Friday, October 29, 2010

Brakin’ and Chasin’ and Polishin’ Too

Yesterday I had to slam on the brakes to prevent Lucy from running into a cube van driven by an oblivious moron who, driving 20 mph slower than the flow on I-195, decided to make a hard right into my lane directly in front of me. While the brakes whoa’d us down swiftly enough to prevent contact, the front ones shuttered and emitted a very nasty screeching sound. Must be time for a brake job.

So last night I put her front end up on jackstands and pulled the right front wheel and brake hub. Sure enough, the liners had worn down to the rivets. Fortunately, there were no grooves in the hub, just a circumferential scratch. Also fortunately, I had a new set of shoes on the shelf. Less than an hour later both fronts had been renewed and she was off the stands.

Since I was already dirty, I decided to do some Glinda tasks. I started by mounting my cone-shaped polishing head on my die-grinder and smoothing combustion chamber surfaces on the pulled head. Below are the typical results (click for hi-res). I still want to go back and grind some of the tiny bumps and imperfections. Also pictured is the cause of all this work – the burnt #6 head gasket (click for hi-res).

Bored with buffing, I dug out my tap-and-die set and chased the 3/8-24UNF threads on the top set of studs and nuts. These are the ones that sit out and typically get pretty rusty. When I was through each nut easily spun on and off of each stud. One less thing to fuss with during reassembly. Which, by the way, I hope goes on tomorrow. I’m still waiting on the new head gaskets, but if need be, I can bum a set off local Corvair guru Gary.

CPotD #172 (Blue on Blue Rampside)

It’s been a while since I featured a Rampside as a CPotD, so I went looking for a blue one for today. Google hooked me up with a nice one that was on last year. Five grand would get you a rust-free, VERY stock appearing, California specimen. It’s fun reading the comments that were left under this listing. My favorite is, “The Corvair was one of GM’s most misunderstood cars.” How true!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Chance Meeting / Grinding While Waiting (Updated)

As I was sitting at a stop sign while driving Lucy home from work yesterday, a van coming from the opposite direction stopped next to me and the driver yelled out his open window, “Who works on your car for you?”
“I do all my own work,” I replied.
“I’ve got a Corvair and I can’t keep a belt on it,” he complained. “Can you help me?”
“Sure,” I said. “Stop by my house and I’ll take a look at it.”
“You live next to the mayor, right?”
By that time traffic was getting pretty annoyed with us, so we went our separate ways after exchanging names. I hope he stops by.

I was hoping the new head gaskets I’d ordered would have arrived by yesterday, but Mr. Postman didn’t leave a package for Glinda. Before I can reinstall the head, it needed to be cleaned up anyway, so last night I got out the die grinder, mounted a brass wire brush, and cleaned off the carbon and oil. I left the old gaskets in place to protect the sealing surfaces. Next, using my new-to-the-garage PC, I searched the CorvairCenter forum for threads about grinding in the combustion chamber. I found this one that discussed removing the bump between the valves. Since the majority recommended removing it, I exchanged the brush attachment for a small grinding stone and smoothed out the circled surface from each chamber.

I’d read (and it makes sense) that polishing the surfaces of the combustion chamber removes the roughness that causes hot spots. It’s these hot spots that tend to cause pre-detonation (pinging). I had pulled down my polishing kit when the gals arrived back home, so I took that as a good point to stop for the evening.

I’m now searching for photos showing what a nicely ground Corvair combustion chamber should look like.

The poster on the CC forum messaged me with the address of the posting I was looking for. Beautiful work. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CPotD #171 (Wacky in Blue)

Serendipitously, there’s a current thread on the CorvairCenter forum called, “Custom Corvair pictures.” It was rather easy to find a blue-hued example of wackiness for today’s CPotD. Another crampside, or shortened rampside, this one uniquely sports single wheel openings for each side to envelope both front and rear wheels. Interesting to say the least.

Glinda Gets Four Hours of my Time

Last evening I headed out to the garage to begin the project of replacing the engine head gaskets on Glinda’s 2-4-6 side. First, however, I took a few minutes to coat the rusted areas under the dash and air grill with Rusty Metal Primer. I’ll topcoat it tonight, then install a patch and seal the seams tomorrow evening.

Back to the engine. I was convinced, after my audible sleuthing, that the puff-puff-puff sound was coming from the #6 cylinder. Per the recommendation of both Jeff (of Corvair Center fame) and Gary (THE local Corvair guru), I checked for a loose spark plug over the weekend. Finding all the plugs snug on that side, I resigned myself to replacing the 2-4-6 head gaskets. After laying out a piece of cardboard to collect the removed components, I removed fanbelt, carbs, fuel pump with gas lines, throttle linkage, and vacuum balance tube. At that point, a conversation I’d had with one of my car buddies at work, Larry, came to mind. “Why don’t you do a compression check,” he’d asked me. To confirm my diagnosis, I pulled all the spark plugs. As I applied torque to remove the #3 plug, I discovered it was not screwed in tight. CRAP! Had I just pulled off all that stuff only to NOW find all I’d needed to do was tighten a spark plug. Just as a check, I did do a compression check on all the cylinders. I found that the suspect cylinder only got up to 130 psi, while the other five all measured between 150 and 160. Not sure if that difference was enough to indicate a failed head gasket, I cleaned, re-gapped, and installed the plugs along with just enough components to get the engine running again. The engine started right up, and sadly, so did the puff-puff-puff. Oh well, I was prepared for that.

