Friday, January 29, 2016

All Quiet on the Snowy Front

I was able to get the replacement clutch cable installed last Friday before the snow came. The car, however, still safely sits in the garage. It probably won’t come out until Spring.

The cable install was pretty straightforward. I measured the distance from the end of the cable to the link for the clutch lever on the old and matched it to the new so there was no adjustment necessary. I checked all around the area where the previous cable broke to make sure nothing was rubbing and couldn’t find any issues. Just not sure what caused the failure.

I’d noticed that Glinda was a little louder than normal and confirmed a leak in the exhaust pipe where the right side meets the crossover. I’m toying with the idea of dual exhaust, but it’ll be simpler, faster, and cheaper to just weld the crack shut, so that’s what’ll probably end up happening.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Garage Sees Three-Quarters of the Fleet

Got to deal with three of the four fleet members over the weekend.

Friday evening, priority one was to get Ringo back on the road, but that changed with a phone call from Mikhaila. “Daddy, the clutch pedal’s not working – it’s very loose and I can’t shift into first gear.” Busted clutch cable, so off I went in the truck with the towing gear still bouncing around the bed. Upon arrival at the breakdown, I confirmed the cable was at fault by finding the pedal end loose and completely disconnected from the pedal linkage. Since we were less than three miles from home and it was late enough that traffic shouldn’t be an issue, I chose to save time and just drive the car home without using the clutch. With Mikhaila driving the truck, I figured if this adventure failed, we’d revert to towing. Since the engine was still warm, I put the shifter into first, checked traffic, and turned the key. The starter got us moving and the engine turning. I kept it going until the engine was running and we were moving down the road. Upshifting into second was a matter of letting off the throttle, pulling the shifter into neutral, and, once the rpms had dropped sufficiently, snicking the shifter into the next higher gear. I negotiated neighborhood streets and only had to blow through one stop sign. I did, however, catch one red light forcing me to shift into neutral, turn off the car, and coast up to the line. Once the light went green, I repeated the first gear starter thing and was parked in front of the house a few minutes later. This feat of clutchless motoring impressed the lovely Loriann (not an easy thing to do). I tried to convince her that we should go out and try it on her Challenger, but she forbade it.

Saturday morning came and went with yard projects taking my attention, but I was able to get out to the garage in the afternoon. Mikhaila had put the rear wheels on Scarlett and lowered her to the garage floor. Then son-in-law Nicholas (Mikhaila had to go to work) helped me push Scarlett out into the driveway to her winter parking spot where I covered her with a heavy-duty tarp.

Into the garage went the noisy Ringo for a muffler transplant. I had found a complete EM exhaust system (pipe and correct round muffler) up in the rafters, but had failed to turn up any exhaust gaskets. Since most of the old gasket material was still in place on the pipe ends, I was planning on a liberal application of exhaust sealer paste from NAPA to fill in any gaps. The old pipe and muffler came off together rather easily and without any fastener breakage. The hanger, however, had rusted away enough that I wouldn’t trust it to hold the strap on a new installation. I removed it from the engine, cut out a patch, and welded it on to the cleaned-up hanger to give it new life. Back on the car went the hanger and then I supported the muffler with the loosely installed strap. I squeezed a nice bead of sealer over the gaskets and mated them to the exhaust manifolds. After coating the manifold stud threads with anti-seize, I put on the four nuts capturing the flanges against the manifolds and tightened the strap before pushing the car off the ramps to let the sealant cure overnight.

The next day, after getting home from church, I fired up Ringo’s engine and thankfully the exhaust system sounded quiet again. It was interesting to see how much fluff got blown out of the muffler – one less cozy mouse-house in the garage.

With Ringo now parked at the curb, I finagled Glinda in to the garage to investigate the clutch cable issue. Two jackstands got the entire left side up off the floor so I could slide under and, after confirming the engine end of the cable was still in place, remove the two tunnel covers. Once the forward one was on the floor, it broken end of the cable presented itself. It appears it broke right at the pulley wheel. I checked and the wheel still turned so I’m not sure what caused the failure of a less than two-year-old part. Thankfully, Clark’s Corvair Parts stood behind their product and agreed to send me a new replacement for just the cost of shipping.

The rest of yesterday was spent working with Nicholas on replacing a couple pulleys on his Dodge Caliber. I was quickly reminded why working on older cars, Corvairs included, is much, MUCH easier than the newer ones, especially those with transverse engines. Thanks to YouTube and more body flexibility than I’d expected, we were able to complete the job and get their daily-driver back on the road.

