Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Yep, Fall Is In The Air

Just noticed that the overnight lows for the next week are expected to dip into the 40's. It's been 5 months or thereabouts since they last dipped that low.

And some of the trees in the neighborhood have started turning yellow. Even our maple tree in the front yard has started to turn, and the crab apples are dropping off the tree in the backyard. I've heard the aspen trees have already turned, possibly due to the lower than normal rainfall they received.

We bought an 8' plug-together, pre-illuminated Christmas tree, used once, at a garage sale for $20. These go for ~$180 at the Big Box stores, so we scored on that one, along with another new-in-box 'baby gate' for $5. The people who had the sale are moving from Colorado to Kalifornia for reasons unknown, and were literally selling everything down to the walls of their $650k house over on the East side of town in the Miramont area.

And on the radio scene, I've canceled the plans for the tower and antennas. I was out measuring the yard a couple of weeks ago, and started getting questions from my wife about what I was doing. I explained to her I was locating where to site the tower, and she started getting reeeal nervous and agitated. The instant she said "Well, WHY do you need a tower?" I knew it would be tough sledding, so I'm just dropping the project.

I'll pick some other hill to die on, not this one.

This renders most of my equipment impotent, so I'll be listing it on eBay over the next few months. I'll keep my cheepie Bao-Wang-Feng-Ding-Dong walkie talkie and my Elecraft K2 and Buddipole, but as the old saying went "Everything Must Go!", and the rest of the equipment, parts, spares, antennas, accessories and other detritus of my radio career are going on the block.

If you happen to be looking for anything in shortwave receiving equipment, drop me a line and I'll send you a list of what I'm selling.

It's been a fun ride......

Monday, September 17, 2018

L.A. Fleet Week 2018 Video

From my friends on the Iowa. Lots of neat stuff to do and see. If you're in L.A. next Labor Day, try and include it, but get there early. They had around 300,000 visitors this year, and it's expected to grow.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Murphy Strikes!

But it's not serious, more like #672 of Mr. Murphy's famous laws, along with their various corollaries and sub-sections.

I started putting the foglamps back together so I could "bag 'em and tag 'em" until I get the rest of the front-end finished, and need to install them.

Cleaned up the wiring harness assemblies the other night.

And then fed them through the buckets to where they will mate with the reflector/lens assembly.

Took all the masking tape off the reflector/lens units, and cleaned the glass. They both had some kind of overspray that came right off, but the fronts of the lenses are "micro-pitted" with many, many tiny stone hits. I may or may not try and polish the lenses. They're in the grille, at knee-height, and unless you get right down there and look, you'd probably never notice it.

And that's when Mr. Murphy made an appearance. Something I hadn't considered when I shopped the LED replacements for the OEM H-3 Halogen bulbs, was what their overall length was.

This picture below shows it all. The clear glass bulb is the H-3 unit, and the depth stem of the caliper is set to the distance from the bulb flange to the internal baffle/light shield.

Yup.....the LED replacement is about 8mm TOO LONG to fit into the housing.


So, after spending about 30 minutes searching around, I found replacement "H-3" LED units that are only about 1mm longer than the Halogen bulbs. So, until they get here and I can wrap this small sub-sub-sub-project up, they're back to "Awaiting Parts" status.

So rather than let a nice Friday night in the garage go to waste, I put in all sixteen screws that hold the sunshade to the spoiler, and put the spoiler back on the car.

What is it with Japanese Engineers? Do they all have a "Small Fastener Fetish", or is it a cultural thing? Sheesh....sixteen screws to hold the sunshade on. Maybe some of the "downforce" these things are supposed to generate is caused by the weight of all that hardware......

So I then maneuvered it around a bunch, and plopped it on the car, where after a small amount of wiggling, all 8 mounting studs dropped through the holes in the hatch, and I started the nuts on them.

Yep...this is what the rear end of a 1985 Toyota Celica Supra "P-Type" is supposed to look like.

A bit of fettling to get the spoiler and gasket all tidy, and I torqued the nuts to 15 ftlbs, and stood back.

This assembly had been off the car for about three years now, and it's good to see it back on, as it's the only major thing that differentiates the 1985 from the earlier years of this model. The 1986 (six months only) had a third brake light added, but was otherwise identical to the 1985. With only 28,000 made, they're the lowest production run, so if you see one with a rear spoiler, either the hatch has been replaced with one from a 1985, or you're looking at one rare MKII Supra.

With the exception of mounting the antenna, the rear section is pretty much finished for now. Pulling the hatch to repair the surface rust on the leading edge and the upper jamb area can wait until Spring. This will allow me to concentrate on getting the front finished, which still needs a lot of work. The last big push will be to sand out, repair/fill the crazed areas, sand some more, and then prime and paint the front bumper cover. Then I have to clean/refurb the turn signal/side marker lamps, and put it all back together!

