Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Before Pics

This past long weekend my father-in-law and I finally were able to epoxy the garage floor at the new house. The second coat (the last coat) went on last night at about 5:30PM (last night was Monday). I didn’t know this when I decided to do this but, as per the instructions, nothing can be parked on the floor for seven days. The TR6 is at the old house waiting patiently but we lose possession of that place on Friday morning – only four days from the application of the last coat.

On top of that doctors, nurses and village elders are telling Krista that the baby is pretty close to coming in for a landing. She was dilated 1 Centimeter last week and 2-3 Centimeters today. The baby is still high in the body but things are getting pretty scary. I just got off the phone with Krista and told her to cross her legs for tonight as me and brother Neal have to move the car one more time before it comes home – how happy do you think that makes me?

Tonight we’re moving the car out into a shop on the acreage of friends of Krista’s parents. This is the same couple from whom I borrowed the trailer to pick up the Belvedere last fall an he’s the fellow who likes Ford Rancheros – none for us are perfect. That trailer will be called into service tonight.

Shawn and Dave stopped by Friday to Show me what I was missing

To ready myself for the move I bought a new battery for the TR6 last night. Up until now I have been using the one Mike the mechanic accidentally left in it when he was tuning the engine. That battery is out of a late model Jag and the posts are backwards so it wasn’t destined to be in there long – thus it didn’t make the move to Calgary from Red Deer. I took the right battery over to the garage late last night along with a little fuel (I think Tony drained the tank when he painted it).

The car was doing fine but it looks like the rearend is continuing to stamp all concrete surfaces with its oily approval. I’m going have to drop that again and fit a new gasket. I’m not sure what it is about me but I struggle with gaskets – both water pump and rearends; although I did once replace the water pump on a trans-mounted V6 in a 1994 Bonneville SSEi and never did leak after that. That fix is near the top of my auto-repair greatest moments list.***UPDATE*** Just got an email back from Tony saying he didn't drain any fuel - Starting to think my missing fuel and the puddle under the diff might be related.

I am also fairly convinced I am getting blow-by at my master clutch cylinder. There was some telltale dampness in the footwell before I sent her for paint which was wreaking havoc with the POR15. Match that with having to top it off after losing my clutch during one of my test drives. AND match that with the clutch noise I was inquiring about on 6-Pack awhile back and I think I have my culprit. This really bothers me as that’s a brand new unit. But more investigation is required at this point.

The car fired right up and purred very nicely in the cool spring air. It was about 10:30 when I fired her and I did at one point accidentally sit on the panic button on the keys for my truck which sent the truck ablaze in light and sound. Yup – I’m that guy.

Lots could happen this week but one thing is for sure I still have 7 FREAKEN DAYS before I can bring the car home.
Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Big Milestone

The call usually came in around 9:30 Saturday morning and went something like this:

Me: “hmfft… Hello?” (Usually hung over but always fast asleep).

Dad: “Where’s my trickle charger you thievin’ bastard!”

Me: “Good morning to you too.”

Dad: “Where’s my trickle charger!”

Me: “I don’t think I have it”.

Dad: “Don’t lie to me you’ve got it – I know you have it.”

Me: “Why do you always phone me when you’re missing something?”

Dad: “Because you’re the only thievin’ bastard I know! Get your ass out of that fart sack and get out here with MY trickle charger!”

You could replace trickle charger with cordless drill, circular saw or various other tools. And about fifty percent of the time I had it – the rest of the time he hadn’t looked hard enough for it yet.

There was another phone call I could get Saturday morning and it usually went like this:

Me: “hmfft… Hello?” (Again maybe hung over but always fast asleep).

Dad: “Figgy – it’s me… Dad! What are you doing?” (I could tell by the static he was on the his cell in his truck)

Me: “Nothing... why?”

Dad: “You’re sleeping aren’t you – get your ass out of bed – you rat bastard you!”

Me: “I’ve been up for hours – why?”

Dad: “I’m picking you up there’s a farm auction out by Rimby… I’ll be there in 10 minutes - be on the street!”

He’d then be there in two minutes and honk his horn until I appeared at the door. After he picked me up, on days he could tell I was hung over, his favorite thing to do was to get me going on something that he knew we disagreed about, where I was going with my life or how much money I had in the bank. He could be evil when he wanted to be.

That aside, there was nothing better on those hung over days than a greasy auction burger and a Coke with a straw. That was one thing about my dad – he always grabbed a straw… really who used a straw after 1958 or age 10?

I’m now thirty-two years old, it’s a Saturday and I’m out of bed like a shot at seven AM. No dad calls, those days are gone – but again… none are needed. I’m up because I’m hitting another major milestone in the project that he started and I am going to finish.

