Sunday, June 29, 2008


It's Sunday evening, and I am sitting here thinking "Oh, so this is what this weekend stuff is all about."

The temperature has been in the high eighties to low nineties this weekend, which is rare enough around here. In fact Seattleites are sone of the pickiest weather gormets anywhere. First they bitch about the cold, the gray and the wet. As soon as the sun comes out, if it is over 82 degrees then they bitch it is too hot.

Saturday we worked in the yard for a couple of hours, then I played with Jenny, the Jensen Healey for a few hours. I have it kinda running, but I know it won't run right until I get the jetting kit for the Dellorto's. It smokes like hell right now, because the rings are probably frozen in place from sitting for over 20 years. Since it was hot outside, after setting the timing and diddling around with the idle mixture, I pulled off the old convertible top and frame, and took it in the basement.

The frame is just fine, but the old top had some bad spots, so I had decided to replace it. I got the new top in this week. I know like diddly shit about replacing the top. The first thing I needed to do was replace the tie-downs. The old top mechanism was without them, but the spare hard top had a set, so I pulled the set out of the spare hard top and switched them to the convertible top. Problem was that the screws weren't the same, so I had to drill the holes up to size and counersink the holes. At that point I had had enough and quit for the night.

Today there was a going away party for one of Mrs A's Nephews. He is in The Guard, and is being deployed to Iraq. It was nice. Pleanty of food, and beautiful weather. It was the first time Mrs A and her sibs had all gotten together in about 20 years. The usual miscreant is her brother Bill, who lives outside Beaverton, Oregon. He was not expected, but showed up.

They organized a croquet tournament in the back. I got caught up watching the Mariners game (they actually won a three game sweep), so they were about halfway through the game, when Steph had to leave to go clean up. Mrs A replaced her, but she went to do something, so I replaced her. In last place.

Tim was WAY out in front with no one close, so I decided to make it a game. I am darn good. So I ended up going from last place, and passed Tim at the final two wickets to take the lead, clear the final pair, and miss the final stick two shots in a row. Tim won, but I made it interresting. Mrs A was accused of bringing in a ringer, but I had fun showing them how it was done.

I was glad in a lot of ways that I missed the final stick. I had scared the crap out of Tim, but he got his moment of victory. He would have been pissed if I had beaten him, and I would have felt bad about winning anyway. Better he wins.

All in all, this is what weekends are all about. Accomplish a few things, have some fun, see some family, enjoy some weather.

Oh, and have a few beers.

There is a Killians Irish Red Ale calling me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


If only all of my paychecks looked like today's. I have a bunch of overtime on it (36 hours) , so I stuck another grand in savings as a hedge fund against a possible strike in December.

I hate the time away from family, but that paycheck sure looks nice. In a shallow materialistic sort of way. (BWAHAHAHAHAH, I GOT MINE!)

Things are about to change. After the first bird rolls out of the factory, the second is the Static Test bird. They put it in a huge jig and simulate landing and takeoff and all sorts of things to test the airframe. But it will contain no electronics, so there will be little or nothing to do until the third bird hits the line.

I will be going back to my old area, in fact will be sitting in my same desk, starting on July 14th. And I will be doing it on dayshift. The plan is to keep me on days for the rest of the time. I am supposed to split my time between the commercial and military sides of the house. But then none of this is for sure.

On one hand it will be great to be back in a normal life, but on the other, it will mean waking up to an alarm clock.

Oh well, nothing in life is perfect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Now that most of the electrical stuff has been done on the plane, my activity at work has dropped down to about nothing. We will maybe have about one package to work per night.

So I sit around with nothing to do. We have to be there just in case. Something may come up at any moment, so someone has to be there. But if nothing is happening, there is nothing to do.

After several months of running like my hair was on fire, it is hard to adjust.

The bad part is it leaves me way too much time to browse crasigslist and e-bay. I can inevitably find something I want to buy.

Last night is was a set of wheels and tires for the Z. A nice set of gold colored mesh wheels with almost new tires. A good buy, and something I have always wanted.

Do I need them? No. But they would sure look good on the car.

