Random Ramblings Archive

Filmed on location at the Three Lions Garage

Posted March 11, 2014 By dad

Charlie, the family auteur, temporarily transformed Three Lions Garage into a mini movie studio to shoot a video showing him at work on his L’Ordinateur sculpture based on Rodin’s “The Thinker”.  His project is still in progress–Can’t wait to see the sculpture when it’s completed.  Enjoy.


Top 10 Signs You Should Pull Over Immediately 

By Tom and Ray Magliozzi, Car Talk

Cars are so reliable these days; it’s easy to forget that you can still have an emergency.

Here’s our Top 10 list of the things that should cause you to pull your car over immediately.

(We know, this was supposed to be only 10 reasons to pull over immediately, but we thought of a few more. So sue us!)

12. Losing Something ‘Essential 

We’re sure this has happened to you. You’re driving along and you reach into your glove box to grab your Sleepy LaBeef CD. As you’re fumbling to open the CD case with one hand, the CD pops out and falls on the floor, under your legs.What do you do? Too many people bend down while they’re driving and try to find Sleepy’s greatest hits. Don’t do it. Remember that at 65 mph every second your head spends down between your knees your car moves almost 100 feet without a driver! Besides, if your head is down there when you crash it could end up firmly implanted somewhere embarrassing. One might even argue that it already is in that dark place if you engage in this risky behavior.

So if you drop something — a CD, your keys, your phone, a french fry — either let it sit there until you get to your destination or pull over before you fish it out.

11. Cabin Chaos 

Sometimes things get exciting inside a car. The kids, who normally slap and pinch each other suddenly pull out kitchen knives. Or your Labrador sees a cute little poodle crossing the street and jumps into your lap to get a closer look. Or your mother-in-law announces that she’s just filled her Depends. Don’t try to solve problems like these and drive at the same time. You can’t. It’s tempting to try to reach the kids in the backseat and separate them or toss the dog into the backseat or help your mother-in-law ... nevermind. It’s much wiser to pull over and get things back under control. Then get back on the road.

10. Medical Emergency 

If you think that you may be experiencing a medical problem, pull over right away. We’ve heard too many stories about people who have all the signs of a stroke or heart attack, yet they decide to try to “make it home” before calling for help. This is a recipe for killing yourself and other people on the road. If you have any reason to believe you’re getting seriously ill, pull over and call for help.That’s what 911 is for.

Even less deadly medical problems can make us lousy drivers. So consider pulling over and resting if you have something in your eye, a migraine headache or intense heartburn. Pull over if you can’t sit still because you need to use the bathroom (or the bushes next to the road) or if you drop cigar ash between your legs. Anything that causes you to worry more about some part of your body than what’s happening on the road in front of you is a good reason to pull over and stop driving until the problem is solved.

9. Lack of Visibility 

We tend to forget that when we’re driving we’re piloting a 3,000-pound projectile. And when you’re going 65 mph, you’re covering 96 feet in one second. It’ll take you 316 feet to come to a complete stop under ideal conditions.For that reason, it’s good to be able to see!

Your visibility can suddenly become impaired for all kinds of reasons: a sudden downpour, thick fog, broken windshield wipers, a big splash of mud and an empty windshield washer reservoir, a flying projectile that cracks your windshield or a hood latch that breaks and sends the hood flying up while you’re driving. And this doesn’t even count the most common source of poor visibility — failure to clean off the windshield when it’s snowy or icy. Bottom line: If you can’t see well for any reason, pull over right away and either fix the problem or wait until the weather changes before getting back on the road.

8. Any Loud or Sudden Noise 

Unless you’re driving Tommy’s MG , your car is not supposed to make any loud, sudden or unidentifiable noises. A loud or sudden noise can be benign. It could be a plastic milk jug that you ran over. On the other hand, it could also mean that your engine just launched a spark plug into low-Earth orbit.

Unless it’s a milk jug, it indicates that something has just changed. It’s changed from one piece to several pieces or changed from attached to unattached. Either way, it’s best to pull over and try to figure it out.

