Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moving and Birthing

It’s hard to dismiss the idea that Krista and I are in the midst of what could be the biggest moments that will forever define our marriage. Specifically the arrival of junior (still don’t know if it’s a junior Krista or a junior Angus yet) and the purchase of the Scenic Acres house. These are heady times.

With the TR6 at Tony’s becoming pretty, I could finally relax enough to develop a fairly debilitating cold. This happened at the exact same moment Krista and I took possession of the new house and started our birthing class (what 80’s and 90’s sit-coms would call “Lamaze Class”).

The house side of things is going well although we’ve been dealing with some pretty horrifying weather of late that has put me behind on getting the garage to a level that it can receive the TR6. One of the first things I want to do is epoxy the floor. Before I can do that I needed to remove a wall and a home-made shelving unit. The wall was to indicate which side of the garage was for the husband’s woodworking toys and which side was for the Miss’ SUV.

In the worlds of Homey the Clown: “Homey don’t play that game”. I’ve have liberated the garage from its emasculating wall and even peed in a few corners to mark that a man has returned to this garage.

Apparently sometime in the history of this garage there was a sale on heavy-duty plastic-covered hooks. In the last week I have removed no less than seventy-four hooks from the walls and roof of the interior walls of this garage. The garage was originally finished to the point that it was prepped for paint. That was 1991 so it’s backslid since then. Not the least reason being there are now seventy-four holes that need to be mudded. Budget permitting – on top of epoxy-ing I hope to paint the garage. Like the TR6 room I need to get this to a level where I want to be out there. I don’t do “Man Caves” that’s another of those words for the highly-over-domesticated but this will be a place men will like to be.

Speaking of over-domesticated my newest annoyance is our weekly child birth class. As of today Krista and have attended two with four more to go. I may not make it all the way through.

My brother Neal went through this a year ago and told be me a funny story. His class had a lot of boyfriends as father’s and between the first and second class the population of boyfriends in attendance dropped by 100% – only husbands remained.

The woman teaching the class is like one of those people who hit the game winning homerun in high school and never got over that moment - except change “homerun” to “give birth” and you’ve got the picture. Since then it’s been her life’s work to teach this class. In my personal spectrum she ranges from barely tolerable to bat-shit insane.

She also leans heavy on forced socialization as a teaching strategy. If you think that was annoying in junior high it’s real annoying at thirty-two. Other than the fact that eight months ago we all got laid, me and the rest of these husbands have very little in common. When not getting paid to do so I struggle to participate in awkward conversations.

This upcoming weekend Krista and I are officially moving in – so that’s exciting. We have some family and friends helping – and to boot it’s my thirty-second birthday on Saturday. Maybe I’ll go take my Driver’s test again?

Stay Tuned…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Big Weekend

This past weekend could not have gone any better. That’s saying a lot because it contained a lot of moving parts. I'm not sure I've mentioned this but when I started this project I started wearing a Saint Jude's medal around my neck for luck. Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. When I started this project I figured a car that had been broken, parked for 27 years and who's only champion had died was a pretty lost cause. This past weekend, over and above the one I wear around my neck, I carried an extra one in my pocket.

Before I get into the weekend I like to thank a couple of TR6 guys I met last week. Dave and Shawn were responsible for, as the Blues Brothers would call it, my sign from God. That was, of course, the red TR6 high a top a car carrier. They had me over for a beer last Tuesday and walked me through their newest joint venture and their own Triumphs. Dave has a beautiful red '76 he calls "Miles" in great shape and Shawn has a white TR250 that he's currently redoing the motor on - among anything else that strikes him at the moment - like buying a TR6 with his neighbour Dave. I like guys that suffer from the same lack of impulse control that I do.

They both live close to my and Krista's new shack. Apparently there's another Triumph guy across the alley from them too. It was neat to talk to them but I was really under prepared for sharing stories of actually driving these types of cars. I have little knowledge in that category and felt lacking. I would have liked to have dad there as he told great stories of piloting the TR6.

