Author Archives: bowtie6

2017 Chevrolet Equinox

Taken at the dealer’s parking lot after a test drive

Well here it is:  my wife’s new 2017 Chevrolet Equinox.  In the last post, I wrote about the extensive hail damage on our Chevy HHR and how the insurance company totaled it out.  We went shopping and after many queries on Google, found exactly what we wanted.

We found a small town dealership that treated us very friendly and we got a great deal.  Thank you Clinkscales Chevrolet and Teresa and Edwin for a great experience!  Much appreciated.

Our 2017 Chevrolet Equinox is a LT model, with a number of amenities that were just not offered in the HHR.  Power comes from a direct injected Ecotec 2.4l engine.  It is powerful enough and provides nice fuel economy.  The interior is nicely appointed with comfortable power assisted cloth seats, tinted windows, power lift gate, etc.  The color is “Velvet Blue” and has a certain purple tint to it under certain light.  Finally, the ride is much improved over the HHR.  The HHR had a nose-heavy feel to it; the Equinox is more balanced.  It is much more quiet too!

So far I’m very pleased.  Looking forward to a road trip for a more detailed review…  Stay tuned!

Hailstorm Aftermath


Last week, parts of the Upstate of South Carolina experienced a very severe storm with golf ball sized hail.  No, this is not an April Fool’s day story; on the contrary.  Because of the weather event, my wife’s 2008 Chevrolet Heritage High Roof (HHR) endured a great deal of hail damage, resulting in it being totaled.

Both of us had become attached to the utilitarian HHR not for its luxurious appointments but because it was a very versatile little vehicle.  I hauled lumber in it several times, took several long trips in it, and our two Corgis fit very comfortably with the back seat folded down.  The HHR got decent mileage and overall was very economical.  Perhaps the only shortcoming on the HHR is that it is nose heavy and thus the front suspension components take a lot of wear.  On the other hand, this HHR shares the same 2.4L Ecotec with bowtie6.

The storm hit late in the afternoon, around the time to leave from work.  Fortunately I was working late that night, and a good friend of mine called and warned me about the bad weather.  Since I didn’t want to have RedRock damaged, I took refuge in the underground parking lot at a mall across the street from my office.  Suffice to say, I was not the only one!

However, the HHR did not fare as well.  At the time of the storm, the HHR was in the parking lot at my wife’s workplace.  She took the picture shown here from the side door of her office.  It is a very helpless feeling when hail of this size falls knowing all too well the amount of damage being done.

The next day, my wife called our insurance carrier.  The rep was very nice and said they had received many calls reporting this sort of damage.  During that call, the rep gave my wife an appointment to have the HHR inspected.

As we talked about this with my wife later that night, I did a few Google searches trying to figure out the current value of our 2008 Chevy HHR.  It was then when I realized the HHR might be totaled.  Like I mentioned above, our HHR was not a luxury cruiser, however mechanically it was in perfect shape with something like 83,000 miles on the odometer.

After a lengthy 40 minute inspection, the adjuster gave us the bad news:  it would take almost $5,000 to repair the hail dings.  He said this is a very time-consuming process and the amount of time to repair damage was too large.  For example, the hood took several direct hits…

And these are only the larger ones.  There were multiple smaller dings that did not show up very well in these pictures.  What about the roof?  Well, these pictures show what happened there…

The insurance company gave us two settlement options:

  1. Accept the lesser amount of money, keep the car and have it repaired.  The problem with this option was the title would be re-issued as “salvage” and the HHR would need a road-worthiness inspection.
  2. Accept a larger amount of money and have it towed away.

The first offer didn’t thrill me.  That road-worthiness inspection has “hassle” written all over it and the salvage title means resale value would be non-existent.  So, we accepted the second offer which incidentally was very fair.  We had entertained the idea of trading the HHR and we were semi-looking but not very serious as of yet.  I suppose this means we will be getting a new car sooner than later (stay tuned, I’ll have an update on our next car!).

Sadly though, the rollback truck showed up yesterday and took the HHR away…

So long, HHR!

Shooting Clay Pigeons

This past Saturday, I got together with some good friends and spent a few hours shooting clay pigeons.  We had a nice collection of shotguns:  from vintage models to state-of-the-art; from 20ga to 12ga.

I took two vintage shotguns that have been in my family for a very long time.  My grandfather’s 16 gauge double-barrel and my Dad’s 12 gauge pump.  About 35 years ago (damn that’s a long time) I took it upon myself to dismantle the stock and fore-end and sand it down.  At the time, I had a distant relative that owned a wood-shop, and he showed me what to do.  Three and a half decades later, the gun still looks great.

