Saturday, June 6, 2015

Long time no post ...

After my wreck, it's been months since I was able to do even the most menial of chores and tasks around the house and the TA suffered some for it.  With the '91 Corvette in the shop getting a complete front to back checkout, an oil leak fixed, and a vacuum leak fixed (the AC only blows through the defroster vents no matter what setting), it was time to take the '86 TA out of the garage, blow the soot off of her and put some miles on her rubber.

About the second day that I drove her I noticed that the driver's side fog light had burned out and with the weather being pretty bad for a while I wasn't able to ramp the TA up and slide under it to work on it.  

One thing I always hated was seeing one of these cars (post '85) with one of the driving lights burned out ... so until I fixed mine I just cut the other driving light off.  I could fix it, no problem, even had a spare bulb in the rolling tool kit ... but I just didn't have the time or the energy.

Today, I felt like doing that and that's what I did so ... twenty minutes worth of work under the TA and I've banished the one eyed fog light monster again ... hopefully for another 29 years.  

Now it's back to normal and I can run in the early morning hours without the headlights up killing my gas mileage.

And speaking of 29 years ... 

On the day after Memorial Day, I put my '91 Corvette in the shop to fix a few problems on it and took the '86 TA back on the road as my temporary daily driver.  She did fine for a week and a half then on the way home the blower in the dash went out.  There is nothing like driving along with the windows up, the sun beating down on you through the glass T-tops on a hot day, the AC cranked to MAX and the blower set to HIGH and then to just have nothing coming out the vents in the dash.

I tried the switch a few times (because when something stops working at 65mph in cruise control that's what you do) and ... nothing.  The compressor was kicking over and cold air was leaking slowly out the dash but there was no wind coming from the dash which meant that the blower motor in the dash had just given up the ghost or something had come loose or a fuse had blown.


Power window down.

Blast furnace temp wind at 55mph.

I got home, checked the fuse and the fuse was good.  I ghosted a few threads and found that the solution was either a bad blower motor or a bad electrical connection of incredibly poor OEM design.  I wasn't too upset ... if that poorly designed electrical connection had given up the spirit after 29 years of faithful service I didn't have too much to complain about.  Since I was getting nothing at the fan motor I decided to replace that first (being 29 years old and such).  I went to Advanced Auto Parts and got a new motor.  The counter guy asked me if I wanted one with the fan cage or without.  I initially told him without, thinking I would just reuse my fan cage but then I told him to give me the one with the cage since ... again, 29 years old, I wasn't sure that if I got the original fan cage off the original fan motor if it wouldn't just disintegrate or come apart at a later time (old part hooked to a new part) so I erred on the side of caution.

The blower motor and hamster cage is located in the firewall on the passenger side of the under hood area.  It's secured by five bolts, 

I got back home, the TA was still on ramps, and I swapped out the blower motor.  It's not that hard ... in fact, the lower two bolts will cause you to use four letter words in combinations that would make Jesus weep openly if He was helping you swing wrenches on this problem.  Those two bolts will come out, it just takes a lot of time to get those two lower bolts out.  

I swapped out the old blower motor and fan for the new blower motor and fan, put everything back together and cranked the TA up.

Old blower motor - it lasted 29 years so I can't give it any real grief ...

I now have wind from the dash ... but only on the first three blower speeds.  Before I wasn't even getting that so I know that the old motor was bad.  When I flick the blower speed knob to HIGH, nothing happens.  Flick it one notch down, wind from the dash ... ice cold wind!

Three out of four speeds is still better than none ... especially in a Mississippi summer.  Not having AC in Mississippi in the summer is akin to committing suicide.

Now I've got to replace one of two (or maybe both) electrical connections (one under the hood near the passenger side valve cover / firewall) and one under the driver's side dash.   That's the connection under the hood, look for the dipstick for the automatic transmission and it's pretty much in a direct line straight back to the firewall.  Replacing it isn't hard to do ... what's going to be hard to do on the inside / under dash connector is finding it and working on it since after my accident I'm still kind of gimped up.  What I hope to do is swap out the underhood connector first and if that fixes the high speed fan setting then I'm not going to worry about the under driver's side dash connection until it fails ... but like I said, I'm still recovering from my wreck and right now I'm happy with 3/4 fan speed and cold air again, especially in a Mississippi summer ... maybe tonight or tomorrow night I'll replace the connector under the hood and if that still doesn't give me high speed fan mode I'll just bite the bullet and track down the one under the driver's side dash.

Oh, and just to add extra grief flavored icing to the cupcake of life, the left side of the driver's Recaro started splitting.  I had the left side bolster replaced about a year ago.  
I guess the 29 year old material is just wearing thin.  

Add that to the list to fix soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Still a head turner at 29 years old

This TA turns heads ... that much is a given.  Recently I was on a private security detail when a group of five kids walked by me, looking at my TA parked across the street.  The oldest of the kids couldn't have been much more than 11 or 12 so they were all "this century" kids.  One of the younger kids pointed across the street to my TA and said ...

"There's that neat car again!  What type of car did you say that was?"

There was a tall, bookworm type kid in the group, lanky, with glasses and he looked over at my TA.

