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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] spiziks!!



This weekend, I have spent much time in contemplation and doing research with regards to restoring Cammie, and unfortunately, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that rebuilding the Grand Prix is beyond my means. Not impossible, mind you, but I had to evaluate several things and make some hard decisions. Fact is, the degradation and damage to the body itself is extensive. I blame the long-gone Rockhill Pontiac for that and the absolutely shitty job they did repairing the car after the accident it had when it was just four years old. The cheap metal they welded on there, unprimed, improperly painted, and so on is why there's a hole in the back passenger-side quarter panel. And though they replaced the front passenger-side quarter panel/fender, they didn't prime or pain it correctly, either, and that's why it's cracked and faded.

The scrapes, dings, and other rust areas only contribute to the overall problems. It comes down to the fact that the shitty job that was done... I did what I could with waxing and such, but all I did was prolong the inevitable. And when it became clear five years ago or so that, despite my best efforts, the shitty repairs were failing and holes started forming and such... Well, if I could have afforded to get the body work done then, then things would be different. But the rust is out of control. And since most of the mid-1980s cars were crushed and recycled, I can't just go hunt a salvage yard for new fenders and panels and such. New panels and such would have to be custom manufactured, which would triple the cost of restoring the body.

Then there's the engine. The reason why Gary put in a new crate engine is because factory manufactured engines have been phased out in favor of crate engines. Factory remanufactured are somewhat limited in how universal their applications, whereas crate engines can pretty much go in anything, but at the expense of having the same computer control that stock or remanufactured engines would have. The performance engine in Cammie had no computer feedback, other than an oxygen sensor and a sensor or two in the exhaust line. This may have contributed to her demise, as there was nothing to signal the loss of oil in the engine. Just knocking, and then seizure.

Looking around, Jasper has pretty much dominated the market on street-legal crate engines. And given how they screwed me on the current engine, I refuse to do business with them pretty much ever. When I was looking at Jegs and Edelbrock, they have nice, powerful engines that would fit the Grand Prix, but there's no way they'd pass street-legal emissions. As is, with the performance engine and having to trade the digital Rochester carb for the Edelbrock carb, it barely passed the fast-idle test. Now, I could have switched out the metering rods in the Edelbrock carb with a set that would lean out the mixture and give me better emission results for the inspection test, but, the Rochester could be set to have less emissions all the time. Alas, Rochesters have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, my options, even with trying to build one myself, for a decent engine for Cammie are more limited than I had thought.

Then there's the interior work, which would still be somewhat significant. Even skipping swapping the bench seat for bucket seats, getting rid of the idea of putting in a center console, and new digital instrumentation, the headliner would still cost a pretty penny, not to mention the vinyl part of the roof on the exterior. I could only find used/salvaged motors for the power windows and the door locks. The alarm system slowly died and became just a glorified keyless entry system.

Long-term storage would also present the problems of needing new tires which, this time around, had to be special ordered. I would need a new battery. Assuming nothing else rusts in major components, the radiator would still need to be flushed and replenished. The transmission would still need a fluid change. The brakes, though just done a few weeks before the engine seized, would need the fluid changed.

If I made about twice as much as I make now, then I could probably afford to restore the Grand Prix in a timely manner. Right now? Twenty years would be a best-case scenario, and that's assuming I can get the G6 to last that long without any major problems, like needing a new engine or transmission or whatever. Or without having to replace the G6 with a new(er) car or somesuch.

There's only so much work I can do myself with the tools and expertise I have. And without being able to keep it at home, where I could work on it for a half hour a night or something... Yeah, I wouldn't be able to do much and save money. Yeah, I can keep it at Henry's indefinitely, but, it's outside, and subject to further deterioration from exposure to the elements.

The final cincher is this: I'm trying to get back into dance and I need to start writing regularly. I can manage writing and dancing. Tossing in a car project that would also suck away money is just...too much. I can already see where I would have to make a choice among dance, writing, and car building. I can only do two of the three. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I want to dance more than I want a truly unique car that I would only drive on weekends and such.

That was another thing... I couldn't see doing all this work for a car I wouldn't drive much and would pay through the nose for insurance unless I found a garage to keep it in. At the new house, I don't think I'll be parking in the garage often at all, and with two vehicles? Yeah, no.

