Momma – Putting it Back Together

I come from a family who likes to put shit together.  We’re tinkerers and fixers.  Jack and Jill’s of all trades but masters of none. Our group text strings usually involve pictures of someone’s weekend project, lots of thumbs up and many questions about the particulars.

The last PMR, ‘Pop – Putting it Back Together’ was graciously written by the man himself as the engine stuff really blows his skirt up.  But this one is from me and it’s called, ‘Momma – Putting it Back Together, because without her, Pop My Ride wouldn’t be.  This woman can put (and keep) things together too, namely; herself, our family and many times over, me.

Paula and Woody were high school sweethearts until Pop went away to the army.  They broke up and continued to grow up following their own paths.  But, Pop continued to write her at college from his post in Germany, obviously wanting to stay on her mind. It was on a spring break night home when friends got together on a Lake Michigan beach, building a fire and hanging out.  Pop was back and also there.  She says that when she looked at him in the light of the fire, she just knew…he was the one she wanted.  To this day, that is one of the reasons she likes fires so much.  She says it reminds her of that night and her crystal clear realization that she loved Pop deeply.

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With Pop’s first truck.  He had painted on the front, very small, ‘Paula’s Problem’.

But the years following were not always easy.  Pop was on the road a lot and could be gone weeks at a time.  In those days there was no way to easily keep in touch and the phone calls could be as random as the pay checks.  By the age of 30, Momma had brought four babies into the world and was doing all she could to love and support them, mostly by herself and with little means.  She was smart and scrappy and I attribute my frugality and the respect I have for my physical belongings to her.  Pop hauled furniture for most of his career and she would sell the used moving boxes out of the garage for extra cash.  We always had a big glass of milk at dinner, even if it was powdered, and sometimes more like cloudy water as she tried to stretch it.  As an adult, I still get a little feeling of excitement when I see a pop can on the ground.  We used to collect them and throw them in a big box in the garage to recycle for a couple bucks.

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Tired but happy.  This is while Pop was working for United Van Lines.  Momma will sometimes say even today, “I miss my babies.”  We were so loved.

She found a way to get us a membership to a neighborhood swimming pool, but it cost $200. She told me she spent the last of what was in the savings account to join.  That pool was a Godsend during the hot summers as we had no air conditioning and she had four young kids to deal with all day.  She was young and fun and would play in the water with all of us.  I loved to cling to her back like a little sucker fish while she swam deep under the water.  I remember the feel of her strong shoulders under my hands as I tried to not slip off.  We used to laugh about her thick, curly red hair that the water would roll off like a duck!  She still loves the water and at 76, leads the water aerobics class at the local pool.  I’ll go with her when I’m out there and love bouncing around the pool with all the old gals.  They love when she teaches because, “Paula really gives us a good workout!”

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Momma with Grandma and all of us.  She could carry all four of us at a time (not the norm, but for fun).  One on her back, one on the front and holding the two smallest in both arms.  She was and still is a fierce Momma Bear, check out those arms!

Momma rejected her Catholic upbringing as a young woman and adopted instead a spirituality that she has found great strength in.  I have memories of her teaching me the Serenity Prayer as she sat on the side of the bed while I struggled through many bouts of depression, something she has battled herself.  She has always appreciated the beauty and wonder of nature and is most at peace in it.  We camped a lot as a young family, always hiking, fishing and playing in the forest.  (Pop used to tell us kids we were Pagans…not totally accurate.)

Momma’s a feminist, always on the right side of woman’s rights, and taught me my worth as a woman by example.  As a northern woman living in a southern state as well as being involved in the male dominated world of trucking, she has more than once had to assert herself as someone to be listened to.  She has supported other women in need for years now through organizations she’s involved in.  She will be your most loyal friend and stand strong with you but also knows the value of a good cry and has an unbelievable amount of empathy.

This past Mother’s Day I called my mom, needing her love and support desperately.  Here it was to be her day, a celebration of her, and I just sobbed into the phone, trying to will her physical body through the line so she could just hold me.  Although I’m almost 49 years old, and these types of calls to her have become less and less over the years, I still need her.  I still call and start with, “I’m OK, but…” and burst into tears.  This time there was no, “I’m OK,” just pain so bad I wanted to disappear.

She listened, she didn’t judge, she didn’t match my level of intensity with her own fears but instead was a steady, calming force for me.  She was what she’s always been; there for me, solid and strong.  She reminded me of my own strength and to take care of myself first and foremost.  She reminded me to breath and take it one day at a time…one hour at a time if that was all I could manage.

