Friday, August 31, 2012

Fitting Frustration and Rusty Revelations

My first task after dinner last night was installing the fittings I'd bought the evening before and running the reinforced hose between the compressor and the garage piping inlet. The first connection went fine, but when I opened the package to put the final fitting on the compressor end, I found I'd mistakenly selected the wrong size at Lowe's. So, it's back there this evening. Maybe I can couple the trip with a family visit to the frozen yogurt shop.

Moving on to parting out the Corsa ‘vert, I started by trying to remove the wild 4-barrel intake from the engine. I was slowed down significantly by the inability to wrench more than a sixteenth of a turn on the inner nuts holding the assembly to the heads, and finally gave up after convincing myself that they’ll be more accessible once the drivetrain is out of the car. I then pulled out the manual and turned to the page with drivetrain removal instructions. Following them, I disconnected and unbolted everything up to the point of rolling the jacks underneath and removing the final fasteners attaching the engine and transmission to the body. I’m saving that for this evening. Surprisingly I did not break a single bolt during the process, which is amazing considering the heavy coating of rust that seems to permeate every surface of this Midwest car.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Away From Prying Eyes

Yesterday evening I walked out to the garage and noticed the front corner of the tarp over Mikhaila's Monza 'vert had been pulled up. Immediately I became suspicious of neighborhood snoops looking to turn me in or, worse, city zoning inspectors looking to fill the city's coffers. Obviously I needed to finish the portable garage.

First, though, I needed to make a run to Home Depot for the fittings necessary to re-plumb my compressor’s ¼ outlet to the ¾ pipe in the garage. Sadly, they were out of the size I needed, so I drove down the road to Lowes, where I successfully found the fittings.

Once back home, I then needed to look at Glinda to see if the pinging Victoria was hearing was caused by another shift in the dwell setting. I attached the dwellmeter and the needle rose to 32 degrees and stuck there – just where it needed to be. With the timing light hooked up and flashing at the indicator on the engine, I found the timing was still around the 12 degrees BTDC I’d set it at a few weeks back. I took her for spin down the hill and back up, making sure to lug the engine on the back up part, but I was unable to get the engine to ping. Victoria and I decided I’d drive her car to work today to see if I can replicate the undesirable noise.

Finally, I was able to address putting the cover on the garage frame. Since half of the Monza ‘vert was sticking past the front of the new garage, I moved the frame away from the garage until its front was flush with the car’s front. Then I pulled out the directions (yeah, I know - an engineer reading the directions) and first attached the front piece with the zip-up door. It went on as advertised, so I moved on to installing the main cover. It would’ve been easier with help, but I was able to drag it up and over the top of the frame and then get the four corners battened down. Now I’m safe from fines, but hopefully, I wasn’t too late.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making Space

Initially I had planned on squeezing two cars into the tool-filled, used part warehouse otherwise known as my two-car garage, but harsh reality dictated by the laws of Physics meant that no two Corvairs can occupy the same space at the same time. So sadly, I am stuck with leaving Wilma out in the cold until the Corsa hulk has been hauled off to the Corvair Ranch.

Last night I had intended to begin removing the drivetrain from the Corsa, but was sidetracked by the need to clean up the garage with the attempt to magically make space for more ‘vair stuff from Phil’s collection. I was successful in moving Ringo’s old 110HP engine from the driveway and into the back corner, but it’s become obvious that the portable garage must be pressed into serving as more than just a house for Mikhaila’s Monza ‘vert; it will store some parts harvested from the collection until I can sell some stuff.

On another note, Victoria recently reported that Glinda is pinging again. Irr. I’ll pull out the dwellmeter and timing light again tonight to see if settings have changed again. If not, I’ll have to bump the timing back a little.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Love Numbers

Being an engineer, I'm all about the numbers. Here they are from last weekend..

