Wednesday, February 1, 2017

and just like that...

Well, folks, it's been a long time, hasn't it.
A long few months of silence here, and over on the ol' facebook page.
I've been dormant, though the weather has actually been pretty nice considering it's winter in New England. We had a big snowstorm, but it was all cleared out by rain and warmer temps within a few days.
So, my point?
It's not the weather keeping me from that beast in the driveway.
I pretty much gave up on the ol' gal after all the trouble with the front suspension, as you all know.
But not the kind of giving up that leads to the thing just sitting there to rot or trying somehow to get someone to come buy the heap so I didn't have to keep being reminded that I was in way over my head simply starting this project. (that was a long ass sentence!)
maybe you're thinking 'what kind of trouble were you having? i forgot.'
 The front disc brake conversion can not take place until the old brake parts and suspension are squared away...
remember...I had to buy 2 of these $20 tools because i broke the first one trying to get the ball joints off?
 All the things I tried...including the pickle fork/sledge hammer combo and this stupid 'too big' pitman arm tool.
Ahh...the joy of auto restoration, coupled with a complete lack of car knowledge makes for some pretty rough days of waking up the neighbors (guess it's ok if they shine their headlights in my windows, after all...and eye for an eye, i suppose.) and tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Well, winter will give me a great excuse to just not think about it for awhile so when people ask 'how's it going with the car?' i can say 'um, it's winter. what could I possibly be doing? It's going just as scheduled.'
Then we have the ridiculous warm weather and days when I should be out there. But I'm not.

Enter my new friend, Jeremy. 
Husband of a woman my hubs works with. Mechanic. Happens to have some free time this week...and Wednesday looks good. Oh, but wait! There's snow in the forecast for Tuesday, of course.
Miraculously, Wednesday is still looking like 40+ degrees...and it was.

Yes, yes, and...?
Let's just let these pics do the talking...

All the parts are OFF! Which alone is enough to really bring me joy. However, I got a bit of pleasure when the ball joint gave him just as much trouble, until he used some tricks of the trade and his knowledge of leverage and how it can work in this situation. It was better than finding a unicorn while out on a walk in the woods. It proved to me that I must have a little bit of good karma built up somewhere.
Since I really just met Jeremy a few days ago, I told him my whole sad story. Which reminded me of the long and winding road I've been down with this car. I have renewed excitement for this project again, now. Soon, the long and winding roads will be for cruisin'!
***(Jeremy, if you're reading this, I hope you're not completely embarrassed and unwilling to ever speak to me again. ...Perhaps I should've asked him first...)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

another long absence

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
I'm not sure. It makes my heart grow more stressed and anxious, that's for sure.
It's winter here in New England, which usually means tons of snow and frigid temps. This year, we're having unseasonably warm days that I have been letting get away.
We have had one crazy snowstorm, so far, but it got so warm and we've had a lot of rain, that the signs of that storm have all been erased. 
The next few days are looking pretty mild, but it's definitely headed back to a cold trend.

At any rate, I'm not really here to give a weather report. I'm certainly not here to give a car work report, because I haven't done anything in months. Except, well, you know...the useless ball joint labor.

Last night we had dinner with a couple friends. New friends to me...one of hubs' co-workers and her husband. It was nice. Get out... meet new people (though i had met them before, we've all just never hung out). Well, her hubby is a mechanic by trade and it was sort of a set up that we've been trying to make happen for a while. Most of the night was shop talk between work pals, but by the end of the night, we managed to make a tentative meeting at the house so he can see what I'm up against. 

So look for at least one more update soon...