This woman is a force.  She knows how to put shit back together.  She’s dealt with a lot of crap, seen some tough times and came out the other side with her integrity intact.  I love you Momma.  Thank you for being who you are; honest and real.  Your ability to be vulnerable is the very essence of what strength truly is, having the courage to open your heart and dare to love deeply.

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IMG_9599Hey, hey Paula, I want to marry you
Hey, hey Paula, no one else will ever do
I’ve waited so long for school to be through
Paula, I can’t wait no more for you
My love, my love

 

 

 

Pop – Putting it Back Together

Hi folks, it’s Pop here.  Janet did an excellent job explaining basically the what’s and why’s of rebuilding her little 200ci six banger.  More air, more fuel, bigger spark, bigger explosion and more power.  Carl’s Machine Shop was fantastic, and now we have to assemble the parts.  This indeed trips my trigger and I will explain the procedure much to the boredom of some of you.  But, perhaps we can convert a few into budding “gearheads”.

We’ll begin with the bare engine block which was cleaned up, magna fluxed (a process to detect cracks…it passed), over bored 60 thousands of an inch (this is the maximum and was necessary because of scoring in cylinder #4, the result of a broken ring), and new freeze plugs installed.

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The crankshaft went in first with .010” over bearing inserts.  This requires clearance checks using plastigauge.  Plastigauge is thin plastic thread which when compressed, spreads out and its width is then measured to determine clearance.  The top bearing shells are placed in the block, then the crankshaft, then strips of plastigauge across the bearing journals, then the bottom bearings and caps.  The bearing caps are then torqued to specs.  The caps are then removed and the width of the plastigauge measured.  I won’t further torture you with the measurements acceptable throughout the assembly procedure except to say, “everything checked out”.  (Janet: “Except to say we had to do math…math sucks.”)  The crank is then removed and turned over 180 degrees and the process repeated, assuring a straight bore and shaft.  Everything checking in specs, the bearing surfaces are lubricated, assembled and torqued to specs.  One final step, the crankshaft is then moved forward and backward to check end play.

The camshaft (which opens and closes the valves) was original and installed by Carl’s with new bearings, as this requires special tools.  (Janet: “Some of the only tools Pop apparently does NOT have in his garage. It’s just a matter of time.”)

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Next, the pistons with new rings (which snap into piston grooves, hold compression and control oil on the cylinder walls), three rings per piston.  Before the rings are installed in the piston grooves they must be placed in the proper cylinder bore and the gap between the ends measured.  Too close a gap and the ring will break when it expands with heat, spelling disaster.  (Janet: “Apparently I got my dramatic nature from my father.”)

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Each piston is fitted to numbered connecting rods then placed in the proper cylinder and attached to the crankshaft, plastigauged, lubed and torqued to specs.  With the installation of a new oil pump, the “bottom end” is now complete.

 

New timing chain (which goes on gears at the front end of the crankshaft and camshaft) is installed and the front cover and oil pan installed.  We’re now ready for our new and improved cylinder head.

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One final and most important measurement is needed, valve clearance.  We now have oversized valves and increased openings with our new 1.6 to 1 rocker arms.  Heaven forbid the valves hit the pistons at top dead center!  That would again lead to disaster.  (Janet: “Need I say more?”)

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With #1 piston at the top dead center, we fill the space between the block surface and the piston with clay (in our case, Playdough).  We also filled #6, then install the head gasket and head.  The head bolts are torqued, the valve train assembled and adjusted and the engine turned over 720 degrees or two revolutions of the crankshaft (one revolution of the camshaft).  With fingers crossed, we disassemble the valve train, remove the head and measure the distance from the bottom of the valve indentations to the piston surface.  Yes!  We have clearance!

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The top end is now reassembled and the oil pump driven by an electric drill (the bottom of the distributor shaft will do this).  Checking for oil flow from the rocker arms aaaaaaaand – success!

 

Finally, valve cover on and new Ford blue paint job.

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During Janet’s next visit we’ll install our Autolite two barrel carburetor with automatic choke onto the beautiful adaptor plate on the intake manifold.  Add our new 50,000 volt ignition and big exhaust headers and we’re ready to kick some ass.

 

(Janet:  “Pop and I have very different ways of showing overwhelming excitement.”)

