Thursday, September 29, 2016

So Close

Last weekend was a busy one, but Mikhaila and I did spend some quality time in the garage. Friday evening I pulled the right-side carburetor off Glinda and installed on the right side of Scarlett’s engine. I also removed the front bucket seats and laid down two coats of shiny black Rustoleum on Glinda’s floor.

The next morning, Mikhaila and I started up Scarlett’s engine and, finally, the right side was getting hot (meaning it was working), so the choke on that carb opened at roughly the same rate as the left side. This proved that the carb that has twice shown some sort of vacuum leak still leaks.

Now I needed to get a functioning carburetor to fill the now empty spot on Glinda’s engine. I recently received the modified carb bases in the mail, so using them to make whole carbs was the next project. I’d put all the pulled parts from the pre-modified bases in a container and I was actually able to locate said container and put the carbs back together. Part of that effort was to drill out one of the tiny brass screws that holds the throttle plate to its shaft. That went better than expected thanks to my drill press, a sharp bit, and the softness of the screw. Also part of the reassembly was installing the o-rings, washers, and springs that serve to seal the joint between a worn throttle shaft and the holes in the base. With both carbs complete, I installed the closest one to hand in Glinda and fired up her engine. Within a few seconds fuel was gushing out the vent holes on the top of the carb – stuck needle-and-seat. I yanked the coil lead from the distributor cap killing the engine and stopping the geyser show. Before pulling the top off the carb to fix the issues, I did a quick blip of the throttle to see if the old accelerator pump was working – it wasn’t. With the top off, I cut off the old pump cup and popped a new one in its place. I also, blew through the inlet of the carb with the float in the up position to verify it would close, and then, right before reinstalling the top, I checked the float and all looked good. With everything back together, I fired up the engine hoping all was good – it was not. The new carb was still misbehaving, so off went the engine and I had another choice to make – put on the other modified carb, or put together one of Glinda’s original-style carbs (earmarked for Luna) and install it. I opted for the latter and fifteen or so minutes later, Glinda was running smoothly again.

The next day I had some time before Mikhaila got off work, so I swapped on the second modified carb and, lo-and-behold, it worked fine. So, for those keeping score, it’s one modified ‘66 carb and one stock (LM, but not original) carb working on Glinda; one recently rebuilt LM carb and one stock (also LM) on Scarlett; a non-functioning stock and a non-functioning, a recently rebuilt ’68 carb, and an unassembled ’68 carb all sitting on the workbench. The last two Glinda activities of the weekend were squirting beads of high-quality caulk into all the joints around the new floor patches and then bolting in the front bucket seats.

Once Mikhaila was home from work, we headed out to the garage to work on installing Scarlett’s rear window. We carefully removed the staples holding the trim strip to the rear bow allowing us to remove that, but before we did, we used masking tape to mark exactly where the strip went on the top. With the strip out of the way, we removed the staples at the same bow holding the top in place. With those gone, we peeled back the top allowing us to move on to the next step – installing the rear window piece. In addition to its top edge being stapled to the bow, its bottom edge is stapled to the three trim sticks and that’s what we tackled next. Using marks that were already on the vinyl, we located and stapled the window to only the center, long trim stick and then, using only three bolts, installed said trim stick. After checking that the window was even on the bow, we pulled out the stick and stapled to the two, shorter, side sticks and then, using just enough bolts, we installed the sticks to the car. We then pulled the bow back as far as we dared and put in a few staples. The next check was pulling the top back over the bow and seeing if everything lined up – it appeared to be right on. With confidence we went ahead and completed stapling the window to the bow. At that point, it was dinner time and we called it a day.

So, we are so close to getting Scarlett on the road – just need to remove the trim sticks, staple the top’s bottom edge to the sticks using the existing holes as guides, reinstall the sticks, re-staple the top to the bow, and install the new leading edge weatherstrip. Okay, maybe not so close.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Second Seat In

Yesterday, after dinner, I donned grungies and proceeded to do what had to be done to get the front passenger Cobalt seat installed in Glinda. I placed the seat in the car lining up the outboard rear mounting screw, and marked the locations of the four feet on the floor. The angle grinder with a wire brush made quick work of removing all coatings from the areas to be welded to, while the bench grinder’s wire wheel cleaned up the four pieces of square tube. The angle grinder, now with a cutoff wheel installed shorted the feet so they’d fit into the tube pieces. After rolling the MIG welder out to the car, I welded the four pieces of tubing to the floor. For some reason the welding was not a nice as the driver’s side even after adjusting the feed rate a few times. I remembered that I’d put the heat setting on C, but I’d forgotten what had worked for the speed before. It also could’ve been that the connection to ground was farther away than last time. So while it didn’t look as good, the weld was still complete enough to provide good anchors. Once the four tubes were attached and the welds had cooled, I covered all the exposed steel with primer and let things dry while I turned my attention to the clutch again.

