Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

It's another wild night over here at 514. We were going to head down the mountain for an early dinner but it's in the negatives and it just felt better to stay inside as much as possible. We ended up with about 6" of snow from this storm. I was outside a bit to shovel the driveway and steps and I also worked on my car and cleaned the garage a bit but eventually I found my way back to the couch and under a warm blanky. Tonight we watched a horrible movie and now I'm watching videos from last year's 100 Acre Wood Rally back in Missouri. It's been a while since I've been to that race and it looks like I'm going this year with some fellow gearheads. Want to wish all our friends and family a happy and safe new year. We miss and love you all and hope to see you soon.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm not a fan

of anti-lock brakes. So here's what I came up with. The fuse that controls the ABS unit is a that 20 amp mini fuse in the middle. I've seen guys tackle this job different ways but my idea was to use spade connectors in place of the fuse. The connector on the left was my first attempt. If you look closely you can see that the connectors are actually 2 pieces of metal sandwiched together. The way I cut the first set eliminated one of those layers and made the connector fit really loosely in the fuse panel which was no good. So I ended up going with 2 of the connectors on the right. This way the height of the connector remained the same as the fuse.

This is the wiring kit I came up with. Radio Shack only had a 3 terminal rocker switch so I went with it anyway. The wire with the inline 20 amp mini fuse connects to the positive side of the rocker and the other one serves as the ground. Both wires head from the switch and back to the fuse panel where they get plugged in where the fuse used to live. With the rocker switch I can essentially turn on and off the ABS without having to manually pull the fuse.

This is how it ended up looking when all done. The fuse panel is directly behind that change drawer. A lot of guys complain about not being able to use that drawer again because the connectors stick out further from the fuse panel than the actual fuse. I opted to just cut out a section from the back of the drawer so that it could still be used. I'm a stickler for the details and would much rather have the drawer notched from behind than see the fuse panel and wires hanging out.

I did have a few headaches with this working properly. I won't go into what was happening because the only thing that's important is that I re-checked my wiring and found that I had the negative wire going to the wrong switch terminal. Things are fine now. The only minor issue is that the STI guys can actually switch between ABS and no ABS live with the rocker. When I start mine up, I have ABS working and no idiot light on the dash. When I flip the switch, I disable the system and get an idiot light on the dash. I can't just flip back and have ABS again unless I actually turn off the ignition again and then the system recognizes that it's been reset. I can live with this. If I actually turn off the ABS, I won't want it on again until I get where I'm going.

Now...the reason I did this is simple. Today when I was goofing around, there were times when I would left foot brake while still mashing the accelerator and the ABS would kick in. There are times when drivers want to lift off the fun pedal and tap the brakes hard for a second to initiate a transfer of weight to set up for a turn and ABS makes that quite difficult to do on both snow and gravel. Please understand that I am not out driving like an idiot on public roads. I always find a big and empty parking lot. This will also make the driving school that I plan on attending a bit easier as well.


Some weather was moving in when I got out of bed and the snow started at around noon I guess. I've been waiting for some snow so I could do some driving. The Winterforce tires are great. You gotta really try to slide around. I ended up at the high school parking lot so I could have some fun in a relatively safe spot where at least nobody else was around. Setting up some markers made a fun little rally cross kinda course where I could practice shifting the weight of the car around to induce slides while trying to avoid carnage. The ABS still bothers me but it's only when there's ice or I really stand on the pedal. I've got a fix for that though.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hair is a funny thing

Those that know me know that I am a pretty clean guy. One of the things that I don't like is hair. I'm not sure where this came from but there's no fighting it. Cycling is probably a great sport for me b/c I can get by with the whole leg shaving thing with only minor heckling. I don't really care for arm hair but that's a lotta work. Thankfully I do not have a hairy back as that would drive me insane trying to reach back there. Anyway...I would love to have a thick head of hair but it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe that's where the bitterness towards hair originates from. Because I have pretty much accepted the fact that I will never have lustrous golden locks, I cut what is left up top every few days. I use a standard trimmer with no guard. About once each week I maintain the nose and ear hairs. As I've gotten older I've noticed that I have to hit these areas a bit more frequently. Tonight I found myself staring into the mirror wondering what I might look like if genetics had been different. I happened to notice something blond glimmering in the light towards my left ear. I leaned in to investigate. Below is a hair that I plucked from just inside the ear. I have laid it on the mouse pad so it shows up nicely and also placed my Nano nearby for scale. This is what it's come to. I can't grow hair up top without it looking like I'm clinging to what was once a great society of hair but I gotta cut the hair coming from the ears. Getting old sucks.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Yesterday morning I typed something while having coffee. It's something that's been in my head for a while now but sometimes things look differently when they're in print ya know? More official? I don't know. It had to do with personal goals that I want to see happen this year. I'm not going to go into WHAT I typed but I will say that when I read it, I realized the magnitude of it. I am not one that looks at things lightly. If I'm gonna do a major repair on a vehicle or whatever, I research it with an open mind, then step back and evaluate what I've come up with. Sometimes I say, "Oh that's not gonna be bad." Other times I say, "This is going to be really hard and probably harder than I think." Then I make a decision.

