Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Short of It

I visited the-little-car-that-could for a short period Thursday night. I was just in town to get my prosthetic foot fix and then back up to Calgary. I had just enough time to drop off the box of parts from Drakes, fire up the car for a few minutes and to put the new oil cap on the engine. The old one was the only thing Mike wasn’t able to make look pretty. That day was the perfect analog for what my overall schedule looks like lately.

The little car has nothing but patience for me but I need to get back at her as there are still milestones that need to be hit – such as paint and body.

On that note, I’d better give my body man a heads up in the coming weeks to see if we’re still on schedule for March. Well… to see if he is, at least, still on schedule as I know I’ve fallen behind.

I’ve made the decision to bring the car to Calgary to do the finish assembly after paint. By then it will be April or May and junior will be with us. I don’t think I’ll be able to sneak off to Red Deer on weekends once the baby touches down.

This past weekend we celebrated Krista’s 30th Birthday with some of her family and friends – we also celebrated my mother’s birthday as she came down to Calgary to visit.

On the car front, other than my visit to Red Deer, very little got done. I’m trying to stay focused but we have a house to sell in the next couple of weeks then we’re into moving.

I should know tonight or tomorrow if I can sneak off to Red Deer this weekend. I’m reaching a dire point where I need to a) get the car disassembled for paint. This includes: remove taillights, windshield/windshield frame, door panel and seats. And b) get the other slant-6 from the Bevy on the ground (I realize that is probably not as important to the TR6 – but I’d still like to have it done).

I’ll keep it short this week but I’ll share a link to an editorial I wrote for Mystar: http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/editorials/1048-selling-your-classic-car-on-the-internet-getting-through-the-minefield.html

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Math of Old Cars

I did some math around what remains to do on the little car and it wasn’t pretty. A big chunk of that is paint and bodywork but there are some other things I underestimated that are going to bite me a bit before this project is done.

Sometime ago someone at a wedding introduced me to some hotrod guy. I guess the thinking was that we both like to play with toys so we might get along. One of the first questions the fellow asked me was either how much I planned to spend or how much I had into it. I remember saying something like “twelve thousand bucks”. He looked at me deadpan and replied “That’s how much I spend on a paint job.”

It was like (excuse the term) he was slapping his dick down on the table and I didn’t measure up. He didn’t look to me to be a guy who had turned many wrenches in his life and I measure more on that than how well your money spends.

When did this become about the money? I get asked all the time about the money; mostly by my wife but that’s understandable as she has the same amount of romance for past cars as she does for past toasters. But I get it from others too.

I was going to make this about Sunfires but it seems that era has ended. And thank goodness for that as I only have one positive memory about those cars and even that had very little to do with the car itself. It seems the car I need to use to make my point is the Chevy Aveo. This car, or more aptly, this box with wheels, sells for 14,000 dollars in the Canadian market.

That is more money than I have in the TR6. It’s way more money if you finance one. For that money you get a car that no one will remember. All it does is get you from point A to point B safely, last you seven years if you’re good to it and it's passed onto a student or traded in for a slightly boxier car.

When I was a kid I had a very real fear that I would never get to drive a car. I thought that by the time I came of age cars would fly like on the Jetsons and I would therefore miss out on one of the defining experiences of being alive during the twentieth century.

It worked out for me, I didn’t miss out. I dragged my heels long enough that I, so far, have gotten to drive/own some of the neatest cars of the last six decades.
I don’t think anyone from Harvey Earl to Hanna Barbara could have predicted that cars would get so uninteresting.

I see a lot of kids around the age of getting their driver’s license and the most engaging thing in their world is Facebook and their phone. There’s a reason for this – we haven’t given them anything else to engage them outside of that. Look down your street. All the houses look the same – all the cars look the same. This is not an engaging world. There’s nothing to look at.

It’s worse now. When I was sixteen (almost sixteen years ago now) there was still some neat iron around. One kid I graduated with had a 1967 Polara two door. I had the ’80 Road Runner. Another friend had a ’72 Newport and another had a ’66 Mercury Meteor Montcalm. My brother Neal drove a ’88 Monte Carlo SS and brother Lachlan (because of a sick attraction my father had to these cars) drove a ’81 Dodge Mirada.

As my uncles would say these were character cars. Not only did the cars have character but they also built character. Every one of the owners of the cars I just mentioned could change a tire, most can change their oil (and have), some could bleed their own brakes and one or two would take on changing a water pump.

You don’t see that anymore. I bet I’d be hard pressed to find one kid in Calgary driving a car more than seven years old. And almost all of them couldn’t change a tire without the use of a cell phone. Helicopter parents and modern cars make Johnny a useless tit.

My wife is horrified by this statement but I think the best thing I could do for our kid to build problem solving skills and independence is hand over the keys to that ’63 Belvedere when he/she turns sixteen.

When the TR6 is done it’s going to have about sixteen thousand dollars into directly, maybe a little more. You could buy a really good used one for a little less. It will be a character car and kids will ask me about because it will be as foreign to them as fin cars are to me. It will be very difficult for them to understand the path from the 6 to their Aveo. Unlike when I was their age there’s a stratum between this vintage and what is deem safe and reliable transportation. That’s untrue and very unfortunate.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On The Rails

Lately I don’t know what’s got into Krista but it seems she’s come over to the dark side. In the morning before work she’s been playing her IPod and all the music seems to be from my home share. Paul Simon, Al Green, Van Morrison… and more and more. Hell, there’s a little Ray Lemontiane in there but I don’t mind that but gone is the “boot scooting boogie bullshit” that use to pollute or abode. I must be a preggers thing.