2700 – dollars is the approximate value of the collection (if I were to sell the cars for scrap and liquidate the parts – which I’m not doing since it wasn’t Phil’s wish)
950 – miles driven to move Phil’s collection
525 – miles on the Suburban’s trip odometer
425 – miles Jonathan put on his Suburban
300 – dollars is the estimated value of stuff I will sell (4-barrel and adapter, wheelcovers, extra carburetors)
230 – dollars of gas burned during the move
11 – cars currently at my house
8 – Corvairs currently at my house
7 - boxes of parts and manuals
5 – Corvairs in Phil’s collection
3 – cars added to the fleet (with 1 being very temporary)
2 – ‘vairs taken directly to the Corvair Ranch
2 – engines and transmissions sitting in my utility trailer
2 – neighbors who (as far as I know) haven’t reported me to the city
1 - very big favor I owe Jonathan
1 – extremely tolerant lovely wife

It was, indeed, an epic weekend. It started Friday with an early arrival at Phil’s home where his brother, Bryan, and I sorted through parts, loaded two drivetrains and an engine cart into my trailer, and winched the good wagon onto Phil’s trailer. With the garage dealt with, we turned our attention to the four Corvairs sitting at the bottom of the yard. We changed the four tires that wouldn’t hold air and filled the rest. With Bryan steering and me driving the Suburban, we drug each hulk up to the driveway staging them for their subsequent removal. I got back home around 4:30, unloaded the wagon (now named Wilma – more on that later) into my new portable garage, unhitched the trailer, and proceeded to replace the Suburban’s leaking water pump.

Sunday morning I met Jonathan (with his Suburban and car trailer) at the park-and-ride. After an uneventful ninety minute drive to Waldorf, we winched the two LMs onto the trailers and headed back to Baltimore. The Corsa ‘vert was first off and we, with Victoria’s help, rolled it into the garage. Mikhaila’s Monza ‘vert rolled off easily and was placed in line in front of the wagon where Mikhaila and I immediately put a tarp over it in front of the incoming thunderstorms.

I then fed Jonathan an extravagant lunch of Doritos and a sandwich before we hit the road for our second run to Waldorf. We’d only been on the beltway for about ten minutes when the skies opened up. The rain, thunder, and lightening were tremendous. We were carefully driving around 30 mph with the rest of the cars on the interstates until we reached Rt 50 when it finally let up, but didn’t stop completely. We were able to start driving at the posted limit after that. The rain finally stopped about 20 minutes from Phil’s house and we thought we’d be okay, but as soon as we backed Jonathan’s trailer down the driveway to load the parts wagon it started raining again and didn’t stop until four hours later as we neared the Corvair Ranch. The afternoon was really rough because of the rain, but it ended nicely with us rolling the two EMs off the trailer and into the Ranch’s yard before we lost daylight. Jonathan informed me that my temporary trailer lights were not working, so I ended up driving home with the flashers going arriving just before 9. A very long day.

It was a lot of work and a lot of time, but I feel good knowing I honored Phil’s wish that I make sure his Corvair “stuff” will be re-used and I helped his widow by removing five non-running vehicles from her home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tires On and Frame Up

Yesterday afternoon, with the back of the Suburban filled with wheels and tires I visited the local used tire store. My visit was twofold. First, I needed them to reseat two of the tires I'd bought last week since they leaked at the bead. Second, I wanted to go through their collection of 13" tires to see if they had any more of the elusive 185/80-13s. After pawing through about 3 dozen, I had pulled aside the only four they had left. Fortunately, all had good tread on them, and two even appeared unused with the molding nubs still intact. I pulled four wheels with cracked, old tires out of the back of the Suburban and, a half-hour later, I was on the road with the Suburban’s rear even more packed.

Current spare wheel & tire inventory now includes a four mounted on red wheels for the wagon, at least two additional good tires mounted on EM wheels, and at least four good tires mounted on LM wheels. I’m ready to move cars!

After getting home, I commenced the assembly of the portable garage. The frame went together quite easily, and my only issue was the non-stop battle with mosquitoes. During the midst of construction, the lovely Loriann came out to inspect. Her reaction was, "It's big enough for two." "Not quite," I replied. It is larger than I'd expected, but that's just fine. The last nut was tightened just when I got the 10 minute warning for the serving of dinner. That signaled the end of the working day for me.

