Monday, February 3, 2014

1969 Plymouth Satellite Homecoming

Waiting for Sunday to come felt like an eternity. Jesse and I were going to drive out to Cartersville, GA to pick up my 1969 Plymouth Satellite. The week leading up to Sunday threatened our trip with snow that shut down the highways and then trying to find a way to get the car home. We eventually wound up going the route of towing it on a flatbed tow, but in order to do so, we had to have a trailer hitch installed on Jesse's truck. So, a mere $200 later, he had a new tow hitch installed on Saturday.

Unable to sleep, I stayed up most of Saturday night working on some programming homework and envisioning all the fun I'd have working on the car. I was mentally cataloging what needed to be done and getting distracted by looking at photos of Mike Finnegan's old cars and feeling nostalgic for some of my old cars, predominantly Lil' Truck, the 1982 Chevy S-10. He was a good truck... Eventually, I called it a night and crashed into bed. Literally crashing into the foot of the bed, bruising my shin and scraping my skin. It hurt. It was also a good distraction to get my mind off the Satellite.

In the morning, I woke up before the alarm clock despite having minimal sleep. Again, I attribute this to excitement, but not regular excitement, rather the overly ambitious ready to take on ridiculous projects manic level of excitement.

Jesse and I get gas and go to put air in his tires. Naturally, the air machine sucked up his quarters and wouldn't work and the storefront wasn't open so he couldn't get a refund. I told him Uhaul might have air (and they did.)

While waiting in line at the Uhaul, I overheard the man in front of me expressing disappointment that they wouldn't let him rent a flatbed tow to hook up to his Kia Sorento. Apparently he was going to haul a 1973 Gremlin and couldn't use the tow dolly due to the condition of the car. As he was on his way out, frustrated, I asked him, "How far are you towing your Gremmie?" He responded he was towing it from North Carolina. I told him, "Oh, that sucks. I was gonna offer to help you out if you were towing it in town here." Oh well. I had a hard time trying to figure out why anyone would drive from Columbus, GA to North Carolina for a Gremlin, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

When I got up to confirm my reservation for the flatbed tow, I was informed I had to buy the ball for the hitch because they didn't add that yesterday. After an inspection of the trailer and a hook up, we were off.

The drive wasn't too bad. I spent most of my time reading from my JAVA programming book while Jesse drove and took mental time outs to talk with Jesse about random things from guns to what our plans were for the car. (I do have a plan for the car, but I don't want to reveal that quite yet!) The RAM was making great progress, traveling approximately 20 miles per gallon with a trailer going up hill. We knew that would probably change drastically on the way back once the car was sitting on it.

Eventually, we made it to Cartersville. We picked the car up from the cousin of the seller. It was in his shop, Fishon Fabrications. The cousin, Dawson, was a nice guy who helped us get all the parts downstairs from his upstairs storage area and get the car onto the trailer. We didn't have a winch or any means of getting it up other than man power, but he was able to dig up a crude winch that was more of a chained pulley system that did the job just fine. After shooting the bull for about an hour or so and shooting a bunch of photos of the machines in his shop, we parted ways and started the long haul home.

And of course we joked that we had a Roadkill moment when the car with nothing and I mean nothing in it managed to somehow leak fluid...

While at a stop light on our way to the freeway, we noticed a guy hauling an old Ford home. Someone in a car next to us gave us thumbs up. Apparently it was a good day to haul a car home.

Not too long after our entrance onto the freeway, my phone started beeping and I thought the battery was low. Instead, it gave me a message I never saw before and that it was overheating and to unplug the power source. I unplugged it from the charger and it was still giving the overheating beeps. I took off the case and removed the battery cover and started blowing on the battery to cool it down. Jesse laughed, "Roadkill style?"

"Yep," I replied.

He laughed at the "phone hood" being off.

We drove some thirty miles getting more honks and thumbs up. The best, however, was a man who pulled up beside my window and motioned for me to roll it down. So I did.

"I GOT A MOTOR!" he shouted.

"What?" I replied.


I looked at Jesse, "He has a motor."

