Posts Tagged ‘Projects’

I know I usually give these messages retroactively, but I thought I might change things up a bit and let you know that I will be taking a small break from the FrankenJeep build… before too much time goes by and I realize I forgot to write anything here. Okay, I understand that you may have already clued in on the fact that it has already been some time since I was actually working on this project… alright, it has been four months since I have been in the garage. It is not for lack of want but, contrarily, I have failed to get into the garage and work on the little truck due to having… now this is embarrassing, too many projects.

WHAAAAT?!? Too many projects? You?!?

Ha. Ha. Yuck it up. I know. I am still working on this truck; I am just trying to get these other things in order first. The old job situation threw a wrench in all of this, and then I was gaining so much ground in the J20 build, then the new job situation… Anyhow, both the FrankenJeep and the J20 will be on a slight hiatus while I get the shop worked out, we are moving shops and are in the process of reallocating the importance of all builds in progress.

Whether it makes any sense to you or not, I will be working on my 2006 Grand Prix next.

WAIT… WHAT??? When did you get a Pontiac?

I told you about it earlier; I did! During the Quarter Panel Quandary, I specifically mentioned my “inability to focus on a single project … the Grand Prix … etc…” Does any of that ring a bell?

Okay. Okay. In the beginning of spring I was trying to fix the Camry and juggle cars between the drivers of the house. I figured there had to be a better way, and I went looking for a vehicle on the cheap. The wife had her Jetta, the teenager’s Camry was obviously out of commission as it needed head work, and although the Regal worked, it was showing signs of wear. The three of us needed a full time vehicle, but there were only two available. I picked up a sweet Crown Victoria ex-cop car [if only there was a facetious font]… that is, it was a sweet ride until I actually needed to depend on it. I drove it over the long weekend and decided it was going to be my daily driver. I paid for it and the next day it threw a check engine light; I found out that cylinders 2, 4, & 6 had low compression. It turned out they had put in some oil additive to temporarily fix the problem… just long enough for some sucker to come along and buy it.

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Alright, perhaps I deserve that one. Anyhow, I spoke with them and told them the situation – basically, I needed a car that worked and was reliable. Having half an engine was not “reliable” enough for me. I have played that game too many times. We came to an agreement and the Crown Vic went back to them, and instead, I got a Ford Explorer for the teenager to drive. So far, he is stoked with his new truck. Awesome.

That still did not account for my Regal that was tired of driving. Cylinder #4 has low compression on the Buick, and I do not want to open up the engine to find out it is a problem I need to rebuild; then I am out of a car. Right now the vehicle drives and gets me from point A to B. Sometimes it even gets me back. There are a whole mess of little tiny problems with the Regal that do not affect the drivability of the car but are very annoying, nonetheless.

  • Rear windows do not roll down
  • Front windows roll down, but the passenger’s side does not always roll up
  • The VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft Security) system is on the fritz and it will keep the car from starting for three minutes at a time… whenever it feels like it
  • The car alarm has taken to going off whenever it wants (even though I never lock the car)
  • The A/C will not turn off… unless I have a passenger, then they have to kick the dashboard bottom to get it to turn on
  • The Daylight Running Lights do what they want… sometimes they will both come on, other times only one will
  • The CD player and tape deck are broken, I only have AM/FM radio… this is not a problem until I am driving anywhere east of Globe, AZ
  • I cannot get into the trunk… the fob is broken and the key will not work
  • The windshield washer fluid reservoir will not hold washer fluid

I am sure you get the point. None of these make the car inoperable, and it would probably only take me about $150 or so and a solid weekend to fix all of it… but at the end of the day, I am still in a 1997 Regal.

If you hate the car so much, why did you buy it in the first place?

Well, I did not exactly buy a 1997 Buick Regal. I would not have any interest in that. However, the supercharged 3.8L V6 inside of that car, I do have interest in. So, I bought a supercharged engine and got a running car with it.

What did you do next?

I saved my dollars and bought a Suburban.

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…you can see why I had no interest in fixing anything on the Regal other than what was required to keep it running for the last year or so.

Why did you buy a Suburban?

Good question! If you read the J20 Build, you will know that a Suburban and my Jeep truck share the same wheelbase… and if you know your Suburbans, you know that I bought the wrong one.

Well, that is not entirely accurate. This is a ¾ ton 4×4 Suburban with a 454ci engine. All of that is perfect for a diesel conversion. What is not perfect, for my application, is Independent Front Suspension. IFS is worthless to me and I need a solid front axle. No worries though, I happen to know a guy that could make very good use out of this truck, and he has just the parts I need. So we trade, but all of that is in the J20 stories. You are wondering when I will circle back to the Grand Prix.

Just a recap – the Camry was down and to replace it, I bought a Crown Vic and then traded it for an Explorer. To get my J20 running, I bought a Suburban and traded it for an older Suburban; and I bought a Grand Prix to replace the Regal.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever! Let’s see this new car!!