I can take it out while the weather is still pleasant, and then gunk the engine bay again,  drain the coolant, possibly flush it, and then put her in the garage while I start taking the front of the engine and the intake manifolding apart to catch up on all that deferred, unknown status maintenance, like the hoses, timing belt, and fuel injectors.

New Background Image

Got tired of the bland background image that "came with" this Blogger theme, so I started tinkering around a bit last night. I mostly just stayed with the default image because it didn't matter to me much, and then last night I was going through a file folder, and found a bunch from the Iowa, so I picked the one on display now, which was taken down in the museum area of the shop near the Gift Shop.

Since I'm now a Retired Land Baron living in Free America after 35 years in captivity doing Real Neat Stuff behind Socialist lines, I'll probably start rotating the images on a semi regular basis, and include some of the more pleasant ones from our new AO.

And I almost can't believe that 10 days from now will mark the one year anniversary of our CALEXIT, and my arrival here in Northern Colorado.

Time to finish up that 1 year AAR, I guess!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Well, At Least *I* Didn't Kill The Yard

Finally had a landscape guy come by to look at the yard. Hopefully this company is more reliable than that other Bozo we had for a while. I've been a little upset with myself as I thought I noticed the grass dying off not too long after I did the "Broadleaf Weed Killer" treatment to the yard. Nope, he says it's "drought stress", and we simply weren't watering enough.

If we'd watered the yard this much in Long Beach, the Water Cops would have hauled us away, and we still weren't watering enough. I was watering about 30 minutes per section a couple of times a week, and we really need more like an hour each time, at least three times a week. We still have the "Kailfornia Save The Fish and Kill The Crops" mentality as far as water use on the yard goes, and if we want a nice yard, we're going to have to change that mindset that's been hammered into us for the last 30 years.

He sad to put out some grass seed in the early Spring, and it should come back fine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Little Something for the Grandson....

Yep, it's from Harbor Freight, and was meant as a yard wagon, but when he saw it the other day, he took to it like it was his.

I can envision trips around the backyard, and through the neighborhood in the future.....

The bagged items are the rear seat backs from the Supra, and the decals came from an Amateur Radio supply house, and the "MOD" sticker is from a decent little "Pizza-On-Demand" place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11th

Others have written far more eloquently than I ever could, so please go check them out.

Aesop, in particular, expresses my sentiments on this day.

Yup...I'm just another Old Man who bitterly clings.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mundane Automotive Tasks

Mundane, but necessary, like a lot of grunt work.

Doing some clean-up work on a few items so I can paint them tomorrow. I took my Cooling Plate and buzzed it off with my orbital sander and some 140 grit. It put a nice, smooth, flat finish on it, and also gave the surface some "tooth" so the paint will stick better. This will get painted wrinkle-finish black.

Then I prepped two pieces of headlight trim that screw down to the hood. They fill the gap between the leading edge of the hood, and the back edge of the headlight pods. These are stamped steel, and the paint was weathered but solid, so I cleaned them, and then scuffed them up with some 220 grit. These will get painted satin black.

I'm going over the grille right now. I scrubbed the living daylights out of it in the sink with hot, soapy water (Dawn works very well), and several different brushes to get in all the nooks and crannies, and then went over it again with some of that semi-lame "No Scratch" blue Scotch-Brite I have. Even though it feels "squeaky clean", it still has splotches of road film on it that don't want to easily come off. I went through this with the two big pieces of black plastic headlight trim that go on the front and sides of the headlight pod and hide all the mechanical bits. I finally gave up on trying to get them clean, and went over them with the green Scotch-Brite I have, and a ton of my "Sanding Juice". It gave them a very clean, "brushed" look, and after treating them with Mother's "Back-To-Black", they look ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille!

BUT....the grille has TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT of these little hex-shaped holes in it, and I don't want to spend the next six months cleaning each and every one of them by hand! So since it's really clean right now, it's getting painted satin black tomorrow when I do the headlight trim.

I took my little "spare" laptop, and set it up in the garage. I patched the audio into the receiver, and now I can stream YouTube audio, or play CDs and DVDs in the garage.

Tonight's music to work on your car is by the Allman Brothers Band and is their "At Fillmore East" live album, one of their best.
The wife hit the rack really early, as she's bit depleted from a week of relatives, and watching the little guy from the afternoon they left until early this evening.
And just in case you think I spend all my "spare time" in the garage, I don't. We're going out tomorrow afternoon after I finish the painting, and just going to stroll around Old Town for a while, and then go out to dinner.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Supra Headlights, Cooling Plate, and "Whisker" Install

Besides hanging out with my wife's sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law, and my sweet little wife, I've also been beavering away out in "Gandpa's Garage". The fog lamps are all cleaned up, bagged, and awaiting final cleaning and painting. It's been a little too cool and humid to have bare-naked metal out in the shop for my taste, so I've done a few other things, like the headlights, and starting the prep work to refinish the bumper cover.