7. Temperature Light or Oil Light 

There are very few things that can wreck a car in less than two minutes. There’s a direct hit by a meteor or a Caterpillar D9. Fortunately, both are very uncommon. But there are two common things that can ruin cars — severe overheating and loss of oil pressure. Your dashboard has idiot lights for both of these conditions. They’re talking to you, pal.

If either of those lights comes on, don’t try to make it home before investigating. Driving with no oil pressure can wreck a car’s internal parts in minutes. Or less. Severe overheating can blow your head gasket or warp or crack your cylinder head or block just as quickly.

A customer of ours had the oil light come on and drove home before calling us.We asked her, “Why did you try to get home?” She said she felt safer at home.That’s understandable, we said, but that feeling of safety just cost you $7,000! If you see the oil light or hot light, unless it’s unsafe to do so, pull over and call for help.

6. Sudden Change in Handling 

If something changes in your car’s handling and you can feel it in your steering wheel, chances are it is serious. It could be a sudden, extreme change like a tire blowing out or a wheel about to fall off. Or you might notice that the steering wheel is suddenly wobbling or tugging in one direction. These are all potentially serious problems that require pulling over.

Not every change in handling is dire. A small wobble could be something relatively minor like a lost wheel weight or a bad tire. It could be as simple as a change in road surface. Here’s the catch: If you try to make an on-the-fly diagnosis, you risk driving over a guard rail and onto a nearby putting green. Or much worse. There are a lot of crucial pieces in the front end of the car. Because they’re attached to the front wheels you can often feel a change in the steering wheel. Pay attention to it.

5. Steam/Water Vapor 

Steam is usually an indication that coolant, which is under pressure, is escaping from your car’s cooling system. If it’s leaking slowly and hitting an exhaust pipe or something else that’s hot, it may not be an emergency. But if it’s leaking quickly, you can overheat the engine and do serious damage to your engine and your wallet. If your engine is overheating, you can sometimes save yourself thousands of dollars by pulling over before permanent damage is done.

Don’t twist off the radiator cap right away to have a look-see. If your car is overheating, or even if it’s not, the coolant is under very high pressure and can burn your face until it looks as bad as my brother’s. So if you’re not mechanically inclined, pull over, turn off your engine and find a good, local garage that can lend a hand.


4. Smell 



We each know what our car smells like: Mostly, it smells like us, which is why it offends other people. Or it may smell like some combination of new-car smell, wet dog, old juice boxes and maybe grandma. If you notice a new smell — especially if you know it didn’t come from you — it’s best to pull over and investigate it. It could be relatively benign such as when you drive over a plastic grocery bag and it sticks to your hot catalytic converter or a meatball sub that slid under the passenger seat. But it could be something more serious like wire insulation burning or a gas leak. So if you notice a smell that’s unusual and you can’t identify it, it’s best to pull over and make sure it’s nothing getting ready to cause a disaster.

Your two primary concerns are gasoline, which you should never smell in the passenger compartment once you’re moving, and something that’s smoldering and could catch fire. Smoldering electrical wires are the most common source of fire. Once you pull over, you should investigate the smell carefully. And if you’re at all concerned, call for help.


3. Smoke 


There are lots of reasons why smoke might be issuing forth from your vehicle.But almost all of them are bad. Some are not emergencies such as when engine oil is dripping onto a hot exhaust pipe since a small amount of oil can produce a lot of smoke. But other times where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or there soon will be. If you see smoke, it’s best to pull over and check it out.


2. Flames 



If you see flames spouting from anywhere in your car, pull over immediately.Not only is your car beginning to turn into automotive flambé before your eyes, but there’s a risk to your life, as well. Even if the flames aren’t burning you, per se, the fumes may be doing you in. So unless you’re a trained firefighter, the best thing to do is look out for your own safety. Pull over, lace up your Pro Keds, get a safe distance away from your car and call 911. Then, and only then, do we advise pulling out your long, pronged fork and roasting marshmallows.


1. Blue Lights 



Remember what happens if you don’t pull over when you see blue lights .


