Monday, September 26, 2016

Car Watching - 1972 Plymouth Cuda

 It's been a good summer for Car Watching.  A great end to September was catching this crazy green Plymouth Cuda.  I've never liked the term Cuda, just like I hate Stang as a shortened name for the Mustang.  However, this is one bad ass Cuda.
 The paint could draw you in from miles away.  The tight, wide body that is shared in a lot of ways with the Dodge Challenger has always been a winner.  The Cuda is all performance, with a spoiler, cut-outs in the valance for the tail pipes, small hood scoops feeding the monster V8, and a cool blacked out tail light panel.  Check the license plate....
 Great profile.  I'm not a fan of the modern wheels, but all is forgiven because this bad boy is in such good shape otherwise.  The black vinyl roof is not something I usually like, but again...this one is special.
 Not a bad panel, not a bad view, not a flaw in the paint that I could see.  I could snap a hundred photos of this car and not catch a bad angle.
 The business:  440 cubic inches of fury.  One of Mopar's prized engines is the 440.  Technically, the 440 wasn't offered after the 71 model year, so unless I'm wrong on identifying this as a 72, the 440 was added at some other point.  Who cares, really?  Not me. 
Famous name, famous car.  So glad someone cares enough about this thing to keep it in such good shape, and actually drive it.  Wish I could have heard it roar.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Focus Raven - A Fantastic Hardtail and Hardtails Suck

 I had time for a quick run on the 'new' trails at Castlewood, Bluffview and Rock Hollow.  I wanted to get a feel for the new Focus Raven.  No, it's no Cannondale Habit.  But it's what I have and it's a very nice tool for the job.  The frame has some odd shaping and no amount of picture taking will let you see just how odd, but here you go.  The head tube/top tube juncture is probably the wildest.  From the front you see the relief created for the internal cables.  I like the shape, hate the internal cables.
 From the top, the tube is equally strange.  It's almost flat, and it's very broad.  It does make for a very nice grab handle when portaging the bike.
 The broad top tube makes for the next strange feature, where the seat stays mount to the outside of the top tube, never touching the seat tube.  Looks like great mud clearance, if I rode in mud, but in reality the chainstays are very close to the tire at the bottom bracket.  In it's defense, it has amazingly short chainstays, shorter actually than many of my 26" wheel hardtails of old.
 The seat tube is braced by another odd and angular carbon structure.  Good thing, because I have a lot of post sticking out of this one.
And just in case you didn't already know, Focus is a German company.  Post mount brake, inside the chainstay/seatstay juncture, as well as a nifty thru axle that is unique to Focus.

22 pounds, 4 ounces.  Not winning any weight weenie contests here but it's pretty light.

If you were wondering, I posted my fastest times on Rock Hollow today.  All three measured times (Northbound, Southbound, and Combined North/South) were faster by quite a bit.  So yes, this is a very, very fast bike.  And yes, it's still a hardtail and hardtails suck.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Deck Top in a Day

I have been threatening to do this for a month now.  The horizontal boards on the deck are rotten.  They need replacing.  But you know what?  That's a lot of work for one person.  Even me.  I started this morning around 9:45am, taking off the boards, one by one.
The boards may be rotten, but the joists underneath are good.  Bonus.  However, not only are their 25 boards on the deck's deck, but there are 20 screws IN EACH BOARD.  And a few secret nails, too, which really pissed me off.  By 11am, I had removed 2/3's.
A pile of rotten boards accumulating along my fence.  Oh yeah, that will be the job after the up.  And, getting someone to come pick that shizzle up.
11:30am.  All horizontal boards are removed, including the tops of the railings.  Back hurts.  Mosquitoes are bold and getting bolder.  Time to seal the joists with deck sealer before the new deck goes on.
2:30pm.  Second trip to Lowes for wood.  Car too small to carry 30 2x6x12 boards.  But, I did remember to replenish mosquito repellent.  And, Pepsi and M&M's to keep the body moving.
6:30pm.  Deck is decked.  Tops of railings replaced.  No sealant on the boards yet.  Mosquitoes are beating the repellent, so it's time to call it a day.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Car Watching - 1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible

Oh my.  The Edsel.  So maligned by the automotive world.  Such a weird marketing nightmare, and one named after Henry Ford's son.  I never found it ugly.  In fact, I've always thought that it resembled so many other late-50's cars.  I grill.
Only existence for three model years (58, 59, and 60), it's not surprising that you don't see many.  This is a 1959 Edsel Corsair Convertible.  There were lots of differences between models, including wheelbases and engine families.  Believe it or not, this long boulevard cruiser is the SHORT wheelbase, coming in at 120 inches....and 211 inches total!
Crazy individual chrome letters for the name.  I rather like that.  And the fender-mounted rear view mirror?  Cool.
 The interior of this one was pretty nice.  It's not a show-quality car, but I am a huge fan of daily drivers anyway.  As daily drivers go, this one is great.  The odd turquoise color is rather fetching, as well.  I'm always struck by the coolness of vintage dash boards.  This one does not disappoint.
 The landing pad, I mean, deck lid.  Look at the size of this thing!  And the individual tail lights are a thing of beauty.
 A great viewpoint to illustrate how long this thing is.  Check out the swooping wheel wells.
 Another view of the interior.  You can see that it has a column shifter.  This one is an automatic, though.  Cool quarter windows, too.
 Although some Edsel's were equipped with Ford's weird MEL engines (410 cu in), the 59 Corsair had the more conventional FE engines, the 332cu in or 361cu in (225hp or 303hp).
The infamous Edsel grill.  Still like it.  I was so excited to catch this one this morning, as I had seen it driving around my neighborhood recently.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rear Brakes - Fusion is Fully Braked!

