Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nostalgic junkyards

Up near Mount Pleasant, Michigan, about 20 miles to the west, sits a junkyard that has been there forever. I heard about the place from a teacher at CMU while attending college some years ago. One day, I decided to go scope the place out. It sat on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Ran by an old guy, apparently borderline crazy (aren't they always?), he normally didn't let anybody just wander the yard. He asked what I was looking for, I made reference to a few parts, and he said I could go look around. He then added "Goddamn it, you better not have any tools on you with plans to steal shit!" I assured him, I was just there to look.

What I found was amazing! It was like a time machine for the auto industry. Acres upon acres as far as the eye could see spread amongst the woods and rolling hills. Obviously most were likely beyond repair after decades of sitting in the damp Michigan soil year after year. Yet what you see is breath taking. Cars dating back all the way to the 1930's with the bulk of the collection being 1950's cars, tapering off by the 1960's. I saw almost everything imaginable. Even three late 1960's Dodge pickups like my friend had, a truck I had never seen anywhere else. Not only that, all three were the same teal green color.

The day I went over there I had an appointment with a teacher over a paper I was writing, as my scheduled time slot approached, I realize I wasn't gonna make it. I'd deal with that later, as I was gonna spend a few more hours enjoying this small piece of heaven. I later explained to the teacher, who was well aware of how big of a gearhead I was, and she totally understood. I'm not sure I even made it back to the junkyard, though I'd love to venture back some day with a camera. For some reason I think the crazy guy who runs the place wouldn't be too appreciative if he saw me taking pictures.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Starting from ground zero

She's been lonely too long

Today I ventured out to the garage to work on the Camaro. As I sat there looking at it, first thing I did was place the cowl induction hood back on the car. I realize it was just mental, but with the hood in place the car just looks more complete, as opposed to the basket case that it currently is. I then took the duster and dusted it off then added some tire black to shine them up a bit. There, it almost didn't look like a car that has been sitting for 5 years now.

Fully stocked

Ground zero, that was where I'd be starting as I gazed into the interior. From the years of sitting, welding in of the roll cage, and remaining sound deadening insulation on the floor pans they were looking like they needed some tlc. I got out the angle grinder with wire wheel installed and went to town on the floor pans, stripping off all the insulation still glued in place, the loose paint, as well as the seam sealer. The removal process went quite smoothly, as they really weren't in bad shape.

Heart of the beast, a 454 bored .030 over

Upon completion, I re-seam sealed all the welds along the floor pans, then added a fresh coat of rustoleum to everything. Next on the agenda I think I will cut out some metal atop the transmission tunnel, as it's seen quite a bit of abuse over the years. First, it looks like swiss cheese from all the holes from the factory column and shifter, then later the aftermarket B&M shifter, then the plate I tacked on top of the tunnel to keep it from flexing during shifts. So possibly tomorrow or sometime this weekend I need to pick up some sheet metal to weld back in after I'm done cutting. In addition, there are numerous holes in the firewall from who knows what from factory. I know at least one is for the throttle linkage, which I have replaced with a cable, another for the speedo cable, hole for the fuse block to pass through, and a handful of others which I'm sorta baffled by. I'll weld up the ones I'm unsure of, as it's easy to make new holes if need be.

Shop dogs

I have to admit, my garage is good to go. I have everything arranged the way I want it making the most use of the space I have. I have a few cabinets in the basement I plan on relocating to the garage as soon as I get some insulation up and some sort of paneling or drywall, I haven't decided yet. I got a kickin' stereo system that sounds just right at MAX volume. My fully stocked fridge keeps me from making runs to the house for beverages. My air compressor is good to go, and I have all the tools to get the job done. Never in all my years of wrenching on cars have I had a better, more comfortable set up.

Finished floor pans

Perhaps most importantly though, I finally feel it. That urgency to get out there and work on it. In the past, I thought I had that desire, yet it didn't last. Once out in the garage, or perhaps the day after, I had already lost interest. Honestly, this may sound a bit cheesy, but I have to thank the show on Speed on cable tv known as "Pinks." While I don't have the desire to race my car for pink slips, as I have no desire of taking a chance at losing it, it's just the raw nature of the show. The crudeness of some of the vehicles, the go fast at all costs mentality that I find so appealing. Watching top fuel racing still is fun, yet you can't look at them in the same way you look at your hot rod in the garage. The shows like Overhaulin' never really got my interest either. Watching a show on restoring cars, or even the restomods just didn't click for me, I found them rather boring. Pinks on the other hand, a lot of these cars are running engines on par with what I had. They are doing the smokey burnouts like I used to do. I can damn near smell the burning rubber and all so recognizable fumes coming from who knows what. It's the thump of the engines as they await the host to drop his arms, signaling the start of the race.

I guess in addition to this, a little bit of other influence may have been when I was out cruising in the Formula the other day and witnessed multiple classics out on what was an unusual 60+ degree day in November. At one point I was sitting next to a 1970 Vette, shortly after a 1970 Chevelle with a big block passed us going the other way. It had me longing for my ride, missing it like I haven't missed it in a long time.

So even though I sit unemployed, unable to purchase many of the major components to get my car on the road by summer, there is still plenty to do. Remember, the car is essentially a shell right now. After I finish up this little bit of wiring, I'm going to start installing the electrical and get at least the front and tail sections all wired up. I need to come up with some sort of dash for my main gauges as well, since the roll cage goes right through where the original was and a cross bar behind the dash makes it impossible to reuse. After that, I'm gonna find some plush carpet that matches the color of the car, like I had before, add some sound deadening mat, then install the carpet and seats. I had pondered aftermarket seats, and I may still install a set later down the road, though for now I'm going to install the originals including the rear seat. I may create some sort of carpeted back board in case I later decide to omit the rear seat, but my feeling is that the added weight being over the rear tires is likely more of a benefit for traction than a factor that would slow me down.

After that, I think I still have a full set of pioneer speakers and JVC CD player to install. All interior trim and panels are around here somewhere, as is the headliner...I think. I think the rear glass may be at my parents, the front glass I broke upon removal. If I can at least get the interior in order by spring, at least then I can sit in the car, look out the window, and feel that much closer to completion. I could tough it out with the rearend as long as I didn't install tires that hook, and the transmission only has a few 1,000 miles on it, as does the convertor. So that leaves a beefed up drive shaft and rebuilt engine, the engine which will set me back at least $5,000, which is why next summer will likely come and pass without it seeing the street. So be it though, as long as I stick to it and venture out to the garage on a more regular basis and can see progress, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

When in doubt, peel out!

While out walking my dogs the other day, my neighbor and I came upon a school. As we struck up a conversation with somebody out front, up rolls a late 80's S10 pickup. The truck, driven by a guy in his late 40's at least, comes to a stop, sat there a second or two, then white smoke starts pouring off his passenger side tire. The thing that cracked me up most was that he didn't seem to putting on this show for anybody in particular, he simply stopped, layed down some smoke and rubber, then was on his merry way. I was left wishing I had brought my camera that day, as it's not often you see a spectacle like that.

I thought back to the days in which I would have done that. For no reason whatsoever, I'd simply burn a few thousand miles off my tires. I too was victim of having a "one wheel peel" car for my first car. It's one of the things where you almost feel like you're peeling away with your tail between your legs, as your one wheeler can't measure up to those with true posi's. That being said, all three of my cars today have a posi unit in them and one wheel peels are a thing of the past.

The whole exhibit brought back memory of a website that I believed I had saved. After looking through my bookmarks I found it and am passing it on for your reading enjoyment. Now, if you stumbled upon this site while googling something car related, as I see most of you do, you will totally relate to most every instance on this list.

When in doubt, peel out!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rick Wagoner admits, killing $1 billion EV1 program was his worst decision

Not exactly along the line of "Motor City Muscle," yet relevent just the same, as new technology often points in the direction the auto industry is headed in the near future.

GM plans to unveil a concept at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit that they hope will help restore some faith in GM's future. Many were upset that GM killed the EV1, this after the company was apparently at the forefront of developing new technology in search for a gasoline alternative. In the mean time, other foreign auto makers more than caught up, bringing several hybrid vehicles to market.

Later this month, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Rick Wagoner will announce the new direction and focus on new technology as part of the planned turn around. Without giving many details, he stated that the new technology would have an extended driving range on battery alone, in addition to having a gasoline or diesel powered engine to power the car when the batter was low.
Ultimately, they still view hydrogen fuel cells as the answer to our dependence upon oil, though that connection will be built through use of electricity.

GM may revive electric car