All posts by Akio

The slow race to 200k

As mentioned in previous posts, I used to own a Saab 900.  Now I own that same Saab, only in much worse shape.  Remember kids, cars are made to be driven.

Anyway, when I got it back the things that surprised me the most were how well it fared, overall, and how many miles were on it.  191k, in fact.

So… we already know it isn’t going to be a collectors item at the mileage and with as much body damage as it has suffered over the years.  OK… so what?  Immediately my thoughts were to get her (him? I haven’t sexed the Saab yet) to 200k.

What is that going to take? (Other than another 9,000 miles you twat)  Well from the looks of it… a lot.

  • Bare minimum I am looking at needed a new starter.
  • After that, the wipers are shorted and turn on with the car, so that will need some looking at.
  • The clutch needs bled and the brake lines replaced.
  • The windshield is very, very bad and will finally need replacement too.
  • The headlights work, but the reflective material has taken its leave, so that’ll need done too.
  • The gas tank filler neck has a pretty critical leak (about 50% of the gas end up in the trunk) that’ll need addressed before too much driving can be done.
  • The tires are in good shape, but they’re 12 years old so I’m going to go ahead and call those in need of replacement too
  • Some of the wiring is overly crispy and will need redone or at least coated with insulation to prevent shorting
  • All of the fuses are a little corroded, so need to strip down the fuse box and replace all of that

Luckily after that short list we get to the cosmetics and creature comforts:

  • The blower motor may or may not work… but I am thinking not.
  • The AC will need looked at, but that can probably wait until April or May of next year.
  • The speakers and head unit are in bad shape and will need to be replaced.
  • The driver’s side window motor needs to be replaced
  • The rear deck/ parsel shelf needs to be replaced
  • The trunk mat needs to be replaced
  • If I’m honest, the driver’s door card could use some work
  • The paint is… uhhh… boned.  Super boned. Plastidip maybe?
  • The rear bumper is tweaked from a bad tow about 13 years ago, so that will need some re-alignment
  • The alloys are in good shape, but the centercaps could use a coat of paint

So yeah… minor things…  Keeping in mind I have two other project cars that need keeping up with too…

The Saab WILL drive again!


With a trunk full of j-pop (part 3)

As of last writing I had abandoned, attempted to recover, and re-abandoned my first car, a 1984 Saab 900 Turbo Sedan.  As you might expect, we have not yet reached the end of this tale.

Two years after saying “fuck it” to trying to get my Saab back from my family mechanic, I found myself, one again, with an empty space in the garage.  At this point I had actually expanded my garage so it can now accommodate 3 cars and recently sold my Dune Buggy and was casually looking at buying another car.

At some point I had the thought: “You know, I have a vehicle that can tow (the Yukon).  If Dad can get the car to his house, I can just come pick it up…  Yeah…”

So I make the call.  As you could imagine the conversation is much the same.  The mechanic wants to get it running and just needs a few weeks.  This time, however, we’ve got a deadline.  If he doesn’t have it ready by the end of the month, we’re picking it up anyway.

Weeks go by.  Still no car.

I plan the trip, request the time off to come pick it up, and reserve the trailer.

Still no car.

I pack my bags and get the garage ready.

Still no car.

I load up the Cow (Yukon) with tools, supplies, and dogs and start heading south.

Still no car.

Around noon I get the call.  The car is in the driveway, CD changer still full of j-pop.  Years of effort solved in weeks by simply having the thing towed.  Why we didn’t do this year ago I’m not sure.

The rest of the story is pretty uneventful.  I arrive in Louisiana late and catch dinner with my dad.  The next day we pick up the car carrier from UHaul, with the usual amount of dicking around one expects from UHaul, and load up the car.

No drama.  No more waiting.

One day later me, my dad, two pooches, and my first car are on the road back to Tulsa.

Now the real work can begin…

With a trunk full of j-pop (part 2)

Ok… so that last post was my first attempt at artful writing.  It was a worthy experiment and it is now over.  In part 1 we read about a touching coming of age story, except without all the emotion, trials, tribulations, sex, and drinking.  Pretty much just involved an old Saab, a lot of bourbon, and Top Gear.

As previously mentioned, after watching the Saab episode of Top Gear I did get nostalgic and I did have an empty parking space in the garage, so I shot my dad a text asking what was what.  This was in  April of 2013.

