Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Engine That Doesn't Run and An Asthmatic That Does Run

Rain has been putting a damper on a lot of things for me lately in regards to car work. It’s like, if you live in the south, any plans you have of working on a project car are not going to happen between the months of March through next March due to rain at any given point in time. Saturday, we had to roll the engine over to let the water accumulation drain. After we did that, it was dripping all kinds of yummy goodness onto our driveway.

By the time Sunday rolled around, in theory, it had enough time to drain whatever residual gunk was inside post-rain. Despite the fact we had it covered up all week, water still got inside. I’m not too concerned at this point since we’re going to take it to get hot tanked before we rebuild. There isn’t any serious damage or pitting on the surface, or inside from what I can see, so, hopefully, it’ll be fine once that’s taken care of.

We didn’t spend a lot of time working on the engine Sunday. Really, all we did was roll it back over, remove the cylinder heads (we were able to get one off last week, but put it back on due to storing it away from the rain), remove the oil sump, and clean up a little more inside the cylinder walls some more*.
Engine and mechanical work is something Jesse was really looking forward to, so I kind of had to ask him nicely if he’d let me help, or as I’d phrase it, “Is there anything I can do?” Sure enough, there was: removing bolts from the cylinder head. It was easily my favorite thing (quite possibly because it involved a very large ratchet.) After doing half the bolts himself, Jesse let me finish the rest.

At that point, I was able to say I had my first real experience working on an engine. Sure, last week I did some light housework, cleaning the cylinder walls on the one side, but I got to use a tool, and in my mind, work with tools = real work.

After that, I had the joys of getting to put all the weeks of Body Pump and work with my personal trainer to use by being able to effortlessly lift a cylinder head and Sumo-squat it to the floor. I made a note to tell my trainer not to get any ideas as that was clearly an isolated event. I wholeheartedly believe if I see any squats in my future that involved weights of 30 lbs or more, I will be a very unhappy camper.

Jesse did the same on his side, using the dead blow hammer to loosen the cylinder head and remove it.

We rolled the engine over, yet again, to remove the oil sump. Jesse removed the bolts from his side, while I removed the bolts from my side, streamlining the removal process.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t too dirty inside. Even though there was some residual oil, it wasn’t nearly as bad as Jesse was thinking it would have been.

I learned the joys and convenience of an engine stand as we must have rolled the engine from top to bottom to top again some four or five times in a 2 hour period. Strangely enough, I was always on the draining end of the engine. When Jesse used the level bar to rotate and I stood on the opposite end manually assisting in the rotation process, I always had the joys of random fluids falling inches away from my feet. 

After dumping some oil and a mystery rainwater concoction of thickness, I put down a layer of kitty litter to suck up the mess. I also discovered a fantastic tech tip solving the eternal male problem of oily hands, itchy face. It is a million dollar solution so listen up: keep a Tupperware of kitty litter nearby. I learned this by accident, but realized it is pure genius! When I dumped the kitty litter down, I didn’t have enough to go around, so I spread it out with my hands, which, coincidentally enough, were covered in oil. Upon spreading the litter to cover the entire spill area, I noticed my hands were both clean and dry enough from the litter absorbing the oil, that I could touch a surface without any markings. I’m not going to advise this to go and use your hands to eat or anything of the sorts, but, I will say, if you have oily hands and an itch, rub them in kitty litter to clean them off enough to assess the problem. It works. You’re welcome.

Finally, it was back to cleaning the cylinder walls. I’ll say this: if you can clean a house, you can clean an engine. Really, it’s not rocket science. Just like you use a certain tool and a special fluid to wash dishes (sponge and Dawn detergent), it’s the same for the engine (brush and PB Blaster). Jesse joked about how funny he thought it was that I am always so eager to clean the engine, but run away kicking and screaming when asked to do the dishes. Really, the engine shows some progress. Dishes never end. Just when you finish a load, put them away, and think you’re done, new ones show up. 

We packed up shop for the day to go do the Big Dog Trail 5K at Flatrock Park. I wasn’t especially looking forward to it as the last trail race I did was some two weeks ago (the Chesty Puller Challenge 13.1 Trail Race at Fort Benning), and I had done horribly there. Then again, it was at Flatrock and I have ran Flatrock so many times, I could probably do the course backwards and in my sleep. OK, maybe not that good, but still, I did feel some level of comfort. 

I ran on Tuesday night and felt somewhat sluggish with an overall 13:30 pace. I had told Jesse I would need to shave 6 minutes from my finish time in order to be where I wanted to be on Sunday. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, and really, on the road, it’s not a huge issue to be able to run a pace 2 minutes faster than a training pace, but on a trail, with all the inclines, descents, roots, rocks, mud, puddles, and various uneven surfaces, that is kind of like asking for an act of God. 

My game plan was to run hard and not stop. My competition was steep. I was up against some seriously amazing runners in my age group. I did something a little unusual and went to the front of the line to get out quickly and avoid the crowds on the thin trail. It seemed like I was the only female for quite some time, but that changed quickly as my breathing became more labored and I was soon passed up by my neighbor, Stephanie, and Karen, one of my friends from the Galloway program. I could tell that between the strenuous cardio and the high pollen levels, this was going to be a very ugly run. 

The first mile passed quickly with an 11:32 pace. I was pleased with this and kept pushing. Another half mile passed and I was feeling very sick, like I wanted to throw up. If I were in a marathon or a half, I would view this as a major red flag, but in a 5K, I see it more like barf and move on if need be. Fortunately, barf did not happen, but move on did. I moved on for another quarter mile until the asthma started to flare up.

Now, I haven’t had an asthma attack during a run in about a year, but my case is mild enough that I have learned how to manage it with a series of breathing techniques I’ve accidentally taught myself over the years that just so happen to work. Instead of going into panic OH-MY-GOD-I’M-GONNA-DIE mode, I looked ahead to see I was very close to the water stop and had just finished mile 2 at a pace of 11:36. At this point, it was no longer a case of struggling to breath, but a fight for a win.

Karen was not too far behind me. She started running trails and she’s naturally great at it. She finished the 10K with roughly a 12:00 minute mile pace, so, I was worried she’d beat me in the 5K. Still, she cheered me on as I zoomed down a hill to pass her, while cautiously advising I watch my breathing. She told me earlier if I was wheezing, I was going too fast, which was completely true. I was going too fast, for me, anyway. Jesse was right behind me, also cautioning me not to push myself. 

Still, I continued along the course, going up hills, slipping on mud, and sounding like a freight train about to explode- a wheezing, coughing, grunting mess, yelling at myself to keep going and to beat the suck. I didn’t look back to see how far anyone was and just kept pushing. I saw the finish and tapered down to get through, slowing down as I crossed, to a light jog to bring my heart rate down and reunited with my inhaler.
Not too long after I crossed the finish, Jesse crossed, then Karen, and so on. We all sat around post-run, cheering for our other friends as they crossed, snacking, and hydrating. I was shaking from my inhaler, but was good for the most part. I told Karen I ran my fastest trail run ever, with an overall pace around 11:33 according to my Garmin, as my splits were 11:32, 11:36, 11:39 and I said I was running “Crusher Camaro consistent,” but despite the time and consistency, I felt it was a bad run because I was having breathing difficulties. Looking back, however, it was not a bad run at all. In fact, it was a KILLER run! I PR’ed, I was extremely consistent, I didn’t fall, my body didn’t hurt anywhere at any point, and I managed to work through adversity. 

The cherry on top, however, comes in a bucket list item: place in age group. I constantly joke, “I drive fast to make up for the fact I’m a slow runner.” Well, now my saying is no longer true. Not only did I do what I strived to do, shaving 6 minutes from my run time on Tuesday, I also managed to earn the spot in 3rd place for the Female 30 – 39 age group. I was 1:23.23 slower than Stephanie, which is awesome because she is such a great and consistent runner. Charlie always tells me how great she is because she wins races and gets medals. Well, Charlie got to see not only me get an award, but Jesse also took 3rd place in his age group of the Males 30 – 39. It was a double-win for the Teagues! 

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, all my Galloway friends who showed up to try their first trail race placed in their age groups. 

In the end, it was a good day with some car work and some race wins and really, you can’t top a day like this. Best day ever status, for sure!

