Independence Day Work Party

(Or, "How to Catch a Volvo Amazon on Fire After Really Trying To" 

I'm reverting back to this page format, because that whole side-by-side thing is tough to format correctly and get all the lines and pretty pictures to line up and stuff.  I'm not what you'd call "tech savvy".  If I were, do you think I'd be publishing on googlepages?  The automotive equivalent would be me driving a Kia.  *shudder*

On Independence Day, some of the Tunachuckers decided that a good way to celebrate our country's freedom from the tea drinkers (*disclaimer, VCH enjoys a spot o' tea) would be to have a good old fashioned BBQ.  Northern style.  Shunning our newfound Confederate homes and lifestyle, Brian and Maria served up a big ol' helping of White Hots, Speidies, Salt Potatoes, and other northern delicacies.  VCH brought some of his Aunt Reggie's famous Crazy Pizza, a secret family recipe for a good Italian pizza involving neither cheese nor tomato sauce.  And Rob and Marylin brought a delectable fruit salad.  Oh, and some other co-workers (non Tunachuckers, so they shall remain nameless and hence, innocent of our crimes against humanity) snuck in a little South Carolina with their homemade peach ice cream.  It was delicious, so we didn't care.  

The next morning, we rounded up the leftover food and beer and had our ritual LeMons breakfast prior to commencing work.  Today (July 5th) we had Rob, Brian, Anthony, and Mike spending some good quality time as a team and making *ehem* interesting progress.

Since we're getting close, both to being done with the major work on the car and to the race, Brian wrote up a list of shit we still have to do and taped it to the roof of the car.  He calls it "Our First Demotivator".  He also demotivated Anthony here by chiding him for needing to stand on the rocker panel to read the list.  You see, Anthony's about 3 1/2 feet tall.  

The driver's door on the car had been heavily carved out to accommodate the door bar on the roll cage, so here Brian tries to prove that he, too can weld and installs some braces to the door latch.  Which, of course, don't fit when the door is shut, so I had to modify them and make them function _properly_.  At any rate, this was a cool display of fireworks.

Then there was some fire.  Without the "works".  *disclaimer: this was actually Brian's idea.  You see, we needed to add rear-facing members to the roll cage to make it a true 6-point cage, per LeMons rules.  Unfortunately, the entire trunk floor was coated with this 45 year old Scandinavian sound deadening mat.  While many people have suggested using dry ice to harden this material to make it easier to remove, we decided that, since this was a car conceived and constructed in one of the coldest climates on Earth, surely a superior method for extraction would be to burn it off.  I mean, after all, its just paper, right?


it burned, and burned and then it burned some more. 

It burned, and burned, and burned.

A plastic cup that I had put some stale gasoline in caught fire and Napalmed the dirt.

The smoke enveloped the cabin of the 122...


 Some people pay actual money for smoked glass.

The fellow peeking at the car from behind is Rob's son, Gary, who decided he'd drop by today and see what his father had been working on these past few months.  I think Rob said he's an environmental lawyer.  I'm pretty sure he was mumbling something about the Ozone and running around giving CPR to spotted owls while the car burned. 

Rob never explained what he was doing here.  I think he was testing the density of the smoke, or something.

Eventually, the fire died out and the remnants of the sound deadening were easily scraped off.  The immolation worked!  The rear members of the cage were welded in, thus adding safety as well as structural rigidity to the rear of the car and the shock mounts. Of course, now the car smells like asbestos.  Hmm.  Some Christmas Tree Air Fresheners and Scented Candles should solve that minor issue.  

After completing the oil and filter change on the engine, and changing the gearbox oil (and fitting a much more convenient gearbox fill pipe) Anthony went to work cleaning up the cage.  That porta-band saw has been a Godsend throughout this project, and we all love Anthony for contributing that.  Oh, yeah, and his enthusiasm, hard work, and occasional Hardee's food. 

We accomplished a lot today.  Rob finally stopped milking that pet-project of his (the cold air intake box) and set about reinstalling the front fenders, clip and bumper.  Brian upgraded the 3 piston front binders with our great new IPD semi-metallic brake pads.  And I managed not to burn, cut, or abrade almost anything on my body.  So it was a good day.  We still have more to go, but at this point we are mobile and *mostly* legal with regard to the laws of Lemons, so we're feeling pretty good.  

Heck, it even _looks_ like a car!

Addendum: The next day (Sunday) I decided I was going to knock out the rest of the rear suspension work.  As you may recall, we'd already had issues to deal with as regard the previously missing driver's side suspension mount.  So all the bushings got changed on that side (luckily, the whole rear poly bushing kit IPD sells is less than $40, so we were able to fit it into our $500 budget).  But since we had the bushings, why not change them all?  Well, it was a good thing we did...

Yikes!  Look at those cracks!  Luckily, where we work (a company that shall remain nameless so that we might retain our employment there) cracks like this are not uncommon to find, and the repair is simple:  grind away the crack, weld over it, and then grind it smooth.

Nicely cleaned up with the die grinder.

...and nicely welded and ground.  Almost like I know what I'm doing.

For extra strength, I welded one of these washers on each side of the bracket.  And added welds from the bracket to the axle.  Stronger than stock? I hope so.  Strong enough to survive 2 days on a race track with 79 other kamikaze drivers?  Wellllll...

To close off, here's a pic of the pretty blue poly bushings, and one of the Volvo's rear control arms: