Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Car Show!

First of all...
There are never any Barracudas at the car shows out here.

Except this one, apparently?

I've only been to a couple car shows out here, on Cape Cod.  And, really, it's been since we inherited our '67, that I felt drawn to them.  I have never seen another Barracuda, though.  Lots of Mustangs and Camaros (oh, why am I so drawn to those Bitchin' Camaros? Is it just residual from my Dead Milkmen phase?).  Lots of Thunderbirds and Caddies.  It kind of got the the point where I felt like I was in an endless loop of the same 5 cars.
Well, this was the 12th Annual Father's Day car show.  Main Street, Hyannis, is blocked off and it's just lined with classic cars on Father's Day.  It's a pretty big deal around here, and this is the first time I've gone.  I know we always talked about taking our dad, but I think his anxiety was always too much of an issue.  Take away the crowd, and he would've loved it.
(I'm off track again!)
Since this is a big show, we did happen upon not one, but TWO, Barracudas!  The one in the picture is a '71...huge difference from the early version we have!  And, to be honest, not my cup of tea.  Even though it's early '70's (and the other one we saw was a '70...Pink Panther Pink!), you can tell it's from the '70's...for some reason, that bothers me.  Maybe because they look like they can only be driven by grease-balls with mustaches?  I don't like their style, I guess.  And I'm pretty sure the guy in the picture heard me say, 'Mine is so much cooler than this one!'...judging by the look on his face.  I kind of wish there would be a cleaned up version of my car at one of these shows.  I guess Cape Cod will just have to wait for me to step into the ring with mine!

That's not all to say I didn't have a good time...I did!  If for nothing else, than to see what a clean engine looks like!
All chrome and shined up!
Now I'm considering chrome valve covers and air filter!!

Two of my faves from the show...
If this guy can go with no front tires...can I go with no back axle?
There was a handful of cool older cars, too.

It was good for me to go, look at some cars, and remind myself that, under that grey sheet outside my window, is a car I said I would restore...so I'd better get to it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Let's see...where did I leave off?

(Not sure how this post will go.  Flying by the seat of my pants, using pictures from Dan's phone.  Not entirely sure of his process, but you welders/pre-fabbers may know?)

If you've been following along, and can remember what happened last time Dan and I got our grubby little hands on the 'Cuda, you know that we disassembled the entire back end/axle.  The rear axle is in my shed (which I cleaned out a couple days ago, having just one mouse jump out at me and nearly land on my head); the drum brakes are in pieces, in a box in the trunk; the gas tank is still just hiding under the front of the car; Dan took the old springs to where he works, to get rid of them; and, the beast is now up on 6 jack stands.
The leaf springs were shot, but we knew that.  We have new ones, that our dad bought when the car was originally purchased...when it was going to be loved...before our human lives caused the machine's life to take a turn for the worse.  We had to cut the springs off, and Dan was going to make new brackets...and he did.
Old bracket, I think?
The process...
Drilling holes and stuff....clamps...welding...

 The new....
...and side by side.
I had nothing to do with any of that.  It was all done by my brother, at his place of business.  Saving money...it's what I'm all about with this project now.
Still not over the tire fiasco!
I need new rims.  I have 4 cheap tires in my shed now.  

I did invest in an inexpensive car cover.  The 'Cuda's new 'parking spot' is under a tree that is dropping all sorts of debris on it.  It looks a little less trashy with the cover...but, I still know what's under there.  A heap of metal that needs so much love and attention, I just hope I have enough!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Class #8: End of the line

 I had every intention of skipping my last class.  I know I have said from the beginning that I had had just about enough of the drive after the very first class.  Well, every week I got closer and closer to convincing myself that at the very least, I would not go to that last class.  What if there was a test and I humiliated myself by discovering that I had, in fact, learned nothing!?
Well, we got down to the wire on what I was doing, and I had to go to the last class to put my new tires on my old rims, for the Barracuda.
I had to make a special trip back to the tire store b/c they did not give me the valve stems and I was embarrassed to tell the guy.  Why?  Because I had to correct him twice already, for bringing me the wrong tires...twice.
Doesn't matter!  What matters is that I did make it to the last class, with everything I needed to get the tires ready for the day the Barracuda was ready to roll.  Everything except rims that weren't ruined!
Yes, I spun them to see how they looked, and we decided that they seemed salvageable...'we' were wrong.
I'll get to that after I share the progress of the rims:
rusty rim
cleaned rim
Four shiny, cleaned & painted rims!
So what happened?  The first tire was off a bit, but not so much I couldn't work with it.  'Put that one on the back' says the teacher.  I thought there was one that looked a bit iffy, so we figured that must be the one.
Each one got worse!  The next one needed 4.75oz balance on one side & .75 on the other!  The third one needed SIX OUNCES of weights on one side for balance!!
I made the decision to just take the 3 tires back off the rims.  I'm gonna stick with the 14" rims, and keep the tires I bought, but now I have two options: 1) find new 14" rims; or, 2) find someone to fix the ones I have.
I didn't think they were that bad!  But I know nothing about tires.  Live and learn.  I won't be needing tires on that car for quite some time anyway.  I was only doing it now to use the equipment in class.  Oh, well...moving on, not depressed, frustrated, or annoyed at all. (well, maybe a little of all of those things...)
The teacher said that if I had my new rims by Thursday night, I could come back and put the tires on during his Thursday night electrical class.  That's not going to happen...he seemed sad about it.

