Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tale Of Two Ponies

It all started Thursday night. I went out in the evening to drive the Mustang. It was really difficult to start. It acted like there was no spark. But it did start although it did not run well for the first mile. After that it was fine. Then Friday night, I was going to drive it to church for the Good Friday service. This time it would not start at all, so I drove the Bronco (the other "Pony" car).

This morning I tried to figure out what was wrong with the Mustang. A check of the ignition proved to me that it had spark. But I could not check the fuel pressure. The fuel line has a shrader valve(like the valve on your tires for filling with air) where a fuel pressure check can be done. I pushed on the valve stem and vented the fuel pressure. Not much gas squirted out, like there was little pressure.

So I got into the Bronco looking for a fuel system test set. My wanderings took me several places and I ended up at Fred Meyer. I still did not find what the parts I was looking for, so I bought some other stuff  needed from there. While I was in the store, I chatted with a sailing acquaintance that I had not seen for some time. He ask me about the Bronco and how it was running. He evidently followed my blog when I was installing the V8 engine. I was Smug and told him that it was running well. But when I left Fred Meyer, the Bronco would not start. It acted like it had no spark. So, I decided to give it time and walked across the parking lot to O Reilly Auto Parts. They did not have the test kit I was looking for either, so back to the Bronco. It still would not fire. I even changed out the ignition module that I carry as a spare to no effect. So I started walking home(it is only about 3 miles. About halfway home, a friend from church saw me and gave me a ride home.

At home, I ate lunch and then rounded up some tools and parts to take back to Fred Meyer. I was planning on riding a bicycle back to Fred Meyer, but I decided to give the Mustang one more try. I realized that I have a high pressure hand air pump with a gage that is used for the bicycle tires. It also has a screw on chuck that would screw onto the Mustang's fuel test valve. So, I screwed it onto the fuel test valve and turned on the power. Sure enough, the fuel pressure is low. But one part of the test is to also crank the engine over. I cranked it over and it STARTED! Cool! I shut it off to remove my pump/test kit. Now it would not restart! Strange! So I reinstalled the pump/test kit and it started. This time I let it run for a while before unscrewing the pump chuck. Only thing I can think of was that the pump hose acted like an accumulator and evened out the pressure.

So now I drove the Mustang back to try to retrieve the Bronco. I went to O Reilly again and bought some ignition parts that I was planning on changing anyway. I checked the spark with the timing light. No joy. I checked that power should be available(by turning things on that were on the same circuit) and everything seemed OK. I rebuilt the distributor in the parking lot. But I had forgotten a spare coil and a voltmeter at home. So back home with the Mustang to get the parts and then back to Fred Meyer. This time with the voltmeter, I checked the voltage to the ignition module. It was OK. So finally I changed the coil to a spare that actually came with the Mustang(the seller said that he thought it was defective). This time the Bronco fired right up! While it was running, I decided to take it straight home and it ran great all the way home.

So with one pony car home, the other was still at Fred Meyer. So I got out a bicycle and rode it to Fred Meyer. I wasn't totally sure that the bicycle would fit in the Mustang, but with the front wheel removed it fit fine.

So both ponies are home and secure in their stables. I will probably go to Harbor Freight next week. They have a fuel pressure test kit on sale. I also have a new fuel filter that I will install. Running out of gas a few days ago may have stirred up junk and clogged the filter. Worst case would be if I have to change the fuel pump in the Mustang. A big job but not insurmountable.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Pony Car Project-Smoothing Out the Drive

Before I bought the Mustang, the seller told me that it had a wheel out of balance and vibrated between 40-60 mph. Sure enough, when we got up to speed it started shaking really BAD! My thought was that it was a universal joint(u-joint) in the drive line was loose as I could feel the vibration in the middle of the car, in the shift knob and the mirror was out of focus. I did not think it could be serious so I bought the car. I don't know how the seller could stand to drive from Spanaway to my home. After it was home, I could hardly stand to get it up to highway speeds. I checked it out as soon as I got it home. The u-joints did not seem to be bad. The back one was tight and the front one did not seem to be that loose. I started second guessing myself that it was something worse.
Finally today, I backed the Mustang up on the ramps, crawled underneath and checked the u-joints thoroughly. Yes, the rear one did not have any slop in it. But, the front one had some play in the bearings. I remembered from before with the Bronco, I had a u-joint that not seem bad but when I changed it, my problem went away.
So, this afternoon I went to the parts store and bought a new u-joint. Removal of the drive shaft, changing the u-joint and reinstalling the drive shaft went quick. I am not used to a slip yoke drive shaft, four bolts on the differential flange and the drive shaft yoke slips right out of the transmission unlike my four wheel drive vehicles that are bolted on each end.
I went for a drive up Highway 3 and sure enough, the worst of the vibration is gone. There is still some vibrations and noises, but after 30 miles, I feel I can drive this car longer distances now.
So, I knocked two items off the "to do" list. The u-joint was one and while I was at the parts store, I also bought a oil filler cap. Whats next? Other than on going cosmetic work, I want to get a new heater temperature control. Right now the existing control is stuck on full cabin heat. As the days warm, this is becoming annoying.
 Even with the rear wheels up on ramps, it is a tight fit to get under this car.
 The drive shaft removed from the car. The universal joints are on each end of the drive shaft. They allow for misalignment of the drive train components as the suspension flexes.
Pressing the new universal joint into the yoke. I have never used a press like this before. I bought the tool to change the front ball joints on the Bronco and after I got it home realized that it will work for u-joints too. This made life easy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

NASCAR Fireworks At Fontana

It all started last week at Bristol. Denny Hamlin (#11) and Joey Logano (#22) tangled. Logano cut in front of Hamlin and Hamlin gave Logano a tap. Logano spun out and hit the wall. After the race Logano was waiting for Hamlin and a scuffle ensued. All week a war of Tweets has been waging.
This week at Fontana Ca for the Auto Parts 400, speculation has been flying about as to how the two racers would handle themselves. Fortunately I stayed  home and watched the conclusion of the race. On the final start with a few laps to go, Hamlin and Logano found themselves racing side by side for the win. Watch this and see what happens: 
What was not shown was how hard Hamlin hit the inside wall. It was a head on collision into a concrete wall. His car jumped off the ground several feet. Hamlin was able to get out of the car, but collapsed on the ground. He was flown to a hospital where it was reported that he was doing well. Logano was not hurt and also managed to finish the race.
Another incident also occurred at last start with a few laps to go. Logano spun his tires and came down the track to block Tony Stewart (#14). Stewart tried to go low around Logano for the lead and both cars ended up below the line on the apron. I could not load a video of that incident, but here is the aftermath following the race. Tony was not happy: 
Reporters caught up with Tony in the pits, but that interview was loaded with so many bleeps that it was not real understandable. But here is a press conference where Tony speaks his mind: 

So, this season is starting to ramp up early on for some interesting viewing!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Shakedown Race, WSSA No. 2

Today was the second race of the West Sound Sailing Association (WSSA) series. It is called the Spring Shakedown Race, first started by Sinclair Inlet Yacht Club and then much later turned over to Port Orchard Yacht Club when Sinclair Inlet ceased to have any racing sailboats.

The weather was sunny and warm and the wind light and shifty. We placed well.

I think the results can be found here when they are posted: Spring Shakedown 2013

Here is our track for the day. We started at the bottom in front of the Port Orchard Yacht Club and headed south. The green track is the first lap and the red lap is the second lap.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pony That Followed Me Home.

Earlier this week I posted (Another Pony To Feed?) about a 1985 Mustang GT that a friend found for me on Craigslist and how it sold before I had a chance to look at it. Subsequent to missing that Mustang, I went back to Craigslist to see what else was available. It was probably a good thing that I missed  the first Mustang because it gave me time to research Mustangs more. Because of my research, I expanded my search to newer cars. After 1985, they just seemed to get better with more power and features. Sure enough, I found a 1990 Mustang GT that was listed as a "project car" at a low price. The seller is in the military and just did not have time or money to finish all the little items that need attention.
So today I drove to Spanaway to look at this Mustang. My first impression was that the body was really straight. Someone had painted it white and the paint job was OK. I also was pleasantly surprised that the interior was better than what I was lead to believe. The seats were in great shape, the carpet looks new. The downside is that some trim pieces are missing, some pieces not installed and laying in the trunk, the electric locks don't work, headliner needs replacing, but probably the worst was how dirty and filled with clutter it was. The engine started right up and sounded good.
I took it out for a drive. It ran good, has lots of power, but did have a vibration that seems like a worn universal joint. Not a big deal if that is what it is.
All in all, it seemed to have good potential, so I made the owner an offer and after a couple of counter offers, we agreed on a cash price below the listed price. The owner drove it home for me and I returned him to Spanaway.
After returning home from dropping off the seller, I washed the exterior, vacuumed out the interior and got rid of the clutter. What a difference! With the dirt washed off it has a good appearance. And other than installing interior trim pieces, the interior looks good. Some of the electrical issues will take some troubleshooting. The first item will be to determine what the vibration is.
So, I feel smug about my purchase. This is my next project but if I get tired of it, I think now that I cleaned it up, I could sell it for more for it than I paid.
This is only the second "car" that I have ever owned. After my first car that I bought in 1971 while in high school, I have had only pickups and 4 wheel drive vehicles. I did buy a "car" two and a half years ago, but I only owned it long enough to extract the engine and transmision to put in my Bronco. That car was picked up by the hulk hauler and sent to the scrap yard.