One final note: What does it mean to “pull over immediately”? It means pull over as quickly as it’s safe to do so. Don’t swerve across five lanes of traffic. Check around you. Check the side of the road to see if there’s a place to pull off. And then pull over.

Visit CarTalk.com for the orginal article and other informative (and entertaining) automotive articles

Our son Oliver has brought to our attention that for his last few teeth, the tooth fairy seems to have totally dropped the ball, often taking DAYS to make payments for teeth left under his pillow.  Several mornings he woke up looking to collect his bounty, only to find that the assigned tooth fairy was not attending to his/her duties punctually.  Well…this morning Ollie finally learned that his tooth fairy is a male (name not disclosed presumably to protect his TF’s privacy).  He also learned how badly his tooth fairy was really performing, but now that management is on it, he shouldn’t have any persistent service issues…

Our other vehicles need love too

Posted September 5, 2011 By dad

True Confession time: It’s not all vintage vehicle fun at the Three Lions Garage.  Our newer vehicles need care too.  While I’ll admit that I’ll rarely decide to sacrifice any of the few precious hours I can manage to dedicate to the garage each week on projects as routine as oil changes or tune ups on our Prius, I’ll often make time for performance upgrade projects and repairs.

I guess I just spilled it: yes — we have a Prius.  For those of you who don’t drive one, you should know it’s a terrific vehicle which comfortably seats all 5 of us.  More importantly, it offers Linda a daily opportunity to offset my substantial carbon footprint.  But I digress…

Now that Jack has been building confidence (and expertise) on his 1969 Mustang project, I often have time for my own small projects which I can complete in a couple of hours. In my experience, when working on long, complex vehicle restoration projects it’s important to setup small interim goals to stay motivated.  I suspect this is why so many restoration projects start with an enthusiastic hobbyist and a totally complete, perfectly good project vehicle but end up as a collection of unorganized parts in several boxes that are sold off to the next enthusiastic victim (I mean “hobbyist”) for a price which validates the “greater fool” theory.

Great intentions are simply insufficient.  In order to maintain focus and effort on any extended project, I find it helpful to break up the project into smaller, stand-alone components. On Jack’s ’69 Mustang, for example, we break up the work into smaller “sub-projects” that can be finished in a day (e.g. remove interior, remove wiring harness) or a few weeks (rebuild the engine).  In this way, as we complete each sub-project, we celebrate small interim victories which keep us motivated to continue down the very long road which comprises the full restoration.

In addition to breaking the long complex restoration project into smaller, more digestible chunks, I also sometimes insert very small, completely unrelated projects on a different vehicle altogether.  This helps motivate us in much the same way.  We get the satisfaction of completing another small project and these projects are easy to fit in while we working on our much longer-term vintage vehicle projects.  Because we perform these small projects together at the garage, we also get the pleasure of each other’s company (and access to that invaluable “spare pair of hands” that really seems to comes in handy a few times during each shift at the T.L.G.).

Here are a few examples of the side projects I’ve fit in over the last few weeks:

  1. K&N High Flow Air Intake system (F-250 turbo diesel pickup)
  2. in-dash battery cutoff switch (London taxi)
  3. OBD-II diagnostics and trouble light reset (Porsche Carrera 4 & F-250 turbo diesel pickup), and
  4. two so-far unsuccessful attempts at fitting a passenger seat in the London taxi–perhaps the third time will be the charm?

back strengthening exercise while installing K&N Air Intake

Home is where the tools are kept

Posted August 31, 2011 By dad

If a man’s home is his castle, then the Garage is his sanctuary

(Thanks to Hollis and his boys at Texas Rustic Metal Art for the great sign they fabricated for us)

Ain’t nothing going on but the rent

Posted August 22, 2011 By dad

It’s sad how quiet things are at the Three Lions Garage right now.  Jack and Charlie started school this week while I was in Monterey for my annual pilgrimage to the holiest of holy sites for gear heads.  Consequently, the lights were off all weekend.  It wasn’t all bad, however, as I had the pleasure of seeing the Pebble Beach tour commence, preview the Gooding & Co auction (big thanks to Bart), Concourso Italiano, a great dinner with Jim, Payton and Catherine @ Tarpy’s, the Monterey Historics (just can’t get used to  the new name) where we watched a dozen $25 million PLUS Ferrari 250 GTOs race on the track, attend the RM and Gooding auctions and then join the Hagerty Dawn Patrol at the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance where we saw twenty-two (!) GTOs lined up along the coast (collectively worth more than one half BILLION dollars) and a stunning group of arguably the sexiest vehicles ever manufactured)


Could be a picture from Sebring in the early 60’s if there weren’t so many of them!

