Wednesday, June 30, 2010
So, what is it about Rampsides and Loadsides that make them so enticing to shorten? It must be the simplicity of cutting out a section of the truckbed and having the faces mate up so perfectly for the subsequent welding. A Greenbrier or Corvan would have the same property, but the frequency of seeing a truncated version of one of those models is far less.
I shot today’s CPotD at this year’s Corvair Ranch Open House. I guess the 56 means there's 39 inches missing from the original 95 inch wheelbase.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Last night I spent over a half-hour grinding off excess weld metal around Lucy’s new valence patch. Like drywall finishing, the putting on is far more fun than the taking off, but it’s also a far more delicate skill. I kept wondering if I had done a better job of welding, would I spend a lot less time grinding. If I were an artist, like my skillful spouse, would the metal off part of bodywork be a breeze?
I wonder if she’d like another hobby.
I’ve been honored again. Last week’s posting about Autocrossing included this photo of a Greenbrier doing the three-wheel tango. It caught the attention of Hemmings’ blogmeister, Daniel Strohl, who, like the week before, included a link to my blog in his weekly Four-Links entry. Autoblog.com picked it up from there and included it in their Sunday issue. All of a sudden, my visitor counter took a big jump. It was fun to read the comments people posted, especially under the Autoblog entry.
One of the commenters took issue, I believe, with me posting the picture since it showed the FC being driven in a manner the GM engineers never intended. He felt I was perpetuating Mr. Nader’s unsafe at any speed stigma. Another commenter counterpointed with a photo of his Lotus lifting a wheel. In response to all that, I endeavored to find an image on the web of a Corvair track car doing the three-wheel tango. I failed, but I did find today’s CPotD and it’s so very close to pulling the right front off the asphalt. What’s amazing to me is that left front wheel was able to get enough grip on the rain-soaked track to really dig in. Click here to see more photos from this waterlogged event.
The days leading up to this year’s time trials at Summit Point were filled with predictions of nasty weather for the day. In fact, it rained for nearly the entire drive up that morning. I was scared to death that I’d be spending the day tip-toeing around a flooded track while peering through a poorly wiped windshield. Fortunately, the rain stopped as I was pulling through the front gates, and stayed away the entire day. The first few laps, however, were run on a wet track, and the end of the straightaway got real exciting when Lucy’s brakes locked up. Judicious pedal pumping and I was able to make it around Turn 1.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Yesterday was a productive day, car-wise, for Victoria and I. We spent a couple hours working on Glinda with Victoria making patterns from cardboard that I then used to cut out patches from the panels I’d cut off Old Betty. With all the patches cut and trimmed to fit their respective openings, I set them aside for Victoria to clean up with the wire wheel on my grinder. She’d left for a babysitting job by then, so I moved on to the second patch on Lucy’s front valence. I fashioned a pattern from taped together pieces of file folder paper and transferred the outline to a portion of rear fender from Old Betty. With my vise I bent the pinchweld flange, and then with a pipe and a couple 2X4s, I was formed the curve into the nearly flat piece of metal. Once shaped, I could trim the edges to fit the opening. Using my drillpress I put in a series of holes for plug welds to the pinchweld. On to the grinder to remove burrs, and then over to the wire wheel to get rid of the paint and primer from around the edges that would see the welds. Out to the driveway and the backside of the patch got a heavy coat of galvanizing primer. With magnets and a couple of vise grips, the patch was in place ready to attach with molten metal. Out came the welder with the result shown below. At that point it was time to knock off for the day.
With Brianna and Nich visiting next weekend, there’s an urgency to finish this project and get Lucy’s front bumper back on. We’re trading cars so I can put a new paintjob on Heidi next month. Still on Lucy’s punchlist is finding and fixing the annoying oil leak. For a while I thought it was a leaky pushrod oil drain tube o-ring, but closer inspection the other day has me now thinking it’s a failing top engine cover gasket. To fix that, I’ll need to remove a bunch of parts to get the fan cover off. Hopefully, it’s something as simple as tightening a loose bolt or two. If I have to replace a gasket, it’s actually two and a lot of work scraping the old gaskets off.
