Friday, December 7, 2018

My life on the Riviera continues. Things got so bad, that in desperation, I actually took the Riviera to a mechanic.

This is a place that looks like it's dealt with old iron.

The building is at least one hundred years old
 and used to be a blacksmith's shop.

There are usually several vintage machines waiting to be worked on.

All photos from their website.
The shop is well respected in the community.

I was at such a loss that I decided that I had to spend some money and get a professional's opinion. I had totally run out of ideas. There was a nearby shop that inspired some confidence. I dropped in to discuss my problem with the shop owner and he told me to bring the car in. So I fired up the Riv and clattered my way down the road.

The owner asked if I was in a hurry to get the car back. I told them that they could take their time. He agreed to take a look at it in between other jobs, in order to save me a little money.  That sounded good to me.

I made it a habit to occasionally stop by the shop after work to see what progress has been made.

They told me that they haven't found anything, so a top end tear down was needed. They removed the rocker shaft and the first issue made itself known. They showed me that the valves are not all at the same height, some are standing taller than the others. It seems that my random machine shop ground the valve seats excessively, so that some were sunk pretty deep into the head. They should have then trimmed the valve ends to keep everything even. While this is a workman like approach to a non performance rebuild, that would have worked okay. But this could lead to some problems. The shortened valves would not have opened up as much, and they would be shrouded by the valve seat, reducing air flow. Still, good enough for a grocery getter.

The best repair would have been to replace the valve seats with hardened inserts and maintain  the original valve position and operation. This would have cost a lot more, however.

Could they fix the problem?

The cure would be to dissemble the heads, remove the valves and machine the tips of the valves to shorten them.

But would this uneven valve situation have caused the noise? Probably not. So they pulled the heads and got quite a surprise.

After pulling the heads they found that some of the valves were actually hitting the piston tops. That would definitely make a tapping sound! But how could this have happened?

During a rebuild the head is usually surfaced to make sure that it is flat and will seal properly. Care has to be taken so that adequate valve clearance is maintained. Sometimes, the valve reliefs cast into the piston crown may have to be machined a little deeper for clearance. Sometimes a thicker head gasket might be called for. If a thicker head gasket is not available sometimes two gaskets are used. Now things are getting a little Mickey Mouse! Still this was a common work around back when these engines were run of the mill.

That is what made that tapping sound.

What? That machine shop just ground down the valve seats and machined too much off the surface of the head. Now, a couple of the valves may have gotten a little bit bent. Luckily the mechanic didn't think that there had been any damage done to the connecting rod or bearing

These heads could be saved with a lot of work but it would be better, cheaper and easier to find another set. I just have to provide them another set of  heads and they can do the valve job and reassembly. I just spent 500.00 for them to find the problem and now the engine is in pieces! Time to regroup and stop the bleeding.

The shame. I drove the car down to the shop, but now I'm having it towed back to my house!

photo source: engine basics .com
Typical OHV set up.

photo source: grumpy's performance .com
This is what valve seats look like.

Now I needed to find another set of heads.

Where else to go but Pick and Pull?

In the early 1990's There was still quite a few 1960's cars available in the yards

I found a fairly clean, almost complete motor in a wrecked '66 Riviera. I noticed that the wheel wells were painted white inside. This led me to believe that the car once had nice wheels on it. Probably not too long ago.

I looked at the block and found an engine rebuilder's plate above the oil pan. It belonged to a shop located in Oakland,

It was neat and clean under the rocker covers, a very good sign.

I decided to buy the whole engine, it was on sale anyway. It's the cheapest route. Unfortunately the the distributor and carb were already gone. No discount for that, since the motor was only 300 bucks.
This is the smartest way, buy the complete motor. Just be sure to take all the nuts, bolts, brackets and accessories that are included in the purchase price.

I was pretty sure that this motor was going to be a good one. After seeing that rebuilder's plate and how clean the engine was inside the the rocker covers. Another clue were the painted wheel wells, I'd bet that some body had a nice set of wheels on the Riv before it was crunched. And it was crunched. The left rear quarter panel and rear bumper were pushed in at least a foot.

That meant that the car was scrapped because of the collision damage, not because the motor or tranny were shot. As long as the accident didn't damage the power train it's good to go. If you see a straight old car with weathered, worn out paint, and a filthy tattered interior, you can bet that the motor is as worn as the body.

That was what was meant by mistake number two.

