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KaptKaos Reader
2/28/10 1:27 a.m.

Y’all remember my wife? The one that doesn’t want me stealing kitchen stuff for car projects? Last night we had a little talk. It was my idea. Really.

Life has been crazy lately, and it’s not going to get better for the next few months. My daughters have all started softball. That means I will be living at the ball field for the next 3-4 months. I may as well get a tent and camp there. I am an assistant coach on two teams. Add to this my business, school plays, homework, and other obligations and you can see that my time is really limited. I had a 13 hour day yesterday and when I got home, I poured myself a nice martini. I was done for the day.

So I sat on the couch, next to my wife and asked her to kick my ass.

About 8 months ago, I was trying to fix an exhaust stud on my 914. The intake and exhaust studs on these motors are notorious for failing. The heat cycles and the high temps cause the studs to strip regularly. One of the fixes is a step down stud. A step down stud is an 8mm stud on one end and a 10mm on the other. You drill out and tap the hole that the stud was in; put in the step down stud and you’re done.

I had done this on another stud, and it worked like a charm. This time, when I drilled the old stud hole out, I was a little crooked. A small difference in the angle at the bottom means that the exhaust won’t sit flat and seal. Basically, I messed it up.

So I haven’t been driving the car. I have been spending my time with my Volvo 122 Wagon, which I am really enjoying.

My DD, a ’91 Jetta GLi 2.0 16v (that’s a mouthful) is giving up the ghost. The trans is going at 148k miles. I am driving the Volvo, even though it’s not done yet. It’s becoming a rolling restoration.

About 3 weeks ago, I dropped the motor on the 914 and began the process of removing the heads to take them to a machine shop and have the studs fixed and a few “while you’re in there” things addressed. I have the accessories off, cooling tin off, rocker arms, and push rods off and bagged in zip locks. I’ve been hitting the head studs with penetrant.

I’m stuck. I am stuck in a huge gumption trap. Robert Pirsig wrote about this in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (Ref here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumption_trap) but I don’t think I’ve ever felt it this badly.

I miss my 914 a lot. It’s therapy after a long day at work to drive that car. I stow the roof, and listen to the webers (it’s a little modified =) ) and the world feels better.

I just can’t find the energy to get those heads off and to the shop. I am stuck in a bad way. I know that once I sort out the costs and get them fixed, that I will have no excuse for not putting it all back together. I want it back together too. I’ve been looking at what I need to get done, and what my other obligations are and I am stuck.

So, I have asked my wife to kick my ass into gear. She can be a world champion at nagging when she wants to, so I am not sure what I have gotten myself into. I am hoping that a little “encouragement” will help me push this project along to completion.

I know other folks fall into these traps. My good friend Mark has a few 912s, early 911s and two 914s, none of which are running. He gets started on one, and something else catches his eye, and that’s it. He does great work, but he’s got so much to do, I am not sure he knows where to start. So he’s in a trap.

The other type is like my friend Cliff. Cliff has a Volvo 1800 that’s been sitting in his father’s garage for 15+ years. He’s going to get around to it, one of these days. I am not sure why it’s sitting, but it is sitting there. Just waiting.


This morning my wife said “why don’t you go work on that engine?” That was all I needed (thanks Honey!). I pulled the passenger side head. As with all things old, things didn’t go as well as I had hoped. One of the cylinders stuck to the head. I can’t get it off. Pulling the head up also damaged the piston rings. I also broke some of the cooling fins on the cylinder. So, it looks like I need to pull one of my spare cylinders and have it bored to work with the 96mm pistons and the heads. I’ll need new rings too. Tomorrow I will pull the other side. We’ll see how that goes.

I am beginning to think my garage is one giant gumption trap!

ddavidv SuperDork
2/28/10 5:55 a.m.

I've felt that way. The difficult part for me is just getting out into the garage. Once I'm in the tatty clothes and the toolbox is open, the work begins to flow pretty easily. It's just crossing the literal threshold that is hard.

"I miss my 914 a lot. It’s therapy after a long day at work to drive that car. I stow the roof, and listen to the webers (it’s a little modified =) ) and the world feels better."

That's the part you need to focus on. I know how you feel there, too. Should the time when that thought is no longer powerful enough to make you want to complete a project, it's time to get rid of that one and get something new.

Leo  Basile
Leo Basile Reader
3/2/10 4:51 p.m.

I think we all experience that feeling at some point. What gets me going is when I start to think about driving the car with the windscreen down...Although my imagination quickly does a scene change...I keep rewinding the scene in "Ferris Buellers Day Off" where the parking lot guys are blasting around in the 250...That gets me out in the garage and wenching in no time!

KaptKaos Reader
3/2/10 5:17 p.m.

I'm happy to know I am not the only one. I need some tricks to stay motivated.

