Starting a new project

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Posted by w0ep on August 19, 2020 at 8:19 pm

[Monday: 1 mile; Wednesday: 4.4 miles]

I’m finally feeling better on my runs. I had pulled something last week. I went out Thursday night and it was a bust. Then I skipped Saturday completely. I went out Monday morning and only made it about a mile. But this morning I finally felt pretty good and made it all the way around, slowly.

Saturday we went on a road trip. I had been talking to a guy on Facebook Marketplace about an old derelict MGB he had for sale. I talked him down in price. I also had to get a trailer hitch for the van and get that installed, and rent a U-haul car hauler.

You may remember that I talked about maybe getting a motorcycle, how that periodically attracts me. But motorcycling is a solitary activity and both of us already have an abundance of solitary activities. Our boat rowing seems to be done since we don’t have the correct transport and the waterway is too dangerous for casual rowing. So I saw this MGB online and it was as cheap or cheaper than the motorcycles I had seen.

I think the sticker on it is from the 1980’s. I’ll have to go look… Missouri inspection sticker from May, 1989. So presumably it was running 30 years ago.

We bought it from a guy in rural Illinois down near Navoo. We had a nice road trip on Saturday, 3+ hours each way down through the eastern part of the state of Iowa, not a path I have covered before. We crossed the river at Ft Madison on an ancient swinging auto-over-railroad bridge which usually charges a toll but is free due to the pandemic. It took about an hour to drag it up on the trailer.

It was even more fun getting off the trailer when we arrived home, there only being the two of us and not a strapping farmer-guy with a come-along. But we got that done and it now sits in the grass in the front yard (we planted it there to be sure it wouldn’t roll into trouble).

Condition: most of the chrome bling is gone. It does have headlights and taillights. The interior is mostly gone. The seats are just rust frames with foam on them. The floor is rusted gone. The interior door panels are missing. The convertible top is just tatters on a rusty frame. The engine looks original.

So far we have cleaned out the junk and saved anything that looked like car parts. Then we made some cardboard patterns of the rusty floor areas and made plywood to fill in while we try to work on it. Having no floor is kind of a pain. Next we are going to change the flat tire and get it rolled around into the driveway. And after that we want to find out if the engine will turn over at all.

I basically bought it sight unseen. So I am not enthusiastic about the rusted out part. If the engine is a brick we may just strip it and try to shop the good bits. Maybe that would give us enough to buy something in a bit better condition. On the other hand, not being auto mechanics it is nice to have something that is probably about as un-hurtable as a classic car can ever be, short of having trees growing up through it.

Our goal is to get it working enough to make a trip to the ice cream shop someday.

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  • On August 19, 2020 at 10:42 pm Jonathan Howard said

    It fascinates me that you plan to devote countless hours mending a death trap. I say this owing to be the last one in the family to own the Fiat. Time is the most precious thing a person has but if it brings you joy then go for it!

    • On August 20, 2020 at 4:20 am w0ep said

      I am making no such plans. My goal is to do something interesting to both of us for as long as we find it interesting.

  • On August 20, 2020 at 9:17 am Jonathan Howard said

    I misunderstood your last sentence. I thought it would be in the garage on jacks being restored. I got to thinking about life and my perception of transportation when I had the Fiat. Feeling on edge. You never knew what would fail next and when. I once repaired the throttle cable by taking a tension cable out of the top and splicing with pieces of plastic and sheet metal screws. This was in the middle of nowhere east of Tuba City, AZ. Another time I went out with friends after work and when I returned to work to drive home the clutch cable broke – so I slept overnight in my employers parking lot. It’s a tiny car for sleeping. Another time I was driving and it smelled funny – gas line came loose and spewing gasoline on the exhaust manifold. Once the front bumper fell off and was hanging by the wires to the turn signal lights. Another time the distributor body cracked. That was not hard to replace but difficult to ferret out. The car is gone but the stories remain. (Now life is less thrilling, push a button and go.)

    • On August 20, 2020 at 9:39 am w0ep said

      Sorry, I am not always the best communicator.

      Those are some harrowing stories!
      I don’t know if it was that particular car was a lemon or if that model/manufacturer or what… but I also
      have a story:

      We had that car down in NW Arkansas when both Sue and I attended John Brown.
      I remember driving it to Springdale, AR, about 20-30 miles over hilly 2-lane highway.
      The symptom was a grinding noise every time we made a left (right?) turn.
      Later I looked underneath and discovered that a body bolt head in the driveshaft
      tunnel was rubbing against the shaft when we made that kind of turn.
      The body was flexing that much. I don’t remember what the fundamental problem was,
      but I definitely thought at the time that I had been up to that time spoiled by the heavy-rock
      nature of US car bodies.

      For this MGB, I don’t have any lofty goal. If we eventually make it neighborhood or county-wide driveable that will be a great accomplishment.
      And I already have Triple-A to tow me back if needed.

      I don’t want to appear ungrateful for my early car experiences.
      I basically destroyed Sue’s brown Buick by driving it overheated. And I borrowed everyone else’s cars
      up until I was married (and beyond). So I was happy to have my turn with the Fiat.
      It was just a strangely unreliable vehicle!

  • On August 20, 2020 at 8:42 pm Jonathan Howard said

    Fix it again, Tony

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