This time I decided to actually follow directions when setting the locations for the two clevises (or is that clevii?). After putting Glinda up on the ramps, I slid under the rear and disassembled both clutch linkage pivots. I tugged on the cable with roughly 15 pounds of muscle and spun the first clevis down the thread until the pin lined up with the hole in the fork (z-bar). All this with the fork set as close to 7/8ths of an inch from the cross-member as I could measure. With the fork engaged with the clevis, I then pulled all the slack out of clutch and spun the second clevis until the pin lined up with the corresponding hole in the other end of the z-bar. The final instruction was to, “Back off (3) Adjusting Rod three turns and assemble to lever with (2) Clip.” When something’s underlined, I tend to think it’s important. Well, I backed it off three from being inline and now the clutch grabs as soon as it’s off the floor. I think three should be two. Since the rear was up on the ramps, I

Having given the primer some time to dry, I decided I could install seatbelts and the front passenger seat. The seat bolted right in, so now I've got the ability to transport a passenger.

Before calling it a night, I started Scarlett’s engine to see if my vacuum blocking had fixed the right side’s cool running. The engine fired right up and there’s now a significant amount of vacuum at the right carb’s air horn and no hissing when I put my hand on top. However, the choke still didn’t move much from cold, but I can attest to the exhaust manifold putting out the heat. Not sure what the deal is – maybe the thermostat is bad. I’m thinking of investing in a new tool – an infrared gun to compare right and left sides. Also, thinking I’ll swap right with left carbs to see if the problem stays with the side or follows the carb.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oily Mess

It was a very busy weekend car-wise. It all started Friday evening with the hitching and re-hitching of Ringo to the truck. After gathering all the parts that were going with Ringo to his new home as well as the parts destined for the Corvair Ranch, I loaded them all in the bed of the truck. Next, I hitched Ringo to the truck, and as I was finishing Ariel drove up. As she rolled down her window, I could see the disappointment on her face - she’d hoped to drive her car one last time. I quickly offered to unhitch him, but she insisted it was okay. As she drove away and I went to the garage to close up for the night I couldn’t get her disappointment out of my head. So, I decided it was early enough that I had time to give her that one last drive. I called her and told her that I was on my way over with her car, so be ready to take him on your last ride together. I went back to the curb and undid the towbar from Ringo’s front bumper and the chain and wiring for the lights from the back of the truck. Knowing it would just be a short drive on neighborhood streets, I didn’t bother climbing under the car to disconnect the chain from the crossmember, but, instead, put the loose end with a good bit of length in the trunk and closed the lid to the first catch making sure nothing was dragging. After driving over a speed bump, I started to hear the chain dragging. Using my cellphone as a flashlight I found the chain hook dragging under the crossmember, so pulled it out and added that end to the end already in the trunk and continued to Ariel’s. After she and her fiancé, Jeff, drove off, I sat down on their front stoop and reached into my pocket for my cellphone, but it wasn’t there. Must’ve fallen out in Ringo – no worries. When they returned a few minutes later, I climbed behind the wheel and drove home where I grabbed a flashlight to find the phone, but it wasn’t there either. Okay, maybe it fell out when I climbed out of the car at Ariel’s. Using Brianna’s phone I called Ariel and she did a quick search but found nothing. Not good. It then occurred to me I didn’t remember having the phone with me after I used it to deal with the loose chain, so I wandered out to the spot where I’d used it as flashlight. I fully expected to find a smashed phone lying on the pavement, but saw nothing there or along the first few blocks of the drive after that corner. Big time not good. Fuming at my stupidity, I re-hitched Ringo to the truck and called it a night.