...still, to be continued...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last post: August...it's almost December

Wow! I know restoring a car can take a long time, but I don't think it's usually held up by tantrums and crying fits.
I'm sure no one really wants to hear another story about how hard this project is. How everything just seems to go wrong at that moment when I feel like something might just go my way. It's exhausting listening to someone go on and on about how the universe is against them and they are doomed to live a life of woe.
Well, I'm sorry, but that is how it goes.
I'm still sitting here with stuck ball joints and control arms. I've gotten lots of advice and tried a few methods (not all...I mean, there's still hope that I can get some forward momentum again). I've gone the route of simply giving up on the brakes and deciding to work on other bits, and then go back...but then I get it in my head that I can try just one more time...maybe the rust has loosened up enough...maybe I'm a little stronger today. But that just ends in more tears, same old stuck parts, and NOT moving on to other parts...and me drinking the beer I didn't earn.
What is wrong with me, anyway? 
Why can't I just face the fact that I may have reached that point where I just can't move forward?
Well, oddly, I have friends who still encourage me and tell me 'you can do it!' and continue to offer advice. I miraculously have a husband who, despite his burning desire to have 'his' parking space back, still asks 'how's it going?' and 'are you working on the car today?' like it's just a normal thing for me to do on a Saturday afternoon.
But, I'm not sure how to move forward anymore. 
I'm so down every time I think about the brakes and then I get nervous that my bad luck will continue when I go to drill the hole for the bolt for the fuel tank. Then I think about using a grinder to cut bolts off, and envision a cutting wheel to the face as my brother and so many others all over social media have endured. I like scars, but I also like not going to the hospital to have parts of my tools taken out of my face.
But it has to be done. 
I have to just get out there and drill that hole.
I have to cut those bolts off, if they aren't going to budge.
I have to get that torch and heat up those parts.
I just have to do it. 
I've used a drill before...I've just never used one while lying on my back.
I've cut bolts and nails before...I've just never done it in such tight spaces.
I've never used a torch before...that'll be a first!

So I do go on with my life thinking it's totally feasible for me to eventually get to the day when I have finished this project. Well, to the point I can drive it, anyway. I had some things that didn't make the list of repairs due to budget constraints, but after the hell of the brake conversion, those things will be for the next owner to tackle. I don't need a headliner, carpet, spare tire or non-leaking windows.

Basically, I still haven't gotten to the point of giving up. Well, I have said it, but that odd husband of mine has talked me off the ledge and convinced me I'd regret that decision. And I would regret it, I just wish I was stronger and better equipped to handle the set backs. these moments of non-movement.
If I knew even a little about cars, I'd feel more comfortable about it all.
Maybe I should use my complete ignorance of the job as a tool to lift me up. It can be my mantra:
You've done more than most people with your lack of car knowledge!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The longest brake conversion story...EVER

Saturday. 
One of the two days I am able to just get out and do what I can with the car, without any other obligations.
Three hours seems to be the maximum time I can manage without having a breakdown.
Now, I don't mean in the intense 'losing all control' sense of the term...just a mild 'okay...get out while you still have your wits about you' sense of the term.
So today's 3 hours of work got me a little further in the conversion process, but I'm still stuck on the driver's side. Still not able to move onto drilling the hole for the fuel tank strap bolt. Still not able to finish hooking up the brake lines (and then the brake bleeding process...ugh). Still not able to concentrate on running the fuel line.
Still stuck on getting the old suspension parts off and replacing bushings and boots.
But!!!
But, I still made some progress!
I bought this tool at Harbor Freight. It costs a mere $22.
And it worked wonders on the tie rod end!! I could feel the 'pop' up into my teeth when it finally came apart, but I was overcome with excitement and couldn't wait to just get all that stuff unstuck!
But!!!
But...
 so much pressure and nothing that should be moving was moving ...then...POP!... Yeah, it...wait a minute...it's all.still.together...and ...where's the other part of the tool????
Now seems like a great time to let you all know: I am always wearing gloves and glasses. And, if I'm being perfectly honest, knowing that this is a violent kind of prying apart of ...parts, I actually propped my rubber floor mat up in front of me, so that if anything DID come flying off at me, it hit that instead of my person. I don't mind bruises and cuts and scars and things like that (honestly sort of like them)...but I don't need to maim myself!
After that I pounded on my pickle fork. I tried the pitman arm tool...

