2008: Another year on the back burner

Well the 2008 New Year's Resolution was a victim of circumstances.
The money wasn't plentiful enough to do the paint and body,
so I opted to refurbish the suspension and steering. Luckily, my
parents had no idea what to get me for Christmas 2007 (aside from
Ranchero parts), so in a move reminiscent of my teenage
years, I gave them a list of part numbers:

Now that's what I call a nice batch of stocking stuffers.

The first order of business was to replace the rear springs;
this was deemed necessary due to some moderate to severe
"wheel hop" that was taking place during our full-throttle-stress-testing
(a.k.a. lengthy burnouts on deserted country roads).

Sidebar question: is it still considered "exhibition of speed"
if your front tires remain below the posted speed limit? (Wink, wink)
As always, I guess that it depends upon the police officer's mood
coupled with the perceived stupidity factor of the offense.
Once again: deserted country roads. Enough of that topic...

In an attempt to quell the wheel hop problems, I ordered the
springs specified for the 1972 Torino Wagon (front and back)
because they were somewhat more heavy duty.

After recovering from the madness of the holidays,
Rich (who was now on injured reserve) & I got busy
installing my Christmas presents. Poor Rich, he rally hates
watching someone else do the work, but he's still a good consultant.

Once in, the new springs joined the rear shocks, and rear brake
backing plates in mocking the dirty appearance of all the surrounding parts.

The rear springs were easy, the front springs were somewhat more "fun".
Actually, the springs themselves weren't that bad, it was the original,
factory riveted, upper ball joints that made the job a real bear.

The diamond wheel on the angle grinder came in after the chisels
failed to produce results (beyond sore arms and ringing ears).

Those were some of Ford's best rivets, but we finally got 'em.
We then replaced the upper and lower (antique) ball joints
with brand new Moog bolt-ons (bye-bye rivets).

Upon visual inspection, it was hard to see any difference
between the stock springs and the Torino Wagon springs:

However, once they were in, the difference was dramatic:

Not only did the new heavy duty springs raise the front
end by 2 or 3 inches, the front suspension is much stiffer
than it was with the 37-year-old stock springs. Slowing
down for train tracks and speed bumps is now optional.

We finished off this work spurt with new sway bar end links:

We still had a new pitman arm, idler arm, and tie rods in my
Christmas box, but there was a new project at hand...

The Patio Project

It was time to say good-bye to our postage-stamp-sized patio.
I was glad to do it, but there went $5500 that could have been
used for a really nice paint & body job. Oh well, it I did give me
a place to put a free pool table from my brother-in-law:

Thanks Kevin! Now Tanya has something else to clean
(while I screw around taking pictures).

After the patio came my daughter's (Jessica's) Dodge Ram.

Once again, complete suspension overhaul; the dummy who previously
owned the truck lowered it to the point that it was a real pain to drive.
Cost to restore back to stock height: $1000.

Then, Jessica graduated from High School.

Graduation gift (laptop computer) + miscellaneous: $1000

Then came the big money project: 4.8 kilowatt solar system:

The worst part: when it came time to finance this project, the sub-prime
mortgage fiasco was in full swing. This caused all the lenders to become
very strict, and 2007 was my first year of being issued a 1099 instead of
a W2. The new lending environment wanted at least 2 consecutive 1099s,
and "stated income" was no longer an option. So, my option was to either
back out of my solar contract and lose $1000, or break into my "emergency
fund" and pay for the whole thing out of pocket. Well as you can see from the
photo above, the emergency fund got wiped out. This was bad news for the
Ranchero project because I used to tap the emergency fund for car parts.

So the months of 2008 flew by. Before I could blink, summer was over;
before I could catch my breath, the Thanksgiving turkey was picked clean...

Before I could buy so much as a lug nut, it was time for Christmas $hopping.
I needed some time to meditate, so I returned to the site of the front-pump
failure and tried to summon the lost momentum back to my project...
Will it work? Will my beloved Ranchero see paint and body work in 2009?


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