One of the things that special education teachers do is write an annual education plan for each student on their caseload. Part of that plan entails goals that the student will strive to meet (with my help) over the course of the next 12 months so that, maybe, they can get out of special education. This particular student needs to close his gap in reading and reading comprehension. It's the same damn thing. I step back, look at him, what's on his plate, his attitude, his teachers, supports at home...tons of variables and then I come up with something. So and so will improve his/her independent reading to that of 7th grade material. The jump that I settled on for this particular student was right at 2 years growth. I was told (by whom it's not important) that this was an unrealistic goal. That pisses me off. Don't you dare tell me what's realistic and what's not when it's my student that I work with. I've seen hungry students improve by 3 levels in a year. It's rare but...I've seen it. Same thing goes when we talk about post high school careers. I am not a dream crusher and I'll be damned if I'm gonna tell a 9th grader that he/she can't be an architect. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't say, "You's gonna be tough to be a successful architect if you don't like to draw and constantly lose your materials." That's ok. For me, I might as well just laugh and point instead of saying "You can't".

Back on point. Heather read what I had typed and I believe her first response was, "Wow." We talked about it. It's not gonna be easy at all. I've seen stranger things happen. It's gonna take a ton of dedication, discipline, and probably more importantly, an unbelievable amount of mental toughness/desire. I think I can do it. I stared at the sentence I typed for several hours before closing the laptop and heading to the gym. It really wasn't a joke.


Years ago when the iPod first came out and Heather said she wanted one, I poked fun at her. I don't know what I said but I think I thought it was a joke or unnecessary. Whatever. We used hers in the car and, while it was pretty nifty, I didn't think I needed one. That all changed one day when I asked her if I could borrow hers for a long day on the river chasing trout. It was amazing. I had my entire music collection with me. I could delicately present dry flies with something soothing playing in my ear. When the sun went down, I changed over to a big ugly streamer and, with those, it's perfectly ok to be violent when casting and then I could listen to something harder while muscling that ugly, water logged fly through the air and then stripping it back to me. I even took a long nap in the grass with it on.

I ended up buying my own that night. It's gotta be going on 6 years old now. It's taken a beating and it's starting to have problems. Heather got me a Nano for gift this year. This thing is amazing. It's tiny. It holds 16 gigs of music but that's plenty. I never brought my iPod on the CTR. I use it a ton during training but was always trying to trim weight where I could. Music is going to be a big reward for me this year though and this will be perfect. I can even store pics off Heather and the pups on it. I used it yesterday when I was in the gym. I'm amazed at some of the technology that we have.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Bodhi and Dharma did pretty well in the gift department. This was taken just after they went through their stockings. They were both crammed with treats and Bodhi even got a glow in the dark ball. He loves him some fetch.

Bodhi kinda took control of opening up this present which was actually for both of them.

It was a big rope toy for them to play tug o war with. Bodhi was pretty excited about it and promptly took off with it and Dharma decided to not give chase and buy into his tricks.

Instead, she decided to commence with the fashion show.

Eventually she gave up on the bow and settled for a new scarf. She looks incredible.

Santa brought me several packages of Skittles and some Paydays, my favorite orange Tic Tacs, new boxers (what's Christmas without some new underwear...more on this in a minute), a book, an iPod Nano, and some mud flaps. Santa brought Heather some Sheepskin slippers, a watch, some PJ's (not those kinda PJ's....nothing racey and no I'm not posting pics you sick bass turds), and a nice blanket b/c she's always cold.

Back to the undies. I guess when I was about 19 or 20 (it was the first Christmas that I finally said to hell with going to either of my parents house) is the first time I met a very special lady. I was working at the Touring Cyclist at the time and that's when I started hanging out with the Corbitt boys. Their mother insisted that I come over for Christmas and, with not much notice at all, she made sure that I had something to open. Socks and underwear. She was actually going through chemotherapy at the time and when I met her she was bald but wore a multi-colored clown wig. I thought of that woman as my mother and, even though I'm closest with Adam and Dave, I think of all the siblings as my brothers and sisters and often refer to them that way. That family fed me when I was hungry. Put clothes on my back (and ass) and even gave me a bed to sleep in for quite a while. Her and Mr. Corbitt (a chaplain) put up with a TON of shit from us as we were pretty wild. For no reason at all. Mommy 12 would lose her battle with cancer a few years later after a tough fight. Rest in peace Mommy. I still think of you and the lessons you taught me.
Today I played around a little bit in the garage and got my new Rally Armor mud flaps installed. I'm glad I ponied up the extra coin to get these instead of the cheaper ones I was considering. These replace the stock flaps and provide a lot more coverage and look the beez kneez. They're gonna be great once Heather and I start touring the club rally scene. I didn't take any pics of the install cuz it really wasn't that exciting. Just imagine several broken OEM bolts and even some time spent drilling through one particularly stubborn one to install the new stainless hardwear. The front flaps are held on with 4 bolts and the rears are secured by 3. On the rears, there's a bit of difference between where the flap sits and the wheel well liner (the liner is actually a bit lower) and this creates a bit of space between the 2. RA provides some really nice spacers to take up for that and make the final assembly pretty damn burly. I could probably use these as a tow point. Can't wait to have rocks bounce off them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ooooh La La

