Small victories

Actually, this is something I figured out last year sometime –
In working my way through the “phase two’ engine/suspension project for the Toy, I had a problem with one of the hubs from the donor suspension: I had destroyed one of the wheel lugs during teardown, and ruined the stud it was on. (The wheel had cute ‘anti-theft’ lugs, and one of them had been ruined by someone before I got the car.)
Now, replacement studs are available, and it isn’t a big deal to have a new one pressed in. But the hub bearing had noticeable play, meaning it was worn out and needed replacement. When I removed it, I discovered that it had not been installed correctly, and the bolts were loose. Good thing I found that – loose suspension parts can be a big problem. Now, what to do?
A few years ago, I replaced both front hubs in my daily driver, an ’03 Regal. One of the old hubs was worn, and I replaced both of them.
I still had the units I removed. (Packrat? Guilty as charged.)
One of the removed hubs seems ok.
I cleaned everything up and installed the two best hubs. It may need new ones someday, but for now they are plenty good enough.

June 2016

I’ve been upgrading my workshop with an arc welder and a TIG torch. (also known as heliarc)
I am not getting the results I want from the TIG yet, need to figure that out.
I also have a small sandblasting cabinet and a few other odds and ends.
The finish welding for the engine cradle and suspension parts isn’t done, but has progressed a lot.
Everything went on hold for our summer vacation, and is slowly resuming.
Everything takes longer than it should!

Cruising through Palos Verdes

I’m fine, just haven’t posted anything. I went to a few Corvair events – SCC had a cruise down around Palos Verdes . That was fun. We got rain at the very end, which was inconvenient. We finished at the Korean Friendship Bell for photos. I left the car running, as we were only going to be there for a moment.
The moment dragged on, and as I was almost back to the car, it erupted in water and steam.
It was chilly and raining, and I hadn’t turned on the radiator fan. (No, it is not thermostatic.)
Temperature and pressure rose, and one of the PVC-to-steel fittings blew out and dumped the cooling system.
Ok, shut the motor off and had a look – a threaded steel pipe stub had come out of the PVC fitting it was screwed into.
As things cooled down a bit, I found that the pvc had returned to shape and I could simply screw the steel pipe back into it.
One of the club members found a water faucet with hose behind a nearby building. I thanked them, and they all left. I was able to drive over there and refill the cooling system, then head home. In the city, I get plenty of rain through the mesh top. Anyway, found shelter, got the wipers reconnected, and drove home.

2014 Capital City Spring Fling

The Corvair club near Sacramento has an event every spring. It seemed like a fun event and I decided to go.

Partly for this event, and also because I had been thinking of the Convention in Tacoma, I had decided that I needed a bit of rain resistance.
To start, a non-mesh top should help in wet weather.
Joann’s has regular sales, and I got a big chunk of outdoor vinyl. They were out of black, but they had some gray that matches the primer very nicely. A lady at our church was willing to do the sewing, so I gave her the vinyl and the existing mesh top as a pattern.

While she was working on the top, I fabbed up some rear quarter windows (1/8″ clear plastic) for the car and mounted them in. Very light, and fit fairly well. Also got the wiper motor working and a switch hung in temporarily.

The church lady had some challenges getting the vinyl sewn, and some of the stitching wasn’t perfectly straight. Also, I had asked that it be a bit larger on the sides, and she obliged. My estimate wasn’t too good, and it kind of flaps down over the sides a bit far. Dang. Well, it’s still ok.

Overall, it’s … wait for it … “good enough”.
That’s the mantra for this car.

Anyway, at the very last minute I was installing the snaps in the fabric and got it installed on the Toy.
The weather promised rain enroute, and I’d really decided to go and had sent in my registration fee.

I got the car together late Friday, and decided to catch a nap then drive through the night.
I found out the vinyl top was horribly noisy, because the front edge caught air coming off the windshield. It billowed up, howled like a banchee at anything over 40 mph, and would funnel any rain on the windshield into the inside of the vinyl and onto me.

I kept the vinyl in place up to Gorman, then stopped at the gas station there. Vinyl top off, mesh top on.
Turns out that, at speed, the mesh works just fine!

So, the rest of the weekend I kept the mesh top in place. In Sacramento, we had no rain after early morning. I had some rain coming home, but kept moving and everything worked fine.

