Saturday, January 22, 2011

A look inside.

Well, I spent the afternoon working on the bug. I installed some new to me seats that I got awhile back. They are in better shape than mine and look pretty good. Removing and installing seats in a bug is simple. Here are some pics. 

They look pretty good. I have a perfect back seat that was recovered before I bought the bug and I don't want to mess it up because it looks so good so I think I am going to get another back seat and use the cover that I have that matches the front seats on that. I am in dire need of some new carpet now that the seats look good. I guess my birthday is coming up. Maybe if I'm really nice to Dixie she will get a carpet kit for me. 

While the seats were out I cleaned up the floorboards and truly found a treasure. The seat belt releases originally had some white handles on them and here you can see mine are missing.
Well while I was cleaning out the seat tracks I found these.

I couldn't believe I found both of them. They cleaned up like new and I installed them back on to the release levers. Here they are.
These are pretty hard to find if they are missing so I was pretty pleased.

I was able to get the rear decklid seal put on today and install an antennae I had sitting around for a long time. While I was up front I cleaned out my trunk and made an emergency kit to put in there with common things that go out on a bug. It still looks a little shabby but not bad for a 42 year old car.

Isaac was my helper for part of the day until the need to play the wii pulled him away. Oh well, at least he helped for awhile. He is always one to  be willing to help in the garage. At least for a little while

It won't be long until this picture might be a common site.
I think I will have even less hair when that happens. Hopefully they both will have spent enough time in the garage with me to know how to fix things themselves when they break. I wonder if Ed will survive long enough to be driven by my boys? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

New vs. Old

Well, I braved the rain and snow and drove the bug all this week. I logged about 200 miles and a tank full of gas and everything seems to be running good. It even starts up OK on cold mornings. I have to baby it a little until it's warmed up but the engine runs good and the heater is working amazingly well. I finally went out and got a picture to compare with the old ones. Here they are

OLD (This is how it looked when I bought it)
                                    OLD ( This is how it looked right before I pulled it out)
                                          NEW (This is how it looks right now in the bug)
The only thing I haven't done that I want to is clean up the air cleaner.  I am debating on trying to powder coat it or just paint it. That is why it still looks a little rough.

Anyways, everything is right in my little world again as I have enjoyed driving the bug all around town. I threw my back out last weekend and I swear driving the bug makes it feel better. Ha Ha It must bounce all my bones back in the right spot. Maybe it should be called Ed the Chiropractor. I found another bit of wisdom from Jay Leno's site that I thought I would share here.

It's titled : Why everyone should drive an old car.
                By: Jay Leno

When you drive an old car, you're paying attention. You're actually driving. You're physically involved in the experience.

When you're in a car like my 1913 Mercer, which has two-wheel brakes and 3-in.-wide tires, it's a must. You are driving defensively. You're paying attention to the driving situation around you. The number of people I see "driving" and doing something else at the same time–like reading, talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup–is unbelievable. And then, crash!, they just hit things. And they've got four-wheel discs with antilock brakes. They've got the ability to stop in a tenth the distance of an older car.

Yes, in an older car, you're definitely more physically involved in the act of driving.

I always drive for pleasure. I like to drive. Consequently, I pay attention when I do it. When I'm in an older car and someone wants to cut in front of me, I smile and say, go ahead. There isn't that competitive, "You SOB. I'll ram my blah, blah, blah up your blah, blah, blah" thing going on. Besides, people see you driving a collector car and they cut you a lot of slack. It's a bit like the old lady crossing the street. People say, "Oh look, be careful, go ahead dearie …"

I contend that a certain number of traffic accidents occur because all cars look alike nowadays. You go down the road and there's just a sea of jelly bean shapes that seem to all blend in.

Recently, I was driving my '56 Chrysler Imperial on the freeway, and I passed a guy and he looked over, saw a huge shape he'd not seen before and shooosh!, he looked like he suddenly woke up. He didn't recognize me but he waved anyway. My car just looked odd to him. And rightly so. It had character compared to the look-alikes around us on the road. The Imperial has big whitewall tires and chromed wire wheels. So this enormous land yacht comes cruising by and this guy is just in his own world, tooling along. He sees the Imperial's big fins and the gunsight taillights on the back and, boing!, it got his attention. It registered.

