Sunday, August 2, 2020

Katy Lied!

Well, "Katy" doesn't speak much, so I can't verify the truth of the post title.

I *know* I've lived where these little guys live, but I can't remember seeing any before....



For reference to the post title:





Man, this "new" Blogger interface SUCKS! Tried FOUR times to link the song from YouTube, and no dice.

Why do they have to screw with this stuff? It was working...LEAVE IT ALONE you morons......

Thursday, July 30, 2020

And Down in the Basement....

We have some R/C stuff going on, or soon will be.

I FINALLY got the Pandora Celica XX clear body I ordered, along with some wheels that look "kinda-sorta" like the ones I have on Ms Swan.

Imagine this in white, without the crazy negative camber on the wheels, and not lowered so far.


Body still in box.


And the rims.


These were as close as I could get to the rims on my "1:1 Scale" out in the garage, and while they're not very much like the ones I have, they are "period correct", so they'll do.

These are what's on the "real" car now.



This will probably be a winter project, except for masking it and painting it, which has to be done in a WELL ventilated area, and by changing the body and wheels/tires on my little Trans Am car, I can run in a different class to get more "seat time". I'm typically a bit better than "middle-of-the-pack" when I'm racing the little car, which is about where I expected to be. These old eyes and reflexes can't keep up with The Kids, but I've surprised a few people with some of the moves I've done (pulled?) out on the track. Hey, one of the Rules of Racing is that if you see an opening, that will advance you, go for it!

And I've been really good at avoiding pile-ups, which happen occasionally.

Still tinkering on the "Speed Run" car, and should have that one ready to go back out in a week or so. Had some "issues" getting the correct "bullet connectors" for the power wiring, and had to modify the chassis a bit to fit the new speed controller. I was really hesitant to take it out and let it rip because the brakes on the speed controller I started with were soooo bad. Even going into the set-up menu and turning the braking force to the maximum (only 50%) didn't help much. The new controller is a high-end model from Castle Creations, about the best you can get (and Made In America!!), and has much, much more adjustability, up to 100%, which generally locks the wheels, so some experimentation is required.

And the new truck is very, very nice. Great ride, brakes, handling, good stereo, and so far (with 255 miles on it) we're averaging 20MPG, better than my Jeep which was doing about 15MPG. Our insurance went up a whopping Twenty-Eight dollars, which really surprised me, as I thought it would go up enough to maybe add another zero to that figure, but nope.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Meanwhile, Back IN The Garage......

We have stuff to finish my Supra front bumper!


This is the special primer, the Bumper Bite, and some more of the urethane repair material. This time I got it in the tubes, vs the syringe-type container. You get three times the amount of product, for 50% more in price. A much better deal.

And some plastic covers for the two window wells in the front of the house:


These should help with keeping leaves and other wind-blown trash out of the well, and hopefully will help mitigate some of the heat loss out of the two downstairs windows in the workshop, and maybe help with the drafts, too.


And I built a couple of switch-controlled outlet boxes for the new work lights I hung in the garage.


These will go on the wall behind the workbench, and control two the 48" LED fixtures I hung a week or so ago.

And Sweet Little Wife got new shoes for her little Hyundai, Pirelli Strada "All Season" tires. She also got a less-expensive 5th tire on a steel rim for her spare, as Hyundai did NOT give you any kind of spare tire at all. Just a little air compressor, a container of tire sealer goop to use with the compressor, and a can of Fix-A-Flat.


She was not happy when she found that out! Now I have to go online shopping for a suitable jack to stow in the trunk.

And since we traded-in the Jeep, I no longer have a need for my "summer tires", and as soon as I take a couple of more pix, SLW will put them on nextdoor.com, and out they go!


Plenty of tread left. They're not even half-way down to the tread wear indicator bars.



Now I can get back to this, and then put the front end back together, and DRIVE her....


Thursday, July 23, 2020

My "Little Red Truck"

As promised (with mediocre photography), here she is.



When they named this color "Red Hot", they weren't kidding.

It's RED!  Like Fire Truck red, but redder.

Took it out today to run some errands, pick up stuff from Home Depot, and took a longer way home than I usually do.

It runs great, rides nice, has good power and great brakes, now has 220 miles on it, and I'm learning and customizing all the different screens on the "Infotainment" and Navigation systems.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Any Spray-In Bedliner Recommendations?

We won't be able to get the new truck until Wednesday afternoon. It's 120 miles to Colorado Springs, and you have to go through Denver on the I-25 to get there.

And then do it again to get back.

With traffic, and the Denver area is starting to resemble Lost Angeleez in that respect, it's a good four hour round-trip, plus any time the guy spends there in the dealership.

Since this was Dealer Trade, or "swap", our sales guy called us this morning and told us they had to drive one of the trucks they had in stock that the Colo Springs dealer wanted down there, and then return with our truck. I suppose the other dealer could have sent somebody up here with it, and picked up the exchange vehicle, but oh, well....this is how it's working out.

