Friday, September 28, 2012

More Miscellaneous Missives

A few months back, when I felt sure I was to get Phil's collection, I asked his brother about vehicle titles.He passed my request on to Phil’s widow and her response was she’d been looking, but nothing had turned up. This wasn’t an issue for the three ‘vairs that went to the Ranch, but I needed the titles for Wilma and YellowVert. Well, last week, Becky miraculously discovered the title for Wilma and dropped it in the mail to me. It arrived yesterday, and I couldn’t be more relieved. Now maybe the same miracle will cause YellowVert’s title to also appear.

The story behind Phil obtaining YellowVert is a typical Corvair story. Someone found out he was into ‘vairs, knew of one just sitting and told Phil, Phil knocked on the door, and the next thing he knew he’s just increased his collection by one. Also, like many of these tales, it appears he never went through with transferring the ownership of the vehicle (been there, done that). Now that I’m the new possessor of YellowVert, I’d like to have a valid title in my hand so whether I decide to sell or save the car, I can do it all as painlessly as possible.

All my dealings with Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) have been fairly straightforward other than the two trailers I’ve titled (those are two interesting stories in themselves), but a cursory Googling showed my situation to be rather hopeless. I then sent the MVA an e-mail detailing my plight and asking for the contact information of the current registered owner. The gist of their response was: 1) due to MD privacy laws, they won’t be handing out any owner information; 2) the only way to get a properly assigned (to me) title in my situation is to obtain a Writ of Mandamus. The latter of which seems to be a type of Get Out Of Jail Free card compelling the MVA to ignore everything and just give me a title. It doesn’t really matter though, since the cost of a lawyer would far outweigh the current value of YellowVert. That’s what I told them in my reply. I also asked if they’d be able to forward a letter to the current owner asking him to contact me. That way I wouldn’t have his info, but he’d have my contact info. No response to that request yet.

If they shoot that down too, what am I to do? There is the Maine-way. Yes, the state of Maine has very lenient titling laws, and I could pay an online company $500 to get a Maine title in my name. I don’t think the car is worth $500 in its current condition though. It would be a real shame if this car gets cut up, but legally, I don’t think I have any recourse – at least not one I can afford. I am, however, still holding out hope that Phil’s widow can unearth the title as she was magically able to do with Wilma’s.

And now for something completely different. A buddy of mine has the entire back half of a Lakewood he’s been storing for many, many years. He’s offered it to me now that I’m the proud owner of Wilma. Rather than part it out, I’m toying with the idea of turning it into a trailer. Should I go enclosed or chop-top?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dodged a Bullet?

Last evening I had an hour of fleet time open up for me, so I used it to install the recently received amplifier I’d bought on Amazon. I had high hopes it would be a nice replacement for Ringo’s radio ruined by some – and I need a new acronym here – SOTE (Scum Of The Earth) that thought he needed to steal a $40 radio, but only succeeded in ripping off the front panel. I got the amp wired up and plugged in my iPod and was instantly disappointed. With the volume only turned to halfway - barely loud enough to be heard over the sound of the engine - the distortion level was terrible. A shame, but you get what you pay for. I would’ve have thought, however, that $20 would buy a decent, simple amplifier.

While I was lying under Ringo’s dash, I got the dreaded phone call - this time from Victoria. “Daddy, I just pulled away from a stoplight and Glinda just isn’t running right. She doesn’t want to accelerate like she normally does.” Thinking one of the carburetors needs some clearing out, I instructed her to put the transmission in Low and floor it until she’s going about 40 and then quickly lift off the throttle. I cautioned her to only do this if it was safe. She did, and it didn’t fix the problem immediately. I didn’t hear from her again last night, so this morning I awoke, donned some grungies, and took Glinda for spin around the neighborhood expecting the worst. But, thankfully, the worst didn’t happen. Her powerplant is still the best in the fleet oomph- and idle-wise. When I got back inside, I told Victoria that I couldn’t find anything wrong with her car, and she responded, “Oh yeah, it was fine again after I got gas.” Excellent! Problem solved without my getting grease on my hands.

