Saturday, February 24, 2018

Just some updates.

photo source:

I was successful in removing the pistons from the right front wheel cylinders of my Mark VII. I need to replace some parts that were damaged: I need the internal cylinder spring for one cylinder, the crossover pipe fitting refused to loosen and the pipe was twisted and broken when removing the fitting from the cylinder body. I would also like to replace the brake shoe return springs.

My plan is to clean, rebuild and remount the cylinders, reassemble the brake shoes but not connect the brake hoses. Then I will move back to the rear brakes to repeat the process. If I could get the hand brake to work, I could use it while moving the car, if it was running. Of course I need to remove and rebuild the master cylinder and blow out all the metal brake lines.

The brakes are not the only hydraulic system that needs to be tended to. There is a hydraulic system for the clutch mechanism.

The oil filter canister top cover gasket didn't fit properly and needs a better design. I have to repair the end fitting to the add on oil filter canister and secure the mounting.

The carbs need to be cleaned, the broken bushing housing replaced and the assembly mounted to the head.

I also have to devise a gravity fuel feed directly to the carbs.

The vacuum advance assembly on the distributor needs to be replaced.  I saw one for sale on Amazon that were priced around 89.00.

photo source: Amaxon
Take your pick, one of these is bound to fit.

My '96 Mustang still needs that leak fixed, I really have to get moving and order that manifold. Where else  could it be leaking from? Since I won't be driving this car anywhere until its repaired, while shuttling my fleet around I decided to put into the side yard.

My F150 needed the front brakes rebuilt. The rotor is an assembly combined with the hub. More expensive than replacing a separate rotor. The front end alignment also needs to be taken care of. Almost five hundred bucks put things to right. It is nice to have the truck drive as smoothly as it did when it was newer. It's also going to need tires quite soon. Those Hankooks are pricey but they are integral in maintaining the level of handling that I enjoy.

The Explorer needed both the registration to be renewed along with a Star station smog inspection. I had the oil changed then was directed to a Star station by my mechanic at First Street Shell. I found that the shop was tun by a young man who was very familiar with older cars. The Explorer passed with flying colors. Then was I off to Triple A to pay the 130.00 registration fee. No late fees this time!

My Daughter  had told me that her car, the '07 Mustang was driving kind of funny. I couldn't notice anything,  but the tires were getting pretty thin and I know that it's going to rain again someday. I don't like being rushed when buying a new set of tires, it's a big purchase and if you buy something you end up not liking, you will have to live with it a long time.

I decided to do a little shopping around. Wheelworks, Costco, and even Pep Boys. The Bridgestones had done a good job and carried a 70,000 mile warranty but now that causes some problems. Tire shops including Wheelworks, won't warranty road hazard, or repair a flat tire that is six years old. So where is the value of buying a long life tire that you won't wear out in less than six years? Costco only carries a couple of choices for the Mustang, and they are both quite expensive. I decided to buy the same Faulkens that I have on my '96 Mustang. Four tires and an alignment ( it was off a bit) ran me over six hundred bucks. No wonder I can't get ahead!

The registration on my XJ6 expired a couple of months ago. It also needed a smog check to complete the process. I misplaced the renewal notice and when I checked the actual registration document I found that it had expired a week earlier. I went to Triple A and paid the registration, plus fees. I only had pay an extra thirty bucks! I've done much worse. At least I now have the fees on file and it gives me some time. The CEL has been on for a long time but the car runs really well, still that will have to be dealt with before it's gets the smog check.

The front suspension really needs to be rebuilt, I mean REALLY needs to be rebuilt. The steering is sloppy and it pulls to the left constantly and set up  quite a oscillation.  I've even toyed with the idea  of buying the actual Jaguar spring compressor. I started building the homemade job like I've seen on the forums. I have several additional compressors that I can use in conjunction with the DIY tool to ensure a level of safety. This is more in keeping with my driveway mechanic ethos, except that I don't want to do the job in my driveway.

It doesn't look like my garage will be available anytime soon, so I'm considering dealing with the smog check first. The car drives well enough to take it to smog check station.

The shed is in, and my Wife has started the process of clearing out the garage.

My goal is to be able to park two cars in the garage, while still housing all my necessary tools and equipment like the tool chests, jacks and air compressor. I would like to be able to keep my workbench and some of my steel industrial storage racks but nothing is written in stone. I graciously decided to set aside some space along the wall for my Daughter's small business stuff.

The XJS needs the same front suspension rebuild that the XJ6 does. Still, it is running and driving. After I took the XJS out to start it up and drive it around the neighborhood a bit, I realized that the steering is not as bad as the XJ6. So why not drive it to work for awhile? It is smogged, registered, insured and runs pretty good. So I did. The first week I began to acclimate myself to the car. The seating position is comfortable, the wheel feels great in my hands, and I love looking at it's reflection in the store windows as I pass.

I bought this mint copy at a swap meet years ago.

I must say that it is a very good looking car. The proportions are very good and it does not suffer from the overly tall roof of the E type coupes. This is a very Italian influenced design. I have a copy of March 1962 issue of Car and Driver where a thorough examination of the Italian auto industry is presented. I can see a similarity between the styling of the XJS and early 1960s Ferrari GTs among others. The Jensen Interceptor tapped into a similar stylistic vein since it was designed and built by Touring. I have read that in the final year of production, the E type was a very slow seller and a hundred cars were stored at an airfield near Coventry. It is kind of funny that Jaguar looked back to the late 50's and early 60's for design inspiration. The E type's styling was a product of then 1950's, it was that of a stretched D Type, only with a much longer hood. Fashions do change and as it reached it's third series, the E Type was seen as old fashioned and out of step.

Italy has contributed so many classic designs to our automotive heritage.

At least all my cars except the Mark are driveable and I can move them around. (Fingers crossed!)

Who says that you can't run whitewalls on a Jag?
From the back cover. 

Am I buried alive or just slogging through ankle deep mud?

Friday, February 16, 2018

What's up with Doug Demuro?

Doug is routinely  photographed with his mouth open.

Good old Doug. The dweeby, kind of goofy Every Man.  Not an accomplished driver, mechanic, restorer, or gearhead, Totally non threatening. But smart. Very much smarter than he lets on. And quite a bit richer, too.

Doug was born in Denver Colorado and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. After graduation he got a job at Porsche North America's corporate headquarters where he must have been doing a good job. He was promoted as the youngest vehicle allocation manager in the company's history. He quit that job to become a writer and his work has been featured in online publications as Jalopnik, Auto, and The Week. He also written a book, "Plays with Cars."

He is probably beat known for his Internet videos. His You Tube channel received over four million views in 2014.

There are varying estimates of Doug's net worth from around 450,000 to several million dollars. Whatever it is, Don has found a clever way to combine his love of cars with the ability to make a good living. What ever you make Doug, You deserve it!

What car guy hasn't dreamed of owning a Ferrari?

I was first introduced to his videos through his Ferrari ownership series. In this series he answered a lot of questions that a whole lot of car guys have had about Ferrari ownership. I would say that they were too afraid to ask, but actually "Who were you going to ask?" I can't imagine trolling a Concours and trying to buttonhole a Ferrari owner and grill him about everyday driving. But we've still got those questions we want answered! Doug will oblige us, willingly.

For example:

How does a dweeb like him swing a Ferrari. He really doesn't answer that but he reveals that these cars are not as unobtainable as we might think.

Can you really use a car like this for everyday activities? The short answer is "No."

What's it like to go out for a casual drive?

It's not like you would want to park it curbside anywhere, or leave it outside of a Dennys or Motel 6! It's more like you leave your house, drive wherever, then end up back at your house again.

Can you carry anything in the car? That depends.

There is an unforgettable episode where Doug drives to Best Buy and straps a flat screen television to the roof of the Ferrari.

Can you carry anyone in the car? A Baby? If you've watched this episode than you know it's a good thing that he used a doll instead of an actual child.

What are people's reaction to the car on the street?