Back off came the just-reinstalled items followed by the alternator, oil cooler, fan, shrouds that were attached to the head, and then the valve cover. Next the rocker arms, pushrods, and guides were removed. This exposing the rest of the hardware holding the head in place. Removing these always carries the risk of unscrewing the long head studs from their holes in the block – an undesirable occurrence since this joint is supposed to be locked. The lower six fasteners are the rocker studs with integral hex and an internal thread to mate with the long studs coming from the block. The internal threaded hole mostly protects the end of the studs, so I was relieved, but not surprised, when the impact wrench removed all six without a single stud loosening. The upper nuts allow full exposure of the stud ends to the rust-making environment, so the risk is much higher. I took two precautions before I applied the impact wrench. First, a couple nights ago, I liberally coated the threads and nuts with a rust penetrant (50-50 mixture of Acetone and Trans Fluid). Second, using vice grips, I clamped each stud while removing the associated nut. Everything came off without incident. TYL.

Yanking on the head to pull it off yielded no progress at this point. After thoroughly re-checking I hadn't missed a bolt, I went ahead and took out the six push rod drain tubes. They were difficult to remove, but once they were out, the head would wiggle around freely to extract. As I slowly pulled the head away from the block, I noticed the cylinders were coming off with it – NOT GOOD. Using a hammer and cold chisel, I tapped them back against the block. Of course, the head went back in too. Finally, after a few repetitions of pulling, tapping, pulling, tapping, the cylinders came free of the head and the head came off. Now I could survey the state of the joints. Sure enough, the state of #6 confirmed a leaky gasket. See the pictures below. At that point it was nearing 11 and getting close to my bedtime, so I knocked off for the night.

Combustion chambers 6 - 4 - 2 (click for hi-res):

Cylinder/piston faces 6 - 4 - 2 (click for hi-res):

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CPotD #170 (Blue and Blue)

Today’s CPotD was recently posted on the FastVair mail list. It’s of Mike Levine’s superfast Corv-8 racecar. Having had my share of off-course excursions, I know how Mike felt when he found his car stuck in the gravel. It's a quick way to get the blues, and you're driven to run a blue streak, but then you're so relieved when you find that all the suspension bits and pieces are still attached and the steering wheel is still pointed in the right direction.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Glinda's Weekend

Not to be completely ignored, Victoria and I did spend some time on her car trying to find and fix the source(s) of the leaks that left the front footwells flooded when I drove the car last. We removed the air grill from in front of the windshield. Then Victoria strategically placed herself on the front floor with light and towel in hands while I carefully placed the end of the running hose as far to the left of the cavity as possible. My intent was to start outboard and move in. After a few seconds, she saw water running into the car from a spot above the air vent. Out came the hose and out came the vent assembly. A little probing turned up a rusted out area of sheetmetal wall that will have to be cleaned up, primed, painted, and plugged. Next we moved to the driver’s side. It took a little longer, but we found two leaks through a body seam where the factory applied sealer had failed. Using a screwdriver we cleaned out all occurrences of sealer which I’ll replace with good Silicone RTV. At that point Victoria had a babysitting job to go to, so we moved the car back to the street while I worked on Lucy.

Later in the weekend, I put Glinda back in the garage since the forecast for a chance of rain today and tomorrow mean she needs to be under cover. No more flooding of the new carpet allowed.

CPotD #169 (Reverse Rotation)

It wasn’t easy finding a blue Corvair engine, but I found one. I'm not using for today's Motor Monday CPotD. Instead I'm using this photo I found of a Chrysler Marine engine. How can it be appropriate for a Corvair Photo of the Day? The answer’s in the title of the post.

When Chevrolet designed the Corvair engine, they had to follow the convention of the day for GM. To be compatible with the rest of the engine building and testing equipment, the engine would have to rotate in the same direction as the other vehicles when viewed from the front of the car. Since the engine is installed backwards in the Corvair, this meant the Corvair engine rotates backwards from most every other passenger car engine. Everyone who wants to install a different engine in the rear engine compartment AND keep the stock transaxle, must use a reverse rotation engine.

Enter the marine engine. Twin-prop boats require the two propeller shafts to turn opposition directions to each other to keep the boat going straight. In days gone by, they used a standard rotating engine and a reverse rotation engine to meet this requirement. It may be sacrilege to some (many?) to put a powerplant from Mopar into a GM product, but with the scarcity of reverse rotation candidates, beggars can’t be choosers. This setup would garner plenty of attention at car shows.

The Puddle is MUCH Smaller

Lucy’s been leaving her mark at every parking spot she’s visited for the past few months. When the excessive leaking first started, I had carefully tried to find the source, and had visually ruled out the oil pan and valve covers. I’d also looked as closely as I could at the ends of the push rod tubes and had felt they were not the cause. My view was hampered, however, by the exhaust manifolds. All that left, I deduced, was the top engine cover. To replace these gaskets is quite the project since it requires removal of much of the stuff on top of the engine. Even though I already have the replacement gaskets, I didn’t have the time.

This weekend my plan was to replace the head gaskets on Glinda, but I’d waited too long to order the new parts, so they haven’t shown up in the mail yet. With some garage time available, I pulled Lucy in and put her rear up on the ramps to see if I could verify my previous diagnosis before starting the project. After wiping away oil and grime from as much of the bottom surfaces as feasible, I found that the main source of the dripping oil was too far outboard to be the top cover. It had to be the right side outer push rod seals – the ones whose view is blocked by the exhaust log. So I removed the right side exhaust assembly to get a clear view, and, sure enough, the oil emanated from the tube joint.

I had a half set of Viton o-rings on the shelf – enough to re-seal one side of the engine - that I’d been saving for Glinda’s head gasket job. I decided to use them on Lucy instead and try to get more new ones from the local Corvair guru’s stash of replacement parts.

