Giant hiatus

Well, I seem to have taken a nice long break from updating anything here.

That’s pretty much because everything is falling apart.

I’ve mostly been working on Mercury (very slowly) and Tensor and other, non-car related things.

So, here.  Have some very large pictures of the internals of the fuel pressure regulator that’s going on Tensor, along with the new gas tank (to replace the leaking one) and a fuel gauge, and an electric fuel pump, and a return line, and a fuel tank sending unit which will hopefully give me a functional gas gauge, etc, etc.




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Infamous Text

So, from the beginning, Vector has had some textual issues.

On the original car (remember, this is the 1.1 version, with a different body shell) the inscription “Liebe über Leben” was cut into the sheet metal of the right rear quarterpanel. Unfortunately, that phrase doesn’t really mean anything. (Well, ok, it means “Love of life”, which I don’t think is what Kurt was going for.) He said to me at one point he’d meant for it to say “Liebe über Lebens”. Which also isn’t correct. (“Love about life”.) I think he wanted it to say “Love above life”, as in “Love is more valuable than one’s life”, which would be “Liebe über das Leben”, or possibly “Liebe vor dem Leben”.

Even more unfortunately, on the 1.1 car, the inscription was rendered as “Liebe über Legens”. Which means, uh, “Put love on”.  As in, like socks.


So, I made a template of the shape of the sheet metal there, and I’m going to cut out the original, weld in new material, and try again. Another piece of information I have from Kurt: Vector isn’t Mad Max.  The inspiration for the notebook of sketches from which Vector was constructed was the Resistance technicals in Terminator.  (The first Terminator movie, obviously.)  So for a long time, I’ve been thinking of replacing the inscription with something more Terminator related.  My first thought was the phrase “No Fate But What We Make” or possibly just “No Fate”.

And then I did this to Tensor:


And now I’m contemplating “This Machine Kills Terminators”.  :D

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“Boogedy boogedy boogedy, boys!”

“Let’s go racing!”

(Is it weird that I keep making references to a children’s movie?  Or is it OK because it’s Pixar?)

So, on Saturday, I went racing.  By which I mean, I went to the racetrack with my friend John Morningstar, and acted as ballast for the #20 Free Radicals Chrysler Cordoba. :D

We didn’t do so well in the heat race (It’s a beginner class, so, some of the drivers aren’t so good at not hitting the other cars) but we came in second place in the main!  I make excellent ballast!

Like an idiot, I didn’t take any pictures of the car we were racing in, but I did get a shot of John and I in the staging lane for the main, as well as a picture of our view of the world in the staging lane.



I’m in the sunglasses, John’s in the driver’s seat.  If you’re in town, and want to see the race car itself, it’s parked out in front of Free Radicals (Punk, Greaser, Rockabilly, and Goth clothing and accessories) at the corner of Lead and Yale, 300 Yale Blvd SE in the Student Ghetto. (*cough, ahem* Excuse me. The “Bricklight District”. Mmmmmm, nope. Just can’t say it with a straight face.)

To absolutely no one’s surprise whatsoever, now I want to build a race car of my own and go roundy round.  ;)

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Engine tanking, working on other vehicles

Dangit, I was doing good there for a bit.  Back to the “updates every two weeks” schedule, I guess.

Eli and I carried the bare block of Vector out to Tensor so I could take it to the machine shop to be cleaned and inspected.  Heavy, but carriable by two people.  OK, at least when those two people are Eli and I, anyway.  :D


Then, I made some 2 gauge cable crimpers out of a broken set of bolt cutters I had.  And then I made some 2/0 battery cables for Mercury.  (The Dodge ambulance.)  Which is thus running again.  Yay!


And then I finally got around to a thing I’d been thinking of doing for a while, with Tensor.  A Fallout 3: New Vegas reference, which is in itself a Woody Guthrie reference.



It’s apparently also the name of a band?  I haven’t actually listened to them, I hope they’re good.  ;)

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“He did what in his cup?”

Got the pistons pulled out.  I borrowed a ridge reamer from Autozone (yay for the tool lending program!) and carved off the carbon ring atop the cylinders, then unbolted the connecting rods from the crank and pushed the pistons out of the bores.  Thanks to the guys on the MML for telling me about putting fuel line on the connecting rod bolts in order to not scratch up the crank journals.


Hrm.  #1 cylinder piston skirt looks … not so good.


Hopefully that’s just cosmetic, but, presumably the engine machine shop will let me know after they tank everything.


Piston-less engine block.  Wave at the camera!


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Timing is Everything.

By which I mean, the only thing I got done yesterday was pulling the harmonic balancer, timing cover, and timing set.  ;)


Yep.  That’s sure an engine without a timing set.

Well, OK, it’s not quite true that the only thing I got done yesterday was pulling the timing set.  I also conducted an experiment in the shatter resistance of long tube fluorescent lights when struck with steel tubing.  Experiment result: Not very.  So I spent two hours vacuuming broken glass bits out of everywhere in the entire shop.  :-/  I know good science requires repeatability, but I think I’m going to live with being a bad scientist on this one, and leave the experiment as a single run event, if possible.

Interesting to note, I found stamping marks on the timing cover flange showing when the block was last machined, and how much.  Vector had her heart bored .030″ over on Valentine’s Day, 1990.  :D  <3


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Splitting the Cases

As it were.