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Carl’s Automotive Machine Shop

Carl’s Machine Shop opened in 1988 in Calvert City, KY.  It’s a small garage with an adjoining office that cranks out some big stuff.  Carl’s daughter, Carla, runs the shop with her husband Michael as the lead machinist.  The combined knowledge between the two of them is unbelievable.

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Carla and Micheal of Carl’s Automotive

Pop and I were literally talking about who to bring Mavis’s straight 6 to for some machining when we passed Carl’s.  Pulling in I was already nervous about how “Carl” would react to being asked about souping up a little 200.  “We only work on V8’s.” “No specialty jobs.” “Why would you waste time and money trying to build that thing up?”  Michael was working on a opposed 6 cylinder engine when we approached through the open garage door.  We explained our situation and what we were attempting to do and he lit up.  “I just finished a 3 carb set up on a 200 for a guy last week.” Hot damn. Michael was our man!

The real engine work is what really blows Pop’s skirt up.  He’ll let me clean bolt threads and wet sand all day, but when it comes to the mechanical shit, I’ve gotten my share of love shoves.

Love Shove: When Pop wants you to move, so he can basically take over what you are trying to do, he will use his body to ever so gently move you out of the way while his attention remains on what you are doing.  Next thing you know, he is now working on what you were working on and you’re not quite sure how it happened.

I (sort of) gave Pop free reign on the decision making around the engine and its performance.  First thing he did was purchase The Ford Falcon 6 Cylinder Performance Handbook by brothers David and Dennis Schjeldahl.  It contains about every thing humanly possible to do to get more power out of our little 200.

Then he and Michael co-conspired on how to spend as much of my money as possible.  Kidding, but really, they came up with a plan to punch up the power.  Here’s the skinny:

The weakest aspect of the little Ford 200 6 cylinder is the integral intake manifold.  In other words, the manifold is a part of the engine head casting.  Besides being set up only for a small, one barrel carburetor, castings can be rough, limiting, and obstruct a smooth air/fuel mixture.  To cure this problem, we had Michael install a two barrel carburetor adapter plate, increasing air intake from roughly 110 cfm’s to 240 cfm’s.  So now we can cram 240 cubic feet of air/fuel mixture per minute into the combustion chamber, doubling what we had before.  More air, more gas, more power!

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An example of Michael’s top notch machine work.

To get this increased mixture to the cylinders, we had Michael install oversized stainless steel valves with new stock springs and .060 shims.  According to old turbo 200ci Mustang racers, this should be good for 6000rpm without valve float.  (Valve float: When the valves do not follow the cam or ‘float’, they can actually run into the piston tops.)  This is more than enough, as I told Pop we’ll redline at 5K at the most.  He looked at me with a grin and said, “maybe.”

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We also had Michael add a 3 angle cut on the valves.

He ported the head, enlarging the intake and exhaust passages.  Michael also installed an exhaust port divider on the Siamese number 3 and 4 ports, which stops possible exhaust induction back into the engine at the exhaust port, making the outflow of the exhaust smoother.  There’s arguments for and against doing this.  Some say it adds 5 or so more horsepower, some say it doesn’t do a damn thing.  We’re betting on the horse power.

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Beautiful!

To finish the top end, we’re dumping the exhaust into oversized, stainless steel headers (BIG exhaust pipes).  These will be revealed at a later date.

On the bottom end, or the block, he bored the cylinders .060 of an inch over which cleans up any old scores and imperfections and will give us another few cubic inches. We installed flat-topped pistons, which will raise our compression ratio, adding more torque and power.  We turned the crankshaft .010 under on the rod and main bearing journals, again, cleaning up any imperfections or misalignment.  Our little inline 200ci 6 cylinder has 7 main bearings, making her virtually indestructible.  A 350ci GM V8, for example, has 5 main bearings.

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We’ll be running the stock camshaft, great low-end torque, with hydraulic lifters and adjustable 1.6 to 1 ratio rocker arms.  Stock rocker arms are 1.5 to 1 ratio.  1.6 gives us approximately .034in increased valve opening.

Soon to come, electronic ignition for the big spark we need and a Autolite/Holly 2V carburetor (also known as a 2 barrel).

Pop says, “We’re hoping to pull 200 horse power out of this little girl.” The stock rating was 91.  Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into?

