Friday, September 30, 2022

 If you're wandering in the forest trying to concentrate on the trees, 

photo source: unsplash

don't accidentally fall down a rabbit hole!

photo source

Have you ever convinced yourself that a certain "thing" was causing a particular problem, to the point that you overlooked or ignored another much simpler alternative? 

Sometimes it's easy to fixate on a possible solution, even when trying to chase it down hasn't resulted in any progress. The building frustration just makes it even harder to see clearly. 

Especially when the first obvious symptoms didn't resemble anything that you've ever seen before. Then the blinders come on! It's kind of funny that even with almost fifty years of experience in dealing with cars and motorcycles I found myself dealing with a "novel" situation. 

Once you find yourself in a situation like this, it's pretty easy to become difficult to deal with, the tendency is to dig in, and and to become stubborn, especially when you find yourself in a rut like this. 

This is a time when you need to go back to the basics.

We know that an engine needs three things to run;

Fuel, Air, and Spark. Take away any of these elements and the engine will stop. An interrupted supply of any of these three things will result in poor or sporadic running. 

Electrical systems need two things; a complete circuit, negative and positive power delivered to the item at the proper points.

They also require an adequate source of power, either household a/c circuit or a battery to send the electrons down the way. 

If we can't find these electrons at the end of the line, ready to power a light bulb, or spin an electric motor, we need to trace the route back. 

We come to expect certain familiar symptoms to present themselves when problems occur. We build up a storehouse of experience over the years. This usually allows to properly diagnose what is causing the problem. 

The difficulty develops when we stray, or are led into a foreign realm.

Mechanical items, nuts and bolts, levers and shafts. All these items are easily visible.

Electrical systems like wires, connectors, switches, batteries, motors, fuses and relays. These are also pretty straightforward.

But what about "electronics?" Those mysterious "black boxes?" Filled with electronic components like transistors, capacitors, circuit breakers, fuses, relays, printed circuits, and other things that can't be easily visually diagnosed? 

For many, if not most of us, we have no detailed understanding of what goes on in there!

After the replacement SJB didn't work, I decided that I would just have the car towed to the local Ford dealer. I don't like my local dealership, so what difference did it make where it went? It would surely be less hassle to have it dealt with locally. I put everything back as it was. I would let the dealer test it and sort things out. 

I told my Daughter that I had reached the end of my rope and was out of ideas on what to do. I was going to contact the Ford dealer and that I would get back to her.

Before I left I called my Wife to give her a progress report, I ran through what had occurred:

When I arrived, I had checked the battery voltage with my multimeter. The battery was still connected, as my Daughter had tried to run a scan for codes. The voltage was very low, around seven volts. I had wanted the battery to be left disconnected so it hopefully wouldn't have run down any more. 

I installed the proper replacement SJB ( Smart Junction Box) and then jumped the car to start it.

The proper replacement worked for a while. Everything, all systems appeared to be working.

Then it died.

I jumped the car again and left it connected, and the car seemed to run fine. I let it run for at least 15 minutes but I was worried that it might damage the battery in my car.  I disconnected the jumpers and it ran for a couple of more minutes then died. 

At that point I reinstalled the original SJB in disgust. 

My Wife focused on a salient point in the narrative, one that I dismissed. The conversation went like this:

She asked, "So it was running okay when the jumpers were hooked up?"

"Yes. "

"It died after you disconnected it? "


"Do you think that the alternator is bad?"

"I don't think so, I checked it and it put out over 13 volts."

"Do you think that the battery is bad?"

"I don't think so.

"Why don't you try a new battery, you said the voltage was real low when you checked it, and you had to jump it to start it. And you said the motor died after you disconnected the jumper cables. "

"It's only two years old."

"You've already made three trips up there, with no progress. What can it hurt to try the battery?"

"Well, it will cost 200 bucks, it's only two years old, I think it ran down because of the SJB causing a drain. I guess that I could take it to an Autozone or O'Reilly's and have them test it before I buy a new one."

"Let me know what happens." 

I checked and found the proper battery in stock at a local O'Reilly's 

So I went back up, got the key from my Daughter- again, and pulled the battery. I took it to the O'Reilly's a few miles down the road. They tested it and the counterman told me. "It looks like it is going to be about 90% bad."

I paid my money, and was glad that I'd pulled the old battery first, so that I wouldn't have to make another trip to return the core.

On the trip back to my Daughter's apartment I started thinking. It's not just the voltage that's important with car batteries, it's also the amperage. Without enough amps the engine can't start, even with twelve volts indicated on a multimeter. In the past, I'd had batteries fail after only a year or two, generally they won't be able to start the engine, that would be the main symptom. I went through a bad run of Interstate batteries with my Seville, years ago, which is why I now avoid that brand.

Maybe it's a low amperage battery problem with the SJB. It just didn't put out enough juice to start the motor and power all the systems. This resulted in the system going bananas. On another occasion, my Daughter had run the battery down before, listening to music in the car with her friends with the motor off. A jump got it started with no further problems. I had replaced the battery shortly after that. 

After all the years on the Jaguar forum, where the battery is ALWAYS the first suspect, I just couldn't accept it. 

I got back and hooked up the battery. It fired up and everything was working! I let it run, switched on the a/c and went to go buy a burger as a test run. I kept the engine running after the drive through, while I was parked under a tree enjoying my lunch. Then I drove back, parked in the lot and switched off the motor. I tried restarting it and it sprang to life with no problems. I had run the car for almost an hour. Success!

I admitted to my Daughter that I hadn't considered the battery as a possible problem, because it was only two years old! Batteries don't last as long as they used to, now they generally fail in four to five years. The circus of SJB problems had totally distracted me, and resulted in my lack of consideration of a possible battery sourced problem. She had mentioned the alternator several times, but I checked the output and hadn't found a problem. But I didn't take the battery out and have it tested! I just assumed that it had to be okay. In fact I just didn't assume that, I completely accepted it as gospel. 

After I "fixed" the car I felt kind of embarrassed, I thought that I should have done it sooner. I told my Daughter, "My head hangs down, my face burns in shame, and I will walk now a little lighter in humility!"

I phoned my Wife with the good news, I admitted that her "fresh eyes/fresh ears" had been an immense help. I just had to repeat the line about walking lighter in humility! ( It's a good one!) 

Don't you hate the always Mr. "Right?"

I am reminded of an episode of that old Tony Randall/Jack Klugman sit com, the Odd Couple. In it, Felix is lecturing Oscar in front of a blackboard where the word "assume" is prominently written. Felix self righteously instructed Oscar, "Whenever you ASS-U-ME, you make an ass of you and me!