I found a fairly nice engine stand on Craigslist for $50, listed as needing a caster.  And indeed, it was short a caster.  And the casters they used were apparently completely non-stock units, because I couldn’t find anything that had the same bolt pattern on the mounting plates anywhere online.  Fortunately, I know a welder.  ;)  So, I just cut out some mounting plates, clamped them on 90 degrees to the original caster direction (so the bolt heads would clear the legs) and welded on the plates, then bolted the casters I had kicking around on to the plates.  See, that’s why I never throw anything away.  You never know when it’s going to be useful!  It’s totally not because I’m a pack-rat.  That accomplished, I picked up the engine, unbolted the transmission from it, and put it on the stand.


I pretty quickly pulled the rocker covers and intake, and because I was curious, I bought a cheap scale to weigh the heads with.



Not as heavy as I was expecting, really.  After that, I removed the water pump, the oil pan, and the oil pump.  Apparently my skill at this “expectations” thing really sucks, because it turns out that even after you think you’ve drained all the fluids out of an engine, there’s a lot left.  Like, a lot a lot.  :-/  I’m also pretty sure the oil pan isn’t supposed to be that shape.  Dangit.



Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of that mess, although you can still see the remnants of it on the floor there under the engine stand.  I do have pictures of this mess though!  (And the shelves, finally all up and in place.)


In addition, while I was doing all of that, Eli was busy cleaning 30 years of motorcycle repair shop off of the desk that was in there when we moved in, and hanging up the whiteboard.  We have a full 4′ x 8′ sheet of whiteboard.  Ph34r our l33+ planning space!


As part of organizing stuff, the transmission went up on the workbench.  The transmission is broken.  That transfer case is very broken.  :-p


This is a big piece of steel.  No, really.  560 pounds of 4340 round rod (I’m not even sure if you’d still call it “rod” at that point, or just “billet”) 10.25″ in diameter and 24″ long.  Its eventual fate in life is to become English Wheel… wheels.  It is very hard to move.  Well, not in a straight line, it actually rolls pretty well, and as it rolls across the concrete, crushing the sand that blows in under the door, it makes a sort of odd singing sound.  But getting it to turn is liable to give you a hernia if you aren’t careful.


Next up: Pulling the crankshaft and pistons out of the block, and then getting everything vatted and checked.

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Engine pull, suspension removal

Yeah, OK.  Looks like I can probably get around to posting every two weeks or so.  But at least I take pictures along the way!

Since the last post, we got the shelves put up, and hung Shelob back on the wall:



We also pulled the engine and transmission out.


Vector is now up on jack stands, and both the rear axle and front engine cradle / front suspension have been taken out.



The interior is almost completely stripped out.


And I’ve begun pulling the various things I’ve accumulated for this build over the last several years out of their boxes and spots in the shed.



Next up is putting the engine on the engine stand, and taking it apart to see just how gunky it is inside.

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Shop updates, parts

OK, so, maybe I’m not so great at remembering to do updates.

We’ve made a lot more progress on the shop; Everything that’s getting moved out has been moved out, drywall repairs done, and paint applied.  Shelves are built but not in place yet.



On the Vector front, the exhaust has been removed, along with the fuel tank.  The local U-Pull-It junkyard had a ’74 4-door Satellite, and all of the understructure in the unibody is the same up front, so… I bought the forward 3/4s of the floorpan up through the radiator support, sawing through the A and B pillars.  That car also had nice supply and return fuel lines, and the long rear brake line, so I got those, and the rear glass which I am hoping will fit into Tensor.  (Whose glass isn’t damaged, but the seal leaks, and removing it for reinstall may cause it to become damaged.)  Getting it off the truck drew first blood in the new shop on this project, too.




I have been collecting parts for a while, so I had a spare pair of ’73+ spindles and  ’73-’74 B-body lower control arms, I soaked them in MEK overnight to suck the volatiles out of the grime, gave them a wire brush once over to knock the worst crud off, and then popped them in the sand blast cabinet.  They came out looking rather nice.  I’m going to take the sharp edges off, weld on stiffening plates to the bottom of the LCAs, and give them a couple coats of KBS Rust Seal.  I have been very pleased thus far with the performance of that product, especially in the context of, well, Mopar front suspension components exposed to playa dust.  ;)



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Daylight pictures, treasure hunt!

Given that the last picture I posted of Vector progress was shot at night, under a single fluorescent fixture, here’s a shot of it at the current stage of disassembly taken during the day so you can actually see things.



So, as previously mentioned, the shop was a working motorcycle repair facility for thirty years.  Over thirty years, stuff accumulates.  And then gets buried.  And then there’s a surprise for everyone when they get unearthed!


Sadly, not as useful as one might hope, but possibly of aesthetic use down the road.


A whole crate of ammo for internet flame wars…  :D

Being a deserty sort of place, New Mexico has its share of moderately unfriendly flora and fauna.  When it rains, the plants all know that it’s time to grow like hell, and breed like crazy, so the pollen counts can get pretty high, and the pollen itself is pretty aggressive.  And there’s the usual sort of poisonous insects, lizards, etc, everything from gila monsters and rattlesnakes to scorpions, black widows, and tarantulas, hornets, bees, and wasps.  We’ve got the friendliest bees (Carpenter bees [Xylocopa varipuncta], are about 3x the size of a regular bumblebee, and have a very heavy, ponderous flight pattern.  The females are glossy black, and have a stinger, while the males are yellow and fuzzy, and lack a stinger.  They’re also fairly curious, so if one comes upon you, it’ll probably circle around you for a while.  But they’re harmless, and will usually get bored and go away after a while.) and the most amazingly vicious wasps (Pepsis wasps [Pepsis grossa], A.K.A. “Tarantula hawks” are shiny, iridescent blue and purple, very aggressive, and have one of the most [if not the most] painful stings of any insect in the United States.  As the name implies, they kill and eat tarantulas.) but I’d never seen anything like this before…


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