Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Herd Thinning

Purging unneeded items has become a bit of the thing for Boo and me. When we moved from the house next door, our square footage dropped by over 20%. We have been steadily selling off, donating or otherwise dumping belongings ever since. On the inside and in the yards, things are approaching the uncluttered aesthetic we both like. But, the cars hadn't reached that point until now. In posts earlier this summer, I about lamented how many vehicles I had. Such a first-world problem I look back on with some embarrassment. Since then, I have thinned the number of cars down to something manageable. So, today, we'll walk through those cars which are no longer with us.

Jetta Wagon
My step son K bought a 2001 TDI Wagon with an auto-trans 3 years ago. It ran very well for the first year before the transmission started acting up to the point where it would not go into reverse unless it was warmed up. So, he was driving it, but reversing to park everywhere. Sometimes, that's not exactly easy. So, after a few months of that, he backed it into our driveway. Almost 18 months later, he has moved it again, this time to where he's living, but the transmission is still bad. The picture to the right here was after Boo spent a day cleaning it at the end of it's 18 month visit. K's wagon may be coming back for a transmission swap, but, hopefully not until next summer, if then.

Nemo - the A4
The A4 was T's replacement for the white Jeep Cherokee (Jaws) that he sold. There have been a few posts about getting this car back operational, but few pictures. This one here is as T left for school where Nemo is now (see Let's See). I think the radiator is getting replaced as I write this.

At the peak of the car-jam, I had 2 280ZX's. The DonorZ gave us a complete interior (except headliner), some replacement tail lights, and a few other odds and ends. It was sold to a 280ZX collector / restorer based out of Hillsboro.

Dude was a gold 2001 Saturn SC2 that Boo had owned for 17 years. We had initially freed it from our yard by lending it to a friend who needed a car. He used it to drive fellow elderly residents to appointments and the grocery store. Unfortunately, the frequency and severity of property crime in SouthEast Portland has only gotten worse since I lived there. Our beloved Dude, which you could start by putting a slotted screwdriver into the ignition, was stolen from outside the 55+ living facility where our friend lived. The genius who stole it destroyed the ignition cylinder and the entire steering column, only to leave the car and his tools in plain sight. The police found and impounded the car within 24 hours of it being stolen, tools and all. At the yard, it was clear that the ignition and steering could not easily be restored, so the car was classified as "totaled". We miss you, Dude.

2 years ago, I broke down while driving Hapy to my old job (see Running on Empty). Boo and I had just been struggling with other cars and we found ourselves with one car and 2 people who needed auto-transpo just to get to work. We were at our wits end for broken cars so, enter the FR-S. I haven't really posted about that car. We bought it from a used lot down in Salem after we were bait-switched for a different one with fewer miles, and an automatic transmission. "You didn't really want that one," the scum-salesman said. Actually, we wanted an automatic for Boo to drive since she was spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic and the shifting was aggravating her shoulder. Anyway, we got the car and drove it a little here and a little there. Even back when Flash's clutch failed (See Oh Clutch), we really didn't drive him. Mostly, my job change shortly after purchasing it reduced our need: I take the train to work now. So, 2 years and less than 10k miles later (actually about 15k kilometers for everyone NOT in the US), we sold it off. Between the payments and the insurance, it is a car we didn't need and a luxury we no longer felt driven to pay for. Pardon the pun.

What's Left
So, with all of those cars no longer around, our driveway is uncharacteristically empty. We have Hapy, the bus which launched this blog, stored under the BusDepot bus-cover for the winter. We have Oliver, the MGB, in the garage waiting to get the interior done. We have the keeperZ (who still needs a name) in the other garage bay steadily getting closer to paint. And, of course, we have Flash, the TDI-powered Jetta that got me turned on to turbo-diesels in the first place.