...but...it was too wide. I ended up gouging the end of the lower control arm because i didn't realize it wasn't doing what it was supposed to be doing.
I got on the ol' facebook and posted some stuff...got some solid advice and virtual high fives from my car guys...
I released the jack I was using to support the lower control arm, hoping the problem I was having was simply a matter of pressure being applied in the wrong place.
However...
After all the struggle I could handle for the day...
I decided to see if I could get the rusted nuts off the upper shock bolts.
More spraying of rust stuff...more clamping of deteriorating shocks...more spinning of bolts...
 And then FINALLY....
...something went right.
And if you're counting...that's TWO things that went right for me today!
TWO!!
I wiiiiiiiinnnnn!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

same story, different day

This exciting project...this 'step outside my comfort zone' experiment...this test of patience...this 'I said I'll do it, so I'll do it' game I'm playing is really starting to feel a little 'Groundhog's Day'-ish. If Bill Murray showed up at some point, for some comic relief, it might make the adventure a little less tearful. On the upside, there's no one around to witness the meltdowns I have EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I work on the car.
Today's awesome fun time task: start taking those shocks and front brakes apart!
Well, after probably 30 minutes of 'how the hell am I going to get these damn shocks out!' Crying. Whimpering. Begging for some sort of 'ah-ha' moment to hit me. Hammer, mallet, screwdrivers, clamps, lots and lots of PB Blaster...and only my breaker bar to help with the shock nut because I don't have deep sockets for my impact wrench. whomp whomp.
This is what I ended up with before I gave up and moved onto the bottom bolt (hoping maybe somehow that would help with the top one, though, truly I knew it wouldn't)...
...all I managed to do was bend and mangle the shock! Vice grips...clamps...my own hand...nothing would hold the shock still while I worked on getting the nut off.
I managed to hold the bolt with one hand and use the impact wrench with my LEFT hand to get the lower shock bolt out...but, still could not manage to get the upper bolt off.
So, onto the next phase.

I actually started to make some real progress with the brake parts! With the exception of a few whiny 'why won't you just come off!?' and 'how am I gonna get the impact wrench in that tight space?!' I was taking cotter pins out and nuts off and bolts out...
Things were starting to turn for me!
I managed to get the steering knuckle out of the way so that I could get the knuckle arm off...

...except, I still haven't gotten that done. I can't seem to get the arm off the tie rod end (nut is off...the bolt just doesn't want to come out). I've tried banging it through with a mallet. I've tried my pickle fork. I was going to try the pitman arm tool, but it's too big to fit around the end.
So I moved on to the seal at the top of the arm...same deal!
Here, I could actually use the pitman arm tool, but it did nothing. Perhaps I have to take the jack out from under the lower control arm? Maybe I'm not getting the proper leverage?
At any rate, as with every 'go' at the car, the day has ended with another shopping list.
I should already have a set, but I don't...and I think it would've made the day go much more smoothly if I had a set of deep impact sockets. Both for this bolt holding the steering knuckle to the upper ball joint, and for that wretched shock bolt.
I think the most frustrating part of this project is that the little things that I think are going to be quick and easy 'and I can just move right on to the next thing' end up being the worst!! Nothing ruins my day like a stuck bolt! (okay, there are a ton of worse scenarios that can ruin my day.) Such a simple little thing, stuck, and putting the whole rest of the day's list on hold!
Stupid rusty bolts.
Now...off to do some shopping...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WARNING: i'm frustrated...again

I'm ...I just don't know what I am.
I'm not giving up. But, I just can't find the strength to get over this hump.
The very first time I pulled the trigger to spend money on this project was when I decided I would splurge on an upgrade to front disc brakes.
Those parts are still sitting in boxes, taking up space in the little 'corner office' Hubby set up for me to get myself organized. I can't sit at my desk, because there are boxes of rotors and flex hoses and dust caps and brake pads and...well, you get the picture.
The very first project I set out to do, has become the one I can't seem to get started!