Tomorrow morning early, I hit the road for Waldorf with the utility trailer empty and the Suburban filled (mostly) with tools and tires. Phil’s brother, Bryan, and I will have quite a full day going through all the stuff Phil socked away in his big garage, and I am oh so looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Goes On in Overdrive

Wouldn’t you know it – work demand and fleet maintenance demand are both on a rising curve. It started last Thursday when Victoria called me while sitting in Glinda on the side of the beltway. Something to the affect, “The Temp/Press light came on, now the car won’t start.” Ariel was nearby so she gave Victoria and Mikhaila, her passenger, a ride home. Later, after dinner, Victoria and I took the Suburban, loaded with the tow bar and it accoutrements, out to Glinda’s resting place. After we connected Glinda to the Suburban and made sure Glinda’s brake was off and the shifter was in neutral, I turned the key to restart the Suburban and all I head was clicking. A dead battery in the tow vehicle? Seriously?! With no jumper cables, I attempted to use Glinda’s battery but was thwarted by the post terminals versus the Suburban’s screw-on type. Finally, our savior pulled up behind us. Maryland’s State Highway Authority has service trucks roaming the highways looking to rescue poor folks with automotive breakdowns just like me. A quick jumpstart and we were on our way.

When I got home, I cleaned all the terminals and connection at and near the Suburban’s battery and that has fixed that problem. Glinda’s turn was the next day when I checked the fuel delivery to her carburetors. The pump wasn’t sending nearly enough fuel, so I swapped it with Luna’s and the problem was solved. A quick trip to Carquest and the offending pump was replaced under warranty and then installed in Luna’s engine.

Saturday, Victoria and I were finally able to attempt the installation of Luna’s new convertible top. I should’ve have known it would not be a good experience when my garage PC wouldn’t boot up. The next issue was the screws I’d bought were too large for the holes in the bow for attaching the new pads. I drilled and tapped for the screws I’d bought, so that problem was fixed. With the pads on, we move on to the rear window. The directions say to lay the new piece over the old one, and punch the mounting holes in the same place. We did that, followed by the same exercise for the well cover. After a successful test fit, I put a bunch of staples through window and well and into the trim sticks.

The directions were the same for the main top piece, but when the old was laid over the new, we discovered the tops were VERY different; too different to be usable. At that point, we were done. I sent the previous owner an e-mail telling him the top he’d included in the sale was not right and did he have any guess as to what it might fit. His response was that he’d gotten it from someone else who’d told him it was for a ’65 Corvair, so there’s a chance he’d gotten the year wrong and it fits an EM instead. I haven’t’ yet laid the top over Heidi’s, but I’d bet it fits.

The rest of Saturday was spent moving stuff around trying to free up space in the garage. The spare door we got went to the back stall with the LeMans, while the right front fender is leaning against the side of the house hidden by the shed and covered by a tarp.

Sunday we sold Victoria’s boat, so that freed up space in the driveway. Yahoo and TYL!

Finally, last night I started the assembly of the portable garage that had shown up at the house last Friday. The directions are easy to understand and simple to implement with all parts fitting nicely – so far. Once the trailer is gone (which will occur this evening), I’ll be out there with a ladder bolting all the subassemblies together – right on schedule for this weekend’s moving of Phil’s collection.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Busy Weekend Ahead

The house painting continues; the yard work beckons; the sailboat appears to have sold and is supposed to be towed away Sunday afternoon; the tent trailer needs to be readied to go to its temporary fall/winter home; Luna needs her convertible top installed; our new 10 by 20 portable garage is supposed to arrive tomorrow so it needs to be erected; but, most importantly, the lovely Loriann and I WILL get a much-needed date-night to celebrate our anniversary. Just another crazy weekend on the horizon.