If you were passing by when my father and I spoke over the last part of 2007 and most of 2008 you might have thought I had turned thirty sometime in 2007. That’s because to add emphasis most of his rants about my drinking and childish behavior my dad just rounded my age to thirty. To him I was thirty since three weeks after my twenty-eighth birthday. To the rest of the world I turned thirty six months after my dad passed away. To commemorate the event my mother threw me a party.

I remember distinctly at one point (drunk – of course), standing in the garage before a rather sad looking TR6, telling a group of people how I’m going to restore this car. That was a bold statement and looking back I can’t believe how foolish I was to say something like that. I had rebuilt the Road Runner with dad – I knew how hard it was – especially how hard it was to do it right.

It goes back to that Hemmingway quote: "Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

I have a tendency to look at things in my life as vignettes from various movies I’ve seen. Partly because I believe I’m made up of two things – the things I’ve experienced first hand and the perfect self I strive to be made up from heroes in books, movies and song. And party because I’m a nerd.

The problem is that the reality of the life is much more nuanced then movies books and especially song. But being who I am, and so to not talk myself out of it, I had to approach this project in the manner that it was a simple and noble task. The reality is that it’s neither.

When I quit my job as General Manager of Quick Oilfield Solutions in April of 2009 – almost exactly two years ago now – I felt absolutely useless and rudderless. My dad was very proud of me and the success related to that career. Everything he told me about my potential was coming true when I landed that job. This was significant because, from floundering academically in school to losing my lower portion of my left leg in work-related accident, I had a lot of setback and strife – mostly self-inflicted.

In the end quitting that job was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me right behind meeting my wife and losing my leg – I mean that I’m not being funny. What all these things all have in common was that they changed my trajectory – just slightly but still significantly for the better.

A year later the amount of unrelenting rejection I received when I decided to re-enter the job market was enough to make me want to eat a gun. The only thing that buoyed my confidence during that time was working on that car. I knew if I could fix this hub or rebuild a brake caliper that I could stick it out another week. It proved to me I wasn’t useless.

I don’t think I’ve talked about this in here but on the day I received the phone call that they were hiring me for the job I have now I was out walking Ruffin when I got the call. After being told they were hiring me starting July 19th at the same salary I had when I left my old job, I thanked them very much, hung up and took about four steps before I collapsed on the sidewalk in a sobbing heap. I had never felt that level of absolute relief and redemption in my entire life.

It’s strange to think back on that now as less than a year later with the wedding and my first day of work a memory and new challenges here such as the house and baby. This is great stuff but I still have some unresolved business – specifically the TR6.

This Saturday, the Saturday I’m out of bed at seven AM, was a very special day in the history of this project. I got to see the car painted for the first time ever. It looked as it looked new. Tony did a beautiful job. I took my wife, Krista, my mother, Anna, my uncles, Jim and Jer, my uncle Don and his son, my cousin Pat. I don’t think that many people have been in Tony’s shop at the same time ever and if I didn’t show up cash and beer in hand I don’t think he would have let us in.

Seeing the car all painted was beyond words. It was a great day and fun to have everyone there.

Like I said last week we had Denis’s trailer and it was a lifesaver as this weather is not giving me a moment of peace.

Back in Calgary with the car in-tow Krista and I drove the trailer over to what I lovingly refer to as “Triumph Close” in my new neighborhood. The first meeting of the Wild Rose chapter of the 6-Pack club was supposed to be coming to order. I was hoping the inclement weather wasn’t going to hold everyone back. At this point I wasn’t aware of the resolve that existed inside Triumph owners. Everyone was there and excited to see the car – even those who didn’t know the car or the story.

We had a couple of beers and talked club stuff. I’m really not used to being a member of anything but it was neat to be around a bunch of guys who had this shared interest. Much like my taste in music and movies, with cars I’m - at least – a generation behind my peers and this made me the junior in this group but still a great group of guys. I like the idea of doing a few burns out to Canmore and other place they talked about. Turner Valley area came up – that would be great. I also got wind that there’s a favorable paved road out North from Cochrane that’s not the Cowboy Trail (which is clogged with RV-ers every long weekend) that gets pretty close to the Ranch… Sundre at least.

Krista was overwhelmed by the cars and people on Triumph Close and now is not as convinced that I’m bat-shit crazy. I think she found it neat that there are other people who suffer from my same “affliction”. She might start soliciting other wives on coping strategies.

It’s trite to say but it was a great weekend. Sunday I brought as many of the parts that I could up – including the bumpers and seats. I have an order into Drakes for hood alignment buffers and pins – plus a new latch. That and a new rubber collar for the gas cap and door handle gaskets.

