Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today was Jordan's last day of school (3rd grade). Tomorrow the kids start summer care. So much for a good old fashioned summer.

Today was also my first day of summer classes. The class meets for 4 hours once a week. I was already brain dead after a mere 18 minutes.

No progress on the Miata timing belt today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I stopped by the Miata dealership this afternoon to pick up the replacement timing belt crankshaft sprocket. $34.

Later in the evening I spent a couple of hours working on reassembling the car. It took about 20 seconds to put the sprocket back on and another 2 hours to accomplish absolutely nothing. Apparently putting a timing belt back on a Miata is a three handed job, something about valve springs causing the cams to want to rotate a few degrees off of where I want them to be. Fortunately it will all wait until the weekend. End the mean time I will concentrate on growing another arm.

Yesterday the Differential Rebuilding DVD arrived from SmartFlix. I watched it last night. The video was excellent. It answered all my questions and then some. No more mysteries hidden in the differential.

I helped a friend setup his new blog on Tuesday. I am still waiting on that first post Danny!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Today Brianna graduated from kindergarten. She was at the top of her class. Actually, she was the tallest in the class. Tomorrow she begins looking for gainful employment.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The sprinkler didn't take much time. Ginger did most of the digging and I did the electrical work. No plumbing required!

We went to see the 11:00 AM showing of Shrek. Perhaps we should have seen Pirates III instead. Afterwards we went to Casa Blanca for for lunch and then home for a nap.

Later we all played basketball.

And then I watered a dead tree. Ok, mostly dead. Five of them.
I could certainly get use to four day weekends. Today's plans is nothing. Now let me catch you up on the last few days.

I started Friday by rotating the tires on the Charger (7500 miles). I had to replace a few lugs on the front tire. They were deformed and I couldn't get the proper size wrench on them. This was the first tire rotation for the car, but I have had two flats already. My theory on the lugs is that someone had applied the wrong size socket to those lugs using an air gun. Gotta love that.

A simple tire rotation ended up taking almost two hours. That included a parts run for lugs.

Once that was complete, I met G', Bri, and David M. for lunch before heading back home to start work on changing the Miata's timing belt. David parked his Miata nose to nose with mine and we got to work. His car is a 92 with the 1.6L; mine is a 95 with the 1.8L. At first glance they are very similar but as things progress one really starts to notice the differences: Air box, thermostat housing, alternator brackets.

After a few hours I had to call it quits for the day. I estimated we were 30% done, David thought we were closer to 50%. At this point I had drained and removed, the radiator, removed the dual electric fans, the valve cover, the three plates covering the timing belt.

Next up for the day was helping Beth lock up her new house. She needed all the locks changed. First we went to the house to inventory what we needed. Next we dropped David off at his house. He was at our mercy for a lift since he no longer has a functional Miata. Step three involved finding a set of door knobs and dead bolts that matched the others in the house. We managed to find three out of four sets with matching keys. The key dude had already left for the day so she would need to make a return trip to get the remaining set to match the first three. This expedition ended with me be dropped off at home so that Beth could go pick up her son. Yes, his name is David also.

After grabbing a couple of tools, G' and I headed over to Beth's new house. The goal for today was not to replace all the locks, but simply to replace all the dead bolts. This would be good enough for now, because Ginger and I had other plans, we were going out to dinner at Bone Fish Grill.

Saturday morning David and I planned to start working on the Miatas at 7:30 AM. At about 6:30 AM I was in the getting a head start. I called him a few minutes later to ask if he had a socket. I don't recall if it was a 20 or 21 MM socket, but I didn't have it nor did he.

Yes I called David at 6:30 AM. He is an early bird and there was no risk of waking him up. He was sitting on has back porch drinking coffee.

David hit HD, Lowes, and two parts stores before he found the socket we needed. Fortunately it was only $6.

The socket was required to remove the crankshaft bolt. Having the right tool sure makes the job easier. At this point I could described a misadventure involving removing the timing belt and chipping the timing belt sprocket but no good could come from that so I will omit it.

At 9:15 AM we closed up shop again. I was heading for Decatur for a car show and David had to take care of some stuff he had been volunteered to do. The plan was to open the shop back up at 1 or 2.

