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.

Glinda’s Belt

Craving more attention, Glinda had a recent breakdown. One day last week, I got a lunchtime phone call from Victoria, “My car’s belt broke, and I don’t remember how to fix it.” Glinda’s timing was good in that I could slip away from the office and help Victoria and not mess with my desire to put in as many hours as possible at my desk (read overtime $). I arrived at the scene of the breakage and since Victoria’s original trip purpose was to get Mikhaila from school, I gave her the Suburban while I installed the new belt. I would have rather directed her in the repair, I didn’t want to incur the after-school care charge Mikhaila’s school may have stuck me with.

With the replacement belt from the trunk – a brand-new Clark’s belt, two wrenches from the glovebox – 7/16ths for the belt guards and 9/16ths for the two idler nuts, and about twenty minutes of labor, I was wiping the grease off my hands and then heading down the road. Now I just need to remember to check the tension after a few days.

Other than this event, she’s been quite dependable. I pray this continues. I did notice, however, on the one day I drove her to work and back that the front steering is quite loose, so I’ll the couple minutes and adjust the “tightness” setting the next opportunity I have.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Masking is Boring

Last night I sanded down the body filler on the two doors and wiped off the dust. Then I installed the weatherstripping salvaged from the original rusty door. That actually went better than I’d expected since re-using rubber parts is usually a failing proposition. Then I moved on to masking. I got one door done, the backlight opening, and some of the chrome. Still have a LONG ways to go.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I’ve Run Out of Stuff to Scuff Plus Hershey

Last night, I set up my sawhorses and attacked the two doors with sandpaper; first with the DA sander, then by hand. The replacement passenger’s door has some dings, so I filled those with Everglass and the driver’s door had some rust bubbles on corners, so I neutralized the rust, and then coated the pock marks with a film of filler. With the doors set off to the side for the filler to cure, I turned my attention to the two grills. The first one, oily from sitting behind the engine, needed quite a bit of cleaning before it was ready for sanding. While cleaning, I discovered a tear in the flange where the grill bolts to the body. An opportunity to weld. I rolled my welding wagon out and had the tear patched and ground down in less than 15 minutes. Sanding between each of the slots was time consuming, but I was able to get the part prepped for paint as well as the grill that mounts at the base of the windshield before it was time to call it a day.

On a different subject, I spent last Saturday at the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Fall Meet otherwise known by the single word Hershey. For those that don’t know, this is THE mega-car get together on the east coast. Over the course of four days thousands of old car nuts visit hundreds of vendors selling old car parts and pieces, dream about owning one (or more) of the hundreds of cars for sale in the car corral, and drool over the hundreds of perfectly restored cars in Saturday’s judged show. Since we only had Saturday to spend there, my buddy Bill, his wife Moriah, and I spent almost all of the day walking the aisles of show. I took a couple hundred photos, but only a handful of Corvairs (see below). This year I only found three ‘vairs in the show, so not many photo opportunities. Guess we’re not quite at the point of Model As where there were dozens.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Time for Glinda

Last night I worked on Glinda for a change. I changed her engine oil and filter change, lubed her suspension, straightened her steering wheel, and tightened her driver’s door handle.

Changing the oil and filter went without a hitch, but lubing the suspension was not without its challenge. Getting the fitting of the grease gun on the upper two balljoints’ zerk fittings is tight with the tires impinging. I ended up pulling the front wheels off to ensure the proper fit. After bolting them back on, I tried popping the hubcaps back on with my hand. The passenger’s side just wouldn’t go, so I got out my rubber mallet. After much banging, I finally the lip over all three bumps on the wheel. Sadly, a slight tug caused the cap to fall right off. The metal at the lip had cracked so there was no tension to keep the cap on. I thought I had at least one GUP cap that matched that set, but I couldn’t find it on the shelves. I did, however, find a nice, shiny set off an EM that fit beautifully, so Glinda’s got some new bling.

When I replaced Glinda’s turn signal switch a few months back, I screwed up and didn’t get the steering wheel reinstalled in the right orientation. Victoria has been driving around with the wheel at 11 o’clock to keep the car going straight. I tried to take care of that last night by driving the car straight into the driveway, removing the wheel, and putting it back on the splines as straight as I could. Before pulling the steering wheel off, I disconnected the battery so the horn wouldn’t sound. I noticed the positive terminal had some corrosion built up on it, so I cleaned both terminals and connectors thoroughly and coated the positive one to keep any new corrosion at bay.

