Monday, December 17, 2007

Odd situation

"Ed, can you get over here? I broke the toilet."

"How did you break the toilet?"

"I don't know. I was vacuuming and all of a sudden there was water everywhere!"

"Okay, I'll be there as soon as I can."

First thing to do, find my tools. My father - in - law has a great set of tools, but I do not know where any of them are. So - my tool box, my Craftsman socket set, and this and that go into the back of the 911. Now, to start the car.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" "rrrrr" "r"
Great, I ran the battery down trying to start it.

Hook up the old battery to the new battery using the jumper cables.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" "rrrrr" "r"

Oooo kay - now what?

No, that will never work. I cannot use the civic to start the 911! The civic has been sitting in one spot since this summer. I have not started it in months. I need to tow it to the DMV to have it inspected before it will be "street legal" again. It will NEVER start. Well, give it a try - I have no other option.

So I run inside, grab the keys, open the civic and sit down. Saying a brief prayer to the car gods, I turn the key. Blip - the car starts. One turn of the key, no cranking, it just starts. Gotta love that civic.

So, back to the 911 - connect the jumper cables. This time I open the hatch and take off the air filter. I want to pump the gas a bit and do not want the air box to explode if there is a back fire.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" "rrrrr" "r"

Wait for charging from the civic.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" "rrrrr" "r"

Wait for charging from the civic.

"GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" "grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" "vrooom"

Finally, the car starts and I can run over to Duff's parents place to try and fix the toilet.

No luck on that front - we had to call a plumber.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Photos from our Skyline Drive trip...

Duff and I went up to Skyline for our anniversary. I'll post more on the trip later, we had a great time.

Here are a few photos from the trip, if you are interested.

10th Anniversary Trip

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wine Tour

Last weekend we went on a tour of the Ohio Wine Country with the NORPCA. For those of you not in the know, Ohio does have a number of vineyards. Some people do not link the wine, calling it fruit flavored cough syrup. I was surprised at the prices - way more than I expected. The drive was wonderful. Les set up a great drive down through some very pretty country roads. I only made one mistake in following his directions, but that was easily remedied. We had lunch at one place, a tour of another and a stop at a third. Over all it was a really nice day. 

That was surprising because both Duff and I were slugs that morning - neither of us wanted to wake up. And once we did get moving we were sniping at each other over every little thing. We finally looked at each other and said "We are going to enjoy this trip - DAMMIT." That fixed it. We both backed off and started just having fun with it. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Long time, no post . . .

Wow, no posts in September. Just a quick update on the car and what I have been doing with it.

I have been autocrossing fairly regularly. Mostly I have been taking 2nd in my class. I have been within shouting distance of 1st, but it has not been a real neck and neck contest.

Most recently I made it to the last IRAC event our local PCA groups held. It was out at Beaver Valley PA, so I got a nice long drive in first. On the Turnpike trip I ran into Les Chescel and his 914-6. Les has the nicest collection of Porsches. I LUST after all of his cars. He has a 356 in a very lovely butternut yellow color. He has a newer 911 - actually fairly close to brand new 911. And he has the very rare 914-6, in a great bright orange color. We drove together into the location.

The event was held at BeaveRun track. They have a great autocross area and I am STUNNED that the PA group does not have weekly autocross events out there. BeveRun is also host to a SuperCar event, where for a few thousand dollars you get to drive a Ferrari, a Aston Martin, a Lambo and a 911 turbo on the track, all day long.

I - once again - took second. I take solace in the fact that the guy who beat me trailered his car in, but, truth be told, he simply drove better than I did.

The one time that I did have a neck and neck with someone was great. We were trading the best time back and forth with each run. Then, I hit a wall. I could not get the car to go faster than 67 seconds. Trying to go faster was actually making me go slower. I was over driving the car. I backed off and tried to get back into a rhythm, but it was no use. I need to work on that.

Duff and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this year. I am taking her to Luray VA for a long weekend. We will be staying in a great little B&B down there. We will go caving, hike trails, see a waterfall, watch the leaves turn, and drive on Skyline Drive. I hope we enjoy this as much as I expect to. If you have any experience with Shenandoah Valley, Luray VA, or Skyline Drive - please let me know what is fun.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Sorry that I have not posted in a while. I got the car back from my dad with slightly less than 500 miles more on the odometer. This was less than I hoped for, but more than I expected. He did enjoy it. He also noticed a small gas smell in the cockpit if the car had been sitting too long. I am not sure if this is a problem or not. I need to look into it.

