Thursday, February 08, 2018


Over the weekend I changed the air filter and spark plugs on Jade. The previous weekend I'd performed a "piston soak" on it. Most S series Saturns usually end up burning oil at higher mileage, and short of taking the engine apart and drilling drain holes in the stock pistons or getting new ones, this is about the only fix. I have performed this operation many times, but had recently come across a detailed procedure. I had been using maybe a quarter ounce of Marvel Mystery Oil on previous rounds, but the procedure actually calls for about two ounces in each bore!!! That, and letting it sit for a good 24 hours or more, rotating it, and repeating it if you are able. I did so on Scruffy, but since I haven't lowered the back end, I've been holding off on the alignment, so I haven't been driving her, so I have no idea how well that's worked. Anyway, at the low miles Jade has I wouldn't have expected her to be going through much, if any, oil, but I was mistaken. Don't know how much good that's done yet, either, but while I was doing it, I noticed this!!!

I've never seen a spark plug with this much wear!!! Look at that!!! It actually burned a circle opposite the electrode!!!

The side view shows that it's considerably thinner, too.

I'm not sure if they were the originals or dealer installed replacements, but I'd bet they've been in there at least 50,000 miles. They were AC Delcos, and I think the factory ones were NGK's.

Interestingly, 3 is the only Saturn I've owned that hasn't had oil useage issues, but it's just past 90,000 miles thus far. I don't believe either of the others began with much oil use, either, but the mileage was also lower when we got them. 3 is up for an oil change, and I'm thinking I'll give her a piston soak before I do it, too, just as a preemptive measure. Also, it's nearing it's 2 year anniversary, and thus is up for it's first smog check since I've owned it. I don't predict any issues with that, but also this year Scruffy will be due. That may prove more problematic.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Creepy Caterpillar

This was pretty cool. I probably can't really take credit for it, but I'm going to anyway!!! Back in October on the Woody Show, Greg was telling about a nightmare he'd had of caterpillars. I sent them over this text:

Well, just last week they posted this video!!!

I thought there was a detail that got edited out where there was a camera inside and Woody had a screen where you could watch inside. I was thinking of trying my hand at doing a drawing of this situation. The other scene I'd like to try to make a drawing of is when Menace fell asleep on the floor before he could make it to the couch, and have his dogs thinking about eating him!!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Half Drop

Since a month and a half (or so) back, when I got started, I've been collecting parts...

Before I mount up the new rims and tires, I wanted to get it aligned. Before I got it aligned, I wanted to replace the tie rod ends, ball joints and struts. While I'm at it, I wanted to drop it down just a bit. Auto Zone had a deal going on for struts, buy two and get the 2nd one half off. Not bad. Of course, no one has them in stock, so I had to mail order them. Rock Auto had about the best prices around for Moog suspension components, so they got my business for that. Dropped springs, I ended up buying from some place I'd never heard of before, but they had the best price on about the only brand that you can actually get anymore.

Most of the stuff came pretty quick, except for the front struts. Auto Zone sends me a message a couple days after I'd ordered them saying there was going to be a little delay. OK, no big rush. A couple weeks later, and they still haven't shown up. Got in touch, and they say so sorry, we don't have them in stock, and the manufacturer doesn't know when they will make anymore. Nice. I start shopping around. Amazon has a vendor who's got one on closeout for cheap. Sold!!! Only problem, the key word there is one. Look around some more, and Rock Auto has some on clearance for around twice as much, but still it comes out to a decent price altogether. Last Friday I head over to my parents house to try and get it all together. Start on the passenger side, and after pulling it apart, I'm getting ready to put the new spring onto the new strut. I open up the box from Rock and go to put it together, and discover that the strut is already pretty worn out, it would seem. It didn't automatically extend, and had very little resistance to movement. Huh. It looked pretty clean, but the top threads look discolored, and it has a hex drive for the shaft instead of a torx. I suspect someone returned their old one. I pull out the Amazon one, and it's much better. Put that side together, and it's around the end of the work day already.