BoxheadTim HalfDork
3/3/10 4:51 a.m.

First trick on how not to stay motivated - buy another project .

I think you have to break down the work into manageable pieces and then tackle them slowly. I've fallen into the 'too many projects' trap as well and I'm now using the impending move as an excuse to get rid of a few of them and put the other ones back together.

rconlon Reader
3/3/10 10:23 a.m.

Look after the kids and family first. The car will be still there in a few years and the kids will be young adults that are reliable good runners who won't need or want so much attention.

Cheers Ron

KaptKaos Reader
3/3/10 11:52 a.m.

Ron - true, however I bring my kids into my projects whenever I can. I want them to see, learn and understand as much as they can. My oldest is 9 and she loves to help. I think my middle child will likely be the car nut, but she's too young to help.

I also don't believe in putting this stuff off. I've known too many people that have put things off, and never get to them. Maybe it's indicative of their real passion or their priorities, I don't know.

I know that I want to get these things done, and it's those rare moments when I have no other activities scheduled, that I find it hard to get into the garage. Sometimes, I just want a rest.

Gary Reader
3/3/10 12:06 p.m.

I’m probably working on some kind of a record for the world’s longest rehab of a Spitfire. I don’t even want to say how long it’s been going on. It’s embarrassing when friends ask how it’s going. (When it comes to things automotive I envy Ottawa Andre’s ambition and his ability for getting the job done, even in unbelievably miserable work conditions). But it’s not for lack of interest, and I’m not lazy. It just seems like there’s other things to do that take priority. And besides, I have a Miata to drive in the warm months. But things are progressing. I’ve finally stopped taking things off the car. Joe Curto rebuilt the carbs for me a couple years ago. Nisonger rebuilt the gauges last year. I’m starting to reassemble the car. So Kaptain, don’t worry. It’s not unusual that things don’t progress as quickly as you’d like. Unless you’re Andre from Ottawa. By the way, where has Andre been?

KaptKaos Reader
3/3/10 12:13 p.m.
Gary wrote: By the way, where has Andre been?

Andre is probably in the garage, working on a car.

Thanks Gary :-D

blackrabbit New Reader
3/3/10 3:53 p.m.

The best motivation i have found... just very recently. a good friend stopped buy to see me and we went out in the garage to ck out the trabant project, he drives his as a daily!! my progress this winter has been slower than a glacier!! his enthusiasm for my car brought back the spirit in an instant!! so now we have a goal... on the road by first of april so we can make cars and coffee together. my rally trabi and his daily trabi!! so invite your buddies over... at least the ones that really like your car!

spitfirebill Dork
3/4/10 7:24 a.m.

When your wife gets through kicking your butt, have her come over and kick mine.

My 64 Sptifire has been down for a few months now. I had an odd noise coming from the rear. I think it was an inside dried seal is a rear hub. Anyway, all i need to do to get it back on the road is bolting the axles to the drive flanges bleed the brakes and mount the wheels. I just can't get going.

I also have an 80 Spitfire that I rebuilt the engine last year and am working on a twin carb intake. I just can't get all the parts and motivation to finish it. Right now i nbeed to work out a problem with the throttle shafts. Seems one has already been reamed oversize and one is still standard.

As far as the world's longest Spitfire restoration, I bought the 64 Spit about 1989 and started a total restoration. It runs and drives and most of the body work is done, but still isn't finished.

Gary Reader
3/4/10 7:51 a.m.

OK Bill, you definitely have me beat. I picked up my '68 Spitfire in July '02. It ran just fine but the brakes were a little iffy. I wanted to clean it up a bit so I dismantled a few things, then a few more and a few more. It's been sitting immobile in my garage ever since. I thought I was alone in this ongoing process but it looks like it's fairly common. I continually look for new acquisitions but so far I've been able to resist the urge to get involved in yet another project!

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition New Reader
3/4/10 8:22 a.m.

It has been many years since I read Zen, so I had to look up the term. That lead to reviewing some of Pirsig's ideas, which I had forgotten about. Thanks for prompting me to look at them again.

Goal-setting is a very powerful motivator. I recently fell into the G-trap after my car got badly pranged at a vintage race. I seriously thought about selling it and quitting racing altogether. I just couldn't muster the energy to fix it after all the time I had spent building it (I did everything, including mechanical and paint and body).

I got through it by setting a goal. To have it up and running by this fall to go to a special race. I've found in the past that having that sort of goal gives you something to work towards and makes you get out of your chair to go do it. Making "to do" lists and schedules helps, too, though they seem a bother at first if you aren't all that anal. You can get a lot of satisfaction from scratching stuff off that list and missing a self-established deadline will get you thinking more about getting back on track.

Good luck!

racerdave600 Reader
3/4/10 8:41 a.m.

