Sunday, February 24, 2008


The Bronco moved under it's own power today, for the first time in nearly 2 years. My repairs appear to have been successful. No coolant leaks, no vacuum leaks, timing appears correct and the engine is now harmonically balanced. Took it for a few loops around the block... and the dreaded death wobble has returned. Front end shakes at about 45 MPH. So I have to figure that out, before I can drive it over for registration. But it runs! I had a big grin on my face the first loop around the block!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

One of those days...

The Bronco has been out of commission for almost 2 years now. That is depressing. It died the same day Tucker did. We were headed out to go camping at Lake Pleasant. Paige and the kids were up at my moms, and I grabbed some last minute supplies and loaded up Tucker in my Bronco. We were cruising down the highway, and all the sudden Tucker gets all woozy and can't stand up. By the time I get pulled over on the side of the road, he was dead. No heartbeat, no breathing, nothing. Just a limp dog and the rancid smell of death in my passenger seat. So I pulled off the freeway to turn around and go to the pound. As I pulled up to the my truck started making awful clanking noises. Sounded like I had a wrench bouncing around the oil pan. Not good. I made it to the pound, dropped off Tucker, drove home, parked the Bronco, loaded everything into the Escape, and went camping. The Bronco has sat in the garage ever since, because I was too scared to to find out how bad the repairs were going to be.So last weekend Levi and Noah and I did a little investigating...

After some dead ends, I finally discovered the harmonic balancer had failed, and the outer ring was just bouncing around, making a huge racket. Not such a bad repair after all. So I ordered the balancer from Auto Zone, and wen't to go put it one. Wrong part. My old one has three bolt holes for the pulley, the new one has four. Crud. Finally thanks to searching, I find the part number I need (of course the Autozone monkeys aren't able to do this.) Order that one, and wait for it to show up. Since I've got it torn apart anyways, I decided to pull off the water pump and replace the gasket, since I have a small annoying leak somewhere in there. Start pulling that off (last night), get to the last bolt holding it in, and... SNAP! Freakin' bolt snapped off! Great, so now I have to pull the timing chain cover off as well so I can remove the bolt. So I pull all the bolts out of that, but it is hung up on the one that snapped off. So I pry a little with a screwdriver, and... CRACK! Freakin' timing cover crumbles to pieces. Oh lovely. Guess the coolant leak wasn't from the water pump, but the corroded cover. Now I have to find one of those as well. So I get the cover off, and take a look at the timing chain. It is really loose. So might as well replace that too.

Progress as of this morning, with new timing gear installed:

So this morning I call Driven Auto Parts, and they have a timing cover. NAPA has the timing chain and gears. So I drive from Gilbert to 35th Ave, in morning rush hour traffic, pick up the parts, and head back home. I pull off the old timing gears, slide the new ones on... and the fuel pump eccentric doesn't fit back on. Argggghhhh!!! Call all over town, try to find anyone who has a different set. No one does. So I swing by All Mustang Performance. They have a set, but it still isn't the right thing. So I head back to NAPA, this time in afternoon rush hour, to try my luck at finding the right timing gear. The first lady is completely useless, just looking up the part number I already have. Finally some guy comes over, takes a look, and suggests looking up the part for a '74 Bronco. Sure enough, that is the right part. Totally logical... '74 timing chain in my '70 engine. Get the new gear and head home. Pick up the harmonic balancer on the way home, and it actually looks like the right one!

I got the gears installed, timing cover back on, new water pump back on, radiator and fan back in. Now the final task... to remove the other bolts that I broke off in the intake manifold (for the water neck.) I broke them last night, tried to removed them this morning and they wouldn't budge, so I soaked them in oil all day. I tried to back the first one out slowly with an Easyout... BANG! Easyout exploded. Great, not I have the Easyout stuck in the broken bolt, so I'll never get it out. Guess I will also be getting a new intake manifold. Let's hope I can find one in stock somewhere tomorrow.

So the simple job of just the harmonic balance turned into:
- new timing cover
- new timing chain and gears
- new water pump
- new intake manifold
- and who knows what else will go wrong tomorrow...

My goal was to get it running tomorrow and head to emissions and MVD and get it re-registered. Chances of that happening look slim now...

Progress as of tonight...
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


So I added this ClustrMap thing to our blog, that shows where people are visiting from. So far we've got what appears to be Arizona, Utah, Iowa, and Michigan. These make sense, as we know people from there.

But almost immediately, someone from Germany shows up, followed by what appears to be Slovenia. What in the world? How does someone from Slovenia stumble across an obscure blog with pictures of our kids? So if you visit from Slovenia (or anywhere outside the US) leave a comment. I'm curious how on earth you got here...

Monday, February 18, 2008

SB 1214

I had President's Day off, so I spent half the day at work, and the other half at the state capital listening to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on SB 1214. This is a bill going through the senate that would allow concealed weapons permit holders (CCW) to carry a gun concealed on all school campuses in the state. For a gun geek and political junkie, I actually had fun at this (yeah, yeah, make all your jokes now.)

