Question: Do I really need 17 wheels for one truck?

While doing a little spring cleaning recently, I began to realize that I had amassed a massive quantity of extra wheels and tires for the 1989 Dodge truck I have. If you combine the number of tires (18), with the number of wheels (17), you can imagine just how much space this takes up. Now, I can look at this a few different ways. I could think positively, and say “Hey, I have 1 set of wheels for each season, plus a spare!” Conversely, I could be a downer, and say “I have 17 wheels, and only 7 will physically bolt on to my truck at this very moment.” Yes, they all have the same bolt pattern, but let’s just say that my truck is weird, and doesn’t willingly accept change.  The question then arises, if the truck can only handle 4 wheels and 4 tires at any given time, do I really need 3 extra complete sets?

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TIG welding is an art, but Not everybody is an artist.

Last year I finally bought myself a TIG welder so that I could weld aluminum, stainless steel, roll cages, and overall, step up my welding game.  I figured since I had been MIG welding for 10+ years, TIG would be a piece of cake, but boy was I wrong.  TIG welding is an absolute art, but not everybody is an artist.  It takes a boat load of practice and dexterity to be good at it, which is why professionals make the big bucks.  As I mentioned in this blog that I wrote a few weeks ago, MIG welding can be done with 1 hand (blind folded, tango dancing, while on fire).  TIG on the other hand requires holding filler rod with the left hand, a torch in the right hand (at the correct angle), and it has a foot pedal to control the heat.  Once you get all three limbs to work in unison, metal begins to melt, and the learning curve really begins.

Faster than I could say “this is hard to do!“, I had burned through 2 tanks of argon, countless filler rods, several pieces of tungsten, and a few layers of skin.  As I quickly learned, aluminum retains heat really well, and doesn’t look hot even when it is.  Note to readers: WEAR GLOVES when TIG’n!

Here are a few “finished” pieces from my last practice session. Like I said, TIG welding is an art, and not everybody is an artist, yet.

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Arizona Junkyards Are Better

Every car in Massachusetts is rusty. Whether you have a 1955 Lincoln Capri or a 2010 Chevy Camaro, in the North East, your car’s destiny is rust.  Now, if the nice cars are rusty, just imagine what the vehicles in our junkyards look like.  They are absolutely horrifying at best.  In the time that it takes to remove a junkyard fender, it often erodes itself back into dirt right before your eyes.  Bolts? HA!  After 1 year (so… 2009 models at this point), all bolts become permanent.  At the 2 year mark, the bolts don’t even look like bolts anymore. They become round rusty buttons that can only be removed by breaking the head off with Vise-Grips.  It is truly an awful experience.  Thank goodness for torches, Sawzalls, sharp drill bits, and tetanus shots.

Arizona cars on the other hand, are better in every possible way.  Rusty cars (New England style) just don’t exist out there.  What they consider a junkyard car is usually “flawless” in my opinion.  The nicest cars I personally own aren’t as clean as what is found in their junkyards.  It’s quite sad really.  Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of working on several classic cars from the South West, and I laugh like the village idiot the entire time I work on them because I can’t believe that the bolts come out.  Underneath the AZ cars, the original hydraulic brake lines and parking brakes cables are often still there and working.  It is a gearhead fairytale.

Let’s do a comparison, to see who the real winner is.  Massachusetts on the left, and Arizona on the right. Ding Ding Ding. FIGHT!

Sure enough, Arizona wins with a KO, as expected.  If you want to restore an old car, just buy a rust free body from someplace dry. It will save you thousands of dollars, trillions of hours, and a Tetanus shot.

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On Ebay: 12 Old Jaguars Covered in Dust.

Like any car enthusiast, I often find myself scouring eBay Motors for cars and trucks that I can’t have.  While doing so, I stumbled onto a fleet of Jaguars that looked noteworthy.  Apparently they were collected between 15-25 years ago, and haven’t really been touched since.  The thing that I find most impressive is that a bunch of them are “racked” up high in a warehouse of some sort. You need to be a truly dedicated & motivated gearhead for those kinds of shenanigans.  I mean how cool would it be to be able to look up at  project cars while you work on others?  Anyway, the starting bid is $200,000, so get out your wallets.

Here is what the auction includes along with misc parts:

1961 XKE 6-Cylinder Coupe 2-Seat (Orange)

1964 XKE 6-Cylinder Coupe 2-Seat (Black)

1966 XKE 6-Cylinder 2-Door Coupe (Black)

1967 XKE 6-Cylinder 2-Door Coupe (Maroon)

1968 XKE 6-Cylinder Coupe 2+2 (Blue)

1969 XKE 6-Cylinder Convertible (Red)

1969 XKE 6-Cylinder Coupe 2+2 (British Green)

1970 XKE 6-Cylinder Coupe 2+2 (Silver)

1970 XKE 6-Cylinder Convertible (Red)

1971 XKE V12 Coupe 2+2

1974 XKE V12 Convertible (Red)

1974 XKE V12 Convertible (Blue)

And here is the eBay Listing

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Electrical Gremlins 101.