I wouldn't go that far Felix, but we have to be careful not to let our thinking get trapped by assumptions. 

Of course I haven't checked back with my Daughter to see if everything is still okay. Sometimes you don't want to think about things like this for a while! 

I did enjoy the drive home.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

My Daughter moved her car 120 miles away. 

It's fun to leave your mark. Gotta have a little fun! 

Six degrees of separation, Fahrenheit or Celsius? 

The Never ending story? 

This came out of an '08 Mustang.

Armed with my junkyard SJB I drove back up to Davis. This time I took my '96 Mustang as it got a bit better gas mileage than the Flex, and I figured that it could use some exercise.  I'd been driving it since I fixed the plug wire incident with no problems, in fact it was running really strong. I always describe the temp gauge as a clock face, straight up being 12:00. Usually the needle stayed to the right at around 11:55. When the needle indicated 12:03 I was starting to get a bit concerned. It never got higher than 12:05.

It was a hot day, 90+ degrees, and I was moving along at 75+ mph. Usually low speed cooling issues work out due to the increased air flow. I hadn't had any problems in a long time, and I wasn't in a position to do much right now except to check the coolant level when I arrived. Upon arrival the needle returned to a more normal position. All through this episode the needle had never left the "normal" range indicated on the gauge. It also never "puked" any coolant upon stopping, which left me to deal with the other Mustang.

Removing the kick panel covers was easy, I first pried up the door sill plate then pulled the kick panel cover off exposing the SJB. I did not detect any evidence of water intrusion, not even the most minor presence of any moisture. Everything was dry. I removed the three electrical plugs visible from the front, then undid the single securing nut and pulled the SJB out of its recess. There were seven more plugs in the back! There are hundreds of connections. 

I didn't see any evidence of moisture in the area or oxidation inside of the connections of the original box. All of the connections in the car mated with the replacement '08 box, except one that looked like an antenna connection. The '08 box had what appeared to be an aerial running up the outside of the case. Sort of like an old transistor radio. I guessed that this was for the key fob transmitters.

After it was hooked up, I was successful in starting the car.. The engine was running and the dash warning lights went out. I found that the a/c fan control, radio, turn signals, and windows all were working again. The engine sounded fine, and I was just about to congratulate myself when the traction control light lit up and the others followed. The functions that had been there a minute ago were now gone! I quickly moved the car to a shaded parking spot after which the motor died and would not restart. 

I was quite disappointed, to say the least. I did manage to restart the motor by jumping the battery but nothing was working. I removed the replacement box and exchanged it with the original. I restarted the car by jumping it,  but the motor died after about a minute. After that I disconnected the negative terminal and left it off, no need to run the battery down further. 

This wasn't going to be an easy fix. Either I needed an exact replacement box or the junkyard replacement would need to be reprogrammed. I imagine that the systems worked until the car realized that it didn't recognize the box and shut everything down. 

While on the road home I kept an eye on the temp gauge and slowed down a bit. The hoses, cap, and coolant were new. The thermostat was changed out not that long ago. There weren't any leaks. When I had cleaned the oil cooler I had found some deposits of corrosion in the oil cooler, maybe the radiator was getting a bit blocked. I'd had the car for 13 years and have never flushed the system. Could it be the water pump? Since it wasn't an emergency it would have to wait.

I also wondered if the new Mach One spoiler was blocking some airflow, since it was positioned ahead of the under bumper opening. The original spoiler, which was still in place, was located behind the opening.

Upon arrival in San Jose I stopped at my mechanic's shop. I asked him about the reprogramming and he told me that he "had a guy" that worked out of the shop. That's one lead that I can follow up on.

I was so desperate that I even contacted the dealer's service writer. They advised me of the same. "Just bring it in and we can run a diagnostic and find what's wrong." Cost? 250 bucks. I asked if they had a secondary source for these units, the service writer told me that was privileged info, they protected their sources. I had been discussing the problem with my Wife, who started looking for an exact replacement on EBay. She found one and we ordered it. Now we just had to wait a week for delivery, but at least it is returnable. 

I had another idea that I could buy a cheap car for my Daughter to drive while I sorted out the problems. But that had it's own problems, how good could a cheap car be? It might turn out to be another problem that I'd have to deal with. Didn't I already have a good cheap car? My '96 Mustang has been well maintained and it's the car that I used to teach my daughter how to drive. 

Realistically, lending her my Mustang made the most sense, even though I'm very protective about this car. 

But what about that temperature gauge?

I have owned the car for 13 years and kept up the maintenance. I'd changed out all the hoses, serpentine belt, and even the thermostat. But I hadn't flushed the cooling system. I had found some deposits in the oil cooler and wondered if there were any in the radiator. I thought about having the radiator flushed at a radiator shop but figured that I would need to make an appointment and it would set me back at least one hundred bucks. I thought it would be more expedient to just change out the radiator with a new unit. I could order one from Rock Auto for that 100 dollars but it would probably take a week to arrive. So I decided to go to my local auto parts store, Winchester Auto. They could order it and have it there in a couple of days for 300.00. So that's what I did.

First I needed to pull the old radiator.

It came out easily.

I didn't find many leaves or debris between the radiator
and the condenser.

I blew some compressed air backwards through the condenser core. I was surprised by how little restriction that it offered to the air flow. I took advantage of this opportunity since it doesn't present itself too often. 

I got a call a couple of days later about the radiator and went to pick it up. I immediately noticed a hole punched in the box. I opened up the box and sure enough, found a small area of flattened fins. I didn't think that it would leak or cause any real problems, but I had just paid three bills! No way I was going to accept this, I told them that I needed a replacement. ASAP! They told me that it had a lifetime guarantee and that I could bring it back if it leaked. Then they said that it might be a week to source a replacement. I said that was unacceptable, and insisted that they start looking for one. A couple of phone calls later they told me that they could have one delivered in three days. It was longer than I wanted, and I suspect they had just told me a story so I would take the damaged item. Like I had told them, I didn't want to have to do the job twice! 

Now, that's more like it!

In  the meantime, I went home and checked the operation of the electric fan, which worked fine. I really like that electric fans have replaced those old crankshaft driven units. It not only cleans up the look under the hood, it makes working on the motor easier. It looks like this particular radiator/fan combo could be used in updating an earlier car. Good to know.

After I had pulled the old radiator, I noticed that some of the last coolant dripped out along with some "crap." Fine, sand-like debris. Maybe there was some blockage. The old radiator was too good to toss, I think that it would be okay with a garden hose flush, there wasn't any damage or leaking. I plan to sell it on Craig's List, the last radiator that I bought from Pick and Pull set me back fifty bucks. 

Everything went back together smoothly and a couple of short test runs didn't indicate any problems, so I was set to go.

My Wife had ordered an exact replacement Smart Junction Box off E bay, now all we had to do was wait for it to arrive. Then I would be good to go.

Friday, September 16, 2022

 My Daughter moved her car 120 miles away.

Another Chapter in the saga. I'm starting to lose count!

I thought and certainly hoped that after the transmission rebuild that I would have a trouble free period with the car. It was a good couple of months. Then the text came, funny problems with the car!

My Daughter had called and reported that during her lunch break, after sitting in the parking lot with the engine running, a/c on, and listening to the stereo, that when she shut the key off, the in dash multi disc cd player began shifting through the discs, as if to eject them. This was with the key off! Repeatedly hitting the radio switch and turning the key off and on didn't affect this. She tried to start the engine but it just made some weak clicking sounds. She had to return to work so the cars sat for a few hours. 

After work she tried to start the car and was successful, driving back and parking it at home. Later the car would not restart. Then she called me to let me know the situation. 

This was an odd symptom, something that I had never experienced during my prior ownership of the car.

I started searching the Internet and found a lot of related threads in various Mustang and Ford forums. I discovered that this was a common condition. There were also comments that other systems were displaying odd symptoms. However I focused on the cd player. The cure was stated to be disconnecting the battery terminals and performing a "hard reset" by touching the battery cables together, This was supposed to discharge any memory systems in the electrical system so they could be started clean. 

This concept of the hard reset would be well known to any Jaguar fan that has been involved with forums over time. It seems that Jags built after 2003 are notorious for electrical gremlins, usually related to weak batteries. Their electrical systems need a minimum of 12+ volts to function properly. Many Jags are not everyday cars, and as they sit, their batteries lose voltage, due the drain of  maintaining memory systems in the car. A lot of owners keep battery maintainers hooked up to keep the battery topped up.

My Daughter knows enough about cars to know that the alternator supplies the electricity to charge the battery and asked if that could be the problem. The starting issue was the only one that presented itself so that was all I considered before driving up the next day.  

When I arrived I checked the resting battery voltage with both terminals connected. It showed 11.77 volts on my multimeter. Then I disconnected both cables and measured the battery voltage again. It was the same. After performing the hard reset, I started the engine, without a jump,  and recorded 13.8 volts with the motor running, which indicated that the alternator was working. 

My conclusion was that since she lives only three miles from work, the battery doesn't have enough time to recharge the battery after starting, especially since she was using the lights, stereo and a/c. She  had been on vacation for a week so the car had not been used for some time. She also mentioned that it sometimes took two tries to start the motor, that thought registered, but I didn't think that the fact was too relevant. I thought  that I'd drive the car for a while to charge the battery. I decided to drive to Sacramento Vintage Ford, an antique and hot rod car shop.

When I arrived I left the car running and opened the hood to check the running voltage which was over 13 volts. When I shut it off the resting voltage was over 12 volts, so it looked like it was okay. The car restarted and I drove to a nearby gas station/car wash. I put some gas in, bought a car wash and restarted the car and put it through the wash with the engine running. I drove "home" with no problems, the car felt great. After I arrived I rechecked the battery and alternator once more with positive results. 

The advice I offered learned from the forums was to turn the radio off before turning the key off. It was also suggested that the driver not depend on the "after shut off" accessory power.  I shared these insights with my Daughter before I left.

Now I felt great during my drive home. 

But of course, this feeling didn't last! At least I felt good during the two hour drive home!

The next evening I received a text that the car had been fine for a day and she had used the car to run some errands with no trouble. After work the problems started again. This time the car wouldn't start at first. The car started up but after driving a bit all the warning lights lit up, luckily she could pull into a parking lot. She called for her partner to get help and they managed to get the car started and it barely made it back to her parking lot at home. 

Back to the Web.

I spent a few hours reading about similar problems. The accessories, a/c, and windows not working, all warning lights lit up on the dash. It was determined that something called the SJB, Smart Junction Box was at fault. This is a combination fuse/body control computer located  behind the right front kick panel. All the accessory and body systems are controlled by this box. 

I learned that most problems were due to moisture getting into the connections. This moisture was due to water leaking in from the cowl area and dripping on the box. The leaks were due to poor sealing or a blocked drain. Usually the posters had complained of wet carpets and a damp smell. When the plugs were disconnected at the SJB, there was visible corrosion at the terminal pins. 

I never noticed any damp smell in the car even after I drove it through the car wash. 

Some guys had success drying and cleaning the connections. Some didn't. In that case the SJB needed to be replaced. One problem; these have been out of production for years and there weren't any "reconditioned" units available. My auto parts store told me that they couldn't order one. I even contacted the dealer's repair section. They advised me of the same. 

I watched a bunch of videos where the poster used one sourced from Ebay. I went to Ebay and check out some parts interchanges. 

After lots of research I learned that the important thing was to match body style to body style, ie; coupe to coupe, convertible to convertible. The option levels were important also, base as opposed to deluxe, which has more equipment and options. 

I went to a local Pick and Pull lot where I located several similar year Mustangs. According to their interchange, '05 &'06 units are interchangeable and '07 &'8 units are also, I noticed that one plug was different on the '08 unit that I removed. For the price of 40.00 I figured that it was worth a try. 

I had read that it was sometimes necessary to reprogram the unit to have it work properly. 

So far I was only out forty bucks, the cost of gas, and a lot of my free time.  What's a Father to do? 

I drove up again with the new/used SJB hoping for the best. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

 Why we Drive.

An important new book.

The title seems so clear and simple, intending to illuminate why some people just like to drive. But much like the book, Zen and the Art of motorcycle Maintenance, it really deals with a much broader and important subject. 

On the surface of it, the beginning of the book deals with the factors that govern driving. The skill of mastering the operation of the vehicle for basic transport, and the development of higher level skills that allow the machine to be operated at a higher plane of performance.

The author touches on the idea that there is an interplay between drivers on the road. It can boring, waiting behind slower drivers, or it can become almost a dance of coordinated movement at a four way stop sign controlled intersection. 

I have described the harmonious act of driving on Interstate 5, where I modulate my speed to go around slower trucks, and cars, slowing gradually as I anticipate the truckers changing into my lane, and moving to the right lane to allow faster drivers to pass me. This can all be coordinated into a fluidity of uncommunicative cooperation.  Take and send cues to other drivers and if it is working properly turns the process into a community of the moment. Strangers actually working together in a common cause. 

Kind of hard to believe, isn't it? 

The act of driving as an accomplishment.

Is there an actual need for self driving cars? I mean, people have managed to drive themselves around for over a hundred years. Not always without incident. But we have enjoyed a pretty unfettered freedom to cruise the asphalt and concrete tributaries that make up our Nation's highway system. Predominately on our own terms. Yes, there are laws and regulations, but we can get out there and disappear for awhile. Turn up halfway, or even all the way across the country. Or just hideout somewhere where we can't be found or bothered  by the responsibilities and duties that we left behind at home. That's been for the good and the occasional bad. But you've had the choice.

There are those out there that say that they hate driving. But is it the actual act of driving or the commute? The commute being the repetitious act of driving from one location to another. Usually from residence to workplace. Generally this is not a pleasant process due to traffic and time crunches. Or maybe just too much time having to be spent in this activity. 

Even short periods of inter urban commuting can lead to similar frustrations.  Commuting is driving as a chore. Of course there are some people that see any driving as a chore.

The author goes on to describe how competitive automotive racing results in a kind of cooperation that arises spontaneously.

So if humans are so good at cooperation why do we need to have self driving cars? 

Well because they're not.

The author raises another darker reason to promote autonomous vehicles.

The drivers are now passengers, and they are a ripe audience for social media consumption. In other words they are free to be targeted by social media marketeers.

The book has a discussion of various types of racing, then discusses photo enforced intersections and speed limit laws. 

There is also a discussion of "Google Earth." 

Was the book what I expected?

In some ways yes, in others no. 

I was kind of expecting a testament to the love of motor travel, something that I value highly. Maybe some day in the future there won't be any freedom to drive wherever and whenever we wish. I sure hope that day never comes. I find it hard to believe that such a widespread  highway system could ever be so tightly regulated. 

Technology has changed the kind of cars that we currently drive, and there will be even more changes in the future. Even curmudgeons like me will eventually learn to make peace with the adoption of electric vehicles. The important thing is to keep those wheels spinning! 

Friday, September 2, 2022

 Should I be concerned that my rational mind is currently agreeing with my emotional mind? 

Work it out Kronk!
 image source: Disney

This almost sounds like the late onset of maturity!

My rational mind is saying,"don't buy anything right now," 

My emotional minds chimes in and says "Listen to that other angel!" 

I don't really want anything else right now. And, of course, I certainly don't need anything right now.

All I should be doing is enjoying my recent purchase, and I am. It only took 16 years to get it. 

What I am definitely enjoying is having less cars.

An empty side yard, two cars in the garage, my truck at the curb. 

There's two cars in the drive, but that's pretty normal.

Why would I want to mess this situation up? Don't I have everything that I want?

I could do without either the '96 Mustang or the XJS, but I don't have to sell either of them.

The Mustang really doesn't need anything.

My intention has been to straighten out the ABS situation with the XJS, then I can move on to other problems.

There's no need to spend too much money right now. I don't really have to spend any money at all. It's the time to save and build up my car fund. 

Do I even want another old car? That's a question that I've been mulling over in my mind. My XJS is 33 years old, my Mustang is 26 years old, both would considered to be vintage cars.

When I say old car, I mean something from the 70's and earlier. I've had lot's of cars from this period. I enjoyed them, but do I want to go back to that time? ( Lot's of question marks in this post!) 

Like the other two cars that I sold, I reached out to another buyer. This time one of the dealers that advertise that they buy "Classic cars" on CraigsList. This dealer has their lot in Monterey, and I've looked at various cars that they've advertised over the years. 

This time I offered up the XJS! Is this a betrayal of some secret, sacred trust?

I just spent all my extra cash to buy the '06 Mustang, couldn't I have spent that money to fix up the Jaguar? Yes, I could have, but I really didn't want to!

I guess that is just the ugly truth. The XJS will never be the favored one. It's sat for years, chances are it would probably sit for more, taking up space.

Will it sell? I don't know. There really isn't much demand locally ( that's putting it kindly for these cars). I've read that there are a lot of these going back to England. Prices for XJS are all over the place. Occasionally a really well preserved, well sorted, low mileage example will show up. These command prices in the low 20K. Then there are the forlorn cars that have sat for years and haven't run for at least that long, sometime racking up late registration fees. These can go for anywhere from 1,000 dollars up to a few grand. 

The buyer asked how much I wanted for it. I decided to send some photos before I give a price. I asked him to make an offer.

He probably won't do that, he'll probably want me to make the first move and I don't blame him. No need to start with more money on the table before the negotiations begin. 

I'm pretty realistic about the value of the car, I doubt that I'd get more than that. The buyer might not want to pay even what I think is my bottom line number. Then I don't sell, and nothing changes. 

Not the ringing endorsement for keeping a car!

Still I should enjoy my relative freedom, I'm sure that it won't last.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

 I didn't get  my first car until after high school.

Yes, you have seen this image before.

It was a '66 Mustang with a V8 and a four speed. My Dad advised me that I should buy an appropriate young person's car. I had other ideas but I took his advice, it was the last time! 

The Mustang wasn't what I wanted at the time, I wanted a Cadillac. It would have to be over ten years old, but that wasn't going to be a problem, I liked fins. What I didn't like too much was that Mustang, so I sold it quickly enough. 

My second car would be what I had really wanted. I found a '64 Cadillac convertible on a used car lot. It ran well, was straight and fairly clean. I spent a lot of time rubbing out and waxing the paint, cleaning and repairing the interior, and replacing the oxidized rear plastic window. It only took a bit of mechanical repair during the time I owned it. It was reliable enough to drive all around the Bay Area.  All the bright work shined up well and the car looked really good. This set my direction with used cars; maintain, preserve, and improve where you can. 

I made the mistake of selling it when some guy on the street offered me twice what I paid for it. I figured I'd do the same thing again, find a decent car and fix it up with the money I'd made. 

The Cad was replaced with a more troubled '66 Lincoln sedan. 

After I sold that Lincoln it was awhile before I replaced it with a '70 Coupe de Ville. 

This was a pretty good car. It was what I expected from a Cadillac big, sleek, and fast. I later read a contemporary road test of the '64 Cadillac that stated "If there is anything this big, that goes this fast, we haven't tested it yet." The '70 was even more impressive.

Say what you will about these old Cads and Lincolns, but they were road burners. There wasn't any need to improve the performance, they were already faster than your average Chevy, Ford or Dodge. They were at least a match for a new Buick or Chrysler. 

It is pretty apparent that I have never had to suffer with under powered cars. I only drove slow motorcycles for a couple of years in the beginning. After the Honda 305, every bike was genuinely fast. 

My Dad preferred his cars with a V8 engine and an automatic. He had a fling with a Corvair van but he found that unsuitable. He couldn't stand that his brother drove six cylinder cars just to save gas. Later he bought an old '60 Dodge with a slant six and three speed. I drove it quite a bit, but thought that it was too slow. Later he bought a really nice '55 Chevy Bel Air sedan with a six and Powerglide, he did not like it. Neither did I. 

Even my Dad liked his cars to have a little pizazz!

It's not that my Dad was some kind of hot rodder, his cars were usually equipped with the standard base V8 paired with an automatic transmission. He never liked manual transmissions, "standards" he called them because that was what they were. I guess he figured that the base V8 set up was good enough. This was the Pony car and muscle car era. He always thought of these as just fancier versions of the base models. Once you had a V8 under the hood, what else did you need? 

My Dad gave me some very practical advice when he told me, "If you want a faster car, just buy a faster car." Which has become my view also. 

If anything this viewpoint has become even more solidified as of late. It's pretty hard for me to justify that an older muscle car is really worth all the money that they are asking. If I was to buy a '70's Mustang would I try to make it perform like a new one? Probably not. Would it be worthwhile to improve it's abilities? Within reason.

At one time you could buy this '70 Mustang for a small fraction of a new cars price. The clever hot rodder could make some real improvements and end up with a car that closely matched or in many cases exceeded the new vehicles performance. But those days are long passed. It's not that the older car can't be improved, it's that the "value for the dollar" equation is so out of wack.

For example, my favorite Mustang, a '70 Mach One, can be purchased for around 35 -50 k. A very nice late model 15-20 Mustang can be bought for that, or quite a bit less. 

Why am I writing about all this? Because I've been examining my attitudes about the old car hobby. Especially as the price of entry has risen so much. It used to be that old cars were for the everyday enthusiast, now they are for the wealthy enthusiast. So many categories of cars are no longer of interest to me, because they are not accessible to me.

Of course it all comes down to supply and demand. The availability of certain vintage cars remains fixed as the demand for certain vintage cars continues to increase. For a time it was '50's cruisers, and classic muscle cars have enjoyed a high level of popularity for quite a few years. 

For me, it's kind of "where do I go from here" moment. 

I've already had quite a few 50's 60's and 70's cars that were older when I acquired them. I had a '70's car that was only a few years old at the time. Lately I've mixed vintage with current models. I don't know that I'll ever want another 50's car, there are only a few 60's and 70's cars I'd seriously consider. 

Right now I'm in the middle of quite a few car problems. I missed a post deadline, so I decided to run these two autobiographical pieces. There is a lot of car activity, enjoyable or not (!) happening around my garage. Events are making me question my established car guy philosophy. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

 In the late 1960's my Dad brought home a Honda 50 motorcycle.

I really didn't want to be THAT nice!

It was a C110, not a Super Cub, it was the scrambler version. It was also a real motorcycle. Hand clutch, four speed foot shift, tank between the knees, motorcycle. It might have been small and low powered, but it was an actual motorcycle. That was important. 

It also set me on the path that I followed for the next twenty years. Motorcycles became my main focus and the focus of my motoring enthusiasm.  

I never owned a car during my high school years. I had access to one of my Dad's cars whenever I needed it, but I rode my motorcycle to school every day. 

That 50 was a lot of fun for a 7th. grader. My Dad would take us, ( my older brother and I ) with the 50 crammed into the back of the '64 Tempest wagon, to a big, abandoned parking lot where my brother and I learned to ride, and spent many hours doing laps around the lot. Eventually we lost interest, and the bike sat in a shed for years afterwards. Eventually I got my learner's permit, and I even rode it to high school once as a sophomore, but really only once. It was kind of an embarrassment, and it's lack of power and unsuitability was really apparent. I ended up buying a larger motorcycle of my own several months later.

That was what set the template, and it was what young motorcycle enthusiasts did. We'd start out with whatever was available or we could afford, and then trade up to bigger machines as the means became available.

There was no point sticking with a small under powered bike and trying to "soup it up"  to go faster. It just didn't make sense. The entire bike was designed around the engine. It was small, lightweight, and would have been unsuitable for traveling at speeds higher than it was built for. Besides it was just too cramped, as I had grown, and didn't like looking like a circus bear riding a tricycle!

My first step up was to a Honda CB160, only 110ccs larger, which was three times as large, but it made a huge difference in real world performance. The 160 was rated at 16.5 hp. which made it Calif. freeway legal. The operative word is legal, not ideal. Still, it could cruise at 60 mph. and hit a top speed of 70+ mph. No suited for Interstate highway touring but it was enough for county highways and back roads, and it could handle a short freeway hop to tie together my off freeway excursions. Even more importantly, it could climb the Oakland/ East Bay foothills. It was capable enough to give me some real exploring capabilities, and was my first taste of open road freedom. 

Not to say that I didn't play around with that 160. I did some bodywork after I damaged it trying to do some off roading. I bobbed the front and rear fenders, ( The rear smashed after a failed attempt at hill climbing) and had my first success (?) with a spray bomb paint job. I  also replaced the worn seat upholstery. High performance tuning consisted of removing the air filters and adding a set of shorty mufflers. The original mufflers were rusting out at the tips and mounting brackets. The shorty mufflers were cheap and loud, what more could a teen age kid want? 

More power and speed of course.

During his junior year my brother bought himself a used (every bike we bought was used in those days) Kawasaki Mach Three triple. This was one of the first of the Japanese Superbikes of the late 70's. It was as quick as the new Honda 750cc four cylinder. Magazine tests recorded quarter mile ETs in the high 12 second range, 12.77. That  is seriously fast, even Today! Good thing that my folks didn't read those magazines. 

My brother had been riding a '65 305cc Honda Superhawk, 28 hp. and a top speed of between 95-100 mph. This was a real motorcycle, much bigger and heavier than my 160, and monstrous compared to the old 50. Performance was almost equivalent to the Triumph 500cc twins. This is what killed off the British bike market, equivalent performance from smaller, cheaper, more reliable, and oil tight machines.  All with electric starting!

The fruits of my efforts. I rode this quite a bit.
All the way to the Coast Highway!

I bought the 305 from him and my plan was to build it up as a chopper which I ultimately did. That was accomplished in the Summer between Sophomore and Junior year. By the end of Junior year I'd traded up to a Kawasaki/ Meguro 650 twin. 

By the beginning of my Senior year I moved up to a Kawasaki Mach One of my own. While this was usually considered to be a short haul dragster, it was well suited to long distance traveling. Which I did. This was the machine that I started long distance touring with. Fuel economy was not too good, but with a light throttle hand it could return 30 mpg. on the freeway.

