Friday, July 31, 2009

A Little Relief

Wednesday, the temperature on my deck in the shade was 105, Thursday 99, tonight 83.

I can live with 83. Because I had a heat pump installed a couple of weeks ago, the temperature inside was a mild 74 degrees. I don't want to think of what the electric bill will look like for the month, but no matter what it is IT WAS WORTH IT!

The down side is that I accomplished nothing on Frankenhealey. I had hoped to have the weekend to work on it, but I have to work Saturday, and it just doesn't leave me enough time to get the braking system rebuilt. That is, unless everything goes perfectly. It is to laugh. Nothing ever goes perfectly, especially with a 36 year old British sports car. If you own a vintage British sports car, you are at some level a masochist.

R's significant other had a bad accident on Wednesday. They were at a lake, and he was using a slide to go out in the water, when it tipped and threw him off. He fell face first on a piling, and shattered all of the bones surrounding his eye. When they pried everything apart, he still had vision in the eye (thank God), but will require reconstructive surgery to rebuild the eye socket.
Sure hope everything turns out all right.

Mrs A's sister had surgery on Wednesday for uterine cancer. They released her from the hospital yesterday, and Mrs A is spending the day with her today, watching after her. I really don't know what her treatment plan is. Guess I'll find out when Mrs A gets home tonight. Mrs A has been real upset by this, as both of her parents died in their 60s, and her sis is 59. Mrs A has always felt that her life span will be limited because of the family history, but I think she is being fatalistic. They were both very heavy and didn't take care of themselves, while she works out every day and takes good care of herself.

I am having a hard time dealing with all of this. I am a normal guy. When things go wrong, I want to fix them. And there isn't a damn thing I can do about most of this. The motor is racing, I am on the line and ready to get'er done, but there isn't anything I can do. Except turn it over to the big guy upstairs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Stinkin' Hot

I am not going out and working on the car tonight or tomorrow.

It is 95 degrees today, humidity 77%. Tomorrow is supposed to be over 100 degrees. I have a bunch of work to do on the brakes, but it isn't worth risking heat stroke to do the work. I have lost 9 pounds in the last three days while working on the car. Enough is enough.

I really want to take the car to the annual Boeing Employees car show, and I am goal oriented person, and I have told people I would bring it, and I keep my word. I will work on it this weekend when the temperature drops back into the 80's. If I get it done, I get it done. If not, I will take the Z to the car show.

But I will be disappointed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Them's the Brakes

No I did not spell it wrong. We're talking car brakes here.

I went to bleed the brakes yesterday. You always start at the furthest wheel from the master cylinder, that usually being the passenger's side rear.
I got a small chunk of hose, a beer bottle (previously emptied) which I partially filled with water, and an 11mm wrench. Crack the bleeder valve open, get inside and pump the pedal a couple of times, check out the bottle. If there is evidence of brake fluid in the water, close the valve, check the pedal and move on.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I pumped the brake pedal, no fluid ever appeared.
This is not a good thing. There are a couple of possible reasons, and neither of them is good. Either the master cylinder of the wheel cylinder is bad.
I started out by replacing the master cylinder, stealing the one out of the parts car. WHen I put the new/used master cylinder in, I could pump up the brakes, a positive sign. However, I still couldn't get the rear wheel cylinder to bleed.
So I had to tear the whole thing down to the backing plate. I must say that this is the strangest braking system I have ever seen.
When I got the wheel cylinder out, it was packed with this greyish/greenish deposit. The hole from the brake line into the wheel cylinder was packed so full, I had to use a small diameter drill to clear the line.
The actual parts seem to be in very good order, so I think I can just clean things up and put it back together.
Then on to the other rear wheel.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Frankenhealey is home, and the car is beautiful. White with some really nice pearlescent effects. I particularly like the purple pearl.
Nonetheless, it would be a lot prettier if the damn car would start. I drove the car over to Gabriel's, but they had to push it back home. I tried to start it this morning, and it just won't fire. Today I installed new spark plug wires, the best you can buy. Still nothing.
I gave up and spent the rest of the afternoon making a piece for the gas pedal linkage, and it seems to be working. I had to shorten the cable by a couple of inches, and swage a new end on. It seems to be working just fine, but I won't know until I get it to run.
Next I will sort out the brakes. I have never had off the back wheels, so I don't know what kind of shape things are in back there. I know there is a lot of slop in the pedal, and it may be that the back shoes are out of adjustment. At any rate, I need to take off the wheels and check things out. Lord knows what disaster lurks unseen.
I will be back at it again tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Winding Down

This coming weekend, I will be off for the SECOND WEEKEND IN A ROW!

