Sunday, November 28, 2004

Geek Squad
Today I heeded the call to fix my Mother and Step-Father's PC. I asked them to drop it off and I would take a look at it. It was dropped off early afternoon.

Around dark I decided to get it over with. I plugged it in and turned it on. It powered up fine, Windows 95 loaded normally. I could find nothing wrong. Job well done.

I called to ask what was wrong with it. My Mother didn't know so I told her it appeared OK to me. I offered to drive it back over.

A few minutes later I was crusin' in the Miata with the top down. Tonight is a cold clear night without very few stars visible due to the surrounding lights. The PC was riding shot gun.

When I arrived, I hooked it back up, verified connectivity to the Internet, and called it a day. I wish all computer problems turned out to be that easy to solve. Or rather I wish there were no problems to solve.

At least I got a ride in the Miata out of the whole ordeal.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I know we will all sleep better tonight knowing the last piece of pecan pie has now been eaten. And I had a nice glass of milk also.
Thanksgiving Part III, Return of Dessert
Today we enjoyed Thanksgiving Part III at my Fathers house. Lots of folks, even more food. I only had two desserts at lunch. Perhaps I should finish off the pecan pie later tonight. Then it will be all gone. No more pressure.

Battle of the Titans
It is me vs the small block. I have checked the tolerances (again). Everything goes together fine but when I torque it all down (45 ft-lbs), I can no longer turn the crank shaft.

Just for fun, I loosened all the bolts to 5 ft-lbs and installed the starter. Everything spins nicely like this. Start tightening it back up and the starter can no longer turn it after about 4 are torqued down. Those with more money than brains recommend I take it to a machine shop and have someone else give it a try. Perhaps my pride will eventually give in and let me take this route, but not just yet. I have not exhausted all my information sources.

On the plus side, I now have an excellent understanding of how the starter engages and just how it works. Not just everyone has gotten to seen one run upside down. I enjoyed watching the crankshaft turn and seeing the piston rods going down and up. Also I completely understand the electrical wiring involved. Very simple really. The big wire from the positive(+) terminal on the battery goes straight to the starter. The big wire from the negative(-) terminal of the battery is connected directly to the block (actually via the mounting bracket for the alternator). The block is a neutral ground. When 12 volts is applied to the switch wire the starter solenoid engages and the starter gear spins the crank shaft. The switch wire is normally run back to the ignition switch and through a safety switch. The purpose of the safety switch is to make sure the vehicle is in park or neutral when the starter is engaged. For my purposes I just used a short piece of wire to connect the (s)with terminal to the (+) power lead. Watch it spin. No mystery here.

'68 Chevy
iMike is still hopefull he will be getting his Grandfather's old '68 Chevy. His Grandfather also had a '48. I was telling G about it. After a bit she mentioned she thought I was going to ask if I could go get it. I think she was scared. Hmmm. She didn't exactly say no. That sounds like permission to me.

The '68
iMike's Grandpa's '68 Chevy LWB Step side
The '48
iMike's Grandpa's '48 Chevy

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving Part II, The Search for Spock
Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

We headed down to the greater Boaz/Sardis metro today to partake of another Thanksgiving Feast. That means I have now had pecan pie two days in a row. Mmmmm.

I spotted a couple of old Chevy trucks a few miles away from our destination so after lunch G's Grandfather and I took a quick trip in G's Tahoe over to look at them. I snapped a few photos and as usual they are still in the camera so I am not sharing them with you at this point.

One was two tone Blue and White. The other was two tone Orange and White. War Eagle, eh! They were both in really good shape and for sale. I did not ask how much. I did not need to know. The blue one was a 72, the orange one a 70. Someday I have to decide what color my truck will be eventually. (Both trucks had coil suspension in the rear.)

Another hour in the shop this afternoon getting greasy.

Tonight we dined on takeout Chicken fingers. I took the Miata out with the top down to retrieve the culinary delight. My father-in-law offered to ride with me to fetch dinner. I replied sure, but be warned I am going in the Miata with the top down. I ended up going alone. I estimate the temperature was in the mid 40's. Not too bad with the heater on and a warm jacket.