I would ride to a destination like Sacramento, turn around and drive back home. It was all about day trips, lot's of times I would leave early in the morning and return well into the night. I really spread my wings with this bike, I rode up the coast all the way to Mendocino, I rode down to Paso Robles, I finally made it up to Lake Tahoe. My crowning achievement was participating in, and finishing, the first California 1000 road rally. It was quite the adventure for a high school senior. I cut school with my Mom's permission, for the Friday night start in Los Angeles. That was an all nighter, after the rally I spent my first night at a motel by myself away from home. I got called on the carpet by the Dean of Boys on Monday back at school. I was honest with him, I told him that my Mom knew all about it, and as I had told her, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, I might never get a chance to do this again. He respected my honesty and I didn't even get into any trouble!

An action shot taken on the MacArthur freeway in my Senior year. 
I rode this bike EVERYWHERE!

I ended my last year of high school with the Kawasaki. I had begun to really want a Harley Davidson, but that wouldn't be for a few more years. I'd gone all the way from a Super Cub to a Super Bike. 

No hopping up, just trading up.

It made sense to me. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

 Now that I've got my '06 Mustang,

Well, maybe not this one!

Do I really need a 63 Riviera?

Need is a dangerous word around old cars. Nobody really needs an old car, unless it is going to pressed into actual transportation use. 

As I've written before, shouldn't my '06 Mustang fulfill my need for a PLC (Personal Luxury Car)? 

The answer is yeah, of course, kinda, mostly, ...sorta. 

Let's see; a sporty, stylish, comfortable, luxurious, four seat, high speed road cruiser. Both can cover those areas. Pride of ownership? Yep. 

One of them does get twice the fuel economy of the other, on regular gas! Guess which one? 

Yesterday I tried to see if my '06 would fit as easily under the garage table as the '96. Not really. It will, but it's a tighter fit. 

Compare the measurements:

'63 Riviera;  208'' L X 76.3'' W X 53'' H

'06 Mustang; 188'' L X 74'' W X 56'' H

'96 Mustang; 181'' L X 72'' W X 52.8 H 

Wow! The Riv is 20 inches longer than my '06 and 2.3 inches wider. The Riv is also quite a bit wider than the '96, 4 inches wider. I've forgotten just  how big even this compact Riviera really is. It is 5 inches longer than my long wheelbase Jaguar XJ6! 

I'm really not used to big cars anymore. Big GM cars from the mid 60's and up stretch out to 225 inches and were proud of it. 

I'm also kind of a fuel economy wonk. I determined that the best highway mileage of my last '66 Riv was 12 mpg. on the way to Paso Robles. I'd estimate that it got around 9 mpg. in mixed use. On premium gas. Of course. Wow! Again! All my current vehicles get at least 20 mpg. driven at 70 mph. My two Mustangs get at least 25 mpg. Both on regular. 

One of the reasons that I got rid of my '70 Mustang was because of the poor fuel mileage of around 15 mpg. on the freeway. 

Of course you don't buy a collector car for the economy. Now that I'm retired, there are days when I don't even start the cars, much less drive them. It's not like I'd be depending on this old car for practical transportation. 

So, what would I use that old car for? 

Good question. Fun?

I used to keep my '56 Cadillac on the right side of my garage. The big Dagmar bumpers allowed maybe, six inches clearance with the clothes drier, and that was because my garage door doesn't close all the way and I could pick up another few inches of length by letting the rear end stick out a bit. 

I'll have more to say on this subject in a following post.

If "need" is one of the most dreaded words that must never be uttered. 

Then the "W"word is even more feared; as in, "Do I even want a car like that?" Be very careful never to utter these words aloud, especially in the presence of, or much worse in conversation, (!) with  your SWMBO. (She Who Must be Obeyed!) It is not our job to undermine our own arguments to buy an old car. 

In reality, there are no logical arguments in favor of getting a vintage car, no rational supportable argument that can be made. You get one to satisfy a "want." Nothing wrong with that. Yes, many times the reasoning doesn't make any sense, but you want it anyway! If you are paying your own way, and not taking the funds away from something that you should be providing to your family, then feel no guilt. 

Still, I feel kind of weird not because I want an old car, I feel weird because I don't particularly want an old car!

Why is that? 

Maybe because I'm old enough to have already owned several old cars. These cars were not that old when I owned them, I still used them for daily transportation, though they would be quite ancient now. I was shocked to realize that my '70 Mustang was 45 years old when I owned it recently, that's almost half a Century! 

Would I even want to drive an old car anymore? That's a hard question to answer. I'm pretty active on the AACA forum, so I'm always reading about other guy's old cars, and checking those for sale. I know that I don't want anything that would be really old, probably nothing earlier than the mid Forties to mid to late 1950's. That would mean that the car wouldn't be too much older than me! 

I'm much closer to 70, than I am to Sixty, so maybe that car is pretty old too. 

Of course there are other cars that are older, but not really old. I've actually got a couple of those already. 

One "problem" ( first world, I guess) is that I've got several different types of vehicles that cover my different needs and wants.

I've got a full size long bed pick up. It's not a "bro dozer," it's my useful work truck that I can also drive anywhere, comfortably and enjoyably. I really enjoy driving this truck. This was something that I wanted since I first saw one, so much so that I bought one new. I was lucky enough to get a green one. 

I've got my big CUV, the Ford Flex. This is a very useful and "flexible" people and stuff hauler that is a terrific road tripper. It's a late model, low mileage beauty that was something that I also had admired when new.

Talking about things that I've admired since new, my '06 Mustang is the personal pony car that I've wanted for over 15 years. Now that I've got it, there's no reason for me not to drive it. It has 100,000 miles less than my '96 Mustang. 

If I'm going to drive the Mustang, then when would I drive the Riviera?

I just got rid of two old cars so I shouldn't be in any hurry to add any more complications to my life. I'm in a pretty good space right now, I even have some extra space around the garage, so I should just enjoy it. Maybe even improve upon it by jettisoning the other two old cars that I've got. That would sure reduce the overload of cars. 

I'm not thinking of adding an old car to my current fleet, an addition would only be made if one or both of my garage cars were sold. That way my Wife would know that I'm serious about cutting back. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

 What is the appeal of  American Graffiti ? 

I've been kind of thinking about this since I drove out to Modesto to the Graffiti USA museum. This museum is going to be a testament to this period.

Where were You in '62? Where do wish that you had been? You can replace the reality of your past with this stylized, fictional, version. A younger generation can imagine what it was really like, or what they wish it was like. Or we could be just looking at the past through rose colored glasses. What could be a more natural reaction?