As I said last week, my plan was to take Friday off to finish removing parts so the car could be painted. I arrived at the acreage Thursday evening around six PM. My first major hurdle, therefore my focus, was removing the windshield frame. Although I almost suffered a heart attack pulling on the windshield fame I was able to get it unseated, then out. That went way better than I ever expected it would.

Other things were a lot easier. I bought a panel fork on Thursday evening. What it is is a little bent forked pry tool with a screwdriver handle. I was in awe when I first saw one used by a body man to pretty much disassemble the interior of a Plymouth Acclaim years back. It was the perfect tool for removing the door panels. I was able to retain all the clips and did no damage to the door panels.

Removing the window winder and remote door latch handle were a little more involved. There is a pin for each held in by the plastic trim ring. An old length of radio antenna and a body hammer were the perfect tools for getting those pins out.

I also drilled out all the rivets holding in the top and tonneau cover snaps. After that it was exterior door handles and lock tumblers. What I thought was going to give me the most trouble was the gas cap as it’s quite the substantial piece. My worrying had no basis as it’s removal was as easy as loosing the screw-type hose clamp holding it on.

The door glass turned out to be really easy also but was hard on me at first as the Haynes Manual had it all wrong. You find that sometime especially when there are many model years; in this case there were seven. In that period things change.

All those tasks took up Thursday night and Friday Afternoon/evening. I did retire at 11:30 Thursday night and headed down to the pub to have a quick “couple” of green beers with friends. That excursion cost me most of Friday morning but it was well timed and well deserved.

Friday morning, after playing a little game I like to call “where’s my truck?” I headed to the local glass shop and had the fellow cut the old windshield out. Although in pretty good shape I can’t use it as there is one crack (the only crack) that joins two edges in the lower driver's side corner. It took this fellow less than 5 minutes to do and he didn’t charge me anything for the service. He just asked that I bring him my business - which I found a little insulting as in the last 2 years I’ve had him make a custom window for an FMC motorhome and replace the windshield on a ‘84 dodge ¾ ton. But I guess I’m just another face in the crowd.

Red Deer has a ton of snow and now that it’s warm that has turned to ice. Traditionally this time of year the shop doors are left closed as they are pretty much impossible to open. Warming up and cooling causes ice to fill up the tracks (they slide horizontally) and they setup like as if they were glued in place. So a good chunk of my day Friday saw me with a tiger torch freeing the doors so the car could be pushed out on Saturday. It was such a painful, hungover and thankless task that it's completion called for a short nap.

The last thing I got to Friday night (I almost forgot it) was to get the ratty headliner and glass out of the hard top. Again I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to manage removing the glass and again it came easy. The panel fork is the key. Someone had cut a couple holes in the headliner at one time (not sure why) but it wasn't worth saving. I did retain the struts that suspend the liner. The headliner is white while the rest of the interior is black. If it's possible I'm going to try and redo the headliner in black.

Saturday morning my plan was to clean up the TR6 room and move the Belevdere over before heading into town to pick up the trailer. Unfortunately that all got laid to waste when I found my keyed hitch pin on my truck was not going to open. I had the wrong size ball on for the trailer and needed to get it off before I could pick up the trailer. This really got me mad as I had just purchased the hitch pin in December and the only reason I had the ball on was in case someone plowed into me.

I first tried the heat gun for about 20 minutes. Then I tried some spray “release-all”. After both those failed it became very clear that I was going to have to drill out the lock. It took me 4 bits and an hour to get the lock drilled out and in the end I basically ended up drilling through the hitchpin itself. The whole thing was a bit of a nightmare and when I was done all I had time for was to head into town to get the trailer. I'm never putting a locking hitchpin on my truck again. Replacing a hitch would have been better than going through that.

The Hitchpin in question

The enclosed car trailer was borrowed from my uncles’ friend Devin, who, himself, is a pretty unrepentant car guy. It was great trailer with tie-downs built into the floor and plenty of ratchet straps. After picking that up it was over to gab unkie Jim and Jer of mystarcollectorcar.com fame (shameless plug) for loading, unloading and basic good company.

