Monday, July 31, 2023

Holee Molee It's RAINING!

 On the basis of gut feeling, the NWS reports, and my own instruments, I can confidently say this the most rain, in the shortest period of time, we've ever received.

FIVE INCHES per hour rain rate, and 1.8" of rain as of 2100LT. Current radar indicates a lot of rain still out there, and some of it might get here.

We had so much lightning and thunder, that poor Little Miss Pebbles, went down into the basement, and then into the basement bathroom, during the worst part of the storm. Based on my survey for the "Safest Place In The House In Case Of Nuclear Attack", the two safest places are in the basement bathroom, and in Der Boonker, as you have the concrete foundation of the house on three sides of you, and sturdy joists and bracing above you.

SLW, DIL, TLG, and TNLG had been in KCMO for her Granddaughter's wedding, and hit this mess coming back up through the Denver area. Good thing they were in DIL's Mom's car, a big, honking Audi Q8 quattro SUV of very recent vintage. Audi's "Quattro" AWD system is superb, from what I've read. My Jeep had "Quadra-Drive II", and was amazing, so I'd imagine the Quattro system is at least as good.

Be safe out there!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Loose Ends....

 Even though I've been spending a lot of time in the garage lately, I haven't let my "Downstairs" projects languish. I finished putting the acoustic foam inside the speaker enclosures I started right before I broke my hip, and I'll be dragging them upstairs to the garage to sand the outsides and do some filler work on them.

I'm still at the Beginner's Stage for woodworking like this, but I'm getting much better with every enclosure I build. I now have several sets of corner clamps, long bar clamps, short bar clamps, and a small 1/2" belt sander to knock off the "dingleberries" on the CNC-cut parts, and to bevel ALL the parts that fit together. That last tip was stumbled upon as I was trying to fit the large second side of the enclosure together. They would NOT go together smoothly, even though the sides were routed like a mortise to accept the tenon part on an internal brace. Took a lot of head scratching, and then some heavy sanding on the tenons to get them properly fitted. In retrospect, there are things I would have done differently, but it's glue-under-the-table at this point.

Gonna take my Big Foot hand cart to get these up the stairs!

Once they're sanded and smooth, I'll coat them with a polymer "Road Case" coating, put the crossovers and speakers in them, glue-and-screw the side on, and touch up the coating along the seams.

Just hope they sound decent.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Catching Up....

 Well, it rained, I had some Honey Dews, and two Doctor's appointments. Then we had some more rain, then I had a few more Honey Dews, so I gave up on getting the Supra smogged until this coming week.

It sure runs nice, though, and I've been tinkering away, cleaning up some loose ends (like mounting my speakers), cleaning up the garage, and making a written inventory of what I have, and what I need. VERY few of the molded hoses used on this car are available, so we have to adapt things. For example, Toyota used two hoses with a brass coupler to join them for the heater return. There's a single piece hose from a Tundra/Sequoia that fits perfectly, and costs less to boot. I have a couple of those on order. Some of the other, smaller water bypass hoses are somewhat available, but are again, from a different car, like a Honda or Nissan, and have to be cut and trimmed a bit to fit properly. Just another one of the things you deal with when working on older cars that are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Some day I'll do a post on why it costs so much to "restore" a car. A very large part of it is labor, including time spent chasing down obscure parts, or finding suitable replacements.

Things are growing like crazy here. I have to spray the gravel bed borders again, and the drip system for SLW's front garden is lurking in the background, too. I have all the bits and pieces we need to get the system installed, and plenty of tubing, drippers, adapters, and other things we might need in the future for expansion and repair. I have the next roll of 1/2" tubing unrolled in the yard so it loses the "set" it had from being coiled up. It also softens the tube, making it easier to lay it down and take the shape you need.

So that's it for the last week. Hope you all had a pleasant and Blessed weekend.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

And Boy, Does It Run Well!

 Took her off the stands today, checked the oil, checked the tires, cleaned the windshield, crossed myself, crossed my fingers, and took her out for a spin.

