May 2018

I have arrived at CMP and swapped the track tires and pads on the car. This will be an interesting weekend — I have never driven this track before, and it’s supposed to rain all weekend long. My primary goal is not to cripple the car here…

I’m running on four hours of sleep — perfect for an 11 hour drive? South Carolina, here I come.

Whelp, time is up. Justin and Jason helped me button up the last couple of tasks I had on the whiteboard last night. Bled the clutch, gave up on the exhaust, and attempted to start the car. The good news: with a little bit of coaxing (and some starting fluid), the V8 roared to life after one and a half years of hibernation. The bad news: the clutch won’t disengage, so either there’s still a shit ton of air in the clutch hydraulics or I messed up the internal clutch slave installation. It’s halfway through the month, and my next three weekends are booked, so it’s time to call in the heavy cavalry: Scottie and his merry band of professional (read: not hacks like me) wrenches will have to set things right.

I’m so close to driving the car out of the garage. Brakes are all done. I still need to bleed the clutch and install the exhaust. After some more fiddling, I decided that I need to ditch my H-pipe and go buy another one. I also discovered that my brake lights aren’t working, so add one more thing to the to-do list. But once the clutch is done, I could theoretically drive the car around the block with open headers and no brake lights. (I’m sure the neighbors would love me…)

A little bit of progress tonight. I installed the driver seat, fit the center console, and tucked my auxiliary wiring behind the console. No carpet, as carpet isn’t necessary for the car to run, and I’m still deciding on whether or not I want to patch the floors before Alaska. You bet your ass I sat down in the drivers seat and did some daydreaming.

One thing that I did discover is that the Procar Rally seats that I bought sit really high. They are super comfortable, with really nice side bolsters, but the bolsters make it difficult to get in and out of the car, and my legs are right next to the steering wheel, with my hands hitting my thighs when I turn the wheel. I can lower the seat by a single mounting hole on the bracket, but that will only net me about half an inch, which I don’t think will be enough.

I don’t want to go back to the stock, unbolstered, no headrests stock seats though. Maybe if I have the floors replaced, I can have the shop lower the seat mounting boxes so I can use these seats. Or I might have to go to a different seat altogether.

As work continues on the Mustang, I’m finalizing my plans for this year’s summer road trip.

A year and a half ago, my friend Dmitry decided to sign up for the Alcan 5000, a road rally that runs from Seattle, Washington, up through Canada on the Alaskan Highway, into Alaska, continuing north until you hit the Arctic Circle, and finishing down south in Fairbanks. Dmitry signed up for the rally on a motorcycle, because he’s nuts.

I’m not quite as nuts as he is. Therefore, I decided to sign up for the rally in a 50-year old car: my old ’66 Mustang. So I’m still arguably nuts, just not quite as nuts as Dmitry. A friend of mine, Mike Boryca, also signed up for the Alcan 5000 in a vintage car. I convinced my friend Brandon Boyd to serve as my navigator for the rally.

I had just completed an 8k mile road trip in the Mustang, traveling from Michigan to California, up to Washington State, and back to Michigan. A road trip to Alaska would be a similar distance, so the Mustang, already having proven itself a more-than-capable long distance road trip machine, would be perfect for the Alcan.

For the past year, I’ve been keeping track of my travel plans in a Google Doc, just like I did with my previous road trip in the Mustang. In the year since I started planning, a couple of people have joined in the adventure. For better or worse, these folks are already well versed in foolish adventures, either with me or on their own. (more…)

Nuts, both figuratively and literally! I neglected to buy hardware for hanging the mufflers, and I don’t have any 1/4″ nuts and bolts in my workbench cubbies that will work. Naturally, I discover this after all the local hardware stores have closed. Either way, the fitment of the exhaust so far has me quite worried — you may notice that the exhaust is slightly canted towards the passenger side of the car, which makes me suspect that the h-pipe I bought wasn’t bent correctly — so this exhaust job probably won’t be a single-evening type deal.

I have four things left to do on the car: 1) install the exhaust, 2) bolt the seat in, 3) bleed the brakes, and 4) bleed the clutch. Installation of the carpet, the passenger seat, and the hood can wait until I’ve taken the car around the block at least once.

Clutch hydraulics are finally all hooked up. Now I just need to bleed the clutch. The hydraulic clutch was the original and biggest road block during the transmission swap, from the agony of mounting the clutch master to installing the new clutch pedal linkage to adjusting the hydraulic internal slave. If I had stuck with the original mechanical z-bar linkage or went with a clutch cable, I would have been driving this car last summer…

Finally!! The brakes are done! Half of the brake lines are replacement pre-bent pieces, and half of them are custom fitted by me. It took me so long to get to this point that I seriously wondered at several points during the past year if having dual circuit brakes was really worth the effort…