Oftentimes you can find a good deal on a good used engine. It is faster, easier and cheaper if you can swap in a complete wrecking yard motor than to rebuild the original unit. I had invested quite a bit of money in the rebuilding of the original motor. Unfortunately I had not done my due diligence in my first choice of the machine shop to rebuild the heads. I then did not check the clearances of the valve train before installing the motor in the car and firing it up.

Luckily, that junkyard motor turned out to be a real jewel.

Despite all these mistakes and all the unnecessary money spent, I still finally ended up with a strong running Riviera that gave me many years of service. An education never comes without a cost.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The terror and apprehension of the dreaded "Star" smog check.

photo source:
The Smog Hut, San Jose Ca. The friendly Star Smog station.

As my cars age they are still required to pass the bi annual California smog check. However, they must undergo this test at the "test only" Star smog station. These stations do not perform any repairs, they only do testing. They are a bit pricier than the average test.

In California new cars are exempt from smog check for the first ten years. I suppose that there are many readers out there that have never had to deal with this anxiety producing procedure. Cars that are 1975 models, or older are also exempt. That explains why early models are preferred by collectors and hobbyists. It is easy to keep the cars registered and insured even if they are seldom used or currently not running. I will state once more, that It's not that I want to poison the environment, it's just that it would be easier to maintain my stable. Most of these cars are infrequently used.

Unfortunately, I've got a whole stable of old cars that are singled out for this treatment.

1989 Jaguar XJS. This car was purchased from an estate sale with approx. one hundred thousand miles on the clock. Over time I put it back on the road and it passed it's last smog check with flying colors. This indicates to me that the motor is in good shape, but who knows about the rest of the complex systems that support it?

1996 Mustang GT. This car is a real favorite of mine. Purchased with 150,000 miles on the clock I've rolled up over 60,000 additional miles since. It's a good runner. A few months back I drove it out to Riverside Ca, a round trip of over 800 miles, in two days. It uses a bit of oil, but thanks to my commitment to repair and upkeep it has been quite reliable and trustworthy. At over 208,000 miles it is also in the ring.

1996 Jaguar XJ6. Of all my cars I guess that you could refer to this one as my baby. It sat out an entire year off the road, it's time to get it back in use. It has over 150,000 miles on the clock, and it has a check engine light (CEL) on. It's future is riding on the results of this test. If successful or if if it just needs a little bit of work, then I'll proceed forward to the suspension work. If it's not practical to smog it, well I shudder to think of the consequences. The results will be as anticipated as the outcome of an MMA cage match!

1997 Ford Explorer. It passed the smog check at the time I bought it, a year or so ago. It's been registered for another year, but it will get it's turn in the barrel next year. It has gotten even weirder lately, but smog isn't one of my current concerns.

1951 Jaguar Mark VII. No requirement of smog test for this oldster. That's one of the reasons that I bought it. Currently not running, it still it has a slew of it's own problems.

photosource: vista
A probe up the exhaust pipe is never a pleasant experience.

First things first, I went to AAA to pay the fees on the XJ. I paid 132 dollars last year, (yes I was late), for the privilege of having the car sit in my driveway. I paid the fees on time this year, and they wanted an additional 80.00 penalty. I explained that car has been in my garage while I attended to my other car projects. The nice lady then waived this penalty after I signed an affidavit stating that the car had been stored during this period. I guess that DMV wants to discourage the sneaky use of unsmogged cars, even if the fees are on deposit. I could of placed it on non op status for 35.00 bucks! Next time.

I could complain about all these fees and penalties, but I won't. I know how the game is played. The DMV established the "planned non operation provision" for hobbyists like me. That would have saved me around a hundred bucks or so and the possibility of additional penalties. I should also investigate suspending my insurance coverage during the inop period. I was just too optimistic about my chances of getting around to fixing up the XJ.

Since the XJ is going to sit around a bit anyway, I decided to move onto the '96 Mustang.

I usually start out with an oil change to purge any foul smelling fumes from the crankcase. Then I'll check and replace the air filter, if necessary.  The plug and wires were replaced when I replaced the intake manifold the first time, about four years ago. After the oil change I drove it about ten miles on city streets to the smog station. I won't deny that I was starting to feel some apprehension, it has always done okay, but the mileage is starting to pile up.

The shop is as friendly as it's name.

As I waited in the customer area I remarked to the owner that this was like the maternity ward of  a hospital, everyone was anxiously waiting to see if their baby was going to be okay! The operator ran the Mustang through it's paces and thankfully, it emerged with a clean bill of health.

