Sunday, May 30, 2010

Model T Assembly line VIdeo

This video got me in the mood to do a little wrenching on the Dart today.  I have to replace some gaskets, valve cover, carburetor, and exhaust.  It wouldn't hurt to do the plugs and wires today too!  Watch this video about how Model T's were built.  The assembly line revolutionized industry, and the Model T revolutionized the role of the automobile in the lives of Americans and the world! 

I'm gonna go get crackin' on the Dart.  Have a great day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last weekend me and Lucy the wagon and two friends Stephanie and Edgar all went down to Van Nuys, CA for the annual Mopar Show and Swap, Spring Fling 2010 at Woodley Park.  It is touted as the biggest Mopar show & swap this side of the Mississippi.  It is a two day event and really is something else!  Ever since I got my first Dart, 'Ol Blue I have been going to get stuff for the cars and also to see my buddy and Mopar Genius, Jeff Chong.  He has helped me outta more mechanical mishaps than anyone :-)

It was a great day, not too hot and fulla people and cars.  Jeff was there as was his pal Richard.  Both he and Richard brought their Dodge Ultra Vans.  I parked my wagon in the show area and then Edgar & Stephanie & I walked all our stuff over to the swap area to hang out and sell some stuff!

Left to right, Jeff with his Ultra Van V8 , Me and Lucy the Dart Wagon and Richard & his Slant 6 Ultra Van.  Not pictured Edgar and his 61 Valiant or Stephanie and her 65 Ford Falcon named Shirley

I had a few parts to sell but mostly I wanted to try my hand at custom Mopar stickers & signs.  I used the scrap material that piles up at work to create some best sellers!  
The "Al Bundy Drove a Dodge" sticker was by far the favorite and sold out immediately!  
All in all I made over a $100 which was quickly spent at the show!

The Crowd Favorite

We all had a blast walking around and talking to other enthusiasts and just hanging out in general.  After the shopping crowd had died down and we all had a chance to check out the amazing cars people had brought to show, we all regrouped on the swap side of the show.  Once we were all regrouped we just chilled for a while, well all of us except Jeff!  Jeff being as awesome as he is, offered to tune Lucy right there and then.

Jeff busted out the tools as Edgar, Stephanie and I watched.  He discovered some fundamental stuff wrong with the ol' girl.  Firstly, the PCV valve and the oil cap were swapped, he fixed that and put on a new PCV valve.  Then he set off to do the timimg and knew right away that it was way off.  He fixed that and my points too.  Then when the car still sounded funny, he did a valve timing!  After that there was still some exhaust blow back and he deftly discovered what the cause of that was.  The gasket under the carb was in the wrong position, blocking a small hole that helps the exhaust flow.  He corrected that, fine tuned her and she was purring like a kitten!

Jeff in his natural habitat, under the hood of a Dodge

This discovery and repair may mean that the goo/snot that was oozing out of the oil cap may stop entirely!  That ladies and gentleman, would suggest that perhaps I don't have a cracked block after all!  WOW!  That is why Jeff is THE MAN!  I paid him a lil' bit of cash from my sticker sales for his time & effort.  As usual, a million thanks man!

I have some homework to do on the car like replace the gaskets on the flange, valve cover and exhaust and replace the plugs and the plug wires.  After that is done I will monitor the engine and cross my fingers that no more snot shows up.  I sure hope it works!

Here are some pics from the day.  Enjoy and stay tuned!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happily Mistaken

Hello!  I have an announcement!  I have started up a new blog called I HEART EVERYTHING that chronicles my passion for finding and collecting awesome stuffs.  As of now I'll be updating both blogs but I am considering merging the two together because there will be a lot of crossover topics and I HEART EVERYTHING will encompass them both.  So, if you are one of my few but beloved followers, please add I.H.E. to your blog roll as well.  You won't be disappointed!

This post is a crossover post, both about Lucy and the aforementioned collecting.  This weekend I hit up an Estate sale that was advertising 1/2 off all items under $50.  I scored a mid-century wire patio chair and a mish-mash mid century craft table, which you can read more about on I.H.E.   The only thing better than the score of the items was the conversation I had with a passerby.  After I loaded the items into the back of the wagon and shut the tailgate, a guy approached me and asked if I owned an antique shop.  I figured it was just because of my excellent taste in wacky junk, lol but it was because of the lettering I put on the back of the wagon.  My tailgate has custom lettering that reads Diamond in the Rust and has a link to this blog.