Continuing in my series of body tag decoding, I offer here the encrypted information from CorsaVert:
  • Data (04C): Third week of April 1966
  • Style (66-10767): 1966-Corsa Convertible
  • Body (WRN2304): Willow Run - 2,304th '66 Corvair built at that Willow Run
  • Trim (722-): Bright Blue All-Vinyl Interior
  • Paint (F-1): Marina Blue Exterior w/ White Top
  • Acc (W5Y): Windshield Tinted Glass, Custom Deluxe Front & Rear Seat Belts with Front Retractors

Sorry for the poor resolution.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rust Never EVER Sleeps

Such an enlightening weekend, fleet-wise - as they usually are. It started Friday evening when I drove chuff-chuff-chuffing Lucy into the garage, opened her engine lid, and found that sparkplug #4 had been ejected from its threaded hole. Amongst all the possible failures I had imagined, this one was the best since I’ll be able to repair the failed hole with a KD insert using tools I’ll borrow from the Corvair go-to guy Gary. The only disassembly required is removing the left carburetor. TYL it wasn’t a dropped valve seat.

Since the night was young, the family was away, and I was in my grungies, I decided to find out how bad Lucy’s spongy floor really was. After removing the sill plates, I pulled back the carpet and found a LOT of ugliness. Needing to go farther, I removed the front seatbelts, all the seats, all the carpet, and the rear heater duct and it only got worse. I guess if one is into abstract art, like those photos of the earth from outer space, they would appreciate some level of beauty in the natural erosion of steel by the elements. I’m not that kind of person. Fortunately, the main support for the seats is still solid as are the rocker panels – a better scenario than I had with Ringo. I went to Clark’s website and they get over $100 for just the driver’s side, so it looks like I’ll be hacking up a hood again, just like I did for Ringo, to create floor patches. After cutting away the rot, I called it a night.

Sunday afternoon was my next opportunity to attend to the fleet. Mikhaila and I rolled YellowVert out into the sunshine for consideration. She’s still on the fence as to whether this LM convertible will be HER car or not. After taking a closer look Sunday, to say she was not enthused would be a vast understatement. She’s quite discouraged about the level of effort she perceives will be necessary to roadify this currently dilapidated looking vehicle. It didn’t help when, not knowing it had a power top, we unsuccessfully tried to manually lower the top. She's thinking there are better candidates out there. After further conversation with her mom, we’re tabling the decision for a little while.

In the meantime, I vacuumed about two gallons of acorns out of the engine compartment and interior of the car before pulling back the carpets to reveal that the tin worm had gorged himself on this car’s floors just as he’d done on Lucy’s. Fortunately, the doors are still centered in their openings and it appears that, structurally, the car is still sound. I vacuumed out all the rust flakes and, while it’s worse than Lucy in some places, other places are still quite solid. If we decide to keep this one, I will be forced to use Clark’s floor patches – there are some important features, like the gas pedal mounting, that I don’t have the skill (or desire) to fabricate.

The next step for this car is to remove the seats and evaluate their condition. If they are solid enough, I’ll sell the seats I pulled out of CorsaVert. If not, I’ll toss the bad seats and temporarily insert the better seats to get them out of the way. If we decide to sell this car, I want to make it as attractive a purchase as I can, and touting all the solid features will be important.

Speaking of features, I took the time to decode the body tags of Heidi and YellowVert. Here’s what I found:

  • Data (01C): Third week of January 1964
  • Style (64-0967): 1964-Monza Convertible
  • Body (WR13129): Willow Run - 13,129 Corvair for that year built there
  • Trim (781-1): Medium red bucket seats w/ White Top
  • Paint (900): Tuxedo Black Exterior
  • Acc (2MP3C): Powerglide, C&C (2 spd wiper w/washer, day/night mirror, backup lights), Padded Dash
  • Extra (D): Red interior painted surfaces
  • Data 05C: Third week of May 1966
  • Style (66-10567): 1966-Monza Convertible
  • Body: (WRN8772): Willow Run - 8772 1966 Corvair built there
  • Trim: (758-): Black All-Vinyl Interior
  • Paint: (N-2): Madeira Maroon w/ Black Top
  • Acc: (WD2M5Y): Windshield Tinted Glass, Power Convertible Top, Powerglide Trans, Custom Deluxe Front & Rear Seatbelts w/ Front Retractors

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Space Has Been Carved

Over the last few evenings I've been in the garage making order from the chaos that was multiple drivetrains just haphazardly spread across the floor. Last night, I finally put the last tool away. There are three transmissions and two differentials on the floor under the shelves, a completely disassembled engine in a pile on the floor in front of the shelves, and two complete engines on end in the corner sitting next to a partial engine (only the case and bellhousing with crank and cam). Also, in the corner, surrounding the engines, is Larry’s engine hoist (folded up), my new-to-me engine stand, and the engine cart. Across the room are boxes filled with Corsa interior bits and pieces. You get the message – it’s still pretty chaotic.