The night before it was a 1963 Mercedes. But the kicker is that the guy also has a couple of 1963 Facel Vega's. With my penchant for unususal cars I am itching to get a look at them. I have no place to put them, and no time to work on them, and I am right in the middle of fixing up Jenny, so to even entertain the idea of picking up another car is sheer stupidity.

But they are FACEL VEGAs.

I went as far as getting the guys address.

I should be blocked from e-bay and craigslist.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Cute huh?
R and her niece stopped by. They are in the process of moving R's stuff to Tacoma. They stopped by for a snack and some gas money. I figure if giving them $20 for gas get's me out of helping move, it is money well invested.
And of course "i" was there. What a cutie.
The weekend was a total resounding success. We had to take Molly, the shi-tzu in to get fixed and while we waited, we took a shower and stuff and then took a nap. watched "The Bucket List" and "Jumpers". The Bucket List is a great movie with a couple of great actors. "Jumpers" is not quite bad enough to be a bad joke.
We went to Church on Sunday for the first time in months. It was good to see everyone.
After we got home I changed into car working clothes and went down to do battle with Jenny. I couldn't find the damn key. I could tell you exactly when I lost it, but if I knew WHERE, it wouldn't be lost, would it? It took me an hour to find it in the left hand lower pocket of the cargo shorts I was wearing on Friday when I ran frantically around the house trying to get ready for work.
It took me about 20 minutes to get Jenny sorta running.. With much cursing coaxing and pumping of the gas pedal, she will start and remain running, but something is off, like mayby I have a couple of wires crossed or something. But I now can go out and climb in and get it to start.
This "Weekend" is a good concept. Having two days off in a row, Something I would like to try to get used to.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It just keeps getting better.

When I came in today, there was very little to do. Two small work packages that would take a couple of hours apiece, and two minions to work them. We are running a skeleton crew this weekend, so I AM TAKING THE WEEKEND OFF!

V. is spending the weekend with his dad, so we can run around the house naked if we should be so inspired.

I can get a few things accomplished, and I plan to try to get Jennie running.

Beer will be consumed, and naps will be taken. Whoopie will be made. Realxing will be done right out in the open in the sunshine and fresh air.

No film at 11:00.

Thank You Lord

R. Left me a message last night to call her when I got home from work. But it was late, and she never answered.

I called her back this morning. She is staying with her cousin down in Tacoma.This is also the grand daughter I sold my Blazer to.

Anyway, the cousin really really wants her to move in with her and her fiance'. Said cousin is also expecting a rug rat, so they could pool resources for child care. She would also be closer to her sister, L.

We both talked around the edges of the idea. I did't want to tell her that she wasn't welcome with us, and she didn't want to say she didn't want to stay with us.

In the end she announced that she was going to move to Tacoma and live with her cousin.

After I hung up, I looked skyward and said very sincerely: "Thank you Lord!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Right before I went to work, I went out and took loose the distributor, turned it 180 degrees, and reinstalled it.

Went and got the key and my remote start button.

Connected everything up, sprayed Thrust in the ports in the head, crossed my fingers and pushed the button.

Jennie coughed, stumbled, and ran for a couple of seconds, and ran out of fuel.

It was so cool I had to do it again. Now I know that everything I have done so far was correct, and that the car will run. Big first step.

Car Stuff

You non-mechanical types can go on your way, because I'm going to talk car stuff here.

Now that I have rebuilt the carbs, the next thing on the list is timing the car. Since the distributor is in an awkward place, under the intake and carbs, I want to be sure the timing is right before I assemble things.

I got out the timing light and remote start button, and went out to face up to it. I hooked up the battery and starter button, and clicked the button until the timing mark lined up at 10 degrees before top dead center, and moved the plug wires around so the rotor was pointed at number one plug. If all is good, the timing light should come on when the timing mark is lined up.

No such luck. The timing light did not light at all. So I got out my circuit tester and checked continuity on the coil wire. It was fine. Checked continuity on #1 plug wire. Everything is OK. Came to the conclusion that the timing light is not working. When I was adjusting the distributor, the hold down screw fell down into the edge of the motor, so I had to remove the distributor to get it, There is a recess in the casting thaat is about 1" X 1", and sure enough it fell right in that hole. It is also about 1 " deep so you can't get to it. After a frustrating half an hour I managed to get it out and put it back using a spoon file to hook it out.

