Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ringo’s List - Checking it Twice

As I near the completion of the Ringo’s re-roadification, I should verify I’ve corrected all the issues Ariel wrote down way back in … well, let’s just say it was a while ago.

  • floor – lots of solid metal welded in
  • tighten steering - seems tight, but I’m checking that tonight by making sure the steering box is adjusted correctly
  • tighten brakes – the correct backing plates are now in so there should be automatic adjustment now. I still, however, need to adjust the parking brake, and I’ll do that tonight
  • rust spots – definitely dealt with that
  • dent – also repaired
  • gas gauge – replaced with accurate one
  • speedometer- cleaned and lubricated
  • leaking oil – installing a rebuilt engine better have taken care of this one
  • leak under dash board – I’ll be spraying undercoating in the area under the front fresh air grill tonight
  • paint – oh boy is this one done
  • under hood burn spot – all part of the new paintjob
  • clicking in steering – part of tonight’s mechanical activities
  • screeching in tires when turning – this may be an alignment thing, so he’ll eventually need to be checked

Obviously, I had hoped to have ALL the items addressed by now, but TTT, as usual, was ever present over the past 16 months.

The highlight of last night was installing the driver door. With help from the lovely Loriann, it took less than an hour. My original attempt had 1/8th diameter drill bit pieces as pins taped into the holes in the hinges. We struggled to make that work, but gave up after fifteen minutes of frustration and pulled the pins. Then, with the bottom edge of the door resting on the padded jack saddle, my wonderful wife pushed and pulled on the door until the hinge holes were aligned enough for me to start a bolt in each hinge. With the bolts tight, she was able to easily latch the door. I checked the alignment holes using an awl and lo-and-behold everything was aligned. TYL. As she departed, the lovely Loriann quipped, “That was easier than it should have been.”

The final four hinge bolts were torqued down, and then I completed the door’s reassembly which included lock cylinder, latch handle, side-view mirror, and a sheet of plastic to seal out moisture. With the door in place, I could now proceed with finishing the interior. The defroster hose went in first which necessitated some adjustments under the dash. While on my back poking around, I found the elusive lighter wire. I plugged it into the pin on the back of the lighter and verified 12 volts. After routing the hose and putting the under-dash back together, I ran the speaker wire and screwed down the sill plate. The new rocker panels, like the other side, required some holes to be drilled which hurt to do. Not physically, just emotionally painful to drill through the brand new paint and metal. I went through the same pain when attaching the stainless rocker panel trim which came next. Finally, I vacuumed the carpet, bolted down the seat, and called it a night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Didn't Drop the Door

Last night, after rolling Ringo out into the driveway, I took an hour or so out of a busy evening to put away the paint stuff (AGAIN!), straighten things up, and lower the driver door down to the ground. By the way, I made absolutely sure that its resting place was positively safe. No more slipping, sliding, and scraping. Then I pushed the car back into the garage and started installing the door. I didn’t get far before a cooler head prevailed and I decided not to risk an incident by doing the task all by myself. I’m going home early this afternoon and will get assistance from the lovely Loriann so it can be done safely.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Touched Them All and Didn’t Screw Anything Up

It was a nice weekend with lots of time working on Ringo. Saturday morning, I rolled him out of the garage, set up the sawhorses and placed the driver door on top. After sanding the primer to perfect smoothness, I re-hung the door from the ceiling and fired up the heaters. After a couple hours, the garage, door, and paint were all at a workable temperature, so I shot four coats of color and four of clear. Of course, it couldn’t go perfectly, so there are a couple of runs due to laying too thick a second coat in the area around the beltline crease. After letting it cure for a couple hours, the paint wasn’t hard enough to handle the door, so I carefully raised it closer to the ceiling by shortening the two cables I was using to hang it. With it high enough to not hit Ringo’s roof, I pushed the car back in the garage, and spent the next few hours working on the interior. I installed the rear panels, the passenger sill plate, seat, defroster hose, kick panel, air grill, and, finally, the back seat. Then I reconnected the battery and checked all the lights. At first try, only the headlights, brake lights and tail lights worked. The rear blinkers needed the contacts of the blinker to fuse block de-rusted, while the front blinkers required some cleaning and tightening of the sockets before they were functional. The backup lights’ 12 volt connection at the fuse block had to be cleared of corrosion before they were shining brightly. That was it for that day.

Sunday was the day I touched ‘em all. First on the list was dealing with Heidi’s starter issue. I drug jack, jackstand, tools, and a tested GUP starter/solenoid out to the street and put Heidi’s left rear up in the air. With the wheel off, I loosened and disconnected the larger air hose so I’d have good access to the solenoid wiring and starter bolts. As I put the wrench on the solenoid’s main lead, I immediately discovered the entire starter was not bolted down tightly. “Wow, this will be an easy fix,” I told myself. And it was. A few minutes later, bolts were tightened and the hose was back in place with the clamp snugged down. All was not completely copacetic, however, as the short rubber hose connecting the ends fo the fuel line had an inch-long crack in it. Fortunately, I still had some new hosing hanging on the wall in the garage, so I cut it to length, removed the old piece, and had the new hose clamped in place in no time. Ariel came home for the part of the weekend, and I decided to give her the choice of Lucy or Heidi to drive back that afternoon. To ensure Heidi was ready, I started the engine which ran nicely, checked the fluid levels (had to add about a pint of tranny fluid), and put air in the tires to bring them up to the 30 rear/20 front psi desired.

Lucy’s tires also needed some air, but that was the only “touching” she required. Ariel had reported that she had some new squeaks on the inside (steering wheel and brake pedal) and the tachometer had ceased to work (the wire was still intact in the engine compartment), but I decided to let those issues go since they wouldn’t strand her on the side of the road. In the end, Ariel selected Lucy since she, “was more comfortable driving her.”

The third ‘vair requiring my attention was Glinda. I popped her engine lid and found the fanbelt was too loose. This is the same belt that required my attention a couple weeks back when I ended up re-forming the fingers of the guard at the pulley wheel. I hadn’t replaced the belt then and it did have some damage, so this time I swapped on a new Clark’s belt and properly tightened the pulley wheel before snugging down the retaining nuts. I told Victoria to remind me to check it in a couple days.
Finally, I was back in the garage working on Ringo. By the time I had to knock off to get ready for the CORSA of Baltimore Holiday Party, I had drilled holes and partially installed the stainless rocker trim on the passenger side. Still left is drilling three holes for screws that retain the bottom edge of the trim.

This morning I made an appointment with Jeff at the Corvair Ranch for this Thursday to get help installing the backlight. This “should” be the last task before a final cleanup and turning the keys over to Ariel.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Though Not a Snail’s Pace, It Still Seems Slow

Yesterday, after some prodding from the lovely Loriann, I left work early to begin re-refinishing Ringo’s driver door. I was still sickened by the sight of the scratches as I placed the door on the blanket-protected sawhorses out on the driveway. I had first rolled Ringo out of the garage in anticipation of shooting primer. My DA sander is really getting a workout on this project, and after about a half-hour of effort, the door was ready for cleaning and masking which took at least another half-hour. I chose to only expose the outer painted surface below the window so the jambs and the window frame were all enclosed. Finally, I was able to don my respirator, fill my big gun (the one with the 2mm tip opening) with primer, and start shooting. Three coats fifteen minutes apart and it was mealtime. After dinner and some shopping with Victoria, I headed back out to the now-cold again garage, lit the heaters, and finished reassembling the passenger door. The last task of the evening was adhering the plastic sheeting over the area where the right rear panel goes. This will be ready to trim and cover with the panel the next time I’m out in the garage (this evening).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Passenger Door Nears Completeness

Fired up the kerosene heaters another time last night as I strove to finish the assembly of the new (to Ringo) passenger door. Digging through piles of leaves, I was able to locate the main window and vent window assemblies in the trailer where I’d placed them months ago for safekeeping. Since the latch release/handle and the lock cylinder had been installed the previous night, the next part to go in was the bottom track for the window regulator followed by the regulator itself. Getting the latter in through the hole in the door is a bit of a maneuver, but I was successful without putting any scratches in the new paint. Same was true for the main window going in. Next, however, was the vent window and it put up a fight in which some paint was sacrificed before it was properly placed. I’ll touch it up the damage before turning the keys over to Ariel. With the door guts all functioning properly, I covered up the internal openings with a sheet of plastic to keep any errant rainwater from dampening the inside surface of the cardboard-backed vinyl door panel. Needing to let the adhesive dry, I shut off the heaters and lights and called it a day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inspiration Can Appear in the Most Unlikely Locations

Yesterday, my generous employer provided me with Chinese food for a working lunch. The fortune cookie I selected contained the above saying. How appropriate given the horrid events of the weekend. Last night, duly inspired, I spent a productive handful of hours in the garage installing some GNPs and working to make Ringo’s right side actually appear finished. A small package from the Corvair Ranch showed up during the day with taillight lens gaskets, front blinker lens gasket, and the $%@&* tiny c-clip that retains the Powerglide cable to the dash shifter. After only dropping the clip once and only spending five, freakin’ minutes finding it again, I had the cable secured. The installation of the gaskets went off much better, and then I moved on to putting the guts into the passenger door. After discovering the lock cylinder, like the latch handle, is unique one side to the other, I installed the correct cylinder with its new gasket. A few minutes later, the latch handle was secured with two screws and new gaskets. I then adjusted the latch portion on the body jamb until the door shut nicely. Since I next needed to hunt down the vent window assembly and it was quite dark at 10 PM, I decided to bring the successful evening to an end with a little mental dance of celebration.

Oh yeah, an update on the missing box of bolts. I found it in the back garage stall with Ringo's pieces of trim. Good thing since there was more than just missing screws - there were door bits and pieces to fill the aforementioned passenger door.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Groundhog Day

After a productive Saturday of painting the interior surfaces of Ringo’s doors and safely bolting exterior parts onto him, I want a re-do of the car-related activities that occurred from about 8 PM that day until 5 o’clock yesterday. As Bill Murray eventually made the most of his consecutive Groundhog Day’s, I would only need 1 day before I’d be satisfied to move on with life.

With doors painted, bumpers installed, and wheel-well trim screwed on (all without scratching any of the new paint), I was prepping for the next day’s door installation. I staged the bolts on the floor near each door, and then proceeded to chase the threads in the hinges to clean out any paint that may have gotten on them. Here is the EXACT point at which I’d love a do-over. The driver’s side door (pictured at the top of this post) was sitting on a 2x6 on top of a concrete block leaning against the side wall. After tapping the final hole on the door, I noticed a smudge on the door’s surface. With tap and wrench in one hand, I bent over and wiped the smudge with the cuff of my sweatshirt. I swear I didn’t press hard, but I must have pressed hard enough to move the door since if slid off the 2x6 and fell to the floor. I just stood there in shock and near tears since I just knew I’d now be repainting the outside of the door. I set down the tap and lifted the door. Sure enough, the block had put ugly scrapes through the paint and into the primer. My heart fell even further. Moments earlier I was actually feeling the heat being put off by the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and all that was now shattered.

Now a new plan (I must be up to Plan Z by now) had to be implemented. Press on Sunday with installing the passenger door and then sand and shoot primer on the damaged driver door. The lovely Loriann joined me in the heated garage early the next afternoon, and, after discussing what approach to take, we forged ahead. What seemed like two hours later (and it probably was), all we’d accomplished was giving me some touch-up painting opportunities. We just couldn’t get enough clearance at the upper rear corner. We’d filed open the mounting holes in the body and adjusted the upper hinge mounting locating all for naught. My willing wife could get the door centered in the opening with the hinge bolts loose, but as soon as I’d tighten one up the door would shift. She had some errands to run, so I released her from helping me, and I continued on alone. I moved the upper hinge back where it had been, and moved the lower hinge closer to the outside (which would end up installing the lower front corner more inboard). After filing the front side of the body's mounting holes so that the bolts could be further forward, I carefully engaged the door into the opening, jamming a thin piece of wood in the rear gap, before climbing back into the car and installing one upper and one lower hinge bolt, alternating turns until both were torqued tight. This actually got me closer than we’d been all day. One slight adjustment to the lower hinge bolt, moving it rearward, and the door was centered, aligned, and fairly flush. All that’s left there is to properly locate the latch on the body. All that took so long I couldn’t get to the sanding and priming of the driver door.

Oh well, life goes on.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where Did I Put that Box of Bolts?

I really tried to religiously bag and tag all the fasteners as they were removed from Ringo during his disassembly. Many of the bolt-on parts currently have baggies with screws zip-tied to them. There were, however, some trim I had Ariel and her boyfriend-at-the-time, Matt, remove and now I can’t seem to find the container they put the fasteners in. I spent most of my garage time last night putting away stuff and staging the rest of Ringo’s bits that have yet to be reinstalled. The only pieces I’ve yet to locate are the wheel opening trim, but I’m confident they’re hiding near where I found the rest of the stainless piled on the LeMans. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a bag of bolts when I find the trim.

On the productive side, I did finish attaching the headlight assemblies and they all tested out fine. I got to do little metal mending by tapping out some dents in one of the bezels.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Uneventful Exchange

After leaving work around 2 yesterday, running home, hooking up the tow bar, chain, and lights, and picking up the lovely Loriann on the way, we met up with Ariel around 5:30. I checked out Heidi, having Ariel turn the key while I listened at the engine. It was immediately apparent the solenoid had died as the engine would just start to turn and then it was just the sound of the starter motor spinning. So we’re now at the point where all three of the fleet’s running members have had or are having starter issues.

We quickly exchanged Heidi for Lucy on the end of the towbar and headed off for dinner. After a fun time together, we parted ways and the lovely Loriann and I were home by 9.

Heidi now sits at the curb waiting for the weather to dry out so I can do a starter/solenoid swap and make her drivable again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

At Least It Wasn’t Raining

Yesterday afternoon Ariel’s smiling face showed up on display as my cell phone rang. She immediately asked me if there was any trick to getting Heidi to start since turning the key was spinning the engine, but it wouldn’t catch. I told her no. She went to say it sounds different – not good. So, I went home last evening to prepare to do a ‘vair swap today. There were, however, a number of little things that Lucy needed taken care of before she would be ready to take to Pennsylvania. First, and foremost, I needed to replace a failed exhaust gasket which I did, but it took me a good hour-plus. Then, I installed the red welting from Ringo that covers the pinch welds in the door opening. This was part of the interior swap. Next, I removed the last two panels from Lucy’s interior that will go into Ringo. This exposed the fact that Lucy’s passenger door had no waterproof liner, so I made one from a piece of black plastic sheeting and installed with weatherstrip adhesive. With that in place I could reinstall the window cranks and door latch handle. Finally, I removed the non-working radio and radio housing since I was sick of listening to it rattle. With the wires all zip-tied neatly under the dash, I prepped her for towing by bolting on the tow-bar, attaching the safety chain, and routing the magnetic-based tow lights.

I’m really curious as to what the problem may be.

Oh yeah, almost forgot about the work I did on Glinda over the weekend. Thursday, Victoria had noticed a strong smell of gas when she turned the heater on. Turns out the fuel pump had sprung a leak. Thank God, nothing sparked a fire. Amazingly, the local Carquest had one in their warehouse and $50 later, Glinda had safe and reliable fuel delivery again. Also, she didn’t want to idle, so I cleared out some blockage in a carburetor by holding my hand over each opening and revving the engine using engine vacuum to suck all the crap out. It worked. She still has an issue with starter engagement that I’m afraid is going to require me to replace the torque converter since that’s where the ring gear is that engages with the starter pinion. Not a fun project since the engine has to come out. I need to do a close inspection of the gear teeth.

Fourth Time’s a Charm

After the three failed attempts at laying down a decent paint job on Ringo’s passenger door, I finally succeeded last weekend. While the finish in not perfect - it couldn’t be or it wouldn’t match the rest of the car :-) - there are absolutely no fish-eyes. Since everything other than gun selection was the same, this only confirms my theory that thinner hidden in the gun was responsible for the previous issues. Using three different guns to shoot primer, color, and clear worked out great and will be the approach I use on any future paint jobs. I am very thankful that I only had to do battle with a single door rather than the entire car. Now, with the door’s exterior finished, I can finally move on to painting the inside of both doors and get them installed on the car.

To fill in the time between priming and painting, I assembled both headlight buckets onto the car using silicone for sealing instead of buying new gaskets. Unable to find all the fasteners (now where did I put that baggie of screws?), I could only install one pair of headlights. Once in, I was happy to see them both illuminated when I pulled the switch on the dash. I didn’t try the blinker, but I already know I’ve got some work to do on the column switch.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Easier the Second Time

But I truly did not want to have to do anything twice with Ringo’s roadification. That’s not quite working out for me with the multiple attempts at painting the passenger door and then, last night, when moving the instrument panel housing I’d just replaced, the odometer lens fell onto the floor. Crap! I spent the next forty-five minutes removing, disassembling, reassembling, and reinstalling the instrument panel. It really went rather easily, but was still a waste of my precious time. While the panel was out, I went searching for the missing black wire for the cigarette light – and came up empty. I’m positive the socket had 12 volts before, so I need to do some more hunting.

Once I had the panel back in and tested, I connected the radio to the speakers and tested that – it still works!.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If Only All Work Can Be Done Lying on My Back

Back in 2007, I swapped Ringo’s entire gage cluster with a GUP I’d bought on eBay. The fascia on the cluster did not match the ’61 style, so last night I went through my GUP collection until I found Ringo’s original cluster housing. I then transferred the speedometer/odometer assembly and lens into that housing, attached the freshly painted hood, and, after lowering the steering wheel column, screwed the whole thing into its home. With all the cables, switches, and bulbs in disarray behind the dash, I spent the next hour plus on my back routing, plugging, and retaining until everything was properly placed except for a missing lead – the cigarette lighter’s black wire has gone missing. I’m sure it will turn up and I’ll get full functionality.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Tragedy Averted

I’m not sure that averted is the proper word here, unless it was my guardian angel that prevented me from ruining Ringo’s new paintjob last night. It started with the decision to use POR-15 on the headlight buckets. After brushing off the loose rust from the slightly deteriorated metal, I grabbed the glass canning jar containing the last of my POR-15 supply and attempted to spin off ring holding the lid on. It wouldn’t budge. To get a better grip, I used my big channel-lock pliers on the ring. The next thing I know the glass jar is in pieces, black paint is splattered on the floor and the front of my jeans, the rubber glove on my left hand is sliced as are a couple of my fingers, and the exposed skin is coated in REALLY un-removable paint. All of this happened a scant few feet from Ringo’s left rear quarterpanel. My initial reaction was to grab a rag and start wiping, but the reality was I needed to get out of my pants and I wasn’t going to do that in the garage. I took the rag and nearby gallon of paint thinner and headed for the basement door. Once inside, I shucked my shoes and pants and began to wipe away the black spot from my left thigh, knee, and shin. All the while staunching the flow of blood from my index finger. Thankfully I was able to get most of the blackness off my skin. Even more thankfully, subsequent inspection of the Ringo’s skin showed no signs of splatter. TYL.

Other than doing stupid things last evening, I did make some progress on reassembly. I installed the stainless windshield trim pieces and antenna, and cleaned and lubricated the speedometer/odometer drives. Tonight I should get the gage set reassembled and the dash put back together. Might even put in the seats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Assembly is a Beautiful Thing – Painting Not So Much

As outlined in my last post, I had high hopes and big plans for the long holiday weekend. How did I do? Pretty well, but a cheap paint gun held me back from checking off all the tasks I’d listed.

Thursday I rolled Ringo out of the garage and primed the last two sheetmetal parts by first hanging them on a wire strung across the garage. Then, I emptied five cans of vinyl dye onto the carpet pieces.
Next, out came the door and onto the sawhorses – deja vu is not a good feeling. Using my last sheet of hook-and-loop 80 grit sandpaper, I removed the fish-eyed paint from about half the door’s exterior surface before switching to 120 grit and hand-sanding. Soon after lunch, it was ready for primer so I hung it from the rafters, donned my painting apparel and mask, mixed a batch of urethane primer and gave the skin three good coats. After an hour of curing, I moved the door to the driveway and hung up all the interior bits of sheetmetal for the shooting of the satin black. A couple coats and they looked like new. The lovely Loriann convinced me that brushing the paint on the interior would look like crap, so I spent the time in between coats masking. With that finished, it was time to roll Ringo back into the garage and shoot the interior surfaces with the same rattle-can Rustoleum. All that went better than I’d expected and I was able to get three coats down on every exposed area of primed metal before dark. That was it for the day.

Friday I pulled off all masking and started some reassembly while I waited for the air temp to heat up. In went the nearly-black carpet pieces and the rear package area covers followed by the speakers to hold the latter pieces in place. With the carpets in I was able to see a screw-up – I’d matched Lucy’s seatbelt mounting hole locations when drilling into Ringo’s floors, but sadly, the holes in the carpet did not match up with the new mouting holes. I’ll just make new holes in the carpet since I don’t want to deal with filling in holes in the sheetmetal flooring. Since the loose interior trim was fully dried, I proceeded to install all of them into their homes. Next, it was time to deal with the door. Back on the sawhorses so I could smooth out the primer and rinse off the residue. Then back up into its hangin position before wiping it down completely with Wax and Grease Remover. Finally, I was able to mix a batch of Black Cherry Pearl to lay down some layers of paint. Having made as many precautions against fish-eyes as possible, I felt confident that I’d end up with a nearly perfect job, but I was sadly mistaken. The day before I had cleaned the primer out of my Harbor Freight gun, disassembled it, and blew out the passages as best I could with dry, compressed air. So, after test shots on cardboard and my anniversary engine lid anniversary engine lid that both looked fine, I laid down a light coat onto the door. I was shocked and mightily pissed to see an array of tiny gray dots forming on the door. Since there were already some fish-eyes in the rest of the paint job, I continued on resigned that the door would also sport the spots, but at least it was the passenger door. After four coats of paint, it actually wasn’t too noticeable. With the paint on, I cleaned the gun rigorously again disassembling and blowing out the passages before mixing and loading clear into the cup. While spraying the first coat of clear, the fish-eyes grew before my eyes and immediately I just stopped what I was doing, threw away the rest of the clear and decided I needed a new plan. It was apparent to me that I had been unable to get all the thinner out of the gun and some was mixing into the coatings as they were being sprayed.

Time for plan B. I’ve got three guns, so I’ll be using all of them the next (and darn well better be the last) time I do the door. My oldest, largest tipped gun will shoot the primer, I’ll be returning the Harbor Freight gun for a new replacement and that one will lay down the color coats, while my touch-up gun with its 1.8mm tip will do clearcoating duties. This way no thinner will ever get in any of the guns before they are used.

Not being in ANY mood to continue working on cars, I knocked off for the day.

Saturday I swapped steering wheels and pinchweld trim with Lucy and installed taillight assembly. The latter activity was time consuming since I had to find the four sockets and lenses and all the hardware and then rewire them to the car since they were not cautiously removed a year ago. One of the repairs I had to undertake was the replacement of one of the contacts. Somehting I hadn’t done before, but it all went well. I still need to replace a couple lens gaskets with new ones and connect the ground wires when I install the shroud seal strips, but I’m calling that significant first step in the exterior reassembly complete. The last thing I did on the weekend was screw on the chrome trim pieces around the windows. This car is going to look awesome when I FINALLY get it all back together.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Perspective can be Painful

I’ve been cruising along here with only the normal negative influences of the TTT, so not that many demands have been placed on my time (or bank account) by the house or the other cars (thank You Lord). All that changed last week when a litany of issues began to invade my staid little life. First, the house’s hot water heater sprung a leak, then the lovely Loriann was sideswiped by an impatient idiot, and finally, Ariel contracted appendicitis and had the offending organ removed Monday night (thank God she was smart enough to have the intense abdominal pain checked out before said sack burst). All that has put a real wrench in my getting good Ringo-time.

Well, the replacement water heater has been installed and is functioning properly, the lovely Loriann and insurance companies will deal with getting the PT Cruiser’s mirror replaced, and Ariel is home recovering, so I’m ready to knock out some serious Ringo progress.

With the four day weekend only hours away and sunny, sixty-degree days on tap, I can plan the tasks I hope to complete by the end of Sunday. First will be to roll Ringo out of the garage and do battle with the passenger door for hopefully the last time. The initial skirmish will be sanding smooth the mess that’s currently on it, followed by cleaning and a few coats of high-build primer. I’ll need to be careful to not sand through the epoxy primer so I’m not required to shoot a protective coat or two of that stuff. While letting that cure, I’ll move on to spraying primer on the last pieces of loose interior (gage and glovebox domes) in preparation for their final coat of satin black. Next will be the dying of the carpet. Mikhaila just moved the box filled with cans of VHT’s black vinyl die to ensure they’re warmed up and ready to go. After that the primer should be dry enough on the loose interior bits for me to lay down a couple coats of rattle-can Rustoleum. Included in that paint work will be the inside surfaces of the two doors. Next, I’ll be sanding the interior surfaces I’d brush-primed the other night. With those ready for paint, I’ll need to make the hard decision about how I finish coat them. Given the major pain it would be to properly mask, I’m still very much inclined to paint the hard-to-reach areas with a brush and save the spray for the dash and maybe the areas under the rear side windows. We’ll see how ambitious I am. Finally, I’ll move on to putting the finish coats of color and clear on the outside of the passenger door. I’ve purchased a new in-line dessicant dryer, so I’m confident the fish-eyes will not be the issue they were before.

I’m excited about making some significant headway towards the light at the end of this roadification tunnel.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Out With the Red

After last night’s vacuuming, wiping, and priming, Ringo’s interior is almost devoid of red. Some patches here and there will be covered by panels, carpet, and the back seat. There will, however, still be a bit of visible crimson if one peeks under the dash – a reminder of past times.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prepping Ringo's Interior Metal

Last night I spent some time sanding all of Ringo’s interior red surfaces in preparation for priming. I’ve decided I’ll use Rustoleum rusty metal primer and apply it with a foam pad. My hope (and prayer) is that I’ll be able to lay it down smoothly enough to preclude any sanding before spraying the finish coats of satin black Rustoleum. My real hope (and REAL prayer) is that it goes down so nicely with the pad that I’ll be able to put on the finish coats with the pads as well. The masking required to prep for spraying is probably as bad as what I had to do before painting the outside. I truly don’t want to go through that again.

Typical Weekend

I’d love a weekend of consistent ups, but I’m destined to always have some downs. This weekend held true to form.

On the car-front the ups included finding a suitable GUP starter/solenoid to replace the failing Glinda’s assembly, getting some of Ringo's interior bits primed for changing to black, and running Ringo's engine for a good twenty minutes. The latter exercise required trying out five different failed fuel pumps before I gave up and borrowed the one off Lucy's engine. Looks like I'm adding fuel pump to Ringo's shopping list. The choke butterfly on the right carb never opened up all the way, so I think there's still a problem with that carb. It's one that I tried sealing the throttle shaft to housing gap with o-rings and springs, so I'll borrow again from Lucy and see if things change.

The downside was a bad inline air dryer that resulted in a totally botched repaint of the passenger door. A myriad of fish-eyes contaminated the entire spray. That means I get to sand, prime, and paint AGAIN! Arggghhh! No photos of this mess.

I did take a few more photos of Ringo in the light of day.

They also illustrate the ghastly clash of the red interior color with the exterior’s new coating. Black will look so much better.

Friday, November 11, 2011

You Must Tear Down, Before You can Build Back Up

Sounds like a mantra from the Marines – appropriate on this Veteran’s Day, and by the way, a huge thank you to all those who’ve served in our armed forces. I know I only have my freedoms because of the sacrifices you made.

The tearing down I’m referring to in the title of this post is the disassembly of Ringo’s interior to prepare it for the imminent color change. I pulled off all the red trim sticks around the windows, as well as the glovebox door and gage set. There are a lot of red metal surfaces that will have to be transformed.

All that effort came after I attacked the passenger door with sandpaper. This was the part with crappy color coverage. While I had the door all scuffed up, I decided to fill in the two side-view mirror mounting holes since Ringo didn’t originally have a mirror on this door. Amazingly, the welding gas tank still had some of its contents left, so I was able to fill the holes correctly – with weld. After grinding things smooth with the flapper wheel, I laid down a skim coat of filler that will be sanded smooth prior to getting a coat of epoxy primer which I’m hoping to lay down tonight. That will allow me to spray high-build primer tomorrow morning and, hopefully, sand and paint Sunday. Thankfully, the weather looks like it was accommodate my schedule.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Swapping Continues, Plus Lucy is Becoming Flintstone-Worthy

Last night I was back out in the driveway (since the garage is packed) swapping the last seat tracks. The pocket making to clear the latch went well, and I had the passenger seat installed in Lucy in about a half-hour. I then began swapping the fresh air vent grills, kick panels, and heater registers and grills. Somehow the passenger kick panel from Ringo is missing. I think it’s buried in the basement, but a cursory search did not turn it up. I did, however, get the driver’s side bits all swapped. The ones coming out of Lucy are quite dingy and will need a sandblasting, priming, and paint job before they’re suitable for installation into Ringo.

Since today was payday, I put my order in with Amazon for 5 rattle cans of VHT satin black vinyl dye for Ringo’s carpet transformation. They might arrive Saturday which would be nice. Before I can install carpet, though, I want to paint the interior metal surfaces satin black. That project will require significant sanding and masking, and a few cans of Rustoleum primer and paint.

The Flintsone allusion is due to Lucy’s failing flooring. While installing the front seats, I found the metal around the bases to be solid, but just about everywhere else the consistency is tissue paper thin. With that in mind, I asked Brianna if it was alright if Ariel used Heidi until Ringo is back on the road. I was not comfortable putting any more miles than necessary on the wounded Lucy. Brianna graciously agreed to the loan, so the lovely Loriann is driving Heidi up to PA this afternoon and will return at the wheel of our stalwart Suburban. With the days shorter, my commutes are done in the dark, so top-down motoring opportunities are pretty much gone for the year.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Black is Right and Red’s All Over

As soon as I laid eyes on Ringo’s new paint, I knew his red interior would be gag inducing next to the purple pearl. So my text to Ariel yesterday was, “What do you think about Ringo getting a black interior?” Her reply was, “That would look good.” To which I typed, “Better than the red. I’m looking into the possibility of swapping seats and door panels with Lucy.” “Ok, cool!” she responded. With her approval I logged into the CorvairCenter forum to ask if the swap is possible. The only helpful response I got was someone informing me the seat track mounting is different.

Last evening after another delicious dinner prepared by the lovely Loriann, I moved Lucy into the driveway and yanked out her seats and driver’s side panels. Only had one bolt break – the upper left one holding the back of the rear seat. There are five other bolts, so I’m not worried. My first install was the rear panel from Ringo into Lucy. I discovered Ringo’s are not factory – they’re held in by wire clips instead of the stock serrated nails. Seven quarter inch diameter holes had to be drilled in the sheetmetal and the panel popped right in. There is relatively thick padding in the panel that precluded the easy installation of the window crank. I’m going to try and remove the foam donut from the back and that should allow the crank to snap into place. Moving on I installed the rear seat back and bottom without issues and then vacuumed the carpet before attacking the driver’s seat swap. My air wrench zipped off all the bolts holding seat tracks to both seats and some WD-40 lubricated the slides. I installed the inboard track, but when I placed the outboard one (containing the latching mechanism), it was painfully apparent there were differences that needed addressing. Specifically, the ’63 latch needed room to move that the ’61 seat didn’t accommodate. Out came the grinder and a small one inch square pocket was cut in the seat base to clear the latch. After that, installation of the track onto the seat and the seat into the car went off without a hitch.

It was getting late, so I moved the black seats into the garage, put away the tools, rolled the chest inside, and shut the door for the night. This morning’s drive into work was strange sitting on a new-to-me seat and no door panel. Hopefully, tonight will afford me the opportunity to get the other seat and panels installed.

Touched Them All

Normally a baseball term for a homerun, thus a reason to celebrate, “touched them all”, in my case, meant having to work on all four in the fleet; thus, not a reason to celebrate.

The fun and games began with Victoria’s late-morning Monday call informing me Glinda would not start. She was at a gas station north of Baltimore having just filled the tank with fuel. A turn of the key produced nothing – no turning, no noise, nothing. I had her find someone with jumper cables, but that only elicited a slow, weak spin of the starter. Fortunately, the lovely Loriann works less than a mile from the station, so she was able to rescue Victoria. After Victoria got off work, she and I returned to the scene where I cleaned the terminals and connectors, hooked up jumper cables, and let the battery get some juice from Heidi’s generator for about ten minutes. I spent the wait adjusting the idler wheel to get the fanbelt a little tighter. With that adjustment completed, Victoria turned the key and Glinda started right up. I started to close the engine lid, but stopped when I saw sparks coming from the idler wheel area. I had Victoria turn the engine off and I saw I’d not properly adjusted the belt guard. Five more minutes of fiddling, and all was good. She started right up again and the drive home was uneventful. Within five minutes of being shut off, the battery still read above 13 volts. Victoria hasn’t driven her since then because I left too much of a temptation – that being Heidi as backup while I drove Lucy to work yesterday.

Speaking of Lucy, before I could drive her I had to break off the dangling bit of rusted flooring and hook up the speakers. While trying to connect the right speaker, I found the wire had broken at the point it bent around the edge of the rear carpet. That fix would have to wait.

What was wrong with Heidi? Well, as I was driving home from dealing with Glinda, I glanced into her sideview mirror and noticed it was vigorously shaking. I rolled down the window and grabbed it only to have it come completely loose from its mounting. Thanking God I caught it in time, I placed it on the floor. When I got home, I reinstalled it, but had to pull a GUP gasket from the shelves. I also found the door pull was missing a screw, so a replacement was located in my can of screws and installed.