Finally, to tighten the bolts retaining the outside driver’s door handle, I had to remove the armrest, window crank, and inside door handle before carefully removing the fragile, old door panel. I then peeled back the waterproof paper and snugged down the two #10 screws before everything could go back on again. The paper wasn’t installed correctly, so I fixed that. The lower edge of the paper needs to be fed into the horizontal slot so that any moisture runs down the paper and into the bottom of the door to drain as oppose to running over the inside lower surface of the door. A previous repairer had used duct tape to adhere the bottom edge to the inside surface below the slot. Not good, but now it’s right.

Prior to starting work on Glinda –while it was till light - I rolled Ringo out into the sunshine and swept out the garage and blew sanding dust off everything in preparation for shooting primer. Given the upcoming weather, my travel schedule, and the fact I just ordered primer this morning, I won’t have painting gun in hand until next Monday. In the meantime, I’ll be prepping the doors and grills for priming so everything will be done at once.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Look Mom, No Fingerprints

After another evening of sanding, my finger tips are now devoid of swirls and loops. Prior to finishing the sanding of Ringo’s body, I spent some time on my back reinstalling the accelerator linkages. I had misplaced the e-clips and washers, so I had Jeff at the Corvair Ranch send me replacements. I had to make some adjustments to the rod that goes forward from the pivot at the transmission and to a clip inside the tunnel (that required me to pull the covers off), but in the end actuation is smoother than ever.

Back to bodywork. The photos were taken after all the glossiness was gone. As I mentioned yesterday, this doesn’t include the doors and grills. That brings me to the next subject. Timing. My previous plan had been to save the doors and grills until after the rest of the car was painted since I don’t have space to Since primer and paint have critical windows for overcoating, I need to make sure I have what I need when I need it. The epoxy primer has a four-day window for topcoating before the entire surface needs to be abraded. Since I do NOT want the pleasure of an additional bout of printlessness, to be safe I need enough 2k high-build primer on-hand before I spray the epoxy primer. An order to Summit Racing will go out in the next few days. While I’m waiting for that delivery, I’ll go ahead and sand the doors and grills. I’ll also push Ringo out of the garage and blow off all the dust. I’ll hold off washing him since I don’t want to encourage rusting of the exposed metal. I will, however, thoroughly clean the garage so it’ll be ready to become the paint booth.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flat is Oh So Fine

The more I scuff Ringo’s shiny black paint into flat ebony, the closer I get to pulling out the cans of primer and activator. Last night I broke out the 120 grit and, with DA sander and by hand, made lots of black dust. By the time the fingers on my hands were cramping from gripping the paper, I’d dulled the finish on more than half the car (the roof, engine lid, and rear quarterpanels. If all goes according to plan (yeah, yeah, sometimes it actually does), tonight I’ll get the hood, front, and rear done. While that leaves the doors and grills to still do, I may forego working on them right now and spray the epoxy primer to protect the work I’ve completed from rust. I don’t think I have enough epoxy primer to shoot the entire car, I’m hoping I do have enough to cover to do that much.

With some time left before bedtime, I reattached the PowerGlide cable to the dash shifter and installed the speedometer cable. I really didn’t receive any help from the CorvairCenter forum on the correct route for the cable, so I just did what made the most sense, and it worked out fine. I used three of the p-clips with three-eighths rivets to keep the cable snug against Ringo’s underbelly.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Not So Productive Weekend

Sadly, this isn’t the long missive I’d hoped for. While the time spent in the garage was short, I don’t begrudge the time spent with Mikhaila on Saturday or the lovely Loriann on Sunday. With what time I did have in the garage, I sanded Friday’s application of bondo and called the bodywork “good enough.” The small pin holes left were filled with some body putty, and then I moved on to re-installing the speedometer cable. All but one of the clips that hold this are gone since they were attached to the now-replaced floor. I bought some P-clips that I’d decided to rivet to the new floor panels. Since it’s been uninstalled for nearly a year, I’d forgotten how the darn thing is routed around the left rear suspension. It terminates at the drive flange of the differential and there’s the one clip, but I couldn’t figure out how to route it to keep the radii large and still be out of the way of the rear spring. I’m submitting a post to the Corvair forum in hopes someone will enlighten me.

Once the cable is routed out of the way, I’ll be sanding again.