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December 2, 2009: The end of an era.

It's been a month since the Beretta was traded in on RV17. It's occasionally weird, not seeing it in the driveway. It was a good car, it just didn't fit into the long term plan. Ok, it was front wheel drive, and we all know how I feel about wrong-way drive. But, it never left me stranded, no matter what broke, we always made it home.

October 23, 2009: More dead cars.

Once again, my cars continue to die at a record clip this fall. The Subaru decided that it needed a turn, so it spit out an axle boot. This is my first order of parts from rockauto so, we'll have to see how that goes.

October 7, 2009: The Beretta rides again!

One $45 junkyard steering column later, the Beretta is back on the road. Just in time too. The truck is puking coolant again, the clutch on the Ram Air is fried, and snow is coming. I feel like the editors of Car Craft magazine where it was revealed that between 4 of them, they own 13 cars, and still have trouble driving to work.

I still haven't decided if an Avalanche is the right vehicle to replace the Beretta and the truck.

September 8, 2009: GM Steering Column Happy Time II

Unreal. No sooner do I get the truck steering column back together than the igniton switch actuator linkage in the Beretta snaps in half, which means pulling and disassembling the column in the Beretta.

Did I mention that GM wants $150 for the part? I can get a whole column from the junkyard for $45, so you can probably guess where I'll be headed on the weekend.

August 9, 2009: GM Steering column happy time.

I've been swearing at the truck's steering column as of late. It has developed the standard GM sloppy steering. Darren came over a few days ago and helped with the teardown, and I finished the job after getting the pivot pin tool.

If you read links like these you'd think it was a total piece of cake to do. Ha. You really need to check out this instead. As far as I can tell, the bearings on the inner race are held in place by magic, because once you disturb the column, you end up with a floor full of ball bearings. You also end up with an interior full of ear smoke.

It's looking like I'll probably have to wuss out and take the column to someone who can do magic - it's just not working for me. Steering column:2, Ray:0

June 3, 2008: 9 million kilometers!

According to my insurance company, my 2002 Subaru (yes, the car has no page yet) has 9017017km on it. We tweaked the ownership last time we renewed the insurance, and as part of that, they need to know the vehicle mileage. Actual mileage was about 99,017km. I was cleaning up the old insurance papers when I noticed this. Now, assume that the car was made in September of 2001 - it's the first 2002 off the line... that's 2,467 days or 59,208 hours. Which means that my Subie has averaged 152.3 km/h 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not bad, eh?

Any bets as to whether or not the insurance company will understand when I point this absurdity out to them?

May 27, 2008: rollingviolation #17 plans.

I'm calling it the 10-4 plan.
Somewhere around the 10th month of this year I'll be buying my next car.
No older than 10 years.
No more than around 10 grand.
The list of possible cars is about 10.
Unless of course, I decide to just drive the Beretta another winter and complain instead. ;)

The reality is some are too much money, some will be too old and beaten up, and the fwd cars are there just as a way to look at 2 year old cars. I'm about 90% sure it'll come down to the two most impractical ones on the list. (One is too small with a turbo 4, and the other comes with a screaming chicken on the hood.) :)

May 11, 2008: Car news

Unfortunately, not much is new on the car front. The garage is still a mess, the race car sits, the Subaru still has the door panel off, the Beretta is still running awful, and the Ram Air is still in storage.

We've been debating what to do with the "fleet" - does it make more sense to buy a new vehicle like an Avalanche and combine the pickup and the Subaru, or spend no money now and just spend it on repairs and maintenance? I have tried to justify both ways and have not come up with a killer argument for either.

Buying a car like an adult sucks. When I was younger, I bought cars that I liked, or cars that were cheap and didn't require 60 payments. Now I have to worry about fuel economy and insurance costs, and not just whether or not it would lay rubber going into second gear. You'll note that that is still a criteria, not just the only one.

March 8, 2008:


Here I am in Cuba on a much needed holiday. Now, if only Cuba wasn't a complete and total clusterf**k, it might be more of a holiday.

We decided to book a holiday through one of those last minute deal places - selloffvacations.com and got a really good deal on the price. Or, so I thought. The price actually went DOWN by another $100 the week after I booked, but at least I didn't pay full price, because if I would have, I would have felt ripped off. I've learned that a Cuban hotels have a slightly different rating system than a typical Canadian hotel. For example, from the following list, pick which items you'd like your room to have. You can pick the same number as the number of stars your hotel has. The list is: hot and cold running water, toilet seat, toilet paper, air conditioning, clean and comfortable beds.