Today is Motor Monday, and with an active thread on the CorvairCenter forum called “Painted Engine Pics,” it was pretty easy to come up with a suitable CPotD. The one I chose is unique in at least a couple of ways. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this color applied to an engine before. Second, I can’t remember ever seeing the engine cover’s embossed numbers and letters painted with a separate color. The latter caused me to immediately notice that a couple of the cylinder numbers are missing. Around 1964, Chevy added two new parts intended to prevent fanbelt failure. One is at the idler and the other is on the left side of the fan pulley. To mount the latter, they had to change the engine cover and removed the number 3. It’s the other missing number that caught me by surprise. Amazingly, after all the times I’ve stared at the Corvair I’d never noticed that there’s no Number 2.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Since the convention is nearing its end, my blogging on this subject is also nearing a conclusion. Today’s entry highlights another very popular event, the autocross. Scott Trunkhill again came through with a load of photos that he had posted on his website, and I eagerly rifled through them hoping to find the perfect shot for today’s CPotD. While certainly never able to compete for FTD (fast time of the day) against the cars, FCs make for extremely entertaining autocross runs. Given their high center of gravity, they are the most likely to lift a wheel under sharp turning and hard braking. There must not have been many entered in this year’s event since I was only able to find one Greenbrier out of the dozens of cars Scott photographed. The above photo shows how the trailing-arm suspension allows the rear wheel to drop adversely affecting camber. I’ve read about the self-preservation the FC suspension provides. When a driving maneuver causes the vehicle to dramatically tip, one of the rear wheels leaves the pavement and the other rear wheel, with all the side load, then slides out to right the vehicle.
On the web, there are a number of images of FCs three-wheeling. I can’t imagine how scary this must feel.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Unless I someday happen upon a great deal on a near-perfection Corvair, I can’t imagine ever putting enough work into one of these vehicles to enter a concours.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
With the CORSA convention in full swing, today’s Wacky Wednesday CPotD is another Scott Trunkhill photo taken there a couple days ago. This shot shows a collection of valve cover racers. This fun event has been part of the convention, and many other Corvair get togethers, for years. The official rules are:
- Construction: Must include a Corvair Valve Cover
- Weight: Five pounds maximum
- Width: Eight inches maximum
- Length: 18 inches maximum
- Motivation: gravity propelled only. No aux. power such as electric motors, pyrotechnics, or JATO rockets.
There are other photos on Scott’s website of this year’s competition. You can see that many of the participants are children. I have fond memories of Pinewood Derby racing when I was in Cub Scouts. In fact, I’ve got two of my cars sitting in front of me on my desk at work. One obviously reflects the help I received from my dad, while the other is quite crude showing I refused any fatherly assistance.
If I ever make it to a convention, I wonder if I’ll be inspired to create a racer of my own, and will it be worthy of the Hughes name.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Scott Trunkhill runs the corvair.us website that’s filled with photos and videos he’s taken at the countless racing events he’s attended. His equipment is quite nice, and he takes great shots. I’ve borrowed photos from his site for this blog before and today’s CPotD another occurrence.
Currently, hundreds of Corvairs have converged on Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the CORSA national convention. One of the convention’s events is the autocross which was held a couple of days ago. Thanks to Scott’s perseverance and the miracle of the web, photos from the event are already posted for all to see. I really like the paint scheme on today's CPotD, Scott Ridderman’s ultra-clean LM. I may have to consider a black over orange paint scheme for Betty.
Scott is part of a race team that recently bought an old fire engine and converted it into an awesome race team hauler. Check out this posting on the CorvairCenter forum for the story and pictures.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The experience of meeting Jim and seeing his awesome collection of some of GM’s finest from the fifties and sixties was only topped by his accommodating nature. When he saw that using a Sawzall was going to take some time, he rolled out his torch and we had the front of the car cut off in no time. When my 12-point socket wasn’t grippng the head of a stubborn bumper bolt, he came up with a 6-point that was up to the task. When I was about to put the sheetmetal onto the folded back seat, he produced a large piece of cardboard to protect the car. He told me to look around and make an offer on whatever Corvair stuff appealed to me. In the end, I got a wonderful deal on the sheetmetal, two ‘vair carbs, and four Nissan wheels just like Lucy’s but with white spokes instead of gold. The great thing about the wheels is that they came with new center caps. I’ve installed the caps already and selling the wheels will more than pay for the gas burned on the trip.
Sunday morning we packed up for the drive home. The sheetmetal had to be tied to Lucy’s roof since it was taking up precious packing space in the back. We made the drive home, but not without a little excitement. There’s a long climb out of Hagerstown on I-70, and as we neared the top in 90+ degree heat, the TEMP/PRESS light started flickering. I immediately slowed down from the 65 I was doing and shifted into third gear. The light kept flickering until we crested the pass, but never reappeared for the rest of the trip. At one point, a car passed us and then slowed down after getting back into the slow lane. As I swung around to re-pass the guy, he rolled his window down and told us he’d had a car like mine when he was in college. Then one of his kids stuck their camera out the window and took a picture of us. Must’ve been quite the sight with sheetmetal flying in the breeze. Speaking of which, when we got off the interstate near home, I was amazed at how much the rope had stretched. When we’d left the park, the rope was taut; now it had at least three inches of slack. Once the cars were emptied my wonderful wife made sure I spent the rest of the day doing fun stuff. I ended up giving Lucy a long overdue washing and installing the center caps while rotating the tires.