The rest of the last class...
It wasn't bad, honestly.  We did not get our little paper to say we finished the class, but that is fine.  They will mail it and I will have proof that I didn't skip out on my classes like I said I wanted to every week.
I was asked if I was going to come back in the fall for another round.  Could I learn more?  Not sure.  Would it be worth it if the 'Cuda was running and I could drive it to class and work on it there? Absolutely, but that won't happen.  Maybe I can take the class again when the car is at that point.  However, I'm kind of hoping I won't NEED a class at that point.  My brother has been so much fun to have helping me.  I have more friends offering to help than I ever imagined.  
All in all, I am glad I took this class.  I do feel like I learned some basics, not a ton of major issues, but I have looked under a car hood at least once a week for 9 weeks!  I feel comfortable.  That's progress for me.  I gained confidence knowing my teacher had confidence in me.  It was a great experience for me.  Totally worth the agony of getting worked up every week.  If there was a class to get over my anxiety I might take it...if I could get over my anxiety of being in school again.

And, on to Barracuda news!
We were able to get the back drums off!  And with less effort than expected.
Dan did one side and said, 'you do the other side! I'm not gonna do them both!'
I'm so glad he's sticking to his word, and letting me help instead of just taking over.
We cut the brake line because the nut was immovable.
Rear axle resting on leaf springs
Axle out.
Now, I'm still unclear why we took this route, and I think it's because we weren't thinking...
We had to lift the axle up and over the leaf springs to get it out from under the car.
But then...
Had to grind the bolts off the leaf springs.
We removed the leaf springs.  I guess it was nice having the springs there to catch the axle so that it didn't just tip to one side or the other (we had a jack under the center to keep it from dropping to the ground).

So...where are we now?
The car is up on 6 jack stands.  The rear axle, shocks, and leaf springs have been removed.  The replacement springs are in the trunk.  They are not exactly the same as what we took out.  I'm in the market for some new bushings (everything was just so seized and fused to the other parts...we did a lot of cutting and prying, trying to get pieces off).  I need a lot of new bolts, and Dan is cleaning some parts...making new pieces to replace some bits that had to be cut off.  I have a piece of sheet metal in the shed that will eventually fill the gaping hole where the trunk floor used to be.  We'll clean the outer part of the axle, but have to replace all the inner workings probably.  
There's quite a bit of body work to be done.  I'll be researching rear quarter panels, as well as rims, now.

We're working on it, and that's all I can really hope for right now.  It's slow going, but it's going.  It's a project car, and I'm having fun doing it.

OH!! and there was a matte black Olds 442 in the garage at school last night!  A real beauty!  I think I officially have the muscle car bug and want something cooler when this one is finished.  Not that I don't still love the car I have, but we have to evolve, right?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Class #7: tires, spark plugs

I think spark plugs are so cool!  I don't know why.  Maybe it's because they are such seemingly basic pieces, but they are so complex and important!
Well, it doesn't really matter how amazed I am by a spark plug, or that I would love to have one on a necklace or at least a key chain.  What matters is that, after all of these years of thinking, 'ah, spark plugs...I can change those, no problem!' I have discovered that, all this time, it's been true.
Here's what I took away from last night's class: my teacher has confidence in me and doesn't have a problem saying, 'well, go ahead and take out the spark plugs' and then walk away to show the boys how to do an oil change or brake job for the 3rd time.  I'm getting cocky...let's move on.

I did, in fact, work on my own last night.
I had the four tires off the Barracuda and jammed into the trunk/back seat of the Cav.  So, I, with the help of the guy who's been there 'for 10 years!' (according to the exclamation of Mr. Drys), began removing tires from rims.  We spun the rims on the balancer to get a better look at the shape they're in...we're gonna take the chance that they're still in good shape.  They are all round, in relation to each other, so unless they are all bent and mangled in exactly the same places, then I think we're good!  Next step: get new tires.  I have one last class, and Mr. D. is on board with mounting and balancing if I bring everything in next week!
I had to bring all the old tires home with me, though...no free disposal.  They're going to make lovely little planters!
I don't know the technical term for these, but it's the air intake/release from the valve stem.
I had to cut the valve stems off, because...well, because I'm getting new ones anyway, so why waste effort trying to pry those bitches out!?  I kept the little do-hickies pictured above, because I think I actually will put them on a necklace (or maybe earrings)!  I think they are pretty cool looking.