That's part of the fun of old cars. People ask, "Aren't you afraid of being hit?" Actually, I think it's the other way around. People are less likely to run into you because they notice you. It's like blowing your horn. They think, what is that big thing? Lookit that!

People ask me if I'm afraid my old cars are going to break down when I drive them. I say, "Yeah, they break down all the time." With the kind of job I have, when my car breaks down, that's really the only time I get to relax. Because when it happens I can't do anything. I'm stuck by the side of the freeway, so I might as well take a break.

Speaking of freeways, you know what stinks about freeways these days? There's no breakdown lane anymore. What used to be the breakdown lane is now the HOV diamond lane.

A guy passed me the other day in a Sunbeam Tiger. I thought, I'll go after him and wave. I used to have one of those. And just as I pull up to him, the whole thing goes wooooff!, up in flames! And he has no fire extinguisher. So he pulls over to the left side of the road and I pull in behind him. Turns out it was just an electrical fire. We disconnected the battery and got it out. But now we're stuck in the fast lane and people are whizzing by. I called the Highway Patrol and they came, but believe me, there's no place you can even break down anymore. And in new cars, once you're broken down, you're broken down. The ability to get a modern car going again is absolutely gone. I always stopped and helped people with car problems in the old days. Six times out of 10, it'd be a loose wire or something simple. And you could get them going. But now, all you can do is call for help.

I was on the freeway a few months ago and I saw these five guys stuck with an old car. I pull up and they're all talking in Spanish. So I say, "Are you okay?" And they say, "Si, si," and so I offer my telephone. One guy says, "Gracias," and he dials a number. He talks for a few minutes, then passes the phone to the next guy, who talks awhile, then passes it on. Finally, all five have spoken and I'm thinking okay, what the heck. Finally, I ask for the phone back and go on my way.

A month later, I get my phone bill for that call: $98! Turns out they called their mother in El Salvador. I'm thinking they're calling the tow truck and they're calling El Salvador on my cellphone.

People talk about road rage a lot these days. I think it's all phoney baloney. There's no such thing as "road rage." It just sounds good on the news. All road rage is, if you put people, if you put mice, if you put any group of mammals in a crowded situation, some sort of rage will occur. One of the people or one of the mice will be the first to break or snap or pop.

Take that person out of a car and he's not suddenly a nice, relaxed guy. There's something else going on in that guy's head. That guy is already a possible mental case. That guy is going to react violently in any situation where he's crowded. I mean, he could be waiting in line for a restroom at a baseball game, and there's a hundred people ahead of him, and snaaaaaaaap!

Road rage doesn't happen except in traffic. It's just crowding. No one goes down the freeway, pulls up next to someone and starts screaming at them. It just doesn't happen. But road rage has become one of those great hot buttons newscasters always come up with. It's like that unintended acceleration thing. You remember: "Cars that kill! Film at 11." All that stupid stuff.

If it happens to you, pay no attention.
It'll go away.

Well, That's it for now.  Stay tuned for the Super Beetle suspension rebuild coming up.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finally back on the ground and running!

Well, Today was the big day that Ed got back on his feet and drove under his own power. He has been on Jack stands for the last couple of months while his engine got some fresh seals and a fresh powder coating job. Today he was lowered back to the ground and Dixie and I took him for his first drive. All went well except we plowed the neighborhood streets because the roads have a few inches of snow still on them. He ran OK, but after a little tweaking and adjusting he's running like a top now. Me and Isaac took him to get some fresh gas and get some miles on him. I changed the trans fluid and a seal that had been leaking and put a new pilot bearing/gland nut and a throwout bearing. I use to get a loud howl when it was in reverse and moving and that is now completely gone. I couldn't be happier. Isaac is stoked also. He had about as much fun as I had while we were driving it. Here are some pictures. Isaac is washing the windshield because it was full of bugs from last fall. We also topped Ed off with a tank full of premium. You can afford the best when your tank is so small.
Here we are at Auto Zone returning some tools I had rented to get a neighbors truck fixed so it would pass safety inspection.
Here we are at Pleasant Green Cemetery. That is a regular haunt for us. Isaac and I almost got stuck in the snow here but we put the gas pedal down and got through the deep stuff.
 And here is a comparison picture. Ed is on the left. The bug on the right is a super beetle. Super beetles  have a completely different front suspension. Ed is a standard beetle. I had to get Ed running and out of the garage so I would have room for this other bug. It belongs to a friend of mines daughter.  I am redoing the  front suspension for her. It has the death wobble at speeds above 45. Super beetles are known for this. The front bushings and ball joints and tie rods and pretty much everything else wear out and you get the death wobble. I will post all about the repairs I make to this bug. I don't really like super beetles because of their front suspension. The standard beetle is so much simpler up front. I actually have never worked on a super so it should be interesting.
 Finally Ed is back home and in his spot. He is going to get booted out for a little while while the other one is getting worked on but that should be motivation for me. It is a lot nicer driving a bug in the winter when it sits in the garage at night then when it sits out in the snow and cold all night.
I just realised that I don't have a final picture of Ed's engine after it was in and everything hooked up. I will post some before and after pictures of the engine at a later post.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Installing the bugs engine.

