Friday, December 18, 2015

Planning Winter Break

My employer shuts the offices down for the week between Christmas and NewYears. Half of my team will be taking the week of Christmas off as well, so I figured I would too. Today, I'm going to try to string together a plan for how to get some bus stuff done over the 2 weeks without spending all (or none) of my time wrenching. I have 16 days from this Saturday through the final Sunday. I added actual time spent edits in orange for my own benefit for when I want to make estimates next year. Goes to show that high level planning is wise, but getting too deep into detail is a waste.

It is the holidays, after all, so I should expect at least one family event. Bowl games, the Winter Classic NHL game, etc. Assume another day there. Instead of 16 days, now its 14 days. One family event plus shopping for gifts. NHL Winter Classic plus a bowl game and some NFL. All in, there were probably 4 days "lost" to actually taking a break. Actual burndown at 12.

I've been pretty transparent about my love of playing in the snow. Snow has a peculiar sound when you're on the mountain away from the crowds and the bustle. I fully intend to visit the mountain a few times, so there's got to be room for at least 2 day-trips to snow. I'd love to make one of them in the bus, but I've posted enough on that score. Playing it safe, I'll assume 3 day trips so reduce to 11 days. EDIT: went twice. Burndown to 10.

Regular chore stuff
Any break brings with it hopes and dreams of some non-vehicular job getting done. Clean this, fix that, etc. Reduce to 10 days. This was an ongoing affair, but all in, there were probably 2 days worth of time spent doing this kind of stuff. Now 8.

Kid's Car
The A4 has a few problems, including a bad thermostat. Since everything takes longer cuz I"m slow. I'll set aside a day, even though it shouldn't take more than a couple hours. Now 9 days. EDIT: didn't fix the thermostat, but fixed a few other things and changed the oil. Thermostat on an A4 is a huge deal, like change the timing belt huge. Maybe in the Summer. Regardless, days now at 7.

Inevitably, I'll want to do stuff with my wife. I love spending time with her, and she works a lot, so there will be time spent dilly-dallying in front of the fire while she works. Maybe this is where I fit in the regular chore stuff. Assume a day lost, so now we're down to 8 days. We fit time around the edges. She worked every day except Christmas Day, and we spent that on the mountain (See Christmas at SkiBowl). She works too hard. Still 7.

The Painted House
I think I posted pictures last year or the year before of my usual Christmas tradition of painting a ceramic house for one of my family members every year. With the intensity around work, I haven't started yet. It usually takes me many many hours. While the one I have selected isn't crazy complex, it will still take me a while. Figure 3 days lost there, so now I'm down to 5 days. EDIT: this actually took over 4 days. Looks great though. Down to less than 3 days.

What Fits?
Like anyone who owns a project car, there is a long list of stuff to do and a short list of hours available to do it. Estimating can be a challenge because you never really get a big block of time to do things. Looking back on things, it's hard to tell how long it took, so you can't use past experience to help estimate new things. Awesome. Here's my list of things I want to do in approximately the order in which I'd like to do them, and my rough guess of how long it will take.

 - Fuel Gauge. I haven't found any how-to's on the internet. All links lead to replacing the float in the tank, which isn't the problem. Since I'll have to figure it out (and then post about it), figure 1/2 a day. I fiddled with this a few times (see Fuel Gauge Replacement), but in the end it's an issue with the float, not the gauge. Awesome. Down to about 1 day.

- Heat / Leak. Like the fuel gauge, there's no roadmap to follow. In order to really test it out, I need to get the bus engine up to normal operating temperature (NOT) and look for leaks. 1/2 day. I was able to identify and solve the leak (see Vanagon Rear Heater Leak Fix), but it took me most of a day to do it. This left no time for anything else.

 - saggy butt. There are lots of how-to's on fixing the saggy butt problem on a bus. Since the rear end hasn't ever been apart, I expect this to take a while. Knowing my ability to take much longer than everyone else, I'm saying a day per side, so 2 days. Early during the break, I went to Discount Import Parts (VWFLAPS), but with the holidays causing such disruption to deliveries, they couldn't have my bushings until almost NewYears. cancel this job until the Jetta's are solid runners. I have the bushings in-hand now, though

 - Rear brakes. I haven't really addressed the rear brakes in years. I'm sure they're over due for at least new shoes. I have complete brakes innards, so I'd like to just completely replace everything. The first side will take most of a day while I figure it out, the other side will take 2 hours. So, 1 day. Never touched them, but I did find all the hardware I had and remembered that I did the shoes a few years ago. Since the bus doesn't see much travel, they could be okay. I need to pull the drums and see, though.

 - wheels / rims. Remember those? Yeah, me too. What happened? Life, and now they're sitting patiently for me to get back to them. They need sanding down and another coat of primer, maybe some filler. Then I need to finish sand them, color and clear coat. Figure a 1/2 day per rim, so that's 2 days. Didn't touch them other than to move them around the garage.

Hmm... math says I'm down to -1 days. Something has to give, but knowing I have more to do than I have time ahead of time is better than regret at the other end. Maybe I collapse the chores into one of the "holiday" days of watching football and hockey. Maybe I leave the brakes or the saggy butt (or both) for a weekend. We'll see.

That's it for now. I expect to spend close to a week working on cars and some time playing in the snow, so there will be plenty of raw material for future posts. Thanks, as always, for following along. I hope you have a happy, rest (or project) filled holiday season-

Post holiday, I did things around the edges that I hadn't planned on: changed the air filters on 2dot0 and Flash, replaced the glow plugs on Flash, fixed the slider door (the cable became detached) and started working on a new shelf idea or the bus. I took a stab at constructing my own kick panels but decided it wasn't worth the work compared to just buying a pair, clowned around with the stereo in the bus and got the unlock codes for the junkyard stereo I got for Flash. I also went out to a movie with my wife (that Hunger Games one) and a movie (Star Wars 7) with one of my boys. Overall, it was a great break. One thing to remember for next year: the week I have the boys I really can't plan for much of anything. They need my time.

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