And then after it gets here they're going to check it out to make sure it got here OK, and then clean it up all shiny-pretty (yeah, run it through the wash rack...) for us, and that takes a bit of time. So, we get it tomorrow.

That leaves me 24 hours to scout out where, and possibly what brand to look for, to get the spray-in bedliner applied. And find a tonneau cover. And maybe some side steps, but SLW has said several times when asked that she didn't have any problems getting in and out of it. I've always found that the side steps are nice in really muddy/snowy conditions, so they might get shopped for next Spring....

So, does anybody have any experience with spray-in bedliners? I looked online at the 4x4 and Off-Road places we have here (there's a zillion of them), and most of them do bedliners. They might farm them out to the same place for all I know, because In Ye Dayes Of Olde, that stuff was a PITA to apply, and was toxic, nasty stuff that took specialized spray guns to shoot.

I'll google about a bit and see what I can find, and start calling.

Hmmm....seems like it's a popular topic for discussion on the forums....

For a tonneau cover I was looking at the rigid ones that "Tri-Fold", but I saw some nifty roll-up ones that weren't too much more. I just wonder how well they work with a layer of snow on them.....

Monday, July 20, 2020

Negotiations Successful!!

Well, it's a done deal.

I didn't remember that SLW said we were meeting the salesman at 1400, so I got there 30 minutes late.

D'OH!

It turned out for the best, as she'd already hammered the guy down to $500 more than what we had decided was a "Fair Price" based on what other dealers were advertising for a very similar, but not this *exact*, truck.

And then they gave us $700 more than what I wanted for my Jeep, so it's a wash AFAIC.

After running our credit, we qualified for a better rate than what they normally offered to "Qualified Buyers", and even without playing any finance games "To get that monthly payment down to where we can get you in this car today!", the monthly payment wound up being about $75 less than what SLW had calculated, and she's really good at this stuff.

So, we pick this up tomorrow....



And say good-bye to my beloved Jeep.


Yes, I Haz The Sads......

She's been an excellent vehicle, never letting me down, and never costing any more than routine maintenance, gas, tires, and the upgrades I did to the "Infotainment" system.

As the appraiser was walking back in after his test drive, he said "Nice Jeep". I'd imagine it'll go to auction, or maybe somebody who works there will buy it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Preps for Negotiation at the Chevrolet Dealer

Well, we're taking The Lord's Day off from car shopping, and playing with our grandson.

But that doesn't mean I can't do a few things after worship...!

I actually got my rear-in-gear today and repaired the peeling headliner in the Jeep. I peeled it back a little bit further so I could get better access to the back side of the fabric, and the foam underlayment that it had peeled from. Sprayed both sides with some 3M "#45 General Purpose Spray Adhesive", let both sides get tacky, and smoothed it all out with a very small (SLW calls them "peanut rollers") paint roller, and holy smokes, you can't tell it had ever peeled back!

Also cleaned up the insides some more, the console area, the areas between the seats, and used one of my detailing brushes to clean out all the nooks and crannies on the dash and console. And I hung two "Little Pine Trees" with the "New Car Scent" in the car. Tomorrow morning I'm running it through the car wash at the gas station, and picking the "Full Monty" selection when I punch in what I want.

And I gathered up the title, registration, and other legal things, and put them in a big envelope. We won't need it for a few days, but it saves a last minute scramble.

So tomorrow after noon after his Daddy picks up TLG, we're headed to the Chevrolet dealer to work out a price, see how bad they'll bend me over on the Jeep, and either thank the man for his time, or sign the papers and get the ball rolling. We've estimated what we're pretty sure is a "Fair Price", based on all the discounts GM is offering, and what other dealers are advertising as their "Special Price", or "Internet Price" on very similar vehicles. And I've done some research on what my Jeep is "worth" using the Kelly Blue Book website, and some other resources, as both a Trade In and sale to a Private Party. There's quite a spread between the two, but the number KBB gave me as a trade-in value are very close to what I was expecting.

I'll let SLW handle the "Finance Guy", as she's quite astute in these things. The salesman had mentioned the Finance Rate for "Well Qualified Customers" was 3.4%, and that's about 1% less than our three Credit Unions are offering. Considering we're also going to put down a nice chunk of change, and our credit scores are well North of 800, we might be able to do better, but that remains to be seen.

WSF has been an invaluable help to us in this, and we're in his debt.

UPDATE - Got the Jeep washed, and as long as I was out, got the oil and filter changed. It's needed the oil changed for way too long now, and it's still not a 100% Sure Thing that we're trading it, but it needed it to be changed, the local "Grease Monkey" place had all three bays open, and I was In-N-Out in 30 minutes.

We'll be headed out to the Chevy dealer as soon as SLW gets back from running some errands.....

Friday, July 17, 2020

Test Drive Results and Decision..... Now With Updates!

After this afternoon's excursion, and much discussion, we've decided which one of our three finalists will come to live here.

We drove the Jeep first, then the Honda, and finally the Chevrolet.

All models have a V6 and an automatic transmission. All models offer specific provisions for properly mounting a child safety seat in the rear seating area.