This morning Ringo was back on daily-driver duty and performed admirably. No backfiring or hesitation on the street or highway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Baby, It Was Cold Outside

With Scarlett still occupying the garage, work on getting Ringo back on the road had to take place in the twenty-something degree discomfort of the driveway. I had quick to point the finger at a carburetor, but a Facebook posting by my Corvair-buddy Geoff reminded me of the saying, “95% of fuel problems are electrical.” So, the first thing I did after donning layers of grungies was hook up the dwell meter and crank the engine. Dwell was still reading 32, but I went ahead and put back on the previous point’s plate with a GUP set of points with the contacts slightly sanded. Since the cold battery didn’t have enough oomph left to set the dwell by cranking with the starter, I went old-school and set the point gap. As I was turning the engine with a wrench to get the point’s rubbing block on top of a cam, I noticed gas dripping from the fuel pump. Irr. I pulled off the offending part and replaced it with the newish-looking one off Scarlett. After a little gas went into each carb, the engine fired right up and settled into a nice idle … for about a twenty seconds before dying. Irr. Figuring the supposedly functional fuel pump wasn’t so functional, I cracked open one of the fuel line fittings and cranked the engine – sure enough, no gas. Off came that pump and I immediately marked it BAD. On went the next newish-looking pump from the
stash. After attaching the inlet tube, I poured a little gas down each carb, started the engine, and crossed my fingers that I’d see pulses of fuel come out of the outlets. Nothing. Another pump gets BAD written on it. The final pump from my stash was seized, so I had no choice but to put the original back on. With all the fitting tightened, I started the engine and tightened the pump’s screws to stem the drops to just a slow ooze. The dwellmeter indicated my gap-setting, while good enough to get the engine running, wasn’t quite where it needed to be. A tweak or two with a screwdriver and dwell was back to about 32 degrees. That was followed by a re-setting of the timing to 12 degrees BTDC.

At that point my fingers were too cold to continue. Replacing the muffler had to wait until another evening – hopefully one with temps at least in the thirties.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Two Steps Forward; Blah, Blah, Blah

Yeah, I like making strides forward, but I abhor going backwards. That, however, is how the last couple days have been.

Yesterday, Mikhaila and I spent an hour or so in the garage adjusting Scarlett’s valve lash. With the low compression ratio in cylinder number two, I was hoping maladjusted valves would be the cause. We started by lowering the front end off the jackstands and onto wheels for the first time in quite a while. We then put a wheel on the right rear and lowered it to the ground. Up went the left side as high as the heavy-duty jackstand and jack would put it. Mikhaila wielded the wrenches while I directed the removal of the valve cover and the checking of the valve lash. All valves seemed to be too loose (meaning probably not the cause of low compression). We got them up to spec and then repeated the same procedure to cylinders one, three, and five. We were going to move on and begin bolting shrouds back onto the engine (being the optimist that I am), but that was stymied by the fact that I’d forgotten we hadn’t yet riveted the rubber seals to the side shrouds, or the front shroud for that matter. With the hour heading towards nine PM, we decided to turn out the lights and heaters and head into the house.

On to Ringo’s and his frustratives (see sidebar).

About a week ago, I went out to the driveway to tackle two issues. First, the maddening driver’s door. It took a few minutes to remove the fresh air grill and carpet from the left front footwell exposing the door-hinge bolt heads. I loosened all six of them, but not so much as to let the door move. A rubber mallet provided the impetus to adjust the door in its opening. I was trying to bump the lower hinge slightly forward, but all I accomplished was knocking loose some rust from the bottom rear corner of the door. With each hinge bolts a turn looser I was able to get the door moved where I wanted it. I screwed the latch plate back into place and now the door closes without slamming. We’ll see how long that lasts. Out came the power grinder with a wire brush on to clean up the rust mess I’d just made. After getting rid of all the loose stuff, I liberally applied a coat of POR-15 to stem the rusty tide.

On to the second issue – no choke on the left carburetor. I backed Ringo’s rear up onto the ramps and, after exhaustively (pun intended) trying to get the coil and rod out, I ended up having to lower the left exhaust manifold to provide passage. A spare head gave up a new rod and the stash gave up a set of three GNP exhaust donuts. A few minutes later, the engine was running and I was listening to make sure the exhaust was leak-less. With that confirmed I reinstalled the dangling lower shroud, rolled the car off the ramps, put away the tools, and called it a day.

Now, jump to this morning – the first time I’ve driven Ringo in a week and a half. While his engine started right up and settled into a proper idle, pulling on to the beltway a few minutes later seemed to require more effort than usual. As we neared the end of my ten mile commute, the engine started stumbling, and as I made my last turn into the parking lot a steady stream of backfiring ensued. I dropped the transmission into Low and matted the gas pedal to ensure I’d make it into a parking spot. That maneuver was rewarded with a very loud backfire, but I did barely make it into a spot. As soon as I braked to a stop, the engine died. I got out and surveyed the damage – yep the entire seam of the muffler had been blown out. I quickly pulled the tops off the two air cleaners to see the state of fuel. The right side seemed okay, but the left side seemed to have two problems. One, the throat had a cloud of gas in it (stuck needle and seat perhaps – running rich = exhaust backfiring), and two, I couldn’t see a shot of gas when I blipped the throttle. Good thing the towing equipment’s in the bed of the truck.