So, down off the ramps rolled Lucy, and up on the jackstand went her right rear corner. With all the motor oil on the left side, I removed the right side’s valve cover and only a little bit of oil dripped into the drain pan. I could now easily see how much the tubes moved indicating failed o-rings. To get the tubes out, I had to remove rocker arms, push rods, rocker studs (which are also head nuts) and push rod guides. This needed to be done in pairs since each guide covered two tube ends and I didn’t want to remove all the rocker studs at once. I decided to try something different when removing the rocker arm retaining nuts. I didn’t want to go through the manual’s procedure of setting valve lash, so I counted the number of revolutions it took to bring the outer face of the nut flush to the end of the stud. Since I wasn’t changing any of the stackup of parts, I knew that screwing the nut back on the same number of turns would give me the proper lash.

The first pair of tubes came out easily once I tightened a holes clamp around each one to give me a safe point to pry against. I found that whoever did the last re-seal job, mixed o-ring materials. The outer rings (in the hotter head) were the red silicone, while the inner ones (cooler block) were the stock black rubber. I replaced all, including the o-rings under the rocker studs, with brown Viton. Everything went according to plan, and after torquing the valve cover retainer bolts to 50 in-lbs and mounting the wheel, I lowered Lucy to the ground. The moment of truth followed when I started the engine up, and happy was I to not hear any clickety-clack of loose lifters.

When I pulled Lucy out of the garage to park her on the street, I found an oil-free spot to center the engine over, so I’d have an indication of the success of my endeavor. When I came out the next morning to drive her to church, there was just a tiny spot of oil on the pavement. Yeah!

Friday, October 22, 2010

CPotD #168 (Bluebrier)

Since I’m still blue, I searched for an appropriately hued FC for today’s CPotD. I got a Google hit on a really nice Greenbrier that led me to Jalopnik’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe entry from April of this year. I’ve had another Nice Price …. ‘vair as a CPotD before, and it’s wonderful when a high-traffic site features my favorite family of vehicles.

Lucy’s Little Labors

A couple days ago, I noticed that Lucy’s outer right headlight’s lo-beam filament had burned out. It got ignored until last night when I pulled the car into the garage. At this point it would be helpful to explain the headlight scheme for an EM. The outer bulbs have two filaments – lo and hi beam. The inner two bulbs each have a single filament – hi only. Since I’m broke and the failed headlight still has its hi-beam working, I just unplugged the inner bulbs and use hi-beams all the time. Since the bulbs are already pointed down slightly, I won’t be blinding the oncoming traffic. Payday can’t come too soon.

In addition to the headlight issue, she had another issue that needed attending to. I’ve been noticing an occasional clunk in the right front wheel while traversing the wonderful pocked roadways of Baltimore. With the jack under the shock mount, I was able to get a very slight amount of play. I can’t tell if it’s the upper or lower since the play is so small. I’m sure it’ll get worse so I just need to wait. Hopefully, it’s the upper one this time since the lower one is basically new and upper one can be replaced in-place without a special press.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CPotD #167 (Feeling Blue)

Given I need to significantly dig into Glinda’s engine again and I’ve got TONS of other projects that should’ve been tackled by now, I’m feeling a little down. Reflecting this mood, all CPotDs will be blue for the foreseeable future.

I’ll kick it off with this gorgeous Lakewood I found after Googling “Corvair Lakewood.” The wire wheels are a wonderful touch. Hmm. Makes me want to reconsider selling my wire wheelcovers.

Topped $600

With this morning’s order of three head gasket rings for Glinda, our expenses on her have exceeded $600. That's only $600 for a nice looking, nice running classic (note the lower-case “c”) and sporty car. Still an amazing testament to the affordability of Corvairs.

As the gasket order indicated, I’m forced to address the puff-puff-puff noise that points to a failing head gasket before any permanent damage occurs. Sadly, the only way to replace them is to take the engine back down to the state it was in just a few days ago – lots of components removed and the engine lowered. Fortunately, 1) Victoria and I know all the bolts and nuts will come off easily (at least those that we’d just put back on); and 2) we won’t have to re-replace the new gaskets we just installed.

Victoria drove Glinda to school today anyway, and I’ll be interested to see how much oil, if any, is leaking out after she parks her this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Hoard or To Sell

When I was rearranging the garage last week, I uncovered some forgotten parts. With each discovery came the question, “Will I ever use this or should I get rid of it?”

One of the parts is a rare LM radio delete plate. Yeah, I decided, I would use this very rare part someday. When I finally get around to Betty’s roadification, I’d pull the AM radio out, install this plate, and go with my iPod/amplifier setup. Within hours of making that decision, a guy posted a WTB (want to buy) on the CorvairCenter for just this part. Irrr. I really need the money, so I offered it to him and the deal was struck.

When I bought the Rusty Red Corvair a few years ago, it had some EM hubcaps and beauty rings that I think look so awesome. I kept these to put on a car someday. Since Brianna and Ariel chose full wheelcovers for their car, Victoria’s car already has hub caps, and I won’t wait for Mikahaila, they’re up for sale for $100 plus shipping.

Then there are the wire wheel covers that came on Ringo. They’re up for sale - $150 plus shipping.

What else can I sell to make a few bucks?

Glinda's Re-sealed Engine Almost Road-Ready

Victoria and I were back in the garage yesterday evening to finish our efforts to re-seal Glinda’s engine. I had her thoroughly inspect the crank seal comparing it to the new one I’d just received from the Corvair Ranch. We agreed that it was undamaged and still quite flexible – acceptable to continue using. I selected the better of the two GUP-worthy harmonic balancers and handed it to V to clean up the sealing surface with Scotchbrite. After applying white assembly grease to the same surface and the bore, she slipped it over the end of the crank. Oh yeah, we also verified the key was in place. Since Glinda’s engine has been de-smogged, there’s no need to keep the second pulley wheel. This change, however, meant the bolt that came off the end of the crank was too long and there was now no large washer to retain the balancer. If we’d chosen to reinstall the pulley wheel, we’d have to go back to the 90 degree oil filter adapter that I’d decided to do away with. So, to the GUP part’s stash I went and, lo-and-behold, on the end of the crank that came out of Heidi’s original engine were the correct washer and bolt. TYL. With some anti-seize slathered on the threads Victoria drove the bolt home with my impact wrench. Next, she mounted the engine mount bracket with the four nuts. We then cranked up the tranny jack lifting the engine back into place. With the two engine mount nuts torqued on, the engine was back in place.