I wet sanded all the mostly horizontal surfaces on it were the worst, and then blended those areas in to where the paint was still fairly intact. This took about 45 minutes with some 220 grit in a rubber sanding block, and lots of my "Sanding Juice" out of a spray bottle. This will be a project of it's own, but getting started like this lets me examine the underlying urethane for damage. It's got some scuffs on the outer corners, and the black band running horizontally across the front has a lot of gravel dings, so there's a lot more sanding and reapiar work to do.

And the new headlights are in after about two hours of fettling. The OEM sealed beam lamps used protrusions molded into the glass to provide a mounting surface where the glass rested against the bucket. The bezel then held the lamp tight in the bucket, and once you aligned the headlights, they stayed put. The new ones are a stamped reflector housing adhesive bonded to the glass lens. To position the lamp in the bucket, it relies on small metal tabs on the back of the reflector. Small metal tabs that can be bent to adjust, but weren't. I couldn't even get the bezel to fit close enough to get a screw started. I compared the backside of the old sealed beam to the new one, and then used my caliper to measure the distance from the front of the lens to the mounting surface. Sure enough, the new ones were 1/8" out-of-tolerance. I bent them with some needle nose pliers to get the correct dimension, and they fit right in. I also cleaned and polished out the stainless steel bezel that holds the headlamp in the bucket, and replaced the screws with new hex drive stainless steel button-head screws. Then I popped out what was left of the plastic headlight trim (aka "Whiskers") with a trim tool, cleaned the paint under the area, and snapped the new whiskers in place. The round black plastic plugs turned out to be the same size as the one I used to plug the hole for the rear window wiper, and they snapped right in, replacing the headlamp washer nozzles quite nicely.

Then I moved on to repairing the surface rust on the four spots on the hood that contact the rubber hood bumpers when the hood is closed. Since this car was never cleaned under the hood, dirt and oil vapors built up on the contact surfaces of the rubber bumpers, and ground through the paint. So I used the flap wheel in the Dremel to take all the rust down to clean, shiny metal, and then treated it with Evapo-Rust Gel, and primed it. It will get smoothed out and painted later.

This one just had a "ring" of rust ground into it from the round rubber bumper. It cleaned up in just a few minutes.

Oh, boy....this one. For some reason, water pooled here, and even got under the seam sealer and lifted it. Those two little black spots? Yep, rust holes. They started out as pinholes, and since that's as far as they easily opened up, they fortunately never got much bigger. That's solid metal all around them, and I was able to get at the backside of the metal through the convenient drain hole Toyota provided. I poked around in there and couldn't get any loose scale or rust to come out, so I'm crossing my fingers that I caught it in time. I shot some Eastwood Rust Encapsulator in there, and that should seal it off. But rust never sleeps, and like some of the old "B" movies, it might get released later to ravage the hood. The correct, "purist" way to fix this would to weld or braze up the holes, or perhaps even lead them. Lacking a welder, and not wanting to repaint a larger part of the hood than absolutely necessary, I'll be using a different method. Yes, I'm going to "Bubba" it, and use a couple of dabs of JB Weld, then sand smooth, use some spot putty, prime and paint. Before you laugh too hard, I know people who have put their cast-iron axle center sections back together with the stuff, and drove out of the middle-of-nowhere. It;s strong, and if the metal is clean, it holds.

This one took maybe 15~20 minutes to clean up. Just a ring of rust, and some rust coloration on the seam sealer, and what looked like a hole in the sealer. Turned out to be a bit of rust that quickly cleaned up.

This one was another piece of cake. 5, maybe 10 minutes.

So while the primer and rust encapsulators are curing, I measured, located, and drilled the other two mounting holes in my "Cooling Plate".

The cooling plate is to ensure that most of the air coming in the front of the car goes through the radiator, and not over it. There's a rubber seal on the bottom of the leading edge of the hood, and one on the cowl that seals to the bottom of the trailing edge of the hood. If the front seal gets out of shape, or is missing, a lot of the air coming in will scoot over the top of the radiator, rather than going through it.

And it makes a nifty place to hold things!

Holes drilled, reamed, and chamfered.

New holes in core support for plate. After I finished the holes in the plate, I clamped it in place as a template, and used transfer punches the locate the centers of the new mounting holes.

The reason I was stalled on installing this thing was what to use for fasteners? I need it removable, as there's stuff down there can fail, so that means something like a nut and a bolt, right?

Nope. I stumbled across these "Bumper Cover Retainers" while looking for something else. Most of these push-pin type fasteners are meant to be single-use, like a plastic rivet. These have threaded pins that can be backed out with a good old #2 Phillips screwdriver, and then you pull the fastener out. Elegant, light, simple, and reusable! The nylon washers will go between the plate and the sheet metal to isolate it a bit.

Washers over the holes.

Plate and fasteners installed!

It doesn't rattle when I tap it, so it should be quiet on the road. It's coming back off to get cleaned, and then I'm painting it with wrinkle-finish black paint, something I've loved on machinery and vintage radio gear since I first saw it probably fifty years ago. On my never-ending list of projects is to refinish a pair of cam covers I have. They'll get the same wrinkle-finish black like from the factory, with the fins and lettering polished. Then I'll go over the "TOYOTA" block lettering with a bright red, and the "DOHC" block lettering with either a bright blue like it was, or a matching yellow to the "DOHC" on the cam drive belt cover (see below). Then a couple of coats of clear, and hopefully they'll be good for a few years.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day - End Of Summer -

So put away the white patent leather loafers, the white patent leather belt, and your lemon yellow leisure suit.

You can keep the diamond pinkie ring out until Thanksgiving.

Just kidding. The only people I knew who dressed like that were car dealership owners. Some of them thought they were really STYLIN' back in the day. One had a yellow Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a white leather interior that matched his outfit perfectly. I was very good friends with his oldest son, and we'd both crack up when Dad went out on the prowl. Al's Steak House was the most popular spot for Gentlemen Of A Certain Age to hang out and conduct business, and those of us in the Automotive Tribe could tell who was there by the cars in the lot. They conducted their business over Martinis and polished wood, and we conducted ours over blacktop County roads, 1320 feet at a time, or on the Center Street on-ramp to Westbound I-80. First one to Rte 7, Larkin Ave, wins!

So anyway........I'm headed out to the end-of-summer BBQ bash at The Kid's Place, aka The Country House. Hopefully the DIL's brother is there so I can find out if the CB radio in his truck works any better than it did.

Menu today is burgers, dogs, chips, potato and macaroni salad, sodas, and a pony keg for those so inclined. It's 80*, partly sunny, 20% chance of rain, and looks like a fine day for an end-of-summer BBQ!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

L.A. Fleet Week Starts Friday, August 31st

And I won't be there this year...sob..sob.

Looks like it's going to be pretty big this year, and I wouldn't mind being there, but we have relatives coming (again) this weekend.

Read all about it here at the L.A. Fleet Week website.

On a side note, it's just amazing how far the Battleship Iowa Museum has come since she came to San Pedro in 2012. New exhibits are opening, and more of the ship is becoming accessible to the public. You can *finally* get a tour of some of the Engineering Spaces down on Broadway, like Engine Room #2, and Fire Room #4. If you'd like to see the Transmitter Room on Broadway, just contact the nice folks at BIARA, and a tour of that area and the Radio Room ("FACCON1") can be arranged. ALL of the 24" fluorescent tubes on board have been replaced with LED lighting, giving the working spaces greatly improved lighting, reducing the electric bill, and have much better reliability than the old old tube/starter fixture they used to have. I donated 4 cases of 24" tubes to the ship over the years, along with a case of starters, so going LED will eliminate that.

If you're ever in the L.A. Harbor area, by all means take the time to see the Iowa. It'll give you a whole new understanding of the phrase "Built Like A BATTLESHIP".

Monday, August 27, 2018

Easy Radio "Field Service" Call

Since most of our new in-laws are in the construction/demolition/rehab/excavating/hauling business, they have good old CB Radios in their trucks. CB radios are still pretty big here, as they're cheap, easy to use, and work pretty well for what I'd consider "Short Range Ground Wave" communications of a mile or two.

Most of the gravel pits, constructions sites and paving plants these guys go to use CB radios to communicate with the truckers. Even though the truck may have a fancy 800~900MHz "Trunked Radio" 2-way  FM radio in it to talk to the office, it will still have a CB in it to talk to the Dispatchers/Yard Managers at the places they go to.

The first of the in-laws trucks was a full-size Peterbuilt tractor with a full-size dump box on it. Our daughter-in-laws younger brother bought the tractor and dump box separately and 'married' them in the shop section of the little place we stayed at when we first moved here. He does very good quality work, and it looks like it rolled out of Peterbuilt that way.

At one time the truck had a commercial 2-way radio of some kind in it, so it had a Larsen "NMO" (for "New Motorola) antenna mount on the roof, with coax running behind the driver's seat down to where the radio was mounted, on the lower, door side of the seat mount.

This was NOT a good place to mount a non weather-resistant "consumer grade" radio! It got wet when the door was open in the rain, got kicked by people climbing in and out of the cab, and had all kinds of stuff get dropped on it.

He went through THREE of the "$50 class" radios before he decided to relocate the radio up to the top of the cab in the center where it's out of harms way.

And he bought a brand-news, shiny "$150 class" radio to put up there.

The wiring was beautifully installed, the coax had been rerouted, and the radio mounted solidly.

The problem was, he couldn't hear anybody at the gravel pits, although they said they could hear him.

Hmmmm......Well, I did the Full Monty on it when I got there. The power output of the radio was about 4 Watts, increasing with modulation, and sweeping the antenna with my analyzer revealed nothing out of the ordinary. The SWR was about 1.5:1, rising to 1.7:1 on one end of the band, and 1.8:1 at the other end, perfectly acceptable considering I could NOT get the analyzer to connect to my laptop, and was forced to read the little 2" x 3" display on the analyzer.

Double Hmmmmm.....this looks like a good installation, and AFAIC, it "meets specs". What could the problem be? I open the squelch all the way with volume at max, and was greeted by a slight noise increase, which quickly faded away. Yup....sounds like the receiver's dead. On a brand-new radio........DUH!??!

Flipping through the manual, I remembered this radio had an RF Gain control, basically a receiver sensitivity control. No, it couldn't be.......yep, it is. ALL the way to zero, meaning the receiver is pretty much deaf.

I turned the RF Gain wide open, and "Channel 19" audio came blasting out of the speaker from the trucks on I-25. People immediately came running over asking what I did to "fix" the problem.


So I sat down with them and gave a "Radio 101" course, explaining what all the knobs and buttons did, and my findings on the antenna. The radio has a built-in SWR meter, and after calibrating it, it agreed with my analyzer well enough that I decided there wasn't any antenna problem.

He sent me a text today saying it worked fine at the gravel pit, and could I look at his Dad's radio? And his friend Nick's? And maybe Justin's too?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Everything That Flies Needs A Place To Nest Or Rest....

As witnessed by this little guy (or gal) taking a break from whatever it is that Dragonflies do all day.

I was out just putterin' around (or 'piddle farting' as Phil calls it) out in the garage, and I stepped outside to look around. I happened to notice all the Dragonflies flitting around, and then saw the one sitting on top of my Larsen NMO 2/70, and just had to go get my camera.

And he/she/it (am I getting too PC?) had a lot of friends hangin' out today, too.

The green stuff are our Iris', and now that we're getting rid of the Sumac, that corner of the house is looking much tidier.

The picture below is from the end of May, and all those woody stalks sticking up, with a bit of greenery at the top, are what we're told is Sumac.

Now imagine those stalks, but two or three times that diameter. And completely covered in foliage, so much so that it's hanging over the Iris', and looked like something from the back lot at Universal Studios. It's fast growing, and as invasive as a truckload of "refugees" from South of the border. Not quite as bad as Kudzu, but very annoying. I was amazed looking at the pic above at how much, and how fast, that stuff grew from what you see to what we whacked.

I may or may not have a picture of it, but it's gone now. We cut it down to 12" high stumps, and we'll hack it down some more before I bore holes into the stumps, and we pour in some Ortho Poison Ivy Killer. This is what a couple of nursery's told us to do, so we'll give it a shot.

And the Little One was here last night and today. It's amazing to watch him grow from week-to-week, and watch his skills develop. It seems he's working on language now, and he's just starting to string a couple of words together now. "WHA??" and a point went to "WHAT?" and a point to (this week) "What THAT??" and more accurate point to what he wants to see.

And while we were sitting in Grandpa's Big Chair and looking at pictures, he strung together 5 or six "words" in a perfect sentence of utter nonsense. The sounds were distinct and separate, like words in a sentence, and not only did each "word" have unique inflection and intonation, but strung together they way he did, with correct inflection and intonation as a whole, it was a perfect sentence. Sure, they weren't words in the conventional sense, but it was obvious he knew what they meant, and how to string them together to convey a more complete message.

I was floored!

Have to get a key and CPO out for him to play with soon....

Thursday, August 23, 2018

OWWWW....My Achin' Head!

Got the granddaughter and her BF to DEN in really good time Tuesday night. Their flight was at 2200, which means TPTB want you there at 2000. Since it's typically about a 75 minute drive, we'd have to leave by 1845, but since rain was expected, and this would still be "Rush Hour" in Lost Angeleez, I decided we should leave NLT 1830.

