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74_fireball
21 July 2008 @ 05:24 pm
One day I was staring morosely at the digital display on the gasoline pump while filling my Blazer when I decided that maybe it was time to buy something a bit more fuel efficient for the daily drive to work.

This, of course, comes with it's own set of problems. I can't get rid of the Blazer. I bought it with 4x4 to handle the harsh Illinois winters in a town where you can normal find the snow plow drivers parked at the Burger King getting some coffee. I also bought it with a trailer hitch to be able to pull a utility trailer. I built a utility trailer with my Blazer in mind. It has wonderful cargo room that I has utilized more then once, and yet I no longer get asked to help people move (like I did when I had a pickup truck).

So you see, I can't just trade the Blazer in, I would have to buy an additional car. But to pay a lot of money for an extra car just to save money on fuel doesn't make sense. So, the car has to get very good mileage, and yet cost next to nothing.

Then I stumbled on to this...


This is a 1992 Geo Metro. Based on the options in it, I'm thinking it's the luxury model. It has an AM/FM radio, Air Conditioning, drink holders, and an automatic transmission. I personally wanted it to be a manual shift, but when you get a good deal, you can't be so choosy.


These cars reportedly get approximately 40mpg with an automatic trans. While I'm not sure it will do that stock, I'm sure a handful of minor modifications will definitely put it in the ball park.


This particular car needs a lot of work. Specifically it needs new brakes all the way around (rotors and drums as well), a new battery (I'm currently testing it with the battery for my Pinto), a new air filter, a tune up, a new muffler (the old one disintigrated as we were trying to start it), and whatever it will take to make the motor run properly.


So, with all of this work in mind, why did I buy it? Simple. It was $100. $100 with a clear title and with a repair manual and jumper cables thrown in. The way I see it, if I can spend less than $900 on the repairs to make it streetable, the fuel savings will pay for the car in roughly one year's time. This, of course, hinges on finding out what is wrong with it that keeps it from running before I fix anything. If I determine that it would cost too much money to repair, I will strip the hell out of it, sell parts on Ebay, and the shell for scrap metal. Which should help recoup the cost of purchase, and possibly make a profit. So, it's a win-win situation.


And now, using starting fluid, we will see if it's capable of starting...
 
 
Current Mood: weirdweird
Current Music: Berlin - The Metro
 
 
74_fireball
 
 
Current Mood: gigglygiggly
 
 
74_fireball
08 July 2008 @ 11:59 am
Italian news agencies are reporting that FIAT has sold the Mini and Alfa Romeo brand names to BMW.

Therefore the Mini, which used to be a British car, became an Italian car, and is now a German car. Meanwhile, the Alfa Romeo, which has been an Italian car all along, is now a German car.


These are the kinds of things you discover when your wife is learning to read in Italian.
 
 
74_fireball
05 July 2008 @ 08:19 pm
My wife has commented to me that it seems that I sneer every time I see a Toyota Prius on the road. And I do. But it's at a point now that she is saying that it almost seems personal.

So, I sat for a bit and thought about what makes me hate the Toyota Pompous so damned much. And I realized that it's not the Toyota that bugs me. It's "Hybrid" cars in general.

I have been saying for about a decade now that better fuel economy is better for the environment, simply because your vehicle is burning less fuel, thus causing less pollution (and that you CAN get better fuel economy WITH more power). And Hybrids work on this principle, don't they? They get great gas mileage, therefore they are easy on your pocketbook at the pump, and better for the environment in spite of costing almost twice as much as an equivalent gasoline car.

But the problem is what people aren't being told about Hybrids. First off, in real-world tests, the Prius proves to get an average fuel economy of around 40mpg. Eighteen years ago the Geo Metro also averaged 40mpg, and that was with just a gasoline engine.

The Prius actually gets worse mileage on the Highway than the Metro did. This is because the engine has to work more often to keep up highway speeds, thus the electric motor doesn't take over as much. Meanwhile, the engine also is dragging the extra weight of the electric motor and the battery to drive it.

And lets talk about the electrics for a minute. When that brand new Hybrid gets to be about 10 years or so old, do you need to replace that rather large and expensive battery? And what happens to the old battery? Does it find it's way to a landfill to help damage our environment?

These are just some of the thoughts that go into my hatred of Hybrids.

