Thursday, March 19, 2015

Glinda’s Back on the Road

For a few days, spring had sprung here in Maryland. A couple steady rains had washed the corrosive chemical down the storm-drains and into the bay (don’t get me started), so it was safe to bring out Glinda and her un-galvanized body. I had decided last fall that I was done with unnecessarily creating corroded metal projects, so Glinda spent the snowy months under a big tarp. Last Sunday I pulled the tarp off and fired up her engine. It took a few seconds of cranking to re-fill the carburetor bowls, but she finally rumbled to life and settled into a nice, throaty idle (I really love the Flowmaster muffler).

It wasn’t until today, though, that I drove her to work. She behaved fairly well. There’s still some hesitation and bucking at higher rpm, so I’ll be tearing down the carbs for a thorough cleaning. I got a bit of a scare when doing a full throttle test and I thought the throttle was stuck in the full-open position. I need to check and make sure that all is well before I try another pedal-to-the-metal maneuver.

The voltmeter is still reading above 15 most of the time, so I ordered a replacement that, once installed, should prevent the alternator from burning up the battery. While the wallet was open, I also ordered a new set of spark plug leads for Scarlett. I was tempted to buy a battery box in hopes that it would motivate me to weld in Glinda’s replacement trunk floor and do the battery relocation, but I held off since the chances of me finding the time for an unnecessary project are slim to none.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Had a Dream

It must’ve been the recent purchase of a VERY nice car for the lovely Loriann – a ’10 Dodge Challenger R/T – that caused me to have an extraordinary dream. No, not the kind of dream MLK had, but the kind of dream one has in their sleep. The kind of dream we have no control over. In this dream, the fleet was gone, and all we were left with was the Challenger and the LeMans (fully restored, of course – it wasn’t a nightmare). The driveway was empty providing an unencumbered path to the garage, and the garage was cleared of all spare ‘vair parts and tools so we could – and this is what made the dream unbelievable – park both our daily-drivers inside. This has never happened to us before. There’s always been at least one old car in the family, and not since living in Pittsburgh an eternity ago has a daily-driver had the luxury of enclosed parking.

Sadly, it was just a dream, and my barely-a-two-car garage is still filled with Scarlett and car stuff, while the driveway is looks like the beltway at rush-hour. Do I see a day when our home only accommodates two cars? Doubtful, especially if the trend of the last few years continues. The graph below tracks our car ownership starting with our first year of wedded bliss. I guess it’s expected that the number of cars would rise as our fleet of daughters reach driving age. The scary thing is we can’t seem to stem the tide of a growing fleet of Corvairs, even after the eldest had me sell Heidi. If this trend of expansion continues, we’ll gain another Corvair by the end of next year and add a sixth by 2019. In other words, the trendline must make a turn down immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The List Dwindles

Bundled for the cold, Mikhaila and I went out to the garage yesterday afternoon for a couple hours of quality Scarlett time. I’d purchased all the parts I thought would be necessary to get us to the brakes-are-done point, so we voraciously attacked that project. We bent the new front left brake line to match the old one and routed – Mikhaila on her back under the car and me jumping between right front wheelwell and under the dash. Next we bent and installed the left front followed by finding and popping in the grommets. Sadly, one has gone missing, but I’m hoping I’ve got a GUP sitting in box A4 (see previous post on inventorying). After bench-bleeding the new dual master cylinder, we bolted it to the firewall and moved on routing the last two brake lines. Since the threaded holes in the side of the master cylinder were larger than the stock lines, I’d bought adapters. The thickness of the rear adapter (for the front lines) forced us to re-bend the end of the existing brake line, and then, once it was lined up, we discovered I’d bought the wrong adapter. So, we moved on to the new line connecting the front port of the master cylinder to the existing brake line fitting under the dash. We carefully located and drilled a new hole, ran the grommet over the brake line and stuffed one end of the tube through the hole. After popping the grommet into place, bending a generous U in the tube, and screwing it into the adapter on the master cylinder, we climbed under the dash again and found the tube I’d bought wasn’t long enough to make the bends to connect to the rear line. Now I have two reasons to go back to Napa. Hitting that dead-end forced us to move on to other endeavors. I decided it was a good time to make a list of the minimum amount of work necessary to get the car on the road. We came up with the following list:
  • Buy brake line fittings, short brake line, and replacement lightbulbs.
  • Bend and install brake line and install the fitting.
  • Install seat
  • Bleed brakes
  • Buy spark plug leads
  • Take muffler and pipe to muffler shop
  • Install exhaust system and spark plug leads
  • Check fluids
  • Borrow battery
  • Start and run engine
  • Check transmission
  • Check compression
  • Scrape paint off windows
  • Check lights
The sooner we can get Scarlett on the road, the better for our attitudes.

With the garage finally warm and some time before dinner, we decided to continue working. The easiest task to cross off our list, we felt, was checking the lights. I grabbed my 12V transformer and we hooked it up to the battery cable ends. I had Mikhaila turn the key, but instead of seeing idiot lights illuminated on the dash, we saw and smelled smoked coming from the transformer. The + and – terminals are unmarked on the transformer, and when I’d recently put new leads on, I'd gotten them backwards. It was toast – literally. Taking that as a sign, we shut off the heaters, turned off the lights, and locked the door as we headed back to the house.