Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Merging Two Blogs Together

Well, I'm getting tired of managing three blogs, so two of them are going to be merged together. This blog has now been merged in to http://www.silverhawk.net, and any new posts will be over there. You can easily see the corvette-specific updates by clicking on the corvette tab, or by searching for "corvette". Thanks for wanting to see the status updates!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

S10 to Replace Civic

Well, I found a replacement vehicle for the Civic.  I'd prefer to have a small engine for a commuter, but this one has a V6.  It's a Chevy S10 V6 regular cab (a little tight for stuff inside the cab), and a long bed (a bit rare).  It's been working quite well for me.

However, it did cost a little more than the Civic, so it interfered with some of that cost going to headlight unit paint.  Finally saved up a little, and decided I'd better get to the wiring, and started playing with the wiring.

My fear was that I'd connect the batter and melt a wire, causing the whole car to burn to the ground (yeah, I kept a fire extinguisher close by, just in case, even if the odds of it being that bad were so minuscule).  So, I followed the advice of some experts, and threw in a little bit of a procedure for my own sanity.  Here's how I tested the electrical.

Preparation :

  1. Put the battery in place.
  2. Connect the positive battery cable end (+).
  3. Do NOT connect the ground cable yet.  Instead, wire some spare connectors to it that you can connect at will.
  4. Disconnect/remove all of the fuses.
  5. Obtain a headlight (this step is invaluable, and is the advice I received from some experts).
  6. Connect one side of the headlight to the negative (-) battery cable (not the battery).

I ran the first test with no fuses connected/in the vehicle, because I wanted to make sure all was well before proceeding.  I then re-connected one fuse at a time and re-tested, just to ensure each circuit was acceptable.

Actual Test :

  1. Connect the negative terminal of the battery (-) to the other terminal of the light.
  2. Check the headlight.  If it's on, something is shorted in the circuits that are still connected.  If it's off, you're okay.
  3. Turn the key to the accessory/on position (but not start, just in case you don't have fluids/etc) just to ensure things behave as expected, each time checking the headlight.
  4. Repeat as necessary for each circuit as you connect fuses.

So, that's what I kept doing.  I'd connect a fuse, and check that circuit.  Everything looked flawless...

... until I finished and decided to get the stupid door glass adjusted.  The power window regulators wouldn't move.  I started with the trusty old volt meter on the wiring.  Checking the whole thing out, I found the power window relay is bad.  Bypassing that to ensure the rest of the wiring was okay and the motors ran, I still couldn't get the motors to turn.  I checked the voltages on the connectors at the motor side, and... I had the right voltage.  It looks like the wiring is fine.  It means that the power window motors aren't so good.  Now I've got to replace the power window motors again (I have done that a couple of times already), and hope it's not a mechanical bind with the regulator.

So... I started out expecting the whole car was going to "blow up" from something being shorted out, and found out the opposite is true - the wiring is great, some components connected to it, not so much.

While I was at it, I decided to try an electrical pop-up headlight conversion.  I had obtained a couple of 1995 Ford Probe headlight motors from a junk yard.  I slapped them up to the battery, and they worked perfectly.  They have about the same throw as the C3 Corvette, so I'm in great shape.  Some others had done this conversion in the past, and I borrowed their process - I cut some brackets, soldered some wires together so that the motors work in tandem (and put heat shrink tubing around that), and bolted them in place.  I still have yet to adjust them (I'll need finished headlights), and I still have yet to finish the circuits, but I'm close.

At this point, here's the list of things to do :

  1. Replace power window motors and relay (can only find that through mail order services [sigh]).
  2. Adjust door glass
  3. Install door mirrors
  4. Install door panels
  5. Install A/C ducts
  6. Install dash panels
  7. Get headlight units painted and installed
  8. Complete circuit (two diodes and battery wiring) for the pop-up motors
  9. Install rear speakers/amplifier
  10. Ensure fluids are in the car
  11. Actually try to start it
It's amazing that I'm that close - and yet it's taking me so long to get there.  I will continue to work when I can, though.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Civic - Life Moves On

Personally, it felt great to have a mechanic look at the civic and simply state that it was just fine.  It felt great to have paid professionals tell me that the work I had done was on.  It felt great to know that the car was in great shape... except for the shifting problem.

