Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hiway Robbery

Because I am very anal about my cars, I overdo sometimes. I could have gone to the local parts house and ordered a generic battery cable and cobbled it together with the various wires and been reasonable certain it would work. I have done this many times, but it always ends badly. The contacts aren't perfect and it leads to things not working as well as they should.

Since the battery cable has three wires, and a couple of them go to things like the alternator and starter, I elected to buy the factory original replacement. I mean, how much could it be? So I called the Chevy dealer and ordered the part. I was told it would be $65. Well, since I have worked a lot of overtime, I had the money. The part came in today and I asked for "The ridiculously expensive battery cable" the had on back order. Somehow the $65 cable had suddenly become an $80 battery cable. I swear they jacked up the price just to get back at me for my smart mouth.
I was robbed, and they didn't even use a gun.
I went back home and got to work. Nothing went right. After a couple of hours, I have the starter roughly in place, but my right arm just got too darn tired to hold the starter up, twist it and push it in place, so I called it a night. After a day of work I am only good for a couple of hours of hard labor. It's hell getting old.
Maybe after I get the truck running, finish updating the Z, restore the Jensen(s), I will have to think about selling them off and buying only one toy.
NAH, I don't think so.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On The Move

Monday, I moved from one desk to another. Since there is no aircraft on the line right now for P8-A, I moved back to the other side of the house for a couple of weeks. I have plenty to do, and I have no real idea why they thought I could do it better from a different location, but I really don't care where I hang my hat.
I will be in my new location for about two weeks, and will them move back to my old location. I also have a bunch of on-line training to do. I really don't have the time to do it when I am supporting the plane, so I had better take care of it now.
The cars are temporarily on hold. The weather is not particularly nice, and I am waiting for a part from the Chevy dealer which isn't due in until Thursday, so it makes for a good excuse to drink beer and watch baseball (Mariners in first place!) When the part comes in, I need to put in the new starter and cross my fingers that the truck starts. I will have eliminated all of the possibilities except for a bad relay or a bad ignition switch. When I get through with this latest iteration, the truck should be good for a couple of years of trouble-free operation (fingers crossed here!)
My parts have all come in for Frankenhealey, but I need to but a couple of gaskets and such. I also want to pull the distributor and remove the vacuum advance, but am just not in a big hurry to do anything.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This Saturday was A's twenty-first birthday, so Mrs A volunteered to take care of Neeko for the weekend. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning. She had such a great time taking care of him overnight a couple of weekends ago, that she figured it would be fun.
Neeko is six months old, and just learning to express himself. As in expressing his displeasure at not being entertained constantly. He has quite a temper. He can also out-stubborn a couple of aging grownups.
We have gotten used to our peaceful, quiet home, and three days of disruption was a bit too much. Mrs A reached her limit and beyond, but still troupered through. I admit that I chickened out and went down and worked on the truck just to get away.
I tore out the starter. What a giant pain in the ass. I have everything torn apart, and the new starter ready to put in, but I want to put in a new battery cable, which I want to get from the Chevy dealer, and their parts department is closed on the weekend, so it gave me an excuse to knock off early and drink beer. I should be able to get the part tomorrow, and then I need to start putting it all back together.
We very much enjoy having out nice peaceful house back to ourselves.
One evening and overnight is OK, but I don't think we will be volunteering for any extended babysitting any time soon.
Neeko is the pukingest baby I ever did see. Every pair of PJs, every blanket, my sweatshirt and jeans, as well as every piece of clothing Mrs A wore. The washing machine has done overtime this weekend. The rug will need a good shampooing.
I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cars Are Revolting

In both senses of the word.

Yesterday after work, I got in the truck, and it would not turn over. I had to go to Security and get a push. I am getting awfully tired of this. Having replaced the battery and alternator, the next step in the sequence is the starter.

So I got in the Z, the good old trust reliable Z, this morning and of course it started right up. Then the lights started strobing. Bright, dim, bright, dim. Then off. All the dash lights went out, the marker lights, the turn signals. The car still ran just fine and the headlights and tail lights worked, so I went to work. When I got home I started trouble shooting. The fusible links were fine. None of the fuses were blown. WTF????

Got out the multi-meter. The hot wire to the light switch was getting a good strong 12 volts. The output turned on and off when you operated the switch. Went out and pulled the lens off of one of the marker lights, and the bulb was blown. Tested the light, and it was getting 12v. Somehow a voltage spike had blown all of the bulbs. Markers, turn signals and dash lights. I replaced all the bulbs, tested the lights without the engine running, and everything works just fine. Got to be the voltage regulator. Ordered a new one, but it won't be in until tomorrow. Took apart the voltage regulator and tweaked it. Everything worked just fine. Of course I have no dash lights, since replacing the bulbs is a major pain in the ass, but I pretty much drive by sound and gears anyway, so it is no major deal, except that the stereo is out, It has an in-line fuse, which is probably blown, and to get at it you need to pull put the unit, and I just didn't have the time.

I will start it up in the morning and drive it to work with fingers crossed, get the new voltage regulator after work and put it in. Tearing the radio out and replacing the dash lights will have to wait.

