Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Must Tear Down Before You Build Up

Before I expound on last night’s escapades, I need to straighten out an error in terminology I’ve recently made. I’ve been referring to the crankcase cover as engine cover. According to General Motors, there is no engine cover in the Corvair engine. The top-most cover is called engine upper shroud. It appears the General has chosen the term “shroud” to apply to all sheetmetal pieces that contain or direct the blower’s air flow. I should really try to be terminologically correct when calling out parts. The shop manual’s names are those by which I shall use from now on. By the way, the Corvair blower is the large fan at the top center of the engine.

With a new set of crankcase cover gaskets added to the meter (fuel sender) order from Clark’s, I decided to spend my hour or so of last night’s garage time getting Ringo’s engine torn down to point of removing the crankcase cover. By 9 I had removed the carburetors and fuel pump as an assembly, the alternator, the idler, and then the dozen or so bolts holding the engine upper shroud in place. It took some wiggling, but I was able to remove that large piece of sheetmetal without pulling anything else off. The bolts retaining the crankcase were the last thing off before I quit for the night.

Monday, February 25, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon rolled around that I could have some car-time. My first tasks was to get Lucy reliably on the road again. I’d been recharging her dead battery, so I checked the voltage and it was back up in the 14.6 range (good-to-go). I started her up, but she still wouldn’t idle nicely. I determined the idle circuit on the right carb was clogged, so I took her out on the streets, and once the engine was warmed up, made a bunch of first gear, floor it, let up fast on the throttle, and hope the vacuum sucks out the clog runs up and down the hill near the house. Finally, that cleared it out and the idle was back to its 650 rpm smooth self.

With that victory, it was time to turn my attention to Ringo. I was back to dealing with the fuel sender. I made some resistance measurements with the sender outside the tank. While they should have been 0 ohms at fully empty and 30 ohms at completely full, I was getting 5 and 35 respectively. I tried matching a gauge to those parameters, and got one that was close. I installed the sender with the new float and started pouring gas back into the tank. The needle didn’t move and neither did the resistance. I’m done with this game. I’m replacing the sender. Since I already smelled like gas, I decided to empty the two or so gallons that I’d just poured into the tank. I clamped off the rubber line and pulled the end of the hose off the tube. While holding it over a drain pan, I removed the vise-grips, but nothing came out the hose. I’d not poured enough gas into the tank to get the level above the highest point in the sender’s tube, so no siphon could be started. Irrr. I had to remove the retaining ring from the sender and have the gas gush into the drain pan through the larger opening.

Onto the last of the three projects for that car – the belt-eating pulleys. I found a smoother-looking idler replacement on the shelf, so I cleaned the light rust off the mating surfaces with scotch-brite and installed it first. Then I moved on to the fan pulley. There are four bolts holding that to the top cover bearing and while removing the last one, it slipped out of my hand and fell into the volume under the engine’s top cover. CRAP!!!! I tried fishing for it with a magnet, but came up empty. My choice at that point was to leave it with the hopes it won’t jump and damage the fan, or pull the top cover off which entails removing carbs, alternator, etc. I chose the former and then went hunting for a replacement bolt. After fruitlessly going through a couple containers of fasteners, I went to a late model engine sitting in the portable garage to cannibalize a bolt. When I found that the bolt was a different size than the one that had disappeared, I had verification of my ongoing fear, and that was I’d installed an early model fan on a late model engine. That resulted in a slight misalignment of the pulley grooves thus causing the belt-eating. Now I had no choice but to pull the cover and replace the fan with the right one. I decided to save that for another time since it was nearing dinner time.

