<VV> Springs for "working" Rampside
RoboMan91324 at aol.com
RoboMan91324 at aol.com
Sat May 16 02:27:55 EDT 2015
I am not following your analogy with water pumpers running without water.
For that reason, what I am about to say may be a response to statements you
have not made. Forgive me if that is the case.
First, lets get some generalities out of the way. You shouldn't run water
pumpers without water; you don't run a Corvair without its fan belt; you
don't run a high compression engine on low octane fuel unless you do other
things to compensate; timing is an issue; air/fuel ratio is an issue and the
list goes on. While these are worthy topics of conversation on VV,
especially for the "newbies," I hope I haven't given you the impression that these
were topics in my most recent messages. My points were more generic.
You and a few other folks have contacted me on and off list defending
against my cautionary statements. I have also received contact from folks who
tell me of an engine meltdown when they pushed their FCs too hard. That is
"too hard" within the reasonable use of a working truck. I fully understand
that there are many FCs that have been successfully run fully loaded at full
throttle and with other negative conditions. I also fully realize that
many FCs have had engine failures under those same conditions. The fact that
some have run their FCs under load with impunity doesn't mean that others
won't experience failure under the same conditions. I know a guy who survived
a 70 MPH crash with only a few scratches and bruises. He doesn't go around
telling other people it isn't a potentially deadly experience so "don't
My cautionary statement is based on the following facts and highly
probable assumptions. Some will seem unrelated but I will try to bring them
together by the end. Lets see if you agree.
1.) From an overheating perspective, water pumper engines (with water) are
more robust than air cooled engines.
2.) Iron engines are more robust than aluminum engines.
3.) Considering points 1 and 2, an air cooled aluminum engine is the most
at-risk engine if it overheats.
4.) The engines in our FCs range in horsepower from 80 to 110 and
displacement from 145 to 164 CI. The VAST number of Rampsides had 145 CID engines
which ranged from 80 to 98 HP and most of those were 80 HP. I am ignoring
the 102 because they are very rare and have an extremely high mortality rate
in FCs. By the way, many people who are knowledgeable about our engines
think the HP ratings are somewhat optimistic. A significant portion of the HP
goes into the fan.
5.) Many FCs have modified engines whether good or bad for FC use. My
cautions are based on the assumption the vehicles have as-manufactured engines.
However, the cautions easily carry over to modified engines to a lesser
though still significant degree.
6.) Our FCs have poor aerodynamics. They have been compared to "a barn
door in a windstorm" here on VV for good reason. The higher the speed, the
heavier the loading on the engine. Our FCs are driven at highway speeds and
heavy wind loading occurs at even "normal" driving speeds. Please take the
word "loading" in context. It can mean weight loading in the bed or power
loading on the engine.
7.) Curb weight of the Rampside is 2700 lbs and the GVW is 4000 lbs. The
load would be 1300 lbs which is generally considered to be a 3/4 ton pickup.
This is rated with car tires.
8.) With truck tires and no other changes to the standard Rampside, the
GVW rises to 4600 lbs giving us a potential load of 1900 lbs. This is a 1 ton
pickup truck. Yes, our FCs are one ton trucks according to specs. I
hesitated to mention the 3/4 ton spec but knowingly withheld the one ton spec on
VV (until now) because I am sure it would have given some people incentive
to carry around that kind of load. Here is a link with the specs.
9.) For the sake of time and space, lets combine a few facts and
assumptions. Our FCs are 50 + years old and many have original engines in them or at
least other engines with similar age. Many, if not most, have heads that
have never been deflashed. Many, if not most, have sludge build-up which
diminishes the cooling effects of proper oil flow. Many are not tuned or
maintained to best standards. Many have build-up of leaves, road dirt, mouse
nests, etc. in air passages and/or the oil cooler and many other potential
I believe that you accept all of the above as fact or at least probable.
Our FCs are wonderful vehicles for many reasons I don't need to list for
you. Considering their design, they have been quite reliable and robust with
qualifications. Now, bringing this all together, here is why I wrote my
cautionary message. What we have in a Rampside is a half century old, one ton
pickup truck powered by an aluminum, air cooled, 80 horsepower, 145 CID
engine for the most part. It sounds amazing when you combine the term "1 ton
pickup truck" with the description of the standard motor. In addition, there
may be many design, age or maintenance issues. Lets ignore the air cooled
and aluminum portions of that equation for the moment. Can you name any
other one ton pickup truck (or 3/4 ton for that matter) made in the last half
century with those kind of HP and CID specs? Of course, if you go back to
the real early days of cars and trucks, 80 HP was fairly impressive but
those 1 ton trucks would have been geared pretty low with a top speed of
perhaps 30 MPH or less fully loaded. The engines were also iron, quite low
compression and water cooled.