Everything back together, but I still hadn't checked the timing.

The distributor is the kind that has a bar on the bottom that is driven off of the oil pump. It fits in a slot, so there isn't a great deal of adjustment. Drop it in and it is either right on or 180 degrees off.

So I got my can of Thrust starting fluid (ether in a can) and sprayed a little into each intake port. If the timing was on and the circuit had continuity, it should fire for a second and then stop.

So I sprayed, and then kinda hid behind the windshield. Pushed the remote starter button. Flames shot out of each port as the engine turned over.

Thus I learned a couple of things. First, the timing light is broken. If it wasn't getting fire, no flames. I had installed a Pertronix Electronic ignition module and it was working properly, otherwise, no fire, and lastly, with a 50/50 chance of having the timing nuts on, it was of course 180 degrees out.

It will be a simple chore to loosen the distributor, turn the rotor 180 degrees, move the plug wires, and give it another try.

With fingers crossed.

Then I will be ready to start assembling the intake and carbs, run a gas line, hook up various hoses, and start it for the first time..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Once more aound the mountain, please

Some people say that life (or God) keep giving you the opportunity to suceed at things. If you have trouble with patience, you will be presented with lots of chances to learn. If you have trouble tolerating stupidity, you will be sent a plethora of idiots. You get the idea.

The hone rang yesterday and it was R.

She needed help.

She is losing her place to live, and doesn't have the means of finding something else right away, so she wants to come home. The last time we tried this, it did not go well. She was taking drugs, bringing people around that I did not want in my house, and generally acting like she DESERVED TO BE TREATED LIKE ROYALTY. It eventually deteriorated to a real nasty mess and thngs were said and done that can't ever be unsaid or undone. But we have gotten past them, and things now are going fairly well.

It is really up to Mrs A. She was the one that was attacked verbally and phisically. She has agreed to let R. stay TEMPORARILY. We need too sit down and draw up a set of rules. Our house, our rules. Nothing big, just no drugs, no druggies, take care of yoour share of the ess, help around the house, that sort of stuff. And set a time table. Mrs A. and I have agreed that 90 days is enough time to figure something out. We won't throw them out on the 91st day or anything, it is just a framework.

Mrs A. will love having a little one around to snuggle. And "i" is too small to get into stuff and cause much trouble, as long as R. takes reasonable care of him. I might be able to turn my daughter away, but never the baby. He seems like such a quiet and cheeful little guy. I'm sure he has his moments, though.

So we will clean out the spare room, make a space in our lives, and attemp to go around this mountain one more time. I love my daughter a bunch, and I really hope that things work out. It is a chance to grow closer and heal old wounds.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Day After

Hope all you dads had a womderful Father's Day.

Mine was wonderful.

First of all, I had the day off, which has been been a rarity lately. Not only that, but the weather was fantastic. Blue skies, sunshine, and warmth after weeks of gray fifty degree days and rain. Of course I had chores to take care of.

The Airstream had developed a leak adound the roof vent, and the interior got all wet in the last raiin, so I went into the hardware store and got some roof sealing stuff. Got up on the roof and stripped off the old cracked sealing compound. That took a quite a while. As long as I was at it, I sealed around the bathroom vent.

Watched some TV with Mrs A, took a nap.

Grilled a flank steak, sauteed some mushrooms in butter and a little salt. Fantastic potato salad. Cheesecake with berries for desert. Followed by a food coma.

Both of my kids called, and it was great talking to them. They are both doing great. After all that has happened over the last couple of years, it is great just to hear from them and know things are going well.

Later, there was a knock at the door, and it was V. coming back. He had spent the weekend with his dad. And there was his dad. He was holding E. in his arms. And behind hi was the DIL.

If you have been coming around here for any length of time, you know that Mrs A. and the DIL have been at war for a couple of years. No need to go into details. Mrs A has made peace feelers a couple of times, but got no reaction. I had kinda put it out of mind, but it always was back there. It left a hole in my life, that while I could live with it, it always felt incomplete. Kind like when you lose a tooth, you always find your tongue going back to the empty spot.

The DIL and Mrs A. made peace, and sat down and had a drink together. They all stayed for a couple of hours, and things were as they should be. It was wonderfull.

