Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The last word in lonesome is me

I am very, very happy that this upcoming weekend will mark my fifth weekend in a row of working on the car. That attention is paying major dividends. The last items related to the right side of the car are coming into sight. There could even be some welding taking place this weekend - well practice welding at least.

On Thursday morning, as I was setting out to walk the dog, I opened the door of the house to find a box of new TR6 parts from Drakes – thank you Len. After a (quicker than normal) dog walk I got to peruse my new parts. Perusing new parts might be my favourite part of restoring this car. This week’s parts are as follows:

1 Bearing, Nylon
1 Switch, Turn Signal
2 Hose, Front Brake
1 Hose, Rear Brake R/H
4 Screw Drum to Hub
1 Brake Shoe set, 4 shoes, Rear
1 Kit, Rear Wheel Cyl, Axel set
1 Disc, Front brake, 10.74 inch (This was a mistake I meant to order two)
1 Pad Set, Brake, Ceramic
4 O-Ring, Caliper Joint, Girling
1 Kit, Brake Caliper
2 End link, Anti Roll Bar
2 Bearing Kit Front
2 Dust and Grease Cap
4 Insulator Upper
2 Packing, Road Spring

I also ordered two rear brake drums and those are still enroute. Len informed me that I had only ordered one front disc brake but by that time I had reached the end of my parts capital for the month of March. I will include it in my April order.

With a new box of parts and all my job applying done for the week I headed to Red Deer Friday morning. I headed early as I had to back in Calgary Saturday night to drive Krista to the airport at five AM Sunday morning. She was to meet her parents and bother in Scottsdale, AZ because Scottsdale was momentarily short of pasty Canadians. If not for Krista’s family they were going to have to shuffle a few retired teachers over from Mesa.

I stayed because I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with an unemployed person going on vacation. Although, I apparently I have no problem with an unemployed person taking on a very expensive hobby. I’m very complicated.

Friday was the most productive day of the weekend. I’m starting to see a trend: I do too much on the first day and then drag ass for the rest of the weekend. Not to break from tradition I did almost everything worth reporting on Friday.

I started with installing the new signal light switch on the steering column. I did this because it was a fun job. The bros and I accidentally broke the old one off when we moved the car out of storage for dad.

After that I focused on installing the right, front disc brake and new bearings. I knocked out the old bearings sleeves with a hammer and punch. They came out without too much of a fight. Installing the new sleeves was slick.

I installed the hub, disc and bearings on the spindle and tightened it all down and installed the cotter pin, nut and dust cover (making sure to back the nut off a turn and a half after tightening it down).

I did all this and then realized I couldn’t install the brake dust shield with the disc installed. I had to pull it all off again. Dumb. I was glad that I was able to do this without wrecking the hub dust cover.

That process went so well that I then tackled rebuilding the caliper with the new seals. With the use of the Haynes manual this was a relatively simple process. Although getting the brake pistons out using the air compressor almost caused me to require a premature underwear change. Those bad boys really pop when they come out.

I added the new brake hose and that was it – the front hub assembly was now complete.

High on that success it was time to install the right-rear swing-arm. This was really simple. I made sure that all the shims went back in where they came from so not to change the rear wheel geometry.

Getting the new shock assembly to bolt up with the shim and spring installed required some Angus-sized weight on the rear of the car.

That went so well it was time to tackle the right-rear brake drum. I rebuilt the brake cylinder with the kit I acquired from Drakes. I then installed the bottom adjuster and pads. Getting the springs to stretch from pad to pad proved impossible until I realized that if I installed one pad then put the other at a ninety degree angle with the springs installed – pushing the pad flat would stretch the springs and make my life exponentially easier. I think 200 TR6 guys just said “duh!” in unison. Give me a brake – I’m learning as I go.

That went so well that I went and had supper with mom. Supper went so well mom and I had something like five beers each. After supper I swerved back out to the shop and somehow removed the rear differential without incident. Inspection of the diff mounts showed they were in the minority as they were in great shape.

I retired at about one AM. I started at noon so about a twelve hour day.

