Sunday, August 14, 2016

Night Surf

A couple weeks back, we went on a vacation with extended family down towards San Diego. We actually stayed in Encinitas, a ways north of there, just south of Carlsbad. Our hotel was only a block from the ocean, which was a good part of the reason we'd stayed there.

Every single day we did some sort of touristy thing, which was quite a drain on my parents. The second day we went to Legoland, and my parents and my wife had had enough by late afternoon, and were ready to head back. I could keep going, and my youngest and niece and nephew were all good to stay until closing, so they split and we closed that place down. On the way back, we talked a bit about going to the beach. There are houses all along the coast, so I checked and saw that there was a beach access just a couple blocks north of where we were staying, and, of course, that block over. We all decided that the four of us could go for heading over and checking it out when we got back.

It was a bit different than we'd expected. Instead of the block over sloping down to the shore area, it rose up quite a bit. At the end, it came down a bit, but not as much as the rise. From there, it starts off with a concrete path, with areas of steps going down at intervals. From there, it transitioned to wood steps heading down. Straight down, at the end, and DIRECTLY INTO THE OCEAN!!! Well, we weren't expecting THAT!!! Turns out, we caught it right at an extreme high tide!!! The beach has bluffs that rise up from the back of it pretty straight up.

The waves would recede and reveal the sand of the shore, and just to the right around 50 feet, there is a lifeguard tower, backed right up to the bluffs. My niece was the first to decide that she would make a run for it when the waves receded. She made it, of course getting splashed a bit in the process. The rest of us headed over, and stashed our gear on the tower and did a bit of shore wading. The water was very mild, and the evening was pretty warm, too. My niece had brought her purse (go figure), and among the things contained therein was a GoPro camera, which she broke out to shoot a little bit of video. Don't know how that came out, but I'd like to see.

Of course, I didn't bring a camera, so the two actual "beach" pictures are stolen from the web, and the first pic is image searching the title of this post. By the way, said title was lifted from the Stephen King short story that spawned "The Stand". Grandview Beach is what this beach is called... I cannot attest to the view, but even from the shore area, you could see a lot more stars than back home.

Good times!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back to the Petersen

A couple weekends ago, while I was working on Saturday, I happened upon this. When there is downtime between cycles, I'll often web-surf. In the course of doing this, I discovered that that very evening, there was to be a screening of a documentary about the restoration of the DeLorean from Back to the Future!!! Entitled "Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine", all that was required to attend was to RSVP via E-mail. OK, sounds pretty sweet!!!

For further win points, it was screening at the Petersen Automotive Museum!!! I had figured, and correctly, that my wife would not be interested in attending, and my son would. On the way into the parking garage, we spotted our first DeLorean of the evening, a very nice bone stock (as far as I could tell) example, featuring the "LONE PYN" plate.

I believe we saw four more equally nice stock examples, one with a "TIME MCH" plate and one with a "DMC AUTO" or some such plate.

So, what do they do with a fully restored prop DeLorean??? They did such an exquisite job, that it became, quite literally, a museum piece!!! They now have it at the Petersen. This shot is when we first saw it. If you look closely, you can see the flux capacitor!!!

Were there any fans of the movie there??? A couple. This guy, in Marty McFly regalia, with his model time machine DeLorean. There were many Marty McFlys there, in various stages of convincing.

One guy there was lucky enough to have scored some of the Episode II Nike shoes!!!

Yet another guy had himself a nice hoverboard!!!

A better shot of the flux capacitor.

Two of the Doc Emmett Browns, there was also a kid with the visor from the end of I, and possibly II (I don't remember exactly, I've seen II a couple times, but I'm not that rabid a fan). The guy on the right played the part for Universal Studios Hollywood, driving the actual DeLorean around the place. The guy on the left, I think, has his DeLorean that he's done up to look like the time machine, and has a quite convincing voice!!!

The Petersen took good care of everyone, in addition to the show, they also had bags of chips and water bottles for the guests. They said it's the best attended movie night event they've done. After the movie (and the offer to sell you much memorabilia and copies of the DVD, then sign them) they were raffling off several items, T-shirts, various copies of the newspaper headlines from the movies, and a hoverboard. That was the one my son really wanted, and wouldn't you know, they picked a number off by ONE from what he had. Insult to injury, the person with that ticket wasn't even there!!! He was genuinely mad over that. I think a do-it-yourself hoverboard is in order.

