Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I’ve Dirtied my Pretty New Floor

I’d let the cold, cold evenings stop fleet work for long enough. It was time to start rolling ‘vairs onto my new garage floor and then work on them. Saturday morning, after a few attempts, I was able to get Glinda running and maneuvered into the garage. Rebuilding a starter with a new Bendix drive and bushings went much easier this second time around. Also easier was the R&R of a starter in a LM. There is far more room for maneuvering than in an EM.

With Glinda’s engine now spinning with every test-turn of the key, I put her at the curb and drove Ringo onto the still-pristine floor tiles. My task with him was to prevent battery rundown if Ariel leaves the heater blower on with the engine off. I needed to move the heater blower circuit to one that’s energized only when the ignition is switched to ON. I did some research in the manual and found two fuses designated for the heater, one 10 amp circuit for HEAT. BLOW and one 20 amp for HEATER. The former was the one the blower was currently hooked to, while latter was the switched circuit. So, I simply moved the terminal from one contact to the other and voila, problem solved.

After finishing with Ringo, I called the guy who’d responded to Lucy’s Craigslist ad. He’d changed his mind, and wasn’t interested anymore. I was now at a crossroads with Lucy. Fix her floor to make her more sell-able or leave her as-is and devote my time to TwoTone. After a few moments thought, I made up my mind and drove Lucy into the garage and began work on the floor patching. Out came the grinder with a wire wheel attached and I attacked the loose rust on both the inside and outside surfaces of her floors. With the chunks, flakes, and dust vacuumed up, I laid down some big pieces of cardboard to protect my new floor and proceeded to POR-15 the upward facing sections of floors. The passenger front floor well had a few rust-through holes, so I overlaid the entire footwell with fiberglass and gave it all a healthy coat of POR-15.

The next day, I tackled the underside and got it completed except for a section under the backseat. That’ll be one of tonight’s activities.

While I covered the area of the floor where I was painting, the flying dust and rust bits, combined with the melted snow, has made the rest of the floor very dirty. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to get back some semblance of niceness once Lucy is out of the garage.

In support of Lucy’s next task – welding in the patches – I bought a welding blanket from Harbor Freight on my lunch hour today. That’ll protect the plastic floor tiles from sparks that would probably put burn marks in the meltable material. Finally, the last bit of news is I’ve begun the process of buying the white Silverado as the Suburban’s replacement. I’ll be travelling down to central Virginia to pick it up this weekend. Needless to say, I’m exceedingly excited about this acquisition.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Floor Is Down

Of course it’s down. It wouldn’t make sense to say it’s Up. I digress (but only slightly).

Monday night I fired up two of the heaters and spent the evening completing the installation of the new garage tiles. The results, as seen in the photos, are quite stunning. I took advantage of the disarray to change a couple things when putting stuff back where it belongs. I moved the back-wall work bench completely into the corner. That necessitated moving the vise. I haven’t decided the best place for it yet so it just sits useless on the bench. The other thing I did was get rid of all the empty boxes I had been saving for. It makes cuts down on the clutter considerably.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Garage Transformation Continues

Saturday the lovely Loriann drove me to a small warehouse on the outskirts of Richmond, VA where she bought me 125 PVC tiles to install over the concrete floor of the garage. Once I saw the orange tiles, I knew I needed to change my plans from boring gray and green to orange and yellow with light gray highlights.

Last night, after we got home from our weekend away, I cleared out half the garage, swept and thoroughly vacuumed, and then laid out and snapped together a little less than half the tiles. The results are shown above.

On the tow vehicle front, my buddy, Bill, who happens to live only a few miles from the dealership with the ’07 Silverado, went and checked it out. He called me and shared the good news and the bad news. Starting with the good, the truck is really nice. He couldn't find any exterior blemishes, the tires have a lot of life left, the engine is plenty powerful, and the truck goes down the road straight and smooth. The worst of the bad news is the vehicles previous owner was a smoker and the smell is, while not in your face, noticeable. Additionally, there are couple other issues (all smaller) that need to be considered. The dealer contacted me today and offered to have the interior cleaned out by someone that guarantees they will completely remove the smell. We will be down in that area in a couple weeks, so if the truck’s still available, I’ll probably buy it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Has It Really Been A Week?