So, the plan instead is to keep the G6 in really good condition, pay it off in 5 years, then save up for a year or two, then go to CarMax and trade in the G6 and have money down, hopefully a couple thousand, for a Camaro. It has to be a V8, black, and with a sunroof. And some way for me to plug in the Sansa clip, either by USB or patch cord. I'm also thinking manual transmission, just to help deter theft, but, I worry about my knees sometimes and having to deal with a clutch, so, the jury's out on that. I've found that CarMax has three and four-year-old Camaros with 20k miles or less on them, practically new, for about $10k less than brand new. I'm thinking these were cars given to salespeople at a dealership or demo cars for test drives or somesuch, then sold to CarMax. Plugging in my criteria, I found a 2011 Camaro with a manual transmission for $24k with just 20k miles on it. Factor in the transfer fee (it was in Fairfax, Va), title, tax, and so on, figure $25k, which is still a little less than half what the G6 cost. Now, if I have a good G6 to trade in and a couple thousand down thanks to saving, I could come up with a decent enough replacement for the car I loved so much.

This is still a bit of a kick in the gut, though. I enjoyed having a classic that I had worked on, that at one point was one of the five cleanest cars in the state emissions-wise, that was truly unique, that had saved my life so many times. I feel bad that I just...can't return the courtesy. I suppose I did save her life a few times, what with transmission replacements, replacing that first engine with the 350 which lasted me 13 years. That engine served me well that summer I went down to Delmar every few weeks to practice with Holly, or going to Yardley every few weeks to practice with Kristin, or to visit Robin every other week in Milton for over a year... It got me through a LOT. And there was still that time the battery died on the way back from Milton, yet the car kept running until I got to Henry's. Inexplicably so. Whatever spirit inhabited the Grand Prix, I hope it found a new home in the G6 and will follow me into the Camaro in six or seven years or so. I hope Cammie is nestled somewhere in the G6 and may live again as a Camaro.

And I'll enjoy taking the cats to the vet for their annual check-ups in the Camaro, and going to TTL for dancing or lessons in the Camaro, and so on. For now, I'll enjoy doing all that in the G6. But I will miss the Grand Prix, and will treasure the memories I have of driving that car, of hearing the secondaries in the carburetor kick in and the free-flow thrumming as the throttle opened up and the car reared like a horse and took off like a shot. I am mourning its loss, and will probably do so for awhile.

I hate Jasper and I'm glad Rockhill went under.

On the plus side, I had fun dancing at TTL earlier tonight. I even managed to dance a full Viennese Waltz with Josie, and though a little winded at the end, I didn't need my asthma inhaler. Again, dancing with someone who knows what they're doing makes V. Waltz so much easier and effortless. Well, less effort, anyway. And I'm glad that some of the newbies I've been dancing with have shown some improvement as well.

For right now, I'm okay with social dancing, what with being busy with the move and all. But after we're in the new house and somewhat settled, I plan to get more involved with dancing.

Anyway, more later...
wookiemonster: (Default)
It's not guaranteed yet, but Cammie may be dead.

Remember yesterday how I mentioned the choke light and such? And the annoying clicking noise? And how Jack said they'd take a look at it, but check the oil, just in case?

Yeah, well, things happened too fast. I was going to check the oil when I got home from work. Mind you, I topped it off two weekends ago. And before that, Gary had replaced spark plugs and an oil pressure sensor. So, I had no reason to think that the oil in the engine would just...be gone. Even with the problems I had with the old stock 305 engine, which burned oil pretty regularly, I've never had consumption where I lost a full pan in two weeks or just under.

Apparently, that's what happened. On the way home, I started hearing a screeching noise, which I thought was a bad belt from the car next to me. Then it started stalling out on me, but restarting easily enough. The last time I got it started, though, it made an ugly screeching noise, got me across the street and into my development, and stalled again. I was able to coast to the house.

Got a flash light and checked the oil, and saw that it was bone dry. I put the half-quart of syntec I had left in it, with smoke coming from the fill port, and tried to start it to get it in the driveway. No joy. I mean, not even cranking. Like what you get when the starter's dead.

The engine was guaranteed for three years, 30k miles. It's barely three and a half year old, but less than 20k miles. So, if it's toast...there's no definite coverage. However, Gary/Henry's has worked with Jasper for decades, and with it barely being six months past with much lower mileage and the engine being taken care of, they might go ahead and honor it. They might also pro-rate something, and, say, for $1k, replace the engine. That I could swing.

