Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are These Seats in Lucy's Future?

I went for a stroll through Crazy Ray’s on my lunch hour today. I was actually looking for something specific – something not Corvair related – something for the tow vehicle. The Suburban’s left rear (barn) door latch release broke a few weeks back, and I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up before heading over to my local favorite auto salvage establishment. After entering the yard, I headed toward the truck section at the rear. Of course my path was via the Corvair behind the fence I’d blogged about a while back – it’s still there. And since I’m always on the lookout for ‘vair-related stuff, I peered into some of the sportier cars that I was walking by. I stopped in my tracks when I spied a racing seat in a Nissan 300ZX - just the driver’s seat. I investigated its condition and was surprised to find the cover in good, un-ripped shape. The tilt lever worked too. As I was dressed in work slacks, I chose not to plant my butt on the dirty cover, but I’d bet it would fit my frame like a glove. Only a couple bolts held it in place, and the fact that I was not equipped with anything larger than a 10mm wrench meant the seat was not coming home with me. I snapped a few photos and moved on. Soon after, I’d located a Suburban of the right vintage and was elated to find its latch still available and still functional. This had been too easy. Oh wait – a holdup. Rather than a nice upholstered door panel, this one came equipped with an access door held in place with four Phillip’s head screws. Sadly, I had not predicted this, so my flathead screwdriver had to do the job. With it on an angle, I was able to get the screws out. The latch came out easily once I’d removed the four nuts and the disconnected the two rods. Since I still had plenty of time before I needed to be back at work, and not wanting to waste the trip and the $1 admission charge, I wandered back through the foreign car section looking to see if I could find any Corvair wheel candidates. I was specifically looking for Japanese rear-wheel-drive cars with the four-bolt lug pattern. A few rose later, I found an 80s Nissan 280ZX with all its wheels. I took pictures of all four wheels and moved on. It was then I found the mate to the racing seat. It was sitting all by itself a row and a dozen cars over from the car it’d come from. Strange. I’d have been okay only getting the driver’s seat, but having the pair would be even better. That is, if the seat back tilted far enough forward to let passengers into the back seat. I checked it out, and it seemed to be in as good a shape as the other one. Exhausting the foreign car aisles without finding any more suitable wheels, I headed over to the GM area. There I found a mid-70s Firebird with Rally IIs and a mid-70s Cutlass with Super Stock wheels. Both sets would fit a LM Corvair. I’ve posted these finds on the CorvairCenter forum as well as Virtual Vairs mail list to help out the hobby. After paying for my part, I climbed behind Lucy’s wheel and turned the key. The idiot lights came on like normal, but that’s all that happened. No solenoid click, no whir of the starter. To rule out the ignition switch, I made sure the transmission was in neutral and the emergency brake was on. Then I used my iPod cable and shorted the purple wire that goes to the solenoid to the hot lead on the voltage regulator. I got a spark, but no response from the solenoid or starter. At that point, a guy came walking up and offered to help. He recommended I bang on the starter with my lug wrench while he turned the key. Sounded like a good plan, so I pulled the wrench out of the trunk and began to lie down on the ground. As I was reaching under the car, the guy turned the key and lo-and-behold the engine turned and started. I thanked him for his magic touch and uneventfully made it back to work.

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