Saturday, August 19, 2017

Khedive Shriners Car Show

I'm not a professional photo guy, but this angled shot of a Cadillac Fleetwood fins and tail-lights turned out pretty cool! 'MERICA!

After changing the oil in the FIAT at home this morning in a lame attempt to beat the heat, we headed out for a local car show. A local Shriners group sponsors this every year, and there was a HUGE turn out. Since I don't know much about the Shriners other than seeing them in parades in their little cars and fezzes, I did some Google research and found out that they do a lot of good things for charities, and run hospitals for kids across the country. Good for them!
Car show trophies

Without going into all the details, which I don't know anyway, I'll just put some of the highlights here of cool cars we saw today. Mostly American classics, a few European cars, and just lots of car fans enjoying this free car show.

1970 Dodge Super Bee

1970 Dodge Super Bee

1970 Dodge Super Bee rear badge

Above, this 1970 Dodge Super Bee had some faded paint, but I'm guessing it started out as Plum Crazy. Brian and the Lemons Team have painted their Dodge Coronet a similar shade of purple, so I'm always interested in seeing how this color looks.

Next, some detailed looks at a cool Studebaker. These are cool because of course they don't make 'em anymore, so seeing the logo and badges is always a new experience for me.



Studebaker in the dial, taken thru the windows

Low rider blending into the grass!

Seen any Pacemakers lately?


Corvair rear engine

El Camino SS, Custom bed to fit huge rear tires

El Camino SS with flames
Auburn Boat Tail

Auburn Supercharged

Another Corvair

Spotted another Commando

Hot Rod crazy shifter

Friendly parking crew!

Another Super Bee, this one flying backwards

Nash, cool logo and hood ornament

1970 Jeepster Commando

1934 Plymouth

Plymouth hood ornament
More Plum Crazy Goodness Challenger style

Mustang On Fire
 Maybe my favorite because it was unique and original was this 60s (I think) Volvo.

Volvo 122 S


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bad Braking

The truck I bought earlier this year has been doing great.  It towed the rallycross Datsun and the Lemons Coronet, made the trip to work on a Mustang in Virginia, and even hauled some gardening supplies for work around the house.
One side has worn past the groove that indicates low pad life.

At just a tick over 108,000 miles, it's due for a few maintenance items.  First up today was the long-overdue replacement of the brakes.  They've been on their last legs since I first test drove the truck, but over the last week they've been making some pretty terrible noises. 
The passenger side was grinding metal on metal.

Once disassembled, it was clear there was hardly any brake pad left. On the passenger side the pad had worn completely through and the metal backing plate was grinding on the rotor.  With so much pad wear, the caliper pistons were also pushed extremely far out. Not good. 
Old pad on the left, new on the right.

Compared to the brand new pads, we can see just what a tiny amount of material was left.  
Old rotor on the left, new on the right.

I went all out this time and bought the premium rotors that come with the center section painted to prevent extra rust on the non-wearing surfaces. 
Hawk brake pads made specifically for trucks that should hold up to the demands of towing.

Once the new pads and rotors were on, I got a chance to use my new brake bleeder kit.  It uses a hand-pump, pressurized container to force fresh fluid through the system.  Much more efficient than having a friend pump the brake pedal a bunch of times!  It was great. 
Up top fluid is pressurized through the brake master cylinder.

All the old fluid collects in a handy-dandy bottle with a tube so that the stuff doesn't shoot all over the place. 
Catching all the dirty, old fluid. 

With the brakes knocked out, I did a quick oil change and called it a day.  Up later this week will be new spark plugs and wires and then also a transmission and rear differential flush soon.  The serpentine belts were extremely simple and got swapped out a few weeks back, so the truck is just about ready to enjoy another 100,000 miles of car fun!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One Week With a Ford Flex

Ford Flex, seats 7

We hope you read the NMS-South review of the BMW X3 rental car the other day. Today, the NMS-North squad looks at the Ford Flex. One of the cool parts of not having a job right now is time to go do more stuff, so that's exactly what we did! Our trip was from Virginia Beach to the middle of Michigan, with lots of highway miles in between. For this expedition, we needed a 7 passenger vehicle to ride on this excursion in style, so we went on line and scouted out the best discounts we could find for a B-flat minivan.

Just like when Brian reserved a Cadillac but ended up with a BMW, we got to the rental counter and they were fresh out of minivans, so we ended up with the 7 passenger Flex. OK, not bad, as long as 7 people can actually get in the thing, then we'll be OK. It did remind of a classic Seinfeld episode where he also has reserved a car, but gets to the agent at the counter and is told that no cars are available. Basically Jerry points out that they are good at "taking" the reservation, but not so good at "holding" the reservation. We agree.

The Flex has a 6 cylinder engine, so it was able to handle interstates, hills, and carrying passengers with no problems. While it didn't have the cool exhaust sounds and backfires of my FIAT, the Flex definitely got the job done, and would be worthy of comparing to a minivan or big SUV if you are shopping for some new wheels.

Like a lot of new cars, the Flex had some cool technology that made the trip a bit easier, so we enjoyed the blind spot warning, back up camera assist guidelines in the video screen, and various other doo-dads like that. Comfort wise, it seemed OK, the front seats were big enough and moderately comfy, with plenty of range of adjustment to fit what you need. Not the most awesome seats I've ever sat in (which would probably be the leather in a new Jaguar), but not the worst

No fuel filler cap, just a seal on the fuel door

The automatic transmission for the most part was good, just a few times it didn't enjoy downhills with cruise control on, or took too long to shift and get to it's happy spot. The only thing that I still don't understand with this car was that the driver's screen would sometimes dim the brightness level and leave me trying to figure out how to adjust the brightness. This happened more than once, so maybe this car has a unique glitch in it. Along with that, one day the windshield wipers turned on all by themselves, and I'm pretty sure I didn't accidentally hit a button to turn them on. Maybe the Flex has rain-sensing windshield magic, but I don't remember it raining at the time either. Later in the trip we drove in some heavy rain, and I'm happy to report that the rain-sensing wipers automatically adjusted their speed for the rain. That was a great feature to have, so my only question is why there are 4 or 5 settings for intermittent wipers when the blades will automatically change speeds for the rain? Again, like the mysterious video screen brightness settings, there is probably some control panel for this feature that I didn't find, so if you owned the Flex or at least read the manual you could likely figure this stuff out.

So overall we liked the Flex, although it didn't make me want to rush out and buy one because I'm not in the market for a big vehicle. The other odd thing with this car was that the left turn signal didn't turn off after completing the turn. The right signal worked fine, but not the left. Not a big inconvenience, and again I'll give Ford the benefit of the doubt that there was something glitchy about a few things on this one car. Our friends that own a Flex love it.

As far as our experience with Avis in renting goes, they did a good job of taking the reservation on line, and giving us the 7 passenger car we asked for, but I've got to tell you that they didn't clean the inside of it before we picked it up. When I flipped the 2nd row seat up and over to allow access to the 3rd row, I found a treasure trove of Cheerios, McDonald's bags, and that is in addition to the many napkins and a child's flip-flop sandal we'd already discovered. Maybe the person that rented it before was the guy we saw on I-75 that just threw a bunch of trash out of his truck and into the highway as he was driving along. Come on folks, pick up your trash!

As we were heading towards Toledo Ohio and Michigan, we spotted some race car haulers from the NASCAR Truck Series, so if you're cheering for the #4, #33, or the #18, here's a quick glimpse of their semi trucks on the road.

#4 headed for Michigan

#33 headed for Michigan

#18 headed for Michigan