Then there is the fact that in 1985 Honda built a streamliner motorcycle, that at highway speeds could achieve 472mpg. This was proven in Craig Vetter's Fuel Economy Contest. Thats 23 years ago. While a streamliner may not be practical, more had to have been done to that bike other than just body work. So why is it that cars today don't get much better mileage than a 1977 Triumph TR7 (30 mpg with a carburetor, 31 years ago).

Meanwhile, if you feel that any amount of burned gasoline is too much stress on the environment, how about just going with an all electric car? Oh, that's right, they aren't available. in spite of the fact that in 1996 General Motors came out with the EV1. It was an electric only car, that GM leased to people in Arizona and California. The lease holders loved the EV1 and begged GM to sell it to them. These people included Alexandra Paul and Tom Hanks. But instead, in 2003, GM pulled back all of the EV1s, and had all but a few shredded. Not torn apart, not crushed, SHREDDED. A solid explanation of this behavior has never surfaced. Once again, a whole decade after it's release, and where are all the electric cars at?

So, why is it that car companies that have had the technology for 1-3 decades to make more fuel efficient vehicles haven't been doing just that? Because, they didn't want to. They didn't think that you, Joe Public, would buy them. And they were somewhat right. A fuel efficient car that has horrible acceleration and near zero power wouldn't have sold (but one with decent acceleration and a good sound would have).

Why are they selling now? Because, first off, the Mars orbiting fuel prices, but secondly because they are trendy.

That's right, trendy. It's "cool" to own a Hybrid because it shows you are aware of the environment (except that better fuel economy is easily achievable, and that whole battery landfill thing), that you can look down at someone who is getting less mileage than you, and because all of your neighbors have bought one.

In a world where better fuel economy tech has existed for 10-30 years and could have been utilized (and still can), and where the stupidly high gas prices could easily drop (if the government would remove a bit of the taxes they charge for the fuel and stop paying oil companies subsidies), people will buy an under-powered and unattractive car with "okay" fuel economy and little cargo space just so they can either keep up with, or one-up their neighbors.


If you want to buy a Hybrid, do so because you like the car, not because it's a "Hybrid". And if you want better economy without the extra weight and sub-par comforts, contact your favorite brand of automobile and tell them to get on the ball with previously existing tech that could be used to get better mileage on a car someone would actually want to buy. And tell them to make it quick, the value of their stock is dropping faster than Skylab (yes, I'm old).
 
 
74_fireball
28 May 2008 @ 06:34 pm


Pictured here is the Pretty Rock with her new owner. May they have many wonderful years together, and may the money from the sale buy some cool parts for Hammer's MGB and The Fireball.
 
 
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: Arcadia - Goodbye is Forever
 
 
 
74_fireball
22 May 2008 @ 08:38 pm
Yesterday I received a call from Dino to tell me that the transmission is complete and ready to be picked up.

Because of this, I decided it was about time I had gotten that fuel tank off the car.

The first thing I had to do was remove the "recall package" which consisted of a large piece of plastic, a small piece of plastic, two mounting pieces, two squared-corner u-bolts, and 4 nuts. This was only difficult in that one of the u-bolts was bent and didn't want to let go, and the mounting pieces were in a difficult place to get a wrench.

Once that was taken care of, I had to drain the fuel tank. I cut one of the fuel lines and jammed it tight into a longer hose which led to an empty gas can. This process got fuel on my gloves. Keltoi brought me more gas cans and as one filled up, I quickly switched to the next. This got more fuel on my gloves and some on my jeans leg. All in all we were able to drain about 9.5 gallons of fuel out of the 11 gallon capacity tank.

This came as a HUGE surprise to us. That tank must have been full. We've had the car (without a working engine) for about 3 years. The previous owner had said it had been sitting for a couple of years at his place as well. That's 5 years of a full tank of fuel. So, all of that fuel is crap, it's been breaking down for 5 years. I wouldn't use that in my lawnmower. And here we have 9.5 gallons of it that all we can do is pour it on tree stumps in hopes that they burn better (my uncle has a lot of stumps to take care of and took it off of our hands).

It was further a surprise, because as I reported last June, neighborhood hoodlums had been stealing fuel from my Blazer until I put a locking cap on it... but they hadn't even touched the Pinto... worthless bastards, they didn't even take the bad fuel.