* Usually, Jesse is around when I document updates and I often have to consult him on nomenclature because I am pretty car-illiterate. While I do believe working on this project is helping me get a better visual and understanding of mechanics, I still have a difficult time remembering what parts are called. Since he is not here at the time being, I have to rely on Google images of 383 Big Block Chrysler Diagrams to figure this stuff out. If I’m wrong, I’ll correct myself later. I really do make an effort to be as descriptive as possible, for both myself and anyone interested in this, but I that there are probably many occasions I might not be right and for that I apologize. 

** You may happen to notice the really awesome t-shirts I have on. You know, the cool green Gremlin towing a Prius shirt or the Muscle Truck shirt? You may recall the episodes of Roadkill where that happened. Well, my shirts came in. As did the extras I made for Mike Finnegan, David Freiburger and the Roadkill crew. Yep, they're even cooler in person than they look on my portfolio. If you happen to ever see these shirts, oh, say, for sale somewhere, just know yours truly did the designs. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Unforseen Circumstances

The plan for the engine and transmission were that they were set to be here around early afternoon on Saturday. For me, that means somewhere between 11:00am and 1:00pm. A little after 1:00, I had to text the engine's owner, Jimmy, to find out where he was at. Things weren't looking good, though. Things were taking much longer than anticipated and he was thinking they would either be arriving later in the evening. So, my afternoon engine delivery was looking more like an after 10:00pm delivery.

Somewhere around 5:00pm, I got a call from Jimmy asking if it would be OK to bring the engine Sunday instead. That wasn't really a big deal. I was sad my engine wouldn't be here when I was expecting it, but it would still be coming.

Later in the evening, closer to 9:00pm, Jimmy called back saying it was supposed to rain and he wasn't sure it would be a good idea. He asked if he could bring it the next weekend. I honestly didn't mind it coming in the rain, especially since my father in law was set to come out next weekend and I had a race in the morning on Saturday and it would be kind of crazy to get everything to work out. I told him I'd let him make the call on whether or not he wanted to come on Sunday or to just get in touch with me later in the week.

Just before bedtime, I heard back from him saying he would just bring it rain or shine on Sunday.

The truck backed into our driveway a little after 9:00am and was followed by his mom in a little black Prius. They came to bring the parts and all was good. His mom absolutely loved Jinky, because, who doesn't love a pug, right? Jimmy and Jesse worked on getting the engine onto Jimmy's hoist and onto our stand. It didn't really take that long and the two made it look pretty easy, although I'm sure it wasn't.

So, long story short, even though some unforeseen circumstances delayed the arrival, my engine and transmission are home with their car again. We have some rebuilding to do and some major work ahead of us.

Jesse took one of the cylinder heads off to get an idea of what we had to work with. It had some ugly rust underneath, but was salvageable. At this point, we'll need to take it to a machine shop to have the thing hot tanked, fortunately, one of my friends has a very reliable recommendation for where to take it.

We spent a little bit of the day doing our best to get some of the rust off. Jesse had me get him his gun oil/lubricant to clean it off, but then I had an epiphany and came running out with the PB Blaster! I was ecstatic to be able to use it this time to penetrate the rust and be right! Because, Freiburger! Yes, my middle-aged man-hero didn't let me down this time.

On an unrelated note, yesterday I sliced my palm with a mandolin cutter while attempting to cut up sweet potato fries. You can kind of see the residual cut above. It was pretty bloody yesterday, but thanks to some Neosporin, gauze, and tape, I have use of my hand again. I can easily say if this engine came in yesterday, I would not have been able to do anything on it at all.

Back to the engine, after removing some of the surface rust, we packed the beast up for the day and at this point, I'll be waiting to get a quote on the hot tanking and take it from there.

Oh yes, I also did something today I should have done a long time ago: I created a Summit Racing Wish List.

On a funny unrelated note, I told Jesse, "There are many times guys thought I was checking them out, but really I was looking at their cars. Like, 'No, you have a mullet, not gonna happen. Ever!'" I followed that up with a deep thought, "Have you ever noticed it's always the ugly guys who have nice cars?"