All three dealers had a salesperson out to greet us withing minutes; all were very low-key, and the Jeep guy remembered our names from last week when we drove through the lot.

First a few ground rules. I plotted a path to drive last night, and we drove all three trucks over the same route. Not hard to do at all, as all three dealers are located along College Avenue, the main drag through town, and are separated by less than 1-1/2 miles. It's a mix of main city streets, "suburban" side streets with drainage channels and speed bumps, and a busted up, unused parking lot with mounds of dirt and gravel. The radios were turned OFF so I could listen for any new and unusual power train and suspension noises, and the fan on the air conditioning was also turned down after we cooled the cabin in the dealer's lot.

These are my opinions of the vehicles we drove, based on what I expect from a vehicle like this, and my experience with a wide variety of vehicles.

IANAL, YMMV, and all the other fine print that goes along with that.....


The Jeep.....

The model we drove was a "Sport 'S'" model, two steps down the trim ladder from the Overland model I was pricing.

The Good -  I was surprised at how well it rode. We could drive over the local speed bumps and drainage channels at the posted limit without drama. Turning radius was very good; I could easily make a u-turn in a cul-de-sac with >5' left over on each side. It was very quiet, and not annoying at all. Smooth riding, no tire noise, no annoying engine sounds, no clunks or groans over bumps. Interior fit and finish were better than I expected, even though the model we drove was the "Sport S" model, one step above the base model. The Overland model I'm pricing has an even nicer interior with leather and other "deluxe" touches. Nice and peppy, very good brakes with good pedal feel and modulation. I played with the one-step-below-what-we-want Infotainment system, and it worked very well. Instantly responded to the touch screen, and the Jeep also has REAL KNOBS for a lot of functions. Exterior fit and finish were excellent. Shiny paint, no orange peel, and tight, consistent panel gaps. Looks pretty well screwed together. Doors and tailgate close with a nice, solid feel, better than I expected considering the doors are "Wrangler Thin". Underhood access to battery terminals and fill points is excellent. FCA is offering 3.9% financing, and you get two years of complimentary ("free") maintenance.

The Bad - The steering uses a "Recirculating Ball" system, like in an old 1950's Chevy, and it has a vague feeling on-center. It almost feels like it's wandering, but the truck was tracking straight. It's an odd feeling if you've never experienced it, but it's fine once you start turning. It has decent road feel, and is nicely weighted but not "heavy" feeling. One of the car magazines  said you feel like a "Ship's Captain In Heavy Seas" on the highway, and I can see where it could be a handful at 75MPH in a cross-wind. It's 5~6" narrower inside than any of the others we drove, and that was the first thing SLW noticed and commented on. Not quite "intimate" seating, but definitely closer than "normal". I almost felt cramped. Even at its lowest position, I felt the seat was too high off the floor, but I was able to find a comfortable position. The Overland model includes better seats with power controls, and may not have this issue, but this was the only one they had for demo use. Forward and side visibility are acceptable-to-good depending on where you're looking, but rear visibility not so much. There's a decent number of bins and storage spaces along with some groups of USB outlets, and the better radio comes with an "AUX IN" jack; narrow but very deep glove compartment.

The Ugly -  I had a hard time getting in and out of it. Not pleasant. The roll cage structure intrudes enough inside that it's a head-knocker (see "cramped feeling" above), and I'd be cracking my noggin every time I got in or out. NOT good. The three-piece removable hardtop is nicely finished fiberglass on the inside, but NO padding or insulation is there until you buy the $600 "Headliner Group". I think it's more for insulation as I didn't notice any noise coming in through or from the roof.


The Honda.....

The model we drove was an "RTL-E" model, exactly what we were looking for.

The Good -  Holy smokes is this thing NICE! Beautiful interior with storage pockets, bins, and USB outlets everywhere. Wide, deep glove compartment. Has a nifty "Two Way" tailgate that drops down like a proper tailgate, and also swings sideways like some station wagons used to. Has a separate locking trunk in the cargo bed, and storage under the rear seat bottom. Rear seats fold up like a contortionist for more cargo space. They're loaded with well-designed, thoughtful touches. EXCELLENT outward visibility in all directions. Wide, roomy cabin. VERY quiet on the road, and sharp, responsive handling. "Rides Like A Car", and nice car at that. Turning radius was good; could easily u-turn in a cul-de-sac, with a few feet left over on each side. Multi-zone heating and cooling. Good, tight panel fit. Doors and tailgate close with a nice, solid "THUNK". Also seems to be pretty well put together. 1.9% financing available; NO complimentary ("free") maintenance, BUT the dealer only charges for the oil and filter. They eat the labor. These trucks are sometimes called "The Thinking Man's Pick-up Truck".