YOWZIR, what an improvement! It's no longer all herky-jerky pulling away from a dead stop, throttle response is improved throughout the RPM range, and it pulls harder now that the throttle plate goes wide-open. Besides the throttle work, I also put in new plugs and wires, and replaced a whole lotta vacuum hose. Some was cracked, but most of it just didn't fit tight to the places it plugged in to, and was a source of potential vacuum leaks.

And two of the plug wires were bad. Looks like they may have come loose slightly, allowing water ingress, and the terminals were corroded.

So tomorrow we head off to the emissions testing facility, God Willin and the Crick Don't Rise!

Oh, and no rain. Ms Swan does NOT like getting wet!

Obligatory Engine Room pr0n....

Monday, July 17, 2023

It's Alive!!!!!

 Work on a "Project Car" is never finished. There's always something else to do, or something to clean, polish, replace, repair, modify, ponder about, and budget for.

And the more things you do, the more you find to do. "That doesn't look right", or "I didn't know those parts were that worn out", or "Gee...those vacuum hoses are cracked. Better replace them".

It goes on and on, and is subject to "As long as I'm in there....", which is a good starting point at understanding "Mission Creep".

And that's what I've been doing all this week.

This particular episode started With searching out an oil leak. A very sloooow oil leak. Since it leaked ALL the oil out the Winter before last, I assumed (ruh-roh...) that it did the same thing this Winter.


I slowed the leak down enough that the oil level barely showed on the dipstick. Thinking it was empty, I crawled under the car and pulled the drain plug. I was greeted by a deluge of oil. I didn't think I could get an oil plug back in that fast, but I did. After the initial surprise faded and I'd cleaned up the mess, I added a quart of oil, and it *barely* showed on the dipstick. I added two more quarts, and it was full.  So, I didn't lose all five quarts, only about two. I slowed the leak down considerably, and next time I change the oil I'll put in a new drain plug and gasket.

Next was the process of putting the OEM air intake ducting back on. Which meant cleaning up all the pieces. Not difficult, but busy work. In the inspection process I do to everything I touch on this car I noticed the throttle linkage had a ton of free play/slop/looseness in addition to feeling gritty and not working smoothly. I sourced a replacement Throttle Crank assembly, cleaned it up, blew out all the crud in the moving parts with solvent, and lubricated it. Works as smooth as a baby's bottom now! I shot some graphite "Speedometer Cable Lube" down the throttle and cruise-control cables, as I doubt they've ever been lubricated. I lubricated the linkage on the Throttle Body, too, as well as putting a dab of grease on the ball studs the pushrod snaps on to. Put the throttle and cruise control cables back on, and adjusted the throttle. I had to run the throttle cable adjustment out to ~90% of the available range, and it was enough to get the freeplay out. The throttle cracks open now with a gentle push on the accelerator pedal, AND now opens 100%. Should be more driveable now, and maybe even a tad quicker.

So now she's all back together and running. I pulled the EFI fuse so the fuel pump wouldn't run, and cranked it for about 20 seconds to get oil pressure. Put the fuse back in, and she started right up, and fell into a nice, smooth idle. Throttle response seems greatly improved with a properly adjusted, lubricated throttle linkage. It should drive much smoother, which I'll find out tomorrow.

I still have to get the routing of the new plug wires nice and tidy. I used the wrong plastic wiring loom in the wrong place, and they don't lay right where they break out and go to the distributor cap.

And after the setbacks I endured over the last several months, I gave myself a little treat, and put some bling on the car.

Yeah, I's slightly crooked. Le Sigh....

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Inventory Time

 One of the things I learned from both my Dad and The School of Hard Knocks, is that to do and complete a job requires with having all the required parts on hand. Since I'll be changing all the belts and hoses this Summer, I figured I'd better see if I had all the required parts.

I have at least one of everything, and the "One Is None" got rectified tonight with another order to good old Rock Auto, one of the few places left that actually stocks parts for these cars. I have multiples of the V-belts for the power steering and A/C compressor, and several different lengths of the serpentine belt that drives the water pump and alternator. Since I'll be swapping out the 60A alternator for a 100A unit from a Camry, and it's bigger but with a smaller pulley, the OEM belt doesn't fit. One of the guys on the CelicaSupra forum went through all the different belt lengths, and found an optimum length for the alternator swap, so I have several of those belts.