"Diamond in the Rust" is my own personal moniker that sums up the feeling I have towards a lot of my possessions.  A lot of the stuff I love the most is junky and old but has an undeniable potential that shines through.  To me, nothing exemplifies that more than my wagon Lucy.  The guy said he figured it was the name of my shop.  Let me tell you what a fantasy of mine it would be to have my own shop!  I told him that no, I don't own a shop but that instead I just love old junk!  He then proceeded to tell me he was looking for some copper mugs from a restaurant in LA in the 60's.  I told him I had never seen anything like that but still gave him some suggestions on where to look for that type of thing.  Turns out he was looking for these:
A "Moscow Mule" is a type of drink and the cup is from the Cock'n'Bull bar in Hollywood.  You can read about here: Cocktail Atlas 

Neat Huh?  Thanks Internets!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I thought I lost this blog after I posted it and never saw it displayed. It turns out I had it posted on my other blog spot account. It happened months ago but now here it is. YAY!

I woke up this morning just like a lot of other Mondays, the alarm snoozer hit a couple of times and the annoying cat on the porch crying to get in but when I looked out the window I saw a very thick marine layer settled in on our little beach town. We had been hit with a lot of it lately but this morning it was so thick the ground was damp and you could see the mist swirling in the air. I pulled myself outta bed and stumbled toward the bathroom, cats following me for food and attention, neither of which I was awake enough to fulfill. I usually wake up two hours earlier than I need to be at work so that I can assure a relaxed morning routine. I may take a shower, I may eat breakfast but the one thing that never varies is the fact that I will check Craigslist.

While the cats were crunching on their breakfast I turned on the kettle and sat down at the computer for my addiction update. I always check the Free section of CL first, not wanting to miss out on any amazing treasures. Usually its the same old stuff like raggety old sofas, bags of baby clothes or if you're lucky a box of VHS tapes but today was one of those Holy Grail days. When I clicked the refresh button (yes the CL free section is always open in a browser) I saw what looked like a mundane post: Free, old couch old chair...but what I read next made me bolt for the door.... Antique Indian Bicycle. I was halfway to the door when I realized I was still in my pajamas! In case you have never seen an Indian Bicycle here is a pic of one.

BEAUTIFUL! I hurriedly re-read the post. The author actually said that "these bikes are worth a lot of money but I just don't want it" Wha??? Alrighty pal, your loss, my gain! I checked the time of the post, 7:15 am and then checked the time it was right then, 7:20am. Oh my Lord it had only been up 5 minutes on a Monday morning!!! My chances of getting this bike were excellent! I quickly threw on some clothes & shoes and looked up a map to get to the guy's house. He was all the way over in the other side of town but I was sure I could make it. I clicked print and ran downstairs to warm up the wagon. On the way down I saw my roommate's boyfriend's car parked behind our cars partially blocking us in. I surveyed the space left to escape and deemed it adequate, just barely. I fired up Lucy and remembered that I needed gas, aw shit! Alright, no worries, I'll just pump a couple of bucks really quick and then jump on the highway, no sweat....still plenty of time!

I ran back upstairs and grabbed the map (the cats thought I was nuts) and slammed the door behind me (sorry sleeping roommate & roommate's mate). I jumped in the car and squinted through the heavy mist that was collecting on the windshield and then painstakingly extracted my car from the driveway. I backed down the long driveway with my arm over the back seat and head turned all the way round, a stance I like to call "Dad arm" in honor of all the old dudes out there. The mist was really thick on the glass when I arrived on the street. When I flipped on the wipers, the drivers side arm wasn't working. Arrrggg! I pulled over, hopped out and fiddled with it, hopped back in and tried it again. Still wonky. I resolved to mess with it at the gas station while pumping gas and simultaneously envisioning riding that sweet bike. Time was a wastin'.