Jesse responded by saying, "That's because they don't have girlfriends and they can blow all their money on their cars." I'm assuming he meant they don't care about what they look like since they don't have to impress any girls or anything, either.

This brought about another issue: I told him my boyfriends must have sucked, himself included, because I never had a man blow money on me per his theory. Granted, we were broke when we dated. I told him I can't really see it as being practical to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy dinner or present. He agrees. I told him, "If you want, you can go out and buy me a Holley carburetor to show me your love. At least I can get a use out of that. Let's be honest here, I have a track record of losing and breaking wedding bands and it's just a bad idea to get me jewelery. Cars, guns, camera equipment, cooking supplies, or things of that sort are really better options anyway."

So, guys, please don't take my advice for your girlfriends when shopping for them. I mean, maybe you have a cool girlfriend or wife, but shop at your own discretion.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Another Key In The Junkyard

Have you ever found a key in a junkyard?
On the ground? By a car?
Belonging to someone or something else?
The key doesn’t go with the car.
The key doesn’t go with anything.
It’s just a key on the ground in the junkyard.

Rarely does a key come with the car.
When it is with the car, it must stay.
That is where it belongs.
It can never be removed.
It will never be part of the car.
It will just becomes another key in the junkyard.

Leave your treasure where you find it.
Just another key in the junkyard.

*Note: finding a key that belongs to a car in a junkyard is like finding a needle in a hay stack. That's not to say it's not possible, but when you do, it's special. Leave it alone. Removing it will result in bad car karma.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I used to be one of those over-achiever wives. You know the kind: they grow everything from scratch in their backyards to make dinner completely fresh, they clean the house and have all the clothes folded and raise the children all the while looking fabulous, they seem to have all the time in the world while somehow doing all this domestic work. Yeah, that was me circa 2008 through 2010. I was awesome. I painted a car. I taught crochet classes. I sewed cloth diapers for a living and raised my son while my husband worked. Well, let me just say that shit got old real fast. I have a lot of respect for women who can call domestication their occupation because frankly, I am not a domestic creature. I learned this the hard way.

I am my father's daughter. A girl who goes into manic frenzies of hobbies where I will engulf my life to something and dedicate my time to it. Guns. Running. Fishing. Cars. Wife-ing. Well, running and fishing are actually my two constants, or, the things I will always and forever do until I can't do them any longer. Due to too much time on the road and trails running, I got a reoccurring knee injury on my left knee and long story short, I need a project, so that's where the Satellite came in.

Tomorrow his engine and transmission comes home. A 383 big block and a 727 3-speed for those concerned with details. Unfortunately, we're not set up to put those in yet as there needs to be some work on the engine and where it will reside in the future. The solution: buy an engine stand. No biggie. Naturally, I wound up buying it on Wednesday night right before my last day of class. I thought since it's the last day, we would get out early. WRONG. By the time I got home, it was too late to build. Procrastinate to the night before the engine's homecoming. It's around 9:00PM. The engine is set to arrive in around 12 hours.

Back to the over-achieving wives and how I'm not one anymore. Remember how I used to be? Oddly enough, back in those days, I was furious with Jesse keeping his tools in our living room in the days we lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Our entire place was nothing more than a giant garage for random tools for cars and guns. I hated it. In fact, I loathed it. Now, nearly close to seven years later, I could care less. In fact, the roles have reversed. Jesse is the one constantly nagging me to pick up and clean. I have now created make-shift houses for my tools and even welcome his in the house. Jesse doesn't mind this so much, but he does hate that I have taken an apathetic approach to laundry, dishes, and housework in general.

So, tonight, after the family finished watching the new episode of ROADKILL, I was pretty much told that nothing would get done until I did my work. Begrudgingly, I obliged.

I was more than vocal about my hatred of laundry and dishes.

Ironically, those are the two chores that have machines to make the work easier, and yet somehow, they are the two things I hate more than anything else in the world.

This is my look of lack of amusement at putting away dishes. Complete and utter lack of concern on my part. If you are going to insist I do something I do not enjoy doing, don't expect me to be amused when you try to be funny.

After cleaning, I was able to put my engine stand together. I had instructions.

Didn't need them. One look and I could tell they were useless. Just match bolts with washers and nuts and throw it all together. Zang!