Later last night, Ariel informed me that Glinda's speedometer wasn't working anymore. She'll be driving Lucy now until her car is back on the road.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Third Float's a Charm

Clarks’ came through, and UPS delivered the new Bendix drive yesterday. With all three garage heaters on high, I removed Ringo’s starter, rebuilt it with the new part, and bolted it back to the bellhousing. While I didn’t try it out, and I’m sure that’ll come back to bite me, I’m confident it’ll be fine. With a few minutes of garage-time left, I pulled the sender from the gas tank and discovered the “new” float had gas in it. Fortunately, I’d bought an extra to replace the one I’d installed in Ringo’s tank, so, once I check the resistance range of the sender (needs to be zero to 30 ohms), I’ll have that buttoned up next time I’m out there. I also plan on swapping pulley wheels in that car’s engine to see if I can get it to stop eating fanbelts. Then it’ll be ready for the road AGAIN. Ariel is soooo patient.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I’m Being Punished

After being off the roads for exactly five months, Lucy rewarded my finally getting her on the road by being ornery. As I reported yesterday, my effort to drive her to work was a non-starter – literally. When I got home from work, I poured a gallon of gas into her tank. Then, instead of having to crank the engine a few seconds to fill the carbs with fuel, she fired right up and settled into a decent idle. Okay, that meant she hadn’t really been out of gas. I let her engine run a couple minutes before shutting her down with the thought, “We’ll see what’s what in the morning.”

Well, this morning it took a few minutes, but she showed me what’s what about four miles from home. While she grudgingly started in front of the house, and then again at the gas station after I filled her tank with nearly ten gallons of 87 octane, she refused when her engine died at the first stoplight after that. Her battery had hardly any charge even though I’d just driven her about ten minutes.

It took a few phone calls to home before I roused Ariel from her beauty sleep (sorry ‘bout that). She threw on some warm clothes and rescued me with the truck. I’m sure it wasn’t the situation she’d imagined when “dreaming” about her first time behind the wheel of Dad’s new Silverado :-). Nor was it the situation I’d imagined for the truck’s first foray into dragging dead Corvairs around.

I hooked one end of the tow chain around Lucy’s crossmember and the other around the truck’s hitch and had Ariel drag Lucy and I into the closest parking lot. While underway, I dropped the shifter into 4th gear and let out the clutch. Lucy’s engine came to life and settled into a troubled, yet steady, 500 rpm idle. I quickly removed the chain and tossed it into the truck bed, directed Ariel to follow me, and drove the petulant car home and straight down the driveway. The engine died again once I put the clutch in. Irrr.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Guess There Can Be Worse Phone Calls

It’s so sad that when my cellphone vibrates and the display says it’s Ariel calling, a deflating sense of dread immediately overcomes me. Nine times out of ten it’s not bad news, but ten percent of the time it’s, “my car’s crapped out again.” The call from her Friday morning was one of those one-out-of-tens that really ruins my day. “Daddy, my car won’t start. It’s making that noise like the last time you had to tow him home.” Irr. It appears the starter I rebuilt with an old Bendix drive now needs a new Bendix.

Since the truck is still not ready for towing duty, I got to spend my lunch hour going to Harbor Freight and finally buying the 7-into- four plug adapter so I can plug the towing lights into the Silverado’s outlet. I also bought a couple hitches, now with a 4” drop one with a monster 6” drop. Since I wanted the ball at the same level it was with the Suburban, I measured the height on the Suburban before it went away, but used my worklight as the unit of measure and I didn’t have it with me Friday, so I too the guess-work out if and just got the two Harbor Freight had available. I tried to do a side-by-side in Photoshop and it appears the HUGE wheel openings on the truck make it look much taller than it really is. In other words, I thought the 4” would be enough.
When I got home, I used my worklight and found that the hitch I’d been using on the Suburban is less than two inches taller on the truck than it was on the Suburban, so both hitches will go back. I was going to get A’s car that night, but the snow, non-working towing lights, and a great desire to get Lucy back on the road all prevented that from happening. I did get my car done, but I was in the garage until after 1 AM. I first filled all the seams with sealer, then installed the rear seat back, carpet, speakers, sill plates, rear seat bottom, seat belts (after drilling new holes in the patches for two of the belts), and, finally, the front seats. I installed the two lower engine shrouds so Lucy’s salon will have heat and a GUP speedometer cable I'd bought from the Corvair Ranch. The last thing I did was top off the transmission with 90 weight gear lube.

