Saturday, October 24, 2020

The person in the passenger seat.

That seat back there was reserved for the Mother in Law!

In my case, that would be who is often humorously referred to in old car stories as "my long suffering spouse."

My Wife road comfortably in this seat on our trip to Lake Tahoe.
                                                                 Well almost most of the time.

My Wife is not an enthusiast or even very interested in cars. She doesn't especially enjoy driving. Cars and driving are just things that are a necessary part of life, like going to work, doing the housework, cooking and cleaning. I guess that she is like the great majority of people, she saves her enthusiasm for things that she cares about, like her family, home, and her Art.

I knew that she wasn't  a car or motorcycle enthusiast going in, but her other outstanding qualities far outweighed that shortcoming.

She knew that I was a car and motorcycle enthusiast going in, but she overlooked that, and saw I had a few other redeeming qualities.

I saw that it was my responsibility to provide her with good, safe, reliable, non embarrassing, transportation. For the most part of our marriage I fulfilled that obligation.

Then "something"happened.

To be honest, I never really considered how she felt about my cars, especially as long as she had a decent car to drive. I imagine she thought that all my energy spent thinking about old cars was kind of silly. Like a lot of car guys I made sure that there was at least one "good car" for us to go out in.

There was another thought that never really crossed my mind.

I never considered if she was embarrassed to be seen in my old cars.

We had some neighbors years ago, a young couple, like we were back then. He worked in the computer industry writing code, I think. I'm not sure what she did. They were nice middle class people, recent homeowners like us. A few years later they moved up to the Sacramento area and bought a really nice new house. I'd heard that he had always wanted an old car and he had bought a decades plus, old Lincoln Mark III. That just needed a little work!

photo source:
It really wasn't quite this bad. It just looked like that to her!

We visited them once, and he of course, wanted to show me the Mark. The look on his Wife's face was incredible! She obviously hated that old car. She hated it so much that she couldn't stop herself from telling us about it. We all went for a ride in it. It stalled out once, probably because the engine was still cold, but her husband got it restarted after coasting to the curb. She was incensed that it would "break down" like that. She couldn't see why he would buy something like this, something that you couldn't depend on, when you could afford to drive a reliable new car. (They actually also had two newer cars.)

She then told us how her parents always bought new cars once they could afford it. They only drove older cars when they were first married and broke. Her Dad had impressed upon her the idea that a used car is just someone else's problems. That's why they got rid of it. I began to understand why she felt the way that she did, when she added that only people that couldn't afford new cars, bought used ones. It was all related to self image and status.

Driving that old car, being seen in that old car, and even just the fact that they owned a car like that, was a huge come down in social respectability and status. At least in her eyes! And worst of all, it was a flashy old luxury car! They were like all those pathetic poor people, the kind that put on airs, trying to impress others by driving some rich person's cast off status symbol.  The horror!

While I didn't agree with her, I could empathize with her point of view.

The Doctor is in.

I remember watching an episode of Dr. Phil years ago. In this particular episode, a professional couple had decided to move out to the country and had bought a property on several acres. It turns out that her husband really began to embrace the ethos of rural living and started to listen to Country music and even bought himself a big 4x4 truck. That was bad enough, but then he had it jacked up and fitted it with huge tires. He loved it! She did not. In fact she really hated it, and she began to find herself feeling a bit the same way about her husband. It was starting to take a toll on their marriage and they turned to Dr. Phil for advice.

As the couple explored and shared their feelings, it became apparent that the truck was just a big toy for the husband. Everyone else around them had a truck like that, it also filled some real needs around the ranch, but it was primarily a "hoot." He didn't force his Wife to drive, or even ride in it, so why was she so upset? When Dr. Phil asked her why she disliked the truck so much, she told him that her husband was a successful professional man, "It's just so beneath him." Then the Dr. asked the salient question. "Is it that the truck is beneath him, or is it that the truck is beneath you?"

She admitted that she really felt that the truck was beneath her. She explained that she had always supported her husband's plans and dreams, through college and during the rough times getting started in his career when they were first married. She had done her part, kept their house, raised the kids, scrimped and saved, and now it was her time to enjoy the fruits of their life's work.

Some jacked up Redneck truck didn't figure into that equation.

Again, I can see her point. We are all working to have the things that we need and want. Respectability, if not status, is something that most of us want. How we define and achieve that end is what makes the difference. Believe it or not, I want that same thing too. Maybe my interpretation has been a little "different".

Is what I've been doing  just been a huge embarrassment to my Wife?

If so, it hasn't been my intention, though my Rat Rod stage was probably my most flagrant abuse to our self image. If she ever had a right to express her feelings, that would have been the time!

To be honest, if it wasn't for my Wife, I wouldn't have much to show in the area of social mobility. She wanted nicer things, I wanted to provide them for her. She has worked and done her part, she is very smart and manages and directs  most (all!) of our familial affairs. That's something that I respect and value, and one of the reasons that I married her. For my part, I just supply the grunt work.

Not that I haven't enjoyed some personal accomplishments. Without her influence though, I'd probably be living in some run down little house, with a Harley in the garage, and an old Cadillac in the driveway. Not that it sounds so bad to me at all!

Now when I show her pictures of old cars for sale on Craig's List she has a tendency to comment on how big they appear. Yes, I suppose 1950's and 60's Cadillacs are kind of big.

