<VV> Springs for "working" Rampside

RoboMan91324 at aol.com RoboMan91324 at aol.com
Sat May 16 02:27:55 EDT 2015

Hi  Joel,  

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 
leaks  out? 
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 
 doing it.

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:

Message:  1
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 
UltraVans manage?
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.

Joel  McGregor

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