Now it was time to replace the gaskets on the oil pan and valve covers. Victoria had the pleasure of removing all the screws and having oil drip on her while I cleaned the parts off and made sure the flanges were flat. A surprising discovery was the lack of a gasket on the oil pan – just a lot of RTV. Cleaned and with new cork gaskets held on with a very thin coat of RTV, the pan went back on first, followed by the two covers. BTW, no RTV was put on the joint between the gaskets and the engine. Screws were torqued per the manual, and it was time to install a new filter and fill the crankcase with oil. After double-checking all the joints and fittings, I poured some gas down each carb and turned the key. It took a few tries, but she finally stayed running and settled into idle. I carefully looked all over the engine to find any leaking joints, and all looked good. TYL. There is an annoying puff-puff-puff noise coming from cylinder #6. I just did a quick search on the CorvairCenter forum and had my memory confirmed - it’s a leaking head gasket. Fortunately, the fix may be to just re-torque the head bolts/nuts, but it needs to be done before running the engine again. At least I know the valve cover will come off easily, but I will need to re-orient the car on the jackstands so all the oil runs to the opposite side before I can remove the cover.

The last project we attempted was replacing the four-inch heater hoses that run from the engine to the heater box. Sadly, we were stymied by rusty screws on the clamps. I soaked the threads with my penetrating concoction and will re-try tonight.

CPotD #166 (Another El Corvairo)

This one’s got some very interesting styling lines behind the doors. I wonder what inspires folks to spend so much time on projects like this. Granted it looks like they did an excellent job, but why?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CPotD #165 (Unsafe at Any LandSpeed)

I am excited for Phil Dally. He’s off land speed racing his LM and has had it up to 148 mph. I’ve featured his car before on a CPotD, but this photo of the car and its rooster tail is so impressive.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CPotD #164 (Forced Air Fury)

Mike Tuttle just posted a thread on the CorvairCenter forum with pictures of his awesome Judson supercharged engine. It’s in a ’66 Monza and just looks too great for words. Will I ever have an engine that looks that clean – I highly doubt it.

Lots of Grease Under My Fingernails

With the harmonic balancer failure giving me the excuse to pull Glinda off the road, Victoria and I decided to do some engine re-sealing with the intention of stopping the oil leaks that are making a mess of the engine compartment and the pavement wherever she’s parked. In preparation for this project, I placed a call to the Corvair Ranch and ordered valve cover gaskets and a rear crank seal. I already have the oil pan, oil filter adapter, and crankcase cover gaskets.

Victoria was busy babysitting all day Saturday, so I was on my own. I pushed the car into the garage and put Glinda’s rear end up on jackstands. Following the service manual’s instructions, I did the minimum to remove the harmonic balancer from the end of the crank. The harmonic balance construction consists of two concentric rings with a bonded ring of rubber connecting the two. This breakage was, like most balancer failures, a failure of the rubber. I’m afraid the excessive oil all over the engine sped up rubber’s demise. As the rubber failed, the outer ring (fan belt pulley) slipped and slid closer to the engine block causing a grinding away of the ring. It was this sharp, broken edge that had me thinking a metal failure during my initial roadside diagnosis. Fortunately, I have a couple GUP balancers on the shelf and will use the better of the two.

Yesterday, after church, Victoria joined me in the garage and we removed the following: carburetors, alternator, spark plug cables, distributor cap, idler pulley, fuel pump with outlet lines attached, vacuum balance tube, oil cooler cover, top fresh air hose, top engine cover, fan and pulley, crankcase cover, and oil filter adapter. We thoroughly cleaned everything we removed, scraped off old gaskets and RTV, and then set about reassembling. The crankcase cover was first. There’s a windage tray that fits against the block first with its own gasket followed by the cover itself with its matching gasket. We carefully applied a very thin layer of gasket sealer to each gasket and tightened the bolts to 120 in-lbs. This was Victoria’s first experience with a torque wrench, so I walked her through the process of tightening each bolt to half the final torque value following a star pattern followed by using the same pattern to tighten each to the final value. Next was the oil filter adapter which I had her install without my looking over her shoulder. We took off the 90 degree oil filter adapter since it wasn’t necessary (smog equipment was removed by PO) and thus removed another joint that could leak oil.

While she was doing that, I was fashioning a sheetmetal blockoff for the large air hole in the top cover. Chevy’s intention was to allow a controlled amount of air to be routed from the pressurized cavity under the cover to the heater box. This “fresh” air is drawn off prior to being heated by the hot cylinders and heads, so it is used to moderate the hot air that’s drawn from the underside of the engine. Control is via the AIR lever under the dash. It is now considered undesirable to use this feature since it removes air that is necessary to keep the #5 cylinder/head cool. So I simply cut out a piece of sheetmetal and sandwiched, with RTV, between the cover and the hose fitting.

With the cover off, I got out my keyhole saw and attacked the flash between fins of the cylinder heads. When I was through there was lots more light shining through than when I’d started. These heads will flow air more easily keeping things cooler. I also took a wire and cleaned out all the air passages of the oil cooler.