It's also possible that, with it being a performance engine and using syntec, the engine is only mostly seized, and getting some oil in it and manually cranking it through, it may be okay after all. Maybe a little thermal damage which may be repairable or negligible, but, you never know.

I am, however, anticipating the worst, since my overall luck totally sucks ass. I'm anticipating no warranty, and that I'd have to replace the engine...again. Which I just...do not have the finds to do. So, unless I get a free or even mostly free engine, Cammie...is at the end of her life.

In that case, I'll sell her for salvage and hope to get enough to at least pay off the bill with Henry's for the latest work, and maybe reduce further what I owe the bank for the engine loan. Then I'll probably get a decent bike, helmet, and some bus passes and save what I can on gas and insurance, pay down debts further, save some money, and eventually get another vehicle.

What kind of vehicle? Well, I insist on a V8 engine. And at this point, I'd really want a manual tranny. I'll probably go with a Camaro. Or, if I'm looking at older, a Firebird. It won't be anything brand new. But I'm looking at maybe finding another classic to restore, maybe one with a body in much better shape or somesuch. Or maybe a three or four year old car that's been well-kept. Maybe something from Carmax, since Mom's really happy with everything they did for her with the Hyundai. Much depends on how much I reduce my debt, what I can afford in monthly payments, and so on. It's quite possible I may be car-less for a couple of years.

So, yeah, I'm a bit upset at several things... The fact that my project is dead, that I can no longer easily get from point-a to point-b, which affects work, my health, Rocky's health, and so on.

Even though I have a plan of some sort, which includes just trying to cope, I'm still feeling rather devastated. And poor. And so on. And stressed.

Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth
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Alas, it is Caturday. I have had a productive day. I got most of the housework done. Things like cat boxes and bird cages and whatnot. I'm sitting here realizing that I've only got five days left of my break. It doesn't seem like long enough. At the same time, I was actually glad to have some stuff to do today. It gave my day a little more structure than what I've had the past few days.

That's the thing with this big Christmas/New Years break - The first half of it is so busy with last-minute Christmas prep, and then...nothing. I had hoped this would give me some extra time for reading and writing, but I was so exhausted from...everything...afterwards that I just plain didn't have the mental energy needed for jumping into writing. I'm just about back to my normal level of reading, though.

I'm working on closing out files for 2013 and starting files for 2014. I sincerely hope 2014 is a better year. Granted, 2013 was off to a rough start, largely with the problems at work and with the car needing a transmission overhaul. And no one's said boo to me at work since March, and the car is doing well with new tires and the new blower motor. In 2014, I need to get the windshield replaced, and then it'll be due for inspection at the end of the summer. Joy. Between now and then, I'm hoping to maybe at least patch the hole with something. Doct tape, maybe. And continue to use that rust inhibitor and maybe get some spray-on car paint to deal with some of the worst rust blemishes and see if that doesn't improve the appearance enough that the State inspectors won't actively try to fail it again this year.

Financially, I'm about where I was a year ago. Maybe a little bit better, since what I still owe Gary for the tires is less than what I owed him for the engine at this point a year ago. The only other roblem with the car I see in the immediate future is needing to replace the power window motors. The one on the passenger side has been dead for over a year, but I don't think I need it to pass inspection. The one on the driver's side still works, and I need it to work in general, what with needing to put it up and down every time I park my car in the garage on campus. Fortunately, it's only a $200-$300 repair, if need be.

I'm also hoping to be able to see my optmetrist and get contact lenses again.

Oh, and I'll still need to get money set aside for Minerva and her $600 dental work that she needs.

In other news... I've noticed my sleep has been better this break. Usually, I fall into a habit of staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning during the break and sleeping in until noon. This year, I've been waking up around nine or so and going to bed at my "normal" time. I'm thinking the androderm patches are having some luck in regulating my sleep/wake cycle a bit better. My energy is a little better, though my back is still giving me problems. I'm not devouring Christmas cookies like I was at the beginning of the break. I don't think I've gained more than a pound. With the energy level being a little better, I'm getting antsy. Thing is, I have so many little, organizational projects, my biggest problem is picking a place to start and just...starting. I'm not yet freaking out over the fact that my break is more than half over, but, depending on what I get done in the next day or so will determine how much I freak out on Wednesday.

