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Thursday, May 22, 2014

You may have won this round New Mexico... ...

At approximately 10:30 PM on Thursday I walked into my apartment. After spending 12 plus hours in the back seat of the 2014 Toyota Corolla, it was a treat to hop in my car and drive the last 30 minutes in comfort.  It was agreed in the morning that we were done with the trip and just wanted to get home, we weren't messing around, we were getting home.

New Mexico definitely won the battle, but the war is not over... so to speak. Among the talk about what we will do with the Javelin that we had abandoned, was talk of doing it all over again. It was agreed that we'd have a larger budget and get a running driving car that needed less work if we were to do it again.  (For the wives reading this, that is a BIG if.)

I feel we made a couple bad decisions pertaining to which car to take and chase down parts for, but overall it was a successful trip in the respect that the three of us all agreed it produced some of the very best memories we can remember. We were sunburned, exhausted, dehydrated, and filled with excitement of what tomorrow would bring for the better part of the trip. Other than the fact that we failed our goal, we have no regrets.

The fate of the Javelin is still up in the air. Chris (the owner of the Junk Yard and previous owner of the Javelin) has graciously offered to store the Javelin for one month while we either find a buyer or ship it back to Wisconsin. 

In addition to that, he is hauling the Javelin from it's current location to his storage unit he rents in that area. He's already shown the car to someone who was interested in it while we drove back to Wisconsin. He told the potential buyer we were asking $2,500 or best offer. The potential buyer offered him $800, Chris having a lot of work put into the car himself along side us informed the potential buyer that it has a set of brand new tires valued at $600 and politely told him to take a hike. 

Spending a fair amount of time and forming a solid bond with Chris, I can only image what he really wanted to tell the potential buyer! I wish there was a way we could repay Chris for everything he's done for us, if you or anyone you know is in need of parts for old classic cars, please let us know.  We will definitely point you in Chris' direction. 

I wish Chris lived closer, he would definitely become the 4th member of our rag tag crew. (I can't say enough about how awesome Chris was from the way he told us we were doing things wrong to the way he fell right in line getting his verbal jabs and one liners in just like the 3 of us have been doing for years. It really felt like he has know us for years.) We met some amazing people on our journey...  I can only describe it as Epic. Watch for an upcoming post as we give each of them the accolades they deserve! 

If you or anyone you know is interested in a 1968 Pontiac Catalina, which has a monster of a motor and transmission, or a 1973 AMC Javelin in a very rare Moxi Blue paint scheme with an amazing body. Leave a comment below, and we'll get you into touch with Chris.

Traveling through the South

We made good time out of New Mexico yesterday. For the first couple hours we drove straight but as we neared Texas and Oklahoma we took some time to sight-see a bit; it was great!

Funky fire pit!
 Remember Kids, you don't have to pick sides. You can just sit on the middle and be half of two different entities (!?)
I guess it's fresh?
 Very excited to be entering Oklahoma!

Somehow the pictures of the 30 ft cowboy we stopped to look at were lost. Whoops! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I mentioned we’d be speeding home

The last line of my last blog update was "Stay tuned for updates on our speedy adventure back home." about 10 minutes later ... this happened.  Talk about speedy  . .
Nice Time for a Selfie Marty!

The cop pulled over two of us; that Prius got it first and then the cop waved us over. The Prius was doing 62 in a 35 and he had us at around 50 (but also inferred we were tailgating so I wonder how accurate his reading was.) We'd just been playing with a Lingenfelter Corvette with Wisconsin plates and he honked as we went past. The cop said he wished he could have gotten him as well. When I say "playing" with a Lingenfelter, I mean Jon would pull up beside it and he'd blow us out of the water with a 1/4 mile burst; probably topping 150mph . . twice. All good fun. Sorry Jon; tell your wife you were hurrying home for her.

