Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fans of All Types

There are very few times in my life that I’ve really hoped to see a large dead mouse but that was exactly what I was hoping for as I pulled the heater box from the TR6 on Saturday. I didn’t want to do it. In fact I ignored it as long as possible. It wasn’t until Friday evening when I pulled on the heater fan and saw that all the dash lights dimmed and there was no fan noise that I really started to pay attention to the problem.

I have known for a long time that there was a problem with the heater but as the car is going to have a fairly relaxed retirement, weather wise, and there was a grocery list of other things wrong with the car, the heater has been sitting pretty far up the pyramid on Mazlow’s (TR6) Hierarchy of Needs. With the dash out and the new dash panel six weeks down the road now was the time.

It was surprisingly easy to pull the heater box. I’ve pulled a few in my time. They are never fun and you always end up pulling more dash off than you intended. But that wasn’t the case here. Three bolts, one nut, two hoses and the whole thing popped out.

When I opened I was disappointed to see no dead mouse pinning the fan form turning. I pop the fan out and bench tested it and it didn’t spin the whole thing just heated up. If I helped it get started with my hand it would turn slowly. So with little to lose I took the motor apart.

Spinning fans make me happy

There are two brass bearings at each end and one was stuck on the shaft. I freed it and put the little motor back together and it worked again. It was still heating up a bit and sometimes would stick so I think I’m going to take it apart again and try some lithium grease on the shaft. Failing that I see that some cat in Seattle has a shelf full of them on EBay for about $120 each*.

With the heater box out of the car it was a little less mobile than it was previously. Although a leaky clutch master cylinder made it pretty immobile before this – at least it hobbled the car’s range. That being the case I might just throw it up jack stands this week and tackle resealing the rear diff cover with “the good stuff”.

Before I am able to get to that I have to finish the little project I started. Ever so gingerly I have started to install the interior I bought from Bob Danielson more than a year ago. I’ve started with the rear wheel arches. Last night I finished the passenger side and I’ve just started on the driver’s side. I’m using contact cement to install the foam underlay and to adhere the vinyl to the foam. So far (and it seems to be working) I adhere the foam and clamp it with some tape until the contact cement dries. Then I glue the bottom corner of the vinyl to the foam, let that dry. After that I glued the rest as I then had something to pull against. I like the way it is turning out but it is slow work.

Sunday Krista and I cleaned the garage out as she’s has been like a terrier about getting the Rav back in the garage before it gets too cold. Out of good excuses and down to irrationally throwing myself around, I had to let her have her way. I’m not happy about it but what can I do? – the damage has been done – this utilitarian-vehicles-belongs-in-the-garage-thing is a product of bad parenting – it’s too late. Take this as an important lesson to all the fathers of daughters out there: don’t let this happen to their future husbands. Make those kids park outside.

Anyway, part of this abomination of car justice was that I had to move the TR6 out on the driveway to clean in the garage. It was such a beautiful day and boy did the car look nice out in the sun. Before Krista joined me in the clean I had to sneak out and give it a quick wash to get all the dust and finger prints off.

Over the course of an hour I had several people stop and ogle the little car. A couple neighbors stopped and chatted. Of course there I am standing there like a grinning fool, any time someone said something nice about it, all I could say was “Thanks! It’s my dad’s car!” I questioned myself later on why I kept saying that but thought it best to not dive too deep into it.

This long weekend we’re home for most of it and I’ll have some time to work on the car. Hopefully my latest order from TRF will come this week but either way there’s lots to do.

Stay tuned…

* It makes me a little sad to think that each one of these fans might represent a car no longer on the road.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back Ordered

The one thing that doesn’t translate in the restoration hobby is a sense of urgency. Not that I’m in a big hurry. I’ve resigned myself that 2011 is the late days of the restoration not the first year of driving. But – still – it would be nice to get a sense that when I make an order that somewhere somebody gets a sense that that list is more than the sum of it’s parts – both literary and figuratively. After a couple inquiring emails I get the words that no one wants to hear: “Back Ordered”.

I’m not sure the ethics of sending out a sales catalog where there are items that are not actually in stock. Only things in stock should be in the sales catalog! That’s why you have a sale, to clear out items in stock. Regardless of the ethical implications of this transaction my dash panel has been back ordered… six weeks… in the year of the cat.

To bridge that period I ordered the door seals and the windshield seals. That and a bulb kit for the dash lights. Not as interesting as the dash panel but still it’s progress.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A New Windshield and a Old Tree

Bring the Funk bring the Noise! The TR6 blog is back this week with a renewed vigor. After last weeks melancholy about the path ahead I was able to refocus and find a foothold.