The problem with my new sensitivity is that now I can't just ignore her feelings.

Is this kind of like what the young folk refer to as being "Woke?"

I constantly expose her an array of imagery from the Web, displaying a variety of "interesting" old cars. I gauge her reactions as I suggest that one of these might be something that I'd like to own. I guess you could say that I'm tying to desensitize her to the idea. She's not fooled, as she knows that I'm so deep into my current batch of cars that there's no money for anything "new." 

She knows me too well. That's also one of the things that I like about her!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Maybe newer cars are better for older enthusiasts?

2015 V6 Mustang 18,995.00

Or at least some of them.

Like me, Maybe?

I've observed over the years that older guys usually buy better cars. New, near new, or just in really good shape.

They would buy the really good original, or the previously restored car.

I used to criticize them a bit when I was younger. They were just taking the "easy way out!" It makes a lot of sense.

Why would you want to start out with something that needs everything?

Some guys like the challenge, and I suppose that they like the actual work itself.

These are the kind of guys that want things to be perfect.

They enjoy the process, especially when they can control the entire process.

That's fine, to each their own. I've never been accused of needing things to be perfect.

For me, cars are all about the driving.

I enjoy the cleaning, detailing, routine repairs and maintenance. But I don't especially enjoy the heavy wrenching.  I was never suited to taking on the long term project.

I remember seeing car magazine photo shoots from the 50's and 60's.  They always include a shot of the owner standing next to a toolbox, looking under the hood with a screwdriver or wrench in their hand.

That's cool, but if you took my picture, I'd want to be photographed sitting behind the wheel. I'd be checking out a road map planning my next trip.

I guess that you could say that I've gotten kind of lazy, and to be honest, you'd be right!

Not just lazy but older, and I would hope also a bit smarter. Unfortunately not really any richer.

I've always been willing to put in the work because that's the only way I could afford to drive any car or motorcycle when I was younger.

I've pulled the heads to perform a valve job, pulled engines, transmissions, radiators,
springs, ball joints and more.

I've pulled body parts like fenders and doors, hatches and deck lids. Sanded primed and prepped. 

The last really big jobs I've done was to replace the control arms on my '96 Mustang and the transmission in my '89 XJS.

Can't say that I'm honestly looking forward to more work.

I've written that the trick is always to find a desirable car in good shape, at the right price.

Even I have learned that lesson. Most of my cars are in pretty good cosmetic and interior shape. My XJS, XJ6, '96 Mustang, and even, my old Explorer.

It's satisfying to bring a somewhat neglected car back to good cosmetic condition.

Once I get my garage back into shape then I'll be able to proceed with some of my mechanical projects. These have been on hold due to a lack of garage space, funds, and most of all gumption.

The '51 Jag is more of a project than most of the cars that I purchased in the past. The biggest thing is that it was not a running and driving car on purchase. This car needs some bodywork and paint, but also some mechanical work. Even some fabrication and updating. I usually avoided buying cars in this condition.

The biggest problem with this particular car isn't what it needs, it's sourcing the parts that it needs. With my '70 Mustang, I replaced the master cylinder, wheel cylinders, hard and soft hydraulic lines, shoes, drums and brake hardware. All of this stuff was readily available and affordable. That's why traditional common knowledge says that you should always buy a car to restore that has good parts support.

I'm really experiencing that now, new replacement parts for the braking system of the Mark VII are pretty much unavailable. It's even quite difficult to rebuild the parts that are on it currently.

The whole point of this hobby is enjoyment. When you stop enjoying it then you're in trouble.

Jaguar are beautiful cars but they are troublesome. I've always said that there is always a kernel of truth in every stereotype. They are high maintenance. Their parts are not as long lived as parts used in more prosaic American and Japanese vehicles. I've been following a couple of threads where XK8 owners are complaining that the replacement poly urethane parts that they sourced for their suspension repairs are failing after very short mileages. They are not lasting even as long as the OEM equipment, which isn't very long in the first place.

Could my Jaguar romance be soon coming to an end? Maybe.

I've been on the web looking for newer cars that fit my requirements.

I used to like older Cadillacs because they were nice cars, pretty easy to find in good condition, and were relatively inexpensive.  Searching the web I've found 2000 and newer Cadillacs, both full size DeVille types as well as mid size CTS models at pretty fair prices. There are Lincoln Town Cars that also fit the bill. These might satisfy my "plush car" fix.

Maybe I should be looking at Chrysler 300s. They look pretty cool and could be lightly customized. You also have your choice of V6 and V8 models. Magnum wagons are still out there too.

Of course there are always Mustangs.

Look at that orange beauty at the top of the posting.  I love the color. All I would need to do is wash, wax, detail, maintain... and drive. That sounds very good to me. Except that I forgot to add... PAY!

The later V6 models with 300 hp. are just as good as the earlier V8 GTs. They get better fuel economy. They come standard with a dual exhaust system. I would just leave the engine and running gear stock. My 2007 V6 coupe is plenty fast and it has 100 hp. less.

A couple of days ago I was driving by a nice townhome complex designed for retired folks. I pass by this location frequently. I couldn't see any garages just carports. (It's possible that there might be a single attached garage and a covered parking space also included in the package.)

How could a car guy like me live in a situation like that?

