010

CPotD #82 (Motor Monday - Bolivian Style)

Today’s CPotD, sticking with the new theme-of-the-day, is of a 1960 engine. There were many first-year-only features on this engine. Most visible are the air-cleaner setup and thermostat. This was the only year the engine’s operating temperature was maintained by controlling the amount of air going into, rather than out of, the enclosure.

While this engine is not exactly stock, it is quite close. It resides in a very unusual ’60 4-door recently restored in an even more unusual location. Please go read all about this unusualness at Richard’s detailed website.

The List Grows Shorter

I had a productive weekend. Saturday evening, I went out to the driveway and swapped carbs out on Lucy. I’m trying to find out if the missing I’m feeling at high rpm under load is carb related or not. The swap wasn’t straightforward. The right side carb (most recently with problems on Ringo, but subsequently rebuilt) had an issue with the needle and seat causing the bowl to overfill (may have been Ringo’s problem). I swapped back one of the previous carb covers and everything ran right. I synchronized the carbs using my clear-tubing-with-some-Marvel-Mystery-Oil-inside tool and adjusted the idle and all was good.

Sunday afternoon was spent doing my master cylinder swap. I first blew out all the old brake fluid, and then installed the bench-bled master cylinder and hooked up the lines.
After making one more bend in the line under the dash it was time to bleed the system. An hour plus later, and thanks to Mikhaila and Victoria’s help, I finally had a good, hard pedal. A few trips up and down the driveway, and I was confident the brakes were functioning properly.

With that project complete I turned my attention to finding where the oil leak was that had created the large puddle in the driveway. It looks like a leaky valve cover gasket, but I ran out of time to do the replacement.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Very Special Birthday Present

Thanks to the generosity of many people, I am now in possession of a pair of 140 HP engine heads. My lovely wife, my parents, and my in-laws were the generous givers of the gift, while Irv Brock was the generous seller who cut us a great deal. Please see this previous post for more info. Following are photos I took of one of the heads. The other looks basically the same.
With all on my plate, I hope it’s not an eternity before I get them installed. Before they get bolted on, I need to do a few things to them that I hadn’t mentioned in my earlier entry. First, these heads have larger diameter valves that the standard Corvair engines. This contributes to a propensity to drop valve seats – not a desirable event. To prevent this, there are a number of seat retention methods in use. The one that appeals to my frugal, do-it-myself mentality is the setscrew technique detailed here. Next, I need to clean out the flashing between the fins. A good explanation of the how and why is here. I want to try my hand at porting and polishing. There are many ideas and techniques for this, and I’ve still got lots of reading to do before putting grindstone to aluminum. Finally, even though these heads appear to be in near-new condition, I want to lap each valve in its seat to ensure good contact and sealing.

Obviously, this will be a long-term project where I attempt to squeeze in working on them between the more pressing fleet management tasks.

CPotD #81 (Rampside Revelation)

Two reasons I chose this photo I found on Flickr for CPotD honors. First, it’s a prime example of the type of old car you’d find for sale if you decided to shop in the desert areas of our southwest. It’s probably just sat in that dry air for a couple decades and appears none the worse for wear. The photo is part of set depicting the sale of one man’s Corvair collection. Click here for the rest of the photos. I looked at this image long and hard, and couldn’t see any rust. I grew up in CA and it wasn’t until I spent time with my lovely wife-to-be in upstate NY that I realized how voracious the tin worm could be.

Today, it’s all about supply and demand. The greater supply of solid southwest restoration candidates results in asking prices significantly lower than what I see for eastern cars. And eastern cars typically require rust mitigation.

The other reason I chose to feature a Rampside was Mikhaila has changed her mind about our father-daughter project. She now wants a truck. We’ll see if she feels the same way a year or so from now when we get serious about finding her first car vehicle.

Frugality is Challenging

Frugal fleet management is quite the challenge. To save $160 (the cost of two new patch panels from Clark’s), I’m cutting sections off Old Betty, drilling out spot-welds, separating fender from wheel-well, and when all that’s done, I still don’t have a completely rust-free patch.

Another part of the challenge is remembering what used parts I have and where I’ve stored them. I envy those who let the Corvair vendors do their storage of new parts for them. I can’t afford that luxury. A couple years ago, I was fortunate to be given a bolt bin that I promptly filled with loose, little parts. It sure made finding those small items easier. Unfortunately, the bin immediately filled up and I still have boxes of parts on the shelf not to mention all the bigger parts that are spread around the garage.