The rest of the parts we’d pulled off then went back on in reverse order. By the end of the evening, all that was left to do on the project was remove and reinstall the oil pan and valve covers with new gaskets, and install the harmonic balancer, fan belt, and air cleaner, lift the engine back into place and screw on the nuts of the engine mount, reinstall the rear engine grill, followed by an oil filter and fill of the crankcase.

I thought that I’d replace the rear crank seal, but after close inspection it looks to be in good, flexible, un-cracked shape, so I’ll save the seal for the inevitble future failure.

Friday, October 15, 2010

CPotD #163 (Car Corral Camper)

Again, I can’t believe the vastness of the Internet and Google's ability to find exactly what I’m looking for. Even the most obscure item does not escape the thoroughness of Google. Today’s CPotD is testament to that.

As I was walking through the Car Corral (collection of vehicles for sale) at last weekend’s Hershey auto awesomeness, I saw a very nice Greenbrier camper. As mentioned in a previous post, I had the wrong memory card in my camera, so while my buddy, Bill, and I spent quite a bit of time soaking in the details of this unique RV, my stinginess with shutter-button pushing meant my own handiwork would not become FC Friday fodder.

When coming up with a subject for today’s posting, the camper came to mind, so I went to Google and reviewed the results from its search for “Greenbrier Hershey 2010.” The one I was looking for did not appear in the first four or five pages. To open up my range, I modified the search string to “Greenbrier Camper” and the fifth photo to show up was the one I’d been looking for. A couple clicks later and I was looking at Jerry’s Old Cars main page where he lists a number of very desirable vehicles for sale including the 1964 Greenbrier Camper. It took a little digging to find the VERY hi-res photos clicking on the image below are linked to, but it was worth the hunting.

Glinda’s Not-So-Glowing Report Card

The roadification of a car that’s been off the road for quite a while, there are bound to be a number of issues that will jump up and bite you. After correcting the pinging and dying problem by retarding the timing, Glinda’s actually been pretty reliable. That is, until this morning. With Victoria and the lovely Loriann off college hunting, I’ve availed myself of the use of Glinda for daily-driver duties. With the addition of dropping off and picking up Mikhaila, that means I’ve been putting roughly seventy miles a day on the car.

Wednesday was uneventful other than I filled her tank with 93 octane and found she’d gotten 17 mpg during the last tankfull. I had a bit of a scare in that after parking her for about ten minutes at lunch time, I checked the engine oil level and found it at the ADD mark. As I reported in my last Glinda post, this was only after 150 miles. However, my dire news was premature since I checked the oil that evening and found it back near the FULL mark. I’ve had this same dilemma with Ringo – taking a long time for all the oil to drain back down to the crankcase. Regardless, she was still putting out too much oil leaving puddles and coating the engine.

Yesterday’s weather held true to prediction – rain starting soon after I parked at work and continuing through the late afternoon. Leaving work a little early so I could pick Mikhaila at school, I was very disappointed to find soaking wet front footwells. Water was dripping from a number of places under the dash. Looks like the seam sealer has given up in a big way. That means Victoria and I will have to pull the wipers and air grill off, scrape the old sealer away, and lay down new sealer before she can drive the car on another rainy day. When I got the car home, I used my shop vac to suck up most of the water and then, with both doors open, I set a fan to blow across the front footwells through the night.

This morning, after dropping Mikhaila off at school, I was cruising down I-70, going about 65, when I felt something from the engine compartment and the GEN-FAN light went on. I shut the car off and coasted well off the road. Thinking it was a broken fanbelt, I grabbed a spare from the trunk and the 9/16ths wrench out of glovebox and headed to the rear of the car. Opening the engine lid, I found the belt had not broken, but was sitting loosely off the fan pulley wheel. I looked further, down at the harmonic balancer, and saw it had come out of that groove as well. After loosening the idler pulley nuts to push that pulley forward, I tried to put the belt back in its Harmonic balancer groove. At that point I discovered the balancer had broken – part of the pulley portion was now a flopping ring. Since there was no way to drive the fanbelt, I lowered the lid and nursed her home. Fortunately, I was close enough to home that, with shutting the engine off on downhills, I made it without the TEMP-PRESS light coming on.

Great, now I've got something to do this weekend. Wait, I already have a BUNCH of things to do this weekend. Oh well, at least I’ve got a decent used harmonic balancer on the shelf to replace this one. Sadly, I just ordered the rear main seal, so if I discover the existing one is a source of one of the myriad of oil leaks, I’ll have to wait for the seal before I can put the car back on the road.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CPotD #162 (DPC: It Might Be A Place For Me Someday)

As my buddy, Bill, and I attempted to look at every single vehicle that was on the show field last Saturday, we came upon a group of cars separated from the rest of the show. It was an eclectic group relegated to a corner of the field as far from the food booths as possible. Many different makes were represented with vintages from the 30’s up to the 70’s. Some were beautifully kept, while others had seen better days. The sign posted at the group’s location read “Driver Participation Class.” Here’s how the Antique Automobile Club of America defines the group.

“DRIVER PARTICIPATION CLASS (DPC): The AACA Board of Directors in 2000 established DPC to promote the showing and driving of antique vehicles which are not intended by their owners to be show vehicles and are described as "Drivers." This class is for vehicles 25 years of age or older that have not obtained a national first prize. …. This is a non-competitive class and will not be point judged, but vehicles will be certified upon passing a visual inspection.” They go on to specify, “The exterior/ interior/engine/chassis components must appear period correct per the original manufacturer.”

While Glinda, Heidi, and Ringo would fit in this class as they currently are, Lucy’s twenty year newer Datsun wheels would disqualify her since they’re not, “alloy wheels of the same era and/or same vehicle manufacturer.” I suppose I could, just to get her in a show, dig up four stock wheels with tires that hold air and slap on a set of wire wheelcovers. But I digress.