Approaching Blog Silence
The work on the Zed is going to be long and not terribly post-worthy for a while. I have a few more areas to strip and then it's body-fill and sand time. I may take a break to do some things on Oliver's interior, but even that may pause in case we need to drive him now that we're down to one operational car. So, there could be a break in my regular posts since there won't be much to post about. In the event I suspend posts while I generate new content have a Hapy ThanksGiving, White Friday and seasonal Holidays.

Thanks for following along.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Z Progress

It's been quite some time since I posted an update on the 280ZX project. Today, I'll catch everyone up. For my US former military readers, Happy belated Veteran's Day and thank you for your service.

Tear Down Blocks
In my last post about the Zed in March (See Strip Tea Z), I described the tear down of the donorZ, and even posted the link to the craigslist sale of the picked-over shell. We found a buyer, a guy who rebuilds old 240's, 260's and 280's, and he knew there was some remaining value in what we sold him. To make the sale work, I had stripped lots of good stuff, and stashed them wherever I could find a place in the small garage. Mostly, these parts were set inside the keeperZ (Zed). This had the unfortunate side-effect of reducing the interest in working on the Zed. So, this past weekend, K2 and I emptied the Zed of all of the parts we were storing in there. This created a need to deal with the shedroom.

When it was conceived, the shedroom was a "couple months" solution (See 280ZX * 2 = Y). Now, over 9 months later, it has persisted. Boo and I decided that we needed to embrace the shedroom, and set it up better than the basic pile of parts on the floor that it had become. Otherwise, the work which has stagnated will never restart. So, similar to the interior of the Zed, we moved all of the parts out... into the hallway. Then, we installed a set of monster shelving and organized the parts onto it. This made the space much larger, and more useful... and allowed for all the other parts from the inside of Zed to fit. So, now we have the Zed empty of spares, and parked in the driveway (under a 10x10 canopy), ready to be worked on.

Auto Shop Class
K2 has started an auto-shop course in high school. This is the only such course available in the state of Oregon, and has a class size of less than 20, so it's kind of a big deal. Gone are the days of every high school having a shop like this. As I said, Oregon only has one. From this class, K2 is learning things that he is now teaching us. Included in this growing list of teachings is the multi-point inspection.

K2 wanted to do some work on the Zed after we emptied it of spares. The auto-shop class is much more focused on mechanical than body or interior stuff, and he felt that doing classwork stuff would help him retain the teachings. So, he set to doing a full inspection of the Zed, recording his findings for us to evaluate. My sole influence was for him to write everything down, and not to filter anything out due to concern that we wouldn't want to do the fix. Similar to having the boys decide if a car was purchase-worthy, I want the boys to drive what is or is not in need of repair, based on diagnostics not cost or convenience. The list was pretty long, including the brake booster and radiator replacements, and a full tune up. That's totally fine. I tell them that money should only guide "when" not "if" something should be done. If it is a safety item and you can't afford to fix it, get a bus pass until you can.

Sunroof Returns
With weather changing, our window for getting the grinding done before winter arrives is closing. I don't think we're going to get the exterior paint-ready before then, but I think we can get the old paint off before pushing Zed back into the garage for body-fill. How we manage the sanding of that body-fill will be the adventure that follows. With K2's preference for mechanical, I expect he'll get after the tune-up and radiator replacement completely independent of the exterior work. After another weekend day dedicated to the paint, we have stripped the fenders, hood, driver door, rear quarter panels, and roof. All that's left is the rear hatch and the passenger door: both of which can be done on the front porch. So, we are ready for the seasonal rains and the winter that follows. We can figure out body filler along the way.

the grind
The early 280ZX delivered with a sunroof. The donorZ was a late 280ZX, and it shipped with T-tops. Our early model, however, arrived without the sunroof. The prior owner who made such memorable decisions as removing the less-than-one-pound rear speaker panel, gutting the interior for weight and hacking the wiring so the fuel pump and ignition were triggered by switches also decided to remove the glass sunroof and weld on a patch panel. And weld it poorly with gaps and burn-thru. To resolve the leaks, the seam was "sealed" with duct tape. Neat. I had a couple of hours on a Saturday, and the sky, while threatening, wasn't supposed to open up with rain for a couple of hours. So, I backed the Zed into the driveway. The duct tape removed with a razor blade, and within about 15 minutes I was able to knock the patch panel free simply by hammer a wedge into the spotty gap, focusing on the welds. I cleaned up the edge with my angle grinder and then switched over to my wire-brush. I cleaned up all the spots where I'd used the chemical stripper, removing the flash-rust that appeared in the time since. It is interesting how the steel wire brush stripping doesn't leave the surface susceptible to flash rust, but the chemical does. One more factor to include in the mental-math when I look at paint removal in the future.

That's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cowling the Hapy Radiator

Brief post today. Before I begin, you'll notice that the advertisements are gone. I never made a penny on having them there, and I think we get bombarded with too much advertisement anyway, so now we will all enjoy a less cluttered, advertisement-free experience. On to the new radiator fan shroud...

Fan Shroud or Cowling
as pulled from shipping box
Modern cars and many older cars, have something on the rear side of the radiator surrounding the fan. This shroud or cowling helps pull air through the radiator when the fan is on. Since auto makers don't spend a penny where they need not, I have come to the conclusion that the shroud helps keep temperatures down. Initially, I thought it was to protect fingers when the fan snapped on, but I've since learned from reading articles that these shrouds do help pull air through the radiator and can reduce temperatures by up to 40%.

Hapy Rad Background
Since I did the engine swap on Hapy, he had been running without a tailored shroud. I put a cowling of sorts around the outer edge, but that was mostly to help keep the waste hot air from re-circulating into the radiator intake. I'm not sure how well that worked, but let's assume it worked okay. I had 2 fans on the bottom, with the intent to pull air through the radiator, but it is entirely possible that lots of air leaked around the edges of the fan, greatly reducing their cooling capability. So, I went to eBarf looking for an aftermarket shroud, in hopes of finding something that could bolt onto the new Mishimoto radiator. While I could have fabricated one, if I could find one inexpensive enough, I'd go with a bolt-on.

front p-side corner
The radiator size I have is from a Jetta3, and fortunately, there are many of these still on the road, creating a market for things like an aftermarket shroud. I had to try a few sources, though, as the supply is drying up, or those who manufacture and import them have been carefully managing their inventory due to the new import tariffs. Anyway, I found a seller and $90US on eBarf later, I have a direct-replacement shroud with fans.

The mounting holes lined up perfectly with the mount holes on the Mishimoto radiator. This made the install crazy easy. I cut the cable-ties (zip-ties) which held on the old fans, unplugged the wires and set them aside. I cut the plastic bag off the new shroud and slid it between the radiator and the metal strap which holds the sides together (see the bottom picture). I removed the 10mm bolts which held the radiator to the support frame, fit the radiator mounting tabs into place and re-threaded the bolts into their respective holes. Once the wires were plugged back in (black to ground, blue to switched 12V from the relay), the install was complete. I flipped the fan switch on the dash to confirm everything was good (both fans spinning, and both in the right direction).

I have set the old fans aside, planning to reuse one of
them for the MGB. With the new cowling and fans, I hope the days of watching my temperature gauge are over. We could have a few nice days ahead, but rains are pretty much upon us now, so the likelihood of getting a hardy test before spring is unlikely. Regardless, I expect that it is no worse than it was. If so, I can easily revert back, but that would be quite a surprise.

With the conclusion of this effort, Hapy is back "in the bag": covered with the BusDepot bus cover for the winter. It is always a sad day when we cover him up, knowing that the summer didn't quite have as many camping or festival adventures as we wished. I sincerely hope that I can get him uncovered and out for drives early enough next season to shake out the issues so we can have an adventure-filled summer.

That's it for today. For my US readers, Hapy Election Day. Whatever your politics, please express them at the polls. One day, I hope, we can return to discussing political opinions as rational people without raising voices, alarms, or threats. Yes, my non-US friends, it has become that dire here. Thanks for following along-