I had to bust out the tool kit and ratchet down the wiper arm but then it was good to go. Then I jumped back in the car and hit the road again. All the way to the highway I caught green lights. What a good omen, I thought. When I got onto the highway it was smooth sailing until the Kimball Rd. exit. I consulted the map again after the exit and only had a few short blocks to go. I was almost there when I accidentally passed the street. D'hoh! I was about to make a quick (re: illegal) u-turn when I spotted a cop car and decided better of it. I had to go a block past my turn & wait for a light to change....Arrrgh! When I finally arrived at the street I started peeling my eyes for my prize. I was looking for a God like bicycle glowing through the fog, beckoning me near. "Ride me, love me" I thought I heard it saying. I was becoming increasingly elated. Finally, I pulled up in front of the correct address and could not believe my eyes. I saw a man loading the Indian onto the ladder rack of a work truck! I felt the fog closing in around me, the magical voice of the bike getting more and more distant. I was stopped directly in front of this spectacle, the engine of my Dart faithfully humming. I rolled down my window and said the only thing I could say to the man, "OH NO! You just beat me to it!" and then he turned towards me and said the only thing he could say to me, "Que?". This man was not the proud discoverer of a rare vintage bike, he was the Swap Meet equivalent of Christopher Columbus; the discoverer of a pricey piece of merchandise. I had the thought that I could make a cash offer for it right then and there but then I remembered that I don't really ever carry cash. Right after that I realized that the reason I don't carry cash is because I never have money! I stared at the man loading the bike and mumbled a less than half hearted "Good Luck man" and drove away into the mist.

While I was headed back to my house where I would hurriedly shower and have a cup of tea I was thinking of all the small snags that had delayed me in those last crucial seconds. The blocked driveway, the busted windshield wiper, the stop to get gas, the u-turn & the cop, it was a comedy of errors that was for sure. Take any one of those items out of the equation and I would be loading the Indian into the back of my Dodge Dart. I laughed a little to myself and thought well,
that was a pretty valiant attempt but it was truly more of a Dart experience.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Just In!

I had a realization the other day after a "business lunch" with a guy who had a Craigslist post for someone artistically inclined to draw & letter some pages in the ledger for his Fireman's Motorcycle club. It goes without saying that this is the type of situations I end up in after a few moments on Craigslist. At any rate, this guy and his lovely wife are super awesome. We chatted while they ate their lunch. Not just about the project I was hired to do but also about old cars, and various other vintage things we are both into. The husband recognized my wagon right away and was stoked to not only put a face to the car but to find out that the owner of the car was the very person who would be handling the illustrations in his book. Alternately, I was stoked that the person I was to be working with not only knew my car (she seems to be a minor celebrity in town) but also was into old cars and the slew of other cool things I like.

All this being said, I'm not trying to rally praise for CL. In that moment I actually realized that my "age inappropriate" nostalgia for things that I wasn't even there for in the first place can entirely be credited to my dad. I have known for a very long time that my appreciation and uncanny ability to acquire junk has been a credited to my mother. In fact I have already written a blog about that. Little did I know that the type of junk I choose is because of my relationship with my dad. So, I think it is only fair to give my dad some credit for also helping become the person that I am today. This one is for you papa!

When I was talking to the couple, I told them a story about how when I was in the 5th grade or so, back in the late 80's my teacher asked me what was my favorite band. I looked at her and proclaimed "The Glen Miller Orchestra"! She said, "Who?" and I said "You know.....Pennsylvania 6-5-oh oh oh"! I was forever stumping my teachers and friends with outdated references. While other kids were watching Nickelodeon on cable, I was watching Betty Boop Cartoons from the 40's on VHS. My dad also has a state of arrested nostalgia himself. He has always archived the marvelous Movie Serials like Dick Tracey, Batman, Superman and Tarzan to name a few. I remember sitting down with him to watch these short movies on a Saturday morning. The movies were originally be shown in segments -a new one each week, before a full length movie. They always ended on a cliffhanger, ensuring you came back next week to see what happened to your favorite hero. As I kid I thought they were called "cereals" and assumed it was because I ate cereal while I watched them! I had a very difficult time explaining that one to the teacher. She probably thought I meant action movies starring Captian Crunch and the Trix Bunny!