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This is my 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. I bought it from a guy off the Craigslist and it turned out to be exactly what he said it was. He had a clean, well maintained 3.8L V6… with a broken transmission.

I KNEW IT!!! YOU CANNOT HELP YOURSELF, CAN YOU?!?

Perhaps you are right, but this has so far turned out to be an excellent deal…

Wait a minute! You said Grand Prix “PROJECT”… you are not planning on…

Supercharging the Grand Prix? That is already in the works. I will give this build its own mini write-up and you can see how that progress goes over there.

. . .

Do not worry, I will not allow this FrankenJeep build to be abandoned; there is far too much insanity to leave blank pages. My boss, Jack, provided the engine and drivetrain for the little hot rod; he is itching to hear it roar again. He is helping me with the logistics and the fabrication involved in creating such a unique beast, but he also has his own projects, and everything will get done in due time. Once we are settled in our new shop and we have gotten the chance to catch up with our work load, we will be working on these things like mad men.

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When I found out my quarters were pot metal, I was pretty upset, I wanted to have a clean chop. The cut was clean, but seeing as I did not have a TIG welder, I could not have the clean look I was after, meaning I could not weld the seam. I  tried to cover it with a Weld Stik, which is like a putty compound that is supposedly able to work as a weld adhesive.

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That did not really work well, so I tried to paint over it with Flex Seal. I had really good luck with the Flex Seal when I used it on the J20 dash. This time was much different, I found out that stuff does not work very well when it is used vertically as it likes to drip. Actually it ran as fast as I laid it down, it was like trying to paint with ice cream… in the summer. It did not work well at all.

Switching gears – instead of trying to fix it, just replace it. Sounds good, right? Right. That is exactly what I did, I took the 16 gauge steel I had lying around the garage and made quarter panels from it. The first one was a total disaster. I lined up the edge, drilled my holes and then riveted each one by hand with a ¼” rivet. I proceeded to make my bend around the corner and quickly realized the metal was not bending cleanly as I wanted it to, but it was instead creasing.

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Not good. Not good at all. I decided that maybe this was a two man job, so I briefed Tony the next weekend and we set to create a quarter panel.

Of course, during this build, I have made it a point to try and work with something while only using half of the tools needed for the job. Haha. At least that is the way it seems. Just remember that I am but a man with an idea, trying to seek project fruition in a 200 square foot garage that happens to be located in a Home Owners Association and I am on a limited budget. [Okay, full disclosure – the “limited” budget is widely due to my inability to focus on a single project. I have this one, the J20 build (which is another reason I have not written here lately), the Camry engine overhaul, the Grand Prix project, the Baja Comanche project, etc… etc… etc…]

THE QUARTER PANELS?!?

Yes, the quarter panels. Sorry. So I have this 16ga steel in the garage that used to be shelves. It is not the best steel I have come across, but it is readily available to me, so I made measurements, checked them, second checked them and laid out templates on the sheet. Then I cut the panel out and drilled my first hole. I measured out all of my holes and drilled them, installing ¼” rivets into each hole via manual rivet gun. As I was making my way around the corner, it started creasing and that is when I got Tony involved. I figured we needed to heat up the metal and make it more pliable so it will bend better. The proper tool for this is NOT a propane torch. Then, once the metal is hot enough, you want to have a dolly to strike against and move the metal. A proper dolly is NOT made from a broken adjustable wrench and a 3”x3” square piece of ⅛” thick steel. And you want to use a hefty hammer for striking your dolly to move the metal where you want it. The proper hammer is NOT an Estwing claw hammer.

Do you see what I am working with here?

Anyhow, Tony and I went to heating and striking. Heating and Striking. Heating and … Oh no, the metal is on fire! Nope, false alarm. Only the paint was on fire. Heating and striking. Drilling and pop riveting. Drilling and pop riveting. Heating and strik… um, why do we have a bend in the middle of the metal going perpendicular to our projected shape? Ah crap! Okay… Now what? Relief cut! We will just use the cutting wheel to make a cut across the metal and the side should lay down like it is supposed to. I got my welder back up and running, ran a few beads across the relief cut and thought it was ugly, but functional. Whew!! That was quite the ordeal!

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[I ended up going to work and coming back before we did the other side.]

This time, we knew what had to happen. We measured, checked, checked again, laid it out and cut it from the sheet stock. We drilled the first hole, hand riveted the ¼” rivet and measured down to do it again. We got the inside line of rivets set and got prepared for the circus we knew that was about to commence. We measured, marked and drilled out, hand riveted and did it again. And again. And again. We did the bottom side the same way. Wait. What?? No heating and striking? Nope. This one laid out just perfectly, all the way to the end. So much that I almost ripped off the first one to do it again.