Saturday, December 27, 2008

get to work!

I got to spend a couple of hours last week at Christ Church Brenham taking down an old carport and some other stuff. It's good to have the truck do more than just look pretty! (8 foot beds rule.)

leaks and legality

It's been a couple of weeks but in that time the truck is now roadworthy. It began with a new starter from AutoZone. I found out in getting it that the engine in this truck is not the original but instead a 1975 350 v8. Anyway I replaced the starter myself and was stoked at how easy and cheap it was until I left the starter-to-battery cable touching a header and it shorted out and melted the negative battery cable clear off. I had my friend Alex pull me to Allan's Automotive where I had them replace the wires and take care of a transmission fluid leak. Once they got it running again I took the truck to Mill Creek Glass here in town where those guys put in a new windshield.
So it passed inspection and I've been driving it almost daily.
Next on the list of leaks to fix is a lower radiator hose. Besides that one the rear differential needs a new gasket and the oil pan looks like it could use one too. (I'm really having to fight myself to not replace all these parts with chrome plated ones. What can I say? I like shiny stuff.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

$1,630 and counting.

Dylin and I bought some headlights today from AutoZone and I put some steel wool to the grill and headlight frames. Nice.




Moonpie and Buddy.

Even though it's not a Chevy, Dlyin made a "bow tie" for the front.

The Jalopy

You'd think I didn't have anything going on since I haven't reported for several months but in fact we have recently enjoyed our two year anniversary in our beloved yellow house. (I will be posting some comparison shots soon). Besides that I recently acquired a pick up that was on the list of cars I'd like to own ('64 Impala SS, 67-69 Camaro, '63 Caddy, etc) This one is a 1971 GMC C1500 longbed custom. I plan to keep a running tally of what I do to the truck in order to keep things straight and so that I don't become distracted and end up turning it into an art car.

-Paid $1,500 for it. Bought it off a nice guy named Scott in Cedar Park and drove it 150 miles the first day. (Wouldn't start the next morning. More on that later.)
-Drivetrain. Fairly tight rebuilt stock 350 5.7L V8 engine. Smooth 3 speed tranny. Headers. 4 barrel carb. Flowmasters.
-Brand new tires and rally wheels that don't look too bad.
-Wood bed! I love wood beds.
-Long bed. The 64-72 Chevys are the only longbeds I prefer. Yeah SWBs are great but overrated and over priced in my opinion.
-The color. I like the two-tones and I wanted either blue, orange or green. Happy to have a blue one.
-In my limited opinion this truck has much less rust (and bondo) than one I could have paid over twice as much for. I think I'll be able to set it up for a paint job only needing a few holes filled and a driver-side rocker panel.

-I have yet to get the full story but it seems as though the truck was near a fire at some time as the windshield is badly cracked and even separated and the park light lenses are melted.
-A windshield repacement is gonna set me back at least $250 and from what I've read about the job it's a pain.
-The starter has died and needs replacing. Besides that it looks covered in oil and I'm wondering if that had anything to do with it's death. The problem there is that I don't want more oil leakage to destroy a new starter.
-I had to shell out $85 on a new battery.
-Needs new headlights and aux light lenses all the way around minus the tail lights.
-Leaking from the rear differential.
-Leaking steering fluid.
-No power brakes or power steering.
-I tested the parking brake only to have it engage and refuse to disengage.
-Door locks need replacing and may not work once I do.
-Passenger door needs a new exterior handle.
-Outside trim molding is 80% there but pretty beat up.
-Steering wheel off a early-90's GMC.

As for the interior it's really not a plus or a minus. Mostly all still factory so I'm glad it hasn't been messed with but no air (maybe a heater) and no radio. The rest of the glass is in pretty good shape and won't need to be replaced.

My overall goal is to have a daily driver that will allow us to have what it is: a truck. I won't mess with the interior other than to clean it and have the doors able to lock so I can keep things inside the cab.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

that'll do pig...that'll do

ok so here we are with 3 more feet of fence (and a door) added to the top thus making the chicken pen 6 feet tall. getting the chickens in this time was easy. i opened the door there and cornered them then they walked right in.

the next few days will prove if the problem has been solved as i'm sure they will test the weak spots. in fact i saw them huddled under the coop earlier today planning their escape. just like in 70's soccer film "victory" starring sly stallone, michael caine and pele.

the last shot here symbolizes the constant reminder of the city that is always just a watertower away from our little farm...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

back to the drawing board

the plan was simple: designate a small area behind the shed where the chickens could poop wherever they wanted to. so i start by catching all 8 birds (with the help of the expert bird wrangler moonpie) and clipping a few inches of feathers off their right wing. not too tough and only a couple of bleeders. well i had the summer interns out to help as we built up two pieces of 3' tall fencing and a 4'x4' elevated chicken coop. james, phil, and the other phil did much of the fence and i made short work of the coop then spent the rest of the day re-catching chickens and chunking them into their new "home".

two hours later and all but the rooster had escaped back into general population. apparently a clipped yardbird can still fly over a 3' fence...

tomorrow morning we'll add another 3' feet to the fence and if that doesn't work i'm tying rocks to the chicken's kneecaps.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back to Pedaling...

We had a few good months of Moto-cycling around the greater Washington County area but the darn thing was starting to sit more than it should so I'm back to the original cruiser.