It's not all bad. I did get a week of sun (mostly), I got to go snorkelling, drinking and relaxing, so it's still a good holiday. The rum down here is cheaper than water, and flows like it. The people have been all very nice. The food hasn't been bad, but nothing special. And of course, onions on everything, which means I have to get picky on what I can eat.

Now, if that's all there was to say about Cuba, it would be an ok trip, but the thing is unless you go to Cuba and stay at a 5 star all inclusive and never leave the resort, you can't help but talk politics your whole trip once you see the real Cuba.

The real Cuba. Cuba is one big oxymoron. My summary of people in Cuba is this:

"Fidel is great!"
"Vive la revolution!"
"Capitalism is evil!"
"Want to buy some black market cigars?"

Even if you choose to buy black market cigars (which were smuggled out of the factory), when you pay the person, they have nothing to buy with the money they get. The blame for that is a mixed bag - Castro blames the United States, but it's not like the USA is the only place in the world that manufactures stuff... in fact, does the US actually manufacture anything anymore?

Meh. Still better than shovelling.

February 21, 2008:

Ray gets a speeding ticket

For those of you that know me personally, I'm sure you're already thinking "This is news?" Well, it is. Not just because it's my website and I can complain about what I want to. Hey, it's my first speeding ticket in 5 years, and considering that my web site has pictures of pinned speedos and burnouts, you'd think my license was on permanent suspension.

So, there I am, flying down the highway... at the SPEED LIMIT (100km/h), going to pick up my inlaws at the airport. I'm on the closest thing Manitoba has to a real highway, with traffic lights only every so often and even the odd overpass... but I digress. Anyway, the section of highway I hit slows to 80 for a traffic light and then zips back up to 100. Because I'm winging along at the insane speed of 105... I do what I always do - roll off the gas, and once I'm past the light, get back on the gas, oh shit, was that a cop I just went by?

And so, I get to meet Officer SmallCocks of the RCMP, who dutifully informs me that I'm speeding, but because he's such a swell guy, he's going to write me up for 99 in an 80 instead of 105 in an 80. Wow. Feel the love. I guess it could have been worse - he could have just tasered me.

I am planning on fighting it, because the radar gun in his police car doesn't have a "distance to target" only a row of lights that estimate the distance. I'm betting he locked me in at 105 before I even hit the reduced speed section. Frankly, I just think he's a pedantic asshole.

Of course, I only have myself to blame - I left my radar detector in the Ram Air when I stored it for the winter.

The double irony here is that I went down to pick up parcels at Menke's earlier in the day, and the roads were bad... and I made good time. Your radar guns are no match for blowing snow.

And no, I don't hate cops. I just don't understand why they like to play mobile tax collector instead of doing real cop stuff.

January 27, 2008:

You know it's going to be a bad day when:

A couple of days ago, I decided to service my snowblower. Stupid idea, never take something apart that you can't do without. Well, I'm having to do without until I get parts. Nothing quite like dropping the bottom cover off, and having to dig out a squirrel or mouse nest. Mixed in there was a spring with one end broken off. That's always a joy - finding spare parts. It's one thing to have something break while you're working on it, but it's another to have miscellanous parts just rattling around in the bottom and you have no idea where to put them, or even if they belong in there. Well, after spending a long time staring at the manual, I think I've figured out where the part goes. Of course, now I need to order the part and it's snowing today. Good thing I have four wheel drive.

January 9, 2008:

I know that sounds pretty dumb, but it's the truth. I have a long list of stuff to add to the website, and hopefully this year I'll actually get around to doing it. First up was to fix my development web site. Now that that's done, next thing to do is a bit of overdue housecleaning - I've already changed the "start page."

One thing I haven't quite decided upon is what I'm going to write about - should it be only car related on this site, or do people who come here actually care about the fact that I was unable to get to sleep last night until 4:30am because of a sick kid?

September 16, 2007: Race season is over for the year. I'm sad to see it go. The racecar was finally dialed in, too bad the driver (me) made a ton of mistakes during the race costing us a better finish. We did 198 laps of 300, and spent 100 laps in the pits getting a new exhaust fabricated and installed after I tore it off driving off the top of turns 2 and 4. But, when the MacHelper Camaro got hooked up in the second half of the race, it was rockin!

Big thanks to everyone who helped in 2007: Darren, Ivan, Wayne, Jacqueline, Chuck, Frank, Craig, and of course my loving wife Nicole. Without all of your help, it wouldn't be possible to do this.

August 24, 2007:
Let's go racing!
Thanks to some last minute help from Ivan, the MacHelper Camaro is going to be racing tomorrow.

August 21, 2007: Ray's Safety Tip of The Day:
If you're going to be grinding, not only should you be wearing eye protection, but consider a dust mask or respirator. Unless of course, you like blowing all sorts of black goo out of your nose for the next three days.

