<VV> [FC] Springs for "working" Rampside (Now Brakes)

RoboMan91324 at aol.com RoboMan91324 at aol.com
Sun May 17 13:45:10 EDT 2015

What you wrote is absolutely correct.  I did mention a  dual cylinder in my 
first post but failed to raise the red flag on brakes  anywhere nearly as 
high as you did.  Bravo.  Both on and off list,  a number of people who 
responded on this train bragged about their  FCs' ability to carry a load uphill. 
 You brought to light the danger of  carrying that load downhill.  Yes, 
skidding off a cliff is much worse than  replacing and engine.
I don't know if I would call myself obsessed with the engine  as the weak 
link.  I merely submitted a series of responses.  After  Hank's initial 
question, the subject changed from suspension load to the engine  and that is 
where it stayed; until now.  If it can be said that I have  obsessed on the 
engine, you could call me guilty of serial obsession.  Over  the years, I have 
"obsessed" over tire safety, fans, engines most recently and,  yes, brakes 
among other things.
Perhaps the highest value of VV is the tips and advice on  safety issues.  
Your topic more than mine is a shining example of  that.  These topics have 
great value to the "newbies" but also for those  who feel they are "old 
hands" at the idiosyncrasies of our Corvairs.  Many  do not give their brakes a 
thought until it is too late.
Something implied but not discussed in your statement is the  subject of 
brake fade.  This nasty brake issue may allow false  confidence until it 
raises its ugly head and then it is too late.  Here is  the scenario....  As you 
say, brakes of the 60s are poor by today's  standards.  They were considered 
adequate at the time but under certain  conditions could fail even when 
new.  Most of us do not drive our vehicles  as if we were in competition.  
Econo-Runs don't count.  :-)   Without getting too far into the physics, the 
braking process basically turns  the kinetic energy of a vehicle in motion into 
heat energy in the brakes as it  slows down.  You may have seen the glow of 
cherry red brakes shining from  beneath a Formula 1 race car on TV as it 
brakes into a curve.  Those brakes  were designed and built with "no cost 
spared" to handle the heat.  For the  brakes to be used repeatedly or for a 
single lengthy use, they must dissipate  heat from the previous braking event.  
Our standard brakes are poor at  this.  If you have an emergency stop, the 
brakes will probably work fine if  they are in good condition.  Several 
emergency stops in quick succession  are another matter.  The brakes get very hot 
and can fail.  I was  involved in a discussion some time back about 
replacing our standard steel drums  with aluminum drums with cooling fins.  From a 
fade perspective, this is a  vast improvement over the stock brakes though 
still not anywhere near the  performance of disk brakes.  The main point is 
that you may go along for  years with only "normal" braking duty which is 
perfectly adequate.  This  could give you false confidence in your brakes.  
Then one day, you decide  to load up the old Rampside to deliver the load down 
in the valley.  You  think, "I will be driving downhill with the load and 
uphill without the  load.  No problem."  You could consider those downhill 
conditions to  be an extended semi-emergency braking experience.  Your 
perfectly good  "normal driving" experience has now become your worst nightmare.  By 
the  way, big-rig drivers learn early in their careers to use a low gear in 
their  trannys on downhill grades to use "engine braking"  to relieve some 
heat buildup in the brakes.  This is a significant concern  for FCs but also 
cars.  It is especially the case with a fully loaded  FC.
On the subject of salt air and the effects on cars over time,  I completely 
agree.  To expand; salt air is bad for steel vehicles and  components but 
merely humid air is also bad.  Worst of all is an  environment where vehicles 
are driven in the winter in a state that uses road  salt.  I used to live 
in Minnesota where they use salt.  I remember  looking at an old El Camino 
and the seller used the fact that it was a North  Dakota vehicle as a selling 
point.  I asked why and he told me it was a  good thing because North Dakota 
used cinders instead of salt on the roads.   If you are in a dry hot state, 
you still need to check things out.  I am in  a warm state now but I own a 
Canadian Corsa.  I don't know how much of its  life was spent in Canada.  
Arizona is known to be quite dry and hot but  that vehicle may have spent its 
life in the Arizona mountains with a very  different environment.
Bill, thanks for pointing out the larger issue.  Perhaps  this will 
encourage a train of responses on brake issues.  Hopefully.  
Like previous posts, I have included this response on VV as  well because 
this is an issue for both cars and FCs.
In a message dated 5/17/2015 9:05:21 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
corvanatics-request at corvair.org writes:

Message:  1
Date: Sat, 16 May 2015 10:55:07 -0700
From: Bill & Chris   Strickland <lechevrier at q.com>
To: corvanatics at corvair.org
Subject:  Re: [FC] Springs for "working" Rampside
Message-ID:  <5557847B.6030406 at q.com>
Content-Type: text/plain;  charset=windows-1252; format=flowed

Yes, Doc, Newbies need to be  educated in the ways of their Corvair. But as 
such, you haven't even mentioned  the Big Safety Factor that could lead to 
physical injury. Brakes.

A 1  ton load in an FC with tires so rated is a hazard with stock brakes.  
And  to further digress, our common usage load rating system (? & ? ton) is  
grossly unrealistic and was so in the sixties.One simply can not compare 
the  load carrying capacity of a Corvair truck to that of a 1 ton dual wheeled 
 truck of conventional manufacture, which in the sixties, also had woefully 
 inadequate brakes.

But that was then, and this is now. Those 9,000  pound 1 ton diesel 
behemoths have rather spectacular brakes, and not just for  their size. Since this 
is no longer the sixties, things have changed,  especially highways and 
speed limits.  Very few Corvairs, and other cars  of the sixties that are being 
driven in regular usage still have their  original engines.  It's not a big 
deal to expect that any replacement  engine in an FC is an upgrade to the 
original, so most FC's already have that  upgraded power plant.

What isn't a somewhat automatic upgrade is the  brakes, which weren't 
really good back when it was 55 mph speeds, let alone  what folks are driving on 
the freeways these days. And if you want to talk  loads", it gets much worse 
-- the engine will still work, but the brakes  won't!

And, I think, Doc lives in Florida, a small peninsula surrounded  by salt 
water.  I would think that undercarriage inspection (and perhaps  testing and 
repair) would be common place for a Floridian FC, a unibody FC  without a 
heavy steel frame under it, and a good practice in general for any  old FC, 
and they are all "old".

Doc seems obsessed with the engine, but  to put an FC in regular service, 
it seems to me there are any number of other  things to obsess over before 
the engine.  If the engine blows up, so what  -- quite likely there were no 
lives lost.  But brakes, frame, or other  structural  failure, even inadequate 
defrosters can lead to unexpected  consequences. Without power brakes and 
power steering, a Corvair is fairly  immune to drastic consequences related 
to engine failures (fire would be an  exception), whereas loss of vehicle 
control due to loosing a rear axle because  of bearing failure would be a far 
more serious and potentially dangerous  situation. If an engine blows, you 
call for a tow, and pay the man - happened  to one of the Ultra owners on our 
NW Econo-Run a couple years ago - stuff  happens, and like a good Boy Scout, 
"Be Prepared". No ambulance  needed.


Bill  Strickland

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