Friday, August 20, 2010

It's been a non-summer

We didn't plan a family vacation this summer. The oldest scored a college summer school scholarship. The youngest, we were thinking she would need to repeat some high school classes. When we finally planned a couples-get-away, then I managed to mess up my back! We had to forget the trip. Now, we are a few days away from moving eldest back to the dorm, public schools starting up, and the heat of Texas in August. Maybe later in the fall......

Friday, April 30, 2010

New used car

I've been driving my 1999 F250 Super Duty truck since May of 1998. Ford did some introduced-half-a-year-early that year. It served us for 12 years and 180,000 miles. We are keeping it to move kids to college, haul junk with, tow trailers with and such.
But if I kept driving it another year, it would be over 200,000 miles. It's also expensive to operate. 14 quart oil changes, $10 oil filters. And I do it myself and it still cost $45 every 3000 miles. Then the cost of diesel fuel is about 30 cents higher than regular gasoline. So this past winter I started shopping. I noticed a used Mustang convertible on a dealer lot. It was still there several months later. I'd spent that time shopping other cars, test driving my parents old Honda. Which they traded in on a 2006 Solara convertible.
One Friday morning, I told the wife that I was ready to buy. Her only reply was "not that convertible". That's like throwing the red flag in front of the bull.
I got it at a great price. Considering that it only has 15000 miles on it, is Ford Certified, which means it has a full factory warranty for 4 more years and up to 100,000 miles. It's also a blast to drive.
Wife drove up the day I brought it home and thought I was playing one of my tricks on her. Until she saw our checking account! I'd paid cash up front.
We took the car with the top down to dinner that evening and then on for our Hot-Date-Friday-At-Wal*Mart. Funny, the next week, I was getting into her 2008 red Corolla for HDFAWM, and she grinned and said "let's take the Mustang again".
She then proceeded to liken the interior "mood" light, to a Lava Lamp.

You know you've been checking out car lots when your truck is in a Craigslist Ad for one of the local dealers!! The F250 Crew was me driving by checking out the Mustang they were photographing.

And here is our "Ford Family Photo". clockwise from the green car.

Green 1969 Mustang Coupe. Dad bought it in 1971. I learned to drive on it.
Orange 1970 Mustang Mach 1, 428 Cubic Inch Cobra Jet with Ram Air. One of the last of the Muscle cars. The thing is brutal to drive. I bought in in 1991 as a non-running basket case.
Red, 2008 Mustang GT convertible. My new daily driver.
Green 1999 F250 Super Duty crew cab. retired to occasional use.
And the enclosed trailer and the flat bed trailer. For hauling junk around.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In search of the Holy Windshield wipers

I replace our windshield wipers blades every fall. That way they are in great shape for winter and our rainy spring. They then get cooked in the heat of a Texas summer. This past October, I went to purchase some from our local O’Reilly. They didn’t have the replacement blades and convinced me to buy entire arm replacements. And then convinced me that I needed the new, improved, Aero, dynamic tension (sounds like a line from Rocky Horror Picture Show), blades.

Within about a month, those suckers started streaking worse than the pair they had replaced!

So this Saturday, with a cold front in, rain, snow, I decided to try NAPA for replacement blades and not entire arms. I took my two old pairs with me. NAPA told me they didn’t have the replacements. I decided to try a different O’Reilly. That’s when the conversation got surreal.

Him: “Can I help you?”
Me: “I’d like to buy replacement inserts for either of these pairs of windshield blades” (I had the original Ford blades and a set of Anco’s that had been on it for years.
H: “I don’t think we will have them. You have to buy the whole arm”
M: “I did buy the whole arm from your other store. They are three months old and streaking already”
H: “That’s just the way it is in Texas”.
M: “…….in the summer, sure…not in the winter”
H: “why do you want to replace them?”
M: “I told you, they are streaking and they are only four months old”
H: “So you”
M: “Look. I wish to purchase replacement inserts. If you don’t have them, fine, I’ll try your competion”
H: “I’ll look”

LO AND BEHOLD, he found the holy grail! The $20 “blades” that lasted one month and started streaking, have been replaced with Inserts that only cost $6.