After my work with the wheels, I cleaned up my mess.  Two of the boys had started the front brake job on the Saturn (yes...still working on Ricky's Saturn!).  Two of the boys were doing an oil change on Josh's truck.  And, that left me...already having done at least 3 oil changes, and my own brakes...to do something else.  'You wanted to do tune-up stuff, right?'
 I sure did!
There happened to be a 2004 Chevy Cavalier, all lonely and sad.  'Go ahead and take the plugs out.'  He told me to check the computer for the location of the plugs, since I can't seem to find anything in this model of car.  Seriously, Chevy...why have you hidden everything??
Pulled up the specs on the computer, and we went over to the car and I said, 'is that it, there?'
Yep, go ahead and remove that cover and take 'em out.
He headed back over to the boys and I was on my way.  Now, here's how I know he has at least a little more confidence in me than the other 3...normally, his statement is followed by, 'you'll need [insert required socket sizes, tools, etc]'.  But not this time.  He just walked away.
And, here's how I know that I have more confidence in myself than I did 7-8 weeks ago...I took a look at the little bolts holding the cover on, went over to the wall and picked 2 sizes of sockets.  The first was what I thought I needed, the second was the next size down (just in case).  My first guess was right.  I'm so proud.

(starting to get wordy, again...let's try to reign it in a bit...)

So, I successfully pull out the plugs, look up the specs (plug size, gap, torque).  Before I even read the size I need, I can tell that I have 3 different types of spark plugs that I've taken from this car!  Of course, it's a donated, school/class car with no battery, so it's not like it's a big deal.  But I thought maybe it was a test...
'Did you get the plugs out?'
'Yes...one is cracked and only 2 of them match.'
He laughed, checked my 'work', explained a few things to me, and said, 'okay...go ahead and put it back together.'

At that point, the boys were finishing up and we had about a half hour left.  So, we went to the Saturn wagon sitting there and I had to do it again.  This time, since the boys were starting to mill about around me, I asked if anyone else wanted to give it a go.  Nothing but a bunch of head-shakers!
I got to 'gap' the ones out of the Saturn, so that was new.
This picture is on the back cover of my Haynes manual.  Now it has a little more meaning.
All in all, I didn't do much last night.  And, I almost didn't go (if not for the tires, I wouldn't have).  But, even when I don't feel like I 'learned' much, I like the feeling of being in the garage, and the opportunity to learn.  Even if it's just the littlest thing...it is something I didn't know before I got there.

As I said, next week I'm hoping to get new tires on the old rims.  It's our last class.  I wasn't planning on going to the last class, for fear there would be a test and I would embarrass myself.  (There's also a bit of a time crunch next week, now since everything I was planning on doing this week has been moved to next week...and I was unable to plan time off next week.)
But, now I can't miss it.  So, you're gonna get just one more blog about class...and then, who knows!?
(actually, I know.  Brother Dan is coming out Sunday...leaf springs...yikes!)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


It's late in the day to be posting, I know.  My usual posts are first thing in the morning, but I slept in today!  I stayed up late last night.  I took advantage of not having class this week.  Pardon me, while I remind everyone that I'm a girl...Hubby was out playing poker, I had the house to myself, and I had ice cream for dinner while I watched Hell's Kitchen.  Picture perfect!

So, what to blog about...?

I actually planned to take some pictures of the car today and do a nice picture post.  Instead, I've been watching roller derby videos on YouTube, working out, and just enjoying my day off being lazy.

Instead, you get a lame post about my new toy.  Well, it's not really mine...it's my brother's.  When Dad passed away, of course the tools all went to the one son.  I'm fine with that.  He will definitely use them more over the span of the rest of our lives.

I had no idea they made electric versions of these!
I'm sure you all lost sleep when you heard about all the trouble I was having trying to get the tires off the Barracuda.  Well, Brother Dan brought Dad's old electric impact wrench to try.  He has left it with me in case I need it again.
I have to say that the best thing about this old car is how it has really brought me and my brother a little bit closer.  I can see that he is happy to be able to help me.
He said at one point that he thought it was great that I was taking this class.  I told him I was glad because now, if I had to call and ask about something, he could tell me over the phone and there was a better chance I'd actually know what he was talking about.  Then he remarked that it was just like when he would call Dad about something, 'just to make sure' that he was on the right track.  I could tell he would be happy if I called with a question.  I could tell that he is happy to be helping me.  I am happy knowing he can do the body work!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yep, It's only Sunday

This past Friday marked a year since our dad passed away.  Steph and I got together for brunch with our brother at one of the local IHOP restaurants.  It was Dad's favorite place to go on the rare occasion we got together outside of his house.  He always treated, and it was no different this time!  I had found a bucket of change when we went through his things, and I still had it with some of his stuff in my basement.  We changed it in at the bank to use towards our meal...$43!!  Thanks for the food, Dad!  Cheers to your painless year.

While we were all together, I took the opportunity to pick my brother's brain.  He offered to come out to my house with his acetylene torch and his electric impact wrench to see if we could figure a way to get the tires off.  Either my wrench or the air compressor I was using or the combination just wasn't powerful enough, because the lug nuts came off lickety-split with his impact wrench.  No need for heat, after all!
Junky old car: great place to raise your spider family.
Now the car is up on 4 jack stands.  It was quite a task, too.  We started with the rear driver's side.  As the car raised up, it started to twist and slide to the other side.  The front wheel started to toe-in!
Rear driver's side leaf springs.
The old leaf springs are practically flat! As the car lifted, the leafs just separated...zero suspension left here.  Luckily, it is one item Dad bought and still had in the trunk.  I'm all about not having to purchase those!!

