My knee is sore after that drive.

I decided to get out early in the am before traffic last weekend and try to practice with the truck. I still have to get enough confidence to go get it weighed. 

My plan was to head out north Livermore into the country roads, giving me a chance to open it up without being on the highway. 

I didn't make it, right as I stopped and turned right onto north Livermore from portola the gas pedal fell behind to the floor and the gas pedal lever that goes through the firewall now sets higher than the pedal actually reaches. I limped the truck into the neighborhood just to the right; I couldn't find a reason for it; but the gas pedal shaft will no longer rest behind the pedal. But works and goes all the way to the floor. 

So I got back in and I drove the truck by just keeping the nub of the gas pedal shaft under control with the bottom of my shoe. I was getting the hang of it; started a couple times from a dead stop fairly elegantly. Then I got brave and decided I had annoyed this set of neighbors enough I should head back home. The north Livermore back country would have to wait until I had a  less than lethal gas pedal.

Just as I get to the light to turn left it turns red, ... Dammit. Now I have traffic behind me and I get to be first into the intersection when the light changes. The light changes, I start out good, gas is strong, clutch easing out, not covering enough ground, ... Damn I didn't realize this intersection was this big, more gas less clutch, a herking-jerking we go, I'm trying to find a position in the clutch to ease the jerking, I don't dare let up all the way, so i decide more gas, HOLY MOLY the truck didn't like that! the whole truck starts hopping like it's a seal out of water, the gearshift begins jackhammering me in the knee punishing me for my overzealous application of fuel. I finally get the beast  under control and now its moving in a straight line; people flying past me on the left. Most of them weren't mad, most of them I think were just bewildered from the show they had just witnessed and more than anything else just wanted to be farther away from it of it in case it were to happen again. 

Rubbing my knee, ... That'll probably leave a mark... I'm on a straightaway doing 35 in 4th I realize the diff must be in low; I pull the lever to switch, no sound no change; let all the way off the gas; no change. I push it in; no sound no change. So it appears the diff is stuck in low; at least that explains why I cant get to highway speeds. I repeatedly tried to change it, clutch in, Clutch out, nothing seemed to work; and I've heard it work. In my second trip out.  But nothing doin this time around. 

My short list of suspects is that I'm either not generating enough vacuum, I have a vacuum leak, the fluid leak at the diff may be a cause, or that part of the diff has decided it's on vacation until this new jerk learns how to drive it nicely. 

Oh forgot the best part, pulling it out of the parking spot I ripped off the left mirror this time. So I'm 2 for 2, I ripped off the right last time, it's costing me $16 to unpark my own vehicle each time I want to use it. $16 = cheapo head mirror replacement from kragen. I asked the manager if she would kindly keep an eye on the inventory and order some more when she gets low 'cause I'd be back...

Mater Comes Home

Mater's back from the shop.

New brakes, rebuilt master cylinder and hydrovac.  All new brake lines, and a couple new vacuum lines.

Brakes were entirely overhauled, drums machined, new wheel cylinders, new shoes.

Emergency brake was adjusted, right front leaf springs straightened out and re-bracketed.  Tie-rod ends and kingpins have been replaced.

He's still running really rough, one cylinder is totally dead, and another is intermittent.  I need to do a full tune up to see If I can get him running on all eight cylinders.

It was an exhilarating and terrifying ride from the shop to home.  All of my driving up to this point only partially prepared me for what I had just experienced.

Here are my thoughts as I drove my 57 Wrecker for the first time.

  Clutch out, gas, c'mon, c'mon, ... ok that wasn't so hard.  

  ok, now need to turn, .., Turn, TURN, TURN!, OMFG IM GONNA DIE, TURN! TURN! TURRRRRRRRRRRN! ... ah hell holy crap I almost just took out that fence.

  street coming, going to need to stop, slow.

  ok, need to stop, .., Stop, holy crap, STOP! STOP! STOOOOOOP!

And that was before I got out of the shops parking lot.

I liken my first Mater driving experience to 'Whipping an ogre to do your bidding'.  You'll eventually get him to do what you want, but he isn't going to be at all happy about it.

The video was done on a phone, I'll try to get a better version. In the background you can hear my wife, her sister is recording, and she was there with her son.  You can hear my nephew in the background, 'I like it!'.   Well, so do I.  

This will be a great learning experience, and I can't wait to take it out and practice some more.

2nd Annual Trans Am Graffiti Cruise

I had a blast taking the Bluebird out with a bunch of other second-gen Firebirds. We started at GM Sports in San Jose, hit Kassabian's in Dublin/Pleasanton and trecked up to Modesto for the Graffitti Car Show.

Dear Cruisers,
Thanks for an awesome cruise this year! We outdid ourselves with 20 cars this year compared to 8 last year. Please mark your calender for the second Saturday in June, 2012, and plan on joining us again.
I am still going through all of the photo's we took. If you have some noteworthy shots you'd like to share please forward them so I can share them with the group. I plan on sending an album out by next weekend.
A special THANK YOU goes out to the following sponsors for helping to make this event fun for all, opening up your parking lots and businesses and for filling us up on coffee and donuts:
GM Sport Salvage
Kassabian Motors
A big HUGE THANK YOU to the car show coordinators and the Kiwanis Club of Modesto for allowing us to park our precious Trans Ams in a secure area! We all really appreciate that and your event was outstanding as usual!!!

Lisa Dalisa

(AKA Jose)


"This is sheriff Buford T. Justice. I'm in pursuit of a black Trans Am. He's all mine so stay outta the way."

