The author is out

Sorry folks for the long interlude without posts. I went on a 10 day vacation, visiting my parents, and getting some skiing in. My only access to the Internet was via dialup, and that only from my parent’s cold basement. Brrrr. Needless to say I kept it to a minimum.

I’ll fill in some of the things we did while there in the next few days. At the moment I’m back at work and digging out from the backlog.

A Visit to Wigton.

(note: this post is backdated a bit over a week)

I’m in Colorado on vacation (and marooned in 1990’s technology… using dial-up for the first time in this millennium!) visiting my parents. Took the day off from sliding down hills on sticks to drive down to the flatlands northeast of Denver to finally meet the man who has saved my ass more times than I can count. You see I am a mechanical midget whose greatest skill with a wrench is making musical tones by dropping them on the garage floor, which I have to admit I do quite well. Making wrenches do what they are supposed to do? Well I haven’t quite mastered that yet.

However, with access to smarter people than me, via the Internet (specifically the Jag-Lovers E-type mailing list), I manage to keep my old car running. One of those smarter people is Paul Wigton. I set aside a day of my vacation to meet this man who has offered, free of charge and with endless humor and patience, infinite amounts of advice and counselling concerning the collection of parts and British engineering that I am the caretaker for, the 65E. Paul has been working with, and lived around Jaguars literally since BIRTH, and has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about these cars. He’s also a genuinely nice guy. Like me, he is the caretaker of an E-type that belonged to his parents. In his case the (in)famous “Tweety”… named for an odd noise it makes. I was finally able to hear it first hand, as well as shake the hand that hit the starter button.

Above: Christopher Goolsbee (laughing), Paul Wigton (smirking), and “Tweety” (not rusting).

Above: Click the image and you’ll get a short QuickTime movie of Paul starting up Tweety (and Christopher running away?!) This was taken with my digital camera, not a true video cam, so the quality is not great, BUT you can clearly hear the famous “Tweet” note to the exhaust. Paul says the noise orginates in the head, as his dad removed the exhaust (LOUD!) and it continued tweeting.

Paul gets a lot of crap for having a purple E-type. But now having seen it, the color has actually grown on me. His mom chose the color apparently, and topped it off with a white tuck&roll and purple shag carpet interior (which I’ll … ahem… reserve comment on). The exterior though is interesting. The color has depth and behaves a lot like my OSB car… highlighting the curves and reflecting the colors around it. I’d love to see it: 1. Complete and clean, and 2. Under varying light conditions (sunset, dusk, stormy weather, etc) as I imagine it would really photograph well. As it was, I was under harsh, BRIGHT sunlight on one of those high-plains winter, high-pressure days. Even so, it looked good. So my vote to Paul is: Keep the “Poiple” when it comes time to finish the job.

Above: Yep, it IS Purple. It is dusty and scratched, but under there is a nice color in an odd sort of way.

The car has its original 3.8 engine, with close to 200k on it. Purists will cringe at the Series II cam covers, but hey, whatever works… besides the car is PURPLE! Paul says the ribbed cam covers don’t crack as easy, which I can understand. I like my shiny aluminum ones, but they are a royal pain to keep looking good, that is for sure.

Did I mention it was freezing cold? It was barely above 0° on the Fahrenheit scale, and yet…

Above: Click the image and watch as Wiggy & Tweety zoom off into the … um… gravel road. Note that I was expecting Paul to just back the car into the garage, as he had removed his jacket for some odd reason. Instead he blasts down the road at a full clip, minus a coat, a door, and a windscreen! As you will see snow covered tires don’t grip a cold garage floor very well, as Wiggy had a real hard time getting the car into the right spot on the garage… too much torque! Stay tuned to the end where the affect of all that cold is revealed.

