Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

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MinisterofDOOM
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Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:41 pm

This:

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Is the 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza I bought today.

For those not familiar with the Corvair, they're basically the American VW Beetle. They have a rear-mounted, air-cooled flat-6 mated to a 2-speed auto or either a 3- or 4-speed manual transaxle. They have four-wheel independent suspension, weigh only about 2600lb, and come in coupe, convertible, sedan, wagon, and even van bodystyles. It was GM's first compact car, and intended as an affordable, reliable entry-level model.

The Monza was the top-end performance model in 1962, with a 102-hp engine and the 4-speed manual. Later years offered a 140hp turbocharged version of the same motor.
They're very very odd, which makes them very interesting. They also were not very successful for a variety of reasons, not least of which being negative press thanks to politician and activist Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at Any Speed condemned the Corvair as dangerous due to its rear suspension design (a design shared with contemporary Porsche and VW models which managed to escape such judgement). 2nd-gen Corvairs improved the rear suspension, but by then it was too late.

Chevy killed the Corvair in 1969, with the Nova (nee Chevy II) filling in the compact-car role.

Some more pictures:
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darylzero
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby darylzero » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:37 pm

Pretty cool.

I like the 2nd gen body style better though, like this one. https://petrolicious.com/articles/why-i ... ed-classic

So what are you going to do with it? Tear it down and rebuild? Or just cruise around as is?

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:45 am

Yeah, the 2nd gen nose is one of the best looking of it's time. I don't like the more angular rear of the 2nd gen as much though.

I wanted a 2nd gen coupe for years, but the first-gen stilling grew on me. I think it's a more cohesive design, and I like that it embraces it's air-cooled weirdness.

I like them both a lot, as well as the 95s.

I'm going to drive it as-is, bit I'll also put some work into it. The previous owner did a ton of resto work, so most of what's needed now is cosmetic. Front left fender has been hit and poorly repaired, do the front bumper doesn't fit anymore. Driver seat is a bit worn. That kind of thing.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby Bubba1 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:22 am

The second picture confirms a well kept secret:
Corvairs attract..."pu$$y". :biggrin: j/k

One of the fun perks of Corvair ownership is random baby boomers coming up to you to chat about how much they missed their 'vairs from their youth. Such cool little cars.

Enjoy.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby float_6969 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:04 am

Love it! Though when I read the title I said, "NO WAY", out loud. I should have known better...

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby RicerX » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:20 am

Freakin awesome!!!

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sat Dec 22, 2018 8:27 pm

Some updates for folks without Facebook:

Engine cleaned up, tuned, and put back together. That is the stock location for the spare. It makes a great toolbox holder as well.
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The rear axle and suspension, driver side head, and exhaust. That metal duct is for the heater core; instead of heating cabin air with hot coolant, it uses hot air off each head. The ducting should be rubber hose, but I haven't had a chance to replace it (the heater core isn't easy to get to).
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Closer view of the head and diff, with the hot air ducting removed. You can see the intake manifold above the painted valve cover. The diagonal straight bar running from the red flashlight up toward the right above the heater duct flange is the throttle linkage. It comes out on the driver side of the engine bay where it connects at the right side of the driver side carb, and links with the cross-bar that connects to the passenger side carb (all of this can be seen in that enginebay photo). The carbs are both the same, they're just rotated 180* from each-other.
The exhaust is an aftermarket setup with a glasspack and resonator on each side. Stock exhaust was a single muffler/tip on the passenger side, with a crossover in front of (toward the transaxle) the engine. No crossover pipe with this setup (though some people add it, and I've given it some thought).
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Transaxle (actually semi-separate transmission and differential). The Trans is on the left, forwardmost of the powertrain stack. It's VERY tiny. The diff is on the right, between the trans and engine. It's also tiny. No CV joints here, just universal joints with easy-to-replace bushings. You can see the stamping on the diff showing the configuration (HB in this case: 3.55 without positraction) and manufacture date (6th day of June 1962). Really early models like mine have drain plugs for both trans and diff; you can see them facing each-other on the lower near corners of each (the diff's just below and left of that stamping). Also visible is the forward part of the same angled throttle linkage. It connects at that stamped Z-bar where the forward action of the pedal is reversed before it links to the carb. The oil is all coming from the seal for the transmission input shaft, which you can see along with the stock shift coupler (the cylinder that looks kind of like a U-joint that disappears into the trans housing just left/ahead of the oily mess). Stock shift couplers have rubber isolator bushings between the actual input shaft and the section of shaft that goes forward to the shifter. This reduces shifter vibration, but makes things REALLY sloppy, especially as the rubber wears. Billet (bushing-less) or nylon bushing models exist which tighten things up a lot at the expense of a little shifter vibration, and I'll probably witch to one of those when I replace that seal.
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Here's the car after its first car wash. Front bumper still doesn't fit as the driver side fender is collapsed at the front corner from a collision (before I bought it). Once that's fixed I'll put the bumper back on. There are very very very rare split bumpers that were made by a couple companies and look great, but I doubt I'll find any for anything resembling a reasonable price.
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And last night in the snow! One of the weird quirks of a rear-engine car is that instead of engine heat thawing the hood, the cold winter air over the hood freezes any rain and snow just doesn't melt off, so you want to brush it if it's light or you'll just get a windshield full as soon as you start driving.
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MikeRL411
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MikeRL411 » Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:33 am

