Dodge Rampart

On Wednesday morning, I got to work early to find 2 cars in the parking lot.  One was a ford ranger that has been around for a month, waiting for someone to get around to it.  It was a lean-sale that needed major engine work.  The other was a Mitsubishi Id never seen before.   One tire from the truck was replaced with a bagel spare, and resting on a scissor jack.  That tire was on the front right of the Mitsu.  strange, we don’t work on mitsus,  what was going on?  I called The Man, he new nothing, but told me to call another guy that had already invested money in the truck.  He knew nothing either.   I went back out and looked at the car.  It was hard to see inside, due to tinted windows.  peering in, i saw lots of crap and then i saw a leg.  That was all i needed.   I called the cops.

Minutes later, a single black & white pulled up and walked around the car.  after peering inside, he backed up quickly and drew his upholstered gun up to his  shoulder level, approached the car again, pointing his hand canon through the windshield, and banged on the windshield.  I kicked myself for not making a video, I was holding the camera in my hand.  he backed up  as a scroungy tweeker stumbled out of the car.  Then to my surprise, another, rather old guy piled out behind him.   A backup car arrived, and they were cuffed and stuffed.

We became more popular than a do-nut shop for the next 3 hours.  Apparently, they had decided to nap before finishing their work and forgot to wake up.  Every new cop that showed up heard the story and laughed.  It became the dumb criminal story of the day.  The car was full of stolen mail and tools missing from all around the city.  They were on parole, and experienced criminals.  Not experienced enough, i guess, they told the police they only wanted to borrow the tire.

A Tale of Two Shittys

During the slow seasons, we often take up projects we normally wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pipe wrench.   Some cars do not age well, but these old cars teach us the physics of auto wear, and often, quite a bit about the people behind the pile.
Jaguar XJ6 (XJ40) 1986-1994 Art
Pile 1:  1994 Jaguar XJ6.

This is actually a pretty nice looking car. We bought it from people that did not want to deal with registering it in the grand mafia that is the California DMV.  It needed minor work, and The Man drove it as his personal car for a few months.
Volvo 960
Pile 2: 1994 Volvo 960

This is another car we bought, came in with a broken timing belt and bent valves.  customer didn’t want to spend the money to rebuild the head.   We fixed it, and The man drove it as his personal car for over a year.

Both of these piles have in common that they were built around the time that the big blue oval bought their companies. While this has been an improvement for Jaguar, this was a disaster for Volvo.  IMHO, the last real Volvo was built in 1994, but that model was the 940, that still had the bullitproof 2.3L engine.  The post Ford Volvo’s just do not stand up to the tough image of the old ones.  This poor old 960 has had wire harness issues, ignition problems, hard starts and crumbling parts.   While these same problems were prone to many Volvo’s,  The older cars manage to stay running, and are easier to fix.  The Jaguar, however, is still a tough durable car.  It has some interior issues, but the engine is strong and reliable.  English electronics have always been complicated, but this Jaguar is easier to figure out than some other Brit buckets like Rolls Royce.  Sad to say, as Jaguars got more Ford-ed up, the quality and image appears to have gone down.

Today, the Jaguar is more pleasant to drive, holds its style, and has greater overall value than the Volvo.

Junk in the trunk: A Real Spare

Always carry a spare tire that is at least as adequate as the four bolted on.

Fat seats for trains

Most cars come standard with a spare tire that has the range and capacity of an American Idol reject.  Too many times, I have seen people take these things too far, and drive down the freeway at 80 mph.  If you see this, stay away.   You’re looking at someone who will soon suffer consequences.  RTFM.  That can lid with the rubber-band around it, is good for 50 miles at 50 miles per hour in most cases.  On some cars, driving farther or faster than this can cause mechanical failure.   I have a customer right now who is suing a tire store for thousands of dollars in new drive-train parts, because they put a smaller than stock tire on an AWD system.

If you have room, you should carry an actual tire on a steel rim as a spare.  You should check this tire frequently for air, and change it every so often.  (You shouldn’t use a tire more than 6 years old as a spare).  It should be the same type and size as the other tires on your car.  This way, replacing that spare isn’t an emergency, you can wait a while, get where your going and back, and wait till your next Christmas bonus to replace it.

You should also know how to change this tire.  Not just the mechanical aspect, but the safety.  Your rim is cheaper than your life.  If you get a flat on the freeway, drive it OFF the road.  No one wants to hose you off the blacktop.

Junk in the Trunk: Primate

Junk in the Trunk: The Old Bag

No, not my wife.  I technically do not have a trunk to house her in, since I drive a pick-up.  Since room is cramped behind the seats, and I don’t drive that far anymore, I no longer carry an old bag.
Sad Old Bag
This is an overnight bag, with a change of clothes and a small bath kit.  The clothes are a pair of black $10 walmart jeans and a wrinkle free golf shirt.  (and of course, socks and draws.  It’s also good to get the pants a bit long to hide your socks)  This tends to look better than the money and conditions that brought it about. The bath kit is for what I call  a “car shower.”

I still keep a “car shower” kit in the glove box.  Its just a small travel deodorant, body spray, mouth wash,  folding comb/brush, and a packet of soap.  Enough to look presentable at church when you can’t make it home after a night at the sleaze den.