Saturday morning I arrived at Ringo’s new home around 9:30. John and I conducted the transaction and I headed on to the Corvair Ranch. After relieving the truck bed of its contents of cylinder heads, Glinda’s back seat, a large collection of wheel covers, and some other odds and ends, I headed into their office to gather the few parts on my shopping list. Jeff had the new key ready and I verified it fit the trunk lock I’d brought along. Next, Jeb (Jeff’s assistant) and I headed upstairs in one of the buildings to hunt for a ’64 Monza wheelcover for Scarlett and a driver’s door panel for Glinda. The former showed up right away, but I didn’t find the latter until the last section of panels. Fortunately, the first one I finally came across was in pretty good condition with just a few edges peeled from the cardboard – easily fixed with some spray contact cement. The last item on the list was a GUP finned, rear drum for Scarlett. Jeb had pulled a good one from their stash and I was set. Once I was back home, it was time for Mikhaila and I to do some work on her car. We decided to tackle the door weatherstripping. It took careful cement application, a bit of masking taped, and some sore fingertips to get both doors done, but done they were. At that point, we decided to be done with Scarlett until the next afternoon.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I needed to get Glinda back on the road, so putting in the floor was next on my agenda. I measured out and cut a large patch from an old LM hood and tacked it into place along the edge and with some plug welds where the u-beam ran under the floor patch. A smaller patch covering the forward part of the missing floor was cut and welded in as well. With the floor whole again, I coated all the added metal with primer and left the windows down so the primer could dry. Dinner time was fast approaching at that point, so I put the welder and the rest of the tools and supplies away for the day.

Sunday, before Mikhaila got back from work, I opened the garage door with the intention of ensuring Scarlett was running right for her first foray onto the street. I wanted to make sure all was good with the drivetrain before we spent the time putting the rear window in. With the brand new DieHard hooked up, I turned the key and a few cranks later the engine fired right up. As the engine warmed up, I put the shifter in D, but the transmission did not respond. The dipstick was dry, so I poured about a quart of ATF down the fill tube. After that, a flip of the shifter was followed with the associated lurch forward and drop in rpm. Same response when I flipped the lever to R, with the lurch being backwards. With that victory, I went back to the engine compartment and noticed the choke on the right side wasn’t opening up like the one on the left. I put my hand over the air horn and heard a lot of hissing – crap, a vacuum leak. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to determine the hissing was coming from the hole for the air cleaner hold-down j-hook. Since Mikhaila had decided she wanted the EM air cleaner set up, we didn’t need that hole, so I shut off the engine, mixed up a tiny batch of JB Weld, and plugged the hole. She arrived home soon after that, but, sadly, the new plug had to harden before we could start up the car again for its maiden voyage. So, instead, we changed the rear shocks. We’d put new ones in a few months back, but I never liked the way the rear of the car was way too bouncy. I dug through my stash and came up with a pair of GUP KYB’s that I decided were stiffer than the Clark’s Red Ryders. We swapped them out and then Mikhaila was done for the day – too tired from her job to continue contributing.

The final (I thought) fleet activity for the day was bolting in Glinda’s driver’s seat so I could put her back into daily-drivership. That went easily enough, but when I fired up the engine I noticed the oil gauge stayed on zero. Since the idiot light was not illuminated, I knew the issue was with the switch not the engine, so I backed the car out to the street. After helping my future son-in-law change the oil in his car, I went back to the street to put Glinda up on the ramps to adjust the clutch. As I approached the car, I noticed a shiny puddle under Glinda. I stuck my finger in it and the cause of the non-functioning gauge became apparent – a break in the nylon tube. For once I was actually prepared for such a failure. I opened the tool bag I pack for my trips to the track, dug out the small plastic bag with the pipe plug. With plug and wrenches in hand, I removed the fitting at the engine and filled it to keep any more oil excaping from the engine. Then, instead of backing onto the ramps to access the clutch linkage, I pulled forward onto them so I could remove the tunnel cover and clean up the oily mess I was sure the tunnel’s inside surface was coated with. A bunch of screws later the pan was loose and leaning against the fence where I coated it with Purple Power and brushed and rinsed the oil away. Thinking it was one of the splices on the clutch cable that had caused the tube to fail, I also removed the inside cover so both splices were exposed. Neither of them appeared to be rubbing on anything critical, but the upper splice was catching on a zip tie causing the catch near the end of the pedal travel. I cut it off and put on a new just out of reach of the moving splice. I also wrapped both splices completely with vinyl tape before putting the covers back on. I decided I’ll buy a whole new length of tubing with the fittings since I also needed to deal with the leak at the back of the gauge. Then I drove off the ramps, moved the ramps to rear of the car, and backed up onto them so I could move the clutch clevis a few turns out. Back down off the ramps and it was time to put away all the tools.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Like Welding ... or How To Put a Bucket Seat in a LM 500