Finally, Ringo. My intention had been to spend the majority of the evening installing his interior, but that was thwarted by all the other activities. As a token gesture, I removed some remnants of masking tape from around the trunk opening.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting is Always About Experience

Here’s what I learned about painting yesterday -in order of their occurrence:

1. Cheap spray guns need more attention. My $9.99 Harbor Freight gun leaked at the cup-gun fitting until I put Teflon tape on the threads. At that point there were already dripped on the roof.
2. When parts don’t seem to fit right, DON’T use them. The inline air-dryer didn’t want to screw on to the end of the regulator tightly, but I used it anyway. Well, I used it until it popped off and the end of the air hose went all writhing-wild-snake on me. Thank God (and I’ll be using that line again) it didn’t hit the car.
3. There’s going to be one bug that didn’t get the keep-out-of-the-garage memo. After the second coat of color, I discovered a stink bug stuck in the middle of the roof after he’d gone for a nice little 2 foot walk (tiny footprints in the paint). I picked him off and I think the subsequent coats erased any evidence of his existence.
4. Don’t close the trunk lid by slamming it; physics comes into play. The air being forced out will cause a flap of masking paper to flip over and onto the wet paint causing you to scream obscenities as you carefully peel it off. That one hurt.
5. Never, never, never grab the paint gun without first putting the lid on the paint cup. Thank God (told you I’d need that again) I hadn’t put the doors on before painting because the masking paper in the driver’s door opening was splattered. And so was the bottom of the door opening and part of the side of the car behind the opening. I carefully wiped off the excess paint and then wiped the tears from my eyes (not with the same rag fortunately). I was so angry I was nearly crying.
6. You can never have enough lighting. Bad lighting caused me to miss spots on the lower front and rear valances. Fortunately, I caught them in time and was able to fill in. what I didn’t catch was how badly I’d shot the passenger’s door. This didn’t come to light until I was removing the masking. I truly don’t know how this could have been so badly missed. As it is, I need to let it cure fully, sand off the clear, re-shoot primer, sand, and reshoot color and clear. Who knows how well the door will match the rest of the car now. A real pisser, but a door is smaller than a hood.

Backing up a little, Saturday afternoon was spent sanding the primer and that went well. I also prepped the garage before rolling Ringo back into position for the next day’s spraying. That included staging the tool chest and some other larger items by the door. Sunday morning, as soon as I got home from church, I moved all the staged stuff to the driveway, closed the doors, and lit my three kerosene heaters. I knew the ventilating air coming in the from the outside would be about five degrees shy from the 60 degrees I wanted, so the heaters would hopefully heat up the car and walls so radiant heat would make up the difference. By the time I’d changed into my painting togs, wetted the floor, and wiped down the car, it was quite toasty. So, with the fan in place and running, I donned my stylish hood, respirator, and gloves and mixed up the first batch of Black Cherry Pearl.

That’s when the learning experiences began as described above.

I started shooting around 1:30 and finished around 5. Then, after a few hours wait, I pulled off the masking. Having to sand and re-shoot the door will set me back a couple days, but hopefully I can pull it off in a few evenings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Gang’s All Here

Not since before Brianna and Nich drove off to Blacksburg in Heidi have there been three Corvairs parked in front of our house. With Ariel’s arrival at the wheel of Lucy, all of the fleet now resides at our house. Ariel is now piloting our Suburban around Lancaster and Millersville since she needed to move a futon up to her apartment. We’ll make the trade back for Lucy (or maybe Ringo, but I’m not holding my breath) when we celebrate Thanksgiving at her place.

Speaking of Ringo, reassembly and painting prep continued last night. I completed the installation and lubrication of the driver’s fresh air vent and then re-masked the trunk opening. The other day I was looking for my coveralls to use for a Halloween costume and thought they may have been stuffed into Ringo’s trunk. That forced me to tear back the masking over the trunk.

While out in the garage, I gave the can of Summit Racing paint a shake, popped the lid, and dipped a stirring stick into it. Ringo is gonna’ be PURPLE! It truly is an awesome color, but there’s very little about it that’s black. I called Ariel out to the garage to see what she’d selected, and she got quite excited. I pray it looks nice once I lay it on Ringo’s body. Speaking of which, the lovely Loriann purchased the last of the supplies needed for this weekend: the 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper for smoothing the primer, the measuring cups for the getting the paint and clear mixed correctly, and the inline air dryer to ensure there are no fish-eyes in the finish. It’s not going to be quite as warm Sunday as I’d hoped, but I’m shooting paint anyway. I’ll just have to add some minutes to the flash time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heidi and Ringo Update

Since she’s become my daily-driver a couple weeks back, Heidi’s been a reliable ride. With her second thankful of gas, I calculated 22 mpg for mixed driving – better than Lucy and certainly better than Glinda. Since Ringo was probably burning as much oil as gas, I never bothered to track his fuel mileage.

As reported in prior posts, Heidi has had some tune-up work done to her engine. Sadly, this did not cure the high-speed, high-load miss condition. Last night I swapped on another coil, but after this morning’s commute, I found that didn’t fix it. Next up I’ll turn my attention to fuel deliver and do some carb swapping. Not a priority, so that may wait a while.

Also last night I did some more assembly on Ringo’s interior. I pulled the driver’s seat out from the basement and did a test fit to ensure the bolt holes lined up. The outer rear pad was welded in place, so I was happy to see everything in sync. I measured and drilled the four 3/8ths holes for the seatbelt bolts, and then I installed the GUP defroster cable I’d bought from the Corvair Ranch. Finally, I began the installation of the fresh air vent on the driver’s side.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Productive Evening on the Driveway and in the Garage

Heidi’s engine has developed a bit of a stumble at high-speed acceleration. If, when going 65 or so, I floor the pedal, the engine starts skipping. If I sneak up on the increased speed, all’s smooth. Thinking it was a fuel issue, I decided to do an electrical tune-up. This is due to something I’ve been seeing more frequently on Virtual Vair posts – something along the lines of, “90% of fuel problems are electrical.”

I started by cleaning the points and setting the dwell. Knowing this would affect timing; I hooked up my timing light, plugged the vacuum advance hose, blocked the front wheels, snicked the shifter into Drive, and, after making sure the idle was at 500, found the timing mark at 8 degrees BTDC – not the manual-prescribed 12. I noticed the mark was tough to read, so I tried a trick I also saw on my web wanderings and used some white paint to highlight the mark on the harmonic balancer. I also cleaned the degree marks on the block. With the engine running again, I rotated the distributor CCW until the mark was where I wanted it and tightened the clamp nut. When I attempted to reinstall the advance hose, I discovered the tube was right up against the coil. A few minutes later, I’d pulled the distributor, rotated it a tooth on the gear and dropped it back into the hole. A little turn of the crank got the pump drive engaged and distributor seated. I statically set the timing, and cranked the engine. It started right up and the light showed I was only 4 degrees off. I gave the distributor a slight twist to get the mark at 12 degrees and then tightened the clamp nut.