Little did I know this was not going to an easy or cheap car acquisition.  The Saab had been sent to the mechanic some years previous (2004 I think?) for a starting issue and never returned.  It wasn’t a priority for either of my parents, me, or the mechanic.  So there it sat.  Fast forward to 2013 and as you would expect it needed some work.  The mechanic had worked on my family’s cars, but especially the Saab, since 2001 and we had a good friendly relationship.  He couldn’t fathom returning the car to me without it being in running order, so he got to work bringing it back up to spec.  Not having a good way of dealing with a non-running car, I figured this was a win-win.  So I waited.

And waited.

And called.

And waited.

And called.

And texted.

And waited.

Finally, after two years of texting, calling, pleading, and threatening… I gave up.  Yes, that’s right.  I said “fuck it” and forgot about my dreams of bring the old beast back under my care again.  I was in a bad place at the time.  I hated my job, was having some exceptionally painful medical problems, and my other project car wasn’t panning out.  So in order to exercise control on something in my life, I went out and bought Bessie (the Dozy Cow), my 1999 Yukon.  Long story there, but lets go with I wanted one and had looked for one for a while..  So I bough it, thus filling my theoretical garage.  And there ended the Saab saga.

Or so I thought…

With a trunk full of j-pop (part 1)

Well… I finally did it.

After years of trying, I successfully recovered my first car.  It is now safe, and dry- err moderately moist in my “TODO” bay at home.

To rewind: Once upon a time, a teenager that couldn’t drive stick and desperately needed a “cool” set of wheels was bequeathed the family’s albatross, a 1984 Saab 900 8-Valve Turbo 5-Speed Sedan.  It previously was owned by his brother, who rejected it because he had to check the oil, and his uncle before that, who gave it away after he blew the head gasket.  It used oil, had dirty upholstery, needed a radio and new headliner, and was pretty far from “cool”… but wheels are wheels.

The Saab took the teenager on many an adventure.  From getting a flat in the middle of an abandon military complex during a full, blue moon,.mild to moderate offroading, to just cruising around town. From Washington to California, and then on to Louisiana, the two are virtually inseparable.

Years later, this teenager is now a young man, heading off to college 500 miles from home.  The Saab dutifully carries this young man, his possessions, two arcade style DDR pads, and a 10-disc changer full of burned j-pop CDs to and from Tulsa through his first year of many.  At this point I would like to add stories about first times, beer cans in the back seat, and fogged windows.  This however, was not to be, for you see this young man was to be an engineer, and girls and beer were not in his future… or past.  But this story isn’t about him.

After a year of holidays back home, grocery runs, and just driving around, the dutiful Saab was nearing 200,000 miles and starting to show the strain of heavy use.  After a breakdown during the journey home, the young man’s parents, reasonably concerned about the extended reliability of a 20 year old Swedish sports sedan, presented the young man with a 2-door Honda Accord EX V6.  And it was good.  And the young man parked his faithful Saab with the parents and he did not look back.  He had the “cool” wheels he long wished for.

Many moons pass and the young man is now an adult, an engineer, and a petrolhead.  Several project cars under his belt, an empty parking bay in the garage, and a Top Gear tribute to Saab have him thinking about his old, faithful daily driver.  A text message is sent that sets in motion three years of hostage negotiations…

Back to the salt mines

Another year, another Queercon badge.  This week the QC 2016 badge development boards are going to fab.  We’re actually running a bit behind previous years.  I’m worried, but not overly so.  Over the years we’ve learned a lot about supply chain and procurement and also have a pretty huge code base to work from now.

So… you know… ::fingers crossed::

Road Trip Summary

I really meant to do one of these, and then I didn’t.  Long story short, the “Top Queer West Coast Road Trip” went off better than any of us could have expected.  I’ve updated the page to reflect that and we’re all hard at work on some records of events.

Spoilers: We all ended up buying cars within an approximation of he budget.  We all made it.  We all kept the cars.

I bought a 1987 Alfa Romeo Spider, George bought a 1991 VW Cabriolet, and Taylor bought a 1988 Nissan D21 Pickup.  Each vehicle fit each participant perfectly and none of us could imagine life without them.