Since I last posted, not much has happened Corvair-wise, which, at this time of the year, is a blessing. After getting Ringo squared away for Ariel, I went back to driving Glinda. Wouldn’t you know it? Her starter (which had been suspect for many months) started doing the same thing Ringo’s had – turn the key, the starter spins, but the engine doesn’t turn. I was, however, after a dozen or so tries, able to get her to start so I could drive instead of tow her home. Once parked at the curb, she’ll stay there until I get the replacement Bendix drive and starter rebuild parts from Clark’s.

While I’m on the subject of Glinda, I’ll mention that the first parts of her transmission transformation arrived in the yesterday’s mail. The clutch/brake pedal assembly unique to ’67 through ’69 models was the only conversion pieces I couldn’t get from the Corvair Ranch. Now I just need to set aside a day to go to the Ranch and pull the rest of the parts from the Corsa I drug up there a few months back. I got a phone call last evening responding to Lucy’s Craigslist ad. The caller’s first car had been a Corvair, “back in the day” and when he discovered the ad, he had to call. He’s interested in buying her, and will try and come out next weekend to check her out.

I know it’s not Corvair related, but it is fleet related. As reported a couple months back, the lovely Loriann and I decided it’s time to replace our current rescue vehicle. While the Suburban, even with its 322,000 miles, still effortlessly drags home dead ‘vairs, its upkeep burns valuable time that should be spent keeping the fleet afloat. At that time, I thought I could get away with a Chevy Colorado with the inline 5 engine, but research indicated those are not enough truck to safely pull a car, especially one on a trailer. Since we wanted to downsize, the replacement truck had to be shorter than the Suburban. Since I wanted to stick with Chevy, the search began for a short wheelbase (SWB) regular cab (RG) Silverado. The same research that pushed me away from a Colorado also pushed me towards GM’s 5.3L V8. Any other engine wouldn’t cut it when doing any heavy towing. I soon found that a SWB RG with the larger engine were a rare combination. I finally settled on a beautiful, low-mileage ’07 in VA with exactly the combination I wanted (pictured above). This decision did not come without its twists and turns. I was temporarily blinded by a spectacular deal (nearly $6k below book) on a ’09 Ram long-bed, but the CARFAX showing two accidents and the lovely Loriann reminding me it really wasn’t what I wanted caused me to see the light. And then there’s the ’04 Dodge Hemi GTX in WV I fell in lust with. While my heart REALLY wanted that truck, the higher mileage and a few mechanical issues caused me to snap out of that infatuation. Hopefully, I can talk the dealer down a little and trade in the Suburban to save me some bucks.

On the garage front, this weekend the lovely Loriann and I will be picking up the Christmas present she gave me – tiles to cover the greasy, grimy garage floor. I found a company doing a liquidation and we’re getting 19” square PVC tiles for only $3 a piece. The pattern I decided on (with some help) will look like the following image. So two VERY exciting acquisitions in my near future.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Went Fishin’ Last Night

While driving Ringo yesterday, there were two issues (I use this word a lot in my blogs) I sensed. First, my ears heard a strange clicking from the engine. Second, my nose smelled gas. When I arrived home after my evening commute, I left the motor running while I popped open the engine lid. The sound seemed to emanate from the fuel pump, so I pushed down on it, and the noise went away – good, tightening a loose mounting bolt is an easy fix for a change. After dinner I went back out to the curb, wrenches and work-light in hand, to address the issue (there I go again). I loosened the jam nut, tightened the bolt, and re-torqued the jam nut. With the engine running again, I confirmed the noise was permanently gone. While sticking my ear near the engine, my nose picked up the scent of the aforementioned gas. My new issue (!!!) was the fuel pump was leaking. ARRRGH! I knew Luna wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, so I cannibalized the convertible to get a GUP pump for Ringo. While installing the replacement pump, I carelessly placed one of the wrenches atop the fan. Wouldn’t you know it I then bumped it and helplessly watched it fall under the engine cover. ARRRGH! Back to the garage to grab my magnet on a stick so I could go fishing under the fan. I was able to snag the wrench after some probing, but couldn’t get it around the edge of the fan without it falling off the magnet. After a few failures, the wrench fell into a crevice where I couldn’t find it with the magnet. Running out of evening, I gave up and headed inside quite frustrated with the whole evening’s adventure. After cooling down somewhat, I remembered I could access the void where the wrench was hiding through the small oil cooler cover. Back on went the grungies, and then back out to the garage for wrenches, work-light, and the magnet, and then back out to the curb to go fishin’ again. This time I was “casting my line” in a different hole. With the cover off, it didn’t take me more a minute or so to snag the wrench and slowly maneuver it out the opening. With everything back in place, I fired up Ringo’s engine to check for leaks, and everything stayed dry while I rev’d. the engine a handful of times. I let it idle a few more minutes to make sure the pump was meeting the demand, shut off the engine, and called it a night AGAIN.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So Far A Start Every Time