With my work under the hood complete, I took her for spin around the neighborhood. My test run includes a long pull up a hill – great for checking if the miss is gone. It passed the test.

It was then time to give Heidi some attention in other places. I cleared out the leaves from behind the front fenders, cleaned the windows, and vacuumed the carpet. This was followed with an attempt to improve the defrosting capability which was quite lacking during the last wet days. Thinking the foam pad had fallen off of the diverter door, I removed the metal grill, but found that wasn’t the cause. The pad was on, just not properly placed to block the floor opening. I taped off the portion of the grill that was unblocked and reinstalled.

While under the dash, I took a look at the squeaky brake pivot and found the cause to be a bent lever. In fact the end of the brake switch button was barely engaged. I bent it back straight and lo-and-behold the squeak went away.

With some garage time still left to me, I moved on to Ringo’s engine. After pulling the top assemblies off each carburetor, I installed the new needle-and-seats in both, but left the tops off so I can fill the bowls with gas next time I go and start him up. The last task of the evening was installing the short length of 5/16ths fuel hose behind the left rear wheel.

The latest check of UPS’s website shows the Black Cherry Pearl paint and activator will arrive tomorrow before 5 PM. Yay!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Looks Like You Can Buy A Decent Paint Gun For Ten Dollars

Yesterday’s e-mail from Harbor Freight contained a coupon for their “High Volume Low Pressure Gravity Feed Spray Gun.” Such a deal at only $9.99. I did some quick research on the web, and most of the comments about the sprayer were positive. So, at lunch, I ran down to the nearest store and invested in another spray gun.

Last night I hooked up the gun to regulated air and loaded the cup with a small batch of the silver I used to paint Heidi. I emptied the cup all on masking paper I’d taped to the wall. I was pleasantly surprised to see a fine fan of paint consistently misting from the tip. I turned the knob to adjust the shape of the fan and everything checked out. After disassembling and cleaning the gun thoroughly, I gave it one more test shot with thinner and deemed it a worthy tool to use in Ringo’s roadification.

My plan was to take Friday afternoon off to sand the primer and shoot paint Saturday, but the weather prediction has put that plan off. The current high predicted for Saturday is …… wait for it …… 49 degrees with a chance of ….. wait for it …… SNOW! That’s right. It’s still October and the dreaded S-word has popped up. Fortunately, it’s only supposed to last that one day. My backup plan is to sand Sunday evening after the Corvair club’s winery driving tour and take part of Monday off to shoot the paint and clear.

I ordered the paint and activator today and, according to Summit Racing it’s shipped, so I’m hoping it shows up Friday so painting Saturday is an option if the weather prediction improves. I’d like to see at least high-50s and that’s what’s currently forecasted for Monday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another Milestone for Ringo and Me

In my book (the book of it-doesn’t-need-to-be perfect-to-be-finished), all the bodywork is officially done when the primer goes on. I cannot afford the time, nor do I have the patience to apply a guide coat, block sand, fill low spots, re-sand, re-prime… My hand has already told me my filler job isn’t perfect; I don’t need to go through more hours and dollars verifying it.

After this last weekend, that’s the point Ringo is at. The primers are on, all two coats of epoxy and three of urethane. Thank goodness, too, because weather warm enough for my painting setup is very quickly going away until spring.
Here are the details. Friday night I did some staging by removing some stuff from the garage like the window glass, spare tire, and boxes. I hung the passenger’s door from the rafters, the grills on a piece of cardboard leaning against the back wall, and placed the driver’s door on a concrete block. I moved the car into final position and masked off the wheels. I cleared off the back workbench and moved all the cans of primers and activators as well as the other painting supplies to there. I moved my tool chest, welding wagon, dollies, bike, grinder, and heaters right in front of the door in preparation for relocation to the driveway while I’m shooting. Finally, I collected four concrete blocks and dug out a fourteen foot long 2X12 from the back garage to cut in half to make the two walkboards to stand on when I’m shooting the roof.

Saturday morning I was up early to drop Mikhaila off at her soccer. With a half-hour to kill before the game started, I ran to Home Depot and bought cartridges for my respirator mask, an air filter for the air line at the gun, and a furnace filter to put in front of the box fan I’d used for ventilating the garage. After the game was over, I changed into my grungies, cut the 2X12 in half, moved the staged stuff into the driveway, filled the air cooler bucket with water, placed the fan with filter in the one window, opened the other with the screen in place to keep bugs and such out, uncoiled the for-painting-only rubber air hose, and got out the HVLP paint gun I’d borrowed from Bill and my old conventional gun. Next, I blew off the car one last time before closing the garage door and wiping every inch of Ringo’s exterior with grease remover and paper towels.

With my long-sleeved welding shirt all buttoned up and my fashionable head sock in place, I put on the mask and mixed up my first batch of epoxy primer. I filled the reservoir of Bill’s gun and did some adjustment shots on the big piece of cardboard. All I got was little droplets rather than the fine mist I needed. Sadly, this was just as Bill had warned me about. I hooked up my old gun and poured the primer from his gun into mine and did the adjustment shot again. Perfect. I went through the entire quart of primer and its required quart of activator to get the first coat on. It was more than I’d expected to use, but my gun’s large (2mm) nozzle puts out a lot of product quickly. I kept the gun moving swiftly over the surfaces, so I did not get any runs. Thank You Lord. After letting that coat flash for about an hour, I mixed and shot the second coat of epoxy primer with the leftover black I’d bought when painting Bill’s wheels a couple years or so ago. I adjusted the volume setting on the gun and was able to get the entire second coat done without depleting the nearly full quart can.

Now, on to the 2k urethane primer. The epoxy primer seals the surfaces, the urethane primer is what will get sanded smooth. With the same setting on my gun, I laid down three medium coats using up the rest of the can from Heidi’s last paintjob as well as about a quart from the recently bought can. At this point it was nearly eight in the evening and I figured I'd been shooting primer for about five hours.

Next up, ordering a gallon of Black Cherry Pearl and activator. Once I know when that will be her, I can plan the time I’ll sand, so I can shoot the paint within 18 hours of sanding. At this point, I’m looking to sand Friday night and Saturday morning with the paint and subsequent clear going on in the afternoon.

I’m nervous about shooting the doors off the car. I would hate for them not to match the rest of the car. My latest thought is to paint the jambs of the door openings and the mating surfaces of the doors with them in their current locations; then paint the roof, engine lid, and hood, front and rear; and then move the doors to sit on blocks in front of the openings. This will allow me to sweep the spray from the gun along the entire side to get a uniform finish. I’ll repeat the process when spraying the clearcoat. I’m not thrilled about handling the doors with wet paint on them, so the jambs will and edges will only get one coat of paint and clear.

