Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mini truckin'

    All right! I finally got a decent project, and I am so excited to get to work! The project? Don't laugh at me, it's not funny OK?! A 1985 GMC S15 regular cab, short box, two wheel drive. Why? Well why the heck not?! Here's how I got it
    So, over Christmas break, I offered to work full time at the boat shop. My boss came back from his holiday fun with a new ride, my pickup. He got it from his in-laws. It had a running problem, he thought either the head was cracked or the head gasket was toast. After doing a little diagnoses I found out the intake gasket was garbage, and needed replaced. It had allowed antifreeze to leak into the oil, the engine kept over heating, and it ran like crap. He asked me if I could work on it, he thought it would be useful around the shop or something, if it didn't get fixed or if it cost him too much he was just going to take off the box and use it as a trailer, junk the rest. I wasn't going to let that happen, I mean, it was one of the best looking first gen S series I'd ever seen. Rust? Hardly any. Dents? Nothing a little work can't fix. He started complaining about how the project was using up my time that I could be using working on other projects. At that very point I offered him $750 for it, and he took it right there and then.
     You see, my boss is pretty damn cool, and didn't have a problem with me working on it after hours and on the weekends. So, I jumped right in. I replaced the intake gasket, which was a pain in the ass. GM decided it would be a brilliant idea to run the pushrods THROUGH the gasket, meaning I had to take all of those out and re-seat them, along with re-torquing the rocker arms, all just to change the gasket. The distributor was also a fighter, and took a good hour of pulling and grunting to remove. Threw it all back together, reset the timing, and now it's running pretty well, just a wee bit rich.

    Now for my evil master plan. The goal, a V8 powered, 5 speed, street beast. I'm going to a swap meet Sunday with my dad, hopefully to pick up a rear end. What I need is a Ford 8.8, what they used in the fox body Mustangs, Rangers, and Explorers.  The 8.8 is basically a twin to the Chevy 12 bolt, but isn't as wide, which is why I'm using it. I'll need to upgrade it to a 31 spline axle though, which means upgrading the differential too, I'm planning a limited slip. This will all be around $900.
    The transmission will be a T-5 5 speed. The problem with the T-5 is finding a good used one, as most of them are just abused leftovers of some dumb teenage kid having too much fun in his V6 F body. The rebuild kits are pretty cheap, but those don't help out any with the gears, which will probably need replaced. Lord knows how much that would cost. The truck is an automatic, so I'll have to cut a hole in the floor, but that shouldn't be a big deal.
    Now for the engine. I'm planning for a 5.3 Chevy truck engine. They've kind of become the 350 of the modern world. I know what your thinking, why not just go with the LS1? Well, because a 5.3 is about $2000 cheaper, that's why. The 5.3 is also an iron block, making it a lot tougher than it's aluminum brother.  The swap is a pretty popular one for these trucks, there's a company that makes a kit which comes with mounts and new headers which allow the steering shaft to clear. They also make an oil pan that is 100% necessary, because the stock pan won't clear. I'll be carbing the engine. My instructor just finished a '78 Malibu project that he put a 6.0 in, carbureted with a turbo. He let me know that I'll probably make more power with a carb, so that's my plan, a Holley 650 cfm. The stock heads will get a CNC porting treatment, a mild cam should help me add a little more power, possibly along with forged pistons.
    I'd love to get this thing into the mid to low 12s. That might seem like a lofty goal, but you need to remember this thing weighs about 3 paper clips more than a wet chihuahua. My biggest problem will be hooking up, as there is almost no weight over the rear tires(obviously) I hope to have an update after this weekend. See you then.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday-Cars I covet

     So, most people have dreams cars. A certain vehicle that they've wanted for a long time, be it a high performance sports car, an expensive SUV, or maybe an old muscle car. But these vehicles are extremely out of reach on a typical middle class budget, hence the car's "dream car" status. I have dream cars, sure, but what I have more of are cars I covet, which are typicaly cars I could afford, but cannot justify owning one.
      The 70's were not good to the automotive world. Well, I mean if you're into low riders and stuff I suppose they were OK. But lets face it, all these American land yachts were missing was a wooden deck, a couple of girls in bikini's, and some dude with excessive chest hair peaking out over their V-collar shirt. OK, some of them might have had that last part...classy. This makes my choice for this edition of Car I Covet a strange one. My pick? The 1974 Chevy Malibu. I know what you're thinking, "Like, lolz! Where's you're mullet, bro?!" Well, I don't have a mullet, what I do have is a very creative mind set. What do you see below?
      If you answered "A stock photo of a 1974 Malibu with a very 70's-esque model standing behind it, smiling, and pretending she's interested" you would be correct, and are awarded a free, expired, half off meal ticket from Burger King (no, really, I have them) But what do I see? The perfect blank canvas for a cool as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow street sweeper. Can't see it? look below.
    I know, right? You want that, stop denying it. No, seriously, stop. You have to at least give it credit, if you saw this thing at your local cruise night you'd you'd probably need someone to pick your jaw up from the ground. Now, these things are cheap, mostly because they're, for obvious reasons, undesirable. They're also cheap because they're 70's steel, meaning they're becoming part of the earth they came from. Finding one that hasn't been abused, parked under a tree, and never taken out on a date since the original Star Wars? About as possible as convincing the world that Tom Cruise is normal. However, the upgrade options for something like this are endless. Oh, you'd like a modern LS engine transplant? Easy as pie. A classic, carbureted 454 you say? Why not? You want a tiger to power you're Malibu? Congratulations, after we bag one, you will officially have the first car in history with one tiger power. The interior space? Are you talking about the ballroom with seats and a steering wheel or the trunk that doubles as a full basement? There's a good reason this was a mobster's car of choice(Because of comfort, I don't know what you were thinking.)
      What I'm saying is, these things are pretty cool, if I had the time I'd gladly buy and restore one, but I don't so I won't. But I should. But I can't. Bummer. Anyways, see you next Tuesday, here's a teaser...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two Italin wheels baby

     Imagine, the world passing you buy at 60 miles an hour, pavement so close you could almost reach out and touch it, and the open air blowing at you shirt and jeans, attempting to rip you off the seat and handle bars you desperately cling to. This is something I've been aching to experience for the last 3 years. But, because of my loyalty to my parents, I wasn't able to buy a motorcycle while I lived under their roof. Well, their roof is no longer over my head, instead one I pay for hangs above me, and this spring, May 26th to be exact, is when I intend to bring this dream to life.

     I've had chances before, in fact, had I not made one phone call to my Uncle Kenny, the only person in my family that owns a bike, the day I was standing in Harley Davidson Central, I probably would have one right now. One bike I've had my eyes on since they debuted was the Harley Davidson Sportster Iron. It's the smallest in the company at 883cc's, and also the cheapest, but those two factors don't make it look less gorgeous, and it still sounds like a Harley to boot.
    However my want for an Iron 883 has been overshadowed by another bike, one that has been on my mind since day one of my two wheel fueled craze, it's the bike that started it all for me, the Ducati Monster. Where did my desire for a piece of Italian mechanical art come from? Well, it isn't a where, but a who. His story, it isn't mine to tell, but to me, he was the coolest person I have ever met on this planet. He had a Monster, the first real motorcycle I ever set eyes on. It wasn't just any Monster either, if my memory serves me right, it was an S4R, the fastest production model of the time, I remember him saying those words "It's the fastest one they make." It was beautiful, black with a white stripe. The trellis frame, the perfectly formed gas tank, artwork in modern, mechanized form.
     The only word that could come to my wee, highschool brain was "DAMN" That was a few years ago, but that bike has held a special place in the back of my mind since.
       It was a nice Spring day in Lincoln, riding season. Multiple motorcycles of all kinds were parked out front of Star City, their owners chatting up the salesmen inside. And there is sat, a white, 2009 Ducati Monster 696, my dream bike, leaning in the nude on it's steel kickstand. I looked around, grabbed the right grip, and took a seat. A salesman instantly approached and said "what do you think?" "It's so comfortable" I said. And man was it. The tank and the seat fit me perfectly, as if they were made just for me. "How much is it?" I asked. "Uh, let me check, we're selling it for some's $7,500." I could hear the bike whispering, "please, take me home with you, I'll be a good little bike, I promise" But I wasn't ready, not yet, it would have been a spur of the moment purchase, something I wouldn't have enough time to think about. "You know what?" I said "I really, really want one of these. But I need some time to think about it, but I tell you what, I'll come back when I'm ready, and hopefully you guys will have another Monster by then" 
         Almost a year has past since that day, and I've had plenty of time to think about it. It's no longer a dream, but a reality. I'm saving all the money I can for a down payment on one of two bikes, the 696, or its bigger twin brother the 796, all dependent on cost, as the 796 is about $1,000 more. May 26th is my brother-in-laws birthday, it's also my deadline, the Saturday before my 21st birthday. By then, I must have the money to place a down payment on either bike, it's not some silly little goal that will fade with time, it's a real opportunity to experience true moving freedom. I will have one of these two bikes the weekend before my birthday, a gift to me, the proud new owner of a Ducati Monster.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The dying times of the automobile

    So, recently I was ogling A 1968 Dodge Dart Super Stock, and it made me realize something: Today's cars have absolutely no character. In the 60's, you could order a car WITHOUT air conditioning, stereo, CARPET, or paint. Yes, that's right, people would pay not to have these things. Today, if you even mentioned to somebody that a car came from the factory without air conditioning that person would have you burned at the stake so the entire village could watch. Man, back then, it wasn't necessarily about comfort, it wasn't always about looks, it was about being the coolest, fastest, and mechanically best street beast you're job would allow. Back then, every guy was his own mechanic, now some kids have no clue even how to change their oil. People were proud of their cars back then, now it's just something to get you from A to B. It's sickening.                           

     Quality has gone down the drain as well. It only takes a couple of glances to realize just how much plastic is on the OUTSIDE of my current daily driver. Stuff didn't break back then unless you really pushed your luck, my Blazer is on its third fuel pump in 120,000 miles. But what can I do about it? Bitch and moan, that's what. I can also focus my interest onto stuff with quality, meaning old bikes and cars. Hell, even the 1985 S15 truck I bought recently has better quality than my 2000, just some questionable power issues, but more on that later. I just wish that technology would stop being such a staple in the current automotive realm, and I wish the typical man would pull his head out of his ass and start being mechanically inclined, that would probably help. Well that's my rant, peace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday-Cars I covet


       So, most people have dreams cars. A certain vehicle that they've wanted for a long time, be it a high performance sports car, an expensive SUV, or maybe an old muscle car. But these vehicles are extremely out of reach on a typical middle class budget, hence the car's "dream car" status.
       I have dream cars, sure, but what I have more of are cars I covet, which are typicaly cars I could afford, but cannot justify owning one. Today, the car I covet, is a BMW M3. Now, the 3 series has been around since 1975, The "M" is the cars performance version. These cars are equipped with a high performance V6. I know what you're thinking, "An American, wanting a V6?" People tend to forget that V6's from Europe are completely different animals from those in America, where the V6 is known as "standard equipment." Other performance upgrades were stiffer suspension and better brakes. But this isn't why I want a BMW M3.
       Lets be honest here, the 4th generation M3 is quite possibly one of the best looking sports coupes of all time. It isn't brash, it doesn't hurt your eyes if you stare at it too long, and honestly, in lower options listings, the 3 series just looks kind of "meh". So when a buyer checked the box for the "M" upgrades, its mind blowing that a new set of wheels, some ground effects, and a pretty interior could take that "meh" and turn it into "mehhhnnnn I wish I had a better paying job". The subtlety of this car, for some reason it just oozes class.
     But the saddest part of this story is that I cannot afford a 4th generation M3. This is a man realizing he cannot afford even an old BMW. However,  I do not fret, because I CAN afford a 3rd generation M3. Sure, the 3rd gens are going to be a little out of date. Sure, they might not be as quick. But the third generation 3 series was the stepping stone for what is, in my mind, one of the best looking BMW's ever, the 4th generation 3 series. But lets not downplay the 3rd generation either. They may not be quite as good looking as the 4th gens, but you can't blame the 3rd gens, they grew up in the 90's. Yet, they still maintain that mostly subtle look, they still keep that "I'm a lot faster than you think I am" mentality. Let's face it, every man, no matter how much he denies it, wishes he had a sleeper. A car no one would see coming, until it was too late. The 3rd generation M3? Well it's just fine by me, it gets the job done, it still looks good, and at the end of the day, it's still a BMW.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A 2001 Trans Am WS6

                I remember it perfectly, it was sixth grade. I heard General Motors had decided to give the F-body(Camaro, Firebird) the axe. A cold, jagged knife through the heart of a young, impressionable 12 year old. The Pontiac Trans Am, my very first dream car, dead at 35. You see, sixth graders have priorities, and at the top of that list is the answer to the question " How will I impress all the kids at highschool when I get my license?" Well, it was my top priority anyway, And the answer to that question was, of course, A pitch black Trans Am. Well, I am 20 years old now, and I still don't own that car. However, I have driven THE car. It was a black, 2001 WS6, six speed. It might as well have begged me to get the keys. Now I'd never driven a car with a short throw before, but the salesman at the dealership didn't really notice, he was too busy listening to the symphany of the factory exhaust. I knew it was the right car for me, I drove it maybe ten miles, and for the first five my hands were twitching, my heart pounding, and my smile stretched ear to ear. It was that sound, that awful, terrible, amazing sound. It was as if God's very own pet lion was trying to escape the engine compartment. And the kick of acceleration, holy expletive. 1st and 2nd gear will take your eyes, suck them out of their sockets, and blow 'em out your ears. The chirping of those tires, I know, I know, I definetly looked like a musclehead with a serious need for over compensation, but my God it was SO much fun. But, at $16,000, there was no way my 18 year old self could afford it, let alone the insurance. I parked the live, evil incarnation of my greatest dreams, and walked away. With one last glance over my shoulder, I opened the door to my Blazer, slammed it shut, and peeled away. That car was gone a week later, I died a little inside.

           I have no doubt, sooner or later, I will own this car. Sure, they might not be that fast anymore, and sure, they may be 10 years old. But nothing will ever replace that feeling. When all the hair on my body stood on end, my eyes opened wide, and that car became part of my soul. It's up to me to go reclaim that bit of my soul stuck to that steering wheel. I won't let it slip away.


So, I've noticed something. If I have a problem, or just something on my mind, I can write about it and it will disappear. Well the stress does, usually. Granted I don't have much to be stressed about. I am a 20 year old college student, attending school for automotive technology. I've already received a degree in paint and body. What is this blog going to be about? Well, cars, of course. But not just cars, it'll be about what I usually want to rant/ write about. I'm not so good at introducing myself, so If you don't mind I'm going to jump right into this, with my next post.