Typical of this planning, we hit ZERO traffic, a few sprinkles, and dropped them off at 1940, a good 20 minutes earlier than I expected.

Sigh.....that would NEVER happen if I was taking them to LAX or ORD, where you can easily spend 30 minutes just finding a clear spot to drop your passengers off.

Same thing coming home, ZERO traffic and no rain. So we stopped for Dinner at Johnson's Corner along I-25, another place that's been here "forever", kinda like Vern's Place in Laporte.

I know, it's "just a truck stop", but having driven past it so many times, I wanted to stop. Decent food, large portions, and inexpensive compared to a lot of Road Food.

I had the meatloaf, and a large iced tea, while my wife just had Hot Cocoa and one of their "World Famous Cinnamon Rolls".

That sucker was 2/3rds the size of the dinner plate they brought it out on!

And it was "right out of the oven", and really, really, really GOOD.

Total tab was $13.12, quite reasonable for the amount and quality of the food.

Went to the Dermatologist today so I could hook up with them, and have them look at the "Actinic Keratosis" spots on my old, bald head. I've had them frozen off numerous times in the past, and did a "PhotoDynamic" treatment, but they just keep coming back. Must be global warming or fracking, or the HAARP project.

Anyway....the (very!) nice young lady Physician's Assistant checked it out, and froze a bunch of them again.

And she really clobbered a couple of spots, as it cooled off my head so much that it gave me a splitting headache, like having a 100 lb block of dry ice on my head.

So that's done for another year, and now I just wait for the spots to peel off.

And now I can get back to working on the car, setting up the basement workshop, sorting through stuff (I *still* haven't found my temperature-controlled soldering station, or my AEA PK900!), yard work, and a myriad of other things......

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Relatives In Town - Light Posting Ahead For A Few Days

My wife's granddaughter and her boyfriend came in today for a few days. We haven't seen them in almost a year, and of course, Pebbles The Wonder Dog went absolutely bonkers when she saw them. They're good kids; she's 21-ish and works at Target, and he's 28-ish and is a substitute grade school teacher for LAUSD and LBUSD in SoCal. They both want to get outta the Lost Angeleez area, but aren't sure where they'd like to live.

So, another trip down to DIA or DEN, or whatever, and back. I finally have it burned into my WETROM where to park (top level) in the parking structure, and what aisles to look for (J and K are good) so I can hop out of the car, and head straight to the baggage claim area to meet my visitors. And it only took SIX freaking trips there to get it through my thick skull where to park! The only airports I knew pretty well up to now were LAX, LGB, and ORD. Now I get to add another one to the list.

And even though there weren't any accidents, the traffic was c r a w l i n g along at 0 to 25MPH for large stretches.

Amazingly, it was clear sailing through the "Crossroads" area, and the Rte 34 interchange. Just lots of people out on I-25, in no particular hurry, exercising very poor lane discipline, and slowing everybody else down.

Left at 1245 and got back at 1600, so including a 20 minute stop to pick up the passengers, I averaged something like 43MPH.

Not sure what we're going to do, but for 'young people' stuff they can hang with the son and DIL, while the wimmenfolk have some serious shopping planned.

Back in a few.....

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Fredd mentioned something about headlights the other day, so I dug out the ones I'll be replacing the sealed beams with.

These are "NEO-940" units, sometimes called "940CEH4", made by a place in India called "Neolite Products", and they produce clones (or knock-offs, if you will) of various High Performance automotive lighting items made by other companies.

Before you scream too loudly about "Counterfeit Products!!", from looking at their product line they seem to specialize in "classic" designs that are no longer produced by the original manufacturer.

They seem nicely made.

They take a standard "H-4" 50W/65W halogen bulb.

And they're functionally equivalent to the Cibie model they copied.

I'll probably go with a different bulb, since these things came with "no-name" bulbs, and the box isn't marked with country of origin. Daniel Stern Lighting has replacement bulbs that are rated "+50", "+110", etc, similar to "+P" loads in a hand gun.

The reviews on these low cost replacement are quite good. The pattern is excellent on low beam, and they really light up the road on high.

Hopefully I'll get to try them this summer!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rain, and Other Things

Finally got some nice rain yesterday, after watching the last couple of storms slide around us.

Started as just light sprinkles, and then over the course of the next couple of hours turned into some heavy rain for about 30 minutes, and then a nice slow drizzle for a couple of hours.

So since it was raining, and the humidity shot up to >60%, I didn't want to sand down the other fog lamp reflector and expose clean, bare metal to high humidity. The other reflector is bagged up with some desiccant, so no worry there.

Last night's project was to remove the headlight washer nozzles and tubing, and to remove the last bits of the headlight "whiskers" from the car.

