Monday, April 30, 2012

The Latest on Ringo

Friday evening I undertook a couple of the final items on Ringo’s to-do list. I installed the recently received GUP muffler from the Corvair Ranch. This was not without its opportunity to be creative since EMs were originally equipped with cylindrical mufflers while all Jeff could sell me was an oval one as used on the LM cars. Fortunately I had the hardware and hanger and had the replacement installed without any spilt blood. The second task was locating and sealing the stubborn backlight leak. After spraying soapy water along the bottom left corner of the glass, I blew air from the inside until bubbles appeared. It wasn’t until I’d moved the nozzle of the blower just past the end of the previously applied silicone that the sudsing started. I wiped everything down and continued the previous bead nearly all the way across the bottom of the weatherstripping. There’s rain in the forecast, so we’ll see if I’m finally successful in keeping out the elements.

Saturday afternoon I swapped the right rear tire off Ringo with one off Heidi. I am trying to isolate which tire (if any) is causing the nasty vibration at highway speeds. I started with this tire since there’s a slight bump in the sidewall that may be signaling the failure of this tire. This morning the drive to work was much better, so maybe I’ve found the culprit. Now on to getting a replacement.

The Fleet is Enlarged

So after some negotiations, Victoria has the car she’s wanted all along, a LM convertible. We bought it from a fellow Baltimore Corvair club member who threw in a bunch of extras as part of the deal. It runs, it stops, it doesn’t start on its own because it needs a new battery, its current top may just blow off on at highway speeds, and she won’t get to drive it around immediately since it also needs all new tires. We’ll also thoroughly check out the brake system before letting her (the car) loose on the road. The rust won’t hold it back from becoming a daily-driver, but it will be fixed before a new coat of robin’s egg blue is applied. Victoria hasn’t named the car yet, so for now it will be referred to as V’s vert.

Sunday afternoon three of us (Victoria, Mikhaila, and I) drove up into the beautiful environs of north-central MD to the barn where fellow CORSA of Baltimore member, Chuck, has a barn full of Corvairs and another barn full of Corvair parts and pieces. We got there a few minutes before Chuck, but his son, Kevin, was there and we started our final inspection of the car. What we were looking for were what parts were needed for a complete restoration. Chuck offered to throw into the deal whatever he had in his parts’ barn that we needed. We wrote down some things and, after Chuck arrived, followed him into the barn and began poking around for the parts and pieces on our list. After thirty minutes or so, the following parts were lying on the grass outside the barn’s door: passenger door, right side front fender, grill bar, front air cowl grill, AM radio, and a wiper switch. The latter was actually for Glinda.

After getting out the towing equipment, I loaded the parts into the back of the Suburban while Victoria drove her new purchase out of the garage and lined it up facing the Suburban’s rear hitch. We bolted on the tow-bar and dropped the hitch over the ball. Mikhaila placed the lights on the ‘vert’s rear fenders and ran the cable up to the Suburban’s plug. Once we were all hooked up and tightened, we said our goodbyes and headed on home. Thankfully, the ‘vert towed like all good Corvairs and we were parked in front of fleet headquarters before we knew it.

With Glinda, Ringo, and Heidi parked at the curb, V’s vert was washed and then took up residence in the garage.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Wednesday night I pulled the valve cover AGAIN; adjusted the rocker arm nuts AGAIN; and heard knocking as soon as the engine was turned on AGAIN. I decided I’d done everything correctly and one or more lifters had to pump up. Sure enough, a few minutes later all clattering ceased. I spent the rest of the evening putting the final engine-related bits and pieces back onto the car, installing tires and wheel covers, and making sure all would be good for the maiden voyage AGAIN. There’s a whole lotta’ déjà vu goin’ on here.

