1961 Corvair 95 "Rampside" Project

Recon Photos
March 13, 2009

This misadventure started when my friend, Jim Watkins, called to tell me about his latest Corvair acquisition. Actually, he had tried the day before to get me to go to Austin with him to get it. Jim retired last year and dove into the Corvair hobby head first. Corvairs seem to follow him home like the Pied Piper. He's only been into Corvairs a little over a year and well over a half dozen have already passed through his hands. At any given time, four or five sit behind his house. Jim is also the current president of Corvair Houston.

Jim mentioned that the truck was powerglide (automatic), which appealed to me. We live outside Houston and Houston traffic is no fun with a clutch and bad knees. I had owned a '64 Greenbrier (8-door!) years ago that was 110-PG and I had really liked how it drove.

Jim's description sounded like a pretty clean truck, so I asked him to send pictures:

First Look
March 15, 2009

Hmmm, those recon pictures looked fairly interesting. I already had a '64 Monza coupe project, which had come from Jim. It had been sitting in our garage for over a year without much progress. The '64 was the body from a car that Jim had acquired to get the engine for his '63 Monza coupe project, which was an extremely clean body that came out of Phoenix, AZ. Gretchen and I had actually been keeping an eye out for an FC, but the '64 coupe body was too good to turn down. My brother, Tim, had plenty of spare engines and other parts, so I had most of the pieces to put it together in short order. However, enthusiasm waned for the project.

I showed the recon pictures of the Rampside to Gretchen and we agreed that this truck might be worth a closer look. I hinted at interest in the truck to Jim in an e-mail and the next thing I knew he was on the phone, inviting me to come look at it.

So, I made the hour drive into the wilderness where Jim lives and looked it over. Here are those pictures:

The truck has been sitting for somewhere between five and ten years, I think. Although it has many area of rust that need immediate attention, overall the truck is pretty solid. The bed is in very good condition and had been painted with something that protected it very well. It is not beat up, as is typical for any old truck.

The truck was originally equipped with a 4-speed, but had been converted to powerglide. It does not appear to be a truck powerglide and there is no tranny cooler installed. We weren't sure what engine was installed. It had a -V block (w/ dipstick tube) and a '64-style fan, but had a road draft tube instead of PCV system. The engine was not stuck, so that was a good sign. We were hopeful that it was a 110. It had already been converted to alternator, so that was a plus

On the way over to Jim's, I had been thinking that the fuel tank was probably bad and would require removal, cleaning, sealing, etc. I was pleasantly surprised to find that ithad already been removed, cleaned and resealed. It just needed to be reinstalled.

It's got a sliding read window installed. I understand that's a pretty rare aftermarket accessory. The worst part of the truck is the crunched right rear corner. However, it's repairable. The ramp works great, although it's missing the main latches. It does have a dent, which is a continuation of the big dent. However, overall it's solid.

This looked like a solid project, so we talked terms. Jim was willing to take back the '64 monza body in partial trade. The deal ws good, but I am currently unemployed, so any purchase would merit serious deliberation. So, I told Jim I'd talk it over with Gretchen.

New Home for the Rampside
March 16, 2009

Gretchen and I decided that we couldn't pass on this deal, so I sent Jim an e-mail saying we were good to proceed. The next morning, Jim called me up and said that he had the truck on his trailer, ready to deliver! So, I had to scramble around to get the junk cleared out of the way to get the '64 Monza out of the garage and the Rampside in.

A couple of hours later, the Rampside was snuggled into its new home:

Investigation of the head numbers revealed that they are 102hp heads. Well, it's not a 110, but it's better than the original 80hp. The battery compartment is not nearly as rusty as is typical for FCs. The battery tray is almost all there and there are only minor rust holes in the bottom of the compartment. It could be much worse.

You may have noticed that the truck had Chevy rally wheels in the recon pictures, but chrome aftermarket wheels in the second set of pictures. That's because the rallies are now installed on Jim's other Rampside. The chrome wheels are what came with that truck. The chrome wheels will be getting replaced with a set of the original steel wheels that I also got from Jim with the truck.