I could imagine that an old gent would catch my condescending drift and answer, "Hey Buddy, I don't need to work on my cars any more. This baby's new, and all I've got to do is take it to the car wash every couple of weeks. I'll save whatever energy I've got left for driving. Maybe you should grow up."


What would be wrong with that? Even for a true enthusiast. The only true measure of the hobby is the enjoyment that you derive from it.

Today it was really hot, 100 degrees. That's not normal, but I have to admit that it's not the kind of weather that makes me want to crawl under a car! Truth be told, there isn't much that makes me want to crawl under a car these days.

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Progression (?)
Keep it moving. Movement is the illusion of progress.

Sisyphus knows all about futility.

He worked so hard all day long only to find that he had lost all his ground overnight.

His curse was the result of divine decree by Zeus, for his transgressions in life. Mine is a self imposed futility. Perhaps for my transgressions of hubris?

I have lately got to thinking, "when did I start buying cars that needed work? " I used to buy what I called "good" cars. Cars that ran well and looked good, at least better than the cars that I was trading up from!

When I was younger I didn't have much money to spend on cars and whatever extra money I did have, I preferred to spend on also having a motorcycle.

The bikes were usually used, but they were in pretty good shape, except for my first Harley. It was a previously chopped Sportster that I knew was trouble going in. However I was confident that I could fix it.

Thinking back, I have never bought what I ( the operative word is "I"!) consider to be a junker. Something that was wrecked, didn't run, and had a shredded interior. Well, maybe just one out of three, of those areas! I suppose that others, especially my Wife, might have had other opinions.

The idea was always to buy better and better cars.

After all, I was getting older and somewhat better off financially.

This progression of ownership finally led to the purchase of several almost new, and even a couple of brand new vehicles.

Then "something" happened.

For some reason I began to reverse course. I stopped looking at new cars for satisfaction and fulfillment. Instead, I began to reference a mythical "Golden Age" sometime in my youth, where I found joy in the older cars that were the only things that I could afford to buy.

Was this the onset of the stereotypical middle age crisis?

I think that it was partly because I reached a point where I couldn't afford to buy the better new car that I aspired to.

It's also when I realized that they were no longer building the kind of cars that I really liked.

Oh, I still bought the new cars that I needed for the family. An '84 Cougar to replace my beloved '77 Coupe de Ville.  Our first minivan, a '90 Dodge Caravan. A '90 Honda Civic SI coupe. (Actually the Honda was a little something to satisfy my enthusiast cravings.)

I bought some late model used cars because these models were too expensive for me to buy new. My '94 Seville STS and '97 Chrysler Town and Country fell into that category.

It was while driving my Honda Civic that I again began to yearn for some good old American Iron.

This led to the purchase of my '71 Riviera. This car was in nice shape. It a had recent paint job and the interior was immaculate. It was a really nice car that I protectively kept in the garage. It ran well and only needed a few repairs during my ownership.

I should have been satisfied, but I got the great idea that I would buy an example of each of the three generations of early Rivieras; A '63-65, a 66-69, and would keep my '71.

This started me down a rabbit hole.

photo source: medium .com
Obviously Alice wasn't first or last!
Move over Alice I'm coming through! 

Over the years I've bought vehicles that I have been satisfied with, but not fulfilled by.

My F150 has been very satisfying to me. Besides it's utility, I like the way it looks and drives. I've taken it all over the Western United States and have enjoyed the experiences. Does it satisfy my enthusiast soul? No.

Those two minivans were great for family trips and we went all over the West Coast in them. Did I enjoy the experience? Yes I did. Did it satisfy my enthusiast soul? Of course not, they were minivans!

Can I find something, anything, preferably a later model, to satisfy my enthusiast soul?

For some reason it just seems to get more difficult. I find myself in kind of a weird place. 

Are there new cars that I would like to own? Yes there are. First, is a new Mustang GT convertible. Second, would be a Lincoln Aviator. Those commercials with Mathew McConaughey have had their desired effect. I'm keeping my eyes open for when values on these latest  models drop down to my level.

This regression is marching hand in hand with a subject that I'm raising in another post. My Wife's attitude to my old cars. As my taste in old cars gets worse will I some day encounter some real resistance from her on their purchase? 

Maybe I should try to discern what that "something" that happened to me actually was.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

 Thinking about historical registration. Part Two.

That's a lot of red!

Sometimes action takes precedence over thought.

I went ahead and sent off my application for my historical vehicle registration plates. A couple of weeks later they showed up in my mailbox. During those two weeks I decided to order a personalized license plate frame. I wanted to emphasize the historic nature of my automobile. 1989 was the first year of the production XJS convertible. Earlier  examples were custom conversions. The first factory approved conversions were built by Hess and Eisenhardt. I've seen one of those cars. They were very crudely modified, miles away from my refined factory model.

I attached the license plate and frame to my car. I decided that I would take it out of the garage and take it for a drive. I wanted to add at least twenty miles to the odometer, get it fully warmed up, and get the juices flowing. The car has been sitting for at least a couple of months though I did run the trickle charger for an afternoon a couple of weeks ago. 

The car fired right up and after I took it out of the garage I only saw few drops of oil on the garage floor. I have an extended loop around my greater neighborhood that will add the twenty miles I desired. The car ran fine, though I do stop and check for any leaks under the hood after it had warmed up.

I decided that I would keep an informal log on the mileage and use of the car. I don't imagine that I'll be adding too many miles in the near future.

