When It’s Time to Stop Moving Forward

I’ve been dealing with email before most people ever heard of email, computer networks, or even the Internet. I remember getting emails about the government considering modem taxes before most people knew what a modem was and while some tech people were still making fun of me for using a modem and connecting to networks. Many of the people I know through the Internet are techies. They tend to respond to emails the way I do, with interspersed comments, no HTML formatting or anything else at all fancy. I also have friends I’ve met through the Internet that barely know more than to log on to their computer don’t understand where their computer ends and the Internet starts.
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Posted in Computers/Internet, Life | Leave a comment

Right Here in River City

One thing I like about Richmond is that it’s on the James River and does, sometimes, get called “River City.” Of course, River City is much more famous when applied as a name to a small town in Iowa where Professor Harold Hill ran his last scam as he tried to tell them that “that game with the fifteen numbered balls is the devil’s tool” and that they needed a boys band because “you gotta find a way to keep the young ones moral after school.” Of course I’m talking about one my favorite musicals, “The Music Man.” I love the movie with Robert Preston and Cary Grant and every time anyone does it as a play in the area, I make sure I go see it. I was recently emailing back and forth with a friend about the movie and how it looks like just a “fluff” piece, a musical that’s fun but has no depth, but I think there is much more to it than that.

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Posted in Literature and Arts | 2 Comments

Radio Daze

1985 Mercedes 380SL (Instruments)I wanted a 380SL for several reasons. The biggest is that I’ve always wanted a convertible so I can enjoy driving around in the summer with the top down and feel the wind and sun. Of course, though, if you’re going to have a convertible like that, two things that really help make it more fun to drive around with the top down are a fun, pretty, intelligent woman in the passenger seat and a radio for good music. I can’t really give anyone advice on how to find the former, since that’s an individual’s choice, but I can add a little about what I had to do with the latter and how I got a radio/CD player working.

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The Devil’s in the Details

MeInCarI haven’t had time to post much lately and I still have a fair amount to catch up with regarding car restoration and repair work. There were several details to take care of that are simple enough to not rate a post on their own. This includes fixing the antenna, dealing with new keys, taking care of the air conditioning,  putting in a couple trans mount bolts, and fixing the interior lights. While these are simple, again, I’m blogging all that I do to this car for a couple reasons. One is selfish, so I have a record of everything I’ve done and I know if I’m the only one that reads it, I won’t have motivation to write it. The second is because the Internet community, as a whole, as been a huge help to me. I don’t think I could have started my business and gotten it running if it were not for the help I’ve gotten from people, literally, all over the world who gave me advice in email, on IRC, or through instant messages, about programming or dealing with technical software. While the people working on classic cars are not always going to be those who help people like me with software advice, the people I’ve dealt with on the web have been very helpful when I’ve asked questions about fixing or restoring cars. I’ve already been told, several times, that my posts on the fuel line and the low cost hoist I made for my roof have helped people. With that in mind, let’s look at these small details I’ve had to fix.

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Posted in 1985 Mercedes 380SL, Classic Cars | 2 Comments

Give It Some Gas!

I think one of the scariest repairs I’ve ever done on a car was the first time I ever worked on the fuel line. I know just having gas on the ground or open does not mean there’s going to be an explosion, but for someone without much experience in auto repairs, the first time you work on a fuel line, it keeps running through your head that there might be something you didn’t tighten properly or there might be a leak and at the next stoplight, you’ll be sitting there and a puddle of gas will be forming under your car, just waiting for when you rev your engine and — BOOM!

At least that’s the feeling I hand until I had worked on a fuel line a few times and got used to it. With my new car (often called Mrs. Peel because she’s such a classic beauty and can kick some serious tail, if you haven’t been following along), one of the two mechanical repairs I needed to attend to quickly, that could actually effect the functioning of the vehicle, was a leaking fuel line at the rear, near the fuel pump and fuel filter.

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Posted in 1973 Mercedes 450SL, 1985 Mercedes 380SL, Classic Cars | 10 Comments

Removing the top on a Mercedes 380SL with a $25 Hoist

MeInCarTo me, the biggest joy to owning a Mercedes 380SL (or a 450SL or a 560SL) is being able to drive around with the top down. I love the feeling of the sun on me and the wind in my hair. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it would not have been written about by millions of people if it wasn’t a good feeling. In Richmond it goes up to 102 in the summer on many days, with a heat index of 110 or more. Even on days like that, I can be seen driving around with my top down. Although it’s on days like that you’ll be more likely to find me feeling like I need to blow off steam and driving on the back roads leading away from the city and into the cooler areas in the wooded regions outside of Richmond.

There’s just one catch: If you’ve got the hard top on a Mercedes R107 body (which means the 280SL, 380SL, 350SL, 450SL, or 560SL), it takes at least two people to lift it off. I didn’t have anyone who could help me when it came time to finally lift the hard top off my first car of this type. I didn’t know if a hoist would damage it, so I searched the web. There was a company selling a motorized hoist for something like $850 that would lift the top up with the press of a button. There’s just one problem with that: I’m a cheapskate. I take great pride in my DIY (do-it-yourself, if you didn’t know) skills and was quite proud of myself when I found a way to easily make a working hoist for under $25.

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Posted in 1973 Mercedes 450SL, 1985 Mercedes 380SL, Classic Cars | 9 Comments

Going Topless: Removing the Hard Top on a Mercedes 380SL

Topless-FromSideOne issue EVERY owner of a Mercedes R107 car (which is basically any 280SL, 380SL, 450SL, or 560SL) has is the strong desire to drive the car without the top. In Richmond I’m lucky enough to have the hardtop off about 7 months out of the year, depending on early or late warm weather. One wonderful thing about this car is that it can be driven with the hardtop on during colder weather or to keep it secure, with a soft top up, or with no top. To use the soft top or go topless, the hard top has to come off and every owner of one of these cars is eager for that first day when you can remove the hardtop and drive topless, using the soft top only when it gets cold for a day or two, or when it rains. The trick is in how to remove the hard top.

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Posted in 1973 Mercedes 450SL, 1985 Mercedes 380SL, Classic Cars | 23 Comments

Things Left Unsaid

It’s been exactly 3 months since Dad died on January 6 of this year. I’ve gone from stunned and with a complete lack of short term memory to feeling like things were okay, then feeling like the loss was even stronger than it was before. Like everyone, I knew one day I would be dealing with my Father’s death and, like everyone who has been through it, I found that no matter what I did to prepare myself for it and whatever I imagined, it was quite different than I expected and that there was no real way to prepare for it.

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Posted in Life | 3 Comments

Looking Good, Looking Better!

When you get a car that is almost perfect, where do you start? Do you fix anything? Do you not touch it? Any used car, especially any classic car, has things that need fixing. In the case of my 1985 380SL, I had 2 issues that could affect performance. Both needed special parts and both required putting the car on ramps to get underneath to fix it. So I started with the easier stuff: bodywork. There wasn’t much, but every little bit helps.

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Spring Is Here in Richmond!

MeInCarThis is just a quick post. By now I’m sure some people (if anyone is reading this at all) are beginning to wonder if my life revolves around cars. It doesn’t, but for now, I’m quite involved in the work I’ve done on my new 380SL (the 1985 red one if anyone is having trouble following all this) has taken up a lot of time and, of course, I’m quite excited about such a great find in terms of classic cars (okay, I say classic because I know an antique is at least 25 years old, but I figure I can call a 22 year old car a classic).

I know that all too soon I’ll be back to programming to finish my last major phase of work for my business (still smaller phases, but nothing as intense as what I have looming), so for now, it’s fun to be outside walking or working on a car instead of at the computer. I thought I’d include a picture here of me in the new car, just for fun.

If you haven’t noticed already, the pictures I post are thumbnails. You can click on it for a full sized picture. In this case, you don’t see much in the thumbnail.

I’ve finally got the hard top off and it looks like it’ll stay off for the season now. When I take off the hard top, that’s a sure sign spring is here!

Posted in 1985 Mercedes 380SL, Classic Cars, Life | 1 Comment