Monday, September 25, 2017

Where 'Ya Been, Bucky?

I haven't posted since July, so you might wonder what's happened to ol' Bucky.

Well, I'm just busy with other stuff lately, so I haven't written much here.

[What kind of stuff, Bucky?]

Well, way back in 1979, my father-in-law bought a new car.  It was an Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale.  He kept it nicely, and when he wanted to get another new car, he sold it to us.

We still have it.

It has been in the garage since March of 1989 when we got it from him, and have only driven a relatively few miles in the succeeding 28½ years.

It has a 4.9 liter (301 in3) V-8 manufactured by Pontiac.  That year was just after the dust up and lawsuits that ensued when owners who thought they were getting "Rocket Oldsmobile" engines were actually getting engines made by other GM divisions.  This Pontiac engine has a Dualjet two-barrel carburetor made by Rochester.

Options include air conditioning, analog gage package instead of idiot lights, AM/FM stereo radio, cruse control, power door locks, and driver reminder package.

The red velour seats and the carpet are very nice, and quite comfortable.  The power steering provides effortless, one-finger steering, even when parking.  I like that a lot.  It is not like the heavy labor you have to exert with today's barely-there power steering. 

A trailer hitch, auxiliary transmission cooler, power CB/radio antenna, and curb finders were added over the years.  What are curb finders, you ask?  Well, they extend from the body in front of the right front wheel and behind the right rear wheel, and telegraph noise to the driver when parking that he is getting close to hitting the curb with the tires.

They work like a charm, and save the white sidewall tires from a lot of scuffing. You can still buy them. 

Everything on the car was original except the alternator, water pump, horns, master cylinder, ignition lock cylinder, headliner, battery, hoses, tires, speedometer cable, and maintenance items. That's doing pretty well for such an old car, I think. 

I decided to get the car out a few months ago because the garage I was keeping it in was no longer available.

...and I learned something when I got it out of there: Things don't work well on a car if you don't drive it regularly. 

So, I put my mechanic's hat on and set to work.

After so many years unused, it needed rear brake cylinders.  Both were seized in their bores, and would not actuate the drum brake shoes.  While I had it apart, I replaced the shoes and the various hardware that holds the pieces together on the brake back plate.  Not too bad a job, really.  The front disk brakes were OK. 

Next I tried to start the engine.  No go.  Cranked fine, but would not start.  I checked that there was gas, broke the fuel line and it spurted out as it should.  The gage showed full.  I checked for spark.  OK.  I checked for compression, and found it to be to specification, and nearly equal on all cylinders.  Good.  I rebuilt the carburetor, cleaned the EGR passages as long as I was in there, replaced the fuel pump, and changed the fuel filters.  (The original in the carburetor inlet and one I added in the line between the fuel tank and fuel pump.) 

Where'd the carb go?
Before rebuild.
Before rebuild.
The carb rebuild kit is a very nice one I bought from  I bought some extra fuel bowl gaskets because that gasket can get ripped a little every time you open the carb.  (I opened it a few extra times while I was troubleshooting the no-start issue.) 
EGR passages beneath EGR valve.

By the way, both QuadraJet Parts and The Carburetor Shop have good online troubleshooting sections.

Alas, the engine still would not run well.  Rats.  Now what? 

I put in more time with the thinking cap on. 

By using my little remote video camera inserted through the filler pipe, I found that the fuel tank was pretty corroded inside, and I found that the tank was nearly empty instead of nearly full as the dash gage had indicated.  I figured that by the time I cleaned the old tank and coated the inside, I could replace it with a new one from Advance Auto Parts.  It turned out that the fuel gage sending unit was corroded too, causing the needle to show that the tank was full.  So I replaced the fuel tank and sending unit, the latter including the fuel pickup and return, and the sock filter.

Are you old enough to remember that the fuel filler pipe is behind the rear license plate on these cars?

