Friday, November 16, 2012

Going to the Dogs

The weather is getting cooler, it does not get real cold here on the Texas Gulf Coast, it might hit the freezing mark for a day or so out of the year.  Our dogs, Bella, Zora and Ginger always look forward to the day when I bring home a couple of bales of hay.  Yesterday was Christmas for them; they got their two bales of hay.  I always love to see them get really happy over something like this, so much fun to watch.  Bella tore the bales apart as fast as she could while Zora pushed hay into her dog house.  Ginger looked for lizards, but that’s Ginger the hunter.  Zora, the husky mix does not have her winter coat yet so she was really happy to get the hay for her dog house.  I even put some hay on the swing she sleeps on sometimes.  It was funny to watch Bella rolling and tunneling through the hay, she really enjoys playing.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best, we need to learn from them how to enjoy the simple things.

Here is a pic of Bella enjoying the hay:

 No luck with the rats lately.  The trap showed it triggered last night, but the rat got away.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rat Attack!

Last night when Jennifer and I were leaving to get some dinner, she backed the van out of the garage while I stood at the garage door to activate the alarm.  A fast moving object near the ditch caught my eye which was heading straight towards me; I jumped out of the way just before it got to me.  A huge rat ran past, and would have possibly run across my feet had I not jumped out of the way.  He or she ran to the back of the part of the garage where we park our daily drivers, made a sliding right turn to head towards the “Corvette side” of the garage and bolted into the darkness.  This is the first time that one of the rats has been this bold.  It definitely wanted to get inside the garage before the last door was closed.  This tells me that it does not have a “secret” way into the garage, but are moving in and out when one of the 3 doors is open.

Later, I texted both of our kids about this and our daughter said she thinks that for a rat to be that bold, it may mean there are baby rats in a nest somewhere in the garage.  That made sense to me.  On our way home last night, we stopped to pick up a fresh set of batteries for the Rat Zapper.  This morning I went out to check the trap, but no rat.  The bait was still there which tells me it did not approach the trap.  Many times the bait around the trap will be gone, but the bait inside will still be there.  The war continues!! 

I worked on the VW Bug yesterday; I replaced the spark plug wires that had been chewed up by rats.  Fortunately plug wires for an old Beetle are not that expensive.  I tried to start the engine, but it ran only the length of time for the gas I poured into the carburetor.  I pulled the fuel line leading into the carb and cranked the engine to see if any gas was being delivered.  Just a few drops came from the line.  I am pretty sure I need to replace the fuel pump.  When I do replace the pump, I plan to replace all the flex fuel lines and filter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

1953 Chevy Wagon

This 1953 Chevy Wagon was bought new by my Grandfather as a delivery wagon for his grocery store.  My Uncle and Cousin had restored and maintained it until it was passed on to me.  This is the actual first car I remember riding in as a toddler.  I was fascinated by the chrome on the dash, and have been a car nut ever since.

After a lot of thought and conversations, I have decided what direction to go with the restoration of the Wagon.  At first, I wanted to preserve the original state of the car, but if I did that, it would be dangerous to drive in today's traffic.  In 1953, there were no seat-belts and few other safety devices.  I really would like to enjoy the car as it was meant to be.... driving it as much as possible.  I would love to build it with a Big Block, but I am realistic so I plan to install the original Corvette engine and transmission from the '78 Vette.  I also want to install disc brakes all around with radial tires.  Of course there is creature comforts like air conditioning I want to install.  I will keep the original look of the car with a few exceptions like wheels and over-sized tires.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rat Bug

Yesterday afternoon I pulled the '73 Super Beetle out to where I could work on it.  I plan to fabricate seat mounts to install a set of seats from a Jeep XJ.  That in it self is a challenge since the floors of the Jeep is vastly different than a Beetle.  I will document more on that later when the fabrication start.... I am still in the recon and planning stage right now.