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Carl’s Automotive Machine Shop

To close, I must extend a very big thank you to Michael, Carla and the team at Carl’s Automotive.  Once we got the engine home for the build out, Michael continued to be available to us for questions and advice.  Check out his Instagram account where he pulls in a couple thousand viewers by posting videos of machining crankshafts.  Good guy, good family, good peeps.

 

Is it Done Yet?

I don’t know that everyone who knows I’m rebuilding a car with my Pop realizes that I’m actually rebuilding a whole car.  Taking Mavis totally apart, cleaning, fixing or replacing every piece and reassembling her to be a greater version of her former self.  Yes, Mavis is taking some time.  My 48th birthday this past July marks two years since I came up with this wack-job of an idea.  But I’m ok with that.  In fact, here is a pic of me in my car, just enjoying the process, thinking about the damn good time I’ve had so far and how amazing the finished product will be.

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Patience is a virtue.

Actually, a lot has happened in the last two visits down to good ol’ Eddyville, KY.  Best way to describe the progress would be to say that once we put the tires back on Mavis, she’s rolling.  Now, she has no engine or seats to speak of, but she has her back end up, front end together, brakes, steering and suspension.  Mavis and I could literally be pushed down a hill and I could steer us to safety and stop, sans injury.  This, in my book, is progress.

First things first, we (I) finished the scraping and sanding of the engine compartment.  With our previous welding reinforcements and patching we were ready for paint which was VERY EXCITING as it was my first time using the spray gun that Pop has spent months teaching himself.  A coat of Rustoleum, a couple coats of glossy black and we’re set to go.  We’re a good team, as Pop takes the ‘easy to reach’ areas and I lay on my back to get in the nooks and crannies.

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As you may recall, the brake situation stumped me and Pop for quite some time.  Went with the 9 inch drums in the back and took a chance ordering a disk brake kit for the front.  We knew going in that we had a spindle issue, that being that the 4 lug kit we wanted would only fit on ’65 Mustang spindles.  NOWHERE is there a front disk brake kit for a ’72 Maverick that we could find.  It was all about the bearings, inner and outer, not being the correct size for the spindles we currently had on Mavis.  We found a shop that at first we thought could machine down our spindles to meet the needs of this disc brake kit, but when that proved to be impossible we bit the bullet and ordered the ’65 Mustang spindles off eBay for $75 a piece.  Everything we read said they should work.  These things showed up while I was back in Denver and Pop said that they were the wimpiest looking set of spindles compared to the Mav’s.  But he also said that he’d never heard of old Mustang wheels just ‘breaking off the car’ and we’d probably be ok.

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Wimpy spindles…we can only hope we’ll be ok.

By being smaller, the spindles allowed the steering wheel to turn way too far to the left and the right, resulting in the soon-to-be installed tires rubbing on the soon-to-be installed fenders and that wouldn’t do.  So, as we tend to do, Pop and I came up with an ingenious little adaptation by adding an extra piece of metal rod to the stop on the spindle arm.

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Gosh, hope it holds.

We shaved down both sides of the two rods to a flat surface and had our buddy Curt weld the shit out of it.  It’s not pretty, but it will do the job.

Before installing the brakes we had to get the suspension in place.  This part of the project was a test of both of our coping skills.  Attempting to squeeze a massive metal coil down enough to fit in a small compartment and then releasing the insane amount of pressure on that coil so that it sits correctly in that compartment without crushing your finger off is quite the challenge.  No fingers were lost, but I do seem to remember at one point the car shifting on its stands, me leaning against it to keep it upright while screaming, “Pop! Put her down!!!!!”  Not one of our better moments, nor decisions, but the good news is we got the fucker in…both sides.

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Brakes went in pretty easily, as Pop had already done one side to ensure that they would actually work with our dinky spindles.  Because we went with drums in the back and discs in the front, we did need to install a proportioning valve to ensure the pressure to the back and front brakes was correct.  Pop and I installed the master cylinder (came new with our disc brakes,) connected the lines, put the discs on, bled the system and voila, we got brakes!

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Golf tees to stop the flow ’til we’re fully connected.

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We found the smallest can possible to catch brake fluid in.

Next up, wheels refinished and on, then tires.  See?  We’ll be rolling down a hill in no time!

