1965 Corvair Maintenance
This page documents big maintenance and restoration items that have been done or are in progress. Notes about little things like replacing lights or rerouting wiring from previous hack jobs goes undocumented. Future work is covered on the planning page.
Corvair Parts Suppliers
2014-12-18: Wheel Bearings, Suspension, Shifter, Clutch Linkage
Some of the work I can do myself but it's nice to be able to rely on professional mechanics given my lack of skill, time and tools (in that order).
With some professional help from Dearing Automotive and a lift, a number of items were identified for the first round of repairs.
- replace all four worn wheel bearings
- fix shift linkage — often unable to select reverse gear
- transmission leak at shifter rod
- vacuum advance not pulling lever on distributor
- automatic chokes don't operate, general cold start difficulty — linkage between chokes and vacuum motors missing
- replace worn bushings on rear lower control arms and front sway bar
- heater hose rubbing on left axle
- clutch arm rubbing on right lower control arm
- pitman arm and idler are loose
- flush & fill fluids
The front right wheel bearing is particularly worn and that tire drags on the front lip of the fender reversing with the steering wheel turned left (but not when moving forward).
I'd really like to lower the front end — it's my biggest aesthetic issue with the car — but now may be a bit too soon given all the other fiddling with the suspension. And how to do it? Cut the coils as so many on Corvair forums suggest?
The previous owner claims to have recently replaced the engine oil which is borne out by the level, color and smell of the fluid on the dipstick. I mean to replace all the fluids including brake, trans and diff. The grime-covered steering box might be curable with nothing more than new seals.
I cleaned about a dozen mud dauber wasp nests off of suspension and body parts under the car. There's still one inside the hood that dumps dirt from drain holes when I open it. Clearly the car has spent an extended time sitting.
The first big order from
for the Corvair is parts to
replace all four wheel bearings,
tighten up play in steering (without actually replacing the leaking
replace worn suspension bushings (they are many),
fix the leak where the shift rod enters the transmission
take a first shot at sealing up the body.
Of course there are a bunch of other little items in there a newbie
Corvair owner needs such as manuals and extra key blanks as well as a
first aesthetic update: a spiffy new shift knob.
|C5790||WRAPPED FAN BELT-CLARKS-BEST||2||$11.65||$23.30|
|C497||SELECTOR SHIFTER SHAFT SEAL,FT OF TRANS||1||$4.05||$4.05|
|C10494||BASIC "D" PREMIUM FT SUSP KIT-65-69 CARS (bearings)||1||$85.20||$85.20|
|C177A||65-69 IDLER ARM-*ORIGINAL STYLE -REPRO||1||$79.65||$79.65|
|C177B||PLASTIC WASHER FOR IDLER ARM||1||$2.45||$2.45|
|C178N||60-69 NYLON PITMAN ARM BUSHING COMPLETE||1||$28.00||$28.00|
|C4613A||64-69 BUSHING INNER STAB BAR-EACH-||2||$3.30||$6.60|
|C9357A||REBUILD KIT-65-69 REAR WHEEL BEARING FOR||1||$122.70||$122.70|
|C9357AX||REBUILD KIT-65-69 REAR WHEEL BEARING FOR (no shims)||1||$74.85||$74.85|
|C1899P||65-69 PERF RR STRUT ROD BUSHINGS-NYLON||2||$57.15||$114.30|
|C837R||65-69 HEATER HOSE STRAP||1||$13.30||$13.30|
|C357||65-69 GAS DOOR BUMPER||2||$2.55||$5.10|
|C337R||FUZZY-OUTER FT DOOR-65-69 CP/CT||2||$23.45||$46.90|
|C2561||60-66 IGNIT & 60-64 TRUNK KEY BLANK,AS||2||$2.20||$4.40|
|C2562||65-66 TRUNK KEY BLANK||2||$2.15||$4.30|
|C9687W||68-69 STYLE WHITE SHIFT KNOB W/4SPD||1||$26.75||$26.75|
|C11165||CD-1965 CORVAIR SHOP MANUAL,BODY BOOK &||1||$42.45||$42.45|
|C24||BOOKLET-65-69 PREVENT RUST OUTS||1||$1.50||$1.50|
|C6016||BOOKLET-65 SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS||1||$1.00||$1.00|
|C4675||BOOKLET-SMOKE & SMELLS-OIL LEAKS||1||$2.80||$2.80|
- 2014-12-18 inspection and planning
- 2014-12-19 parts order placed
- 2014-12-22 parts order shipped
- 2015-12-30 parts order received
- 2015-01-05 work commenced
- 2015-02-06 work complete
Back from the shop, the car starts dead cold and runs beautifully with the chokes activating properly. No more "seventh time is the charm" for me in our February air. Actuators sense the cylinder head temperature and close the choke plates when cold. We also set the idle slightly higher for smoother and more reliable operation. Fixing the timing advance has opened up a fair number of ponies if I can feel the difference so readily.