 The 1990 Mustang GT before I washed off all the grime. The picture does not adequately show how dirty it was.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Pony To Feed?

About 2-1/2 years ago, I started a project on my 1984 Bronco II. The project involved buying a 1977 Ford Granada, extracting it's V8 engine and transmission and installing them in the Bronco II. At the risk of being smug, the Bronco project has been extremely successful and resulted in a vehicle with much more power, a lot more fun to drive and a very clean installation. The total conversion required lots of planning and problem solving, much like my years of working. This project was documented starting in Oct 2010 by this post, Great Bronco Engine Transplant and continues on with many posts for over a year while the conversion was taking place and other upgrades were being accomplished. It will never be completed!

Following the success of the Bronco(it will never be finished) I have been looking for another project to start on. One thought is to find a mid 80's or newer Mustang to work on. Hopefully this would be a drivable vehicle that I could pick at slowly to restore or modify. I have been searching Craigslist and other places. Most of what I found were very expensive ones or Mustangs that were not running and parked in a field somewhere(slight exaggeration).

Last Friday, my friend Jim sent me an email with a Craigslist ad for a 1985 Mustang, T-top, 302 high output V8 engine, 5 speed transmission and positraction differential. All the goodies! The downside is that the engine had a blown head gasket. The price was real reasonable and the pictures made the car look to be in reasonable shape with some damage to the left front fender.

I was in Gig Harbor for the weekend and could not look at it, but I emailed the owner and ask some questions. He answered my questions and lowered the price without me asking! I was ready to look at it. Unfortunately by the time I could  call on Sunday, the ad was gone and the owner did not return my call. It was gone already.

So, the search continues. If anyone knows of a Mustang for sale, let me know. I am looking for a 1985 or newer, Mustang GT, preferably a 5 speed. Hopefully I will have room to stable two ponies in my driveway!

The one that got away! This would have been a good affordable project.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gig Harbor Islands Race 3-16-2013

Today was Gig Harbor Islands Race. This is the fourth and final race of the Southern Sound Series This race starts at Gig Harbor, goes north to Blake Island and return.

This year it was rainy and windy. We placed well.

Thanks to my crew of Tom, Jim, Walter, Ranier and Dave for keeping me headed in the right direction.

Results when they are posted can be found here: Southern Sound Series Website

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Harbor Freight Tools, aka Harbor Freight

Yesterday, I drove to Tacoma to shop at Harbor Freight. For those that don't know what Harbor Freight is, it is a tool store that specializes in inexpensive tools. Most of the tools are imported and are of dubious quality. But even if they are not high quality, there are a lot of tools for sale there that are not as readily available. And since the prices are cheap, I feel that I can purchase tools for a few uses and if they fail they can be discarded. Most of what I have bought has held up well, but if I want something of good quality I go elsewhere.

A example was the lifting equipment I bought when I was replacing the engine in the Bronco. I needed an engine hoist to remove the engine out of the Granada and move the engine around the garage, remove the Bronco's engine and later load it into a truck when I sold it, install and remove the engine into the Bronco several times as well as several other miscellaneous lifts around the house. This all went on over a matter of at least six months. A friend had a discount coupon for a 2 ton, folding leg, hydraulic engine hoist for about $75 off regular price. So for much cheaper than renting a hoist multiple times, I own my own and it is always available to use. Some people have said that the hydraulic cylinder will fail. I really don't care, I got my moneys worth out of it. I can always fix it. Over the years I have bought many specialized tools that may only be used a few times: pullers, multi meters, vacuum pump, digital calipers, engine stand, etc.

A few days ago I got a mailer from Harbor Freight for items on sale. I noticed a couple of items for sale that I have wanted to progress on some ongoing suspension work on the Bronco. I drove to Harbor Freight and bought a set of car ramps and a ball joint press set. But there was so much more to see and of course lots of stuff is always on sale. I was a good boy and I left with the two things that I went there for.

BUT, I picked up some flyer's for future sale days. I already see some more things that I might want to buy! So maybe I will go back in April. So for the day, I felt smug by what I scored and was gobsmacked by all the cool things to look at.

