Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Older we Get, the Faster we Were!

Most guys that I know that raced BMX in their younger days just never let go.  They either talk and talk and talk about the good old days, or they actually still have a bike and ride it.  We are lucky enough in the STL to have a bunch of guys that still actually ride.  We got a few together today and did some riding around Forest Park and Washington University.  Now when I say ride, we don't glide down the sidewalks.  There is actually riding going on here, some sprinting, some jumping, and oh hell yeah, some crashing.
In the little gathering today, you'll notice some youngsters.  Those guys belong to Maurice, a mainstay of BMX racing in St. Louis.  One hopes that they recognize the significance of 44+ year old men thrashing about on kids bikes.  There is at least one guy who wasn't able to attend today who has grandchildren.  I ask myself... what the hell would I have thought of my grandpa on a BMX bike?  Any bike??  There you have it.

Thanks to Donald Williams for the photos, and for taking the time to gather the boys, old and young, to ride.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Modern Dryers - Making Grown Men Cry for Years Now

Ooooh, so you have your eye on that slick new dryer, do ya?  The one that costs about a grand and dries clothes like nothing you've ever seen before?  Yeah, that's the one.  We were sucked in by the front load washer and matching Samsung dryer in 2008.  We've done 3-4 loads of laundry a day for 10 years.  What you see above is what has to be removed from that oh-so-sexy dryer when it tumbles and rumbles but won't put out any heat.  Each one of these things has 4-8 screws holding them together, too.  Kind of like an erector set for grumpy old men.
Nope, not a keg of beer.  It's the drum.  But you could fool someone by saying  it's a keg of beer.  It's really light, so it would be an empty keg.
The shell of a once sexy dryer.  You have to take it down to it's very last pieces to get to here.  The heater element...a wear item...was buried in there.  Kind of like putting the oil filter on a car in a place that would require you to lift the engine to change it.  Yeah, exactly like that.
And here is the offending little SOB.  It's super flimsy.  It costs $16.95 on Amazon.  The belt, which turns the big keg of beer drum, is $8 and I'm going to get one of those just because I don't ever want to tear down this dryer again.  My bleeding arm thanks me.  Now I will wait at the mail box until the parts arrive from the evil empire.

Schwinn Fastback LTD - 17 Years of semi-Greatness

In a desperate attempt to keep my reputation for building bikes like the Toy Story baby head with spider legs character, I made it a point to refresh my second-oldest bike.  The 2001 Schwinn Fastback LTD, built in 'merica.  It started out with a clear anodized bare aluminum finish.

Somewhere along the line, maybe 6-7 years ago, that clear ano finish was getting really crazed.  So I coated it with, what else, black Rustoleum.  That began to look pretty sad, too.

To the rescue, baby head with spider legs!  Metalic "Dark Steel" from Rustoleum!

Yep, only the best for this baby head.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

New Things Look, you know, NEW

It was time for my first oil change on the Focus.  I got it at 17,000 miles and it's now at 22,000.  I know that some cars and some manufacturers have longer oil change intervals, but 5,000 is a nice round number and I will always remember 7's and 2's for this car.  So be it.  I like changing my own oil, too.  It costs me $23 for the oil and filter, I get to buy the Motorcraft filter (which the dealer obviously didn't use!) and Motorcraft Semi-Synthetic oil.  And I'm absolutely sure that the drain plug is tight!

I was struck by how pristine this thing is down yonder.  I mean....like new clean.  Everything is aluminum: block, control arms, transmission case.  And that stuff is obviously anodized or coated in some way.  But, WOW.  Look at this thing!

And curious eyes will notice the wee oil filter.  Man, I'm telling you, that thing looks like a kids sippy cup.  Curiously, the rubber seal stuck to the housing when I removed the old filter.  I have heard of that happening, but never witnessed it myself.  Luckily I noticed it and peeled it off before screwing the new filter up into it!

