So plans have changed a bit and we’re headed back down to Lexington Park for more work at my Father in law’s. In looking at the Chrysler in the garage I’ve been putting together a plan to resurrect it, carefully, without blowing up the motor. Here’s a rough outline of the approach:

  1. Turn the crank pulley and see if the engine turns. If not—and in any case—on to step 2:
  2. Pull the spark plugs and pour Marvel Mystery Oil down the cylinders. I was able to get my spare 345 in the garage freed up and moving again with this technique, and I hope to god the Chrysler block isn’t frozen solid.
  3. Pull the carburetor off the engine, cover the inlet, and bring it home for soaking and a rebuild. Well, I’ve actually got several options here—
    1. I can rebuild it as best as I can to get things moving.
    2. I can buy a replacement Edelbrock or other aftermarket carb to drop on top of the engine, and get it running reliably.
    3. I can buy a rebuilt Carter AFB (the stock carb) from an online vendor and swap it onto the engine.
      …At this point a rebuild is the cheapest option and I don’t need to have it run perfectly, just enough to get onto a trailer or move under its own power.
  4. Jack it up and put it on stands so we can pull the wheels off and have new tires put on. All four tires are completely shot, so this is mandatory. Plus then we can sweep underneath and see what’s going on with the exhaust and frame. One thing to remember: The driver side has left-hand threads and the passenger side has right-hand threads.
  5. Install the alternator. We found the original alternator in the trunk, removed at some previous time, and I have no idea what’s wrong with it. A $40 replacement from Rock Auto is packed and ready to put in.
  6. Drain and replace the oil. God only knows what’s in it, and it’s a quart overfull anyway. So that’ll come out and be refreshed.
  7. Test the ignition system for spark. I have no idea what condition the coil or points are in, so I’ll bring a spare set of plug wires from the Scout down in case one or more are garbage.

I put the pod on the roof of the CR-V this morning so that we can throw the useless tires up there and bring them back up here; I’ll order four new tires and have them mounted and balanced locally, then bring them back down and put them back on. I’m going to try and get through as much of the list as I can—I’ll probably only get up to #4 before we run out of time.

Date posted: May 14, 2022 | Filed under cars, family | Leave a Comment »

It’s been quiet around here this week, as I’ve been going pretty much nonstop since last Friday and haven’t had much time to sit and think. As mentioned earlier, I spent all of last weekend chest-deep in a dumpster hauling stuff out of Jen’s father’s garage. On Monday I had to fit a week’s worth of work into eight hours and prepare for the marathon to come: I was signed up for the CreativePro conference in Arlington for three days, which meant I had to get up at 6:30 to be on the road by 7 and be parked in a hotel garage by 9. I had a day of courses focusing on new tricks and features of the design software we use daily. I had to leave at 3 on Tuesday to drive all the way back up to Baltimore for welding class at 5:30, and practiced stick welding until 8:30.

Wednesday was another conference day, and after the last track was over at 5 we walked down the street and I bought the design team dinner. It was great to sit back and hang out with them, and by the time I got on the road the evening traffic had calmed down. Thursday was a repeat of Tuesday’s schedule, and we spent the evening practicing stick welding and started learning MIG theory.

My brain is full, my body is tired, and I’ve driven in more traffic in the past week than I care to ever again. But I feel good about design and better about welding. I’m looking forward to a quiet Friday.

Date posted: May 12, 2022 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

My (somewhat limited) social media feeds, email inboxes, and texts all blew up with people sending me the news that the Volkswagen group is thinking about making a new electric SUV called the Scout. It’s a long, convoluted story, but the Autopian breaks down how VW has come into possession of the Scout trademark through its purchase of Navistar after a colossal strategic mistake in building diesel engines.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: May 12, 2022 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Electric Scout?

I spent the weekend down at my father-in-law’s house emptying about twenty years of stuff out of his garage. We rented a 20 cubic yard dumpster, which looks very big in the driveway, but fills up very fast. I drove down solo on Saturday morning while Jen was working and waded in to the debris, first finding a way to grease up the wheels on the garage door and get it raised out of the way. Then I started moving things around and working with him on what to keep and what to throw away.

It’s been a delicate balance. I’m not there to just empty the space out, so I had him stand with me for as much as possible and give the thumbs-up/down on all of the major items. There were a lot of things he’d forgotten were in there, including two lawnmowers he didn’t recognize, and overall he was happy to see most of it leave. It was fun to find something obviously important, walk it over to him, and see his face light up with recognition.