Saturday morning the lovely Loriann and I went to watch to see Mikhaila’s cheerleading team compete. On the way we stopped at Harbor Freight, and, after returning the hitches, I bought a connector for the towing lights and a heat gun to shrink tubing. When I finally got home Saturday, I rewired the lights and then Ariel, Victoria, and I headed out to drag Ringo home. Ariel got to Ringo first, so I asked her to see if he’d start. Sure enough, my powers are strong enough that just being within fifteen feet of the problem, I was able to magically fix the problem. A turn of the key and he started right up. She drove him home without issue. Then, yesterday afternoon, it started right up for me to drive into the garage.

I’m going to replace the Bendix drive (ordered today). While I wait for that part, there are a number of niggling problems with that car I want to address. First, I wanted to clean up the wiring job I did when converting Ringo to electricity maker to an alternator. A few cuts, some soldering and shrinking tube, four zipties, and that project was completed. Second, I wanted to fix the non-functioning gas gauge. To troubleshoot if the sender is the problem, I made a bunch of resistance measurements at the sender’s contacts while emptying the tank. While the first measurement (with the tank about half full) was 14 ohms (about halfway on the 0-30 ohm designed range), all the subsequent measurements made as the tank was being drained were 11 ohms. I’m hoping (praying) that I just stuck the float on wrong and it’s hitting the side of the tank preventing it from dropping all the way down. I’ll remove the sender the next time I get out to the garage and see what resistance measurement I get across the range of arm travel. A new sender is $55 plus shipping, so I’m not buying a replacement unless I truly need it. Finally, I want the engine to stop eating fanbelts. Before turning car back over to Ariel, I’m going to replace the pulley wheels with the smoothest looking ones I can find on my shelves. I think the pitting on one or more of the wheels is wearing out the belts much too quickly.

This morning I'd intended to drive Lucy to work, but I knew a stop at the gas station was an immediate priority. I didn't even get to pull away from the curb, since I couldn't get the engine to fire. I think (hope) her only issues is an empty gas tank.

Isn't It Ironic?

Last Thursday, I spent a short evening in the garage applying primer to all the exposed metal of Lucy’s floor. The welds, the portions of the patches where I ground off the paint all got a slathering of the brown stuff. It’s ironic that Rustoleum’s Rusty Metal Primer is rust colored.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Odd Spots

Yesterday evening, under the guise of changing the oil and filter in the lovely Loriann’s daily-driver, I donned grungies and headed out to the garage. After completing the simple task as promised, I did my prep work for the last application of POR-15. I went to each rust hole left in Lucy’s floor and cut out pieces of fiberglass cloth just large enough to span each opening. Before I removed the lid from the eternally (seemingly) staining liquid, I did something I’d seen smarter painters do. I pulled the wrist openings of the neoprene gloves over the cuffs of my sweatshirt and secured the junctions with bands of masking tape. The inevitable drips and dribbles of POR-15 would not find their way onto my skin. Then, finally, I was able to empty my last jar of POR-15 getting most of the contents on Lucy’s rusted externals and the aforementioned patches, while only a small percentage ended up on the cardboard I generously spread out to protect my new garage floor tiles. Once the coating hardens, I will go back with the Rustoleum primer and paint and add a few coats onto the porous patches hopefully making them impervious to water. I’ll also fully coat the outside surfaces of the metal patches with the same primer and paint to ward off any attacking tin worms.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lucy's Becoming Enclosed Again

I spent a good chunk of Saturday making molten metal in my garage. The task was welding in the three patch panels that span the length of Lucy’s driver’s side floor. The first panel was to be welded from the inside to recreate the now mostly missing driver’s footwell. I first finished prepping the attaching surfaces (the perimeter of the patch and the adjoining areas of the existent, solid sheetmetal) by wire brushing off the POR-15 and exposing nice, bare, silver steel. Then, with .023 diameter wire in my Lincoln MIG welder, I tacked the panel into place. With each tack, I hammered the profile to match undulations in the floor. Once tacked in, I went back and laid in more weld between each tack to solidify the attachment. With that panel finished, I moved on to the patch under the rear seat. This one had many more bends to accommodate the curve of the rear firewall, so it took some extra relief cuts, but in the end it, too, succumbed satisfactorily to my tacking, hammering, and final beads of weld. That left the patch that spanned the area from under the driver’s seat to the rearmost patch. This one, sadly, had to be welded from the underside of the car. I used a couple jacks to hold the patch while I made molten metal around its perimeter. It took much wiggling, contortions, and swearing to squeeze under the car with my new welding helmet on, but I was able to get the piece put in place and welded in without too much angst.