So I was cleaning out the Bug to get things in order and noticed that something had been going through the carpet and seats pulling out stuffing and carpet loops.  The Bug had been in the garage last week when my kids were home from college for the weekend..... it is easier to park all the cars inside if the bug is stashed away inside the garage.  I opened the rear hatch to take a look at the engine when I noticed something on the left side up near the firewall.  There was several red rags and plastic bags.  I was not sure how they got there when I figured out that a rat must have been making a nest.  I pulled the stuff out, being careful just in case there might be baby rats.  I ended up using my parts grabber used for picking up nuts and bolts that fall down between engine and frames.  When I got it all out there were several plastic bags that had been in the trash can inside the garage, several red rags which had been on my work bench and some receipts that had been on the desk inside the garage.  There was also a lot of carpet loops and seat stuffing from inside the bug packed around the engine tin.

I took inventory of the engine bay to see if there was any damage caused by the rat.  As I got a closer look, I noticed that he had chewed both plug wires in two on the driver's side of the bug.  I was not a happy camper.  In an earlier blog, I mentioned that when I found the rat dead in the rat zapper, I had mixed feelings since I once had rats as pets when I was young..... well, no more mixed feelings!!  The war is on!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Garage

I have a good life.  A wife that I love and who loves me back.  Two great kids who I am very proud of.  A job that I love.  But most of all, I have my garage and dogs!  When I get time to spend the day working on one of my car projects, I feel the most alive.  I crank up the music I grew up with and nobody complains. 

The dogs, Zora, Bella and Ginger are my constant companions when I am working in the garage.  I always remember my first garage companion Annie who is buried behind the garage.  I call my garage “Big Dog Garage” since without the dogs; the garage would lose its character and becomes just another place to keep cars and other junk. 

I have no time limit when I am in the garage, but put things back in their place when I get tired.  The older I get, I tire earlier in the day than in my younger years.   My car projects have no deadline; I consider the build as enjoyable as the finished product.  I don’t create debt with my projects; I buy parts when I can afford them.   Once a year I go to the Corvette Expo in Houston, TX to buy parts and enjoy seeing other people’s car projects. 

When I have my work out on the driveway, neighbors always slow down to see what I am working on.  I get lots of friendly waves and smiles from people I don’t even know.   Every once in a while someone will stop to say hi and see what I am working on.  Most every time, they tell me of their dream projects, that they never made time for.  When they leave, I am very thankful that I have pursued my dream of building the cars I love. 

When I am working in the garage, I leave the entire world behind and am in my own personal sanctuary.  There are no conflicts, bad news, or the other junk we hear everyday, only the car projects and my dogs.  Jennifer will always come out to the garage to see how I am doing.   I am so blessed to have a wife who recognizes how much being out here means to me.  She will go with me to get parts I find online, usually many miles away.  I always enjoy my time with her as we pursue the next part I need.  Car people are the best people to be around.   

When time comes for Jesus to call me home, just cremate me and put me in a tool box.  Throw in a few tools for good measure and bury me next to my dogs behind the garage. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Critters in the garage

Lately I have been battling critters who try to make my garage their home.  I don't have any issue with that except for when they damage things, then I go to war.

What usually ends up living in the garage is rats.  When I first noticed that there were rats living in the garage, I tried sticky traps.  The problem with the sticky traps, is rats are strong enough to drag the traps with them and sometimes I never found them.  Other times when I did find them, there was a really angry rat stuck to the trap and that posed a new problem.  I had to find a way to kill them before I could dispose of it.  This was really difficult for me since I am a real animal lover.... I even raised rats as pets when I was a kid.  My pet rats were hooded rats and I have fond memories of them. A friend told me about a trap called the Rat Zapper.  This trap would electrocute the rat quickly so they did not know what hit them.  I think this is the most humane way of dealing with rats.  This morning there was a young gray rat in the trap.  I had mixed feelings about finding him, first I was glad I got him so he would no longer be living in the garage and damaging anything else. On the other hand, I thought of my pet rat Goober and it sort of broke my heart that this rat's life was cut short.

Not long ago, I was dealing with another kind of critter.  I still have not positively identified what the critter was, but it could have been a barn owl or maybe a rat snake.  I found what looked like an owl pellet on the garage floor, but it could have been what was left over when a snake digests what it could and spit out the rest.  I was told that if I left my radio on 24/7, then whatever this critter was would leave. This actually worked!!   I guess they are not fans of good classical rock.  The radio did not seem to run off the rats however, so the battle of the rats continues....