The "whiskers" are trim pieces that fit between the header panel and the headlight bucket, and they snap into some punched holes in the sheet metal header panel, the panel that goes between the headlights at the nose, as you can see below. The "whiskers" are soft-trim items, molded from a somewhat flexible plastic, but after 30+ years in the Kalifornia sun, they turn hard, brittle, and start to warp and curl between the attachment points. Then they crack, split, and fall apart, or shatter when you try and remove them, leaving the clips and chunks of plastic that look really bad.

This one one of them, new-in-the-bag from Toyota. 

And the 20mm plastic hole plugs I bought for the "rear wiper delete" also fit perfectly into the holes vacated by the washer nozzles.

While headlight washers are a nice idea, the only ones I've ever seen work really well are the ones on old Mercedes cars. Besides having a "fluidic" nozzle that sprayed an oscillation pattern of fluid on the lens, they also had a wiper blade to clean it off. Typical Mercedes Engineering, and it probably added $1000 to the price of the car. The ones on my 1969 Corvette sprayed fluid on both headlamps, but that's all it did. And I didn't think it did much to keep the headlights clean.

So, some additional work was accomplished last night, and since it's drying out now, I can get back to Other Things to work on.

Monday, August 13, 2018

MKII Supra Fog Lamp Restoration, Part III Subsection "A"

Couldn't get to the #2 donor unit until tonight due to some homeowner stuff I had to do/wanted to do.

Had some things to trim and cut back, some things to spray, and some stuff to just generally clean up.

Put an illuminated light switch on the stairway leading to "The Dungeon", aka "Radio Room and Electronics Workshop" because if there's no lights on down there after sunset....it's dark! And I could never find the light switch. Maybe I'm losing it, but it seems the light switches in most of the Colorado homes I've been in aren't where my muscle memory says they should be. They seem to be located on the other side of the stud, and I wind up slapping blank wall space and fumbling to find the switch, usually resulting in me getting my damn flashlight out to find the damn switch so I can turn on the damn lights, if you know what I mean.....

The first one had a little "ILLUMINATED" sticker on the side, the box said "Illuminated", and as soon as I flipped the breaker back on....NO illumination. It worked fine (it's a 3-way switch), but was a black hole. Swapped it out with the other one I had, and it lit up fine. Means taking another trip back to Home Depot tomorrow, but that's OK, as I forgot to stop by the CVS when I was over that way today.

Then I took down the 33' vertical, and dragged everything back in the garage. It didn't work as well as I had hoped for, and it made it a pain to mow the yard, so back to the drawing board. I have plans for a MKII version with elevated radials, and that might get finished this summer.

Then I did the Weed-N-Feed thing on the back yard, had some chow, and went out to the garage.

The reflector/lens from the #2 donor unit was a very pleasant surprise when I pulled it out of the bucket:

Wow......pretty clean considering how corroded the other one was! There's one "medium" rusted area. Looks like the flap wheel would make that vanish.

And one edge of the housing where the lens fits in is rusty, but I can't see any pitting, just light, bright orange, surface rust. The little buffer wheel will make this edge look very good.

And the other edge has no rust, like the majority of this one. The flash plating that was on it (probably zinc with a chloride/chromate dip) saved the metal from rusting.

These should clean up in an hour or so. 15 minutes with the flap wheel on the rust, and then spend 30~40 minutes going over it with the little "ScotchBrite" buffer wheel.

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, August 12, 2018

MKII Supra Fog Lamp Restoration, Part II

After spending 5~6 hours cleaning the first reflector up, this is how it looks:

Quite a change from the "Before" picture:

It's not perfect, but all the heavy rust is gone, and probably 90% of the pitting. Any remaining rust will be stopped by the Metal Prep stage of the refurb. The Metal Prep solution contains Phosphoric Acid, H3PO4, which chemically converts Iron Oxide, primarily FE2O3, into Iron Phosphate, FEPO4.

Iron Phosphate is cool stuff because it won't promote the formation of further rust, and readily accepts paint, or oil. Parkerizing is a type of Iron Phosphate coating, and it's pretty durable. The Metal Prep solution also contains Zinc Phosphate, ZN3(PO4)2, (I really need to learn how to do subscripts and super scripts...) which reacts with "clean" iron to bond a light Zinc Phosphate coating on the steel.

ANYWAY......the surface is almost ready, and I'll hold off on the final cleaning of this one until the other unit is cleaned up, and then I'll hit them both with a ScotchBrite pad, clean them with the POR cleaner/degreaser, do the Metal Prep application, and then after they're dry, apply the first coat of POR.

These are the WMD's used in the process. The photo shows them in order, from most effective, to least.

