Phones, Puppies, & No Nap

As you all know, Diane was blessed with a bright yellow iPhone 5C on the 20th, and I received her hand-me-down old iPhone 4. Not an iPhone 4S, but just a 4. Her old phone is just as pristine and clean as the day I took it out of the box to set it up two years ago so I was all for it. You also know that the reason for this need was because I dropped my 4S too many times and broke the screen. I gave it to Jeff for showing us the girls’ new puppy which came to our house named Mallory, but left with her new name, Roku. That’s the number 6 in Japanese. Jeff wanted a “6” name because she has 6 white toes. She’s 10 weeks old and is already twice the size of Ozzie. When she grows up she’s expected to weigh in around 140+. Big dog.

Today was the first time I’ve been allowed to take my ‘new’ phone out of the house so it was a total surprise to me when it fell out of my lap and crashbanged on the garage floor upon returning from wherever it was we went. Seeing this, Diane pursed her perfectly formed, lightly tinted lips, marched in the house with an over-the-shoulder dictate that I need to carry my phone in a case, and she had the perfect one. The phone is a white one and so is the case. It’s a Hello Kitty one that’s she had, ‘Just in case.’ She thought I wouldn’t like it, but I think it’s just absolutely adorable.

It’s been raining most of the day so it’s good to be inside. The only trips we’ve taken, so far, was to pick up Mary, Trudy, and Glenn at 0600 for a trip to the airport, back home, them to Home Depot in Longview to get a $100 error, in their favor, corrected, then to Columbia Feed & Seed for Panzee dog food. So, it turned out to be a pretty busy travel day in the rain. Thankfully, due to Diane’s superb driving skills, we made it to and from every one of our chosen destinations.

It’s only 5:01 pm right now, but I’m really tired. No nap this morning kinda wrecked me for the day. So, I’m calling it quits early. No staying up until 11 pm like I normally do.

Hope everyone is safe and sound in your own abodes, or wherever it is you wish to be.

Big Block Chevys and Don

I have another savior now. Cousin Don. He doesn’t replace the “other” one. Don is an addition because he knows everything there is to know gasoline burning engines. I’ve known this for a long time, but it was brought home to me again, today, when I called to talk about my over-developed truck.

It’s a 1968 C-20 that’s the home for a 1973 Corvette 454 engine that’s been bored over to 462 and develops around 500 hp. That’s a BBC, and a lot of ooomph for an old truck. One of these days I’m going to get the body fixed up and make it pretty enough for Diane to ride in. Right now she shudders at the thought. So, I use it to haul trash to the dump once in a while. Seems like a waste of a classic vehicle, doesn’t it? I agree. Until last week I didn’t have sufficient motivation to get beyond considering that truck anything beyond a “future project”. It ran, and that was good. I left it ugly so no one would mess with it. So far, no one has.

Now, about last week … before we went camping at Big Eddy, I decided to investigate why it was sounding like a John Deere tractor. BBCs aren’t supposed to sound like that. Part of the problem, I knew, was the broken exhaust headers, and the forever loose connection between them and the exhaust pipes. It’s really loud and smelly. So, I went about the task of replacing the plugs, wires, rotor, distributor cap, and points.

Before I began, I made sure that I understood the firing order (18436572), and where on the distributer cap #1 was. All of that was really fine information that I extracted from the internet. I checked it twice. Too bad I didn’t check the old distributor to see which little connector had #1 because my engine was one plug off of normal. That’s what prompted the call to Don. Trying to start the engine in that situation resulted in some window rattling backfires that caused Diane to come running, more than once, to make sure I was OK.

Don said, right off the bat, the plug wires are in the wrong position. Now, I KNEW they were in the correct positions because the internet told me so. Therein lies the rub … “position” to Don doesn’t have the same meaning as it does for me. For me it was “sequence”. I didn’t get it until he showed up to resolve this communication issue.

As a test, he made me remove the #1 plug so he could check the gap setting. Since I had just installed them without checking, I was a little worried he would punish me, but he deemed them to be good. During this evolution I learned that spark plugs should be torqued to 10 lbs, which isn’t much more than finger tight.

Next we set about the task of finding the rotor position when the #1 piston was in the TDC position. That’s Top Dead Center for you rookies. I actually already knew that one, but didn’t let on. We did this by aligning the timing marks on the fly wheel and the little gizmo that marks degrees to the left and right that’s connect to the engine block. So, when the engine turns, each time the marks align, #1 should fire.

We checked the position of the distributor rotor and discovered that it was pointing to a position somewhere between the 7 and 2 positions in the firing order. To compensate, we moved all the plug wires one connection counterclockwise, then loosened the distributor and moved it the rest of the way to line it up with #1. Don used a hammer for the critical portion of the alignment then had me start it up. It fired and ran! I would have never figured that out in a million years. The only way that could have happened is by removing the distributor from the engine, and putting it back in a couple of teeth off. Hmmmmm. But it ran!