 Ball joint service kit. I will use this when I rebuild the front end on the Bronco. A lot of people have said they either build there own tools for this or manage without anything extra. I would like to do it right and I found out that this kit can be used on things other ball joints.
Car ramps. With some of the work going on, I feel more comfortable using these to elevate the Bronco so that I can get underneath. I have watched the neighbor use his ramps for several years and I finally decided I needed my own.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Recently I have been noticing the word "gobsmacked" being used. I was never sure what it meant, so I decided I would do a little bit of research on it. Here is one of the definition from the place I found called the internet:


adjective Chiefly British Informal.
utterly astounded; astonished.
I had thought that it had to do with being surprised by an outcome, as that seemed to be the context where it was used. I did not know that it's origin was from England, specifically Northern England. One of my nieces interned in Northern England, so she may have heard this expression while she was there.
Lately where I have seen it used has been in "trendy" circles. This seems strange since it is considered "informal" and "slang". I wonder if those using it really know of it's origin? I doubt if I ever use it since I am not very "trendy", although it might be fun if others don't know what I am talking about! I am gobsmacked!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Recently I read where someone used the word "smug". They were angry because someone in their close knit group was referred to with that title.

Here is the definition:


adjective, smug·ger, smug·gest.
contentedly confident of one's ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.
trim; spruce; smooth; sleek.  
I cannot remember ever using this word and I looked through a couple of years of blog posts to see if I ever used this word in a blog entry. I cannot find it. Since the use of this word confused me, I went to the trouble of looking it up. If I did use that word in my blog, I would sure appreciate if someone would point out where.
After reading several definitions, I suppose that I can fit into this definition. I am fairly confident in my abilities whether it is sailing, cycling, motorsports, problem solving, mechanics or fabricating.  But I have always been quiet, somewhat reserved and shy. I tend to keep to myself at events and in public. I try not to brag or talk too much about what I do and the only "voice" I seem to have really acquired is in my writing. This does not fit in well where the current social norm seems to be publicly bragging and "back slapping" about abilities and successes. So, I guess the "contently confident" part of the definition fits me. I can accept that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


It started out so easy. The Bronco's turn signal switch was starting to get sloppy, would not stay engaged and was hard to engage. It was only a matter of time before it failed entirely. So last Thursday, I went to a local auto parts store to buy a new one. Like a lot of newer vehicles, the Bronco's turn signal switch also controls the headlight high/low beams, hazard lights and for 1984/85 the horn is also sounded by pushing on the end of the stalk. The horn feature never seemed to be one of Ford's better ideas. At the auto parts store, the counter person looked up the part for my year and model of vehicle. "We can order it" she said. "OK, when will it be here?" "It should be here by 530 this evening". "That sounds good. You will call"? "Yes we will call you when it is in".
So I paid what I thought was a premium price(it was cheaper to mail order) and waited for the call from them that it was in. Since I did not receive any call, I went to the store on Friday morning and picked up the new switch. Back home, after removing two screws that hold the plastic cowl around the steering column, two screws that hold the switch to the column and unplug two six-pin connectors, I removed the old switch. In a few minutes, I reversed the process and installed the new switch. Then I tested the functions: right/left turn signal, CHECK. High/low beams, CHECK. Hazard lights, CHECK. Horn? NO HORN! What is going on? Is this the right model? I removed the new switch and reinstall the old.
Back to the store with the new switch in hand and I explain the issue that the horn won't work with the new switch. "Yes, the switch is the correct one. We will have to order you a new one or you can drive to Silverdale, they have one in stock.". So off I go to Silverdale and exchange the switch for another. I did not get around to working on it again until Monday morning. This time I got my original 1984 Ford Bronco II Electrical Troubleshooting Manual and followed the test procedure to make sure that the horn feature in the switch worked. With my cheapo multimeter, I check that the horn circuit in the switched worked. Yes it did. So I remove the old switch and install the new. Then I tested it and the horn works! Great except now the hazard lights don't work! So I remove the switch and  test the hazard light switch in accordance with the manual and find the switch faulty. It also was stuck and would not pull out very far. Grrr! Back to the auto parts store. This time the parts person can only order in a different switch that actually cost less so I got some money back. So again, the conversation goes like this: "We can order it" she said. "OK, when will it be here?" "It should be here by 530 this evening". "That sounds good. You will call"? "Yes we will call you when it is in".
So after I did not receive a call Monday night, I went to the store Tuesday morning and got the third new switch. It was the same brand, but this time it was a different model built in Taiwan instead of USA where the other two were manufactured. The Taiwan model had a one year warranty, the ones built in the US had a lifetime warranty. I took the switch home and this time, I checked all twelve functions of the switch before I installed it. Everything tested OK and after I installed it, everything worked.
I am surprised at the failure rate of these units. I usually expect a new part to function and sure don't think I have to test it before I install it. I think they need to tighten their Quality Control.
 The switch from Taiwan that works well.
Testing the switch thoroughly before installing it.