1962 was over 60 years ago. I was eight years old. I'm 67 now. To have lived through this and participated in events that occurred in this era you'd have to be at least 75 years old. I'm sure that the movie tells the story of some specific demographic. I actually met three gents at the Modesto Graffiti Museum Cruise In that had participated in that area's cruising heritage. This is where George Lucas got his inspiration for the movie. From his own life experiences in Modesto.

People love all kinds of movies that have no relationship with their actual lives. Consider Star Wars. (Another Lucas masterpiece!)

I was at the Paso Robles West Coast Kustoms Nationals many years ago. There were a couple of stars from AG, Bo Hopkins and Candy Clarke in attendance. They were selling autographed photos and chatting with fans. 

In an uncharitable mood I turned up my nose at buying a photo or even saying hello. Washed up has-beens is what they were. Maybe.

Later I got to thinking. These two people were part of the ensemble that produced a true American film icon, beloved by millions and going onto successive generations of fans. This movie lives on in hearts of millions of old car fans. Mine included.

What have I done, or will I ever do in my life, of any value, that will touch even a small number of people? Elite film critics can turn their nose up at this film, it may not be highbrow, but it is loved! 

This is one of the few films that I have watched multiple times. When it would appear on a cable TV schedule I will generally watch it, it doesn't even have to be from the beginning! There are certain scenes that I find memorable and I daresay iconic. One of my favorites is after Milner races Falfa on the downtown street, and the '32 is sitting alone on the street in the dark in a distant shot. I will never own a classic hot rod like that, in fact I really don't even want a classic hot rod like that. But these were the cars that I read about for years in all the hot rod magazines as a kid, and they were a part of my automotive hopes and dreams. I can easily see and admire the attraction of these machines, they have a brutal beauty. 

Now with YouTube it is easy to watch and re-watch many segments of the movie, and I have my favorites of the compilations that are presented there. I also have a copy of the movie on cd.

Today I went to a cruse in/ open house at the Modesto Graffiti USA Museum.  It was a good excuse to take my new Mustang out for a drive. 

This picture depicts what the finished museum is going to look like.  A simulated Downtown streetscape area with cars parked along the street at the curb. This reminded me of the street scene sections at the Petersen Museum. It is designed to replicate some of the scenes along the classic Modesto Cruise circle. Most cities had a cruise route around the downtown area. My hometown didn't, but we went to a nearby smaller town. It was a short route up and down E14th St. in San Leandro. This town has been famous for aggressive law enforcement, but things were still fairly mellow back in the early 1970's. The cruising itself was kind of a waste of time, unless you knew the other participants. It was all about showing off your car, meeting up with friends, maybe meeting some new people. 

It's interesting that Modesto has this strong relationship with the movie. It's true that George Lucas grew up in Modesto and the movie was based upon his experiences in that town. He graduated from high school in... 1962!

The movie was actually filmed in Petaluma, where the downtown movie filming locations are the actual downtown streets and buildings. Most of these locations are still very recognizable. The town also has it's own AG events. As a fan I have enjoyed visiting the town and seeing where the movie was filmed. 

Modesto has really taken the film and fans to heart. It is a way to draw tourism to the city. There is a Graffiti Week of activities. Car shows, cruises, movie screenings, concerts, and a parade of cars through the Downtown area.

All good clean fun, just like we like to imagine of the late 1950's.

Friday, July 29, 2022

 My Wife thinks that a 2015 Mustang looks like my '96  Mustang.

I immediately said "Whaaaaat? Where do you get that idea from?"

But you know, she was right. That woman is more perceptive about cars than I thought.

We've had a S197 Retro Stang since 2007 when we bought that one new. I think that those cars look great, although the styling is a melange of first gen Mustang cues. Somehow it all comes together just right, at least in my eyes. 

About four years later I added a '96 SN95 convertible to the fleet. At the time I wasn't that impressed by the design, but I couldn't find a Fox body in good shape for a price that I could swing. So I bought the '96 and over the years began to appreciate it's good qualities.

It was a complete departure from the earlier Fox design and it was quite different from the following 2005-2014 models. The design was a modern interpretation of the original Mustang concept without trying to look like a first gen. The body was modern, wedge shaped, and  smoothly styled with aerodynamic headlamps and a simple grille opening. Inside, the dash did carry a nod to the early dual cockpit design. The dash contained all the instruments in a large binnacle directly in front of the driver, all easily visible.

Compare this to the S197. Besides the obvious body design heritage cues, the interior also carries them. The dash is flat on top like a '67-'68 and the speedo and tach are buried in a couple of chrome lined tunnels. They really remind me of the dials in my '70, though these are much easier to read.

The flat sides and wheel arches are a stylistic tie to the '66-'70 and later 2006 models. 

The retro phase came to an end  with the 2014 models. The new 2015 car doesn't really recall the earlier models. Except for the roof line, which really looks like the '69 -'70 fastback design. I think that this is the car's best feature. The front end doesn't look anything like an earlier Mustang. It looks more like an interpretation of the generic gaping maw look. The leading edge of the hood curves gracefully down to the grille, unlike the abrupt sharp line of the past model. The fenders are curvaceous and blend through the doors into the quarter panels.

It doesn't really look like a SN95 but it is clearly a departure from the S197. I can imagine that the 2015 model could have followed the earlier SN95s, it looks like an evolution of that design, There aren't any real sharp edges on the 2015. The New Edge lead to the S197. The flat sides combined with the wheel arches are features that tie the two designs to each other. The ten years of the S197 could have been omitted from an evolutionary design stand point, and the 2015 design would look like the obvious next step. 

Irregardless of all this, almost every model design of the Mustang will find it's devotees. The first gen cars have been hugely popular since their introduction, and their popularity is still strong, over 60 years later! I never thought that Fox bodied cars would develop a strong following, since they were a complete break from traditional styling cues, but they did. A whole generation of fans consider them to be "the classic Mustang." Even the SN95s have their devoted followers, probably due to Mustang fans finally accepting the Modular 4.6 motor. Also the addition of Cobra and Saleen models brought a little glory to the series. 

The poor Mustang II has been very late to develop a strong fan base, though these were big sellers when introduced. The four cylinder models were just what the public was looking for at the time. Fuel economy became very important during that period. There were some V8 and V6 models available for a limited time, so these motors can be installed in any Mustang II, Their front suspension was adapted to many V8 powered street rods and has been more popular than the actual car itself. 

The Mustang is the second longest running American car line, next to the Corvette. Being a mass market vehicle, it had to follow market demands. The Corvette, as a niche vehicle and was free to remain closer to its roots. Although as we know, the Corvette, languished without development and improvement, for a long period. In fact the re introduced Mustang GT 5.0 was at one time the quickest American car.