While driving around I was listening to the Barenaked Ladies. I head 'Crazy' which matched the thoughts of those around me judging by the looks I got from time to time. Have these people no sense of adventure.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the lyrics for BNL's "Crazy":

Climbing the walls of my mind is like climbing
on the jungle gym.
I am more than content with the
state of mind I am in.
'cause I am crazy just like you.
I am crazy just like you.
I don't need a rubber room, but that might be nice.
I'm not a manic depressive paranoid or schizophrenic
so I don't need your advice.
I am crazy just like you.
I am crazy just like you.
The lights are on but nobody's home
my elevator doesn't go to the top
I'm not playing with a full deck I've lost my marbles.
The lights are on but nobody's home
My elevator doesn't go to the top
I'm not playing with a full deck I've lost my marbles.
I'm a few bricks short of a load,
but a full load always hurt my back.
I flew over the cuckoo's nest and
I'm never ever coming back because
I am crazy just like you.
I am crazy just like you.
I am crazy.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Part I, And I Feel Fine
The miracle of Karakoe came to visit us for Thanksgiving (along with the inlaws).

Jordan, Brianna, and I sang REMs' "End of the World" without a lyric sheet. Just for fun, I looked up the lyrics afterwards. Ouch. I believe we butchered them pretty badly. I would say I knew roughly 50% of the words. And I knew several lines that weren't even part of the song. Ha!

I also did a killer job with Sting's "Moon Over Bourbon Street", acupello{sp?}. I know this to be a fact because there were four bodies in the room when I was done.

T F O Doe, Electrical.
The Miata has been in the garage now for a week. With the top up. Shame on me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I am having some trouble putting the '72's engine back together. Everything is fine until I torque down the rod bearing caps. Then the crankshaft will no longer turn. My father-in-law thinks the bearings may be the wrong size. I have already been down that road. I guess I will talk to a few more experts before I decide what to do next. In the mean time, there are plenty of greasy parts I can clean off.

I stripped the oil pan of all grease and paint. It is very shiny and ready for some new paint. I suspect it will rust by tomorrow. The new oil pump has been installed as well.

This year we stayed home for Thanksgiving. My inlaws are visiting with us. We are having the Thanksgiving meal as our evening meal. Lunch was skimpy and I am very hungry. It is 5:46 pm and I am being tortured. Please send food soon!

Tomorrow we are traveling east for Thanksgiving with G's maternal grand parents. Saturday we are traveling west for Thanksgiving with my Father. It is hard to imagine that I will be hungry after three Turkey dinners. I sure wish I could have part of one right now!

Happy Turkey Day

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Temple Bar Mix
Oh, and the banjo version of Vertigo is pretty good too.
Hello Hello
I'm at a place called Vertigo
It's everything I wish I didn't know

Don't Forget Your Towel
We saw the movie 'National Treasure' today. It was a pretty good movie but I felt certain it was inspired by the book 'The DaVinci Code'. I hear a movie version of that is in the works.

We got to see a move teaser before the feature started. It was for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Basically it shows Earth exploding. Didn't Vogon poetry have something to do with that. G said "I thought you said the movie was about the meaning of life" to which I replied "42".

Dinner at Carrabba's. Two red Miatas in the parking lot; one tan top, one black top.

We are heading home tomorrow morning. I hope it doesn't rain all the way back.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Tomorrow is D-Day
How is that for a cheesy title. Tomorrow is the release date for U2's new album "How to Distmantle and Atomic Bomb." I suppose I am feeling a little bit fanatical about it because I have to go out and get it on the release date. Of course I have done this a few other times as well. I am pretty certain I did this for "The Joshua Tree", "Rattle and Hum", and "All That You Can't Leave Behind". The first U2 album I purchsed was at Wal-Mart in Burleson Texas back in 1984, twenty years ago. Someday maybe I will tell you about when I went to see "Rattle and Hum" at the movie theater. (Get it? D-Day and Atomic Bomb.)

Food for Thought
Tonight we had dinner at the Lomo Grill in Waynesville, NC. The food was excellent. I had pan seered tuna with roasted artichokes and a curry broth and a glass of chardonnay. Ginger had an excellent steak. When the waitress bought out our entree's I accused her of stereo typing us. She set the steak down in front of me. Dessert was excellent as well. I had chocolate ganache. Ginger had a tiramisu cheesecake.