Two more years! I could breathe again!

I stopped by the AAA office near my home to pay the registration and get the new tags. Things are definitely looking up! A couple of days ago I had a problem with the front passenger's seat belt getting stuck in the retractor. The belt must have gotten twisted as it rewinded and it was jammed up and now wouldn't retract or release. My Wife had to ride home with the belt held across her chest so that we wouldn't get stopped by the cops. For some reason, this problem put me into a funk, but I fixed it today  after I got home. I pulled the cover off the retractor so that I could see and manipulate the twisted belt. A few minutes spent fiddling with it solved my problem.

Now it's the XJ6's time to enter the ring. The CEL (Check Engine Light) has been on for awhile. The car seems to run great with no driveability  issues. I borrowed an OBD reader from my Son and figured how to hook it up and operate it. I found a couple of codes and erased them. The CEL went out. Hmmmm, will this be enough to allow it to be smogged? I don't know. I'll swing by the Smog Hut after work and talk to the technician. More to follow.

Believe me, California is serious about nabbing gross polluters. Just check out the illustration below. This is really to catch vehicles that are not required to submit to the bi-annual smog check. Even non regulated cars have to be in good running condition. It will also catch those that have suffered some grievous mechanical misfortune and won't have to undergo the test for another year or so. I don't have a problem with this. I'm all for clean air.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Trading places. Part Two.

A story told in pictures.

Take one F150, a tow hitch, a tow strap and a dead Mark VII
what could go wrong?

The truck really is about three feet longer than the Mark.

Who ever said that the Mark VII was too big?

Just picked this up at my local O' Reilly's.

The yellow umbilcal cord.

Take it easy.

I think that Ill listen to my Son this time.

Portrait of a blogger as a not so young man.

Sometimes it does take a village.

Over the hump. I hope those brakes hold.

Oops! I guess it would easier with the brake off.

Almost there. I don't want to hit the gate.

Did I ever have any doubts?

No, but I kept strap connected.

Mission Accomplished!

Quit looking at me that way.
This isn't the end of the story.

Sleep tight, Sweet Prince.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Trading Places. Part One.

Two cars with the same mission. Separated by 45 years.

As I rapidly approach my mid 60's birthday the realization that I only have a limited time left, has made another distinct impression. To quote Peter Egan, "There are only so many Summers left!" It's also provided me with a jump start. Time to move my plans forward, again.

The Mark is cool and all, and seeing it in the picture next to my XJ6 really makes me want to hold on to it. It's a real piece of history. I have to be careful not to let it slip through my fingers. I got it really cheap and an opportunity like that might not present itself again. Low buck car collecting means holding on to what has come your way.

I really thought that I could get it running in short order. Unfortunately problems have developed that are slowing down my progress. They are not insurmountable, but I feel that I need to find a more productive use of my sometimes limited time.

So the decision was made, the XJ6 would be pulled out of mothballs to be recommissioned.

The Mark would do the walk of shame into the side yard, well it's more like the roll of shame, propelled only by the pull of gravity and the efforts of my Son and I.

As you have previously seen, the driveway has a noticeable downward slope. I knew that I couldn't push it up the slope by myself, maybe not even with my Son's help. I thought that I could use a tow strap to pull it backwards into the street, good thing that I live on a cul de sac. From the street we could push it through the driveway,and into a position to be where it could be maneuvered into the side yard.

I did have to be careful to keep this operation under control. The potential for tragedy, or at least acute embarrassment and regret are clearly present.

Of course I could have just called a tow truck to do it, but where's the glory in that? Why shouldn't I get some of the glory?

First, I backed the XJ out of the sideyard. Very carefully, I would hate to scrape the side of the car just because I was in a hurry. It's so much better when your cars are in running condition.

How long was this thing in there?

How long was that thing in there? Long enough for it to be hazy in my memory. It was under a fabric cover all that time and I would start it up and run it for a half hour so so regularly to bring the motor and transmission up to operating temperature. I would engage the transmission and move the car front and back a bit to run the transmission through it's phases moving fluid through it's channels. It also gave me an opportunity to keep the brake system exercised a bit. I didn't want things to freeze up from sitting.

It was important to add fresh fuel from time to time, and I found it necessary to hook up a battery tender. The battery would go flat if unattended and a new battery will be needed when it's returned to use.

