Monday, October 2, 2017

I Lost My Breath And Then Fate Stepped In

Fate is a fickle bitch. It usually shows up at the most inopportune time and when least expected. The fickle part is that fate can be for you or against you, and the against you is usually a bad thing. Last night, October the first, it was really bad. Really, really bad.

I think every parent's worst nightmare is to receive a distressing phone call about their child. What is worse is to receive a frantic call from your child during a traumatic event and then suddenly realizing that there is nothing you can do to help them. Their life is in the hands of fate. Your son or daughter is hundreds of miles away, desperately calling you, maybe for the last time, and you can do absolutely nothing. To make matters worse, during the phone call you hear screaming, and are those gunshots in the background!? The call is over way too fast and you need answers, your mind screams for clarity, but all you can do is sit and wait. It is a feeling that I wish upon no one on this earth. It's like your breath is being taken away. Last night, October the first, I lost my breath and then fate stepped in.

As the world now knows, on October first in Las Vegas Nevada, the deadliest mass shooting incident in the history of the United States happened at the Route 91 Country Music Festival. The very same event that our son and his girlfriend were attending. That phone call came way before any mainstream media news of the incident and we were desperate for information. We turned to social media where facebook was our friend, twitter was raw but informative, and a live audio feed of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police kept us on edge and updated. As this horrific event unfolded before us we couldn't help but wonder what our son and his girlfriend were experiencing. After what seemed like an eternity we finally received a phone call! Our son and his girlfriend were safe and somehow managed to make it back to their hotel room, but unfortunately this nightmare was far from over. The waiting game that ensued was nothing short of pure agony. The walls seemed to be slowly closing in around me and I couldn't help but think of "what if" scenarios. Minutes seemed like hours. My mind was betraying me as I desperately clung to faith. We knew they were sheltered in their hotel room but as the night wore on, and all the active shooter reports were (falsely) pouring in, we couldn't help but wonder if they were really safe. The very same information sources that we took some sort of feigned comfort in before were now disseminating information at a rabid rate, some of which we now know was untrue. Suddenly I took a deep breath as fate had once again stepped into the situation.

Fate was fortunately on our son's side last night, which really does nothing to ease the pain and trauma of witnessing death and mayhem all around you, let alone the pain and grieving that others are feeling that actually lost a loved one. For them fate was unusually cruel. Fate can also make survivors question themselves and the situation. Why did this happen? Why did the person, who was just a few feet next to me, die? What if I was standing there? Wait, I think I was standing in that spot! Maybe I could have helped more people. Am I a bad person for running away? Why did this happen? Why? Why?

There is a ton more questions that need answers and hopefully all of us will get the answers we are seeking. Although answers will not ease anyone's pain, they may provide closure for some and relief for others. In my opinion this incident is still too fresh to jump to any conclusions. The only thing definite is all the lives that were forever changed, some would say because fate stepped in.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Alignment of a Different Sorts

I read a lot of automotive related publications, probably more then  most, and that's not even including repair manuals! I have observed a common thread, or consensus, among many of the senior writers: as we get older it naturally becomes harder to do the things we once did easily in our youth. Although that statement seems like a "no-brainer", it is easily overlooked when it comes to project cars.

Speaking of project cars, I am the king of change. The grass is always greener on the other side when it comes to something "new". To be honest, I get burnt out easily on whatever current vehicle I am working on as they never seem to get completed. Gee, I wonder why? I believe I could cure my condition if I could just finish a car and actually drive it. It's the driving part that I feel is the prescription needed for the cure and is some of the best therapy available. Anyone who has ever been feeling down or grumpy knows what I am talking about. Take your classic or muscle car for a spin, the wind blowing through your hair, (apologies to those who are bald) and your spirits are instantly lifted. For most, it is a mental transformation like no other.

I could be looking at a mood deciding crossroads in my life. I know that ten years from now I won't be able to maintain the same level of work load as I do today. If I continue my current trend of endless project cars, I will never get one finished and be able to enjoy it. That's the key word here: enjoy. You might know a person or have heard a story of someone who either passed away, became too old, or just gave up on life and had to sell their project car. Usually included in the selloff was a boat load of parts that they had been collecting for the car. It makes me wonder if they were always chasing the perfect project or just never made the time to work on the car. Before they knew it, it was too late.

