Monday, December 2, 2013

Metal Shelves

I finally finished up a project I started a while back.  Initially it was going to be a father - son type thing but that ended up being father - son - father - father - father - father - son.  Matty wanted some shelves in his room to display some of his "stuff" and after looking at the cost of some I decided to build some.

Steel being what it is they still weren't cheap but I am happy with how they turned out.

The original plan was to leave them bare and clear coat them.

Matty decided later to paint them black.  I also ordered a wall mount for his 32" monitor, which will allow him to use it as a second monitor on his desk or spin it 90 degrees to watch TV on his bed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

A couple years ago I bought a Ridgid chop saw and had always planned to get its matching job site table saw the R4510. This saw has rave reviews all over the internet, it also seems to never go on sale.

Last week I was reading some leaked "Black Friday" adds when the HD add showed the R4510 for 399.00 or $100.00 off. I was excited but didn't really believe that the very saw I had been watching for over two years was suddenly going to be that deeply discounted.

Last night I went to HD website and sure enough the saw was listed for 399.00 so I tried to order one. The site would not let me order one at the discounted price only at its normal price, so I got up at 3:30AM and drove over to HD. While it was chilly out the HD crew had brought tables outside and had doughnuts and coffee for everyone waiting for the store to open.

There were probably 20 people in line in front of me and 60+ standing behind me before the doors opened at 5:00AM.

Once inside I rushed past the push carts and ran to the power tool isle, sliding the box containing the saw out from under the shelf where I had seen it in the past. It being the only one there, I was satisfied with getting up so early and standing in line. Even my decision to bypass the push carts had been justified. I was sliding it along the floor down the isle toward the checkout stands when a female clerk stopped me and asked me what I was doing. After I had explained to her she said there was no need for all of that she then pointed 10 feet from where we were and there was literally a stack of 10 of the saws. She went and got a cart for me and helped me load it up.

Not wanting to have the associated sawdust mess in the garage I took the florescent lights I had removed from the garage and installed them in the corner of the basement. This should contain the majority of the sawdust to that area and make it relatively easy to clean up, when I actually clean up.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking Path

Something our home in Tucson has is pavers on each side of the driveway. This was professionally done and integrated into the pavers leading into the house and front porch area.

The nice thing about this is when you are exiting a vehicle you don't need to step into the grass next to the vehicle.

This took us three weeks due to the huge amount of heavy stone just below the grass. Apparently the sod was just laid over the aggregate base for the driveway. There were also two large concrete pours from when they washed the trucks spout. We also had to replace the gutter drain pipe which I damaged when I staked out the edge of the path.

This will probably be the last of our brick / paver work this summer.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Plasti Dip

When we bought Matty's car one of the quick fix things was going to be the stripes. I thought they would be an easy fix that would really make it look a lot better. The problem was getting them off, nothing we tried would remove them short of sanding them down and harming the paint underneath.

A few weeks ago I talked Matty into trying Plasti Dip on them, the process is documented all over the net. For around $20.00 in materials and one evening of work Matty did 95% of the work and they came out much better than I would have expected. The cracking in the vinyl is still visible but its really a five foot thing.

Here is what they looked like when we bought it, damaged from sitting in the sun.

Here they are after Matty painted them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Grill

Before we went on vacation I found a grill at a garage sale. The story the owner gave me was the burners fell apart and he needed it for a family get together. He ordered new burners at $20.00 a pop, but they didn't come in on time so he bought a new grill. He had this for sale for $20.00 and inside it was a box with $80.00 worth of new burners.

When I got it home and started power washing the fire box, I noticed that the supports for the flame deflectors were rotted away. Further cleaning blasted holes through the fire box where the drip pan had been spot welded. I patched up some of the holes and fixed the supports with some scrap metal so we could use it.

I decided after I had it working that with a total investment of $20.00 and an hour of my time I could afford to spend a little money on it. The same grill at a home improvement center is $399.00. I went on their website and ordered a new fire box for $49.00, a temperature gauge for $8.00 and a universal ignition box for $15.00.

This weekend I had some time to tear it apart and replace the fire box, of course it is the item the grill is built around.

Overall I am happy with how it came out, it works well and for less than $90.00 invested.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Flower Bed Part 1 Complete

The flower bed project turned into a much bigger project than I thought it would. I think we used right at 300 blocks and are just finished with the front yard. The last time I posted on it we had not yet started to make the inward curve back to the house, no matter how we placed the blocks I didn't like how they looked without being cut.

I mistakenly thought this wouldn't be that big of a deal and while it wasn't horrible to cut them there was much more cutting than I had imagined. The end result is very good though, we have had at least two couples walking through the neighborhood ask if we were professionals or if we did this for a living. We the speed we accomplished the front yard its a good thing I don't do it for a living.

The first two pictures are some cell phone shots I took two weeks ago after it had rained, the wall is soaked so its much darker than it would normally be.

