Pluggy Satchmo and the Minitruck : Wednesday, May 03, 2006
It's really getting colder here and that makes it less and less inviting to be in the garage. To be honest, it's pant-snappingly freezing and it changes how I approach working on the ute. At the beginning of this project, I really never would have imagined that temperature variation outside would significantly affect how I did things in the garage. We have a bank of 500W lamps to provide illumination (more on those in a later post) and they provide good warmth as well as light.
My advice: if you can do this in spring, autumn or even summer, you'll feel a lot happier about undertaking work (particularly if the work involves a lot of being close to the floor).
In particular, large jobs involving spray paint are largely out of the question because it can take a long time for the paint to dry, and that produces runs in the paint. Luckily the ones pictured are not my own...er...'runs', as it were, but it's easy to see how they can make porridge out of a paint job:
So right now we're concentrating on some interior work. Our plan is, basically, to have the whole thing black, except for the gear shifter knob, which is polished stainless steel. Right now we are working on some plans for what we're going to do. They'll go up here when they are done.
Well, it turns out that not even minitruck modification is immune to budgetary limits. Despite the common idea that minitrucks are quite inexpensive to build and modify, adding up the impending costs shows that building a minitruck is not likely to be an inexpensive exercise. Here are some of the costs that we're looking at over the next few weeks:
Stereo CD head unit AU$100 2 x 5" speakers AU$70 8" subwoofer AU$40 4 x 80W amplifier AU$180 Wiring AU$30 Alarm/immobiliser AU$120 paint and clear coat AU$500? 17" chrome rims and tyres AU$1300
Luckily, we have free access to a spray unit, but we don't yet know how much the raw paint will cost. You can also see that for some products we're really not going for show quality. Also, according to what I've read, we should be able to lower the ute ourselves: I've already explored re-tensioning the torsion bars and I think it should be pretty straightforward.
So, we're looking to spread the cost out over some weeks - the current stereo is really livewithable (is that a word?) and we won't need the rims until the very end. That said, this is far cheaper than modifying other kinds of cars. For my Skyline, this sort of money might have just bought a decent front-mount intercooler and piping.
On a minitruck-related note, here in Australia Toyota has been vigourously pushing its new Hilux AUV. The TV ad, which I can't find online, has a pretty good soundtrack, a nice rocking breaky choon with a catchy "Get get up move" vocal sample. But there's no info at all on the site about what the track is called. It turns out it's an Aussie tune by Bass Kleph and Nick Thayer called "F*cking The Groove". Note how I put an asterisk in that word so that you can't tell what it is if you're not old enough.
Well, it's winter and a young man's thoughts turn to car audio or "ICE" as the youth of today are calling it.
Really what I'd like is a huge car audio system that will change into a huge Japanese robot at the flick of a switch. Basically here is what I want: But it turns out that Alpine, being the squares that they are, don't offer functionality like this. Listen up Alpine I bet I'm not the first to ask for this kind of thing. UNTAPPED MARKET.
Car thieves being the scum that they are, I'm really reluctant to put something huge or expensive in. Of course, on the other hand, I want something that still sounds alright and has gee you tee ess guts.
To be frank, I'm not likely to listen to Jessica Simpson or Shakira. I can also do without watching Scary Movie 4, or Carmen Electra, or what have you. Even Chapelle's Show (RIP) wouldn't feature. I really have no need for an LCD screen (let alone several of them). Least of all while I drive. That said, my girlfriend does enjoy 50 Cent, Beyonce and Chris Brown, so I'm not sure where I am.
Home from the mechanic : Wednesday, April 19, 2006
OK, the service is done. The mechanic said she is in excellent condition for the number of kilometres she's done (around 300K). There's a minor oil leak somewhere up front but that's easily fixed. Also it looks like the rear brakes will need some attention in about 10,000kms but, other than that, we are good to go.
Road User Services also paid me a happy visit this morning. Luckily, our car was 'randomly selected' for a post-inspection inspection, meaning that they're keeping tabs on whoever passed the vehicle for registration. It was really only mildly inconvenient, and I guess this sort of thing has to be done when you can't perfectly monitor your registration agents. It took about ten minutes of them mucking about in my garage. Quite nice chaps, actually. Again they found nothing wrong with the truck and gave me a piece of paper saying as much.
So now I have no more excuses. I can't put it off any longer, can't procrastinate or postpone the work ahead.
Given this, I had to quickly come up with something that look a lot like work but wasn't. I immediately set about finding something else to do that didn't involve ripping off paint and that. I fired up my paint program and mucked about with some images to give myself a rough feel for what we're aiming for. My girlfriend isn't here right now, so I bet I have the wrong shade of pink and the rims are just some I found on images.google, but here's a very rough mockup:
I also didn't add any chrome to the body, mostly because I didn't want to make you all feel inadequate in the light of my frankly mind-blowing Photoshop skills. In reality we're looking to fit chrome tail lights and we'll probably also chrome up the front bumper in some way.
Tomorrow, we're taking the Navara to get a good seeing to. A damn good seeing to. We're going to pay someone to service her. All day. He's going to use all sorts of tools and lubricants and that.
Anyway, our main concern is that we want to make sure that everything is OK from the beginning. There are things I just can't check for - I don't have the experience and the knowledge and right now the manual isn't going to provide that information and expertise quickly enough. I guess we're renting someone's brain so they can check for cracked rings, a dodgy exhaust manifold, or what have you. Things I really just don't know how to check for. Over time, yes I'll pick it up.
Once that's done, we can begin tearing her down and building her back up again.
I never claimed to be any good mechanically. I am in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. The idea of ripping into an engine with a screwdriver or hammer, or whatever tool I need, is not entirely second nature to me. I mean, I'm really no stranger to engines - I've owned an SR20DE, an RB25DE and an RB20DET. In fact, I'm shortly going to buy an RB26DETT.
"Owned", I say. I've never cracked the heads open, inspected the cams or 'ported and blueprinted' them. Nah I don't even know what some of that even means. But I like Nissan engines, they look like they make sense. The layout is nice, the parts feel good. Engine bays are cramped, by and large, but that's character and callous building.
Some engines, however, look like they were designed by a committee. To be honest, I really think the French must accept their share of the blame with this. Here's an example. This is the 1973 Citroen SM, a joint collaboration between Citroen and Maserati.
Yeah, alright, it's no V8 Interceptor but I think it looks OK. The white wall tyres are a nice feature. I hear it rides real smooth, too. But under the bonnet you'll find this:
Look at it. LOOK AT IT. It looks like it came out of a V2 rocket. And not in a good way, either.
So I'm reading this Haynes manual through from cover to cover. I'm actually finding it really interesting. The engine in the Navara is a Z24i - that is, Z class 2400cc injection. Despite the name, unfortunately, it doesn't look like they ever put a Z24i into a real Z (like a 240Z or a 260Z). I don't know why, there are plenty of other letters in the alphabet.