Category Archives: Technical

Shop Goin Ons Last Week November 2018

I just bought a business franchise (more on that another day) so for the last three weeks I’ve been busy with doing Due Diligence, traveling to meet the Franchiser, meeting with my lawyer and accountant, setting up the business entity, and other business crap – so my time at the shop has been a little limited.

Today I dyed the door panels to my Magnum, as they were looking pretty ratty. So I took them off


Wiped down with wax and grease remover, scuffed, and masked off the courtesy lights and trim.


I generally start with two light coats, and then one wet coat. That worked well for the hard plastic and carpet, but the soft vinyl would have parts that looked like it was soaking it up. It was splotching with parts being gloss and parts being flat. I thought I’d must done something wrong in prep, but it finally came out OK by the time I’d hit the soft vinyl another six or seven times with a wet coat, waiting about 2-3 minutes between. It took a full 12oz can for first panel.

Same deal with second panel. I made sure I’d rubbed off all of the wax and grease remover, and let it air dry for an hour. However, same deal. Hard plastic and carpet looked good after two light and one wet coat, but I had to keep hitting the soft vinyl with more wet coats where the dye dries into a flat splotch. When the soft vinyl finally was a consistent gloss, I had just enough left in the can to give the entire soft vinyl an even wet coat instead of just dressing up the splotches. So figure a can per door panel.


I think it came out looking pretty good. The gloss makes the soft vinyl look a little loose, but I’m hoping that between clipping back to the door and the door handle that it will tighten the look a little.

Last week I sold the Jerico DR4 that I use to run in my Red Coronet (I’d since converted to an automatic and gave to my son Dallas), and yesterday I ran to my old shop to bring it and some furniture I had stored there back to Beasley. I crated the transmission and wrapped it to be picked up.

BTW, if anyone needs a Long Pistol Grip V Gate shifter – with a button and Jerico Rods – I have one for $350.

Monday I took my 64 Imperial towards my bank, about 45 miles away, then I was going to replace the 25 year old tires. Almost there I started to smell something burning, so I pulled over. When I stopped I saw smoke rolling out from under the hood, so I turned off the motor and threw open the hood expecting to see a fire. It turned out the clutch on the AC locked up and burned up my belts. I cut the belts off, still had a water pump/fan belt – so I headed home without an alternator. Fortunately I made it. I have a mechanic friend working about 10-15 hours a week to help me get my cars ready to sell. He flushed the system and installed a new compressor, dryer and belts – converting to R 134. Still waiting on the expansion valve before the system can be charged.

So I took the Imperial for tires. The kid got the right side off and started hammering on all of the nuts on the left side with 160psi. When I saw him get the penetrating spray, I knew what was going on and went to tell him all Mopars before 1971 were left hand thread on left.

He had to take a breaker bar with a jack handle to break the nuts loose, but also broke a 9/16-18LH stud.

As a side note, I spent 3-hours trying to locate a LH stud and nut, and found Dorman stopped making years ago. They’re now made out of Unobtainium. I ordered 10 Right hand studs and nuts to convert.

After leaving the tire shop, I went to get a couple quotes to replace the exhaust. They were both about $1000.  The price didn’t too much scare me, but the both refused to flange and give me new from the manifold back. They both wanted to stub, and I’m not doing $1000 to attach to  55 year old pipes. So while I was finding that you can no longer get LH studs, I did find and buy new stock exhaust system with resonators for $600 shipped. I also ordered new Gabriel shocks front and back.

Speaking of tires, I got  new set of tires for my 67 Marlin. I was going to restore, but I’m just too busy to have another project, so I’m getting it running good, fixing everything, and selling. My mechanic bud spent about 25 hours fixing all of the electrics. It was butchered, but now all straightened out. All of the brakes straightened out, and motor now has an electronic ignition. Waiting on  wiper arm and a brake hose, and then it will be ready to detail and list for sale.

Back to the Magnum, I made a gauge panel (see a previous post) and my mechanic bud is in the middle of wiring it in.

If anyone is interested in the Dakota Digital dash I had in it, its yours for $100 Fits all 75-79 B Bodies.