I had to work the next day, but afterwards I found an Auto Zone that has a strut in stock, and swung by there and picked it up. It was late by the time I finished it, but got it wrapped up in time to get the spring compressor and the inner tie rod tool returned. Still have rear end to do, but it should be half the job of what the front was. It pulls to the left, but everything feels tight!!!

Not a huge drop, but I wasn't going for that anyway. You can also see in the final shot the black replacement fender.

More to come...

Monday, January 15, 2018


Or, "Will it Fit: Mobile Edition"

Last Friday we stopped in to a Goodwill store, and there was a fine looking recliner. Great condition, and a great price. On Christmas I had been lamenting that another Christmas come and gone, and still no new recliner. Of course, with the three of us, there was no room to haul it. Headed back the next day, but in the interim, came across a futon!!! My younger has been wanting one for quite a while. I actually told my parents that if they could find a good used one, he'd like that for Christmas, but once again, no dice. See, I was hoping that would happen, as they have better equipment for hauling.

So, him and I took Scruffy out there the next day, first stop where the futon was. Brought along much rope with the thought of, if it'll fit, hang it out the back and strap the hatch down with rope, a la the water heater adventure. Try as we might, it was a big no go for that, too. Headed over to the Goodwill, and picked up the recliner, which of all amazements, fit!!! As I had thought, it has to be in a reclined position, but that's all.

Called up my dad and asked if I could borrow his Trail Blazer. Don't think I'd made mention, but he got a Trail Blazer. Someone turned left in front of him in his Durango around a year ago and totaled it. The Trail Blazer is its replacement, and a fine machine. He took it off road a few months back for the first time in 29 Palms along with my mother, and they managed to get turned off the trail onto a crossing dry streambed, so they did do some trail blazing!!! Anyway, they got stuck in the loose sand and ended up spending the night in the desert, and found the cargo area to be lacking in length to sleep in. Thus, when I asked to borrow it to haul a futon, they said they didn't think it would fit inside. Well, still have ropes and tie downs, one way or the other, we got this. Well, surprise!!! Just a little tilt, and it fit in without any trouble!!! I took this picture and sent it to my dad with the message, "Don't know what your problem is!!!"

This last shot is the recliner again, only with no flash. It's a little fuzzy, but I liked the look!!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Yule '17

Many days pass away, as always busy as can be at this time of year. Here's a little recap!!!

Started the month off with the company Christmas party. Since the year we had it under the shuttle at the Science Center, it's been the tradition to have every other year at some sort of destination. This year was at Harry Potter land in Universal Studios!!!

That was a lot of fun, first time I've been to Universal out here since they put in Harry Potter, and a lot of other stuff. I'm pretty sure it was 2008 last time I was there. Only time I'd been on the Harry Potter ride was last time we were in Florida, and it was real soon after it had opened, and it was a zoo!!! Don't know if I ever posted about that, we had been staying at the Nickelodeon resort, and had been to one of the two Universal parks there the day before. My wife and the younger boy wanted to take a day off and just stay at the hotel that day, so only the firstborn and I went to that park. Besides the ridiculous crowds in that area, a couple things I remember were the Jurassic Park themed area with water cannons shaped like velociraptor heads, and some indoor area where a bunch of foreign kids laid down for their siesta. But I digress.

My wife doesn't get around walking for any length of time so well these days, so we rented her a wheelchair after we'd walked the half mile or so down City Walk to get in the park. Asked them about returning it after hours, you know, like when the rest of the park is closed and it's just the company party until late. "Oh, no problem, we'll have someone there" they said. You can guess how that went. I wandered deep into the bowels of that area, and when we finally got someone over there, they had issues getting the register back open.

I went on the Harry Potter ride, which was pretty much a walk on with such a reduced amount of people there. Got up to the first projection dome, and the ride broke down!!! Started back up a couple minutes later, but the video for that part didn't go, so we were shaking around and the audio was going, but no visual. On the way out, they directed us to a short cut if we wanted to go again. Three of the four of us who'd been on with me (all bin fillers!!!) did it.

Since I've got a troll living in my basement now, a lot of the stuff down there has been moved around. I'd seen these before, but never set them up. Vintage Christmas decorations, Santa and his reindeer!!! Well, 8 of 9 anyway.

This year I strung my lights to a pole, something I'd done years ago, again, simulating a Christmas tree. I also finally got rid of all the old incandescent Christmas lights I had knocking around which I haven't used in probably 5 years or more, replaced by LED lights. Oh yea, there's a vintage color wheel down there I'd been seeing the box for for years, finally dragged it out and replaced the heat lamp with an LED bulb, and picked up a white tree to change from the super campy pink tree we've been using for years, and used it with the wheel. It's different, kinda nice for a change. That, as well as Christmas morning, I've got on my DSLR card, I'll unload at some point.

Then there was the annual announcement of the profit sharing (480%, very good, and word is next year should be good, too) goody day, and profit sharing distribution day. Should I say here that, with that very generous profit sharing, this is my first year breaking six figures??? Might as well, I don't think hardly anyone reads this. Comment if you do!!!

Just like the end of last year, I'm hearing a lot of people complaining about what a terrible year 2017 has been. I don't get it. Worst I can say about it was I had a few people I know passed.

On Christmas Eve we went to John's Incredible Pizza. They were having a deal, and it was as empty as I've ever seen it!!! They had this cheese bread which was basically pizza crust with cheese. My childhood friend Sean had been sensitive to tomato sauce, claimed it was too spicy for him, so he'd always order pizza with no sauce. In fact, around a week before I heard about his death, my younger was saying how he was one of the most sensitive to spicy food people, and I regaled him with tales of Sean and his sauceless pizzas. At the celebration for Sean, one of the guys who spoke of how he'd order pizza, so on into his forties he was still having it that way!!! Of course, I had to have a slice of their "cheese bread" in his memory.

Last Saturday, Alt 98.7 was doing a meet and greet at a T-Mobil store over on Whittier Boulevard, with Ravey from The Woody Show meeting the plebs. It was 2 till 4, and I am out of work at 3:30 on Saturdays, and it's about halfway between work and home, so I was able to go over and visit. I like all the guys on the show, but after meeting and getting to talk to Ravey in person for a bit, I like her even better now!!! She's cool. Never made a post on it this year, but we'd gone to the Renaissance Faire on the same day she did. Never saw her there, but on the way in the station had a booth set up. They set us up with a couple shirts, that's where I got the sweet #ALLIN shirt in the picture. It's super soft material, too.

The very next day, at John's Incredible, got to meet and take a picture with Incredibear!!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

More Red Flags...

I'm sure you've seen the terrible wildfires going on in Southern California. For the first time in a long while they actually called red flag day in my neighborhood. Before last years' vacation to Tennessee, it looked like there was a possibility of there being one while we were gone (we managed to dodge the first summer heat wave) but to avoid the possibly of having my cars impounded I used the day before we left to sell off the carcass of Baby as well as the wreck of my old Scirocco. Looking back, the place I had all the pictures of my ol' Scirocco aren't in service any more. May have to dust some off if I can find 'em to repost here.

Anyway, last week they called a red flag day on Tuesday, I believe. Our area never had much wind at all, which is one of the components of the alert. The conditions are defined as wind speeds 25 mph or more and humidity 15% or less (cut and pasted from their website). Accordingly, the next day it was lifted. Of course, the areas around us were burning, so the next day it was back in effect, once again with little wind in our area. For one day. As you can see, the Gif I made up shows it switching from one status to another with only a few seconds between. Apparently you need to manually refresh.

I know what the reasoning behind the red flag days is, and have no problem with it... EXCEPT they always call it when conditions aren't actually met!!! The local news outlets aren't much help, either, their maps pretty much show everything south of Frisco as being active red flag areas.

There. I haven't had an actual raving here for a while!!!