Well, It has been a long day but the engine is back in the bug. It's still up on jack stands and the hood is still off but it is ready to be started. Hopefully it will tomorrow. Both Steven and Isaac are sick and couldn't help so I promised them I would take lots of pictures of the engine being installed. It was a little bit hard getting the engine up on the jack by myself while it was under the bug but I eventually got it on. I was jacking it up just as Dixie walked out to see how it was going. I realized then that I was maxed out on the jack and when I had pulled the engine out originally I had put a 2X6 between the jack and the motor. I was glad Dixie was there so I held the engine up while she lowered the jack and put the 2x6 on it. After that it went really well. (except when I was changing the fuel lines and filter and had gas running down my arms and the heater I had was way too close.) I guess luck was with me because I didn't catch on fire or blow anything up. I connected the heater ducts and cables and installed the missing fourth bolt that holds the engine in. Here are the pictures in sequence as to putting the engine in. When I started Frosty was my only help and company.

 Here I had to lift the motor and push the jack under it all through the engine bay hole.
 Here is the engine right before I started jacking it into position.
 View looking into the engine bay right before I started jacking it up.
                                                                      Part way up.
Here is where I realized that the jack was maxed out and I still had another inch to go. Luckily Dixie came out and helped me get a 2x6 put in.

Here are a couple of pictures that show each side. The only things left to do are hook up the throttle cable, lower the car back to the ground, start it and fine tune the carb and timing, install the air cleaner, install the hood and take it for a test spin. I should be able to drive it to work on Monday if all goes well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

All we need is some muscle, and luck, and warm weather, etc.....

Well, the bugs engine is finally ready to be put back in. All the tin is installed, new seals have been put in, and everything has been torqued. All we need now is some muscle to take the engine off the stand and put it on the jack so we can jack it into place. Hopefully all that will happen tomorrow, with any luck it will actually run too and hopefully not leak. Here is the engine all ready to be put in.

It doesn't look like much especially with the old muffler on but it is a good muffler and I didn't want to spend the money to replace it when it doesn't need it. There actually is a lot of work involved with taking everything down to a bare block and then prepping and powdercoating all the parts that came off. I can't wait to get it back in and running. I removed the old tar boards that were on the firewall and installed some new ones. I had big dreams of making a carbon fiber firewall and I do have one in my garage but it would take way to much time to fit it and it probably wouldn't look as good as the tar boards. I actually really like the stock look of a bugs engine so it will actually match better in the long run. Here are the tar boards installed.

I put a new seal in the transaxle also and installed a new throw out bearing. Here is a close up of that.

So, tomorrow I have a buddy coming over and I think I will get him to help me lift the engine off the stand and try to get it up in the bug. The city just barely tried to plow our neighborhood. There was about a 6 inch trough/berm in the street of ice and snow. They came through with a big road grader trying to plow. It still doesn't look like they did a very good job but maybe if I get the bug running I will be able to drive on our street without getting high centered. Dixie told me I would never make it out of the neighborhood because of the snow. I know I would of tried and I probably would have to get my truck out and tow it back to the driveway. Bugs go great in the snow but with only 2 inches of clearance it might be tough.

Stay tuned tomorrow and see if it's running!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Santa finally came!

