Monday, May 24, 2010

Old Betty Gave Her All

An amazing ‘vair weekend! I got everything completed that I’d planned, didn’t break anything that I pulled off Old Betty, and didn’t hurt myself. I was three for three. Then to top it off, I had a great time Sunday at the Corvair Ranch Open House (more on that in my subsequent posting).

Friday, after work, I pushed Old Betty into the garage and set to work removing her engine. My original plan was to keep the differential and transmission in place and just pull the engine, but after reading the cautionary posts on the web and the straightforward instructions in the manual, I revised that plan to dropping the entire drivetrain. I got through the first few steps of disconnecting hoses, wires, and linkages without issue, but hit a wall when instructed to loosen the nuts at end of the rear strut rods. I hadn’t pre-soaked any of the fasteners with penetrating fluid, and one look at these two joints that sit out for all the elements to work their rust-making magic on indicated I should have. With hopes not so high, I doused the nut and bolt threads with my 50/50 mix of ATF and Acetone and applied the impact wrench set on HIGH. After beating on the nuts for a few minutes with no movement, I lit up my propane torch and made the right nut glow but to no avail. Time to revert to Plan A. After removing the starter and the accessible bellhousing to differential bolts and placing the ATV jack under the oil pan, I removed the two nuts holding the engine to the rear mount and slowly lowered the rear of the drivetrain. This exposed the top bolts holding the engine to the differential and after removing them and the forward engine shrouding I removed the three bolts holding the torque converter to the flexplate. It was now crunch time – would I crunch something when I separated the engine? Would the input shaft stick in the torque converter and get bent or broken? I raised the engine so it was aligned with the diff and pried apart the joint. After lowering the engine to clear the mount and pulling it back a few inches amazingly the engine was free and I was able to lower the jack all the way down. Nothing was mutilated! Thank you Lord. With that task complete, it was time to cleanup and hit the hay. All before midnight – yahoo!

Saturday morning I was up early and in the garage with a long mental list of parts to pull and pieces to cut off. First thing though was putting away all the tools and getting the engine out of the way. I carefully wheeled the jack out to the driveway praying the perilously perched engine stayed put. I then piled on the associated parts I’d previously pulled off and covered it all with a big piece of plastic. Back to the car, I removed the rear brake drums and brake assemblies before reinstalling the rear wheels. Lowered to the ground, I rolled the car into the driveway so I could take advantage of the nice weather and the less confined work area. Out came the Sawzall, the drill, and the grinder with a cut-off wheel mounted. A few hours later I had all the body panel patches that I needed. That included most of the left front fender, the bottom section of the driver’s door, a big portion of the left rear fender, trunk floor, and the battery shelf. With that nasty task completed, I went back to removing parts that either unplugged or unbolted. The hood came off, the engine and trunk wire harnesses were harvested, the headlight and taillight assemblies, door locks, ignition switch, front grill bar with trunk lock all found their way into the bin of parts. Next off were the windshield trim, wipers, wiper motor, washer fluid reservoir and bracket, engine mount, and the grill panels at the base of the windshield and backlight. The latter of these required the grinder to remove the heads of the rusted retaining screws. With rain beginning to fall I pushed the carcass back into the garage and proceeded to remove the headlight, dimmer, and wiper switches, the gage cluster, and the glove box. I really wanted to remove the turn signal switch assembly, but at 10 PM, after the full day I’d experienced, I was no match for the c-clip. So after remounting the steering wheel minus the horn pieces, I called it a day.

To be continued…..

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