Friday, August 27, 2021

 Now it's time for my truck to get a little love. 

Well as soon as I can get it back from my Son and his girl.  They just bought their first house and it there's one thing a new home owner needs, it's a truck. 

One of my Uncles used to say that he didn't need a truck, since his neighbor had one! I wouldn't depend on that, but my kid's can depend on mine. Trucks are often best when they are available, but not yours. 

I just started looking up the hoses and parts that I'll need on Rock Auto.

I'm going to repeat the process that I did with the '07 Mustang on the truck. Hoses and belts. 

Transmission fluid and filter. I replaced the plugs some years ago when I put some old gas into it. 

I just replaced the battery a few months back. 

I bought one of those cheapie roll on steering wheel covers, I'm curious to see how that will turn out.

I found this vinyl transfer to put into the Ford oval badges in the grille and on the tailgate. 

The truck needs the ends of the cowl vent cover, which surprisingly crumbled to dust a few years ago. 

There are a few dents notably on the left rear of the bed and to the top of the tailgate. I backed into a pole which bent the tailgate and broke the plastic trim piece. 

I plan to fix a few of these things, but it's my work truck. I wouldn't consider putting a set of fancy wheels on it. I like the silver painted steelies. 

I just cleaned out the cab and took the porr thing to the car wash after my dump run. I had washed the tires and wheels off first. I also polished the oxidized portion of the head lights. 

I still really like the truck, it's comfortable, handsome and ever so useful. When I'm driving it I never find myself envious of all those super fancy pick ups around me. I just finished the final big dump load of the last three weeks. I don't think that I'd want to take my King Ranch to the dump.

The first was of general trash I've been waiting to dump. The second and third were of an old patio structure that has been falling down for the last twenty years. I'd applied some inelegant support structures that have prevented it from falling over even after several earthquakes. It was comprised of four 10'' X 10'' ten foot columns, stretched out over 25 ft. with top rails and slats that supported  wisteria which later became over grown by ivy. It was all constructed of fine pure heart redwood when the house was built and used as a model, almost fifty years ago! The cost to build it as it as was just too high. As I cut into the wood with my reciprocating saw to demolish it, I could see areas where the redwood was undamaged and it released a pure smell of good wood as it was sliced apart. Unfortunately the wood couldn't be salvaged. Even those ten inch columns were rotten and pulpy all through the centers.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

How do you get rid of cars that nobody seems to want? 

photo source: the
These things just sort of sit around ignored.

Even when that includes you!

Cars cost money. They have their carrying costs.

Whether old or new. Initial cost, or payments, maintenance, insurance, yearly registration fees.

Spatial costs, the physical space they take up. In your garage, driveway or even at the curb. Then there are the non financial costs, those physic costs that I like to talk about, time thinking about them, fussing over them. Obviously they contribute to the clutter in our minds and lives.

I had hoped that if I could sell a couple of my cars then I could concentrate on some of my other cars. Or sell them all and set off in a new direction. 

I guess that I'm not sounding much like a real car guy, it seems like all I talk about is getting rid of cars. 

You could look at it as if I'm trying to pare away the deadwood, or like pruning a tree so it can produce a little more fruit. 

I kind of like that assessment better.

I suppose that this is not the topic that most of you want to read about. You want to read something upbeat, how I've conquered some of my problems and came out on top. 

Fixing up old cars seems like a fun, good idea. At least you find yourself doing it.

It's like all those home renovation shows on cable TV. The homeowner wants all these big changes made. Money never really seems to be an obstacle, finding a competent contractor isn't a problem, and getting the work done in a timely manner is never a problem. It all happens during a single episode. By the end of an hour show the owners are moving in!

Of course in real life it isn't that easy. Even if everything is covered, unknown problems will always crop up. 

Those car shows are much the same. The owner never seems to have a problem coming up with the funds.

That's probably why I never watch them. Nobody cares about how much anything costs. 

I don't know, maybe it's just me. It's just hard to commit money to something that I'm not going to get my use out of.  

I had a glimmer of hope today, I was contacted by someone on the forum asking if the XJ6 was still for sale. 

Well, yes and no. After it passed smog I knew that I had two years to get it squared away and I decided not to sell it. Until that is, hope was ignited in my heart, once again.

So I thought about. I checked the dates and it still is well within the ninety day period of the smog check. A buyer could take the paperwork straight to the DMV and transfer ownership and then he'd have the two years. I plotted all that out carefully. Then I slept on it.

I decided that this was how the fate of the car could play out, sold to an interested party. Then I could focus more attention on my other cars. 

I made it a point to contact the other two parties that had expressed an earlier interest in the car, and give them the first dibs. 

They thanked me for my thoughtfulness, but said no thanks. 

I called the latest party and left a message on their phone. Then I added a message to the for sale listing telling him to listen to my phone message and call me back. 

It's been several days now and no response! What's up with that? I will give the guy another call tomorrow and see if I can catch him. 

I was going to sell him the car for the advertised price, which was my low, disgusted-with-this-piece-of-junk price. With the smog test done I really think that it's worth more than 1,500 bucks that I'd been asking. 

But it looks like he wasn't really interested. 

There wasn't a flurry of activity produced by my listing of the XJS, no real surprise there. But at least it's out of the way, like the '51. Out of sight, out of mind? Kind of.

Friday, August 13, 2021

 So how do you come to your end as a car guy?

Maybe you just grow out of it?

Do you burn out or just fade away?

Do you just grow out of it?

Does it come to an end with a whimper or a bang?

Maybe it just ends with an ache and a groan?

My vote is going to be for the ache and the groan. Especially since I recently  hurt my back, which has lead to problems with my hip and leg as well. 

This wasn't due to some traumatic event, I wasn't trying to lift a transmission into the bed of my truck. I wasn't even straining to push a dead car out of the street. 

No, I was just scrunching sideways to either pick something up or to lay it on the floor. Scrunching is bad.

Physical condition and general health have a lot to do with our hobby, especially as we age. 

If you have always been a hands on kind of guy, it comes as a real shock and wake up call when you find that you can't do the things that you used to do, easily, or maybe not at all! Or maybe that you should just refrain from doing any of them! 

I'll admit it, I'm old. But I thought that I had more time!

Though I had two back injury episodes in my past, starting all the way back in my mid 30's, my second was in my late 40's. Nothing unusual about that. 

DIY is what the car hobby means for many people, myself included. I don't see much point of messing with an old car if I have to pay a mechanic to do all the things, big and little, that the hobby entails. The added cost kind of negates any advantage of owning an older car. I would choose to own newer cars instead of paying so much money on an older hobby car. 

So is it going to end with a groan? I sure hope not.

Going out with bang might mean getting in over your head, being involved with a number of unfinished, (or not even started!) projects. Personal problems such as a divorce or catastrophic health or physical issues can bring your participation in the hobby to a grinding halt.

This will ultimately lead to the next scenario.

Ending with a whimper might be due to a gradual decrease of interest, and your cars will be sidelined and less time will be spent on them. Eventually they are just parked, buried in your garage or possibly sold.

How do you think that those barn finds end up in that barn?

So what can I do about it?

Do I even want to do anything about it? 

Is it time to let my car guy card lapse? Do I still even like cars? What does it mean to be a car guy?

That's a lot of questions, does anyone even care about the answers?

Yeah. I still do.

I have written that there is no standard, everyone can experience the hobby on their own terms.  You can like old cars, you can like new cars. You can like the true Classics. You can like stock factory models or you can like hot rods and customs.  You can actually own a hobby car or just read about them. You can get your hands dirty and work on them yourself, or you can write checks and support the mechanics and shops that are essential to this hobby. 

It's your call, It's my call. It doesn't really matter as long as you are having fun. It seems that it's the fun that you have to be careful with. 

Once that is gone, then what's the point?

I still like driving, I've put 6,000 miles on the Flex since we bought it.  

I guess that I still like my cars, though I'm getting the feeling that I've just got too many of them. 

It's probably best just to keep one of them in mind at a time

It's been a couple of weeks and I've been feeling better, not quite as good as I was, but better. 

I guess that life doesn't particularly get easier as you get older. There is usually a reduction in demands on your time from having young children. Retirement gives you a lot more free time. It also can reduce your income. Then there's that physical condition thing. Gotta keep an eye on that! It's about taking better care of yourself and encountering  and accepting your limits. You've also got to re evaluate the things that you once thought were so important.

I just got the '07 Mustang back from the mechanic. I was having some more deferred maintenance items addressed.

I was having the transmission fluid and filter changed, the rear brake pads replaced, as well as the biggie: the fuel pump.

I've done these jobs before, well back in my past, and I may well do some more of that type of work on my hobby cars. I just needed to get this work done now, as my Daughter is taking the car with her as she moves out. I want it be in the best possible shape, within reason. 

Is this the next step?

There was a time, like most of my life up until now, when I was content to have a whole pile of "not quite right stuff." I've been filling up my life with that stuff, but maybe it's time to become more selective. What good is having four, not too good cars? There's so much effort involved with just holding on to those things, is there really enough return for the effort? 

I've still got plenty of projects ahead of me. Whether I'm going to enjoy them or not will be the question. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

 2007 Mustang hose replacement Project.  Part Two, with an analysis.

I didn't have any need for this tool.

It turns out that the parts guy at the NAPA store had pulled the wrong upper hose. I was on my way to the store anyway, to pick up the thermostat housing but also to also to ask about the special tool the counterman had told me about. There was no way that I could squeeze my hands into that restricted space. He showed me a tool which was like a long screwdriver with a cup with two fingers on the end. It made it possible to squeeze and pull the connector off in one motion. He showed me a set that he could order for less that 25 bucks. I knew that they would be handy when I started to work on my F150 so I went ahead and ordered it. It would be available the next day. 

I left with the thermostat housing and the proper upper hose. 

This was the hose that I'd forgotten to pick up. You can see the metal tube
 manifold on the left. I had removed the hot wire to the alternator, before I disconnected the battery.
Wrong sequence.