That’s pretty much it for this episode of “As the Shop Turns”. I’ve been so busy with this new business (lots more to do before I go for two weeks training January 7th) and the lake house, the shop has been a little neglected.

October 12, 2018 – This Week’s Shop Updates

Been working in shop more than posting this week, as I’ll be spending next week at the lake with family. I usually live at the lake Friday through Monday and at the shop Tuesday through Thursday – but after being gone two weeks racing, I had a shop thrash going on this week.

I picked up the rear bumper to my Magnum XE (I point out XE as I also have a black 79 GT) and installed.

The ten year old and squeaking serpentine belt was replaced with a shorter one that was required after changing the heads from iron to Edelbrocks. I took the car for a hard drive (110 mph to) to test the belt. While that’s good, the brakes were mushy and won’t lock up. They’ll have to be dealt with when I get back.

Almost 20 years ago I put the above Dakota Digital gauges in a custom dash panel for my Magnum XE. To me the Kool Factor has gone away. I ordered a Kustom set of gauges that I’ll install into a stock dash panel, after I scuff, sand, and paint flat black with plastic adhesive paint. I’m still thinking about what to do with the “Idiot Lights” on right side of dash panel, as the gauges handle that monitoring.

If you have a 75-79 B Body and want my old Digital dash panel with gauges, lights, and switches, its yours for $300.

Moving off the XE and on onto the Magnum GT. The leaky valve cover gaskets were replaced as was the sticky brake light switch that keeps draining the battery. I’ll detail and sell that car as part of my new “Reduce my foot print and make more simple” philosophy.

The 81 Imperial I’ve had since 1986 (I restored with a 380hp 360ci, street strip trans, 8.75″ with 3.55 gears…) had the AC, Power Seats and power antenna fixed. Found a gas leak when it was filled with 93 octane, and replaced the line. The gas tank and straps were new when I restored it many years ago. It now runs perfect and has zero issues. It too needs to be detailed so I can put up for sake when I get back.

The leaking gas tank in my 58 Dodge Pick up was repaired, and it too needs to be detailed and sold. Also in the photo is my trailer of three yards of mulch I picked up yesterday. That’s to keep my Shop Rat busy next week.

Speaking of the Shop Rat, he washed the Coach (above), sanded and painted the tongue of my old Aluminum trailer with POR15, and cut 2′ X 4′ shelves from 3/8″ plywood to replace shitty stock particle board shelves that have bowed and broken.

I put together a milk crate with two bottle jacks (one of them air) operated, an impact wrench, and sockets in my Stacker trailer. I have 150 psi air supply from the coach. I mounted a 50′ air reel to the compartment connection to reach the trailers. I’ve used once the air setup to change a Stacker tire, and it is now a no problem 10 minute job by me alone – compared the PITA Dallas and I use to go through.

I fixed the trunk seal on the Thug, and the Rat washed it. Waiting on the rear glass from Proglass. I’ll be tearing the trunk down over the winter for another coat of spatter paint and clear, and to polish the aluminum. The car also needs to go on the lift for the Rat to scrub the underside and for me to inspect and tighten suspension. I really hope to have the Screamin Woody ready as primary car for Bradenton, and for the Thug to go to back up duty. Maybe Dallas will run once or twice next year as his car is kn need of a total rebuild as he’s working too many hours to deal with it.

Speaking of Screamin Woody, the underside was painted and the rebuilt rear end and 4-link reinstalled.

The high HP 383 that will be going into my 60 Plymouth Post Street car is now finished. The engine compartment has been cleaned, scuffed, and is ready for Petty Blue paint. It will ultimately be wrapped to look like a sun bleached Petty NASCAR that has been left outside since 1961.

One of my all time favorite cars is a 1967 AMC Marlin. It is the rarest of the three years Marlins were made, and the only year made on AMC’s full-size Ambassador platform. The 65-66 were built on the shorter Rambler Rouge platform. They looked weird being that short of a fastback.