It even came with a cardboard beer caddy! OK, so maybe that's not what it's job was, but it sure was handy!

In the end, I managed to get everything, housework, assembly, beers, and then some, done before 11:00PM. All in all, it was a good day. The best day ever? Not really, but close enough. (On a side note: yes, I did draw a ROADKILL inspirational meme on my kitchen chalkboard that has been up since Episode 23. Because, ROADKILL.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Emily's Grave

As we were driving down the highway, he told me, “You're in the wrong gear.”  I put my foot on the clutch and shifted into 4th. I knew how to drive a stick as the car before my current one was a stick, but his was different. I wasn’t used to so much power. It was such a rush to speed down the road with such carelessness, that I had forgotten to listen to the car to know better. Still, I didn’t care.
I had only been out this way once in my life but knew I wanted to take him here more than anything. I knew he would appreciate it as much as I did. I squinted, trying to find my landmarks in the dark. The lights on his car weren’t very bright and the fact we were moving ahead faster than I could keep up with the little imagery I could see wasn’t helping any. I slowed down and dropped back into 3rd.
“It’s close,” I said. “It’ll be on your side.”
He looked around, with the same level of difficulty as I had.  
“Is that it?” he asked, pointing to some glimmers about 50 yards out.
“Yep,” I sped up slightly and made a right turn on the road and another turn onto the dirt, stopping the car. “Come on,” I said, as I took the keys out of the ignition and throwing them onto his lap.
I jumped out of the car and ran ahead purposefully and he followed my pursuit. I kept heading east, but he drifted away towards the south, wandered around, stopping occasionally to look at graves. I could tell he truly admired the historic beauty of the place. Every now and then he’d look back to see where I wandered off too, and go back to exploring.
I stopped.
He kept heading south, zig-zagging between the graves. He turned and saw me standing in the same spot he last saw me at minutes ago. “What’d you find?” he shouted as he walked over to me.
I stood looking down at a grave marker. I had still been staring at it by the time he made it to me.
“What is it?” he asked.
“This is Thomas,” I told him.
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I just know he is buried over here with his wife. His ex-wife, though, is over there.” I pointed up to the right a little.
“I don’t think she likes it,” I told him.
“The new wife,” I said. “I don’t think she likes that his old wife is buried in the same lot.”
“How do you know that?”
“She’s the other woman,” I told him. “Look at when his old wife died.”
We walked over to Emily’s grave and sure enough her death wasn’t too far away from the death of the new wife.
“People get divorced, it happens,” he said.
“Not so much back then.”
Neither of us said anything for a bit. We simply stared at the grave.
“Well, people are going to do what they want, regardless,” he said, very matter-of-factly.
“True,” I replied.
Neither of us said anything for a bit, again.
He glanced down at me from his peripheral. I was still staring at the grave, not sure of what to say and I got the feeling he could tell.
He started to walk on, turning to see if I’d follow, but I didn’t. I was stuck there, with her. He came back to me, “You can’t stay here, forever.”
“It's funny. It's almost like you can hear her saying, ‘Thomas, make it stop!’”
“OK,” he tried to lead me away from there. I stopped begrudgingly. “What?”
“She was upset,” I continued. “I know, people probably see them down here and read the graves and joke about her husband being some cheater and her being the other woman. That doesn't change the fact it's not upsetting to her.”
"But they're dead."
“She lived her life as the other woman, died the other woman, and even still after her death is being ridiculed as the other woman. She just wants it to stop.”
Again, silence. He looked down at the grave sympathetically.
“No one ever gets mad at the man,” I said. “The woman always gets the criticism. Even today, the other woman is always looked at like she is some sort of home wrecker or something.”
More silence.
“Is that what you’re worried about?” he asked.
“No,” I said.