I also checked for the integrity and correct routing of all vacuum lines using this diagram.

To be sure everything was ready to make the car drivable, I also replaced the spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor, and spark plug cables.  Despite the air conditioning compressor and evaporator housing positioned above and near the right bank of cylinders, the spark plugs are easy to reach and change.  That's good! 

After all that, and a tank fill up of fresh non-ethanol fuel.  It started and I went to adjusting the idle mixture and RPM with this tool from Advance Auto Parts, .AutoCraft AC667.

I had not rebuilt an automotive carburetor for more than twenty years, so I had to be careful to relearn my skills there.  For that matter, I have not driven a car with a carburetor since this one went into storage.  After all that work, the engine now starts and runs well.  Whew.  Looking back, I can now see that the real problem with the engine not starting and running well was probably decade-old, sour gasoline in the tank.  If I had drained that, I might have gotten by with a lot less work, but changing everything that I did resulted in a reliable, clean fuel system, and other well-functioning engine systems as well. 

To finish it off, I flushed and refilled the cooling system, changed the oil and filter, replaced the battery, and put on a set of new whitewall tires. It is getting difficult to find whitewall tires now, as many cars don't come with them any more.  I think they look good on older cars like this one, so I had to find them.  WalMart to the rescue with Hankook Optimo H724.   They seem to ride and handle nicely.  The tire jockey at WalMart noticed that the right side of the car sits slightly lower than the left due to age.  He therefore deduced that the shock absorbers were bad.  That shows that even someone who works with cars every day has no idea about the function of the vehicle's springs vs. its shock absorbers.  Sad. 

Now some lipstick and powder for this old girl. 

The body side moldings were yellowed and coming loose, so I bought a new set from ebay seller automotiveauthority, cut them to fit properly, and put them on.  The moldings come with sharply tapered ends on front and rear, but those ends do not look anything like the originals on the car.  

Ugh.  Ends not at all like the originals.
I cut and glued the proper end configurations, using 3M Plastic and Emblem Adhesive, so they look right.  I took a lot of pain to get them positioned in the correct place and on straight.  I used an aluminum straightedge I bought at WalMart and stuck a self-adhesive magnetic strip to the back to help keep the moldings straight and lined up from one panel to the next. 

Configuring the ends to look like the originals:  



I put clear nail polish on the cut ends as instructed by the seller so the thin chrome film won't peel off.   

The front and rear ends of the moldings are made like the originals and look quite similar.

The rear bumper fillers were originally made of a flexible material that was turning yellow and literally falling to pieces.

I bought a new set from ebay seller vpexpressparts and finished them with primer, color coat, and clear coat purchased from Automotive Touchup

They came out very nice.  The new pieces are harder plastic than the originals, but with some trimming and filing, they fit pretty well.  The color matched well, and the aerosol paints seem to be top notch.

The trunk mat is original and like new, and the spare tire, jack, and hold down hardware are as they were when new.

The spare wheel cover is one I picked up many years ago just for this car.

Now I have a 38-year old car that looks very nice.  It has only about 86,000 miles on it, and runs well, drives well, and stops straight. It is surprisingly peppy for the engine size*, curb weight**, and carburetor type.  The body has never been damaged, it has the original paint except for the bumper fillers, the engine has never been touched internally, it doesn't burn oil, and the air conditioning works. I have the original Owner's Manual and other literature, as well as a Service Manual. 

I splurged a bit and bought a "1979" license plate for the front from ebay seller theoldcarlover.   He sells them with any year you want. 

See what you think of my "new" car.

I have driven it a bit, but still don't have a garage for it.  Reluctantly, I have it up for sale. 

Wanna buy it? 

Next time, I'll write about motorcycling.  I promise.


*     140 Hp at 3600 RPM, 235 ft lb torque at 2000 RPM, 4" bore x 3" stroke, 8.2:1 compression ratio.
**   ~3583 lb.  