While I worked, I consolidated a bunch of different things—tools scattered throughout the garage all got collected on the workbench and later sorted into shelves out of the way. Military gear was assembled and stored safely in two new plastic bins. Important papers were gathered in one place. All of the toys and children’s books were set aside and later stored in a cabinet up off the floor and out of the way. All of the electric tools were tested and tossed if they weren’t functional. We got rid of a lot of ancient technology: both lawnmowers, two CRT televisions, and two weed whackers—one big enough to warrant handlebars and a support strap. Heirlooms like family chairs and sleds got hung on the wall, up and out of the way. By the end of the day I had most of the left bay clear and the car uncovered. I got some dinner, took a long hot shower at the hotel, and got a terrible night’s sleep (mostly climate-control related).

Sunday morning I brought Bob a chocolate donut, finished my coffee, and got back at it. By noon I had the far side clear, all of the boxes stored away, and the inside of the car cleared out. Jen and Bob started chipping ice from the ancient freezer by the back door, depositing about ten gallons of ice on the side lawn to melt. When it was empty I manhandled it out into the back of the dumpster and pulled the door off. After that it was mainly cleaning up after ourselves and finding places to store stuff until we get some shelving to help organize.

I took a little time in the afternoon to find the hood release on the Chrysler and pulled it open to find a dirty but mostly intact 440 with a single-barrel carb and no alternator. Talking it over with him, he agreed to let me try and get it running again, so I’ve got a shopping list for future visits and a plan for how to get started. And luckily I found a working set of door and ignition keys to make the job a little easier.

By the end of the night I was a sore, tired mess. The dumpster is full and will be hauled away tomorrow. The door (mostly) goes up and down by itself, and I’ve got the broken part in my toolbag to source some replacements. Most importantly, we’ve got more room to move and store things as we help him sort out his house.

Date posted: May 9, 2022 | Filed under family | Leave a Comment »


Extremely satisfying. I’m still working on consistency from one weld to the next, but I was pretty proud of this one. Tomorrow night we start hands-on stick welding, which is supposed to be harder than TIG but much more flexible.

Date posted: May 9, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

In the face of supremely bad news on Tuesday morning, I’m going to write a little bit about welding class so far to keep myself from screaming. So far, I love both oxy-acetylene and TIG with a new passion; both are excellent in their own way and both come with drawbacks. But it’s like my instructor told us: each one has its uses. Oxy-acetylene is slow and methodical: it’s heating metal with a flame. It’s also the coldest of all methods, so it takes longer and demands patience. But I enjoyed a kind of meditation while welding two sections of 1/8″ metal together. It’s soothing; “knitting with fire” is how my instructor described it. Not quite something I’d do on the couch in front of Netflix, but it would definitely go with some cool jazz or mellow electronica in the garage.

TIG is immediate and gratifying and makes short work of anything. It took half the time to weld the same length of steel together with TIG, and it’s easier to dial in the temperature and keep it steady. I see now why the pros on YouTube bust out the TIG torch when making metal stick together. But I spent half the night running to and from the sander to clean the electrode, even when I kept the tip away from the puddle. That’s a pain in the ass. With skill I bet there would be half the tungsten cleaning nonsense and a lot more productivity; I’d need to take the intermediate TIG course to learn more about how to dial the machine in for different thicknesses and situations. On Thursday we’re going to do another hour of TIG and then start learning about different chemical processes in the leadup to plasma cutting, and then I think we move to stick welding next.

Date posted: May 4, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

We are home for the first full weekend in a month and a half, and I enjoyed a day of puttering around the house doing small things. Saturday morning I took Finley over to school for a catch-up in Math and Spanish, and when I got home I took Hazel on her 2-mile coffee walk. I spent most of the walk obsessing over a cheap local Scout on Marketplace that I convinced myself I could afford.

When I got back home I figured I’d get my mind off it completely by reading the second half of the comic run of Paper Girls, a title written by Brian K. Vaughn (of Saga and Y: the Last Man fame) and drawn by Cliff Chiang. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I found it completely engrossing and absolutely riveting storytelling. Back in the Before Times, when I was going to the library, I read a couple of issues but found it hard to follow out of order. I’m nervous because Amazon is making it into a series—I hope to got they don’t fuck it up.

My mind sufficiently clear, I got to work fixing the steering wheel on the Scout and then taking Finn out thrifting. While she browsed in one corner of the store, I found a 4-gallon pot and a couple of cheap shirts but not much else. We did some other shopping and then came home with dinner for Mama. When we’d cleaned up the kitchen, I brought the beer stove outside, filled the new pot with water, and boiled the deer skull for about two hours. As the light faded I used a stick to scrape off the loosened skin and hair and set it out to dry. On Sunday I’ll dump it in with some hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for a day to whiten up. Then it’ll be ready to hang.

