Tuesday, October 23, 2012
No Spares is a Tenuous Situation
I’m praying I don’t jinx myself by posting the following bit of information. The lovely Loriann is relying on an eighteen year old vehicle with a wobble and over 318,000 miles as her daily-driver while I do battle with her PT Cruiser. My daily-driver is the ever-faithful Heidi while Lucy languishes in the driveway with most of her interior bits piled on her roof (this really needs a photo). The PT Cruiser work is a not-so-simple timing belt change, while Lucy awaits the welding in of floor patches. Tonight is crunch time on the Cruiser with high hopes for completion.
It hasn’t been all house-painting (the other massive consumer of my limited time away from work and family) and swearing at Chrysler engineers. I’ve had some time for ‘vairs and garage. When last I posted (which was too long ago), I’d filled a cart with discarded engine parts. The next night I promised a fellow CORSA of Baltimore club member my perceived expertness in getting his Corsa on the road. He’d had the electronic ignition quit on him, so he was reverting back to the tried-and-true points and condenser. Simplistically, a running engine is an equation consisting of compression, spark, and fuel. Since the car ran fine before the electronics crapped out, we assumed the compression part was good. I was able to get the spark part working using the instructions found here. Since the car had sat for a few months, the fuel part was missing. We tried a few cranking sessions without seeing any fuel squirting from the primary carburetors. Since my bedtime was quickly approaching, we called it a night with the fun and games to continue in two weeks.
Thursday, I received a hopeful e-mail in reply to my YellowVert Craigslist ad. Subsequent back-and-forth resulted in James’ arrival at fleet headquarter that afternoon. He shared how he was shopping for a father-son project, but knew nothing about Corvairs. So I did a sell job going so far as taking him for a spin around the neighborhood in Glinda. By the end of our drive I’d dropped the price to $300 minus the second interior and he seemed ready to pull the trigger, but instead of saying, “I’ll take it,” he asked me, “Would you be willing to take payments?” He went on to explain that’s the only way his wife would let him get the car. I had to tell him no since I still had some other parties interested. He left me with a request I reconsider his offer if none of the other parties comes through. Sadly, those other parties haven’t come through. Someone e-mailed with me Sunday with everything all set for him to drive out that afternoon and give me a deposit to hold the car for him, but all of my high hopes came crashing down when a final e-mail showed up telling me his buddy told him he was paying too much for the car. I responded that his buddy was wrong and the $300 I’d come down to was a good deal considering I could part out the car selling and then still get $200 from the scrap-man. Oh well, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be removing her engine, cutting off fenders and such, and hauling her to the ranch.
Thursday evening I rolled Lucy out of the garage and stapled up the insulation I’d purchased a week back. That project went well other than some of the long boards and pipes I’d been storing in the rafters would not go back up since the insulation was taking up space they’d previously been using. Oh well, I love a storage challenge – NOT! I spent the rest of the evening moving more stuff around making room for the PT Cruiser project.
Lucy had been garaged for a couple reasons. First, the aforementioned missing metal in the floor. Second, the forcible expulsion of spark plug number four from its threaded home. The latter issue was corrected Saturday morning by the tapping of the stripped hole and subsequent installation of a K-D insert. Like nearly every other project I undertake, this one was not without its frustration. Following the recommendations I’d read on a Corvair Center forum thread, I rotated the engine until the rotor was pointed at the number four cap terminal. Then, to capture all the chips from tapping, I filled the combustion chamber with shaving cream and gave the tap a healthy coat of grease. I slowly turned the tap in the hole, being careful to keep the driven end centered in the hole in the engine cover. After a few turns, I’d back out the tap, clean out the chips, recoat, and cut a few more turns. After repeating these steps about a dozen more times, the tap was turning freely indicating I now had new threads along the hole’s entire length. With a smaller hose attached to the end of the shop vac, I sucked out the shaving cream and then cleaned out the threads with a solvent-soaked rag. The instructions that came with the insert directed me to spin the insert onto a spark plug, coat the external threads with the included sealer, and install the spark plug until it bottomed out. I did all that, but, inexplicably, the plug didn’t go in as far as I’d expected before it became really difficult to torque. I gave it a few more turns using some serious effort before calling good-to-go. Fearing I’d just back out the insert, I left the plug installed and patted myself on the back for deciding to use a new plug since it may be stuck in the head until I have to do an engine rebuild. I finished up the effort by installing new plugs in the rest of the holes. After pouring a little gas down a carb’s throat the engine started right up, and, if not for the clatter of a lazy lifter, she was running as good as she ever did.
The rest of Saturday’s garage time was devoted to the PT Cruiser so, other than reiterating what a struggle it is working within a VERY confining engine compartment, I’ll leave this non-Corvair missive for a different outlet.