However, there is enough room to get a Corvair and still have a bit of work space around it. The plan for this evening is to figure out what’s gone wrong with Lucy. I’m struggling with whether driving it from the street to the garage is going to do any more damage to the engine, but I guess that after Ariel drove it, even a short time on the interstate, a quick trip up the driveway won’t be of much consequence. I’ll be reporting back Monday on what I find.

Also, again on the agenda for the weekend is to drag Mikhaila out to the portable garage and decide what interior is to go in YellowVert. My hope is her current seats are still decent enough to be recovered, and then I can sell the interior that came out of CorsaVert. Speaking of selling things, I need to put some of the other items from CorsaVert on Craigslist or eBay. That should happen sometime soon as well. Anyone out there interested in a Carter 4-barrel with a 1-into-4 intake adapter?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Body Tag Decoding

The other day, I took a few photos of Wilma, one of which was of her body tag. For those not in the know on this, the body tag is a smallish, embossed, metal tag with lots of information about the car it’s riveted to. Not as extensive as the build sheet, but still quite revealing as to the as-built state of the vehicle. Here’s what I found out about Wilma.
  • Line 1: She’s a Chevy
  • Line 2: built in January (01) during the fifth week (E)
  • Line 3 (STYLE and BODY): a ’62 (62-) Monza (09) wagon (35) built at the Willow Run assembly plant (WR) and assigned the sequential body number 1830 (this means she was the 1830th Corvair built at Willow Run for ’62)
  • Line 4 (TRIM and PAINT): with Fawn seats, door panels, headliner, and trim pieces (759), a Honduras Maroon exterior (948) and a Fawn-painted interior (-4)
  • Line 5 (ACC): a direct-air heater (as opposed to the gas heater)(A), tinted windows all around (K), and a manual transmission (O)
No real surprises other than I thought her body number would be lower. Her cloth interior indicates she was an earlier ’62 Monza, but I guess January is early.

On the other hand, here’s the decoding for Lucy. Bear in mind she was a red car with a black interior when I got her.
  • Line 1: A Chevy
  • Line 2: built in January (01) during the fourth week (D)
  • Line 3 (STYLE and BODY): a ’63 (63-) Monza (09) club coupe (27) built at the Willow Run assembly plant (WR) and assigned the sequential body number 46381 (this means she was the 46381st Corvair built in Willow Run for ’63)
  • Line 4 (TRIM and PAINT): with Aqua seats, door panels, headliner, and trim pieces (755), an Ermine White exterior (936) and an Aqua -painted interior (-3)
  • Line 5 (ACC): Comfort and Convenience Group (P) which, from what I’ve been able to find, means a two-speed wiper with windshield washer pump and reservoir.
I want to do the same decoding with the rest of the fleet – another time, another project.

Speaking of projects, what did I accomplish last night? I did spend some time in the garage dealing with the engines, but not until after I unhitched Lucy from the Suburban’s hitch and put away the towbar. It was with great trepidation that I removed the oil pan drain plug, but TTL it was just good old oil, black gold, Texas Tea. With the crankcase devoid of fluids, I tipped the engine over and set it in the corner of the garage resting on the face of the bellhousing. I then gathered all the pieces of the watery one-ten’s engine into an area in front of the shelf (I deal with all that later). The last task for the day was removing the Powerglide from the wagon drivetrain and then hoisting the engine/differential up onto the engine cart. Removing the exhaust pipe and differential will wait another time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Water, Water, Every Where

Last Friday, after figuring it made more sense to work on the engine atop my new-to-me engine cart rather than the one sitting on the floor, I removed the oil pan drain plug from the 95 HP engine. Much to my dismay (and chagrin) the fluid that flowed from the hole was mostly water. The stream finally subsided, but not before nearly filling my drain pan. Change of plans. Rather than storing on end on its bellhousing face, I needed to tear it down and stem the rising tide of rusting. About three hours later, I’d removed every fastener holding that engine together, and the floor around the cart was now cluttered with cylinders and heads, rods and pistons, a good-sized cardboard box filled with bolts, bits, and pieces, and a rather large puddle of the aforementioned oily water. In other words, the messy garage is now REALLY messy.