A thorough cleaning and lubrication and the shifter is transformed. Besides being able to feel a satisfying snick-snick into the forward gears, I can engage reverse. Simply amazing. Granted, the rod linkage is quite long and most of the 50 year old parts remain, so it's not like the Evo. But it works quite well now.
The rear suspension isn't set up terribly well after the control arm bushing replacement, but alignment wasn't part of the job. I'll need to get the suspension components installed before we get into that.
An oil change was due. I poured in four quarts of Shell Rotella T 15W-40 and fixed stuff with a few bits and bobs I've recently collected. And plenty of driving to find out what's next. This weekend's forecast is mostly sunny in the lower 70s with a 100% chance of grand country backroads.
2015-01-03: Window Regulators, "Fuzzies"
I figured out the sticking driver side window regulator.
The door panel was shot full of new black screws around the perimeter instead of using the hidden but fiddly clips. Not a big deal. They're much easier to use than the clips and the door panels aren't in nearly as good shape as the rest of the interior. This is not a show car.
I also needed a handful of window crank clips. The driver's front window crank and a couple others were formerly held on with corrosion. And more than half of them were installed backward.
The glass was coming out of the front track and binding. I fiddled with the adjustments for a bit to figure out how they worked. The glass still comes out of the front track at the bottom of travel but with adjustments and a moderate dose of lithium grease, it moves much more freely. The regulator is in terrible shape with gunk in the felt guides and dry, cracked rubber falling off everywhere, but it'll work fine for now.
The rear driver's side regulator wasn't nearly as bad. It binds a little at one point but it gets by just fine after a liberal application of lubrication. The passenger side regulators are fine but showed some improvement with lube.
While I was in there I replaced the "fuzzies" between the glass and the panels. It is quite an improvement and now the body is a little more rain-proof. The originals were worn nearly flat and didn't even touch the glass. I replaced all eight (an inner and outer for each side window).
An easy drive down my favorite backroad made it abundantly clear that the suspension needed attention. A lot of attention.
I decided on the heavy duty springs, Koni adjustable dampers and the Clark's ¾" rear anti-sway bar. The Konis are infinitely adjustable, but they must be removed from the car (maybe only the bottom mount on the fronts) to adjust them. They are also not cheap. But this complete suspension upgrade is only a little more expensive than the same with Gabriel "Strider" adjustables.
Included in this order is an oddball wrench I hope will make fiddling with the fan belt pulley easier, stuff for an engine oil change, a fix for the broken glove box latch and the rest of the fuzzies.
|C3773||CARB & PULLEY WRENCH-*!*!NOT GREAT FOR A/C & SMOG CARS||1||$15.80||$15.80|
|C47C||CLARK OIL FILTER - GENERATION 2 *COMES WITH C3017 GSKT||1||$6.25||$6.25|
|C975||OIL FILTER RUBBER SEAL,A/C-SMOG||1||$3.20||$3.20|
|C976||OIL FILTER PAPER GASKET, A/C-SMOG||1||$4.05||$4.05|
|C6057||COPPER OIL DRAIN PLUG GASKET||1||$1.80||$1.80|
|C9365||65-69 COMPLETE GLOVEBOX LOCKCASE,LOCK CYL & KEYS-REPLA||1||$25.00||$25.00|
|C337X||FUZZY SET-65-69 CP||1||$124.10||$124.10|
|C6765B||SPECIAL KONI BUSHINGS, SET OF 2 FOR TOP FRONT SHOCKS||1||$33.95||$33.95|
|C6765||KONI FRONT SHOCKS-65-69 SOLD AS PAIR||1||$298.75||$298.75|
|C6766||KONI REAR SHOCKS-65-69 1=PAIR, SOLD AS PR||1||$322.80||$322.80|
|C4773||BOLT-GR"8" 65-69 FT SHOCK-1/SHOCK||2||$5.25||$10.50|
|C4774||BOLT-GR"8" 65-69 REAR SHOCK-1/SHOCK||2||$3.40||$6.80|
|C763CP||COIL SPRING-REAR HD 65-69 CP & 4DR||2||$70.50||$141.00|
|C2308R||65-69 REAR STABILIZER BAR 3/4in BAR DIAMETER||1||$298.40||$298.40|
The heavy duty front springs were on a three-month backorder, so that, various other projects and sloth delayed this project many months.