Mrs A and the DIL making peace was the best Fathers day present I have gotten in a couple of years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bad Blogger

Bad, bad Blogger.

I just realized my last post was last Sunday.

The dog ate my homework? No I guess that one won't work.

Aliens have taken over my body, and I am currently plotting the overthrow of the Earth? Maybe a little over the top.

The net was down? Plausible, but both at work and at home? not really believable.

I've been really, really busy?

I guess you go with what is the closest to the truth.

I have been working on Jenny, the Jensen Healey in the mornngs. I finished making the linkage for the carbs, and it turned out exactly as I wanted, and it works perfectly. I love it when a plan works.

Since the linkage was done, I figured I should go ahead and rebuild the carbs, check them out inside and make sure they weren't trashed inside. They are almost like brand new, and are ready to be assembled with the intake, which still needs a little work. It looks like I might actually get a day off on Sunday, and I could theoretically get the car fired up, but that is WAY optomistic. I know cars too well to expect that everything will go as planned, it's just I'm on a roll at the moment, and I am getting anxious to hear the throaty snark of a nasty four cylinder high performance engine.

Work has been crazy. As the bird gets closer to the door, the anxiety level rises. The closer to the door, the more tension. People lose their perspective. There is a lot riding on this. Schedule is king, and people will do ANYTHING to make the little tickeymark on the scedule, expecially considering the delays that have plagued the 787 program. People make unrealistic promises, and they come back to bite them in the ass.

Rollout is Jully third, and by God, it will roll on July third. There has been talk of going to twelve hour days until then. I don't think I can keep up that kind of pace until then. I know the quality of my work would suffer. After about the second day, you become a zombie. I can barely maintain the seven day a week schedule.

Other than that, life at home is great. Mrs A still loves her part time job. V is chomping at the bit for school to be out. R and the baby are doing fine. L and L have rented a house, and everything on that front is good. I have enrolled V. in a debate thing for a couple of weeks this summer. He is really looking forward to honing his skills. He has a lot of natural tallent, but is still learning all the little in's and outs.

Captain Obvious from the Starship Duh over and out.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Over the river and through the woods (part II)

We were hanging around town on a Saturday night, drinking beer and looking for something to do. We happened to be extolling the virtues of the Jeep, which would take us anywhere and even better, bring us back.

One of the guys we were talking to claimed he had gone over the edge of Old Baldy (A mountain right outside town) and over to the hiway on the other side And never used a road except when he got close to town, a feat he felt could not be duplicated.

Telling me I cannot do something is the best way I know of to entice me to doing something I would not ordinarily attempt. We discussed this at length. We felt we could duplicate the feat, and go him one better: We could do it in the dark.

A bet was made, involving cases of beer and a time limit. We had to make it back by dawn, and we needed to get a matchbook from a specific tavern on the other side. We knew it would be a challenge, because we would not only be navigating over the mountain at night, but the Tavern on the other side closed at 2:00 so we couldn't make any mistakes on the way over. Or back.

We headed out at 10:00. We had studied some maps, and there was the remains of an old road, a dry creekbed, some logging roads and a few places where we would be cutting cross country. We had all hunted and fished the area for years so we all pitched in our accumulated knowledge. Gary was to drive, and I was to navigate.

It was a fine August night with a full moon, We made good time. Cut across several hay fields, up the creek (without a paddle, nonetheless) and over the corner of the hill. We walked into the tavern at a a little after one A.M. Stopping to have a beer, we discussed the trip back. We just had to follow our own tracks back, and we would be back in town with time to spare.

With a minimun of brush thrashing, we made out way back over the hill. What happened next was discussed for years. I will forever claim that GAry, having made it most of the way back got cocky and went off of our path because he thought he knew of a shortcut. He on the other hand claimed that I got lost and gave him bad directions.

We were crossing an old hayfield, long abandoned, when a line of dark appeared in front of us. It was an old barbed wire fence, burried in the brush. All we could do was hang in and hope for the best.

Old Reliable bucked and snorted, but made it through the fence. It looked like we were going to make it. About that time the Jeep began slowing down as a terrible noise came from under the floorboards. It sounded like a Tasmanian Devil was trying to claw his way through the floor! Then the car slowed and finally stopped. No amount of cursing ot pleading would persuade the car to move forward a single inch.

We got out and climbed under the car with a flashlight, and there on the driveshaft was an enormous ball of barbed wire. It had caught in the drive shaft, and wound itself up like twine on a spindle until so much of it accumulated that it was jammed solid between the drive shaft and the floorboards.

We carried a ridimentary tool kit with us, but nothing looked promising. The barbed wire was old and weathered, but was strong enough that we couldn't just break it by prying on it. The only way was to attack one strand at a time. Take one strand firmly in the pliers, twist it back and forth and after about twenty twists, it would snap in two from metal fatigue.

Carefully bend the two halves back, and go for the next. It was slow and bloody work. We both occasionally would cut ourselves with a barb, and although we wrapped our hands in rags and took turns, our hands were a bloody and blistered mess before we got the jeep free. I have no idea how long it took. On one hand it seemed to take forever when looked at from the individual strand of wire perspective. On the other hand the time left until dawn shrank at an alarming rate.

Eventually the last strand was broken, the jeep was freed, and we made out way into town. Although we were given credit for ALMOST making an incredible trek, we still lost the bet.

I can clearly remember what it was like, being young and full of a sense of adventure. Would I take on the challenge nowdays?

Probably not without a cutting torch.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods Part 1

I don't really know what brought this to mind, but since it is right there, I had better grab onto it while I still can.

One of my buddies over in Idaho had a WWII jeep. It had been rebuilt and reworked many times, but still hung together. Maybe the fenders WERE held together with bailing wire. Maybe pieces DID occasionally fall off of it. But it always got us where we were going, and always brought us home.

We would not hesitate to take off into the mountains and go way way back in the hills to go fishing or exploring. The jeep occasionally would have a difficulty, but with a little elbow grease and ingenuity we always made it home.

Once we were out in the middle of nowhere when it quit running. No matter what we did, it wouldn't fire. We checked everything we could think of, but couldn't think of anything we had left out. I was once again taking off the distributor cap to check the points just like I had the ten times before, when something caught the corner of my gaze. There was something wrong with the distributor cap.

Looking closer, I saw that the little carbon button in the center of the cap was gone. It makes contact with the top of the rotor and provides the path for the electricity to get to the spark plugs. It couldn't have gone far, so I looked around the inside of the distributor, and there it was, laying in the bottom of the distributor.

When I examined it, it was obvious it would never perform its intended function again. We were screwed.

Well, maybe not. My first thought was to use a pencil, which probably would have worked. but search as we would, no pencil would appear. The graphite in the center of a pencil would have been a perfect conductor, and I could whittle the outside to fit. A beautiful answer, missing only one small detail.

No pencil.

We did however, find a ball point pen.

I took the ball point pen apart, took out the spring and twisted it so the last coil at each end was perpendicular to the body of the spring, stuffed it in the hole, very carefully installed the distributor cap, and wonder of all wonders, the car ran. In fact it ran us all the way back home with nary a sputter. It was such a mickey mouse solution I was almost ashamed to admit I had thought of it.

$%^&* RAIN!

It was raining yesterday when I got up. It was raining when I went to work, it was raining when I got home.

It was raining this morning when I got up, it was raining when I took Mrs A. out to lunch to Chang's Mongolian Grill, it was raining when I went to work, it is raining now.

More rain is predicted for tomorrown and the day after that and the day after that, and the day after that.

A seemingly endless progression of gray days. Have mercy on me Lord! I am not asking for perfect weather, just a little sun break once in a while.

I am pasty white from lack of sunlight, and I think I have moss growing on my North side. I am moving less and less. I think my feet are beginning to morph into roots. I get more shaggy every day.

A little Sun here, please!!!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Big Doin's

At work.

I crawled out from my cubbyhole to do some business, and there were a whole bunch of unfamiliar people wandering around. Some of them looked like they thought they were important, so I asked around. The Secretary of the Navy was visiting to take a look at the progress on the new P8-A.

Secret Servicemen.

Cops of all sizes and affiliations.

Polliticians and hangers-on.

Photographers and publicists.

I went out back, and yes, there were black SUVs parked in the no-parking zone.

I quipped "So the head Navy guy couldn't come, so he sent his secretary. huh"

No doubt they have tapped my phone by now.