I think one of the reasons I feel so fresh about being on the bike, training, and just generally have my mind right at this time of the year is because I've been doing more with cars. I'm really getting back to a hobbie that I used to enjoy and it's one that lets me get away from the bike totally. I've been spending quite a bit of time on a Japanese site the last few days. It's really a picture forum. I normally don't care for the way that Japanese car enthusiasts mod their stuff but so many of the cars on this site did it right. Here's one that really caught my eye. Positively dumped on coilovers. Those are Porsche/Audi Sportec wheels.

Those are 6 pot Brembo calipers.

Wonder what the owner scored those off?

Christmas Eve

This is our tree in all its glory. We were going to fetch a real one from the woods but it didn't seem so festive without the snow. So...fake it is. I think this is the most gifts that have ever been under our tree. I must say...I'm not real big on the holidays and Heather has been slowly breaking me in but, I am actually excited this year. I was able to get Heather some gifts that I know she really wanted but she has no idea (I've taken careful notes throughout the year). We also got the puppies quite a few nice things. I even decided to wait on my mudflap install.

We really wanted to get a nice picture of the family around the tree this year but that didn't work out so hot. In this pic you can see that, although I look cool and relaxed, I actually had just mere seconds to slide across the floor into position and then grab Bodhi. He thought he was in trouble and let out a little pee but I would avoid it.

In this second picture, I tried to make things more natural looking by attempting to cross my legs. I'm not very flexible though. The look you see on my face is not one of constipation but of a possible pulled hammy. My girlish shriek caused Bodhi to buck like a bronco and, in a chain reaction sent Dharma into a tizzy. We're quite a good looking family and we certainly have our shit together. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season.

What an active day. It truly was a Christmas miracle!! I went up to school and busted out some weights. Then I ran some stairs. Then....I went out on a mountain bike ride with my good friend Jay Riemenschneider. As you can see the trails are in pretty good shape. Jay, however, is not.


Look what just showed up for me. These babies came all the way from New York from the fine folks at Rally Armor. They should increase horsepower by at least 15.7 according to the ass dyno.

I've been looking at getting some rally inspired mud flaps for a while now. RA's high end set costs a whopping $130 and I was having a tough time shelling out those duckets. I went back and forth between RA and a guy over in Salt Lake that also does them. My Buddy Hot Carl was also looking for some for his WRX and I turned him onto the ones from Utah but, after seeing some pics of them mounted, I kinda went back to these. In the end I went for RA's Classic model of flap instead of the newest one which uses a slightly different compound. Technically, these are a Xmas/birthday present from Heather but I had to order them up so the right ones found their way but now Heather's giving me the business. You would not believe the negotiating I had to do just to take a look at them. I've been told (quite rudely I might add) that I am NOT allowed to install them today and that I have to wait until tomorrow which I think is total crap but I am going to oblige.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


We watch a lot of trash tv over here and tonight I've been watching a new show called Peacemaker. It's about a guy that tries to work with LA gangs as a mediator and stop the gang wars. I have always been fascinated with gang activity. My first teaching job after college saw me working with a lot of gang bangers and I even had members from opposing sets in the same classroom. Back in STL we have a lot of African American gangs. In this area we have far more gangs with a Latino influence but there's so many similarities between gangs, in general. Last year I had what I would call very minor ripples in the water (and they were all Blood related). Any gang activity in school is always concerning but I was confident that it could be squashed easily and it was. This year I've seen a huge increase in Latino activity and it's much more serious. It's always interesting to speak with gang members. A lot of times I think about working back in the system when we move home. I don't know that I wanna be in a job where I'm putting hands on kids half a dozen times a day and making regular visits to the ER but I could see myself teaching in a juvie facility. I can also see myself working in probation with either adolescents or adults.

Trans Wisconsin

This is a route I've been interested in doing since it's inception last year. This year it is starting on June 18th. The route goes from the southern border of Wisonsin and Illinois and it runs all the way north to Lake Superior for 550ish miles. There's not much information on the route because I don't think all that many people have actually ridden it. Today I found some decent stuff over on ADV rider. It's a dual sport site and the logging roads and terrain draw a decent amount of those riders to the trail. I'm kicking around the idea of going this year but I can't commit. Getting to the start and then figuring out how to get back home is a bit harder for that one and I still have a single egg that is most important but we'll see...I'm still thinking on it.

There has been some discussion about start dates and the course for the CTR over the last few days. Some are talking about a start as early as mid-June and as late as mid-August. There has even been some discussion about direction of travel. Some are interested in doing a route from Durango to Denver. With all of the stuff from last year, I'm glad I decided to not start but I am extremely eager to get back on the CT. Personally I don't care what the masses decide to do as I have my own agenda. I will be starting on August 1 at 0600 from Denver. I've got some big plans/expectations this year and I'm hoping to do something special come August.