Buford T. Justice 1977

If you've ever pushed the gas pedal a little harder than you needed to, just to hear it growl. You'll love this.

"Shell commercial shown in Europe . Ostensibly, they're selling gasoline, but the cars used in the video steal the show. Ferrari pulled several of their race cars from various ages out of storage, flew them around the world, and filmed them running through the streets of Rome, Rio, New York, Hong Kong, Honolulu and Monaco. No computer generated graphics -- these are the original cars on the original streets. The best part is the sound -- from the basso-profound notes of the early, front-engine era, each scene cuts to a later generation, ending with the wail of a modern F1 car. Even if you're not a gear-head, this video will stir the soul. There's just something about 3 liters and 14,000 RPM! I really like the people's reaction to the sound."

-- Gui

Follow ups: 

Debugging Monit Start and Stop Actions

I was recently trying to do some tricky start and stop commands with Monit  Unfortunately while Monit itself can log to syslog, it doesn't output anything from attempts to start and stop the applications.

The stripped down environment that Monit spawns can be problematic and getting it to cough up whats wrong can be frustrating.

Based off of an answer to a similar question on stack overflow by billitch I think I came up with a good way to keep tabs on whats happening inside those Monit start and stop commands.  A wrapper script pipes both standard output and error to syslog.

I created two shell scripts in /etc/monit, one for full debugging, and one for minimal extra output and ongoing use just in case a problem crops up, you can check your syslog and see what bad thing went down.

My original scripts also preserved the exit code of the command under test but apparently Monit doesn't give a whit about what the command exited as; so I've presented the simpler script here.


     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER date"
     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER env"
     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER $@"
     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER exit code $R"
    } 2>&1 | logger


     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER $@"
     echo "MONIT-WRAPPER exit code $R"
    } 2>&1 | logger 

This is an example Monit script, showing execution of both scripts.


check process dk-filter with pidfile /var/run/dk-filter/
      group mail
      start program = "/etc/monit/modebug /etc/init.d/dk-filter start"
      stop  program = "/etc/monit/morun /etc/init.d/dk-filter stop"
      if 5 restarts within 5 cycles then timeout
      if failed unixsocket /var/run/dk-filter/dk-filter.sock then restarter.sock then restart 

The Bluebird gets some interior work.

When I purchased the Bluebird a 1973 Firebird 350, it had some after-market items in it that were no longer functioning. 

The console mounted Stewart Warner Tach always read 1500rpm, the aftermarket cruise control was dead, the trip computer didn't talk to the fuel senders anymore, and the digital temp, oil, and voltmeter was on the fritz.

The trip computer was mounted in the original dash bezel, removing it left a big square hole. Likewise for the tach and the temp, oil, volt meter in the center console.  The radio install had been done in the map tray, and the wires run through holes drilled through the map tray.

I got a new reproduction console from Ames Performance I also got a 1970-81 Stereo Map Pocket Adapter from Hitman's site to use with the reproduction console and replace the modified map tray.  I must admit that the Map Pocket Adapter didn't match up to the reproduction console as well as I think It would have fit an original console. I fidgeted enough with it to get it installed decently.  I also found a replacement dash bezel on ebay.

Once I had the center console out, removed all of the wiring associated with the cruise control I found that the Accessory fuse had been popped. Perhaps thats why on the last trip my GPS didn't work in the cigarette lighter socket.  I began removing all of the unneeded wiring and trying to chase down the dead short I had somewhere.

I finally chased the problem down to the cigarette lighter. The tabs on the inside that push the lighter out when it's ready had become fused to the inside of the socket.  I ordered a replacment from Ames Performance. The replacement came with the socket and shroud; except the shroud didn't have the support for the extra light that was original to my current socket.  I realized I could take the shroud off of my original, drill a hole in the side of the new socket to allow light into the replacement and re-assemble it.  Worked like a charm. No longer blowing the fuse, and the light in the cigarette lighter still works.

This is the interior of the car before all of the work.

This is a shot of it after.

Only a face a mother could love...

The 1957 Chevy 6100 Wrecker is home.  Thanks to Ray, and R. Lance and Sons Towing.

The Wrecker has a 4 speed manual, with a two speed two ton rear end, PTO, winches, air horns, lots of lights, and a Chevy 350 Under the hood.
It looks uncannily like Tow Mater from Pixar's Cars movie but I'm going to resist naming it "Mater".  It's too cliche; and this is a serious work truck!  Maybe "Bessy"; Not sure.  The truck will eventually name itself; until them I'm just calling it
the 57Wrekr.
Current Todo List:
Rear Brake Drums are Seized; Unseize them.
Rear Brake Lines are Cut; Replace them.
The Rims may be unsafe widow-makers; Have them checked.
The Tires are Dry-rotted; Replace them.
Windshield is severely broken; Replace it.
Driver Side Vent window is missing; Find a replacement.
The bench seat is nasty; Fix or Replace.
Then drive it!
It last ran in May, starting it should only require fluid changes, and a nicely charged battery.
Big props to Ray and R.Lance it was fun going to pick it up, and it went very smoothly.

The Bluebird takes home a trophy.

The Bay Area Firebirds (BAFGFB) group organized a cruise up to the Muscle Cars in the Park 2010 show in Elk Grove, CA.

With a stop in Flag City to group up before making our way to Elk Grove.

On the way to Elk Grove.

The line up.

I came away with a 2nd Place, Best 70-79 GM ( Buick Olds Pontiac )  

My best guess it's a lark, because Lisa's white 78 should have been in the same group and was clearly a better car, and didn't walk away with a trophy.  

I had a great time despite it being a little wet.