While in China I learned to keep, in even the smallest of glove-boxes,  a “gas station bathroom” kit.  It’s a small zip-lock bag with a travel pack of kleenex, hand soap, and a butt gasket.  I’m still waiting for the tiny “breath spray” size  of Lysol, but a tiny bottle of Listerine works ok.  I cannot find it, but someone has invented a clip that fits over the travel kleenex that doubles as a stall door lock.  If your in a bad ‘hood, or your really paranoid, prop a travel mirror on top of the urinal to see behind you.  However, I can’t imagine what you would do about it, if you saw anything behind you mid-stream.

The Greener side of the Slipery slope.

bad day

There has been much upheaval in the local media about water conservation.  None of it seems to focus on 2 simple facts:  1.  This is a desert, there is no water here, we import our water.  2.  There are too many houses built on it.  If the authorities want any real impact, the solution would be to completely outlaw all sprinkler and irrigation systems for recreation.  This would kill all the lawns, close all the golf courses,  and dry up all the flowers in front of the old peoples houses.  Suddenly everyone could see for themselves;  this is in fact, a desert.  We have taken over like a virus, injecting our own little pockets of reality to hide our patch of dirt’s true identity.

I have a lawn.  Well, I have a patch of grass, anyway.  It’s so small that a dog could step over it without noticing.  It gets water for about 4 minutes a day early in the morning.  I got a broken weed-wacker that I fixed with some parts from a car alternator.  It needs a couple of swipes from this twice a month to not look like a shrub, so its doing fine.  I have various other plants, a couple of trees, all growing more than I would like them to.  Others however, seem to think their lawn needs half an hour of drenching at 2 in the afternoon.  This is more effective at cleaning out 6 blocks of gutter, as the grass is dead.  I think the “water saving” landscape installed across the street uses more water than I do.

Every night on the news out here, there seems to be a water main rupture from a helmet haired reporter with a name like  “Brock”.  IMHO its just sizemic activity acting against old pipe, but it still bothers me that the next story is from a nasally plasti-blond about a new law that says we can only water our grass on a Thursday morning, unless you do it by hand, holding a rock over your head, wearing a politically correct t-shirt.

The real problem?  there’s too many people here.  maybe we need to make it less inviting.

I just had an epiphany;   maybe that’s what they are trying to do.

More Tooth Pics.

Some of you are about to be amazed.   Well, at least some people that haven’t seen me in a while.

I no longer have crooked teeth,  but I may still be subject to the name “Can-opener”

Last Monday, the dentist said that my teeth were ready for the next phase.  The following conversation between the D and the assistant was mostly ignored until i heard him say “blah blah put a power chain between blah blah”…   I suddenly awoke from my stupor  “Excuse me, did you use the word ‘power chain’?”   Yup, he did. Never heard of such a thing before.  “couldn’t they use a more comfortable word?”  “like what”, he said “the cuddly comfy chain?”


Welp,  as you can see in the picture, across the gap is a small chain. Its job is to pull the front teeth apart.  For the next three weeks, I will have this “bling” along with my now straight teeth.  The next step is the bridge to fill in the hole.

Oops, that’s the wrong tooth missing picture.   here ya go



For those of you who are familiar, but uninterested in the Build-a-bear phenomenon, Something new has come to us in SoCal.   Its like build-a-bear, but its cars.  Its called “Build Your Ride”.  the website is It looks kinda neat for a guy like me, you pick a body, wheels, accessories, and you get to use a “rack” to put it together.  You can go as far as to make it a full remote control car.


The cons;  The cars look too cartoony for me. Kinda like the Chevron commercial or the Cars movie.  All the accessories are pretty much just bling, of course, but I would like to see something more technical, like engine bay options, or steering.  Also, the remote control option steers like a tank.  The effect also looks cartoony.  the steering is by brute force on the drive train, and the car can spin in circles.  The radio looks cheap.


I hope this expands and gets better.  they need more options all around, like more car types.  Even so, I plan on building my own car and reporting on it later.

Geek + Bad Idea.

Hack-a-day posted an interesting article that scares the crap out of me.   Its not that he is using a Chrysler product  (read the comments, they are hilarious)  But that the iphone is using the AT&T network to control this thing.

Junk in the Trunk: “Something else”

Or, as most know it,  a giant screwdriver


Some of you may have noticed by now, I have not mentioned a tool kit.   Don’t worry, its coming.  ‘Problem is, the tool kit I will mention doesn’t include a lot of important stuff.  For instance;  too many times, there will be a situation where you just don’t want to stick your finger in there.  You need something else.

You thought I was going to talk about driving screws didn’t you.   This is not the use of a giant screwdriver.  In fact, if you have ever owned a giant screwdriver, it will be tough for you to recall ever driving a giant screw with it (unless you’re referring to driving off a “door to door” something).

No, the giant screwdriver (at least 18″ long, with a thick shank)  Is to pry off stuck things, or poke around in things that will impinge an appendage.   Some duct tape on the end can grab the something that fell inside the something.  Get something flammable away from something hot.  Or to make sure if something in that hole is going to bite something, they will get a mouth full of something not you.

This is probably the most used thing in my truck.