I’ll leave you with yet another of my video creations.  On a visit to Curt’s, we were dazzled with a display of his new toy.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Bitchin’ Camaro

Beth was the proud president of the Asshole Driver’s Club, but it wasn’t because she was an asshole, she really wasn’t.  She just didn’t pay attention as well as some when behind the wheel.  She paid attention to everything else; you, the conversation, the music, the journey, the destination.  She was the one who turned at the last second, sans signal.  Crossed three lanes of traffic to exit.  Swerved from one lane into the other while fully turning around to laugh with someone in the back seat.  Driving with Beth was a harrowing, sometimes terrifying experience.

In high school, Beth drove her step-dad Bob’s old light blue Camaro.  I had known that car from my youth.  When we were kids, Bob and Kate in the front seat and Beth and I in the back, some teenager in a Jeep tagged us hard from behind at a red light.  The kid came up to the driver’s side window to tell Mr. Cieslak that he had hit him.  Bob responded the only way one could in such a situation.  He said, “no shit.”

By the time the Camaro was passed down to Beth, it had been given the title of Bitchin’ Camaro (thank you, Dead Milkmen) and had seen better days.  Still, we would park it across two spaces in the high school lot out of respect for its history and because we thought it was hilarious.  Once, when I was (not supposed to be) driving it, Beth was in the passenger seat with her feet up, flat against the windshield.  I took a left into the 7/11 and pop!, the windshield cracked from side to side.  Then there is the epic story of Beth somehow hooking her front fender over someone’s back fender in a movie theater parking lot.  It took about 5 of the high school jocks to lift the entire front end of the Camaro to free it.  I don’t remember the details, but I would bet anything Beth left a note, because she truly wasn’t an asshole.

She was a sweet heart.  She was hilarious, and brilliant and loving and my best friend since 1977.  Beth passed away earlier this year and I still can’t wrap my head around it.  I’ve been down to work on Mavis twice since she died but writing about that before acknowledging her death didn’t feel right.  She and my girls, Michele, Lisa and Darice, were the first I told about my Mavis mission and they were yelling ‘yes’ even before I finished explaining the idea.  Beth would write or call me after each blog post, telling me how hard she laughed, or cried, always telling me how proud she was that I was tackling this crazy feat.  The last time I heard her voice was on the phone while she sat in her basement digging up old pictures of us for my last post, Titties, Trauma and Transmission.  Another of the long list of memories we created over our 40-year friendship.

Driving to work at the end of this past January I was overcome with a feeling of dread deep in my heart.  The tears came so fast, blurring the road and forcing me to turn back home.  I made it into the house and weak kneed, supporting myself against the kitchen counter, I sobbed.  I said out loud to no one, “something’s not right.”  And it wasn’t.  Beth would die that night.

So, I’ve been struggling and don’t know if, or when, that will ever end.  But I do know that Beth would want me to continue this journey.  Bringing Mavis back to life, accomplishing something new, sharing time with people I love.  We’ve always been a bit cosmically connected.  She’ll know, she’ll watch as I reach my goal.  Then I’ll take a long ride, play ABBA real loud and try not to drive like an asshole.  Love you Bether.

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Titties, Trauma and Manual Transmission

I daydream a lot about driving Mavis.  She looks kick-ass, I look even better.  I feel amazing, windows down, engine gurgling and popping, paint flecks shimmering in the sun.  Sitting at a red I don’t even notice getting checked out because I’m so into my machine.  Then, I put her in gear and coming off the line it happens.  I stall.

Heart beats, hands sweat, try again and…stall.  This time hard, so my head jerks forward then kicks back against the headrest.  It’s ok, I’m cool, shit happens.  One more time and – NOPE!  Mavis lurches forward about a foot before the tires screech to a stop.  If anyone wasn’t already witnessing this wonder behind the wheel, they are now.

I’ve never owned a stick shift, but I can drive one if I had to.  I used to drive an old boyfriend’s Suzuki Sidekick to college in Chicago and I don’t remember having any issues with that other than almost rolling it when someone cut me off on I-90.  I love the Maverick’s three speed transmission and Pop and I are keeping it for sure.  Before we broke her down I drove her and didn’t do too bad.  So, where do these imagined ego-busting scenarios come from?  I’ll tell you exactly where.  Torrance, California, 1988.

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D, Jenni, me and Shelms.