Oddly, the only time I got much water through the door window opening was going down the Grapevine toward Bakersfield. The wind was quartering and I was getting raindrops in my eyes for a bit.

The car ran fine, and hwy 99 is somewhat scenic. It was a good trip.

April 2013 Updates

Throttle cable and notes on brakes

A pending problem gets fixed, and an existing situation considered.

Throttle Cable

Funny, there was quite a discussion of clutch cables on the VirtualVairs discussion list.
The Toy has an automatic trans, but it does have a cable for the throttle.
It was just some stranded steel cable of no particular heritage, and it finally failed Sunday.
It was in service for 3 1/2 years, and had shown distress and fraying where a pulley wasn’t well aligned.

I was able to re-route the cable through an access door and I tied it together so I could limp it home for repair.

The smallest stranded cable at Home Depot is substantially larger, but the individual strands might be smaller than the old one.
So, for about $3.50 it has a new cable.

We’ll see how long this one goes.


A discussion (again on VirtualVairs) led me to consider the master cylinder setup in the Toy.

It (’61 Corvair platform and master cylinder) is feeding Tempest wheel cylinders in front, with 1 1/16 bore) and disks in back (from front of 87 Olds) with a proportioning valve in the front circuit. The brake system works ok, except that  it has more pedal travel than I’d like.

I thought the pedal travel was mainly due to the fact that the front brakes are tired and I can’t adjust the front shoes farther out without them dragging.
Then I realized that the large bore cylinders in front are part of the problem – it takes 70% more travel (of the master cylinder) to move them than it would a stock Corvair cylinder due to the greater fluid volume required. I don’t know how the rear disk affect pedal travel. Edit: The rear disks shouldn’t  require much pedal travel, because they are always adjusted up.

I went and adjusted the brakes again, and got the pedal back up to a decent level. The real solution will be to upgrade the fronts to disk.


The Toy – Project update

Recently, I got a good deal on a better motor and trans for the Toy.
It’s from a 2002 Pontiac Bonneville, and is a supercharged newer brother to the Toy’s motor. Well, I was going to need some odds and ends to put it together – these included:

  • Motor mounts and brackets
  • Axles for the newer transmission (possibly custom, if need to adapt late trans to old hubs)

I’ve also wanted to revise the rear suspension, to get rid of the struts and make room for wider tires.
For that project, I wanted:

  • A spare subframe – to build up with the new suspension
  • Later model A-arms, if possible – they are designed better than the Toy’s ’87 units.

I found a 1998 Buick Regal GS (the GS is Buick’s supercharged model, with the same performance stuff as the Bonneville) that was getting scrapped. The motor is bad, but the rest is there. This gives me:

  • Motor mounts and brackets
  • Axles that match the newer transmission
  • Hubs that match the axles and transmission
  • Subframe with later-style A-arms
  • Late style hubs, brakes, and related parts

In addition, “little” things like:

  • High capacity fuel pump (needed for supercharged motor)
  • Gauges (speedo and tacho) that work with the new style engine control computer
  • A spare transmission
  • Floor shifter and  linkage that work with the transmission
  • A spare engine computer, and complete wiring harness
  • Even a modern ignition switch (if I want to use it.)

And, this car belongs to the same body series as my 03 Regal – headlights, radiator (the ’98 has a new one) most interior parts, misc other stuff will fit. It even has the same wheels, with at least two pretty good tires.

The car is now at Don’s.
Let the fun begin!

bodywork for the Toy

Well, fixing some of the problems (previously disguised with primer)

the fiberglass is soooo bad…

well, it’s a bit less bad now.

New Firewall

For expediency, I used the engine cover and bulkhead the car came with when I bought it. It enclosed the entire middle of the car from just behind the front seats.

Since I installed the transverse 3.8 package, there was a huge amount of empty space back there. Now it’s time to change. The new covers will provide room for groceries and rear seats. The reworked brake lines and water pipes were a first step.

Construction will be plywood panels with metal framing. For fire protection, I’ll face the plywood with sheet metal on the engine side.


A.K.A the never-ending story.

I’m re-doing the water pipes to the motor. I’m arranging them so there will be room for back seats and giving them metal ends so the hoses will stay tight. Since PVC wants to creep at engine operating temperature, any hoses that are clamped directly to it must be re-tightened every week or two.

I’m re-doing the brake lines, too. Once I mock up the new firewall, I’ll see if the shift cable needs to move.