I had an hour or two this weekend to fool with the Scout, and decided to pull the soft top off and drop the Traveltop on the rails. This is the first time it’s been on in two years, as I lost all of last fall to chemotherapy. As a result I was a little rusty with the process. I have it suspended from the ceiling with four ratchet straps, attached to two 2×3’s with eyehooks at each end. This inexpensive solution keeps the top mostly up and out of the way during the winter, but I’d certainly kill for a taller ceiling and a motorized hoist.
First the soft top gets unsnapped and disconnected from the body. Then it gets unsnapped from the rear hoop, folded in half, and lifted off. Then the hoops and bedrail caps get unscrewed and removed as one unit. The hoops separate in the center and I fold each side together, and zip-tie them in place so they store easier. Finally, the metal retaining strip across the top of the windshield frame gets unbolted.
Next, I pull out the rubber gaskets and lay them in place: on the top of the windshield and on either bedrail. From there I carefully lower the top down by releasing slack in each of the ratchet straps until the 2×3’s are sitting on the bedrail. By bending over and lifting the top on my back I walk it forward and into place, and then I have a helper (in this case Finn) pull the 2×3’s out from the side while I lift the top. I make a few adjustments to get it aligned and then finger-tighten 10 bolts along the bedrail and four bolts in the windshield. Then we tighten everything down.
Finally, I unscrew the passenger’s taillight and thread the cabin light lead down a hole in the rear corner of the tailcap where the pigtail lives, and connect it back up. There’s a switch wired to the plastic fascia above the liftgate that probably turns the light on from the back, but it’s broken. Alarmingly, I saw some kind of light or spark behind it when I tried it so I’ll have to pull that apart next weekend and either cap it off or fix it.
I had to take the spare out so that we could reach the bolts, and I was worried it wouldn’t fit with the top back on, but it does, just barely. We celebrated by taking a ride around the block.
Meanwhile, I’ve had two spare carbs sitting on the bench downstairs for, oh, two years now. It’s time to get the good one refurbed and boxed away for future use and off the bench for good. With a little liquid courage, I went downstairs last night and started putting things back together.
I opened the rebuild book and started working on the parts I knew about, following the instructions as best I could. Within about two hours I’d put in both floats and adjusted them, laid the new gasket in place (and taken it off, and replaced it, and…), unscrewed and cleaned both of the idle mixture screws, and pulled and replaced both of the main jet brass fittings.
Thankfully, I’ve got the spare TQ sitting next to it on the bench, so I can refer to it whenever I need to know which way a retaining pin goes, or how the linkages on each side are re-connected once I’ve got the whole thing together. There are a pile of smaller gaskets and pins and brass fittings that still have to go in (I’m only about 1/10 of the way in to this) but I’ve got some confidence now that I’ve started.
Tomorrow marks a pretty important milestone: a year ago I started chemotherapy for my cancer. For my family and I, it was a long walk into the unknown. I had no idea how it would impact my day-to-day life and health, or if it would hurt, or if I’d be barfing all over the place every five minutes.
Jen and I took an early morning walk last week at the beginning of the first real cold snap, and it made us both think of chilly, dark trips downtown to be at the chemo ward when they opened the doors. That was a major strain on us, on Finn, and on our friends, who were gracious enough to take her in every morning to make those trips possible. I don’t miss those mornings at all and I’m sure my family would say the same.
Chemotherapy is like visiting a closed country for a lot of people; you hear bits and pieces of stories but rarely do you get first-hand knowledge from a fellow traveler until you’re already there. And of course, it varies from person to person depending on what flavor of the Big C you’ve got.
Hopkins had a very pleasant chemo ward when we were there (well, the ward was nice; the waiting room was no better than the DMV) set up with little pods where patients could lay down while being treated. Apparently now, since they’ve moved the entire cancer operation over to a new shiny building, it’s even nicer (my last checkup was over there, and the place is like a museum, in a good way) but I hope I never have to compare the two first-hand.
The process of infusion was pretty anticlimactic in my experience. I’ve said before that my radiation treatments were harsher than the chemotherapy was, and it snuck up on me quickly toward the end of the second treatment cycle. We went in, I laid down, they hooked me up to a weird pump, and we hung around for a couple of hours. I did find that the idea of food got sketchy around the middle of the week and there were certain foods I did not want to think about at all. In this respect I can say that I have some small understanding of morning sickness; where once I had a cast-iron stomach, the mere smell of some foods was enough to make me feel like puking.
I hated being hooked up to all of the pumps, especially when radiation poops set in, and I’d have about 30 seconds to hustle my ass to the bathroom before the dam burst. Doesn’t sound too bad at first, but after the fifth time in five hours it sucked. I hated being dependent on those beeping, grunting boxes and all of the fucking tubes strung between us like tangled headphone cables. I hated the smell of the cleaning solution they used in all of the rooms, and the stink of the chemicals most of all, especially as they leached out of my skin.
I still have souvenirs from my experience. There’s still a port embedded in my chest, which comes in handy for blood draws and random visits to the ER, but looks gross and hurts when it rubs under the strap of a backpack. The odd numbness in my right kneecap is still there, and most likely never going away. I’m still taking Eliquis to avoid any clotting and will probably continue for the foreseeable future, even though my resting blood pressure is already low enough to cause alarm to unwary nurses.
But my hair is back, and my strength with it, and I’m optimistic for the future. I feel good right now, and I hope that continuing scans come back clean so that I can live life to the fullest, grow old with my family, and continue learning how to be a better human.
I shot the WRI board meeting dinner two weeks ago on the roof of a building with a commanding view of Capitol Hill. I thought I’d share some of those shots here.
I’m very proud of this shot and several other in the series; I used a 200mm long lens and shot from across the room to bring the Capitol dome and flag closer to our CEO (in actuality it’s a little under a half mile away from the roof we were on).
Here you can see the actual distance I was talking about above. This flag is 5’x8′ and we bought it specially for this event. It looked great up there.
This is a shot of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who spoke at our dinner, and he was riveting. I wish he was a Maryland senator; I’d vote for him. I used the same technique as above to bring the Capitol closer.
Most of the other shots are people at the event who wouldn’t be interesting to any readers here, but the rest of the photoset is live on Flickr.
This shot is from the New York event I shot back in September. It was set up in a long narrow room with lousy light and little room for movement. Once I had the camera dialed in with color, aperture and shutter speed settings, I set the timer for 10 seconds and held it aloft on my tripod with a 16-35mm wide angle lens.
This shot was also taken with the same lens; in order to get the right angle on both tables and frame things correctly, the camera lens is, in reality, about four inches from the hand in the foreground. Wish I’d moved the coffee cup.
I’m old enough to remember seeing the promo for this in TV Guide, and all my friends in the 4th grade talking about it. I remember watching this on TV. Glad to see someone was able to save it.
Following up on my last post, I was all set to order a threaded rod from Fastenal ($19.50 for a 2′ rod, before shipping!!!) but today’s errands took us past the local Ace Hardware and I stopped in to see what they had. They aren’t technically local so it’s not a quick trip, but their fastener section is twice the size of either offering at the nearby Lowe’s or Home Depot (their Grade 8 section is comprehensive and where I’ve sourced 9/10 of my fasteners). I found a 2′ rod for a grand total of $2.79 and practically ran out of the store with it.
At home I heated it up the same way as the others and within 10 minutes had it bent on both sides. After a test fitting for length I took it back off, chopped about 5″ off with the angle grinder, cleaned up the threads, and had it mounted in place. I also remembered I had a steel plate that came inside the toolbox I bought from Bennett, and I added a hole in the center. Within 10 minutes I had the whole thing mounted and the tire up off the bed of the truck. Success! Just in time to take it all back out so that I can put the hardtop on. Oh, and I’ll have to paint the plate with some POR-15 too…