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.

Automotive adventures – July 2016

Adventures 2016:
We decided to go to Springfield IL to visit relatives and see the CORSA (Corvair Society of America) convention there in Springfield.
We thought we’d take our 04 VW Beetle on our trip instead of taking my Buick or renting a car.
There were indications that its cam belt had been replaced already, so I didn’t swap it prior to the trip.
Terrible idea.

We got to Oklahoma, about 80 miles short of OKC. (OKC = Oklahoma City)
At 70 mph, the motor shut off.
After coasting to the side, we tried to re-start the car.
The motor spun freely, showing no compression. By the sound of it, there was no point even opening the hood.
We called AAA. (We have extended towing – yay!)
They sent a flatbed to haul it and us to a AAA-approved shop in OKC (NOT a dealer).
I approved installing a good used motor. I specified that the replacement motor would get a new timing belt and new water pump.

We then got a rental car and continued to Springfield.
Of course, that scrubbed our plans to return via Colorado – the extra time and distance through OKC would put us in CO when relatives wouldn’t be there anyway.

The car was “ready” a day later than expected. When it was “ready”, I went to the garage and took it for a test drive. This revealed a blinking oil warning light and an oil leak. (The engine’s rear main seal was leaking.)
One and a half days later, it was supposed to be ready – but a transmission leak (front seal) manifested.
After two more nights (Sat and Sun) in the motel, it was to be ready. At 5PM Monday, the shop once again said it was.
It had run, and they had driven it around the block. However, it didn’t want to re-start. The dash light was on, and its computer showed error codes.
It turned out to be a bad crank sensor on the “good used motor”. They installed the sensor from our blown motor, and the system was happy.
At 6 PM, we finally headed for the airport to return our rental vehicle.
At 7 PM (plus a little) we were on the road for dinner and home.
We finally arrived home late Wed night. Very happy to be home.

Regarding plans for the Toy:
The weather we traversed convinced me to leave A/C compressor on the next motor, and I plan to add side windows.
We had 100 degrees + for days on end – a compelling argument for air conditioning.

We saw a really fun radical custom at the show – a ’66 (or so) Corvair, with functioning doors and all, that also tilts its body forward to expose its supercharged 3.8 Buick motor. All done really nicely. He actually tows his other show car with this one.

Recovery – followup

When I got the Toy back, I didn’t recognize the coolant leak right away. I actually drove it a couple of miles with no coolant at all!

When I finally recognized the problem, I had it transported to my friend’s place in San Dimas.

After I fixed the leak, the motor didn’t sound very happy. Also, the coolant seemed to be bubbling and fizzing. These symptoms suggested a damaged motor – possibly bearing damage and head gasket or maybe even cracked head.

I called my insurance and filed a claim. They sent an adjustor, who was very helpful. But he wanted an independent evaluation of the motor’s health. So, I arranged for a mobile mechanic to come and check it out.

The mobile mechanic arrived, and immediately recognized the motor. This was an excellent start. He listened to it run, and checked the coolant for combustion gases. The diagnosis: The noise was a noisy lifter and there was no indication of combustion gases in the coolant.

I had mixed feelings, of course. If they had payed for a the cost of a motor replacement, that would have gone toward the next swap – my supercharged motor waiting in the wings. But now I don’t have to do the swap right away, and can keep having fun until I’m ready to do the swap.

The mechanic suggested clean oil and maybe an additive to quiet the lifter. I did change the oil, and it did quiet down nicely.

The insurance paid me for the towing/impound, the mechanic’s fee, money for the cleanup I did myself, money for the damaged ignition switch and stereo, and even for the cooling system repair, since it all happened when the car was stolen. I’m happy.


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!

Half Price seats and transaxle

Some of the local salvage yards had a half price sale recently. I chose Ecology’s Santa Fe Springs site for selection and access.

I recruited a friend to help on Saturday, and we removed the transaxle from an 86 Olds.

Funny/strange: The place doesn’t allow people to bring jacks into the yard, so we had to find a couple of car jacks to work with. I can’t believe that enhances safety, but there you go…

Sunday, I returned and fetched a nice pair of seats from a ’92 Mercedes. Light gray leather, full power. Pretty!

That afternoon I installed the driver side seat, and discovered that the Toy is much shorter than the Mercedes is. I’ll need to modify the floor and/or the seat to lower it. (I want to lower it one inch, or more if possible.)

Interesting how much a change of seat height affects the feel of a vehicle.

Transaxle installation will happen sometime later. The current unit is not healthy, but it is drivable.