Surprising how great the gas mileage is on this puppy.  I've yet to get less than 33mpg for a full tank.  My regular is 35mpg.  But I admit to driving like a grandpa.  The Focus will get up and move when I demand it, but I don't demand much.  I've promised the car to Eli, who will have his permit in less than 3 years and his full license in 4.  Certainly this thing will not have topped 100k by that time.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Car Watching - 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang

Although I do know a bit about Mustangs, I'm not going to make a judgement as to the authenticity of this GT500.  They're pretty rare Mustangs and plenty of people take regular vintage Mustangs and turn them into GT's, Shelby's, Bosses, or whatever.  So unless they are very obviously fake, I just assume they're real and then gush over them.
The 1967 GT500 was the first Big Block Shelby.  It had the FE 428 under the hood with dual 4-barrell carbs.  It had numerous fiberglass body parts, such as the hood, trunk lid, etc.  It added to the butch look of the bigger 67's.  This one was missing the big signature driving lights that usually rest in those big holes in the grill.
This guy was a really cool midnight blue.  It was also in great shape, although it still looked to be a driver rather than a show car.
I always liked the regular 1967 Mustang rear end.  The tail light panel is concave and the fastback roofline comes right to the edge of the trunk lid.  The Shelby rear is significantly different, with the roofline ending in a lipped tail and the tail light panel itself is flat with long, rectangular tail lights.

Overall, a very nice looking car, and one I would love to take up to speed on the back roads.

Car Watching - Triumph TR4 IRS

By no means am I an expert on old British sports cars.  Actually, I'm no expert on anything.  However, I was drawn in a couple weeks ago by this super cool Triumph TR4.
This car is a total driver, and it's all the better for it.  It's not a show car, but a perfect example of the breed.  The TR4 existed from 1961 to 1967 or so.  Triumph people will actually brag that the engine, a pushrod 4 cylinder, came from a tractor.  It was a pretty good engine for a small, light car.  There were even supercharged versions of this engine that made over 200 horses.  These big ol' headlights look kind of out of place on this little car, but they add to the charm.
 I've always liked the name Triumph.  It just says "sporty".
 Perfect British profile.
 This particular TR4 was an IRS model.  Yep, that means Independent Rear Suspension, which wasn't all that common in the old days.  And TR4's that were IRS models actually had different frames underneath.  It was a seriously different car!  Since this is an IRS, it looks like that would make it a TR4-A, a 1965-66-67.  There were some 40,000 TR4's produced over it's entire production run.
The interior and dash just kills me.  I'm a sucker for the clean, ancient, simpleness here.  I would have loved to jump in and give the old girl a go!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Eli turns 12 and Stuff

 Eli turns 12 with a chocolate long john donut and a candle.
His party was officially a paintball affair.  It was cold and miserable for bystanders like me, but the kids that came along didn't care one bit.
 Eli was a bit menacing in his mask.
 Some last minute instructions from the Dude.
 I would seriously run like I was in the movie Deliverance if I saw these characters.
 They started a little slow.  Kinda like they didn't know what to do.
Four hours later, they were practically pros at this stuff.  Eli's time on the couch, seemingly being wasted by playing Call of Duty, came in handy as he was a driving force in some of the wins.
He capped the week off by practicing with a drill, a saw, a file, and some wood. That resulted in a trip to the hardware store for some more wood that he swears he wants to build into a chair.  We shall see!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fifty One is a pretty boring number