I've got every issue now.

The Best of Old Cars Weekly.

I recently purchased some of the issues that were missing from my collection. I now have all six issues.  I subscribed to Old Cars Weekly for a few years back in the 1990s and have a couple of boxes of them stashed away up in the attic. 

These anthologies are just chock full of information. I can look through them and just read the topics that catch my attention at the time, ignoring the rest. The next time I revisit the issue I'll find other things I'd like to read. I take them with me on vacation, where I have the time to delve even deeper into the issue. These are real, old fashioned, newspaper formats. Sometimes there's a page with nothing but pure verbiage, not even a small photo to break up the page! I don't think that format would be well received by Millennials and other young folk. but I find it endlessly interesting. 

There are reprints of the weekly columns that were included in the paper. Some seem quite old fashioned even though they only date from the early 1970s. Especially the one entitled "Young Nuts and Old Bolts! I graduated from high school in 1973. It's hard to believe that's almost fifty years ago!

Sagas  of the Old West.

The author of this column lived through the early days of car collecting in the late 1940s and 1950s. He relates how he owned several rather rare and desirable Classics from the 1930s. He knew of many others who also owned many of these cars. These were just old unwanted cars at the time. They were worth very little, and the cars were only twenty years  or so old at the time. That meant that many were in quite good original condition. They could be freshened up and brought back to respectable condition quite easily. Paint and plating was polished and waxed. Leather upholstery was treated and restitched, and mechanical systems were freshened up a bit. The biggest problem at the time was finding good tires. Many were re-capped, a common practice up through the 1960s. 

Many of these enthusiasts owned their car s for only a short period of time. They would sell them to trade up to another more desirable model. Most could not afford to build up a collection, even if they had that inclination at the time. But some did. Restoration was not a consideration, you just didn't spend much money or energy fixing up an old car. You would drive it and fuss with it for a while. If you had too many problems, you'd just find another one in better condition.

In many ways that situation has a lot in common with me and my XJS. The car looks pretty good and I've got it up and running. I can drive it a bit just as it is, even without rebuilding the suspension. My primary concern is preservation. Luckily I'm now able to keep the car protected, inside a garage, under a cover. I may not be the perfect owner, with plenty of money and a perfectionist's attitude, but it's currently mine.  This model of car has been passing through a long period of undesirability and disinterest. Low values went along with that. But there is evidence of a light at the end of the tunnel, and I pretty sure it's not an approaching train! 

Speaking of XJS' I had an interesting experience a few weeks later. I passed by the Wheels and Deals consignment lot in Santa Clara and happened upon a very forlorn green (!) Jaguar. It looked about as neglected, at least cosmetically, as any XJS I'd ever seen.

The paint is very rough, but the body is straight.

I immediately noticed that it was a facelift model, a 1996, the last year of this model. It was also equipped with the fabulous 4.0 straight six motor. This same motor is in my XJ6. It is a rag top, rag being the operative word, and it's got the 16 inch alloys which I would like for my car!

I took a quick look inside and noticed that the interior was in slightly better shape than mine. Still the clear coat was peeling and whatever paint was left was oxidized badly. There were no rust spots that very easily visible. The asking price was appropriate, 2,100.00. A fair price. This surprised me a bit, as so many folks selling old cars tend to overvalue them. I continued my rounds through the lot.

That top is dirty but still intact.
I've never seen alloy wheels so dirty and oxidized.

As I was finishing my loop I noticed an older gent standing by the Jaguar, eyeing it quite closely. I watched him for a few minutes then I approached, maintaining my social distance, and keeping my mask firmly in place. I'm a Jaguar booster and apologist, so I initiated a conversation. "That's a '96, the last model of this series, by now all the bugs were worked out. It's also got the best engine, the 4.0 litre straight six, probably the best engine Jaguar ever made." 

In my opinion, the best engine Jaguar has ever made.

The gentleman said that he didn't know anything about Jaguars but the idea of a convertible was appealing as he was approaching retirement.  I told him that among Jag fans this configuration was held in high regard. The best engine, reliable, long lived and fairly easy to work on. The transmission was still a General Motors unit, but a newer design with overdrive.  These have been much better in the long run, than the Mercedes and BMW designs used in the newer models.

I hate to say it, but I think that the seats are better than mine.

The guy told me that he was looking for  a project. I said that there was a lot here to keep a guy busy. The placard stated that there had been brakes and some services done. I added that the suspension bushings usually were worn out and needed replacing. The parts weren't that expensive but there was a bit of labor to the job. He mentioned that he had worked on his own cars before though as he had mentioned , he wasn't familiar with Jaguars. I shared some of my Jaguar experiences with him. Still, I said if the motor and transmission are okay and the car passes smog, it might not be bad. He pointed out that the registration tags were current. That was a very good sign.

I told him that the cosmetics would be pricey to fix. The top, paint. interior and miscellaneous items. He wondered if the paint could buffed out and touched up. The body was straight, though the tail lamps and rear bumper cover were cracked. If you just fixed it up a bit it could be a fun car, and the price was right. Just don't caught up in trying to make it perfect. That would take you down the rabbit hole. 

I gave him a referral to the Jaguar forums and told him that he could find all the help he needed there. It was a great online community. We introduced ourselves and I told him if I came back and the car was gone, I'd keep an eye out on the road for him and the car. 