Now all I have to do it get a timing light and adjust the distributor as Don instructed me and it will run perfect. Now I have motivation.

Acting on that motivation, I visited a mechanic to find out if he had access to BBC exhaust manifolds. He did, but the left and right were in two different locations. So, I checked eBay and found a complete set, brand new, free shipping, for less than the other two which would have required me to drive to two remote locations to retrieve. eBay delivers to the house. How convenient. They will be here by the end of the week.

Before they arrive, I’ll have that thing running like a top. A really noisy top. I think I’ll also replace the current tires with something a little less stressful to the exhaust system. About 15 years ago I put the biggest tires I could find on the rims I had. They’re so big that I cannot turn the steering wheel all the way, either direction, without the tires rubbing on the exhaust. They are the cause of my exhaust issues, something I’ve known for a long time. Now it’s time for normal tires, some body work, and a paint job.

Here’s what it looked like the last time it snowed …

I used this picture because it’s starting to get hot outside and thought maybe it would cool a few of you off. Maybe not.

The body is in pretty good shape – only one little dent neat the drivers headlight. Insignificant. A pittance in the scheme of things. Bondo will fix that post haste. Now I need to go to work to figure out what all I need to make it worthy of Diane’s presence in the passenger seat. It’s going to take some serious work, but I actually think I’m up to making it all happen. This will be a big surprise to Diane because I haven’t told her. I know she’ll read this, so the secret is out of the bag, but I know she’ll be pleased. We may have to defer some trips to pay for all the repairs, and paint, but that’s the way the old cookie crumbles. What’s a lost trip compared to having possession of a primo 1968 C-20? I suspect I’ll be finding out.

Wish me luck on that.


Happy Birthday Daniel !

Greetings Humans.

Today is Daniel’s birthday. He’s our son’s, Jeff’s, brother-in-law. He’s also Tiana’s,  Gillgan’s, Baylee’s, and Jerrie’s Uncle Daniel. He’s 22 now. That’s a lie. He’s 37. If he was 22 he would’ve been 8 when Cedric was born. I don’t think 8-year-olds are allowed to have kids. Not in Oregon, anyway.

After Dan and Jen visited briefly this morning, it was downhill for me because I went golfing with Doug. Golfing with Doug is always fun. I golfed terrible, like normal, but I beat Doug on one memorable hole. It was # 7 and I got a par. First one in the last 15 years. The rest of the holes summed up my typical game by being double par efforts. I actually hit the ball more times than that, but you can’t count more strokes than double par. For 9 holes I got a 68. That’s pretty darn good for someone fairly compentent for 18 holes. So, I play the equivalent of 18 holes whenever we hit the links. Like I told Doug, I’m getting far more for my money than he is because I get to hit the ball more often. As for the par, I have no idea what happened there. I just wasn’t myself for the 4 stokes on that hole. As a result of that stunning effort, I’ve ensured that my handicap remain at 36. Pretty sad, huh? Good thing I’m not serious about it.

After the game I returned home to an empty house because Diane took her Mom, Jean, to the eye clinic in Portland where they both had exams. I didn’t get to go so I have to keep my old glasses. In a few weeks I just know I’ll be walking down the street and my perscription will expire and I’ll go blind. Hopefully it doesn’t happen while I’m driving. That’s unlikely, of course, because I’m rarely allowed to drive by myself, and never while Diane is in the vehicle. Unless it’s the RV. Somehow that just doesn’t make sense to me because the RV can cause way more damage than the car. I told her she’s going to have to learn how to drive it just in case something happens to me. Like I forget how to drive it myself, or my glasses prescription expires. Or she’d rather have me clinging to the passenger seat in abject terror instead of her.

Good news on the RV, by the way. It must have rained about 5 inches today and not a drop got inside. I was ecstatic! My drainage ditch was a veritable river, too, keeping the water out of the garage and most of the driveway. That’s a major coup. But, the floor drain under the washer backed up again. Just a little, nothing like last time. Still, I need to get some more of that nasty drain cleaner before it gets really bad. And, I may have to pour it all over the laundry room floor first, so it will all be clean like the large area that got cleaned the last time I used it. It absolutely sparkles, as much as cement can sparkle.

This afternoon I did some running around town to do some things I needed to do. I can’t remember what they were but I came home with a burrito from a taco wagon that’s been parked along the highway for a while now. Good thing, too, because I was hungry and I knew Diane would’ve been cranky if I didn’t eat something before she got home. It was almost gone when she arrived, so I was safe.

Diane’s in shopper’s heaven now that Scappoose has it’s very own Goodwill store. That’s her favorite place to shop and where she gets all my underwear. Most of them are pretty clean, too. She spent $8 and got a whole bag of “stuff” that she had to have.