So yeah, I'm another year older in a couple days.  I was pretty proud of 50, now I move into the realm of the boring at 51.  I mean, there is nothing special about 51.  Hence this entirely ludicrous blog posting.
I still do odd jobs and I am so damn proud of my headlamp that I use it whenever possible.  Even when I don't need it.  If I'm having a conversation with you in broad daylight and I have on my headlight, just go with it.
I'm also fond of getting my youngest son to do more exercise and activity than he wants to do.  It's kind of a thing.  On this day, I drug him around south city on our BMX bikes.  Today he went on a hike at Greensfelder.  He's always wary of how long we intend to do something...he knows better.
And I also don't mind embarrassing him or Hanna.  Hanna asked the other night if I had a tank top.  I said "Hold my beer...."
My trusty Fusion turned 160k.  That was enough.  I drove it in to a dealer and traded it in on an incredibly sensible car.  I was sorry to see the old girl go, but I'm not sorry that I won't spend many evenings on the garage floor with antifreeze or oil dripping in my face.  Don't think of it as a birthday gift to myself...think of it as a birthday gift to the drivers on the local highways that won't wait in a traffic jam when the old girl broke down!
Since I use my cars as a pack pony, it carries a lot of stuff in the trunk so I can be prepared to fix just about anything.  However, even I was surprised once I emptied the trunk.
The 2014 Ford Focus.  I like it.  I think it likes me. I'm going to treat it very, very well because it will probably be Eli's car in a few years...right about the time it will require me to lay on the garage floor and have oil and antifreeze drip in my face.
I caught this on the highway the other day, folks.  Be lucky that this gem wasn't at the dealership when I traded in the Fusion.  I might be driving "ECTO-1", as it said on it's license plate.  Don't think I'm joking!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

More Rear Brake Work

My original equipment Ford brake pads on the rear of the Fusion lasted 130,000 miles.  Those things were troopers.  I replaced them in the Fall of 2016 with some bargain basement "ceramic" pads.  Well, those pads were worth 30,000 miles.  Seriously.  They were done.  Cashed out.  Just what I want to do with my Sunday off, replace brake pads made of cream cheese.
Those are the back plates on the right of the cream cheese pads.  Yep.  No pad material left whatsoever.  New pads on the left are good ol' replacement pads from Autozone.
 Another look, just to increase the humor.  Yep, just the back plate left.
Surprisingly, the rotors are still deluxe.  No marking or scaring, no pits, no warping.  I must have just replaced the pads in time.  I'm sure these pads will last longer than the car will run!  I used this time in the cold garage to change my oil, too.  At this point, it is harder for me to change the oil in a car than to replace pads and rotors.  It takes me longer to jack up the car and remove the wheel than to do the brakes.  Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Riding and Going Nowhere

 Dreary and warm ride down to Jefferson Barracks park this morning..
 Sylvan, this park holds a special place in my heart.
 I rode around the skate park.  Love the berm action!
 My shit bike is positively light weight compared to this monster.
 Calm and very low, the Mississippi river.
 The start of the greenway.
 You can really see how low the river is here at Carondelet.
 A good read.
Fascinating bridge that ends at the overlook.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Trail Running. Or What To Do On Mountain Bike Trails without a Bike

A few months ago a running race caught my eye.  Running never usually catches my eye.  But this run was on the Beulah trail at Greensfelder, which is where I ride my mountain bike quite a bit.  What fun!  A caveat was that it was at night.  And a timed event, sort of like endurance mountain bike events.  You could run for 9 hours (what the hell??), 6 hours (you kidding me?), or 3 hours, everyone ending at midnight.  Ok, still sounded like fun.
I talked a few of my coworkers into doing the race.  Sometime in December I started running a bit so that I could do this thing.  I didn't really run enough but I did some strong runs and really thought I was solid.  I got a sinus infection two weeks ago and that made me fear the worst.  I did the race anyway.  I hadn't run much over 10 miles until last night, but it wasn't the distance.  I just suffered from the word go.  I muddled through and finished 3 laps, right at 13.1 miles.
 Strava was very impressed.
I did finish in the top ten.  Top five would have been nice.  But it really, really was all I had.  No more.  No mas.  Finished.  Done.  It was right around 20 degrees at race time.  My water froze.  I kicked a rock in the most technical section and yardsaled, full spread eagle, at about the 2/3 point. And the third lap saw quite a bit of freezing drizzle and snow, which made the last rocky section really treacherous.

I was the first old guy to finish, though.  And there was some 63 year old dude only a couple of places behind me!

Overall I would say that it was a great experience.