I charged up the battery, had a key made from the glove box lock and changed the oil and filter. I turned the ignition and -nothing, no click, just nothing. I thought that the starter looked pretty ragged and I had an overhauled unit on the shelf, so I swapped it out. Bench testing did show that the old starter was bad and verified that the replacement was good. So, I turned the key again and -nothing. The culprit was traced to a loose plug at the firewall. I fixed that and now it would turn over great, but no hint of combustion. I pulled the distributor cap and watched while Gretchen cranked, but did not see any sparks. So, the next step will be to try a different coil and probably replace the points, too. The plan is to eventually replace the points with an Igniter unit and a Flame Thrower coil.

To be continued...

Battery Compartment
March 26, 2009

Here are some detail pictures of the battery tray and compartment. As mentioned above, the tray is almost intact and so is the battery compartment floor. The tray still even has the drain nipple and hose in place. It also has the grommet in compartment floor for the drain hose to pass through. These pictures were taken after some clean up, but before treatment with Rust Cure.

The lip of the access opening has been cut and bent down, to allow a larger battery to fit. If a modern battery can be slipped through without this mod, I'll put it back original.

The battery compartment door was very stiff when we first got the truck. I cleaned away the leaves, dirt and debris and sprayed the hinge and latch down with WD-40. After a little bit of exercise, the door works almost like new.

I still haven't started the engine. For now, I've been focusing on getting the rust in check (and avoiding spending money).

(as Purchased)
Component Code Translation
Trim: STD standard (non-deluxe)
Paint: 710A unknown
Engine Block: TI0I3W Tonawanda-built,
FC 80-hp Automatic,
built October 13th,
presumably of 1960.
LH Head:
RH Head: 3813516 '62-63 102hp
Distributor: 1110319 '64-68 110hp
Carbs: 7020101 '62 Manual Trans
Differential: BJ 2 22 '61 PG 3.55, built Feb 22

This was originally a 4-speed truck, but has been converted to powerglide.
It still has the speedomoter with shift points marked.

Update - April 17, 2009

I've been bouncing around working on a variety of areas. I didn't take any pictures, but the Igniter II unit and Flamethrower coil arrived from Clark's and have been installed.

I bought some wheel cylinder kits at the local NAPA. Local is a relative term. For us, the 'local' NAPA is twelve miles away. We have a Carquest about four miles away, but they usually don't have as much selection as NAPA. I took these 'before' pictures of the brakes mainly for reference, so I can put the thing back together! I'll probably put a dual master cylinder kit from Clark's on it.

I've spent a fair amount of time digging out the seam sealer around the roof gutter. It had been redone at some point in the past and was causing more problems than it was preventing. I'm not sure why. It had cracked and held water. So, I've been trying to expose all the rust. It's only rusted through in a couple of small places.

Some more shots of the rust areas. I opened up the holes in the bed rocker area and a lot of silt ran out. I also found one of the oval bed plugs in there. At some point, I'll get a hose and flush it out good.

The floor at the driver's feet is pretty bad, too. Since replacement panels aren't available, I'm considering trying to fabricate some.

Some speakers have been added to the doors. I haven't decided what to do about that. They actually did a decent job and they fit nearly flush. Welding up those gaping holes would not be fun. So, they may stay.

The seat will obviously need some work.

May 11, 2009

I was digging through some old things and came across these pictures of my old '64 8-door Greenbrier. I think these were taken right after I got it, since it still had the west coast mirrors and mag wheels. The big mirrors went away and I put stock wheels and full hubcaps on it. I don't remember how long I had it, maybe a couple of years. I sold it in '94, when I was moving to Houston.

You can also see my 'ol '62 Monza coupe in the background. It was my daily driver from 1979 until about a year after I was out of college and purchased a new '89 Ford Escort GT.