Ford Tough

Driving RedRock to work this week, I see this vehicle at a red light proudly wearing a Ford Tough sticker…

But wait a minute…  What is wrong here?  This is not a Ford Tough SUV!!  This is a Honda Pilot.  😯

I get a kick out of the different stickers people plaster on their cars…

  • Stick families (gotta include the dogs/cats)…
  • Holy rollers…
  • “My kid did this or the other special crap”…
  • Political affiliation – these are even more entertaining when comparing candidates vs car/SUV/truck…
  • Hardware (as in guns)…
  • In memory of…

And then, one of my favorites:  the ones that make no sense at all.  As in today’s featured picture making a Honda Pilot “Ford Tough”.  Wonder how the boys in Dearborn feel about that?

As we say here in the South, “Bless his heart”.  But it’s all good, after all he is a Clemson Dad.  😉

Question of Motor Oil Qualities

I decided to change oil on bowtie6 and headed to AutoZone with three jugs of used oil and responsibly disposed of the old stuff in their recycling tank.  Since they let me do this, I try to keep business with them so I picked up an Ecotec compatible K&N oil filter and a 5 quart jug of Mobil1 5w-30 oil.

The fellow behind the counter scanned the goods and said the bill was almost $50.  This didn’t make sense because the posted price for the oil was $29.  He said that is the price with a Mobil1 oil filter; otherwise the price of the oil is $38.  This is a scam because the Mobil1 filters are slightly double what the K&N filters go for.  So at the end, the price is almost the same.

I told him I would pass on the oil; instead I just bought the K&N filter.  This is when I asked him why the price discrepancy because I can buy the same jug of Mobil1 oil from Wal-Mart for $23.

His reply was very interesting…

Before he started answering my question, he informed me he was a previous manager at a Pep Boys and had also been in charge of an automotive department at a Wal-Mart before working at AutoZone.  And, he gave me the “look”, as if to say what he was about to say was the inside dope on matters.  Then, he proceeded to tell me that Exxon-Mobil makes two different qualities of oil.  AutoZone gets the premium batches while Wal-Mart gets the scraps.  Thus the difference in price between the two.

According to this fellow, the AutoZone Mobil1 oil gets certified as premium oil.  He then informed me that the Mobil1 oil sold at Wal-Mart is of a lesser quality.  In his words: “the Mobil1 sold at Wal-Mart is the bottom of the mixing vats and the size of the molecules is not up to par with the batches they sell at AutoZone”.

Hmmmm…  Again, I did some Google searches on this subject and indeed it is a matter of debate.  All I have to say is that given the law-suit friendly climate prevalent in our nation today, why would a huge company like Exxon-Mobil expose themselves to loss by making two qualities of oil branded under the same name?

Yet more food for thought:  what about the Mobil1 sold at Costco?  They don’t sell the jugs, instead they carry the six-packs.  Yet the price is comparable to the Wal-Mart price.  Reckon this has to do with volume of good sold and not necessarily quality?

What are your thoughts on this?

Like my Dad used to say, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one”.  😉

Until next time…

Bad Wheel Bearing

Pitted bearing race

Yesterday, I jumped in bowtie6 and went for a drive when not far from home I heard the classic rumble that comes from a bad wheel bearing.  On the way back home, the rumble developed a slight thumping.

I’m like, wtf? 😯 This is the second bad wheel bearing!  Back in April 2012, I posted an article describing the Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement.

So with my cousin Jim’s help, we pulled both rear axles from the housing and inspected their bearings.  Passenger’s side was normal; but the driver’s side bearing was very rough, as expected.

Jim busted the bearing using the same technique I described in the article from last time and sure enough, this is when we discovered the bearing’s race nicely pitted.

The majority of the race was in decent shape, except for the big round pit shown in the picture above.  The ball bearings were not smooth and showed slight pitting with a very dull finish.  Jim explained this is normal when particles from a bearing start to shear off and make a mush of themselves.

Pitted ball bearings from the bad bearing

This picture above shows three of the worse ball bearings – sorry for the picture quality – and as you can see they are rather dull-looking.  The crack on the race was caused by us when we took the thing apart.