Now, how about the latest news on the race car?
The motor is mostly assembled, I'm waiting for one head to come back from the machine shop, I just discovered a bent rocker stud on the weekend. Darren came over last night, we replaced the seat belts and fixed up some crash damage on the driver's front suspension. We thought I had just popped the balljoint out of the control arm, but with nothing being simple this year, I managed to smush the hole for the lower balljoint, so it was off to the back shed for some raiding of the Pumpkin's control arm. Also discovered that the shock at that wheel is toast too... one of my fancy race shocks. Unfortunately, there probably isn't enough time to get a new race shock, but Canadian Tire has a sale on regular ones, so that'll have to do. Now I wonder what the other ones are like - was this shock whacked in the incident, or do my fancy race shocks only last a half dozen races? That would really suck, and there's not really any time to spare - we still have to get the beast running, nevermind checking shocks that may or may not be bad...

Here's what the motor looked like a couple of days ago:

August 7, 2007: Race Car news: I have the short block back with new pistons, crank, and rods. Camshaft and other parts should be showing up within the next couple of days, so reassembly will begin and I forsee the motor going back in the car next week. Trailer wiring issues persist - if anyone out there reading this wants to help troubleshoot it, I'll take your help. I'm thinking my trailer brake controller may be toast.

July 31, 2007: The shortblock is being finished up by Competition Engines today. When I blow stuff up, I blow it up good. Basically I can reuse the block, the internals were smoked/bent/melted/broken.

July 25, 2007: Spoke to the machine shop this morning, they still have to magnaflux the crank from the race car. The block is good, and we're probably going to upgrade to 9.5:1 flattops, but I may have to pull the crank from my other motor. There are also questions about the torque converter in the transmission - there was a lot of wear on the thrust bearings. I still think that may have more to do with lack of oil than anything else. Nothing you can't fix with money.

July 24, 2007: I got a trailer for my wedding anniversary! How cool is that?! My wife is awesome. Now I just need to find out the status of the race engine - I called today, but they didn't call me back.

July 17, 2007: Race engine goes to the machine shop today, which means the odds of me racing this year has increased from one in a billion to about one in a million. I guess that's a step forward, even if it's a really small one.
I do appreciate everyone asking me where the new content is - for the last three years there hasn't been much action around here because the real world has been so full of action - two kids and one race car = no time left to update the site. That said, that's lame, so I'm going to really work on updating content this summer.

May 27, 2007: Blew up another race motor. This one wasn't my fault - my fancy oil pan came apart and took the engine with it. Have to contact Summit racing to talk warranty - I'll either be a Summit customer for life, or I'll never shop there again. I'll also be calling machine shops this week to get the motor fixed up - the crank is looking pretty ugly and the bearings were literally melted.

March 14, 2007: Not much new on the car front, but lots new on the family front. I now have two kids, Kaitlyn and Chantal. Wow. :)

Feb 10, 2007: Sick. Again. My daughter has a blast at daycare, but it's a darn disease factory over there. Then she brings it all home to share with us. That's what's new with me.

July 7, 2006: A limited number of $5 tickets are available for the three remaining Enduro races. Contact me directly for tickets.

March 6, 2006: Actually started cleaning the shop/garage yesterday. Maybe there is a chance I'll actually be able to work in there soon. And no, I'm not posting a picture of that mess.

January 26, 2006: I don't know how I managed to fix cars without a full shop manual. (Some people would probably say I fixed them very badly...) Seriously, a proper shop manual pretty much guides you through the troubleshooting process, which is essential if it's a part of the vehicle you've never serviced before. Go on Ebay and get yourself a shop manual. (Not a Haynes or Chiltons.) Or, head over to Helm Inc. and buy one. Seriously, they save you time, money, and frustration. Servicing ABS systems and OBD-II stuff is virtually impossible without, and almost painless with.

October 27, 2005: You know what really pisses me off?
When you manage to break a bolt using a torque wrench.

Changing the driver's side outer tie rod on the Beretta before the wheel falls off... and my no-name house brand tie rod end goes on fine... and am torquing down the adjuster bolt to 41 ft-lbs like the manual says and the mofo twists the head off. How do I know I wasn't overtorquing it? I was able to cut a slot in the end and use a screwdriver to remove it.
First and last time I buy the cheap suspension parts.
It's one thing to break a rusty bolt... but this was a NEW bolt in a NEW tierod end with a frickin' torque wrench and the SOB wasn't even tight yet.

Now I have to go to crappy tire and get a metric fine thread bolt for it.

That's what really pisses me off.

May 13, 2005: The race has been rescheduled to May 15th at 2pm. I'm hoping to race sometime this year. Mother Nature sucks.