So I finally bought a nice southern 67 Marlin about 15 years ago. I drove it for a couple of weeks and then parked it to wait for a restoration. This week it got pulled out to be made running, before being tearing down to restore. It had no brakes, so they were replaced. The fuel pump was missing – don’t ask me how or why. Anyway the 67 for a 343 ci was a one year only, and impossible to find. The 68 was also a one year only, equally hard to find. Both have the fuel filter as part of the pump, one on top and the other on the bottom. Everything I found on the internet says only option is to replace with an electric pump. I was able to find a new 68 for a 343, and it works perfectly. Why isn’t that on any AMC forum? So car runs great, except for a whistle from a failing carb to intake gasket. I ordered the gasket, but it had to be removed so I would order the correct one. Engine uses  Motorcraft 2bbl carb. The GM distributor had the points replaced with a Pertronix electronic, but needs the gasket I ordered to test it. Once the car has been taken for a drive, it will be torn down. Engine compartment, interior, trim,… I’ll sent car to be repainted Red (always loved red with Black top Marlins), chrome to chrome shop, detail engine and covert to 4Bbbl. I need to see what interior I can locate in black. Based on that, I’ll decide if I will change to black or keep gold.

So that’s this past week at the shop.

 

American Home Shield and Houston Air Comfort Suck

American Home Shield

Beware where you buy your Home Warranty. American Home Shield has the worst customer service I’ve run into in recent history.

Gather around children, and let Uncle Dave tell you about two companies you should stay far away from. They are America Home Shield – a home warranty company, and Houston Air Comfort – an alleged AC repair company. I say alleged, as in four days without air conditioning in 100+ degree Texas August weather, I’ve yet to see anyone from that company.

Facts:

  • I have had AHS warranties at the house I just sold, my lake house, and a house in Beasley for years. The contract number for any fact checkers at AHS is 232251452, although I will be cancelling it. I pay about $60 month per property, and the contract auto renews year to year!
  • While it was very easy to sign up, it is near impossible to get anyone on the line when there are problems, or you need to cancel. Last week I sold my house and it took 30 minutes to cancel.
  • During the middle of the night Monday/Tuesday my ac crapped out. At around 9am Tuesday I went on line at AHS.com and requested service. I receive an email back saying the repair has been assigned to Houston Air Comfort, and that they will get back with me in “24 Business Hours”. What the Hell does that mean?
  • Wednesday at 9am no one had called so I go on line to check status, and it has me as “unable to contact”. That is complete Bullshit as I had my phone all day waiting for their call, while dying from no AC, and there are no missed calls. I called Houston Air Comfort and asked who called and when, and she said they don’t have that information. I’m told that next appointment available is 9-1 Thursday! I told her to tell him to be sure to bring fan blades!
  • At 1pm Thursday (Day three without AC), no one has shown and I have to be 80 miles away by 3. So I have an employee go to house and stay there. While on the way to my appointment I call AHS. I get caught in a loop from Hell asking for my contract number or phone number (which I’ve had since 1991) and zip code, then saying they no record of me – and loop to asking for that info again without any other option. I’m screaming customer service while punching 0, get a message to hold on while being transferred, and then get disconnected. I call back and go through the whole routine again, and get a complete moron girl. I explained the whole deal, she didn’t appear to be interested, and I’m “axed” if I wasn’t sure that the appointment wasn’t for NEXT Thursday. I say it better not be, and she says “Letme look”. (Maybe she should have done that first!) I’m then told that I have an appointment for 9-1 today. It’s 1:30, and I said “and well?”, and she then asks if he’s there. I said, “no, that’s why I’m calling”. She says “Hold on while I call them”. I intended to get a haircut on the way, so I pulled into the barbershop, waited for two cuts in front of me, and get my haircut – all while holding the phone on speaker telling the whole barbershop that my call was important, hold for next representative. The whole barbershop heard my story and the nasty synthesized hold noise. By the time my haircut was finished, I was still listening to hold noise. I drove another ten miles, got to my appointment and hung up. No one called me back.
  • So after the appointment I call Houston Air Comfort, and was told I’m the next call he’ll go on. I told her that my employee leaves at 4 and she said he’ll be there before 4. I’ll assume that its an instant fix as they must. I’m betting he won’t have the parts I told the girl to have him bring. I asked if they don’t give a courtesy call when people wait four hours and there’s a no show, and she said no.