My girls and I are 17 and 18 years old and staying in one bedroom of Jenni’s grandma’s house.  We’re about four blocks from the ocean and it couldn’t be more perfect.  Basically no supervision, spending all day at the beach, cool water, warm air, boys blonde and tan.  Bonus was that Grandma let us use her VW Rabbit that she didn’t drive.  Bummer was that no one had driven it in what looked like 20 years and it was in shit shape.  May have even seen fire at some point as the plastic on the steering wheel was melted off its metal frame.  But we were Midwestern teens in California and we had wheels.  Life was good.

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Our wheels.

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Dirty seats, frayed seat belts, melted steering wheel…perfect.

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Torrance, CA – 1988 – Jenni, me and Bether.

We drove that car to Santa Barbara on a side trip to see Beth’s cousins Chris and Andrew (blond and tan).  We went to parties with belly dancers and hung at the beach.  I remember thinking I could almost pull the California girl thing off but for the time I got whomped upside the head so hard by a wave that it slammed me onto the ocean floor.  I got up, acting all cool while I found my bikini top and trotted back to the beach like I hadn’t just recieved a jet-powered saltwater enema.

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At least we weren’t as bad off as this guy.  At this point, wouldn’t you just forgo the sheet?

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“If we hide our booze in a dirty sock…no one will know we’re drinking, underage, while driving.”

Back in Torrance, to get home from the beach we had to drive up a super steep hill every day.  That one day, that one time, we stalled halfway up and could NOT get this car into gear.  We laughed and laughed as we inched backwards down the hill every time Jenni tried to move that little car filled with our five sweaty, Hawaiian Tropic soaked bodies.  This got even more HIGH-larious when a car full of guys pulled up behind us, honking and teasing.  Our giddy teenaged ‘panicking’ rose to new levels.  “Come ON Jenni!  Oh my God, oh my God, they’re right behind us!  Don’t hit them!!  Tee tee hee, hahaha!!!”

Then a third car rounded the corner at the bottom of the hill going fast and BAM, slammed into the back of the guys car.  Within seconds after impact the girlfriend of the man driving is out of the car, heading up the hill, screaming in Spanish and swearing worse than I do.  She gets the quick gist of what is going down and comes at us, blaming us for the crash.  One of the guys has now moved our car to the side of the road and we’re pouring out of it.  This chic is coked up or something because she is LOSING HER SHIT, pointing at each of us individually while yelling, “Rush me, bitch!”  Her boyfriend is behind her trying to hold her back with his arms wrapped around her waist and her tit keeps popping out of her tube top.  She’d pull it up and the other one would pop out, then both titties.  She was like a wild dog, she didn’t give a crap.

While this is all happening, Shelma is cracking jokes and the other girls are laughing their asses off, but I’m HORRIFIED.  I do not like conflict, I do not like to fight, I’m afraid of this woman and at the same time can’t stop thinking about how dark her nipples were.  Eventually the cops were called, things calmed down, and we were deemed ‘not guilty’.  Then the guys invited us to a party.

That, my friends, is where my irrational fear of manual transmissions comes from.  I act tough sometimes, but I’m soft.  The girls went out that night, but no, I did not go to that fucking party.  I was too afraid the crazy titty chic would show up and try to rush me.

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Ah, to be young again.  I could never land this now, although I don’t believe I did then.

 

Get Your Rear end Up!

Mavis has her rear end up, almost.  It’s so great to be able to start putting parts and pieces back on the car rather than taking them off.  So when I say ‘rear end’ I’m referring to the gas tank, back axles, differential, leaf springs, shocks, drum brakes and parking brake.  We also got the brake lines and gas line connected.  This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but here is the finished product of a shit ton of work.

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First thing up was the gas tank.  Those two long bolts can be shortened, but all that is covered by the back bumper eventually.  We also got the front of the leaf springs up and they lay in waiting for the differential assembly.

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We ended up keeping our original axles, but bought new bearings and had to get those pressed on.  Curt to the rescue!  We went over to his garage where he cut the old ones off (the ONLY way to get them off) and used his 40 ton press to press the new ones on.  He did the first one and let me do the second.  This machine is quite intimidating, you can crush things in it!  On approach, it looked like an industrial guillotine.

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Curt showed me how to place the axle with the new bearing. Here’s how it looks all ready to be pressed.

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Of course, me being who I am, decide I was going to be concerned that with all the pressure, the bearing may go on crooked.  I find things to be worried about, you see.  Here I’ve never done this myself nor seen it done and I’m telling a long-time veteran mechanic not to “put it on crooked”.  So, I deserved this.  Perhaps that’s why Curt wouldn’t accept any money for his work, because giving me shit was more satisfying.