Would he take the plunge with the car? There were some attractive features on the car. Who knows. I kind of liked it myself, but I've got my own problems to deal with at home. Just like in "Sagas of the West," that XJS was like the neglected and undervalued Classics of the past, waiting to be rescued.

It may well be that I'm just biding time and holding onto my own car for the next owner That's alright with me. I don't have any real attachment or affection for the car. As long as someone will be willing to pay a fair price for it, I'll be happy to turn it over to the next caretaker.  Though I don't currently have it actively for sale, if someone saw it and made a good offer, the car would be on it's way.  

If it was only that easy.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

 Installing the radiator in the XJ6.

This the old one that I just removed.
Hard to believe that they want over 700 dollars for a new one.

Trying to keep the driveway clean.
Those darn ramps gave me plenty of working room.


I thought that now would also be a good time to replace the old radiator bushings. I had ordered a new set a year or so back. I had stuck some pieces of radiator hose and pipe insulation the openings as a temporary fix. My little bodge did keep the thing from rattling back and forth. But there was a lot more damage that I couldn't see right away.

Things were much worse under the radiator.

I jacked the car up and rested the wheels on the ramps, this would give me plenty of space to work under the car. I knew that I was going to have to first drain the radiator of coolant, which I did by disconnecting the bottom hose. I also knew that the transmission and power steering cooler connections would spill some fluid so I was careful to place a large tray to catch any spillage under an old brass planter that I used hold the coolant. I hate to make a mess in the driveway!

The peg was there, but what happened to the bushing?

The rubber mounts for the a/c condenser needed replacing also. The ones on the top were hard but still intact. The lowers had gone AWOL some time ago. The lower mounting pin was bent back on one side and missing on the other. The condenser was sitting on the radiator cross member. Not conducive to long life.

Not only was the bushing gone so was the locating pin!

When I bought the radiator mounts I didn't think to buy the condenser mounts. However I thought that I could come up with something. That's because I never throw old rubber bushings away. I looked through a few that I had on hand, and found a suitable pair. But what to do about that missing pin? 

The two on the left looked like suitable replacements
for the bottom mounts.

I decided to run a small body bolt up from the bottom through the bushing into the bracket. It worked out quite well, as the bolt is not long enough to strike the condenser itself.

The trial fit. That's not a leak.
The bolt fell into the drained tranny fluid.

The only thing left of the original radiator bushings were a couple of large aluminum washers. All traces of foam had disappeared completely over the years. 

I remember reading a blog post on the Jaguar forums that related how difficult it was to mount the aftermarket rubber radiator mounts. The OEM bushings were originally made of a foam rubber material. The aftermarket replacements were made a rather unyielding rubber. Compounding the problem was that the radiator support cross member was the part of the under carriage that had often hit those concrete parking bumpers. My car sits pretty low in the front, I think that it looks good, but boy did that cross member take a beating. The passenger side was bent up a bit and the radiator mount wouldn't settle properly into the opening. 

Like most non OEM replacements
these are made of rubber. Much stiffer than Jaguar's choice of foam.

What I should have done was bash the cross member back into shape with a big hammer and done some trial fitting before I placed the radiator back into place. I hadn't realized how stiff those darn bushings were! The mount would not fit in the hole on the passenger side. I ended up using a big adjustable wrench to twist and pull the cross member down into a somewhat better alignment. I also was concerned that I might twist the radiator. I didn't want to bind up the radiator. So I left all the mounting bolts a bit loose. I 'm hoping that everything will "massage" itself into place  over a little time. Then I'll tighten them down a bit more.

You can see the three ball socket mounts. I added a drop of oil to the socket
before popping the assembly back into place.

I also decided to replace the defective headlamp assembly. The old one popped out easily and the replacement went in just as easy. The replacement's lens is much clearer looking than the road blasted unit it replaced. When I find another high beam unit I'll replace the other three. Unfortunately the car at the wreckers had one broken headlight, the right high beam.  I''ll just keep and eye out, they're easy enough to remove.

The backside view of the headlamp assembly.

I refilled all the fluids, straining the coolant through a piece of old T shirt. Hey, I'm a professional! Not only does that save money, it's the recommended procedure. The manual states that the coolant should be re-used if possible. I started up the car and let it run and heat up. I left the radiator cap off and turned the heater on to the high setting. Hopefully this will get all the air out of the system. Then I topped up the coolant tank.

The washer fluid tank hangs down a bit low also.

Since I was using the ramps I thought that I'd be cute and just roll the car backwards off the ramps. Why jack up the car to get the ramps out? I let the car roll back and it seemed fine until I heard a cracking sound! After it was on terra firma I got out to see what had occurred. A stream of green liquid was dripping from the front of the car. Had the radiator cracked? Was a hose loose? It had been running for almost half an hour  and there hadn't been any leaks. 

You can see the crack in the bottom.

I looked under the car and realized that the windshield washer tank was positioned in front of the right front wheel. Low car, plus car ramps, equals a bad combination. The bottom of the tank had contacted the ramp on the way down. Luckily the tank only had a small crack on the bottom. What else could go wrong?

I took the car out on my 20 mile test loop. It seemed fine, staying under the normal mark, even with the A/C on. Just as I was almost home the needle went over the center as I was stopped at a red light. A couple of minutes after I drove off, the needle went back down. Why couldn't things ever be simple?