Meanwhile the truck lurks in the driveway waiting for it's turn.

Sometimes I just have to ask myself why I love cars.

On the other hand, a new group of Mexicans has moved in across the street. The head of the household also has a Z. Through an interpreter, we talked Zs. He is a body and fender man. Just what I need. I have a ground effect kit for the Z that I just can't seem to get the time to get around to installing. I asked if he wanted to do some work for me, and we haggled over a price to install and paint the kit. We settled on $650.00 which is a very good price. Most quotes I had were over $1,000.00. I have to wait until after I get the truck fixed, but it will be nice to have it done.

In the meantime, I needed to get the hood for Frankenhealey straightened and ready for paint, so I asked him for a quote on that work, and he said $200.oo, so I told him to take it and do it. No hurry. It is kinda a test case. If he does well, he can do the Z, and after that, Frankenhealy.

It's nice to not be working seven days a week, I get a whole heck of a lot more done when I'm not dead tired.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day Four

This is the last day of my mini-vacation.

Friday went as planned. We went to lunch at Bahama Breeze and then went to see "Knowing" starring Nicholas Cage. Mrs A loved it, but I wasn't impressed. It was entertaining enough, but I found it depressing.

Things on the car did not go as planned (do they ever?) I got everything back together, but the water pump still leaks. Now I get to take it all back apart. Along the way, I had to make a couple of hoses, and the bolts were different on the pulley, and I updated some of the clamps. It ought to come apart and go back together a lot easier than the first time.
I also bought a full Dellorto carb setup on e-bay, so I will be tearing things down even further i anticipation of installing the new carbs. I have a couple of things I wanted to update anyway, like taking the vacuum advance off and tapping a hole for the heater hose spud, and putting on a crankcase breather hose. I vowed to take my time and not get stressed on this project, but it is hard for me to do that. I am a very goal oriented person, and usually end up pushing harder than I should. My body usually punishes me for this. I am sore today, but will soon get off of my duff and go out and get back at it.
I don't want to go back to work tomorrow. More and more, my thoughts turn towards retirement. I am not ready yet, but need to spend a little more time organizing and planning. I need to update the heating system, fix a few things on the house, pay off the last of the bills (getting close!) and then take a close look at the overall finances. I know I could probably retire any time I want, but need to make sure we will be comfortable. I'd really like to pay off the house, and need to figure out how to shorten the time left on the mortgage. I will still need to wait for Social Security to kick in.
Time to get at it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Things at work are such that I have an opportunity to take a couple of days off.

So I will be taking off Friday and Monday, to make a four day weekend. The weather is supposed to be decent, so I hope to get the chance to twist a wrench on Frankenhealey. I would like to get back to the point where I can start it, and with a little luck bleed the brakes and maybe even drive it around the block. I don't plan on killing myself trying, but if it works out, that would be nice.

Friday I plan to sleep in and veg until Mrs A. gets home from work, then we will go see a movie, and after that go to dinner. Just a nice laid back day.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday will be working in the yard, working on cars, church, and a few beers and more relaxing. Maybe watch a baseball game.

The Mariners have started the season in excellent shape, but it is a long season. If the players health holds up, it promises to be an interesting season. I am a fan, for good or bad, but it is a lot more fun when they are winning.

Ken Griffey Jr. is back with the club, and brings an extra element to the season. He started here, and ten years have passed since he last played with the club, but he has a huge fan base here. He got a hit in his first at home at bat. He brings a level of professionalism and focus that has been missing in the club the last couple of years. His leadership should go a long way towards keeping the team in focus, and bringing back the sense of fun that has been missing.

Mrs A and I will have to have a talk about how much baseball I will watch. When we were first got hitched, she watched the games with me. Now the truth is out. She could care less. So I believe in reasonable accommodation. I guess we will sit down and figure out what meets both our needs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Lot More Nothing

Just another Monday.

Enough work to keep me busy and get through the day.

It was nice to have the weekend off. I spent the day Saturday vegging and then working on cars. The truck is back on the road, and I put the water pump on Frankenhealey. Since I am putting together an engine and carburetors that were never offered in the U.S., I have to get a little creative to hook things up. There are no hoses available to hook up the water pump, I have to create them. I got one hook-up done, but still have to figure out how to do a couple more things. Hopefully, the weather will turn so I can do a little more work. At least I am making progress.

Unfortunately, after spending most of the day working on cars, I woke up at 3:00 AM with my left hip in major pain. It goes this way: I have arthritis in my hips, so I take Glucosamine. When I take it, the pain goes away. Then after it goes away for a while, I quit taking the Glucosamine, and am fine for several months, until I go out and spend the day working on cars, when the pain comes back.

You think I would learn, but this pattern has repeated itself several times. So now I am back to taking the Glusosamine. It will take a couple of weeks for the pain to go away, then things will be fine.