All I can say it it is about time. I have pretty much been doing a nineteen days on two days off schedule since the first of the year. It doesn't leave much time for a social life, or time to take care of business outside of work.

Frankenhealey is still in paint. Every day I hope it will be done, but so far, no. It is being done RIGHT, so I really can't complain. I just need to get it back so I can fix a few things.

The annual Boeing Employees Car Show is on August 6th, and I am going to bring it to the show. I need to work on the brakes, the gas pedal linkage, and sync the carbs. Not a whole bunch, but I will feel a whole lot better when I can get it done. The weather is supposed to be in the 90's this weekend, so to me that is a little too hot to work on cars. But I have to get it done. It it gets too hot to work on the car, I can always fire up the pressure washer.

Things will slow down soon at work, so I can look forward to having a normal life for several months. Lots of projects to get done.

And a vacation to take.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good Weekend, Great Gumbo

I have been wanting to make some Shrimp Gumbo for some time. Trouble is, in order to do it right, you need whole shrimp. Heads and all. None of the local stores offer whole shrimp. Plus with working all the time, I just haven't had the time to do it right.

I love to cook, but doing it right takes time, and I just haven't had the time.

For my birthday, we went up to Deception Pass, and took a nice long hike. On the way back, we stopped a a fresh seafood place. I mean, fresh off the boat, caught that day. I bought five pounds, of shrimp which we immediately put on ice.

After a long day, I didn't feel like starting on the gumbo that night, so I waited until this morning to get at it. The key to a good gumbo is the soup base. So first thing this morning I headed and shelled five pounds of shrimp, which took an hour and a half. Then you take the heads and shells, put them in a big pot with a quarter on an onion, a stalk of celery and garlic. Simmer for at least four hours.

Then make the gumbo. Sure, it takes all day, but the results are to die for. Definitely worth the work and bother.

I've had two bowls, and I get the feeling that I will be back for more before the evening is over.

There will be plenty of leftovers to eat for the next couple of days, and some to put in the freezer for later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frankenhealey Update

Pictures soon.

Gabriel will be finishing up the painting tomorrow. I'm not going to go into the physics of why the paint is the way it is, but it is turning out as I had hoped. The car is being painted white, with a color shifting additive added to the clear coat after the paint. I have never seen this done before, so I have been a little apprehensive about how it would turn out.

If the additive is put in the clear coat over black, it makes for a very dramatic emerald green to cobalt blue color shift. That is what I did on the Z.

If you put it over white, it would be very different. I have been hoping for white with an effect similar to a blue-to-green color shifting pearl effect. Gabriel did the doors today, and I went over to view the results. It is just as I had hoped it would be. The color shift on the pearl is pretty subtle, but very noticeable. I won't know how it looks overall until the whole car is painted, and will have to view it under different lighting conditions, but I think it will be beautiful.

Guess I will find out tomorrow when they paint the rest of the car and put it all back together. I am getting excited. I now have worked on the car for a year and a half, and I still need to do some additional work on it to make it roadable.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Toy

Mrs A bought me a new toy for my birthday.

A pressure washer.

I have mixed feeling bout this. In a way it is the same as if I bought her a new vacuum cleaner for her birthday, a definite no-no. On the other hand, I have several projects lined up already.

The front deck. The patio off of the kitchen. The driveway. The engine compartment of Frankenhealey. But it all sounds a lot like work.

I'm not sure what I want to do for my birthday, Saturday. On one hand, the Band is playing on Vashon for the hundreth anniversary Strawberry Festival, and we are invited to hang out with them and camp out for a couple of days. I have an Aunt and Uncle that live over there and it would be a chance to go visit them.

On the other hand, they are opening the new light rail link to downtown, and it would be nice to use it to go downtown without all the hassle of driving and parking. We love to wander the waterfront and the Pike Place Market. Then we could catch dinner.

On another hand, I would like to go up to Deception Pass and spend the day hiking and exploring, then stop off in Annacortes for dinner. Stop on the way back and get some frexh seafood (and I do mean fresh).

On the last hand, I could just stay home and putter around the place, do some pressure washing, maybe turn a wrench or make the linkage piece for Frnkenhealey, then BBQ a mess of ribs.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heat Pump Finis

I took the day off so the guys from the heating service could get in and out of the house.

And so I could watch of course.

It is a genuine pleasure to watch true professionals go about their work. They worked quickly and with great skill. At one time I considered doing it myself. I am SOOOOO glad I didn't. It is worth the extra overtime I worked to get he money together to have the pros do it. I watched them, just because I love knowing how things are done. It gave me a real appreciation of what they do.