Mustang fans can choose from an almost unlimited variety of vehicle and model combinations. That has always been a big factor in the Mustang's continued popularity. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

 Replacing the seat motors on the '07 Mustang's front seat.

OEM seat motors and tracks are extremely expensive. Lasco Ford parts lists a new replacement unit at a discount price of 735.65 which is 25% off of the original price of 980.87! Used units are listed on E Bay at prices of 130.00- 250.00. 

There are currently no service parts currently available from Ford! Or from the aftermarket.

My Daughter's '07 seat had developed problems with the motor and could no longer be adjusted. My '96 had a stuck /inoperative power seat when I bought, it crammed my knees up against the dash. 

I had been kicking around the idea of getting a '13, or '14 model Mustang.  When I learned about the high replacement cost and the lack of a manual replacement for the seat adjuster, it just bummed me out. 

I don't really know why. After all my XJ6 never came with a manual seat, neither did my Flex. I wasn't in a dither about that. Maybe because I was planning on keeping my "new" Mustang for a very long period. 

It turns out that there was a manual seat adjuster available, it even raised and lowered the seat a few inches. I had bought a complete seat at the San Jose Pick and Pull and swapped it into the '07 while I looked for a power replacement.

I had sent my Daughter off with that seat in her car.

I decided that I would continue to look for a replacement power unit, as well as an additional manual unit to keep as a spare. 

I found both in one day at Pick and Pull in Newark and bought both of them. It was a really hot day, well into the 90's which is rare for the Bay Area. I found what I needed in a couple of different cars. I pulled the power seat out first, unbolted the seat back and carried the seat base to the next car which had the manual seat. I pulled this seat and unbolted the seat back as well. 

Now I had two seat bases, one manual and one with power adjustment, which is much heavier. I also had a pretty heavy tool bag. I carried the power base with my left hand and the lighter manual base along with the tool bag with my right. I held the tool bag with the three middle fingers of my right hand and set off for the cashier's area. It was quite a bit away. 

I shuffled off towards the front of the yard, I'd go about 125 ft. then set everything down for about 15 seconds then pick everything up and shuffle off again. This was repeated several times and I started to notice some pitying looks from some of the other patrons. One guy even asked if I wanted to borrow his hand truck but I told him," no, I got this!" It was hot and I was tired from several hours of yard work at home before coming to the wrecking yard. But I was still very happy, I'd found both of the things I was looking for in this same trip!

I'd been watching videos that showed the seat back being removed along with the seat upholstery and seat pan. The guy in the video said that was how Ford sold them, as a unit. This is what I related to the cashier.

The lady at the check out at the Pick and Pull had other ideas, she said that she could see some nuts on the frame. She was willing to sell the frames as a complete assembly I'd just have to pay for all the additional parts! That was going to double the cost, so I moved to the side of the check out area and started taking the seat bases apart.

I was a sweaty, dirty, exhausted, mess. I kneeled on the asphalt but at least there was some shade from the sun. On top of that, I'd injured the muscles of my three middle fingers of my right hand which were starting to cramp up. Luckily I had plenty of tools in that heavy bag, and I unbolted the seat tracks from the bases. Hmmm, the videos had never mentioned that this was possible. They hadn't showed much detail and I had assumed they were manufactured as a single unit. 

When I reached the cashier she started to charge me for the wire harness also,  at first I was going to argue and maybe remove it, but I'd reached my limits so I just paid for it as well.  

It seemed like a really long walk back to the truck. This was quite an unglamorous episode in my adventure, I'd looked like a beat up, old, raggedy ass man, which was exactly how I felt. 

At least until the a/c cooled me off!

So now I had a power unit and another manual unit available as a spare. I planned to put the power unit in the '07. I thought that I should test it out first.

There are a lot of wiring in the seat controls, it wasn't going to be easy for me to come up with a plan to jump wires to rest the motors. I didn't want to disassemble the '07's seat controls to try to test it. I thought that I'd just install the motor, on the seat then try it out. 

This is the power track that I bought. This is the top view, the four attaching nuts are clearly visible. The left side where the wire loom exits is the front of the seat. 

I put the seat on my garage table where it would be easier to work on. The seat tracks were held on by threaded studs with the nuts on the inside of the seat base. It would have been easier if Ford had welded the studs to the seat base instead of locating the nuts inside. If you pull the seat upholstery off and unbolt the seat back it is easy to put the nuts on. I didn't want to do that, and it isn't really necessary. I found a simpler way.

The rear nuts are covered by the seat foam and are hard to see, but you can fit a box end wrench to remove them  pretty easily.

You can do this part by feel. Just be careful, the metal panels and parts of the seat assembly are stamped metal and usually have one very sharp edge. I worked in auto production for GM and found that all interior metal panels can cut you quite severely if you are not careful. Just imagine that each component has a knife edge. 

The front mounting nuts are easy to access.

I didn't want to disconnect the seat switches from the left side seat base trim panel, so I disconnected all the wiring connections to the motors. I will re connect these to the replacement seat track once it is in place. I wanted to minimize the potential for damage. 

As you can see, the track has been removed, the wiring harness has been disconnected, but the seat base, upholstery, and trim/control panel has not been disturbed. 

Removal of the front nuts allowed me to pivot the track away from the base, like a hinge, giving me a lot more room to work. I was going to repeat this by attaching the two rear nuts first. But how was I going to get the nuts started on the studs since I couldn't see them too well, and the seat foam was firmly pressed against where they had to go? 

I needed something to push back the foam and hold it in place so I could get my fingers in and the nut threaded on the stud. I cut these little wooden blocks to do the job. 

I forced the blocks in between the frame and the foam to open up some working space. You can see that the track is angled away from base during this step.

With both rear nuts attached the wiring harness was reattached as the track was swung back into place.

This is the main electrical connector for the seat motors. I thought that I might hook up jumpers to test it but  I came up with a better plan. I'd try it out in my "new" '06. 

First, I covered the door sill area with an old towel to prevent scraping that area up when pulling the seat. I carefully removed the driver's seat from my "new" '06 and set the '07's seat in it's place. I hooked up the wiring harness and found that the replacement seat track worked perfectly. I then removed this seat and replaced it with the original. I set the repaired seat in the garage and will replace the junkyard seat from my Daughter's car the next she comes to visit. 

I'm going to hold onto the broken seat motor assembly. It's quite possible that in the future some manufacturer might start to provide service parts. Then I'll be able to rebuild the tracks. In the meantime I've now got two manual adjusters as back up.