Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teardown Goes Faster

Putting anything complex back together is almost always a far harder adventure than taking it apart. That adage was again proven Tuesday evening, as I spent a couple hours in driveway putting Glinda’s drivetrain back together and back in place. I got the clutch fork properly placed and pulled the engine back against the differential - the bolts that hold the two drivetrain pieces together are tricky to start. I raised the rear of the engine up to meet the two studs extending down from the engine mount and finished that connection with the dual-washer and two locking nuts. With the jack out of the way, I slid under the car to tighten the two nuts of the front mounts. Then I carefully put the clutch linkages all back in place and finished the evening with test pushes of the clutch pedal – all felt smooth.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Enough of This Crap

Yesterday afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment which resulted in my getting home much earlier than normal. I took advantage of the extra hours by tackling Glinda’s clutch clunking issue. After donning grungies, I put her rear up on jackstands, pulled the rear wheels, and spent about fifteen minutes working in the engine compartment disconnecting electrical plugs, undoing the oil pressure sender, ground strap, and the accelerator linkage. I threw some cardboard under the car and crawled under to unlink the clutch, shifter, and throttle rod and loosen the two transmission mount nuts. I was careful to not disturb the orientation of the shift tube mounting rod in its bracket to prevent having to realign the shift tube again. The engine jack went under the engine next, jacked up and supporting the drivetrain. Removing the engine mount cover plate gave me access to twist off the two nuts holding the mount to the body. The engine came down slowly as I watched closely for anything hanging up. As soon as I could reach the top bell-housing bolts, I stopped pressing the jack’s down pedal. Off came the starter, followed by the remaining bolts holding bell-housing to differential. Finally, I could roll the engine rearward exposing the throwout bearing and clutch fork. Sure enough, the fork was not properly placed over the ball stud. One of the two retaining clips was bent between the cup and the ball instead of behind the ball. Once I got the clip bent back and the fork properly placed, I pushed the engine back into engagement with the trans-axle. While I was pushing, the lovely Loriann informed me my play time was over, so the reassembly will have to wait.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Weekend of Work, But all Lights are Still Mighty Small

Those would be the lights at the end of the tunnels called Glinda and Scarlett.

Friday evening I backed Glinda up onto ramps and slid underneath to try and figure out what was causing the clicking linkage clicking. I disconnected the cable from the pivot arm being careful to keep tension on the cable so its other end didn’t come off the pedal arm inside the car (a zip-tie did the job). Next I removed the small cover that closes off the clutch volume inside the bellhousing. That gave me access to jiggle and push the clutch fork around. Lo and behold, I got a clip-related click when I pushed the fork inboard. Problem solved? Only putting everything back together and taking the car out on a test drive would verify. That’s what I did, and before I could complete my couple miles and stop-and-go, the clunk had returned. By the time the car was back on the ramps, the whole area under the car was too hot to handle, so I gave up for the night.

The other sad outcome of the test drive was the unsolved rough running. I’d thought (hoped) the problem had been a failed Pertronix electronic ignition, so I was confident (mis-guided) that putting the stock points plate back in would result in a free-revving 110. Pedal to the metal in first and second gear and the tach needle would never go above four thousand. It’s so sad (there’s that word again) that I can’t get the work on this car going in the right direction. Mikhaila and I spent a solid six hours in the garage last weekend trying to make some headway with her car. What did we have to show for it? Three crusty brake lines lying on the floor and a better understanding of Scarlett’s electrical issues.

As to the first, Saturday was brake day. I had high hopes we’d get the final brake pieces installed and the system bled of air. After bending and screwing in the last piece of brake line, I went around and made sure all bleed valves were tight. Sadly, when I got to the right front (with the new wheel cylinder), I found I could not get a wrench on the valve. It looks like I mistakenly used a LM cylinder. Irr. We dug Scarlett’s original cylinder out of the box of brake parts, punched out the old guts, cleaned it in the parts washer, honed the inside, blew it clean, and stuffed it with a GUP rebuild kit. The newly rebuilt cylinder then replaced the incorrect and we were good-to-go. We topped off the master cylinder and began the dance of Press-Press-Hold. She would press the brake pedal twice and hold it on the third pump while I cracked open the bleed valve to let out the air. After a few minutes of this, I looked under the car and saw significant amounts of brake fluid dripping onto the cardboard. Irr (there’s that word again). We both grabbed paper towels and wiped up the mess. We then removed the front underside tunnel covers and confirmed the back-to-front brake line was rotted through in a couple spots. The rear tunnel cover came off next followed by the humped cover under the dash. That gave us access to remove the entire line. As I lay under the rear of the car looking at the crusty left and right rear lines, it was easy to make the call and remove them too. I’ll get the replacement lines from Napa sometime this week for installation next Sunday.