Conclusions

As I write this at 3:30 Thursday, no one has shown at my Beasley residence, and I’m at the lake for the weekend. This is the type of service you can expect if you sign up with AHS for a home warranty, or call Houston Air Comfort for AC repair. You will waste a lot of time and money! I’ll update as this saga plays itself out.

Meanwhile, I’ll tell my story to all who will listen (and post all over the Interweb) as I’m pissed and insulted from the piss poor customer service. The above is 100% factual!

Epilogue:

Thursday 4pm, no one has shown, no calls from anyone. I’m now paying overtime for employee to sit and wait. I have posted to both AHS and Houston Air’s Facebook page a link to this page, and have link to AHS via their chat. 

Thursday 4:24pm Tech calls to say that he’s 45 minutes away. So lady who told me he’d be there by 4 LIED, as did the one who said they’d be there between 9am-1pm. I asked if he had blades and he said no. He said he’d not have blades today, by MAYBE it would be fixed tomorrow. MAYBE! Would you believe these liars?

Thursday 5:25pm Repair guy finally shows up for his 9am-1pm appointment, and in 30 seconds determines it needs fan blades! Well Duh, I told them that Tuesday morning. He doesn’t have so someone will be back tomorrow or Saturday. I’ll hold my breath. Stay tuned.

Friday 4:17 pmNo one came, no one called. I called Houston Air Comfort and they said the tech is off Fridays and they don’t know if he got blades or not, and won’t know until tomorrow. Great customer service. Waited all day, never so much as a call.

Saturday 8:57 am (Day Five in Texas August without AC)Called AHS and went through the whole drill and was again transferred to a disconnect. I figure that’s what they mus do if no one is available to take call  Called again, went through the drill and the call was answered by someone who couldn’t get her company name right. I explained my story more than once, and was put on hold for about 20 minutes. She came back and said Houston Air Comfort ordered blades and they won’t be in until Monday or Tuesday. I asked if she felt that was acceptable, and she said yes.

Monday 9:45Day 8 no AC. Couldn’t sleep last night. 9:45 am Call Houston Air Comfort, as they never call me when they 8 hours late don’t come Friday as promised, don’t come Saturday as promised. Lady says I’m not on any schedule. WHAAAT? She can put me on schedule for tomorrow 9-1. Last Tuesday they put me on schedule for 9-1 and he showed up a 5:30 pm, looked at unit for 30 seconds and said he be back in morning with parts. I’ve called Friday and was told he’d be here Saturday. I called AMS Saturday and told he’ll be here today. I call today, and told he’ll be here tomorrow. I post facts on American Home Shield;s page, an now banned for posting there.

Tuesday 2:45 pm Yesterday I was given a 9 am-1 pm appointment for today, and  told he’d be here at 9 for his first call. No one has come or called. I call Houston Air Comfort and told he broke down an hour and half ago. I said that wouldn’t have affected me if he’d been here at 9 am as promised. I asked why someone doesn’t ever call on the four times someone hasn’t shown up for appointments. She said she was the only person in the office, and was busy getting him a tow truck and and ride, but would have called me. I asked when someone was going to fix the AC and said needed to put me on hold to find out. Ten minutes later I got a dial tone.

Tuesday 3:00 PmI call Houston Home Air Comfort back, and a different lady answers. So much for the lie of being the only one there. I tell her I’m done with them, cancel the call, I’ll go buy the fan myself and fix. She says she wants to transfer me to yet another lady, and I said “Don’t Bother, cancel the call and watch for me blowing up the Internet about them”. 

Tuesday 3:05 pmThe third lady calls me to say that someone was  leaving then to come fix. I told her to not bother, I’m done with them. She said that they had already bought the part, and need to fix. I relented and told her to have him hurry.

Tuesday 4:15 pmTech calls to say he’s 15 minutes.

Tuesday 4:45 pmTech arrives and takes less than 5 minutes to put fan on.

The Deep State is Watching You

I bought a bunch of Echos for my house on Prime Day. My daughter asked me if I wasn’t concerned about the Deep State, as recently the government subpoenaed the Alexa records of an Arkansas man from Amazon.