Yesterday morning dawned with threatening skies and a good chance of rainfall, so I felt Ringo’s backlight seal would get some testing. The drive to work was nice until about five minutes into the highway portion when the vibration came back. I thought getting the three unevenly worn tires balanced would have solved the problem, and it seemed to for about ten minutes, but then it was back with a vengeance. I slowed down to around 60 and it wasn’t too bad, but anything more than that and the hammering I felt through the steering wheel as well as the seat of my pants was quite distressing.

Once I pulled into my parking spot, I left the shifter in Drive, popped the engine lid, and took a look at the pressure gauge. About 12 psi (see lame, blurry cellphone photo above). That’s a great improvement over the 7 or so it was showing prior to the new bearings being installed.

Yesterday was Take Your Child to Work Day, so Mikhaila joined me for a fun morning. After snagging our complementary bag lunches, we hit the road so she could get to school and enjoy the last two classes of the day. Before climbing behind the wheel, I glanced at the backlight area to see if the leak had been stemmed since it had rained. Nope the leak was still there. CRAP!!!!! On the drive, the vibration again only reappeared after a few minutes of highway driving. The rest of the time I had to keep it below 60 to be tolerable. I dropped her off and headed back to work. About a block away from her school, the GEN/FAN light came on. Seriously? Yes, the fanbelt had snapped. It took a while to install a new one since I had to unmount the oil pressure gauge and I did not have the right tools. Fortunately, my penknife can substitute for a screwdriver. About fifteen minutes later, I was back on the road with greasy hands (I need to remember to put some rags in the trunk).

I’ve put another forty miles or so on without incident, but something must be done about the vibration and leak. Oh yeah, the GUP muffler showed up yesterday from the Corvair Ranch, so that needs to be installed.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Morning with Lucy

Well, part of a morning. With all the rain and Ringo hogging the garage, I had to deal with some Lucy issues before Ariel drove her back to PA. I replaced the oil filter with a Purolator, tucked the plastic sheeting that protects the driver’s door panel back into its slot, adjusted the blinker switch to make both directions work, and tweaked the connector at the hi-beam switch to get the headlights functional again. All that took a little over thirty minutes, so I didn’t show up to work too late.

How does Lucy reward me for that attention? I just got a call from Ariel. She turned the key this afternoon to drive the car to work and nothing happened – no click from the solenoid, no idiot lights, nothing. This had to happen AFTER she’d been driven ninety plus miles away.

A Whirlwind Weekend

The weekend kind of all blurs together. I know that finishing Ringo’s engine reassembly took place on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and I know that the gyrations required to get the engine safely off the stand and onto the floor jack occurred Saturday night, and I know that attaching the transaxle to the engine and reinstalling the lump into the car happened yesterday afternoon, and I know that after a couple attempts to adjust the right side valves I’ve still got a clatter, but I don’t remember many of the steps it took to complete those tasks.

Other than the exhaust system (which I’ll go into more detail later), there really weren’t any issues as I bolted everything back together and made the necessary adjustments, nor did the moving of the heavy assemblies result in any excitement, but sadly the valve lashing is a much greater pain than it should. The manual’s method is very straightforward once you determine where #1 top dead center (TDC) is (there are two options and you have to watch lifter movement to find which is #1 TDC or #2 TDC). Anyway, I got past that and did the LM engine spec of 1 turn of the rocker arm nut after all the clearance has been taken up, however, I must have forgotten #5 exhaust. When I turned on the engine it fired up fairly quickly, but valvetrain clattering was definitely coming from the right bank. I raised just that corner of the car, pulled off the valve cover and discovered the aforementioned rocker was loose. I decided to be thorough and readjusted the lash of all the valves on that side. In the middle of the task, the lovely Loriann made a visit to the oil slick I call the garage and I may have missed one of the valves (she can be so distracting) because the valve clattering wasn’t any better after I put everything back tougher and re-fired the engine. At that point, it was time to quit for the day.