Well, after a long winters nap the last parts for Ed's engine came today via the big brown sled.(UPS that is). I couldn't be happier to get going again on the bug. The only crappy thing is that it is now 10 degrees outside and the bear in me wants to hibernate. I am really dying to get ed back on the road so I think I will crank up the heat in the garage and brave the cold to get it done. Here are all the parts I was waiting on.
The 3 main parts I was in dire need of was the throwout bearing, (the round thing on the box), The metal fuel line, (mine had a big chaff in it and we don't need an engine fire), and the intake gaskets. While I was waiting for the parts I came across some nice seats for an awesome price so I picked them up. The seats in ed needed to be recovered in a bad way and the frame on the passengers seat was tweaked pretty bad. These seats will fit right in and they have already been redone. Here they are.
So, if I can find some time and Dixie lets me, I can get back out in the garage and hopefully get the engine installed and running.

I like my truck but I think I have become bored driving it. The bug has a very different feel to it. Dixie dislikes the bug because it doesn't have air conditioning, It has a funny smell inside and the exhaust is choking. It doesn't brake very well, It scrapes on the ground everywhere you go and It's hard to steer. The humorous side to that is the reason I love the bug so much is for those same exact reasons. Jay Leno wrote an article that pretty much sums up all my thoughts also. Here it is

Why I Like 'Em Older
By: Jay Leno

I have the chance to drive a lot of brand-new cars, but I don’t own very many new models. Instead, I drive one of my old cars nearly every day. I bought a Turbo Bentley in 1990, the year they came out, then got a GMC Syclone pickup, then nothing for years. The Viper GTS coupe is the last new car I bought—primarily for what it doesn’t have. You know it lacks all the automatic stuff, like ABS and traction control. I’ve got a mom, I’m okay. I guess that stuff’s great but I don’t have a whole lot of interest in it.

But that’s what they have to do today to sell new cars. A friend of mine bought a new Lexus, and I said, “Is that front-wheel drive?”

He said, “I don’t know.” It really doesn’t matter. He’s more interested in the Nakamichi stereo.

In the 1920s there was a man named Childe Harold Wills. He’d worked as an engineer for Henry Ford, and then he brought out his own car company with a car called the Wills Saint Claire. It had a lightweight alloy body, four-wheeled brakes and an overhead-camshaft V8 with molybdenum-steel connecting rods. The car was the technological marvel of its day. Unfortunately, the people of the day said, “It doesn’t look any different than any other car.” So Wills went out of business.

When the Mustang came out in 1964, everybody said it had to have independent rear suspension. Lee Iacocca said, “Why? Nobody cares.” Looks as though he was right. As a business decision, it made more sense for the Mustang to have a live axle. You have to keep those things in perspective.

That’s why I like the cars that are orphans: the Duesenbergs, the Packards, the Bugattis. These guys had their own ways of doing things and it inevitably cost more and appealed to fewer buyers. And maybe it wasn’t as good—or maybe it was too good—but they went out of business for less than practical reasons. They went out of business for ideological reasons. Take Tucker, for example. He must have reasoned, “The public be damned. This is what it should look like.” I simply like the dreamers.

I also tend to like cars that need me.

To me, cars are like old screen doors. I know that if I jiggle the latch and move it this way, it will open for me and no one else. And that’s the kind of cars I like. So I’m the worst possible kind of consumer to do a test on. I like idiosyncratic things. I mean Bugatti had that hard-to-make hollow front axle and mechanical brakes, long after everybody else changed to hydraulics. But that’s what gives Bugattis character, and that’s what makes them interesting to me.

I like English cars because they’re from a nation of amateurs. Wait! Wait! Before the deluge of angry letters: I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But each person builds it his way and then sends it on down the line and everybody has to adjust. Like on my Jaguar XK120, they put the door hinge in and then they sealed up the door and welded it up. So the hinge is sealed up inside the door and you can’t ever get to it.

Back in the early ’50s, when the Jaguar sedan came out, Americans were complaining that they’d hit the brake and the pedal would go to the floor, then they’d hit it again, and the brakes would be fine. So they’d have to pump it twice. When the factory was notified, the folks back in Coventry said, “Oh yes, we’ll take care of it.”

So the next batch of sedans came through with a red light on the dash. When the pedal goes to the floor, the light comes on to tell you to hit the brake again. Why didn’t they fix the master cylinder in the first place? Who cares? That’s the kind of thing I like. British cars are all built in that odd sort of way.