And how was the movie??? Pretty good, well worth a watching!!! They did an incredible job on the restoration, and actually made it more functional that it had been. I learned quite a bit from it, and am now more of an expert on the Back to the Future DeLorean that I was before!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rite of Passage

Between childhood, boyhood, adolescence & manhood (maturity)

there should be sharp lines drawn w/

Tests, deaths, feats, rites

stories, songs, & judgments

From "Wilderness"

Jim Morrison

Here's something of a rite of passage!!! I did it as a teen, as did my friends, and now both of my sons have, too. When you go to the junkyard, you are supposed to be at least 16 years old to get in. We've all now violated this rule. I suppose that if you are going to violate an age ordinance, this is about as benign as you can get!!!

I don't know if I've ever explained how Scruffy got her name, but the driver's side rear quarter was slightly cracked when we got it, but not enough to worry about. A year or so later, I managed to take out a pillar in a parking garage with the two doors (and rear view mirror) on that same side, as well as further fracturing the quarter panel. Made a junkyard run & picked up all three of these around a year and a half back on one of the junkyard half price days. Not long after, some idiot changed lanes into the front fender, also on that side, while my wife was driving, and she has failed at getting any of the insurance information, so on yet another sale day, I picked up one of those. There's always plenty of Saturns, but there is a difference between the 1996-1999 bodies and the 2000-2002, even though they are very nearly the same. I'd gone through and found the best looking one, and just as I started pulling it, checked the style. Early. Whew, glad I checked that!!! Back around again, and found a late model in good shape. Last weekend, I pulled all the parts out to clean, sand and primer them, and discovered the doors and quarter panel were all early style!!! This also worked out, as last weekend for the Fourth of July weekend, the junkyard was doing a sale weekend again. I notice they have gone from half off days to 40% off days. So began the rite of passage!!! It's something he's been wanting to do, so before we visited my parent's house on the 4th, we went. Instead of getting all new door and the somewhat rare wagon quarter panel, I just got an early model fender to go with what I have. Once I've got it all together, if you are Saturn nerd enough to tell the years apart, you won't be able to tell what you're looking at if you notice the difference between the sides!!!

One of the things that always seem to happen is the removal of several emblems. Hehe, sexus!!!

He liked the aesthetic of the place, thinking it looks a bit post-apocalyptic and commented that it smelled like the paintball arena. I'm glad he enjoyed the trip!!!

Saturday, July 02, 2016


Here's a first for our family!!! While we were vacationing in Tennessee, seeing fireflies was one of the things on our list to try and see there. We made it to the night before we were leaving without having seen any. This was our second day of going to Dollywood, and we'd started late in the day, after going to the Titanic Museum. Pretty far on in the evening, late twilight time, and it occurred to us that we hadn't even attempted to see any fireflies. We were a bit off the main thoroughfare, and saw a park employee, an older guy (there's a lot of older folk working there, one of them earlier had commented that Dollywood is their retirement plan). We ask him where we might be able to see some. He replies that there's always a bunch around his home, and I ask if that's an invitation. He laughs, and is trying to think where, when all of a sudden, we see one off in the bushes!!! We try and track it's progress, and another kid comes by and catches it. Another comes by, and I caught it. Tried to peek into my hands, and it crawls out. Ran a few seconds of video, and caught a couple!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Down South Vacationin'

Welcome to the recap of this year's vacation trip!!! A few years back I had the idea of going to check out Dollywood, and finally this year that is what we did!!!

Compared to the perpetual fail of last year's trip, it was a great vacation!!! (On that trip, I could have, and probably should have, and if I ever had the chance still might do a post about the other parts of that vacation that epically failed... Looking at you, Expedia and American Airlines, two companies on my "Do Not Patronize" list since then)

In the second shot, you'll see the cool Dr. Who cats shirts my wife thought would be good to get to travel in!!!

I had the idea of hitting Nashville and Memphis while we were there, but it turns out that Tennessee is a pretty big state, and flying from one area to another would take a while with the NSA lines and whatnot. I had 11 days consecutive, but my son was still in school for the first four, which worked out, as I had time to fix Scruffy. If it hadn't been for the school thing, we may have hit all three areas.

We left VERY early on Saturday (like don't even bother going to bed the night before early) which worked out good in that there was very little traffic on the roads, and the airport lines weren't that bad yet. We got there a bit longer than the prescribed two hours early, and the airline kiosks weren't open yet, then when they were, the TSA checkpoints weren't. Still not bad at all. Knoxville is the closest airport to Pigeon Forge, and there are no direct flights, so it was via Denver on the way there, and O'Hare on the way back. Upon arrival, and even before looking for which way to get to our lodging, we cruised aimlessly into Maryville, where we happed on the Dead End Barbecue, which turned out to be as good as it sounds!!!

