Sunday, September 16, 2012

Project bug...

My good friend from Toronto had a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle for a very long time. It has been a summer driven essential for her, making the trip from Toronto to Prince Edward County for years, and even several long haul trips to Saskatoon and back.

It was in rough shape. A few years ago it broke a clutch cable, and stranded her within a half hour of our house, and I drove out to rescue her, double-clutching it all the way to our mechanic friend's shop to install a new one. At the time, I didn't have much money, but I offered that I would buy it from her if she ever decided to sell it.

Then, this year, Jenn and I agreed to store it here for the summer while my friend figured out what to do with it. While it was here, I gave it a wash, wax, and clearcoat protector. The paint was so old some came off on the cloth. I also took it for a few trips out, and it ran a little hot and a little rough.

Just this July, during our heat wave, my friend was bringing it up from the County, and it got overheated and blew a cylinder. So she brought it here to our place, and it's in the garage in its new 'home'. Since she had already agreed to sell it to me, we paid her for it and now I have the next few years to restore it.

As an aside, 1967 was a unique transition year for the Beetle. It is significantly improved from the '66 with a larger engine, and cosmetic changes, and yet still 'old fashioned' enough for a classic car. The 1493cc, 54 hp air cooled engine was used for 1967 to '70, and there is not much to it. Also new were dual-circuit brakes, backup lights, door lock buttons, and a 12-volt electrical system. It was one of the last years for the old style Beetle before they introduced the 1971 Super Beetle.

I love that the panel and interior still has the 1950's spartan controls and gauges.

 So, the plan for the poor old girl is as follows:

Remove and disassemble the entire engine, then send the block out to be acid bathed and cylinders bored back to round. Dropping the engine is a lot easier than it sounds, and there are step by step guides on the internet. Since it is directly descendant from the Staffelwagen of the German army, it was meant to be easily taken apart with as few tools as possible.

Once the block is acid-washed, the mechanic who does it in Tweed will install slightly larger pistons. Then I can replace all breathers, hoses and valves if necessary with new replacements or refurbished parts.

Then, for the body, take off the fenders (the fibreglas rears, and the rusted metal fronts), and all trim. Fix dents and ripples, replace the running boards. Then, take off the hood, trunk, doors, and hang them for painting. The body needs to be masked, and then painted at the same time as the doors, etc.

I was going to try to replicate the red paint that it already had on it, for two reasons. First, that the interior is much harder to paint, and second, I wanted it to be as original as possible. When I discovered that red was not the original colour of this bug, and didn't need to be preserved, all colours were then possible.

When the replacement metal fenders come in, I'll have someone paint it. I was going to do it myself, using an air compressor, but then, I don't know a lot about paint, and I didn't want to mess it up. Whether an Acrylic Enamel or Basecoat/Clearcoat, it is something I'm happy to leave to professionals. Incidentally, I saw this photo, and decided to go with a similar exterior colour scheme (with a tan/brown interior), though some people have been urging me to go with a light blue exterior. Definitely two-tone, though.

Next, reinstall engine. This also can be done with a jack and wrenches just as it came out.

Interior. Well, no step by step here yet, but this is what I want to do with it:

Or something like this:

I would like to also fix the gas heater in the hood, that is not connected. I'm not sure if it works, but it's there, and it would look awesome like this:

I have always wanted a bug. I don't know what it is about them, the simplicity, the style, the oddity of the way they work. I don't know, but now I have my chance. Here's hoping I get some time to tinker in the next couple of years, as it's going to be a big project. I will keep updating as I finish each stage.

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:
Cleverly Disguised as Cake

And my first novel, squeakyclean, here:
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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Never Give Up

I have always loved the Calvin Coolidge quote:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 

The other day, Owen was asking around for headphones for his MP3 player. He trudged up the stairs, not knowing that I was in the bedroom listening, and muttered to himself "Never give up. Never give up."

I called out to him; "What's wrong, Owie? Is everything okay?" His reply: "I wasn't talking to you, Daddy, I was talking to myself."

As an aside, Jenn and I are always trying to find a balance between helping our kids, and letting them learn to help themselves. It is a fine line, where crossing over can create kids who take unnecessary risks, and not even approaching the line can create dependant kids who can't problem solve.

It was nothing, certainly, but it got me thinking of his journey in learning to ride his bicycle. You see, three months ago, our walks through the neighbourhood were very different. Daisy had just started using her tricycle this spring, with a handle on it for guiding her around trouble spots. 

Owen was content to walk beside her, even if he'd suited up with the helmet and brought his little plastic 'big-wheel' type bike that we'd picked up at a yard sale. He just liked to be out and doing stuff. 

It wasn't for lack of trying. We had bought him a Hot Wheels tricycle. When we saw how much he hated it, we weren't sure he'd ever ride a bicycle. He just couldn't put together the co-ordination to get it all to work. 

He still liked the 'big-wheel' because he could sit on it, and scoot his feet along, not using the pedals, and push himself forward. But it still didn't work for getting him around on our rides, because he could only do it for a short distance. We didn't give up though. We kept encouraging him, and brought the 'big-wheel' with us for all our walks along waterfront trail, and to Zwick's Island. I even had to carry it on my back many times while skateboarding to keep up with the other two, who were, by this time, quite fast.

Then a funny thing happened. It just clicked. He finally understood pedaling, and our rides took on a different speed. Less than three weeks ago, he was able to ride his little plastic 'big-wheel' around the block the whole way. 

Daisy, in the meantime, graduated to her big-girl bike, and so we were able to go farther and faster than before. Again, just as he had caught up, Owen found himself at the back of the pack.

He was disappointed. He didn't give up. He didn't have a meltdown. He quietly set himself to this new task. One night, I looked out to find him riding Daisy's bicycle. No shirt, no helmet. He just up and did it.

So I took Cole's old bike out of the garage and attached the extra set of training wheels, and made sure he knew it was for him. The very next weekend he was out riding.

His going from not being able to alternate pedals in June to riding his own bike in August is nothing short of miraculous for our little guy. He has so many problems with proprioception, not being able to cross centre-line, and being overwhelmed with too much stimulus, that we forget he has many strengths. Persistence. Determination. He has an inner strength that can't be measured or seen, that powers him through the toughest of challenges. What better to give children to arm them for the world out there, than that kind of gumption?

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:

And my first novel, squeakyclean, is available on Kobo, Amazon, and Kindle, or just click here:

It's probably a good idea to read the first installments on Owen before this one if you haven't already: