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.

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