Archive for May, 2008

The Toy – Sucess At Last

It’s hard to even think about what is now behind me. The Toy is moving and I’m elated beyond belief!

None-the-less, it’s cathartic to review what led up to here and I wouldn’t want anyone out there thinking we just slapped the clutch back in and 5 seconds later all was well….

Let’s start with problem #1 – the clutch alignment tool that the catalog “highly recommended” I order to prevent costing myself more money later when I damaged the clutch did not fit….I repeat…It DID NOT fit. So at 8:38 p.m. (again with the 8:30 at night) Keith and I piled in the Jeep and ran to Advanced Auto Parts (which will soon just be garnishing my wages so I don’t have to worry about carrying my wallet). I purchased one that was smaller and hoped for the best. Add a little duct tape….and you get a working clutch alignment tool. Perfect. [remind me to lodge my complaint with victoria british]

Ok. So on goes the clutch which again, was easier said than done because the housing is heavy and the flywheel is WAY under the dash and so forth and there are disconnected knobs hanging all over. And while I’m short, I’m not tiny – as demonstrated in the picture of me contorting myself to clean the flywheel. And the garage is cramped. Not to mention I’m a weakling and I couldn’t hold the housing up at arm’s length to get it stabilized on the pins. [fortunately Keith could] With perserverence, we got that bad boy bolted down. Whew.

Next. Well next was the fun part right? This is where we have to face the reality that the transmission has to go back in. It’s just sitting there on the jack, with its newly installed clutch fork and shaft with happy grease fittings just waiting to make our lives hell. And of course we have no choice, because unless we put this back, the car is not going anywhere. Sigh…

Please note that while we are smiling in this picture, it’s only because we’ve just managed to get the transmission into the car. Not attached, just up and in. The smiling will stop shortly. Believe me, because here we face another flaw in the car’s design, the clutch lever sticks out too far to just drop the transmission in. The hole in the floor is perfectly sized for the housing, but you can’t just drop it in there because stuff gets in the way. Lots of stuff….lots and lots of stuff. See, the smiling has stopped and it’s early in the process.

I’ll not bore you with the painful details (including how I nearly lost my maglite to the bell housing…) of man-handling, wrestling and generally wailing on the transmission. The good news is, before it killed us we won. Oh sure, we were battered, bruised and covered in motor oil (and probably some other car stuff as well…not sure, the Toy just keeps oozing) but we had accomplished our mission.

From that point it was mostly just trying to get the car back together, which again, is no mean feat. Half the things are bolted thru something else which doesn’t make a lot of sense or won’t light up and after a while you get this serious desire to just drive the bolts through the holes with the lead mallet (which is supposed to be used to take the wheels off). And then suddenly you find yourself sitting on the floor pans, stretched out across the transmission cover holding epoxy and hoping you can get the gear shift knob to glue on and stay for a change.

I probably should detail the pain and suffering of installing the seats, but since I’m going to have to bring them back out again (barf) I will suffice to share that I put my foot through the transmission cover trying to get the passenger seat to slide on the rail and we are still missing one bolt out of the driver’s seat. Don’t ask….at least they are installed and are fairly sturdy.

So now it’s time to tempt fate. It’s time to take her off the jack stands. Theoretically this could be disastrous. Because who knows, she may decide to crumble in half after all of our hard work. She may decide to reject a front stand after we get the back ones out. In short, the Toy may still have a few tricks that she’s holding onto…But since I’m typing this, I’m clearly not dead or seriously maimed, which means she complied nicely and found herself back on solid ground.

And now it was truly time. Time to see if she would move of her on volition. She started up after a brief hesitation [probably need a new battery after all this time]. Shifted into reverse (which by the way…if you lift UP on the gearshift, and then sideways is a bunch easier than just wailing on it sideways….why did I not know this?) Held my breathe, pressed gently on the gas…..no grinding noise, no shuddering, no bucking, no stalling….She rolled out of the garage as if it was only yesterday that she’d been driven.

SUCCESS….at long last…..

We took a few moments of preventative maintenance – don’t want my brakes to fail or my tire to fall off during the send off. Off comes the center spinner hub for a quick check of the right front brakes and it was time to go for a joy ride. Not too far…just around the neighborhood a few times. A small child noted that “your car is very small.” He’s right, she is. But what she lacks in size, she sure makes up for in style (if I drive fast enough you can’t see the paint chips and dings!).

After the gas spewing incident, the tank was rather low, so Keith suggested that in order to avoid running the car out of gas which would seriously have marred this momentous occasion, we filler her up. So I stopped to grab my wallet, pointed her up the hill, and tested her out around a few curvy turns. I have to remember how to drive her, little different than my regular vehicle. How was it I spent less to fill up on the “good stuff” than I do to fill up my regular vehicle with the “cheap stuff”? Who knows. And at this point, I could have cared less!


Back home we played “what do we need to fix to pass inspection” which mostly involved poking at some of the wires until they were slightly more secure than they had been [just get me downhill to the inspection station and we’ll replace the fittings later!]. By the time Chad came home from a long day of golf, the Toy was just sitting out with the other vehicles and I was making a list of things to buy for some minor repairs. He was elated to see she’d moved out of the garage…..I think he was somewhat stunned when I told him we’d already gone for a joy ride up to the gas station. I suspect he’d harbored serious doubts that my car would ever move again and that he would have to one day stage an intervention and stop the madness.

And so, here’s where I give my Thank You speech……

  • First and foremost to my Dad, who for some reason bought the Toy instead of the MGB that fateful day in 1991. And who, despite his better judgment, decided to not sell her for something a little more reliable and lot less expensive, despite having her title in his name until I was 25!
  • To Chad, my very patient husband, who showed much good humor about my second car being a garage hog, a money hog and a time hog. Who kindly ignored the smell of fuel and oil and other car yuckiness seeping into our foyer. I told you I’d get her going!
  • To Keith & Bob who got me started on getting her started. Especially Keith who has logged WAY too many hours in my garage with my car and somehow still takes my phone calls.

chris on May 5th 2008 in Vehicles

The Toy

In the warm early evening sunlight, the Toy rolled out of the garage and onto the road for the first time in many, many years.

More details and photos later!

chris on May 4th 2008 in Vehicles

The Toy – Surgery

(from the weekend of April 26, 2008)

Well, it had to happen. We tried everything in the book, and despite his earlier belief that Bob was mistaken and we would not have to pull the transmission…we did it.

Typing that makes it sound so easy of course. And it wasn’t. Never is with this little beasty. It seemed simple enough since we’d already pulled the entire inside apart and the transmission was just sitting there, exposed for all the world to see. We put the car up on jack stands and the rest would be easy, right?


All along, we weren’t sure why the shop book kept insisting that the engine be pulled out. First off, you should be able to tell from the photos that we were working with a serious space crunch (one book recommended at least 3 times the size of the car as your work space….oh boy). Second off, while we could have gotten our hands on something to pull the engine [and by we I mean Keith] it would have had to been returned the same day and rather quietly at that.

I think you see where this is going. Despite the manual’s insistence that we remove the engine, it was still in the Toy as we positioned the jack under the transmission and loosened bolts. Ahem…

So there I sat IN the car and there was Keith UNDER the car and we were getting ready to start jacking the transmission up to pull it free [and more about that shortly] when he thought it best to re-check the shop manual. Sure enough….that part about pulling the transmission reared its ugly head. And so, being curious he takes a look under the hood and guess what? There is a REASON that the book wants you to pull the engine. Seriously, an honest to goodness, legitimate reason that has nothing to do with torture or British humor. Nope. The engine is rather dependent on the transmission to stay in place…..read that again….transmission helps keep engine in place. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Uh, huh. We were a few seconds away from dropping the engine to the floor. Boom. Gone. That’s it. So much for the clutch being the big worry. Mere seconds…but fortunately for me, my car-guy noticed this. There was some mad scrambling and something about “Put the bolts back! Put them back, now!” Followed by the 8:38 p.m. run to Sears to purchase another jack to jack up the engine, the other mighty jack being somewhat preoccupied with holding up and yanking out the transmission.

Run home, put new jack under engine. Check. Now let the good times roll. And by this I mean, please begin the next major hurdle in the removal of the stupid, flippin’ transmission. I think the short version will suffice.

  • You the can’t jack it up too far because it goes behind the firewall
  • You can’t yank it toward you because part of the clutch shaft gets in the way
  • You don’t have a lot of room because the car is in a cramped garage
  • The starter nearly falls on your head.

Fortunately, we beat the transmission into compliance and it grudgingly gave up.

Upon inspection, the clutch was stuck to the pressure plate. We had to pry it off with a screwdriver. Sigh…Bob was right. No amount of bullying was going to get that thing free. At this point the good news was we assumed we knew that the clutch was the problem. The bad news was that I’d have to order parts and then, well then who the heck knew.

I’m loathe to discuss the next tragedy that occurred because it is still quite painful and fresh. So suffice to say that you would think taking the clutch shaft and the clutch fork off would be easy. It would not be due to a wonderful design flaw where in the taper bolt holding the fork to the shaft has a tendency to shear off. Uhuh, shear off. I can tell you it happened before, because a previous owner had drilled a hole in the clutch shaft to get a bad bolt out. My adventure included breaking a nail punch, two brand new drill bits and wailing on the thing with a hammer. Finally I won.

So I leave you with this (old) update knowing that

  1. Transmission is out
  2. Taper pin has been beaten out of the clutch fork
  3. New parts are on the way!

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chris on May 4th 2008 in Vehicles

And then there was 500 and 9…or 9 and 500

My friend Knight Who Says Ni (aka Kris) was in town and, poor soul, allowed herself to be drug out on the caching trail with me. I say this because while she was willing, I don’t think she had an inkling what she was getting into. She’s only done light caching with me. Not the bull-headed, hard core, I’m caching until I can’t walk and it’s dark and sidekick has called out the search party type caching. Lucky for her a thorn impeded my plans….I think she may have stepped on it on purpose!

Anyway…back to these milestones. The last Thursday of each month our local caching group MAPGI meets for beer and wings so we can swap lies and so forth. Lo and behold the last Thursday of April also happened to be the 9th anniversary of loyal sidekick and myself. What to do? What to do?

What I did was make a run for my 500th cache so I could celebrate both milestones at BW-3 (or is it 2 these days? Where did the Weck go?).

The day dawned bright, and while I was up early, we did hit the road until 10-ish.I should take this moment to point out that I had decided, due to the high temps and my general love of the sun, to go caching in a running skirt. This decision would later reveal itself to be incredibly stupid….yes, stupid.

Our first successful cache was Dead in the Middle of SGL 223 which is….a .20 mile uphill bushwhack. Be still my heart. This is my kinda cache, boys and girls. I love a good bushwhack, ask anyone you know and they’ll tell you that I love to follow that arrow, thorns, mountain laurels, streams be darned. Spotty Spotty Pony Girl follows the arrow!

Uhem….which is where my fashion choice for the day came back to bit me in the arse. By the time we acquired the cache, I looked like I’d had a go ’round with Wolverine himself. I was gashed and bloody, but smiling like an idiot.

After a few other caches and then the injury sustained by KWSN I was at #499. I thought I”d be clever and have my #500 sign in Roman numerals, until a call to sidekick confirmed that it would be “D”….yes, just “D”. Well, where’s the fun in that? So, never one to let me down, sidekick came up with a plan.

With a sigh of relief (I’m sure I heard it from KWSN), a wave to the ponies that were grazing across the street from the parking coords and a quick call to check in, we headed back to to good ol’ West Virginia. Applied copious amounts of neosporin to my injuries, collected Aquacache, then grabbed loyal sidekick from his office (what…he was working until 5:30???) and we headed down mighty I-79 to join the gang.

Unknown to me, KWSN had asked MAGPI if they could throw together something to commemorate my #500th cache and they responded with a fancy silver lock-n-lock!

How awesome! Many thanks to Rock_Rat who pulled it all together. Seriously, I was completely shocked. I had no idea….of course, I tend to be oblivious to most things.

Chad and I had a mini-celebration for our 9th (fancy dinner was scheduled for the following evening because heaven forbid I miss MAGPI beer & wings). And then we got down to swapping lies!

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chris on May 2nd 2008 in Family, Geocaching, Links