Over the past several weeks while Jack and Charlie were away diving on the Kona coast, I had the opportunity to change the hood hinges on the London Taxi and properly align the hood so it now closes effortlessly.  Now I’m just waiting for a replacement grill because I broke out the old one to get the stuck hood unlatched so I could perform my repairs.  I think it’s safe to consider this two steps forward and only one back considering how nicely the front panels are now aligned.

Watch for Monterey photos coming soon…


Posted January 3, 2011 By jack

Engine Complete? CHECK!

Fini! Terminado! Finito! DONE!

(Drums, please!) The motor is finished!

Didn’t think I’d be saying this a whole year into the project.  I mean, how long can engine reassembly take? Ah well, I’ll just have to pick up the pace. My goal is to finish the whole project by the time school starts next year (sometime in August). More than half of the total hours will be put in during the summer. Hopefully I still have the drive to finish my car. No pun intended.

On this fateful day, we started at the garage at about 12:30 (sleeping in late will have to end tomorrow, unfortunately, when school starts up again). The day was started by restocking our supply of Canada Dry at TLG (an essential part of our diets). Ace Glass Services stopped by to replace the cracked windshield on my dad’s Carrera 4 while I fit the valve cover gaskets to our shiny new Edelbrock covers. Dad helped shellac the gasket to cover surface, and I put on the baffle plates for the breather and PCV system that will be installed later.

Nice Mutton Chops, Dad!

Time to screw down the valve covers. Uh oh! There wasn’t enough clearance to torque down the bolt/lockwasher combos that came with our engine bolt kit. After trying, with no luck, to remove the washers, Dad showed me how to use the bench-grinder to grind down the rounded side of the lockwashers. Many sparks later, we torqued down the valve covers and proceeded to install the carburetor. First screwing in the carb posts and sliding on the heat dissipator/spacer we bought at Vic Hubbard’s out in Hayward (great one-stop auto store), the carb went on and the nuts tightened it down. Until the engine is in the car, we can’t connect throttle or choke linkages, so we moved on to installing the water and fuel pumps.

Water pump went on without a hitch.  We bolted it on over the gasket with RTV sealant on both sides and moved on to the fuel pump.  After extensive hunting through the 1969 shop manual, I finally found what I had told Dad all along, that silicone sealant needed to be used on both surfaces of the gasket. We turned the crank until the pump arm fit into its slot, and greased the end with assembly lube where it meets the cam. After the fuel pump was properly torqued down, I installed the crank damper bolt and then rotated the crank with a finger in the #1 cylinder spark plug hole to find TDC (following the compression stroke) to drop in the distributor. However,we decided it made no sense to spend too much time dialing in the ignition timing with the engine just hanging on the stand, so we decided to leave the distributor off until the engine is back in the car.

A job well done.

cleaning the original FoMoCo parts for eBay

Rob, our Mustang Man stopped by to check out progress, and Mom brought over Cousin Lisa and her boyfriend Adam to see the Garage. Glad to see everyone, please come again.

On Monday mornings…

Posted December 20, 2010 By dad

…I miss the garage.

Looks like we’re in for a brief hiatus

Posted November 5, 2010 By dad

Jack will not have much time to devote to his car for the next few weeks because of the combination of his studies and the time commitment required of him on the fall play at school.  It appears to his parents that he’s got too much on his plate and something had to give.  To his credit, he’s done a great job of keeping up with his class workload, but it looks like the pony will be neglected for about 6 weeks.  Well – this project is a marathon–not a sprint–and the Mustang will be waiting for him when he’s ready to jump back in.  We’ll see you when we see you…