The car show was nice though a little warm. My neighbor Brian went with me. While a the car show I saw Ginger's Aunt and Uncle. I saw a 1966 VW Beetle that wanted to follow me home, but I had to leave it there.

By noon I was beat. And about that same time David phoned in to say he had been volunteered for even more stuff and would be able to return until 1 on Sunday. Good for me. I think I took a nap. Then I watched some F1 and re-read the instructions for changing the timing belt. And finally I made a trip to the parts store. I knew going in that I probably wouldn't be able to get the sprocket until Tuesday. Unfortunately it was worse than that. They couldn't get it, so now I have to wait until Tuesday and try the Miata dealership.

Sunday AM started early. Beth had dropped off the other lock on Saturday morning. I skipped Church to finish up lock smithing and then returned home to assembled a basket ball goal we got Jordan for his Birthday.

At one I re-opened the Garage. At two David showed up with reinforcements (Bryant). On a Miata the power steering pump has to be removed to swap out the water pump. On a 95 Miata, the alternator must also be disconnected.

My plan for today was to show David how difficult it was going to be to replace the water pump. I would eventually convince him it was not necessary and once he had had made this decision, I would then try to convince him how important it was to change the water pump. Mind games. Ha!

The water pump swap went smoothly. At this point there were a few things I could put back together but basically I am stuck until I get the sprocket. Best case for that is Tuesday.

David has a hose he needs to replace. The parts store was no help on this one either. He needs the OEM part also.

It is looking like neither car will be running again before next weekend.

Today's plan was to do nothing. Ginger thinks the broken sprinkler needs to be fixed. These two plans don't coexist very well. I guess I will look at the sprinkler in hopes of switching back to my plan ASAP.

Friday, May 25, 2007


And we're back. Ten days since the last post. How did that happen? Here is a quick summary: Work, Work, Work, G's grandfather passed away.

A friend of mine, one of the many Davids that I know, recommended that everytime I have a 3 day weekend, I should burn a vacation day and have a four day weekend. Sounds like a good plan to me. And here I sit staring at a four day weekend.

Here is a partial list of plans for the weekend:

1. Replace two timing belts in two Miatas.

2. Replace all the exterior door locks in a house a friend of ours is closing on today.

3. Classic Car Show at Alabama Jubilee. Maybe the antique tractor show also.

4. Take G' out to dinner without the children.

That is my list for today and tomorrow morning. After that who knows.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the unwanted Miata Mod

I finally got around to putting the Miata up on jack stands. It appears that a plastic shroud got cracked and several nice scrapes run most of the length of the undercarriage. Fortunately nothing so bad as to put the car out of commission.

But, then I took it for a drive. And something was different. The car was louder. Yes, it now has an exhaust leak. It sounded pretty cool for about 12 seconds then it got old.

Next step: track down the noise and nip it in the bud.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Morning Break

I was hoping to be caught up by now so I could take the weekend off. No such luck.

I am currently camping out at the kitchen table with a laptop and a coffee cup that says "Dad" and has a picture of a 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible on it. I believe that is as close as I will be getting to either of the car shows today.

I have been remiss about posting for the last little something something. Several topics have crossed my mind though I have lost most of them. C'est la vie! One did pop into my mind a few minutes ago though so here we are.

One day this week, I believe it was Wednesday, I was heading back to work after having lunch at Vinnie's Indian Cuisine. I was cruzin' up Jordan Lane behind a over sized 4x4 pickup. I was probably too close to the truck ahead of me and there was a Caddy in the right lane next to me. Quicker than you can shake a stick (What does that mean anyway?)... Before I can brake, I have run over a large rock that the pickup ahead of me went over. Fortunately for him, he had plenty of ground clearance. The Miata however does not have much clearance. This rock was fairly large. I would describe it as roughly the size of a shoe box. I saw it but did not have time to react. The rock went right under the car. I felt the car rise on its suspension. It was quite a bump and I heard the sound of rock rubbing on metal as it went from the front all the way to the back.