Two transmission shops, one muffler shop, and a mechanic later, and I followed the advice of the mechanic - I changed the catalytic converter.  Apparently, the shifting problem was a result of the catalytic converter breaking down.  It was a 14-year-old piece of fragile costly precious metals, with 249,088 miles on the clock.  So, I ordered a catalytic converter (after being told by some exhaust shops the cost would be $600 for parts, and $200 for the welding and flange fitting).  $250 and one week later, I had it installed.  I drove it a few times - it seemed to be much better.  But, I thought I'd better drain transmission fluid and fill it a few times just to make sure.

Then, I changed that pesky door lock actuator (passengers' side, front door only - this came as a result of teasing my brother when we were carpooling).  The hood still rattled (then I remembered I "adjusted" it once, and put it back to where it was - and the rattle was gone).  With all of that complete, it simply had a high-mileage transmission, and it had cosmetic issues.

It sold really fast.  150,000 miles were freeway miles, so I know it's in phenomenal shape.  But, it's time to move on and try something else for a while.  Who knows, maybe this will fund the rest of the headlight paint and the interior map pocket for the corvette.  It'd be nice to have that one done.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's a Dangerous World Out There

The Honda Civic has been giving me fits again - it has a really loud rattle at idle, and it's been getting worse.  Sure, I'd love to be able to work on the vette again - to try and get back to the electrical, but it's not going to happen until I have a stable method of transportation.  I borrowed what is called a "mechanics stethoscope" - it's a mutation off of a doctors stethoscope, but instead of the diaphragm at the bottom (the thing you put on your back), it has a loose rod.

Here's how it works.  You put the usual binaural "ear pieces" where they'd normally go (if you put them elsewhere, I do NOT want to ever use your mechanics stethoscope).  Then, when the rattle is happening on the car, you simply place the rod onto various parts of the engine or components - making absolute certainty that you do NOT get it stuck in moving parts such as fans or belts.  You will hear a slightly amplified form of the rattle depending on how close to the rattling part you really are.

Here's my experience.  I went out with this to check the loud rattle on the civic.  Since it was cold (14 degrees), I put the ear pieces to my ears before I went out to the car so I could also put on the balaclava.  I'd suggest NOT doing this - every time I bumped the bottom end of the stethoscope, there was a really loud "thump" that seemed to cause pain.  Once I had the car started and the hood up, I began methodically setting the rod onto various components.  The engine block was first (new engine, wanted to make sure it was okay), transmission was next (wanted to make sure there wasn't a bad bearing or torque converter going on, or a stripped gear), and then the usual suspects.  It all stopped with the alternator.  It seemed to be the loudest.  The tool seems like it worked well.  I needed to remove the alternator to get it checked.

Here's the result.  I titled this post "It's a Dangerous World Out There".  So where was the danger?  Aside from not getting the thing caught in any moving parts, what could possibly have happened?  Well, I identified the alternator as a potential problem (and then saw the pulley on the alternator sitting at a bad angle).  So, I decided to remove it.  While I was laying underneath the car, clothing starting to stick to the concrete beneath me, with a large wrench to remove the alternator bolts, and not having much feeling due to the cold at this point, I dropped the wrench.  Normally this is not a problem.  However, I've been in the cold for a bit so the bridge of my nose is numb (right where the wrench hit), and I'm already frustrated.  Luckily, I was wearing glasses, which broke the fall of the wrench.  I rolled out from underneath the car, bent the glasses back to shape, felt kind of odd about my nose (no blood from the inside, so it's not broken), and went back to work.

