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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!

'59 Ford Update

Firewall cutout to accommodate engine placement.
I was pretty nervous about cutting into my Ford, but after checking the measurements over and over again I finally worked up the courage to do it.  It was easier to cut than I thought it would be.  Between my angle grinder and my reciprocating saw, I knocked it out in about 30 minutes.

With the freshly added cutout, I was able to walk the cab into the position it will be in when mounted.  So, the next step was to get the precise measurements of the front cab mount offsets. 
Theoretical driver-side front custom cab mount ('59 cab to '84 frame).
This was a little tricky to do in a three-dimensional environment where there's an offset in every direction, but I figured it out.  As sketched out here, I'm using large steel brackets I bought from Race Brothers to cover two of the three dimensional offsets (forward, inward).  It's fabricated out of 3/8" steel so it's total overkill but better safe than sorry.  These brackets will be mounted to the original 84's front cab mounts and turned back towards the frame and towards the front so that the 59's cab mount points will be directly above the brackets' centers.

Borrowing some metal from a useless Chevy. :)
Another challenge was reinforcement.  The 59's front cab mounts, like pretty much all trucks up through the 80's, were exposed to the front wheels so decades of water being thrown up by the front tires had rusted away much of the original structural integrity of the mounts.  It was necessary to add some sheet metal to the inside corners of the cab just above the mounts.  The passenger-side mount was so bad that I had to fabricate a bracket out of 1/4" steel to wrap the underside of the original mount.  Luckily for me, I was able to pick up a '79 Chevy K20 tailgate for only $10 on Craigslist last Friday.  I wasted no time cutting out of it the metal I needed to reinforce my floor pans.  It requires more work getting metal from this since I have to "unshape" it before I can shape it, but getting this much automotive grade steel for only $10 is a no-brainer.  Already, it's saved me about $10.  Thick steel sheet metal isn't at all cheap.

I'm pretty proud of the floor pan reinforcements.  This exercise has also managed to make me pretty confident that I can effectively make a removable cover for the cutout in the firewall.  After picking up the drill bit I need today, I should be able to drill the holes in the mounting brackets and get the cab off it's temporary stands and mounted on the frame where it belongs.

Driver-side floor reinforcement.
Passenger-side reinforcement.
I should have it mounted for my next blog.  I'll take some pics of them and hopefully they will look like my drawing above.  Until next time...
Grinding on metal makes for a pretty cool photo opportunity.

'59 Ford Project Update

In my last blog on this subject, I talked about the removal of the '84 F-150 body from its frame complete with some photos.  Since then, I sold the complete body to a young guy from Carthage, MO.  Pictured here is the body sold, all loaded up, and being carted away.  I got a good price for it and was thrilled to have both the cash in hand and get all the body parts out of my shop and out of my way.

That was almost 3 months ago.  You'd think that I'd be eager to get to work on my '59, but my wife's birthday took priority.  The truck got rolled out of the shop to make room for all the work I would soon put into making things for her party.  More on that in an upcoming blog, I'm sure.

Back to work on the '59, I changed my strategy some.  Before, my plan was to clean and paint the entire frame before putting the truck together.  If I were building a show truck that would be a great strategy but since I am building something to be driven and used, it seems more a monumental unnecessary effort.  So, I remounted the newly-painted fuel tanks back under the frame and got to work hoisting the cab into the air.  I spent a lot of time trying to accomplish putting together a system for lifting the cab while I would be on the ground, but neither of my two theoretically-sound designs realistically worked.  In the end, I hoisted it using pretty much the same system I used to remove the '84 cab off the frame in the first place.  The big difference was that this time I was up in the rack operating the winch on a platform I threw together rather than dangerously standing on a ladder right by the cab being lifted.