Since then I have attended a number of autocross events, including my first IRAC event. Surprisingly, I have placed second, first and first in my class. To be truthful, the last "first" was at an event with no other cars in my class, but still . . . it sounds good in a brag. I have about 10 seconds or so left on the course that I need to squeeze out. For the most part, it is left there because I am still not smooth enough. And I LIKE hearing the engine sing at high revs - which is not as fast as low revs in a higher gear.

Otherwise I have driven to work a number of times, perhaps a lot more than I should have, just for the pure joy of it. It is very odd how much I love driving this car. Even in a traffic jam, I love it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Gift

So, today I gave my 911 away. Not forever, just for the week. My dad, as I have said before, has always loved the 911. Due in no small part to me - putting me through college, helping here and there, and generally the time and expense of raising a kid - he has never owned one. For Father's day this year I gave him my car for the week.

I took the time to wash it thoroughly, vacuum out the grass and other crap inside it and so on. It was not in as pristine condition as I wanted to give it to him, but it was nice. Once I got to his house, I went through all the tricky bits - how to turn on the A/C, how to put a CD in, how to arm / disarm the alarm. Then I told him "The car has 99,000 miles on it, I expect to get it back with at least 100,000." That is my one fear, that he will not drive it at all this week. I hope that is unfounded.

Enjoy Dad

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1st Track Day

I went to my first track day with the 911 on June 2nd and 3rd. Great day, but somewhat disappointing. I went with very high hopes. The event was held at Nelson Ledges road course, a very fast 2 mile course out in the wilds east of Cleveland. I have been on the course twice before at "fun days" with the Honda Civic. The fun days are fairly simple. Show up, pay your money, attend the drivers meeting, and drive. For as long as you like. I have not done them for a few years, so they may have changed. I loved them and enjoyed really opening up the Civic as much as it could go. I put 130,000 miles on the Civic and so knew the car very very well. I still have photos from those fun days with the car on two or three wheels back in the carousel. I was much less confident with the 911. I have only put 1000 miles on it so far, and I am still not used to the 915 transmission. Up shifts are okay, it is the downshifts that scare me. Very easy to go from 5th to 2nd. Bye bye engine.

So I arrived at the drivers education day expecting something like a fun day. Could not have been more wrong. The event was very well structured. It had 4 groups, with 30 minute sessions for each group. Each group had multiple class sessions. Each driver had a full time instructor. Very well organized and hard to believe they could put it on for such a low cost.

So, time for my first run. I was in the C group - not quite a novice, but still a unknown quantity. I really lay into the throttle, much more than I would on the street. I rip through the gears, up to third, headed into turn 1. I go through turn one as fast as I could, moving into turn 3. Turn 2 is sort of the exit to turn 1 and the run into turn 3. I won't bore you with any more of a turn by turn description, needless to say, I felt like I was really moving. But at the same time, my arm is out of the window letting everyone go by. C4, Boxster, NSX, Focus, Fiero, Subaru, whathaveyou. They all got to experience the thrill of passing a 911. By the end of the last session I took a look at my speedometer through the course. I was significantly SLOWER than I had been with the Civic. I was loafing around the course in 3rd - trying to get used to the car more than get the most power, but I could not get above 95 on the long straight. I used to hit 110 in the Civic on that straight. Even when I changed up into 4th, I did not have a faster end speed. I really need to learn how to corner the 911 better. The RPMs went from 3K to 6K when I remained in 3rd. Only dropped down when I left the last turn, keyhole, then they were 1K. So maybe a drop down into 2nd before I enter keyhole would have made sense. Otherwise, I am not sure that shifting would have given me more power.

One interesting thing to note. On the second day, it rained. In the wet, I was actually doing better than I did in the dry. I was able to actually pass one person! And I was not passed during the rainy session at all.

OK, those are just general 1st impressions of the car on the track. The car shifted much better after the work Steinel's did. The balance of the car felt better and the handling seemed better - more neutral, less under steer than before. I can't wait for the next autocross. I think I may go to BeveRun for the next track day. It depends on how much the AC for the house costs.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

