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Archive for April, 2008

The Toy – Demolition Day

True, it’s not really that bad. But it’s not really that good either. After trying several methods to get the clutch to break free it became apparent that to get my car fixed we were going to have to start pulling things out.

The first things to go were the seats. And trust me, it sounds easier than it really was.

Problem 1: Seat bolts were not all bolts on driver’s seat. Some genius had used one (yes 1 and only 1 thankfully) screw with a square nut. And guess what? It was all rusty.
End Result 1: Broken screw, but seat removed.

Problem 2: Passenger seat refused to move back on rails. And here all this time I assumed the passenger seat was pushed all the way back, because who moves it up? Come on now.
End Result 1: After PB Blasting the living daylights out of the rail, putting my feet on the dash and shoving with all my might, the seat moved.

Problem 3: Nuts for front screws of passenger seat rails are cleverly hidden under the frame. No, seriously. Kinda hard to see if turning the bolt was moving the nut.
End Result 3: After PB Blasting the underside of the car to death (do you see a trend here) the bolts came out. Whew.

Ok, seats are out. New revelation….carpet is more disgusting than I had earlier realized. I’m not sure how this is a revelation, but it is. And it is revolting. Add that to my list of things to purchase.

With the seats out, it was now time to pull off the “thing” covering the transmission. It appears to be some kind of MDF board which had been beaten to a pulp (possibly kicked I’m thinking) and then taped and tarred back into submission. Removal was not a big deal….until I saw the underside which sent me running for fresh air. The entire underside of that thing was covered with the typical black sludge, the non-tuberculosis causing nastiness that grows on the sludge and some additional unidentifiable yellow fuzzy stuff. I think my car is growing new life forms.

With the “thing” out of the way and perched precariously atop the random assortment of things in my garage it was time to figure out the next step. Mostly this consisted of sitting and staring at the transmission which clearly was not going to remove itself.

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chris on April 29th 2008 in Vehicles

Correspondence from the Toy

One day in 1993 the Toy and I were having problems. Our relationship has always been rocky at best, but she’d really pushed me over the edge when one of her control arms came un-welded as I was merging onto I-79.

Not so long after I found this letter in my mailbox. You’ll need to zoom it to full size to read it.

chris on April 28th 2008 in News

the Toy, my Nemesis

Ok. So “do or die” day turned into “try and try again” day much as Keith, my partner in crime, suggested it would. Darn it!

The day’s work started out with a good omen, which should have been a sign that nothing else was going to go right. The new plug I bought for the oil pan (because we shall not discuss the removal of the old one – hammer & vice grips) fit like a dream. And the oil filter seemed to go back in alright – please note the foreshadowing.

Now according to the “how to take apart and reassemble your car” book that I have, the Toy requires oil in the following measurements:

  • 10 Imperial Pints OR
  • 12 U.S. Pints, OR
  • 5.7 Liters

Trying to do the conversion from pints to gallon was interesting as I’ve never been good at liquid measurements and I was WAY too overstimulated about the pending freedom of driving a convertible.

Dump in one gallon of oil. Start car. All seems to be going well until I hear what sounded like a waterfall coming from under the hood. Oil was pouring out of the filter all over my garage floor. AAAACK! I’d moved the oil bucket from earlier. Scoot bucket back under there, so now it is sitting IN the spreading puddle of oil. Great. Cat litter! Where’s the cat litter! EEEEEK. (For a change I was thankful we had cats.)

Sigh….Clearly the oil filter needed to be pulled back out. I’m under the car when my phone rings, causing me to jerk and nearly knock myself unconscious on the frame. Nice. Chad paces around waiting for something to happen and Keith arrives.

Pull out the filter, try two different gaskets with me under the car and my car-repair-mentor reaching in from top. [Note to self: when you receive two different sized gaskets in the standard package from the parts supply store, it’s probably a good indication that things are not going to be easy.] Reassemble and hope for the best.

But wait! One of the old hoses on the gas line was rotted and dripping – to the point of being gooey. How that was missed in the great hose replacement is beyond me. Replacing the hose was a major fiasco – despite the car being jacked from the front, the fuel was spewing forth like a geyser the second the hose was pulled off. Three hands didn’t fit down there too well, but we got it under control eventually. Nothing like coating the garage floor with 93 octane fuel…..

Alright, now clearly this is where it’s gonna get good, right? Time to back the Toy out and commence the joy ride.

Uhuh. Chad is ready with the camera to capture this momentous occasion. I start her up (and I must point out she starts like a dream) and put her in gear…..and uh…..put her in reverse and….ok, so put the car in reverse and….

Aw now…Come ON! The clutch was fine when the problems began. It was the overheating and then the inability to start that was the problem…oh for…..COME ON!

I should have suspected this. In the grand tradition of British Sports Cars, when you fix one thing, something new (and more than likely more expensive) goes wrong.

I’ll post more when something new happens. Right now I have an environmental disaster to clean up in my garage….

chris on April 19th 2008 in Vehicles

the Toy Lives – or how my 1967 TR4A is my obsession again

Way back when, my Dad gave me a car. It wasn’t just any car. It was an oil dripping, hot running, fast idling, loud, smelly, beautiful British sports car. Oh man I loved that car and she hated me…alot. Clearly what she needed was not a money-bereft kid, but someone with tons of disposable income and some mechanical know-how. One day the headlights died while driving on the interstate. Another day the horn keeled over and refused to make a peep. The clutch went out at the same time as the brakes….

The years went by and my general of knowledge of how to keep my TR4A moving would make little gains. I knew how to check the brake and clutch master cylinders and what to put in them (very important discovery) . I knew to check the dashpots and how to keep them filled. I knew that finding someone to true my stupid wire wheels was impossible and that having new ones shipped was expensive (barf!). I knew that my car turned heads as I drove (loudly) down the street. And yet, I was no car guy, despite the combat boots & flannel.

At long last, all those little things came to a head and with one might heave, the Toy toppled from drivable beasty to garage ornament. It took a long, long time, but I finally found myself some actual car guys (thanks Keith & Bob! you saved me)

and while the quarters in my garage were tight, they were patient and strangely willing to spend time wedged in there poking around the car and explaining (thank you! thank you! thank you!) how things worked – or didn’t work as the case generally was – and how we were going to remedy that.

They got me motivated, convinced me I could fit under the car and the repair work got rolling with only one episode of me having my head squished by the vehicle (do NOT let someone lean on the car while your head is under the frame….bad idea…particularly with a large noggin’ like mine).

Flash forward 10 months and there was still work to be done. The Zenith Stromberg carbuerators needed tuned & timed (or something, the instructions were wonderfully hilarious…I should post them here), the oil needed drained and the oil filter replaced. I wanted to change the fuel filter, but apparently the Toy doesn’t have one. Throw in some bizarre phone conversations with the poor guys at Advanced Auto Parts (“I need a gasket for a 1967 TR4A Triumph fuel blahbittyblueblah.” “And who makes the Triumph?” “Uh, Triumph?”) a few sets of ruined clothes (oh yes, wipe my hands on the rags…not my pants, check) and your obligatory purchase of new tools and we were close…..so very, very close.

Over the last two days Keith & I have put in a lot of hours in the garage and I smell victory (although it could be just the hallucinogenic side effects from exhaust fumes & burning oil…I dunno). Tonight is do or die. Let’s Go!

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chris on April 17th 2008 in Vehicles