28 years later...
When I was in high school (before there was the Internet:), I had to decide between ‘woodworking shop class’ and ‘auto shop class’. It was a tough call, but I chose the woodworking side of things... but always with an eye into the auto shop class to see what I might have missed. I know I made the right choice, but have always regretted not being able to take both.
Next Tuesday – I have the privilege of going back to my high school, along with our oldest son Riley and take that auto shop class 26 years later.
I should back up a bit. Last spring I was attending the Lie Nielsen handtool event and the Lost Art Press grand opening in Covington Ky. While I was there, I ran into my friend Don Williams, who very early in the conversation said something to the effect of, “Hey, I know its not a vintage 911, but I have a 1968 p1800 that you and Riley might be interested in restoring.” It was one of those comments that can pass you by faster than it happened if you are not paying attention. Thankfully... for some strange reason, I was paying attention, and the conversation continued over the next few days. It was hard to contain my excitement.
Last July, Joe Steiner, Riley and I took a road trip to meet Don just outside Washington DC. We had a bit of a rocky start with the car hauler trailer, but made our way there without incident to find Don waiting for us early the next morning. He had the car already pulled out of storage and this was the first time to really see it.
We were all pretty smitten right off the bat, and while it certainly would need work, the body was in very good shape.
Riley was the first to ‘drive’ it... that is steer as we rolled it onto the trailer. The interior needs to be replaced - it was the primary residence for countless critters since it was parked in 1986.
1968 was the last year of this dash - with the baby blue dials... much to my delight!
(Riley, myself, Don and Joe)
The road trip home was uneventful, although we almost lost one of the headlights. Thankfully, a roll of duct tape solved that problem.
I was really stressed about the border crossing, but I have to say, everyone I spoke with on the Canadian customs and the US customs side was incredibly helpful and accommodating, and we were through the process in less than an hour. It certainly helped to do all the background homework etc ahead of time, and if anyone is looking to bring a vintage US car into Canada - feel free to send me a note and I can explain the process. It likely helped that we were at the Windsor/Detroit crossing at 1:00 am too.
We arrived home around 4 am, crashed at our house and were up again way too early for our own good... but wanted to get the car off the trailer and stored.
The first stop was my Dad’s garage. No, he doesn’t own a garage... I just mean his actual garage attached to his house.
Over the next few weeks, Riley and I started removing the interior to get a sense of how much rust there might be in the pans etc. There were a few isolated holes that will need to be cut out and patched, but overall, I was very pleased to see how solid it was.
I like to think that this little black button by the hand brake was installed by Q.
We moved the car from my Dads garage in the middle of November so he could park his own car out of the snow. We found a short term site for a few months until this past Friday, when we moved it to the high school.
I have been doing a fair amount of research over the last few months including talking to several friends and acquaintances who work on old cars. Their responses seem to fall into one of two distinct camps, ‘You are totally insane for letting any high school students near this car... that will be the fastest way to wreck a classic!’ to, ‘Wow, what a great project and opportunity for you and your son (and friends) to work on a project together - it could change one of their lives!’
I have spent a fair bit of time talking to the instructor about this project, and while there is certainly the danger of the first response happening - I am thinking back to myself in high school and am choosing to hope for the latter. The opportunity for learning and rewards of a great project like this outweighs the fear, and I am willing to take the chance. It is also a great opportunity to work with Riley (and hopefully Lucas at some point), on a project together.
In other news, I had a pretty significant left shoulder/arm/hand injury in early December. There wasn’t a specific event - just too much working on the house and in the shop without any breaks or time off. It appears to have been a bit of a perfect storm for an injury because multiple areas were affected. I have seen a good friend who is an orthopedic surgeon, had x-rays, ultra-sound, been to acupuncture, massage therapy, an osteopath and our voodoo doctor - all of them assure me that I will recover from this. What is not known is how long it will take, and to what extent.
Right now, the biggest challenge is the pronation of my left hand. Pronation is the ability to rotate your hand in when your elbow is at your side. This lack of movement has affected my ability to type (which has improved enough to write this), but writing and drawing are still very challenging and not very pretty.
It has been a little over 8 weeks and I am just now getting into the shop to do some very basic, non planemaking tasks. The fine motor skills required for planemaking are likely going to take some time, but I will use this forced down time to do other things... like go back to school and pretend I am 17 again... and learn something totally new... which when I think about it - is pretty awesome.