Even without being able to move the Belvedere and clean up the TR6 room before I left, the three of us made short work of loading the car, the top and the windshield frame. It's nice when you have guys big enough to lift over the backend of a car - gives you a world of options. The car loaded easily and I was able to tie it down without hassle. This was a very slick operation. With a quick stop to pick up beer for Tony the bodyman and rye for Devin the trailer guy we were at Tony’s in no time. I did get a little lost but was able to recover pretty quickly.

The drop off went slick also and Tony was happy to see me as I came with both cash and beer. He seemed very confident with the next steps. The trunk and door gaps bothered him but I told him that was pretty standard for a little British sports car. He’s determined to straighten them out. I like to hear that.

Tony is expecting to have the car ready for pick-up sometime during the second week of April. That’s a little soon for me and Mr. Bankbook but it would be rather counter-intuitive to slow down a determined bodyman.

The rest the afternoon Jim, Jer and I attended the Electric Car Auction in Red Deer. There were some pretty cars there but I don’t think much was changing hands. George Barris of Batmobile fame was there as was “The Big Schwag” from Monster Garage fame. He was the voice over guy. We also saw Buffalo Joe of Ice Pilots NWT fame wandering around the auction. All and all it was a pretty sleazy event with a lot of flash but little content. I did however get a glimpse of a Volvo P1800 ES Wagon. That made my day.

Sunday I drove up to Leduc, Alberta and picked my new (new to me) Snap-On tool box. Until Sunday morning the weekend was beautiful but Sunday morning was pretty hazardous with thick snow. I took 815 north as long as I could and ended up on 2A between Ponoka and Leduc. Other than a few iffy moments it was great drive as I had the Roadhouse going on the Sat-radio. Heard some great old country tunes.

The box was in good shape, dirty but in good shape. The fellow that sold it to me let me pick through some tools he was getting rid of also (none of which were Snap-On). I got a rolling cart, sockets, socket rails and a deadblow hammer among other things.

Unfortunately his dog grabbed one of my shoes out of the back of my truck and we spent a good forty minutes trying to retrieve it. A flying tackle ended up being the trick. Not by me though as I seldom tackle strange dogs.

Dirty Old Shoe-Stealing Dog

My First Born

It was a long drive back to Calgary from Leduc. I took the Highway as the snow had lifted a bit. There were a few tight spots but a relatively uneventful drive home.

When I arrived home I spent an hour cleaning and dry humping my new tool box. I'm really looking forward to putting all my tools in it at the new place.

It was a pretty busy weekend and I like to be able to expand more on it but I’m into a pretty busy week as we just took possession of the house today. …Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This weekend, the weekend of March 19th, 2011, the TR6 is going in for body work and paint. Make no mistake, I am very excited.

Jerry, of mystarcollectorcar.com fame (shameless plug), has lined up an enclosed trailer for a song (if that song was about rye) and all signs point to go.

I head to Red Deer Thursday night to spend my Saint Paddy’s evening and traditionally hung over March 18th doing something rather constructive for a change: prepping the car for paint. On the list is pulling the windshield frame, door panels, door windows (and door window guts) dash and, if I can, the door handles. There is much to do.

Saturday I load up the car and take it over to Tony’s place.

Sunday I run up to Leduc for a great used Snap-On tool box for the new place. It’s a clone to the one that I’ve been using at the acreage; the one dad got in 1994 after we had moved our stuff to the acreage but before we moved in. The shop was broken into and a bunch of our stuff was stolen. Dad got the Snap-On box and most of the tools that fill it as part of the insurance settlement for the break in. I don’t remember dad having Snap-On tools before the break in – but I was very young then.

I lusted after those tools growing up. Most of the time they were locked up but I was almost always able to weasel my way into that box when it was necessary.

Those tools are the heart beat of that shop. I could not possibly rationalize taking those tools out of that shop – even to do the finish assembly of the TR.