Reflection on the Classic Car Adventure

Sorry for the abrupt post today about the change in schedule. The truth is, we’ve had pressure to get moving all week. If we had time to burn we’d likely have just waited for parts for the Catalina. All along we’ve known that we wanted to drive back (no last minute flights for us) so each day that we delayed we were messing with the schedule. Truth be told we never intended to wait to Wednesday to leave. On Tuesday afternoon we all agreed that we needed to leave by noon on Wednesday. That’s why we took the risks we did when miraculously the brakes and carb/fuel issues were resolved late Tuesday night. The disappointment when the brakes were dead this morning was crushing. The story there is that the shop bled the brakes (as I asked them too) and called to say there were 3 problems. One was that the front right brake line was loose where it connected to the cylinder. The second was that the front left brake line was cracked and the third was that the master cylinder was leaking into the carb. This happened shortly after my Wednesday Morning update post. We immediately called all the auto parts stores in town and were able to get a master cylinder but no brake line. We took the master in to the brake shop about 30 minutes before noon and hoped for the best. I started the last blog post on my phone as we waited and just after noon we got the bad news. The consensus was that there is a blockage in the lines somewhere and we’d blown the last master cylinder trying to bleed it the last time around. Most likely (and I agree) the rubber lines were deteriorating on the inside. That would mean they would all need to be replaced with new ones and new ones were not available on our schedule. We left without a plan for the Javelin but had left a message with Chris in hopes he’d tow it back to his auto yard for us. He confirmed this later in the afternoon. We are undecided on the cars fate. We may ask him to sell it consignment or we may have it shipped to WI; we’ve been debating that all day. If anyone is interested in a slightly worn rust free 73 Javelin with a 304; let us know!

Of course we were sad to leave the car. We each had a private moment with it and then we hopped in our trusty 2014 Corolla and headed East without a look back. We have been driving almost non-stop and as I write this we are currently in Oklahoma and will be in Kansas before too long.

Stay tuned for updates on our speedy adventure back home.

And it's over. (With the classic car)

So we haven't really talked about the time line recently. Jon needs to be home Friday night, Marty needs to be home by Saturday night, and I need to be home at a reasonable date, Saturday would be ideal. However we are about 19 straight hours from home. We need to decide now as it is Wednesday noon. 

We just got the news that the brake shop can't fix the brakes. Next plan is probably to park the car and head home in the rental. Sorry guys, time ran out. 

Returning the Rental Car #FAIL

So this morning after a very long day yesterday Aaron and I got up at 6:30am to take the rental back: finally! Marty said that he would keep the hotel for us by the odd noises that were being omitted from him so Aaron and I booked it out of there in a hurry. (Marty ate Cheetos, Jerky and a Mexican burrito yesterday.) We transferred some things to the Javelin so we wouldn't have to do so much at the drop. I got in and put my foot on the break and my heart sank when it hit the floor. Aaron heard it too and said that we would need to try bleeding it again. I drove it to a corner of the parking lot where there was an uphill slant to get stopped. Aaron and I bled the breaks for about 15 minutes with no improvement so we came back up to the smog in the hotel room that Marty had created; keep in mind he is still sleeping and we had to wake him up.

We told him of our woes and then discuss our options. Give up and go home (I know that is what my wife wants) or see if we can fix it quick and get on the road asap. Aaron had done some research which is very odd for him; no pun intended (so I asked him if he was feeling alright, which he said yes) and thought it was a bleeding issue. Marty, bless his soul was able to dial the telephone between emissions and called Brake Masters to see if they could get us in right away and they could!! 

Aaron and I headed out right away to get the car to Brake Masters which was a few blocks from are hotel. Aaron decided to drive the few blocks to the shop following me in our delinquent rental car. We head out of the hotel parking lot and make it to the stop sign with no issues that I can tell. The left that is needed to get to Juan Tabo (street that the shop is on) is a pretty steep decline. I waited until all the cars were past and the light was green at the bottom because I had driven the Javelin and knew how the brakes were acting. I pulled out and was half way to the stop light when it turned orange; I gunned it as I wanted to ensure Aaron had extra room to stop. When I looked in the review mirror I see Aaron careening on Juan Tablo like a uncontrolled ship on the Bering sea... needless to say there were some people that were not very happy and speed around him with gusto as if to say "what were you thinking you idiot". Nevertheless we were on our merry way! About half way to the shop I start hearing a something dragging on the road but don't think anything of it and turn into Brake Master and then I see the exhaust on the Javelin is dragging on the ground. Aaron rips it off before I can get any tools out, throws it in the trunk and says to the mechanics standing around "you didn't see that" and then walks away. They all laugh and the car is still with them. What will happen next???!!

Wednesday morning update

When is a late rental car considered stolen? Jon and I headed out early this morning to return the rental car and found that the brake pedal on the Javelin had gone flat. We tried a quick brake-bleed in the Super 8 parking lot and had no luck. Dejected, we went inside to wake up Marty and discuss our options.  

Let's take a step back; before we went out to the car we asked the still-sleeping Marty where he'd put the key as he had helped unload the Javelin the night before. In my exhaust fume "high" I wasn't very observant and Marty had held on to the key. Well, his response as to where to find the key was "on the dash". We questioned him; "On the dash? Really?" and he said; "yes, on the dash". We muttered under our breath about how irresponsible it was to leave the key to our "valuable" chariot on the dash; I mean sure, we can't lock the doors and it isn't valuable to anyone but us but still . . Anyway, we set his phone ringer to high and headed downstairs. Of course the key was no-where to be found so we called him. This must have woken him up as he then stated that the key was in the glove box of the Toyota! When threatened with this information he stated "it's not my fault you can't speak sleep!"