As you all know, I know nothing about cars. I'm learning A LOT, but I don't really know anything substantial or helpful. This whole project relies on friends, strangers, the internet, and gumption.
Today, I ran out of gumption.
It always seems like a simple 'just do this' situation gets me all jazzed to get out there and get stuff done...but then I'm hit with the ol' 1-2 punch of 'not moving' and 'wrong part/tool'.
It's frustrating.
It's maddening.
It's wearing me down.

But, mostly because I just can't quit it.
I know Dad can't really see me and what I'm doing. Doing if 'for Dad' seems like a silly notion. But what isn't silly is doing it because if he WAS still alive, then I know he would be proud. Because if he was still alive, he'd be helping me get through this nonsense. He'd yell or make me feel like I was ridiculous for not knowing what to do, instinctively, but he'd get me through it. And, when he was on his 'death bed' and we asked him to let us have that car so that we could get it running again...and he agreed, with doubt in his voice...i didn't want it so that it could sit and rot in MY yard. I fully intended on getting this heap of scrap metal running again!

yes...I just pep talked myself. I definitely have a support system...there's no doubt about that!...but sometimes, even with the kind and helpful words of my friends, I can't find the strength to get through a day of stuck bolts without crying.
yes...I also just admitted that this project has me in tears. On more than this one occasion.
I don't apologize for it, but I also won't pretend it doesn't happen. It's a frustrating thing to spend an hour trying to get a bolt to move, simply to watch it spin and spin and spin...in place.

at any rate, here's where we're at:
fucking torsion bar adjuster bolts and blades that seem to be moving but not actually coming loose or moving me forward to getting shit done.
before height
after height
you can see there's a difference in exposed threads, but that bracket is stuck to that bolt like glue. Causing me to think that as I 'loosen' the tension on the torsion bar (that is, lower that control arm), I'm twisting all that other suspension stuff out of whack!
but...
front axle, very early in project
front axle, today
I thought the front bits where moving A LOT during all of my wrenching today. But, looking at today's pic compared to one from many months ago (before I even took that brake parts off!)...they don't look all that different. Maybe all that movement was exaggerated in my head?

Whatever the case may be, I had to stop. I was in a kneeling position with a breaker bar in one hand and a flat head screwdriver in the other for a FULL HOUR! I thought I'd never walk again, when I finally straightened my legs.

I just want a day to go...relatively smoothly and productively. I want to go out and spend time with the car and come back in and really feel like I've accomplished something. Right now I have have done brakes, half done fuel system, half done body work...I haven't finished ONE thing.
I just want to finish something.
I'll finish my drink, for now.
(and I'm going to finish this post without editing...)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 4 Weekend

Just another weekend here, for me. Saturday is one of my regular days off from the J.O.B., so I really should be working on the car every weekend. My excuse has been that I'm far too busy with other projects right now...but that excuse won't fly for the rest of the summer, since those projects are done.
I do have lots of irons in the fire, so to speak, but this car project is one of my priorities again.
So, onward and upward and back at it!!
I had decided to get the fuel system re-do going. so I pulled out the shiny new gas tank...to discover that it was not the right tank! I freaked out! I have had this since the beginning of May. MAY! When I got it, I was just so excited at how shiny and new it was that I didn't even think to make sure it was right. Rock Auto had not let me down, once, with all the things I'd ordered so far...I just took for granted that the past shipments had been spot on.
So, then I had the task of figuring out how to send back a gas tank. And hope that they would still let me return it, even though my window of return had closed just a few days earlier. I filled out the form online, regarding the return. I emailed, after my computer froze during the process. They emailed back, and things were worked out. The old tank went back yesterday and I got an email today that the new one is ready to ship.
as you can see, the new tank is flat, like a pancake...the old one is much more shapely.
No worries. 
I can still get stuff ready. 
Like figuring out the tank strap and just where does that J-bolt attach? 
Well, here's super fun bit:
it goes right there. which means drilling a hole where my friend was nice enough to weld the massive hole I had in the chassis...with the thickest sheet metal known to man, because that's what I happened to have in my shed. 