With my semi-daily-driver Ringo soon to be parked in someone else’s garage, I needed to get Glinda roadworthy again. Currently, she’s occupying the driveway with her interior in disarray. Before last night the only front seat that would quickly bolt in was sitting in one of the Corvair Ranch’s buildings, so something had to be done, and quickly, to get the Cobalt bucket seat bolted in a space where no bucket had gone before.

I tried to find a good photo online of the front foot of the Cobalt’s seat track, but was unsuccessful, so the following, poor enlargement with red highlighting will suffice to enlighten what I needed to deal with. Coincidentally, this configuration is somewhat like an EM with hooks on the front of each track that go under a __|~~~~|__ shaped bracket bolted to the floor.

In preparation for installing these seats, I bought a piece of 1” square steel tube from Home Depot. My plan was to weld inch-an-a-quarter long sections of the tube (cut with the a disc in the angle grinder) to the floor and slide the feet into the open end. Since the foot was taller than the ¾” opening of the tube, I cut down the feet to fit. This also slightly lowered the seat in the car. LM 500s with their front bench seat only came with threaded mounting holes in the floor for the outboard ends of the seat – no inboard holes. I lined up the rear mounting hole of the new seat’s track with the outer threaded hole in Glinda’s floor and, fortunately, the center of the seat matches up with the center of the steering wheel – TYL. Using masking tape, I marked where the two tube pieces needed to be welded to the floor and then removed the seat. Out came the wire wheel and off came the paint in the areas where the welds would be. The sections of square tube made a visit to my bench grinder’s wire wheel to remove any external coatings that would impair the weld. I placed the first section on the floor holding it in place with a block magnet, connected the ground cable of my MIG welder to the nearby center seatbelt fitting that’s bolted to the body, and proceeded to lay down a bead of molten metal. The welder was set for melding sheetmetal, so I bumped up the heat and feed since the tube was significantly thicker than the car’s skin. While the first line was not that pretty, the next two looked pretty good (see below – you be the judge). I welded in the third and fourth sections replicating the spacing I’d measured from the actual seat. The moment of truth came when I hefted the seat back in, slide the front of the tracks into the ends of the square tubes and happily saw the outer rear hole line up perfectly with the threaded hole in the floor.

I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with the rear inboard hole yet since it sits partially on top of the tunnel. I’m leaning towards welding in a piece of 5/16ths threaded rod. All in all, a good night in the driveway.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sold, But Not Quite Gone

Yesterday evening I was hit by another bittersweet moment. The selling of a fleet member, while a relief to my limited time and funds, still brings the proverbial tear to my eye. I recounted to the buyer how Ariel and I spent many hours together getting her car on the road and many more keeping it there. Yes, Ringo had more than his fair share of breakdowns, but it’s not those memories that’ll stick with me. It’s the evenings and weekends I got to spend with my daughter turning wrenches and screwdrivers, wielding wire wheels and paint brushes, swearing at the frustrations, and celebrating the victories. By the way, the above photo of Ringo was taken the evening of April, 2006 when I first saw him.

“It’s going to a good home,” John promised after we sealed the deal with a handshake. He plans on taking care of all the issues I haven’t been able to get to. He’s got a friend that’s good with a welder, so replacing rust and bondo are already on his to-do list.

Part of the deal will be me delivering the car to his home just across the PA line. Even though I was just at the Corvair Ranch, I needed another excuse to head up there, since I’d forgotten a couple items I should’ve picked up on last Saturday’s visit.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Visiting the Ranch

Saturday morning I thought I was getting up before anyone in the house when I drug myself out of bed at 7:30. I was wrong. Brianna and Nicholas had already been up and running (literally), and they arrived back home as I was fixing myself breakfast. I had resigned myself to leaving Glinda’s front bench seat out of the load of parts going up to the Corvair Ranch, but Nicholas was kind enough to help me carry it out of the temporary garage and place it atop the pile in the back of the truck.