MORE Great News

Not about the 911, but about my Civic. My Dad and I worked on the Civic yesterday. My Civic, for those who are not aware, was stolen out of my driveway about 3 - 4 years ago. They took the wheels, the stereo, ripped the heck out of the interior, stole the distributor, wires and computer. The insurance company totaled the car out. I bought it from them for $250. The car has sat in the garage, and the driveway, since then. I bought parts for it, but never got off my rear end and fixed it. Yesterday, the distributor and computer were installed. We connected a charged battery via jumper cables, added the wires and gave it a shot. Nothing. We messed around a lot, trying to reduce the electrical load. This was actually a bad idea. The problem was actually the jumper cables. When we directly connected the battery, replacing the battery in the car, the car started to turn over. But we were not getting a spark or any fuel delivery. We spent a lot of time trying to test the distributor and the fuel lines. Did you know that the computer doesn't allow the car to start if the SRS (airbag) fuse is not in place? Neither did I. Nor did the book mention this. Once we put this fuse back in and got the firing order set up correctly the car started. On 3 year old gas - after sitting for 3 years - after having been stolen, raped of all it's parts and basically abandoned by me, the car started. Weird thing is it ran like a top. I would have been happy if it had just run, but it actually runs well.

I need to replace the hood, get a gauge cluster for it, fix the ignition then decide what to do with it. Duff suggests keeping it as a winter car. My brother would like to buy it from me. Or I could sell it to a complete stranger. Tough call...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

AutoCross School article for NORPCA

NOR PCA has published the article so I think it is okay to post this now . . .

NORPCA AutoCross School

The night before the AutoCross school there was a late snow fall. When I looked out at the roads before going to bed, I was concerned the event would not be held. When the alarm clock rang at god awful in the morning, I was SURE the event was cancelled. When I said as much to my wife, she replied “you just want to sleep longer”. This changed my mind. My sloth was not going to keep me from some fun with my “new” 911. Even if all I did was drive 45 minutes out and 45 minutes back, I was going.

On the way to the event I spotted a white 944. I was glad to have confirmation that others were making the trek. When I arrived at the event site / parking lot, there were a number of other cars there. All of the drivers and instructors were out in the cold, doing the tech inspection on the cars. For my car, there was some concern about my battery – it was not tied down and the terminals were close to sheet metal. Luckily Gino lent me a tie down and some racer’s tape to correct the issues.

After the tech inspection was a drivers meeting. The morning was very cold. All of the drivers and instructors huddled inside the bus stop / shelter during the drivers meeting. The instructors reviewed the rules of the event, gave a basic walkthrough of how the day would progress and what we would learn. There were enough instructors available to provide one for each car. The class concentrated on demonstrating some of the common features of an autocross course. We had amble opportunity to run the course, with feedback from the instructors on how to improve.

I had mixed feelings as we lined up for the walk through of the course. I was a bit anxious about the day. I had little chance to drive the car. Having heard about “tail happy” 911’s all my life; I expected the car have a wicked and unexpected over steer. Previously I had driven front wheel drive cars prone to under steer. I had concern about showing poor car control. Also, I was excited to begin learning more about how the car would handle and I was looking forward to having some fun with the car. Walking through the course reduced my fears. As we walked through the course, each feature was explained. Details on how to approach that feature, the best way to keep speed up through the feature and common mistakes were explained in detail. This instruction reduced my fear and I quickly realized that the walk through was a valuable way to improve your time.

We then drove through the course at a slow pace. I was able to take the car through the course without incident. Each time through the course I picked up the pace, trying to listen and apply the instructions and critique I was hearing. Soon, I was able to get the car up into second gear. It is amazing the amount of fun I had driving, for the most part, less than 30 mph. I did discover that my fears of over steer were … overstated. At no point did I lose control of the car due to over steer. Under steer, on the other hand, was the bane of my existence. I just could not let up on the steering wheel enough to get the tires to bite. Especially not when there were cones in front of me. Of course all I was accomplishing by turning the wheel harder was skidding into those same cones. It was great fun!

Because of the high instructor to student ratio, we were able to do a run, hear the feedback, and then do another run right after it. This seemed to be the best learning experience for me. I never really had a chance to over think the course. Not having too much sideline time kept my nerves down.

After lunch, the course was reversed. This made for a really interesting experience. Seeing the same curves, slalom and “garage” from the other direction changed the whole experience. By the end of the day I was much more confident with my car. I knew how it would react in different situations and had lost some of my concern about car control. I think the event taught me a great deal. I would recommend the autocross training to anyone who is interested in knowing more about their car and how it handles. I had to have the grin surgically removed from my face. I cannot wait to do this again.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Great News

I took the car in for a second opinion. No offense meant to Chris, just if I was going to spend $13,000 on the car I wanted to have someone else take a look. Everyone in the PCA to whom I mentioned the issue said "you are going to take it to Steinel's right?". So for my second opinion I took it over to Steinel's. Eric was very nice, he took me for a test drive in the car - asking me about various issues. His initial impression was that I did not have a broken headstud. I was a bit leery of this, but asked him to go ahead and complete the testing.