So what's with the rusty suitcase on the ground?
Rusty old suitcase for the car's gasoline.
We dropped the gas tank out, while brother was here.  'There's probably still a little gas in there, we can drain it now, if you want.'  That bitch was FULL!!  Gas leaked all over him, me, the driveway...
We poured half of it into a 5 gallon bucket, and it's still nearly half full!!  It's almost as dark as French Onion Soup!  I have no where, really, to put all this old gas until either he comes back for it, or our town's next hazardous waste drop off day.  We'll see which comes first.

I am just glad to have the wheels off.  With 2 classes left, I can get the rims cleaned up and maybe even get new tires to mount and balance while I still have the equipment at my disposal!  Of course, my every day car, the Cavalier, is sucking down gas like no body's business and I'm not sure why!  Air filter? Spark plugs?  Hopefully not a gas leak!
If we get the mostly sunny weather we're supposed to have this week, maybe I will keep taking parts off the car!?
Just as a funny side note: the neighbors across the street look as if the girls are getting a lesson on how to change a tire...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Class #6: Tires from rims (not mine, though)

First thing's first...I love looking out the window at the 'Cuda after a rain storm, sans tarp, with no drops of rain on the inside of the windows!  At least it appears I did the seal replacement correctly!

Now, onto more frustrating matters....
Let's start with the most difficult problem: the wheels.  They seem to have become part of that car.  The 6 or so years it's been sitting out in the elements of the East Coast, on 4 flat tires, has put me in a bad place.
After several classes involving an impact wrench and the removal of tires, I thought I had this.

 I went out and got myself an impact wrench, a couple new jack stands, borrowed an air compressor from a friend, and I even got two of the most beautiful days we've seen out here since the summer.
All set up, ready to tear these wheels off!
Yet, even with all the stars aligning in my favor, I still could not get those damn lugs to budge!
I must be doing something wrong.  Now, to be fair to myself, I did try turning the lug nuts in the opposite direction, just to cover all my bases, but they would not move.
I got on facebook, like any normal person these days would do, to ask...BEG...for help.  I got lots of great advice, just nothing I hadn't tried already.  I had made an extra trip to AutoZone for some PB B'laster (the stuff we use all the time in class), and sprayed and waited.  Tried again.  Sprayed them again...waited overnight and got right back to it after work the next day.  NOTHING!
At this point, I had gotten a couple private messages from a friend of my Great Aunt out in Michigan.  She had shared my facebook plea for help.  This friend of hers said a car this age would probably have left-threaded bolts on the left side wheels.  So, now I was sure I had been tightening them the whole time.
Upon closer inspection, and now with cleaner bolts, due to all the stuff I had sprayed on them, I saw it.  The glaring proof that I have no idea what I'm doing!
The little 'L's should've been a tip-off, but I didn't notice them until I knew to look for them!
Unfortunately, even the other side gave me grief.  So, I didn't have my wheels to take to class.  I was hoping to use the equipment in class to get those tires free.  We did learn how to do that...and we used the tire balancer, too.  I'm not giving up.  As much as I want to.  That stupid car wants to live again...who am I to deny her that!?  If I can get the tires off, I still have two classes left, and I know how to use the machines now, so...it's still possible!

But class was not all tires, last night.  I also learned how to test and remove and replace a battery.  I'm not about to go out and buy a $500 hand-help computer to check my battery.  That is just info I have now...not really good for anything.  Although, now I'm confident that I can disconnect and reconnect a car battery without killing myself, so that's something.

Back to the beginning of class...
I, of course, because I am cursed with the need to be early for everything, was the first to class again.  I spoke with Dan about my dilemma and what I had done so far.  I told him I had tried everything except heat.  That I didn't have a torch, and that I was thinking of getting a nut splitter to just cut the damn things off.
He suggested I buy a cheap propane torch or ask a plumber friend to use his acetylene torch to heat the lug nuts.  Or, get a breaker bar (and possibly a longer pipe to add even more leverage) and try that before cutting the lug nuts.  
I think I have gotten to that point where I just want this part done.  I had discounted trying a breaker bar, simply because I figured that if an impact wrench couldn't get it done, how is my brute strength gonna do it.  It's all about leverage, I know.  I guess I should try to do things the right way, instead of resorting to destruction.

Other mildly annoying discoveries...there's no class next week, due to Spring Break or whatever.  That means I actually have 3 weeks until I'm done driving to Bourne.  That means my last class is now the day after my first roller derby practice.  That means I will be getting approximately 6 hours of sleep in a 60-65 hour stretch.  I may die.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Class #5: Let's try something else...

Before I start going on and on about what I did (or, rather, did not do) in class last night, I'd like to thank my friends for moving my car.  While I was out, Hubby hosted the weekly poker game.  Our kick ass friends came over a little early to push the beast from the front of the house, to the side of the house.  Now, I can get her up on jacks, take the wheels off, and bring them to class next week to clean the rims.  I may even bite the bullet and get new tires.  How much could I save just paying for tires and putting them on the rims myself!!?  Probably at least a little.
Finally where I wanted her!
Getting to the business at hand...
Last night's class

Class is turning into the on-going saga of the Saturn Vue.  I don't mind, really.  I get to learn some stuff without risking that 'one false move' on my own car!  
I've already had my bearings, back breaks, and oil changed recently.  Not long ago, I was also having some starting issues, so I have a fairly new starter and battery, as well.  As we know, I changed my front brakes in class last week.  So there's really nothing left to do on my car.  What I'm hoping to get out of class now is more of a 'car tour'.  I'd like to learn about the battery, the spark plugs, the belts and hoses.  Stuff that will come in handy when I open the hood of the Barracuda.  
But for now, we are also still trying to get this Saturn in order.  Maybe you remember the third class when we were attempting the passenger side bearing on the Saturn, and the back drum brakes on the F150.  Neither of those projects ended in success.  The truck drove home on iffy brakes...I drove the owner of the Saturn to where his mom could get him home, while his car stayed at school.
Last night, was a bit of a flashback.  Only this time, I was helping with the bearing and only catching bits of the U-joint replacement on the F150.  
So what's the big deal?  We had 3 hours to fix this, so why did it not get done again?
Well, I'll tell you...corrosion.
It was the issue with the first one, but this time we thought we were ready.  We were not.  Normally, to fix this bit, you take off the tire, the brake caliper/pads, and the rotor.  Then you take off the hub/bearing assembly.  Then, obviously, put it all back together in opposite order.  Done and done.
Well, if you can't get the hub assembly off...you have to try a series of other procedures until you find the one that works.
First, we used some spray lube to try to free the bolts.  Then we tried an air chisel, in hopes that the vibrations would break up the rust.  Unfortunately we were going to have to take the whole steering knuckle/hub off to put some pressure on them to 'un-fuse' them. 
Easier said than done, as we've come to learn is how it works with this particular vehicle.
We could not get the pin out of the bolt holding the ball joint on.  We had already removed the assembly from the tie rod and the axle, but no matter what angle we went from, that damn pin wouldn't budge!

here's another little side note/conversation:  
Me: Oh, so that's the tie rod, right?
Ricky: What's a tie rod?
(My dad would be so proud!)

At any rate, we finally resorted to using a tiny drill bit to loosen the pin from the ball joint, and eventually got the hub/knuckle combo free from the car.  
T-Minus 30 minutes till the end of class!
Over to a machine I can't remember the name of to apply some pressure to get these two parts unstuck.  I believe we were at 8000 pounds of pressure when Dan calls the other teacher to let him know this car will still be there in the morning.  'Let me just apply a little more...' 
BANG! the hub hits the ground!
At this point we have 20 minutes of class left.  I'm putting tools away in the hopes that Dan will let us try to get this shit put back together.  But he thinks there's not enough time.  So there it sat.  All sad, with it's entire driver's side wheel bearing bits piled up in the rear storage, waiting for someone to put it back together in the morning.  Ricky on the phone, calling for a ride.

In hindsight, I wish I'd spent more time watching the truck repair.  I have seen quite a lot of 'what can go wrong' in this class.  But, as everyone keeps reminding me, this is part of the learning process, too.  I can only hope that these things will help me to remain calm when bits start falling apart in my hands when I get to the Barracuda.

For Reference Purposes
(here's a generic, exploded view of the bearing assembly)
(source: http://www.kmperformance.com/techcenter/wheelbearing/frontwheelbearing.html)
Next week:  well, I think we're going to do what we were originally supposed to do this week...learn about batteries, belts, spark plugs, etc.  We'll see.  I'm also, again, hoping to start bringing in my rims/tires to get those ready!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Class #4: Halfway mark!

I'm gonna start by saying that I wish I had some way of getting photos during class.  There are times when my teacher is off helping with something else after he says, 'get that thing, do this and that, and I'll come check it out'.  But, one picture would certainly be of how dirty I get, and that is not good for cameras and I would most certainly ruin my phone!
So, you'll just have to use your imagination...and I will be testing my writing skills, for sure!

At any rate...
Class #4!
(I'll add a little excitement with centering and font sizes/colors, how about that!?)

At the end of last week's class, it was decided that I would get parts to fix my front brakes.  I searched online to get an idea of how much I would be spending on parts, and to make sure our local AutoZone would have what I needed.  Now, if you remember, I drive a 2000 Chevy Cavalier...probably not too hard to get parts for this little box on wheels, but I like to stress about every detail of my life.  Of course, they had the parts I needed.  The guy who helped me was very nice.  I asked if I could return the rotors if I ended up not needing them and he said, 'of course! why would you keep them if you don't need them?!'  Good point, I guess.

As we know from my last post ( you can read it here, if you missed it ), my trunk has some issues.  The new parts I had bought were in my leaky trunk...damp from the moisture!  I put them on the floor in the front, hoping they would dry, in case I needed to return the rotors.

Once again, I had major anxiety going to class.  That's just how I am, but I get over it once I'm doing what I'm there to do.
Game Time!
(Are the added flourishes getting annoying?)
The whole thing ended up being pretty uneventful!  I drove my car up, set up all the lift arms, and began to raise the beast.  'Wait, wait, wait!' I hear from the other side of the car...'something made a noise.'  I lower the car, I think everything's fine, but one of the other students thinks it's wrong.  The poor 70 year old teacher gets down on his knees to check...'no, it's fine'.  It's just so rusty and creaky.

Back up we go, and the fun begins.  I gather up all my tools, use the impact wrench to take off the tires, and then we begin to discuss.  I asked if I needed the new rotors, and Dan said, 'well, they'd be at the minimum width if you cleaned them, and you have new one's so you may as well put them on.'  I agreed...I had been smart enough to buy them...why would I not put them on!?

I'll make this story short...I know I tend to ramble on with unnecessary details...
With a little bit of struggle, I managed to remove the old pads from the passenger side.  This proved to be the easiest of the two sides.  As I was putting the new pads on, not quite getting it, Dan told another student to go grab a clamp or something to help push it into place.  Of course, I managed to use my own power to get it on, which resulted in another 'strong hands' comment from the boys.
All in all, I was pretty pleased with how smoothly the first side went.  So much so that I was not worried about working on the other side without much supervision.  Unfortunately, the other side proved to be a bit of a bitch, comparatively.

The driver's side...aargghhh!
I had issues getting the caliper off because the caliper bolts (not sure that's the right term?) were not moving correctly.  That is, they wouldn't come out far enough to clear the rotor.  So, after some force and the use of a hammer and some vice grips, we finally managed to remove and replace the old pads and rotor.
Here's a fun fact:  I hand tighten to approximately  35 foot pounds.
After everything was properly replaced and torqued, I took her for a test drive around the parking lot.  I had forgotten how nice it feels to have your car just stop...none of that jerky, seizure-type slowing down.

We also took a look under the hood.  Here's a question:  does anyone know where the oil filter in a 2000 Chevy Cavalier might be??  I have had my oil changed dozens of times, so I know there must be one...but none of us could find it!!  Not even the teacher!!  Oh, and let's check the tire pressure...sure, except that my awesome replacement door doesn't have the sticker to tell me the proper pressure.  And the owner's manual?  'See sticker on driver's side door for proper tire pressure.'  Thanks! That's helpful!

I didn't learn much else in class last night, since I spent a little over 2 hours doing the brakes, then about a half hour looking under the hood and stuff...and we pretty much ended 15 minutes early.  But that's okay.  I can now say that I, personally, have changed my front brake pads and rotors!  And I'm gonna be a girl right now and say that I am pretty damn proud of that!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shifting Gears

Today's post isn't about the Barracuda project.  Today's post is about my Chevy Cavalier.  The car I have had for 12 years.  For the past few years (I can't be sure of the exact time frame on this one), there has been a leak in the trunk.  Nothing major...nothing an old tee shirt couldn't soak up.
Well, last night, I had a passenger and we each had a bag of stuff to transport with us.  As I reached into the back seat to make room for our bags, I noticed that the back seat was soaked!  I immediately figured the leak in the trunk must actually be a leaky back window seal, and that I would have to have that replaced.
Today, I discovered a that it is a whole different story!
Yes, that is a puddle of water that my spare is sitting in!
As I felt around my trunk to try to figure out where the leak was, I lifted the cover to the spare tire.  I could see water...nearly an inch of water!!  I got out the shop-vac and got rid of that and proceeded to poke around and lift the felt trunk liner to see how bad it had gotten...and hopefully to find the water's entry point.
Looking 'out' of the trunk, near the driver's side tail light.
There was a rusty hole just behind the bumper, next to the driver's side tail light.  How the hell was I going to patch that up without taking the bumper off?  I started taking screws out and removing the trunk liner and decided that I could take care of it from the inside.  A friend of mine gave me an Auto Zone gift card for my birthday, so I will be using that for a patch kit.  But, I am not up for it today...I'm back to the old tee shirt method of stopping the leak for now.  I can't wait until my teacher takes a look at that in class tomorrow night!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Class #3: A hard time getting started

I didn't want to go to class this week.  There was no good reason for it, I just didn't want to go.  The weather had turned, again, and after last week's driving rains, I just didn't want to drive to Bourne in the cold rain again.  The day had started as freezing rain, and so from the very start of my day, I just wanted to get back home and snuggle back into bed.  I'm ready for Spring to truly arrive.
But then I began to think about class.  The plan was to work on a wheel bearing that would probably take all 3 hours of class.  I had just had my front driver's side bearing replaced (yes, I paid for someone else to do something I was about to learn to do myself)...I was getting nervous driving on it, and knew I could not wait one more week, and certainly not two.  But, nevertheless, I wanted to see the process.
When I got to class this week there was a stranger there...a guy who had previously taken the course, but was there to do his oil change.  Mr. Dryz asked if I'd like to help him, so I did.  If you'll remember from last week, I've unofficially been designated 'the brute' of the class (something I'm honestly not upset about).  As we lowered the car, Dan (Mr. Dryz) asked, 'who tightened the new filter?' and looked at me and smiled.  'Don't worry, I checked it!'

