Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Supra Arrival

In the beginning........

And then the driver from Reliable Carriers called indicating Ms Swan had been picked-up, and was on her way to Colorado!

The original plans for the car were to park it at my son's place, drive the Jeep towing a trailer to Colorado, rest a few days, and then fly back to LAX or LGB, have my son pick me up and take me to his place, check the car, and then head back to Colorado.

Well, between seeing the "Next Services 134 Miles" signs while I was pulling the trailer, and planning the trip back in the Supra, I realized I had some deferred maintenance on the engine that really needed to be done before heading out on an 1100 mile trip through some pretty desolate and uninhabited territory. There are "soft items" on this engine that need regular maintenance/replacement at specific intervals, like the timing belt and tensioner, and if you want that legendary Toyota Reliability, you follow the schedule. And since ALL the hoses and clamps appear to be original 33 year old items, they need to be replaced, too, along with new belts and a new water pump. It's pretty silly to tear down the front of the engine to replace the timing belt AND tensioner (another "$25" part), and not replace the $25 (gasket included!) water pump. I have all the parts sitting on the shelf now, but last September I found myself out of air speed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time, so the car got bypassed.

Then we got packed and moved out here, found and bought a house, and had some issues requiring our full attention, including a garage, basement and house full of boxes, and that  meant the car sat longer.....

And longer....

And longer....

So I made the decision to get it shipped here, and went with Reliable Carriers, based on their media exposure (TV and print), their 50 years of experience moving cars, and little else. Went online, requested a quote, and received a reply a short time later. I bit the bullet and accepted the $1407 cost for door-to-door enclosed transit. My credit card was charged at the speed of light, and I sat back and waited to hear from them.

And waited....

And waited....

And waited some more. After almost 4 weeks, I called them to see what was going on and was told it hadn't been assigned to a truck yet. The person I talked to was very helpful, and explained they had a big auction in Scottsdale, a major car show in L.A., and business was up 25~30% over last year. He made a note in my file that I was getting very concerned that a month had gone by, and NOBODY had contacted me. If I would have called to get the quote and spoken to somebody, I probably would have been given some kind of rough estimate of time-to-pick-up. But I didn't, doing the whole transaction over the web. What caught me totally by surprise was the complete LACK of communication. HEY! It's the year 2018, and modern Enterprise Software makes it pretty damn easy to autogenerate emails at the conclusion of an electronic transaction. I don't know how many times I've bought something online, and was bombarded with emails containing order status, shipping status, and delivery status. Yes, I know shipping a car is different than buying a new TV, but the software managing such transactions should do more than just accept your order and charge your credit card. Their website also has NO provision for a customer log-in or creation of a customer account. Pretty crude stuff for 2018.

Now being a "Sample of ONE", I'm not going to slam them, as it's always possible I'm the one that fell through the cracks. But as Rev Paul noted in a comment to a previous post, all those "reality" car shows on the Velocity Channel make it look like you call them, and POOF, a tractor-trailer appears the next day. *Maybe* for Wayne Carini, but sure aint gonna happen for me!

Last Tuesday I received a text from the ex saying Reliable had called her, and would be there to pick up the car in a couple of hours. The truck showed up, and other than a completely dead battery (son triggered alarm, couldn't turn it off, battery died under load and was never disconnected), the loading process went smoothly, and the driver called me that night from somewhere in Utah ( ! ) to give me an update and introduce himself. He called again on Wednesday and Thursday night, and on his last call he said he would be there Saturday late morning or early afternoon. Friday morning he called from Johnson's Corner in Loveland, about 20 miles away, and asked if I knew what the weather forecast was. I read him the NWS report for Fort Collins, and he decided that he'd rather get the delivery out of the way today than wait for Saturday and fight the snow.

So, about 90 minutes later he calls for final vectoring in, and I went down to the corner to flag him down. Since we live on a cul-de-sac, he parked on the road in to our section so he could unload. The hand cart on the side walk has the new battery I bought the day before.

First peek at her after FIVE MONTHS.

Ms Swan was escorted on her trip out here by this brand new AMG Mercedes "V8 biturbo" that the driver picked up at the Mercedes facility at The Port of Long Beach after he loaded Ms Swan on board.

It was quite an operation getting this ready to move to it's new spot on the trailer. The car was covered in thin plastic (like "Painter's Plastic Sheet") besides being strapped down with a ratchet strap over each tire, which was securely attached to the trailer ramps the car was parked on. After completing a checklist, he fired it up, backed it out on the loading platform, then raised the platform with the remote control you can see hanging by the coiled cord, and drove the car all the way forward into the truck.

At this point, I was allowed on the trailer so I could help him swap the battery out, and then after he instructed me on EXACTLY what to do, and what his hand signals meant, *I* fired Ms Swan up, and backed her out on the ramp. He lowered me to the ground, and I drove the car onto our street, headed for my open garage door, and promptly got stuck in front of my own house......!

It turns out that big, wide "Extreme Summer Performance" rated tires don't work very well at 38* on 2" of packed snow over ice. It took about 10 minutes of surprise, anger, frustration, and humor before my "Illinois Winter Driving" program got loaded from the archives, and I remembered how to properly rock the car with whatever little traction was available.

