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Cars > TomHughes’s Garage > Blog > 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

 

An Update on Lucy (my '63 Chevy Corvair)

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

I've been working on her on-and-off over the winter. Here's the highlights:

- Removed the spoiler since it rubbed a lot. I'll save it for the times I take her on the track.
- Installed dual exhaust using FlowTech Raptor Turbo Mufflers. I need to take some pictures and a video. She sounds great and revs more freely than with the single exhaust.
- Replaced the aluminum heater ducts with non-metallic. These warm up faster and don't lose heat to the cold outside air as much as the aluminum dryer vent ones did.
- Adjusted the camber limiting cables on the rear control arms. I tightened them to prevent the rear wheels from going into positive camber. I also covered them in vinyl to prevent any chafing on the brake hoses that run up near them.
- Installed an amp with a connector so I can play my iPod directly into the speakers. This bypasses the old cassette player that had blown out one of the stereo channels.
- Installed the 2-speed wiper motor and switch. This also got me the washer pump which I discovered didn't work. The best fix is to install a universal pump which I still need to buy.
-Pulled the carburetors and installed vent tubes. These prevent gas was sloshing out the vent holes under hard cornering. Plus they look racy. I really need to take more pictures and add them to my album.
- Bought a battery box that I'll install in the trunk to move some weight to the front.
- Spent an afternoon at Crazy Ray's Pick-a-part and pulled out a battery harness from a 5-series BMW. These cars have the battery under the backseat, so their harness is fairly long. For the battery relocation project I haven't yet started.

Lucy's List

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

I was going through car receipts the other night and found the one The Corvair Ranch wrote up when getting my '63 Corvar back on the road. I had towed her up there when my previous daily-driver was totalled by stop sign running dump truck. Here's the list right off the invoice:

fuel tank sealer
fill & vent hoses, clamps, & sock
new fuel sender, o-ring
5-16 fuel hose, clamps, and inline filter
5-32 vacuum haose
(2) #54 jets
(2) bronze "stone" filters
carb float
carb base gasket and insulator set
set spark plugs
accelerator pedal pivot & bushing
(2) rear brake hoses
(1) gallon gear oil
(1) gallon engine oil and filter
used pushrod, tube, and o-rings
(1) universal joint
driver door inside latch
Total $279.20
Labor $1275.00

That is a GREAT deal for work and parts that haven't given me any problems during the 10,000 miles since the car was put back into service. I had given them a couple of Corvair shells, so that was reflected in the great price he gave me. Regardless, their work is excellent.

Lucy Had the Shakes

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

I bought three decent used tires (Goodyears, $80, mounted and balanced) last Saturday in preparation for the drive down to SC for Christmas. I figured driving 1000 miles at highway speeds on the tires that came from the junkyard with the 280ZX wheels wasn't smart.

The 280ZX wheels don't fit perfectly around the hubs of my Corvair, so I've been centering them by first installig two tapered lugnuts followed by two of the chrome shouldered lugnuts. Then I replace the tapered ones with the chrome ones and I've not had an vibrations. Saturday, I got lazy and installed the wheels without centering. I measured the runout and saw basically no runout, so I figured I was good-to-go. Not so. Yesterday morning as soon as I hit about 45, the front end tried to shake itself off the car.

Last night I redid the lugnuts using my centering technique and everything was smooth on the drive into work - 70+ mph.

A Little Annoyance - Nothing More

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

Night before last I started up my '63 Corvair and heard a strange, new sound like a rattling exhaust. As soon as the engine came off idle it went away. Yesterday, in the daylight, I took a quick look-see under the engine lid and discovered the choke kick-down had broke. Second one in the last six months, but since the parts are forty-some years old, I'm not complaining. Last night I pulled a replacement part off a spare carb and swapped it with the bad one. All's good this morning - no bad noises. I guess that side wouldn't idle with the choke open and the engine cold.

A Few Comments

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

Since I drive my ’63 Monza nearly every day, I get lots of comments. Here’s some that I remember.

One gentlemen came up to me and the car last night as I was about to drive away from the liquor store. He told me how he’d swapped a Corvair engine into a VW. “Went like stink.”

Another time, again in a liquor store parking lot (see a pattern?), a guy came up to me and launched into a story on how his girlfriend had to have some money to file a restraining order against her previous boyfriend, so he sold his ’62 Monza and gave her the money. A couple months later, she dumped him. He's been kicking himself ever since, and that was twenty years ago. "I'm glad I rarely see these on the road," he continued, "Since every time I do, I get really mad at myself."

One more. A guy I work with keeps bothering me about driving my old car every day. “You need to park it in a garage,” he says, but I tell him I’m having too much fun.

Dead Battery Issue Solved? – Hopefully!

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

One evening about a week ago, I went out to drive my ’63 Corvair for a run to the store. Turning the key only elicited the rrr-rrr-rrr of a slow-moving starter struggling to turn the engine. I hooked up the charger and was able to make it to the weekend without addressing the problem.