Anyway, back to the Javelin. We headed inside and discussed our options. We really need to be leaving today; mid-day at the latest if possible. We could ship the car back, we could, try to have Chris sell it consignment or . . ? Or I guess we could have someone other than ourselves work on it. I decided to try that angle. We happened to be on a block with a lot of shops and I found a brake shop about 3 blocks away. We had Marty call them and they seemed willing and weren't afraid of our timeline. 

I again elected to drive (having no kids etc.) and took my life into my hands again. Getting out of the Super 8 parking lot and on the the side street was no big issue. We then had to turn down hill before turning right on the main drag. Jon was ahead of me and just as he reached the light it turned yellow. He ran through and I hit the brakes. What brakes .. the car was headed downhill and there was no time to stop. The super-soft brakes work when you are costing 15mph below the speed limit and allow 5 times the necessary stopping distance. This wasn't going to happen. The light had turned green before I entered the intersection, sideways. 

As soon as that I felt I didn't have room to stop I floored it and was thankful that the two-barrel carb was working well. I flew through the intersection just ahead of the oncoming traffic and then immediately let off to slow to a safe margin in the middle lane. The glares from the traffic coming up on both sides of me made me feel very small; the guy in the little orange S10 really wanted to kick my teeth in; I could see it in his eyes. To make things worse the drift session was a little too much for the flex pipe and muffler Chris had helped us tie on with baler wire and so it was dragging underneath the car as I gingerly pointed my Jalopy down Juan Tabo Blvd. The next few blocks were somewhat of a blur. I do know I cut someone off abruptly (with no turn signals remember) to change lanes but what you can't see won't hurt you (!?). 

Of course the Brake Masters #108 employees were standing outside laughing as I pulled up. I quickly untwisted the baler wire, drug the exhaust out and threw it in the trunk. I said "you didn't see that" to the guys and asked who was in charge. There was a small argument with the brake shop about parts etc. but I asked them to just do a bleed and see what they could find. Since we have no leaks and parts that seem to mostly be working I'm hoping they can get it working. So now we are waiting for them to give us an update. If this doesn't go well, the trip may have an abrupt end or change significantly; just due to deadlines. We will keep you in the loop; thanks for following along.

Now about that rental car . . I better call them.

And the Javelin it is! (As long as it lasts)

My last post was quite long and technical; this one will be similar. If this is boring to our readers; please let us


Tuesday started with a quick trip to Walmart for some tools, lots of water, some odds and ends (like Lunch-ables for lunch). We got to the Javelin mid-morning and Jon quickly swapped the carb while I installed new rear brake cylinders that we had purchased Monday night. 

Both systems continued to have problems and we spent hours troubleshooting. Personally I estimate I spent 3+ hours laying under the car; not counting the time spent kneeling beside it doing brakes etc. 

I'll discuss the fuel problem first. The car has a fuel pump mounted on the engine that creates suction and pulls gas from the tank. We can see how the pump is performing because there is a clear plastic fuel filter on the top of the engine. After the new carb was installed we fiddled with it for a long time trying to get it to run. Most of this work was done by Chris (more on this later) as he is a master mechanic and knows these systems better than any of us. The car would start; the fuel would flow, and then it would slow to a trickle. We had already determined the pump was good with the fuel-in-a-bottle test the prior evening so we expanded that test by moving around the car. After a couple failed tests, we finally determined there still had to be some restriction in the line from the left rear wheel to the engine; the same line we blew the mud dauber out of. After repeating the process (see my last post) of blowing air through the line a couple more times from front to back and back to front we still had the same problems. Chris finally went along and tapped and pinched the fuel line with a pliers along it's length. We then pumped the air compressor to 120 PSI and FINALLY got some more "chunks" out of the line. My guess is that a small crimp in the line held something back and squeezing it slightly opened it up. That effort took probably 3 hours or more.
Jon under the hood

The brake problem ended up being the significant one. After replacing the rear cylinders we still couldn't get the brakes to bleed. After hours of fruitless effort we gave up and carefully drove the car down the road to one of Chris' houses that was nearby where there was a big garage to work on. Jon drove and made good use of hills, neutral, and the emergency brake to make the trip. 
The Javelin with Jon and Marty; driving away from the yard

Chris graciously moved his beautiful 1972 Duster out of the garage so the janky Javelin could take it's place. 
The pictures don't do this justice; it's a beautiful ground-up-restoration

Marty and Chris took the wheels and tires from the Javelin into Albuquerque to have Pep Boys swap them with the new ones we'd put on the Catalina and Jon and I tried to figure out the brakes. We had no luck and other than a nice chat with Mike who stopped by looking for Chris we didn't make much progress. About 3 hours later, after Marty and Chris returned we tackled the brakes again with Chris' guidance. We had determined that the problem was likely the master cylinder we had replaced on Monday so we returned to the junk-yard for that cylinder and reinstalled it. We were still unable to get any pedal feel whatsoever; in fact it was worse than before.  

