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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Leak-End Weekend

Last weekend, I put some elbow grease into my "new" 1973 Ford F100.  It was quite productive, I think.

First, I bought a new aftermarket exhaust manifold made to factory specs off of ebay.  It was surprisingly inexpensive and since it shipped from Texas, it got delivered less than 48 hours after purchasing it with free shipping.  That was a little added bonus I didn't expect.

I finally broke down and made the investment for air tools and WOW, I'm glad that I did.  Especially, since I bought them at Harbor Freight and was able to get all set up for very little money.  Thank you, China!  I can confidently say that there's no way I would have accomplished what I did this weekend without those new tools.  Air power is certainly the way to go.

I was able to pull the old exhaust manifold and replace it with the new one and a new gasket, of course.  I also pulled the valve covers off because they were both leaking oil on the firewall ends.  While I had them off, I decided to take some advice from a forum I found online and clean them up and repaint them.  I was floored by the difference.  I might wind up becoming one of those car show guys if I keep this up.  You couldn't even read them before.  Now they look new.

I put new valve cover gaskets on and everything seemed to seal up nicely when I tightened them down.  So long, oil leaks.

While I was in there, I also tightened the brake sensor in the brake proportioning valve.  It was leaking brake fluid around it and I was going to replace it, but had that duh moment and checked to see if I could tighten it any more.  It turned a full 360 degrees with little effort and I couldn't get it to leak afterwards.

I'm really looking forward to when I can start working on my '59. The '73 is really cool, don't get me wrong.  But, it's no '59.

Drum Brake Rebuild

This last Saturday, I got the chance to rebuild the drum brakes on our "new" 1973 Ford F-100.  They were pretty well-worn.  As a matter of fact, they weren't active at all.  Both wheel cylinders were leaking badly and when I pulled the drum off the rear-right side, two of the springs fell out to the ground in pieces.

I also used a full can of brake clean getting the insides cleaned up.  I love the way that they turned out.  I forgot how much I actually enjoy rebuilding drum brakes.  Most people can't stand drum brakes for some reason, but I actually like them.  I didn't mess around with trying to salvage anything.  It doesn't really make sense to.  I was able to completely rebuild both drum brakes with all new components for $63.  That includes a big bottle of brake fluid and the can of brake clean that I used.

Jodi helped me bleed them out on Sunday afternoon and they work awesome.  I'm very satisfied with their performance.  There's just something about repairing a vehicle correctly and knowing you can confidently use that vehicle without fear of your "repair" being some Achilles' heel to the entire vehicle.  I find immense satisfaction in it.

I took it to A-1 Custom Muffler to get new exhaust pipes welded in where they were all rusted through and so it has all new pipes on it.

I still have a few things that I need to do to it.  It needs the following:
  • New right-hand exhaust manifold and gasket.
  • New valve cover gaskets.
  • New proportioning valve brake dummy sensor (or plug since it's not hooked up anyway).
  • Wheel alignment.
  • 2 replacement tires.
I found a company that makes new aftermarket exhaust manifolds for a fraction of the cost that auto parts stores sell them for, so I'll be placing an order for one of those this week.  I'll pick up an exhaust manifold gasket at O'Reilly Automotive when I get valve cover gaskets and a plug for the brake proportioning valve.  I'll tackle the wheel alignment myself.  I've done it once before on a '94 Ford van and it worked great.  I'm actually looking forward to all these little projects to better the truck and have it be a worry-free vehicle.

Home Computing Power Station

Change is hard.  And, when it comes to my personal home computing setup, I find that it's way more difficult than it should be.  But, regardless of my hesitancy, it's well past due for a change of scenery on my physical desktop.

For the past several years, I've maintained roughly the same setup for my computer at home.  I've had to make a few repairs, replace a few bad parts, upgrade several components, but for the most part my system has remained visually unchanged.  It looked pretty much like the illustration I threw together here.  I have had one computer tower running Windows XP, two CRT monitors, a printer, desktop speakers, and (not illustrated here) a modem, a router, and an external hard drive.

Once upon a time my computer would have been considered beefed up and fast.  Now, it is somewhat lacking and frustratingly slow at times.  With having acquired laptops and smart phones, I find that I very rarely even get on "the" computer.  It's location, the back room, doesn't help either.  Items that have no home crawl their way back there and find temporary (a month on average) storage on either the desk or right in front of it, making a "stuff" barricade between the monitors and one's field of vision when sitting ergonomically.  Of course, I take full credit for letting it get that bad.  Mostly, it's my stuff for which I'm procrastinating at finding a real storage place.  I clean it completely off 2-3 times a year just in time to start the collection anew.