As a side note, it seems like every time something goes on with the car I am out of town. For the purchase I was in San Diego, for this round of testing I was in Washington DC.

I called Eric on Thursday to get the verdict. He had opened / removed the valve covers and tested all of the head studs. They all seemed to be in good shape, all taking torque and so on. The oil leak was coming from a bit higher in the engine. He was able to correct that issue, along with the high idle and a broken rocker. The transmission was out of adjustment, so he (they) were able to correct the second shifting issue. He also adjusted the clutch and the throttle. The clutch was very grabby - it seemed it was not releasing completely. Correcting the problem was an adjustment. The throttle was only giving me ~60% of the full travel. Adjusting it should give more gas and quicker acceleration. He also noted that the car has a LSD - which is a nice surprise. He recommended new brake pads and rotors, so I had him do that. I thought for a minute about doing it myself - I like doing brakes and need to get a wrench on the car at some point - but this was quicker. There are some DE's in early June I'd like to attend. He also thought that refilling the AC might correct the problems with that. We'll try it and see.

I'm looking forward to getting the car back on Wednesday. I wish I had allowed Chris to do the testing in early May - he would have found similar results I am sure and the car would have been back sooner. Oh well - I was so freaked out about the possible $13K in expenses that I lost sight of that as a worst case scenario.

Total cost is not yet determined, but while expensive it should not be anywhere near $13K. The purchase was not as bad as I thought.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I took my car out to an Autocross class back in early April. It was very cold, but I had a serious blast. Once the engine issue is corrected, I'd like to do it some more. I actually wrote about it for the local PCA newsletter. I'll post the text of the article here after the newsletter comes out.

Autocross is a low speed competition of you against the clock. You are in a parking lot, moving through gates of cones. There are a number of different set ups for the gates, including corners, garages, slaloms and so on. The goal is to get through the gates, hitting no cones, in the shortest amount of time. I babied the car through the training sessions, trying to get a better feel for the car while still doing everything as quickly as I could. I LOVED every MINUTE of the event.

I'm trying to talk Tim Harnett into doing the SCCA autocross events - Solo II - here in Cleveland. They seem reasonable price for the great fun the event actually is. Tim has a serious Mini fetish. He and his wife own new ones, and then he has a classic one as well. One possible issue is his modified intake on the new Mini. It looks like that places him into Stock Modified class, where many more modifications are allowed. He is not likely to be competitive in that class. We'll see. I think he should bring both the new one and the classic one. Talk about a big contrast! With the classic one the gates would look like barn doors.

I'm in Washington learning about the Autonomy Search Engine. It is an interesting class. One of the things I set up was a HTTPFetch against this blog. I want to see how quickly this post appears in my data set.

I took the car to another mechanic - Eric Steinel. My thought was that if I am going to spend $12K, I'd better get a second opinion. Eric is doing some more tests, over and above what Chris did.

I'll find out more tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fixing minor cosmetic items

I did a little work on the car since my last post. I'm still up in the air about the car. In the meantime, I decided to clear up a few minor imperfections. One of the P.O. replaced the drivers side headlight with a H4, but did not replace the passenger side. I ordered a new H4 from Pelican Parts and replaced it. This went fairly well, but I was glad to have the help of my cousin Lew. He noticed that the painted cover hooks onto the fender at the top. Without that, I might have lost the cover at the first corner.

I also replaced the engine bay light bulb. Dumb, but it was driving me nuts. Every time I checked the oil in the dark, I could never see what was going on. With the new bulb, the light works fine. Now I can see under the deck lid - yea!

I then tackled the shield on the front hood. I had to go out and get a 8mm deep well socket at Sears (thanks Steve!). After I had the right tool, I started cranking on it. And cranking on it. And cranking on it. Nothing seemed to be happening. I took a look with a flashlight, speed nut is there, no movement downwards however. I took another look in the book - no help or hints. I finally decided to just pry up a little on the shield as I cranked with the socket. POP, up it came. The new one popped in fairly well, but the posts are not exactly aligned with the holes in the hood. It took a little force to drop the shield into place. Otherwise uneventful install.

Speaking of oil, I don't seem to be losing or burning any at all. I have none on the ground and the dip stick is still reading the same - yes I have the engine up to temperature and running - I learn. Slowly sometimes, but still I can be taught new tricks. Only sign I have of the broken head stud is gas mileage being low. No "odd" noises in the engine. Weird.