So, how long was the XJ6 in that side yard? Almost a year and a half! Looking through my records I brought the Mark home in June of last year. The XJS had been in the side yard before that. I brought it out to do the tranny replacement. It was smog checked and insured. After that I started driving it around regularly, even to work on occasion. It was parked at the curb or in the driveway. The XJ6 was moving between those two spots also. I knew that I wouldn't be getting to the XJ for a while so it was driven into the sideyard to make room for the Mark.  I hadn't wanted to put the Mark directly into the sideyard at the time I brought it home. It would have been too hard to work on it there.  I was hoping that I could get it running and moving under it's own power. So it remained as the elephant in the driveway,

Rub a dub dub. The Cats in the tub.

With the XJ in the driveway I immediately gave it a good washing and again I am always impressed by the beauty of this machine. This is a car that is so satisfying on so many levels. It looks great, drives great, and sitting in that wood and leather lined cabin, makes every trip a special occasion. My history with the XJ started on the right foot and we've shared some adventures together. This has become my favorite car, along with my '96 Mustang. Hopefully I will someday develop a closer bond with the XJS and maybe even the Mark, but I'll have to drive them for that to happen.

Two problems had resulted in the car being taken out of service.  One had developed shortly after I bought it. The check engine light came on. This did not seem to affect any of it's operations. It ran smooth and fine and fuel economy was respectable. I drove it up into Washington state without any problems.

The second had developed over time. Excessive play developed in the steering with a distinct pull to the right. My last long trip in the car, to the Clovis British car show, rewarded me with a left front tire that had worn the inner tread of the tire almost to the cord. While long range tripping was out, I continued to drive the car to work and around town. Eventually the freeplay developed into quite a  disconcerting shimmy. Time to park it.

I then turned my efforts to replacing the transmission in the XJS. When the registration became due on the XJ,  I just paid the fees while the car sat in the sideyard. It's been more than a year since the XJ has been sidelined. During this time I bought and have been fiddling with the Mark, As well as the house, yard, sheds, garage, and so on. ( The Life that gets in the way) Now the fees on the XJ are due again. I decided it was time to mothball the Mark and get the XJ back on the road.

First things first. I need to deal with then CEL and get the car smogged. If it will pass without too much drama and expense, then I will deal with the suspension. Since I'm considering having a shop do the work I have to know that the car will be able to be registered first. There are still many things to get done. Tomorrow I'll move the Mark into it's temporary hibernation.

What is it about Jaguars?

Of course the Holiday season is bearing down on us. I''ll be turning my efforts to them pretty soon.
Happy Thankgiving! I've got a 65 year old turkey to prepare!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Shame, there's always enough to go around.


My Bad?

This is the kind of thing that only a ham handed kid is supposed to do. It all started out so innocently. I thought that I had a really clever idea.

The clutch master is bolted to a piece of steel.

There was no effective way to hold a cylindrical piece of iron securely in the vice without possibly damaging it. So I bolted it to a piece of steel, then held that in the vice. The idea worked out quite well. Unfortunately that Harbor Freight  electrical impact wrench couldn't loosen that end cap. All it did was clatter away. I guess it was going to take more than 230 lbs/ft. of torque to do the job.

Then I clamped the the assembly in my vice.

I guess that I should have thought this through a bit.
This isn't the breaker bar, it's just a big crescent wrench.

I thought that I could skip the step of bolting the brake master to the steel. Instead I just ran two long bolts through the mounting holes and clamped them in the vise directly.

Again the HF impact wrench was unable to loosen the end cap. So out came the breaker bar. I should have realized that there is a reason that it is called that!

The torque of the three foot breaker bar bent the bolts, which allowed the cylinder to twist in the vise and damage the mounting lugs. Rats!

The master cylinder can be saved. I'll have to grind down the broken surface and make some metal spacers to make up the difference.  Still it's very disheartening to me.

I'm not sure where to go at this point. There's a Jaguar salvage yard in Stockton that might have some rebuildable masters. I've looked online and found some new universal masters. Or I could be a sensible person and send them off to White Post Restorations, a shop that advertises that it specializes in rebuilding old brake cylinders.

But I think it's time to put the Mark aside, literally! I'm going to move it into the sideyard next to garage while I look for some solutions. I'm also going to direct my efforts towards the cars that will provide me with the best results, my XJS and especially my XJ6.

But first, I wanted to reassemble the rear brake drums and see if the hand brake will now be functional. I'm always very careful when I jack up the car, pull the wheels and work underneath the chassis. Safety has to be the number one priority.