Last night I had Ariel steer Ringo as the Suburban pulled him. My intent was to position him on the “wrong” side of the street with his driver’s side wheels up on the curb. That would provide enough clearance for me to slide under his engine and remove the offending starter. All worked out as planned, and less than thirty minutes later, I had the starter out and was heading to the garage to swap solenoids. With an assumed GUP solenoid in place, the re-rebuilt starter was bolted in place and the wires connected. The first turn of the key resulted in a cranking engine - yay! The second test elicited only a spinning starter and nothing more - crap! I repeated the pulling-swapping-reinstalling, but that time I used a different set of matched guts (rotating assembly and stator in housing). This time everything worked - hallelujah! It looks like the broken part is the bendix drive (shown above). Specifically, it appears the one-way clutch is now a both-way slip. I'll have to check it out this evening - or not.

I've driven the car today and each time the starter’s been called upon to do it's simple operation, it's performed flawlessly.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Temporarily Back in the Black

Until Ariel’s phone call this morning, I had the fleet back in the black. Saturday, Wilma went off to her new home where she’ll be higher on her owner’s priority list. With the cars shuffled around such that Ringo could take up temporary residence in the garage, I pulled his starter and confirmed its very worn bushings. I went through my stash of starters, but couldn’t find one I was comfortable relying on. Remembering I had a starter rebuild kit on the shelf, I selected the starter with the best-looking pinion teeth and tore it down. A couple hours later, I had replaced the bushings, cleaned the commutator, removed rust from the shafts, lubricated everything, and reassembled the rebuilt starter. After a few test starts on the floor, I bolted it back onto Ringo’s engine, hooked up the wiring, and gave the key a half-dozen test turns. Each and every time, the starter spun the engine easily.

With some garage time still left, I tackled the steering wheel assembly. To refresh, she had some sticking when turning the wheel that, by process of elimination, I found was the blinker canceller. With the steering wheel off, I reattached the canceller to the back of the wheel, ground a little off each end and bent them in a bit. With the wheel back on the end of the column, I gave it a few lock-to-locks and found no sticking. Good-to-go, so I tightened the retaining nut and put back all the horn stuff. One more thing to cross off his to-do list.

Now, back to Ariel’s phone call of this morning, “Daddy, I turn Ringo’s key and all I hear is the starter spinning, but not the engine turning.” Not sure what the deal is, but I suspect a cheap Chinese solenoid has bitten me. I get to leave work early, drive home, load up the Suburban, and haul the car home again. Argh!

Sunday I backed Glinda up on the ramps in the garage and investigated the source of the loud exhaust noises. As I suspected, the exhaust pipe had cracked at a joint. This also caused the right flange to vibrate loose by wearing down the exhaust gasket. I tried tightening the two bolts retaining the flange to the manifold, but they wouldn’t budge. The fix? After I welded closed the crack, I cut a washer in half, jammed the pieces under the head of one of the bolts and welded the shims to the flange to keep them from falling out. With that done, I started up the engine and all was quiet again. The last task I had time to do on her before dinner was lubricating the heater and defroster controls. The factory option of choosing where the hot air was going to enter the salon was not back.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Fleet’s in the Red

When there are more of this family’s Corvairs that are undrivable rather than drivable, the fleet’s in the red. Currently, the score is: six with usability issues and only Heidi being roadworthy.

While the numbers will be helped when Wilma goes away tomorrow, Glinda has exhaust issues (the CO detector went off last night), Ringo needs his starter replaced, Luna needs a top, Lucy needs a floor, and TwoTone needs everything.

This evening I’ll get started by making sure Wilma’s ready to go and moved out of the portable garage. Then I’ll move cars around so I have access to the garage. That will include putting Luna in the portable garage to spend the winter with TwoTone temporarily taking her place in the driveway.