"That's a Pontiac Trans Am Thunderbird." he said, all matter-of-factly.

"Trans Am Thunderbird!" said the first kid.  "That's a cool name for a car!"

I smiled but didn't correct them.  Hell, my TA's been called a "Thunderbird" by more kids than I can count ... or remember.

Maybe that's why I drive it, the TA and me ... we're the last of our breed.  There's a new order out there, a new America and it isn't the America that spawned us.  We're anachronisms, rolling down the crumbling highways and cracked streets of Americana ... already being forgotten, already the names being lost to pop culture and one day the TA and I will both be gone ... ghosts from a different time, maybe a better time.

She's still pretty fast for her age and she turns heads like a pole-dancing nun.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finally fixed the slow leaky tire

I'm the king of procrastination.

I've had a slow leak in my rear passenger tire for ... years.  If I left the TA sitting up for two or three weeks I'd come back and find the passenger side rear tire almost flat.  I'd just air it back up and get on with my life.

Well, since the '91 Corvette lost one of its tires due to hitting a roofing nail in the subdivision that was heavily damaged by the December 23 EF3 tornado I decided to finally roll the TA into the shop where I got my tires and had them pull the tire to check it.  They couldn't find anything wrong with the tire and finally one of the mechanics said he'd see the problem before; a very, very slow leak at the tire stem.  He replaced the tire stem and ... guess what?  

No more leaking tire.

Take one task off my to-do list.

I'm going to miss the Pontiacs in Pigeon Forge show this year due to my wreck and injuries but next year ... I'm already planning for it now.

Friday, February 6, 2015

29 year old starter died ...

Well, this is the first time that I've updated the blog since my accident in my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby.  I won't beat a dead horse so if you didn't know about my accident you can read about it here ...

What a waste of a really rare car through no fault of my own.

Fast forward to me being without a daily driver, unable to ride my '04 Honda CBR600RR due to my injuries and having to pull the '86 TA out of the garage to use as my temporary daily driver.

Things could be worse ... like if your 29 year old classic Pontiac Firebird decides to drop its starter in the parking lot of Toys-R-Us and strand you while you're injured from a really bad wreck and you don't have the ability to fix the problem yourself.

That kind of worse.

Not much of a story to tell here ... waiting on my '91 Corvette to be delivered from North Carolina by private transporter so I'm driving my '86 TA until the Vette gets here.  I take my TA to my chiropractor, leave the chiropractor, head to Toys-R-Us to see if any new Star Wars 6" Black Series figures have come in and my 29 year old starter gives up the ghost.

I guess as far as starters go, that's a pretty good life for a starter ... a long life.

It was just one of those things ... you park your car, you walk into Toys-R-Us, you don't find what you're looking for, you walk out, you get in your TA, turn the key, everything in the dash starts up but when you turn the key in the ignition ... nothing.

Now, I've been around cars most of my life and I knew ... deep down gut knew what the problem was.  For the miracle of internal combustion to happen you need three things; air, fuel and spark.  I turned the key off and turned it back on.  The electric fuel pump was pressurizing like it should, if the initial start-up whine from behind me told me anything.




Last time I checked there was still air outside ... so ... check.

That meant spark.

I popped the hood, checked the battery connections ... clean and non-corroded.  I wiggled the battery cables ... tight.


That meant it was only one thing ... especially since the motor wasn't even turning over let alone catching.


I sighed, hung my head all the way back, closed my eyes and asked God "why?"

I didn't get an answer so being one not to pout or sit down and go to pieces when something bad happens in my life, I looked at the situation.

I had a bad starter.  Now, how the starter went bad from the time I turned the TA off, went in TRU then came back out is probably something that involves a lot of mathematics put into the basic form of equations on entropy so I skipped that.  This was here and now, I had a perfectly running '86 TA that wouldn't start.


Since I was recovering from having to be cut out of my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby back in November, I figured there was no way that I could call my dad to come pick me up, run me to Autozone, let me get a starter, jack up the TA in the parking lot, replace the starter and get on with my day and my life.  Right then, my back and the pain I was in pretty much told me this was going to be a tow it and pay someone else to fix it resolution to my problem.

I called my family mechanic.

He sent a tow truck.

We towed the TA into the shop.

A day later, I had it back ... and my wallet had gone on a $184 diet but ... 

Life ... what can you do? 

When you can't do for yourself you've got to pay someone else to take care of the problem for you.


All the preventive maintenance and TLC in the world won't help you if your starter gives up the ghost.  That kind of strands you ... effectively.  One piece of equipment goes out and ... you're stuck.

I can't say I was really happy seeing the guy shove an old broken ratchet into the lock hole of the tow bar.  I rode with him in the cab of the wrecker and all I did the whole trip was look in the rear view mirror expecting to see the ratchet give way and my '86 TA go swinging or rolling off into traffic.

Loaded on the tow bar of the wrecker.  We tried to get it on the rollback but the wrecker operator couldn't get the rollback under the TA ... not without doing damage ... so I told him to just bar it.

And away we go ... and away $184 goes from my wallet.  Sigh.