More back story: I bought the Sabre for $4,000, then put about $250 into it. I started thinking about selling when I noticed I was only getting 35 mpg on it. So I put it up on craigslist on Thursday morning and by Friday night it was gone. Sold for $5,200.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Not exactly plumb"

With a backyard of escaping chicks, naked toddlers, and poison ivy growing in the bushes we decided it was time to take down the 6' chainlink fence and put up a privacy fence.

Here are the important #s:

*1,200 - dollars that the gov. gave us back as an economic stimulus

*1,785.32 - dollars we spent for materials and equipment rentals

*233 - feet of new fence put up

*34 - 2' deep holes for posts dug with a one man auger

*497 - dog ear fence pickets used

*2,500 - nails used to attach the pickets

*52 - hours spent on the job

The best part of this project was after completing the job with no other help than Mandi carrying pickets was having a church member drive by and say from out his car window, "not exactly plumb." Thanks church member.

We're already enjoying the fence as the chicks have full access to the entire backyard, "Texas" the kitty won't wander off and the family can pee whenever we feel like it!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

jetting the carbs

Apparently whenever you open the flow on your exhaust by attaching loud pipes you may also need to adjust the fuel to air mixture in your carburetor. So with the help of my friend, James Calvery, we dug into the frame to pull out the carbs and fit them with different sized fuel jets and needles. The Sabre has two carbs that fit SNUGLY in the frame on top of the engine and under the gas tank. We figured it'd take a couple of hours to do it but it took about 4 and a half. There was fudge to consume and stories to tell of course.
The key to this project was to bum James' garage, tools and expertise. He wasn't intimidated by the 15 hoses attached to the carbs. I was. My favorite part of the night was watching him ride the bike through his sleeping neighborhood at midnight at full throttle shooting blue flames out the pipes! Think "Grease 2".

the concho cowboy

The Sabre came with several accessories like a windshield, an after-market seat, and saddle bags. The problem was the bike was overwhelmed with rivets, conchos and leather tassels! Some guys like that stuff but I think those are also the guys who wear do-rags and t-shirts with wolves on them. So to remedy the situation I spray-painted the saddle bags (they're plastic but look made of leather) with flat black rustoleum then sealed them with a satin clear coat. They look pretty good and match the seat nicely.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

down with skate ramps up with tree houses

Three years ago we built some skate ramps for skaters in Brenham. Then the City of Brenham established a tennis court skate park for the same skaters. So we found ourselves with some ramps no one wanted and in need of the space the ramps occupied in the shed next to the Student Center. Recently I was cutting a tree down that was growing up right next to one of the live oaks in our yard and noticed it created a pretty good tree house area in the live oak. So Kyler Crenshaw and his truck met me at the shed and we took ramps apart and dumped the 2x4s and plywood in my backyard. The original plan was to have one platform that Dylin, Levi and friends could reach by a ladder from the ground but once I measured the distance and it came out to be 8 feet high and it seemed that might require too much climbing so I planned for the second level.

Some more facts:
-A dark stainer/sealer was used so the tree house would blend into the tree naturally.
-Only one 3" screw was drilled directly into the tree to keep from damaging the tree.
-All lumber used on the tree house is recycled skateboard ramps.
-Most of the 3" woodscrews used to build were also reused from the initial ramps.
-The ladders and slide were donated from some friends who were trashing their daughter's playset preping for a move.
-The "theme" of the treehouse is rustic and simple so it'll lend itself well to being a fairy house, castle, fort, or even a turkish prison!

born to be mild

Last year we sold my $20,000 pick up and I bought a bicycle to get to and from work and ride around town. It wasn't long before I realized the limitations a bicycle has as a primary means of transportation. The main problem was the amount of hills in our fair Brenham. So seeing as hundreds of guys from Houston spend an hour and a half riding up here just to ride around some of our nearby scenic highways on a Saturday, how great would it be to ride out here everyday? Needless to say I'm stoked to have a motorcycle again but I didn't want a "project bike". I really needed something dependable but I also needed to pay cash for it so insurance would be cheap. So several months of looking steered me toward the Honda Sabre VT1000. It's considered a middle-weight cruiser, known for it's dependability and easy maintenance. I found a 2002 model on craigslist in late February in Austin.

The real "project" aspect of the bike will be to see if it will continue to work as a daily driver (or rider) and continue to be cost effective. Other than the original cost of the bike I spend $90 a YEAR on insurance and get about 35 miles to the gallon (thanks to the loud pipes and a carb rejet). Oh yeah, it's really loud! I'll be updating the blog as I go but for now I am almost two months into owning "Shiny" (Dylin named her) and I have had nothing but a great time on her so far.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

coop de ville

my friend justin let us borrow his chic "omelet" coop (which is made in switzerland i think) for some chickens we were gonna be getting in on the condition that i help him build a small condo for the chickens he would soon be getting in. so we burned a saturday together building this beautiful thing. it will house 20 or so chickens and the simple design is a corrugated metal shell over a 2x4 frame on top of a treated 4x4 base. an ample percentage of the $170 material cost went into two beefy casters that will make it possible to rotate the coop around their backyard that'll keep killing grass to a minimum. so justin got a lot of bang for his buck, the chickens got a nice pad and i got a couple of free meals at the chappell hill diner and a sweet farmer tan.