I washed the car, inside and out. I removed a bunch of dust that was annoying me and I fed the seats and other leather bits some "hide food" from Mothers. Mostly neets foot oil and lanolin. I was amazed at how much the seats soaked up. Many of the little scratches and discoloration disappeared after applying the lotion. I'm sure they are back now, but it was encouraging.

I threw a birthday party for myself on Friday. I think a great time was had by all. Just wanted to say "Hey, I'm 40 now" with a bunch of friends. I put together some beer, pizza and chicken tenders for the group.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Previous Owners

Hey - if any of the previous owners of the car are reading the blog, please contact me. I would love to hear more about the history of the car, modifications you have done, etcetera. The S/N is 9119200401. The car was sold to Stoddard sometime last year.

2nd & 3rd PCA Event

I got out to another PCA event - the new member party. This actually was a few weeks ago, right after the photography event. Duff and I had a great time at the event. We attended with some trepidation, as we did not know anyone and we are shy people at the best of times. Everyone there made a real effort to be nice to us. They came up, introduced themselves, talked about their cars and generally were very friendly. I met a number of other SC owners. Most had taken a carburated approach to improving performance. Listening to them chat, I was very glad that I joined the group and am looking forward to other events. I gathered information on a garage tour, the DE events, the autocross events and a winery tour. The group seems to have a very good time together.

The 3rd event was a turbo retrospective at North Olmsted Porsche. They put on a very nice event - having morning breakfast pastery out, a number of turbo cars and techs on hand to talk about the vehicles. One tech, Chris Young, seemed very knowledgeable about the older models. He had a few SC's in his work area - one a original slant nose that was in the process of a turbo upgrade. Again, great event. I only hope I can get my car out of the shop in time for a few events later this year.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Recent developments

I got an interesting email from Chris Young, the mechanic who did the post purchase inspection. He is suggesting purchasing a 2nd 911 SC with a good motor, swapping the engine and then selling the 2nd 911. My cost would be 1) the carrying cost of a 2nd 911, 2) his labor and 3) any difference between the purchase price and the sale price of the 2nd 911 SC. I guess it all depends on the price of the other 911 . . . This way leads to madness.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Well, I got the news today, oh BOY!

I finally took the 911 in for it's inspection today. Got some seriously bad news. The engine has a number of broken headstuds. This is not a small dollar repair. I am surprised that Stoddard did not let me know about this - it is fairly obvious once the car is up on a lift. You would think they would tell me, once the car was sold and they had the cash. I had always heard good things about them.

So, do I sell the car as a broken head stud car? Do I fix the car and sell it? Or do I fix the car and keep it? If I am keeping it, do I just rebuild it as a 3.0 $$, have the 3.2 upgrade kit installed $$$, or go whole hog and replace the motor with a 3.6 from a 996 $$$$? I am very upset right now, so please - don't say "I told you so" or "you should have had a PPI" or even "that is what you get for buying off eBay". I'll say it now - you are right, I am an idiot.

The honest truth is that I know the "right" thing to do is fix it and sell it. I'll take a loss, or break even - depending on the cost of the repair. I can get another 911 later, and "once bitten, twice shy" so I will do it right the next time.

I just don't know. Likely I will go with a combination approach. Try to sell it unfixed, fix it and try to sell it, then end up keeping it as no one else wants my mistake.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

1st PCA event

I went to my first PCA event last week. I actually went to three events, all last week. The 1st was a photography class on how to shoot motorsports photos. The presenter was very interetesting, and his photos were great. I don't know that I learned a lot, but I was overwhelmed by his photos. It seems that to get the shot you pretty much need to be ready in advance of the photo. He emphisised manual control of the camera, selecting the correct exposure, and being prepaired. I hope to have a chance to take some photos at one of the drivers education or autocross events. I'll post any I take here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

YouTube video

This video is of a 911 SC on a track, following a new 911 997. I have the feeling that either 1) this SC has been modified or 2) the driver of the SC is significantly more experienced than the driver of the 997.

Enjoy -

Fixing some of the issues

So, I took the time this past weekend to try and correct some of the issues. I started with the hood. I first replaced the prop rods. These are hydraulic shocks that hold the hood up when you open it. I started on the driver’s side. The Clovis pin and circlip that hold the prop rod in are connected to a bracket. On the driver’s side, not mentioned in any of the manuals, this bracket is under the gas filler tube. No idea if that is the right term. This is the hard, large, black metal pipe that runs from the gas cap to the fuel tank. This is an immovable object. Right next to this is a A/C or heater blower for the interior of the car. This has sharp objects on it. By dint of much pushing and prying on my hand, I wedge it into the space and get one finger on the Clovis pin. This is not going to be simple.