Finally, with the garage heaters on high, I’ll start tipping the scales by dealing with Ringo. By the end of the weekend, I plan on Glinda being back on the road and maybe even a floor and speedometer cable installed in Lucy.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m leaning towards converting Glinda’s transmission from an automatic to a manual. I found a list of all the parts that are necessary to accomplish this. While most of the parts will be coming from a car at the Corvair Ranch (probably the ’66 Corsa I hauled up there a couple months back), I do need a late LM brake/clutch pedal assembly. For 1967 and beyond, Chevy used a larger, collapsible steering column which necessitated redesigning the clutch pedal shaft. Today, with the help of the CorvairCenter forum, I agreed to purchase the unique assembly from a guy out west that just parted out a ’67. Looks like Glinda will stay part of the fleet.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ringo’s Starter is Shot

Last night I drove to Ariel's place of employment to tow Ringo home. Of course someone had parked in front of him preventing me from just backing up to his front bumper. Just for kicks, I climbed behind his wheel, inserted the key into the ignition, and gave it a turn. All I received for that effort was a click from the solenoid, so I tried another turn of the key. This time the starter began to rotate the engine, but not without some serious sounds of objection. Grinding noises notwithstanding, the engine finally turned enough to start. I was able to drive him up to the back of the Suburban, attach the tow bar, safety chain, and trailer lights and head down the road. Since Glinda's available, Ariel's been driving her, so there's no real rush to get a replacement bolted onto Ringo's engine. Regardless, I plan on going through my stash of starters and finding a GUP that'll go in this weekend.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Break

Highlights from the last two weeks are:
  • I sold Wilma to a guy in Ohio. He’s coming by Saturday to trailer her away. I’m sad to see her go, but the $1500 will be nice to have as well as the open stall in the portable garage. I’m thinking Luna will take up residence there so her spot just outside the garage is available to push TwoTone into when I need to use the garage. Now I need to do some wheel swapping so I don’t give away my good spare tires.
  • I’ve got a tentative deal to sell Lucy. The prospective buyer, however, needs to sell his EM before he can buy mine. Right now Lucy’s listed on Craigslist for $2800 as-is (rusted out floors, but all the go-fast goodies I’ve installed over the years). As time goes on I may choose to deal with the floors so she’s a more attractive product.
  • I got some awesome Christmas presents. The best of which is a promised new garage floor from the lovely Loriann. She gave me the choice, and after reading the forums and weighing all the factors I’m leaning towards these. I can’t wait to have them laid down since it should help insulate my body from the cold concrete. I also received some additional car-related gifts including a Clark’s gift certificate and a new set of screwdrivers.
  • Mikhaila and I moved some parts out of Wilma and into the garage to support the roadification of TwoTone. We filled her old little red wagon with new shock absorbers, spark plugs, fan belts, distributor cap, and some other old stuff that looked like it went with a convertible.
  • Last night I got a call from Ariel. “Ringo won’t start.” I pressed her for more details and she related how he barely started that morning and the night before, but she was running late for work, so she took the chance she’d be able to get back home. Thinking it was a dead battery (which in full disclosure Ariel said it wasn’t), I drove Glinda out to her place of employment and attempted to jump-start her car. At first the engine turned, but wouldn’t fire. Then the engine wouldn’t turn at all. I’m now thinking it’s a starter or solenoid issue. Regardless, I loaded the Suburban this morning with all the Corvair rescue accouterments (tow-bar, safety chain, hitch, towlights, wrench, and gloves). My commute home will have a major detour. From now on I won’t be so confident in my over-the-phone diagnoses and will always drive the tow vehicle prepared to haul home the misbehaving fleet member.
  • I moved the engines, transmissions, differentials, and larger pieces of sheetmetal out to the portable garage freeing up some valuable floor-space in the garage. One of the engines will go away with Wilma since I won’t have a need for wagon-correct powerplant. I’m also thinking of throwing in the ’64 rear suspension and differential to whomever buys Lucy since I won’t need them and the new owner may want to do the upgrade.
  • I prepped and painted a car door for a buddy of mine. It’s always good to get more practice with painting, and doing it on someone else’s part with that someone else buying the primer and paint is even nicer.
  • I finished insulating the garage ceiling. It took a package and a half of R13, but the garage already feels warmer and brighter. I’m planning on painting the paper facing white to brighten up the space even more and also provide some protection from sparks touching off a fire. I also used the Home Depot card to get some decent weather-strip for the main door and a plastic temporary storm window kit for the two windows. All this will make the space easier to heat and more hospitable for Mikhaila and I while we’re working on TwoTone.