When I parked in the driveway I opened the hood checking for possible leaks. The noticed that the fans had not come on. That was unusual. Maybe the temperature sensor had gone bad? 

At the wreckers when I removed the radiator/ fan shroud assembly I had disconnected the wires from the junction point under the left bumper. I had started to disconnect them from that point again, but changed my mind and instead disconnected the wires at the individual fan motors. When I looked under the bumper I saw that I had loosened the connection enough that it had fallen off during the test drive! I plugged the connector in and the fans sprung into life. Mystery solved.

What to do about the cracked washer fluid reservoir? It would be easy enough to replace, That VdP at the wreckers still had one in place. I thought that I'd just try to fix it with silicon seal first.

This rather unattractive photo displays
 a quantity of sealer squeezed onto a piece of plastic.

I had once read an article in an old motorcycle magazine on making emergency repairs. It recommended squeezing a quantity of sealer onto a piece of plastic sheet and letting it set up for a time. Especially when trying to stop an active leak. Then you apply the sealer and can press the plastic to secure the sealer to the crack. It also keeps that stinky silicon off your fingers! After it cures you can peel the plastic off. In this case I had let the tank drain completely and wiped the area down with alcohol first.

There's the silicon patch applied to he bottom of the tank.

After the silicon cured for a couple of days I just peeled the plastic off. It left the patch behind. It sealed the leak and the patch isn't visible unless you get down on your hands and knees. Good enough for now.

Now that I eliminated the radiator as a problem I can move forward with the next priority, dealing with the OBD codes. Once I'm successful at passing the smog test I can plan for  the suspension rebuild.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

 Unfortunately, The radiator cap might not have been the problem with the Mustang over heating.

Image source:
It isn't that bad...yet.

Is anything ever that easy?

I topped up the radiator with coolant and sealed it with the new cap. Now all I had to do was try it out.

The current 100 degree heatwave gave me a great opportunity to get the motor quickly to operating temperature. Did it ever! The gauge read even higher than it had up at Lake Tahoe, it even spilled coolant out of the cap. What could be the problem? Was it overfilled?

Usually overheating results form leaks that lower the amount of coolant in the system. 

I haven't found any visible leaks. I'd better take a closer, more careful look.

The leaks can lower the pressure of the system which can result in the coolant overheating.

The first and easiest step was to replace the cap, which has an even more basic role in controlling pressure.

Sometimes the thermostat fails to open completely restricting flow. That will heat things up. Often times it will break and stick open. In that case the engine will run too cool and take a long time to heat up. This happened before to one of my minivans. 

Collapsed hoses, and clogged radiators can also restrict the flow.

Sometimes the impeller vanes in the water pump itself can erode over time, reducing coolant circulation.

The electric radiator fan can fail, allowing it overheat in heavy traffic.

Advanced ignition timing, or a vacuum leak can also raise the temperature.

Time for a little detective work.

Looking for leaks in all the wrong places.

I haven't noticed any leaks from the various hoses, water pump, or the radiator itself.  I had replaced the thermostat shortly after buying the car. I checked the electric fan and it was working once the motor got hot. Could it be a sensor that is delaying it turning on at too high a temperature? Maybe.

Could the radiator be clogged up? That's possible. It is almost 25 years old and during my 10 years of ownership I only changed the coolant... once.  I also drained and refilled both of the times I changed the intake manifold.

Could it be the water pump? I've seen posts on the Jaguar forum and in the Riviera owners mag that detailed this problem. In the Jag cases the impellers are made of plastic and they erode over time. I've certainly seen plastic erode, look at my XJ6 radiator spigot! In the cases with the Riviera, the problem surfaced when the leaking water pump was replaced by a rebuilt unit. The rebuilder replaces the seals and bearings but reuses the eroded impeller. It can't circulate enough water during high stress conditions. The remedy is to replace the pump with a brand new unit.

In my situation I had noted the increase in temperature last year during my trip to Tahoe. I attributed it to my addition of a fuel system cleaner before the trip. I thought that it might have burned hotter than "normal" gasoline and caused the increased temps. There wasn't any noticeable increase in day to day use or even on my trip to Pismo Beach this July, well maybe a little. So this has been a gradual progression, not a sudden failure.

Replacing the cap was the easiest response.

I'm going to look for a loose or damaged vacuum line. Timing settings don't deteriorate over time like with old fashioned points systems.

Replacing the thermostat is cheap, and easier than flushing out the radiator, the next step after that. 

I might have to pull the water pump after that. Just to check the impeller. I might do a bit of internet sleuthing before doing that.

I will definitely find the problem, I intend to keep the Mustang in good running shape.


Now, on the Jaguar side of the drive...

I've posted a pic of the upper radiator hose spigot, it looks pretty bad. Could it be fixed?

I dove into the internet, looking for repair info, and found info on repairing cracks in the tank, or at the base of the spigot. I started thinking about crafty fixes like replacing the spigot with a metal or PVC pipe that I would epoxy in place. It might work, for a while. 

Of course I priced replacements, starting on the web is easiest. I found a replacement at PartsGeek for 400.00. Rock Auto didn't offer the part, and a general internet search returned prices of four to five hundred dollars.

Another route is to see what my local parts store could come up with. My local guys came up with a quote of 750.00, They did say that they could give me a little break on the price. I told them that they couldn't give me a big enough break!

How about using a used, er, recycled part?

I contacted a Jaguar specialty wrecking yard in Stockton to inquire about availability. They sent me a quote for 300.00. My local wrecking yards are primarily Pick and Pull locations. They can be hit or miss, but now they have a computer listing of their auto inventory. That helps a lot. I checked the remaining San Jose location and they informed me that there weren't any Jags in their yard, but there were some, including a '96 XJ6 in the Newark yard. They had a lot of Jags in there! It's always sad to see an XJR languishing in a wrecking yard. Luckily there was also an X300 Van de Plas in the yard. And it had a good radiator! Eureka!

There was also a bunch of other good parts. A set of ignition coils. The cam cover looked great. These cam covers are made of magnesium and are prone to oxidation and pitting. I was thinking that I should pick that up. I seen that a few posters on the forum are having troubles locating good usable, affordable, examples. The shroud and double fans were perfect, I could pick those up to. While it's nice to have some spare parts, it's money that doesn't need to be spent, yet.

I left with the radiator and that set of coils.  I figure that I could go back tomorrow and get a few of the other things. I thought about it overnight and returned in the morning,

I had loosened the cam cover completely before I left the day before, and I just removed it from the top of the engine. I had to do a little more work to remove the seat belt and latch. Luckily the driver's seat was already almost completely free. Unfortunately the driver's latch didn't work, so I removed the latch from the passenger side seat. I took both thinking I might use the passengers side for repair parts. Another 20 bucks! On my car the right side high beam lens is loose and flops around. It's been doing that since I bought it. I decided to take the one on the VdP. The bumper cover had been removed so I had easy access to head lamp assemblies. I found a few nuts on the brackets but couldn't figure out how to remove the actual head lamp assemblies.  They were held on by three ball sockets. I gave the lamp a tug and two popped off. Another tug released the lower mount. One good thing about Pick and Pull, if you break something nobody is going to know!

I decided to take the other two good lamps as spares, but I was careful to remove the bulb and socket. P&P loves to nickel and dime you on every single little part. The day before I had carried the coils by their wires like a string of tomatoes on the vine. I didn't think that they would charge me for the loom.  The cashier asked me if I wanted the wires. I told her for a dollar yes, for twenty, no. She said that the plug and wire was 4.00 each, that would have added an additional 24 bucks to the bill! I should have known better. If you buy a complete engine, if anything is missing like the carb, starter, distributor, or alternator, even plug wires,  you'd be smart to find those and attach those to your motor before seeing the cashier. The price for a complete motor includes the accessories as a special deal, come back the next day to pick up those items and you'll be paying for something that would have been free had you taken it the day before.

In any case I was very happy to find the radiator. So I picked up those other items. Luckily the heatwave has passed. But due to the fires, the air quality is still very poor. I wore my mask while I was outside pulling parts in the yard. I felt pretty good afterwards, though, as this positive wrecking yard experience seems to have given me my old car mojo back!

Now to replace the radiator. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Thinking about historical vehicle registration. Part One.

Why not, my XJS isn't pulled by any horse!

I posted earlier about my '96 Mustang being considered a vintage vehicle. Is it just an old car, or is it a historical vehicle? It' s obviously old enough to bring back memories of many onlooker's youth.

That got me to thinking, maybe my XJS could benefit from being registered that way. Not as a horseless carriage. It' s old, but that would be stretching things quite a bit!

But as a historical vehicle. The term, "Historical vehicle" is not just an opinion, in this case, it is a legal status defined by the California vehicle code.

Why would I want to do this?

The biggest gain would that the car would no longer be subject to a biannual smog check.

Every old Jag owner, the car, not the human, lives in fear of that failure.

photo source"
It's only a problem if it doesn't go out.

It's not that we want to flaunt the law and pollute the earth's atmosphere. It's that our cars are quite finicky and temperamental, and they are getting to be pretty old.

There is a new bill that just passed, AB2225 which amends the law specifying which vehicles are exempt from the smog check requirement.

I was watching a video  posted by Mike Frankovich of "Californians for Classic Car exemptions."  It was released  in February of this year, describing the bill which was brought to the California Assembly by Assembly Member Grayson.

The bill was passed into law and exempts vehicles registered as California Historical Vehicles from the need of the biannual smog check.

If you can remember that years ago the exemption for old cars was moved back from pre 1976 vehicles to a rolling exemption that applied to cars that were twenty five years old or older. This was great for enthusiasts because it meant that newer and newer cars would be eligible. We would now be up to 1995!

The designated age of a historical vehicle was only twenty five years of age, but the need to conform to the smog check was still in effect, even for historical vehicles that were not used for everyday transportation.

That meant that your 1990 car couldn't be driven if it failed the smog test, or worse, even if it would pass the sniff test, but had other issues with sensors that would trip codes. These would light the CEL, resulting in a fail. Issues with sensors, tripped codes that can't be cleared, difficult to diagnose problems with drive cycles, wiring and hard to source parts. Sounds like most 80's and 90's Jaguars to me.

Historical vehicle registration has several requirements.

First, is the age of the vehicle. Built prior to 1922 or at least 25 years old. 1922 was almost one hundred years ago! That's quite a a range in model years. My XJS is a relative youngster at 31 years of age.

Second, is that it is owned by a collector. I was quite pleased to discover that I was, by law, considered an auto collector, instead of just a weird old guy with too many cars taking up all the curbside parking. You just need to own one collector car to qualify.