Don't forget the oil cooler assembly! It's near the rear of the engine compartment ad covered with a sheet metal plate. Blow it out periodically to clear the fins and keep the engine running cool, oil and air over the finned cylinders are all that cools the engine.

Further caution, oil capacity is 3 and a half quarts, not 4. If over filled, the excess oil will be forced up to and gum up the distributor. It will also over pressure the engine oil temperature sender's seal on the engine block and coat your car's rear with fine oil and dirt mist. Also, your heater will stink.
There used to be finned cast aluminum after market oil pans that upped oil capacity to 4 quarts. They also had the boss for the head temperature sensor undrilled. The recommendation was to clip a VW temp sensor to one of the middle cylinder cooling fins and not to drill out the pan boss.

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:25 pm

Thanks for the tips! You a former (or current?) Corvair owner?

There are still a couple types of finned oil pans and valve covers available, so I will probably switch to those at some point.

I thought it was 4.5 quarts plus a bit for the filter? Mine doesn't leak much (pan gasket is good, surprisingly!) and it had had a fresh oil change right before I bought it so I haven't had to change the oil yet. I just drained some to verify it had been changed, then added it back and checked the dipstick, which is right in the middle.

I'll definitely pull off the head shrouds in spring and do a nice cleaning of the oil cooler and head/cylinder fins before things warm up. Right now, a high temp is 45, so I'm not too worried about cooling. No knocking or pinging even on ethanol-free midgrade in these temps.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MikeRL411 » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:14 am

Former owner, bought my 1964 Corvair from Seibu Motors, Yokohama Japan and had it delivered to Cheyenne Wyoming. One option I seriously considered was Right hand drive and metric speedometer. Yes, it was an option on the order sheet!

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:36 am

That's pretty cool! I didn't realize they had that much presence outside North America. A metric 'Vair would be unique for sure.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:08 pm

The corvair has been parked for a little while. It started running badly, then wouldn't run at all. Compression was awful (actually 0psi in one cylinder).

I bought some tools and pulled the engine. It's been a fun project. I currently have the engine mostly disassembled on an engine stand, and I thought I'd post some pictures since this is a such an unusual motor.

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Dropping the engine from the car using an ATV jack. At this point, there's a lot of metal shrouding and trim used to route air over the heads and cylinders for cooling, as well as keep the enginebay separated from the underbody. The engine is also coming down with the transaxle attached in this case.

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This is the motor with all accessories, trim, and shrouding removed. You can see the air-cooling fins, and it's pretty easy to spot the transition from crankcase to cylinder to head in this picture. The large blower normally has a shroud over it to pull air through the engine cover louvers and blow down through the cooling fins and out through rear thermostatically controlled doors under the rear bumper.

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Here's a view up from the bottom. Those tubes house the pushrods, whose camshaft is driven directly from a gear on the crankshaft (no chain or belt). The tubes are notorious for leaking oil with the original oil o-rings where they meet the crankcase and head, but newer materials have solved that issue.