Only doing car tasks of my choosing didn’t stay that way however. Ringo barely made it to our driveway on Ariel’s drive home from work, dying with the same symptoms of a week ago. After a sumptuous supper, I went out and he started right up, so I took him for a spin around neighborhood, but less than a block from the house, the engine died and would not restart. I got out, looked down one carb, blipped the throttle, no shot of gas. Empty? Since I’d recently replaced them with known good ones, I decided it had to be something else. I walked home, grabbed a fuel pump off the shelf and a handful of wrenches. Five minutes later, I’d swapped out the fuel pump and he started right up and idled wonderfully. I had Ariel take him for a test drive and he performed flawlessly. Could I have this issue behind me? I hope and pray so.
Today’s Motor Monday photo is the second engine being ferried about by the MuseumBrier. It was GM’s attempt at making a modular corporate engine based on the Corvair engine’s features . Note the separate heads (headettes?), rocker covers, and intake adapters. Coincidentally, Hemmings has a better photo in one of their posts here.
I tried to find out more about this engine, but the best I could come up with on the web was a photo of the engine with a display board shown at the 2008 Corvair Performance Workshop. Here's a close-up of the display board portion. I’ve transcribed an excerpt.
“Modular two and four cylinder engines were tested in subcompact 2 and 4-passenger cars built by Chevrolet and Fisher body. Both the four and six cylinder engines were in R&D’s front drive Corvair program, and six-cylinder units were included in the plans for several Chevrolet-powered military vehicles. Even the Monza GT experimental coupe’s first engine was a modular six with fuel injection.
Development on the modular engine concept continued into the mid-60’s, including plans to use the six cylinder version like the engine displayed here in ’64 production Corvairs. The financial success of the modular engine concept was predicated on use of the designs in other Chevrolet products and by other GM divisions. When those other applications did not materialize, development of this modular engine was phased out. The engine displayed here is one of three known to survive the Chevrolet scrap metal bin.”
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Ahead of Heidi, however, are Lucy's valance project where I'll cut and form my own patches and Glinda's array of patching of which I still need to cut the patches from panels gleaned from Old Betty. At my day job, a backlog is a blessing. Not so much for my job of fleet maintainer.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, after work, I pulled the carburetors off Lucy knowing they worked fine and put them on Ringo. He started right up and after a few adjustments and balancing, idled nicely. I had Ariel drive him around the neighborhood and she came home and gave me the thumbs up.
I took the carburetors that had been on Ringo and installed them on Lucy. They balanced up nicely and I was able to get the engine to idle, but not smoothly. I took him for a drive around the block and took the tach up to 5 grand trying to suck out whatever was causing a problem. It worked and the idle settled at a steady 1100 rpm. That’s a little high, but I’ll drive it a few days before turning the screws again.
It started Friday when I left Lucy’s headlights on while I toiled away at my day job. I was able to get a jumpstart by a coworker and merrily drove home. Saturday morning Victoria and I worked on Glinda cutting away rusted areas and brushing and primering the exposed metal. Then Saturday afternoon Loriann and the girls got in her car to run errands and found the check engine light (CEL) illuminated and the engine running roughly. I told her to take the Suburban and I’d deal with her car. As she drove away, I pulled the codes and got 0301 which indicated a misfiring of cylinder number one. As I was closing the car door my cellphone rang. It was Loriann informing me the Suburban’s temperature gage was nearly in the red and not going down. It was as if the thermostat was stuck closed. She had pulled over to the side of the interstate and with the engine idling for a few minutes the temperature dropped to halfway. She said she could nurse the truck to their first destination, so I told her I’d meet her there with lots of water.
I filled some jugs, climbed in my car, and turned the key only to be met with silence. The five-year-old battery had given up the ghost. I coasted down the hill and popped the clutch to get Lucy running and headed on down the road. I met them, sitting in the shade, the Suburban’s hood up, but the radiator cap still very hot. At this point, I couldn’t give my car to Loriann to continue her errand running since she’d not be able to turn it off, so everyone piled into Lucy and I dropped them off at the library while I ran to the auto parts store to get a spark plug and a set of cables for the Cruiser and maybe a battery for Lucy. Leaving the car running and parked right in front of Advance Auto, I got the parts, but decided against buying a new battery. I’d use the battery out of Glinda until she was ready for the road. Back to the library to gather the gals for the drive back to the Suburban. The radiator and its reservoir swallowed nearly two gallons of water to reach full. With more jugs in the back, we decided they would head towards home, but towards their next destination, and if the temp gage behaved normally, they would complete their errands. It did and they did. Yay!