I only have one cam drive belt, and that's going on the car along with a new tensioner. I was going to get another one, but ooops...."Out of Stock". The only ones they had were $9 "Economy" belts, and I'm not going to risk a cheap cam drive belt on an interference-type engine. OOOPS...Just found out this engine is a NON-interference engine. I still don't like using an El Cheapo timing belt (or chain, or gears) because they're almost always a PITA to replace.

Since the current Hot Problem is an oil leak from the drain plug, I ordered several different plugs (M18-1.5 thread) along with several different types of oil drain plug gaskets. I git yer nylon ones, your fiber ones, and yes, even the Holy Grail of oil drain plug gaskets....the Dead-Soft Copper ones! I have to get this fixed before I refill the oil (groan...another 5 quarts of 10W-40!) and start the engine. Which means I have to shovel out several pounds (or more....) of oil-soaked kitty litter from under the car, along with the cardboard sheets I threw down there when I noticed it was leaking. It NEVER leaked a drop in Long Beach, and it only seems to start leaking in the Winter, so I'm thinking *something* is contracting enough from the cold to allow the oil in the pan to drip out. I put a new gasket on it the last time I had the plug out, and the plug, gasket, and oil pan surface were very clean when I put the plug back in and I torqued it to spec. When was the last time you got your torque wrench out to properly tighten your oil drain plug? Yeah, it was a first for me, too. So clean surfaces, new gasket, properly tightened.......WTF did the oil leak out? Absolutely NO TRACE of oil around the pan gasket, front main seal, or rear main seal. No trace of oil at the cylinder head/block interface. Oil filter clean, dry, and tight. This engine is sealed remarkably well for a 35 year old engine with 168,000 miles on it. It's DRY externally. The only place I see any wetness (besides on the floor...) is around the drain plug. So either the threads are worn, or something I've only seen a very few times. Rarely, the area around the drain plug where the back-up plate with the female threads is welded inside develops cracks. It's an easy fix. Scrupulously clean the area with a no-residue solvent, and butter some JB Weld over the cracks. Beats pulling the pan to have it cleaned and welded up. You could even braze the area to seal the cracks. 

Oh...and I just noticed the throttle linkage is really sloppy. Looks like a plastic bushing has worn out, and the cable has stretched some over 35 years, requiring adjustment. The linkage is more of an issue, as the parts are staked together, making disassembly problematic.

It's been pleasant out in the garage getting Ms Swan awakened, and I'm looking forward to dancing with her again.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Rainy Day Project - Cleaning Supra Parts

Since it's been raining off-and-on here the last several days, and I don't like playing dodge the raindrops with corded power tools, I put the ground rod installation on hold.

So let's clean-up some of the parts I have to reinstall on the Supra!

And it all starts with hot, soapy water.

The parts in the sink are a weather seal from under the hood, and a shield that goes behind the fabled Timing Cover #3. Prior to this, I scrubbed the daylights out of the rubber air couplings used to pipe the air from the Air Flow Meter to the Throttle Body. There's three of these couplings, and if any one of them doesn't seal properly, you have an air leak between the Air Flow Meter and the Throttle Body, which throws off the Electronic Fuel Injection. It's similar to a vacuum leak on a engine with a carburetor, and makes for poor running, and failed emissions testing.

35 year old rubber air couplings like these don't age well unless they're taken care of. And very few people bother to take them off and clean them yearly. It's not on the Toyota Maintenance Schedule other than to "Inspect and Replace If Required", so they only get a brief glance, if that.

I was fortunate to get a set of used ones in good condition. I scrubbed them with soap and water, and then took a toothbrush and scrubbed in a generous amount of Eastwood "Rubber, Plastic and Vinyl Restore". This stuff is amazing. Next to the cleaned and restored piece is the one that came on the car.

It was pretty trashed, and I'd resorted to using some 3M "Super Weatherstrip Adhesive" to glue it back together and fill in the cracks.