I considered that before buying Alexa, but I figured what the Hell. They already have all of my texts and phone calls. All of my emails and banking transactions, All my movements from cell phones and facial recognition from city street and toll cameras. All of my credit card charges. All of my facebook posts. All of my medical records from Obamacare. Their satellite cameras can look in my bedroom window. My cars and trucks have black boxes that report my car’s diagnostics, and a microphone they have control of. They have every Google search I’ve ever made and every site I’ve ever visited. They can take over every camera, phone computer and TV; smart refrigerator and washer; door bell or flood light camera; or anything else with a camera or microphone. My electric smart meter tells them how much electricity I’m using in any given moment. How much more help can Alexia give them on what channel I watch or what music I’m listening to?

If you think you are free from Deep State tyranny, you’re pretty stupid. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center

You might pass this along to your family and friends. You are far from Free!

Home Automation Part Two – Smart Locks

This is the second a series of articles I am posting on Home Automation. You may want to first read the post Home Automation Part One – What is Home Automation?

In this article I’ll cover the installation and configuration of Smart Locks. I’ve installed four so far. At the race shop, I have a retired helper that keeps the shop clean and maintains the property for me as a handyman, a friend that works for me one day a week helping me getting my car collection in salable condition. and my daughter works for me a couple days a week washing cars and trucks. With a Smart Lock, I can send them “invitations” to install a pass key on their smart phones, so the can get into the shop, and lock it up. I can restrict when they have access, get a text when they lock or unlock, and delete them should they no longer need access. I have installed two of these locks at my lake house. Housekeepers come every other Wednesday and they’re set up to access the house only then. Each of my kids can use their phones for access if they were to arrive before us. I have a guy who will be coming to install blinds and Plantation Shutters while I’m out of town, but he can call me when he gets here and I can open the door and lock it when he leaves. You can also use a Smart Assistant (Like Alexa) to lock and unlock (with a PIN) the locks. This converts an existing deadbolt by replacing the inside with a computerized motor, while retaining the outside lock that allows the option of using your key.

That’s some of what you can do with with a Smart Lock, but this article is about installation and configuration of the lock. The instructions are good if everything goes well, but in the four locks I’ve installed, none of them has gone well, all for different reasons. I was able to figure it out, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so others might have an easier time of it.

First off, there are quite a few brands, and a wide range of prices. The most popular, and the most expensive is the August. This is pretty new technology and I don’t need to be bleeding edge just to save a couple of bucks. The hardware is not rocket science, its the app that is going to be used more often, and the money spent there for a good one is important to me. The newest version is the Third Generation and its the way to go. While its not needed to use the lock within Bluetooth range, there is a version package with the “August Connect” option. This bridges the lock to your WiFi. That will give you the ability to receive activity texts and have remote access to the lock. It’s $30 more, and the connect bridge needs to be plugged into an outlet.

A couple considerations:

The lock is about twice the size of the inside knob it will replace, and it has wings that open up to fit to the lock mount, and the close to clamp around the mount. You need to make sure that you have enough space around where the lock will go.

The existing lock needs to be properly adjusted to lock with door closed, without having to push or pull a little on the door to engage the deadbolt. If it isn’t perfectly adjusted to smoothly lock when the door is fully closed, make the adjustment first.

If you’re going to use the connect you have to find an outlet to plug it in having the right balance of being close enough to the lock for a bluetooth connection, and close enough to a 2.4ghz WiFi. Also have your iPhone logged into a 2.4ghz WiFi. It won’t work with 5ghz.

The box comes with the lock, a mount, plastic adapters, position sensor, and the connector bridge. Download the August App from the Apple store, and go to install new device. It will walk you through these steps?

First tape the outside of the lock so it doesn’t move around when you remove the inside portion.

Remove the two screws holding the inside of deadbolt and remove.

Using the two screws you removed, attach the mount as in photo above. Stop as soon as you feel resistance and don’t tighten further as it will be too much resistance for the lock motor.

The app helps you select the right color plastic adapter for your lock. It is keyed with a big and small tab on the center of the adapter. If it isn’t clocked right for the lock, switch ends.

Clamp on the lock like the app instructs you. The app tells you to mount the sensor within an inch and half of extended dead bolt and screw down. I just attach using the tape until after running setup, in case you have to move it a little. After it passes the setup then I screw down.

Now you’re ready to run the configuration on your phone. You’ll need to have your phone within 5′ of the lock. Select configuring both the lock and position sensor. It will walk you through locking and unlocking, opening and closing the door so the lock learns what it needs to know to work properly.

Once the lock it set up, select set up Connect. Plug it in an outlet close to the lock, but is also in distance of a decent WiFi connection.

Setup will let you know if you have a decent bridge.

If all goes well, you can new lock and unlock the door using your phone.

Now two of the locks I’ve installed were too big for the area because of molding around the center glass.

I had to chisel the molding to make it fit.

I hope this helps you understand what a smart lock can do, what’s involved in installing, and the potential problems.

Home Automation Part One – What is Home Automation?

I ordered a new motorhome in 2014, and there was a $5000 option for Home Automation. I took the option and was able to control all of the coach’s lights, drapes, security, generator, locks, awnings, slideouts, heaters, air conditioners, hot water heater, water pump and entertainment system through an iPad. This began my interest in all things Home Automation.

It’s true that I’m an old man on Social Security who isn’t suppose to be interested in high tech crap, but I’m a little different in that I got into the computer industry in the early 80s, and I love learning new stuff. While I’m far from an expert, I’m currently automating two homes and my race shop.  I will post a few articles to try to make it easier for others interested in automating their home to cut through the confusion.

In this first article, I want to explain in general terms what Home Automation is, and some of the devices that can be controlled, monitored, and notified. Most of these Smart Devices can be controlled and  monitored remotely with an iPhone. Below are some of the items I control with my iPhone. All of these devices are available to and easily installed by the home owner.

The above monitors security cameras I have set up. They record to an on-site recorder and to the cloud. If motion is detected, I immediately receive a text as to which camera detected motion, and I can go to that camera from anywhere in  the world that has cell service or data.

Smart Locks. The above is for the monitor for smart locks. These locks can be locked and unlocked by a smart phone within Bluetooth range, by Alexia with a voice PIN code, or remotely by WiFi. You can “Invite” those you want to have permanent or temporary access to your lock and restrict when they have access. You can limit when they have access to and remove their access at anytime.

Smart Garage Door Openers. Most modern garage door openers can be controlled and monitored through WiFi. Again, you can control remotely.

Smart Alarm Systems. You can add or remove monitoring devices for entry, motion, temperature, water, smoke, carbon monoxide or more. You can even use these in locations without WiFi with a cellular controller.

 

 

Smart Pool. I can remotely control everything having to do with my pool. The lights, the waterfall, spa heater, bubblers, jets, filter, cleaner, scheduler, etc. It also monitors water condition.

Smart Alarm System. Another brand of a security system at my little cabin on the lake.

 Smart Cable Controller. Since it is hooked to a WiFi, I can use my iPhone to control the TV, or even remotely record the ball game if I’m running late getting home.

Devices that can be part of Home Automation include:

  • Smart TV’s
  • Smart Door Locks
  • Smart Light bulbs
  • Smart Ceiling Fans
  • Smart Window Shades and Drapes
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Smart Wall Switches
  • Smart Outlets
  • Smart Speakers
  • Smart Cameras
  • Smart Vacuum Cleaner
  • Smart Refridgerator
  • Smart Hubs
  • Smart TV Controllers
  • Smart Garage Door Openers
  • Smart Sprinkler/Watering Controllers
  • Smart Music
  • You name it, and it ain’t smart it soon will be

In the home these devices can managed by your iPhone, iPad, Computer, tablet, Alexa, or Google spot.

Then there’s software that can interface different brands of smart devices together. For instance turning off you alarm could signal you Smart lock to unlock, and to turn on a light. Text me when my garage door is open more than an hour. Don’t water the lawn if there’s more than 50% chance of rain in calendar day. Turn inside cameras off if alarm is disarmed.

Well that’s the general gist of home automation. Check back often as I get more specific, device by device.