Sunday, May 18, 2008

Together Again

May 11 – May 17, 2008

With rain predicted for several days this week I decided to balance work and conversion a little better – rainy days at work and dry days at home. I really wanted to get the car back together again (sounds like a good song title) and with only one day that was guaranteed dry, I hurried home Tuesday and got my tools ready. I got the big jackstands out and raised the car so I could slide everything underneath. Without the struts attached, it was much easier. I had the cradle on roller carts but soon realized that it needed to be on the legs of the engine hoist. After a few adjustments, I was ready to re-install the cradle. With bolts cleaned and greased, wrenches in hand, I positioned the cradle for the first bolt and it was in – no problems. To the other side and same result. Repositioned the hoist and the two rear bolts went right in – what a great day. Next came the new struts. Good old Harbor Freight to the rescue with a set of spring compressors and I was ready to put on the new struts. I have heard terror stories about these huge springs flying wildly through the air when they escape the confines of the compressor, so my main concern was my wife’s car in the driveway. I pointed everything away from it and used my body as a human shield. I can go to the hospital, but have you been to a body shop lately for repairs??? Anyways, again a great experience – both struts changed and ready to install. I do believe the struts on the car were original, evident by one that failed to create any compression. Five bolts per side and they were installed. They warn you that you will need an alignment when done and they are not kidding – the rear of my car looks bow-legged now. Feeling cocky, I figured why not re-install the brake calipers and the new rotors – big mistake.

New rotors are thick! I get out my C-clamps and try to compress the piston – no luck. I call my brother for some sage advice and still no luck. I try to get logical and still no luck. Even Mr. Hayes and Chilton are of no help. One caliper was not as good as the other and I figured Autozone to the rescue. With two new (remanufactured) calipers in hand I tried again. I had brake fluid all over the place – frustrated and tired, I closed up shop for the night. I just hate it when things like that happen. Wednesday was supposed to be rainy, but it missed us. Got home quickly and started over again. I finally got the piston compressed enough to get things to fit and got the drivers side installed. Feeling cocky again, I headed to the other side. The dry weather turned to a light drizzle – I was not going to be beat. Things went together fairly well and when I installed the brake line, brake fluid was running out all over the place. I tried to find the source to no avail. I took it off ready to take it back to Autozone when I realize the error of my ways – I put the copper washers on the brake line on wrongs and they never sealed. Once properly positioned all was well, except I did the same thing one the other side. The drizzle was more persistent but I wanted to put the wheels back on. This was the easiest thing I did all day. With everything back in place (or so I thought) it was time to get the Fiero back on terra firma. One side down – yea, but when I went to do the other side, the jackstand was positioned so the car was now balanced on one side – driver’s side on the ground, passenger side in the air. I grab my trusty (old) bottle jack and try to lift the front end while holding the rear up with a floor jack so I can get the jackstand out. My old (and not so trusty) bottle jack was not cooperating – and did I mention it was now raining! I finally get all four wheels on the ground and in the process on cleaning up I found a rubber washer from the passenger’s side caliper (a few choice words). I did not want to jack the car back up, remove the wheel, take apart the caliper and re-insert the washer. Instead I used the Braille method, reaching behind the wheel, taking off the bracket on the caliper, putting the washer back on and reassembling it by feel – and yes it was still raining. I will double check my work when I take the wheels off in the future, but for now, it was time to quit. As mentioned early, the car is now bow-legged. I remember way back whenever you saw an old VW with this same appearance it was because the motor was out and I thought this might be the case with the Fiero – not so. I would imagine it is a combination of not getting the struts properly aligned and the weight difference, but I won’t truly know until I get all of that battery weight installed.

I also got a new (at least new to me) Palm Pilot IIIc to try and use with E-meter. I found a program called EVDASH by Peter Ohler at I have yet to install it and try it out, but it is on my list of things to do. Until next week….

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