With the cab roughly in place on the frame, I measured how the front clip and bed would line up to the wheel wells.  They didn't.  My measurements would require the cab to be scooted forward seven inches.  The problem is that the firewall-side of the engine is sitting about two inches from the firewall.  In an effort to gain stability and better handling through improved weight distribution, Ford began mounting the engines closer to the center of the vehicle in later model pickups in comparison to the 57-60 model.  As you can see from these two photos, the '84 cab has a nice indentation in the firewall to accept the engine being mounted further back on the frame.  The '59 doesn't have this.

So the best solution I have is to cut out a section of the '59 firewall.  Then, I'll have to fabricate a panel to cover that hole.  Initially, this reminds me of the E-150 vans I once owned.  The engines of the E-150 vans intrude so much into the cab that they have a removable panel so that it's easier to service the engine from the inside of the cab.  What I have to do to the '59 will not be near this dramatic.  It should only be about four to five inches deep of a bump.  In fact, from the inside of the cab it would look similar to how the '84 looks in this picture.  The '59 has no bump, but I'll have to change that.  However, unlike the '84, I believe that I'll make my panel removable so that the engine is much more accessible when in need of maintenance.  Also, the '84 bump extends into the floor in the form of a raised hump to make room for the top of the transmission and driveshaft. I won't need a raised floor in the '59 like shown in the '84 because I am forced to give the whole body a minimum 3" body lift.  This is due to the fact that the '59 frame rails are flat from the front to the back.  The '84 frame, however, has a 3" drop between the axles.  So, to get everything to mount and line up I have to ignore the drop and raise the cab to level out with the bed and front clip.  This will consequently remove the need to fabricate a matching hump in the floor of the cab since the '59 cab will sit above that requirement.

Cutting into the firewall is no small job.  I'll be busy with that for a while since I will want to measure thirty times before I cut.  I want to remove the least amount of firewall as necessary but ensure that any required maintenance has the space it needs to be performed whether that be the removal of the valve covers, spark plugs, etc.  Once that is complete, I can then move my cab into its future location and start working on fabricating my custom cab mounts.  I'll post an update here when I have one.

Phone Upgrade

A couple months ago, it occurred to me that Jodi and I would be up for our bi-annual cell phone upgrades this fall.  My initial reaction was excitement only to be immediately followed by confusion.  We both have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  And, frankly, I couldn't imagine a phone that would be an upgrade from what we already had.  So, my momentary excitement dissolved almost as quickly as it arrived.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been out for some weeks now and normally I would be considering it my no-brainer go-to for an upgrade.  But, aside from its well publicized potential for exploding, I have several deterrents that are based upon the features that the phone boasts.

First, and most impacting to me, was the removal of the removable battery.  For years, most Android phones have had two major design advantages over their rival Apple products.  Those advantages were expandable memory via a micro SD card slot and a removable battery.  Apple still charges a high premium for their products with more storage well above the market cost of micro SD cards with that same storage capacity.  This is designed to benefit Apple with a higher profit margin and more big-brother-control over their devices rather than bring any value to their customers.

Samsung had removed it's expandable memory micro SD card slot it the Galaxy S6 and quickly realized its mistake.  They corrected it when they added it back for the S7.  So, I couldn't understand why once again they were removing such a prominent feature, this time the removable battery, that had helped catapult them and other Android based phone manufacturers into the top tier of mobile devices.  As a matter of fact, much to my dismay, most of the phones that I would have been normally considering for this upgrade also did not have a removable battery.  I was appalled.

Then, it occurred to me this morning.  Water resistance.  These companies have not figured out how to have both a removable battery and have the ability to be submerged in water.  And, evidently, they have prioritized water resistance.

Jodi and I watched several review videos last night trying to figure out which direction we would likely go when we did upgrade.  Every time I saw someone texting in the rain, or laying their phone down on the bottom of a shallow pool, or rinsing it off in the sink like a dinner plate, I couldn't help but wince in shock.  Granted, these were promotional videos and the majority of people will still make every attempt to avoid water ever becoming in contact with their phones.  I get that.  But, I still don't understand why water resistance has become a higher-perceived value over having the ability to change the battery.