We still need to bring in some soil to build up the flower bed and then start on the short wall going down the side of the house.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cracked Wheel

After finding the left front wheel was cracked I started exploring my options. It appears that the powder coated five spoke wheels I traded for were factory rears and replica fronts. I don't know if that contributed to the wheel cracking as it has no apparent damage around the crack.

From all the research I did while even the best wheels can fail, you still get what you pay for. The problem with the corvette is its extreme rear offset limits off the shelf wheels available. Anything custom made puts you into the 3k range for starters.

The compromise I found was TSW wheels, I had a set on my rebuilt Golf and really liked them. TSW is the parent of Cray Wheels who make corvette specific fitment wheels. I really didn't care much for any of the Cray wheels and wanted to try and get into a forged type wheel. A few months ago TSW released the Panorama wheel which is corvette fitment and rotary forged for around $250.00 a wheel.

I ordered them through Discount Tire. I have always had great service through them on all our cars. I was due for new tires on the corvette anyway so it made sense to get both the wheels and tires through them. They will price match most anything you can find on the internet anyway.

The wheels are fairly close in style to the factory five spokes I had on the car before. The Panoramas are exactly what I wanted in a simple, clean, open looking wheel.

My original plan was to use the factory diameter wheels, the Panorama's do not come in exact offsets  to match factory wheels. My plan was changed for me when I found that no matter who I tried to purchase them through I could only find one front 18" in the correct offset. The proposed availability was a minimum three months possibly up to five. Discount Tire offered to up size to 19" and 20" both wheels and tires for the same price they had quoted on the 18/19" combo.

I really wasn't too keen on doing the 19/20" combo, the available offsets are right on the edge as it is and the 19/20 combo offers no performance increase only a greater expense in tires. Discount tire promised the combo would fit properly and the tires would not rub, they are both 1" diameter larger and .5" wider.

I am very happy with both the fitment and the look.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Z51 Brakes

I have been collecting parts since last year to upgrade my brakes to Z51. The main difference is in the rotors, the base coupe front rotors are 12.8", Z51 are 13.4. The base rear rotors are 12", Z51 are 13". The increase in rotor size will look nicer in the wheels but really does nothing more than that. This upgrade is about the quality of the rotors and pads.

My decision to do this was based on the cheap availability of DBA5000 series two piece rotors. I was reading a post on Corvette Forum and found a link to a vendor selling these rotors for less than $200.00 ea which is half of what they are generally advertized for. The two piece DBA5000's were the first purchase towards the project I made.  A few months ago I was looking at a site and accidentally came across the DBA4000 rotors I was going to use in the rear. Normally these are in the
$200.00 range but were listed for $119.00 ea. I bought Carbotech 1521 brake pads to use with the new rotors. I like that the Carbotechs do not have corrosive brake dust, and they are compatible compound with their race pads.

Having had very positive braking performance increases from easy changes in the past I was excited to move forward with this. Just before we left for vacation I ordered the caliper brackets and the new brake pads which came in the day before we left. I did not feel comfortable changing all of that out before a 3k trip so I decided to wait until we got back.

Front before:
 Front after:
Rear before:
 Rear after:

Unfortunately it was during this that I found the left front rim was cracked, it explained why the tire had random leaking during the trip, its also a bit scary.
It really sucked from a standpoint of the brake upgrade. The nice thing about the Z51 brakes is they will fit inside of a stock wheel package and were part of the reason I chose to go that route. Since I will be most likely looking at aftermarket wheels I could have upgraded to the Z06 brake package which are much more performance oriented.

All that being said I am very happy with this upgrade the brakes look good and they feel great.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Last weekend was my 30th class reunion in Mitchell NE. We decided earlier in the year it might make a nice road trip. Leaving mid week we loaded up the corvette, made sure Matty was set up and headed out. The first leg of the trip we stopped off and spent some time with Andy and Kim, it was a surprise drop in and we had a nice evening with them, I hope they enjoyed it as much as Tania and I did. We left their house late in the evening and stopped for the night in Des Moines IA at 3am. A few hours sleep, a quick shower and something to eat, we were back on the road by 9am. Nothing much beyond stopping to see an old friend in Ogallala we arrived at my dads in Gering NE around 7pm that night.

Friday was the mixer at the Mitchell golf course, Mitchell hasn't changed much in size and pretty much looks the same. I did have a very good time, both with people I hadn't seen in years and the time I got to spend with my dad. The second we spent the morning at the Oregon Trail Days Parade in Gering and that evening for class reunion part 2, we had food catered to the sand pits just outside of town along the Platte River. It was a great place to spend the evening.

 On the chance that anyone involved in organizing the weekend reads this I would like to thank them for doing a very thankless task.

Sunday I was able to spend most of the day with my dad and some friends. The corvette had a small issue with the right front tire leaking air and even in the big city of Scottsbluff I was unable to find a tire repair place open on a Sunday. We decided to wait until Monday to drive on to Rapid City so we could have the tire looked at. Monday morning I found a place that took it off and told me it had "sand" in the bead that was causing it to leak. They put it back together and we headed off to Rapid City just before 11am.