Didn't do much else after checking into our room that afternoon, just reset our sleep clocks!!!

As you may expect, the whole of the area of the state we saw is very lush. Lots of little creeks and streams, hills and valleys. Oh yea, and humid, too!!! Not Florida humid, but still more than home. Seemed like for most of the drive we were on two lane country roads, very picturesque!!!

Got the three day passes for Dollywood and Dollywood Splash Country. Had a couple days where we weren't at those parks, but it turns out there's a LOT of other things to do in the area!!!

There is a new coaster at Dollywood, the Lightening Rod, the fastest wood coaster in North America, with a power launch. Looks awesome, with turns banked to near vertical, but both days we were there it wasn't open. Something like that happened last year, too.

Other things to do around Pigeon Forge??? There's an Alpine Coaster, with one or two person sleds, almost bobsleds, that are right on the mountains. You control the brakes, but they really aren't necessary!!! They are worthy rides, and we ended up going twice, once at night.

Of course, there's also the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We heard of a hike out to the Chimneys that we did one afternoon. Only two miles, but upsy most the way in. That is where I got most of my pictures on my real camera, and worthy of a post of it's own. Maybe that will happen.

According to a statistic I just made up, Pigeon Forge has the most go-karts per capita of any town in America. Seems like at least half a dozen places down the main drag. Mini golf and arcades are also abundant. Made it to the Titanic museum, but not the Elvis museum.

There is more to come...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Life Hack (SAW!!!) My Car

Back in February I did my last Life Hack post, about a way to stop small water leaks in your car. I had made mention that it works more often than not, but that very incident that inspired me to write that post turned out to not be one of those times!!!

I had been driving my wife's car, Scruffy, around that time, and it had begun to give me the low water light a couple times a week or so. Huh. I didn't ever see any water at the pump, radiator, or hoses. It wasn't leaking from the heater core. Not losing a lot of water, and never getting hot. Well, I'll season it with some pepper, and if that doesn't do it, it will surely get worse, and I'll be able to see where it's coming from then!!!

Well, it got worse, but I still never saw a place it was leaking from. Finally, it got to where it was needing filled up any time you would drive it for about 15 minutes. The only thing I could come up with was a leaking head gasket burning off water, but it's not running bad or showing any other symptoms. I ran it past a friend of mine who's an awesome shadetree mechanic, and he suggests a compression test to tell the tale. My wife drives it over during the week, and he does the test. Compression is good, so he leaves it running a while to get it hot. I just had been driving it, he left it in one place, and it made a puddle after a while!!! He checks it out, and where the overflow line goes back into the system is leaking some. He touches it to see if it's loose, and the hose fitting breaks off!!! I had known the 2000 and up Saturn 1.9 engines had plastic intake manifolds, but didn't realize that this skinny little part was on it!!!

Turns out there's a couple companies making a repair kit for this problem. First thing, though, had to get it back home to work on, so the tiny little hose barb you see in the first couple pictures is the fix I did on it. Got a stainless hose barb and epoxied it in place!!! That part worked fine, but in the second picture you may be able to make out a crack running down the large hose fitting that I added in a helpful arrow to. I bought it from CarSaturn, who seem to be the original, and looks like a better quality part. A little bit more, but I think it better to buy from the originator, and it's made in the U.S.A.

To install is a little bit involved, as it requires the removal of the intake manifold. Not super tricky, but a lot of things have to come off to get it. Here's something I noticed when I got it off, the EGR tube comes way out into the airflow of the intake. Common sense to me always dictates that the smoother airflow you have, the better things are going to run!!!

So, while I had the hacksaw out, I shortened that sucker up, too!!!

And hacksawing??? Yes, that's exactly what you end up doing, is hacksawing the end of the intake manifold off!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Getting ALL My Saturns in a Triangle

Ever notice that if you have three of anything, unless they are in a perfectly straight line, they always form a perfect triangle???

So, here we are, almost three months after I picked up Saturn 3. Before the first week was out, I'd made a couple of lists, the first of parts I was going to remove from Baby before bidding her a fond adieu, the second of things to fix on Saturn 3. Up to this past weekend, still hadn't gotten to everything. Over the weekend, finally put Baby back together, with the primary intent of just getting her out of the driveway to do an oil change, secondary intent to send her off to her final resting place. Registration is due next month. All that was required was to put the accessory drive belt back on, and the upper motor mount I'd removed to make that easier. Of course, I'd forgotten that it gave me a hard time and I'd loosened up the A/C compressor to make it easier, and after putting the belt and mount on, that was sitting cocked. While I was at it, I pulled off the driving lights I'd replaced the factory units with around six months ago, as well as the mounts I'd fabbed up. Both of them had cracked lenses already, which I didn't notice until I had them off!!! Also pulled out the radio, it's a pretty good one, the only one I've ever had with HD radio.