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Independence -- What Did It Mean to the Ones Who Founded Our Country?


Every year on July 4th we celebrate Independence Day.

But what does it mean to us?

Well, Wikipedia says this: 
"Independence a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence...on July 4, 1776.  The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire....

"Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States." 
Somehow, they forgot motorcycle riding amongst the activities!
These are all good things we do to celebrate the founding of our great country, certainly. 

But what did the guys who thought up the way the country would work best?  The Declaration of Independence was certainly important.  The Continental Congress had appointed a five-man committee – including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Robert R. Livingston of New York – to draft the formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.  That document would become known as the Declaration of Independence. 

Some of its text is famous:
"...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"
Right from the start in this document, they declared some things that are vital to our freedom then and today.

A little more info is available here

Another important document that came later, in 1789, is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that are attached to it. 

It starts out:
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." 
It goes on to explain how the various branches of the United States government are to work, and more importantly, what the federal government is NOT to have anything to do with.  There are some posts that explain this too, found here and here

OK, but what did those founding guys who wrote these documents believe in so many years ago?

Here are a few quotations of people we should have learned about in history class.  These are from the Wall Builders website, where there are many more: 

John Adams
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.1
Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.2
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.3
Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!4
I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world.5

John Quincy Adams
My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ and I cannot cavil or quibble away [evade or object to]. . . . the whole tenor of His conduct by which He sometimes positively asserted and at others countenances [permits] His disciples in asserting that He was God.6
The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made “bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” [Isaiah 52:10].7
In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.8

Benjamin Franklin

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.29
The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and guilding, lies here, food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author.30 (FRANKLIN’S EULOGY THAT HE WROTE FOR HIMSELF)

John Hancock

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.37
He called on the entire state to pray “that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory.”38
He also called on the State of Massachusetts to pray . . .
  • that all nations may bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that the whole earth may be filled with his glory.39
  • that the spiritual kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be continually increasing until the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.40
  • to confess their sins and to implore forgiveness of God through the merits of the Savior of the World.41
  • to cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth.42
  • to confess their sins before God and implore His forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.43
  • that He would finally overrule all events to the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom and the establishment of universal peace and good will among men.44
  • that the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be established in peace and righteousness among all the nations of the earth.45
  • that with true contrition of heart we may confess our sins, resolve to forsake them, and implore the Divine forgiveness, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, our Savior. . . . And finally to overrule all the commotions in the world to the spreading the true religion of our Lord Jesus Christ in its purity and power among all the people of the earth.46

Patrick Henry

Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.48
The Bible… is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed.49
Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation…Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.50
The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.51
This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.52

Thomas Jefferson

The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.63
The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.64
I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.65
I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.66

James Madison

A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.71
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.72

George Washington

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.121
While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.122
The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.123
I now make it my earnest prayer that God would… most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion.124

Daniel Webster

[T]he Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society.125
Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.126
[T]o the free and universal reading of the Bible… men [are] much indebted for right views of civil liberty.127
The Bible is a book… which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow man.128

Noah Webster

[T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles… This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.129
The moral principles and precepts found in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.130
All the… evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.131
[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.132[T]he Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed. No truth is more evident than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.133
The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best corrector of all that is evil in human society – the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men.134
[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.135

Notice that all of them cited the importance of religion -- mostly Christianity -- related to our form of government?  That is one of the main reasons our country has survived these nearly centuries, and the reason why we have the freedoms we do. 

The government our founders gave us is still the most perfect form of government thus far conceived on this earth.

We had better not tamper with it, lest we lose it along with the many freedoms it gives us -- including riding our motorbikes almost anywhere we choose. 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Don't Hit It, Unless You Can Eat It All....

Well, that's an odd title for a posting. 

I am not suggesting that you eat anything you hit when out riding the scooter. 

Nor am I advocating that you try to hit anything that happens to be on the road.  I'm afraid that PETA or some other bleeding heart group would come after me if I did. 

