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.

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