Why do British cars run their exhaust pipes so low/

It all went together pretty easily. I did the right side first, and it of course it took the most time. Lessons learned were applied to the left side and the process went much more quickly. The handbrake system is now operational.

Which is good news since I plan on rolling the Mark down into the sideyard. I don't want it rolling away out of control! That had actually happened to me once!

I had taken the old '22 Dodge hot rod to the Good Guys swap meet in Pleasanton in an effort to sell it. This was before I had a truck of my own. The plan was to rent a moving van and car trailer from         U haul to tow the car to the show. Unfortunately none of the local U hauls had either in stock. In desperation I ended at at the Penske truck rental yard. They had a car/equipment trailer, but not a quarter ton pick up. Sooo they said, we'll give you this two axle dump truck for the same price. We're talking about a big, diesel dump truck!

My Son and I managed to push the Dodge up onto the trailer and chain it down. Which wasn't easy since the trailer didn't have a winch. By the time we reached the fairgrounds it was too late and they wouldn't let us in. We drove back home, and since I was so bad at backing up the rig I found an easy parking spot a couple of blocks away.

The next morning we arrived at the fairground gates nice and early. We got plenty of comments about the dump truck but found a spot to spend the day at the  car corral. Can you believe it?  Nobody wanted the damn thing! I cut my asking price below what I paid for it. One guy came back several times but finally told me that could only pay me an embarrassingly low price, and he didn't want to insult me with the offer. Insult me I told him! He just couldn't bring himself to make the offer.

We returned home and since I was still terrible at backing up the rig I parked it on the street around the corner, facing uphill! That would make it easy to unload it, just let it roll down the ramps. Just to be safe I figured I should tie a length of regular jute rope to stop it as it reached the bottom of the ramps. My junior high school Son told me that it wasn't such a good idea. That old hot rod was heavier than it looked. I told him not to worry about it.  It would be fine. He insisted on stringing all the tie down chains together and hooking it to the front axle. Kids, what do they know? I just decided to humor him.

We rolled the car down the ramps and as the rope uncoiled and reached it's limit it just snapped, without even slowing the car down one bit! Holy Cow! As it reached the limits of the chain it stopped abruptly as it crashed up against the curb, thankfully coming to a stop. Did I mention that while the car had a crude steering set up, it didn't have any brakes? The downhill slope extends for at least three blocks. I had visions of that Dodge crashing through somebody's living room. How would I explain that?

Like I said, there's always enough shame to go around!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Another visit to the Petersen Museum. Experience "The Porsche effect."

                                                           Video from museum's website.
                                                            Photos from the museum's website.

What has happened to me? Have I abandoned my blue collar roots to embrace this upper crust icon?

What next? Can you expect a posting about Magnus Walker? Maybe.

It's pronounced "Pour Schaah"

1958 356A 1600 Super Speedster

The early 356 based Speedsters started Porsche on their performance trajectory in America.
Although early models were not especially fast they were fantastic (?) handling machines. That is once the driver mastered their tricky and "unorthodox" characteristics. I have a 1958 sports car magazine that has a roadtest of one of these fabled vehicles. Top speed was barely 100 miles an hour. How was that the start of a legend?

1955 Continental Cabriolet

These  are really very simple, unadorned, designs. I'll admit that I used to dismiss them as funny little bathtubs! Now there is something that is just so appealing in their austerity. Maybe it appeals to my innate sense of elegance. That's something that I didn't know that I had.

1955 550/1520 RS Spyder

I'm not an expert but I think that this is kind of like the car that James Dean met his demise in.  Dean named his "The little bastard." These were mid engine designs, not rear engine like the street models.

1979 Porsche 911 Turbo
Now that's more like it.

Growing up in the 1970s these were the dream cars of most teenage boys, at least those that weren't totally hung up on Corvettes. Up until the time these Turbos came out, the Corvette had always maintained a slight edge in straight line acceleration.

Early 911s have enormously increased in value. They are not now something that the average enthusiast can afford. There have been many Porsche models introduced over the years that still remain within reach. Besides the front engine designs such as the 924, 944, and 928 and their variants, 911s from around the Millenium are fairly affordable. Of course the most accessible Porsches are now the early Boxsters.

917 Le Mans Racer in Gulf Oil livery

Porsche has a remarkable achievement in motorsports. The 917 racer is so iconic and that even I  recognize it.

I remember watching  the 1971 Steve McQueen movie, "Le Mans. "  I am not a competition fan but there are several racers currently on display. These machines are amazingly impressive when you examine them up close. Jeez, a flat twelve air cooled motor!