I'm also trying to finish up a few books before the end of the year. Especially Neal Stephenson's Anathem. I liked he beginning of it, and I'm liking the end of it. The middle kind of lost me in a few places, but things started making sense at the end. Next up is Reamde, by the same author. Stephenson tends to write near 1000 page tomes, and part of wanting to get through these books is the fact that they're heavy to carry around. I mean, I got Reamde about a month before I got my Kindle. Anything else he writes will go on the Kindle.

Did I mention how I wrote about 17k words from early October through mid-December? I...haven't written that much in a long, long time. But now, I need to work on outlines, which is maybe a little harder to measure than actually writing a story, since word count is useless (for me, anyway) and I'm looking more at how many scenes I map out. But I'm still fleshing out settings and such. I've also found some security in giving myself "permission" to sketch physical scenes, such as rooms, to help myself better visualize elements of a story. And then I'll go ahead and describe those scenes. Because I don't think any of you wants to be subjected to my drawing tragedies.

Looking ahead... I'm hoping I'll at least continue dancing regularly in 2014. Part of me is tempted to start taking lessons again as soon as I pay off Gary, but, responsibility sets in, and I'll likely use that money to pay off other debts and to save for any other emergencies. I'm hoping I can get into a routine or, maybe more accurately, a rhythm with regards to outlining/mapping stories.

Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who actually took the time to read "Terminator:East" and "Christmas Spirit" and comment on them. Such commenting boosts my morale and encourages me to keep writing.

On a final note... I watched the Original Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind" today with Rocky and Yoda. It's about as close to a Star Trek Christmas episode as we get. And maybe I should be...concerned...that Rocky and Yoda had their own running commentary as we were watching it.

More later...

Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.
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This will be a somewhat reflective entry, and probably a little bit whiny-assed. Tomorrow's entry will hopefully be all farted rainbows and barfed sunshine.

But yeah, 2012 rather sucked. And, as I stated on FB, I'm ambivalent about 2013, since the past few years have sucked, each year getting a little worse. This past year, there was all the work drama, and added to that was losing TomTom and YoYo, and damn near losing Rocky.

Financially, I'm about where I was a year ago. For as expensive as all the vet care was, it's been mostly paid off. Still have all that stuff on the GE card. So, yeah, an added bill there. Because of all that stuff, the rest of the credit cards are about in the same spot. I owe less on the engine, but, I still haven't paid off Henry's, and now they won't work on the car until the bill is settled. Meanwhile, the car needs an oil change, a new windshield, and new tires sometime in the semi-near future. Oh, and I found the paperwork for the windshield... Turns out, I had it replaced back in 2007, so, yeah, not covered. And it'll be about $200, parts and labor. On the bright side, the crack seems to have stopped growing, so, I figure I have a little time.

Speaking of things being older than I thought... As near as I can figure, my old HP printer lasted me at least 7 years, if not 8 or 9 years. And I had to replace it because the rollers weren't grabbing the paper anymore. Yeah, I guess it didn't owe me anything. Anyway, the new Canon printer is all hooked up and good to go. I even got the wireless set up, and I can now print wirelessly from the laptop. And yes, it does work. Though... I managed to hit the wrong button and accidentally reset the router. As in, I needed to go into the router and reset the name, passcode, and everything else. Fortunately, I was able to recover the old passkey, which means that my Kindle, PS3, and everyone who uses their laptop here doesn't now need to go in and reset the passkey on their machines. Whew! Though, this is a big thing for me, since I can navigate computers well enough, but absolutely suck at networking. I've got my shit here set up, and that's IT. As is, I gave up on getting the PS3 on the network, and then suddenly, it was connected to the network and updating itself. So, I suck at networking, but have some sort of Force talent with it...

Anyway, not much else. Today was productive in that I managed to finish up with cleaning out old files and folders and getting stuff set up for 2013. Consequently, I have a start on cleaning up my desk. Still feeling crappy. Kind of hoping I'll start feeling better in about two weeks when the new vitamins should start kicking in.

Comics )
Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth
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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] sir_cat, [personal profile] klingonguy, AND [personal profile] oxymoron67!!!



Today...has been a gods-awful day.

The DMV was a disaster. I think they saw my car and were determined to fail it.