Every time I stood up, I felt a little weird.  When I finished up as much as I could (the alternator is still there and needs to be disconnected), I went inside to console my sweet wife (another failure).  Looking in the mirror later that weekend told me I did break the skin.  Apparently, it's hard to take me seriously when I've been hit right between the eyes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Steering Column ... Tilt / Telescopic Reassembled

Disclaimer : I am not Jim Shea - I do not have his understanding of steering columns, nor could I possibly pretend to do so.  If anyone is looking at GM steering columns from the mid-60's to the late 70's, I'd strongly suggest a visit to http://jimshea.corvettefaq.com, since Jim Shea provided many hours of work to the public.  I believe he worked for Saginaw (the company that built the steering columns for GM during that period), and his hours of labor back then paid off big dividends for the rest of the Corvette community (or anyone rebuilding a GM column for that matter).

Since you are still reading, you are probably wondering what my problem was.  Obviously, it was in the steering column.  On my C3 Corvette, I took the steering wheel off to clean it, realized I had a horn contact retainer broken, and had to dismantle the column to get down to there.  While I was there, I had a lock cylinder to replace (I am re-keying the car as I go), so I had to take things a little bit further apart.  On the way into the dismantling, I thought I'd clean some of the components up, including a "sticking" turn signal.  The turn signal repair resulted in a separate post, and I started to put things back together again.  Unfortunately, after installing the lock cylinder, I couldn't get the key out.  The key-release was failing to allow everything to disengage.  Checking online, a 1977 Corvette steering column is not available.  I can order columns from others that don't match up, but should be close, but that was a $975 price tag I couldn't swallow.

Enter Jim Shea.  His documentation goes well beyond the factory installation manual, well beyond the factory service manual, and so far beyond the depth of the Haynes/Chiltons manuals that it's not even funny.  I knew I had to dismantle it, find what I thought was a broken part, and reassemble the column.  I tore it down to the tilt mechanism :

First, a few things.  In the above photo, you can see the tilt joint for the column.  I had to remove everything on the outside.  You can also see the key-release lever on the right side of the column.  This is simply a rotating (axis is down the centerline of the column, not perpendicular to the column), and it connects to the ignition rod on the left side of the column.  The joint sits in the actual column, with an external piece of plastic called the lower "bowl".

On the left side, inside the bowl but the outside of the column sleeve, is the ignition switch joint.  There are three pieces here, the shaft that connects to the actual ignition switch on top of the steering column (farther down the column), a guide (the ignition rod guide), and a key-like thing (the ignition rack).

So, I looked, and realized that (when I was making a silicon mold almost 10 years ago) I ended up getting silicon into the lower bowl housing, where the key release bar slid - and it was binding everything.  I grabbed my small files and cleaned it out, slapped some WD-40 into there, and ensure it rotated as needed.  Just a word of caution - the telescopic shaft comes right out.  If you don't need it, be very careful with it, you don't want grease all over your carpet.

I reassembled it, and tested (still no telescopic hardware installed, just the tilt, the upper bowl (where the turn signal switch sits) and everything below that.  The key release now works, and the turn signal works, everything is almost installed to the point I can install the telescopic parts of the steering column.  After finishing the telescopic, it's just a matter of cleaning up the steering wheel and putting it back on.  Looking good!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alarm Switch Installed

Well, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a little time.  I was able to install the alarm lock cylinder into the fender (wires, lock retainer, and gasket), and I was able to get the hood hinges in place and connected to the body and the hood.

I need to figure out how to adjust the hood at this point, and then I can install the hood support (which I received - thanks, Corvette Central!), and then finish plumbing the carburetor.  That would leave simply the headlights, steering column reassembly, electrical testing, door glass adjustment (need to get the battery in place to do the adjustment, which is also why I needed to get the electrical tested, which is why I needed the alarm switch functional and installed).