On the left, the 80 grit flap wheel and sanding drum were outrageously good at blowing off all the heavy rust, once I had wire brushed all the scale and loose stuff off.

In the center are little "buffs" of synthetic stuff like ScotchBrite. They're great for getting into tight areas, as when you bear down on them, they conform to the surface enough to get into crevices. They wear out pretty quickly, but they sure work great.

And in last place......we have the rotary wire brushes. They were kinda-sorta OK for getting most of the really heavy stuff (mostly scale) off, and getting dirt and discoloration off, but a hand held wire brush was faster.

I don't think it will take nearly as long to clean the other one, as I know how to do it effectively. I spent a couple of hours just experimenting, and trying different tools, before I learned what worked well.

If I had a bead blaster, these would be a 15 minute job, and have a much more uniform surface finish. Since it's getting painted, and will be inside another assembly, surface finish can take a back seat to rust removal/rust prevention.

I'll have to see if there are any "Maker" places out here that will rent time on things like bead blasters.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

MKII Supra Fog Lamp Restoration, Part I

Actually more of a quickie refurb to me, but compared to some of the "restorations" I've seen on TV, this almost qualifies for Pebble Beach.

Both of my fog lamps have broken lenses from being hit by rocks, and besides the fact that it's a 33 year old Toyota, the lenses were never a "Service Item", as they're glued into the reflector assembly with God's Own Glue, and are very difficult to separate. There were some clear, smoked, and colored replacement polycarbonate lenses available from Japan, but I think even they've dried up. And there are numerous tales-of-woe on the Supra websites about what a gigantic PITA it was to get the glass lenses out, and glue the replacements in. Horror stories of heat guns, pots of boiling water, and well insulated glues abound.

So your options are limited to living with broken fog lights, replacing them with some type of current aftermarket unit, or finding some unbroken used ones to clean them up.

I chose to go that last route, and bought some used ones from a celicasupra.com forum member. When I bought these 3-1/2 years ago, I opened the box, inspected the lenses, then sealed it up and put it OTS.

When I took them out last week, I noticed they were a bit rusty....

Since my "buckets" (the stamped steel brackets that mount the lamp assemblies and lamp adjusters to the car) were in better condition, and the reflector/lens lamp assembly was the only thing I needed, I started taking things apart.

Oh.....about that rust? Here's the reflector/lens assembly removed from the bucket.

The top side:

And the bottom, where the water collects:

The backside of the reflector/lens assembly. Top of picture is bottom of housing as-installed in the car:

OUCH! Look how much nicer the reflector/lens from my car looks:

The brown color is not rust; it's dried road dirt, and wipes right off. Too bad it's such a PITA to remove the lens from the reflector.

And my buckets are in far better condition. You can still read the OEM stamps applied by Toyota. Real Hard-Core restoration people salivate over having such "pristine" 33 year old ink stamps! Every time I've run across ink stamps, color stripes, part number tags, and writing on the backsides or insides of assemblies, I've taken a picture of it, and made notes about it. This car was 95% untouched when I bought it, so each and every one of these marks was placed there and untouched since the car was "Made In Japan" in March of 1985, making it one of the 28,475 Supras produced that year.

These are the buckets that were in the car.

And these are the buckets from the donor units.

Taking them apart involved removing the two screws that hold the bezel on, which secures the reflector/lens in place, then removing the bezel, and finagling the wiring a bit, and presto!, one disassembled 1985 MKII Supra fog light. Oh....and my retaining bezels are also in far better condition than the donor ones.

If my donor units were in as good a shape as my OEM units, I'd be done with this by now, but they're not, so how we gonna clean this mess up, huh?

With lots of Dremel attachments for one of my Dremel tools.

I'll probably go with my AC line-powered Dremel with the flexible shaft attachment, as that lets me hang the tool on the pegboard backing my workbench, and the flexible shaft is easier to control than having the whole battery-powered Dremel in your hand.

Once I have them cleaned up, I'll use this POR-15 kit to rust-proof it, and then spray it with some satin-black Rust-Oleum.

This will be the first time I've used POR-15 even though I've known about it for years. It's expensive, and requires a top coat, but people I know who've used it swear by it.

If it works acceptably well here (ease of application, good coverage) then I'll use it in the jamb area of the hatch, and the underside of the hatch on the leading edge. I'll use Toyota Paint Code 040 "Super White II" paint for the topcoat there, so what little of it that you can see will be the correct color. No, it won't be "Show Quality", but unless you take the car apart like you're watching me do, you'll never see it.

Perfection is the enemy of "Plenty Good Enough".

This car will never be a "100 point car", and I never intended to make it one. I'm trying to "preserve" the car, correct any nasty issues that are lurking in there, and spend my money wisely on the items I have to address.