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Avanti R2, 1963, refresh

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Quick note:  Corvette Wayne sent me a note.  The damper mounting hole was smaller than the crankshaft end, so the machinist took a bit out to make it fit.  Everything was measured so there will be no play.  Wayne reported that it fits great.


On Saturday we will trailer the Camaro over to our place, put it on the lift and remove the transmission.  


While under the Trailblazer I noticed that the front brake dust shields were rubbing the rotor.  They are rusty and about done.  So ordered a new ones for both sides.  Also the rear sway bar end links are really worn so ordered new ones.  When I get the truck running I will have an almost new truck with all the new parts being put on.  

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Roger, I agree completely with your assessment.  My little truck needed some maintenance, nothing critical, and a few upgrades.  It is stuff I would have done anyway, just not all at once.  I have other vehicles for farm use so it being down has really not caused any issues.  Dealers will cost you about $100 per hour now I just wanted to mitigate the pain if I had to take it in.  Much easier for me to replace a starter at $70 versus $700 at the dealer.   The redone computer cost me $200, the dealer wanted $1200.   

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It is Saturday, November 14th, PM.  A big day for Camaro Steve.  We picked up the open trailer at our place and headed over to Steve's garage and picked up the engineless Camaro.  Brought it over to our garage and proceeded to put it on the lift.  The transmission is coming out.  


Up on the lift Steve could see that the rear main transmission seal was leaking as well as some of the other seals.  So he feels better about getting the transmission rebuilt.


It came out rather easy with no issues.  The transmission jack worked like a charm.  A valuable piece of equipment for sure.


Steve also said that Wayne has the engine all back together.  He is just waiting on a nice day to paint it.  Maybe even tomorrow.  Wayne is coming over tomorrow to pick up the tranny and take it to the rebuilder. 


Here are a few pics for your enjoyment.










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John when you first turn on the key can the fuel pump be heard running for a few seconds?

The fuel pump has nothing to do with no starter operation.

With the ignition switch removed from the stearing column and still wired it can be operated by hand ,( may need small screw driver )  


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Al, I hope to get to the ignition part tomorrow, and that will confirm if I have power up to the switch and beyond.


Tom, that is a hard top Unimog 404.  Has actual roll up windows.  A rare truck, usually they are soft tops with plastic windows that are inserted into the top door frame.  Not a bad price either for $7500 if it is a good driver.  The hard top usually has a gun port in the passenger side of the roof; a neat feature if you need to mount a machine gun.  


It is Sunday, PM, November 15th.  Surprise, surprise as Greg and Barb made an unannounced visit to the farm last night.  They brought a thank you gift for the garage.  So now I have a microwave.  Thanks Greg and Barbara!


And Camaro Steve came over today and spent the morning working on his Camaro.  He took off the old shocks, drained and opened up the differential (posi-traction), and did some more cleaning and painting of the engine bay and suspension parts.  Corvette Wayne also came by, and we loaded the transmission into his truck.  It is going to the re-builder tomorrow.   Wayne has the engine all rebuilt and will be painting it in the next couple of days.  Steve gets the shocks on Tuesday so I imagine that he will be over some evening this week to put them on.  We do not have a schedule for the tranny yet.


And what did I do?  Just did some garage clean up; and admired the new tires on the Suburban.  Nice Cooper truck tires, which should last another 50,000 miles. 



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It is Monday, PM, November 16th.  A real nice day so spent most of the day doing needed farm stuff.  We have a few medium sized trees that have died and need to come out.  So used the little Kubota to push them over so I can cut them up tomorrow with the chain saw.  It did take some heavy pushing with the loader.  It was not a "push over".  But got them down.


Had a few minutes to work in the garage.  I was embarrassed when I went over to Wayne's garage.  He had all his sockets in little trays in his tool cabinet.  Mine are just jammed into a drawer, and you have to go looking for the right size. 


I saw some socket and tool holders on sale at Eastwood.  So bought three to see how they would work.  Now I have wrenches and sockets on the wall for easy picking.  





