Sunday, September 30, 2012

Charger's Floors Are In

I finally got to work on the Charger again, it's been a month and it's been driving me crazy, while the car its self has just been driving me around. Several things I learned from welding, is that one, it's ridiculously hot. It's also ridiculously difficult. My hats off to the people that can do it, can do it well, and can do it so it looks easy. It's not something I want to do again, not without a ton of practice first. Also I was in less than perfect conditions using after market parts which don't fit as perfectly as the originals, add this all together and what you have is a long day of annoying frustrating work! (with burns)
At one point right after welding, my dad set his hand down and then started to yell and scream that he touched a spark. As I chuckled at his pain and thought, "only you dad!" I set my hand down on the part that was just welded. Needless to say I said a lot more than he did, and as he laughed I knew that I was now forever part of my Charger, because putting your hand in molten steel will do that to a guy.

Once we had the new floor pans tack welded into place we used body putty to fill in all the gaps and surround the outside of the new floor. Using  that stuff isn't hard, in fact it's kinda fun, almost like playing with finger paint and clay at the same time. It dries really fast and if you aren't quick enough, you're just plain out of luck. You can see in the picture the rocker panel on this side is rusted pretty good, luckily not the whole way through, I'll be sanding that down and filling it in with body filler next. Just one of the small things I am able to do on my own without paying someone else to do it.

I got to drive the Charger back, it made the 11 miles just fine after it got warmed up. I also did my first peel out! It was an accident for the most part. At the stop sign at the intersection right before my dad's house I had come to a complete stop. I decided I was just going to jump on the gas and the tires squealed as I peeled out. My dad told me I left rubber. (He was driving behind me in his truck and got to see it up close.) Let those tire marks be a signal to all those who see it, that there are more of those to come in the near future. In fact, since I'll be getting new rims and tires and won't need the ones I have now, I may just do enough burn outs to ruin them!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Andrew's Top Ten TV/Movie Cars Of All Time

10. The 1977 Pontiac Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit 
Coming in at number 10 is a car that made an average movie pretty good. In the movie "Smokey and the Bandit" Burt Reynolds title character drives a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am and honestly the car has a lot of good scenes including jumps, slides, peel outs, and high speed chases. There were two more movies which the Trans Am made more appearances but it was never the same exact car and even in the second movie it is explained that the Bandit loses his car and Sally Field and then goes into major depression. (I'm pretty sure losing the car was more depressing than losing Sally Field.) So why number 10? In an era where the muscle car was pronounced dead, the Trans Am showed America that there was still some muscle out there.

9. Herbie the Love Bug Volkswagen Beetle 
Now seriously how can you not love Herbie the Love Bug??? The volkswagen Beetle, (until very recently) was the most sold automobile in the entire world, and Herbie is the most recognizable one. This 1963 VW Bug was an idea of Walt Disney that spanned 6 movies. I always liked Herbie, he had a mind of his own and a personality that was full of charm and! I was very happy to see Herbie make a come back in 05 and continue to wonder why more of these wholesome fun family adventures are not being made??? 

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's Party Wagon 
Although it didn't show up in any of the Ninja Turtle movies, the Party Wagon was the main choice of transportation for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Loaded with a lot of goodies to help them fight bad guys, the turtles often used this van in the cartoon series. The other cool thing about the Party Wagon was that it was a toy too and you could use it for the action figures. You wouldn't think teenagers that lived in a sewer would need a car, but apparently they did. 

7. The Batmobile 
How on earth can Batman's Batmobile be soooo low on my list??? Easy, there were many different Batmobiles over the years and believe it or not, the most popular one was the original 1960's Batmobile, I however, think the best and by far coolest Batmobile comes from the 1989 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I don't care for the 1960's version, (the only version made from an actual car) and I really think the newest Batmobile is just plain hideous. BUT it is the Batmobile and Batman was always my favorite super hero. Still, that 1989 Batmobile was something so unique and bad-ass looking that I think it still remains a superior Batmobile. Also the name "Batmobile" is just really awesome in itself. 

6. The A-Team's GMC Van
The A-Team is one of my all time favorite shows, and their Van has to be the coolest van of all time. The 1986 GMC Vandura used by the team seems like an odd choice for an action show but it made perfect sense. The van concealed the team from the Government and law enforcement, plus they could haul around everybody and still have enough room for all the guns and explosives they used in each episode. Then they would slide open the door and start shooting people as Mr.T drove them around. Not to mention the van was supposed to be owned by Mr.T's character B.A. Baracus, and Mr.T could make ANYTHING bad-ass, including a van. Mr.T would often comment about the condition of his van and protected it by warning anyone else who drove it that he would pity the fool that put a scratch on his baby. A common misconception of the Van was that it was all black, although it often appeared to be, it was in fact black and metallic grey separated by a red stripe. A detail that is missed by some replicas. 