 Last Friday, I replaced the front brakes.  They weren't fully worn out, but there was a bit of pulsating going on, and they had more than enough miles on them.  Today, being that the rain kept me from doing much outdoor work, the rear brakes had to follow suit.
 One pain-in-the-ass things about rear brakes:  The Tool.  Rear brake pistons usually have to be twisted as they are retracting.  Hence, the main reason for the existence of tool rentals.
 At first glance, the rear brakes should be a piece of cake.  Looks are sometimes deceiving.
 First, the rear pads, in my experience, almost always leave a lip at the top of the rotor.  Some not-so-gentle tapping of the caliper is required to bang the pads past that lip. And who thought it was a good idea to have Torx bolts to "secure" the rotor to the hub?
 The old pads.  Those vertical scars are from "tapping" the caliper and banging them past the lip on the rotor.  The pads fell out of the caliper.  Nothing on Earth is as dirty as an old pair of brake pads.
 Time and rust take their toll.  And I did not tap the rotor off of the hub.  Once I removed the dumb Torx bolts, I had to whack the old rotor with a hammer to get it off.  I don't like using hammers, but by-god I will.
 I LOL'd on this one.  See that little wear line on the new pad on the left?  The old pad was way, way past that.  The longest part of the whole process?  Seating the new pads into the impossibly small opening that is given to you in the caliper.  I scratched my head more than a few times during this, even though I have done rear brakes quite a few times.
All new rotors and pads, all the way around.  My total investment was $96 in parts, 3.5 hours of labor, and a little skin from my left index finger.  The auto shop wanted more, in the realm of $400.  I think I came out on top.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Car Watching - 1970 Ford Torino GT 429 Cobra Jet

 Caught in the Wild
Behold, another holy grail.  The 1970 Ford Torino GT, with the 429 Cobra Jet thrown in for good measure.
 Mean grill, hidden quad round headlamps
The Torino was a car that both my parents owned.  They owned the pedestrian cars, a 1972 four-door and a 1974 two door.  Most Torino's were just intermediate sized cars that got from A to B.  But there were some, especially early on...
 This Shaker Hood showed you the Money
....some were anything but pedestrian.  Take this one, for example.  By 1970, Ford had dropped the FE engines for performance cars and replaced them with the 385 series.  The 429 was a big part of that family of engines, and this one, the Cobra Jet, was one of the best.  11.3 to 1 compression, bigger camshaft, and special cylinder heads meant 370 horsepower.
 Says it all, right there
This car is a beauty.  It's very well taken car of, perhaps it needs a bath.  The interior was nice as well, but I couldn't get a shot worth keeping through the glass.  It's an automatic car.
 Emblems and stripes are in great shape
 The end of the Sports Roof roofline
The tail end of the Torino Sport Roof bobs off quickly, a trait I really like.  I also like the individual chrome TORINO lettered emblem.  Bumpers looked really good on this one.  Small, thin, they are easily bent and usually are.  No big gaudy pipes on this one, just discrete ones, dumped out below the rear fenders behind the tires.
I'm a big fan of tail lights that go side-to-side.  The 70 and 71 model years carry this same tail light feature.  This one also had the rear back light slats, something you see a lot on Mustangs of the same year.
 It's not Fastback, It's Sports Roof
A good view of the Sports Roof.  Most people call this design a Fastback, but technically Ford calls it Sports Roof.  Either works for me.
Gotta Love It
You have to love a well-cared-for car that's nearly 50 years old.  I have no idea if it's in fantastic original condition or if it's just been rehabbed...really doesn't matter.  It's a beauty and worthy of preservation.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Brakes for the Fusion

 Old Rotor 

Personally, I have never seen brakes in a car go more than 70-80,000 miles.  Maybe rear pads.  I've never seen front brakes that old.  When I took off the front rotors on the Fusion, I noticed that they are indeed OEM rotors and pads. There are 130,000 miles on the car.
 Old Rotor, Meet New Rotor

It's quite refreshing to look at new rotors and pads.  They are, you know, fresh.
That New Rotor Smell

It's true, the more you do something, the better you get at it.  Front brakes are very simple.  The bulk of the time is spent retracting the piston into the caliper and snapping the new pads in.  Otherwise, it's not hard.

Rear brakes are next.  I dislike those.  Ford rear calipers require a tool that twists the piston back into the caliper.  No big deal, as most Autozone's rent the tool for free.

Not today, though.