The drive to Rapid City had one moment of excitement 40 miles in when a Highway Patrolman wanted to talk to me about how fast my car was. This was the first time I had ever gotten pulled over and didn't care one way or another if I got a ticket, I wasn't going to let it ruin may vacation. I was more upset of it ruining my spotless record of 2.5 years 25k miles without being pulled over in the corvette. After thinking about it more it had been 14-15 years since my last ticket. I got a warning for going 71 in a 65 and the world became a safer place for everyone.

We arrived in Rapid City around 7pm, made our fourth trip of the week to Taco Johns and set out to find Tania's parents house. The following morning Tania's dad played tour guide and we headed into the Black Hills. I was looking forward to this, I had not been in this area since I was a child.

Our first stop was at the Chapel in the Hills, an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. The Norwegian Department of Antiquities provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills which was built in 1969.

We were told the trees were selected the bark stripped and left for two years before they were cut down. The Chapel is quite small, maybe room for 20 inside and is used regularly for weddings.

Our next stop was Crazy Horse, the last time I was in the Black Hills there was basically nothing to see so we didn't even go.

Now almost 40 years later there is a face!

The problem is, aside from any special tours that they probably have this is as close as you can get. Because Tania has a fairly decent camera I was able to get some close in shots.

This shows some good detail to the amount of drilling for charge placement.

Here you can see the faint outline of the horses head.

Even though there isn't much of the mountain to see, it was worth the trip there is a lot of other things to see in the museum. I won't go into detail about the place its easy enough to look up on the internet and I wouldn't do the story behind it justice. It is worth looking up though its an interesting story.

After eating lunch at the restaurant at Crazy Horse we drove further up into the hills and into Custer State Park. Dale took us past some of the camp sites he helps set up for Sturgis Bike Week and along the way we passed by Sylvan Lake.

We then drove up through the Needles on our way to Mount Rushmore.

Because we didn't take the highway there we had miles of great views.

Last stop of the day was Mt Rushmore. It is much smaller in scale than Crazy Horse but you are literally a couple hundred yards away versus a mile or more.

The following day we went on through Sturgis, Lead and Deadwood, the only pictures I took with the camera were of a gold mine in Lead.

My understanding is this closed in the late 80's early 90's after 100 years of operation. It is sad that there is no requirement to return the land to some usefulness. Even a quarry lake would look better than this.

We spent some time gambling in Deadwood and the old folks started getting tired so we headed back.

Tania and I left the following day my only regret being that I spent two days on some of the most incredible roads I had seen in a long time.... in a minivan.... while my car sat in their driveway. To add insult to injury as we left Rapid City on I-90 we got to watch a convoy of 200+ corvettes headed to the Black Hills Classic. This group stretched out for over 150 miles.

Thanks to Tania driving a lot of the route home we left Rapid City at around 10:30am and were home by 5am the following morning. Aside from the small problem with the leaky tire the corvette performed flawlessly. All fuel burns were at 30+ mpg except for one. I had to make a conference call so I had Tania drive, after it was over 1.5 hours later I started to relax on the passenger side but something didn't seem right. After looking around the car I noticed she had it in fifth gear and it had been there since she had started driving, that tank was 28.7mpg.

It really was a great trip we had a lot of time and no real time table which made it much more relaxing. We are both looking forward to doing something similar again.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Matty Door #2

When we got home from vacation, Tania's car was sitting outside, we opened the garage door and Matty's car was torn apart and scattered across the garage.

Apparently while backing out of a parking spot, the passenger door mysteriously came open, hooked on a bush and bent backwards to where it would no longer close.

The further repair plan for that was to remove the damaged door to "figure it out" and occupy the entire garage.

Once I was awake after our trip I presented plan "B" which involved his car being moved out of the garage, a large blue tarp and a trip to the junkyard.

Unfortunately we were not able to find as good of a match as we found for the drivers door, the door we found is in very good condition but is just a little darker silver than the rest of the car.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flower Bed

The last two weekends Tania and I have been working on a small wall at the edge of the flower beds around the house. Initially we had discussed continuous curbing, there are many in the neighborhood that have had it installed. I like how it looks on flat areas but don't like the look when the land slopes away from the house. I was also concerned about how it would hold up with the weather cycles here, I was told it is prone to cracking but did no research to verify that. We decided instead to put up a concrete block wall. We found some block at Lowes that matches the brick fairly well and has a look we both like.

The plan is to take it four feet around the tree and back to the forward corner of the house. It will be approximately five blocks high by then. Part 2 will be running a two block high wall down the side of the house. I am hoping this will be easier as the ground is level to the house.

We have used approximately 80 blocks to this point with another 90 or so still in the back of the truck. It has been very slow going so far because we have been leveling every block. I don't want to go back and fix this wall in a year, so hopefully time spent now will be worth it.