Finally Chris jumped in the car and rapidly pumped the brakes for several minutes and then had me start bleeding again. Slowly we started to make some progress; his rapid pumping caused the brake fluid to foam and each time I'd open the bleeder foaming fluid would spray out but it was progress. Working around the car about 4 times got us a decent pedal for the first time in two days. At this point it was dark but we had a running car that had brakes. I took the car out for a test drive.

That was a trip. I pulled on to the high way and gave the car some gas; it was pretty gutless but not much worse than our 2014 Corolla rental car. The low beams were pretty dim so I hit the high beams to be rewarded with worse lights; in fact the high beams seem to be aimed 20 feet in front of the car. I had no mirrors and of course someone immediately pulled out behind me so I felt I had to try to maintain a decent speed but wait; I couldn't see the speedometer because there were no dash lights! Finally I saw a road sign and was able to pull over and stop and let some traffic pass before heading back. It's hard to describe that experience but the lights were so poor that it was very uncomfortable. 

When I arrived back Chris had the title out and the guys were packing up. We hadn't expected the car to get fixed honestly so we hadn't talked about what the next step was. The consensus was to drive the car back to Albuquerque and get a hotel again. Frankly I wasn't in agreement but I could see how that could save us a lot of time so I agreed and said I'd drive. I was not at all excited about the prospect but it was better me than one of the other two and I'd already gotten a feel for the car; so I followed them down the mountain. Yes, I said mountain. I was allowed to drive the car whose drum brakes we'd just "repaired" downhill for 40 minutes. It was epic. However, it wasn't the brakes that kept things interesting; it was the fumes. About half way down I realized that the exhaust leak was going to be a problem. It was subtle before that. I had the drivers side window down but that wasn't enough; the huge fenders on the Javelin keep the wind away from the window. I tried directing air with my hand, I tried cutting the bottom off the water bottle (using the sharp edge of the automatic gear shifter) and directing that at my face but nothing helped unless I got a direct wind that blew into the car. By the time we got down my eyes were beet red and I felt "funny." We'll have to fix that.

Anyway, for the second night in a row; Jon, Marty and I arrived at the hotel physically and emotionally beat. Jon and I were dirty from head to toe from laying in the dirty junk yard most of the day on rocks and in brake fluid. Marty faired better because . . well, watch this video to see why Marty doesn't get dirty.

Now Jon and I are about to try to return the rental car. I guess we'll see how the Javelin faired the night in front of the Super 8 (where we parked it hoping nobody would try to steal anything since we can't lock it.)

We'll let you know how things go; thanks for following along!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another day; Another car!

As you likely gathered from Marty's post; we spent almost all of Monday working on another car. While doing some research for the trip I'd found a junkyard that semi-regularly posted project cars to Youtube (link). Just before we headed out on this trip they posted a 73 Javelin and it made our list of cars, however the owner wasn't able to show it too us Saturday so it didn't go anywhere. 

Knowing this, I came up with an idea Sunday night to see if we could do a straight up trade for the Catalina. The owner, Chris, had done a lot of work on the car so I thought it might be a little better driver than the Catalina. It turned out I was right Chris was open to the idea of a straight up trade. We met him at Pep Boys in the morning and he checked out the Catalina and then invited us up to view the AMC Javelin; saying the trade would work for him. After a 40 minute drive up into the mountains we finally reached the car. Overall it looked pretty good. 
A "beauty shot" from later in the day

The body was in great shape but the engine definitely didn't start or run as well as the Catalina and the interior was as bad or worse. However, this car is one that we hope we can sell to someone in WI as they are pretty rare. So we started determining what we needed to fix and dug into it. 

First, it was missing the front right shock. We had two junk cars with shocks and after a good amount of effort we got one out but then found one of the bolts was bent. 

One of the donor cars; actually an AMX believe it or not!

We then went to the next car and grabbed a shock. That one had some odd bolts on it and I later figured out they had different threads because the nuts went on tight and then ended up stripping the threads. Long story short after maybe 3 hours on the shocks we have one in, held on by one of two bolts and the other has stripped threads. That should be ok as long as we don't take it over any sweet jumps.
The shock installed (finally)
Second, the tie rod end was bent at about a 20 degree angle. We pulled one off one of the junked cars and put it on. However, the car had been setup to work with the bent one so we had to do an impromptu alignment in the yard. We found a broken measuring tape and Marty and I measured from the approximate same point at the front and rear of the brake drum and got them pretty close with just a little toe-in for safety.

Third, the Chris had a supposedly rebuilt carburetor that worked better. The car would idle but it wasn't very smooth and the Chris said it didn't drive great (stumbling etc.). Jon swapped the carb while I was working on the shock and we verified it started with just a little adjustment. We figured that task was done (we were wrong.)

Fourth, the brake feel was awful; it was obvious they weren't working well. Chris figured it was the brake master cylinder and he had a new one on one of the junk cars so I pulled that off and we installed it on the car. Once we got it installed we bled the brakes until the fresh fluid came out. However, the pedal feel was as bad or worse. Now this car has drum brakes all around. Drum brakes in the rear with discs in the front isn't uncommon but even the Catalina had front disc brakes (that felt great by the way.) After all that work the brakes were still not usable. Chris had gone through the front brakes so we pulled off the right rear drum and found that the cylinder was leaking. At this point we decided to try get the car to a shop that Chris had near-by where it would be easier to do brake work. We figured we could use the emergency brake for the short drive. At this point the car started dying and wouldn't keep running.

So, the fifth significant problem was that the car wouldn't keep running. It would idle if you put fuel in the carb but wouldn't keep running. Chris had put a new fuel pump on it and didn't want to break things down but I finally convinced him to check to see if fuel was getting to the carb, and it wasn't So we then checked the pickup line from the tank (by removing the rear wheel and blowing in the line. The pickup line was clear. I then pulled the line off the engine driven fuel pump and we put it in a plastic bottle of gas and verified it would start; it did. 

We finally tried to blow on the main line from the tank to the front of the car. Sure enough; that line was plugged. Chris had a pancake air compressor in his truck but no air gun attachment. I rigged up a air fitting to the fuel line with duct tape and he charged the compressor with a generator he had in the yard. We put a bottle on the front of the line and connected the air compressor and blew the line out twice. 

Below is a picture of what came out; our best guess was that a mud dauber made a nest in the line at some point.

However we weren't done yet. Even after fixing the fuel line, the car didn't continue to run properly. We spent another hour or so working on the carb and finally decided to call it a night. After spending almost 9 hours out in the hot New Mexico sun, minus a small break for lunch, we were beat. We drove back into Albuquerque, booked the same hotel again, extended the car rental again and crashed.

We brought the original carb back and Jon just cleaned it in the sink. Pro tip; do this outside. The hotel room STINKS. 

 The plan for today is to go install the original carb and replace the rear brake cylinders and hope the car is good to go. Our confidence level with the car will be pretty high based on all we have done but we still don't know if it drives well. Time will tell! 

Ready Get Set (back) Don't Go!

I don't recall where Aaron left off with the Catalina so I'll refresh a bit.

We dropped the land yacht off at Pep boys for a new pair of shoes (tires) and to see why the steering wondered so bad.  We got some pretty bad news that it was needing a fair amount of work, which is fine since we were prepared to do work to get this thing road worthy.  What we weren't prepared for was waiting 5- 7 working days to get the parts we needed.

To Aaron and Jon's surprise I talked the Pep boys manager into allowing us to do the repairs in the parking lot pending if we could actually get the parts in a timely manner.

Late on Monday afternoon Aaron came up with a brilliant plan, he indicated that there was a 1973 AMC Javelin that we had eyed but couldn't coordinate with the owner to look at it.  Aaron suggested we call him and see if he would do an even up trade as the Javelin was running and driving car.

To our surprise Chris, the owner of the Javelin was more than willing to do the trade.  He agreed to meet us at the Pep boys to look over  the Catalina to see if he was ok with it.  Within 15 minutes he invited us out to his Junk Yard he inherited from his father where the Javelin was.

We got there and instantly felt the Javelin was a great substitute for the Catalina.  We really didn't want to give up on the Catalina and let Joe down, but we have to be realistic if we want to make it back to Wisconsin in time to be to work.  

The Javelin needed some work to be road worthy, but that was to be expected.  It needed a front right shock, brake work, carb, brake lights, tie rod end, and an impromptu alignment.  Being the owner of the Junk Yard, Chris was more than willing to let us scavenge the other AMC's he had.  We found a shock and a tie rod end and set to replacing them...  Then the setbacks started.  For whatever reason the master cylinder we put on it didn't work well, we ended up tearing it apart to see why it would barely stop.  Obviously that would be a problem!  While doing the brake work, it stopped idling and starting running really rough.  We ended up getting sidetracked (when I say we, I mean Aaron, Jon, and Chris) trying to fix the fuel issue.  