Apparently, we were not all going to crowd around the Saturn to do the wheel bearing.  Another student had brought parts to do his back drum brakes.  The evening took a humorous turn (because none of it had to do with my car) when the two guys working on the Saturn started banging on the rusty rotor to get it off the car.  And while they did that, I tried helping Josh get his drum off...which was also rusted to his car.  Everything was rusted together.  To make a 3 hour story of rusted car parts short, here's the ending to each story...
The Saturn:  after a lot of hammering and a brief encounter with the acetylene torch, the rotor came off.  With the rotor off, we discovered that there was some issue that we could not fix with the time we had left in class. I'm not entirely clear what that issue was, as I was helping to pry the drum off the truck, but the result was a car that was left on the lift when we all left class.  The day time students were going to take a crack at it, apparently.  I gave Ricky a ride into Hyannis...hoping he gets his car back sometime tomorrow.

The F150:  basically ended up needing a new drum because of the inside parts rusting together.  A part Josh did not have.  He decided to just put it back together, get a new drum, and finish the job at home.

So, after all of my struggling to drag myself to class this week...we accomplished nothing.  Although, we did get to re-thread some bolts and nuts.  And we did get to clean up the rotor on a cool lathe thing.  That was interesting.

Next week:  (hopefully) I get to do my front brakes!  That of course means some shopping this week/weekend.  I'm not going to make Josh's mistake.  I'm buying everything I MAY need.  If I end up not needing new rotors, then I return them.  But I don't want to get halfway through the job and discover I should have bought rotors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Class #2: Oil changes & diagnostics

At the end of my first class, Mr. Dryz said that I may bring in the rims from my Barracuda so that we could remove the tires and clean up the rims.
Well, that would've been great if I had been able to get them off the car.  Let me point out that it was no fault of my own.  We had some less than agreeable weather last week...snow, slush, rain...it was gross.
But, even though he asked at the beginning of last nights class if I had brought them in, there is no way we would've gotten to them anyway.
We knew we were in for an oil change.  And we knew that he would be hooking Ricky's Saturn Vue up to the diagnostic computer.  What we didn't know is that Ricky's thing would take up a ton of time!
It didn't bother me though.  I would have done oil changes all night long, if we had to!!  When you have a garage, a lift, and all the proper equipment at your finger tips, car repair and maintenance is kind of fun.
We started with Mr. Dryz's truck, to learn the oil change procedure, while Raffi tried getting his Scion TC ready on the lift.  (That proved to be a waste of time, but we'll get to that!)
The Sonoma oil change was a snap.  Best part of this week's class?  When I was told to 'hand tighten' the new oil filter, and then Mr. Dryz checked to make sure it was tight enough and commented 'wow!  You've got a firm grip! That's tight!'  So, of course, I flexed for him.  Unfortunately, when time came to get the old filter off the Scion, I was defeated...but, none of the boys could loosen it either, and they did actually say to me 'maybe you should try'.

Raffi couldn't get his car positioned on the hoist, so we waited so he could use the drive-on hoist.  Personally, I think if he had pulled his car up just a bit more it would have been fine, but what's the difference, anyway...as long as it goes up in the air.
Throughout class, Mr. Dryz would float between instructing Raffi, Josh, and me on the oil changes, and Ricky and his Saturn.  At the very end of class, the rest of us went over to get a quick lesson on the hand-held diagnostic computer.

Next week, we are doing one of the wheel bearings on the Saturn.  Now, my wheel bearing is so loud right now that I am a bit frightened to even be driving on it.  So, I have made an appointment to have mine fixed at my regular mechanic's.  Yes, you'd think this defeats the purpose of taking this class, but one bearing is going to take up a whole class period, and I'm uneasy driving.  I will wait and try to have my front brakes done in class.  I've driven without brakes before...

So, I am still terribly nervous before class, still.  I try telling myself that it doesn't matter if I do something stupid.  I will never see these people again, and I'm taking the class for my own personal enrichment.  But, being the overly anxious, socially awkward person that I am...that is how it will be up until I walk out of class #8.

Speaking of socially awkward...here is the other thing I'm doing in my free time:
Last Sunday.  Chili Challenge.  Firefighters and my roller derby dolls!
My new toys...watch out!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day One: The power of Air

Okay...it's done.  I did it.  I survived the stress of walking into a class that I was sure I had no business being in.  And, on top of that, I made it through the first full 3-hour session without getting laughed at.  Well, I did get laughed at, but it was because of jokes I was cracking (how can you not laugh at those giant community sinks!?)

So, here's how it went:
I got there super early, and I was going to take a photo of the front of the school, for this post, but forgot.  Oh, damn!!  The 20 minutes I sat in the garage waiting for class to start I could have gotten pics of the 'classroom'!!  Oh well, maybe next week.