And then, more silence. This time, it was different. 
“What about the other man?” he asked.
“What about him?”
“Do you think he had another woman?”
“I don’t know. What does it matter?”
“It matters! Why would he willingly take another man’s woman?” He took me over to the Emily’s grave. “He could have any woman,” he continued, “but he picked her.” He grasped my shoulders, as if he had meant to take me by surprise. I jumped, but quickly calmed my startled nerves.
“What does that say about his ex, then?”
“She will never understand him. No matter what he does, it will never be enough. He has finally come to terms with the fact that he can never live up to her standards. No matter how much he gives her, what he does for her, none of that will ever be enough. Even though he’s blamed himself for it all these years, he finally realized it’s not him, it’s her. And he’s done.”
“And so he picked 'Emily'?”
“He picked 'Emily'.”
“And the other woman?”
'Thomas' found her when he realized it was over. But no one will ever see it that way. She will always be known as the other woman. Even if it wasn’t her fault. That’s just what 'Emily' will have everyone will believe... and somehow it’ll make it alright in the end.”
"Just like that?"

"Just like that."

When we left, he drove us back. Neither of us said anything, but left what had happened between ourselves and the graves around us. We never went back and we probably never will.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Off The Beaten Path

This weekend is the Chesty Puller 13.1 Trail Challenge. The last time I did that race was back in 2012 a month after I did the Los Angeles Marathon. I wasn't very well trained for trails at that time, and to be honest, that was my first ever trail race. I had ran roads prior to that. Knowing what I know now, I'm pretty ready to go into that thing and run hard.

The last time I did a trail race was back in September 2012 when I did my first Ultra, The North Face Endurance Run 50K. It was 31 miles of ball-busting terrain along the Pine Mountain Trail. I was wanting to strangle anyone who mentioned Molly Hugger for about three months after! After that race, I had experienced my first running injury, but I had also done a LOT of training to prepare for it. The run, not the injury. The injury happened a week later while I was washing dishes and twisted to the side, pulling some ligament around my left knee. I spent the next four or five months with on and off again pain. I still get occasional aches, but nothing serious.

I'm pretty excited because I feel like after all my previous trail training, I'm going to be totally prepared to go into Chesty Puller to do some serious racing. For me, anyway. My goal is to have something around a 15 minute mile or better. Whether or not that happens is a whole other issue, but we'll see. It's only a half, so that's not too horrible.

Anyway, I'm feeling optimistic about the race, but hoping I can buckle down and take care of myself before then. Not over doing it throughout the week, not drinking soda and eating crap, and really hydrating. I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to take a hydration pack or just rely on the water out there. We'll see. I don't think it's going to be too hot, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The "Storage" Game

It seems like it's been weeks since I've last seen the Satellite. My sister was in town last week and I didn't have a chance to do anything then as it was just a busy week. This weekend, Jesse and I wound up driving out to Cartersville again to pick up the back seat and dash. We decided after that to take a short stop out to Old Car City USA in White, GA while up that way and have lunch across the street at Wes-Man's Restaurant. It was such a wonderful afternoon and reminded me very much of the type of places Huel Howser would recommend.

(If you're interested in viewing more of my photos from Old Car City, click here.)

I'm not sure if it was being in the sun or being outdoors all day, but eventually, I felt so sick and wasn't sure I'd do anything on Sunday. Alas, I decided to go outside and at least play the "storage" game and move some stuff around and get other stuff out of the way. I took the bumpers out and placed them along the fence with the doors and trunk. Then, I vacuumed the inside and put away the seats.

Jesse came home from wanting to go out shooting and helped me squish the back seat into place as well as get the dash in. We also bolted the wheel up because I wanted to see what it would look like.

The next few weeks are going to be all over the place. We still need to do welding reinforcements on a few spots throughout the car. I guess Jesse knows someone that's gonna help with that. Then, the engine is coming home sometime around the 21st or 22nd. I'm not sure if we'll be able to put it in yet, or if we'll just put it on some blocks somewhere or what. I probably should start thinking about that, though, since it's two weeks away.

In addition to continuing getting  the body fixes done, I need to hunt for bucket seats and some leather. I also need to get some Priority mail soft envelopes to tape together to draft the upholstery for the back seats. As much as I like the green, that's gotta go. Black will look a lot better.

This weekend was pretty good, though, because I got to see what my car would look like with the seat in it. I also was excited about being up to date on my tetanus shots since I cut my foot on the dash. As with the past, I'm looking forward to what comes next and probably should start to buckle down and focus on one area at a time.