I arrived at the Ranch shortly after their 9 AM opening, and snapped a few photos of the bed-full before Jeff and I unloaded it onto a pallet. While he gathered the new parts to fill my shopping list, I chatted with a couple ‘vair guys about their projects. Jeb has dropped a 140HP with a modified Powerglide into his Greenbrier and is in the process of putting in aftermarket A/C . Tom pulled a turbo Corsa convertible out of Jeff’s collection of restorables and gave me a tour of what it’s been through. I told him I had some serious rotisserie envy as he spun the bare body around on its axis showing me the results of the body being acid dipped (to remove the paint and body putty) and dipped e-coated. The trick, he shared, was minimzing the air pockets that prevent the coating from getting to nooks and crannies. Looked like his coater was about ninety-nine percent successful.

Back to see how Jeff was doing. He’d pulled together the fuzzies, weatherstripping, and air cleaner brackets for Scarlett and the steering box for Glinda, but couldn’t come up with a 500 fender badge for a ’68. I quickly offered to go walk the yard with a borrowed putty knife. I relished the excuse to wander amongst the dozens of parts cars. Model 500s are much rarer than Monzas, so I had to pass by quite a few LMs until I came across the first 500, and quite a few more before I found a 500 with a badge still in place. Fortunately, it was the stick-on ’68 style I needed for Glinda and it was in the same slightly worn condition as Glinda’s existing one.

While the pile of parts I was to take home was significantly smaller than the one I’d brought Jeff, I knew that they were worth some serious money (the fuzzies and weatherstrip pieces alone have a Clark’s list price of nearly $300). Expecting to write him a check, I was thrilled when Jeff told me since I’d given him some good stuff (mainly the bench seat and a EM posi-traction differential), he’d call it even. What a guy!!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Three Piles

Last Friday I was contacted by a prospective Ringo buyer who said he’d try to come out and kick some tires Monday. In preparation for that I went digging for the good EM hood I’d promised would be part of the deal. I knew it was in the stall behind the garage, so Saturday I went digging. That area, for a while, was a catch-all for all things automotive and otherwise that I didn’t want cluttering up the garage. As I flipped up the tarp that partially covers the open end of the stall, I decided it was time to get rid of some of the excess stuff. The creation of three piles ensued. Pile 1 would be nastiness destined for the dump. Pile 2 would be bound for the Corvair Ranch. Pile 3 was the keeper pile – the stuff I’m just positive I’ll find a use for in the future.

Pile 1 ended up being three destroyed tires and a set of 14” 4-bolt wheels from an old Toyota. I’m sure the lovely Loriann would be disappointed to hear that I couldn’t find more for the pile. Pile 2 currently consists of a couple bucket seat frames, a box of LM parts, five 5-lug stock wheels, and a single 4-lug. Earmarked for this pile are an aluminum steering box, a rebuildable EM axle assembly, a couple Powerglides, a pair of bellhousings, a ’64 empty engine with bellhousing, a couple boxes of pistons, rods, and cylinders, an engine blocks, the seats out of Glinda, and some odd sheetmetal pieces. Pile 3 ended up being the aforementioned EM hood, a LM hood, two LM engine lids, and bottom section of a LM trunk.

The rest of the items in the stall are the LeMans and LeMans-related parts and pieces, gardening stuff, the sand-blast barrel, and a car-top carrier Brianna won’t let me throw away. Back to Ringo and my efforts to sell him. The prospective buyer couldn’t make it Monday, so it looks like he’s planning on coming Saturday. Also, another guy is interested and he may also come down over this weekend for a look. Not holding my breath.

For Scarlett, we’re down to just the rear window install, and weatherstripping and window fuzzies, which I’m planning on picking up Saturday morning. Bright and early I’ll make the drive up to the Corvair Ranch to get rid of the Pile 2 stuff and bring home the Scarlett stuff as well as a few items for Glinda (500 fender badge and a GUP steering box).

Speaking of Glinda; one picture is worth a thousand.
Yeah, she’s been sitting, interior empty, for far too long. Need to get the floor patched and the Cobalt seats installed before I have to park her for the salt season.