I walked in just behind the first guy...'Do you know anything about cars?' he asked.  'Nope. You?'  'Nope!'
Already, I feel better.  Eventually, another guy walks in...same question, 'Nope!'  Sweet!!  So, all in all, it ends up being me, and this boy-band trio.  I mean, one of them has a faux-hawk.  And, they were all prettier than me!!
Someone didn't show, so as it stands, it's me, Ricky, Josh, and Raffi.  (You can expect our album out next Spring.)

The instructor, of course asks us what kind of car we have ('have', not 'drive').  We also had to give a list of 10 things we want to learn.  I basically put every system I could think of, minus electrical (b/c they have a separate class for that on Thursday night).  When I told him about the Barracuda, he said 'good luck with that'...but then all through class, referenced it and said to feel free to bring any parts in that I'd like to work on or learn about!  Already this class is paying off!!  If I can take my tires/rims in and use the tire mounter (I'm sure that's not the proper name) and tire balancer...I mean, that's huge!!

So we toured the shop (and the annex where they have 3 more bays and more computerized diagnostic things) for about an hour or so before we set out to learn about tools and equipment.

Air hoses!!  I both love and hate them!  First we had a demonstration and hands on practice with attaching the hoses to impact wrenches.  This is when it became clear that I was the girl in the class.  I could not, no matter how hard I tried, get that damn gun off the hose!!  After a few tries, the teacher says, 'well, that's alright.'  So I heard, 'That's alright, little girl.  When you need help next time, just ask one of the boys.'  Guess who's gonna be working out even harder now!!

So once things got going, we were actually working on a car!  First day!!  Miraculously I didn't get my clothes dirty, but I LOVE having grease all over my hands.

The four of us practiced working the hoists, and were trusted to make sure the car we were hoisting was set right on the hoist.  I got my placement right!!  We looked at the underbelly of a Saturn wagon...and then we took it's tires off.  And then we disassembled one of the back drum brakes AND one of the front disk breaks.  We put the front brake back together but ran out of time and left all the other pieces off the car...sorry, class that is working on it this morning!

So, I was super excited to write this post.  It seems sort of lame now that it's all out there in 'written' word, but that's fine.  I'm still trying to learn the names of tools and remember which lever is the safety lever, and which sequence to push buttons on the hoists. I am completely overwhelmed by the number of sockets and other tools we have at our fingertips in class.  I'm still nervous about my ability to use air powered tools (talk about power!!).  But I am so excited that I am not in a class of macho dudes, and that I have an instructor who has clearly taught girls before.  We connected a bit when I told him the story of the Barracuda and that my dad was in Vietnam.

Next week, my very first oil change!!  We are changing the oil in Raffi's car.   We are also going to hook the little diagnostic computer up to Ricky's Saturn Vue...seems his car has a ton of issues, including an air bag light that stays on.  I was also asked if I would be bringing in any parts from the 'Cuda.  'We can get those four flats off, and clean up those rims, if you like.'  Now I have to figure out how the hell I'm gonna get those wheels off!!  Time to go get me a breaker bar and some jacks!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Back to School?

As one of my handful of readers, you know I have no practical knowledge of the inner workings of any automobile.  If you were to take a look at the car I drive -my darling little green 2000 Chevy Cavalier (affectionately known as The Green Monster, or sometimes The Stagecoach)- you would see I don't spend much time cleaning it.  Each time I take it in for servicing or inspections, I gather up all the trash and throw it in whatever might serve well as a trash bag.  I have not one, but two reusable grocery-type bags that are full of clothes.  Not to give away, but 'just in case'.  This is a direct result of spending many days with my grandmother, who could never be prepared enough for any situation.  This time of year, you'll also find two extra hats, two extra pairs of mittens/gloves, and a pair of snow pants added to the collection.  You may wonder why a person would think these things might actually be needed, but more than once in my young life I had to 'get out and push' in the winter...I'll take it from Grandma and just be prepared!

So what does any of that have to do with school?  Nothing really, I just have a nasty habit of going off on silly tangents...you're welcome.

But there is a reason I bring up school.  I'm tempted to take an adult education class in Basic Auto Repair.
There's a class offered at a local Tech School and the class time would actually fit right into my schedule.  Hubby would be playing poker at the time the class is running.  It's just 8 weeks.  It's pretty reasonably priced (only slightly more than I just paid to have my rear brakes replaced).

Ah! Windows open!
I don't know that having more smarts about car repair would keep me away from my regular mechanics (there is one who has a crush on me, after all!), but I don't like being so 'in the dark' with Spring quickly approaching.  I want to get at that Barracuda when the weather changes.  And this class will coincide with the weather change quite nicely.

Well, it's something to think about.  I'm certainly not lacking support from friends and family!  It's all up to me and what kind of guts I have to take a class I am pretty sure I will be the only girl in.  Not only that, but probably the only person who would need a vocabulary lesson, as well!  If only my sister would've remained interested enough to take the class with me.  Oh well, as always, I live and learn...time to move on.