RW207-CCRA rear wheel bearing

And of course, this is crappy Chinese-made stuff.  Jim has gone through 3 rear bearings on his TR4 and this is the second failure on bowtie6.  Unfortunately, it appears these wheel bearings are no longer made in the USA and as expected, this is yet another example of poorly made products from China. Jim explained this is bad quality steel on the race and/or the ball bearings and that once the surface starts to peel, it is only a matter of time before failure.

I ran a few queries on Google today and found versions of this type wheel bearing made in Japan.  From what I have read on some forums, the Japanese versions are of a higher quality.  Needless to say, I’ll be ordering some soon.  However if you know where I could find these bearings made in the USA, please let me know.

Driver’s side rear end

Passenger’s side rear end

Passenger’s side axle with good bearing

Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 on a Triumph TR6

Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08R

After lengthy research I finally decided on a new set of tires for bowtie6.  Out with the old Kumho’s and in with a brand new set of Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08’s.  As usual, I internet ordered my new tires from The Tire Rack, delivered via brown truck in only a couple of days.

The decision to go with these tires did not come easy.  Given bowtie6 is not driven on a daily basis, I did not want to spend a ton of money on a set of high-mileage tires.  Instead, this time I wanted to buy something very soft and sticky.  However, soft sticky tires and “budget priced” does not pair up very well.  Fortunately the good folks at The Tire Rack had just the right tires priced at the right price.  Can’t go wrong with that.

As it turns out, the SCCA has changed their rules regarding the UTQG rating on these tires.  Therefore the folks at The Tire Rack lowered the price on these UTQG 180 rated tires.  Needless to say, I decided to order a set of four and could not be happier.  They are very soft!

Yokohama Neova AD08 directional tires

The reviews on this tire are interesting…

  • They don’t do well in wet weather
  • They don’t do well in the cold
  • They are noisy
  • They don’t last very long
  • However, they are very sticky and grip tenaciously (yes!)

The old tires were Kumho’s and they served me very well.  I ran two sets and this last set finally reached the point where they were rather “hard”.  During all these years, the rears have been 215-55/16’s while the fronts have been 205-55/16’s.  This time around, I decided to get a square setup and run 205-55/16’s all around.  Why?  Because these are very soft tires and I wanted to have the ability to rotate them to ensure even wear.  We’ll see how that goes…

bowtie6’s Panasport wheels now with Yokohama tires

I started buying tires from The Tire Rack many years ago and back then, I could find a store that would mount and balance the tires for a decent price.  Then, prices started going up with a certain amount of negative feedback coming from the stores.  This time, I did a little shopping regarding the install and found the best price at Costco.  So this morning I took the wheels and old tires along with the new Yokohama’s.  Total cost to mount, balance and dispose of the old tires:  $68.00.  Not bad at all.

The folks at the tire department called late this afternoon and told me the tires were ready.  I’ll mount them tomorrow and see what they feel like.  The plan is to go easy on them for a few miles and by doing so wear off any mold release compounds.  Once they get scuffed up I’ll see what bowtie6 will be like with a set of really soft tires.

Should be fun!!  🙂

I have previously talked about tires and wheels here:  Triumph TR4/TR6 Wheel & Tire Sizing

Restoring a Vintage Stereo Console

Restoring a vintage stereo console is a project I’ve wanted to work on for a very long time.  I know, these things are dinosaurs from an era long gone, but I have always had a certain affinity for them.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I found this piece of furniture and decided it would make a great candidate for restoration – ahem – upgrade…

Some History

Back in the 60’s a console was one of the nicer options to bring hi-fi sound home.  “Separate” components would make the scene a few years later, but this was the way to go in those early days of stereo sound.  This console consists of two stereo speakers on either side.  The center has a lift-up lid that when opened, displayed the magic:

On the left is an automatic record player with a selector for different speeds and on the right, a tuner/amplifier.  Oh and don’t forget a compartment to store records.