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I've got the passenger-side head pulled in this shot. The head studs run past the cooling fins to the crankcase, sandwiching the individual cylinder cans between. The missing cylinder had some severe blowby burn wear, so it's getting replaced. Two other cylinders from the opposite bank also have burn damage, though not as bad. I'll be replacing all three cylinders and pistons before I put everything back together. The cylinder with the worst blowby damage was the one with 0psi of compression, so that would appear to be the culprit.

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Overhead view with the blower and top crankcase pan removed. Also shows the oil cooler at the bottom left. Bottom center is where the mechanical fuel pump (pushrod operated from a cam on the crankshaft), oil filter fitting, and distributor (again directly crankshaft driven) all attach on a big cast aluminum piece.

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A close-up of the crankcase insides. You can see the boxer crankshaft. Not all flat/horizontally opposed engines are boxers. There are really two types of flat engines: the boxer, and the 180-degree V. Boxers have 180-degree offset crankshafts, meaning each opposing pair of cylinders is at the same stroke position at all times (see how cylinders 1 and 2 at the bottom of the picture are both at TDC). To do this, each has to have its own crank journal. A 180-degree V is exactly what it sounds like: a V6 with a vee-angle of 180 degrees rather than the standard 60 degrees. This means each pair of opposing cyilnders SHARES a crank journal, and as such, they are always 180-degrees opposite each-other in terms of stroke position.
Boxers tend to be much smoother running, because the lateral reciprocating forces largely counter each-other, where with a 180-degree V they compliment each-other.
There are tradeoffs to both, but the vast majority of flat motors are boxers. Ferrari has used both, but the most famous Ferrari flat 12 was a 180-degree V (the one in the 512 Testarossa).

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Here are the 3 bad cylinders. You can clearly see the damage on the worst cylinder, highlighted by some orange that I assume is thermal oxidation in the iron (the cylinders are iron, while the crankcase and heads are aluminum). The others aren't as bad, but the second has some clear wear in a similar pattern, and third has some notable scoring that's going to end up the same way if left un-checked. All 3 pistons have visible erosion at the same position as well. Basically, all 3 were suffering from blowby past their headgaskets, causing low compression.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby PapaSmurf2k3 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:00 pm

Damn, that sucks... so you've got some replacements lined up?

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby Dattebayo » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:15 am

Air-cooled engines always look so deceptively simple...

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby Beancooker » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:04 pm

Doom, that is quite badass. I’m am thoroughly stoked for you. Now put a turbo on it. :mike

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:45 pm

Dattebayo wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:15 am
Air-cooled engines always look so deceptively simple...
I know!

I keep thinking "That's it?!"

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby darylzero » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:33 pm

Very cool. Keep us updated

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:04 pm

PapaSmurf2k3 wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:00 pm
Damn, that sucks... so you've got some replacements lined up?
Yep! It's about $75 apiece for cylinders and $45 apiece for cylinders. Of course then there are rings, wrist pins, gaskets and things, plus some other seals, rubber, and wear items I want to sort out while I've got it apart. And the clutch. But I should still be well under $1000 for the partial rebuild including clutch, which is not bad at all.

Should be back on the road in a month or two.
Beancooker wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:04 pm
Doom, that is quite badass. I’m am thoroughly stoked for you. Now put a turbo on it. :mike
I am certainly considering a Spyder turbo conversion, and I've also thought about something like a tiny modern turbo from something like a Spark or Fiesta. The factory Spyder turbos had a pretty narrow boost range, so something a little better sized and more modern would broaden the torque curve a lot.

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MikeRL411 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:53 am

Be careful on that turbo installation! Chevrolet warned about turbo conversion on non original turbo models. The turbo models had a stronger crankshaft etc. However in 1964 the standard engine was modified to have the 1963 turbo crankshaft and improved air baffling around the cylinders to prevent center piston and head overheating. Looks like your engine would have benefited from the new cooling shroud arrangement.

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MinisterofDOOM
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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby MinisterofDOOM » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:41 pm

Yeah, if I go with boost, I'll do new forged crank, rods, pistons, etc. And if I'm doing pistons, I might as well go overbore with the cylinders, too...

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Re: Bought a new old car. Only 6 cylinders this time!

Postby float_6969 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:57 am

Sucks that you had to tear it down already, but still really frigging cool!


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