Saturday I cleaned the bottom of the car underneath the trunk and over where the diff hung. I removed brake lines and fuel lines and set to painting POR-15 on the bottom of the car. After removing the fuel line the odour from the spoiled gas in the tank was so bad it I decided to run some new gas through the tank before I started painting. It was a small improvement but by this time I had already acquired quite the headache from the bad gas smell.

I painted on one small can of POR-15 (this time being careful to paint the car and not myself) and called it a day.

I cleaned up with the shop mired in the smell of paint and fuel and made a mile back to Calgary.

This week I am expecting the arrival of my new interior panels and Friday is my 31st Birthday. I plan to spend the day up to my elbows in dad’s car.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mighty Mighty POR-15

The job search continues and like the wide-eyed young debutant who comes to Hollywood to seek fame I’m starting to be asked to do things I’m uncomfortable with and make me cry in my sleep a little bit.

I got lured into a scam on Friday. I was called in for an interview on what I was told was a labour relations role to find I was targeted in a hard sell on high volume insurance sales scam. I figured it out as I was walking out the door to go to the interview. I had to Google map the business again to get the exact address. I inadvertently just Google searched the name and all these threads containing the word “scam” came up. It was rather alarming.

I went to the interview anyway because a) I love nothing more than a good caper, b) I was dressed for it – which may not mean much to you, but my normal attire is cargo shorts and a hoodie and c) the only store in Calgary that sells POR-15 was a block away from where I was to be interviewed. I have my priorities.

I quickly laid waste to the temporary staffer who was tasked with my faux interview as everything went as described on the net. I called her on what the net had said and she blew it off as “not their company but another one” – I was just confused apparently. I should point out that there was no computer, stationary or books on her desk. It was also quite obvious she had not read my resume as she said she did when we spoke on the phone.

She wanted to quickly move me to the next interview (with a manager) – which just so happened to be starting in 5 minutes. I then asked her for a job description (as I had yet to see one) and she hedged with the fact I would be getting one in the next step of the process. I then asked her for her card and she didn’t have any – but Susan had cards and if I could just stay for another minute they would get her. I blasted out of there so fast it made her and the creep working the front desk’s heads spin… not this desperado.

I forgot to mention the guy at the front desk was a creep – think Dwight from “The Office” crossed with an older Moore’s Clothing sales guy. He kept hanging over me as I waited for my faux interview. Someone, who was also waiting to be fleeced, commented on my IPhone as I was busying myself with mapping the route from there to the body shop supplier with POR-15. The conversation had quickly turned to Rogers (the other Canadian wireless carrier) and I was commenting on how I liked them as they didn’t have coverage in all the places I didn’t want them to have coverage such as at the Cabin.

The creepy guy, who looked only to be there to make sure the only computer in the joint didn’t walk out the door, chimed in that when I started with them I would have to switch to Telus (thus completes your lesson on wireless carriers in Canada). He did this in the same tone as the kid in the class that thinks he knows everything and everyone hates. Being in the know of what was really going on made me want to push his head through a hollow core door for a) thinking that I was dumb enough to work there (granted I was in the room) and b) that I would let an employer dictate my personal phone carrier.

To round out the story, what was supposed to happen was they were going convince me (no matter what job they had drawn me in with on the phone) that I would be excellent at insurance sales. After a few more interviews the process would be that, as I became more committed and investing more time, they then start asking for money: 30 dollar security check, then 200 dollars for something else; eventually reaching something like 1000 dollars before even getting to work. Then I would be on a 100% commission. They have an 87% turnover rate.

After leaving it took me an hour to track down the body shop supply store that had POR-15. Apparently they moved and neglected to update the website. I phoned the number on the website and got a new address. It would have been only a few blocks over if I put the address into my IPhone correctly. I didn’t and therefore added to another forty minutes to my search. After 2 hours in the northeast of Calgary I finally got my hands on a six pack of POR-15.

For those who are not in the know: POR-15 is a paint-on sealant and protectant that bonds to rust and sucks up moisture as it dries. It finishes with a glass-like coat. This car, and the condition, it is in is the perfect candidate for this stuff. Many conversations about restoring this car, between dad and I, included the use of POR-15. He thought the stuff was magic.