This is the audio only version of the console genre:  there were also larger consoles that would not only have the above components but would also house a television.  The TV would be in the center and usually had sliding doors to hide the screen.  My aunt had a Magnavox console with the television set in the center and it was awesome!

The Project

This particular console is a “Silvertone” made for Sears from sometime in the mid to late 60’s.  As expected for a piece of furniture of this era, it is very, very heavy.

I plugged the power cord in the outlet and sure enough, the receiver’s lights came on.  Unfortunately nothing but static and hissing came from the speakers.  I switched the record player on and as expected nothing happened.  I wasn’t expecting much, after all don’t forget this is almost 50-year-old components.

Today, I decided to open the console and disassemble the components.  From the back, this is what the console looks like…

And as expected, there are three separate compartments.  To the extreme left and extreme right you can see the back covers for the speaker enclosures.  In the center, the cover for the amp, tuner and turntable mechanism.

This stuff is ancient!  I found brittle connectors and cables as well.  Also, to the right of the power supply/amplifier I found two shriveled up belts (possibly from the turntable mechanism).

And next, this is what I found in the speaker compartments.  As it turned out, the big woofer is a paper cone affair with a very small magnet and a horn tweeter at the very top.  You can see that in the second photo below.  This must have been state-of-the art when this console was sold but by today’s standards this is not so great (more about this later).

Taking it Apart

Since none of these bits work and the cost to repair would likely be high, the sensible thing to do is to gut the console.  My plan is to replace the old components with a modern integrated amplifier with bluetooth and upgraded speakers.  This way, I can stream music from my iPhone or iPad and in the future I can get a modern turntable for playing my old vinyl collection.

Taking the components apart took patience.  I started by removing the power supply/amplifier by disconnecting wires from the tuner.  There were several that had to be cut but eventually the unit came out.

Next, the record player.  This is what it looked like from below:

It took some doing, but eventually I figured out to remove the safety pin from one stud (above right) – then the whole thing just rotated up.  The record player’s mount consisted of three springs and foam, which by the way had almost completely deteriorated to dust.

The last piece of hardware to go was the tuner.  This took patience but eventually it came out.  At the end of the day, the piece of furniture is now empty!  There is quite a bit of room left to design a new top to house new components.

The top picture is looking at the console from above.  Once I figure out my new components, this will be cut where needed and a new top made to fit.  The last two pictures show what the lower cavity looks like.  You might notice the holes on the “floor” – those were there to help vent the old components.

Finally, the speakers.  This part was very dusty and smelled bad.  The sound baffling insulation was covered in 50 years’ worth of dust.  Once I had that nasty stuff out, I started by removing the paper cone woofer, shown below…

Once the woofer came out, I found this:

LOL!  A center mounted mid-range driver!  At the very top, this is what the horn tweeter looked like:

Eventually, the horn tweeter came out and I was left with only the dark gray mounting plate attached to the inside of the console.  Screws held the mounting plate in place along with the dowels that you can see above.  You can also see the mesh on the other side of the port in the picture above.  That mesh was covered in dust too.

What Next?

Well, this is where the fun begins!

At first, I thought I could re-purpose my vintage NAD 1700 pre-amp by mounting it vertically inside the console after making a new top.  But, the pre-amp is way too wide and has no bluetooth built in.

After several Google searches I have found a few alternatives.  They are all more modern integrated amplifiers with a very small footprint.  I’ve found some with old-fashioned tubes (which would look cool as heck) and the others made from solid state components.  The majority of these modern integrated amps do have bluetooth and some even have a built in DAC and digital input from a computer.  Very nice options indeed.

I’m also researching the speakers.  I’ve found a couple of “kits” I can adapt to fit inside the speaker compartments, which are large enough for a nice option.  Then again, I also have a pair of very nice PSB bookshelf speakers.  However they will need a small subwoofer and real estate is tight.

So, stay tuned.  I’ll have more articles as the project takes shape!  And if you have any suggestions please let me know.  This will be a fun project!

And while on the subject of music…  May the road go on forever for the Midnight Rider…  RIP Greg Allman…  Ramble on…