The Bad - These trucks are also referred to as "The Rodney Dangerfield of Pick-up Trucks", and it's not just because they don't get no respect from Real Truck People. They have some issues that I'd read about, and the drive revealed them. The Infotainment system is laggy and slow. Hit a button and it takes a noticeable time for it to react. NO KNOBS to make any adjustments with. Everything is handled through the touch-screen system. Underhood access to battery terminals and fill-points is poor. The hood prop was so hot after our test drive that I couldn't hold it. Steering is very light with little road feel; almost feels like "Drive-By-Wire". This is the first car I've ever driven with very nice handling and crappy steering. Maybe it gets better if you lean on it hard, but I didn't drive it like that. Brakes are substandard. Pedal travel is very long, and the brake pedal has a squishy, mushy feeling to it. NOT confidence inspiring, but it handled the hard stops I made OK. I made a comment to SLW wife that they felt like the brakes in my Dad's 1969 Olds 98, but she didn't get it. It had a low groan over certain uneven road surfaces, almost like the unibody was flexing some. And it was repeatable over the same and similar stretches of our "bad road" test course. Paint job not as good as on the Jeep, with some orange peel.

The Ugly - Honda builds these trucks all the same. The only differences are the color and trim level. This means ALL the "options" are really Dealer Installed Accessories, and dealer installation labor is NOT included in the list price of the accessory. The sales guy we talked to said he didn't know the labor rate the shop charged for installing each accessory off the top of his head, but there was a sheet listing those prices that he would use when time came to price out the truck we wanted.



The Chevrolet.....

They didn't have the *exact* model we're looking for (an 4WD "LT" model) but the one we drove was 99% the same; a 4WD "Z71" model.


The Good - Very peppy, EXCELLENT brakes, VERY good steering. Sharp and responsive handling with good road feel. The ride was a bit stiff, as the Z71 has slightly different springs and shocks on it, but otherwise very smooth riding, with crisp handling. The engine and trans feel like they really work well together, upshifting differently depending on throttle opening, and downshifting coming down a hill when it would help slow the vehicle a bit. It wins the "Fun-To-Drive" category hands-down. Infotainment system is wonderfully good. It has REAL KNOBS to do things with. It even has a knob for adjusting the instrument panel brightness! Honda should go ask GM for help. Outward visibility was excellent to the front and sides, and very good to the rear. Fit and finish in the cabin was very good; almost as nice as the Honda. We didn't think it felt "cheap" at all, at odds with what the car magazines say. Multiple cup holders, USB ports, and a wireless charging pad for your cellphone. Much wider inside and more comfortable than the Jeep, but not as good as the Honda. Really comfortable seats, and we could in and out no problem. The turning radius was exceptionally tight, tighter than the Jeep. Did the cul-de-sac U-Turn with >6' on each side. Excellent exterior fit and finish. Smooth, shiny paint and tight, consistent panel gaps. Doors and tailgate close with a solid "THUNK". Looks to be very well screwed together. Underhood battery terminal and fill point access excellent; better than the Jeep. GM is offering an instant 10% off MSRP, and 3.4% financing on In-Stock vehicles. There's NO complimentary ("free") maintenance, BUT the dealer gives you first oil change and inspection for free, and every 5th oil change is free.

The Bad - Back seat area not as roomy as the Honda, but the back set can fold up for more cargo storage. Doesn't have "Multi-Zone" A/c, and NO outlets pointing at the back seat passengers. Doesn't have some of the Driver Assistance features the others do, like Blind Spot Monitoring. The transmission made a disturbing, clunky, botched downshift the first time we came to a stop, but didn't do it again in over 30 minutes of driving. 2020 model production has ceased, and 2021's are just starting to come in. If you can't find an in-stock 2020 that you like, you'll be ordering a 2021.

The Ugly - Absolutely nothing, except maybe that the fuel economy isn't as good as the Honda, but it's a notch better than the Jeep.


And The Surprise Winner Is....... (drumroll, please...)

The Chevrolet Colorado!

Well, at least it is to *me*. Now I have to convince my wife.....which I did.

*** I loved the Jeep Gladiator, and it broke my heart after I drove it. It's just too cumbersome (meh visibility out of it; difficult ingress/egress) and too specialized (narrow for off-road and trail use) for me to live with it. Me haz the sads over this....


*** I was afraid I'd fall in love with the Honda Ridgeline, and it disappointed me. Vastly. It looks spectacular on paper, and then fails in the execution of some of it's features and systems. The brakes are a real sore spot with me, and the Infotainment system would be aggravating to live with. Some of the brake issues might be cured with better pads, but the long travel and mushy pedal are design issues. HONDA- Fix The Damn Brakes, will you? I'm sure they meet all applicable safety requirements, but they don't inspire much confidence. The numb steering I could live with because it's responsive, and it goes where it's pointed very well, but mushy brakes with overly long pedal travel are a NOGO in my book. As always, YMMV!

And give the electronics guys at GM a call while you're at it, and find out if they'll sell you the "Infotainment3" system. It's brilliant.

*** I was neutral on the Chevrolet Colorado, and it surprised me in a Very Good Way. I can't think of any major issues that the test drive showed. It accelerates, stops, steers, goes around corners, and rides far better than an off-road capable vehicle with a five foot bed attached to it has any right to.

