Friday, June 29, 2012

An Hour with Ringo

“A couple times when I stepped on the gas, the engine made noise, but the car didn’t go anywhere for a couple seconds.” That was what Ariel told me yesterday after her evening commute. I had her drive Ringo around the block and park him in front of the garage. While backing down the driveway, I thought I sensed a stronger smell of gas than usual and filed that away to check once I had good light on the running engine.

A quick look at the transmission dipstick with the shifter pointing at the D showed the fluid level about a quart low from full. After topping off with ATF, I checked the crankcase oil level which also needed a quart added. Since the low oil pressure woe seems like it’s behind us, I took the opportunity to remove the oil pressure gauge and the associated plumbing. In order to that, I first had to get the alternator out of the way to give me access to the threaded hole where the pressure switch mounts. With the negative battery lead disconnected, the nuts holding the wiring terminals off, and the bolts out, the alternator was free and the installation of the pressure switch into its hole was accomplished using the correct large socket (the one that prevents any leak-causing distortion to the switch body). The alternator went back on more easily than expected given the typically difficult to align forward, hidden bolt. Once the wiring was reconnected, the final touch was the positioning and tensioning of the fanbelt.

The engine started right up, and everything looked good, except for some dampness at the left carburetor inlet fitting. A snugging with a wrench and all went dry and I started to call it a night, but then Victoria, behind the wheel of Glinda, pulled down the driveway. She got out and informed me her car still had a rattling rearend. I pulled out a 7/16ths socket and applied a few more turns to the nut holding the slightly loose muffler strap. Again, only time will tell if I’ve conquered this nagging issue.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Light Week So Far – TYL

I installed the new j-bolts and wing-nuts retaining Luna's air cleaner to her carburetors

I cut out most of Luna's rotted driver's floor (ran out of cut-off wheels)

Victoria waxed about 75% of Luna's bringing out a surprisingly nice finish

I had to make a better effort at fixing Glinda's muffler strap since the slot had broken through the wall and the strap had come loose again. I drilled a new hole and filed it wide enough to insert the strap end and bolt everything back together. Sadly, I just heard from Victoria that this fix also failed. Guess it's time to bite the bullet and find a GUP on the shelf to replace the current corroded hanger.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ringo Repairs

When last I reported on Ringo’s behavior, there was a balky speedometer. I had attempted to make it work again by spraying the shaft with WD-40. At first, this didn’t seem to work since Ariel was still not seeing proper needle movement. Yesterday, since she had to drive up to PA and the lovely Loriann was nice enough to loan her the PT Cruiser, I drove Ringo to work. Sure enough, during the morning commute the needle would not follow the road speed, but then, on the drive home, everything worked perfectly, and continued to work fine when Mikhaila and I drove him to the library that night.

One other issue Ariel had asked me to address was blinkers. They wouldn’t blink anymore. All that took was me reaching under the dash and fully seating the flasher unit into its two blade receptacles.

Quick (and effective) fixes are good fixes.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Glinda Garners My Attention (and some new parts)

Last night I intended to spend a half-hour or so on Glinda before moving on to Luna’s driver’s footwell replacement, but that plan didn’t pan out. Instead I spent all my ‘vair-time on Glinda. First, I finally changed the oil and filter making sure the filter torque was the 15-20 ft-lbs the manual specifies. It seems like a lot, but I don’t want any repeats of the Lucy leaky filter debacle.

The next tasks for Glinda was replacing the distributor plate assembly with the re-worked one I’d recently bought from Clark’s. In addition to a new points plate (one that won’t shift with changes in vacuum advance), they add a ground wire that make performance more reliable. Surprisingly, when I removed the distributor cap, it came off in two pieces. Not sure how this happened or how Glinda was able to run so well with a busted cap.

The last engine job was blocking off the hole in the shroud between the fan outlet plenum and the engine compartment. When Glinda came off the GM assembly line, she was equipped with the requisite pollution controls which included an AIR pump and the associated plumbing as shown in red and blue in the drawing at the top of this post. It’s the hole for the blue hose that was causing a LOT of HOT air to be blown into the engine compartment. This impeded the outside, cooler air from being sucked into the compartment resulting in a higher operating temperature for the engine – not conducive to ping-free running in the hot Baltimore summer. I cut out a simple cover from a piece of thin sheetmetal, formed a small flange to mate up against the vertical wall of the shroud, and match-drilled two holes for sheetmetal screws. After squirting a bead of hi-temp RTV around the hole, I screwed down the cover and called it a day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Fantastic Father’s Day Weekend

Because my family kept me quite busy with fun F-day activities, I didn’t get much time for the cars – and that was just fine with me.