Well, we'll get to that later, shall we? Since I'm not a real pro with the drill, I need to be extra super sure that that's what I need to do. (though, I'm like 99.9% sure, since I have no idea where else it would attach, given that's the positioning for the tank.) My friend suggested it might actually attach through the trunk, but looking at my manual, I think it goes through the frame. Another question for the forum, maybe, to make sure I only drill what needs to be drilled!
Ok...so no tank and no hole for the J-bolt. I guess that part of the project can wait.
Onto the fuel line! 
That should be easy enough: 
detach at ports and pull off car. 
 First of all, I do not have dainty lady hands. I was told once (by a 14 year old boy, so I let it slide) 'you have manly hands'...well, he wasn't wrong. But somehow I got my hand and screwdriver in there and loosened that clamp. And then pulled and twisted  and yanked and swore and pried with a screwdriver....that hose was on there TIGHT! Which, of course, is good news when you're out driving around. Bad news when all you want to do is detach the freaking hose and move on to the next thing!
the struggle paid off...I still get very excited when I make progress!
I did have a plan for getting the old line out: cut the hose at the point just after it passes through the frame, and pull it out in two parts.
 I found this handy pipe cutter in a box of tools I lifted from my dad's house after he passed away. Originally I had thought it was a clamp, but I've used it several times (I actually had two but I broke one). Anyway, I was ready with a pan to catch any fuel that may still be in the lines.
It was at about this time, lying on the ground, totally aware of all the bugs and dirt I was rolling around and covered in, that I saw this little (not little) guy drop from the car to pull a caterpillar up with its web!!

I had one eye on him the rest of my time under the car. He was about the size of a dime.
At any rate, he did not keep me from my task at hand...
The line was cut and now just pull it through and up and out!
As if!
I couldn't get the proper movement to get the bend through the frame, so I had to make another cut. The first one was tricky getting enough room to twist the line cutter, but the second cut was of course easier, having the luxury of a free moving line.
I actually had some trouble getting it out of that clamp (the left side of the picture, above), until I stopped to sort it out in my brain and simply used some vice grips to pinch the clamp and just leave it attached (read:rusted) to the hose. Further down the back end, I had similar difficulty with the clamps and had to bend to break a few more.
SUCCESS! Old fuel line, out.
So, I managed to cross that off my list. It was a short list, because I've learned my lesson: budget about 3 times the time you think it will take to do a 'simple task', and make shorter lists.
Figure out a plan for the J-bolt was also on the list. Plan is in mind...just need to execute it.
Next on the list was to figure out how to work with my new sending unit for the gas tank. When I had to compare the old and new tanks, I realized my new sending unit also looked different from my old one. An extra port. 
Onto the Cuda-Challenger forum to see if anyone else has dealt with this and what the solution/s is/are. Some people simply cap the extra port. A fellow cuda restorer on facebook recommended I consider using it as it is intended, as a vent line.
Which I'm totally down for...but, how!? 
I mean, where does the vent line go? 
If my old tank didn't have it...how do I add it?
I at least know where to begin looking, so I opened up the trunk and checked out the filler pipe.
Looks like a vent line to me! However, according to the diagram in my Haynes manual, that simply goes back into the tank next to where the filler pipe attaches. So I'm kind of in the same place I was before, unless my replacement tank doesn't have the vent port by the filler attachment...or...I can vent it as the manual says and just cap the second port on the new sending unit.
But, that will be a task for another day, since, as we learned at the beginning of this story...
you must examine your packages upon arrival or suffer the consequences when you really should be moving forward, but instead you're making more work and pushing yourself further behind schedule...wait...what lesson am I trying to teach?
It doesn't matter. 
What matters is that I have plenty more Saturdays to chip away at this beast.