We went inside and spent the next couple of hours warming up with hot cocoa and pleasant conversation. Paul filled me in on the history of his parents’ other famous Jag, the factory works lightweight XK 120, aka the ‘LT2’ or ‘Silverstone.’ The Wigton’s were the last owners until the current one bought it in the 70’s and restored it to factory-new condition. It appeared at the Monterey Historics in 2005 and Paul made a pilgrimage to see it. Here are two old photos of the car on Paul’s wall (in a poor Photoshop montage from two photos I snapped). The one on the left is Stirling Moss autographing the car as his parents look on, and the one on the right is Paul’s mother at the wheel of the LT2.

Big thanks to Wiggy for the hospitality! Big thanks also for keeping my usually morose teenager laughing so hard he almost wet his pants. It was a wonderful, Wiggalicious Day.

USA vs Latvia

Sorry I haven’t written much about hockey this year. I’m on vacation this week, in conjunction with the Winter Olympics so no time like the present to cover the subject. I LOVE tournament hockey.

I had to stay off the skis today because my ski boots had not yet arrived, so I’m at my parents house waiting for DHL and watching Team USA vs Latvia. Team USA came out in the First Period like they were on fire. High-speed, end-to-end hockey, very entertaining to watch. The pace put Latvia on their heels and the inevitable mistakes allowed the US to put 2 fast goals on the board. But then the pace slowed as Lativa rallied around their national hero, diminutive goaltender Artus Irbe. As a (retired) goaltender I love to see a team play defence as a unit.

Latvia had the “7th man” in the form of a rabid and raucous crowd – one of the great things about Olympic hockey indeed.

The Second Period saw the action even out and Latvia catch up very quickly, go ahead, then fall even with USA 3-3. It is great to see John Grahame in net for USA. I watched his Dad play for the Houston Aeros of the old WHL when I was a kid. He made some amazing saves which seemed to inspire Team USA to pick up the pace. The Third Period became a replay of the first, with end-to-end action, minus the scoring. The US started shooting and skating again. But Irbe stood on his head and held the tie to the end.

Great game to watch, even though Team USA couldn’t pull a win.

Update: a few hours later, the media is treating it like a defeat. IIRC the “Miracle on ice” team of 1980 started their gold medal run with a 2-2 tie with Sweden.

The great thing about living in NW Washington is the ability to get CBC TV from Vancouver, which provides an alternate to the exceedingly dull and narrow focus the US media puts on the Olympics. Unfortunately I’m not at home right now so all I have is NBC. Oh well.

One other thing I noted about the game today was the Officiating was excellent. Very few missed calls and what was called was accurate and appropriate. I also noted the Referee had a video camera on his helmet. It is obviously NOT part of the NBC feed, as they never showed any “ref-cam” images. Having been a ref, I think it would be great for hockey fans to see the perspective, as the referee has the best “seat” in the house for any hockey game.

More Jaguar Woes

While the wheels are off in Seattle getting new tires mounted, the Jag is 2 feet off the ground out in the barn. Of course, we had to have an earthquake, and a windstorm too! 3.6 tremor last Thursday evening, epicenter Whidbey Island. I called home and Christopher asked me if I felt it, I of course wondered if the car fell off. Thankfully it didn’t. Then on Saturday we had a HUGE windstorm. Knocked out power for us most of the day so I couldn’t work on the car. I finally did get to it on Sunday morning and spent what I hoped would be a pleasant few hours out in the barn…

I figured it was time for some chassis/suspension maintenance. Staring at the left front, I worked my way around the car, doing a lube job, cleanup, etc. The E-type has splined hubs and knock-off wheels, so they need to be lubed too, but I’ll wait for the wheels to come back for that. With the wheels off it is easier to get to the suspension lubrication areas, so that is what I started with. Left front suspension went just fine. Right front had one issue, a torn rubber boot (or “gaiter” in brit-car speak) on my steering tie rod end. It is obvious that whomever installed it did some damage to it with the safety wire. Wear and tear did the rest. I’ve ordered safety wire pliers online and should be able to fix this next weekend. The right rear went well, but a new issue awaited me on my final stop around the car…

Above: a diagram/photograph of my loose hub.

