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Can't keep a Stovebolter still
The Corvette Adventure

Continued, part Four

By Steve VandenBerg
Bolter # 6248
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

  Vacation, Family, Deals, Thoughts, Troubles
Planning to bring her home
Seeing the sites
Getting into it, finally!
Let me tell you about Parts Chicks
Talk of marriage
Ready to hit the road home

Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Part XIV
  How hard can it be ...
Doom, despair and agony on me
Good ol' bailing wire
Surrounded by help
Lord, just get me home, pahlease!
Interesting people and places
Home Sweet Home


Part Four ... Getting into it, finally!

       Well, I guess it would be a good idea if I leave the old gas tank outside from now on. I guess if someone were to steal it they would have a tank with two or three gallons of black varnished gas and a bunch of hard thick varnish to scrape out, and a lot of sickening old gas smell to deal with. I hope Jo isn’t too fumed out in her house.

       Today I started out with the brakes. I was kind of excited about getting the engine running, but I was not too worried about it. My only worry was the carburetor being too clogged up with old gas varnish. I just didn’t want to rebuild the carburetor in the garage. I turned the motor over by hand several times and it seemed to operate pretty smooth.

       The brakes were a piece of cake. I just bought all new calipers, pads, master cylinder and hoses. I think all of the calipers except one probably would have pumped up, but I wasn’t thinking of messing with them again on this trip. I flushed all of the brake lines with brake cleaner and all of the lines broke loose easy enough. The old pads had to come out of the old calipers because I had to reuse the pins to set the pads in the new calipers. I bought some sandpaper to clean off the rust on the brake rotors. So I was able to clean the rusty pins off enough to use them over.

       Most people might not realize the difference between working on a car in your own garage versus someone else’s garage. My garage has many conveniences that were just not available to me here. For example, the pins I could have cleaned up much better and faster using my wire wheel on my grinder. The rotors clean up real nice with a DA sander. The carburetor could have been soaked in my carb tank.

       I took a metal suitcase with hand wrenches, sockets, pliers, screw drivers, dwell/tach meter, multi-meter and some other small items I thought may come in handy. Heck, the toolbox in my garage weighs 1000 pounds empty. My travel tool suitcase was 53 pounds loaded. So if you can imagine, this was bare knuckle wrenching.

       My parts washer was a small plastic pan and water based degreaser. I had to think about getting rid of all the liquids when I was done. That is why I didn’t want to buy a carburetor tank. The carb soaking tank solution is considered caustic and even heavy metal, depending on the type. This would create problems when trying to dump or dispose of properly. I must be an environmentally friendly person.

       I was not rebuilding the car but trying to get it running good enough to be drivable and safe. If I had the Corvette transported home first, I would have taken much more time and effort to make sure everything was done perfectly and original, having painted or re-plated parts before assembly. Here, I had no parts washer, grinder, air compressor, power tools of any sort, or even proper lighting to use. If I had to buy a tool, I had the realization of the possibility of leaving it behind or having to ship it home and having another duplicate tool at home. Simplicity, safety and practicality were thought processes that had to be reckoned with at all times.

       The rotors cleaned up really well. Besides the surface rust, they were not scratched or scarred heavily at all. I cleaned the front wheel bearings and repacked the bearings by hand and replaced the wheel seals. Fortunately, all of the cotter pins were in very nice shape and I was able to reuse them instead of making another trip to the parts store.

       The guys at the parts stores knew me by name and the whole story by the first day. I made more trips to the parts store than I would have originally because I had to go out to grab a bite to eat and I had no toilet facility available at Jo’s house. Not that she didn’t have a bathroom, but she was not home and I certainly didn’t expect her to give me the run of the house. It was quite pleasing to me to have a garage to work in and the stores and restaurants were actually very close by.

       The original brake hoses were probably usable, but I wasn’t going to be shut down because of old rubber hoses bursting. I was determined not to have a braking problem on this trip. After I had the front wheel bearings, both front and rear brakes assembled, and the new master cylinder installed, I filled the master cylinder up with new brake fluid and opened the valves on the calipers. Then I let them alone. What was happening by letting them sit was the brake fluid was slowly bleeding through the system and filling up the calipers with fluid. This would make the bleeding of the brakes less trouble when it came time to pump them up and get all the air out of them. Periodically, I would fill the reservoir and close a valve when it started to run out onto the floor. Most of the job of bleeding was done until I could get someone to help me finish bleeding the brakes.