5. The Mach 5 from Speed Racer
Oh Speed racer! Now how can you have a cartoon show about a race car driver and NOT have an amazing car to go along with him?? Answer: You can't, so enter the Mach 5! He was often flying as he gunned that car around the track, jammin down the pedal like he was never coming back, adventure was waiting just ahead, and when the odds were against him and there was dangerous work to be done, you bet your life Speed Racer will see it through. Supposedly the fastest car ever built, Speed and his father built the Mach 5 to travel around the world racing it, solving crimes and saving people as well. The Mach 5 had a ton of cool gadgets like saws and things to make it jump over other cars. Although a cartoon, a live action movie was made and people around the world have actually made a real live Mach 5, which looks pretty cool as a real car, but it's the cartoon car that stole many kid's hearts.

4. Ecto-1, The 1959 Cadillac Ambulance from Ghostbusters 
If there's something strange in the neighborhood who ya gonna call? We all know it's the ghostbusters and we all know what they'll be arriving in. Their 1959 Cadillac ambulance known as Ecto-1. Their car appeared in the 2 movies and the cartoon series. Possibly the most distinct siren of any car, Ecto-1 was always rushing off to a spooky scene with the ghostbusters and plenty of room for all of their proton packs. In the second movie Ecto-1 was in need of major repair and the out of business Ghostbusters used it but not to go ghost busting, when they got back into business they repaired Ecto-1 and added a few things and renamed it Ecto-1a. It was cool because there were many Ghostbuster toys when I was growing up and you could even buy the Ecto-1. Ambulances of the time period were also used as hearses, a little known fact but a cool connection for the Ghostbuster's ride if you think about it. 

3. The 1982 DMC-12 DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future
"If my calculations are correct, when this baby reaches 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit." Oh and we did! 1985 was certainly NOT the future, but if you wanted the most futuristic looking vehicle you could find in 1985, you would probably go with a DMC-12. How can you make this car even cooler? Make it a time machine, what else?? Besides, like Doc Brown said, the way I see it, if you're going to make a time machine out of a car, you might as well do it in style! Gull wing doors, coming in only stainless steel as a color, and having the ability to travel back in time makes the DeLorean from Back to the Future my 3rd favorite car of all time. The Back to the Future trilogy is my favorite trilogy and Marty McFly might be my favorite movie character but where would that franchise be without the DeLorean? Although destroyed in the final movie, the time machine took audiences back in time and to the future for 3 wonderful movies, (not to mention a cartoon series in which the car was not destroyed). One of the best story lines in any movie, one of the most popular movies of all time, some of the best characters in any movie, and in my opinion, the best car in cinematic history. 

2. Knight Rider's 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, the Knight Industries Two Thousand, aka KITT 
Knight Rider. A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man....that does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals that operate above the law. Is there a car cooler than KITT? I don't think so. Not only was this a highly advanced futuristic machine that fought crime, he could talk too! KITT definitely had the most personality because he was able to communicate with David Hasselhoff. Many people don't know this, but my Charger is going to be black because of KITT. The second car on my list from 1982 and the second Trans Am, KITT may have been the perfect car, if it weren't for his tendency to talk back to his owner so much. Voiced by William Daniels, (the guy that later played Mr. Feeny) KITT helped solve super crimes and would combat the evil super criminals of the 1980's. Sill very recognizable, and often duplicated, not correctly I might add, KITT remains my second all time favorite car, a car that is VERY hard to beat. However, there is still one car left on the list that tops KITT and all others in my opinion, although I'm sure KITT would have a lot to say about it. 

........ and number 1.   1969 Dodge Charger Hemi, The General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard
No surprises here, the General Lee, what can I say about the car I've loved since I can remember? As a 3 year old I remember being glued to the TV when this car was peeling out and blasting it's Dixie horn and jumping over the bad guys. For me, there isn't a vehicle in the world that can touch the General, it's the reason why I own a charger today. 
The General Lee had personality, and being the true star on the Dukes of Hazzard, it was like a character on the show in many ways. The bright orange color, the big 01 number on the side, the Dixie flag painted on the roof and a hemi under the hood all came together in a perfect combination.  To this day, nothing has ever captivated me more than this car. I can get Alzheimer's and I won't forget the General Lee. 
The General Lee still holds several actual world records, including the longest recorded jump. The General Lee is the most recognizable car in the world. And it is number one on my list of all time TV/Movie cars. The Fast and the Furious featured a 1970 Dodge Charger, many people don't know this but it was actually a 1969 Charger with a 70 grill because the director thought the 69 Charger already had too much fame due to the General Lee. 