SLW and I were discussing these pluses and minuses, and she agrees. She thought the poor underhood access on the Honda was unforgivable, and she's uncomfortable with the whole Dealer Installed Accessory thing because you won't know the total price of the vehicle, the Dealer Installed Accessories, and the labor to install them,  until you sit down with the sales guy to "Price It Out".

SLW told the last car dealer we looked at that it would all come down to price, and getting a "good price" is her forte.

I'm off to look at current inventory in the surrounding area, and if we can find one like we want, we'll buy it. Otherwise I'll go online and use the Build-and-Price tool for a 2021.....


ANNNNND.....I found two in Colorado springs that are 95% matches. One is "Red Hot", the color SLW wants, and the other is "Crush", more of an orange shade.

This is the truck we're calling our sales guy about on Saturday :





Hopefully we can get it. It's a trim level higher (Z71 vs LT), and needs a spray-in bed liner and rigid tri-fold tonneau cover installed, but that's it. There were a few other trinkets on the one I "built" online, but the important ones, like the PosiTraction differentials  are included in the Z71 package, and the others were things I can do without, like the "Power Pack" cat-back exhaust system, and some other trivial little thing.

The Kids and TLG sure will know when Grandma's coming!

UPDATE: We called the sales rep on our way to the Greeley Old Time Farm Show, and  gave him the stock number, and he said he'd check. He called back to say they still have it (not sold yet), but the guy who handles the "Dealer Swaps" wasn't in on Saturday, and we'd have to commit to buy to get it up here.

Wife is mulling this over.....

Update to the Update: Well, now she says we're buying this truck. One thing that swayed her "distress" over having to pay $500 for a spray-in bedliner is that I found several places here, with good reputations, that will do it for less. Same with the $1099 (plus installation) rigid, folding tonneau cover. Found the same one at several shops here for $600, installed.

We're going to the Dealer Monday afternoon to get the ball rolling. I just hope the other dealer doesn't sell it between now and then. It's the ONLY one like it within 500 miles, and I'd like to move on it. If we wanted silver or white, I found 8 of those. Same with black. The local dealer has FOUR of them, all equipped the way we want, and there's another 8 or so within 250 miles.

If she can hammer out a deal to her liking, we'll probably be driving it before the end of the week. I was going to get the Jeep detailed and have the windshield replaced, but she's preparing to take the hit and trade it AS-IS. I'll be surprised if they offer us more than $3500 for it.....

UPDATE, Part III: Went to the Kelly Blue Book online price guide to see what my Jeep is worth. Being brutally honest about condition, it's worth $4150~$5375 as a trade, with my unique price being $4760. Selling it to a private party has a value range of $5850~$8100, with my unique asking price to be $7000. My "unique" price is based on options, mileage, and condition. A new windshield from SafeLite is ~$400 installed here at home, and a really good detailing will run about $375, more if I have them do the headlights, which are getting cloudy again.

Jeep defects include the cracked windshield, a sagging headliner in the area of the front sun visors (it's drooping from where it meets the windshield molding. Easy fix), the cloudy headlights, and even though I cleaned all the "stuff" out of it and vacuumed it with my shop vac, it's filthy. The carpets need to be shampooed, the seats cleaned and conditioned, and two small leather repairs need to be done.

Jeep assets include low mileage of 88,000, tires with only 3,000 miles on them, 4 new "premium" brake rotors with ceramic pads ~5,000 miles ago, regular maintenance with records, a premium Kenwood stereo with navigation and working steering wheel controls, no accidents, clean CarFax, clean title, rust-free "California Car", and one owner.

All of that means little to nothing to the trade-in appraiser, who's going to balance the low mileage and new tires against everything else, and low-ball me. I was just getting started with the spiffing up process, and now I doubt if I'll have time. I'm running it through the automatic car wash tomorrow, and selecting all the "Heavy Duty Super Scrub" options for the wash. It might help a little, but that cracked windshield is gonna jump and scream "JUNKER!!!" at the guy who decides what range of value they'll offer me.

I dug up all the various discounts and deals GM/Chevrolet is offering right now, along with looking at the dealer inventory of every_single_Colorado_Z71_truck within 500 miles. I picked up a lot of "hidden" information about The Sacred Dealer Fee, and the various advertised "special" prices, wrote down some observations, and turned it over to my Accountant and Business Manager, SLW. She'll digest it tomorrow in preparation for battle. I keep trying to explain to her it's like three separate negotiations, but she doesn't get it. You have to deal with the sales guy and his boss ("The Desk"), then there's the guy that does the appraisal, who you usually never even see, let alone talk to, and then you have the Finance Department to deal with.

Oh, well....she claims to know this cold, and I'm sure she knows the numbers, but I don't think she fully understands the sales people.