Everything I brought up this weekend, including the car, is tucked into the garage at the old place until I can get the floor epoxied – hopefully this weekend.

The baby thing is looming large as the coach in our stiflingly annoying baby class is convinced that the baby has dropped. We could be in the last days of the pregnancy and that’s a little crazy to even think about.

It’s hard to fathom the idea of becoming a father... being like my dad.

Yesterday I received in the mail, via a seller on EBay, a 3/8 Snap-On ratchet. Sometime before the beginning of this project it went missing from Dad’s Snap-On tool box. It’s so long ago that I don’t even know if he lost it or if I did. Being that I never received a Saturday morning call about I suspect he lost it. Its two and a half years later and I still have no idea what happened to it. I do know if he were alive I would have been blamed regardless. If he was here I could argue who lost it – but he’s not. So I just replaced it. I don’t know why I did. The Mastercraft from my tool set was working fine – even looked like it belonged. He’d be the only one who’d care.

…Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just a Quick Update

Tony phoned me to inform me that, as of this past weekend, the car had been painted. He’s painting the roof as I write this. I’ve lined up a trailer and will be bringing the car to Calgary on April 16th. The newly minted “Wildrose” Chapter of the 6-Pack club is meeting that day near my house so am going to try my best to slide by with the car in-tow.

Thanks Devon Swainson of Q-2 Electrical Contractors of Red Deer and, by extension, Jim and Jer of www.mystarcollectorcar.com, I have use of the same enclosed trailer I used a few weeks back to get the car to Tony’s from the acreage.

With the weather just starting to show signs of civility - I still haven’t had a chance to epoxy the garage at the new place and it’s still a staging area for the many minor, yet I’m told “necessary” renovations in the house. My evenings for the balance of this week will be devoted to cleaning it out with the hopes of epoxying the floor the weekend of the 23rd.

Next week’s post should be a monster with many pictures so I’ll keep this one short.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The big move weekend

This last weekend Krista and I moved into the new house. We did so on a day where Calgary
received almost two feet of snow in a 24 hour period.

When I awoke Saturday morning the weather was biblical. there was already a foot where there had been no snow - not some - but no snow the night before.

I had rented a U-Haul and we had most of my family, some of Krista’s and some of both of our friends coming to help. Failure was not an option. I put on my best brave face and started out at eight AM to pickup my brother-in-law and the U-Haul.

U-Haul is defiantly proving to me that they are not, and in no way ever will they be, a service company. Most of my week before this weekend was spent both on the computer and phone trying to secure (at least) a 17’ moving truck. I first did this on their website. I entered in when and where I needed it and thought everything was fine. I was even sent an email telling me everything was fine and gave me a link to page that contained the information on where I could pick up my unit.

Later the same day, I think this was Tuesday, I received a phone call from U-Haul headquarters concerning where and when I could pick up my unit. You think this would be redundant but this information bared little to no resemblance to the info I read in the link from earlier. While on the phone I reopened the link and the info was now changed to what I was hearing on the phone.

This wasn’t good as they now had me driving to the Southeast of Calgary Saturday morning to pick up a unit. This was absolutely unacceptable as crossing Calgary to pick-up a U-Haul (an hour trip out of my way) was asymmetrical to the task at hand. My first stop was in Cochrane at my in-laws to pickup all the stuff we had stored in their garage during the staging of the old house. Then I was to be back and forth between the two neighbourhoods all day. This was a 10 minute trip one way without having to even get on a major thoroughfare.

I protested and was told by the voice on the phone she would look into it. About an hour later I received another call from U-Haul and was told the exact same information as the first call. I protested louder and was met with surprise. Apparently this was a different woman from their office and she wasn’t aware of the previous conversation - believable - until she told me it was only her and the other girl in the office. This woman had the diplomatic skills of The Incredible Hulk and developed that “I-don’t-deserve-to-be-talked-to-this-way” tone even before I had attempted to talk to her “that way”. I think she felt a little mad at the other girl or herself for wading into a situation she had no business being in without forewarning and that was going to get taken out on me.

She told me she would have her manager look into it and have her manager phone me back. No one phoned me back and no one was going to phone me back.

It became my task to figure this out as U-Haul headquarters was obviously hanging me out to dry. I phoned a U-Haul depot (I think it was a mechanics shop?) and got a very nice woman on the phone who obviously had dealt with the central office enough times to very quickly start to empathise with my plight. She had, according to her computer, units available for Saturday.

I left her to phone U-Haul headquarters and get it straightened out. She phoned me back sometime later and told me there was nothing she could do. Everything was booked. I believe either one or two things happened.Either she was told everything was booked and it was or this woman in the office decided they were done accommodating me told her that they were letting me twist in the wind.

I then phoned U-Haul in Cochrane to see if they had any units - logical as that’s where my first stop was. I was secretly hoping they would be of a different central office or independent. The guy was nice enough but pretty much ignored the story of my plight thus far and we preceded to make a new reservation - thinking that I would cancel the first one once satisfied with the second.

I’m usually quicker than this but I obviously missed the ball on this one. As he was taking my information I was completely honest with my moving from location and moving to location. To make it clear - those two locations were in Calgary.

Soon after he assured me that my reservation was made, that I could pick up my unit on Saturday morning at nine AM and I hung up - I got a new email from U-haul. This one had my new reservation number and a new link. I followed the link and the order page had nothing to do with what I had just told him. My reservation was at Gas Station in the Northwest of Calgary (where I am) for Saturday (the day I wanted) but for 3:30 in the afternoon (WTF?).

I quickly realized, in the same flood of consciousness that Chazz Palminteri has at the end of movie “The Usual Suspects”, that I was being managed by a computerized booking system. It was pretty rudimentary as it was essentially matching two database (‘customers by Location then by day and then by time’ and ‘units by location then by day then by time’). I had just screwed myself by having this guy enter all the correct information into the system. It took me basically two transactions with U-Haul to figure this out - the guy in Cochrane dealt with them everyday - why hadn’t he caught on?

Anything that we discussed and the fact that I had called in through Cochrane was all null-and-void. I don’t doubt it was entered into the computer but probably into some “comments” column. Even I with my limited database querying background could build a better program than this - I actually can - this is what I do for a living. The fact that I didn’t game such a crappy build is so very embarrassing.

Soon I got a phone call from the guy from the gas station confirming my 3:30 pick up. I very calmly explained that I did not want the the unit at his place at 3:30 but I wanted the unit I requested, where I requested it and when I requested it. I never received another phone call but later that night I went online and saw my order was changed to Cochrane. Obviously after my conversation with gas station guy an actual person reviewed the order.

Insult to injury: Being that my unit was from one town and I was using it in another town, the rental cost me twice what it would have cost me if I would have got one in Calgary -still not a lot of money but maybe I should have kept the one in the Southeast.

My brother-in-law and I secured the fabled U-Haul of lore from an acreage West of Cochrane. Other than the U-Haul trucks park on the property you wouldn’t think this was anything more than an acreage but from the inside of the garage it looks like this fellow runs a viable pet food business from this property also. Other than there was blood on the rental contract (his blood he told us) and the transaction was officiated by a large orange cat - it went very well.

From the get-go it was slick. Like I said, there was a foot of snow on the ground and another foot falling. At the first intersection in Cochrane (at the bottom of a hill) I was made well aware of how slick it was by narrowly avoiding a rear-ending with my own Power Wagon. That settled me down a bit.

We loaded the stuff from Krista’s parents garage rather quickly as we had a few hands on deck - including my brother Neal. It was lucky Neal came along because it was uphill out of my in-laws neighbourhood and uphill from there out of Cochrane. The U-Haul and I made a valiant attempt but soon we were at the end of tow rope behind Neal’s truck(Dad’s Dodge 2500 Diesel of Kansas City fame).

For the rest of the day the U-Haul had to have a support vehicle tag along with it. We towed and pushed lots and eventually we go pretty good at it. Although we got little support from anyone else. Example: one of my neighbours had a children’s birthday party on the same day as the move. This event turned our street into a car-gauntlet. While loading the truck we watched one lady in a sport-ute park right in our turning radius and walk into the party. We were actually all staring at her in disbelief the whole time. We had to move three vehicles to leave another way thanks to her.

On our last trip from the old house we got so slick that as we drove into the close and, predictably, lost traction on the hill - one of us hopped out and guided the truck back, a silver Power Wagon appeared from nowhere back up in front of the U-Haul, a tow rope slung over the tailgate was hooked to the front of the U-Haul and everything disappeared up the hill. That was beautiful. As the truck spun out there was a father and son snow shoveling team on the corner ten feet away watching us. They must of thought they were going to get recruited into pushing. I saw they were still wondering what had just happened as when we drove off I caught them in the rear view mirror.

Saturday, moving day was also my 32nd birthday. After the move we celebrated with everyone that was there. We cooked burgers in the garage as the snow impeded getting the barbecue onto the deck. My garage still smells like smoke this morning.

I had some of my friends/movers stay over and we drank rye and told lies until the wee hours. All and all a very good birthday and I will forever remember the Saturday we moved in as my 32nd birthday and the crazy snow day.

It’s important to note Sunday was beautiful and at least half the snow melted. Welcome to Calgary.

No word from Tony yet.

Stay tuned...