After a nice late lunch with Krista at the world’s slimiest Boston Pizza I packed my overnight bag and was down the road to Red Deer with my new find. I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I was dedicated to maximizing my time. My focus Friday night was to pull the trailing arm and axle out from the rear right of the car and clean up the area for sealing.

I got the axle out rather easily but I must say I am getting pretty tired of backing up every bolt I pull off this car. They could have welded in a few more studs. As much fun as it is to have backup wrenches fall on my head.

After the axle was out there was nothing holding the aluminum trailing arm in place so it was all clear to move out. It was around this time I stopped for pizza and beer with my mom. Hanging out with my moms is one of the bonuses of working on the car at the acreage. Go ahead - call me a girlie boy – I can take it – my moms is cool.

When I returned I focused on grinding off the loose rust from surfaces under the right side of the car. By about nine pm I was painting on POR-15. I used a one inch brush to apply it. That stuff is messy –especially when painting up upside down. I had rubber gloves on but short sleeves so just my forearms are completely black. At one point some paint soaked through my shirt so there is a giant black spot on my skin over my heart. I am covered in this stuff.

I spent the rest of the night breaking down the U-joints on the axle and buffing the aluminum on the trailing arm with the wire wheel. I finally called it a night at 3AM. Conservatively, I reckon I put in 10 hours. A quick hit of leftover pizza and I hit the sack.

Saturday was more of the same except that I broke down the rear drum brake parts, cleaned them up and painted the drum plate. I also fit the new bushings and painted brackets onto the trailing arm. A lot of what I did was little stuff while waiting for paint to dry. I was a little worn out from the day before so it was a slower paced day. A lot of little things got done. It was a nice day as there was a lot of great basketball to watch. I had the NCAA tournament on the tube. It was a little less compelling this year as I forgot to fill out my brackets. I will definitely get down to a round of that tournament someday. I want that trip to coincide with seeing the Carolinas if that's possible.

Mom and I had a couple of Steaks and watched “The Hurt Locker” and I retired much earlier then the night before.

Sunday I cleaned up the rest of the inter-rear-quarter panel with soap and water and a spinning brush-head on the drill (the grinder and I are still not speaking). I then did something I was putting off - something that I have been dreading for a while – I removed the rear bumper.

Don, of red TR6 fame, gave me shit the week before for not having it off yet. I worked around it to remove the rear quarter panel (lazy). It wasn’t as difficult as I imagined. I do have to say it would have been damn near impossible without dad’s Snap-On tools as I had to use a knuckle on the extension to get even close to the main bumper bolts.

What surprises me is the amount of dirt that comes off this car -STILL. Between wire brushing and removing the rear bumper I must have removed another thirty pounds of dirt from the floor under the car. No, not rust flakes but just dried dirt. This car is going to be 200 pounds lighter just from dirt removal alone.

I put on a final coat of POR-15 and headed back to Calgary. Nothing more I could have done but watch paint dry.

Sunday night I did some research on the rear hubs as I was considering having them rebuilt. After extensive study it seems TR6 hubs are a very controversial issue. Forget Roe v. Wade, TR6 hubs bring out the claws.

It seems that some people have experienced wheels flying off the car because of rear hub failure! WTF?!

I will admit, although there seems to be a few cases, the occurrences are statistically insignificant but look at these images - very scary. Good Parts makes a beefed up replacement for 300 dollars and change a side. I think this is the way to go as I hate to leave a critical link like this untouched. There seems to be some thought that the rebuild process may be to be blame for the failures. It’s not clear that either choice (rebuilding or leaving them) would give me any piece of mind at all. After all, my moms is going to drive this car.

As I worked on the rear of the car I had the historically problematic rear diff staring me in the face. I am really scared to even think about it yet.

I remember thinking the rear of the car looked so simple compared to the front. Oh, I was so naive.

Stay tuned….

Monday, March 15, 2010

A hung-over guy lies under a car

There were some long moments this weekend when the best I could do to contribute to this project was to lay still under the TR6 on the warm heated floor and try my best to not throw up.