I'm thinking more about the race in December than I did the last 2 years. I'm also taking a hard look at my gear and I'll be eliminating some stuff and making some changes that fit the strategy that I intend to put into place this year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I know.....

I've been talking a lot about cars lately. Sorry if that's boring. They've always fascinated me. Back home, there's a lot of friends that are very involved in different aspects of cars. Until he decided to flee the country and screw a bunch of people over, my friend Booger was very well known around the globe for his Subaru motors and ability to tune. Neat guy but not sure if I'll ever hear from him again at this point. My good friends Adam and Dave have a 10 second VW drag car and they even appeared on Pinks All Out Outakes. There's Chuck Mathes who is a national caliber road racer with his GTI and Miata. We have lots of friends that are into autocross and rallycross. I don't know that we have anyone that does full on rally stage racing though (at least not when I was living there). Rally is probably my favorite to watch but it is so bloody expensive.

I was a little off with some previous numbers for cars. In talking with some friends in the know, a WRC car would probably run about 350,000. I believe that WRC mandates that teams have at least 2 cars and then pay about 40,000 for an entry fee into at least 10 events. Maintenance on 1 car is probably 2x what it costed initially. God forbid they wreck it. I'd hate to see the bill for tires. Transportation to each event has to be astronomical. Then you've gotta have engineers and a crew. We ballparked a team budget to be in the neighborhood of 2-3 million.

Where am I going with this? Obviously, I chose the wrong occupation to have a rally car. Even the small time drivers easily have 200,000 wrapped up in their cars, tow rigs, trailers, tires, wheels, motors and trannies. Rally cross is a lot more affordable and I'm considering doing a series on the front range this year. The Subaru would have to run in the prepared category because it has a decent amount of STI stuff on it. I've done a fair amount of homework. I am for sure going back home to attend the 100 Acre Wood Rally this year down in Salem, Missouri with some good friends. Both Ken Block and Dave Mirra should be there along with a slew of talented drivers and that's gonna be real good times. Tentatively, I am going to do a rally driving school sometime in March and see how that goes. It will be something different.

Fun in the garage

I was looking for something to do today so I eventually found my way out to the garage. The hood of the Subaru eventually found its way open and I stood peering in the engine bay. Soon I found myself looking at the factory grounds. They looked horrible. I figured I'd get a base measurement so I started the motor and let it warm up before hooking up a meter to the battery terminals. I showed just a hair over 14 volts with everything off. I unbolted all 4 of the grounds and 3 of them were sitting on top of paint. I cleaned them up really good and ground all of them down to bare metal and reinstalled them with dielectric grease. Then I decided to go a step further. I took some 10 gauge wire and made my own upgraded grounding kit. I see these things selling for as much as $80 and that's silly. I ended up using a daisy chain kinda designand went from the battery, drivers head, trans, throttle body, alternator, passengers head, then to the chassis. It took a while since my OCD doesn't really dig wires hanging out all over. When I was done, the meter read 14.6 volts. The extra juice can't be bad and it'll help out when I install my Hella driving lights.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas shopping

Today I decided to go down the mountain and look for some last minute things for Heather. The watch is nice but she knows about it and I wanted her to have some surprises to open up. I was looking for a new CB antennae for the green car so I had to stop off at a parts place. They didn't have the antennae I wanted so I got on with the task of shopping for more intriguing female oddities. I'm waiting behind this guy to turn right on Academy (think Manchester Road for you STL peeps.....busy.....6 lanes). The guy in front of me is looking at God knows what inside his car. He misses several chances to go and then there's about a 100 yard clearing. I wait. The window is closing fast and there's a line a mile long coming. I give the guy a small toot from my horn. He looks all the way back at me and then gives me the finger then slowly starts to inch out. Completely uncalled for. I could see if I laid on the horn but....a simple toot? So as we're getting up to speed, I maneuver to pass him on the left and he's staring me down. I offer up a friendly wave to say "no harm" and go on about my business. A mile later (it took some time to get her up to speed) this guy comes flying by me on the right and swerves in front of me and then slams on his brakes and gives me the finger again. After I got the Subie off it's nose, I downshifted (thinking this guy's dangerous) and hit it. I ended up moving to the left to get around him again and, as I'm next to him, he swerves left and almost takes out the right fender/front door. Cooler heads prevailed and I got around him and scooted on down the road. I probably should have stayed behind the guy but I knew the hoopty wouldn't keep up and I could just get out of dodge. Well...several miles later, here he comes again and, this time, I'm about to stop at a light and I'm boxed in. He slides up next to me and leans over to open his door and I roll down the window. He asks me (in much colorful language) if I have a problem. I mention I didn't until he tried to hit me. He calls me more names (none of which are Chris) and I tell him I was merely letting him know there was a gap in traffic so we could both get going. More colorful language ensues and he tells me that he was stopped for a reason and that he was, "Tryin' to handle mines." He says his phone was about to die and that he was scrambling for the charger. I couldn't help but laugh when I apologized for not being more understanding so that he could fix shit up to yak non-stop on his celly while driving. Then I told him it was quite obvious that he had the driving part down so I could certainly understand adding additional challenges. He didn't like this and called me more non-festiv names. Then I grabbed my cell phone and told him it was fully charged and asked if we should contact the Springs PD and see if they could help us sort things out. Then things were all cool in school. Funny thing was that he was in a left turn lane and I was in a lane to go straight. The light turned green and the driver in front of him wasn't paying attention and he lays on the horn and starts in with the fingers. The good news was that I didn't spill any of my coffee and, after a few more stops, I was able to find Heather some goods.

Tis the season.

Building a rally car

This car is owned by a guy in southern California. It started out as a 2005 STI daily driver and then the guy started doing some rallycross with it. He started doing little upgrades and then decided to build a full on rally car out of it. I've been keeping up with the build. Much of the fab work is done by Jackson Racing also out of southern California. Everything on the car is top notch and has been neat to see go together but I always enjoy watching the cage work get completed. All the seams on the car were stitch welded during the process and I really liked the way they tied things into the strut towers to beef up the front end.

Super pimp welds.

This is the tie in from the strut tower to the top of the frame rail.

Very expensive jungle gym.

A WRC car probably costs about a million to put together. I don't think he's there yet but there IS a large sum of money sunk into this beast.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

With more than 30 minutes to dedicate to the Impala, I was hoping to make some progress today. I got there and had the fuel pump out of the tank within 10 minutes. Here's the nifty little trap door that those geniuses at Chevy thought of that kept me from having to drop the tank.

Once I had the pump in my hand, I was able to determine which wire was hot and which was ground. Then I hooked up to jumper wires to the Subaru and, even then, the pump did nothing but wreak of gas. So then my next move was to go to the parts store and pay $270 for a new one. I brought it back and hit it with 12 volts and it hummed so I knew I was home free. Before I threw it back in the tank I had to splice in a new connector as Chevy decided the old one wasn't safe enough. The new pump was a bit finicky about getting all situated but it finally went in. I primed the fuel system, hooked up jumpers off the Subaru and the car fired right up. It idled while I buttoned back up the interior and then I drove it around for 30 minutes to charge the battery back up. Everything was cool and I was so glad that it did turn out to be the pump.

Unfortunately, the radio went into "locked" mode as a result of the dead battery. After a bit of research, I found out that only the dealer could turn this back on. Those bastards get a $100 to do that and it requires a scanner to. That is the dumbest thing I think I've seen in a while.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I really do enjoy working on cars but this Impala is starting to chap my ass. The biggest reason is simply because it's not in my garage and sometimes I need to think on things for a bit. Now I have to come home to research things, or think and then drive back over to the owner's house. Sometimes you can tap on a suspect pump from the top and get it to work one more time. I got nothing outta that. The battery is cooked from being cranked so long. There's 2 connectors on this pump but I don't know which one controls the gauge and which is for the pump. I suspect I know which is which but I'm not 100%. The connector that I think controls the pump has 3 wires on it (a red, a green, and a gray/black). Normally red is hot but I get nothing outta that wire. I get 5 volts from the gray/black wire. So maybe the red is ground. I suspect then that the green talks to the computer and crank position sensor after the motor's running.

Autozone gets $270 for a new pump. I can buy them all day long on the internets for $150. But...I think I'm actually going to suggest we get one local and then bring it home and hook it up before dropping it in. If it run's then we're good to go. If not, then......raaaaaaaaaarrrrrr.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

American cars

My father was a Chevy guy so, I ended up spending a lot of my youth around them and NOT around Fords. I really could care less about the Ford/Chevy debate. I can appreciate any car that's tastefully done although I have always liked foreign cars and particularly 4 cylinder turbos like 1.8t VW's and, now, the Subaru Horizontal 4 but...whatever.

My latest auto project has been trying to get a 2002 Chevy Impala to start. This thing cranks fine but that's it. There's no noise from the fuel pump and zero pressure at the fuel rail. The pump fuse and relay both are good. So...I'm pretty sure the fuel pump is bad but I hate to throw $150ish at this car and then tell the owner (a friend) that it still won't start. I really like tinkering on cars and maybe should have been a mechanic but I like working with young folks. There's a handful of people that ask for help and I like to help my friends and I know that the ones I help know that I am strictly shade tree. Most of the time I would not jump at the chance to do this kind of repair as the gas tank generally needs to come out but Chevy actually had the foresight to put a little access panel in the trunk so that you can get to the pump. Tomorrow I'm going to disconnect the wires to the pump, locate the hot wire and then use a jumper cable off another battery and feed the pump 12 volts directly and see if it works. If it doesn't (which I think will be the case) than I'll go spend the owners cash and throw it in and hope that it solves the problem.