There are three tomato plants in the greenhouse, but not much else right now. I bought seedlings from the store and threw them in some new dirt, but I’m not planning on filling every inch of the greenhouse like I did last year; I just got too discouraged at the end of the season with how things went. I’ll probably buy five or six more and focus on keeping them watered and happy, and see if I can get some different results with fertilizer and watering schedules.

Today will be more puttering. The dog needs a bath, the bathrooms need a cleaning, and I have a list of things that need attention around the house.

Date posted: May 1, 2022 | Filed under books, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

The weather on Saturday was 70 and sunny, so I decided to tackle the turn signal canceler not he steering column. I’ve previously covered how I pulled apart my spare column but this time I took more pictures, and I’ll repeat it here. The only difference between that column and this one is the shape; my  spare has a round horn button while the one on Peer Pressure has a larger triangular horn button.

First, park the truck with the wheels pointed straight. Now unscrew the horn cover: it’s a two-piece mount. There are six screws on the backside that need to come out. From there you should be able to pull it off and see the mount:

Pull the horn leads off (you did disconnect the battery, didn’t you?) and pull the three screws visible out. The mount should come off, leaving this:

Next, unscrew the locking nut off the center bolt (it’s already out in the picture above). Use your steering wheel puller to get the wheel itself off: screw the two long bolts into the holes at 1 and 7 o’clock above, put the center bolt on the head of the nut, and start cinching down.

With that off, you’re looking at the plate that holds all of the guts in place. You need a different tool now to push it down and expose a lockring on the center of the stem. I built my tool out of some steel bar and bench stock bolts:

Use a couple of small flathead screwdrivers to widen the locking enough to slide it up out of the groove, and then slide it off the stem . The plate should come off easily then. You’ll see the turn signal canceling cam:

There should be a post holding a spring sticking out of the cam. Grab the spring and pull the cam off. (The post on mine was cracked and broken; this could be why mine wasn’t working).

From here you’ve got to unscrew both the turn signal lever at 9 o’clock and the hazard button at about 4 o’clock. Next, there are three bolts that hold the entire lever assembly in place—you’ll have to use the selector to move the assembly to reach all three.

Now, scoot down below the column and find the wire harness on the right side. Carefully unclip the smaller section of the two from the larger with a flathead screwdriver and push it aside. The entire lever assembly should now be free to pull up through the column. Take note of how it snakes down through the collar and mount, because you have to feed the new one through the same way.

Visually, there isn’t anything wrong with my stock harness. The plastic isn’t completely exploded like the spare was; I have no idea why it wasn’t working correctly, but I suspect it had something to do with the cam being broken. I did notice there’s a spring missing at about 9 o’clock in the picture below, which I never found in the column. Regardless, I fed the new one down through the mounts and clipped it back into place on the column.

Then, I used some steel wool to clean the rust off the turn signal lever and put that back in place.

From there, it’s just reassembling what you just took apart, in the right order. Remember how you parked with the wheels straight? make sure you align the wheel up correctly (I aligned mine in a Y shape so that I can see the dashboard through the top of the spokes).

Hooking the battery back up, the truck roared back to life, and both of the turn signals now cancel as advertised! My days of puttering along in the middle lane with my blinker on are (hopefully) over with.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: April 30, 2022 | Filed under Repairs, Scout, Steering, steering column | Comments Off on Canceled

I hopped on to Reverb last week to see what the latest comparable offerings to my Steinberger were, and the first one that popped up was a twin to mine, and the only other red XP-2 I’ve ever seen, for sale in Austin, Texas. It looks like pricing has come down some since I listed my bass—the average seems to be hovering right above $2000. The shop selling this one is calling it “rare” and are hoping to get another $500 above average, but it’s also been for sale since last year.

My listing is down, as I only got one inquiry (a trade offer for a Rickenbacker 4003) in the year I’d listed it, and no serious offers. Perhaps I lower the price and relist in the spring. It’s sitting in the corner doing nothing and I’d love to see it move to a good home.

This afternoon, on a phone call, I moved some data into Flourish and built a story around the four main cancer data points: white and red blood cells, and lymphocytes. This is a much easier way to display (and update) the data as I get it.

Date posted: April 26, 2022 | Filed under bass, cancer | Leave a Comment »

I saw this picture in a series from a parts truck listing online and grabbed it. The typeface is perfect; everything about this is perfect, except for the extra apostrophe.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: April 25, 2022 | Filed under design, Scout | Comments Off on Scoutland