Monday, January 24, 2011

The International Year of the Cold Shop Floor

I have to caveat what I am going to say next by first saying that not having a job over that period in ’09-10 was very, very stressful – and I am just speaking for me I can only imagine how it was on Krista and others around me.

That being said, I did however get a ton of work done on the car. Also expectations of me were very low during that period. Everyone gave me space to focus on the job hunt and the car. Now that I have a great job expectations have gone through the roof and I don’t do myself any favors.

Since forever it seems like Krista has been sending me house listings. We have a house but we both know that we’re going to grow out of it sooner rather than later. To be honest, it’s Krista’s house. Her parent’s helped her buy it six years ago and she’s worked very hard to hang on to it over that period. Now that we both live here and I am working again its very affordable. So affordable that Krista has been constantly scoping for something bigger for both us to buy. I think its part of the “preggers” nesting process.

For a long time I owned a house. I bought it when I was eighteen and working in the laborers’ union. This was before I lost my leg. It was my dad’s idea. He was a genius when it came to things like that. Whenever we kids looked like we were making too money and pissing it against a wall he would come up with a scheme we could buy into to get us to save. For me it was talking me into buying the house on Erickson Drive in Red Deer.

I had that house for seven years – finally selling it in my last year of university to settle some school debt and buy a car. Over those seven years I had countless roommates and eventually that place became the party platform for the Red Deer Buccaneer’s football team after party scene (“lady, a lot of peoples husbands are in here”). Selling it made sense as I hadn’t lived there for almost 2 years by the time I sold it.

It’s strange to be 32 years-old and have the sale Erickson Drive be almost 7 years ago and the purchase 7 years before that. I bet even those friends/former roomies associated with that place reading this now are going to have a hard time believing that. We’re getting old.

Since getting married I have been rather staunch on the fact that we’d put at least another year into where we were at. I suffered a momentarily break in my resolve sometime last week. As I said, Krista is always sending me links to houses to look at and for the most part I do a pretty good job shooting down the listings. We currently live in what is known as a BOG (Bonus over Garage). This means that the bonus room sits atop the garage in the front. Essentially there are three floors plus a basement. Don’t get excited those three floors represent a total of 1700 square feet. Essentially it’s a staircase with rooms coming off of it. I have to state here that for the size it’s a great house – if I don’t Krista will most definitely temple punch me. However I have no interest in moving into a slightly bigger BOG.

I saw a house last Monday that, looked to me, if the price was right, could be a thirty year house for Krista, myself, Ruffin and, (soon to be) Junior. It wasn’t a BOG and hell, it had enough square footage to be a home for Junior and three, yet to be named, draft picks.

I was born in 1979 – The United Nations “International Year of the Child” and so was the house I liked and since then both the house and I have probably heard Abba’s “Chiquitita” enough times to want to strangle anyone named Bjorn. The place reminds me of the place my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Al owned in Calgary back in the ‘80s. It has the rough and tumble family-feel but still very elegant. The house also reminds me of those big feather bed land yachts from the ‘70s: The Lincolns, The Chryslers and the Caddies.

Oh, did I mention it also has a three car garage? Not that I noticed. Not I sat there and imagined a Snap-on tool box in the corner; and the TR6 in the farthest stall, the Belvedere in another stall and yet-to-be-named car-of-interest in the last stall (and the goofy looking ’06 Rav4 parked on the street) –not that I thought of that.

Being that this house just had a fairly major renovation, Krista’s interest was sparked also. I showed her the place on the computer in the morning before work and we both wrote it off as very nice but not something on our Radar for right now. Then later that day she phones me at work and says that she can’t stop thinking about that house. I feel the same. We drive over after work to take a look and are even more impressed.

I might have mentioned it before but Krista’s father is a retired engineer who now is a very accomplished finishing carpenter and cabinetmaker. He also worked for a home builder for a period overseeing major projects. To put it simply – the guy knows his stuff.

Krista’s mother, the woman I referred to in my wedding speach as an “institution” worked in a real estate office for a period and has an eye for detail and design that is second to none. Those are only the accomplishments that pertain to this story – there are others.