My current thinking is that I am in over my head in regards to my cars. The goal when I bought my 442 (Project Yellowjacket) was to get it on the road as soon as possible. I soon discovered that because it had been sitting for so long, the car needed major work. No big deal, right? I only had the one project car and could concentrate on it. Wrong. A stray '56 Chevy 210 found me and begged me to buy it. I stopped in the middle of an engine rebuild on Yellowjacket and pulled the trigger on the '56. Dubbed "Time Warp", the goal for this car was to get it on the road as soon as possible so I would have something cool to cruise around in. (see therapy above) I soon discovered that because Time Warp had been sitting for 25 plus years, it also needed major work. Suddenly I had the feeling of deja vu. Ideally, I should sell one of my project cars and concentrate on just one, but which one?

The good news is that I have about 95 percent of the parts needed to complete Time Warp and about 60 percent of the parts needed to complete Yellowjacket. Now the word "complete" here is a relative term, as one person's version of complete may differ from another persons. (The complete I am referring to is the running and driving version, not the completely restored version.) Common sense says that I should keep Time Warp and get rid of Yellowjacket, but who ever said that I had common sense? The bad news here is that I can't seem to find the time to do the work. What I do know is that ten years from now I want to be driving and enjoying these cars, not still wrenching on them. Time is the enemy here so I may have to make some tough decisions on which car to keep. I'll have to align my projects and prioritize them accordingly, otherwise I might find out the hard way that it's too late!

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mail Call

Regular visitors to the Amberlight Garage and readers of my blog know that I get interesting emails from time to time as I have written about them more then once. From cool products sent to me for review to unabashed solicitation for "guest" blogger articles, my inbox never ceases to amaze.

The latest email was a bit of a surprise for me. It seems like more praise is being heaped on the old Amberlight Garage! A very nice lady decided to include me in her list of Top 10 Automotive Bloggers on the Test Facts website. As the sole writer and malarkey producer of Frank's Classic Car Blog, it is an honor to be featured on any list, as long as said list does not involve Homeland Security or the IRS!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more unique stuff and articles that you won't find anywhere else!

Click Here for the Top Ten

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's The Little Things

When it comes to working on cars, I am the king of getting side tracked. I refer to these interruptions as "micro projects". This is when you are already working on a project and get sidetracked on another, smaller project. Sometimes micro projects can balloon in sub-micro projects. Sub-micros are when your micro project leads you into yet another micro project, so you end up getting distracted even more! As you can see, it can quickly spiral out of control which is probably why my projects seem to stay projects way longer then I expected.

Another category under micro projects is what I call Domino's Law. Domino's Law is the result of The Domino Effect and Murphy's Law colliding together in a most abnormal way, almost as if a Hadron Super Collider was used to join these two forces. This bastardized marriage usually results in wallets being emptied and/or heavy credit card usage. Domino's Law is very prevalent in my latest project car, a '56 Chevy called "Time Warp". Time Warp seems to be plagued by Domino's Law, even though I am continually offering up monetary sacrifices in an attempt to keep it at bay. It seems like every time I even look at the car I find something that needs attention. I think I subconsciously avoid working on Time Warp because it seems like when I am replacing something, all I have to do is look at the surrounding area and I will find a problem! Loose bolt, wore out bushing, missing screw, rust hole, leaking gasket, etc, etc. I think you get the picture and I am sure many of you have experienced the same thing. Well now you have a name for it, Domino's Law!

Domino's Law is unavoidable unless I were to put on blinders or worse yet, ignore the obvious. Gasp! I can barely type it let alone actually do it. I am just too much of a perfectionist. Now when it come to the micro projects, I just need to manage them better. Regardless of how many micros or sub-micros I encounter, I need to keep the original project goal in sight. Now if I can just convince the perfectionist side of me to stop being so critical of every little thing, I might actually get something done!

An oil leak that I noticed when I was supposed to be tearing down the steering linkage...


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More Doors Galore

Stop the presses! The number one authoritarian influence in hot rodding has declared four door automobiles "more fun". That's right folks, none other then Hot Rod Magazine themselves have deemed more doors "cool". I can remember not too long ago when certain editors loathed four doors. You were lucky if they gave a nod to your long roof (station wagon), but those were usually treated with the same disdain. It seems like their new editor, Evan Perkins, has a different opinion. That or the magazine has come to realize that unless you inherit a classic car, two door muscle car era vehicles are becoming a rich man's game.

Just when I thought there was a beacon of hope for my B body more door, Hot Rod's new found lust for quad doored vehicles seems to be regulated to mid sized vehicles with absolutely no mention of their battleship sized brethren. While this was not all that surprising to me, it was a huge risk for this still wet behind the ears editor to actually go on the record promoting more doors. I have long sought their inclusion in the mainstream automotive media but there are many others that have extremely negative reactions towards them and may take to social media in protest. As for me, I have sung the four door blues before when I wrote about this very topic in a piece called Land of the Lost.