I have had a couple of interviews in the last weeks but the job search rolls on. I rolled into Red Deer Friday afternoon. My sister just got an evening gig as a bartender in town so me and some friends rolled in to run her through her paces. It went so well we tried a second bar. The last thing I remember was ordering pizza sometime around three and promptly passing out.

Early Saturday morning Donald showed up to pick up his 1974 Triumph TR6 thus ending my career as a big time car importer. Having the advantage of going to bed at a reasonable hour he beat me out to the acreage by at least a half hour. Don had a great Uhaul trailer setup that might be in the cards when the TR goes west for its engine.

After assisting Donald, to the best of my deteriorated ability, and about eight big glasses of water I headed out to the shop to attempt to work on the car. Suffice it say work went slowly. I spent the morning removing the right rear suspension brackets. This tasked would be better performed by someone with a clear head as the inter bracket is a puzzle. The frame rail prevents the removal of the bushing bolt and the bushing bolt prevents the removal of the bracket bolts. I finally got the bracket out by removing the old shock linkage there by freeing everything up.

The brackets and bolts were all that nice rust color I love so much. I was not looking forward to another afternoon of the stool and the power drill so I headed into town to look at a bench grinder. Canadian Tire (I love that my dad’s favorite store keeps making cameos) had 6” bench grinders for 40 dollars. I made the investment along with a wire wheel and a polishing wheel. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and polishing bolts. That was after a half an hour of shimming the wheels so they would spin freely. As I went through this progress I couldn't help but wonder who needs a grinder with two grinding discs – how many lawnmower blades can one sharpen in a life time? It must be that there is a lot of misplaced sexual tension taken out on mower blades.

I also cleaned up the brackets and painted them flat back and that’s about it.

I had some serious questions about camber solutions for the rear wheels so it was time to retire to consult my cloud sourcing geniuses at sixpack.org. The car has negative camber angle on both rear wheels (see pic).

In other news I got my tax return and almost all of it is going back into the car. I now have my second order into Drakes and it will include rotors, brake hoses, drums, rear spring shims and a few other must-have parts to keep this project rolling along.

I also bought a custom interior from a fellow TR6 enthusiast who built it himself. He does beautiful work and I got it for the right price. I’m not sure how much of it I am going to use as dad’s door panels are in great shape – but I needed the rear wheel hump covers and other pieces. These things are not sold separately. I got the panels for less than half the price of a new kit and I know these are built better. Take a look at my new panels here.

All things considered it was a pretty good weekend for a hung over guy. Next weekend should be a good one also as I am back at it and maybe even with more parts.

Stay tuned…

Monday, March 8, 2010

March's Marching Forward

A good weekend! As of today the entire right-side front suspension assembly is back together. Putting things back together is a big and important step that is all too often missed by most of us… me included.

I deciphered the reassembly using the front driver’s side suspension, TRF Parts assembly manual and the TRF TR6 glove box manual. All that was all just enough to get me through. I was very glad that I hadn’t disassembled the driver’s side yet.

I had Friday night, Saturday and Sunday to work. Friday was dedicated to cleaning and painting the last of the suspension parts and test fitting the new fender. The new fender looks great and is a great fit. I just pinned it with clamps for now as I still have to weld in the rocker-panel.

On that note – the new Lincoln Weld-Pak 140 MIG welder looks great in the shop but I resisted it's siren's call. There are things I need before me and the welder will be at one. Not the least of which is a bottle of Argon and most importantly some practice on non-TR6 steel.

The coolest moment of the weekend was when I was cleaning the spring and found it to be in good shape with factory paint marks. It had some not so great spots that would not clean up but this is not a contours car and I would rather leave as much original as possible.

Installing the spring was quite a production. My cheapness prevented me from purchasing the $85.00 spring compression tool specifically for TR6s. I bought the $25.00 spring compression clamps from Princess Auto instead. The clamps worked well for removing the spring without bodily harm. After a few attempts it was clear that reinstall wasn't going to go as well. I even “modified” the $25.00 Princess Auto camps with my angle grinder shortening them considerably. After that I worked at it for about an hour to no avail.

It’s important to point out I was measuring time by how many half hour episodes of Billy the Exterminator had gone by. The thought of homes, with so many mice that six foot king snakes had moved in, will be forever tied in my brain to installing this suspension.