I'll explain further in a bit. 

What brought this strange topic to mind was a trip I took the other day, where a stray dog was standing on the road.  Confused as he could be, he was not sure where to turn. 

Here he is:

After slowing way down and blowing the horn at him a lot, he ran off. 

A closer look:

He is not long for this world, I'm afraid, if he stays around here. 

That got me to thinking.  What if I had hit him?  He is probably an 80 or 90 pound animal.  My bike, with me on it, weighs about 620 pounds.  He would make quite an impact if I hit him.  I am sure I would fall if I did, and I'll bet the bike would be heavily damaged both by the impact with the animal and with the road. 

...and that doesn't count what might happen to Bucky. 

So, what size isn't too big to cause major trouble if we collided? 

Let's go down the list and see if we can figure this out. 

I once ran across this horse wandering on the road, along with a pretty big dog. 

See: Stuff in the Road
Both are too big to survive tangling with on two wheels. 

This deer is also too big, even though she is a small one as deer go in this area:

See: Oh, Deer
What about this group?:

See: Got My Goat
Too big, and there being several of them together would make them hard to miss. 

Do you see the cow on the right there? 

It looks as though he is getting ready to sprint out into the street.  (Actually, he is a yard ornament in the city of Brevard, NC. ) 

Nevertheless, he is too big.  

How about this rabbit?:

You might be able to stay up if you hit him.  ...but it would be best of it were not while leaning into a curve. 

Same with this guy:

I can't tell you how many of these I have run over in the car because of their indecisiveness.  They seem to change their minds right when they have escaped being crushed. 

Yea, that's about right, I'd say.  I wish they would take decision-making classes or something. You'd think the indecisive ones would already be wiped out.  Maybe they are all that way. 

This is a slippery one:

See: Stuff in the Road
A tortoise (not a turtle).  Stay away. 


See: Pavement Surfaces and Other Things to Watch Out For

So what is the decision point?  How big is too big? 

One rule of thumb I have heard,
but not tested,

is that if it is too big to eat in one sitting,

avoid hitting it.  

Your results may vary.  ...and it depends on your lean angle, your machine, your tires, your speed, and whether you manage to hit whatever it is squarely or a glancing blow. 

Lots of "depends ons". 

That rule of thumb might work for all but the tortoise.  I believe I could eat one of those in one sitting, but it sure would be quite a lump to run over.  I think I will avoid it. 

Best not to hit any of these varmints, actually. 

Instead, learn to brake heavily and swerve smartly (but not both at the same time, please).  ...and practice those moves frequently. 

There are a few other live road hazards I have experience with. 

One like this got me about four years ago: 

See: Big Bird
I avoided several of his associates who were dining on some road kill, but this one flew right into my face shield as he flew away.  Good thing I has wearing that protective gear.  (I always do, by the way.) 

What about these varmints?:

See: Stuff in the Road
...or this one?:

Especially if he is running in the middle of the road, or not facing traffic.

Some of them seem to willfully make it hard to avoid them.  ...and they have lawyers, I'm told. 

I've seen a lot of these, too:

See: Smooth
Coming and going at high speeds, some more careful than others, and some easier to avoid than others. 

They're too big, and can cause you lots of other trouble. 

So let's run down the list, and whether it is likely to be OK if you hit one:
  • Rabbit - OK
  • Squirrel - OK
  • Bird - OK (if small enough to eat in one sitting)
  • Snake - OK
  • Dog - not OK
  • Goat - not OK
  • Deer - not OK
  • Horse - not OK
  • Cow - not OK 
  • Tortoise - not OK (usually small enough, but hard and slippery)
  • Man - not OK
  • Bicyclists - not OK
  • Motorcyclists - not OK
Well, it looks as though the list is pretty long of things that you should avoid hitting.  That's a good policy. 

What about you?  What animals have you encountered on the road...and what was the result?