This provided a very queasy feeling to the driver of the car, yours truly. I watched in the rear view mirror as the rock rolled down the street and the Accord behind me swerved into the lane of oncoming traffic to avoid it. Fortunately for him there was no actual oncoming traffic.

At this point I started nervously looking for smoke or any signs of fluid loss on the gauges or in the road behind me. My instinct was to go back and get the rock out of the road but there was not a good place to turn around. Also I felt I needed to get the little red car home before it quit, just in case. Hopefully one of the guys working road construction retrieved the rock before it caused any damage to anyone else's car.

Once the car was parked, I looked underneath for any drips. Nothing to be seen. The car has moved since then. I don't really feel good about driving it until I inspect it underneath. I want to make sure I don't have a cracked oil pan or a damaged fuel line, etc.

I have high hopes that there is no real damage other than a few minor scrapes on the underside. High hopes aside, I am not going to drive it again until I have verified this to be true. Three days later and there are still no leaks so I would take that as a good sign.

The Spanish Grand Prix is this weekend. Speed Channel, 6:30 AM on Sunday. My Tivo is ready to go.

Gotta get back to the code now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gravy Train

Not to be confused with Crazy Train.

Have a Cigar - Pink Floyd

Come in here, Dear boy, have a cigar.
You're gonna go far,
You're gonna fly high,
You're never gonna die,
You're gonna make it, if you try;
They're gonna love you.
Well I've always had a deep respect,
And I mean that most sincer.
The band is just fantastic,
that is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one's Pink?

And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.

We're just knocked out.
We heard about the sell out.
You gotta get an album out.
You owe it to the people.
We're so happy we can hardly count.
Everybody else is just green,
Have you seen the chart?
It's a hell of a start,
It could be made into a monster
If we all pull together as a team.

And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.

...days ago I received an email announcing that my bentonite and clay had arrived and was ready for pickup. I was pretty busy at the time so it took me a week to get "a round tuit". The clay has now been waiting patiently in my garage for about a week. I suspect it has a few more weeks of waiting.

The diff has been in pieces for a few weeks. My next goal is to clean, paint, and reassemble it. I ordered/rented a video on diff rebuilding to get a few pointers so that I will at least have an idea what I am doing before I start the rebuilding process. A little knowledge can go a long way. Who knows when it will show up. They have a limited supply of DVDs and I am apparrently not first in the queue.

In the mean time, I can begin the de-grundging work on the housing. This is a pretty nasty job, but on the plus side, my list of greasy-grimey-grundgy pieces is getting pretty short. Good vibrations there.

In case your just tuning in, the clay is for making a furnace to do back yard metal casting with an end goal of building a metal lathe. The differential is off a 1972 GMC pickup that I am restoring.

Time to go wake up the kids.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekend Update

I have been working a lot lately. Last weekend alone was 22+ hours. Actually that describes several weekends in the last month or so. I promised myself I wouldn't do that again this weekend. I put a maximum limit on this weekend of 12 hours. I was successful if only ever so slightly!

The main reason I was successful was because earlier in the week, my neighbor volunteered to my wife to help me remove some shrubs from our flower bed. I didn't know I needed help, because I didn't know I was going to be doing it.

Yesterday afternoon, during the heat of the day we got started. Using a chain and a Tahoe, we pulled the shrubs from the ground. After egressing from the ground, the root ball had to be attacked with a shovel, pick, hoe, or whatever else was handy to remove the dirt from the roots. This is were we could have used a 50 gallon drum of elbow grease.

In all we removed more than 20 bushes and shrubs. Two of them were 10 feet tall. At this point there is a huge pile of greenery on the curb in front of our house. Luckily the monthly pickup of big stuff is this week, the first full week of the month.

Hopefully next week, I can get back on to the normal schedule and get some work done on the truck. BTW, I found a pretty cool web site called They rent how-to/instructional videos. I found several I would like to see, but the first on my list is "Differential Rebuilding". Yes, that thing is still in the bucket!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It has been 8 days since I gave up aspartame and it has not been easy. Yesterday was the worst. I wanted something to drink and I didn't want water. So I had a bottle of water anyway. Woo hoo was not what I was thinking.

I think it is the caffiene that I miss the most.