I love that box. They stopped making them like that. Everything now is long, low and doubles as a work bench. Or big and takes its design queue from the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Every time I look in the Snap-On catalog (and I do often) I look for a tool box like dear old dad’s and all I see are one’s that remind me of Bluebear’s walk of shame from American Hotrod. I don’t want a tool box like Bluebear – that guy was a tool.

I phoned the fellow that was advertising the Snap-On box and he said he was selling it because he wasn’t in the trade anymore. What does that mean? The closest I can come to understanding what this fellow means is maybe he’s finally been approved for his gender reassignment surgery? That or his boyfriend feels in clashes with their blue Pontiac Aztec. But his loss is my gain.

I spent my Saturday helping Krista's parents move Krista's uncle into new digs but on Sunday brother Neal and I attended the Calgary Auto Show. For the most part it might as well have been a refrigerator show because there was nothing there that really got my heart going. It was just a bunch of designed by a committee, four-wheeled appliances. Karmann needs some business – these major automobile companies should give them a call.

People forget it’s an art. Why is it common knowledge that just because you studied music doesn’t mean you can sing but that logic doesn’t carry over to other disciplines? I think there are a lot of tin ears in the design groups at Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Lexus and a bunch of others that fear of narcolepsy impedes me from naming. These are dark times in the history of cars.

The bright light came this morning as took the train into downtown from the Northwest sector of the city. As I stared out the far side of the train to the north, I saw it. It was a Triumph TR6 sitting high atop a car carrier somewhere between Dalhousie Station and the University. I just got a quick glimpse of it but, sure enough, there it was reminding of what’s next. These are bight times in my personal history of cars.

Also, this past week I received the Fel-Pro gasket kit for the Belvedere along with the fuel pump and water pump. Maybe I’ll find some time Saturday evening to mess around with that.

Expect lots of pictures next week and lots of excitement around the big move.

Stay tuned….

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Shelf is Born

There is an ecosystem to this project that I hope is apparent – but it may not be as I haven’t addressed it for awhile. It is as important that the TR6 room is as functional as the car that comes out of it. I have to leave everything better than I found it – that's one of my mantras.

When my dad passed the shop was jammed with “stuff” and the simple task of changing the oil on the lawnmower in that shop was as unrealistic as restoring a little British sports car in the shop. Most of the first year of this project was devoted to getting the shop up to a workable level - and heated.

To that end most of this past weekend was devoted to building a new self for the TR6 room. I have been dragging my feet with regards to the disassembly of the TR as I didn’t want to put all my shiny new parts on the floor. It gets very crowded in this room very quickly.

I’ve been hurting for shelf space since this project began but I’ve pushed forward. Even that bench I built back in the fall is now a cluttered mess.

I spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday building a shelf. Save for a visit with my grandma Saturday afternoon which was long overdue.

I Angus-sized myself by leaving the only drill that works in Calgary. I had it out at the ranch at Christmas to fix the porch but brought it back to Calgary not Red Deer – oops. I had to use the two handed monster drill to put together my new shelf. Much like my father did with me I ran around in a huff accusing all my siblings before I realized it was me.

With my Grandma visit and the requisite socializing that comes with having my lovely, and very pregnant, wife Krista in tow, I didn’t get to maximize my time at location. Although I am happy that I have the foundation I need to be ass up and head down going forward.

I did get some parts off the car but it was just the seats, top and tail lights. I still have to get the windshield off, the dash out, door handles off, tumblers out, door panels, windows and drill out the top snaps. There is much to do and I’m committed to helping my father-in-law this weekend so it looks like it’s going to come down to the wire.

I might take a personal day on the 18th so I would have the evening of the 17th and all day on the Friday to get the car done for paint. Not that I’m rushing!

It’s still very, very cold here and there is way too much snow. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it gets warm enough here to actually drive this car.

I have booked an enclosed trailer for the 19th for running the car to the other side of Red Deer to Tony’s. Or at least I thought I did as I just got a call from Allan Dale trailers that the one I requested, and put a deposit on, won’t be there. They have a bigger one, an eighteen footer, but that seems like a lot of trailer for a 9 foot, 2500 lb car. We’re arguing on price as I am holding them to the original deal. I should hear back on Thursday – we’ll see.