Lunch today was at the Deerpack Rest. on the Biltmore Estate. I usually have a disdain for buffet's so Ginger didn't warn me ahead of time. The food was actually pretty good considering it was a buffer. Turkey and dressing. I bet I have some more of that later this week. Lunch included dessert. I had a small piece of mint chocolate cake. G had a little bit of the rasberry cheese cake. We were trying not to fill up since we were headed over to the Biltmore Winery next.

While I am talking about food, I will go ahead with last nights meal also. Dinner last night was at a place called Providence 260 (or maybe 620). I had the Maryland Lump Cakes with a Red Curry Sauce. Ginger had a Portabello and Chicken Pasta Alfredo. The food here was simply average. I tried the Highland Gaelic Ale..

If we keep eating like this, I will be miserable in a few more days. I suppose I could start a diet now, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Winery
I have told people before that the reason winery's give free samples is so that you will buy more than you would normally by {sober}. We must have tried 6 or 8 different types of wine. We ended up buying 5 bottles. G picked out 3, myself 2.

I don't remember the exact production numbers but I made this calculation at the time. For every 100 bottles of wine produced at this winery, 3.5 of them are used for wine tastings.

I have been aware for a long time that my geographical knowledge of the North East is pretty bad. I became aware of this a few years ago while looking at a map prior to going to visit some folks at Lucent near Boston. We flew into New Hampshire which I had no idea was next to MASS.

To further show my ignorance, I will mention that earlier this year I was suppose to make a trip to New York City. Again looking at a map, I was startled to discover that New York City was southwest of Boston. Perhaps I shouldn't feel so bad about that one since so much of NY state is actually further north than Boston.

So here I go again. I am looking at the map today and I discovery that if we travel due north from Ashville, NC I will end up in....Tennessee. And why not mention that I never realized that South Carolina was actually East of Georgia. Yep, most of South Carolina is further south than where I live.

In my defense, I understood geography when I lived in Texas. If you went East, West, North, or South you were still in Texas. Especially South and West.

Perhaps I have a mental block for this thing called geography. As a matter of fact I don't even recall taking geography in school. That is the strength of the mental block.

Did I mention I had my picture taken on a tractor?

Orange you glad I didn't say banana.
Today Ginger and I are in Ashville NC celebrating our 10th Anniversary. We drove in from Hunsville yesterday. We spent the morning at the Biltmore Estate and visited the winery in the afternoon.

I snapped a few photos of some old wood working tools at the old horse barn on the estate. I also had my picture taken on a tractor. I told Ginger it was an early vintage Miata.

This evening we are venturing over to Waynesville to dine at the Lomo Grill. This is a place that was discovered by my friends and myself a few years ago when we came up to NC on one of our annual camping trips. I remember it being a very good experience. Hopefully it will be again.

Knock Knock.
Whose there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say 'Banana'!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

War Eagle
21 - Auburn
13 - Alabama

11 and 0, 3 in a row.

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Thursday night I pulled the piston one more time. This time I installed the correct side rod bearings and put the pistons back in. This time I also torqued down the connecting rod caps.

Yesterday was Ginger and my 10th Wedding Anniversary.

And finally, a joke:
Knock, Knock.
Who's there?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

On the way home today, I witnessed a car accident. At an intersection about 2 miles from our house, I watched the car in front of me pull out in front of another car. It was hit from the side and spun around almost 360 degrees. Fortunately no one was hurt. This car was totalled. The other had the front end messed up pretty well.

This intersection has a fair number of accidents. This is evidenced by the small white crosses that are often found nearby. Hopefully this intersection will be fixed in the near future. Tonight those people were lucky.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Both of Us
One more week to go and we can all rush out and get U2's new album "How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb". Assuming you haven't downloaded if from a peer-to-peer file sharing system. I will probably get mine at Best Buy and then ride around in the Miata with the top down and the volume turned way up load.

Hello, Hello, Hola!

I had to move some stuff around in the garage tonight so the Dodge could get back in there with the '72. This morning the windows on the RAM were covered with ice. Tomorrow that will not be a problem

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Insert Witty Title Here
I drove the Miata this afternoon. It is looking great. It is still very clean from being washed last Sunday afternoon. The tires are nice and shiney black. The windshield is sparkling clean. The Dodge pickup is still clean as well. It turns out it is really white, not the nice tan color it has been for the last year. I hope get the other truck put back together reasonably soon so I can bet the
Dodge back in the garage with it.