I think I need to try that. We bought a new house last year and I spent the entire year redoing everything in it. Basically a gut and rebuild. In the mean time my 240Z project has been idle with nothing done. I did take the hood off to prepare for the engine pull, but that's all i did. I want to get back on it, but after the house, motivation is tough. Maybe the wife can help with that!

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/4/10 8:54 a.m.

Whenever I get overwhelmed with the many projects I've taken on, I try to remember the old adage "How do you eat an elephant?........one piece at a time"

By concentrating on getting one small thing done each day, the tasks become much less daunting over time.

Thats the theory at least!

Gary Reader
3/4/10 10:03 a.m.

Joe, I’m with you 100% on that. And that’s exactly how my Spitfire project has been going. I’m moving forward slowly, but at least I’m moving forward. And I seem to stay somewhat motivated that way. A couple years ago I made a list of remaining things to do. It was extensive, but it helped to put it into perspective. Then in hope of shortening up the process I even went as far as creating a Microsoft time line with all the various tasks, milestones, links, etc. (my futile stab at goal-setting). That didn’t work. In retrospect, I should have put the time spent creating the project plan towards actually working on the car. In any case, the “one piece at a time” philosophy seems to be working for me now. And the car will be done when it’s done.

Rhodyspit75 New Reader
3/4/10 11:51 a.m.

I'm on the other side of the coin. I bought my Spitfire 2 years ago yesterday. I started with a car with a good body and did a body off restoration. I rebuilt the motor in my basement last winter and did all the other little things cleaned all the parts and rebuilt the carb etc. . Before I put it off to the side of the garage last winter I had redone the suspension and brakes and put the body back on so my wife's car could go back in. I drove the car this past summer and fall and plan to take it out tomorrow or saturday. I had looked forward to doing this for years and now with business so bad and approaching retirement age I went for it. It didn't take much motivation to keep me going. Of course being kind of retired and having a lot of time on my hands makes all the difference in the world.

KaptKaos Reader
3/4/10 11:55 a.m.

Sure, rub it in Rhody! :-)

Rhodyspit75 New Reader
3/4/10 12:09 p.m.

It's one of the few benefits of being old.

OFracing Reader
3/4/10 8:02 p.m.

Rhody, post some pics of the car, maybe it'll get me motivated to finish the the engine for my son's spitfire.

I just have a hard dragging my butt out to the garage in the dark. I live there on the weekends but going out in the winter, firing up the heater and getting started is tough. In the spring and fall, I don't have a problem, it must be the psychological effects of darkness. First race is in April, first run with the Brits club is in a few weeks, Daylight Savings time can't get here fast enough.


Rhodyspit75 New Reader
3/5/10 5:44 a.m.

Her's a few during rebuild.


Rhodyspit75 New Reader
3/5/10 5:47 a.m.

Here's 2 more. IMG]http://i765.photobucket.com/albums/xx294/rhodyspit75/1975Spitfire209.jpg[/IMG]

OFracing Reader
3/5/10 12:00 p.m.

Very nice,

thanks mike

dimeadozen New Reader
3/23/10 7:25 p.m.

This thread has given me a new perspective on my 240Z project. I can relate to most, if not all, of the sentiments expressed by other posters. After reading the thread, I came to the realization that my car is a 1973, and has documented collision repair, therefore it will never be worth what a time capsule Series 1 Z will. This car will always be best suited as a driver.

Of course, this briefly lead to thoughts of selling it and starting with a "better" car, but now that I've accepted this reality, working on the car is fun again, and I would even dare say visible progress is being made.

My biggest problem was that when I had a free weekend afternoon, I was able to come up with a short list of managable tasks to complete, and usually managed to get a few of them done. However, even if I then had time available, the remainder got set aside for later in the week, so I didn't "Run out of things to do." Of course, a month and a half later those tasks were still not done.

Now that the weather is getting nicer and garage doors are open, I met a neighbor who is working on a '57 Chevy project. He stops by once or twice a week- it's nice to have someone nag you about what you've gotten done, without having a model specific enough knowledge to point out that the bracket you painted black should be yellow chromate plated.

I've also noticed that my wife seems to be a lot more tolerant of the project now that I'm showing visible effort to get it done. Although she is VERY patient, her frustration and skepticism were beginning to show through, probably because 2 1/2 years ago when I bought it, she was told "It only needs a bottom end rebuild and paint to be perfect". Of course, the engine has yet to turn over, and it's just as ugly as the day it was trailered home.

The common advice about not letting a project become a shelf for boxes has also helped a lot. I've taken it even farther and blow the dust off on a weekly basis, and keep the glass as clean as possible.

KaptKaos Reader
3/24/10 12:23 a.m.


Dimeadozen - please keep me posted!

Post some pix while you're at it.

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