To close off last week – we bought a house. In the end it wasn’t the one that I wanted at first or one that Krista wanted second. It was one we both fell in love with. I fell in love with the bar in the basement (going to build a kegerator), the three car garage and no neighbors on the one side and Krista fell in love with the rest of it.

We had a meeting at the bank last week about qualifying to buy this place, or any place for that matter, and when we were out celebrating the fact that that went well we ended up hearing back on our offer on this house. Everything happened at the exact same moment. The meeting at the bank was one of the reasons I was drinking last week. I really wasn’t looking forward to that. I hate anything institution that involves suits and a lack of an imagination such as banks, law offices or accounting firms. In the end it was a slam dunk. I guess I keep looking at things from the perspective of my early twenties-something self – I forget that I’m almost 32 now. I guess things other than just renting a car get easier.

Thus brings an end to “Angus’ House Blog”. In fact it ended with a bang. After arriving home from dinner and knowing everything was done my first phone call wasn’t to my mother but it was to Len Drake of Drake’s British Motors to get my next batch of TR6 parts ordered. I had put an order into Len for a quote and was hesitant to act on it when he got back to me. I didn’t want anything on my credit card when we went to the bank – again I’m a big sissy when it comes to banks.

The parts arriving are:

3 x Oil Filter – obviously

Polyethylene Gearbox cover – Replaces the ratty cardboard cover that is all busted out.

Gearbox cover fit kit - obviously

2 x Jack hole plug – Close up the floor pan

Oil filler Cap - the only part of the engine unrestored

Tach cable 31inch – hoping this will straighten out my no tach issue

Speedo cable 69 inch – hoping this will straighten out my no Speedo issue (and to bypass the service meter)

Hood release cable – old one has a kink in it.

Emergency Hood release Kit – backup as these cars are notorious for breaking hood cables and having major issues ever getting them open again

Hood latch plate – old one looks like a dog’s ass next to everything shiny

I’m pretty sure all that will arrive this week. The problem that arises now is that I’m not sure when I will be able to get back to the car. This weekend coming up I have to work all weekend as we are migrating the client over to the latest iteration of our software. We have to do over the weekend while no one is on the database and have everything working as it should before they show back up on Monday. The week after that is Krista’s 30th.

If the theme for this project in 2010 was “Money”, it’s most definitely “Time” here in 2011. I’ve trade one for the other.

As I said in the opener for 2011 this year’s encompassing theme is “Foundation” and we’re off to a good start with the house. Last year’s was “Hope” and I truly believe the year lived up to that.

It’s important at this point to remember to manage success. I believe all the successes I’ve had over the last year have strong roots in this blog. Having to answer to this thing on a weekly basis has really kept me on task. I can’t abandon that at this point and to that end it’s imperative to get the car finished and finished to a point that all the hard work and support that went into it shows through.

If this car is going to be the analog to the relationship I had with my father then perseverance is going to have to be a big part of that. Unfortunately strife has had to be a big part of it also. There’s lots of reasons not to do this anymore. Not the least of which is that I’ve gotten to a good place about my father’s passing. It still hurts but it doesn’t throb like it used to. Another reason is that it has and continues to cost a good chunk of coin. I could have developed a well funded heroin habit over the same period for what has gone into this car. This is definitely the wrong point in my life to take on such a project.

Here’s the catch, the only thing tougher than finishing the car would be not finishing the car. I couldn’t live myself. There has to be a little more to life than mortgages, careers, retirement and honey-do lists. There has to be lightning.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Off the Rails

Last Friday I went flying off the rails. I had to, I was due. We have this meeting at work every Friday where, for two hours, we sit and someone talks about a solution they’ve built in the software. It’s a social way of expanding our solution catalog among all our clients and to make sure we aren’t writing the same thing in two places. During this meeting traditionally we have a few beers. This particular week we got into the gin.

After the meeting I remember distinctly being at two bars. I was supposed to be at the gym and then home for pizza with Krista but that didn’t happen. I also remember being on the train but then getting off because it was moving too fast for my level of intoxication. I remember also getting back on but getting off a too early for the second bar and having to walk seven blocks.

I remember Krista picking me up at some point. I remember passing out while trying to get a sock off. I remember waking up at four AM and not being able to get back to sleep so I watched a PBS thing on Buffalo Bill. I remember puking into a cereal bowl and passing out again roughly around 4:30. I then remember waking up at ten AM and feeling great.

I used to drink a lot. I used to be a bartender. It seems that when it comes to drinking now I’m a bit of a wuss. We’ve gone into that before we don’t need to rehash it now.

The house thing had me wrapped in knots all last week. Everything started moving way too fast. By Thursday night we had an offer on a place. It was a place I found but not the place that grabbed my heart in the beginning. If the place I spoke about last week was Veronica this place, the place we put an offer in on, is Betty.

The limiting criteria have been a 3 car garage. This is almost undoable in Calgary at our price range. Krista wants me around on weekends and knows how I pace the house when I can’t go to Red Deer and work on the car. She also knows after this one there will be another. I mean after, the one I already have another after the TR6, there will be another – and another after that.

The whole process has been pretty stressful and if there wasn’t enough going on already last week Krista’s Grandma passes away. It was to be expected as she was very old but it was hard on Krista and her family.

With all this talk of purchasing a house, mortgages and whatnot I had to come up for air, grab hold of a cold short tumbler of gin and dive in for a night.

Like I said before, since Saturday morning I feel great. I broke my New Years resolution not to drink but hey.. Lent’s coming up soon!

Quick note:

As I’ve mentioned before, at the end of the day, and cars aside, this blog is about fathers and sons. To that point, Mike, of Mike’s British Repair, lost his step dad on Friday fairly suddenly. I’d like to just mention that here and send my condolences to him, and his family. Mike has been the key to the progression of this goal of mine and without him I would have been lost. All my best Mike.