<VV> my current driveway exploits

Tony Underwood tony.underwood at cox.net
Sat Jun 30 14:56:17 EDT 2012

If anyone cares:

Recently embarked on The Great Front Suspension Swap on the '60 
4-door.   Between rain storms, intense heat, other responsibilities, 
and cute little unexpected discoveries once I got things apart, the 
'60 is FINALLY going back together.

Oh, did I mention yesterday's storm front that rolled into Roanoke 
about dark that left 2/3 of the city without power and it's still out 
as of today, near lunch time?   Seems it's good fortune to have a 
power substation just down the street...  I still have power, as 
indicated by this e-mail going out (I hope).

OK, back to the discoveries.

Cavepeople will know that the front unibody of the '60s is slightly 
different than later models.

And of course I'd broken one of the suspension bolts that refused to 
budge but it was the short one at the rear that went into the bracket 
that's bolted into place and the bracket bolts did come out, so all 
it took was a torch and the welder, weld a nut onto the broken bolt 
stud then torch the cage nut cherry red to make it break loose, run 
the welded nut-stud out, no problems.  I replaced the bolt after a 
thread cleanup and some axle grease to make sure it doesn't stick 
again, should I ever need to take it all apart again.  The rest of 
the bolts also got grease in (dare I say) liberal amounts just in case.

It's certainly a good thing none of the other "long bolt" cage nuts 
stuck.   Those cage nuts are not user-friendly.

Here is where the intrigue sets in.  Once I got the old suspension 
out, I took a close look at it and saw a crumbly spot the size of a 
hamburger behind the driver side shock tower.  One poke with a 
ratchet handle and a cascade of rust fell out of it along with a 
layer of silty dried mud, leaving behind a hole big enough to stick 
my hand through.  Additional poking uncovered another rusted spot 
alongside the bottom of the shock tower next to the suspension mount 
area.   It wouldn't have taken much longer for the shock tower to 
have taken one pothole hit too many and broken off the crossmember 
and flopped the wheel along the road like a broken tonkatoy making sparks.

I guess 52 years was enough to do it in.   Well, that and daily 
driver service in a temperate region combined with a 1/8 mile long 
driveway that's part dirt and part gravel along with my lack of 
attention to pressure washing the undersides of things on a more 
frequent basis.  The rusted area was covered with a veneer of dried 
mud.   Not a good thing.

You guys with older driver-beater 'Vairs need to check that out... 
and if you have an early with a gas heater, CHECK that exhaust pipe 
for holes where they don't belong that would allow hot heater exhaust 
to scorch off the undercoating and rust the unibody in a spot that 
happens to be structural.  For that matter, look anywhere for rust, 
structural or otherwise.

Now:  Before the replacement suspension went back in...

I had to do the do, to remedy structural issues mentioned 
above.  Seems that the heater exhaust pipe indeed did have a hole 
rusted in the side which, Challenger style, managed to "torch" some 
of the front unibody sheet metal, burning off the undercoating and 
letting moisture settle in and feed the metalmites.   There was an 
almond shaped hole 5 inches long and two others, somewhat smaller, 
above the suspension mount rail, several inches above the vicinity of 
the gas tank sending unit mount, alongside the (former) perforated 
heater exhaust pipe.   After a considerable amount of nonsense 
scraping and peeling and more scraping in order to get a weld patch 
to stick without spattering and spraying those cute little glowing 
beads everywhere, into my sleeve cuffs and shirt collar and between 
me and the mandatory cardboard, the working surface of champions, I 
finally managed to patch three different holes in some hard-to-reach 
spots.   I practiced more of my military style vocabulary in the process.

That took three days... between the rain storms and my work 
schedule.   Weather all that week kinda sucked and the car couldn't 
be moved under cover since it was already up on jack stands in front 
of the carport which kinda rendered the carport useless since the 
Spyder and the Plymouth were already in the carport anyway which was 
why the '60 got perched on stands outside the carport seeing as how I 
was too stupid to realize that the Three Fates were gonna be slinging 
Karma at me every single frikkin' day for my lack of vision.   I 
should have prepared better.   All last week, almost every day after 
work it would rain.  Same for much of this week, although I got a 
couple of breaks between drizzles.

After the welding was all done (following the draining of the fuel 
tank and blowing it out with a long steady stream of compressed air 
through a hose stuffed down into the tank to dry it out so as to 
avoid blowing my ass into the next county) and after the suspension 
was bolted into place, I started in on going through the brakes on 
the replacement suspension, which had been sitting in storage for a 
very long time.

First, came getting the drums unstuck from the shoes, and of course 
the slots in the drums were nowhere close to the adjustment star 
wheels so I had to break the "nails" to pry the drums out enough to 
reach the wheel with a spoon to back it off enough to allow the drum 
to come off, on both sides.

Off to the machine shop to turn the drums, which turned out (no pun) 
to have never been turned before according to the shop guy who 
actually had specs on hand for drum inner diameter.   Three cuts, 
each .005, he said.  The drums came out nice.   Then, a bag of new 
brake mount hardware, new wheel cylinder kits, and fresh shoes... 
gonna finish it all this weekend... hopefully later today.

But first I'm gonna wait til the late afternoon when, with luck, the 
temps drop at least below 95.   It's like a pizza oven when I open 
the front door.


PS:   As some of you know, the 1960 Corvair was not available with a 
front sway bar.   However, the gas tank in the 1960 Corvair has a 
recess in the bottom of it to clear a sway bar, further indication 
that the Corvair had originally been intended to have a bar from the 
beginning.  The '64 suspension's sway bar fit nicely.

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