Also, here’s a recent text message from Victoria, “I feel vibrations in Glinda as well as squealing when I turn. I also heard a little pinging.” Looks like I need to do some investigation this evening. At the very least, put a timing light on Glinda’s engine and see if the timing’s moved again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Excitement Builds

This butchered version of Pontiac's (RIP) last slogan amply applies to my current state of mind. A few days ago I received the "let's do this" e-mail from Phil's brother, Bryan. The gist of the e-mail exchange that ensued was: he would be in Maryland the 24th and 25th; we would go through Phil's collection, gathering all the Corvair stuff (the five cars included); load it onto trailers; and I'd haul it away.

When I mentioned this to the lovely Loriann, she reminded me of two things. First, the city of Baltimore frowns greatly upon the operation of a salvage yard in a residential neighborhood. Second, she will not tolerate our driveway looking like a junkyard – some stuff needs to go before anything new shows up.

What’s my plan to keep peace with the zoning Nazis and my tolerant-to-a-point spouse? I’ve been able to find a generous club member who has offered me a spot in their yard for the fall/winter storage of the popup tent trailer, Victoria and I put her sailboat on Craigslist, and I just bought a portable garage.

Victoria and I still intend to get Luna’s top installed before the end of the weekend so she can be parked on the street with the rest of the fleet. It’s a good thing our neighbors never park their cars on the street or have visitors stop by that need a parking spot.

While there are five Corvairs in Phil’s collection, only three will ever darken our driveway. The parts wagon and the ’62 coupe will go directly to the Corvair Ranch with, hopefully, the understanding from proprietor Jeff that I can come up in the near future and remove some parts without charge. The rusty, unsaveable Corsa ‘vert will get parted out for its 140HP/4-speed drivetrain for my future use and some Corsa-specific parts that will be sold to make back some gas money. Afterwards it too will end up at the Ranch. Only the wagon and hopefully the LM Monza ‘vert will become part of the fleet with the latter being Mikhaila’s and my father-daughter project.

I’m Tired

Actually, the fleet is tired because they got some new tires – get it? The other day I noticed Glinda's right rear tire was low on air. Sadly, we didn't catch it in time and the shoulders were very worn, so a replacement was necessary. Those in the know realize the rarity of stock-size tires (185/80-13) for Corvair, and it usually takes some serious hunting to locate any. I occasionally do a search on Craigslist for 13" tires and fortuitously an ad popped up early this week for just the tire I was looking for. Yesterday, I went to a used tire shop that had three that had never been on a car. Now they were all a few years old, but had been stored indoors, so there was no cracking. I bought all three plus another in the same size that had some miles on it. I paid $50 for all four and that included mounting. Such a deal! When I told the lovely Loriann, she asked me why, at that price, I didn't just buy all he had. I'll be going back in the very near future.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Didn’t Quite Get There

Victoria and I started work on her convertible Friday after dinner by carefully removing the current convertible top from Luna. We took pictures throughout the process and put the fasteners in marked bags to ensure we can get everything back where it belongs. We then removed the old, rotten pieces of tack strips (treated cardboard where the top-attaching staples go). With the top off and the frame clear of the junky stuff, Victoria wire brushed the rusty portions of the frame and coated those spots with Rustoleum primer before we quit for the evening..

Saturday morning I went out early, opened up the garage, and laid out drop cloths to prevent to mask off Luna’s interior and exterior from the frame. Victoria came out and rattle-canned 2-3 coats of satin black over the entire frame. In the afternoon, after the paint dried, she and I glued on new tack strip pieces. She then headed off to babysit that evening.

Yesterday, we were supposed to install the top, but instead she helped Ariel move back into her bedroom. This included taking down her waterbed and setting up her normal bed that she’d just brought back from the college apartment she’d recently moved out of. Then the two of them went off babysitting for the rest of the day while all I did was lubricate all the frame joints with liquid graphite. The top does go up and down much easier now.