The last couple of evenings I’ve spent some time rebuilding carburetors. Lucy’s current pair seem to have some issues that I want to clear up before the upcoming track day. From the carburetor cubby located above the work bench I pulled down two complete assemblies. One was an original from Lucy, the other I’d pulled off Ringo when that side wasn’t idling. I tore down the Lucy one Wednesday and soaked the bowl and venturi cluster overnight in carb cleaner. Interestingly, I discovered that carb was missing the pump discharge needle. A quick visit to the carb part box, and I had a replacement. Last night I removed, rinsed, blew out the cleaned parts, reassembled, and adjusted that carb. Next, I tore down the Ringo one and put the bowl, cover, and venturi cluster in the cleaner to soak. I’ll pull those parts out tonight, and do the rebuild and the swap this weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CPotD #80 (Flying Time)

The other day I celebrated my 49th birthday. These yearly events don’t mean much to me since, thank God, I still feel healthy, full of energy, and not any closer to retirement than I was last year. I can’t help but reflect, however, on my children maturing so quickly in the last few years. This coming summer will mark many milestones: Brianna is getting married; Ariel should be halfway through her college experience; Victoria will earn her driver’s license; and Mikhaila will become a teenager.
Today’s CPotD is of the younger two taken at a Long Island, NY car show around eight years ago. I'm not sure how I coerced them to attend, but I do remember telling them they could be in the pictures if they made funny faces. They jumped at the opportunity to be silly.
Even though time does fly, some things never change. They still like to make funny faces.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CPotD #79 (More Weirdness)

How many of you thought the El Camino was a good idea? Sending a car to do a truck’s job. What were they thinking? While Chevy’s first foray into a car-based truck lasted only two years and used the full-size ’59 Brookwood two-door station wagon. In 1964, when their smaller Chevelle was introduced, they brought back the car-truck (or is it truck-car) calling it a utility vehicle, and for the next twenty-three years you could go into your Chevrolet dealer and purchase this Chevelle-based vehicle.

So, the El Camino was available during all five of the Corvair LM’s years, yet GM never offered a mini El Corvairo. Well, somebody took care of that oversight and it’s the subject of today’s CPotD.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CPotD #78 (Tuesday Must Mean More Track Cars)

Whenever I have today’s CPotD as the wallpaper for my work PC, I get plenty of “Unsafe at Any Speed” comments from alert passer-bys. The conversation quickly turns into how much fun I have driving my EM on the track.

The above photo shows four different levels of track preparation. The car on the left is a fairly stock ’64 4-door sedan – yes, a 4-door! I’m sure this car will appear by itself in a future Trackday Tuesday CPotD. The white car has had some obvious mods like the front spoiler and full roll-cage, and some not-so-obvious changes like the fuel cell mounted in the trunk. It was featured in a past CPotD. The orange car has quite a history. It is the Bill Thomas/Doug Roe 1960 coupe, and was the first serious Corvair race car. Read about it here and here. Finally, the black ’64 Spyder, also in a previous CPotD, employs some period-correct speed equipment which, in addition to making it very fast, provides a cool glimpse into the aftermarket technology of the late-60s.

Monday, April 5, 2010

CPotD #77 (Motor Mondays)

I’ve always enjoyed a well detailed engine. I don’t understand why so many new cars have got those huge plastic covers over them. Is it to hide all the plumbing and wiring necessary to make modern engines perform so efficiently and cleanly? I guess if today’s typical consumer were ever to peek under the hood of their drivable appliance, the complexity would give them nightmares.

In honor of the exposed beauty of a clean and simple Corvair power plant, I’m making the first day of the work week Motor Mondays. The CPotD that kicks off this series is one that was recently posted on Facebook by Rafee Corvair. He is a skilled craftsman of all things Corvair and offers great deals on parts and service out of his Oklahoma shop called Raffee Corvair Specialist. Check out his website by clicking here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

CPotD #76 (Plain Jane)

For LMs, there were three trim levels available, Corsa, Monza, and the lowly 500. Chevrolet had to cut a lot of corners in order to tout their ’66 500 2-door offering as the “lowest priced hardtop in America.” Some of these quotes from their ’66 brochure are rather telling: “… frugal tendencies stem from its power plant,” “… pinch-penny to drive,” and “ideal way to have a ball on a budget.” Unfortunately, it’s this stripped-down reputation that doomed many a 500 to a shortened life as a parts-car for the restoration of a up-scale Corsa or Monza.

There, are, however, a number of survivors with owners who appreciate the absence of excesses. Today’s CPotD is of a beautiful LM 500. From its poverty hubcaps to its fawn vinyl benchseats, this car is clean.