Here I am meeting Ben Jones, he played "Cooter" on the Dukes of Hazzard, and look who is behind us, the General Lee himself. Getting to see the General Lee in real life was a great moment for me. I plan to own one someday too. 

Well there you have it, my top ten time favorite TV/Movie cars of all time! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012


There is nothing worse than opening up a hood and seeing a filthy, dirty, gross engine is there? I decided to try an engine degreaser, mainly for the Charger's engine but also for my Honda's engine, which has become very dirty over the past year. I went with the GUNK brand engine cleaner which offers a range of different cleaners for your engine, ranging from just a bit dirty to caked on, baked on grease from years of use. Today I used the heavy duty gel for the dirtiest of engines.

PROBLEMS: I'll start out with the problems and draw backs. First of all, after you apply the engine cleaner you must then rinse it with water, like from a hose. This is annoying because not only do you need access to a hose but you also can not start the car until the cleaner is rinsed off, so when you put it on, you better be ready to take it off with a hose that is in close proximity. The engine must be off and cool when you do this so don't drive anywhere before you do begin. Due to all the electrical parts, there is always a scary moment after you spray your engine down with water and wondering if it will start again.

 Putting it on isn't difficult but it really smells bad and even after the rinse and dry there is still a pretty fumey strong smell to the engine. If you are spraying your engine with water you are probably already asking yourself, isn't that a BAD idea? Yes, IF you don't first take the proper precautions. If you have a distributor cap you must cover it in plastic wrap or a plastic bag, or anything that will keep water off of it. You also have to cover the intake so no water gets in there either, remember an engine bay is covered by a hood and rarely sees water so it isn't made to withstand a blast from a hose, this was something I wasn't too keen on doing.

Make sure you get all of the GUNK off the parts, if you don't it will dry and be just as bad as any baked on grease was before it was applied. Since you are being so careful not to ruin the engine and electrical parts with the hose you don't full get the GUNK off of the engine and you'll have to end up wiping a lot of manually, not a big deal but with all the small areas for water to collect, you'll be doing that anyway. A check on my engine hours later revealed a lot of new rust in places there wasn't rust before, again, I hosed down the engine, what did I think was going to happen?

 I really question how well the GUNK worked because in my opinion just spraying an engine bay with a hose would have taken a ton of the grime and dirt away on it's own. They say to let your car idle afterwards to help dry the engine, I didn't find this all that helpful myself but I suppose results may vary.

GOOD STUFF:  There was a lot of good about this product even if it appears I was pretty hard on it above. The cleaner really did do it's job of cutting through that grease. My car's parts look brand new and there is NO sign of old dusty dirt on them. I didn't even wait the full 10-15 minutes they recommend you wait, remember I bought this can for my Charger, which has worse dirt, grease, leaks, and years of crap, so my Honda Civic's engine really wasn't too horrible to begin with. I let GUNK on for about 7 minutes before I got antsy and had to start rinsing. I really feel I could have used the FOAMY or ORIGINAL cleaners for my Honda.

Most of the GUNK came right off with the water but other parts had to be wiped off with a cloth. Most of those parts now sparkle like they were just put on, which is really nice considering I think some of those parts were dirty and black when I bought the car 7 years ago, so it was really nice to see some shine under the hood.

Sure the prep work takes a bit of time, but far less than changing a spark plug or tire or doing an oil change, especially in newer engines like my 05 Civic, now when I do my 74 Charger I will have much more prep work before I start to spray the GUNK all over the engine bay. But if you want to sell a car or keep a classic car looking great under the hood, this stuff will definitely do the job for you.

I can't be sure but I think any cleaner would do just as good a job as the GUNK brand did. Ideally a cleaner wouldn't need a hose, after all you are going to have to wipe a lot of it and excess water off after you use it anyway, so why not just a spray cleaner that you wipe off instead? Perhaps they do make these and I just don't know about them? For the money though I think it is a safe choice, using just plain water won't cut through the grease and grime and a cleaner made for other car parts might harm some engine components. I think what it really comes down to is how dirty your engine truly is. The dirtier the better stuff is going to work for you, if your engine and car is pretty new I would suggest just taking the time and effort to using old rags or cleaning wipes. If your engine is very old and dirty then this stuff is going to help you out a lot more in the long run, even if you still have to wipe most of the engine off yourself. So all in all I would recommend GUNK brand engine degreaser, but that's just my two cents.