Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Race #65 - We Are In

From: Jay Lamm
21 October 2008

Hi, Team Captain:

Good news--I think. Your team has officially been ACCEPTED for LeMons Arse-Freeze-Apalooza on 26-28 December '08 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows CA. We got over 200 entries for this race; thanks a lot for submitting one good enough to stand out from the crowd.


As the Kool-Aid Man would say, "Oh Yeahhhhh!!!" We will see you all at the races!

It's alive!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Old Shaft/New Shaft

We managed to track down a mixture of '65 and '66 drive shaft parts that should, hopefully, return the car to operation. Team Unsafe's crack mechanics had the car up jacks and the wheels off before you could say "How many more times are we going to do this?"

(Byron checks new bearings in foreground. Mike removes rear wheel in background to fix valve cover oil leak.)

The new left side drive shaft goes in, aided by six hands, a rubber mallet, and a little coaxing from Mr. Dremel.

New shaft installed, we turned to finishing off the interiorectomy. Note the truly awesome wiring job done by the former owner.

Removing the interior revealed that the underbody is generally in good shape, the firewall is intact, and just a wee bit of rust in the shifter area.

It's hard to see from the picture, but the ground underneath the car is clearly visible through those holes. Smokey Yunick and his acid-dipped body panels ain't got nothin' on us. We are going to have our cage guy weld a patch on the rusted-out area.

At the end of the day we had 6 cylinders that all delivered compression, two of our four carbs operational and two still disconnected, and two drive shafts somewhat more securely connected to their respective wheels. Who knows, the engine might even run. A successful day by LeMons racing standards.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Team Unsafe gets the (drive) shaft

Having restored compression to the engine, we decided to take a look into the source of the camber problem with the rear end of the Corvair. The cut springs that came with the car gave all of the wheels a bit of negative camber, except for the left rear wheel, which had an impressive ~10 degrees of negative camber. It's a shame we are not racing at an oval track. So, once again, the car goes up on jacks.

Hmmm, that looks interesting. Setting aside, for the moment, the fact that our throttle linkage appears to be held together with a Wonder Bread twist-tie, there was excessive play in the drive shaft.

Oh, hey, look! Half a bearing!!!

Well, maybe the problem will just be with the bearing, or the universal joint. The shaft itself could be fine, right?

Nope. The disintegrating bearings took out the u-joint, the drive shaft, and did some machining work on the yoke.

Hmmm. You can't tell by looking at the picture, but the nub in the center of the yoke is, or rather used to be, the bolt that keeps the yoke attached to the differential. Jake was able to pull the yoke out with two fingers. Keep in mind that we drove the Corvair home, more than 20 miles, with half of the final drive held together by essentially nothing.

The only bits of good news from the day was: (1) A replacement drive shaft was available for ~$50 and (2) all of the shocks had been replaced in the relative recent past. We ordered a used, and hopefully less mangled, drive shaft from the good people at Clark's Corvair Parts and put the car to bed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This is why you should listen to the old guys...

At the end of our last posting, Team Unsafe had discovered that the Corvair's flat 6 was running as a straight 3 with 0-0-0 compression numbers for the right bank of cylinders. This was not good. The 140 HP engine is the highest-strung of all the Corvair engines, and we thought that the problem was caused by a seriously messed up head, which would mean a new head, which would probably require new pistons, which would need new bores, etc, etc, etc...

Before buying an ATV jack and lowering out the engine, (Yes, it's a rear-engine car and the enging lowers out under the frame, like a Porsche. Or a VW Bug. Or a Porsche!) we decided to post our problem to the collective wisdom of the Corvair Center, www.corvaircenter.com. We received a number of knowledgeable replies within a day. The likely causes for our compression woes were either an improperly torqued head, or improperly adjusted valves, with most of the votes going for the valves.

So, today the valve cover came off and we checked the valves. Guess what? Every valve on the right side, both intake and exhaust, were way out of spec on the tight side. We couldn't believe it. Coming from a variety of motorcycle backgrounds, and having dealt with a variety of shim-under-bucket, screw-and-locknut, and (shudder) desmo valves, theses valves are dead easy to adjust. Adjust the rocker nut until there is no free play, then turn in one turn. Could it be that simple?

We hooked up the compression tester and the new reading were 120-120-120. Perfect, thank you Corvair Center! Now all we have to do is rebuild and sync four carbs, figure out why the left rear wheel has 15 degrees of camber, find a correct set of springs, get a seat, install the cage, fix the timing, redo the electrics, track down a battery box, deal with the crunching noises coming from fourth gear... But most importantly, this fix required exactly $0 from our budget. We have $400 to go before we need to start selling parts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Compression Test and Suspension

Byron, Jake, and Shane got together today to do a compression test on the Corvair's engine and see if we could determine what the heck was going on with the camber on the left rear wheel.

The good news is that the camber should be an easy fix. Jake saw that the camber plate is adjusted in the "wrong" direction and that the left rear control arms is probably installed on the right side of the car. It's going to be a shame to fix, really. The car went around left turns so well...

The bad news is the result of the compression test. The compression test on the left side cylinders was 100/130/100 - a little low, but perfectly acceptable for LeMons duty. Compression on the right side cylinders was 0/0/0. Hopefully it's just the gasket, and not a dropped valve seat.

A few pics from the shop day. Shane cranks the mighty flat 6 and dreams of LeMons glory...

...while Jake checks the compression and contemplates running the car as a straight-3.

Meanwhile, Byron found the detachable face for the stereo! That's another $50 in our account when we sell it on eBay.

4 carburettors feeding 6 cylinders. I hear it's a piece of cake to synchronize.

While nobody likes to hear that their engine is half dead, at least we know what we need to do. Jake will get a copy of the shop manual, Shane will figure out if the head can be removed without dropping the engine from the car, and Byron will find some jack stands.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Corvair has landed!

It took a little bit of work, and two jump starts, but we got the Corvair back to the house. Here are a few pictures:

The car (which needs a name, BTW) already has electronic ignition installed, so that saves $50 from our precious budget. Tomorrow we will check the compression and spark in each cylinder and take a look at the carbs.