The guy doing the emissions inspections was a complete dick. I told him that I had a new engine and exhaust system and I needed the generic test because the VIN was useless. So he starts pulling out lights and mirrors to look under the car and says that with a single catalytic converter (cat) and two/dual exhaust lines, it's not an acceptable exhaust system, that I need two cats for a dual exhaust. He does the test and it passes...except for high idle CO emissions. Looking at the results for eerything else, which is barely half of acceptable limits... You know, the old 305 smog engine with a single, old exhaust line was never that high. In short, I don't know what he did, but he fudged the test. I'll take it to Gary to make sure, but I know my car, and there is just no way my emissions could be that high. Downtuning the carburetor still wouldn't make emissions that high. I'd have to screw up the carburetor and take off the cat to get readings like that.

On top of that, they failed it for the accident damage. They said that I had to at least get the light working, which it is. I checked before and after. They said I had a non-regulation lens.

In short, they were determined to fail the car no matter what. Because they have an edict to get older cars off the road. Because they want to enforce non-innovation and conformity. Well, not quite that deep; they just want a population more easy to control.

So, go inside, and at least got my license renewed. Though the guy was borderline jerky about my documentation, even though it was all acceptable. To recap: Delaware has a one-time document thing (kind of like the one-time document check when you first get your license, so one-time check just means we want you to think this is it, but we can change the rules and there's nothing you can do about it). I'm sure they'll require a blood sample and a DNA clone for the next one-time check in 10 years or so. If I'd known my trip was going to be so frustrating and counter-productive, I'd have brought a vial of blood, a urine sample, and a semen sample with me. Hell, those things are better identifiers than mere documents.

For shits and giggles, I went back to the information desk to ask if I could at least switch the vanity plates. "Yeah, you can go ahead and do that today." Great! So, I wait another 15 minutes. Get to the counter, and the girl behind says no, I can't switch plates without Mom there, since her name is on both cars. I told her Mom had called and was told all I needed was copies of the vehicle registrations and a signed letter. She goes and checks with her boss, then comes back and says that no, Mom has to be there, because they need a signature. I point to the signature on the letter. That's not good enough; they need a power of attorney and a notarized signature. Which is bullshit.

Now... Mom got word from her attorney about reaching settlement for her accident that totaled the Saab a year and a half ago. She and Rich are planning to help me out a little. First part of that is that they'll front me the money to get the accident damage fixed. That leaves me with checking with Gary on the emissions.

Mom is having her bariatric bypass surgery in the middle of August. The plan is to go to the DMV at the end of August and get the car re-inspected. Then Mom, post-surgical, is going to get the walker out of the attic, we're going to get an oxygen line and maybe some other tubes, and then Rich and I are going to prop her up at the counter and she's going to very slowly and very loudly say, "Okay, I'm here. What's so special that I need to be here to transfer a vanity plate from one car to the other? And why is it that when I called the last time I was given erroneous information about this?"

That...at least made me smile. So does the fact that I have the last inspection results and access to a Zeutschel scanner and state-of-the-art industry-grade processing software. One way or another, my car will pass inspection. Cheating? More like countering cheating.

Moving along...

I managed to get a vet appointment for Rocky for this afternoon. He's now current on all his shots, is healthy, and weighed in at 19.7 pounds, which seems a bit lighter than I was expecting. Then again, he didn't exactly stay still on the scale. The thing on the side of his face? Not a cyst, but also not cancer. Benign tumor. Not life-threatening, but the sooner it's off, the better. So, we were going to do it today if I could get my Care Credit card limit extended, since it's a $700 surgery, what with it being close to his eye, needing meds, some bit of kitty plastic surgery, and so on. Credit Care denied an increase. Good thing it wasn't something life-threatening, or else I would have reached through the phone and throttled the guy.

This is the other thing Mom and Rich are going to help me out with. Well, Mom, mainly. She's going to give me money for TomTom's end care. That will wipe out the balance in that card so I can get Rocky his surgery. My goal is to eventually pay off that card and, once the other regular cards are paid down significantly, I'll get rid of it. I want to leave myself something in case of an emergency, but, if I can get rid of it, I will. Useless bastards.

So, overall, it's been a sucky day full of suck. Nice start to my birfday weekend. I think I'm going to hide this one out, complete with coffee, kindle, and comic books. Also? People suck. Way too many people suck. But, I'm glad that Mom will be able to help me out a little in a few weeks. I hate having to rely on anyone else like this, but then, she also sees it as payback for when I helped her out in times of need over the past five or six years or so.

Comics )
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