Monday, December 04, 2017

And So It Begins

That tenuous transitional step between concept and reality, to actually stop just thinking about something and start doing something. I suppose the real first step was finding Jade (thus far the name my wife has decided on for her new ride, as good a name as any, I suppose. She is SO happy with her, you'd think I bought her a new Cadillac!!!) so I can get to modding on Scruffy. The next, and and finally getting some actual skin in the game, step occurred on this last Friday. New tires are a very soon necessity for her (Scruffy), and prior to doing that, I'd wanted to locate the next set of rims, to keep from having to pay to get the tires moved around. Currently she's rolling on the alloys that came on 3, which are also the exact same style as jade has. All that works out, because one of them on Scruffy was said to have been bent, and feels like it at certain speeds. A couple on each also have some curb damage, so between them there's likely a good set.

SO, I had the idea to find some steelies I could moon-cap and maybe do in the contrast color, whatever that turns out to be. I slightly rued having sent the originals of Scruffy's west with Baby, but in the interest of saving alloys, it was necessary. Also, it looks like the profile of Saturn steelies isn't well suited to having a center cap hub cap. Lots of cars have the same bolt pattern, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find a junkyard set that would work, and over Thanksgiving weekend, my dad and I were thinking of heading over for their sale day. That never happened, I worked Black Friday for the double time and a half, as well as my normal Saturday shift, and it was far too busy to get that in.

Another thing I'd been looking at was some manufacturers are now making larger rims of steel. First noticed this on the lady friends' Scion, which has hub caps on 16" wheels. I was going to jam her up and see if she'd be interested in trading for some factory Saturn alloys that would have a lower cost to put tires on, but alas, it's the newer model with 5 lugs. As is my custom, I kept looking around to see what people might be selling, and came upon these!!! Not what I had in mind, but a good looking style that will go fairly well with the primer black aesthetic I have in mind, and are also larger diameter. Currently they have 205-40R-17's on them, which are shorter but wider than what I've got, but by just a tad each way. Nets about 3/8" of drop. There's probably a year's worth of tread left on them, but I'm planning on going with 35's eventually, which will be even smaller than what I've got, as well as surprisingly affordable!!! That will get a total drop of about 3/4", plus the around 1 1/2" that dropped springs get. Of course, that's a ways out still, and will give me plenty of time to decide if I like it fine with what I've already got. Speaking of affordable, the guy only wanted $200 for the whole set, which of course is almost less than just getting 4 tires mounted!!! No curb rash whatsoever. Ironically, they were off the earlier model Scion with the same bolt pattern as Saturns.

So now it's time to start getting other things in order. The wear patterns on the current tires suggest that things aren't right with the alignment, and I know the tie rod ends are shot. At 190,000, likely that's not all!!! If I'm going to be putting in dropped springs, she'll be needing an alignment anyway, and may as well refresh everything before that happens. Of course, while I'd be putting on new springs, new struts are only logical. I have ordered both the springs and struts thus far, and will soon be ordering tie rod ends and ball joints. May also get some polyurethane bushings to tighten everything up even more!!! I'd already planned on going with rebuilds on all the brake cylinders while I'm in the course of refitting and new hoses, as well as probably new rotors and pads up front, since I'll have to give everything that will show through the new rims a coat of paint. Oh yeah, also I ordered the necessary lug nuts to fit on such a rim.

This morning I took the original picture from when we'd first got her where I'd tinted the rear windows and put it back in Paint Shop Pro. First I removed the rear doors, then made the panels continuous from front to back. Came out better than the first attempt!!!

Hmmm, while I have Paint Shop Pro going, how about seeing how she'd look with a bit of a drop??? With them old hub caps, no less!!! Got that done, and did the scroll back and forth between the files, and was amused by the jumping effect of the drop I'd performed... a GIF is in order!!!

After that, I messed with the shadow to make it look proper, then black and whited it to simulate primer, as well as mirroring it to make it look different than the other shots.

Hey, you may ask, what about your idea to gull wing her??? Still knocking around in me melon, it is, but thought I'd share the sketch lady friend did before I did mine, back on the reunion lunch day. There you have it, folks, the first rendering of a Saturn Gull Wing Wagon!!! Upon completion, it was noted that it looked a bit like a space alien!!!