Friday evening I addressed two issues that Ariel and Victoria brought to my attention. Ringo’s speedo has gone wacko. It’s like it’s sticking. It’ll get stuck at certain speeds and then slowly rise up to what feels like the right speed and then stay there. I unscrewed the cable end from the speedometer and squirted (squort?) some WD-40 into the speedo’s shaft. Sadly, the test drive the next morning revealed I hadn’t fixed the problem. Oh well, that’s why I have spares on the shelf. Not that I’m looking forward to replacing the gauge cluster again, but this time I'll try a different fuel gauge since the one I'd put in before is not registering FULL when the tank's full.

Glinda’s problem was the muffler strap had come loose. I removed it, re-bent the end so that it would fit more snugly around the muffler, and re-installed it. Now, only time, and bumpy roads, will prove out the effectiveness of the fix.

Sunday afternoon, Victoria joined me in the garage for some overdue work on Luna. I had bought some buffing cream and she was dying to bring some life back to the oxidized paint. While she had fun with that task, I attempted to deal with the broken seat-mounting bolt. Carefully working my way up in diameter, things were going well until the ¼ inch bit busted off in the hole. The only fix for that failure is to pound out the weld-nut and replace it. A few whacks with the hand-sledge onto a well-placed punch and the nut was rattling free. Putting in a replacement will be tricky.

I then pulled back the carpet to reveal the lack of footwell for the driver. That will have to be dealt with before Luna is safe for the road.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Luna Work Back on Track

Since last evening was Girl Scout night for the lovely Loriann and Mikhaila, it was garage night for me. First, however, I had to make a run to Home Depot to buy long #10 screws so I could pull Luna’s steering wheel off and insert the neglected spring. With the right hardware, the wheel came off easily and reassembly re-commenced. The horn setup is different from EMs and also not original to this car, and I believe some kludging had occurred in the modification. Once I figured out how it was supposed to go together, I had the task completed in short order - and the horn actually blew when I pressed the center cap.

Next I applied my attention to the mounting of the driver’s seat. A new bottom was included with the purchase of the car to replace the failed existing one. I liberally applied WD-40 to the four fastneners that secure the seat base to the car’s floor. I was able to safely remove the one nut, but the three bolts would not budge. Afraid of torquing off the heads, I applied the good stuff (the 50-50 Acetone/ATF mixture) and decided to let the threads soak for a day or so before re-trying. In the meantime I removed the driver’s sill plate to give Victoria the access she needs to remove the air-vent.

Finally, I polished the pulley surfaces in Ringo’s engine. With the engine running, I carefully applied a scotchbrite pad to the grooves of the alternator and idler pulleys. Hopefully, this will prevent any more premature wearing on the new belt I’d recently installed. Fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thwarted at Every Turn

Yesterday was a downer. It started with a phone call from Ariel informing me that her blankety-blank car was sitting on the shoulder of the beltway with a busted fanbelt and that Victoria was on her way to take her to her job. This is Ringo’s second belt failure since he’s been back on the road, so there’s definitely an issue I need to address as soon as possible. I’m thinking I installed the harmonic balancer too close to the engine so there’s a misalignment between that pulley groove and the grooves of the alternator and idler.

Since all the other licensed drivers in the family were unavailable, just installing a new belt and driving him home was not an option, so, after dinner, I loaded the trusty tow-mobile with all the accoutrements needed for Ringo’s homeward haul, and Mikhaila and I hit the road. It didn’t take too long to attach him to the Suburban, hook-up the towing lights and safety chain, and soon after we were parked in front of our house. The whole adventure took less than an hour. I put on a new Clark’s belt (AGAIN), but didn’t tighten the idler as much as it had been previously. Hopefully, Ariel is able to make it to the weekend without being stranded again.

Since I was in my grungies and the garage was open, I went to work on Luna trying to undue what I’d done last Saturday. I hadn’t had much time over the weekend for Corvair work, but I did eke out an hour Saturday morning before anyone had gotten out of bed to try and finish installing the repaired blinker switch assembly. Before quitting for the day, I’d got to the point of discovering I’d left out the spring that’s supposed to go under the steering wheel I’d just bolted down.

Back to last night. I removed the nut holding the steering wheel to the splined shaft and tried to pull the wheel off – no go. I went to the shelf and pulled down my hub puller kit, but none of the myriad of included bolts were small enough to screw into the small threaded holes in the wheel’s hub. I was able to find a couple screws in my soup-can of discarded fasteners, but neither were long enough for the puller. So, it was DEFINITELY time to quit for the day. A trip to the hardware store will be needed before my next visit to the garage.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Tweak Shy of Done

Last evening I spent an hour or so trying to unravel Luna’s wiring woes. When last I locked the garage doors, her sockets were empty, but 12 volts was everywhere it should be when it should be except for the left rear brake signal. Individually powering each circuit, I installed the new lightbulbs ensuring illumination. Then it was on to mapping the circuitry. The manual’s wiring diagram was difficult to decipher, so I decided to make my own. After a few minutes of clipping my 12 volt supply to the different terminals of the blinker switch’s mating plug and viewing which light lit up, I had a good idea what the problem was. When I’d bent the contact in the switch to get the left blinker to work, I’d overdone it to the point where the actuator, once installed, pushed on the bent contact preventing it from touching it’s brake circuit mate. Right at this point, I got called into the house, and my Corvair time had ended for the day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rough Running Repaired…

…and I didn’t even leave the car. I’ve noticed more and more lately that members of the fleet are developing a rough-running condition – ethanol perhaps? Glinda had the problem a couple weeks ago, and Ringo came down with the illness during his drive home from PA last weekend. In both cases, the problem went away after I caused the venturi in each carb to develop a high vacuum supposedly sucking away whatever was causing the issue. For Glinda, this was accomplished by putting my hand over the carb’s throat and revving the engine. This afternoon, for Ringo, I put the shifter into Low while going around 20, floored the gas until we were doing around 35, and then immediately let up on the throttle. Lo and behold his idle smoothed right and the surging went away. Then I fixed his non-blinking blinkers by removing the blinker unit from the fuse block and reinserting it a few times until it worked again. Two fixes and I didn’t even loosen my seatbelt!

Last evening I got Heidi’s left front blinker to illuminate – slight corrosion on the socket contact. Now she is the only member of the fleet to be without an entry on the to-do list. Wonder how long that’ll last. Actually, I should add touch up paint and Armor-all top to her list. Darn, that didn’t last long.

Monday, June 4, 2012

More Misbehaving

At least Lucy is consistent. Any highway travel with sustained speeds over 60 mph results in a flickering TEMP/PRES light. Strangely though, the light seems to only come on with left-hand turning. Hmm. A dangling wire shorting out perhaps? Worth a look. Additionally, I’ll also be removing the lower shrouds to improve cooling across the fins.

Saturday morning VERY early I drove down to Lynchburg, VA to spend some time with my best buddy Bill. Around ten that morning, while we were working in his garage, my cellphone rang with Ariel on the other end. She informed me Ringo’s battery was completely dead. She went on to ask me if wet paper towels on top of the battery could cause the problem. Yep, the couple pieces I’d slid under the battery hold-down had gotten wet during the nasty they’d experienced in PA. The wet paper made a good enough conductor to drain the battery, but not good enough to cause a fire (TYL). She was able to find a helpful construction worker to give Ringo a jumpstart and he’s started up every time after.

While he’s been starting consistently, the drive home from PA yesterday was not with its issues. Ariel told me that part way home, the engine just started to chug – miss. Then when she was slowing down after exiting the interstate, the engine just died. While it started right up again, it died a few more times before she made it to our driveway. I went out after dinner and, other than a higher than normal idle, it ran fine. I reduced the idle speed and took a wait-and-see attitude. This morning, towards the end of Ariel’s drive to work, the engine wouldn’t idle when the car was stopped. It appears I’d overdone it on the idle speed and the higher speed I’d experienced the night before was due to the engine not being fully warmed up. Irr.

Finally, Heidi had to get in on the act. This morning I thought I’d drive her since the weather was supposed to be nice enough for top-down motoring. I climbed behind the wheel and turned on the radio to get the tunes going, but pressing the ON button did NOT bring up the display. Crap – dead battery. Yep, a turn of the key resulted in nothing more than eliciting another expletive from me. She’d been sitting in the driveway all weekend, through some serious rain storms, so maybe water got somewhere it shouldn’t be and caused a drain on the battery. This would be somewhat in line with the issues Brianna was having with the car down in Blacksburg - unexplained dead batteries. I’ve checked for a battery drain in the past and came up with nothing, so maybe a good rain is required before the drain appears. Anyway, I hooked up the charger to her battery and we’ll see if it will recover one more time.