Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year End Wrapup

It's hard to believe that 2013 is about to come to an end.  It's been a roller coaster of a year!  Early on, I found our female Dobie had a cancer tumor.  After some discussion, we opted to have it removed, with great success.  Shortly after, she developed a nervous system problem, most likely Wobbler's disease.  She has likely recovered as much as she will.  She is actually doing really well, though will occasionally have all 4 limbs give out.  Needless to say, I was brought to tears more than a few times, as I thought the end was near.  Thankfully, she seems healthy, and I think she's got some years in her.

As if my 69 Camaro wasn't enough project, I picked up my 1968 Firebird early this year, saved from rotting away on a vacant lot in Detroit.  While the project has been slow going, I have a blast each and every time Scott and I work on it.  While drag racing it may be a ways off, it will be a fun long term project in which we hopefully can turn into future endeavors.

In June, we had our second daughter, Lily.  She is every bit as amazing as her older sister, Emma.  We have been blessed with two healthy girls, but I was heartbroke when I learned she needed a helmet.  While the helmet is only to address flathead, which I learned is quite common, it still saddened me to see my baby with her helmet on the first time.

The summer consisted of a fair share of car shows, and a few with my old friend Rod from my hometown.  Though a 1.5 hour drive just to get up here, and another 30 minutes hitting cruise nights, Rod had a blast and has promised to return a few times in 2014.  Thankfully, our friend Jim will also join us with his prostreet 63 Ford unicab pickup if all goes as planned.

As the year came to an end, I started pulling my Camaro apart once again, as I do most every winter.  While part of me would love to simply leave it alone, the part of me that is never satisfied will probably continue to force me to take it apart when the cruise season comes to an end.  We will see how she holds up to some 1/4 mile abuse, as the teardowns may soon become a necessity any way.

I guess it would be asking too much for the year to come to an end without another hit to my emotions.  First, my grandparents (88 and 85 years old), finally got to a point where they could no longer live in their home, and moved into an assisted living home.  While they retain most all of their freedoms, it's just sad to see it happen just the same.  Don't get me wrong, living to that age is a blessing, and I hope they are with us for many more!

One final hit came on Christmas Even, and it hit me hard.  I took our other Dobie, Zeus, to the vet for a mysterious cough that had shown up since his annual physical the week before.  I figured he caught kennel cough at the vet, and wasn't prepared when the vet told me "I'm afraid it's not a cough.  It seems your dog has accute congestive heart failure."  The prognosis wasn't good, as the vet initially stated that she hoped to at least get him through the holidays.  He is now on a cocktail of meds, hoping to rid him of the fluid in his lungs and heart.  Thankfully, I believe in the power of prayer, and Zeus hasn't coughed even once since going on the meds.  Both brother and sister just turned 8 years old in November, and the life expectancy for Dobermans seems to be around 9 years on average.  I know both my dogs are reaching the end, but as long as they are pain free, I would like both of them to hang out just a bit longer.

As the year comes to an end, I'm looking forward to 2014, and everything the new year will bring.  Happy New Year's to everybody out there!  If you're in a warm climate, please, do a smokey burnout for me.

1968 Pontiac Firebird update: 12/30/2013

While we didn't actually wrench on the car today, I thought I'd post a few more pictures for the year's end.  Today, we played musical cars in the shop and got the Firebird ready to move in and out of the shop, to free up some space for Scott.  After moving the cars around, we headed to Production Supply Tool, where Scott ordered up a second air compressor, and one kickass blast cabinet which will come in handy when we start cleaning parts.

We discussed a few more ideas regarding how to tackle this car, and Scott is slowly convincing me to be more and more "race" when it comes to the car.  I'm still clinging to keeping the car at least streetable, and it's something I continue to not budge on.  That said, I think we will be going all lexan, except for perhaps the rear window.  Why keep the rear?  I figure a little more weight over the rear tires can't hurt, and it'll save a little money in the process. I've also all but talked myself into pretty much all fiberglass from the firewall forward...reluctantly, even the chrome bumpers.  I still want to at least paint them simulated chrome or aluminum, to break up the car color some.