The only setback was that the electrician had to replace a bunch of wiring, an expense I hadn't anticipated. The original heat pump had been put in about 25 years ago, and the code has changed. The original wiring was aluminum. Code no longer allows aluminum wiring to be used for heat sources like furnaces and heat pumps.

Add $600.00 to the bill.

Still, it needed to be done, and now it is. I have the money set aside.


Oh, and by the way, my sis, Lori in Minnesota suggested Huckleberry preserves as a wedding gift. They definitely can't get that in Mexico.

It just so happens that a good friend of Mrs A. makes gourmet preserves, and markets them. We keep a constant supply on hand, as she makes the best sugar free jams and jellies I have ever had. Funny we never thought of it.

At any rate we are having her put together a special batch. I know Uncle Ben will love them. I hope his bride will as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wedding Gift

So, what do you get as a wedding gift for your 78 year old Uncle and his bride for a wedding gift?

It has to be small, so it can fit in their luggage on the trip back to Mexico. It has to be nice, but not breakable. It should have a personal or at least regional touch. Class without pretention.

Mrs A and I have wracked our brains, talked it over, and gotten nowhere.

At his point we don't have a clue.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Heat Pump

I have needed to replace the existing heat pump for the last couple of years. The emergency heat part of it has worked, but is expensive to run, so we have elected to use the pellet stove for heat, which is a lot cheaper.

With all of the overtime I have been working this year, I have the money saved up to pay cash for a new heat pump. Last year I got several estimates, so the time has come to just get 'er done. So I called and placed the order today. The guy came out and confirmed everything. I upgraded one step from what I was looking at last year, and it qualifies for Federal Tax credit to the tune of about $1500.00. It in the long run actually will cost me LESS. The upgrade is about $800.00.

They are coming next Monday to install the new heat pump. I will have to take a day off work, a sacrifice I am willing to make. Right now I am pretty burned out. After all, the schedule has pretty much been 19 days of work and two days off since the beginning of the year.

My sinuses have been killing me the last couple of days, so I took the day off today. I figured as long as I had the day off, I might as well take care of business.

Next will come the siding on the south side of the house.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Next Move

I had a plan. Honest I did. No, really.

But then the real world got in the way. I won't go into the whole convoluted sequence of events, but let's just say that things that were supposed to happen, didn't. Things beyond my control.

So the time has come to abandon the plan and go with PLAN B.

After work I am going to call the heating company and tell them I am ready to buy the new heat pump. This is a lie, but I need to just let go of PLAN A and move on, or nothing will every get done.

Nonetheless, I will commit to spending several thousand dollars on a new heating/air conditioning system.

This will make Mrs A happy, since it means she will not have to carry bags of pellets up or clean the pellet stove again.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Waiting for The weekend

I am actually getting a three day weekend. Way cool!

Tomorrow is L's birthday, so we will be going down to spend the afternoon with her and the kids.

My cousin has requested we bring eggrolls for the family reunion on Oregon in August, so tomorrow morning I will get up and go get the ingredients. Mrs A has to work, and when she gets home we will go to visit L. Maybe in the evening we will make the egg rolls.

The Z failed me this morning. When I went to start it, something went "clunk" in the engine compartment. At the same time the amp gauge pegged out at below zero, so I suspect that the starter has gone bad. I hope to get some time to check it out.

Frankenhealey is proceeding well. When I checked it out yesterday, the fenders and doors were cleaned, primed, and painted and fitted. It is maybe a week from done.

We are still in the middle of arrangements for going down to Oregon for a Family reunion in August. My cousins Tom and Rick will be there, and I haven't seen them in like 40 years. It will be great to reconnect. And of course meet Uncle Ben's new special lady.

Then off to the ocean for a week.

August will be a busy month.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


The Boeing facility here in Renton is built on the shores of Lake Washington. It is always nice to take a break when the weather is nice and go for a stroll along the lake shore.

There is a bulkhead along the shoreline, and when the weather isn't too windy, you can see quite deep in the lake.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a medium sized fish hanging around one of the flat areas by the bulkhead. After observing it for a while, I figured out that it was a bluegill. It would swim here and there around the flat area, but never left for more than a few seconds. I figured that this was probably a Momma Fish tending a batch of eggs. I went on line to check, and indeed Bluegills are nest tenders.

At another flat spot a little bit deeper, there was a second fish, acting in the same way.

Every day for the next couple of weeks, I took a break at some time in the day and wandered down to the lake to check on the fish. The two Momma Fish faithfully tended their nests.

I went out there this morning, and the Momma Fish were both gone. But they were replaced by a couple of hundred baby fish. In observing their early lives, I had become involved. They were somehow MY baby fish.

I sure hope they don't expect to get allowances. Or move in.