So, what's the solution?  I'm going to actually use one of the laptops that have barely been opened as the new "the" computer.  I bought a working docking station for it for $13 on ebay with free shipping.  This laptop is running Windows 7, which, thanks to my employment for the last 2.5 years forcing me to use Windows 7, I have finally decided 7 is better than XP.  The only real practical reason that I have not decided to part with the computer tower up until now is because it runs four internal and two external hard drives.  My answer to this dilemma is to build a custom hard drive enclosure that will drive the four internal drives.  I looked them up online and the cheapest I could find was right at $100 and it wasn't even compatible with some of the non-SATA drives that I own.  In true DIY spirit, and perhaps my internal geek, I decided to make my own.

I was given an old trash computer without a hard drive from a co-worker.  I salvaged the back plate which I trimmed down to just the fan mounting, a power switch, a reset switch, a case fan, dual USB female ports, and the internal hard drive mounting racks.  I built a box out of some pine to fit everything, but it turned out to be too small.  So, I am using the box from a mixer that I picked up for free off of a trash dumpster due to its non-working status.  I was given a power supply by a friend.  I bought some hard drive to USB adapters, a USB hub, and a female USB 'A' to female USB 'B' adapter. 

In the end, I wound up with the following "power station", as I call it.  It powers the four internal hard drives with the power supply (so, only one power cord) and allows them all to be accessed through the single USB 'B' port (so, only one standard USB cable).  It's all USB 2.0 compliant and my data transfer tests resulted in great transfer speeds between drives.  And, it's expandable.  I have space for 3 more hard drives with the racking I put in it.

I no longer needed my computer tower so I will be selling it on Craigslist.  All in all, it was like I was getting paid to make this space-saving upgrade.  I no longer need the desktop computer speakers since the laptop is equipped with some on board.  The two big CRT monitors are gone, replaced by the single flat screen monitor I picked up for cheap from the same friend who donated the power supply to my cause.  Since the laptop serves as a second monitor, I still have two displays from which to work.  The "power station" sits underneath the desk, out of site.  I built a shelf underneath the desktop to hold the printer so it's now out of site.

I'm excited because all the freed up space will allow the desk to be used as a workstation for physical projects now, as well.  And, the main computer of the house can be ejected from the docking station and taken wherever it is needed.  I won't be able to access the files from all the hard drives while it's away from its dock, but I can transfer whatever I need to the laptop and then take it wherever I need to go.  So, this has been a very nice and practical upgrade.

Critical Mass

Well, it's happened.  Jodi and I have officially hit our new record for number of vehicles owned.  With our newest purchase just last week, we have a total of eight motor vehicles in our possession, six of which are at our home in downtown Springfield.

The list is as follows in order of oldest to newest:
  • 1959 Ford F-100
  • 1962 Plymouth Valiant
  • 1973 Ford F-100
  • 1985 Chevrolet Scottsdale
  • 1991 Ford F-150
  • 1992 Ford E-150
  • 1996 Dodge Avenger
  • 2006 Mazda 5
You might have noticed that we have at least one vehicle for every decade stretching all the way back to the 1950's.

So, how did we come across owning a fleet of vehicles, you ask?  Good question.  Out of all these vehicles, I've owned the oldest, the '59, the longest.  I purchased it the same day that I met Jodi.  I'll never get rid of it for that purpose alone.

Next up on the list is the '62.  The next-to-oldest is also my next-to-longest-owned vehicle.  Jodi spotted it for sale in someone's front yard on East Bennett street.  We bought it for me to drive around while my '59 was out of commission awaiting a new clutch.

Then came the '92 van that we purchased for me to drive after the '59's engine blew up.  The plan is and has always been to at some point swap over the '59 body onto the '92 and then scrap the remaining steel.  I can't start this project until I have a shop in which to work in.  That's coming after we sell our house.

We bought the '96 in '06 and drove it for well over three years until it blew a head gasket.  I then let it basically rot with good intentions.  My bad.

We bought and later sold a '94 Ford E-150 to drive in the meantime and shortly after this purchase we also purchased the '85 from Jodi's dad.  This was a great truck until I parked it at the end of '11 after the transmission went out.  I bought another transmission for it and never did get around to getting it in correctly.  Jodi's dad is buying the truck back from us later this week.

After the '85 was parked, I bought the '91 which lasted until last week.  Another blown head gasket.  I'll skip the good intentions this time and just let it go.  I'm selling it to a friend later this week, as well.

I'm scrapping the '96 once the '85 that's blocking access to it is out of the way and no longer in our possession.  That will get us down to a mere 5 vehicles.  Once the house sells, we'll get something with a shop. I'll then get the '62 nice and road-worthy for Jacob and it will become his (takes the count down to 4). I'll also get the '59 to '92 modification project complete and seemingly be rid of the '92.

So, in the end, we'll have our daily get around family vehicle (the '06), my daily driver (the '59), and a back-up/maybe first truck for Lyric (the '73).

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