Monday should be interesting.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Looked at the Honda and Chevy Today

It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and we got there about 30 minutes before they closed. The Honda dealer had NO sales staff there, just some frightened looking little receptionist wearing a mask, and behind a big clear plastic shield. They had one outside, all locked up, that looked like it just came off the tuck, and one inside that we crawled all over, doing the tire-kicking and door-slamming thing all by ourselves. VERY nice interior ("soft touch" surfaces everywhere), paint looked pretty good, all the panel fits were excellent, the doors and tailgate closed with a solid feel, and the seats seemed very comfortable. SLW could easily get in and out of it even though it didn't have the steps she wants on it, and she thought she could see out of it adequately well, but she wouldn't know until she drove one. She was quite impressed with the rear seat that folds up to free a lot of cargo space, and the "Two Way" tailgate that drops down like a proper tailgate, but also swings out like a door.

She agreed a beige leather interior would get filthy beyond belief in six months, so she backed off on wanting a red one as that's the only color interior available with red. If we buy a Honda, we'll get a blue one, as it has a slate grey/black interior.

The we went up the street to the Chevy dealer. They had Colorados (Coloradoes?) galore, but all the ones on the lot were either strippers, or fully-loaded Z71 and ZR2 off-road specialists. A nice young guy came out (one of the owning family's sons), and after talking a bit, he said he had a car with a deposit on it like we wanted, but he'd go get it so we could look at it. Except for the color, black, and the "RST" package at $2995, it was exactly what we wanted as far as trim level and interior. We crawled in and around that one, but he couldn't let us drive it as it was too close to closing, but he said if we came back during the day, we could drive one with the same config (4WD, mostly) that we were looking for. The Chevy had beautiful paint, good panel fit, nice interior, REAL KNOBS for the radio and climate control instead of touch-screen everything, and SLW could easily get in and out of it even though it, too, lacked the side steps she wants. She could see out of it OK ("Not As Good As The Honda"), and she liked the flip-flop-fold-em-up rear seats, but again, she proclaimed them "Not As Good As The Honda", which has tons of very cleaver storage cubbies, and a lockable trunk in the cargo bed. I noticed lots of hard plastic on the doors and dash of the Chevy, but it seemed to be screwed together pretty well.

So we kind of shot ourselves in the foot by going out so late, but at least we got to look at two of our choices.

And as expected, she's got doe-eyes for the Honda even though she hasn't driven it.

As of this time, the original five contestants have been winnowed down to three, the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma having not made the cut. Don't get me wrong, the Toyota is about as reliable as an anvil, and WSF has friends that say the same thing about the Nissan, but they're 10-year old designs, due for a redesign, somewhat loud and crude, and the interiors have a strong "Work Truck" look to them. I'm sure *I* could live with one, but I don't think she'd be happy with it unless she got several more orders of magnitude "countrified".

And although she's agreed to test drive the Gladiator, I don't think she'll care for it. It's a stretched Wrangler, pretty much has a Wrangler interior (gussied up right nice, though), has coil sprung suspension with straight axles front-and-rear, and looks pretty utilitarian.

I think she'll want to go with the Honda. I'd be stunned if she found the Jeep "acceptable". I just hope we drive the Jeep over some reeeeally nice roads on the test drive so it doesn't shake her fillings out.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Welllll..... That Was Quick....

 I figured it would take the wife at least a week to decide she didn't like the Jeep Gladiator. Only took her three days.

SO....I'm keeping my Grand Cherokee, and she'll be trading in her Elantra. Not sure what she'll be getting, but as WSF commented, she'll love it, and I'll drive it when required.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Best Blogger's Post I've Read All Year!

Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man has an absolutely GREAT post about the current state of affairs, and offers some powerful suggestions as to how to start to work our way out of it.

I know most of you read Peter's blog, but please don't miss this post. It's outstanding!


Sunday, July 12, 2020

First Steps....

Spent about 3~4 hours today pulling out the radio gear, power cables, signal cables, Aux GPS cables, and returning everything to the way it was before I put the stuff in.

Got the shop vacuum out and sucked all the crud out of the car, and cleaned the glass.

I pretty much know everything about this car that needs attention, and some of it I'm going to do (the headlights, again), and some I'll farm out (the detailing). And some items won't get done, like 4 new shocks. I put new brake rotors with high-end ceramic pads on it before we moved here, and the pads show like (maybe) 10% wear. The rotors still look new. The objective at this time is to get it a much presentable condition than it is now. In short, it's filthy! The carpets need to be shampooed, along with the headliner, and the seats need to be professional cleaned. The drivers seat needs a couple of small repairs, the windshield needs to be replaced, the driver's side outside mirror is getting cloudy and should be replaced. If I can find a cheap used one, I'll swap it out. Other than the items mentioned here, it's a rust-free "California Car" that's low-mileage (2006 model year, 87,000 miles), never been wrecked or abused, and always had regular maintenance. Once I get it presentable, we'll start the serious shopping.

And we haven't decided 100% on buying a Gladiator. I've been reading reviews of the other trucks in the size class, and one I want to look at is the Honda Ridgeline. The "Truck People" look down on them for various reasons, but they'll tow up to 5,000lbs when they have the all-wheel drive package, and since I doubt if I'll ever do any serious off-roading, the all-wheel drive capability they have should be sufficient. The Get-Outta-Dodge roads we'd have to use can be easily handled by one of these, as I've seen a couple "Up On The Mountain".