For those who think like me and can't get enough of the classic four doors, I have amassed a small collection of pictures aptly named More Doors Galore. You can view the collection here. Like I have always said, If two is better then one then four is fantastic!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

FranktoidTM No. 17 - The Man Plate

Summer is coming and my man plate is getting full. What's a man plate you ask? Is it a distant cousin of the man bun? Brother to the man cave? Uncle of the man purse? Actually the man plate is all your current projects combined together whether they be mechanical, wood, landscaping, or household. Basically all traditional guy stuff. Man plates have no room for video games or sports, unless the latter is hunting and then I want to hear a Tim Taylor grunt! Move over Brawny Paper Towels lumberjack, the man plate is piled high with a heapin' pile o' man stuff.

Currently my man plate has two project cars, a half finished garage reorganization, interior trim painting, front door replacement, and a side yard that needs landscaping, but I will probably farm that out because I loathe yard work. Pile on some regular vehicle maintenance and unexpected emergencies and my man plate is pretty darn full! With so much to do it's a wonder that anything gets done at all, but I just plug away at it little by little. The key for me is not to get burnt out on any one thing so I will bounce back and forth between projects to keep things fresh.

Don't judge a man plate by it's "size" either. It is not about how many projects you do or do not have, but rather where they place on the man meter. Confused? Let me explain. If you have a few energy saving light bulb changes and some weeding in the garden on your man plate, you might be lucky and rank about a 2 or 3 on the man meter. On the other hand if you have an oil change on tap, firing up the chain saw to cut some fire wood, swapping out that leaking cartridge on your kitchen faucet, and changing out the wax ring on the toilet, you just scored an easy 8 or 9 on the man meter! Be a man and man up your man plate.

So now that we know all there is to know about the man plate, what's on yours?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Years Revolution

It's a New Year's "revolution" here at the Amberlight Garage, with lots of stuff revolving around. I thought I would post an update on some of my projects as I have been a bit remiss in my blogging duties. This particular post is kinda special as it is my 100th one! It's a little hard to believe I have actually written that much stuff. Well, without further ado, here is the latest:

Project Yellowjacket, my '72 442, has been mainly collecting dust in the garage. I did manage to find a complete 455 big block out of a boat. After the initial tear down I discovered the bores were already .060 over! The machine shop confirmed that the cylinders were tapered and some had rust pits that would not hone out. The block was magged and was in good shape, so I pulled the trigger on 8 sleeves and had the block bored to .030 oversize. You're probably wondering why I didn't leave it standard being I was starting out "new" again. Well, when I was pricing forged pistons, the standard size was almost double the price of .030 over pistons! Besides, a little more cubic inches never hurts. The crank was .010/.010 and was in good shape, so it was micro polished. The big end of the rods were reconditioned, new rod bolts were installed, and they were pressed onto the new pistons. The entire assembly was also balanced. The short block is just about ready to assemble, all I need to do is pick out a new cam. Because I am looking at putting a hydraulic roller in it, which costs about as much as I have in the block so far, it might be awhile...
Now I just have to put it together!

Among the things preventing me from working on the Olds is my newest acquisition, a 1956 Chevy 210. As with all my project cars, I had to come up with a name for the '56. This particular car had been sitting in a garage for 25 plus years. When I really started looking things over I noticed that everything that had been done to the car was from at least two decades ago! It was almost like it was in a time capsule, so the name 'Time Warp" seemed like a good fit. Turns out Time Warp needs a little more work then what I initially thought. Oops, who could have guessed that? The plan was to work on it and get it back on the road as soon as possible, with safety being the priority. I discovered the front suspension was shot, along with the steering box, along with the steering column, along with the brakes, along with plenty of other stuff but I stopped looking because I ran out of money for parts. The jury is still out on getting Time Warp on the road soon, but one thing for sure is that I need to get it into the garage and out of the elements.
Now I just have to take it apart!

The first major project of the new year won't involve working on cars, it will be making room for them! The Amberlight is going to get a make over of sorts. Maybe a "move over" is more appropriate as I will be moving a lot of stuff out of one garage and into another. The goal is to house two vehicles in the detached garage instead of just one and move the engine building and entire parts inventory into the main garage. (I have a lot of parts, aka "stuff") This will give me a clean room of sorts for the engine work and free up a lot of room in the Amberlight so it can actually hold two cars. Stay tuned for more posts on these project cars and who knows what else, possibly another one? I just happened to hear a story the other day about a Camaro that has been stored in a garage since 1983... Wait, I don't have anymore room, or do I??

Now all I have to do is move this "stuff"!