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.

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.

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 – Stolen, recovered

Last week, the Toy was stolen while parked in West Covina. I drove it to the EDD office there, to visit the Experience Unlimited office.
When I came out at 4:30, it was gone. My wife came and got me. We went to the police station and filed a report.
By 9:30 that evening, the car had been recovered. Part of the cooling system had failed, and it overheated. The car was abandoned on the freeway median.
Primary damage: possible bad head gasket (looks like combustion gasses in coolant) and an engine noise. Looks like this engine is done for. Time to get moving on the next phase of the project. The car was insured, so the adjustor must see it and I’ll see what kind of settlement I can get.
More later…

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.