In the midst of these forty or so vehicles sat an immaculate Monza. Either a ’65 or ’66, it appeared to my never-been-an-AACA-judge eyes to be worthy of sitting amongst those being scored. I pored over the interior and exterior and closely inspected the engine compartment and trunk. Basically everything looked just the way the General intended. I only snapped one picture since I was being photo frugal with my limited sized memory card, but I really wanted to make Bill wait while I took a ton of pictures.

I know, I know. It's supposed to be Wacky Wednesday and the image at the top of this posting is definitely not wacky, but I'm still on a Hershey high (and I don't mean chocolate) so today’s CPotD is the photo I took of the DPC-classed Monza.

Glinda By The Numbers

  • 42000 – The current mileage
  • 41700 – The mileage she had when we got her
  • 680 – The number of days we owned her before she was officially back on the road
  • 569 – What we currently have invested in her
  • 300 – Estimated hours Victoria and I have spent working on her
  • 170 – The distance, in miles, she went on 10 gallons of gas
  • 150 – The distance, in miles, she went on a quart of oil
  • 140 – What it cost to register and tag her
  • 30 – Clark’s price for seals and gaskets for the most probable oil leak suspects (oil pan, valve covers, pushrod tubes, and rear main seal)
  • 17 – The fuel mileage she got in mixed highway and stop-and-go driving
  • 12 – The estimated number of hours it will take me to replace the aforementioned seals and gaskets
  • 4 – The cost of the oil additive I’m praying greatly diminishes the leaks
  • 2 – The number of times today I had someone tell me my car was on fire (it was just oil dripping onto the exhaust manifolds)
  • 1 – What we paid for her
  • Priceless – The hug and “thank you” I got from Victoria when I told her her car was ready to drive to school

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CPotD #161 (Winter is Around the Corner)

Sadly, the changing of the leaves, while beautiful, is a harbinger of colder times ahead. In the upper Midwest, lakes frozen by tundra conditions make for perfect racecourses. Yes, racecourses. Bill Elliot, who currently resides in nearby Frederick, MD, used to live in Wisconsin, and he’s responsible for today’s CPotD. Guess folks will race anything anywhere. See more icey craziness here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

CPotD #160 (Where Do I Find This Air Cleaner?)

This Motor Monday CPotD includes my highlights from last weekend’s visit to the Hershey swap meet for reasons apparent later. For my wanderings through the hundreds of vendors, I took with me a relatively short shopping list. I was able to find half the items at prices I thought were low enough to warrant hauling the stuff around on my back for hours. Soon after I entered the swap meet area I found a vendor selling unique little tools and ten dollars got me two strong magnets each on their own telescoping shaft, a small adjustable mirror, and a tweezers. My other purchases were a set of speakers with integrated amplifiers and a hubcap for Glinda, an oil pressure gage for Lucy, and a couple of spot weld cutters for my upcoming floor replacement work on Ringo. An item that was on my list, but I couldn’t find was a set of air cleaners that could be clamped onto the Rochester 1-barrel carb. I was hoping to score four of them to get my 4-carb conversion of Lucy’s engine back on track. I’ve been stalled since I don’t have the linkages or an air cleaner.

That brings me to today’s CPotD. Saturday Dean Gemberling posted some photos of his nice LM engine on the CorvairCenter forum, and I snagged one of them that shows his PCV feeding back into the right-side carb. I’ve sent him a message asking him about his setup, so hopefully I’ll get a good source for the air cleaners back from him.

Sunday Was a Productive Day

Sunday afternoon I convinced the lovely Loriann to accompany me while I took Glinda out for a drive My intention was to replicate the drive Victoria does when Glinda stops running. After a long, hi-speed run up a hill on I-70, the engine was pinging quite badly. I pulled off the highway and onto a shoulder let things cool a bit. I noticed smoke coming off the engine caused by quite a bit of oil leaking past gaskets. This, painfully, was expected given how long the engine had sat. I got back in the car and eased her back up to highway speeds heading back home. After a few miles, the pinging got worse and the car started losing power. Before I detonated the engine, I pulled off the highway and sat by the side of the road in neutral trying to cool the engine. The TEMP light didn’t come on which is a good sign. After a bit we continued on our way nursing the car home via Advance Auto (where I bought and poured in an oil additive to help the gaskets swell up). Safely back in the driveway, I loosened the distributor clamp nut and rotated the distributor to retard the timing. Then, using the hill down the street from our house as my ping detector, I kept adjusting the timing in small amounts until the ping just went away. Back home again and up on ramps, I tightened some of the pan screws and a valve cover screw where it appeared a majority of the oil was leaking. Afterwards I drove her to the gas station and put in 10 gallons of 93 octane plus half a bottle of octane booster. Later that evening A and V drove her about thirty miles on the same interstate route with no “rattling” (Victoria’s description of pinging) and no dying. I’m going to let this fuel mixture run through the engine for a couple more days, and then I’ll try advancing the timing to improve performance and mileage while not pinging. I’m also going to wait a while and see if the oil additive stops or significantly slows the dripping before I go replacing gaskets and seals. Fortunately, most of the oil leaks are at the rear of the car where that crank seal is easiest to replace.