Now is a good time to rave about the self-darkening welding helmet I recently got at Harbor-Freight. Over Christmas break I painted a car door for a work-buddy of mine and he thanked me by handing over a $50 gift certificate to one of my favorite toy (ahem, tool) stores. I used it to get their top-of-the-line helmet. It made working in the cramped confines under Lucy doable instead of impossible.

I’ll try to shoot some photos of my scraggly-looking welds tonight before I commence coating everything in primer and paint and hiding under carpet. UPDATE: Here are the photos.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bye, Bye Suburban

WARNING – THIS PARAGRAPH IS WITHOUT CORVAIR CONTENT: At less than six years old, the beautiful Silverado pickup the lovely Loriann and I just bought is the youngest daily-driver I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving daily. It goes down the road so nicely, and is much, much quieter than the Suburban or any of the Corvairs. The seats are so supportive that while travelling home from southwest Virginia, I didn’t have the need to continually shift around to stay comfortable. The buying experience was painless as I’d set everything up beforehand with phone calls and e-mails, so I was in and out of the dealership in about 15 minutes. There is one item I need to address before the truck is totally tow-ready. I must purchase an adapter that converts from GM round trailer jack to generic flat four. Oh darn! I’ve got to Harbor Freight again.

WARNING – ANOTHER PARAGRAPH LACKING CORVAIR CONTENT: At some point before the first digit of my age becomes an even number again, I WILL drive my ’65 LeMans, fully restored, down to my buddy Bill’s house in central VA. As of today, however, this poor, patient car is only a very solid starting point for what will be a long, hard road of restoration. This past Saturday morning was a shot of hope and inspiration that I occasionally need to keep this dream alive. My son-in-law Nich and I joined my long-time Pontiac buddy Bill and his friend Tony, for a frigid Saturday morning of sidestepping frozen cow-pies while wandering the car-filled pastures of a central Virginia farm. We stayed away from the expansive Mopar section and oohed and ahhed at a collection that included a number of late-fifties Chevy’s, the occasional Ford, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac, and the ones we really came to see, the Pontiacs from a 1958 Cheiftain through a 1972 LeMans and many, many models and years in between. When we’d seen all there was to see, we entered a block building and maneuvered our way around and between aisles of fenders, seats, quarter-panels, dashes, hoods, trunklids, air cleaners, etc., etc., etc. It was an incredible experience. I asked one of the guys who worked for the owner, if he was getting out of the business, and thankfully, the answer was no, he’ll be into this for quite a while longer. Great, I don’t need to fret about losing out on the ’65 quarterpanels I need or the overhead-cam-six engine I want to buy, rebuild, and install as my car’s means of motivation. Now to just get TwoTone finished.

Finally some fleet news. Friday, I took the day off and focused on Lucy’s floors. After putting her back up on jackstands, I made some measurements for the front driver’s footwell and began cutting out the first patch from New Betty’s scavenged hood. A simple bend at the front, a bit of trimming at the side and rear, and dozen or so 5/16ths holes, and it was ready to install. The patch from under rear seat was a bit more of a challenge since it had to bend and curve to match the transition to the rear firewall. After some more cutting and pounding, it was ready. Finally, I measured and cut the bridging panel that’ll span the space between the front and rear patches. Once it was complete, I put the flap wheel on my grinder and cleaned off the POR-15 from areas where I needed to weld. At that point it was time to quite, so I could be ready to hit the road for our weekend in VA.