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It is Tuesday morning.  Here is a Greg report for your morning coffee.


"More on the Dodge.   Photo of David test fitting the rear curtain.  Next we will resolve the two vertical straps that retain the rear bow placement.


Progress on the Avanti R3 engine.    Nathan came over to  install the oil filter mount,  all seals and gaskets required for the oil pan installation,  the front timing cover temporarily installed.  Then we figured out how to remove the plugs  so that we could clean the rocker arm shafts.  New plugs installed.


 To ease his pain of installing all these rear curtain diamonds for the Dodge,  David traveled to Paul Rose's  shop (thanks Paul) to use a wonderful long neck sewing machine.   Made managing that big piece of material a lot easier.  The Dodge Brothers are coming along.


The last pic shows another batch of nickel plating for the Matheson engineproject.   These items for  valve spring retention,  compression relief and camshaft drive.    I think twenty-seven items,   another batch  of  over one hundred twenty to go."






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Still Tuesday, but now PM.  And it is SHO time!


I spent about 7 hours working on the 1989 Ford Taurus SHO (Super High Output).  Did a major scrubbing of the exterior and a good vacuum of the interior.  I did surprise a mouse in the truck when I opened it.  Tomorrow I will have to figure out how to get rid of the critter.  


She looks pretty good in pictures, but she needs help.  The clear coat is about half off, and there are a few rust spots starting to appear.  Nothing major yet that I can see.  I will have to get it one the lift to see if there are any issues.  The interior is not great.  The seat seams are letting go and the leather is starting to tear in several parts.  The headliner is starting to come down also.  


She was last on the road in 2008.  She has 197,047 miles on the odometer.  The tires are shot and dry rotted, but just so happens I have a good set on rims sitting in the storage barn.  I will take a look at those to see if they are good.  If not I will get some new ones from Tire Rack.


 I have owned her since new.  As I remember she had about 350 miles on her when I bought it in 1989.  It was one of the first ones off the production line in Atlanta, GA.  She was a fast car back in the day.  The the six cylinder Yahama engine produced 220 HP and gave about 210 are the front wheels.  Lots of torque steer when you got on the gas.  She was the fastest sedan in her day, 143 mph.


I charged up the tractor battery that is in her and gave it a boost from a portable charger.  After a couple of short pulls, she started right up.  Just amazing.  And she sounds great also.


I decided to see if I could move her to the front of the garage so she will be easier to work on.  After a couple of back and forth power moves the brakes finally released, and I was able to drive her to the garage.  I am sure the pads were stuck to the rotors.  Felt good to have her move again.  


And then of course she started to smoke from the engine bay.  Now I remember why she was parked.  A leaky power steering hose way back behind the engine.


I am going to continue to clean her up and hope to stabilize the rust areas, and make her as presentable as I can.  As soon as the Camaro leaves the garage I will put her up on the lift for an inspection, to see about the power steering hose, and give it a brake job. Just so happens I have several sets of rotors and pads that I have collected over the years.


A few weeks ago I had the car registered as a vintage car, over 25 years old, so I can drive it again.  It will be good to run down the road again.  


Here is a link to the history of the SHO line up.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Taurus_SHO








Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)
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John, thanks for your continued efforts with your blog. I'm intrigued with the Taurus, she certainly isn't pretty, but mechanically very interesting, great respect for keeping her this long. What is the plan now?

Would love an update on the W8.



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It is Thursday, November 19th, PM.  Spent the day sorting parts and putting them in boxes by car.  After I get through them all I will resort them and put them on shelves by car.  I have a huge pile just for the Taurus SHO.  I am afraid of what I will find for the other cars.


But I did find some interesting stuff that I will put on display in the garage.  Here is just a sample of stuff.












