Saturday, March 31, 2007


Today was not a good day for me. It is unfortunate that it happened on a weekend too.

Last night I prepared for todays installation of the stripes by reading everything I could find on the internet regarding vinyl stripe installation. This morning I printed one of the sets of instructions and made a list of all the tools and supplies I would need. Jordan and I made a quick trip to Home Depot to pick up a few things I didn't have: two inch wide painter painters tape, some sharp razor blades, and a spay bottle.

Once back at the house I got started by spending the next hour running a piece of tape from the bottom of the front bumper, up the hood, across the back deck, and down the back bumper. Getting the tape straight is critical because it is used to line up the stipes. If it is not centered and straight, neither are the lines.

At this point I reviewed the instructions yet again and started the installation of a couple of small pieces that go between the top and the front end of the rear deck. So far so good. Next I did the hood and then the trunk.

This is when things started to fall apart. The flat part on the top went fine, but there was a lot of extra vinyl on the outside edge because the linear distance along the outside edge of the stripe was about two inches longs than the linear distance along the inside edge. The heat gun helped a little bit but in the end, I royally messed this piece up.

At this point I went back inside to re-read the internet, specifically the tips and tricks for installing vinyl stuff. Ok, I found one that might work. Unfortunately I also read something I hadn't previously read. (Don't install vinyl stripes on a freshly painted car for at least 180 days so the paint will completely cure. *Sinking feeling*) Back to the garage.

I removed the messed up piece to give it another go. About this time I notice a dirty spot about an inch long and 1/8 inch wide. That is not a dirty spot *four-letter-word*, some of the new paint came off when I removed the vinyl. I am feeling pretty stupid at this point. Why didn't I read that before. I would have gladly waited a few more months. *&^%$#@! Try to cool off. A little touch up paint should do the trick. Hopefully.

After sufficient cooling off time I went ahead with the rear deck. It went better this time but it was still not good enough for my liking.

At this point it is about half done and I am satisfied with half the work I have done. I have enough vinyl to replace the less than perfect pieces again, but probably not enough skill to make it good enough. What to do? What to do?

Perfect timing. Here's Brian and his convertible ready to go for a ride. (No not that Brian, the other Brian.) It was a nice day for a ride but I was distracted. Distracted by the vinyl on the trailing edge of the trunk lid and fearing that if I remove it to try again, I might lose some more paint.

An hour later I am back at home. After a little time and distance it is not looking so bad. I decide to go ahead and install the three inches above the top of the windshield.

The kid have now come outside to ride their bikes. Because Brianna is still new to riding, I asked her to stay away from the Charger. A couple minutes later she is crying. I exit the garage to see what has happened. She was playing follow the leader (on Bikes) with Jordan. Jordan rode through the three foot gap between the Charger and the A/C. Brianna tried to follow and hit the Charger. She was not hurt, but she was upset because she knew she just did what I asked her not to do. The impact put an 18" long scratch down the side of the Charger. I wanted to cry when I saw this. Get over it Rick. It's just a car!

Later after dinner, I showed the mostly striped Miata to Ginger. She said the workmanship was good but she didn't really care for the stripes. My thoughts were just the opposite. I liked the stripes but I am disappointed with the workmanship. Hmm.

I would like a redo on today. On take 2, I think I would skip the stripes, leave the Charger in the garage, and be the caboose in an exciting game of follow the leader on bicyles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The stripe kit for the Miata arrived today. Dual 8 inch wide white on red. It should be sharp.

I don't know if I will get around to the install this weekend. We will see.
This weekend I dissembled the rear diff of the truck. With one exception. I was unable to get the nut off the pinion. After two days of spring with penetrating oil, I finally manged to loosen it using a two foot breaker bar.

I immediately met the next challenge. The pinion shaft did not want to come out of the diff case. The instructions I had said to lightly tap on the bolt with a brass hammer. I tried taping on it with a framing hammer. No luck. The next day I tried hitting it with the hammer. Still no luck.

What next? Check Google. I finally found some good advice. Get a bigger hammer.

Guess what. A ten pound sledge hammer worked just fine.

Wacky Wednesday

Today I made a return visit to the cardiologist for a stress test.  (I think I failed to mention last weeks visit).  They told me expect to be there between four and six hours.  And I was.  I got to spend quality time on the treadmill, and I managed to catch 40 winks during an MRI.  The MRI took about twenty minutes.  I fell asleep during this no few than four times.  I know this because I woke up four times due to sleep apnea.  *snort*.  Last weeks visit included an echo cardiogram.  That was pretty cool.  I got to see the valves in my heart open and close.
I am now taking a pill everyday to lower my blood pressure.  It was down at 138/88 today from last weeks high of 178/114.  I am also taking an alternative remedy for high cholesterol, a glass of red wine every night.  My initial reaction to these new daily chores was less than positive.  It takes me a long time to develop a new habit.  Ok, the wine isn't so bad.  It's just having to remember it.
Perhaps I need something for my memory too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Today Brianna achieved a huge milestone.