I think it was the first or second weekend I had her that I swapped the rims from Baby to 3, and got two of the tires on Scruffy (the name that actually kind of has stuck for the Family Truckster wagon) changed to the alloys that had been on 3. It was at least a month before I got the other two done, but that's done. Around a month after I'd got her, I also swapped the front rotors between Baby and 3, the ones on 3 were warped and it would shimmy like crazy under moderate to hard braking. Took the ceramic pads with about a year of wear on them, too. Around a month and a half in, I swapped the 512 Labs tailpipe onto 3, and WOW, it's a game changer in the mileage department!!! I'd been getting under 27 MPG, and the conversion has bumped it up to SOLID 30.5 MPG at least!!! I'd been wanting to fabricate a whole new one with a cool tip I'd made up years ago, and was doing the swap at my parent's house, but I couldn't get it to come together. Want to put one of 'em on Scruffy, it gets similar lackluster mileage. I'm fairly convinced it's the exhaust ports, which have been undersized in the last few years of production. I would love to find someone with the earlier engine and manual tranny who tracks their mileage and have them do one of these pipes and see how it does!!! That same day I was helping my dad put a disc brake conversion on his Studebaker. Took several weeks to get that done, too, but the results were similarly stellar.

Don't know if I've ever mentioned, but I got myself a dashcam with reverse camera with some birthday money around the end of last year, and had to pull that out, along with a halogen back up light I'd installed. The longer I drive it, the more I want that rig in 3. A few weeks back, I also swapped the rear drums from Baby to Scruffy, as she had one that was cut pretty deep. Let me see, what else??? Pretty early on, I swapped all the speakers out, and it sounds much better!!! The lock switch was another thing fixed early on. I had a K&N air filter element in Baby that I swapped over, but I've never been that impressed with it. Only two things I haven't gotten are the seat covers (which are pretty old, but I really like the style) and the sunroof. The sunroof on Baby works, but it's not smooth. There's a company that does a rebuild with aluminum glides on an exchange basis, not especially cheap, but I think it's money well spent, and will keep me from taking the roof apart twice. Got the keys changed to all on one, for a reasonable sum of $50. I replaced a burnt out driving light bulb, and swapped the map lights from Baby to 3, as well as the windshield wipers. I attempted to de-haze the headlights, but they're pretty bad. One of these days I'll try again, but I'm considering getting some reflective window tint and seeing how that looks on them. Window tint is another on the to-do list, still, but it doesn't bother me from inside, just looks bad from the outside. 3 has a rock chip right at the edge of the field of vision, and that's more of a bother. Not something that was on my original list, but it's there now. Scruffy and the Falcon both have rock chips, too, and I'm hoping I could get a multi discount.

Oh yeah, that oil change... went pretty smoothly, but while I was down there I discovered a brake fluid leak. Might be just a sealing washer where the hose connects to the caliper (that's kind of how it looked, so I replaced it to see how it does) but if it's not, I've got another... or, it's not that pricey to buy a rebuild.

We were driving Scruffy around last Friday, and she started shifting really hard, like a slam shift. Ugggggh, here we go again!!! Well, at least I've got my own parts car!!! A little looking around on the webs, and I discover that there is a solenoid in the valve body that wears out and causes this symptom. Well, Baby's trans has never had a hiccup (except the time the tensioner went out and the charging system wasn't getting enough juice) so I'm assuming it's good in her. On Sunday I yanked the whole valve body out of her, a not especially difficult task.

I wasn't aware that, of all those bolts, only 11 of them actually hold the valve body in!!! So, unfortunately, I ended up splitting the thing in two, and I though I lost one of the little balls between the bottom half and the plate in the middle. I'm pretty sure it just rolled to the wrong spot, and I think I got it back where it goes. There were two springs, and I think the balls go on top of these.

I hope.

Of course, had to work on Monday, but it occurred to me that I've got a bunch of unscheduled vacation days and the year is near half over. Being as it's not a huge vacation season right now, I should be able to get a day off this week to finish this off. My first choice was for today, and they came through with it, so that's what I did today. Pulled Scruffy apart and then put her back together, and then put Baby back together. Success!!!