Today’s featured image was taken by a drone.  My friend Doc has an awesome drone:  the drone has its own remote control unit including a mount for an iPhone, self compensates, is GPS aware, the works.  As the drone flies, video is transmitted and one can see images real-time on the iPhone.  Very impressive stuff.  Oh and if you look close enough, that is me next to the open door on the red Chevy pickup.

I have great respect for our 2nd Amendment and this past Saturday I was reminded yet again of how precious this right really is…

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

 

Jim’s Garage Rock Crawler

LS3 powered Rock Crawler

This past Thursday, I went to lunch with my friend Jeff to a local deli and on the way out, saw this Jim’s Garage rock crawler in the parking lot.  This is not something you see every day, so inquisitive minds wanted to “know”.  We walked over and found two gents discussing how they were going to unload the rock crawler and move it from one trailer to another.

After a few questions, we were able to ascertain the builder of the rock crawler was from somewhere in North Carolina while the owner of the vehicle was from somewhere in Alabama; I suppose they picked Greenville SC as a place to meet.  I asked if it would be alright for me to take a few pictures of the rig and they were kind enough to agree, so I started clicking away…

Not your typical Jeep!

This is not exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciate serious craftsmanship when I see it.  This rock crawler is something else!  The builder said he put the entire frame together himself.  The center console and dash is all aluminum and I asked him if he had also worked on that.  He said that came from another fellow that made it special.  This is what the dash looks like:

Check out the “hold on for dear life” t-bar

The rock crawler was pretty much complete, however it was not wired up nor painted.  The engine was not running as it had yet to be wired, plumbed, etc.  As you can tell, there is no instrumentation either.  I asked a few more questions about the powertrain.  This is where it got really interesting.  Lurking under all the sheet-metal and that awesome tube frame is a very low mileage LS3 from a C5 Camaro.  I asked about the throttle and the owner said is is a “fly by wire” unit.  I did notice none of the pedals were installed, however the owner said he had the correct electronic throttle pedal for it.  Wiring came from MAST and that included the ECU too.  The owner said the entire kit came tuned to match the hot cam in the engine.

Somewhere in there is an LS3

The rear suspension and axle are something else in order to stand up to abuse and the power of the LS3.  Unfortunately, I don’t have more info about all the components.  The two gents were really busy and I did not want to push my luck asking more than I should.  Here is that awesome rear axle and suspension.

Seriously beefed up axle

Somebody really did their homework on this machine.  The suspension is over the top, but anything else would be “uncivilized”.  As you look at each picture individually, notice the builder cut no corners:  the welds are impeccable and notice the generous use of grade-8 hardware.  Those end links are amazing.  Nothing is left to chance here – a truly purpose built machine.

The fuel cell sits behind the seats and the floor above the rear axle is a very nicely made piece of cut sheet steel.  Very nice work indeed, with the builder’s name part of the pattern.  Matter of fact, I had no clue who the builder was until I went through the pictures and saw this detail!

Builder’s name… Spot on!

In closing, the owner told us he plans to take the entire rock crawler completely apart and ship the frame off to have it powder coated.  Then, the body panels will be wrapped in vinyl and then the fun part starts.  Assembling, wiring and getting this thing ready for prime-time will be one hell of fun job!

I can only imagine the large sum of resources invested in this rock crawler.  Having built and worked on many cars myself, I know this kind of stuff takes commitment and deep pockets.  However, when this thing fires up in anger and starts attacking off-road venues, man!  What an awesome ride that will be!

And finally, right before I left I told the owner his rock crawler reminded me of a similar vehicle used in the film The Man From U.N.C.L.E..  He told me he had never seen the picture but he was going to try to check it out.

Well, interesting thing YouTube.  Here is that final chase scene from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – make sure you watch the part where the off-road vehicle skims the surface of the water (starts at around 2:35)…  Wonder if the Jim’s Garage rock crawler could do this?  Hehehe…  :mrgreen:

 

Blog Performance/ISP Issues…

So far it has been an interesting week…  About a month ago, you might have noticed performance issues with this blog.  For example, pages were slow to render.

I called my ISP (Danica’s prior sponsor) and things did not go well.  After much back-and-forth, they agreed to “move” the site to a less crappy server.  Good enough, things worked as expected but this was short lived.  This week the problems returned.

As it turns out, the bowtie6 blog was running on sub-par equipment.  I was advised that for a price I could “upgrade” to a state-of-the-art SSD based hosting and all would be peachy again.  I realize this blog is far from anything of consequence but, hell…  I enjoy posting my little stories.  I upgraded and after a very painful ordeal my WordPress files have been migrated to a this new gee-whiz server.

Please let me know if you find any broken links or have any “issues”.  This new plan I bought is supposed to be the shit so if anything is not working properly, please let me know.  Gotta love technology!  🙂