I went home to work on the Cruiser. Since we’re on a tight budget, I was uninclined to just toss good cables and plugs. So, after removing the intake manifold to access the plugs and wires, I pulled each cable and checked their resistance. They all measured less than the new ones and were basically equal to each other, so I chose to keep them. I pulled the #1 plug and it looked used, but undamaged. I cleaned it and re-gapped it to .045”. I did the same with the other three plugs and reinstalled them all in their original locations except for swapping #1 with #4. I figured if the code changed to 0304, then I’d know that plug was bad. With the original cables back in place, I put everything back together and fired up the engine. All sounded good, so I figured I’d just saved $40 worth of parts that I could return.
With that issue seemingly dealt with, I went ahead and pulled Lucy’s dead battery and replaced it with one from Glinda. So, I felt that, other than the Suburban’s leaky radiator, all was right with my little world of cars. Oh how wrong I was.
Sunday morning we took the Cruiser to church and it did not run smoothly. Guess it was time to replace the plugs and wires. After church, I made a quick run to the parts store and bought three more plugs. Then back home to remove the intake manifold AGAIN and remove and replace (R&R) the wires and plugs. Put it all back together and started the engine up and noticed the CEL was still on. I read the codes and discovered I’d neglected to connect a vacuum line and an electrical cable. Irrr. Went ahead and did that, but the CEL still shone. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a chance to go off with some driving which it did the next time it was driven.
The rest of the weekend’s automotive fun and games was actually Corvair, so I’ll save it for the entry in my blog.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Saturday afternoon I installed the engine from Old Betty into New Betty. That went very easily since I didn’t have to deal with an input shaft –just bolting the bellhousing to the differential and then the two nuts of the rear engine mount and Bob’s your uncle. Then, to clear excess parts from the garage, I filled the engine compartment with a bunch of bits I’d pulled off Old Betty including brake assemblies and taillights.
Yesterday afternoon I worked on Glinda. I decided to downsize my patching projects. Previously I’d planned on replacing pretty significantly sized areas, but once I’d cut out and evaluated the panels from Old Betty, that didn’t make sense. The new plan is to replace only those areas rusted out, and not include the areas where Bondo was used. The Bondo is in good shape, so I’ll not mess with it. I cut the rusted areas from the front of the right rocker panel and the top of the left front fender and then cut out the patches from the Old Betty pieces. All that went well. I gave Victoria instructions as to how she should clean out the volumes behind the patches and give them a good couple of coats of Rusty Metal Primer. I’ve still got four more areas that need to be cut out and patches cut before I start welding.
Back in the day, fuel injection was a mechanical affair with no computers or electronic sensors. Fuel delivery was metered by a valve whose position was based on the air volume flowing into the engine. The fuel was a constant flow to all cylinders simultaneously. Now, a computer takes stock of a multitude of engine and atmospheric conditions, decides how much fuel each cylinder needs, and then triggers each injector accordingly. VERY new school.
Today’s Motor Monday CPotD is of a Corvair engine with mechanical fuel injection. This engine is part of the MuseumBrier exhibit that’s being driven to car events by Pete Koehler. I found this website that talks about fuel injecting a Corvair engine. Good stuff.
Friday, June 4, 2010
I don’t like having GUPs lie around. Especially those that don’t take much time to install. I’ve had a new glovebox from the Corvair Ranch for nearly a month while Lucy’s old glovebox was dangling by a shred. Last night I decided to take my stubby Phillips screwdriver and make the long-overdue remove and replace (R&R added to sidebar). The old one came out in pieces easily enough, but maneuvering the new one into place was a bit of a bear. I ended up removing the fresh air vent cable mount so I could move the defroster tube out of the way. After what seemed like a half-hour of finagling, it was finally in place. After installing the four retention screws, the job was complete.
This weekend will be a tricky balance of yard-work (spreading mulch), Glinda-work (sealing the windshield and backlight), and Lucy-work (valance patching and o-ring R&R). Will see how successful I am come Monday.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
After lunch we were only able to see most of the first race of the day because we had to leave for a family picnic. Unfortunately, it was NOT the group David was in. Afterwards, I found out David came in second in his class. Many of the racers were quite surprised with the car's capabilities. Regardless, all four of us had a wonderful time. I gave the still camera to Victoria and the pictures she took can be seen here.