I thought that i'd connect the upper hose and button up the air intake. Then I'd remove the coil and fuss with the heater hoses. 

This is the special tool for the new style hose fittings.

The fitting on the left is sporting the somewhat mangled
white colored plastic clip. These clips should be replaced anytime a hose is removed.

Nothing to be proud of here!
Cutting the fitting off with a hacksaw is not the recommended method!

Cutting the end of the slot allowed the clip and fitting to be removed.

I'm not too proud of the technique but it worked, and I didn't damage anything. One Caveat though. If you are going to use the tool do not damage the fittings by prying at them like I did. The tool probably wont work on a mangled fitting.

After everything was finally hooked up and checked, it was time to refill the radiator and heating system. I initially put in two gallons of mixed coolant, then started the motor to let it warm up. I kept the radiator cap off so I could top up the level as needed. This is always the moment of truth, will there be a leak somewhere? As the motor warmed up I turned the heater up full so that it could fill with coolant and provide heat. It was facing downhill in the driveway so I backed it up into the driveway so the front would be higher than the rear. Hopefully the air pockets would find their way to the top. I replaced the cap loosely, to prevent any pressure building up and drove it a few miles around the neighborhood, I knew it would take awhile to properly fill. Then I let it cool searched for any leaks, (there were none!) and topped up the coolant tank.   

Then I took the car out on the freeway, keeping an eye on the temp gauge. It stayed right in the middle and the heater started pumping out hot air. After fifteen miles I parked it in the driveway and will check the level for the next couple of days.  

It looks like everything has turned out fine. A good feeling, even with my still somewhat aching back. 

How much longer would the old original components have lasted? That is the vital question.

Is there any way of knowing? Do you remember when the advice was to squeeze your hoses to see if they were mushy? The original hoses still seem fine.

Back in April I drove the Mustang out to Fresno twice, to get our vaccinations. The car ran fine, there was no indication of leaking or overheating. I drove the car normally at 70-75 mph. a/c on, while crossing Pacheco Pass on SR152. Each round trip was 300 miles. The car had accumulated over 160,000 miles over fourteen years. I had chosen to drive it instead of the Explorer because it gets better gas mileage. 

You know what happened with the Explorer on my way to Riverside.

These are the old hoses, Who knows what treachery lies within?

To be clear, the only original hoses were the bottom radiator and long heater hoses. The top radiator hose, the bypass hose, and the short heater hose that connect to the thermostat housing were replaced in 2015, along with the thermostat top spout. It had warped and was seeping coolant.

The old hoses didn't look too bad at all, There wasn't any "sponginess" or deterioration visible at the ends, they hadn't been caked in grease or oil.  The firewall fittings looked like new. The hoses weren't stiff looking or feeling, I didn't get the impression that they might crack any minute. The only evidence of seepage was on the thermostat housing, but it was so minimal that there wasn't even a tell tale odor of coolant noticeable under the hood. 

The original hoses had lasted 150,000 mile plus, I'd say that that was good service.

The thermostat housing is made of plastic
and did not have any cracks.

There was a built in rubber seal around that opening. 
Except for the surprised expression it looks to be in good shape.

The thermostat housing looked fine also. No cracks or warping. The bottom fitting that connected to the block was sealed by a built in O ring. When I reinstalled it I used gasket sealer to seal it. Perhaps a new O ring could have been fitted or a silicone type sealer might have stood up better. Still, it held up to years of use and did not fail catastrophically, it just weeped a mite.  

The serpentine belt did not display any cracking or chunking, the idler and tensioner didn't make any unusual noises. They turned smoothly. So did the pulleys of the alternator, power steering pump. a/c compressor and water pump. The pump did not have any indication of leakage out of the weep hole. 

Overall, things looked pretty good.

The car has been quite reliable, the only breakdowns had been due to a dead battery. The earlier thermostat leak had been betrayed by a visible drip and the tell tale odor. 

It's pretty much as I would have expected, the car was bought new and in constant use. I have become less in tuned with the car as it was turned over for my Daughter's use. I kind of lost track of the car's condition.

So what's next on the agenda? the most critical component will be the fuel pump. 

My first experience with an in-tank electric fuel pump was with my '90 Dodge Caravan. At times it would not build up pressure when I tried to start the car. It would crank, but not fire. I'd turn it off, and try again.  It was intermittent but it worked for a period and I drove the van to my mechanic for repair. This occurred when it had somewhere over 100,000 -130,000 miles.

My '96 Mustang had approx. 190,000 miles on it when it quit on the freeway late one night. After I had it towed home, I diagnosed the problem by spraying starting fluid down the intake, The engine would fire, then die, indicating a lack of fuel. I had the car towed to the same mechanic for repair. Unfortunately I had filled the gas tank that night, which makes the job more difficult. 

You just never know when the fuel pump is going to give out, if there's more than 150,000 miles on the odometer it's time to take the possibility quite seriously.

I'm thinking that the next replacement will be of the transmission fluid and filter, the rear brake pads and finally the fuel pump. It's kind of pricey to be doing all this service in a short amount of time, better planning would have spaced it out over a couple of years, at least.