When I see someone driving an older car, I admire them. I don’t have the kind of cars where people are amazed that they go fast, people are amazed that I was physically able to get to where they are in that vehicle, which to me is much more fun. I mean, can you really go 100 mph anywhere? I always like the people who try to choose between the Lamborghini Diablo and some Ferrari. The Ferrari goes 202 mph and the Lambo only does 199, so I don’t think I want that one. I have the kind of vehicles where people say, “You drove here—and back?” When I see a guy who has an old Bentley, or even an old Triumph or MG, I know he has to be an enthusiast, because there’s a certain level of expertise that you have to have just to drive that car, just to get there. So I know that’s someone I can have an interesting conversation with. There’s a certain kinship in all that.

The steamers are the ultimate. Maybe that’s why I own three Stanley Steamers. People think you had to be a locomotive engineer to own one, but you really just had to be a tinkerer. You had to heat water, and then you had to get the steam back to the engine. Either the fire went out or the water wasn’t hot enough. There really wasn’t anything else to go wrong. So it was just a matter of little leaks to keep after. They used to say that it takes 5 minutes to figure out what’s wrong with the Steamer, and 2 hours to fix it because it has to cool down. With gas cars, it takes 2 hours to find out what’s wrong and 5 minutes to fix it. Either way, it’s the same. I had to learn all this. But there’s a great deal of satisfaction in keeping a Steamer running.

Nowadays you get a great deal of power by revving an engine. But back then, you couldn’t really rev a Model T Ford, the engine would be working awfully hard just to move you away. A steam car just chuffs forward rapidly. It’s like the hand of God pushing you away. It’s amazing. Some of them had 700 ft.-lb. of torque from rest! Steamers are wonderful cars to get involved with when someone else is aboard. Invariably the conversation is: “Oh we’ve gone 8 miles now. What’s the water pressure?” There’s a whole ritual you have to deal with.

And people like that. I keep using the Betty Crocker analogy. You know, years ago, they came out with an instant cake mix—you only added water—and women weren’t buying it. It didn’t sell. Then someone at General Mills said, “Why don’t we have them break two eggs, then add water, and see what happens?” Suddenly women felt like they were baking something! With a Stanley there’s a lot of involvement—lots of eggs to break.

The thing about the Steamer is you take out the blowtorch and there’s fire, and people ooh and aah at your mechanical skills. You look like a genius. When it blows back, whhhhhhoooouuffff! and it catches fire, people scream and they run off in all directions. It’s a wonderful car for an extrovert.

It’s about 6 miles home to my house, going through Beverly Hills. One day, driving my Stanley, I see these two people walking, and I say, “Hey, do you want a ride?”

They get in, and soon afterward, I blow the horn and the guy goes, “Hey, wait a minute. That sounds like the ghost train.”I say, “Wha?” He says, “We’ve been here a couple of years. Sometimes late at night, we hear this whistle. Someone told us there used to be a train that ran through Beverly Hills, and they tore it up. But at night people still think they hear the train.” “That’s not a train,” I told them. “That’s me coming home.”

I drive my 1909 Baker electric, too. Mavis and I take it out to restaurants for dinner. Of course, I don’t leave it with the valet. I have to park it. Here’s a car that’s 8 ft. high and 7 ft. long. It’s the equivalent of driving a phone booth. You know that scene in “The Wild Bunch” where Ernest Borgnine and Warren Oates are sitting there, on a flat Main Street and the first horseless carriage goes by and they go, “What the hell?” They can’t understand how it’s possibly moving. When you drive this Baker, it makes no noise, there’s no visible engine, you can’t see where the engine would be. People just stare. And when you tell them it’s a nearly 100-year-old electric car, they don’t believe you. They think the electric car just came out a couple of years ago.

There’s a wonderful snobbery that each generation has. People now think they’re so much smarter than people who lived in the ’20s and ’30s. They think about World War II and they say, “Oh that could never happen,” because people aren’t stupid the way they were then, to allow Hitler to come to power, etc. But let’s not kid ourselves. People are always the same. And those are the people who look at the electric car and can’t imagine how they missed it.

Are you still wondering why I like old cars?