 

Bearings, pressed and ready.

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Back at Woody’s Garage we carried on.  Backing plate on, axles inserted, brake cylinder attached and brake lines in.

 

Pop says, “We’re a fucking machine shop!”  As much as you can call cutting screws shorter and rethreading them ‘machining’ things.  But we did have to come up with a solution to a brake line issue we had.  The main line was still in good shape (the line that brings the brake fluid from the master cylinder in the front of the car back to the axle.)  Where that line splits into two, we had to order.  Miraculously they fit, but for just a few modifications we made with a tube bender.  What didn’t fit were the fittings that connect them to the junction block where they split off.  BUT – the ones that were on the $100 piece of metal (the unusable axle we bought from Mustang Marty Miller) did.  Yes!  One less trip to the parts store!  We cut off just the tip of the ends, replaced the fittings and reflared the tubing.

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To do this, we had to use a special flare tool.  I don’t understand how Pop continues to come up with a tool for EVERYTHING.  We’ll run into a problem or a need for something very specific and his eyes get all big and his mouth says, “ooh” without any sound.  He puts his gorilla finger up in a ‘wait a minute’ sort of way and says, “I have just the thing.”  Then he rummages through the garage and comes back with the perfect tool to get the job done.  I think he’s jacked to be able to use what 60 years of tool gathering gets you.  It is pretty awesome.

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Flare tool, happy to be used.

Next up, getting the differential housing attached to the springs, the back end of the springs up and add shocks.  So here’s a big admission.  I didn’t know that the axle sits on the leaf springs.  I can’t say I knew how it was attached to the car at all.  I can’t even say I pondered this at any point during this project so far.  So when that concept clicked in my mind and I had that Aha! moment, Pop just looked at me and said, “How did you think it connected to the car? Did this not occur to you when we disassemble it?”  Again, I hadn’t really thought about it.  I was like, “What’ev.”

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We used the jack to hold the axle in place while we set it on the springs, secured the axle on the springs with u-bolts then raised the back of them and connected.  Who knew?!

Next, shocks.  One of the parts that must be bought new because they lose their gas and their ability to dampen motion, or in my terms, their ‘puffiness’.  Quick trip to O’Reilly and boom, new shocks.  It’s always exciting to get a new part…here’s me coddling $60 worth of shocks on the way home.

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One of the final steps was getting the brakes assembled. These are the second set of drum brakes I’ve done, as we had to put the Firebird’s back together to get it on its wheels and out of the garage at the very beginning of this project.  Still though, Pop and I had to dodge a couple errant springs.  We have the tool for getting them on, but not off.  So we work together with a screwdriver and pliers and wait to see who’s going to lose an eye.

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Although this all sounds like a lot of work, and it was, we still had time to fart around a bit.  Curt put Lil’ Big Rig up for auction so we went to that and watched him say goodbye to his baby.  We also took the opportunity to get under any 60’s Ford we saw to check out the parking brake system (which we also finished on Mavis.)  So everyone is walking around looking at these beautiful cars and Pop and I are like this most the time…

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Curt got close to what he wanted for Lil’ and it was the star of the show as it’s quite the site.  All chromed up and shiny.  Pop kept saying that someone should buy it to pull their 5th wheel camper with but I think it looks more like something a Country Santa with a cowboy hat would ride down Main Street in a Christmas Parade.  Well, we all felt for Curt as he had a lot of hours and TLC into that truck.  Couldn’t have been easy to see it go…but then he texted Pop a pic of a 1932 Ford Victoria kit he bought the day after.  Curt’s moved on.

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Lil’ Big Rig

Momma, Pop and I also went to a car show in Somerset, KY where I got to meet Tony, the fine gentleman who donated a hood latch to our cause when he and Pop met at the Maverick/Comet gathering last summer.  What a great guy.  He asked me what it was about the Maverick that made me choose it for the project.  When I said that I just loved the shape of it, that it is a beautifully balanced little car, I think he teared up before hugging me.  Tony was at the show with Lemonade, his beautiful, supercharged 302 Mav, which Pop says is a ‘truly dangerous vehicle’ (in a good way.)  Afterward we followed him back to his garage where he literally, has Mavericks STACKED.

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So, great last trip.  Lot’s of work, lot’s of fun and now the holidays hit. Next up on Pop my Ride, Mavis’s front end, disc brakes and more adventures.