Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Two Hundred Thousand

After nearly 30 thousand miles in her possession, the Escort ZX2 is mine again. I got it back about 150 miles short of 200k. My second drive to work in it gave me the final rollover, the third car I've owned that's hit that ludicrous number -- and the second Escort to do so.

The first was my 1991 Ford Escort Pony, many years ago. Then the Miata. Now this.
I gave Amanda the ZX2 a couple years ago as a xmas gift. I have it back now because she has bought her first car. Quaint, that, since I got my first car about 10 years ago. Expect a guest post soon by her, about her new wheels.

So it's official: the Miata is my pleasure and race car; the ZX2, my daily driver. It's nice to commute in a reasonably quiet car with a compliant ride. It's not so compliant as to be infuriatingly dull -- I have an undying love of Escorts for a reason -- but it's not the torture box that the hard-steering, hard-riding, uninsulated Miata is. I have the added bonus of only having to maintain the Miata for race duty, I don't have to worry about wear from commuting as well; it can be out of service for weeks at a time while I rebuild the engine or order parts.

The down side? I won't have super-buff arms anymore, since I'm now spoiled with one of those amazing modern luxuries: power steering.

What do I do with the Escort now? Neglect washes. Do only the most necessary maintenance. Maybe do a few aero tricks and such to improve fuel economy. Treat it like the beater it has truly become. Eco-mod rat rod, anyone?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I took a day off work this week to drive down to Bloomington in a borrowed Chevy 3500 van loaded with garage door repair supplies and tools. I'm thinking the thing got 12 mpg.

It was also about a bazillion degrees outside. I drank about a gallon of Gatorade and was still dehydrated.

I went there to pick up this car. It was free. I was also offered a shitload of extra parts and stuff that I couldn't take because the van was full of the aforementioned garage door parts.

It's a 1988 Mazda 323 GTX. Turbo 1.6L B6 4-cylinder engine making 130-some horsepower. Yeah, the Miata got a version of the B6 that made 120 hp without a turbo. That may be what I put in it if I ever get it running. Oh yeah, and this engine is blowed up. 

This thing also has 4-wheel drive with a lockable center differential. The transaxle is not in the car. It's not even currently in my possession. I've been told it's "rebuildable." So who knows.

The owner was getting rid of it for the magical price of zero dollars for all these reasons, combined with the fact that the city told him to GTFO OR BAN. Well, get rid of the car or pay $100+ every day it's not gone. So now I wait for my parents to get the same ultimatum, as it sits in their driveway with a hacked up wiring harness, Vice-Grip pliers for a steering wheel, an engine hanging on by one motor mount, and... whatever. I have no idea.

And as it turns out, it's a BF chassis, not a BG. So who knows if anything will actually bolt up to it. I had planned to swap the drivetrain bits to make an AWD Escort, but now compatibility is suspect. Hopefully I can still use the rear hubs for my eventual mid-engine Escort.

This is a project for later. Picking this up made me realize I already have more projects than I can handle. It was a healthy reality check. I've gotta focus on LeMons.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This post contains random sightings, in the form of photos taken with my cell phone. Pardon their shitty quality. With that out of the way, BEHOLD!

Super fast cigarettes! They are filled with win!

...if lung cancer is a form of winning (says he who smokes on occasion).

Sweet retro Mello Yello dispenser! If I were a hipster, I'd cream my pants. If I were a scientologist, I'd be retarded. I actually just drink the stuff.

Why does this remind me of the awesomest movie ever? Is it just because it's got a guy whose name is kinda similar to Peter Weller, and John Lithgow, and what seems like a joke title?

Shit, you can get everything at Wal-Mart. Even dildos and/or ass plugs disguised as sidewalk chalk! Are we even talking about cars anymore? Where did this come from?

Ahh, that's better. Wait... what's going on here?

Oh yeah, epic overkill. Welcome to America. And speaking of America...

This is what it was like to be livin' in America after The War. Eric spotted this in the junkyard while we were hunting for Zetec parts. It's a beat to shit DeSoto with plates that were last renewed in '77. 

The body was in impressive shape in terms of rust, but the frame was completely rotted. You could tell because while the front of the car was still on the frame, the back half of the body had slid off it.

We would've looked at it more, but there was a wasp nest somewhere in it that we clearly disturbed. Eric held it open long enough for me to snap this, which gives you some idea of the amount of room under that hood with a flathead six cylinder.

But I digress.

Spotted in the driver's seat of a car in a junkyard. Probably in a Contour. An apparently fruitless attempt at saving the car. Oh god, I'm really boring you aren't I? Please don't leave! Here's some eye candy!

Fine, maybe it's shit-flavored candy. If you can taste shit with your eyes. Maybe if you've dropped acid and are getting that sensory confusion thing I learned about in psych class. Sorry. But it's still candy. This is an Audi R8 V10 that I spotted on the highway a month or two back.

Yeah, that's all I've got right now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Team Resignation

Updates about the 24 Hours of LeMons car, the 1991 Ford Escort LZX2 (ZLX2?), will now mostly be on the Team Resignation blog. Head over there to see the latest.

Shift turret boot and insulator

When your shifter insulator boot (the big one) is this badly deteriorated, you can see your Miata's driveshaft if you take out the center console. Heat from the exhaust likes to warm up your drinks and/or electronic devices in the cup holders in the summer; cold air keeps cabin temperatures down in the winter. You also get to enjoy the fine smell of exhaust if you have a leak.

About a week ago, I replaced that and the transmission shift turret boot (the small one) on my lunch break. 4 screws gets the console off, and it's all 10mm bolts from there. A short extension helps.

Getting the insulator off is trivial; removing the small boot from the shifter is a little trickier. It's pretty small, and fits very nicely into a recess on the shifter. I cut it off with wire cutters that are on my little multi-tool.

After filling up the turret with fresh gear oil (it was empty, of course) I spent some time trying to figure out how to get the shifter apart to get the new small boot on. I consulted the interwebz, and found out the shifter doesn't come apart. It's just like sex: lubricate, and slip the shaft in the hole. I'll let you guess which is more satisfying.

Put your 10mm bolts back in, screw the console back on, and go back to work.

On my ride home, I noticed a quieter cab and a distinct lack of Disconcertingly Warm Cell Phone And iPod Syndrome. Which is nice, considering heat probably isn't their best friend, and spending money isn't my most favoritest thing to do.

Speaking of spending money, these were real cheap through Mazdaspeed. About half to one-third the price, if memory serves, of what these go for on Good-Win Racing and elsewhere they're available. In fact, I think those places charge about as much, perhaps even more than dealer retail. Since these aren't aftermarket parts, you're probably better off just getting them at your local Mazda dealer and saving the shipping cost (if you don't have a Mazdaspeed membership, that is).

Good luck, and happy wrenching!