Regarding the exhaust system; I’d bought a GUP exhaust pipe from the Corvair Ranch and it bolted into place but had a slight mismatch to the exhaust manifold ends. I was able to pound it into position and tightened down the mounting nuts. The GUP muffler I’d planned on using slid over the end of the pipe, but the orientation of the tailpipe wouldn’t allow the muffler body to clear the valve cover. Irrrr. I ended up pounding off the tailpipe so I could get some silencing to run the engine until a replacement is procured.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Heidi on Five Cylinders

On my drive home from work Wednesday, Heidi’s engine started to run roughly. I made it home, thankfully, and then went to work on Ringo. Last evening, before starting my Ringo work, I popped open Heidi’s engine lid and discovered one of the spark plug leads had come off the distributor cap. I poked it back into place, started up her engine, and was rewarded with the smooth idle I so love.

Heading in the Right Direction Again

Last night I verified the GUP main crankshaft bearings I’d installed previously in Ringo’s engine were too worn – the plasti-gauge showed clearances greater than GM specified. With the new main bearings in place, I commenced reassembly. I got the camshaft installed carefully matching the marks to ensure the proper timing. The block halves were bolted together followed by the bellhousing. That allowed me to put the engine back on the engine stand. Next to be bolted on were the rear engine cover and the harmonic balancer. After slipping each piston/rod assembly into their proper cylinders, I carefully installed the six sets into the engine. At that point, it was time to call it a day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finally got the Right Squish

After a quick dinner, I was in the garage by 7 and back at work on Ringo’s engine. I completed the tear down of the engine by removing the last bolts/nuts holding the two block halves together. With the left block half and the camshaft out of the way, I assembled the #6 rod to its crankshaft journal with a new bearing and a short length of plasti-gauge. After torquing the nuts to about 250 inch-pounds, I then removed them and pulled off the cap. The plasti-gauge showed a clearance of about .005 – far more than the spec allows. At this point, it was plain that the crankshaft I’d installed was too worn to re-use as-is. I re-measured the journal and found it was about .002 undersize. I went to my stash of parts and pulled out the nicer looking of the two cranks sitting on the floor (the one from the York 110 HP engine). I measured a few of the journals and they all came in at the spec’s 1.800 to 1.799 (most closer to the 1.800). I wiped down all the journals and replaced the bad crank with this new candidate. I re-did the plasti-gauge with the #6 rock and got a clearance measurement of slightly less than .002 – well within the spec’s .0007 to .0023 target for new bearings. Success! I plasti-gauged the rest of the rods and all fell nicely within the spec limits.

Next, leaving the used bearings in place, I laid pieces of plasti-gauge over the four main journals and mated the left block half back against the right one. I only got a few of the bolts put in before I called it a night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

False Alarm – Hopefully

I drove Heidi up to PA yesterday afternoon with a replacement (Purolator) oil filter, a gallon of Rotella oil, some speedy-dry, and the tools, etc. to replace Lucy’s filter. When I arrived, the puddle that greeted me was thankfully much smaller (about 10 " in diameter) than I’d feared and the oil level in the crankcase was only down about a 1/2 pint from Full. I had Ariel start up the engine while I looked for the leak source. After a few seconds, oil did start to run down the sides of the filter. I tightened the attachment bolt, wiped off the outside of the filter, and watched for a few minutes. No more leak. This engine had run a few hundred miles since I’d put the replacement filter without any sign of filter leakage or noticeable drop in the oil level. I thought about replacing the filter anyway, but changed my mind since Ariel was in a hurry to get the car back to her apartment and make it to class on time. I put the new filter, oil, wrench, etc. in the trunk of her car, kissed her good-bye, and wished her well. She’s quite capable of replacing a filter and cleaning up a mess if it does happen - now that she has the stuff to do it with. She also knows to check the ground under the rear of the car and pay attention to the idiot light.

I then headed on down the road to the Corvair Ranch to pick up my order of bearings and gaskets needed to re-rebuild Ringo’s engine. I also had Jeff throw in a GUP Pittman arm bolt and nut and a GUP exhaust pipe to replace the leaking one.