…Stay tuned

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Who can turn The World on with a Smile?

Our title this week is brought to you by the Mary Tyler Moore marathon that assisted my work in the TR6 room this weekend. It’s getting hard to find good television these days.

Right now in Calgary, AB it is a whopping minus 35 degrees Celsius. For you Americanos that’s about the same - minus 31 in Fahrenheit. It’s damn cold. Since the end of January I’ve been waiting in vain for some consistent warm weather so I could pull the engine on the 1964 Dodge 330. I thought this weekend would be as close as I could get and I was right.

We are in the midst of showing our house to sell right now. Our trusty real estate agent, Gordo, was hot-to-trot to host an open house this weekend so it seemed perfect for me to make a run to Red Deer and get some work done.

Out early Saturday morning and all was great until I hit Highway. At the halfway mark I was down to a one lane goat trail. I imagine if I had left later in the day I would have had real problems.

Although snowing and windy the shop was relatively good protection. I could feel the cold and hear the wind but I didn’t let it slow me down as I had the “Leaning Tower of Power’ out of the 330 before noon Saturday morning. If you need to install or remove a Slant Six engine I’m your man – I have it down to an art form.

I realize how confusing some of you must find the Belvedere story line. The Belvedere has inexplicably weaved its way into this blog like the injection of an ethnic character into a floundering sitcom halfway through season two. It might only make sense to me but that’s ultimately what’s important.

My dad is dead and has been for over two years now. A lot of things that once were important because he was here are no longer important. I’ve only recently realized that and said it out loud. I invested a lot of time and money in 2008 and 2009 not being aware of and/or coming to terms with what to do with those feelings.

Before we buried my father’s ashes under his 100 year Blue Spruce at the ranch, his ashes resided on a shelf in my mother’s closet. Below that shelf on another shelf were his glasses and his cell phone. The cell phone is now no longer there and I don’t know how long my mother will keep his glasses there but someday they will be gone also.

I wear glasses and I carry my cell phone with me everyday. They are beside my bed at night and the first things I grab when I wake up. It’s strange to me that these things that were important to him are not important to anyone anymore. They have ceased to have meaning.

By extension there are things that were important to us; that is, important to both me and him. If he is dead I guess I carry the burden of these things still being important. They are now only important to me. I really mean that – these things are still important to me. Seeing that engine run, recouping the time, money and effort that went into 330 is important to me and… maybe now - only me.

I don’t want anyone to read this blog with rose-colored glasses. I know it looks to be otherwise but about half the time my dad and I didn’t get along. There were a lot of things we didn’t see eye to eye on and sometimes we picked on each other. It’s important for me to remember that about him and me – keeps him human and strangely tangible.

I know I was a hard kid to raise and I wrecked a lot of stuff. If you’ve read this for awhile you’ve seen glimpses of my recklessness in the trip to KC and other times in this blog. It may be hard to believe but I have settled down a lot since my youth. It fell on dad to “fix stuff” a lot of the time when I screwed things up.

In particularly the accident with the 330 all fell on his shoulders. Not that he ever let me forget it.

This was also the last car we worked on before I left home at eighteen. It may have even been what we were arguing about when he threw a 9/16 Snap-On wrench at my head (and missed) -which as the inciting incident that caused me to come to conclusion at eighteen that it might be time to move on down the road. Our relationship became a lot more civil after I moved out.

That’ll be a nice little piece of history to drive again.

In TR6 news I’ve saved the best for last. Talked to Tony the body-man and he said I can drop off the car at his shop (and move it right inside) on the weekend of the 19th. The car is going in for PAINT!!!!!!!!

That brings me to the point that I have got very little done with regard to removing the windshield, door handles and all the other stuff to get it ready. I’ve wanted to get work done on the 330 and the TR6 just looked sooooooo good sitting there all together. I couldn’t bring myself to tearing it down.

That’s this weekend. Among other appointments in Red Deer I’m going to have to squeeze some time for the car. I work best with a deadline and now I have one.

Stay tuned…