To makes things worse, we didn't get cell reception in the mountains at all.  Chris' Junk Yard was 20 minute east of Albuquerque and about 3,000 feet higher!

At this point, the Catalina is still at Pep boys, the Javelin is at Chris' Junk Yard, and we are relaxing in the hotel room with neither car!

This trip has been a ton of fun with lots of laughs, it's been stressful with worries of Jon leaving early, overall...  I've loved every second and will cherish these memories to the day I die. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting the Catalina Road(kill) worthy

For your viewing pleasure; here is a time lapse video of the three of us and Joe working on the car. Notice how hard Marty (in blue) works; man it's hard to keep up with that guy.

Here are some pictures as well:

Still in Albuquerque

We are still in Albuquerque. We've extended the car rental and booked back into our hotel. Why? Keep reading, but first . . .

In short, we got the car running with no issues. We picked up some supplied and then followed the owner through the pass and up to the car. 
Joe with the Catalina

Joe brought a battery, fluids, a vacuum, an air compressor, a tire iron and more to help make short work of the tasks at hand.In a short period of time (with a lot of generous help from the owner, Joe) we had the car cleaned up, the tires aired up, the battery installed, and the fuel system checked (it was perfectly clean.) We pulled the car out of  the spot where it has been sitting for approximately 8 years, and headed to the gas station to fuel  it up. I drove the first leg; the throttle had a very heavy spring on it so it felt like the gas pedal was a brick. The car had sloppy steering and felt a bit sluggish but it ran down the road fine! We had already planned to get new tires but at the gas station (no fuel tank leaks!) we saw that the front left tire's camber was really off; the top of the wheel was visibly tilted inwards. We decided then and there to make sure we had the suspension investigated at Pep Boys where we had already verified they had tires and could install them same day; which is key since it was Sunday. We dropped the car off and headed out to take our new friend Joe to lunch.

The bad news came when Pep Boys called back saying they feel the entire front end needed to be replaced. Well, not quite but it might as well be. The quote was more than we paid for the car. Now let me say that when we dropped the car off, we mentioned our trip and one of the guys commented . . "oh; like that Motor Trend show . . Roadkill?" That was the first person who recognized that our trip was inspired. Cheers to you Todd! Anyway, the ball joints (upper and lower), control arm bushings, and Idler Arm need to be replaced. Pep Boys had all the parts but one. Which, after checking around we found was amazing; nobody else in town had even half of the parts in stock. The problem is; they won't do the work without having all the parts and nobody in town had the Idler Arm and it appears that the idler arm would take 3-10 days to arrive.  After some negotiation with the Pep Boys manager we agreed to leave the car there overnight and that's why we ended up extending our stay. 

The plan for today is to replace the parts that we can in the Pep Boys parking lot. We didn't pack a press so we will need at least a little help with the lower ball joints. 
The car came with a bumper jack but I'm not excited about crawling the car with just a bumper jack holding it up so we may need to purchase some jack stands etc.. Stay tuned for more updates and if anyone has a lead on where to get an idler arm for a 1968 Pontiac Catalina . . we're all ears!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Did we find it . . Or not?

We have been pretty busy but wanted to provide an update. While Marty performed a 3-song shower set, Jon and I scoured craigslist for vehicles and finished yesterdays blog posts. Marty added some items to the list and along with recommendations via Facebook and Email we completed a list of about 12 cars that we thought were worth pursuing. We then set "Mary Hendricks" (inside joke) on the bed and provided him phone numbers and car details and he tried to arrange opportunities for us to view the vehicles. We knew that we didn't have much opportunity to get any work out of Marty so we applied him with this task; plus he has some experience swindling people over the phone. 

We ended up arranging to see 3 vehicles and a 4th was added later in the day after a no-show. All the visits ended up being in the mid to late afternoon so we killed some time picking up some tools I forgot and visiting a pawn store. We did randomly stop along the way to knock on the door of a house with an old Galaxy 500 parked outside.

The first vehicle we saw (a vehicle we got a second chance on because another potential buyer was a no-show) was the one that interested us the most. It's a 1968 Pontiac Catalina with a 400 Big Block and almost no interior. The runner up was a 1979 Lincoln Continental that was so nice we thought it was too easy for this trip; it wasn't Roadkill enough, tied for third was a 1979 Jimmy or a 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 (second owner!).  The Pontiac seemed to have just the right Patina and and the engine and transmission seem great. The problem was it had a flat tire so we haven't tested the brakes or the suspension yet. Here are some pictures of the beast. 