Wisdom being the better part of valor, I decided to start with the top. No issues, drops right off. I now have to do the bottom. HAVE TO. Getting the top back in place will not be simple. After much swearing, it came off. Fantastic. Out comes the old prop rod. Now to replace it. The new prop rod fits into the space easily. Now to get the bottom Clovis pin in place.

(. . . Time passes . . .)

(. . . More time passes . . . )

Finally, that is in place. Do the top, no problem. Take a look at the prop rod I just removed. It is dated 1985. So it was last replaced 22 years ago.

Go to move the car so I can get to the passenger side one. Car does not start. (Grumbling and more swearing) I cannot find my jumper cables. Go over to a friend’s house who also owns a classic car: a mini in his case. He has a very neat garage, unlike mine. Borrow his jumper cables. Connect the two cars. Jump the 911. Move it out and back and out and back. Get to the point I can replace the passenger side one. Takes a total, kid you not, of 10 minutes. Look at that prop rod. It is dated 1997. Obviously, the driver side one is a real bear.

I now start working on the hood not latching. I start by testing the latch itself. It works fine. The cable is not broken, nor is the catch itself. I now start adjusting the hood position. This solves the issue. YEAH! The car is now drivable!

I start it up. The dash issue occurs. I tap the key. The issue is cleared. Another small issue corrected! Or at least a work around until I decided to replace the ignition switch.

That is enough for today.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Myriad small issues

Well, before I put the car to bed for the month of March -I took it out one more time. I know, I know - SALT - I think storing it for winter will be an issue for me every year. This time it was daylight, it was not freezing cold and I was not, no really officer, speeding. I drove around the valley till the temperature came up. I played around with this and that - the radio, the lights, etc. Once up to temp, I started winding it out a bit more. I actually took it up to the red line once or twice. One word - SWEET.

On the downsides, I did discover what was going on with Duffy the other night. It seems that every other time I started the car, the dash did not work. The speedometer, the radio, the headlights - all quit. So time to crack open the books I bought. I traced the electrical diagrams all the way out. I was looking for a relay, or possible wire that might be disconnected, or something like that. As far as I can tell, the only way this could be happening is if the ignition switch is causing the problem. I'm going to try jiggling the key the next time it happens.

Took it home after all of the fun parts. Filled up the gas tank. It seems that it is very important to have a full tank if you are not planning on running the car for a while. I also added some windshield washer fluid. Bad idea. It went into the system, then out of the system and on to the floor. I'll need to do more diagnosis once the weather is warmer, but I fear I need a new doohickey for the thingamabob.

I then took a look at the hood. Just checking the trunk for any leaking fluid etc. That is when I realized the emblem on the hood is loose. I think one of the speed nuts is missing.

I guess I just need to get used to buying car parts instead of pizza . . .

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vanity Plates

I've more or less decided not to get Vanity Plates for this car, as it is a cop magnet already. I'm a big enough target with the whale tail, plus my past history likely has all of the cops in the Greater Cleveland area doing a jig at the thought of me in a 911. I picture grizzled old veterans gathered around the water cooler, telling the young pups "Happy days are here again." "You will never miss a quota now." That sound you heard? That was the laughter in Columbus when the title went through.

That said, if I WERE to get vanity plates, does anyone have any suggestions? I thought OLD SKOOL because it is a very old 911, still air cooled and relatively light weight. Others?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm infatuated with this car

This is kind of stupid to admit to, but I am infatuated with this car. I have not even driven it for an hour. The tachometer has only been above 4000 twice - once at my dad's and once the other night when Tim and Carol gave me a lift home from the train station. I really have no experience with it yet. But I do love owning it.

I bought three books on 911's so far - The Used 911 Story, Porsche 911 Performance Handbook , and a shop manual. I have read all three. I actually have studied how the suspension works, because I wondered about the torsion bars.