Insert Another Cute Title Here
One week later and I was back to the same point - ready to torque down the rod caps. The Haynes book says 45 ft-lbs. I torque one set down to 10 ft-lbs and the crank shaft gets a lot tighter. After torqueing the second set down to 10 ft-lbs, I can no longer rotate the crank shaft even using a pry bar for leverage. Insert expletive here!

So at this point I start trying to figure out what is wrong. Doh! The parts store sent me home with 0.020 Rod Bearing rings instead of the 'standard size'. My understanding at this point is that the 0.020's are thicker to accomodate the rod journals on the crank shaft being ground down 0.020 of an inch. Assuming this is true that would account for the tightness. I hope this hasn't marr'ed the rod bearing journal on the crank shaft.

As you already know, before I got started on this project, I had not really done anything like this before. I am not an expert but I sure am learning a lot. Unfortunately some of the learning is being done the hard way.

I will seek counsel tomorrow on whether the bearing size is the problem or not. Tune in later for more mind 'boring' details. (Boring-piston-ha!) Assuming it is the problem I will be out $21 dollars for another set of rod bearings. Someone will have to be responsible for this fiasco. I am thinking the guy at the parts store is a good candidate.

I suspect I will be pulling the pistons back out yet again. I am getting pretty good at re-installing them.

I had a couple of guys recommend that I go ahead and replace the oil pump while I had the engine apart. The oil pressure was fine before I took the engine apart. On the other hand the pump is inexpensive. Having to replace it later could be very time consuming. I purchased a replacement oil pump today ($13.99). I am attempting to learn from others advice here rather than learning this one the hard way.

One final note for today about that engine. The original rod bearings have a manufacturing date stamped on them of 7-84. Before I believed the engine was made between 1980 and 1984. Now I believe it was made in late 1984. (The new 0.020" bearings are stamped 01-04.)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Three of a Kind
I just know we have at least two hack saws in this house, only I can't locate either one of them. Yesterday morning I stopped at Wally-World on the way to work to buy yet another hack saw. Now I have a hack saw again. This one is different though because I know where it is.

Last night I drove through an actual drive thru to pick up dinner, chicken fingers. Yes I know chickens don't really have finger. Mr. Chicken Finger Guy leans out the window and ask's "What year is it?". Obviously he has a Miata also. He loved the car (even though I had the top up). It was raining. This guy was ready to lean further out the window and install a turbo for me.

Today I pulled seven pistons, cut the stripped bolt, re-cleaned the block, and re-installed the pistons. Tomorrow I can start back exactly where I was last Sunday. Torqueing down the push rod cap bolts. And hopefully things will go smoother this time, ie no stripped bolts.

I went by Creg's today to check out his '53 Ford pick up. He pulled the engine last night. The bed, and front end where already removed. His truck is the essence of simplicity. The wiring was so simple!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day. Perhaps this spring or next summer.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
So this weekend I am going to pull the pistons back out of the engine block. One of the bolts stripped out while attempting to torque it down. It stripped with the nut on the bolt and now it won't come back off. Unfortunately I can't get the nut splitter on it so I will have to cut it off. That means I need to pull the pistons so that I will be able to clean out the metal fillings before putting it back together.

Which Year?
My goal was to get it back together by the end of November. At this point that is not looking very realistic. Perhaps I will shoot for the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Making a Statement
This evening as I was getting into the Miata afterwork, a woman in the parking lot asked me a question. Now keep in it was dark already and a bit chilly. "Is your top broke or are you just making some sort of statement."

I guess I am just making a statement.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Nap Time
It rained this week and I have mud all over the sides of the Miata. The car really needs to be rinsed off before it is seen in public again. Besides that I have a million other things I would like to get done tomorrow before my current extended vacation ends. Perhaps I should skip it all and just take a nap.

I installed the pistons today complete with the new rings. That was tiring work. I have no idea how many times I rotated the engine on the stand or rotated the crank shaft in the block, but both take a lot of elbow grease. I bet I will be sore tomorrow while I am taking my nap.