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Friday evening, November 20th.  Just closed up the garage after going through boxes and boxes of stuff.  I had some big plastic bins and separated all the parts by car.  The SHO had the most, followed by the 1923 McLaughlin Buick, and then the 1928 Buick.  I even found parts for the Trailblazer and Suburban.  I guess I am just a pack rat.  I must have a least four sets of brakes for the SHO.  Here are a few pics so you will get the idea.


Tomorrow Camaro Steve is coming over and we will put on his new shocks and finish the fluid change on the rear end.  







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Still Friday, and we have a report from Greg.


"Progress on the '21 Dodge retopping courtesy of David "trimacar" Coco's Convertible Top Center.


At this point I guess a little background is proper.  I've had this car since '76.  It came with the original top removed and stuffed in a trash bag.   Curtains too.  


Still in the 70s I'd heard of an excellent trimmer in Chambersburg, Pa who was supposed to be really really good.   Before I shipped the car to him,  I studied the original topping and found that although the material  was a very common type used in the nineteen twenties,  short cobra grain with a tan backing,  it hadn't been available for decades.    Haartz,  the leading supplier didn't offer it, but somehow I convinced them to run me off some, a roll  of which I supplied  to Sonny's Upholstery.   Asked to faithfully copy the original,  it looked like he did.


Fast forward to the summer of '15 and that top had outlived it's use by date.   Shrunken, torn, and flapping in the breeze.   Time to see if David would feed it into his Drive-Thru.   Hooray,  he would, and I had a remaining roll of the material on hand.    Amazingly ,  enough.  Some of you have been following  the project.


Not only has it been enjoyable seeing the progress,  in a way it has been a reminder of when we worked together at White Post Restorations and we'd confer.   Any restoration is  made up of opinions, also compromises and we'd strive for authenticity.  Now these years later we're conferring over the phone and emailing photos.  One big difference is that now he can't,  unlike those earlier days, sing to me.  Alice's Restaurant, start to finish.


There have been some surprises like the lack of original references to study.   The Dodge Brothers were really cranking out the cars.  More expensive that Fords, but also more car that a Ford.  Study any old street scene and you'll see lots of them.   There were a lot of survivors.  In the 1960's in  Winchester, Va./ West Virginia area there were a number of originals .   Try to find them now.  Before he would cut and nail,  David would ask about a detail.   What about the unusual method of strapping the back bow.   The sample sure looks like the hard way of doing things.  Top material folded and stitched,  cotton webbing, rivets....what's that all about?


Phone calls, emails,  trips to see cars....verification  was sought.   Made a few good friends to have in the DB world,  but nothing substantial.   That's when in the restoration biz you have to make your best guess.   Evidence that some other Dodges had the top material stitched straps was one deciding factor since it could be made from scraps and cheap,  knowing that the cotton webbing would be much  more substantial to feed through the metal bracket and why would Sonny have done this the hard way instead of just running webbing all the way to the bow?  We went with what you see in the pics.   Unusual enough to be correct.


If this had been a Model T we'd have had access to anything we wanted to know.  To the day of the week it was manufactured and pitch of the stitches.


I hope David had been enjoying this too.  The job should be finished next week.  Stay tuned."








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It is Saturday, November 21st.  Camaro Steve came over this morning with his new front and rear shocks.  He got them on  without too much trouble.  Steve did some more painting of the rear end cover and some of the engine bay and suspension parts.  The car looks really good from a detailed standpoint.


Corvette Wayne completed the engine and painted it.  It is ready for installation.  We are all getting excited to put it in.  No word on the Transmission rebuild yet.




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It is Monday, PM, November 23rd.  Spent the day winterizing stuff.  Put heaters in the critter buckets and hooked the heaters in.  Cleaned and put in fuel stabilizer in all the mowers and equipment and put them all indoors for the first time.  The new garage is full.  The garage fans have been turned so they blow up gently so they can push the heat down from the ceiling (Thanks Camaro Steve).


I spent the rest of the day in the garage sorting car parts and putting them on shelves and boxes.  Am about half done.  Everything seems to be finding its place.  I did turn on the heat to 66 degrees, just nice and comfy. 