I really need to drive this car. Gotta cut this short, Andy wants a walk.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I need to buy a radar detector

So, I have had the car for a full week today. I have a) driven it home, very carefully 2) driven it over to my dad's for a brief visit and iii) taken it out to recharge the battery. I know I said I was going to leave it in the garage until spring. But the insurance card came today. I had to put it in the car, then I messed around with the radio, the dash, the sun roof, etcetera after I put the card in the car. So I had the bright idea that perhaps I should run it for a bit to recharge the battery - just in case. Duff and I played horse around with the cars to get the 911 out of the garage. Once it was running, where do I decide to take the car? Around the block briefly? Let it idle in the garage perhaps? Maybe just run it down the highway? No - of course not. I decide to take it down into the valley. I think, one quick lap - down Stinchcomb, across the river and back up behind the hospital. No problem. Just enough to warm it up, not enough to get salt all over it. So, I just get down Stinchcomb hill, turn left and take it up into third gear. I'm not going fast at all. Just turning over at 2000 rpm. Cruising. What to my wondering eyes does appear? A Cop. I go into Steve Pack's patented routine - oh sh*t, oh f**k, mess around with driver's license, etcetera. Those of you who know the routine, know what I was doing. It is a magic voodoo dance to avoid getting a ticket. Usually, it works. Usually I am driving a PT Cruiser. He pulls me over. I think I made his night. I explained that I had JUST. . . GOT . . . THE . . . CAR. I wasn't used to it. It got away from me. I grovel. He gives me a warning.

I have got to get a radar detector.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

In the garage . . .

The car is now in the garage, hopefully until spring. I think I will be tempted to take it out on occasion, when the weather is nice. I'm going to try to avoid that temptation till late April. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Superbowl Sunday

I took the car out one more time before the spring. I wanted to take it over to my parents house, so my Dad could see it. Dad has always wanted a 911, but he never made any serious attempts to buy one. I thought I would surprise him, so I did not tell him about the car.

On the way over, I started to get some heat out of the car - it was -5 F or so outside. I took the car down through the valley, since it was a toasty 0 F or maybe even + 5 F in the car. The valley is a massive public park in Cleveland that winds along several rivers. I have used it as my own private test track for years. One time I took my Chevy Beretta down there and was driving a bit too fast. The road took a sharp left corner, dipped down, crossed the river in a ford, then dipped up and into a sharp right corner. That Beretta crossed the river sideways in a skid. How I ever survived to be 40 I will never know. I have driven my old 924, my 1973 Chevy Impala, my Honda Civic, all of my cars on these roads at stupid rates of speed. I'm still sticking to the "no going over 4000 rpm until the engine warms up" rule. Unfortunately, the car never really warmed up. When the car is oil / air cooled, -5 F is a bit much to run around in. But it was still nice to tool along at a normal pace on the roads I used to daydream about running a 911 along. I'm just starting to get the handle of the car, so it was all for the best.

Dad was suitably surprised when I asked him to come outside. He did not have on a jacket, or socks, but ignored the cold and stayed outside for 15 minutes running all over the car. I took him around the block and, just for 1 gear, let the car run up to the red line. WHOOSH - I finally understood why I bought this thing. It was very nice, very fast. Dad's comment was "You are going to get yourself in trouble with this thing." It was said in a light laughing tone. When we got back to the house, he let me tuck it into his garage.

Mom took a look at it through the door, but said she would wait for spring before she takes a ride in it. We went in, had a great meal and watched the game together. When I got back to my home, the car was warmed up quite well and I thought that Duff had not had a chance to ride with me yet. I went in and got her. She came out, sat in the car and the headlights stopped working. I am sure that we just blew a fuse, but still . . . I think the car might not like her.

If this were true, I would have to make a very tough decision - should I sell the car? Or should I get a divorce?

Lets hope it doesn't come to that, shall we?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Picked up the 911 today

Okay, today I picked up my 911. Bizarre experience. There is no manual. There is no documentation of the service history. The car was pretty much as I expected. There are a couple of minor items that were not visible in the photos. A bit of rust here and there, the interior is a bit more worn, but overall pretty much as I expected. Stoddard was great. They detailed the car before I got there. They put a full tank of gas in the car. They took care of the paper work quickly and so on.

Driving home, I was very cautious with the car. I did not rev over 4000 until the temperature lifted off the bottom peg. Duffy, my patient and understanding wife, followed me out of the dealership. At some point we lost each other. I turned around to find her, then had to turn around again. During the second turnaround I hit a patch of snow. Whiz - bang, just that fast, the car swapped ends. SCARY. Made me very nervous on the highway. I was very aware of every patch of ice, snow and possible wet areas, let me tell you. I did not want to speed at all in the car.

It was a gorgeous winter day here - about 28 with clear blue skies. As I drove past downtown and onto the west side, the skies darkened, snow started to fall and I got very cold shivers down my spine. My drive took me on a bit of road called "dead man's curve". It is a very sharp left turn, about 90 degrees, right in the middle of a 4 lane highway. I wanted to zip through it at top speed, but after the issue in the parking lot, I took it at a more normal turn of speed. Some guy in a Olds 98 nearly side swiped me at the next on ramp.