Yes, Joel. The engines in our FCs are the weak point if used as a real
working truck. It is understandable that the FCs' engines fry much more often
than engines in cars but it is a huge wonder that more of the engines don't
fry. I guess it is strong testimony to the skill and talent of those GM
Engineers back then.
I think you already know most of what I have written on the subject.
Evidence of that lies in the fact that you have modified your engine by
deflashing it along with other measures. Hank and others have done similar
improvements. Hank was and still is confident in his engine because of those
modifications and his questions were truly suspension/load related. A rhetorical
question might be, "Why strengthen something if not to counteract
weaknesses?" You have made modifications to help your engine survive because you use
it like a real truck engine. So, how can you imply to others, "don't
worry, be happy" as the song goes when so many engines out there are old, never
rebuilt and unimproved as compared to yours and some others?
I believe my warning message was not only appropriate but even necessary
to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the use of an FC up to its
theoretical capacity. On the other hand, a newbie might infer from your posts
that he or she is perfectly safe loading up their Rampside with 3/4 or even
1 ton of material and driving it under any number of conditions; this being
done with an engine that probably hasn't benefited from modifications that
you and Hank have performed on your engines. Imagine if someone were to
take your post at face value and fry an engine. If they were to send you an
accusatory message on the topic, I suspect you would heavily qualify your
original message. "Sorry to hear it. Did you use a 164 CID engine with 95 HP
deflashed heads, synthetic oil, with the big oil cooler, with a deep finned
oil pan, with knock eliminator, with juicy jets on the carbs, with
modified weights in the distributor, etc.?"
I believe you have done a disservice to some VV readers by implying that
they don't need to heed my warnings. Perhaps I should have qualified my
original statement with, "Some people have different experiences, but ....."
Perhaps you should have qualified your original response with, "I have
taken precautions and made modifications to my engine, but ....."
Just my opinion.
'60 Corvette, '61 Rampside, '62 Rampside, '64 Spyder coupe, '65
Greenbrier, '66 Canadian Corsa turbo coupe, '67 Nova, SS, '68 Camaro ragtop
In a message dated 5/14/2015 6:00:42 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
joel at joelsplace.com writes:
I've been driving Corvairs for 30 years. I know others on the list have
been driving them longer than that. I only gave one example because it was
the most extreme. Full throttle for an extended time is about as much load as
you can put on any engine.
I do realize that mine is just one person's experience but that's why I
mentioned Ultra owners. Corvair engines hold up fine in UltraVans but like
any small engine in a large vehicle they require care and "common" sense.
I've never lost a piston in a Corvair engine. I've had several come apart
in small block Chevy engines possibly due to detonation.
Aren't the things you said kind of like a Corvair guy talking about how
unreliable water pumpers are because they won't run long after the water
As I said no engine will last long under certain conditions. Any engine
that someone keeps running while experiencing detonation will die.
Small block Chevys are what I have the most experience with outside of
Corvair engines. They will detonate with too much advance or if they get too
hot. They will get too hot if the radiator is clogged up, the water leaks
out, the fan belt comes off, the thermostat sticks, etc. Would you say they
are the weak link in any vehicle they are in?
I doubt it. All engines have things you have to keep an eye on if you want
them to last. Corvairs are no different. I've never had or known anyone
that had anything that was more reliable than a Corvair engine except for one
guy that had a small block Chevy that lasted over a million miles.
I understand turbo engines can't handle full throttle for long periods
without overheating no matter what you do.
From: RoboMan91324 at aol.com [mailto:RoboMan91324 at aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 2:18 PM
To: corvanatics at corvair.org; Joel McGregor
Subject: Springs for "working" Rampside
I always enjoy when someone tells of their isolated experience to refute a
broader concept. I do it too, though I try to avoid it when I realize I am
Here is my logic on the subject.
1.) Much of our discourse here on VV has to do with protecting our engines
from cooking and/or knocking themselves to death. There is good reason for
that because our engines need protection. They were designed and built
with 50s technology and are now quite old by any standard. Your mention of
deflashing and shroud removal are good examples of this discourse and great
advice. Many, many, many people run their engines without the benefit of
deflashing and they run OK. Despite that, your advice has great value. Not
everyone needs it but some may need it without knowing it. In general, Corvair
engines are more likely to fry than water pumpers and because of the weight
and poor aerodynamics, the FC engines are more endangered than cars.