I finally came to the conclusion that with the compression clamps installed it would be impossible to reinstall the spring. I also figured out that if I removed my modified compression clamps – I would never get the spring compressed again. What to do?

In the Magic-Snap-On-Tool-Box-of-Hope there was a small roll of perforated metal strapping. I decided to use a couple of lengths of that strapping and a couple of small bolts to keep the spring compressed while I removed one of the clamps. I was then able to slip the spring into place without injuring myself.

Well… that’s not entirely true.

There was an incident involving the grinder… again. Somebody needs to take this tool away from me. When I was “modifying” the $25.00 spring clamps I drop the grinder. At the time I had the cutting wheel installed. The wheel broke of course. The broken piece was still attached but obviously broken. I had no intention of using it in this condition but I pressed the trigger for no apparent reason. The broken piece came flying off and hit me in the chest leaving a quarter-size bruise and a sharp pain. That was rather stupid and would fit under my dad's heading of "Angus-ized". I really hated admitting that.

Bolting in place the bottom of the shock was rather difficult without the engine installed. Compressing the installed spring using a floor jack would just lift the entire car. I had to get my mother and sister to stand in the engine bay to have enough weight to compress the spring to bolt the shock down.

The next task was to install the lower control-arm bushings for the vertical link. The first thing was to figure out that the plastic sleeves I had already installed were installed incorrectly and had to be removed and reinstall. Two episodes of Billy the Exterminator later I had that all figured out and the vertical link installed.

It’s not contours but it is safe, functional and some of the best work I have ever done. There is an engineer and

his father restoring a ’74 TR6 and reporting progress on 6-pack.org. He has replaced the frame and now has acid dipped every body part on that car. This is a car he drove home and was few light bulbs and a spare tire away from passing an inspection. There is always going to be someone out there going the extra mile. The only thing that I'm jealous about is that he’s doing it with his dad.

Stay tuned…

Monday, March 1, 2010

Raging Guilt

So it’s been two weeks since I’ve been to work on the car. That is not sitting well with me but there are two sides to the “car at the wedding” equation. The car side has been laid out in excruciating detail on these electronic pages. The other side of the equation is as important (split-tails would argue it’s more important). The other side is, of course, the wedding and there actually being one to drive the TR6 to. If I don’t get wed I think I could end up like the brothers Jay Leno bought one of his Hudsons from: keeping carburetors in the kitchen sink and heads in the kitchen cabinets.

To that end I have been doing my damndest to get this career situation cleared up. I realize that my perpetual unemployment has been integral part of the suspense so far but I need to get this wrapped up before we hit the third act. Who wants to marry an unemployed guy? And who wants to be an unemployed guy at their own wedding? I’m running out of witty remarks to “so what are you up to now?”

I have only really been unemployed since the beginning of December when I, as Gordon Lightfoot would say “… got burned it a three way script… enter number two”, but December is traditionally a pretty slow month. Everyone is checked out for the month. I always found that December and August are the two worst months to try and accomplish any business. On top of that I spent the first week being shocked by my unexpected unemployment with the added burden of the high holy season approaching. I spent the rest of the month bucking lumber to sell and feeling sorry for myself.

Since January I have been pretty dedicated to the job hunt. My dedication grows with each day I find I have an abundance of free time. It’s now been two months, 9 drafts of my resume and 467 drafts of my cover letter and I am just starting to see some movement. According to the Calgary Herald there is about seven percent unemployment in Calgary right now. As Calgary has a population of 1,079,310, according to Wikipedia, that would put 75,551 people in the job market with me. That is one scary-ass number.

It seems that I couldn’t have picked a worse time (economy-wise) to end my career last spring. Thinking back on that hard decision I still think it was the right one. Now is the time to take risks – no kids to consider. To misquote Joni Mitchell – it wasn’t the time of year but definitely the time of man – to move on.

So here’s to next week’s blog (I am tipping a mug of Kokanee Gold beer) being happier than this one. I am committed to this project but success has to include me being employed.

In other news the fender arrived (see pic).

Stay tuned – it’s just getting interesting…