We had seen an accident near Lyndale on our way to the dealer. We were not sure why. On the way home, I found out why and nearly had one myself. The road had not been cleared through a corner. There was still about 5 inches of snow, just cleared out where people's tires went. I hit that and almost lost it again.

Then there were the heater controls. I had no idea how to make them work. I just read online that I need to a) pull up the levers on the floor b) move the levers on the dash and ignore the levers down by the gear shift. Bizarre. I must locate a manual for this car. I'll post new pictures once I get to a PC with a USB port.

Oh, one last thing, as I got home it started to snow in the car. I think the window seals need to be replaced.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Signs full of portent

I belong to a group on Tribe called Porsche-philes. The first guy to respond to my inquires about buying a used 911 was Shamus. He was really very supportive and had a number of books to recommend, steps to follow and things to watch out for. Shortly after my post, he purchased a 1977 911. I recently followed up with him to see how the experience went. I've quoted a few relevant passages below.

". . . the rear sway bar mount was cracked (a common problem) and the shocks in the rear had to be replaced. My mechanic recommends flushing the brakes every three years, so I had that done. The battery was the wrong size, and badly jury rigged into the compartment, so I just replaced the battery rather than weld a clamp for it. . . "

". . . After a couple of months, I noticed that every time I used my turn signal with the lights on, the highbeams would come on. Again, it's a common problem because of the way the headlights are wired. $300 for that. I've also discovered that the cigarette lighter doesn't work, which is a problem, in that the spare tire inflates with a little pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter. It wasn't the fuse, so that's something for taking it back to the shop. . . ."

". . . The biggest annoyance is that there's a leak, and it rains a lot here. . . while I consider whether I spend a grand to replace all the seals . . ."

". . . The pop off valve ended up being the big story for me last year. I was getting some stalling upon deceleration, you know, just cruising up to a stop sign. The guys at the mechanics just said that it could be a hundred things, and you might just have to put up with that. Then one day, it just didn't start. After consulting with Pelican Parts, they said that likely it was the pop off valve. Sure enough, it had popped out, and taking apart the air box and popping it back in got the car running. But then I ended up having it pop out on me at a stop light, and later on the interstate, and I had to do roadside or middle of the road repairs. That was no fun, but at least it first broke down in my parking spot, and I was able to know what it was and how to fix it. Once the valve was replaced, the stalling on deceleration went away. I guess it was just leaking before it popped out. . ."

Ah, the joys of classic car ownership! I have great things to look forward to.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I am insane

I just bought a car on eBay. This is insane. What the hell was I thinking? I know what I was thinking. I was thinking "There is no way this car is going to sell for that price" THAT is what I was thinking. My little entertainment of bid chicken has cost me a nice chunk of change.

Let me explain. I love surfing eBay. I love looking and dreaming about all of the cars, boats, houses, stereo equipment etcetra that I could buy. I sometimes even bid on it, just to give myself a little lift. After I have bid on something I like to think "I could be the owner of a Ferrari right now." It gives me a little boost, a lighter step, a longer stride. Of course, I always under bid the blue book on the car, just to be safe. I've never even come close to being the winning bidder. Well, this time it bit me.

I have put a down payment on this car. Even though I was not too serious about buying the car, I still can't pass on the price. I have bought the car. The car of my dreams. The car I always said "Someday, someday when I am rich, I will own that car." Of course, I'm not rich. But I own it none the less. I just bought, for $11,100.00, a 1979 911 SC. Low blue book on the car is $15,000. This blog is my personal journal of the ownership trials and tribulations of buying a "cheap used sports car". I put that in quotes because there is no such thing as a cheap used sports car. The seller always knows something you don't. Plus, most people who buy sports cars use them, a lot. "Use them, abuse them and put them away wet" is the way my old boss used to put it. I am setting my expectations low right now. I expect that I will have this car in the shop very often, and it will cost me a ton of money to own and run. We will see. We are on this journey together, you and my invisible non existent audience. I hope that I will be able to look back on this time and laugh.

I saw a 'Malcolm in the middle' episode yesterday which featured a car torturing him with it's need for repair, service and general disdain for his love. I laughed heartily at his trials and tribulations. I hope that was not signs full of portent.

I've included the eBay pictures. Those of you who get to see the car in person can compare to reality and comment.



I've attached the pictures from the eBay auction, just for your amusement.