       The oil filter was a total pain in the butt. I bought a filter wrench at the parts store that morning. It wasn’t the kind I really wanted but I figured it would do. When I tried to get the filter off, the wrench collapsed the filter. That filter was on tight. I finally broke the wrench. I had to find a filter wrench like the one I used at home. I found one at another parts store that I hadn’t frequented yet. When I used the wrench, the filter was just squeezed apart and ripped. Now I had oil running down the filter, wrench and my hands. The metal of the filter was ripped and had jagged edges on it. I still hadn’t even budged the filter base. How was I going to get that filter off?

       I was kind of ticked off now and it was humid that day. It seemed that every time I got on my back under the Corvette, my glasses would steam up and make it hard to see. Of course, my hands were so dirty and oily that I had to clean my hands up before cleaning my glasses. Irritating to say the least.

       I happened to pack some hand punches and chisels. I got under the Corvette and started pounding at the base of the filter to get it off. I totally destroyed the filter already and now I had to cut it off and be careful not to slip and cut my hands on the jagged edges on the filter. I pounded for an hour and a half to get that filter off. Luckily, I did not damage the surface of the engine that the filter gasket mated to, nor did I hurt myself. I did pray for forgiveness for all of the cursing that was extracted from my mouth. I spun on a new filter and put three quarts of Dextron III transmission fluid in the engine and two quarts of regular engine oil. I put transmission fluid in the engine because it has a lot of detergent in it. It also helps to soften the rubber seals in the engine. I figured that I would be safe to start and tune the engine on this mixture.

       I then finally put the battery behind the seat. The battery cables had eye loops on them and would not fit on the posts on the battery. So I had to return the battery and get one with side terminals on it, and then get some bolts and washers to screw the cables to the battery terminals. The floor lights came on and I turned the ignition switch to the on position. I had dash lights. I could see the brake lights reflecting off of Jo’s clothes dryer. Blinkers were working too. I turned the switch to the start position and listened to the motor turn over with the spark plugs out and watched the oil pressure gauge. I spun it over in 15 second intervals until the oil pressure gauge showed pressure. It came up to about 30 psi and I did this several times.

       I was getting tired and decided to call it a night. Tomorrow was Monday and I had to go to Escondido to bring the gas tank in for cleaning and lining in the morning, but I neglected to put the gas tank in the trunk that night.

       I got to Aunt Louise’s house and was informed that Kelly’s husband Ruben and his daughter Charlise (sorry if the spelling is wrong) were coming over. I thought I’d better get cleaned up right away. I had been trying to get my fingernails and hands clean every night after working, but after scrubbing under my fingernails so much, they were getting raw. I had to leave a lot of the grime under my nails because it was getting too painful to clean them. It is kind of embarrassing sometimes. After bathing, I thought it might be a good idea to put my dirty clothing in the garage because of the smell I couldn’t smell, and thought it might be to powerful for Aunt Louise and Kelly. I had to take off my pants at Jo’s garage and put on a different pair because of how filthy they were.

       By the time I got dressed, Ruben and Charlise were there. I had some small talk with them and Aunt Louise asked if she could fix me something to eat. A sandwich would be great. She then said that she could fix me something else if I wanted because she felt that all she ever made for me was sandwiches. I had to tell her that after being a bachelor for so long, that any time someone made me something to eat, it made me feel special whatever was made or prepared. She makes great sandwiches by the way.

       After talking with them, it was time for bed and so I went to the tall bed in the master bedroom and jumped in. The next morning Aunt Louise was already up and gone to work. Kelly and I ate breakfast and talked for an hour, I think. I would have talked all day with her, but I thought I had better get moving.

       I got in the car and was going to go to Escondido to bring the gas tank to be cleaned and lined, but had to back track to Jo’s house in Carlsbad first to get the gas tank.

On to part V

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