I also pulled the charger off the battery and took a voltage reading – only 12.3 volts – not good. It should have read over 12.6. The engine started right up, however, and I backed it out of the garage so I could paint some storm windows from off the house. I let the engine idle for about ten minutes and measured the voltage across the terminals (charging voltage) and the meter read almost 14 volts. I also noticed the throttle was still a little stiff. I sprayed carb cleaner all around the linkages and shafts of each carburetor and that loosened things up significantly. I also disconnected the linkage to make sure the stiffness wasn’t somewhere between the pedal and the engine compartment – it wasn’t – so I reconnected it. After setting for most of the afternoon (the car, not me), I started the engine up and drove her back into the garage. A voltage measurement soon after shutdown indicated 12.6 volts, but this morning it was back down to 12.3. In hindsight, the amount of drain the CD player had put on the battery should not have been enough to cause it to go dead. Looks like the battery’s coming out and going to Sam’s for testing and, probably, replacement.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Luna’s Draining Issue

As previously reported here, Luna was finally made roadworthy and legal right before we left for our convention vacation. Ever since our return the weather has threatened thunderstorms, so Victoria hasn't had a chance to get her out on the road. Yesterday afternoon she had some errands to run, and it wasn't raining, so she decided to take Luna. She removed the tarp, put the top down, rolled down the windows, climbed behind the wheel, and turned the key. Guess what? Nothing happened. Dead battery.

I got home soon after, just after the sprinkles started, and Victoria and I pushed her car into the garage. I had her hook up the charger while I got out the equipment necessary to figure out what’s draining the battery, if anything. I disconnected the negative battery cable and wired a taillight bulb between the negative terminal and the negative cable end. Across this connection, as the above diagram shows, I hooked up my multimeter. If the drain is strong enough (like a short), the lightbulb will illuminate and the meter will read something around battery voltage. With lesser drains, the bulb might glow, and with tiny drains, the bulb won’t light up, but the meter will read a voltage above zero. With everything turned off, but one of the doors left open so the courtesy lights were on, the bulb started to dimly glow and the meter read about 0.8 Volts. As soon as I closed and the courtesy lights went off, the bulb went dark, but the meter still read something around 0.2 Volts. Okay, there’s something demanding electricity. I climbed back in the car, reached under the dash, and pulled the Dome/Tail/Stop light fuse thus killing that circuit. The meter display now showed 0.0. Okay, something in the circuit was the cause. I reinserted the fuse and heard some noises coming from under the front passenger seats. I peered under the seat and discovered a CD changer. I found the power wire to the changer, removed the in-line fuse, and, with the door closed, took another look at the meter – 0.0 V. Drain found, drain stopped.

Since I’m on the subject of tunes, I’ll share the interesting (to me) radio Luna currently has residing in her dash. It’s an AMC (yes, American Motors) AM/FM/CB unit that Victoria thinks is really cool, but sadly, isn’t working at the moment. There are speakers in the door that we initially assumed were connected to the radio, but now I’m thinking they’re actually connected to the aforementioned CD player.

Regarding the CD player, I did a little more looking around and found the controller for the player in the glovebox, but noticed the caddy was not in the changer. Not that it really matters since Victoria is way past using CDs. What she needs is an working jack for her iPod. Maybe I’ll be able to somehow add a 3mm jack and use the player as an amp to boost the volume into the door speakers. If not, then maybe I can get the radio to work and tap into the CB mic as the input. For the time being, though, she’ll need to be satisfied with the experience of top-down motoring and the increased assault on the senses that go along with it.

This weekend we’ll be taking on the task of installing the new convertible top. The “we’ll” will hopefully include the lovely Loriann, whose assistance in installing Heidi’s top a few years back was invaluable. Victoria also helped with that install, but all she remembers was getting hit in the head with something. I promised her I’d be more careful this time. Please say a prayer that we’re all still on speaking terms by weekend’s end.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Light Weekend – Fleet-wise

First of all, I promised I'd put up a link once I had all the photos posted on Flickr. Here it is.

Last Friday evening I was able to get Luna roadworthy again, but not without some frustration. I knew that drilling out the two broken studs from one of the exhaust manifold would be difficult, but I thought that, once drilled, the tapping would be the easier task. It wasn’t. The tap didn’t want to cleanly cut the tough cast iron, so the tapered tool ended up cracking the cast flange ears. I kludged together a fastening scheme that resulted in a nearly sealed joint. The rest of the exhaust system went back together much better and Luna’s a lot quieter than before the adventure.

While lying under the car, I had a good chance to inspect the condition of the sheetmetal and found it in surprisingly better shape than I'd first expected. The bottoms of all the rockers are solid and the floor are only soft on the driver's rear seat footwell. Doing all the metal replacement will be far easier than it was on Ringo, and I can strike the replace floors from her to-do list.

Ariel had been telling me the catch in Ringo’s steering seem to be getting worse, and that his horn had stopped working. Thinking the two were related, I spent a few minutes removing the horn button assembly and then took him for a test drive. I think the neighbors must’ve thought I was drunk as I slowly went down the street turning lock-to-lock first one direction, then the next. Fortunately, all the testing indicated I’d found the problem. It’ll take a few commutes by Ariel to finalize the correctness of my diagnosis.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Attacking Luna’s Short List

At any one time each car in the fleet typically has a short to-do list and a long one. The short one consisting of must-dos, while the long one is filled with like-to-dos. In prepping Lucy for the convention, I'd cleared her short list. Currently, amazingly, Glinda, Heidi, and Ringo's short lists are empty, and up until Wednesday evening Luna's had six items on it.
  • Right rear window wouldn’t roll down: Fixed this by seating the rubber gasket at the leading edge of the glass.
  • Seat trim piece not installed: Grabbed a couple trim screws from my collection on the shelf and reattached the black inner trim plate to the rear of the driver’s seat.
  • Accelerator pedal linkage sticking at off idle: Not sure how I fixed this. I removed the nut holding the pedal to its shaft, gave the pedal a few whacks with a mallet, and lo-and-behold everything loosened up with the pedal and throttle moving as they should. I took care reinstalling the nut to ensure that things didn’t tighten up again.
  • Timing not checked: I put the timing light on her engines and it showed the timing was set at 8 degrees Before Top Dead Center (BTDC). I bumped it up to around 14. We’ll see if we experience any pinging when running it on 87 octane gas.
  • Carburetors not balanced: With the timing set and the idle speed set to a little over 500 rpm in Drive, I attached each end of my length of clear plastic tube with some oil to the vacuum ports on each carb and turned the car back on. One turn of the linkage of the left side carb and the oil didn’t move anymore.

The last item on the list was fixing the exhaust leak and that’s what I worked on last night. I got her rear up on jackstands, started the engine, and crawled under to find the source of the leak. It was the joint between the driver’s side manifold and the exhaust pipe. With the engine back off (of course) and after removing the lower shrouds, I soaked the four nuts holding the pipe flanges to the manifolds with my 50/50 blend of ATF and acetone and let them sit for a few minutes. As rusty as they looked, I probably could have let them sit for a few years and it wouldn’t have made it possible to unsieze them. As it was, all four studs snapped as I tried to remove the nuts. Having been through this a number of times before, I knew drilling out the broken studs and re-tapping the manifolds would be significantly easier with the manifolds off engine, so off they came. No issues with breaking anything else during their removal. I was able to find a GUP left side manifold on the shelf with clean threads and usable fasteners in the flange, so I’ll only need to drill out the two studs on the right side manifold that I’d just removed. But that will wait until at least tonight.

I took a trip to Crazy Ray’s on my lunch hour today to scope out any Suburbans that still had the parts we need for ours (rear barn door latch handle, heater fan, passenger door lock, and ABS unit). I was able to find everything fairly quickly (now I get to go back dressed appropriately with the right tools – maybe Sunday) so I used what time I had left to peruse their latest inventory. I found some amazing specimens – two Nash Metropolitans, a ’59 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, two Opel GTs, an AMC Marlin, two Porche 928 (one with really nice blue leather seats, hmm), and two other really special finds: a ’64 Corvair Model 700 4-door and a Citroen DS. The former being in surprisingly good shape with most of its trim and interior intact and the rare presence of the latter, while not in the greatest shape, did allow me to get close to one of my dream cars.