Another racket.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Orienteering and Old Cars

It's been a hectic month. Classes and new projects at work. Orienteering two days in Athens Texas. Mr. G and I are course setters and meet directors at the next North Texas Orienteering Association Dillo-Goat. It is in LBJ National Grasslands, which is mostly forest and hiking/horseback riding trails. We were up there about three days over a two week period. Even in the snow!
There was even a fire north of us in the grass lands. Someone must have been cold in the snow.
We also got the truck stuck in the mud after the snowfall.

Then the old 1969 Mustang decided to give me some trouble starting one day after I'd already driven it about ten miles. When I got home, I took off the air cleaner and found lots of leaking fuel. The carburetor gaskets had given out. I got a rebuild kit and rebuilt it. But it still doesn't run correctly. I traced down 41 year old vacuum hoses were all leaking. Replaced those. The battery cable broke. Replaced all those. The spark plugs were old and fouled. Replaced those. It was funny but except for the carb kit and the battery cables, I had the parts "on the shelf" already!
It still isn't running right. It seems to have developed a vacuum leak, which must be in the carb. I've disabled the choke, since it didn't work anyway. And now have plugged the air passages to the choke. I'll see if that helps.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We are such geeks

I'm taking a class at work. My old Dell laptop, which is up for replacement in four more months, doesn't have enough horse-power to run the labs in the class. I emailed my boss. He told me to come get one of the new laptops. We'd then reformat my old one and hand-it-down to the next contractor. So in the middle of the class, I'm dashing back and forth working on copying over all data and applications from my old laptop to the new one. Missing the labs in the class, but oh well. Tonight, I brought home both laptops and fired them up next to each other. There were still a few files to copy, IE Favorites, emails and such.
I took the above photo of our table with side-by-side laptops, flash drives, IPODS charging.
I then took a photo of four feet away, where the home PC is, the wifes work PC also.
I didn't both to then turn around and take ANOTHER photo of another desktop and old laptop we rarely use. I didn't take a photo of the college daughters room either. With her desktop in it. Which she hardly uses since she got a new MacBook for school.
All told, four laptops and three desktops.

And yes, I use my drummers Roc-N-Soc chair to sit in.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My tires exploded

About a year ago there were stories in the news about people having old tires on their cars and how the tires age, even when not in use, and become unsafe. I filed it away for forgot about it. About a month back the story was back in the news. I did some research and started attempting to look for DOT date codes on our antique cars.

First car. Our 1969 Mustang coupe. I put four new bias ply tires on it. In about 1984! I remember bias tires were hard to get even then. Radial had taken over. The date codes on these four Goodyear’s, didn’t even have the same format as the write ups for checking tire age. Given they were put on 26 years ago, and might have been two to four years old then, it was time for new shoes! The spare tire in the trunk was also a Smithsonian-worthy relic. It was a “Buccaneer” tire that I think was a gas-station brand. I think my dad put those on around 1974. I was tempted to hit it with a hammer and see if it would shatter.

Second car. Our 1970 Mustang Mach 1. I restored that car in the early 1990’s. The tires on it are Goodyear reproductions of the original bias-ply tires. But this is 2010, so even those tires are 16 years old.
Neither of these cars is driven all that much, maybe 1000 to 2000 miles a year, so the tires never wear out. But they start getting hard, small cracks appear in the treads and such.

So on one of my Car Forums I query about peoples tire age. One guy reported that his 15 year old tires started coming apart at 35 MPH in his neighborhood and he had trouble getting it parked, even at that slow speed. I tend to get mine out on the freeway by us and get up to 70! A tire issue at that speed would mean a crash and possible a totaled antique car. The recommendation on the Mach was to take off the reproduction tires, coat them with a quality rubber protectant and store them under a blanket in a cool and dark place. Use them only for big shows where “original” counts. I took that advice. I purchased four BF Goodrich Radial and four brand new Magnum style rims.