Can you say "Land Yacht?"

We'll try to scare any snakes out of the interior before we drive it.

Where the magic happens!

How we stand:

  • We are checking out of our hotel in a couple minutes (only had it for 2 nights)
  • We will pick up the owner of the Pontiac and some supplies and head out to the car
  • We will put a spare on and try to drive it for the first time to see if the brakes and suspension works
  • We'll also attempt to clean the fuel line by running the engine off a gas can and letting the engine fuel pump push fuel into another container to check for cleanliness
  • If that goes well we'll pay for the car and then head for Pep Boys or a similar location to see if we can get new tires installed and maybe get a visual of the brakes
  • ?? After that I guess we'll start driving back Route 66 (did we mention that was part of the plan yet?)
Wish us luck!

Oh and Marty is singing Eddie Rabbitt "I Love A Raining Night" in the shower again . .

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We have arrived and the search begins!

After fits and starts the three Amigos have made it too . . Albuquerque New Mexico! . . I told you nobody wants to go here (sorry to any natives/locals)! As mentioned before; the tickets were so cheap I couldn't pass it up. Jon appears neither surprised nor disappointed but we'll let him post his own feelings. The trip has been interesting so far to say the least; from the flight to the taxi to the hotel check in; it has not failed to be memorable. My tools arrived safely; the box was flat but nothing had fallen out (thankfully.)

Anyway, we have already found a couple cars to check out. Craigslist has been our primary resource so far. We did pick up some local classified but they didn't have the kind of stuff we were looking for.  We've started a list of cars that we are interested in and may or may not go see. The list is publicly available here so feel free to check it out and add your comments below. From a 4x4 short school bus to a 55 Olds our options don't disappoint . . here are some teaser shots! 

Now we are just waiting for Marty to finish singing "Free Falling" and get out of the shower so we can get a move on!

Jon Finally Knows

The joke is finally up, months of waiting and in the early hours this morning we arrived in Albuquerque NM! My name is Jon Ward and I have known Aaron since I was a baby. We used to fly model airplanes when we were kids which I wasn't that into back then but now we now fly real airplanes (I really just ride) and I am becoming a fan. Our love for cars/motorcycles has always been a constant throughout our friendship which got me into this predicament. Marty came into my life around 2003 when Aaron introduced me he was sprawled out on the couch with a blanket and barely one eye open, all he said was "hey, nice to meet you" and went back to sleep. We worked together at TDS up until 6 or 7 months ago and haven't seen to much of each other. This morning in our hotel room it reminded me of the time that we first met... Marty sprawled out with a blanket over him and barely one eye open at 8:30 am.

We always talked about doing a trip like this but it never came into reality until this year. It was a great timing for me because now I am married with 2 beautiful boys and another one on the way due in August (My wife is great for allowing me to come!). Nevertheless I have had some serious doubts about coming on this trip, but I am here now and ready to get on Route 66 with a new gem.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My idea of FUN!

Imagine the fun!
Shortly after Aaron bought tickets to Spokane, Germany, I immediately started to think of the type of vehicle we should get. After doing some craigslist searches of what is available in the city we are heading too I found a plethora of old dump trucks within our price range.

Imagine this if you will...

A peaceful stretch of highway with no sign of civilization in site. A warm breeze and a tumble weed crosses the road (are there tumble weeds in Germany?). Out of the corner of your eye you see a late 1970's avocado green couch with two well worn cushions on each end sitting precariously in the middle of the road. You hear a low rumble that sounds somewhat like helicopter with a baseball card cloth pinned to interfere with the blades to make it sound REALLY cool. As you focus on the couch trying to figure out what is going on a giant dump truck doing 70 MPH explodes through the couch. Instantly turning the couch into a shower of debris.

Have you ever seen a dump truck run over a couch doing 70 MPH?  Me either, but I really really really want too!  I figure we can buy a dump truck right?  Then as we drive home, we can scout  the towns ahead of us for free things to pick up on craigslist.  We can then drive off into a remote area, set up said free object and run it over.  (Of course we'd pick up the trash, but it'll be convenient because we'll have a huge dump box to throw it in.)

I'm really excited about this idea, I have to somehow convince riding in a dump truck for 3,000 miles will be comfortable to the guys!  Wish me luck!