Ever since I got this car on the road, the GEN/FAN light would glow at low RPM, so I’d assume the generator needed rebuilding. Yesterday, armed with my voltmeter, I measured 14-15 Volts at the generator output – plenty I figured. I didn’t get the same level at the battery terminal, so I changed the voltage regulator with a used one. Lo and behold the voltage at the battery was higher and now the GEN/FAN light doesn’t come on. Problem solved? Only time will tell, but I’ve got the jumper cables handy just in case.

Getting the “Race” Car Back on the Road

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

Sometime during the track day, my ’63 Corvair developed a fuel issue. It felt like something was clogging the carburetors. I made it home from Summit Point, but had to floor it to keep up to speed on any sort of hill. I got out to the garage Friday night and diagnosed that the right side of the engine was not up to power. I pulled apart that side’s carburetor and blew out all the passages and put it back together. After reassembly, the engine new run’s like a top again. Once out on the street, I noticed a grinding noise from the rear brakes. I put the car up on jackstands and pulled the rear hubs and found one of the shoes had lost most of its lining. I replaced the bad shoe and took the opportunity to replace the ’63 drums with the upgraded finned drums from the ’64 I parted out. After adjusting the star wheels to get the right clearance the brakes are good-to-go. With the car off the ground, I resinstalled the thermostats and bottom engine shrouds so I now have heat again.

My First Day at the Track

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

The day went as follows for me: I was the second person to arrive at the paddock after passing through the front gate at 7 AM sharp. The first hurdle was to pass tech inspection and I did. I had to really crank on the wingnuts of the battery hold-down and my rear shocks are marginal, but I got my sticker. The second hurdle was not wadding up the car which I succeeded in doing by staying on-track the entire day. Maybe I wasn’t driving hard enough, but I did have at least a half a dozen “exciting” moments where I was doing some extra steering and at least twice I used then entire track at the end of the main straightaway (suffice it to say I seriously missed my turn-in point). The way the track portion of the day went was as follows: 3 groups of ~13 cars each (divided by expected lap speed) each ran the track for 20 minutes; then open track until noon; 30 minute lunch break for the corner workers; open track until 1:30; 2 cars at a time (matched by speed) on the track for warmup and two timed hot laps; open track until 4:30; parade laps where anyone could drive around and take passengers. The organizers came by at the end of the day and told me they felt I was the driver that spent the most time out on the track. How did my car run? She drove to the track without issue. There were nineteen total turns, three of which are hairpins. After each hairpin she had a fuel starvation issue – I’d floor it and she’d bog down for a moment before coming up to full strength. That was annoying. By the afternoon (right before the timed laps), the fuel starvation was more of an issue – she was missing during the two straightaways as well. My two laps could have been better because of that, but I’m taking pride in the fact that there was only a half-second difference between the two. Out of the times that were posted when I checked that was most consistent pari of laps. I went out during the last open session and the miss was a little worse. Since I still had an hour-and-a-half drive home, I decided (very sadly) to call it a day. I did take Jonathan for a ride around the track during parade laps so he could locate his magnetic door number that had blown off on the main straightaway. Hurdle number three was making it home, and that wasn't pleasant because of the missing. I had to floor it to keep up to speed on any hill. I'm driving the '61 Monza to work.

A Couple Racing Mods

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

Before taking my '63 Corvair to Summit Point Raceway, I was hoping to re-install the dual exhaust and some cables that limit the drop of the rear trailing arm. The latter modification prevents the rear wheels from going to positive camber on sharp turns. I ran out of time, so I decided to only get the cables installed. After drilling a hole in the rim of each rear spring perch, I threaded the cable through, then looped and clamped it with two cable clamps. As you can see in the attached picture of me at speed, I need to tighten the clamps.

More Catching Up

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

Got the harnesses installed in the '63 Corvair with the help of my small-handed 11 year-old. I needed her to install hardware through a small access and then hold the wrench while I tightened nuts from the opposite side. That gave me square tubing on the inside package tray to attach chain to which I then attached the shoulder harness to. I'm now ready to hit the track. There are a couple more things I could do, but this makes me legal.

Racing In October

By TomHughes

Filed under: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

It's not actually racing - my wife would never let me do that. It's a High Speed Track Event. A chapter of the Corvair club is holding one of these at Summit Point's Shenandoah Circuit on October 13. For $180, I’ll get a full day’s of driving. There’s no instruction included, but I can do ride-alongs with experienced drivers and maybe get one to be brave enough to ride along with me to give me pointers. The good thing about this group is that their rules are a little less stringent than the CarGuys. The only thing I must do to my '63 before I can take her on the track is install one of the 5-point harnesses I’ve got. I found another guy racing a ’63 ‘vair, and he sent me the attached pictures of his harness mounting setup. I am SO psyched.
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Cars > TomHughes’s Garage > Blog > 1963 Chevrolet Corvair (Lucy)

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