Saturday, June 24, 2006

Size Does Matter

As much grief as I tend to give my wife I think she's perfectly happy to let me do whatever I want in the garage. She deals with the inside of the house, the garage and the outside are mostly left to me. The only declared law was the Arkansas Rule. (Thou shalt not have cars on cinder blocks where the neighbors can see them.) Despite having a dog who could become a JYD I don't have any aspiration of running an actual junkyard, so it's not a problem.

Last week (not long after seeing the movie Cars) I was wandering the internet and stumbled across Sports Car Market Magazine and thier "Affordable Classics" section. The simple fact is I'll probably never own an F40, a real Cobra, or a 300 SL Gullwing. (It's a painful thing to admit, but I screwed up the whole tech-bubble / stock-options thing so there you go.) But these guys had reviews and comments on a bunch of cars I wouldn't be embarrassed to see in my garage. (But I'll pass on the Mercury Capri.) Some of the comments in the articles are pretty funny so I read a few to my wife. She laughs at a few, humors me on a few more, then says...

"You know you can't have another car until you get rid of one you already have."


"Where would you put it? I'm not parking Otto outside." (Otto is her new Audi A3. It's a nice car, we paid good money for it, and I don't want it outside in the rain any more than she does.)

Hmmm.... Now, keep in mind, I wasn't really thinking about buying anything. After all buying implies trading money for something and before you can do that you have to have some money. I'm fresh out, so it really wasn't an issue.

But I'm not a big fan of rules. I don't like being told I can't do something. Tell me I shouldn't. Tell me it would be better if I didn't. Tell me western civilization will implode if I do. But can't? ... Really? ... I can't? ... Sounds like a dare to me.

So I did a little measuring last night. A little poking around. And a little analysis of the problem. (I'm an engineer, that's what I do.) Here's what I came up with:

1) The problem isn't really having another car it's finding a place to put it.
2) I have a 3-car garage, and at last count we have 4 cars and two motorcycles.
3) My daily driver can stay outside (it's been outside for the last 3 years) but her Audi has to have a carage spot.
4) That leaves two garage spaces to hold two cars and two bikes and make room for the mythical new car.

Sounds impossible right?

Ah ha! You and my wife forgot that the two cars are TR6s! (And, to give you some credit, you probably didn't know that one of the garage spots is 33' deep instead of the usual 20' or 22'.)

I got up early this morning and did some cleaning and re-arranging while she was still sleeping:

That's right, that's two cars and one motorcycle in one garage bay. There's even enough room to put the Suzuki in there (once it's off the trailer). That leaves a whole garage space empty, just waiting for a nice shiny new toy.

How do you think she's going to respond when she gets up and sees that?

heh heh heh

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Today's Father's Day.

I'd like to send a big thank you to my father. Almost exactly 12 years ago I called my father at 3am. The car had left me nearly stranded on the 101 in the middle of the Redwoods. I was able to find a closed gas-station with a payphone and a light in the parking lot. It took a couple hours and many phonecalls but eventually we diagnosed and fixed the problem. (The solution required a screw-driver, a folded piece of paper, and running around in front of a motion-activated light every 5 minutes.) It was enough to get me the 700+ miles back to LA.

So for this, and countless other jams you've helped me out of, Thanks Dad.

(Although, it should be noted that dad sold me the car that left me stranded. So maybe he's not always looking out for me. :) )

I finished the seats on the 1973 TR6 this morning.

For the passengers seat I decided not to replace the bottom foam, just the seat back. As it turns out that makes the project a whole lot easier. The vinyl and foam aren't attached to each other on the seat back. It seems things are held in with tension. It's not quite as easy as putting on a sock but the same concept applies. (Push, twist, wriggle your toes, pull, repeat.)

On the drivers' side I decided to replace the back and bottom foam. This was alot more painful. Mostly because of the way the vinyl is glued between two pieces of foam. And the original glue was pretty strong. I spent over an hour just cleaning the little bits of foam off of the vinyl because the adhesive was stronger than the foam. After getting stuff cleaned up (and discovering that upholstery spray adhesive is expensive as well as strong) it wasn't too difficult to rebuild everything.

Between the two seats I probably spent 3-5 hours. We'll see how much harder it is to do the same job with new vinyl in about a month.

Next time I'll wear latex gloves. It's going to take a few days to get all of the glue off my hands.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Today was a parts day.

Parts days are fun. They're like Christmas but better because you don't have to eat any fruit cake. The boxes show up, all nicely stacked by the front door. Wrapped in that festive packing tape. And there's that little tag with your name on it. ... Okay, it's a shipping label, but it does have your name on it.

Today I received a box from The Roadster Factory. These are guys my dad and I have dealt with for years. I've used some other folks with good results but if you want the 'right' part and you need it to fit exactly right these guys are your best bet.

I ordered:
  • A propeller-shaft tunnel cover.
  • Chrome wheel trim
  • 2 foam seat kits
  • 4 Air filters, 3 oil filters, 1 set of points, 1 condenser, 6 spark plugs, 1 rotor
  • A trim piece of the drivers door
  • A vinyl sample to see if it's the right color and pattern for the seats.
  • some odds and ends

In addition I discussed (but didn't order)
  • 1 reupholstery kit, in Chestnut. (Yes, I said *chestnut*. I know it's not in the Crayola 8-box but in this case "brown" just doesn't cut it. When you're ordering car stuff sometimes you have to suck it up and use the manufacturers crazy color names. Go tell that guy with the classic Thunderbird that you like his 'peach' car and see if he doesn't bloody your nose as he's yelling "Coral Sand, you moron!")

So all of that is good. Not terribly cheap but not break-the-bank either.

<-- I guess 142000 miles can be hard on seats. Notice the side bolsters on the edges of the seat back. What? You say you can't see any? That's right. They came out in pea-sized chunks and had to be vaccuumed off the garage floor.

<-- Looks comfy doesn't it?

Add a little Chestnut vinyl and that will be a seat fit for a king. -->

The minor downside came when TRF looked at my order. You'll notice I wanted one vinyl kit but two foam kits. TRF decided this must be a mistake so they cancelled one of my foam kits. Unfortunately (or perhaps surprisingly) in this case I knew what I was doing. Both cars need new foam, but only one needs new vinyl. So I'll have to wait for the second kit. Not a big deal since I'll have to wait for the vinyl but it's frustrating anyway.

(As a side-note, the vinyl sample doesn't show the "diamond dot" pattern of the seats. Which is really what I was worried about. It does a good job of showing the color and texture but there's still a chance it won't look right. I guess that's why they invented 'returns.')

Okay, so all that's good or at least reasonable. The Bad was a phonecall this morning from the folks at CyclPath. The clutch master cylinder I've been waiting for just went on "indefinite back-order" from the supplier. Which basically means "we don't have it, and we don't expect to get it." That's not good. I need a clutch that matches the brake. It's bad enough to buy an clutch, I don't want to have to buy a whole new set.

The guys at CyclPath are going to look into some other ways to get ahold of this. If that doesn't pan out then ... well ... I'm not sure how I'll resolve this. With my luck I'll figure it out just as the Fall rainy season returns. (Yes there are four seasons in Seattle: Rainy Fall, Rainy Winter, Rainy Spring and Threatening-To-Rain-Any-Minute-But-Might-Not Summer. ... I'm not sure if that's better or worse than Chicago which I've heard described as "Two seasons: 'Winter' and 'Road Contruction.'")