On the coupe, I just purchased five radials. It isn’t shown that much and the original type tires, are not even reproduced.

The most fun was attempting to figure out just what tires would fit these old cars. The coupes original size was “6.95X14”. Those types of specifications were going away in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. The Mach is an example, as the original size is “F70X14”. Except that nomenclature also went away when they went to metric and then P-Metric, and whatever they are at now.

We wound up with a 205X70X14 on the coupe. That is a bit fatter than original, but about the same height as stock. We went with a 235X60X15 on the Mach. Seems to be what most of the Mustang parts houses and individuals get to fit. Those are a bit shorter that stock, but wider also. Plus, they look great.

The top picture is the coupe up on jack stands in our shop. All five wheels were getting new soles.
The bottom photo is the Mach. You can see the original tire still on the car and the new Magnum wheels and tires stacked up awaiting me to switch them out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Arctic Orienteering

The North Texas Orienteering Association held the first meet of the new year this past Saturday. Earlier in the week an Arctic cold front moved in. We saw the lowest temperature we’ve seen in thirteen years. Typically at this meet, there would be upwards of 400 people. I’m not sure we had 100. Most of the school districts prohibited outdoor events, so the schools had to cancel.
So at 7:30 AM Saturday, I was picking up Mr. G and Mr.T. No, not that Mr.T.

It was somewhere between 8 and 13 degrees. We loaded up orienteering clothes, warm clothes to change into, multiple coats, lunches and such. We headed north. Yes, North. The orienteering event was held at Camp James Ray Boy Scout ranch near Pottsboro Texas. The camp is just to the south of Lake Texoma on the Texas – Oklahoma border. We were glad that there wasn’t much of a north wind!
We arrived at the camp about 9:15. We headed to a pavilion to use the restroom and checked the temperature. It read 22 degrees, but it was lying. We were surprised the bathroom was open and warm! We ran into the head ranger and he said they had lost power that morning but it was back on. He said he was heading out to see how the campers had fared overnight.
We headed to the old dining hall to see about registering. Usually there is a line for registration. This meet with hardly anyone there, there was zero line. We could have started competition early, but choose 10:15. That would give us time to put on some Arctic clothes and use the restroom one last time before venturing out into the frigid woods.
So at the start it was strangely quiet. Not the normal hoard of people, just a few in each class heading out.
I took my start and took about two hours on the course. I had trouble with only a few of the controls, and not near the trouble I could have had! By about the one-third point, I actually took off my hat. I left my gloves on, as my hands were warm but not hot. I was wearing some cotton Jersey type gloves from the hardware store. I had cut off about half of the left thumb so my thumb compass would fit. I’d also cut off half the left index finger. That way I could feel the map and work the compass.
I got back and Mr G and T were both finishing up their lunches. We were sitting in the scout medical trailer, which was comfortable with coats on. I went ahead and changed into regular non-sweaty clothes. We headed into the dinning hall again and talked with some other people who were thawing out.

But first I took a photo of the frozen BS swimming pool.

About 2 PM, Mr. G asked someone if they might move up the awards from 2:30. They were planning to do that but then asked us if we could help out with retrieving all the orienteering control bags and electronics out in the woods. They usually have a school help out with registration and they also retrieve all the control bags out in the woods. Since there were three of us, they sent us to the farthest control points! We decided to leave right away, as they would just hold any medals we might win for us to return.
We drove out to one point. Then parked my truck at one of the gates and headed off cross country to find the controls and retrieve the equipment. We take a NTOA backpack with us to stash the gear in as we retrieve it.
We hit most of the controls with only small issues. But the fifth point was something! We attempted to follow a fence line, but then failed to find the ruined fence off it that we needed to follow. It took over an hour to find the one point!
By the time we got back, it was 4 PM, the sun was getting awful low on the horizon and the temperature was dropping again. Down in the forest, it never warmed above freezing.