I'm sure this will be the end result of Jon's driving!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tools for the Trip

Since I (Aaron) had the large garage and most automotive repairs ended up happening at my house which means I amassed a rather large tool collection; so as you can imagine I'm left "carrying the bag" when it comes to tools. I'm often criticized for being "detail oriented" and although I feel I often should pay more attention to details I will agree that I've been thinking of tools for awhile. Here is an image of most of the tools that I will be taking. Hopefully enough to do most of what we need to do without buying tools on the road. Most of this lot was packed up and shipped to the hotel where we spend our first night to avoid lugging it through the airport.
This is not a complete picture of what I will take. Missing from this picture are:
  • Impact sockets
  • Hacksaw
  • Bungee cords
  • Gorilla Tape
  • 1/4" sockets
  • Zip Ties
  • and more .. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Aaron has known Jon for awhile . .

I mentioned in my last blog post that I've known Jon for awhile . . here is some proof. This was back when Jon and I were both good looking and apparently when I had no fashion sense and wore Ford Trucker hats! I'm the older child holding Jon while hanging out with Jons' sisters.

Hi, my name is Aaron and I like Roadkill

I figured I better I introduce myself before this trip gets started. As Marty stated, I've known both Marty and Jon much of my life. We all share an interest in vehicles and that is something that has kept us in touch over the years. About 11 years ago I was able to purchase my first home; a small house with a very large garage (the garage had more square feet than the house) and so it's been the meeting place for us many many times in these last 11 years. I think every vehicle that each of us has owned over the last 11 years has been in that garage. 

The idea for this trip came from the a YouTube show called "Roadkill". I think I stumbled across one of the videos about a year ago and have been subscribed ever since. The premise is that two guys (Mike Finnegan and David Freiburger) get into some automotive related adventure and post roughly a 30 minute episode of their adventures every 4th week. These guys work for Motortrend so they have the experience (and a film crew) to keep things interesting. There are 28 episodes so far and another one will be posted the weekend we launch for our adventure. I highly recommend you check it out and subscribe; every 4th week is a new adventure! I've embedded the first episode below. 
This first episode is the one that gave me the idea for the trip. I mentioned it to Marty and Jon as one of those things that would be "fun to do" but Marty latched on to the idea and wouldn't let it die. He'd randomly text me and ask when we were going to go. When it was clear he was serious I had him pick a date and started looking at destinations. I found what appeared to be a smoking deal on airfare to "Dallas, Nevada". My guess is nobody wants to go to this location as the one-way tickets were less than $150 per person and it's a two leg flight. At this point Marty and I had been texting and Jon hadn't been in the loop. I texted Jon, mentioned the proposed dates and asked if he was willing to go as I was ready to pull the trigger on the tickets. I think he was driving to Chicago at the time so this exchange took all of maybe 5 minutes. I pulled the trigger on the tickets and then told Marty that we should just keep it a secret from Jon as he'd agreed without even asking where we were going and that's how it all got started. That was January 14th, 2014. 

A decent amount has happened since this trip was planned. For me, the biggest thing was when a semi-unsolicited offer was received on my home which forced me to get serious about looking for a new home. The net of that is that May 16th is also my moving day. That's right. I'll move to a new home and then immediately leave it for this "epic trip." Thankfully I have an understanding wife!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Portland, Georgalaska... Where's that?

Portland, Georgalaska
I find it absolutely hilarious when a very straight laced, practical, and well thought out person like Aaron comes up with a great prank.

From the moment Aaron committed to this Epic Trip of ours, he knew that there was going to be at least one person who didn't have a clue where we were going.  Luckily for me, I was the person that Aaron expressed the idea of this trip to first.  This means that the last to know is also going to know the least.  I'd say poor Jon, but we don't feel sorry for him, neither should you.

As when any good plan is hatched up, a great deal of goofing around was involved.  This being the case, the following days and weeks were littered with routine check ins between Aaron and myself.  "Does Jon know yet?" has become a greeting between Aaron and myself.  I think it would be hands down the funniest thing if in years to come that "Does Jon know yet?" would replace the typical "Hi" or "Hey".
I googled "Does Jon know yet" and found this. Seems fitting...
Up to this point, Jon has asked "Where are we going?" every time we've gotten together.  Only to be met with a barrage of tall tales and "you'll find out sooner or later" answers.  We rarely tell him the same place twice.  It's gotten so bad that we have mixed up countries, states, and cities.  I once told him that we were going to Saskatchewan, New Mexico.  This has only made it worse for poor Jon.  I took it upon myself to post on facebook craigslist adds from Maine and other states.  Sometimes the cars where so bad there would be no way for them to drive or the location would be so ridiculous it just wouldn't make sense.  For example, I found a Mercedes-Benz in Hawaii and joked that shipping it to the states would be the easy part.

I had to stop posting these fictitious areas with junker cars on facebook, it was resulting in people asking how my trip was and why I didn't tell them I was going.  So for clarification, we have not left for the trip yet.  We fly out on May 16th, it is going to be a fantastic trip.  Stay tuned!!