Pretty positive it seems. Seems like most folks can recognize a Ferrari and are anxious to to take a selfie next to the car, while a few even ask to take a photo of themselves behind the wheel.

Can you meet women with this car?

This is the million dollar question, as I'm sure that many guys hope that buying a flashy, expensive car would make them more interesting and attractive to the opposite sex.

The answers are surprising. Doug said that most women didn't seem to notice or express any interest in the car. (Or him!) But their boyfriends were a different matter. They would swarm around the car at gas stops. It seems as though middle aged men expressed the most attraction. Not exactly the demographic that was hoped for.

Why can't people trust British cars?

The Aston Martin; My Holy Grail. Not just mine, but for a lot of car enthusiasts. The purchase price was only ten grand above a new, optioned up Mustang GT convertible, but most guys myself included, are very fearful that the car would quickly bury them in repair and maintenance costs. But Doug took care of that concern, he bought a bumper to bumper unlimited mileage warranty for it!

Now that's the way to roll, come whatever calamity may, it's covered. Watching his videos you can see that it was used to cover a few problems, especially in the beginning. However the car proved reliable enough to take it on several long trips, even to the Bonneville salt flats. He has even broken down the cost of ownership, now that's full disclosure.

You've got to hand it to him. One article indicated that he has owned twenty seven cars at the time of publication. Wow! You'd have to cycle through those cars at a couple of units a year or more.

Doug has really found a way to own and drive some interesting, desirable cars and he uses them to make his living. I would hope that they are tax deductible as business related expenses.

Now that Doug is very well known, car dealerships and even his fans will offer their own cars for his evaluation.

It's all a countdown to the Doug Score.

Doug provides some reviews of interesting older cars also. One of my favorites was of the Pontiac Aztek, not a vehicle that you would expect. Doug reviews the gadgets and quirks and it is surprising how different manufactures handle different functions. A driving test follows and the episode ends with a "Doug Score." He ranks the vehicles without fear or favor and the results can be surprising.

I have even learned a thing or two from his videos. Doug reviewed the latest model of the Porsche Panamera. This was a car that I never gave much credence to, as I thought that it was a bit of a gimmick. Doug displayed the great beauty and design of the interior design, and most impressively, the ability to seat two six foot tall passengers in the rear seat. Now that was impressive. If I could find that hundred grand I lost in the sofa I might well consider buying one!

I will continue to enjoy Doug's videos but I expect that he will be looking to develop a new format. I think that this idea is playing itself out, I mean, "How many different cars are still out there?" Either way, Doug, Best of luck in the future!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Whitewalls, Wide whitewalls. Roll your own!

A wire Riviera hub cap and newly painted whitewalls.
I wonder how this has held up?

This is a picture of a painted wide whitewall that I made around ten years ago. I have used it as my avatar on different sites.The wheel has been sitting outside face down in the ivy for all those years after I photographed it. What kind of shape is it in? How has the paint held up? Lets take a look.

That guy in the picture must have steady hand.!

There are still paint your own whitewall kits available. I was just checking back on the H.A.M.B. (Hokey Ass Message Board) and some posters recommend this white rubber material while others said that they have used white roofing paint. What I used was recommended in an issue of Roll and Pleats, a British hot rodding magazine, simple white spray primer.

They were still selling these at Grand Auto stores when I worked there in the 1970's.

"Port a walls" are a white rubber disc that you place between the wheel tire bead and the rim. User's experiences have varied, but these have been available since the 1950's.  They are genuine, vintage, hot rodding accessory parts.

There will be those out there who will decry the use of anything but an authentic reproduction whitewall tire. These are the guys that keep Coker tire in business. Nothing wrong with this. I would go this way too, if I had the extra bucks. There's a company named Blockley Tires that can provide some performance radials for my Mark VII. This car shares wheel sizes with the XK140 and 150 and early Astons as well. They are just too much money for me now. Besides where's the fun in just spending money?

I had a set of "ground" whitewall radials made up for my '56 Cadillac. One of Calderon's tire shops ground them down. it's a noisy and quite smelly process but if you start with a raised while letter tire you can end up with a 2'1/2 inch wide whitewall, not too bad. I went back for a second set and I was informed that the Boss didn't want to offer that service anymore, probably because it was so time consuming.

I've read lots of posts on different forums that related unsatisfactory results with that rubber tire paint. I had been a fan of the British custom car little book, Rolls and Pleats. In one article the author shared his experience of painting his own sidewalls with ordinary white spray primer. I decided to give it a try on a spare wheel that I had around. Masking is important so I tried to be as careful as possible.

Several coats later I was quite pleased. The primer covered the base rubber well, and it had a satin finish that didn't look too thick with visible brushstrokes. The photo of this wheel has served as my avatar for years. What happened to the actual wheel? Well I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I left it sitting out for six or seven years in that ivy that is in the background in the photo. How has it fared out there in the wild? I don't know yet. I'm planning to dig it out, clean it off and see. I will document  the results here.

Face down in the ivy for years.
I knocked most of the caked on dirt off for this picture.

This was after some brushing off.

You can see some cracking and color loss near the rim.

This is after the second cleaning with Castrol Super Clean. The hubcap still needs more attention
but the quality of these caps can't be denied.

I'm interested in these DIY tires because my Mark VII needs tires badly and I don't want o buy authentic style repop radials, yet. I've been researching tires and I know that I need a set that has a taller sidewall. A 40 aspect sidewall just isn't going to look right and more importantly won't fit. A 215/70 16 wheel would be the closest equivalent. I don't mind a little shorter tire. Those ancient Atlas  "pie crusts" look pretty ugly to me. I plan on using an SUV rated tire, as a passenger tire of that size isn't intended for an almost four thousand pound car. They will also have a higher load rating and stiffer sidewalls which would hopefully help the handling. I plan on using a tire like this;

I 've had good luck with Futura tires. They are made by Cooper and are priced right.

I would then paint the white sidewalls on, similar to the wheel in my avatar.  One of my Jaguar forum people set up a set of tires like this on his Mark VII. These tires can be purchased for around 65.00 on sale, while a used tire would be fifty bucks, and trying to find four identical tires might be a challenge. I'm not sure if I could run these tubeless on my original rims, I'm thinking not. Something else to consider.

As it turns out this Buick wheel has the same size lug pattern as my '51 Jag, but is a 15 lnch rim.  This particular tire is a 225/70 15 inch radial, similar in size to that SUV tire above. If I switched wheels then I could run tubeless radials. There are concerns with wheel set back, and fitting under the rear spats as well as other clearance issues. Since I've got the wheel available I'm just going to try this one on and see what happens.

Updates as they occur.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

What am I waiting for?

I got the chance to drive my Mustang long enough to chase down the source of the coolant leak, sort of. I finally saw a small drip running down the right rear side of the intake manifold.

Directly under that heater hose clamp I could see coolant pooling around that manifold bolt.

Could the bolt just be loose? Could it be that easy? I didn't think so but I carefully applied a wrench and found that it was tight. My guess is that the heater hose junction boss is probably cracked. That does seem strange as the manifold was just replaced three years or so ago. The engine has not been subjected to overheating. The original manifold lasted for over 150,000 miles but it's been my experience that non OEM  components often don't last as long.

Interestingly enough, I found that one pf the bolts that are holding the alloy crossover/thermostat housing to the plastic manifold body is backed out 1/4 inch or so. Even more interesting is that I saw a similar small bolt lying in the valley under the manifold. Could it be that a bolt has backed out of a similar crossover channel under the rear of the manifold and is now leaking?

Where did that little bolt come from?

In the photo you can see the cross over bolt is backed out. You can see the little bolt lying in the valley.  Interestingly enough (again) there is no coolant seen in the valley. You would think that the amount of coolant leaking out some would pool under there.

I went to the Rock Auto site and checked out the detail photos of the replacement manifold.

The bolt that is backed out is visible on the right front side (in the photo) of the cross over. I wonder if the loose bolt fell out of the hole behind it.