The driver’s side rear wheel hub is just a wee bit loose in along the fore/aft axis. Now that I think of it, the car has almost always made a “clunk” noise when moving from forward to reverse, or vise versa. Now I know where it came from. I always thought it was from a wheel/hub issue, now I know it is just a hub issue. This is new territory for me as beyond lubrication I haven’t dealt much with hubs. I don’t recall this much wiggle last time I had the wheels off, so it must be getting worse. I posted this to the Jag-Lovers E-type forum and consensus is that either it needs more shims, and/or the bearings inside the hub (at the bottom fulcrum, not on the axle) are shot. Wonderful.

The irony here is that I discovered the wiggle after I’d lubed up the bearings in the hub and the lower fulcrum. You can see the white lithium grease still hanging off the zerk at the bottom of the hub. I grabbed the spline to steady myself as I stood up and heard/felt the “clunk.” I then started investigating further. In hindsight I could never get the hub to “clunk” with the wheels on due to the weight. I’m just not strong enough to move that much steel, aluminum, rubber, etc around… but just the hub? “Clunk!”

So now I’ll tear it apart to fix the hub and have to RE-grease it again.

Note to Josh: If you clean just a little bit at a time when you have the chance, it all stays pretty clean. I can’t imagine cleaning the entire car, but a wheel well? Sure. A bunch of little jobs add up to one big one. 🙂

Making do

OK, I’m beyond a full week now without my PowerBook.

You know the last time I had a powerbook repaired was back in the “bad old days” of a “beleaguered Apple” (remember those?) This was during the rampant fiasco that was the PowerBook 5300. No, I never used one of those, I was a Duo/2400c kind of guy, but I managed a fleet of laptops at my then employer… mostly PowerBooks, but also Toshibas and IBM ThinkPads. The 5300 was Apple’s best sales tool for selling Toshibas and ThinkPads… gawd it was awful. I think I saw more users switch to Windows 95 due to the 5300 than any other cause. Apple, to its credit did have several repair programs in place for that model though. Based on that experience, the current one is horrible… it is making me yearn for the “bad old days! of 1996!

How? Well back then Apple didn’t have retail stores. You didn’t have to schedule yourself to see the “genius”, or wait for days or even weeks to get your laptop fixed. You called an 800 number, the next day a shipping box would arrive, all ready for your laptop. You would drop your powerbook into the foam container, seal the box and hand it back to the FedEx guy. Literally no more than THREE days later, you had your PowerBook 5300 back. Mind you, it was still a PowerBook 5300, which means it still sucked, but at least you had it back!

I’m now 8 days into my life without my laptop and there is no end in sight.

In the meantime, I’m living with the wheezing old TiBook, which clings to life by the skin of its titanium, um… skin. As I said before, it really can’t be called a laptop anymore since it refuses to run on battery power. It also sits on the verge of meltdown due to badly overheating. I have removed the keyboard from it in an attempt to keep it cool (and running!) Yesterday I found a big heat sink off an Intel server and greased it onto the CPU.

Above: My battered, wheezing, old TiBook, sporting a server-sized heat sink. Resting on it you can see my “Genius Bar Work Authorization.”

Today I am experimenting with using the parts scavenged from my old XK engine rebuild as heat sinks. The camshafts are too heavy, but the valves are doing an excellent job of maintaining CPU temps below 115° F. Plus they look cool. Maybe I’ll shoot a pic for a future entry.

If this were 1996, I’d have had my PowerBook back at least 4 days ago. As it is 10 years later, It looks like it could be another week.

Above: My repair status page at “On Hold, part on Order.

Let’s hope the TiBook doesn’t spontaneously combust before its replacement gets back. It damn well better get back before mid-February when I go on vacation! I would rather not bring a wheezing, overheated TiBook and external firewire drive with me. Not to mention a few pounds of metal to act as heat sinks. 😛