Of course I couldn’t find a good camera this morning before running out the door to work, so the photos I’ve posted on Flickr of the Corvair and the Citroen aren’t that great. I'll be putting up the rest of the photos sometime over the weekend and will post where they can be found when they're up. If any of you readers need parts from the 'vair, let me know in the comments (leaving me a way to contact you) and we'll work some sort of deal since I'll need to go back there anyways.

I was keeping my eyes peeled for 14" wheels that had the proper 4-bolt pattern, but couldn't come up with anything - no older RWD Japanese. The wheels on the Opel were really cool and looked to be the right bolt circle, but sadly they were only 13".

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Convention Vacation – Part 4

Friday was Concours and Fun Day at the convention. Since we'll never have a Corvair nice enough for a Councours and we aren't fans of fun (big grin), we decided to play tourists in Boston for the day. We got a decently early start and drove to the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum, while quite pricey, was beautiful. The exhibits were varied and well-displayed. I especially enjoyed the musical instruments room. After a quick lunch, we paid the ransom required to get the Suburban out of the parking lot and headed off in search of the Old North Church. The rumors regarding the challenges of navigating the streets of Boston are not unfounded. We had, what we believed to be, good Google directions, but there were still a couple of instances where I had to ask the lovely Loriann to cross over three lanes of traffic to prevent us from going to Cambridge. We finally found the church, but also found that that section of Boston does not allow on-street parking for non-residents, so we pulled into the only garage we saw. It was a short-lived visit, however, since they did not allow large SUVs. We were able to park next door at an outdoor lot, but even that wasn't easy since squeezing the Suburban into the parking spot we were directed to required both myself and the attendant directing the lovely Loriann..

Finally free of the vehicle, we walked the few blocks up the hill to tour the church, then Paul Revere’s house, and, following part of the Freedom Trail, ended up at Quincy Market. After an hour or so there, we headed back to the Suburban via the outdoor produce market. That was quite an experience as well, with the sellers exhibiting the stereotypical Boston attitude towards the customers – an attitude that prompted the lovely Loriann to pass right by many of the stalls.

Getting the Suburban out of parking lot purgatory was not nearly as painful as it had been at the museum. Also not as painful was negotiating the half-dozen turns required to get us onto the Mass Pike and on our way back to Sturbridge. After some stop-and-go rush hour traffic we made it back to our campsite before dark where we enjoyed another delicious dinner followed by S’mores for dessert.

We had decided we needed to be back in Baltimore for Sunday, so we cut short our State Park stay by one night and pulled up stakes (literally) Saturday morning. It took a couple hours to pack our home-away-from-home back into and onto the Suburban and then hitch Lucy back up, but we were able to make it to the Car Display before noon. We were overwhelmed by the numbers – nearly 200 pristine Corvairs.

The lovely Loriann likened it to a dream visit to the Corvair Ranch, where all the hulks have been magically transformed back to showroom condition. I wandered around snapping a few photos, which can be seen here, but was especially enamored with the '62 Monza wagon on display in the '62-only area. It got me quite excited about my upcoming acquisition of Phil's wagon that's supposed to occur this month.

I also took a quick gander at the outdoor used parts vendors. Regarding part purchases, I was kept on a short leash being strongly urged to apply the “is it necessary to keep a car on the road” filter to all I saw for sale. Hence, I came away from the convention with a Clark’s bag containing only a couple fan-belts and a couple oil filters. I did, however, splurge on appropriate apparel for the girls. It’s impossible to say no to your daughters when they call you on your cellphone asking you to “please” buy each of them a Corvair t-shirt. A very nice way to end our convention experience.

We hit the road for home around two and pulled up in front of the house about eight hours later. An exhaust gasket leak in the Suburban caused us some concern pulling the hills of the CT, but all-in-all, the Suburban, with its odometer now reading over 315,000 miles, performed flawlessly. TYL!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Convention Vacation – Part 3

The weather prediction for Thursday, Rally Day, was not good when we headed to bed Wednesday night. I told the lovely Loriann, rather than both of us getting up at 6:30, I'd get up early, go to the Rally meeting, and then come back with the information. I knew they'd be staggering the start, so I figured if the weather forecast improved, we'd just go out towards the end of the line. Well, she woke up when my cellphone alarm sounded and couldn't go back to sleep. When the smell of the coffee I'd brewed wafted into the tent, she was drawn out and agreed to join me for all of this new adventure.