Ringo’s Ready for Halloween

After last night’s tape-fest, all of Ringo’s masking is complete and he’s ready for priming and painting. Last night I made the decision I will prime and paint the doors off the car since I’m concerned about all the jambs getting completely coated. With the doors on, the hinge areas are pretty inaccessible to the spray gun. I now need a good place to orient the doors like they’ll appear on the car while I’m shooting them. I guess hanging from the rafters is as good a place as any, but I will need to remember not to bump into them. It’s gonna’ be cozy.

The car’s openings are now masked excluding the engine bay. I’ve covered the engine with a sheet and the short piece of weatherstripping with tape. I’ve also covered the trunk opening with masking paper as you can see in the photo. My plan is to shoot the portion of the body covered by the hood and engine lid in epoxy primer, lower the hood and engine lid and shoot the entire exterior; leave the hood and engine lid down while I shoot and sand the high-build primer; raise the hood and engine lid so the covered areas get a single coat of paint; close them and give the exterior at least two coats of Summit Racing’s Black Cherry Pearl; raise the hood and engine lid for a coat of clear over the covered areas; and finally close them to lay down a couple coats of clear.

Prior to working on Ringo, I replaced Heidi’s battery with the supposedly good one from Advance Auto. She started right up this morning, so, hopefully, all’s good for longer than the week or so when the warranty runs out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How To Let Advance Auto Kill An Evening

Such high hopes for a productive evening in the garage; all dashed on the rocks by the hour plus it took Advance Auto and I to deal with Heidi’s battery. As I reported a few days back, when I put the charger on the battery a few days back in Blacksburg, the needle stayed on zero which, I thought, indicated a bad battery – one not able to be charged. After a short dinner, I drove down the street to the FLAPS (friendly local auto parts store). It wasn’t shocking that before they would just hand over a brand new battery to me, they had to test the one I’d touted as bad. The tester’s printout showed a voltage of about 3 and directed the clerk to charge the battery. He hooked up the terminals to the charger leads, pressed some buttons and told me I had thirty-five minutes to wait. I killed part of that time by buying fuel line, transmission fluid, and paper towels, but the rest was spent standing around.

After the interminable wait, the clerk tested the battery again. I expected another very low voltage rating, but surprisingly the voltage was up over 14, but the cold cranking amps were down around 200 – far less than the 420 rating. The tester’s printout again told the clerk to charge the battery. This time I went home for a while before returning to watch the last couple minutes of charging.

This time the charger said the CCA was 401 and the battery was good. I couldn’t argue with the tester, so I took the battery home and will install back in Heidi tonight and do my own real-world test. The issue is the two-year warranty is just about up, so I need to make the battery fail (if it’s going to) within the next few days. Another reason to enjoy top-down motoring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heidi Lengthens Her Lead

While living in Blacksburg I haven’t claimed the handful of expenses under Heidi’s tally. Actually, I think the only things Brianna had to buy were a new battery (not insignificant) and some transmission fluid. Now that she’s back under my jurisdiction so to speak, I’ll be tracking any expenses I incur. Thus, yesterday’s purchase of a pair of wiper blade assemblies added $13 to Heidi’s fleet-leading bottom line.
Speaking of expenses, I just got some good news from Advance Auto (never thought I’d be typing that statement). The battery Brianna and Nich bought has a two-year free replacement, so if I bring it back immediately, I can a new one for free. Guess where I’ll be going this evening.

Since we celebrated Victoria’s birthday yesterday, I didn’t get any car-time other than the few minutes it took to install the new wiper blades. I’ll be out in the garage this evening finishing the masking job on Ringo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heidi’s Back on the Road

Yesterday afternoon, I rushed home from work, donned my grungies, headed to the street to evaluate Heidi. With the display on my multimeter showing nothing but zeroes, I quickly determined the battery – only a couple years old – was completely dead. Off came the leads and the holddown nuts and the battery was out and Ringo’s new replacement was dropped into place. After mating the positive connector, but before attaching the negative, I put a scrap wired taillight socket between the terminal and the connector. If there was a short draining the battery, the bulb would illuminate indicating current draw somewhere in the car’s electricals. I was relieved when the bulb stayed dark. With the battery then connected completely, I vacuumed out the engien compartment so no pine needles would get sucked in, and then poured a little gas down the driver’s carburetor and cranked the engine. After a few seconds, the engine started right up and ran smoothly. I was expecting her stubborn lifter to be doing its clackity-clackity dance, but it was silent. Next check was the generator output to ensure the battery was being recharged properly. The display showed a nice 13.8 volts. Looks like the only issue was the time she sat between uses. I can fix that – just drive her. It took quite a few pints of transmission fluid before the level was up to full. She's always had a nagging tranny leak that I was unable to find and fix the last time I was under the car. I'll just keep a jug of fluid and a funnel in the trunk.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Starting this morning, I’ll make sure she gets used at least three times a week until the salt trucks come. After that, I’ll pull the battery lead and periodically top off the charge with my battery charger. In the meantime, I need to get to Advance Auto and see what a new battery is going to cost because Ringo’s going to need his pretty soon.

After dinner I went out to the garage to continue masking Ringo. With the second door about half-way covered, I ran out of masking tape. One of my stops at lunch today was Lowe’s where I bought a three-pack of tape and a roll of masking paper. I should have enough to finish the masking job now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heidi’s Trek Back to Baltimore

This last weekend, the lovely Loriann, Mikhaila, and I drove down to Blacksburg, VA to visit Brianna and Nich (her husband). Prior to our visit, Brianna had asked me if I’d be willing to take her back to Baltimore for the winter. She’s not had many opportunities to drive Heidi, and the few times they’ve tried, the batteries been dead, so she’s been hesitant to rely on the car. With that in mind, I packed my towing package (towbar, safety chain, and magnetic-base taillights) and some tools in the back of the Suburban before we headed down Friday.

After a wonderful couple of days full of good times, weather, food, and drink, it was time hitch up Heidi. The first issue was I’d grabbed the wrong tow-ball off the shelf at home. A quick run to Advance Auto rectified that error. With the ends of the tow-bar secured to the front bumper and the hitch over the ball, it was time to connect the safety chain. I’d not used this before, so it could have been issue number two, but I was able to get one hook through the hole in the receiver and the other around Heidi’s crossmember. A couple tie-wraps ensured the hooks wouldn’t vibrate off and wire kept the chain from dragging. I’d wanted to make a visit to the Tractor Supply Company store, but never made it, so the lights went on with the knowledge that the right turn signal/brake indication was nonfunctional. Once I’d checked the transmission fluid level, and made sure the shifter was in Neutral and the parking brake was off, we were finally able to hit the road.

Other than having to sit in traffic for well over an hour due to at least three accidents on I-81, the trip was thankfully uneventful. Heidi now sits in front of the house, and my first task is to figure out if the battery is okay or not. Then on to why it goes dead. All the while working around getting Ringo primed.