On Friday of last week I go some very good news concerning my career. You remember my career – that thing I didn’t have for the first year of this project (somewhere Krista just said “15 months” to herself and she has no idea why). Unexpectedly I got a salary bump.

To celebrate I bought a couple of things from TRF. One thing I have coming is a new dash panel. I know I was talking about redoing the old one myself – and I even bought materials to do it. The problem is that now since I’ve seen a few that have been redone I haven’t been happy with what I’ve seen. Even the nice ones look wrong to me. Everything on this car looks so nice that I just couldn’t put something sub-par right where I look all the time. I just would never be happy with it. It didn’t help that TRF had them on sale for two thirds the regular price.

Beyond that I also had Greg the Windshield Guy over last night and we finally mounted the windshield. That’s a game changer. Look at the picture and try and tell me that’s not a game changer. After something like that is mounted you start to see little design aspects in how the chrome in the windshield seal sets off the chrome in the mirror and the vanity rings. The car looks great.

On the weekend my brothers (Neal and Lachlan) and I were at the ranch cutting and jackhammering out the old foundation from under what used to be the porch. I might have mentioned this before but we’re re-doing the porch and railing as that has been a mess for a long time. It was a good time and we worked well together (which is not always the case) – as a bonus I finally got to use the winch on the Power Wagon. We used it to yank out big pieces of foundation (the Sutherland brothers don’t mess around).

Unfortunately while we were out there we became aware of some pretty bad news. The 150 year old Blue Spruce tree we buried my father’s ashes under snapped in half in the recent strong winds we’ve been getting out in the west country. We also had one of the poplars in the yard of the cabin fall over and crush one of the benches around the fire pit. The poplar was expected but the Blue Spruce was very disappointing. It was on a registry of Alberta heritage trees. My father was very fond of it and often walked people out to have a look at it. It was a sad mark on what was an otherwise great weekend.

It’s worth mentioning while listening to Willie’s Place on XM Sunday morning at the ranch my brothers and I heard a song that stopped us dead in our tracks. I have never heard it before now and that’s shocking as it was completely engulfing. In the tradition of Marty Robbins it’s a western ballad called “Seven Spanish Angels” and it was by Willie Nelson. In the version we heard it was a collaboration of Willie and Ray Charles which was just perfect. I highly recommend downloading it. I did and played it for Krista and Hayden last night. Krista knew it word for word – I may be the last person to the party on this one.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Funk beyond Zero Hour

I’m in a funk and try as I might I can’t shake it. Even the excitement of accidentally starting the TR6 in gear (reverse) and have it shoot out of the garage and down the driveway until me and another fellow could wrestle it to a stop couldn’t shake me out of it. Not a proud moment - but rest assure I put the parking brake back together soon after. Geoff, the fellow that was visiting, must have been as shaken as I as he didn’t stick around long after that bit of excitement.

I’ve blown through my second deadline and there is no real sign of when this project will be finished. I don’t consider this a failure but I’m not too happy about it. It comes down to simply a cash-flow issue. The year of the cat continues to be expensive.

To try to alleviate my funk I visited Triumph Close to eyeball a TR250 Dave and Shawn brought up from Arizona to restore - an act of trust and faith that reaches way beyond the comfort zone I have with any of my neighbors. Also beyond belief is that, with the “new” TR250, both Dave and Shawn’s garages are housing vintage British iron in all spots exclusively. Being that they are both happily married I find this amazing. Krista’s Rav4 continues to enjoy a sheltered lifestyle that no other rather homely utilitarian car should. Yes I said car - if I continue to ignore the term “Sport Utility” I’m hoping it will go away. I have the same hope for the term “Adult Contemporary”.

Later the same evening I drove the TR6 to a gas station in the neighborhood to fill the tank and then to visit a quiet country road near here. Although Greg and I haven’t been able to match up schedules yet to install the windshield it was still a good shakedown drive. Two problems I discovered while on my drive. One being that since I fixed the high/low beam switch I lost my left side signal lights. The other problem is more concerning. My clutch master cylinder is bleeding like a stuck pig. I had this same problem in the fall of last year around the time of that drive. I suspect its blow-by from the plunger as my right foot and foot well was soaked in dot4 brake fluid. I had to limp the car home without a clutch which wasn’t great for my starter as I had to stop for two lights. As the car proved by dashing out of the garage earlier, the starter is pretty torque-y but starting the car in first is not great long term plan. The master cylinder is brand new from Moss so I’m not very happy about this.

Today I was able to fix the left signal lights - it was just a pinched wire. I also installed the windshield wiper motor and it works very well.

I guess my first task at hand is to change out the master cylinder. Also hopefully before next week Greg can get he windshield installed. The good news is that we're into the shakedown stage.

Stay tuned...