Evidence of this is that you see many more car engines in FCs than FC engines in
cars. FC engines self-destruct more often as a percentage. Contrary to
your implication, engines in UltraVans do cook. This would especially be the
case if they ignored the points I made in my earlier post. However, because
UV owners are well aware (MUST be aware) that the extra weight and air drag
is more of an issue than in other vehicles, they are more careful while
driving than your average car or FC driver. The highest rear ratio of all and
other measures were used to minimize these issues. Also, most UV owners I
know incorporate safety measures as the technology becomes available. Temp
gages/lights/buzzers, anti knock devices, synthetic oil, deflashing heads,
etc. They incorporate these measures because they are aware of the needs of
their UVs. Why shouldn't FC owners have the same knowledge? The UV drivers
must be aware of the issues and my post was an attempt to make FC owners
aware of their issues as well. The next time you can talk with an UV owner,
ask him or her if they think they need to take more precautions with their
vehicle than someone with a Corvair car or even an FC. Most, if not all,
will say yes and if any say no, it is likely that they have already added
reliability modifications to ease their minds.
2.) When you load any vehicle up to its weight limit, or beyond its limit,
the engine must work harder than when unloaded. That's just physics. When
the engine works harder, especially an air cooled engine, it runs hotter
and it tends to knock more than if it was loaded less. That's just physics
too. Again, our air cooled engines are more sensitive to this abuse and it is
more so in FCs. .... and yes, even more so in UVs. These issues should be
talked about and care taken for cars, FCs and UVs to different degrees.
3.) You are correct that the 102 has poor low end torque and was a bad
choice for the FCs. You are also correct that the high compression was the
issue that contributed to knock. The combination of those two issues and
others is what gets you in the end. This is the case with both automatic and
manual transmissions. In an FC and especially in a fully loaded FC, the lack
of low end torque would cause the driver to "floor it" to get it going. This
caused the "perfect storm" of conditions to cook the engine. High
compression plus up to 3/4 ton of additional weight plus full throttle plus low RPM
quickly became a death sentence. The extra weight would cause the engine
to lug itself much longer at lower RPM where the knocking occurs. Because
the 102HP engine was a time bomb in FCs and had to be replaced both early on
and in large numbers under warranty, they removed them from the options
list very quickly. Low torque at low RPM may have been a complaint but fried
engines was the biggy. I imagine that they would refuse to replace the 102
with another 102. Death by knocking was an issue in cars with the 102 but
not to the degree as in FCs. Once it was introduced, they did not remove 102s
from the option list for cars until it was replaced with the 164 engines.
It wasn't as big a warranty issue as in the FCs.
Boiling all this down .... I contend that our Corvair engines are more
sensitive to overheating and knock than other engines. I can't imagine you
will disagree. Further, adding load to that engine aggravates those issues.
Again, I doubt you will disagree. Despite the fact that your FC survived, do
you think my cautionary note to people is somehow inappropriate or
inaccurate? I feel comfortable that my advice may save some people from destroying
their engines. If someone takes your implied advice that they don't need to
be careful when overloading their engine they are more likely to fry an
engine especially in an FC.
Please forgive my terse tone but when I hear a "don't worry, be happy"
message on valid issues of safety and/or reliability, I feel strongly. This is
why I reacted as strongly as I did a few weeks back when a member on this
list tried to say that space-saver wheels could be used on our Corvairs
without due caution. Your advice might merely lead to the loss of an engine
while his advice might lead to accidents and even death.
In a message dated 5/13/2015 9:05:25 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
_corvanatics-request at corvair.org_ (mailto:corvanatics-request at corvair.org) writes:
Date: Wed, 13 May 2015 01:36:48 +0000
From: Joel McGregor <_joel at joelsplace.com_ (mailto:joel at joelsplace.com) >
To: "_corvanatics at corvair.org_ (mailto:corvanatics at corvair.org) "
<_corvanatics at corvair.org_ (mailto:corvanatics at corvair.org) >
Subject: Re: [FC] Springs for "working" Rampside
<_27D1EC0369826D478297DD86D9DE5E2C800EFDDE at 2012SBS.joelsplace.local_
(mailto:27D1EC0369826D478297DD86D9DE5E2C800EFDDE at 2012SBS.joelsplace.local) >
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
If the Corvair engine is such a weak link how do you think all those
I don't know firsthand but I've always been told that people didn't like
the 102 in automatics or FCs because it didn't have much bottom end.
I've personally run a stock Corvair engine at full throttle for 30 minutes
at a time often in 100 degree plus temperatures. Did it every Saturday on
the way to work for a couple of years with no problems.
Yes, detonation, pre-ignition, knock or whatever will quickly destroy most
engines and the 102 and it's higher compression is more prone to it.
Be sure to de-flash the heads. It will make it run considerably cooler and
leave the bottom shrouds off unless the weather is cold.
Of course we are answering questions you didn't ask but here's one that is
related - wider 15" wheels and appropriate tires help the FCs a bunch with
handling loaded or not.
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