The Ranch’s parking lot always provides some Kodak moments. I posted the pictures to my Flickr account here. I’m sure some of these will be used for my Facebook & Twitter Haiku4photo postings.

Speaking of photos, here are some of the engine work done last weekend.

It should be noted that on the first and second legs of yesterday’s adventure, Heidi’s top was down. As the sun began to set leaving the Ranch, the top went up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It’s Good to be Round

Last night I finished tearing down Ringo’s new engine. I carefully measured the six rod journals on the crank and saw 1.799 on all six. The spec. on them is 1.800 to 1.799, so the crank is good to use as-is. Next, I used an internal snap-gauge to determine if the rod bores are still round. My unprofessional, yet steady hand found the minimum measurement, locked the gauge, and then rotated it around the bore to ensure the same dimension at all points. I’m satisfied that all six are still round and extremely close to each other in diameter. The manual doesn’t have a spec. on the actual dimension, but since this is a non-wearing surface, I’m fairly confident (read: prayerfully hopeful) that they are the proper size. I started to take apart the block so I could access the main journals and bearings, but ran out of steam around 10 PM.

I’ve placed an order with Jeff at the Corvair Ranch for new bearing sets for both the rods and the mains. I’m getting the standard size since what I’ve been able to measure indicates little to no wear. Before final installation, I’ll use Plasti-gauge to ensure the proper clearances.

Speaking of the Ranch, this afternoon will be a road trip for me. My first stop will be Millersville, PA to get Lucy back on the road. After that I’ll drive straight to the Corvair Ranch to pick up my order which, in addition to the bearings, includes the oil pan and top cover gaskets I need to put Ringo’s engine back together. Then, I’m hoping to make a final stop at fellow club member’s house pick up a GUP exhaust pipe for Ringo. Heidi’s got a full tank of gas and the sky is blue, so it should be an enjoyable top-down adventure.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Here We Go Again

My pleasant prelude to Corvair work was a nice drive with Mikhaila down to Waldorf. Our purpose was to cover up the two convertibles with tarps so they are protected until I’m able to get them up to Baltimore. It was also an opportunity for Mikhaila to check out the yellow ‘vert we’re seriously considering as our father-daughter project car.

Then, Saturday morning early I drove up to PA to buy a welder. I got what I believe to be a great deal. I traded the older 25 gallon compressor and $250 for a Lincoln MIG Pro-140 welder with a large CO2/Argon tank and a mask. All I need to be able to make molten metal again is a pair of gloves.

Déjà vu #1: The weekend was spent removing Ringo’s drivetrain, splitting the transaxle from the engine, mounting the engine on the engine stand, and tearing the engine down. All experiences I’d recently gone through. How far did I get? I’m about two hours away from having loose rods, crank, and block halves to measure.

Déjà vu #2: Around 11:30 last night Ariel was leaving her friend’s house in PA when Lucy decided to empty a portion of her crankcase’s lifeblood (oil) onto the girl’s driveway. According to Ariel, it’s another failed Clark’s oil filter. Irr. I’ve ordered a couple Purolator filters that will be available tomorrow morning, but I’m having trouble working around Ariel’s very busy schedule. I really want to get Ringo’s engine torn down and measured so I can get the bearings on order. Fortunately the car is not in a location where it risks being towed or ticketed. Also, Ariel can take the bus to work, but I need to get up there before Saturday since that’s when she needs the car.

Fortunately, there was a pleasant postlude to the weekend as well. Victoria and I drove up to northern Maryland and checked out a ’66 convertible a fellow club member is selling. The positives: it started right up, ran fairly smoothly, the brakes work, the electrical appear to still be functioning properly, it’s got cool 14“ wheels, and the deal includes a new top (in the box) as well as nearly any part I’d need to finish the car from the seller’s vast collection of used parts. The negatives: it needs some rust repair (floors, lower fenders, rocker panel), the top installed, the seats upholstered, and new paint laid down. However, it won’t take too much to make it a safely drivable car for Victoria to enjoy this summer.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

All Wired Up

Last evening I stopped by Home Depot and bought a 20 Amp circuit breaker for the panel in the garage (the compressor draws 14 Amps at startup). Once home, I ran the Romex and hooked one end to the new breaker and panel and closed off panel. That allowed me to turn the power on to the garage again and work by something other than my new battery-powered worklight. The trickiest part of running the Romex was routing it around the beer bottle collection and not break anything. Out in the shed I screwed the service box to the brick wall and installed the receptacle. I’m ready to move the compressor out there now, but I still need to get some chain to anchor the compressor to the shed studs before I’m willing to move it out of the locked garage. I also need to get the fittings and hose to reattach the compressor’s outlet to the inlet of my garage air plumbing.

Here's what the new-to-me compressor looks like. Happy Birthday to me from my parents and the in-laws.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dashed Upon the Rocks

I guess I should be glad the discovery happened when it did. Sunday afternoon I decided it made sense to check how far off the speedometer was, so I had Ariel drive down highway at 60 with me following behind in Ringo. Cruising at 60 with only a slight load on the engine, I was hearing same tapping emanating from the engine. Not good! It would go away as I loaded the engine and come right back as I let off on the accelerator. The low oil pressure I’ve been seeing coupled with this noise makes me believe the rod bearings have too much clearance. That night I told her about it, and we agreed it would be a mistake to put any more miles on the engine until I got new bearings installed.

At least the weekend had a wonderful start. Friday, I spent my birthday money on a new-to-me compressor. I’ll need to run a 230 volt circuit out to the shed, but it’ll be worth it.

Then Saturday morning I drove Ringo to the first of the season Saturday morning gathering of the local Corvair club. We had a great turnout with the a dozen people and nine Corvairs in attendance. I spent most of the time trying to find why Ringo’s starter wouldn’t energize with a turn of the key. Finally, I discovered one of the connectors had come loose from the wire at the neutral safety switch. Once I got the car home and attached a new connector, he’s starting every time.

During the drive I still noticed a vibration at highway speeds that needs to go away. As an attempt to get rid of the vibration, I swapped all four wheels with Heidi. The Sunday afternoon drive confirmed the vibration is due to at least one of his tires being out of balance. As I was doing the swap, I found the inside tread of the front tires were wearing more than the outside. So, a wheel alignment was in order. With Ariel’s help, we adjusted the left tie-rod to change a toe-out condition to the spec toe-in. I would have turned both tie-rods an equal amount to the keep the steering wheel centered, but I couldn’t break loose the rust that locked the threads of the right tie-rod.

Once we’d made the decision to tear down Ringo’s engine, I went to work making Lucy a little bit more comfortable for Ariel. I replaced her loud dual exhaust setup with the single exhaust off Ringo (he’s going to get a new exhaust pipe anyway). That took me a few hours since the two bolts attaching the pipe to the left exhaust manifold snapped off and had to be drilled out (nothing new when working with exhaust systems). With the pipe and muffler properly installed, I moved on to finally replacing the speedometer cable and finally installing the interior door panels. The driver’s door also needed a new sheet of plastic installed prior to the door panel to keep out the moisture.

And that my blog-reading friends is NOT how one should have to spend their birthday weekend.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Serendipity is Good

The other day, I wrote about searching for the frustrating, yet elusive, backlight leak. Well, last night we were back at it. Rather than seal off Ringo’s entire salon, the lovely Loriann came up with the idea of using a sheet of plastic to just seal off the backlight area and pressurize the volume with the shop-vac. So, we carefully taped up sheet of plastic with a hose leading into it. I sprayed the soapy water and absolutely no bubbles appeared on the outside, but soapy water did appear on the inside. I pulled off the plastic and sopped up the puddle. I just had to find the leak since I’d just sealed up all the places where the water could drain out. I decided to blow dry the inside surfaces so I could carefully spray water on the outside until it appeared on the inside. As I was blowing around the bottom corner lo-and-behold bubbles were quickly forming on the outside. I’d found the leak. It was the joint between the rubber weather strip and the body pinchweld. After the lovely Loriann came out to see, we decided the best approach to sealing would be to put a bead of black silicone on the inside where the rubber hadn’t overlapped the pinchweld enough.

With that bit of success, I grabbed a wire brush and attempted to expose the threads on the tie-rods. The grunge caked over these steering bits was pretty tough, so it took some serious swiping before the metal was exposed. Next I squirted some homemade penetrating fluid (½ ATF with ½ Acetone). I’ll be checking the toe-in and adjusting if necessary in the near future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seams All Sewed Up

Last weekend, while working on the oil pump, I’d removed the distributor so I could verify the pump turned after I had it back together. Before removing it, I match-marked the cap and the idler pulley to make reinstallation easier. I didn’t check the timing, but I could tell it was too advanced since the idle speed, once Ringo’s engine was warmed up, was too high. Last night I bumped the timing back to 16 degrees BTDC and the idle speed dropped back to 500 rpm.

I then backed his rear end up onto the ramps, jacked up the front end and supported it on jackstands. It took a tube and a half of seam sealer, but I finished closing off all the floor openings. Next, I asked the lovely Loriann to move the steering wheel while I went hunting for the source of the steering looseness. I found the pitman arm bolt was loose in its hole. It’s a tapered bolt that’s supposed to fit tightly, but the length of the replacement bushing I’d recently installed was preventing the taper from engaging. I ground much of the shoulder off the bushing and was able to tighten the castle nut enough to make a tight fit. Now, when I turn the steering wheel I get instant response at the tires.

Finally, I disassembled and cleaned up a starter solenoid. The one currently on Ringo doesn’t always work – especially when it’s hot. I don’t want to give Ariel a car that won’t reliably start. After removing the nuts on the threaded studs, I took off the two slotted screws and the cap came right off. With the contacts out of the way, I used the wire wheel to remove all the corrosion from the copper washer and then Scotchbrite to smooth things out. Some wipes with the Scotchbrite also cleaned up the contacting surface of the positive terminal. Reassembly was equally straightforward and a bead of silicone around the joint between the cap and the body finished off the project.

Thanks to CorvairCenter forum for the photos.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Running Out of Ringo Updates

The title of this post is more of a hope and a prayer as I put the finishing touches on Ariel’s car. I spent some time Sunday attempting to optimize the output of the oil pump. I had received the collection of gaskets from Clark’s in the mail the day before and was dying to see if I could improve things. I followed the directions included and selected a gasket to shoot for the low side of the .0025 to .0045 inch face clearance. To get access to the pump which is located on the engine’s rear cover, I had to lower the rear of the drivetrain enough to remove the rear engine mount bracket. With the pump cover back on and the engine back where it belonged, I refilled the crankcase with oil and started the engine. After a couple seconds the pressure gauge shot to about 35 psi. The real test will be when the weather gets warmer and Ariel drives him to school. I’m planning on removing the lower shrouds to improve the engine’s ability to shed heat. A cooler engine means higher viscosity which results in higher oil pressures.

With his rear already resting on jackstands, I raised Ringo’s front end and set it carefully on two more stands. After sliding a large piece of cardboard onto the floor and grabbing the seam sealer and work light I slid my body under the car and squeezed an entire tube of sealer into the joints I’d created when welding in the floor patches. There are still plenty more joints, so I bought a couple more tubes at NAPA on my lunch hour today. I also had them throw a couple air cleaners into the deal. Replacing the oil-soaked ones I’d installed years ago is a far overdue task.

I’ve been driving him as frequently as possible to ensure I’ve got all the bugs out before I give him back to Ariel. I’m still a little concerned about a vibration that seems to be coming from the front end. I’m probably going to take off some afternoon and have the front end looked at professionally. I’ll ask them to give him an alignment and they’ll come back to me with whatever’s loose.