The only thing the magazine reviews faulted them on was the brakes. Soft pedal, lots of travel, and longer-than-average (for the class) stopping distances.

So the game's afoot, and I'm proceeding with the fact that if we really do buy a new car, the Jeep will be traded in or sold to a private party, and we're keeping her Hyundai. The little Elantra is seven years newer, runs like a top, and only has 38,000 miles on it. It's been an excellent car (never mind the two big accidents; wasn't her fault), it's pleasant to drive, gets very good fuel economy, and has been dead reliable except for the time she didn't close the door all the way, the dome light stayed on, and the battery croaked.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Hmmmm...Should I, Or Shouldn't I?

Sweet Little Wife has been talking lately about us "needing" a truck. She can't really haul much besides me, groceries, and The Little Guy around in her beloved little Hyundai Elantra, and with her recent furniture refinishing and gardening projects, she really does need to haul some stuff around.

And there have been numerous times when I needed things that were too big to fit in my Grand Cherokee, which has less space inside than you'd think by looking at the outside.

She also said it MUST have four doors (a.k.a. "Crew Cab" configuration) as she likes being able to take more than one person somewhere, i.e. The Little Guy and one or both of The Kids. Hmmm....guess I get to ride in the bed, then.....

And it MUST be four wheel (these days "All Wheel") drive, AND be capable of getting up to the The Homestead of our extended family, something she says she would NOT attempt in the little Hyundai, and I don't blame her one bit, having driven up there numerous times.

So I mentioned something about the new Jeep Gladiator being a four-door, all-wheel drive, "Trail Rated" vehicle with a pick-up bed, and just let it fade out after that.

We went running around doing some errands this afternoon (Home Depot, CVS, etc) and went to Freddy's for dinner. I *finally* got my Patty Melt from Freddy's and it was fabulous! She mentioned how nice it would be if we had a "nice little truck" to run all out errands in as she looked at how packed we had my Grand Cherokee.

I said we'd drive by the Jeep dealer tonight on the way home, and see if they had any Gladiators in stock.

They only had two, one pretty basic, and one pretty loaded. We looked at the "pretty loaded" one, and except for the color (black), she loved it. She absolutely detested in in black, though, saying "It Looks Like a Gestapo Car", which really cracked up the sales guy.

So we came home, went online, and did the "Build and Price" thing, and looked up the resale value of my Jeep.

Current delivery time is running about 8 weeks for a special order car, and if we're gonna cough up the Ka-Ching for one, we're going to get exactly what we want, so unless they put $10k "On The Hood", we're loathe (well, *I* am) to buy one out of stock.

I'm gobsmacked she's considering this. She even says I can get it with the six-speed manual trans. She knows how to drive a manual trans car, but I'm not so sure she'll like driving one of these with a manual, and that's the last point we have to discuss, as an automatic transmission is a $2,000 option.

Other than, should we get RED, or White?









Monday, July 6, 2020

R.I.P., Charlie. You Brought Joy To Countless People.....

This is the first time in recent memory that the passing of a musician has bummed me out. His music had that "something" to it that resonated with people across all backgrounds and walks of life.

Uneasy Rider

Still In Saigon

Long Haired Country Boy

In America

God Bless you, Charlie. I've got a feeling there's gonna be a lot of toe tappin' going on  in Heaven.....


Friday, July 3, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

As our friend Shaun says, "Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty".

Embrace them very tightly. Once gone, they're nigh well impossible to restore without great sacrifice and hardship....





Huh...just noticed the HOT DOGS are missing from the above picture.

Not to mention the Chevrolet emblem.....

Yep, we did it once....


And we've always been ready to do it again.....







Might not be a bad idea.....








So go ye forth, and Embrace The Blessings Of Liberty!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Here We Go Again.....

Ground out the dings and divots I missed the first time, and feathered the edges of the paint around them.

Then I sanded the whole thing down again, this time using 150 grit.



The black paint makes a good "guide coat", easily showing the high spots where the paint sanded off, and the low spots, where it didn't. And wonder-of-wonders, it's almost acceptably smooth. This stuff sands off relatively easy with 150 grit, and I probably would have blown right through it with 80 grit.

I'll go over it again tomorrow when I have more light coming in. I have some "High Build Primer", but it doesn't specifically say it's for flexible parts, so I'm loathe to use it. The "recommended" primer should be here Monday, so I just have to sit on my hands for a while. This is starting to look like I can pull it off successfully, so I don't want to blow it using wrong materials.

It's not like this is the ONLY project I have cooking......!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Back In Black!

The bumper cover is painted.










And as expected, the surface prep was less than perfect well done. Since I didn't have any grey primer, I couldn't see how many and how deep the sanding scratches (and you ALWAYS have them) were. Since the finest paper I used was 220 grit, it left quite a few. The 80 grit I started with to knock everything down and get all the bad paint off left some deep ones, and I should have (at least) sanded it down with some 600 to smooth it out.