The cracks went all the way through, so I had to use some tape to keep the adhesive in place.

Even though they "hold air" now, they're very stiff and brittle. The brown color is oxidized rubber, and will not come off with soap and water. Altogether, I'm glad I had a good replacement, which looked new after cleaning and treatment. Nice and flexible, too.

I also scrubbed and treated the two rubber seals under the hood. One is at the cowling, and keeps hot engine art from getting into the A/C system, and the other is on the bottom of the leading edge of the hood. It's purpose is to block any air coming through the grill from going over the radiator, rather than through it.

So those have been my rainy day activities, I should have Ms Swan back on the road in the next week or so, and then we can start the process of getting her properly licensed again.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Ground Rods - Two Down, One To Go!

 And it's turning out easier than I thought it would. It starts with using my 30" deep watering spike to get the hole started.

Takes about 15 minutes to melt its way down, and you have a nice, 30" deep hole, slightly larger than the ground rod.

Then I set the rod in the hole.....

Slide the ground rod driver tool over the end of the rod....

And drive the rod into the soil until there's 10" or so above ground.

This is one I did yesterday.

Easy-Peasy to drive the rods in.

The next step will be to install the surge suppressor mounting plate and suppressor. This one is just mocked up finger-tight. The bronze clamp on the rod will be for a #4 solid copper wire that bonds this ground rod to the other two rods I'll be putting in at this location.

I still have to mount the 20 Meter vertical on the post, and install the coax from the antenna to the suppressor, and then the suppressor to the RF entrance panel.

More to come as soon as the weather cooperates a bit better!

Monday, July 3, 2023

Sweet Little PC for Sweet Little Wife


WHEW! Can't say "What A Battle" because in the end it was a simple thing. I reflashed the UEFI BIOS to the current version, and Windows installed normally. I almost always read the release notes on something like this to see what changed over the previous version. The new version had both TPM and Secure Boot enabled as defaults whereas the previous version required you to go in and enable them. The third thing was to "Add Support for ALC888s", and the fourth item was something I don't recall ever seeing before, saying "Add OEM String". Hmmmm....wonder if the Windows install program was looking for that, didn't find it, and rolled over and croaked. All it ended with was a "Does not meet minimum standards" message. Nice error message, Micro$oft! Might be nice if you told us why it didn't pass.'s up and running and blazing fast.  

BUT.....I Do Not Like Micro$oft Windows 11.

 No sir, don't like it at all.

Oh, sure, it's fast, easy to use, looks good, and does tons of things for you. 

What provokes me is the behind-the-scenes intrusiveness of it.

It REQUIRES an Internet connection to activate and use. So did XP, Vista, and 7, but this time M$ makes it abundantly clear, and the install would not continue until I plugged an Ethernet cable from the router into the PC. Not even an option to "Ask Me Later".

It REQUIRES a Micro$oft account, to which it automagically connects to when the machine is powered up.

SLW wasn't sure if she had an M$ account, but M$ found one for her based on her email address, so we reset the password on it, and POOF! All her "In The Cloud" documents popped up as shortcuts to the web on her desktop.

It even "found" things she knew she'd deleted, which is kind of spooky.

But she's quite happy with it, as it rips her CDs to a thumb drive in the blink of an eye, and I was able to recover all her photos, music, and documents from The PC That Micro$oft Killed. Yes, murder most foul by an attempted "upgrade" from Windows 10 to Windows 11. I think I can recover/reinstall the system BIOS and get the motherboard to work again, in which case her old PC, originally built for my son as a gaming/multimedia PC, will wind up as the Workshop Computer. Actually I wouldn't mind having a little Shuttle like I just built for her, but I'd rather not spend the bucks building another one.

Work continues on Ms Swan. Since I had to pull the aftermarket air intake tube running across the top of the engine and replace it with the OEM air intake ducting, this is an excellent time to install the new spark plug wires, and replace some of the vacuum hoses that aren't quite right. Then I have to go to the courthouse, pay the registration, pay the late registration fees, and probably pay extra for a temporary permit to drive it to the smog check place.

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs! She's two years old, p...