You know what always makes a nap more enjoyable? The sound of rain outside. If it rains, I will surely park the car in the driveway and then take a nap. Perhaps the rain will wash the mud off.

Before I can take my nap, I will need to get a good nights sleep. Hopefully everyone will sleep late tomorrow. By late, I mean til 7 AM!

Friday, November 05, 2004

How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
U2's new album is just a few weeks away. Who needs a ride to Best Buy?
I Need You to Jump Off a Cliff
For the record, I knew Leo wasn't dead, but I suspected Will, as they led us to believe, not CJ.

AB Returns
The new season of Good Eats has started as well. My Tivo still rocks.

AB has a new book out also. The first was very good. I liked it so much I convinced multiple people to buy it.
All Good Things...
In case it seems I have had a lot of free time lately, it is true. I have not been to work in three weeks. Yesterday I formally accepted a job offer. I will be starting back to work on Monday.

I was fortunate enough to have two job offers to choose between. I had a call from another company today which I believe was going to offer me yet a job as well. I had been very lucky with the job search.

I will surely miss having out everyday with the retired guys in the neighborhood.

Let the Rebuild Begin
I have finally begun to reassemble the engine. Yesterday I spent considerable time cleaning the pistons. For the record, oven cleaner works pretty well for removing the carbon buildup. I prefer Zep Oven and Grill cleaner. I didn't notice nearly the fumes when using it compared to other stuff.

I also re-installed the cam shaft and the lifters. David M. was over for the weekly woodworking session. The ww session was replaced with a grease monkey session. He attempted to remove the front end of the truck while I was busy making my mess. The front end consists of the outer and inner fenders, the grill, and the radiator support. I believe it will all come off as one piece after removing 8 bolts. He had trouble with one so the front end is still in place.

I started today by running a few errands in the Miata (top down). It was very chilly this morning but I was armed with a fleece jacket and a warm heater. The errand involved getting more oven cleaner and picking up the piston rings which were ordered yesterday.

Today I installed new main crank bearings and re-installed the crank shaft. Tomorrow I will try to get a few pistons (along with the new rings) installed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Did I mention I pulled the pistons, crank shaft, and cam shaft yesterday?

Today I cleaned the engine block. It is almost spotless! I took a few photos for anyone that wants to see. It had been recommened to me that I use oven cleaner. It definitely works better than engine degreaser. Warning - oven cleaner will remove paint! This was not a problem for me because the engine was out of the truck.

Now I just have to figure out how to get it all back together. That shouldn't really be a problem. I have been putting all the little pieces and bolts in zip-top bags along with a label. The problem will be getting it put all back together without spending a wheel barrow full of money.

I need a full set of gaskets and seals(9), piston rings, timing belt, main bearings, rod bearings, and motor mounts.

BTW, I did figure out why the compression was low in the one cylinder. It had a broken ring.

My father came by yesterday. Time for a computer upgrade. We added an 80 gig harddrive to his computer. Plenty of drive space now. I also checked it for virus's and ad ware. Plenty of both were found. It is all cleaned up now. Last friday I did the virus and ad ware removal trick at my neighbors house.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Yes, I did vote today. Total time standing in line: 0 minutes. I drove past the voting site at 6:50 am today and there was a very long line so I just kept on driving. (I was in the Miata with the top down).

I saw the guy that sold me the Miata. He as going in the other direction in his BMW Z3, top down.

I drove past the voting site again at about 10:30. Still too many cars though the line was not as long. It no longer stretched out of the building and across the parking lot.

At about 2:00 pm I went by again. The lot was about half empty, so I stopped this time. I went inside to vote. No one else was in line. Everyone there was either working or already in the process of casting their ballot.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Anyone notice the Cherry Bed is still in the garage? Right there behind the truck.
It has been a long day. I am ready to put on my jammies and go to sleep. Unfortundately the kids are still wired from the one piece of Halloween candy I let them have after dinner.

I do not enjoy the time changing. In the fall, after the time change, I get tired too early. In the spring, after the time change, I wake up to early. It usually takes me about two weeks to get over a time change. My internal clock does not agree with daylight savings time.

I forgot to mention it before. Jordan was Spiderman; Brianna was a Princess.

Nite, Nite. Zzzzzzzz (No I didn't take any Benadryl.)