This is the only picture I could get that shows the surface decently, and you can see I still have more work to do.



It's pretty "rough", and it looks like these coats of black paint will be my "primer".

I just wonder how tough this stuff is to sand. I'll let it dry/cure a few days, and then WET sand it with 600.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Decade of Solar Activity in Six Minutes

One of my radio buddies sent me this link, and it's amazing to watch.

So, I embedded it here. The music is a bit "spacey", but the video is fascinating to watch.

Watch it full screen for maximum effect.....




And speaking of solar activity, 6 Meters is "open" again, and several guys in the area made contacts with Japan just now @2300UTC.


It's damp and rainy today, so no painting.....

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Taped Up and Almost Ready For Paint

Got the front of the car lifted up about 18" today, and mounted solidly on some NON Harbor Freight jack stands.




I'll lower the hood, and cover the front with some old moving blankets I have. Since this a "Rattle Can Job" the spray won't go very far, and I masked back far enough to prevent any overspray from getting on the car. I'll wipe it down with some prep solvent and check my masking once more, then spray it with the adhesion promoter, and then the color coat.

And this is the table SLW has been refinishing:


She saw it at the local ARC Thrift Shop and liked it, even though it has some really bad spots in the finish. She's been sanding away and learning things, and has just about declared it finished (no pun). She'll probably Varathane it tomorrow and then polish it out after the coating has cured.

This is the second one she's refinished, and her technique is getting much better. She's realized doing stuff like this is NOT as easy as a YouTube video makes it out to be, and that you actually have to pay attention to what you're doing so you don't do some damage that's difficult to repair, like sanding clean through the veneer, something I've coached her about, showing her how thin the veneer is in on spot where a small piece had broken away.

So it looks like I should have this painted in the next day or two, and it's been the #1 item on the punch list since I got the car.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Just About All Taped Up....

After letting it sit for a few days to allow the filler to shrink (it didn't), I sanded it once more, wiped it off, and started taping it up to paint.




Still have the bottom section to mask off, and that's gonna be a PITA. Thursday I'll raise the front end about 12" with my jack, and put some stands under it to get the nose up so it's easier to get at, both for the masking, and the painting.

The engine compartment and hood will get covered with some old blankets. I'll dampen the floor and close all the doors to keep the dust down, put my respirator on, and spray it.  This paint and primer "flash off" very fast, and are dry to the touch in about 15 minutes. Then I'll open the doors and turn on the fans to get the fumes out.

As you can see in this google-sourced front end shot, there's a whole lotta body colored stuff under the lower edge of the black bumper, and all that has to be masked off.



Having the nose up in the air a foot will so let me get down there easier to scrub all the white painted parts, something which I didn't do a long time ago when I "cleaned" the paint to get the crud off it. And I have to address some damage to the lower edge of the "air dam" (They call them "splitters" these days...) from people bumping into things with it. There's supposed to be an "Engine Undercover" for airflow reasons, but they generally got removed at the first oil change, as they "collect" the oil that spills when you change the filter, and any other stuff that leaks out of the engine. It pools there, and then drips out on your driveway at it's leisure, making for angry owners with oil-stained driveways.

If it were a British car you'd expect it. Marking it's territory, you know?

Anyway....the missing undercover also had some stout metal strips in the front where it attached to the lower edge of the airdam, reinforcing it to take the abuse of people hitting things. With the undercover removed, the lower edge of the airdam is floppy, and can get snagged on things. Then when you back up, it snags on the thing, and tries to peel itself off the car. So mine is a little tatty down yonder way, and I have some aluminum angle I have to cut and drill to fabricate some replacements.

I have a complete undercover, struts, reinforcing strips, and new hardware, but I'm not sure if I'll put it on, at least right now. I still have to do the timing belt, (and hoses, and belts, and alternator upgrade, and....and....and...) and putting the cover on now just means taking it off again when I do the mechanical work.

Getting the bumper refurbed means I can put the turn signals, fog lamps, and grill back on the car, and bolt the front license plate back on, the main thing that has stopped me from taking little local jaunts. I'm told Colorado is very strict about having a front plate, and I don't want tickets at "my age". The Cops not only write you the ticket, but chastise you a bit with "You Should Know Better!".......

Hopefully I'll have this painted in the next few days (yeah...I'm slooooow), and then I can clean the bottom of the front properly, wipe some paint sealer on it, put the rest back together, and HIT THE ROAD!!

Oh....gotta get the radio antenna and speakers installed, too. Just gotta have tunes on the road.....

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sad News.......R.I.P. Our Beloved Little Coco

SLW just told me that one of The Kids' dogs (well, "our" dog, too), Coco, passed away this morning.

Our son told SLW  he thought she'd been having seizures, and was acting "strange" the last few days.

No information other than that at this time, and our son took her up to one of the clan's houses in the mountains to lay her to rest.

The Little Guy doesn't know yet, and I'm wondering how he'll take it.


R.I.P. little one. You'll be sorely missed.....