Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good news and bad news

The good news is that after removing the spark plugs, the new engine turns freely. The bad news is that it turns freely through about 330 degrees. Probably a stuck valve, hopefully some penetrating oil and a hammer will free it up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dr. Frankenstein had it easy

It's been a while since our last update. As you may know, we suffered catastrophic engine failure at Goin' For Broken in May. A week later, we had come into possession of a new drivetrain, and it was in the back of the big white van until it could be moved into a garage to work on. We anticipated it might take a few days.

Last Friday, with a rented engine hoist and much cursing, we moved it into the garage.

The drivetrain we bought came with the primitive-even-in-the-sixties Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. This was naturally of no use to us since our car has a four-speed and the bodies are different. Off it came, to live in my basement until we can find some sucker who will give us a hundred bucks for it. The diff will come off later; if it's a posi unit we might be able to sell the diff and trans for what we paid for the motor.

The plan was that we'd do a quick compression check on the motor, see that it was in nearly perfect condition, do a little engine-transmission switch, and go racing.

This plan got off to a good start when we saw that the engine was only a quart or so low on oil.

It took a turn for the worse when we noticed some twigs and grass through one of the spark plug access holes.

Removing the sheet metal - more cursing, fevered use of vise-grips, and cutting away rotted rubber tubes - showed that our engine had been used as a home by some small animal. Probably feathered.

Some more time with the shop vac and some compressed air and we should be remove the spark plugs without fear of contaminating our precious combustion chambers. If we end up with 140 psi of compression, it's probably because the they're half full of mouse turds.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Going For Broken Race Report

We went for broken, and we made it. Pictures to follow, but I'll sum up. We threw the fan belt, didn't notice until the engine overheated and threw a rod. Our plan was to remove the trashed #3 piston and conrod, along with the intact #4 piston and conrod, and run the thing as a four-cylinder. Sadly, even after removing the damaged pistons, the crank was locked up solid.

We found one possible parts car, but there was an inch-thick layer of leaves and dirt in the engine compartment, including inside the open oil filler neck. We found a line on a possible spare motor, but the person selling it was so high on meth when we called him Saturday night that he had forgotten the conversation by Sunday morning and claimed he had sold the motor to someone from Las Vegas.

With no motor, our race was over. I think we completed 10 laps, but maybe only 9. We will mount the piston and conrod next to the trophy from Arse-Freeze-A-Palooza.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Like Butter

Those are the words Jake used to describe the shifting of our newly repaired transmission. We have 3rd gear folks! Who knows, we might actually be competitive now.

We did discover a fuel leak in our newly rebuilt carbs. Luckily, things like that are easy to fix and can be done relatively last minute. We're much further along for pre-race checklist this time compared to last, so we're feeling pretty good. Reno, here we come!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Yesterday was a productive one at Team Unsafe's secret, underground lair. We managed to reassemble the transmission, reattach it to the diff, and get the whole powertrain bolted back into the car. It was a great effort by all, and we really appreciate Alfred joining us to provide a helping hand and some fresh points of view on the car.

Today, we hope to start the car with a new starter solenoid and hear the flat 6 roar to life. Now about those pesky mufflers...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fixing 3rd gear

Mentioned in our last post, we ran the entire previous race without a 3rd gear. This significantly slowed our lap times (and possibly increased our longevity but whatever) so we're determined to resolve the issue before our next race.

The Corvair's drivetrain is removed at a top secret underground location

Brad admires his handiwork

Mike and Janet drain the transmission fluid

After the trannyectomy, Jake discovered that the inside of the 3rd gear synchro was completely destroyed. A replacement is on order, and we should have 3rd for the next race. All other teams are now on notice -- we're bringing it!

The Corvair survives ARSE-FREEZE-APALOOZA

A much belated update to our dozens of fans out there on the Internets. We'll be updating the blog a bit more frequently in our run up to GOIN' FOR BROKEN over Memorial Day weekend.

The Corvair soldiered on through our last race and Team Unsafe at any Speed recorded a very solid 54th place out of 114 entrants. Not bad for a car that's over four decades old and didn't have a 3rd gear. Sure, there were some interesting goings on with last second muffler additions resulting in metal fireballs. Still, the car not only survived the race but is in good enough shape to run another race. A short race recap:

- RX7's don't like Mike.
- Manual transmissions don't like Byron.
- The Pandamonium guys don't like Shane.
- Jake and Bradley are still tall.

We did manage to secure the "Most Likely to Leave in an Ambulance" award! We think it's quite an honor.

The full results are available here.