With Glinda dealt with, I went to work beginning the rearrangement of the garage. I emptied the storage shelves onto the floor of the right side bay throwing away some extra parts while I was at it. Three extra starters is probably a couple too many. Then I disassembled one of the shelf units before it was time to knock off for the evening. I’m hoping that setting it up like the picture below will give me better access all around any car I’m working on. It will also be nice to have the rolling tool cabinet free to move to each project’s location instead of stuck in the corner like it is currently.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CPotD #159 (Cleanliness is Next to Godliness)

One of my favorite family activities is spending the day at an amusement park. I love the feeling I get as we near the park, especially the increase in heartrate that occurs with just the anticipation of the excitement that’s only minutes away. Some auto-related experiences affect me the same way: driving up to the entrance of a track for a day of time trialing; walking through the gates of a junkyard for an afternoon of hunting and pulling parts; and approaching the parking lot of a car show. Tomorrow, around 7 AM, I know that familiar, yet rare, sensation will be upon me full-force because at that time I’ll be parking Lucy in the large grassy field across Hershey Park Drive from one of the world’s biggest and best car shows and swap meet. The Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Regional Fall Meet attracts car and truck enthusiasts from across the globe. Last year I heard at least a dozen different languages being spoken.

Tomorrow, my focus will be on the hundreds of vendors selling their parts and literature and the hundreds of cars for sale. My buddy, Bill, and I will put quite a few miles on our walking shoes as we pop from display to display looking for deals on those must-have parts and drooling over those can’t-afford cars.

Saturday is show day. Last year we passed all the crowds and started our day at the rear of the show field with the HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features) cars and trucks. By the time we made it to the front of the field, where the classics were on display, it was late in the day and many of the beauties had already left. This year we’re making sure we see all the Duesenbergs, Lincolns, Cadillacs, Cords, Packards, and Pierce-Arrows that attend. Follow me on Twitter as I'll be posting pictures throughout both days.

Not to say I won’t have my eye out for a nicely restored Corvair. I took today’s CPotD while walking the rows last year, and I’ve already posted a picture of another LM I saw on display. It is truly amazing to see cars from the 50’s, 60’s, and earlier looking as if they just rolled off the assembly line.

Runnin’ on Empty - and Runnin' Out

Victoria has put about a hundred miles on Glinda since we got it. The car’s going through gas like a Hummer, not a Corvair. Last night I drained about 3 gallons out of the gas tank so I could replace the outlet fuel hose. When I was done I poured all the gas back in and found the gage read between E and an eighth of a tank. This morning she ran out of gas on the drive to school. I had put a half-full gas can in the trunk so she was able to pour it all in and get the rest of the way to school. The lovely Loriann is going out that way today and will pour a couple more gallons in the tank to ensure the car makes it to the gas station. Since I’ve replaced all the hoses, not seen any puddles, and checked all the lines and the pump in the engine compartment, all I can think that’s left is a leak in the line that runs through the tunnel. The gas leaks out and evaporates before dripping on the ground. So tonight I’ll put the car up on the ramps and pull the tunnel covers off and see what I can find. Since a new line costs about $80 (pre-bent plus $$$ shipping due to size), if I find a crack or rust hole, I’ll try to patch in some fuel hose. This roadification is a slow process.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Sucks Being Financially Challenged

So I’ve got this quandary. I can make new floorpans for Ringo or I can buy ones off eBay or I can get the correctly reproduced pans from Clarks. The make-my-own choice would be the cheapest material-wise (~$50), but I just don’t have the tools to do the job properly and buying the right size break and shear would be $400. The eBay pans are going for about $130 for the set of four pieces after shipping, but I’ve heard these don’t fit quite right. Obviously if money were not a factor, the best choice would be to go with the ones from Clarks. But since money IS the most intrusive member of my TTT, and the Clarks parts would cost me about $375 after shipping, it looks like I can’t support my Corvair vendor.

And that makes me sad.

CPotD #158 (Get Me to the Airport … and Step On It)

It’s Wednesday, and time for me to post a wacky CPotD. I don’t think there really were any Corvair station wagon taxis back in the day, but I guess there could have been. Someone went through a lot of trouble to get this ‘vair properly attired for hack duty.

An Exhaustive Evening in the Garage

Last night I got home from work with the intention of installing the lower shrouds on both Lucy and Glinda. I didn’t quite get there.

After backing Glinda up onto the ramps, I climbed under the engine to feel for exhaust leaks. Sure enough, cylinder #5 was pulsing hot air from the exhaust tube to manifold junction. Given the louder than normal exhaust sounds, I had expected this and had already received new donuts. Not wanting to disturb the two manifold to crossover pipe joints, I supported the pipe with a jack whilst removing the six nuts, washers, and clamps. After loosening the muffler strap, I lowered the exhaust assembly and proceeded to remove the old donuts. That went easily for cylinders 1 through 4, but 5 and 6 were tough. In the end I chipped away as much as my patience allowed me and then attacked the residue with a wire brush attachment on my die grinder. I also had to scrape off the RTV the PO (see sidebar) had used to get the donuts to seal. An hour or so later, I was ready to reassemble. The graphite donuts were aligned over their respective holes and the assembly was lifted back into place. The six clamps were fitted and nuts torqued down after tightening the muffler strap. I turned the engine and on, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It is so much quieter. Gotta’ be the quietest ‘vair we’ve got. Since Clark’s instructions say to retighten the clamps after 5-6 hours of driving, I held off installing the shrouds.

Because Victoria said she smelled gas after driving the car and the gas gauge needle seems to be dropping too quickly, I tried to find a leak. I looked at the pump and lines in the engine compartment and all appeared dry. I then inspected the tank to line hose (the only hose I haven’t yet replaced). It’s dry and cracked, but wasn’t leaking. I will still replace it before Victoria puts any more gas in the tank – another project for tonight. All I can think is the carburetors are running rich. I need to rebuild the original carbs and get them back on ASAP to see if it makes a difference.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CPotD #157 (Another Awesome Autocrosser)

A caveat. I’ve never autocrossed, so all that follows has been gleaned from reading and watching.

