Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Crazy May

We're very proud of Drew. He's now doing
web-based marketing at Weigels.
Wow! It's the end of another crazy May. I've long noticed (for the last 25 years or so) that May is just a hectic month. There are several birthdays in our family (including Darla's, Drew's and my sister's), our anniversary (this year marked 27 years), Mothers Day, the end of the school year (made more crazy due to Drew's and Dara's graduations from college and high school, respectively), and the beginning of consistently warm weather. That brings on gardening and yard work, not to mention outdoor activities of other sorts. In addition to these things, Drew bought and moved into his first house, Duncan got engaged to be married and moved out of her college house, and Dara determined where she would go to college, bought a car and sold her truck.
Yes, Truck Norris now has a new owner. I'm kind of sad to see him go. We had pretty recently replaced the engine with a brand new AMC 304 v-8 and everything was finally running right! Wow the blood, sweat, and tears that I put into that truck! But the new owner seems very excited and will no doubt continue to give it great care.

My Wag, after body repairs, before paint.

Not my Wag. This is the kind of old school stripe I'm getting!
My Wagoneer has been another iron I've had in the fire. Since February it's been in the shop getting fixed and painted. By fixed I mean all the damage from my wreck has been repaired, plus any rust on the truck has been repaired with new metal. Now it's really getting close to being ready for paint. I'm painting it the same color it had, which is a tiny bit brighter than the original "black cherry" (dark maroon) it came with from the factory. The previous owner had given it a respray that was a beautiful improvement on the already great color (it is a little more pearly-metallic than the original) but the paint job itself was not the best. It had places of overspray and some runs, and the wood grain decal and trim had not been replaced, and it was cracking and fading. Most people never saw these flaws, but I did and it was quickly getting worse. The biggest issue was the rust that was starting to bubble and show at the bottom of the quarter panels (a typical Wagoneer issue). I'm going to do something different regarding the wood siding. I found the chrome trim for an early 1970s Wagoneer that highlights the distinctive lines that were covered in the the 1980s by all that wood grain vinyl. I am going to just do wood grain on the 4-6 inch stripe that runs the length of the Wagoneer just below the door handles inside my new chrome trim. It's been a hassle to resolve all the problems, but I can't wait to see how it turns out. It will be a unique Wagoneer!

Here's Joe, tearing down an old 360 I bought to rebuild.
After having it machined (bored .030 over), ported, and
installing a new intake, pistons, four-barrel carb, etc.,
it should be a stud. I hope it lasts as long as the old one!
What's more, I'm getting a new engine built for the Wagoneer. The original one that's currently in it has about 250,000 miles. That's a lot for a carbureted AMC 360, even though they were great engines when designed in the late 1960s. A friend introduced me to an engine builder who I really like. He's a Mopar guy (for you non-motorheads, that means he likes Chryslers, Dodges, and Plymouths, particularly the Hemi muscle car varieties), but he agreed to help me build an AMC 360 for the Wag that has 300 hp, and 400 lb. ft. of torque. That's not crazy power, but it is definitely much more than the Wagoneer has ever had (144 net hp, and 280 lb. ft. when new). That should allow the Wagoneer to pull Daisy our camper up any mountain that has a road. I can't wait! This was all made possible because of the hit-and-run that happened to me last August. I was hoping the Wag would be finished by our usual Father's Day camping trip, but I don't think it's going to happen. But that's ok. I really just want all these jobs done right.

I'm sure I'll write a post on all this Wagoneer stuff once everything's done (will it ever be done?).

Hopefully, things will begin to settle down a little. Right now I'm speaking at a marriage conference in LA (Lower Alabama) for Coaches Outreach.