Third, that it is a vehicle of historical significance. Just the fact that the vehicle has survived up to this point is a factor in it's favor. Although Jaguar made quite a few XJS models, there aren't that many survivors. Plus, it's got twelve cylinders, just like a Pierce Arrow or Packard.

photo source:
This is a Pierce Arrow.
Twelve cylinders are automotive royalty.

And finally, the vehicle will be used "primarily" for club events, shows, tours  etc. The actual statute is worded in a more hobbyist friendly manner. The word "primarily" is the sticking point and subject to interpretation. Note that it does not say "exclusively."

One contributor on the Antique Automobile Club of America, ( A.A.C.A.) board said that he considered the term "primarily" to mean 51% historical use, and 49% personal use. I wish that the language was so clear cut!

Clearly, the intent is that the vehicle will not be used for everyday transportation. Commuting to work, etc.

There has been several bills passed over the years that have dealt with collector cars. Some have been good and helpful. Like the one that exempts collector cars that have been in long term disuse from having to pay back registration fees. This is helpful because the accumulated fees were often excessive, and resulted in the car being scrapped instead of restored.

AB2225 appears to be another helpful bill.

This new bill does not require that the car be covered by collector car insurance. These policies usually have mileage restrictions. I suppose that this requirement was to keep annual mileage on the vehicles down.

Of course baked into the statute is language that will definitely limit mileage driven.

I don't have a problem with limited mileage, I've got several other cars that I drive. The car has mostly sat for the three years that I've owned it so far, anyway.

There are certain conditions in my life that eliminate the idea that I will ever be driving or commuting to work.

First of all, I'm retired and I no longer have a job to drive to!

Second, I have several other cars registered to me. A couple are late models. Therefore it cannot be assumed that my collector car is my only car, and would be used for regular transportation.

I suppose that I could join a car club to verify the "hobby status'"  of my activities. I will probably join the Antique Automobile Club of America and perhaps a local chapter of a marque club.

There are many actual car shows that take place all over the state and country.

I'm participated in the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show, Friendship Day, The Riviera Owners Association annual get together, Good Guys shows, and the Central Valley British car show,

These were legit, big time shows.

But consider how many casual "Cars and Coffee" events and "Cruise Nights" take place locally.

These are legitimate shows also.

So anytime that I drive to a show or event is it a legitimate  use of the car?  So if I drive up to Reno for Hot August Nights that's okay? Even if I spend the nights in Lake Tahoe?

The car can also be driven on "tours".  A club tour would probably be a multi car event, Could a solo car also comprise a tour?

What makes a trip a tour? A trip made primarily for pleasure? A trip made without any commercial gain? Not for the paid transport of passengers or cargo? These two things would definitely remove it from the "tour" category.

Is it a "tour," if I call it a tour?

The car can be driven to repair facilities and then it would need to be test driven, and undergo "shake down" driving evaluation episodes. As we know, cars also need regular exercise to remain in good running condition.

photo source;
Not what you want to see in your rear view mirror.

The biggest hang up are the words "primarily used." However, I noted that it does not say "exclusively." These words are subject to interpretation, call in the lawyers! If a cop sees me driving around in my Jag, he could stop me and reasonably and legally ask me where I'm going and for what reasons. Interpretation of the law always comes down to the officer on the street. If he believes there is a violation then he can cite me and I'd have to prove my case in court. Hopefully he would not feel compelled to call a tow truck!

All this sounds pretty extreme to deal with someone just driving their  own old car!

The question would be if I am operating the vehicle outside of the legal restrictions.

It's beginning to look like the benefits are going to be overwhelmed by the hassles.

Am I trying to game the system?

Not really, I just want to be able to ensure that I can maintain the use of one of my cars.

With conventional registration, if my car fails the smog test I will be unable to renew my registration and legally drive it. Now you are caught in a real quandary, you can't move forward and complete the registration and you can't go back as if it never happened and place it on "non-op" status. You can't even drive the car to a repair shop without a one day trip permit. You might need to tow the vehicle on a trailer!

With the historical vehicle plate, the smog requirement is lifted and I can continue to work on my car and test drive and use it while I continue to improve it.

The car is currently 31 years old. Under present laws once it reaches 35 years of age it will automatically be under a different classification. Whether or not it is under historical vehicle registration or not.

So I can shield my car until it is 35 years old.

I have some real concerns about the ability of my car to pass smog testing. I could be caught holding the bag with several thousand dollars I've currently invested in fixing it up. There's thousands more that need to be spent. The convertible top, the suspension, the seats, and interior wood work. Not to mention the radio, a/c , power windows and all the little foibles that the car has. That all takes time, effort and money. I'd have no guarantee that my investment would be protected.

If my car was currently exempt from smog, I'd just maintain the current registration. The license fees are not excessive, I've kept it insured, and I'd still want to keep it running as well as possible. Annual mileage would still be pretty low. It's not the kind of car that I would be driving everyday anyway.  Plus I've got a lot of other cars that I can drive.

I'm not too happy with the vagueness of the usage description. There's a lot of room for interpretation that might not be in my favor. For certain, I won't ever again be commuting to work in it. I definitely will not be using it as my daily driver transportation. I will occasionally take it to shows and exhibitions. I will maintain and preserve it, which means keeping it regularly exercised.

I think that I can live with that.