An autocross is a wonderful opportunity to drive your car at its limits. It’s accessible since:
  1. There’s probably one being held an easy drive away nearly every nice weekend.
  2. Typical entrance fee is less than $30.
  3. Beyond a helmet, you don’t need any special safety equipment. No racing harness or rollbar.
  4. You can “run what you brung” – your daily driver is fine. I’ve read about a guy that takes his full-size Mercury Marquis station wagon out.
  5. Race tires, while helpful, are not required to have fun. Street tires are fine, and actually add to the challenge.

It’s safe since speeds of a typical low to medium speed event rarely exceed 40 mph and the only damage you can do is crush a cone. There are only one or two cars on the track at once and they’re separated, so there’s no wheel-to-wheel.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of discussion regarding how to make autocrossing more fun. The issue is that a typical event will have such a good turnout that you only get a couple runs. That means you sit and stand around for six hours or so for only a couple minutes of excitement. I’ve seen a number of events advertise morning and afternoon sessions with entry fees charged for each. As one guy recently posted, “ the old folks can get out early and make their runs, while the younger guys (the one’s that need to sleep in after a busy Friday night) can make the afternoon session.” Good idea.

Today’s CPotD is of Mark Wright racing around in southern California. He’s got some really nice in-car videos on You-Tube. Do a search and enjoy.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

A few Corvair-related tidbits from the last few days.

  • Talked to Brianna on the phone this past weekend. She shared with me that Heidi was idling smoothly again. A week or so ago, I’d gotten a phone call from her telling me that her car was idling roughly. I assumed it was a bad idle circuit on one of the carbs. I asked her to do the “hand over the carb opening test”, but before she could get to it the idle smoothed out and Heidi is running like a top again.
  • Victoria tried driving Glinda Saturday, but the car died at a nearby stoplight. In a mild panic, she forgot to shift the car into Neutral, so it wouldn’t restart. She and Mikhaila pushed the ornery vehicle into a nearby parking lot. She then called me, in tears, to ask what she should do. I calmly asked her if she’d put the shifter into Neutral – she hadn’t. Once she’d snicked the lever from D to N, Glinda started right up and V drove her home.
  • Last night I pulled the carburetors off Ringo and installed them on Glinda. Only a tiny adjustment was needed to lower the idle speed. No more bogging down, the engine starts right up and idles nicely, and the responsiveness is impressive. I still need to verify the two are balanced, but they’re good enough for now. Since those are my racing carbs with the relocated jets, I’ll be rebuilding Glinda’s original carbs in the near future. I’m jealous – Victoria has a nice-running LM.
  • This morning Victoria successfully drove Glinda to school for the first time. TYL (see sidebar)!!!!
  • It’s getting cold here in Baltimore. That means it’s time to install the lower shrouds on Glinda and Lucy. I won’t put Lucy’s on, however, until I stop the oil leak. Glinda’s will go on tonight – after I make sure all the exhaust gaskets are doing their job. I don’t want to set off the Carbon Monoxide detector.
  • V and I also need to adjust the accelerator pedal’s location on its shaft. It’s currently too vertical.
  • Tomorrow the Hershey Car Corral and Flea Market begins. I’m preparing for my Friday visit by making a list of the parts and tools I’ll try to get deals on at the swap meet. I just checked the weather prediction for Friday and Saturday (the car show) and it’s going to beautiful. Another TYL and I am so excited.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Carpet Installation - Conclusion Plus More

So last Wednesday night we got Victoria’s car back on the road. It was one of those four steps forward, two-and-a-half steps back things. We got the carpet, seats, and seatbelts in, but some of the belts are upside down, so I’ll need to adjust the buckles eventually. One of the niggling issues I wanted to fix was the stuck heater control. I climbed under the car to try and lubricate the linkage at the heater box, but couldn’t reach it. I ended up jacking and supporting the right rear of the car, removing the wheel, reaching up past lots of sharp bits and blindly spraying WD-40 on what my fingers told me were the cable end and heater door linkage. Here’s a newsflash, “WD-40 dripping down over lacerations stings.” All of this while asking Victoria to push and pull a lever until her fingers hurt. Ah, good times. Another good time happened earlier when I opened the garage door too hard and it bumped into a sawhorse hanging from a rafter causing it to fall on the car. While wanting to use all the four letter words I could think of, I restrained myself (for the sake of my daughter’s ears) to only saying, “Well that’s never happened before.” That little reenactment of the mousetrap game caused a small dent in the roof near the windshield.

With all that over, we pushed the car around to line it up with the garage door and uneventfully lowered it off the wheel dollies. I then poured a little gas down each carburetor (lucky not to have set anything on fire), and had Victoria turn the key. The engine started right up and idled decently even when put in Reverse. After backing out of the garage, I sent her on her way to make some rounds in the neighborhood making sure she had her phone with her in case a tow home was required. Next I got my turn behind the wheel, and put my foot in it to fully check things out. I immediately found that I’ve still got carburetor work to do since pressing the accelerator too quickly caused the engine to die. I think there’s still an issue with the accelerator pump. When I blip the throttle while looking down the carb throat the strong stream of fuel I’m supposed to see is more like a dribbling brook. Once the rpms rise, though, the car’s got pretty good oomph. It brakes nice and straight and steering is responsive. In the end, I’ll say the pros exceed the cons.

Afterward, Victoria, the lovely Loriann, and I sat in the family room, and I asked Victoria to make a list of issues that still needed addressing. As the list grew with entries like Carburetor Rebuild, New Heater Hose, Carbon Monoxide Detector, and Fuel Hose At Tank, she become obviously distressed, saying, “I thought we were done.” I don’t think my reply of, “We’ll NEVER be done,” did much for her attitude, so I added, “None of these will prevent you from driving the car to school,” and that perked her back up.