Speaking of Chevy. Today at work I found a picture of my first car. I located this car in the paper. It belonged to an older gentleman who lived in St. Louis. The car originally belonged to his son. His kid was an airline pilot and no longer lived at home and the car was basically just sitting there. I originally was looking for a 69 but, as a kid, it's hard to pass up a 5 cent gum ball when you've got the coin. I went out to look at it by myself and told the guy all my plans for the vehicle. We hit it off pretty well and after talking for a while, I told him that I really wanted the car but I only had about 500 bones and my good looks. I think the guy wanted a bit over 2 grand for it. Amazingly, this guy tells me that he likes me and, while he's had others with cash in hand knocking on his door, wants the car to go to me. So...I gave him every penny I had and he gave me the key. I also shook his hand and made a verbal agreement (at 16) to pay him every last cent. I took the car and the title home, parked it and put a cover over it. For 6 more months, I made slow payments. I was nowhere near the final amount and, one day, got a letter from the guy stating that because I had upheld my end of the bargain that he wanted to call it a done deal and told me to enjoy the car. It took me a few weeks to get the insurance money together but soon I was driving it. 2 weeks after that, a valve spring shattered in the head and ate up a few valves and a piston. It was down again for a whole winter while I pulled the motor ( I was originally told it was a 350 but would find out it was really a 327) and rebuilt it. My folks had long been divorced and all I ever wanted was a relationship with my father. He was an excellent mechanic but he was an even better drunk. Eventually, when I realized that I would never be as special as his alcohol, I decided to try and piss him off as much as he had pissed me off. What better way to piss off a die hard bowtie lover than to sell a classic Camaro and buy a foreign car? I ended up selling the car to a kid in the Air Force for 2700. I bought a Datsun 280ZX with the straight 6 turbo motor. My father was furious. I was thrilled. Haven't spoken to him since. I miss that car.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shoulda known better

I Stepped out on the deck late this morning with a cup of coffee and was amazed at how nice the sun felt. I promptly came back in and looked in the fridge to see if I had any food to take on an adventure. Summer Sausage was the first thing I saw. I packed up, threw the SS on top of the Subaru and I was off. I decided to head out to Lake George and start my loop there. I ended up riding out to 11 Mile Reservoir. The temps and the wind were arctic out there. They always are. My buddy Scott and I call it the South Park hurricane. As I headed north, I was hurting and barely turning the pedals over. I kept staring at the turn on the GPS that would put the wind at my back. Finally I made it and I coasted for about close to 2 miles. I rode all the way around the reservoir and then hooked up with a forest road that dropped me down into 11 Mile Canyon. This eventually put me back on highway 24 and back the the car. 4 hours and 40 miles later and I was frozen. I didn't even stop to eat lunch.

I saw one guy fishing with his 2 little boys in the entire canyon.

Lot's of ice building up. The flows are low and the trout are hunkered down into the deeper pools. This reminded me that I need to locate that pin hole in my waders and get it patched or the it's gonna be a COLD winter of fishing.

I did the Ansel Adams thing most of the day because the clouds were rolling in and it looked like it was going to snow at any minute. For a short time in the canyon, the sun came out and absolutely lit up this rock.

This was about 2 hours of the ride today.

Super cool fence just off the river.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I had to laugh last night when the news started. They did a little preview of what some of the top stories were. The top story was that of a new Barbie that actually has a video recorder in it. The story was that this could be a huge concern for child safety because predators might use it to entice small children or it might be linked with child pornography or something along those lines. OK. This, in and of itself was not really alarming to me. What was alarming to me was the story that followed. An 8 year old boy was found hog-tied and then tied to a fence outside of an apartment buidling down in Colorado Springs. The boy was not wearing enough clothing to really keep him warm in the cold temps. Neighbors untied the boy and took him in while police were contacted. They arrived. The boy was released to his mother. I THINK she lives with the father in the same apartment but I can't confirm that. What I can confirm is that the father was issued a summons for child abuse. Seems to me that the child should have been taken from the home while an investigation was conducted. That's how it would work in a state where the Division of family Services knew what the hell they were doing. I could tell some stories about things I've personally dealt with up here.

J Crew

Heather can be kind of hard for me to shop for. Well a couple of weeks ago she slid the laptop over my way and asked if I liked a watch she was looking at from J Crew. I told her I thought it was ugly but, in reality, I took a mental note of it and put it on the back burner. I was on to something. I would finally be able to get her something that she really wanted and she probably wouldn't know about it. 2 days later I ordered it AND it was on sale. Last week, she tells me that she saw a story on the internet about that actual watch and how a bunch of people were complaining about their orders being cancelled. I pretended to not have a clue about the watch but then I called them because it had been over a week since I ordered the thing. The gal wants my order number and name and then she says, "Oh.....Neumann." "Yes...I say....Neumann." She says, "Yeah...I just spoke with your wife about this order." "What?" I ask if my wife was informed that I had ordered the watch for her and she says, "Well yes." Now I get angry. Not only was the order cancelled due to it being out of stock but I wasn't notified of the cancellation AND now my wife knows what I was going to get her for a gift. I ask to speak to a supervisor and, of course, one's not there. I'm informed that I can get the watch in a few days because they'll have more in but I tell her I'm not sure I wanna give them any money now that they've ruined my surprise. She apologizes and I'm sure it wasn't HER fault so I try to be nice.