So, here's my to-do list (yes, it has gotten to the point that it is very specific) :
  • Reassemble the Turn Signal Switch and Ignition Switch
  • Install the Tilt/Tele Steering Wheel Components
  • Have Someone Clean the Steering Wheel Leather (Not sure how expensive)
  • Install the Steering Wheel
  • Hood Adjustment
  • Plumb the Fuel-Filter-to-Carburetor Lines
  • Headlights
    • Obtain Ford Probe Headlight Motors (model year 1993 to 1997, about $60 for the set)
    • Wire up a Headlight Control Relay (from Napa, EC23 $15 and BK3007884 $9)
    • Manufacture a Bracket to Hold the Probe Headlight Motors (not sure how much this will cost)
    • Assemble the Electric Headlight System
    • Get the Headlight Bezels and Lids Painted to Match (at $300 a pint for the color coat alone)
    • Install Headlights Themselves
  • Probe Electrical Connections (before Adjusting the Door Glass)
  • Connect the Battery
  • Adjust the Door Glass
  • Disconnect the Battery
  • Install Door Panels
  • Ensure Interior Light Bulbs are in Working Order
  • Complete Air Ducts
  • Install the Drivers' Dash Panel
  • Obtain a Map Pocket ($85) for the Passengers' Side and Install (with Springs)
  • Install the Passengers' Side  Dash Panel
  • Bolt Down the Center Console
  • Bolt Down the Parking Brake Cover
  • Install Transmission Tunnel Covers
  • Bolt Down the Seats and Test
  • Connect the Battery and Test All Electrical Components (EXCEPT FOR STARTER)
  • Fill with coolant
  • Add Oil and Prime the Oil Pump
  • Add a LITTLE Gasoline to the Tank
  • Add Gear Oil to the Tremec TKO II
  • Add Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Lift Rear Wheels into the Air (don't want to have the transmission fail to disengage)
  • Connect the Battery
  • Put some Gasoline in a Glass cup in Preparation to Test Fire
  • Test Fire
  • Stop Engine
  • Engage Wheels with the Ground
  • Start, and Drive a Short Distance (less than a mile)
  • Return and Check the Oil
  • Raise the Back End
  • Run the Car in Gears for 20 Minutes Each (Transmission Break In)
  • Drop the Car
  • Check the Oil

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Steering Column - Coming Together

With some bad engineering drawings, a bad memory, and some skill with Tetris from growing up, I finally figured out how the steering column's Tilt/Telescopic components fit together.  There were a few steps to get me to a point that the Chevrolet manuals talked about :

  1. Find out how the light dimmer switch shaft sets into the housing.
  2. Find out how the turn signal switch connects to the dimmer switch (hint - it uses a plastic carrier that sets into a plastic shell that the tilt/telescopic lever runs through).
  3. Understand how the wiring fits into the wiper/turn signal switch carrier housing (that also houses the ignition lock cylinder)
  4. Locate a suitable pivot pin for the wiper/turn signal switch that connects the switch to the housing.
  5. Put that all together in one fell swoop (you kind of have to do this - without the housing, the parts will fall out, and without the parts in the right place, the housing won't connect.
For the pivot pin, I had lost mine, and found out that no one sells a replacement.  Goofing off, I realized that my Honda Civic (metric) had six bolts for the timing belt cover, and (since I had replaced the engine this year) I had the old bolts laying around.  Those bolts fit into the threads for the housing, and the shoulder on the bolt had a slightly larger diameter (that's a good thing) than what it should be (it wouldn't fit into the switch).  I grabbed my drill, slapped the bolt into the chuck, and grabbed a file.  I basically turned the shoulder without a lathe until it was the right size.

Then I ran out to grab the ratchet to install it..... and found the old pivot bolt still in the socket from nine months ago!  I compared them, and they were almost identical, the original had an extra pivot pin on the end (e.g. two shoulders of different sizes with a threaded section sandwiched in between).  The "replacement" would have still worked, but I opted for the original (anyone wonder why?).

I set about installing everything, and had success in getting those parts completely installed (complete with a new ignition lock cylinder).  Next up, finishing the rest of the assembly, which I can now use the AIM for (the assembly instruction/engineering diagrams at the factory).