"I GOT A MOTOR FOR SALE!" he yelled again.

"WHAT SIZE?" I yelled back.


I look over at Jesse, "He's trying to sell us a motor for the car."

Jesse just looked at him and said a thanks but no thanks and the guy waved and drove off.

"How effective is that?" I laughed. "That's about as good as those creeps that honk at you when you're walking down the street! And he totally thought the car was yours!"

Jesse shrugged, "Yeah, you'll probably get a lot of that."

 As amusing as that was, it wasn't the end of the car kudos. Jesse also had a police officer and two carloads of Super Bowl partiers give him props in a Walmart parking lot while I was getting Zaxby's for lunch. We sat inside the RAM and ate before heading off. Jesse was genuinely satisfied that even on the way back going through hilly areas and hauling a car, the RAM was still getting 20 miles per gallon. He said it was right up there with Macho Grande and called it Macho RAM.

"Nah, it needs it's own special name," I said, with a mouth full of boneless buffalo wing. "Call it Great White." Due to his love of bad 80's metal, and the RAM being big and white, it was clearly an appropriate name. He may or may not have agreed to this, but I am calling the RAM that from now on.

When we got home, we were pressed with the issue of unloading the car onto the driveway. Getting the trailer up there was an ordeal in itself, but after it was up, if the trailer was too far down, we would need to push the car  up a hill to get it onto the driveway. If it was far enough back that it was on a flat surface, it wouldn't have enough room to back up and would roll into the fence. I managed to convince Jesse to move the truck just far enough forward that there would barely be enough room for it to get down and would be slightly on the hill, but before doing so, we would need to roll the car over the hump that kept the front tires from rolling back. After we did that, he put the truck in neutral and slid a few feet forward down the driveway leaving enough clearance for the car to be pushed in place.

I advised we keep the front of the car chained when we pushed to keep the car from rolling off. Of course this wound up putting tension on the chain and Jesse was frustrated that we wouldn't be able to get it off.

"It's cool," I told him. "Go get some bricks from the yard."

I got the Tech Tip win of the day, not once, but twice. The first win came with unloading the car. I had Jesse place a brick behind the tire after I pulled on the chain to keep it from rolling back. This gave us enough tension and suspension that we could remove the chain. We then utilized the same technique to get the car down since there were no brakes. I had Jesse place a brick back every two feet or so and then I'd pull the car slightly forward so he could remove the old brick while I was still pulling on the car to provide some resistance and it would stop when it got wedged to the next brick. We did this a series of three or four times before the rear tires were on the ground. From that point, we pushed the car off and it made it off the flatbed tow just fine. I made a point of mentioning to Jesse that all my running and working out finally paid off!

After we got the car off, we took the trailer back to Uhaul and dumped it off for an after hours drop off. We were losing daylight at that point and since I have a knack for knots and hitches and things of the sort, I unhooked the trailer while Jesse raised the mount off the ball. Everything was great except for the plug in the wiring socket. That was a bitch to get out! It stuck and this was where my second win came. I asked Jesse if he had any tools or anything we could try to pry it loose with. He didn't have anything. Finally, in a MacGuyver moment, I took off my watch and said, "It's cheaper to replace my watch band than to pay for a damage or late fee cost." I used my metal watch band clasp as a lever to loosen the connection. Sure enough, when Jesse tried to take it off, it came off! Jesse was impressed with my second Tech Tip. I told him I've seen enough episodes of Roadkill that I believe David Freiburger's genius is rubbing off on me. OK, so maybe that's a serious stretch, but one could dream.

There really isn't anything more after that excitement. Charlie saw the car and gave it thumbs up. He also said it was "badass" and of course we had to tell him he couldn't say that because it was a grown up word. He muttered something about, "but [Mike] Finnegan says it!" Well, sorry, Charlie, but you're a kid and if Finnegan says something, that doesn't mean you can say it. I'm glad my son has cool heroes and all, but, he's five, so we gotta set some boundaries.

Anyway, the Satellite is home now and his name is going to be THE RADELLITE, because he's gonna be super rad.

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