Right now, the weather is crap. They are talking mixed rain and snow, thunder and lightning. Next week things are supposed to turn to Spring. Temps in the 60s. Sunshine.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Same old stuff

Things are slowing down at work now.
Thank God.
After several months of intense crazy seven-day-a-week work, the current bird is supposed to roll out next Monday. I have asked to have this weekend off, which would make TWO IN A ROW. I hear that people do this on a regular basis. Just not me, and just not recently.
I am burned out right now, and am looking forward to several weekends off in a row.
I need to get back to work on the truck. I replaced the alternator this week, but haven't put things back together.
The Chevy place wanted $450.00 to put in an alternator. The shade tree mechanic in me about threw up. The alternator is $136.00 and the work is minimal, so when I got back from the ocean, I took out the old alternator and bought a new one. Put the new one in yesterday, and put the battery on the charger.
I had to run some errands after work, and by the time I got home, I didn't feel like hooking everything back up. It will still be there tomorrow.
A guy could get used to this working five days a week and no overtime.
I plan on not working this weekend, get to spend some time at home, get the truck working, drink a few beers and chill out.
It has been a long time.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Nice Weekend, Interesting day

The weekend at the ocean was great. Having two days of sunshine back to back, on the weekend, and having them off, as well as it being Mrs As birthday. The hotel we stayed at was surprisingly nice. Chateau Westport sounds like part of a bad movie, but is actually a nice facility.
We took a side trip to Long Beach, perused the shops, I bought Mrs A a bauble, had pizza at Bluttos Pizza, walked the beach..
Went into town for waffle cones.
And that was just Saturday.
Sunday on the way home we stopped at The Westport Winery, for a wine tasting. They had some really nice fruity varietals. I bought four bottles. The one we opened when we got home was called Red Sky At Night. It is a raspberry wine with chocolate. Like drinking a Raspberry Truffle.
We also stopped at Bay City Sausage and bought some fresh pepperoni.
When we got home, I helped R bleed the brakes on her car. She did most of the work, I supervised and showed her what to do. We got it done and everything is working just fine.
Today a guy happened by and saw my RV in the driveway. He stopped and talked to Mrs A, said he wanted to buy it. She told him to come back later.
He called after I got home, and offered me four grand. I said seventy-five hundred. He came by to get a look at the inside. We settled on forty-seven hundred. I wanted to dump it because it gets like eight miles to the gallon. It had some staining inside, the air conditioner didn't work, the fridge was on the fritz. I want to take the money and set it aside and start looking for something more efficient like maybe a VW Westfalia.
Mrs A is pissed at me for selling it, but then she didn't have to drive it or work on it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

My Boat

Here is a picture of my boat.

Not really, but in my head I have owned this boat for several years.

This is a 1939 Hacker 55ft excursion craft. She has a Honduran Mahogany hull with stainless steel uppers. She is powered by twin Allison V12 engines and can get up and do 70 miles an hour. She is known as the "Thunderbird", and if you have ever heard her run, you know she is aptly named.

She resides in Lake Tahoe, and was custom designed and built as a commuter craft for the lake. To my eye and mind there has never been a finer melding of Art Deco styling and Naval Architecture. It makes me proud to be a human being just to know such a thing exists.

I am also thankful that I don't really own it. It is more boat worship than boat lust. Although I own it in my head, I don't have to do the endless hours of maintenance or pay the fees to have someone else do it. In my mind it sits there ready for me to turn the key and press the starter button, listen to the gynormous engines spur and sputter and catch, smooth out and roar to life.

Engage the drive and back it slowly out of the boathouse, take a leisurely aft port turn, change over to forward, ease on the throttles and get it up on plane.

Hand the wheel over to my trusted pilot, and go back for coctails and cigars and finger food. The temperature is always 78 degrees, the sun always shines, the conversation is always stimulating, the food world class.

The boat leaves at six. Be there in your best bib n' tucker.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Six days Smokeless

It really hasn't been that difficult so far. I have never been a heavy smoker, just three to six cigarettes a day.
The fact that I feel like crap only helps with the quitting. The thought of smoking right now nauseates me. Along with a lot of other things. So I would guess I am losing weight and stopping smoking all at the same time.
It wouldn't be such a bad gig, except for the bad dreams. I have been drifting around in this surreal landscape with weird stuff happening the last couple of nights. Mostly I don't remember what happened. The only thing from last night I remember was waking up right when I was killing one of my co-workers. Don't remember the circumstances, just remember being pissed and had just started doing something about initiating his demise. Weird stuff happens when you are dreaming and running a fever. And I'm not even mad at him.
Tomorrow after work we are off to the ocean for the weekend. It will be nice to get out of Dodge for a couple of days. Just going to Westport, but there seems to be this freak of weather coming for the weekend. Temperature above 50 and no rain. Just as long as we have enough sunshine for a nice long walk on the beach. It is Mrs A's birthday, so we will pick some place nice for dinner.
R and "i" are going to stay at the house while we are gone. She was going to be here to keep an eye on V, but V is leaving tomorrow for Spring Break. Heading to Mount Bachelor for a week of snow boarding. She wants to come over anyway, because we have a 50 inch plasma screen and cable. Not to mention unlimited quantities of free food.