Today while we're out running errands, I broach the subject of said watch with her. She swears she didn't inquire about my order but it really doesn't matter now anyway. I decide to go ahead and order it again but now I'm gonna wait until Monday so I can call and make sure I get it for the sale price that I originally bought it for. We get home and a while ago Heather shows me an online chat she's been having with an employee. The watch is on sale again but it's out of stock again. This employee tells Heather that the watch has been pulled because somone forgot to not include the watch in the sale. It will be available again on Monday. Now I'm sure that this is what happened the first time too. Now I'm mad. The employee actually admits that this is what happened in the correspondance.

Thanks a lot J Screw.

Alaska Gold Rush

Last night while drinking a magnificent barley wine from Deschutes Brewery, I watched this new show on Discovery. It got me fired up enough that I'm thinking about contacting Discovery to ask them what the hell they were thinking. It's about this group of family and friends that heads to Alaska with 5th wheelers, and loads of heavy duty construction equipment. They rent a piece of land for the purpose of digging for gold. I know the land owner can do what he wants but my inner tree hugger gets pissed off that these knuckleheads are constructing makeshift buildings, and digging random holes in the ground all day long in order to try and strike it rich. The most agitating part for me though was the fact they were concerned about the large number of brown and black bears that were just coming out of hibernation and wandering into camp looking for food after a tough winter. They shot one of the black bears. None of the bears were "menacing" as they said they were. I've had bears closer to my front door and they meant no harm. The young kids were walking around with juice boxes and food and leaving them lay around. Then the "adults" were shooting at/killing bears that simply followed their nose. Real nice job Discovery.

In all my years of working with troubled adolescents...I've learned that, generally, even people that are very good at that job have a particular kid that it's harder for them to work with. For many it's the sex offenders/predators. For me it's always been the kids that are into animal cruelty. Lighting dogs on fire and that sort of thing makes it much more difficult for me to maintain an open frame mind while working with that type of kid. Seeing suffering is very hard for me. Don't know where it came from but it's there. It's even harder when it's at the hands of a jackass.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This one's pretty darn nice too but I still llike the gray one better. This one's had a full STI swap (trans, brakes, suspension, rear diff, etc.). The 92x already came with the DOHC 2.5 turbo motor so it's still the Saab one. Errrrrr.....the Subaru one.

In other news...we don't have any snow yet. While it's nice to be able to go riding outside...I really wanna try out the new snow tires. I also have some rally mudflaps on the way. There not gonna do anything except look cool but...still.

One of my favoite cars

There's a gal that lives in town that's got one of these and I see it every now and then. I really like these. They're unusual and you don't see them too much. The 92x was made for Saab by the same company that did the Subaru WRX. This car ran for 3 years and I think there were 10,000 of them made. They had slight changes to the body and the suspension but it's essentially the same car and you see a lot of the WRX/STI guys swapping parts. These were only sold in the United States. This is the most tasteful one I think I've ever run across.

Very yummy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

more car stuff

When I was working on the green car the other night, I had to remove all this air intake stuff. I started thinking about it maybe a day later and went back to it again yesterday. This picture shows pretty much the whole shebang. This is an interesting setup. Fresh air comes in right by that yellow cap. As it enters the main pipe, it passes over a 2.5" opening that leads down into that larger tank that sits right on the frame rail. The main pipe turns towards the motor then and passes over a slightly smaller hole that, again, drops down into a smaller tank. Finally, the main pipe hangs a left and, once again, the air passes over another hole that leads to another tank.

Here's the underside of the initial collector. Only the triangular shaped hole at the top right allows air in.

Here you can see the main pipe and the second and third tanks.

This is the big daddy first tank.

Just because I can't ever leave well enough alone, and the fact that I was bored, I decided to mess with it. Some drivers will rip all of this restrictive piping out and do a straighter shot cold air intake. The problem with them is that they end up sucking in a lot of warm air from the engine bay. They sure sound good though. I can only guess that these tanks act like baffles to keep things quieter but....what a waste of material. I's already been wasted but what if I recycled the tanks?? I decided to try it and see what the effect would be. I'm holding on to the tanks to make sure nothing catastrophic ensues. I didn't get a shot of the final product but I was able to plug all of them in a really similar fashion. The end result was a much tidier engine bay and a much more pleasing sound when you get in it a bit. Exhausts can sound really cool but I've always been a fan of a cool intake sound. I'm also gonna watch the fuel consumption and see if it drops but that's gonna be biased since I sometimes like to hear the neat noise it now makes. It's the simple things really.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spark plugs

The Subaru developed a little dead spot right off idle last week. The plugs in the motor had been in there since the it was installed and that was probably 22,000 miles back so I figured I'd start there and see what happened. I won't say ALL but A LOT of Subie guys really complain about how much this job sucks. You do need to remove a few things like the washer reservoir, the battery, and a lot of the air intake stuff but, after that, it money maker rump shaker. Things are a bit tight on drivers side but passengers side was quite roomy. I pulled the passenger plug wires and got a few extensions and a 5/8" socket to pull the plug (they sit about 6" down into the head). I felt the socket seat correctly and then went to unscrew the plug. Snap. Something felt weird so I pulled out (that sounds bad) and stared in horror at the plug on the right here:

The nut portion of the plug sheared right off. That's about 1/8" thick all the way around. So I had all of the porcelain part of the plug from tip to tip but the threads were stuck way down in the head. I've seen plenty of plugs crack in the porcelain area but I've never seen this. I even talked to my buddy Adam and our friend Sean (who is now building Subie engines on his own since our friend Booger from Axis Racing seems to have left the country on the run from the law) who had never seen it either. Sean said he had heard of it happening to someone once but never actually seen it.