The next day, we hooked up a 12 volt supply to the ends of the battery cables and began a thorough check out of Scarlett’s electrical systems. The connectors for the right rear taillight showed 12V with the headlight switch pulled, but the left side was dead. We moved to the front and found both headlight plugs were powerless. A quick check showed we’d never returned the dimmer switch after painting the floor. With one pulled from GUP stock, cleaned up, checked, and plugged in, we had 12V at both contacts of both plugs. Yay! We then plugged the connectors to send the juice to the headlights, pulled the switch, but were rewarded with all four beams staying dark. Dead bulbs – no problem. Sadly (there’s that word again), though a continuity check showed all bulbs were still fine. We spent the next hour or so swapping switches and cleaning contacts until we finally got all the bulbs to burn brightly. TYL. We moved on to the blinkers, and, the left side checked out as did the front right side, but there was no electricity making it back to the right rear plug. I’m thinking the issue is in the blinker switch assembly – a little cleaning and adjusting is called for. Finally, I had Mikhaila connect the two brake light wires (the ones that plug into the brake light switch), so we could check out that circuit. Result – right works, left doesn’t. Again, the blinker switch is probably the culprit.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Are My Corvair Days Numbered?

A few recent occurrences in my life have me pondering my current car path. Of the cars in the fleet, none are roadworthy and it will take, I believe, significant efforts to make each of them fit for driving again.

Glinda is the closest, and she’s a drivetrain dropping project away from having her clutch fork engagement corrected. Added to that, every time it rains, her carpet gets wet; the needle on her voltmeter shows a charging voltage that’s too high; her dash still has an automatic transmission shifter sticking out it; and her trunk’s leading edge is a minefield of rust bubbles just waiting to explode. Many, many hours ahead of me to deal with those top of the to-do list items.

Scarlett is many Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons away from complete roadification – not to mention the challenge it’s going to be to come up with the estimated $1600 of parts that are left to buy. That all assumes the engine is good-to-go – not a surety by any stretch.

Luna has sat untouched since Victoria and I installed her new top eight months ago. Her engine hasn’t run in over a year, and she hasn’t been on the road in nearly two. I blogged back in February of 2014 that she and I agreed to regularly spend time working on her car. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. I wish I could count on one hand the tasks ahead of us to get her car where she’d like it, but it’ll take three hands at least.

Finally, there’s Ringo. When Ariel and I had to pull him from the road, he had a myriad of issue including a ripped out right rear wheelwell with associated body damage, a driver’s door that wouldn’t open, and a driver’s seat that wasn’t fully bolted to the floor. While I have all the parts and supplies to do the work, what I don’t have are the space and hours to make the repairs. Once Scarlett is on the road, Ringo will go in next I suppose.

So, what were the occurrences that caused this trip down Frustration Lane? First, a recent visit with my parents reinforced how important it is to make the most of every moment since we never know when we’ll lose the ability to do the things we love. It’s been a few years now since my mom and dad had to stop traveling due to my mom’s advancing dementia. Now she’s in assisted living and his days are spent as her caregiver. You never know what God’s plans are. Second, the budding trees and warmer weather means winter’s over and our yard needs attention. Finally, there are the never-ending house projects that suck a significant portion of my weekends.

So, what’s a whiner supposed to do? One option is to sell all four of them. The uproar that would cause would be immense, but the girls would forgive me eventually. Fortunately, the lovely Loriann recommended something a little less drastic. I give the daughters responsible for Ringo and Luna a couple ultimatums. They shall find time in their busy schedules to spend at least eight hours working on their cars before June 15, and then enough time to get their cars on the road before September 15. If they fail on either of these, I will sell their car for them.