|C762CP||COIL SPRG-FT HEAVY DUTY-65-69 COUPE/4DR SOLD EACH||2||$59.40||$118.80|
- 2015-01-21 parts order placed
- 2015-01-22 parts order shipped, C762CP on back-order
- 2015-01-28 parts order received
- 2015-04-?? C762CP front HD springs off back-order and shipped
- 2015-11-21 dampers installed
- 2015-12-03 front springs, upper-front-right A-arm rebuilt, aligned
My damper tuning consisted of setting all to approximately ¾ hard, taking an abbreviated test drive and quickly setting everything to full hard. The car was transformed! Eventually I backed the fronts about ⅛ of a turn off full hard and I'm pretty happy there with 18 PSI in the front tires.
The exciting part was finally getting to the bottom of why the right front tire rubbed when turning sharply while moving in reverse. It turns out the nut on the bolt mounting the upper A-arm on the chassis fell off somewhere. Consequently, the bushing was allowed to move around and wore out. This was enough play to move the tire tread into contact with the fender liner. It was the same week I installed the dampers that the bushing finally worked itself free and the annoying tire rubbing became an alarming suspension clunk. Once that was repaired, suddenly the steering box didn't feel so worn out after all! Once everything was squared away it received a zero toe, zero camber alignment and has been a joy to drive since. (Probably need a Corvair expert get better alignment specs, but these settings track quite nicely.)
I still haven't gotten the rear sway bar installed yet.
Fuel / Spark
Get out your timing light!
I've had some fuel delivery problems. Replacing the old mechanical fuel pump with an electric fuel pump certainly increased reliability, easy starting and makes fuel issues easier to diagnose when I don't have to have the crankshaft turning to pump fuel. I actually ended up with a second, metal-skinned pump when (I think) temps under the hood of that air-cooled engine cooked the wimpier plastic one I tried first.
I'm seeing what I think are occasional vapor lock issues. One of the problems with carburetors is that their fuel pump sucks on a long fuel line and then pushes it against the float valves on the carbs without a bypass. Unlike the mechanical pump which runs at the crankshaft speed, the electric runs at one constant speed. Pumping hard against closed float valves increases the temperature in the pump. The fuel in the long line is under vacuum which can cause a state change from liquid to vapor when temps go up. The fuel pump can't effectively pump vapor so fuel stops flowing to the carburetors and the engine stalls when the bowls run dry. Modern fuel injection systems, on the other hand, submerge the pump in the gas tank for cooling, the pump pushes fuel from the tank to the engine under pressure reducing the possibility of a state change to vapor and fuel not consumed by the injectors goes back to the fuel tank via a return line, allowing it to cool again. So therein are a few ideas for preventing vapor lock. They just need to be tried.
The previous owner added an electronic distributor and a PerTronix Flame-Thrower II ignition coil. The hotter spark increases combustion efficiency and the lack of mechanical points reduces maintenance and increases reliability, increasing efficiency overall. I ended up replacing the coil when the old one overheated and puked its oil bath.
I'm fortunate to live conveniently near Juan Santana, owner and head mechanic of Dearing Automotive. His long time experience, especially with multi-carb motorcycles, is highly applicable to the Corvair's one carb per head configuration. He is able to tune fuel and ignition by ear (and then confirm with the timing light). The motor is set up to burn modern alcohol-infused, 93 octane pump gas without needing to add octane booster.