Well anyway, after having dealt with all that, I decided to call it quits. I was getting a headache from the fumes and didn't want to do more work. I still smell like gasoline though, even after changing my clothes and washing up... I can't wait to have that damned tank out.
 
 
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: The Trammps - Disco Inferno
 
 
74_fireball
19 April 2008 @ 07:12 pm
Today we lifted the back end of the Pinto and set about the quick and easy process of removing the stock exhaust system.

Seeing as the motor and trans are out of the car the front of the exhaust pipe is attached to nothing and just hanging there. The muffler is held on by 2 hangers consisting of clamps and strips of rubber. This is a pre-1975 car, therefore it does not have a catalytic converter.

The entire exhaust system is rather rusty and would be a pain to remove by loosening clamps and trying to pull it apart. Seeing as how there is no resale value in an old exhaust, and no parts were needed to be salvaged, we decided to take a more direct approach.


This is a Makita cordless handheld sawzall. This is a great tool for cutting pipes, tubing, support beams, etc.


Here is the stock exhaust system in our 1974 Ford Pinto.


And here is me... using the Makita on the exhaust system. I targeted just in front of the rear axle to allow easy removal of the muffler, knowing the main pipe would drop to the ground and be able to be pulled out easily.


The main pipe dropped to ground as expected. I pushed it toward the side of the car where Keltoi walked around, pulled it out, and threw it on the scrap pile. I then cut the rubber strips on the muffler hangers with tin shears and dropped it. Turning it I pulled what remained of the pipe easily over the rear axle, and the muffler then made it's way to the scrap pile as well.

Finally, here is the car without the exhaust system.



Also today I put the rest of the new lugnuts on the wheels, put the oil filter on the motor (mostly to get it out of the way), and compared the original trans mount to the new trans mount. That and due to someone asking me about the dirty windows on the car, I also cleaned the windows.




Our next planned step is the removal of the stock gas tank and the recall package.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: The Doors - Light My Fire ( LP Version )
 
 
74_fireball
14 April 2008 @ 12:02 am
This weekend we raised the Pinto off the ground and pulled the transmission.

Sounds simple when I put it that way. But the reality is that we raised the back end of the car and removed the driveshaft. Then we lowered it and raised the front of the car disconnected everything that attached to the trans, and then removed the trans.



The stock transmission in this Pinto is a Ford C-4. I'm told that this trans is capable of dealing with 350-400 hp. Seeing as how we are not going to throw that much at it, it will work beautifully.



So, we pulled the trans and Dino took it home with him along with a B&M transmission rebuild kit. When it returns, it should be a performance component that will shift hard and fast. We'll see.



In addition to that, I tried out my new Mother's Powerball with Powermetal polish. OMG, this is an amazing combo. I first tried it on the Pinto's 34 year old front bumper. The left side of the pic is polished, the right is not.



After seeing the results I then tried it on the front fender of my '82 Honda Magna. This time the left is not polished and the right IS polished... notice the reflection of the headlight in the fender.





So, I would definitely recommend the Mother's Power combo for your metal polishing needs.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: AC/DC - Big Balls
 
 
74_fireball
30 March 2008 @ 10:53 pm
It's official, I am selling The Pretty Rock.

The Pretty Rock is a 1986 Honda Gold Wing Interstate with a 1200cc 4 cyl engine that has 77,373 miles on it. The radio is disconnected due to a short that would drain the battery. The battery and speedometer cable are about a year old. I am asking $2000.

 
 
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed
Current Music: B-52`s - Roam
 
 
74_fireball
08 March 2008 @ 11:37 pm
When we started this project we had to find an engine. We acquired the engine from a 1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with an automatic transmission. After it was pulled from the car, it looked like this...




We then tore off all the accessories and cleaned it up, had machine work done to it, powder coating, painting, polishing, and reassembly. Now it looks like this...






Originally the engine had a stock output of 150hp (should be 190, but the computer artificially lowered it to not blow the shoddy transmission). The only accessory going back on is the alternator as the Pinto doesn't have power steering or air conditioning. It will be hooked up to an older automatic transmission without computer hook-ups and much stronger than the original. For this reason we will be going with a computer out of a manual trans Mustang that used the same motor. With the machining that we've done we are pretty positive it will exceed 270hp. Seeing as how the Pinto itself originally came with a 70 or so hp engine, this is a 200hp jump for my little pony car.

More updates as things happen.
 
 
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Blue Oyster Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper