Well, I did it: I removed the gas engine from the Jetta. I foolishly forgot to unhook a few things before renting the engine hoist; a 2-hour rental turned out to be a 4-hour rental and I ended up just cutting an exhaust clamp off because I got sick of fighting with it with the clock ticking. But, out she came, so now I can continue disassembly of the brakes, steering, subframe and suspension. I'm not going to just replace everything with new parts, but I am going to disassemble and inspect everything and replace as necessary and upgrade where I feel like it. I've already got a list of electrical improvements to make; stock Jettas of this year won't warn you if you leave the lights on, but this one will by the time I'm done with it. :)
Here's the engine on the hoist, the transmission is on the floor. Transmissions always seem small to me once they're out of the car, for some reason. They're pretty light, too, easily liftable by one person. Uh, don't try that with a pickup truck trans though.
A while ago I blogged about a lawn mower left out for the garbage men. It had a bit of rust so I decided to paint the deck. I didn't really do it to increase the selling price of the mower, though I'm sure that helped -- mainly I wanted to practice a technique used to paint cars for about $50.
Normally, a cheap paint job for a car costs $200 and looks terrible. A good paint job costs $2,000 and up, but some clever (or frugal) chap realized that enamel or polyurethane boat paint can actually be rolled onto a car if properly thinned so it becomes self-leveling. Of course, it can take upwards of 10 coats to get full color density, but if you have cheap labor (yourself) you can get results that rival more expensive professional spray jobs. Since I like cheap, and I have three cars that need painted, I decided to experiment on the mower before tackling a bigger project.
It turned out ok. At first I was a perfectionist and it went well but was going to take a really long time; I won't say it's necessarily difficult to get good results painting metal, but your prep work and technique (and patience) are critical. My final result did have a few imperfections as a result of my haste, but I wanted to get this mower out of here so I could work on the Jetta (see previous blogs) so I didn't go back and start over so it could be done perfectly. Still, I ended up with a good four-foot paint job: looks fantastic from four feet away, but you can see a couple of high and low spots if you look more closely.
I ended up accomplishing two things: a better looking mower, and valuable experience for when I take on a car paint job.
I sold the mower today. I was afraid it wouldn't sell at the end of the mowing season, but I got three bites on the Craigslist ad and the first person to show up started it with one pull and they took it.
I still keep an eye out for mowers pushed to the curb before garbage day... there are worse hobbies, I suppose.
Thanks to Spectacular Six for pointing out that I haven't said anything about the girls getting glasses. Here's the story.
Tiffany and Katie had been asking me if they could get glasses. They don't need glasses, but Corwin & I both wear them (or contacts), and recently Tiffany's best cousin had to get them, so they wanted them, too. We've tried explaining what a pain it is to have to wear glasses and to take care of glasses, but they were not to be dissuaded (yes, of course we could just say no, but there's really no harm in it). So I thought I could just ask at the optometrist's office if I could buy the old demo frames when they were done with them. Well, when Katie's birthday came, we were at walmart picking up supplies, and the girls saw the optometrist's office there was open, so I went in and asked. Of course, they just send the demo frames back to the company. But the lady there told me I could just buy the frames right off the rack. The name brand letters come right off with a little fingernail polish remover. And they sell kids frames for as little as $10! So, I bought the two girls demo frames with demo lenses, and they were so happy. Surprising for me, Katie has taken really good care of hers, and she loves to wear them.