Recently I acquired an automotive engine wiring harness that needed some serious love and attention.  The previous owner had apparently stirred the dirty pot of electric gremlins, allowing them to surface from the deepest, darkest bowels of the vehicle.  After seeing it with my own eyes, it became my obligation to write a “how-to” on how to successfully breed automotive electrical gremlins.  The previous owner of this wiring harness had perfected this lost art, and I didn’t want the information to become lost again for all eternity.

Step 1) Use Scotch Locks to splice a few extra inches of wire in.  That’s not what they are intended for but hey if it works, it works.

Step 2) Now solder some frayed wires together with zero flux or penetration.  If possible, just “plop” a dab of solder on the 2 wires, but not too much, this isn’t not meant to hold for more than a few days.

Step 3) Cut open a few important wires, run them through a blender, then leave them open to the elements.  This will allow for sparks, fire, and other forms of excitement.

Step 4) Add T-Taps, lots of them.  The goal here is to damage as many wires as possible, and this will get you well on your way.  Remember that moderation is not a word in your vocabulary.

Step 5) Find a connector that goes to something important, like a Mass Airflow Sensor for example, and cut it off.  Now, ever-so-gently twist the wires back together.  As soon as that is complete, pull them apart again, and lightly twist them back together in the opposite direction.  Don’t bother shrink wrapping them or taping them, it won’t be necessary.

Step 6) Your car won’t run soon anyway, so why not start early by ripping off the fuel injector connectors.  One? Nah, go for 2 or 3, at least.

Step 7) This is the final step so pay very close attention.  Find a ground loop connector, preferably with multiple wires going to it.  Now grab the nearest pair of wire cutters, and cut the entire thing off.  Quickly put the loop in your pocket, and do whatever you need to do to make sure it is never associated with the wiring harness again.

If you want to successfully breed electrical gremlins in your own (or maybe a friend’s car), these are the steps you need to take to complete the process.  Completing every step won’t be necessary because just one of these steps will cause endless hours of enjoyable electrical gremlin chasing.

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How To: Replace an Alternator in a Chevy / GMC Truck

Replacing an alternator in a Chevy Silverado Truck (GMC Sierra Truck, Suburban, Yukon, Tahoe) is easier than you may think.  In this video, we show you exactly how it is done so that you can do it yourself and save a bunch of money.  We currently have over 70 how-to videos that you can view on our 1AAuto Youtube Channel.  Everything from headlight and taillight replacements, to door handles, to controls arms and weatherstripping.  Check them out, Subscribe to our youtube channel or add us as a friend, and let us know what you think!

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Metal Lathes are The Bees Knees.

Over the weekend, I got to be a part of something extremely awesome that every gearhead needs to check out at some point in life.  I brought a 66 pound round cut of 4130 steel to my brother-in-law so that he could machine it for me.  Hey, that doesn’t sound that cool! I know, relax. Let me explain.

When you think of a metal lathe built in 1942, the first thing that comes to mind is “heavy”, and that is for good reason.  It weighs around 4200 lbs and looks like an absolute man eater, but it has a gentler side as well.  If it were an animal, it would be an agreeable triceratops with a luxurious fur coat.  To give you a little perspective on what 4200 lbs feels like; just imagine the heaviest thing in the world.  This particular lathe is at least 46 times heavier than the heaviest object that you just imagined. Yes, it is that heavy.  The strange thing is that when it is in motion, it looks like smooth rotating perfection.  Everything spins with surgical precision, and all the rotating parts intermingle with each other to create a beautiful symphony of metal cutting goodness.  At the risk of sounding like a wimp (too late?), I found it to be quite soothing to watch.  Then again, I love metal.

Let’s back up the story a bit, because you don’t even know why I’m doing all this work.   I am making (really my brother in law is… :) ) an upper wheel for my English wheel.  I wanted to have the greatest upper wheel in history, but I didn’t want to pay for it because I’m cheap. Thus, I am dead set on making it “myself”.  We started with a round cut of 4130 steel that was about 3.5 inches thick by 9 inches in diameter, and weighed 66 lbs.  The wheel will end up being as big as my English wheel can handle, which is totally awesome.  By the time I am done, I will probably have a few hundred dollars into a really nice set of upper and lower wheels (called anvils).  This sounds like a lot of cash money, but when compared to buying a nice set already built, I am saving hundreds.

In any case, we stuffed the giant hulk of steel into the lathe and got it spinning.  The first thing to do was to face it, because it was apparently last cut with dull rock, an axe, a sledge hammer, or a maybe a grenade.  “Rough” was the nicest way to describe it.  Several hours pass and the face of the metal was like a mirror, absolutely flawless.  Then we began on the outside of the wheel, which was apparently cut with the same prehistoric tools.  Shortly into this cut, the cutting insert that we were using became dull, and we had run out of spares.   So, we wrapped things up and made a game plan for Metal Day 2, which will take place in a few weeks.

If you’re a gearhead and ever have the opportunity to hang out in a machine shop, be sure to jump at the chance, because you may enjoy it more than you think.  There is something oddly intriguing about giant machinery that effortlessly rips metal apart.  Maybe I am alone here, but this stuff gets the adrenaline going for me.  Just remember that if you don’t respect the agreeable & furry triceratops, he will gobble you up before you can say “Cool Lathe!”.

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