Adam and I figured I could take an E Z Out and get what was essentially a hollow bolt out of the head. The issue was that it's so far down in the head. I pulled another plug and used a Dremel to cut the nut off so I could see what I was dealing with up close. I had a 19/64" E Z Out that I thought would do the job. Then I figured I could weld an extension on to that but I was worried about the metal the E Z Out was made of being hard to weld to. I have access to a MIG welder so I called my buddy Gary up to see if I could come over to his shop Saturday to put something together and he was cool with that. In the mean time I figured I'd finish what I could. Luckily the rest of the plugs came out easily. When I got as far as I could, I started looking around at all my tools and trying to come up with something. Eventually these are the tools I gathered:

I came up with this and it was the perfect length. The next issue was that I couldn't get the E Z Out to bite into the metal. It bit in real nicely on my practice setup on the bench but all it did was spin on the motor and I was terrified of any shavings getting in the cylinder. Luckily, an E Z Out isn't sharp. Eventually I wondered what would happen if I hammered the E Z Out in a bit. At that point, it didn't matter if I was trying to MacGyver it or if I had some welded up tool so I went for it. I gave it a few taps with a hammer and went to unscrew it. It bit. I got it out. The last plug went in and everything else went back together. The car fired right up and the dead spot's gone. A HUGE load off.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tonight we went down to the mall so that Sears could install my new snow tires. It was supposed to take about an hour but it ended up being 3. We walked around the mall. I think we went into every store. When we were walking back through Sears, we happened to notice some of the ugliest turtlenecks in the world. Turtlenecks are pretty bad anyways but these holiday print ones were on a whole different level. They were on sale for 6 bucks. I told Heather I would try one on and get a picture of it. It's pretty ridiculous. I intentionally got a slightly tight one to enhance the stupidity. I'm thinking about buying one and wearing it to school to see what kinda reaction I get from the rest of the staff.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yesterday was the first time I've driven the Subie in any significant snow. It was a scary experience. The tires on the car are Yokohama all seasons and they're less than a year old. They're way fun on the twisties when it's dry but I might as well have been on ice skates. I think at one point I slid for 50 yards. The Subie also has anti-lock brakes and I'm not a fan of them. I do think the problem was compounded by the fact that the tires weren't gripping and it was causing the anti-lock to kick in when it wasn't really needed. I almost put it in several ditches on the mile trip home. I called around for snow tires as soon as I got home.

You can spend a lot of dough on snow tires. Continental has some really nice stuff but they're about 120 a pop. The Blizzack is a really nice tire as well. However, a few years ago, I found a super nice snow tire that sells for anywhere from 70-85 a piece for a 16". It's made by Firestone and it's called the Winterforce. I put these same tires on the Vanagon last year. They're great in the snow. They look good and you can get studs for them as well (although I think you really only need that if you're way up in the frozen tundra).

I was supposed to go down tonight and have 4 of them installed but a co-worker was having issues with her vehicle and I suspected it was a bad alternator. So I drove it home and told her I'd look it over. The battery was showing 11.3 volts when I got it home. I decided to install a new alternator and then the reading jumped to 14.6 so I was happy. I'll go down tomorrow and get my new tires. I really do not like people I don't know/trust getting behind the wheel of any of my cars. Even if it's just to drive it into the bay to install tires. It's a whole process for me. I'll spend all day tomorrow cringing until it's done. I am the EXACT same way with my computer at work. If I take a day off, I take the mouse and hide it and also unplug a few chords.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I got in another good ride on the SS yesterday. This time the 32x22 was perfect. I was able to climb up Rampart Range Road with no issues and ride the singletrack just above town. I'm still fighting a little bit with the BB7's though. The back is quiet but the front just whails. I worked on them today and found this:

Looks like the pads aren't hitting the rotor very square. I installed some new rotors I had laying around and roughed up the pads quite a bit and then went to work on re-setting both the front and the back calipers. The nice thing about Shimano brakes is you can just throw them on and they work with very little adjustment. I just couldn't ever get them to stay working. The Avids are a bit more finicky to set up (at least for me). I think I finally got it though. Initially they both squealed but after riding them around for a while and heating the pads up, they finally shut up. They feel even better now that all of the pad is contacting the rotor too. They should get even better after they get some dirt and water on them and really get seated.
I like the Alma even more now that it's SS. I'm not sure it's a good idea yet but....I like it.