Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"I'm Taking the Day Off"

I finally admitted to myself that it's okay to take a day off of work, and that I actually deserve a day off of work once in a while. I even admitted to myself that working out in the garage is a good reason to take that day off. The fact that I'm still feeling good about that day off four days later is a testament to the correctness of my decision.

My schedule is pretty busy most weeks. In general, I have one night a week where there isn't some sort of activity that keeps me away from the house until about 9pm or 10pm. It's pretty hard to get much done during the week, and cramming it all into a weekend is something that I've come to realize isn't wholly realistic. So, since this past Friday included an evening off from the band, it seemed like a great day to wear myself out working in the garage.

There were several projects presenting themselves to me:
One - the BMW R90S had recently suffered the slings and arrows of the road, resulting in a damaged front tire. Said tire still needed to be replaced, and it was up to me to get the wheel off the bike and down to the cycle store for replacement. I'll address this story further in another post, no doubt.
Two - dad had given me several flourescent lights when we were cleaning out his shop on Father's Day, and I needed to get one of them hung up in the garage.
Three - there were two Cadillac 500-inch engines sitting on the floor of the garage. Since I now had the engine hoist free from behind the Chevelle, it was an opportune time to put one of them on the engine stand and move the other to a more convenient location.

The day turned out to be terrific. It was supposed to rain all day, but sometime around 2pm it cleared up and got downright sunny. The good weather was welcome, as it allowed me to back the Chevelle out and rehang the other 8-foot flourescent that was already in place. It also allowed me to roll the Cad motor out into the driveway and shoot a few pics once it was mounted on the engine stand. I hope to post pics at some point in the future, but I'm without a digital camera now, so scans must be made from prints. Since I have to borrow use of a scanner, it's a slow process.

The short of it is that I got absolutely EVERYTHING on my list done that day! The lights still need to be wired, but they are up and out of the way. The Cad engine rests proudly on its stand awaiting transformation into a fire-breathing torque monster. The R90S sits with its front wheel removed until I can reclaim the wheel from the tire shop.

The real boon here is the general cleanup of things. It looks much neater out there now, making it easier to move, think, and make more progress. I couldn't be happier. What an amazing day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

It's alive...ALIVE!!!!

I'm in a mild state of shock right now. I'm not sure I can even believe the event myself, but I know that the Chevelle is now parked in the garage so that it faces out, which means it had to have been moved, which means I did not dream that I drove it on Saturday.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's been about two years since I pulled the rear end out to have a new posi unit installed. While it was in the shop I decided I'd have them put rear disc brakes on it. I already had a front disc setup sitting at home waiting to be installed, so this didn't seem like a big deal.

Well, the new rear discs meant new hoses, various adapters, brackets, etc. The swap also required a new master cylinder and distribution block/metering valve. Now, I already had a power booster, but since there's a larger engine swap planned for the future, it seemed prudent to install a new smaller brake booster at this time. All of these parts required that I bend new hard lines for everything. I also had to fabricate/modify some brackets. I had to buy more adapters. Fabrication of everything took far longer than wanted or expected.

I finally got all of this done sometime around February of 2006, but about two or three weeks later I was out in the garage and realized that THERE WAS RUST ALL OVER THE BRAKES!!! They were brand new RUSTY brakes!!!! Aaaaargh! I came to the realize that there was far too much humidity being trapped in my garage. To fix the situation I had to install eaves venting as well as a powered gable vent with a thermostat and humidistat. It was only when all that was done that I was able to go back and clean all the rust from the discs and truly finish the job.

Saturday all I had left was to clean up the rear discs and reinstall them. That took an hour or two, and then the moment of truth had arrived. I threw the street slicks on the back (they were the only rims I had that would clear the disc calipers), and lowered the machine to the ground. I nervously went and got the keys, settled in behind the wheel, keyed the starter. It took a little prodding, but after a minute or two the engine sputtered to life and settled into its customary growl. I was smiling. So far, so good!

I let it warm up a little bit. I tested the brake pedal. It felt like you'd expect. Another thumbs up.
I put it in reverse and slooooowly eased out on the clutch. The Bow Tie started to move backwards out of the garage. I could hardly believe it. The sun was going to shine upon it for the first time in two years!
I tapped the brakes lightly as a test. Hoo! Stoppage! Right on!
I eased the 'Velle the rest of the way out of the garage and gingerly brought it to a stop. Excellent.
I hopped out of the car, went into the garage, and rearranged the large blue tarp that dad gave to me to put on the floor under the Chevelle. I'd gotten advice from him and some other car guys saying that this would help prevent moisture from rising through the floor and damaging the car.

With that little bit of housekeeping out of the way it was time for the Maiden Brake Voyage. I backed down the driveway to the front of the house and out into the street, creeping especially slowly so that I could stop the car at a moment's notice if the brakes suddenly failed to respond.

My reward for two year's worth of procrastination punctuated with moments of hard work (including work from Ben) was two trouble-free trips around the block! If I'd had more time I certainly would have made a few extra circuits of the neighborhood, but those will come later. For now it's more than enough to know that the Chevelle is once again rolling under its own power. Now the real fun can begin.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Small Victories

Well, I actually managed to sell something that I mentioned in my previous post. A couple of weeks ago my guitarist/bandleader started asking about my black Echoplex. Did I still have it? I did and I offered to bring it out to a gig for him to try. Incredibly enough, it only took about two or three gigs for me to remember to put it in the van and take it with me (although I remembered when I was three blocks from home and had to double-back to pick it up). The man tried it out, got some totally awesome tone out of it, and asked if I'd sell it. To my immense glee, we came to an agreement on price and he paid me half that night and the remainder this past weekend. So, one down, several to go. Progress is progress, however, and I'm happy that I now have both a little more space and a little more money. It's a win/win situation for T!

I got the discs of the front of the Chevelle and got the light surface rust removed with a little CLR. I have no clue if this is going to work or not when it's all said and done, but it's cheaper than getting all four discs cut yet again. In addition, I know if they needed to be turned again that one of them would have to be replaced, so I'm hoping this takes care of the problem. I thank my brother, Ben, for coming up with this idea.

I got the rear wheels removed and one rotor pulled. Maybe this week I can get both of them cleaned up. Once the discs are all cleaned and reinstalled it'll be time to take it around the block and see how the new all-disc system is going to work. My fingers are crossed.

To alleviate this rust problem with the brakes I have already installed eaves venting in the garage as well as a powered gable vent with a thermostat and humidistat. It's reassuing to come out of the house on a rainy morning and hear the fan hummin' away. Ah, the sound of controlled humidity! Woohoo!