This is the view from the rear. The leak appears to be coming from the area that is at the right rear side (in the photo). There is a blue o ring type of gasket that seals the heater hose boss inlet to the head. If it's loose or cracked there it would definitely leak. Could the cross over connection be leaking and sending a spray of coolant against the underside of the manifold and resulting in it running to the back of he manifold? It seems hopeful, but kind of far fetched. Still, I will check it out first. Always select the easiest possibility first.

My trusty F150 has needed some work as of late. The front brakes have become noisy combined with the "shuddering" feeling that causes the entire truck to shake upon the first light application of the brakes in the morning. This is a pretty good indication of warped brake discs. I had replaced just the brake pads over fifty thousand miles ago. I did cut corners and didn't replace the brake caliper mounting bushings. Those are the metal channels that fit into the spindle, and that the caliper ride on. I didn't remove the brake rotors to have them resurfaced because the rotors are part of the hub carrier and are held on with a non re usable spindle nut. This nut is torqued down to three hundred foot pounds of torque.

I don't have a torque wrench that can handle that high a setting. On top of that, just unloosening the nut might tax my equipment. I could imagine a scenario where my socket wrench slips off, rounding off the nut and introducing a serious level of misery to the equation.

So I just replaced the brake pads. The rotor wasn't scored or discolored, so I just roughed it up with some  sandpaper. This worked out well for many miles and many years. Until the bushings wore to the point that my application of braking resulted a lot of clicking and clacking. Over time the discs warped to the point that it was quite noticeable. There wasn't any scraping of worn disc pads on metal, just the clacking and shuddering.

The alignment of the front end was also getting pretty bad. There was a constant pull to the left that had to be compensated for, which was not only tiring but rough on the tires and suspension. Usually alignment issues will result in the tire developing abnormal wear patterns which will require its replacement. However this didn't happen in my case.

If there is anything that makes your car feel like a tired piece of junk it's lack of smooth brake performance combined with poor alignment and tracking. 

Ah, driving a new car is so smooth. The steering is tight, it tracks like it's on rails and the brakes are as soft and smooth as velvet. My truck wasn't a Subaru, but it had finally lost that lovin' feeling!

Something had to be done. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to do the front brake job properly so I bit the bullet and took it down to my favorite mechanic at First Street Shell. Hui worked his magic and the velvet was back in the brake pedal. Yes, it was kind of expensive, but it is what it is. I'll save some money doing my own work in another area.

Now to do something about the alignment. I took it to my local Wheel Works dealer. They had aligned my '96 Mustang after I replaced the lower control arms, and done a good job.

On the way home from the shop I could detect some improvement, but it was still pulling to the left. Hmm. Was the job done right? Were there some other problems with the front end components? If they had found something wrong I know that they would have informed me, and tried to get me to approve the repair, or at least issued a disclaimer that the alignment couldn't fix the issue. But they hadn't said a thing.

Maybe there was something wrong with the front tires themselves. I had once bought a couple of used front tires for my '96 Mustang and they had been terrible. They darted to the side over roadway imperfections and upon braking. The tire shop (not Calderons!) had been pretty sketchy too. They had damaged the rocker sill area with the sloppy positioning of their floor jacks. I didn't go back. I ended up buying a new set of tires from Wheel Works instead.

I had to figure out if it was tires that were the problem. I needed to switch them around and see if there was any improvement. I was thinking that the tires had taken a "set." My fighting the pull may have caused the cords in the carcass to warp over time. As a result the tire couldn't track straight. I remember that I had rolled that earlier set of used tires mentioned before, when I had them off the car, and they both veered sharply off to one side. I spent the rest of a long weekend mulling it over before I had the opportunity to rotate the wheels on the truck. Just straight from front to back. This did the trick. The truck now tracked straight ahead. Usually the tires are worn on the inside treads from poor alignment and I'll replace the tire before having it aligned. Because these tires hadn't worn out I had kept them where they were. They were now warped and couldn't track straight, even if they wanted to.

It is nice to have my truck drive like it did when it was new. It still needs new tires, but it can wait for a bit.