Monday, January 12, 2015

More Thinning

No, I’m not talking about the top of my head. I’m talking about Corvair parts I’ll never use. Yesterday, bundled against the cold, I tackled the task of replacing the cover on Luna’s home (the temporary garage). I started by removing the tarp I’d tied to cover all the holes in the roof. Then I pulled off the front and rear tarp pieces. Finally, I took off the top in pieces as just pulling on it caused the aged material to disintegrate.

With no walls it was easy to drag out parts and pieces that had been in storage. To facilitate installing the new pieces, I moved much of the contents out from under the frame and into the driveway. It took some fiddling, but I got the new cover installed in a little over an hour. I made sure I didn’t make the restraints tight since I believe the initial installation was too snug and contributed to the early failure of the top where it rubbed on the frame. If I could easily slide a hand between tarp and rail, I called it good.

With the garage enclosed again, I picked though the stuff in the driveway and chose what would stay and what had to go. The two 140 HP engine block assemblies stayed, as did the tub with the 140 heads and the one with the parts I’d gleaned from the 140 engine that was in Phil’s Corsa convertible I parted out. Also staying are a ‘64 Powerglide and mating differential (in case there’s an issue with Scarlett’s), the manual transmission out of the aforementioned Corsa, manual transmission bellhousings (one EM and one LM), Heidi’s original engine block/crankshaft/bellhousing assy (I should make that into a piece of art someday), some piston/rod assemblies and cylinders, body portions to patch Luna’s holes, Scarlett’s set of wheels, and one torque converter with a nice, barely worn ring gear. Moved to the back garage were a spare engine lid and hood (to use for patching holes). That which was left was loaded into the truck for a trip to recycler were four torque converters, two powerglides, a couple automatic bellhousings, a non-posi differential, and the old garage tarp pieces.

Sunday wasn’t the only car day of the weekend. I spent part of Saturday at my buddy Jonathan’s garage. He’d done some significant work on his Corsa’s engine by installing a trick cooling fan setup (based on a vertical Porsche unit) and an upgraded oil system. With all that done, however, he was unable to get the engine to start. The first thing I noticed after I was done oohing and aahing over the new stuff was the spark plug leads were installed wrong. I had him turn the engine to top dead center to verify that they were off by one post. I did a quick inspect of the cap and it looked very used up, as did the rotor, so Jonathan pulled nice ones off his shelf of parts and they were pressed into service. With the leads properly placed, I had him crank the engine - still no firing. I hooked up an inductive timing light and asked him to crank again - there was no spark going to the plugs. Further sleuthing using a voltmeter and the wiring diagram for his electronic ignition module revealed it wasn’t getting the right voltage. We hooked up a wire bypassing the resistance portion of the ignition wire and the engine fired right up, albeit at quite a high idle. Thinking the timing was too advanced, I turned the distributor clockwise and got the engine to slow down, but also causing backfiring through the carbs. Jonathan then discovered some binding in the throttle linkage, so he disconnected the carbs from the linkage and the engine settled into a nice thousand rpm idle. I aimed the timing light’s beam at the harmonic balancer and found the engine to be a little too retarded (is it still politically correct to use that term?). A slight adjustment and the line and the 16 degree BTDC mark were aligned. That’s a little more advanced than stock, but his engine is far from stock. Also, since it was idling at 1000 rpm, the centrifugal advance is probably doing its thing, albeit slightly. He’ll do the final timing adjustments using the twist-it-till-it-pings method. I tightened the hold-down nut, and we moved on to putting his multi-spark unit back into the ignition system. With the wires all in place per the Crane diagram, we tried starting the engine – nothing. The timing light confirmed a lack of spark again. We spent a while double-checking all the wiring and concluded the box must be bad. We put the wiring back the way it was when the engine ran and it started right up again. He’ll be in touch with the Crane folks to see what to check next.

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