Below is a '51 Chevy Scott picked up about a year ago.  He sprayed it army green, then added ghost flames on one side, with plans to carry them over to the other side soon.  It's a dirt cheap car that is without a doubt cool!

Santa brought me a TH400 rebuild kit

So maybe it wasn't Santa.  In fact, maybe I even placed the order for my wife this year.  In the end, I unwrapped a Hughes TH400 rebuild kit on Christmas day.  I also got enough greens to buy most of my "gotta have it" parts to get the car race ready.  Can't wait to get started on the trans, as it'll be my first time opening up a TH400.  I think a book is in order.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from Year One

I've done some dumb things, but....

Thankfully, I never came close to burning my car, garage, or self.  We've all had our carb backfires, and even put the fire out by turning the engine over.  Yet this kid apparently thinks he can put out a fire that is covering his whole engine.  The vacuum isn't that strong kid, and setting the gas can on the windshield wasn't the smartest idea either.  Thankfully, it appears he wasn't seriously hurt, nor was his project.

RoadKill: Episode 23

A few years back, while sitting at a parts store waiting room in Detroit, I struck up a conversation with another customer.  Ironically, he too had told me that one way to get cheap Big Block Chevys was to by an RV.  He said they were a dime a dozen, and recently paid just $500 for a running vehicle he pulled the BBC from. Sometimes, he said you can even find them for free.  Here, the dynamic due do the same to aquire a Big Block Chrsyler for their Charger. Heisenberg would be proud of these two!

I can relate to their project, as we are chipping away everything that's not a badass '68 Firebird, hoping to uncover a race car.  On a side note, is it just me, or does watching them cut up the rv bring back memories of the Hack-a-Vette from Hot Rod a few years back?  This episode is absolutely awesome, and goes down at one of my favorites. Right around 35:10, when they get on the freeway, nearly brought me to tears I was laughing so hard!

Chuck Norris one-ups Van Damme

Last month I posted a pretty amazing video of Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo tractor trailers.  It should come as no surprise that Chuck Norris pushes the envelope, and does the splits between two airliners from 30,000 ft up.  You can't help but laugh at this one!

RoadKill Live! - Day 3

Here is the final day of the 3 part series.

RoadKill Live! - Day 2

Here is day 2.

RoadKill Live! - Day 1

This is part one of a three part series, each nearly 9 hours long.  I love RoadKill, but I'm not sure I can sit through nearly 9 hours worth in a sitting, but here it is.

Coolest Christmas ornament ever!

We found this awesome ornament at Bronner's in Frankenmuth, MI.  Seriously, do they get any cooler than this for a gearhead?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

1969 Camaro Update: 12/16/2013

Continuing the work a couple days later, after realizing the lift plate wouldn't work, I purchased an engine leveler.  Everything went as planned, but man did I ever make a mess!  I'm not sure if they changed how they make cheap cat litter, or it was simply  the cheap cat litter to blame.  In the past, cat litter has soaked up even the messiest of spills without an issue.  This go round, it created an oatmeal like mess that nothing short of a power washing is going to fix.  To make matters worse, until the mess is cleaned up, the mess sticks to your shoes like glue, requiring some serious work to get the treads clean and free of cat little.  I may have to break down and simply buy oil dry next time, as this is one mess I don't care to deal with again.

At the end of the day, the engine/trans were pulled, and transmission unbolted from the engine.  I plan on moving it to the basement, and starting on the rebuild soon.  The transmission is the largest of the planned projects this winter, and considering I hope to do it inside the house, it shouldn't be as difficult to tackle.

I already told Mrs Clause that I wanted a transmission rebuild kit for Christmas, so that's covered.  Hopefully I can scrape up enough Christmas cash to get the headers out of the way as well.  After that, most all of my list is sub-$100's, and very doable in the time frame I'm shooting for.  With some luck, once the weather breaks, I will be ready to cruise AND race this season!

Back on the ground, nearly ready for the engine/trans to come out. 

Here is the Harbor Freight engine leveler.  I will admit, I have avoided this store for the most part for many years.  With most all of Sears Craftsman tools now made in China, my options are becoming very limited for made in the USA on a budget I can justify.  Now while I haven't started buying hand tools, and likely won't, I am giving them a second look for many other items.  I picked up convoluted tubing for my wiring, zip ties, and a few other items at dirt cheap prices.  While I'm not ready to stock my tool box with their stuff, I think more frequent visits are in my future. 