We all know that rechargeable batteries have a finite number of charges and cycles it can handle.  I have had to replace batteries in several mobile devices in my lifetime.  Off the top of my head, I've bought a replacement battery for my Macbook Pro, a Dell laptop I once had, my Samsung Note 4, my wife's old iPod Nano, my wife's Asus tablet, and several batteries for my Canon camera.  That's six devices.  And, the only time I had a device ruined by water was a point and shoot camera I got for my son who accidentally left it outside just before a rain.  I think he was seven years old at the time.

So, aside from my child having an issue with water and electronics, the adults in my household have far exceeded the need for water protection by the ability to change an old worn out battery.  So, I'm afraid that I won't be moving up the Samsung ladder this upgrade.

Which brings me to my next point of irritation.  Why are Apple users so loyal?  Over the years, my wife and I have had phones by Nokia, Pantech, LG, Motorolla, and Samsung.  When we have the ability to get new phones, I do a full comparison of phone features and price.  I watch and read reviews and find customer comments.  I want the best device to compliment our lifestyle that we can afford.

Some features are a requirement for us.  It has to have an Android operating system and it has to have expandable memory.  When I added these two filters to my search on Verizon, I got a result of 18 phones (pictured here) which are produced from six different manufacturers.  What sort of choice does a die-hard Apple customer get when its time for an upgrade?  Exactly.

I've already mentioned how I was turned off by the Note 7's non-removable battery.  I am also not a fan of the rounded edges that the phone sports on both sides.  I suspect that it limits the phone's aftermarket availability of covers.  But, even if it doesn't, I have a co-worker with the S7 Edge who showed me why if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn't have bought the Edge model.  When operating the phone with one hand, the bottom part of his thumb gets detected by the screen and causes issues.  His only fix: use two hands.  Yeah, not cool.

So, I believe that we have settled on a phone choice: the LG G5.  The screen boasts the same resolution on its 5.3" screen held by the Note 7 on it's 5.7" screen.  This means that there is greater pixel density at 554 ppi versus the Note's 518 ppi which will provide a crisper, more detailed display.  It's an LCD as opposed to an AMOLED screen, so the colors are less exaggerated, less cartoonish and more true to life.  The camera has a 16GB rear/ 8GB front (with wide angle) versus the Note's 12/5, respectively.  I realize that megapixels aren't everything but the camera got great reviews and out-performed several of its competition in almost all categories particularly in low-light scenarios and in bright landscapes.  The camera is probably the most important requirement of all.  Coming from a DSLR owner, I have even occasionally preferred my phone's camera over my Canon's in some conditions but mostly due to the fact that I don't usually have my Canon on me, but I always have my phone.  So, my phone captures more of my actual life.

The LG G5 won't have the built-in stylus that I am used to but I only rarely used it with my Note for some tasks that didn't necessarily require it.  I can only recall one game that I played with my son that it really came in handy and helped us.  Aside from that game, every other use of it was more because I was trying to justify having it.

LG's G5 is also a less expensive choice for us.  So, that's a bonus.  The G5 has 4GB RAM just like the Note 7.  My current Note 4 only has 3GB RAM, so I'm looking forward to the increase of speed.  The glass of the LG G5 is the same Corning Gorilla Glass 4 used on my Note 4 that I, unfortunately, dropped a lot yet never had so much as a crack.  The G5 is 11% lighter that my Note 4 so I suspect that a drop of the G5 would be even less likely to result in damage than my Note 4.

So, while I'm disappointed with the Samsung Note 7, I'm not at all surprised.  I couldn't imagine how they were going to get better.  In my opinion, they only got worse.  One bit of curiosity is that the Note 4 had a 16 megapixel camera and the Note 7 has a 12 megapixel camera.  I'm surprised that they did this.  Again, I know megapixels aren't everything, but the general public doesn't really know that.  I wonder how they spun that in the marketing department.

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