That addresses two of the four. What about Scarlett and Glinda? Mikhaila and I WILL spend sufficient hours in the garage to get her car on the road by early June so she can enjoy a summer of top-down motoring. I WILL spend an evening a week working on my car knocking out her issues and making her a reliable, racy daily-driver.

One other fleet-related happening is tomorrow’s expected purchase of a second racing seat for Glinda. My occasional Craigslist searches finally turned up a reasonably priced, used seat that looks enough like my existing seat to not induce disgust every time I climb in. It needs cleaning and some coats of black spray fabric dye before being bolted in. Two bucket seats means I now get to find a storage place for Glinda’s original bench.

Monday, April 6, 2015

It Was Glinda Time Yesterday

Yesterday afternoon, while Ariel and Victoria were cooking a delicious Easter dinner, I was out in the driveway working on Glinda.

Before diving into discussing the work accomplished over the weekend, I need to share a couple events in Glinda’s life. I thought I’d already blogged about them, but a quick search proved a complete lack of documentation. First is an air cleaner modification. Back in the days of Lucy, I’d bought PVC couplers that were supposed to fit between the air cleaners and the carburetors to increase the straightaway the incoming air travelled before entering the carb. That modification lasted about a week when I found the air cleaners sitting askew atop the carbs. I reverted back to stock and squirreled away the PVC pieces. With some time to kill a few weekends back, I installed extensions between each of Glinda’s two carburetors and the associated end of the air cleaner cross-tube. In order to accommodate the increased height of the air-filter housing, I needed to increase the length of the stud that retains the cover. To do this, I ran two of the correct-sized nuts together onto a piece of all-thread and welded two nuts together. After letting the fabrication cool, I unscrewed it from the all-thread and installed it part-way onto the existing stud. Into the open end of the welded nuts, I then screwed in a 4” long piece of all-thread and snugged it against the end of the stud to lock it in place. It was the perfect length for the top wing-nut to hold the air cleaner cover in place. Zip-ties held the ends of the crossover tube to the carburetors.

The other undocumented work was the voltage regulator I’d mentioned in my last post. Well, it arrived from Amazon, and, once installed, actually increased the voltage reading rather than reducing it. It went back to Amazon, and I’ve chastised myself (again) for not supporting a Corvair parts’ vendor. The old regulator is back in place and borrowing Luna’s for another test is on the to-do list.

Now back to yesterday’s activities – which were focused on Glinda.

First issue to address was her clunking clutch. After backing her up onto the ramps, I tried all the linkage adjustments I could from one extreme to the other. Sadly, it was all for naught. Here’s a video of the issue as it now stands: I posted my problem on VirtualVairs and the first few responses I got all point to the clutch fork incorrectly installed. One responder’s sharp eye spotted a slight sideways movement of the rod that pushes the fork right as the clunk occurs. That, to me, is an excellent clue the fork’s got an installation issue. This wouldn’t surprise me since, at one point in my working on this car, I accidentally popped the fork off the pivot ball. I’d thought, at the time, that I’d properly popped it back into place, but that sounds doubtful now. Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible to access the fork’s attachment point through the small hole in the bell-housing. I think, however, I can drop the drivetrain enough to slide the engine rearward to access the clutch area. My hope and prayer is that I do NOT need to disconnect axles and control arms. There’s rain in the forecast and taxes to be done, so this project, however involved it gets, will have to wait a week.

The second issue I addressed was the stumbling performance under heavy acceleration. In keeping with my bad luck with Pertronix, I swapped out the Ignitor II for Glinda’s original points’ plate and made the necessary dwell and timing adjustments. The whole clutch thing will keep me from finding out if I’ve solved the problem until that’s resolved.

The third issue I fixed was the sticking throttle. I'd installed one of the new engine carburetor linkage pieces too close to it's neighbor and they were binding at wide-open-throttle. I moved the part slightly and the binding is history.

The final thing I did was finally install the last throttle linkage pivot subassembly. This was a piece I got a while ago, but was unable to use as-is since I couldn’t use the later transmission. The maker of this fine product, Roger Parent, sent me an adapter bracket that accommodates bolting his pivot onto the early transmission, so that’s just what I did. It looks and works wonderfully - nice and smooth actuation.