I finally got enough forward momentum going that I was able to get off the ice and on dry pavement, and then over the insane curb we have, and up on the driveway.

The end result?

And we finished just in time, as the snow started to come down pretty heavily as he was leaving.

So, the pack is all back together, and when Pebbles came out in the garage and saw Ms Swan the first time, her tail started to wag.

Sunday is the grandson's first birthday party, and we're having it here. It's the first family event of many more to follow in our new place, so we're in deep clean/declutter/spit shine mode here. Even though the weather is quite nice and things in the backyard are drying up, the vertical antenna project gets pushed to the right some more due to family obs.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Supra Delivered This Afternoon, Utility Survey, and a "Hallmark Cards" Kind of Day.

It started snowing last Sunday night, and by Monday morning we had several inches of white and fluffy. It's been getting down to "zeroish" at night, and 15~25* during the day. We had nothing planned, so my wife read, enjoyed the fire, and played with Pebbles The Wonder Dog, who really enjoys running around in the snow. She didn't care much at first for the paw washing/drying routine when she comes back in, but now she goes to the throw rug and waits for us to get the mud and snow off her paws before she leaves the sun room.

And we've been baby sitting the grandson quite a bit. GrandMomius Prime was done with the flu for a few days, so GM2 took over. He's also been spending Friday nights/Saturday afternoons with us to give GM1 a break. He's been teething, so sometimes he gets pretty cranky, but he's also at the babbling stage, and it's fun to listen to him "talk" to us. Sometimes he has the cadence right, and if he wasn't making baby sounds, you'd swear he was telling you something. He's also just started officially crawling. Full coordination of legs and arms to motivate himself around, rather than rolling. I'm noticing much more in the child development area than I did 30-some years ago with my own son. Different perspective caused by a different time in life, I guess.

Tuesday morning at 1000 my ex sent me a text that Reliable Carriers was coming to pick up the Supra "In a couple of hours". The truck showed up around 1300 and had some difficulty getting the car loaded because the battery was so dead that the engine wouldn't keep running once they took the Jiffy Jump off the battery. They left the Jiffy Jump connected while the engine ran, and after about 10 minutes, the car would idle, so they loaded it up, and off they went.

This immediately put me in overdrive (well.....*my* version of overdrive!) to finish the garage, get another new battery and another "Battery Tender Plus" for when the car is sitting here and can't be driven for whatever reason. I'd started the final push to get the garage ready last week, and it mostly involved getting the last of the Basement Workshop boxes separated from the Garage Workshop boxes and moved to the basement, and rearranging the stuff on the "pie rack" shelves in the garage. And it's a Good Thing I spent the time in the garage and basement the last week or so. ALL "Basement Workshop" tools, equipment, parts, manuals and other errata are now down in the basement, and quite a collection of "Garage Workshop" items made the trip back upstairs and were returned to their proper spot in the garage.

I'll do a post on just the Supra and her trip here as soon as I get the pix off the camera.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Vertical Antenna Project

Seeing as February 22nd is the Iowa's 75th "birthday", the guys at NI6BB are planning a year-long special operating event to commemorate her first commissioning.

Here's the press release:

In support of the Pacific Battleship Center (PBC) 501(c)3 who operates and maintains the
Battleship Iowa, the Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association (BIARA) will be celebrating the Iowa's 75th anniversary with a special year long NI6BB operating
event and fund raiser.

The event will run from 22 February, 2018 through 21 February, 2019.

Operations will be commensurate with the availability of BIARA operators and may be on SSB, CW and or the digital modes. Look for us on the DX cluster as we are spotted. You may also e-mail and request a schedule which we will try to accommodate.

Please follow the instructions on and use the PayPal link ONLY to make your tax deductible donation to the PBC. The donor perks of a collectible tri-fold QSL, a BIARA patch and or an Iowa 75th Anniversary custom struck challenge coin are limited editions and their offering may be withdrawn at any time. Please allow 6-8 weeks for
your perk before you send us an e-mail to follow up.

For those who do NOT desire to support the PBC, our REGULAR QSL only will still be available by following the instructions on our NI6BB page.

SO...since I'd like to contact them on the opening day, I put the 33' vertical back on the front burner, and I'll be headed out to Home Depot to get a couple of  Rubbermaid "Roughneck" storage totes to use as weather covers for the SGC autocoupler and my line isolation choke/SGC junction box. These aren't the nice fiberglass enclosures I wanted, but I had a couple of the out in the weather for over two years at the Long Beach house, and they held up far better than I expected. They stayed flexible, and even after all the sun a smog, were still flexible after two years. They should be fine here until I get the enclosure I'd really like.

Since it's supposed to be in the high 50's tomorrow, and it only takes a couple of hours to assemble and set up the antenna, I should be able to be on-the-air tomorrow with the 33' vertical and my K2.

Stay tuned as we go "Radioactive" again.......

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Why California Is Becoming A Third World Country

I found a link to this article over at Wirecutter's place, and just had to share it.

Everything he says is true, and it's getting worse every day.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Well Done, SpaceX!

Pure Science Fiction from my childhood.

Except for the car..........