I have quite a few of old vintage car parts that I really do not need so have started to list them for sale on the AACA buy and sell site.  So far I have been selling a few things, which does give me some cash to buy more stuff.


Yesterday Camaro Steve dropped by, and he put on his differential cover, refilled the case, and finished installing the shocks.  He is all done for now, until the transmission returns from the rebuilder.


I got another garage item via FedEx and Amazon Prime, a paper dispenser to go beside the wall cleaner.  Ahhhhh, clean hands.





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It is Tuesday morning, early like 5 AM, 30 degrees.  So we must have an early morning from Greg.


"  News from the top shop.    The Dodge top is really taking shape.   The rear curtain is nailed in place and he's started to make the final markings on the top decking in order to get it hemmed.   "Got to mark it on the car.  It looks like a straight line but when laid on the sewing table it describes an arc."  says he.  Really looking good.


  Matheson engine project.   With some of the heavy parts back from the plater I can resume assembly.   Over the weekend I prepared the components,  tonight was spent pressing gears into place on the cam tower and trying not to forget something in the order of assembly.


  Avanti R3.   My son Nathan stopped by last night to teach me how to assemble the valve train rocker arm assemblies.   Nice.  Time well spent and more parts ready.


   Cold outside.  Hate it already."






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It is sill Tuesday; and still doing farm stuff.


Today was Kubota tractor day.  I had to move the Camaro up a bit so I could get the tractor into the garage.  It has been 50 hours of run time so I changed the oil and filter, and in general checked everything over.  The only thing found amiss was that positive battery post was corroded.  So I pulled the battery and cleaned everything up to include painting the battery tray, which was a little rusty.  I put the battery terminal in baking soda for an hour or so, and it came out nice and clean.  Everything went back into the tractor and she fired right up.  Oh, it is a 1997 model with 799 hours on it.


And the seat needs to have new upholstery again too.  So I pulled off the old vinyl and have taken the seat into the house and put it over one of the heating vents.  The foam, while in pretty good shape is soaked at the bottom.  I am going to let it dry up before I glue on the new upholstery.  The material is a maroon, marine grade, vinyl.  My color choices for marine grade vinyl locally were about nil, only purple or maroon.  Maroon it is.  I actually have enough material for three covers so I am good for the next fifteen years.  A new factory seat is around $300, a knockoff about $200.  This one will cost me about $20 and a few hours of pleasant work in the garage.


Tomorrow I plan on moving the Taurus SHO into its winter home, the big black enclosed trailer.  I have it all stabilized so I can just drive the car into it.  It will be a great spot for the car this coming winter.  








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It's Wednesday, November 25th, PM.  "Make hay while the sun shines".  I guess that is the farmer's credo, so that is what I did today, sort of.  Finished putting away all the summer mechanicals to include the two little tractors.  They went into the white enclosed trailer for the winter.  Going to put in a couple of small garden dump trailers in there also to keep them out of the rain and snow.  


I had to figure out a way to dry out the Kubota tractor seat foam.  The pellet stove was going this morning so I decided on a solution.  So after twelve or so hours it is finally getting dry.  I think that by tomorrow I can start to fit the new seat vinyl.  


Believe it or not when the wind blows hard, it blows out the insulation in the new garage eves.  So I spent a couple of hours permanently sealing one ten foot section with staples and metal tape.  Let it blow now.  I am going to redo all of them now.  I did not do it initially because folks were telling me that the underside of the roof would get a lot of condensation and drip onto the cars.  So far I have not seen a drop and everything is dry.  Only eleven more sections to go.  Figure I would do one or two a day.




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It is Saturday afternoon, November 28th.  Rain is suppose to come in so while the pastures are nice and dry I moved the Taurus SHO into its winter home.  


With that job done I decided to finish up the Kubota tractor seat.  Took about two hours, but it all done.  Not David (Trimacar) Coco quality, but good enough for the farm.  I used 3M contact cement to stick it to the foam.  Worked great.  The seat is back on the tractor and ready for duty for the next few years.  


Camaro Steve stopped by, and he said that he has received no word on the transmission.  Hopefully, we will see it sometime next week.








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Ha! Every time I feel like I want to spend some money on the Avanti I end up needing a root canal or new crown or HVAC system, etc. etc.. A man just can't get ahead these days! I haven't added it up but I'm probably at break even point myself. Of course, not that it matters to me - it'll be my widow's decision someday, because I don't ever want to sell it! 


I did take the old girl out yesterday, since it was calling for rain today. Man, she runs better than she ever has! Strong motor and quick acceleration - she really loves to run! I'm so happy that I fixed the carburetor gasket and the battery cable - runs much better and cranks over really fast.

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John- I just read the linked article and I think they are optimistic on prices, kind of inaccurate  and unkind to our cars.  I have never thought of the dash as "like a wet bar" or that it has 'googly' eyes.  In fact I like the '63 round headlights better than the '64's but that is just me.  Also I always thought Stude closed up US shop in 1964 and the '64's are true Stude products despite what the author says.  I think he was mocking our cars for the most part and questioning why they have increased in value, not flattering them at all in that piece.


It was a nice, balmy 60 here on turkey day so I decided to drive the Avanti to the kids house in Rochester for dinner, about 50 miles.  I got about 35 miles in and the old girl started losing power, bucking, running real ragged, backfiring out the exhaust and the temp jumped 20 degrees in a couple of miles at 50-55 mph,  I got her to the kids' house, had a nice Thanksgiving and decided to spend the night rather than drive her home in the dark with  trouble.  Friday morning she let out a another LOUD backfire to wake up all the neighbors and off we went towards home.  The temp stayed at 170 but the backfires, loss of power and the rest continues.  It ran best about around 45-50 with the fewest bad manners and I did get her home after a while.


I am thinking the distributor moved and it is a timing issue.  In the spring I went to check the timing and loosened the lock down.  The distributor would not move but I do not remember if I ever tightened the bolt back down.  She has not run smoothly between 40-70 all summer, especially under normal acceleration so I think it has been off time anyways but maybe the shaft broke free and now it is really out of time.  I may look at it this afternoon but weather is becoming a factor in our lives up here now.   I need to move it from one area in the garage to another (my work bay) and get it back out before we get snowed in.  It may sit until spring since I have company coming for dinner at 4 today also.


Hope your turkey day was not a turkey,

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Bill, we had a fantastic Thanksgiving with friends.  So much food that we will be eating leftovers for many days.  


It is a bummer on your Avanti.  You will have to let us know what you find out.  


It's Sunday PM on November 29th.  Spitting rain and rather cold so headed out to the garage in the morning to start work on the blast cabinet construction.  All went well.  Pretty good quality also.  Got most of it done except for the gloves and a couple of other items.  I am sure glad that my Dad bought me an Erector Set when I was a lad.  Great practice for today's work.  But football was calling so gave it up for the day.


And Alice told me to order some tools for the garage as my Christmas present.  So I ordered a 5 speed drill press and a metal cut off saw.  I did not get expensive ones, just those that were on sale.  The drill press was about $60 and the cut off saw $80.  I am sure that they will suit me just fine.  Thank you Miss Santa!





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It's Monday, November 30th.  Only reaching a high of 37 degrees, pretty chilly.  But it is nice in the garage so that is were I headed.


I finished up the table top bead blaster.  Another project done.  But before I use it I have to get an air dryer for the compressor.  And speaking of a compressor I am on the hunt for a 5 HP, 60 to 80 gallon, vertical unit.  Corvette Wayne has one that he wants to sell, but probably not until the spring.  I doubt I can wait that long.


A few years ago I bought 50lb of glass beads for use in a little hand held blaster for small spots of rust.  Somehow I have kept 49.8 lbs dry for all these years.  Now some can go into the table top blaster.


