Sunday 29 January 2017

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.


Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

I think that if you are involved in this project and able to speak with the young people working on it they will come to understand that this is not just another hunk of metal. Show them that they can take pride in the work of their own hands and you need not fear the result.

29 January 2017 at 22:33  
Blogger nbreidinger said...

Such a cool project! I didn't realize you picked this up from Don Williams. What a small world we woodworkers live in! Ad I totally agree with the latter. If those kids are taught the respect needed for this fin classic, I think you'll find they have more reverence for it than many of your peers. Looking forward to the updates on this and I hope you continue to recover well!

30 January 2017 at 09:39  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Kevin.

I am looking to be very involved in this project - front to back. The timing is terrible given my injury and being off work for so long, but the show must go on as they say. The shop instructor and are very much on the same page with the goals for this and have spent hours talking about it. We are going to be presenting the project tomorrow after lunch.


30 January 2017 at 10:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Nathan,

Yeah, it was Don's daily driver until 86 when he parked it. I am not sure how many people get the connection, but it was a really cool moment when he suggested it to me. This is one of those great cases where everyone wins. I am hoping that Jill and I, or Riley and I will be able to take a road trip in the car to visit Don when it is all done... that would be pretty cool for him to be able to see it and drive it again.


30 January 2017 at 10:25  
Blogger John said...

Great to see your article again. I enjoy your blog. Hope everything turns out for you with the shoulder. My prayers are with you.

1 February 2017 at 08:53  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks John.

1 February 2017 at 10:40  
Blogger Richard Hunter Wallace III said...

Hey Konrad,

Had a VERY similar thing with my shoulder/arm in November.
Did all the things you did to no avail. Finally got an MRI
and they found a ruptured disc in my neck. My neck didn't even
hurt! Had surgery on it 2 weeks ago and it feels like nothing was ever wrong.
I HOPE yours is just overworked. And it IS kinda messed up not being able to
do the everyday things we do, huh?
Good luck, with the car, the shoulder and getting back to work.


3 February 2017 at 14:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for your comments - I really appreciate it. I have been improving, but it is slow. Did you improve at all with the phsyio and other treatments?
Yeah, it sucks not being able to work - for a variety of reasons. It is amazing how one can place a sense of personal worth and value on the ability to work and be productive... or not. The mental game has been as significant as the physical game.


6 February 2017 at 08:42  
Blogger Jonas Jensen said...

I fall into the category of people who thinks that letting young people work on a car like this is a great idea.
You can expect a lot more initiative and interest if the car is special compared to an ordinary beat up modern commuter car.

I am sure it will be a success.

I also hope that Riley will make some better looking tailpipes. Those original ones were never pretty in my opinion.

Brgds and good luck with the project

Jonas (who drives a 1963 and a 1967 Volvo Valp)

7 February 2017 at 08:57  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Jonas,

Thank-you for the encouragement. I am heading to the school in a few hours to begin the process of removing the engine. I am really excited about it as is Riley and a few of his close friends who are also involved. It should be a good afternoon.

Yes, the entire exhaust system will be replaced and I will pass along your comment to Riley:)

Best wishes,

7 February 2017 at 10:19  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good luck with your recovery and with you and your sons project, will look forward to seeing how the car turns out.

7 February 2017 at 17:21  

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