Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween looms large

Halloween falls this year on Saturday. This was the last weekend to prepare and it looked to me as though most of Honolulu were out shopping for costumes and decorations. Today also happens to be my younger son's birthday, which netted him a fresh new suite of Adobe software and a box of finger cookies that look like fingers, and for me a terrific home-cooked dinner. By next weekend he will have the house festooned with skeletons and intricately carved jack-o'-lanterns.

Based on today's weather you would never know it was fall, but yesterday gave a clue. Our usual Saturday morning bike ride was shortened to about six miles by incessant rain. Even then it was warm, too warm for anything more than a basic cycling jersey. It won't get cool enough for a jacket until December. Life in the tropics, where the weather does not threaten to kill you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Found some old damage above tail light

After some preliminary smoothing of the epoxy filler from last week (photo #1) I got curious why there was so much filler above the RH tail light. I used my CP orbital sander to taper off the good paint to the left, and when that failed to turn up any high spots I cut four exploratory notches with my grinder (photo #2). As it turns out there is a wide indentation above the tail light, most likely the result of collision damage. The high points are at the right just after where the body curves forward and at the left directly in line with the tail light opening (photo #3). On the left the high point is steel, but on the right it is lead.

Photo #1

Photo #2 Looking for high spots.

Photo #3 Blue tape marks high spots.

Having worked out the extent of the low spot I decided to take it all down to bare metal and build it up new with POR-15 Epoxy Filler. After a whole lot of grinding I did the Marine Clean - Metal Prep thing, then globbed on a thick layer of filler. Next week will start with a lot of grinding, mostly by hand.

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The last two pics show a wider view of the rear end and some stuff my friends at the shop gave me, a storage bin, a tool box, and a set of BMW of Honolulu license plate frames.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to the E9 at last

One of the labels I created for these posts is "distractions." I never thought that working on cars would be much of a distraction, but in getting ready for today's session I realized that I have not touched the E9 since May and the major distraction has been cars. The same exercise reminded be of the value of this blog; I was able to go back and review the last work done so I could pick up where I left off.

After a bit of head scratching I decided the best way to finish closing the hole above the RH rear tail light would be to make a one-piece patch with a fold to match the shape of the trunk sill. I began by using a die grinder to clean up the shape of the opening and to cut back any thin metal around the edge. I already had a scrap piece which eliminated the cutting out step. I did the fold in the vise, whacking the piece with a hammer, simple but effective.

It just so happened that the rear edge ran along the downward break for the rear panel, so that while the patch sits inside the front, LH and RH sides, it sits on top of the rear edge. I actually had to lower the rear edge a bit. This made positioning the patch much easier, but it was still a problem. I ended up making a brace out of scrap that created a shelf for the patch to sit on, which pulled out after the patch was tacked in.

My welding has not improved, but I did manage to get the patch secured without burning too many holes. After grinding away most of the rubble I applied some POR-15 Epoxy Putty to blend in the seams. Next time I will begin with grinding.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dodge Caravan wiper motor

Last Sunday was the 2009 Honolulu Century Ride, and what a great ride it was! I took along my "other" camera and took a few pics, which I'll post soon. The attendance was down a bit, but there were still a lot of visitors from Japan and the mainland, and that is a good thing.

The biggest problem with the ride is that it starts in Waikiki and goes along the coast counter-clockwise to the halfway point, then back. Less than a mile from the start is a small climb over Diamond Head, followed by ten miles into a tough headwind, then the two hardest climbs of the day, Heartbreak Hill and Makapupu. At twenty miles you arrive at the Waimanalo Recreation Center, and from there on the ride is much easier. This route is well suited to experienced riders, but totally inappropriate for beginners and kids. I would like to see a well supported, officially sanctioned alternate start/finish from Waimanalo.

My second complaint about the ride is the mass start. The event is not a race, yet thousands of cyclists are supposed to gather at Kapiolani Park and start at the same time. This results in riders unaccustomed to riding in a peleton all struggling down the road, wheel-to-wheel, shoulder-to-shoulder. It has gotten so bad that many local riders begin early and slightly ahead, just to avoid the crush. My idea of encouraging an alternate start in Waimanalo would help, but in addition I think the start should be staggered. This is done at the triathlons, so why not at the Century Ride?

I use our old Dodge Caravan to store all the paints and cleaners that I am not allowed to store at the shop. My rolling storeroom. While the Lotus was in the shop its safely check expired and its wiper motor broke. Today was the day to fix the wipers and get the safety check.

The motor is accessible from outside after removing the wiper arms and a cover panel. I don't know what Chrysler had in mind, but getting the motor out was next to impossible. I ended up loosening all of the nuts that attach the wiper subframe, including the motor mounting plate, and with help from Carl the motor finnaly came out. Crazy!

I have never done this before and messed up adjusting the linkage. Once I can the arms sweeping properly they stopped halfway through the arc. I was out of time, so next time I'll have to remove the cover and fidle with the motor crank arm.

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