May 7, 2005: The race has been rescheduled to May 14th due to heavy rain this morning.

May 6, 2005: Amazing! Thanks to Ivan, Darren, Wayne, Mike, Chuck and Frank the #27 Camaro will be racing on Saturday. (weather permitting.)

May 4, 2005: It's alive! The Camaro might make it to Saturday afterall! Too bad I have to spend friday reinstalling the intake (oil leak) and I'll probably have to pull the timing cover (oil leak.) dammit. Otherwise it fired right up, and no one called the cops while we broke the cam in. Remember, that's car number 27 in the full size Enduro class at Victory Lane Speedway on Saturday May 7th at 6pm.

May 3, 2005: The race car is almost together, which is a good thing, because race season starts on the weekend. Hopefully we'll get the cam broken in tomorrow.

December 29, 2004: Hope y'all had a good Christmas, and best wishes for 2005. I got fireproof underwear for Xmas. I hesitated to write this, because I can only imagine the weirdos who'll be coming here after googling "fireproof underwear." ;)

November 24, 2004: Went to Speedworld yesterday for some karting. Tons of fun. Highly recommended for Winnipeg speed junkies needing a fix in the winter.

November 20, 2004: Ram Air in storage. Need to pull race car in and start prep for the 2005 race season. Pics to come.

August 28, 2004: Ready for the next (last) race of the season. Come see me Sep 4th at Victory Lane!

July 31, 2004: Old engine out. New (used) engine sitting in garage. A 350 from an 81 Camaro will be the new powerplant. Fingers crossed I don't blow it up too fast...

July 19, 2004: Well, I cooked the engine in the Camaro. Need to find, pay for, and install a 350 before August 14th. Oh joy. Well, 270+ degrees will do that...

May 4, 2004: Work on the race car continues. First race is this weekend. Hopefully there'll be something resembling paint on it.

April 17, 2004: What have I been up to? Working on the race car. Got my tires for the Ram Air. Burnout season will soon be upon us. :)

March 29, 2004: I've had people ask which ones I still own. RV9,10,11,12,13,14 are all still in my possession. I also have my parent's old '86 Hyundai...

March 28, 2004: Yesterday it rained all day while we worked on the racecar. I should have pics up real soon now... first I need to order some parts for it. Did I mention it rained? Not just a drizzle either - I was thinking about starting work on an ark instead of a racecar...

March 18, 2004: Just back from a holiday in Mexico. Time to get ready for racing season...

March 5, 2004: RV14 will be a 76 Camaro Enduro racecar. Time to update the "car bar" to include it and make room for the inevitable rv15...

Feb 23, 2004: I'll be going to look at a 76 Camaro Enduro car this week. Crew chief(s) have already checked it out. Looks like it might be my first Chevy.

Feb 9, 2004: Good to see Honda engineers can make stupid goofs too. Helped a friend change the timing belt on his '98 Acura and there's just not enough room to get the stupid timing cover out of the wheelwell nicely - the timing pointer is just too long. Grrr. And who was the brainiac who decided that the crank pulley bolt needed 500 foot-pounds to hold it in place? So much for this being a DIYer job... We ended up buying (and returning) two impact guns because they didn't have enough juice for the job. (but we DID do the rest after getting a garage with a 3/4" impact to loosen the bolt for us. What a PITA.)

Feb 2, 2004: adding new content! Wow! :)

Jan 31, 2004: Watching the Rolex 24. Damn it's too cold here. -40 is just crazy. -40 for a week is just insane. My Jimmy is holding together... better than all those Hyundais I keep pulling out of the ditch. Just upgraded from Slackware 9.0 to 9.1 - much nicer fonts.

Jan 21, 2004: Got new tires for the Jimmy. Way more grip, but I'm probably going to end up stuffing it in the ditch as a result... I'm driving just a touch more agressively. The weather has sucked with a lot of snow, so the new tires are definitely a plus. Plans for an enduro race team are coming together for 2004. Time for some new content for the web site I think... :)

Jan 7, 2004: Currently rebuilding the ftp server and getting a new 160GB backup drive online for my internal backups. Holy cow does SAMBA take forever to compile on a Pentium 120.

Jan 1, 2004: Hope y'all had a good new years. I'm looking forward to doing a lot of racing in 2004. Saw the new Vette. Hmm... looks good, but I'm not 100% sure yet.

December 29, 2003: I know it's lame, but I've added a blog section to the website. Blog is a stupid name, but that's what everyone else uses. It'll be for random crap that doesn't really fit into the website otherplaces. Example - for Xmas and my birthday I got a racing suit and 5 point belts. Now all I have to do is wait for the stupid snow to melt.

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