Saturday was a car-free day until I received a phone call from Victoria. She was heading home after a babysitting gig, and Glinda had thrown her fanbelt about ten miles from our house. Victoria nursed her another five miles before the pinging started scaring her (rightfully so). I grabbed a new belt, a 9/16ths wrench, my cordless droplight, and some latex gloves and made the relatively short drive to her location. A few minutes later, with my fingers dancing around the HOT engine surfaces, I had the new belt on and was just about ready to have Victoria fire up the engine, when I noticed the useless, blanket-blank belt guide at the idler was hard up against the pulley wheel. CRAP! Some more finger dancing, loosening, adjusting, and retightening and she was finally ready to go. I wanted to chastise Victoria for missing her weekly check-the-oil-and-fanbelt session, but she told me everything was fine last Monday, so she was in the clear. Just another day in Corvair paradise.

Yesterday’s car events didn’t get going until later in the afternoon when it was time to address some Ringo issues Ariel had related to me before she took to visit a friend in New Jersey. Getting the gas gauge to work meant replacing the current one with a GUP off the shelf. After testing the three spares, I came up with one that read the ¼ tank she thought was Ringo’s current fuel level. It some contortions to remove and replace the gauge since I did it without removing the gauge cluster, but it was finally finished. While still on my back under the dash, I lubed the speedometer cable fitting with WD40 in hopes that would free up the balky speedometer. To answer her complaint that he felt like he was laboring keeping up with highway traffic, I hooked up the dwellmeter and discovered the setting had dropped a few degrees. I tweaked the points to get the reading up to 32 and then checked the timing – 14 degrees BTDC – right where it needed to be. Finally, after a quick drive around the neighborhood (which indicated I hadn’t fixed the speedometer), I checked the ATF level and found it right on the add mark, so I added a pint and pronounced him ready to roll.

Meanwhile, I had given Victoria directions to start up Luna, which she did, and idle her engine for a few minutes to let her fully warm up, which she couldn’t. I pulled the air cleaner and checked the carburetors for fuel – nothing. I cracked open one of the fuel line fittings and had Victoria crank the engine. No shots of gas. This was a brand new fuel pump, and I believe the length of time Luna’s engine was able to run on the fuel in the reservoirs was plenty enough to get the pump primed and doing its pumping thing. Looks like a bad pump – AGAIN. I then had Victoria remove the pump so I could return it to Carquest for a replacement.

After a delicious dinner (does the lovely Loriann know how to prepare a meal that isn’t?), I re-donned grungies and headed out to the garage to tackle the mess I’d made. Before I could get any farther than turn on the music, Victoria walked out of the house carrying the phone. I just knew it was Ariel and that Lucy had a problem. Sure enough, Ariel started our conversation with, ““Daddy, I’m sitting on the side of I-95 near Havre de Grace. All of a sudden Lucy started making nasty, loud noises, and when I stopped, the engine died.” About three hours later, we were all back home with Lucy on the end of the tow bar behind the Suburban. Not sure yet what the issue is, but I’m bracing myself for a dropped valve seat. If that's the case, then I now have an excuse to install the 140HP heads and four-carb setup.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Engines, Differentials, and Transmissions! Oh My!

Yesterday after work I picked up (and that was no mean feat) an engine hoist from a buddy's driveway. The irony behind the retrieval was that I was borrowing it so I wouldn't hurt my back moving the drivetrains I'd recently got as part of Phil's collection. Since the hoist probably weighs as much as a Corvair engine, I'm not sure I wasn't reducing my risk of injury. Regardless, Larry and I muscled the beast into the back of my Suburban, and once home, I disassembled the heavy legs and arm so I could make it manageable and then slid it out of the back of the truck on a doubled-up walkboard. After reattaching the legs, I rolled it into the garage and proceeded to empty my utility trailer. The Powerglide went under the shelves, the complete drivetrain went onto the floor, and the engine went onto the engine cart. The trailer, still holding a half-dozen wheels, went to its parking spot next to the yard's back fence. Note that in the following photos, the details circled in red on the left image show the unique oil filler tube features found only on the engine in Corvair wagons, vans, and trucks.

Next up was breaking down the CorsaVert’s drivetrain [140HP engine/unknown differential (hoping it’s a posi)/4-speed tranny) and tearing down the engine. The tranny and diff came off easily and without too much fluid spilled onto my pristine (NOT!) garage floor, but the engine tear down work was filled with frustration. Many of the screws were seized, so bending and breaking were the order of the evening. After a couple hours, I’d removed almost all of the shrouding. Sadly, three of the bolts holding the top cover on broke leaving me the task of the removing them from threaded holes in the heads. Before I go any farther, I’m going to liberally apply the homemade penetrating fluid (ATF and Acetone) and let it set for a day or so.

Meanwhile, the next time I’m out in the garage I’ll turn my attention to the engine currently residing on the cart. The Z code stamped onto the case, means it’s a ’64 95 HP engine that was originally mated to a Powerglide. This was the engine that came out of the Cut-up 4-door and powered Heidi for a while. I remember it seemed to burn a little oil, so I’m not going to bother checking compression before disassembling.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Drivetrain Teardown on my Plate

Last Wednesday, after work, I towed Phil's trailer back to Waldorf and retrieved my trailer filled with a complete '62 wagon drivetrain, a '64 engine, a Powerglide, a half-dozen wheels with rotted tires, and an engine cart. Since Phil's daughter wanted the trailer parked where mine was currently sitting, the logistics were a bit time consuming. I had to unhitch the car trailer at the street, swap the ball on my hitch to the 1 7/8 inch, hitch my trailer to the Suburban and drop it on the street without damaging my back, swap the ball back to the 2 inch one, re-hitch the car trailer and back it down their driveway, unhitch that trailer and re-swap the ball back to the smaller one, before hooking up my trailer a final time and heading down the road. Thankfully, no spinal discs were harmed in the execution of this escapade.

The drive home was uneventful other than having to drive through what has become the requisite gulley-washer. Other than my first Phil-to-home trip, all the trips associated with his cars have included at least one cats-and-dogs downpour. As I pulled up in front of the house, the trip odometer on the Suburban, which had been set to zero right before the first trip down, read around 740 miles – all of which was put on moving cars and parts. Added to what my buddy, Jonathan, put on his Suburban, and this adventure took over a thousand miles to complete.

I needed to get the trailer into the garage for unloading, but there wasn’t enough room to maneuver it while hitched to the Suburban, so I gave up, dropped the tongue on one of my wheel dollies, and pushed it the last couple dozen feet into the garage.

The next project is separating the drivetrains (the wagon one and the 140 I’d removed from CorsaVert) and storing the engines, trannies, and differentials for later teardown or utilization. Times like this I really wish I owned an engine hoist.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fleet Trimmed Back to Lucky Seven

Sunday, after church, I spent the afternoon in the garage removing parts off the CorsaVert. After getting the engine out, I removed the seats, dash components, seatbelts, door panels, armrests, visors, rearview mirror, and rear bumper. I'm not sure what I'll use and what I'll sell yet. It depends on the condition of said parts in the MonzaVert. Convertible rear seats are hard to come by, so the frame condition will drive my decision.
Finding places for the stuff I just removed is an issue. I put the interior parts and the hood and engine lid in the portable garage on top off and next to YellowVert. The tranny and differential need to be separated from the engine, and the engine needs to carefully investigated to determine its condition before tearing it down.

With the car back down on all fours, I pulled the hood and engine lid to be cut up and used for patches on the yellow convertible. A significantly lighter vehicle easily pulled up onto Phil's car trailer before I called it a day.

Yesterday I was tied up until late in the afternoon, so I hopped in the Suburban around 4:30 and towed the CorsaVert to the Corvair Ranch. I met proprietor Jeff who unloaded the car under sprinkling skies. It stopped raining while we removed the four wheels that I’d recently had re-shod with good tires. We chatted about what bits I still wanted off the PartsWagon (bumpers, engine cover, hatch cover pieces), and, after a little more socializing and parts beggin’ on my part, I drove back home and arrived around 7:30. Not too bad.