Senator Karen Johnson sits on the Judiciary Committee, and is a sponsor of the bill. I always see her name attached to pro-gun bills, and am even more impressed after seeing her challenge some of the people opposed to the bill. Ron Gould also did a good job challenging the anti's, and Chairman Chuck Gray seemed to do a good job allowing both sides to be heard.

Testimony started with those opposed to the bill. First up were the litany of police chiefs, from the Arizona Chief of Police Association, NAU, ASU, and U of A. They gave the standard police chief line... guns on campus will slow police response down because they will have to check every gun, guns could be stolen on campus, etc. Chairman Gray asked every chief what their response time would be. All said somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes. The senators pointed out that in almost no school shootings have the police arrived in time to stop the gunman. The spokesman for the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police was even more hysterical. He imagined CCW holders having gunfights at football games, gunmen targeting teachers first, and others I didn't write down. Basically painted CCWs at raving lunatics who shoot people at the drop of a hat. Senator Gould asked him if he could cite any instance where a CCW holder had pulled a gun on another parent. He could not. Next up was the spokesperson for the West Valley Chiefs of Police. He was also opposed. After citing his reasons, Senator Johnson asked him if he had taken an oath to uphold the constitution. Yes. Does the constitution include a right to bear arms? Yes. Again, Senator Johnson is awesome.

After the police chiefs were the ladies from Arizonans for Gun Safety. Talk about out there. The first was appalled that this bill even was being heard in committee. Her solution to gun violence in schools was metal detectors at all schools, additional police at all schools, more psychological counselors, and all gun purchasers must pass a psychological evaluation. Who pays for all this? Taxpayers of course, with a special fee levied on CCW holders. The second lady was sure that devious little children would somehow steal guns from their teachers and shoot their fellow students. Senator Johnson pointed out that from 1977-95 there were 15 school schootings, with 19 dead. In 1995 alone, the year that the Gun Free Schools Act passed, there were 5 shootings. So the laws prohibiting guns obviously did not make schools the safe havens these ladies imagine.

The young man from Young Democrats of Arizona claimed that all the students and teachers in AZ were opposed to this bill. Contradicted later by students and a teacher who testified in favor of the bill. He also stated that a place saturated with guns can be more dangerous that without guns. His evidence? His time in Iraq with the National Guard. There might be a few differences between Iraq and the US other than the number of guns.

Next up were those supporting the bill. Unlike the antis, who mainly represented police chief organizations, city governments, or anti gun groups, most of those supporting the bill represented only themselves. There was passionate support from a former Mesa police officer, and now high school history teacher. Also another teacher who pointed out that the current response plan for teachers is to huddle their students in the corner and HOPE the gunman doesn't come into the classroom. All she wants is the chance to fight back. Several college students testified.. one who has been mugged twice at U of A, one who has had several friends raped at U of A, one who has a CCW but can't carry on campus. All said they just wanted to have the right to defend themselves. In all, some 18 people testified for the bill, and addressed every issue that the police chiefs and worried women raised.

Like I said, as a political junkie and gun nut, I was fascinated. Unfortunately the committee did not vote because one senator was missing. Hopefully they pass the bill from committee, then the senate and house. Of course, I imagine the chances of the Governor signing it are slim to none.

One... two hands

Paige just relayed the following story to me. She was getting laundry out of the dryer, and Noah walked in...

Noah: "Mom, I need a popper" (one of the pop guns we got a Cabelas)

Paige: "Here you go"

Noah: "Mom, I need another one"

Paige: "I just gave you one. Why do you need another one?"

Noah: "I have one, two hands... I need one, two guns!"

Warms me down to the sub-cockles of my heart... :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Random Quotes...

from our kids:

1) This morning, as Paige comes out of the bedroom after getting reading for the morning.

Ella: "Mom, you look like you are going to church. And you smell like it!"

2) Noah, last night, completely out of the blue:

"Grandma is cute!"

We called Grandma so he could tell her. Apparently he was supposed to tell us that Grandma was "smart" because she used tape and a feather duster to get a balloon of the ceiling the other night.

3) Virtually every night at bedtime, for the past month.


The kid only wants his mother at bedtime. They have been going through a round of evil bedtimes, where we have to sit outside the door to keep them in their room. If Paige sits outside the door, they just cry and eventually go to sleep. When it is my turn, Noah yells all sorts of things at me. The last few days they are doing much better (I have no idea why) and there hasn't been any yelling. Hopefully they are over whatever was going on...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

2007 Review - Jib Jab Style

I just found out that Jib-Jab posted a 2007 Year in Review video. Hilarious!


Of course, then I had to go and re-watch the classics. These were hilarious 4 years ago (and still are.) I can't wait to see what they come up with in the run up to November '08!