That's a Harbor Freight special engine hoist..aka "cherry picker" as well.   

The most nervous point of pulling an engine!  Yes, I stopped to take a picture. 

 Out and on the ground (sigh of relief).

 Trans unbolted, ready for some unsuspecting neighbor to help me get it in the basement.

Part of my growing collection of powertrains.  I have 3 other transmissions in another corner. 

 I need to secure that wiring, reroute the brake lines for my line like, and maybe spray a fresh coat of flat black, or semi-gloss, in the engine bay.

Now she sits, waiting for the power to be placed back in her.  Until then, there will be plenty of work for me to do.  I have two boxes of sound deadener in the trunk, waiting to be installed after I pull the interior back out.  Problem is, I'm quickly running out of space!

1969 Camaro Update: 12/14/2013

With my shop helper by my side, I got back in the garage to finish getting the engine/trans ready to pull out of the Camaro.  It wasn't without incident, as while removing a frozen header collector bolt, the full weight of the exhaust dropped on my nose as the bolt snapped.  Initially, I thought for sure I broke my nose, as the blood instantly poored like a river.  Thankfully, after the bleeding stopped, it amounted to a scratch and a little bruising. Back to work!

 I had previously removed the passenger side header, which is MUCH easier to remove than the driver side, which is more like a game of strategy...and a test of patience.

The driver side also has had mutliple "adjustments" with a ball peen hammer, in order to slide into place.  Even so, I plan to replace these headers over the winter with a new set, so hopefully the days of fighting to get the driver side header in place are over. 

 The driver side exhaust was the side that did the damage to my nose.  Again, I'm VERY lucky it didn't break it.

 Removing the oil filter is part of the puzzle for the header removal.

 Here you can clearly see the "adjustments."

 Leftover evidence of battle wounds.

 As I said, it's a bit of a nightmare snaking this side out.

Header removed, hopefully for the last time. 

Starter removed, ready for rebuild. 

 Crossmember removed.
 Lines disconnected.
Radiator out. 

 Dominator removed, and that is when I discover my engine lift plate does not account for a Dominator bolt pattern.  Well, guess I will be buying that engine leveler from Harbor Freight that I had been considering.

That was a wrap for the day, as until I had a means to actually lift the engine, there wasn't much else I could do.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

1969 Chevy Camaro Update: 12/11/2013

Work didn't stop with the Firebird yesterday.  I slipped out to the garage for an hour or so to begin readying the engine and trans to be pulled.  I didn't get too much accomplished, but the plugs are out (I wanna do a compression check yet), headers unbolted, exhaust unbolted (aside from one bolt that will get cut off), belts off, fan removed, driveshaft out, shifter linkage removed, and support braces removed.

I hope to have the engine and trans removed by Saturday with a little luck, and the transmission in the basement ready for rebuild.  As I've said, I'm not looking to let this winter project drag into late spring/early summer, as I hope to be racing early in the season. 

On a final note, when the hell did kerosene become so hard to come by?  Thankfully, the gas station a few doors down has it, but I figured I'd hunt for a better deal yesterday after paying $5+ at that station last winter.  After a lot of hunting, I found a suburban hardware store out near Scott's shop, and paid $5.99 a gallon.  When I got home, I looked at the station on the corner...$4.59 a gallon.  LMAO...yep, sounds about right.

1968 Pontiac Firebird Update: 12/11/2013

I finally made time to work on our 1968 Pontiac Firebird drag car!  Continuing disassembly, we removed the front clip, brake booster, radiator support, cowl panel, a bunch of unwanted things on the firewall, the power windows/tracks, and sway bar.  I hope for a return visit to the shop next week, possibly removing the subframe from the car if we can come up with a way to still be able to move the car around.  Sadly, those velocity stack and intake are reserved for Scott's Chevelle.

By year's end, I hope to have picked up some floor pans, trunk pan, and mechanical window regulators.  Then, it's time to get cutting and welding!  It's a long road ahead, but we are chipping away at it.