I don’t have any pictures from today’s events, but I do have some from yesterday that you haven’t seen. First is my yard trailer that I decorated for the St. Helens Parade … Diane said it won’t last until July so I just drove it down to the burn pile and decorated that. Kind of festive, don’t you think? I’m going to hate torching that until all the blossoms turn brown. And, here’s a picture of 3 or 4 of the 35 rhododenrons surrounding the house.

These aren’t bad, and I imagine most of the others were “cute” when they were little, and only 2 feet apart, but now they’re overgrown and in need of an introduction to the dogwood limbs on the burn pile. As soon as my handy dandy electric chain saw battery is chaged up, and Diane’s gone somewhere, I’m going to do some thinning. There aren’t really 35 of them – more like 15 or so.

Next is some of the many calla lillies that were apparently planted to hide things. When we moved in they weren’t doing their job very well, but have begun to prosper since we cut down all the “stuff” that hid them from any possibility of getting daylight. Now they’re doing quite well and will, one day, cover the gas meter, and the furnace exhaust (not pictured).

As I was snapping the last picture, Diane arrived so I had to hurry back in the house to finish my burrito. This is Diane arriving … just before she started quzzing me about what I had for lunch.

I was happy I had anything left of the burrito because it was on one of the many tables surrounding my computer. The big dog, or the cat, had plenty of opportunity to liberate it, but they didn’t. Ozzie didn’t have a chance. Too high up.

Diane says it’s time for me to go take a shower, so I’m off to scrub various parts of my body. She said I have to use soap this time.

My Onan Generator

Today I totally dismantled the Onan 4000 Gen Set in our RV. I had all the parts laid out so I could put them back together in the correct sequence when the cat showed up and started batting pieces all over the place. Thankfully, it started raining before it got out of control and the cat ran for cover. Being a dedicated Oregonian, I stuck it out and rearranged all the pieces.

The initial problem with the generator was the fuel pump. It didn’t suck very well so I bought a new one. Fortunately, the mounting holes are in the same location so I didn’t have to relocate anything. To test the system, I just hooked it up and got the new one pumping fuel from the tank like it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem because it still wouldn’t start. I knew I had spark, and fuel was flowing, so the carburetor wasn’t allowing the fuel in. Something was stuck. So, the dismantling began.

To do that I had to remove Diane’s mattress which, unfortunately, got all wet because I laid it out in the driveway. It was in the way. I put a piece of plywood on top of it, but it still got a little ground water on the bottom. Too bad the plastic covering got ripped when I tossed it out there. The plywood was on top of the bracing for the bed so with it out of the way I was able to see the top of the generator containment module. It’s been accessed before because someone cut the top out of it and used about 185 sheet metal screws, and a bunch of caulk, to put it all back together. Removing this allowed access to the faulty carburetor and other pertinent parts that cannot be accessed from the side opening of the generator containment module. I vowed that, when I reassembled it, I would install access doors to take care of that problem.

The carb didn’t cooperate so I threw it away and put on a new 4-barrel Holly, but it still wouldn’t start so I removed the head, took out the pistons, ground the valves, installed new piston rings, added a couple of extrta cylinders so I could fully ustilize the potential of the larger carburetor. It was simple matter of adding an old Kawasaki 750 cc engine I found in the attic over the garage the other day. I don’t know how it got there, but it came in handy.

After I got it all back together I did the “smoke test” and it passed with flying colors. With the addition of the Kawasaki parts the red line bumped up to 11,000 rpm which meant I could comfortably run the unit at 5500 rpm without fear of it falling apart. At that rpm the generator produced approximately 1.7 mega watts of power which is enough to light up a small city. Learning that made me head in a totally different direction.

With all that electricity being generated I thought, “Why not just  yank out the engine and install an electric motor on each wheel?” That turned out to be difficult, but not impossible. I found most of the parts at ACE and the remainder at Wal*Mart. So, now we have a hybrid RV. The very first one ever.

I did a test run to Astoria and back and made it in just over 1.5 hours and it got exactly 72 mpg! And, with no need for an engine or transmission, I added a small hot tub that’s accessible through the old engine cover in the cab. That’s really handy for Diane because when she gets tired of sitting and giving me directions, she can turn her chair and soak her feet. Nice. She doesn’t know about that, yet. It’s a surprise.

With all those kilowatts this rig can do a full 4-wheel burnout and get to 60 mph in just under 9 seconds, and turns a 1/4 mile at 115 mph in 14 seconds. The high end torgue of the electric motors really crank during thos last 5 seconds. They literally scream like little girls. They also smoked a little but I wasn’t worried because they were new and it was just the paint baking off due to the intense heat.

Now I need to shim up the toilet so it doesn’t wobble, install the new horn, and we’re good to go.

I wish I had pictures to share, but I don’t because none of that’s true.

All I managed to do today was get a new fuel pump installed and make it pump gas from the tank. For me, that’s success. Tomorrow, maybe, I’ll tackle the carburetor problem. The hammer didn’t work.