1979 Porsche 953 K3

1983 Porsche 956 chassis 113

There was a period when "Porsche Design" was a licensed label that marketed apparel, eyewear, motorcycle helmets, watches and other consumer items. They even tried their hand at motorcycle design.

1979 Porsche Motorcycle concept


Motorcycles have always been considered to be a blue collar guy's past time. Especially modifying them into customs and choppers. These activities continue, but now their builders are often lauded as artists.

"Black" 1952 Vincent Black Shadow

The Vincent was displayed hanging in the air right at eye level. There was subtle illumination focused on it. The simplicity and purity of the design was breathtaking, at least in my eyes. It's design embodies all the qualities of adventure, romance and beauty that made me love motorcycles.

This is what the original motorcycle looked like.
Not quite as clean.

The engine of the side valve Indian motorcycle was very distinctive looking.  It easily made it recognizable in comparison to the Harley Davidson. It's very telling that Polaris designed their modern  Indian Chief engine to pay homage to this great design.

"Suavecito"1940 Indian Scout

The elegant, sparse design of the board track racer is the embodiment of pure motorcycle. The racers themselves had no utility off the track and these customs really have no utility as a street ridden cycle. They are ridiculously loud, hard riding, uncomfortable as well as unsafe. They are designed to move the soul of the viewer, not to move their butt down the road.

"Sleeper" 1914 Excelsior Twin

1970s Ducati V Twin cafe racer,

Porsche Gmund coupe.

I was hoping that this Porsche Gmund coupe would be on disply. It is one of Porsche's earliest competition cars. There is a great episode of Jay Leno's Garage dealing with this remarkable machine.

This exhibit was not as impressive as the last one I attended. The Ferrari, Bugatti, and Lowrider display. That was unparalleled.

This was also not the optimum time for me to visit the museum, as I had to drive home that evening and go to work the next morning. I was in Southern California for personal business and did not have any extra days for the trip. Altogether over 400 miles were driven this day. I arrived home at 10:30 that night. So why did I bother?

I guess that I just needed to have my batteries recharged. Plodding along, progress had been slow with the Mark. Just recently, some serious problems with the hydraulic components have developed. The project is stalling out and it was going to be time to move on to one of my other cars. When you become frustrated like this it's easy to ask, "Why am I bothering with this crap?"

Looking at the cars on display reminds me that others also consider cars to be special and worth the efforts to maintain and preserve them. Looking at these beautiful custom motorcycles reminds me that I love the basic mechanical elements of these bikes. The "machineness" of the components. The beauty of the cast iron and aluminum castings, The delicate lacing of the wire spoke wheels. The way the design of motorcycles imply that their only purpose is to move.

Even just driving my truck on the long drive home, alone, was a recharge.

How can you romanticize driving hundreds of miles on Interstate 5 in a humdrum Ford F150?

Driving the bumper to bumper traffic of Downtown LA is like visit to the old neighborhood. I worked there for several years back in the early 1980's I am confident navigating the freeway system. It may be frustrating and slow, but it is familiar. I might not feel the same if I had to do it everyday!

The monotony of driving on I-5 in the dark can't be minimized. But it's a great opportunity for introspection, and listening to the CDs that my Wife doesn't "appreciate."  The enjoyment comes from falling into the rhythm of the traffic flow. With only two lanes it can be maddening to try to make time when the road is choked with truck traffic and harried speeding drivers and tailgaters. Luckily traffic was fairly light, weather was clear, and the big headlights of truck made the way clear to my tired eyes.

I choose a speed that allows me to pass the slow truck traffic to my right and stay in front of most auto traffic coming up behind me. I always yield to faster traffic that is overtaking me, and I keep a close eye out for rigs that are up ahead about to change lanes to pass, slowing gradually as I reach them. I will flash my high beams so  the truck driver knows that I'm yielding the way for him to make his pass. I'll just drop my speed and trail along behind.  When it's clear I'll just accelerate quickly past the little convey. I try to make it a harmonious, symbiotic experience. It also helps that I wasn't on a tight schedule. I'd get home when I get home. This makes the trip so much less stressful.

Even a prosaic trip like this is about the process, and I rolled into my driveway feeling quite at peace.

One final comment about the Petersen Museum. Go. If you are in Southern California make the effort to go. You will not be disappointed. And, the LaBrea Tar pits are just down then street!