I have found one at our local Tractor Supply store that fits the bill and is rated for 100% duty.  Maybe I will pull the trigger in January. The price looks to be around $800.  I will have to think about that.  I can get a 3.7 HP unit for about $600, but I think that it will be marginal at best.  I have looked on Craig's List, but the compressors listed our priced high and look well used, or just junk.


Since it is cold today I went around the garage and felt for the cold air coming in.  Found lots of leakage around the window frames.  So I pushed in fiberglass insulation around both of them.  Now no leaks.  The garage seems pretty well sealed, but I will keep looking and insulating.  









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John, if your are still in the looking mode a good site to check out for compressors it TP Tool and Equipment. They have a lot of info and a large range of both compressors and blast cabinets. The link is:http://www.tptools.com/  Just thought I would share for what help it might be. I personally have a large blast cabinet I've purchased from them along with a lot of body tools, buffer, etc. Scott...

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I would suggest using aluminum oxide as a abrasive for your cabinet. Glass bead does not last all that long and the dust is bad for the lungs.

Aluminum oxide can be had in a large variety of grits.

You will find the lamp cover in the blaster will get cloudy fast.

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Wednesday, December 2nd.  It is late afternoon, and it has been raining for two days.  The pastures are muck.  I had to be very careful feeding the llamas.  One misstep, and you are down in a flash.  The Virginia clay is mighty slippery.  I follow the fence line where there is some grass.  


Last night I got a Harbor Freight flyer in the mail.  Wow, lots of good deals.  One was a 20 ton hydraulic shop press for the money of a 12 ton unit.  So with money in my pocket from a couple of Ebay sales I headed off this morning to the Harbor Freight store about thirty miles away.  I plopped down the coupon and $150 cash and the press was loaded into the truck.  I will put it together tomorrow.


While there I bought a couple of 6 inch magnetic cups, a couple of wire wheel kits, and some small tools.  That trip cost me about four hours so the day is about shot.


I also received the cut-off Black and Decker saw that I ordered a couple of days ago.  


So it was a good day in spite of the weather.







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Thursday, December 3rd.  Spent the morning and early afternoon putting together the shop hydraulic press.  Not very difficult, but everything is heavy.  Alice came out and helped me put up the top plate.  Without her help there was no way I was going to get in the bolts to hold it to the frame.  It was all I could do to hoist up the top plate to the top of the fixture.  It is all up now and ready to work.  I do not know where it will ultimately will reside in the garage.  Thankfully it does not take up much room.









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Al, I could, but the Camaro is all set up on the lift.  It was easier to have my trusty partner come help.


Got a note from Camaro Steve, he said that his transmission will be done early next week.  It will be fun to get it all back together.  Corvette Wayne is going to bring over the engine this weekend.  Steve also found out that one of his exhaust manifolds was cracked, so he ordered a new set.  

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Friday, December 4th, PM.  Spent the morning in the garage.  No car work, but did get two sections of insulation all tacked and sealed.  That makes a total of three done, nine more to go.  


And as luck would have it, Greg just send us a report.


"Work has been progressing,  mostly on the Dodge topping.  


 I've been slow getting the pictures out.....good old MSN has taken it upon themselves to upgrade my email which means that not only did it slow down this computer even more,  I also have to relearn how to navigate it.   Something for which I have little patience.


We'll see if I can load  a few for you now.


  Pic 1    David Coco (Trimacar) had marked the edges of the decking.   Straight to the bystander,  not so much when on the                           sewing table.

  Pic 2     Cut,  hemmed and reinforced,  top deck ready for attachment.

  Pic 3    Ditto from rear.


He's making good time.  Nice work ,  he should be tired of it and kicking it out into the cold soon."







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I have the same type of inexpensive help, that had to rescue me from the top of my larger drill rig when the drill stem moved over about 1/4 inch and caught my pants leg cuff and I couldn't get it loose. My second chose was remove pants, neighbors might not approve.


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