She can now officially ride her bicycle without training wheels. She can start and stop all by herself. She has been pretty good at balancing for several days now.

She will no longer be forced to practice riding everyday. From now on, riding is completely voluntary.

If your name is GrandMother, please remember to act surprised next week when she shows you her new skill.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This weekend I disassembled the rear differential on the GMC.

The diff only had about 2 cups of fluid in it. Sounds like it had a leak at some point. While I have it apart I am going to sand blast the case and paint it. I will also replace all the bearings and seals, and finally put some fluid in it.

I also got the remaining control arms installed on the front. Had I had a coil spring compressor, I would have also installed the coil springs and the spindles. That will have to wait til next weekend.
Miata Mod

Thursday the Miata got a new mod.

I had a 6" strip of 5% tint installed across the top of the windshield. It looks pretty good. I am considering removing the sun visors now. They just get in the way anyway.

(And there is another mod already in the works.)
Say Cheese

I had the camera out this weekend.

First I took some photos of the rear differential for the GMC. Later I took some more photos of the same diff. This time with all of the inside parts no longer on the inside.

Today I dropped in on Jack. Jack is building an airplane in his shop. I had the camera along to take a few photos. What he has done is amazing. And I have pictures to prove it.

What did I not take pictures of this weekend? I forgot to photograph the Miata with its new paint job. I also meant to take a picture of the kids.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

You Can Call Me Old But You Can't Make Me Grow Up

The results on this weekends F1 race in case you missed it: 1) Kimi, 2) Alonso, 3) Hamilton. Massa was back at 6. Hamilton is a rookie. Hitting the podium was pretty impressive.

I received a message on MySpace today from a guy I went to high school with. Where oh where did the last twenty years go? And he accused me of being old.

That is just not right. And on a day I am feeling oh so fragile. I had a visit with a doctor on Friday. He referred me to another doctor who I saw today. The second doctor wants to put me on something for high blood pressure. The first doctor will probably want to put me on something for high cholesterol.

So there you go. I don't want to be another one of those old folks who has to take a hand full of pills everyday. No offense to all you old folks.

Doctor # 2 also suggested I lose some weight. At first he said I should probably weight in at around 150. I don't believe I ever weighed 150. Back in the glory days while I was at Auburn and I was running every day I weighted 167 and had a 30" waist.

Eventually he decided 175 might be OK. The bad news here is that 175 is a long way away. Back around November 1, I decided to lose a few. Since then I have lost 12 lbs. This is not much in the grand scheme of things but this has been without any extreme changes to my life. It may be time to kick it up a notch. Can you hear the Nordic track calling? I can barely hear it but it would be easier if the M&Ms would hush.

Yeah and on top of that, David called me old. Thanks Dave.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Formula One

...season has begun. I Tivo'ed this weekends practice session, qualifying event, and race. It looks like it is going to be a pretty exciting season. I'll be pulling for Ferrari's Kimi and Masa this year.

I am looking forward to going to Indy again this summer.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Shiney Red Car With A Radio

The Miata came home with it's new paint job on Thursday. Red, bright and shiney. Unfortunately is was raining and by the time I got home, it needed to be washed.

We had severely nice weather the first part of the week. The rain rolled through on Thursday and brought back the cold weather. Could I please have some nice warm dry weather so that I my try out the new paint job, with the top down. Oh look. The warm weather is supposed to return on Monday.

Last night we went out to dinner at one of the local German restaurants. I had the Mediterrean Talapiea. Mmmm. Afterwards we shopped for a new sofa. So many sofas, so little time. This morning we hit the sofa trail again. The final target has still not been selected.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Three Sixty

The direction of the truck project has officially changed by 360 degrees.

Tuesday evening I, along with my one of my little side kicks, began reassembling the front end suspension. (My helper only lasted about 10 minutes but he was involved briefly.)

We, with the help of an engine hoist and a few straps, managed to maneuver the suspension cross member back into place and bolt it in. The hoist along with it's little operator were invaluable. I have let him "work" with it several times before. He always asks permission and it is usually granted. His experience as a crane operator worked to my advantage because when I needed a second pair of hands, my little buddy was willing and able.

I purchased some new bolts last fall from LMC Truck to reattach the cross member to the frame. As I was wrenching it on, I noticed the 3 lines on the top of the bolt head indicating they were grade 5. My guess would have been grade 8. I suppose those are being saved for the tractor grade.

Tuesday I also installed one upper ball joint. The second upper ball joint and one lower ball joint were installed today. This task was extremely easy standing at the work bench. It only took a couple of minutes per joint. I can imagine how much of a nightmare it is to replace them while the a-arms are attached to the vehicle. Lucky me.

What little reassembly has been done has been quite pleasant. All the parts are clean and freshly painted. The tools were clean also so no old grease was transferred to the knew parts.

Zen? Yeah, no, maybe.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can we please set the clock back the way it was last week?

Mike phoned in Saturday morning to complain about the fog in Mobile. He was heading for Disney world. Mobile is only about 350 miles from Huntsville. I should have jumped in car headed to Mobile and joined him for breakfast. Not.

I am counting the days until the Miata returns home. Four, maybe three. Possibly two. Definitely not one.

Weekend update: Saturday I sprayed another coat of paint on the cross member. Better safe than sorry. Sunday I did a little spring cleaning in the garage. I swept, organized, and cleaned. I spent no less than an hour doing nothing other than cleaning my wrenches. They are greasy no more.

Even after the cleaning, the garage would still barely resemble organized chaos to the untrained eye. If you have an untrained eye, please stay out of my garage. It's for your own safety.

Anyone want to rotate the tires on the Charger for me?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Trading Paint

The Miata is going in for its 100k mile makeover this morning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gingery Lathe

I have considered taking an evening precision machine shop class at the local vocation school a few times, along with welding, and a few others. (I have already taken the cabinet making class and autobody and collision repair classes.) I am always interested in learning something new.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a book from Amazon called the Charcoal Foundry(David Gingery). It is the first of 7 books in a series.

You might say that reading this book has been my obsession o' the week. The first book is about building a low cost foundry out of a metal five gallon bucket, building a sand form from 1x4s, and learning to sand cast aluminium (using play sand, clay, and empty Dr Pepper cans). All this with an eye towards the second book.

The second books is called The Metal Lathe (David Gingery). In this book, you are stepped through the process of casting and assembling a functional metal lathe. An interesting point to be made here is that this tool is actually used to make itself. Once it is partially functional, you use it to make some of the remaing pieces. How cool is that.

The remaing 5 books cover building a metal shaper, a milling machine, a drill press, a dividing head and finally a sheet metal brake. To be honest I don't know what a dividing head is or how a metal shapper is used. I will have to do some more reading on these two. [And I already have a drill press.]

I found the first book to be extremely interesting. My friends just rolled their eyes at lunch when I was telling them about it. I will definitely put this on my long term list of things to do: Build your own machine shop tools. As the book says, if a piece of your tool breaks, you no longer have to call 1-800-Who-Cares. Instead you just fabricate a new part.

If you find this remotely interesting, Google it, or better yet order the book. There are definitely worse ways to spend $7.95.

On a similar but slightly diffent subject, did you know that you can melt pennies in a cast iron skillet on the stove? Don't try this at home boys and girls. It recently became illegal.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Front Cross Member (Painted)

This is the front cross member of the 72 GMC pickup after a sandblasting and a couple coats of Eastwood Chassis Black. It may need one more coat of paint, but I don't plan to make that decision until next week. I need to get a good look at it under natural light. If it is good, it is assembly time.

In the background you can see many other pieces ready for assembly.
Front Cross Member (Unpainted)

This is what all the fuss was about. I remembered to snap a shot after the blasting was done. It took about 2 months to get around to this. Weather was the big holdup. Hopefully as spring rolls in, progress will resume.

Eye Spy Bonus: Locate the Miata, the Charger, a wheel barrow, and a bale of straw.
Miata With Hardtop Installed

The top was nice when it was cold but definitely inconvenient when it got warm. Final judgement: not worth it.

This is a picture of Bri from last fall. I think she was still 5. Jordan refused to have his picture posted. I didn't realize he even got a vote.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bery Bery Vusy

The locals schools all let out around noon yesterday for pending bad weather. We were fortunate not to see any tornados around here. Others in the state were not so lucky.

I picked up the kids at 11:30 and we went home were I set up shop on the kitchen table. At 3:00 I loaded the troops into the Charger and took them to work. We had a technology demonstration scheduled and I was doing the driving. The demo went well. Enough about work.

I realized this evening that I hadn't posted in four days. Then I realized I hadn't even scoped out another blog in four days.

It has been a very very busy week. TGIF.

The weekend weather outlook is looking reasonable. Tomorrow is a high of 56 with a 10% chance of rain. Think I can make it rain again? We will see.

I believe Formula 1 starts two weeks from tomorrow. I am looking forward to the first race. I should probably finish up watching the Barrett-Jackson auction so that I will have enough space to record practice, qualifying, and the race.

I received email today sent to alumni of the high school I attended. They are apparently playing in the 3A basketball state championship (Texas). Good luck.