Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
Last night, the lovely Loriann came out to the garage and warned Mikhaila and I about the dangerous atmosphere we'd created in the garage. At the time we were standing in a fog of Scarlett's exhaust and blow-by, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Monday evening Mikhaila and I traveled to the home of the local Corvair guru, Gary. He had the balance tube we needed for Scarlett. He joked that if she was missing hers, the one in his hand may have been it. He’d helped the previous owner get the car running about fifteen years. He warned me it was a hot engine – “the strongest 110 Powerglide I ever drove.”” The only problem,” I replied, “it’s got low compression now in at least one cylinder.”
Yesterday, after dinner, Mikhaila and I headed out to the garage to, hopefully, get Scarlett running. We installed the aforementioned balance tube using new hoses to the carbs and transmission. Thinking positively, we screwed on the taillight lenses and bezels with new gaskets. Next, we opened the garage door, turned on all the fans to keep air moving through and out the space while we poured in about three gallons of hi-test and half a bottle of Marvel’s Mystery Oil into the gas tank. During the pour, I had Mikhaila check for drips and puddles under the car. Thankfully, all remained dry below.
A check for fuel at the carbs by blipping the throttle showed they were empty. Using a large syringe I squirted about a half-cup of gas into vent holes to refill each carb’s bowls. Before starting, we checked the dwell (31 degrees – close enough) and set the timing. The former was checked with the dwell-meter while cranking the engine, while the latter was accomplished by turning the engine until the rotor was pointing to the #1 terminal on the distributor cap and the timing mark was sitting at about twelve degrees before top dead center and then slowly turning the distributor counter-clockwise until the timing light (connected to the #1 lead) blinked. Jumping the starter’s purple wire to the positive battery terminal got the engine spinning and a few seconds later we had a running engine.
The first thing I noticed was the excessive blow-by coming out the crankcase vent tube. The second thing I noticed was the lack of a clacking lifter. Okay, bad news balanced by good. We let the engine warm up watching the chokes slowly open – oops, the left choke is not opening very quickly. After tweaking the timing to get it up to around 12, and adjusting the idle speed down to around 600, we pulled spark plug leads off the distributor one at a time to gauge whether individual cylinders were contributing. Pulling #1 – no change in engine rpm. #3 – no change. All others appear to be functioning. This is odd since the last compression test (if my notes are correct) showed #2 to be the dead cylinder. Ah, old cars; consistency is a myth. The last thing we checked before turning off the engine was the transmission. Mikhaila put the shifter in Drive and the left rear wheel spun (the rear of the car’s still on jackstands), but only half-heartedly. I asked her to put the shifter into Reverse and the only change was a backup light came on. The left rear wheel kept spinning forwards. Irr. Looks like we need to reinsert the shifter cable.
What to do next? In addition to fixing the shifter cable (hoping that it really is installed wrong and not a deeper problem with the trans), we’ll do another compression check on each cylinder to see if things have changed. I was going to do a top-end engine clean using Sea-Foam, but I want to know what we’re dealing with first.