We drove to the host hotel and found the meeting room already starting to fill up with rally participants. After a slight delay to wait for the stragglers, the meeting began and we were educated as to how this rally would proceed. We were promised the directions were extremely easy to follow and it would be basically impossible for us to get lost. Having already had some navigational issues on Cape Cod, that was heartening news. Mixed in with the directions would be a series of questions about sights on the route we needed to answer exactly in order to score points. The team with the most correct answers would win the rally, and in the case of a tie, the team with the closest to perfect mileage reading would take the prize. Early in the route, there’d be a mileage check where we’d record our odometer reading so odometer error could be compensated for if a tiebreaker was necessary. We were then told how the route was a large loop and that, at three minute intervals, pairs of cars would be sent off one going clockwise, the other counter-clockwise. Due to an unexplained issue on the route, we would be departing the Wal-Mart parking lot starting at 10:30 rather than the originally scheduled 8:30. That was good because it gave us time to go to the hospitality room and grab a complimentary snack to tide us over until we reached the halfway checkpoint where we’d have a chance to partake of some MA drive-in cuisine.

After our morning snack and Lucy’s fill-up at the gas station, we made our way to the Sturbridge Wal-Mart parking lot where we joined the growing line of beautiful Corvairs. A few of my fellow autocrossers were there as well as a bunch more cars, vans, and trucks that hadn’t gone racing. There was just a soft drizzle coming down as we sat waiting, but the sky looked threatening for worse. Right before 10:30 we received the route instructions and the lovely Loriann opened the envelope and found we would travelling right past the entrance to the campground we were staying at. This allowed her to answer the first two questions without us even leaving the parking lot. This was a good start to the day. Normally, when there is direction giving involved, I’m on the giving end while the lovely Loriann is behind the wheel. This time, however, we’d decided I’d do the driving so she’d have the better opportunity to see the sights and find the answers.

The first two cars left the line on-time on schedule, and a few minutes later, we headed out as well. The first leg was on a rather straight two-lane highway through the woods, and I was just thinking how boring this would be when we entered the first town and things improved. It was a typical small New England town with unique architecture and interesting businesses. I crawled along at ten miles per hour below the limit to ensure we didn’t miss anything, as we answered some more questions. After about an hour of driving we found ourselves at the checkpoint, Janine’s Frostee. After a delicious lunch of lobster mac-and-cheese fritters and clam chowder for me and haddock sliders for the lovely Loriann, we continued on.

The next stop was the Quabbin Reservoir where we got out and climbed up to the top floor of Lookout Tower where we were treated to wonderful vistas of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. On the way back, we found that one of the rally cars had an engine gone bad. They were calling Hagerty for a tow because it sounded like a dropped valve seat.

At that point I thanked God Lucy was behaving, as was the weather. While it was cloudy, we were not getting wet, and I hadn’t had to run the wipers since leaving Wal-Mart. There were even moments of sunshine to brighten our day.

After a stop at the Quabbin Reservoir visitor center to answer another question and have our photo taken, we headed out on the last leg of the route. It took us through an area of Massachusetts that had been decimated by a series of tornados just last year. The damage was widespread and we saw large swaths of forest laid down by the tremendous winds. Very humbling to see what fury the weather can wield.

Click her to go to my Flickr page of the photos I took during the day.

We arrived back at Wal-Mart and Lucy’s odometer told us we’d travelled around 70 miles. Since it was early afternoon we headed over to the host hotel in hopes (at least my hopes) of seeing the posted autocross results. I was thrilled to read I’d gotten second in my class, IS-1, and 25th overall out of nearly 60 drivers. Even nicer was there were only three faster EMs (all modified). I and my high-mileage 102HP daily-driver had beaten all the stock EMs including the turbos and 110s, and the only mods I’ve made to Lucy are her lowered front end and relocated battery.

We met the girls back at the campsite and a delicious dinner ended another wonderful day at the convention.