Together I call Krista’s parents “The Re-Mod Squad”. Being that they are always excited when talk about maybe moving they were more than excited to look at the house from a foundational point of view before Krista and I got too excited.

It turns out the house was a joint venture “flip” deal between a renovator and the real estate agent. Unfortunately for this real estate agent his renovating partner performed a level of work far below my father-in-law’s standard. The words “Bush league“ and “Bullshit” were bandied about with wild abandon. I personally take shabby renovations with a grain of salt – people who watch a lot of HGTV are eventually going to think they know more than they do and do something stupid like pick up a brad-nailer. My father-in-law however takes it very, very personally. He saw the house at eleven AM on Tuesday and I believe he only calmed down about it yesterday.

Since that review we’ve decided to do enact the famous “Brucey do nothing plan”. I think I’ve touched on this before. If not, in his sage years, my dad became quite famous for being faced with a problem, doing nothing about it and eventually seeing the problem resolve itself. There’s a little more jujitsu to it than that but that’s the jist of it. It was quite the art to watch – when done right.

So we’re watching this house – doing nothing – to see if the price will eventually accommodate what needs to be done - I forgot to mention it needs to be reroofed also. This is all in the plan. But what I didn’t plan for are these other houses that I am being presented with. I failed to realize that I opened the door to a nesting preggers wife to now hunt for houses like as if they are mammoths with golden tusks. I have to now look at three tonight and none of those look like they are going to feel like a land yacht from the ‘70s. Also none were born in the “International Year of the Child” – some look like they were born in the “International Year of the Crappy Window Coverings”.

To get back to my original point, no one had any expectations of me when I didn’t have a job. In the end it’s my fault I opened the door to this. With employment come expectations.

Getting back to the important stuff; the temperature in Red Deer finally warmed up enough for me to get some work done on the Belvedere. One of my dad’s legacies is that the door to the TR6 room is sized exactly for a TR6. Anything bigger is SOL. The Belvedere is bigger so I had to work on it in the wilds of the open shop. I did however move it right up to the door so I was in earshot of the Barrett-Jackson on the tube. They should just be honest and change the name to the Barrett-Jackson Corvette auction. This year it was a pretty sad showing for cars – a lot of Chevy crap.

Friday night I got the slant 6 almost all unbuttoned from the car. This is the second time in my life I’ve pulled a slant 6 and they are fairly easy motors to yank – although all the space they give you on one side of the engine is balanced by all the space you lose on the other side. Fortunately the only really sticky spot was getting the passenger’s side engine mount undone. The trick to doing it – and I remembered this from when I did this back when I was 18 – is to undo the driver’s side mount, undo the exhaust at the manifold and then place a jack under the engine and lift the motor until you can see the passenger’s side engine to mount bolts through the hole in the K-member.

It’s important to note that I had to customize a box-end wrench (shave some meat off of it) to get it to backup the exhaust bolt closest to the firewall. I didn’t do this to a Snap-on wrench but an orphaned one.

I marked all the wires with masking tape and a marker as I disconnected them and bagged all my bolts to make the replacement easier. At the same time I decided I am going to cut the wires on the 330 and leave them connected to the replacement motor instead of disconnecting them. This will help me figure out the reconnection by color as well as my notes.

I waited until Saturday morning to get the bottom-end unfastened. I retired Friday night at around 12:30am and was back in the shop by 8:30 am. I’m not going to lie – I was really missing that heated floor when I was under the Belvy. It was reminiscent of working on cars when I was younger. Eventually my kidneys and ass got so cold I went hunting for the mouse infested moving blanket to lie on.


By eleven AM I had everything unbuttoned and although the trans-mount/crossmember looked like it was going to give me a fight it and the driveshaft bolts came easy. By noon I had the engine and trans dangling from the end of the engine hoist like a giant marlin.


In other news I bought a convertible top for the TR6 off of EBay for 100 dollars and set it on the car. I don’t know much about it other than the box said BE-ATT and it looks good sitting on the frame. It won’t be until after paint until I can install it. Tops usually go for about 400 dollars so it will be interesting to see how this one installs. We’ll see.



Stay tuned…

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