As an adult he and I go to yard sales quite regularly, we can listen to the oldies station together with no complaints (unless my sister is in the car). When he found out that I had located a free jukebox on Craigslist, he was more excited than I was and that's saying something! Back when I had fallen in love with "the one that got away" a cherry red 66 Dodge Dart, "Buelah" as I called her; he was one of the few people to actually encourage me to buy an old car. He had a trusty Valiant when my he and my mom were first married. When I actually did buy my first old car, "Ol' Blue" a clunky and crusty '63 Dart Sedan I asked him to come along on the test drive. When we were done driving around I asked him what he thought. Any other dad would have told his daughter that the car was a death-trap, and well it was; but he just told me that he knew my mind was already made up to get it. He was right. From then on out he called the car the "Dodge Ball". He has since helped me with repairs on both of my old Darts, past & present.

I have gotten very close to my dad since I first moved out to California to live with him. In the 10+ years I have lived here, I have cultivated my tastes for vintage treasures and he has been a big part of it. I now have an apartment of my own filled with cool stuff. I wouldn't trade these years for anything. I guess that makes me a Daddy's Girl but its a title I have earned.
I Love ya dad!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adventures in Junking

I owe my uncanny junking abilities to my mother. She had toted me along on her own junking adventures when I was a kid. Little did I know that I was actually apprenticing her. The ability to find cool treasures for free is now inherent to my being. I have what I like to call dumpster-vision and can identify good trash from bad in the split second it takes to drive past it. Pair that with the powers of the Internet: Freecycle and Craigslist and oh boy, the stream of cool stuff is endless. That would probably explain why I have a arcade in my garage and why my house is full of crazy knick-knacks and vintage furniture. I am very good at finding junk and by junk I mean all sorts of cool stuff, not trash but treasures.

That's where it comes in handy to have a big ol car like Lucy that can hold a lot of "junk in her trunk", if you will. I've decided I love to drive the car when it is fulla stuff. I know I look like "Sandford & Sons" (imagine theme song playing right now...waa waa waa wa wa, wa wa wa wa waawaawaaaaaaa...) when I'm dragging home a 3 piece mid-century sofa set and the tailgate is down and chairs are strapped down and I'm checking for cops and lost cargo in the rear-view mirror every few seconds; but that right there is my narcotic of choice. I get high on junk. Usually it is just me on these missions, a lot of them are impromptu and dusty-dirty but just last weekend I had a co-pilot for a night of random treasure hunting and it was amazing.

At her suggestion, my friend Candice launched us on a night of back-alley treasure hunting and secret thrift store adventures. Candice, Lucy and I started off with a fine sampling of illegal Thrift store Donation drop offs. You see, on the weekends people have yard sales and bouts of house/garage cleaning that lead to a superfluous amount of donations which they leave unlawfully at the back doors of thrift stores after hours. This, I admit is a moral gray area for me. These things are meant for the thrift store but it is written in plain sight that "NO DUMPING" of items after hours is allowed. So if these people are leaving stuff that isn't supposed to be there in the first place, is it wrong for us to take it? I dunno, but Candice scored a heater for her kid's room and I scored a window fan, so there. After that we stalked as quietly as you can in an old car down the streets of select neighborhoods looking for the elusive "FREE YARD SALE LEFTOVERS" piles that accumulate on the ends of driveways on a Saturday night. Right away Candice spots a collection of items and we pull over and briefly chat with another free-finder who is trying to fit a bulky piece of furniture in the trunk of her Volkswagen Passat. I offered to haul it in the wagon if she was going someplace close but she was going to Thousand Oaks which unfortunately is out of my jurisdiction. Sorry lady!

From there we headed downtown and drove behind some more thrift stores and didn't come up with anything. We bumped into Candice's husband who was standing outside the Nights Of Columbus where a Hardcore show was taking place, talked for a while and then decided to drive down the Avenue to search for more freebies. Now, I would never go down the Avenue by myself on whim, in the middle of the night. It is a little rougher down there but with a very convincing co-pilot, who I admit, is tougher than me; we went for it. After a few streets with nothing on them we were losing steam. Then I remembered this crazy thrift store called La Barata that may be open. I used to go to that shop when John lived down on the Avenue and we found some neat things in there. For some reason La Barata had not been open during the day anymore and not to long ago I was on the Avenue after dark and spotted the lights on. We cruised by and sure enough, the place was open. We went in and Candice was surprised how chock full of stuff this place was. From floor to ceiling and in every corner there is junk. None of it is priced and almost all of it is dirty. I think the owner buys out old storage lockers that have gone delinquent and just throws the stuff anywhere in the shop. It is like a mummy's tomb of random crap. You can't help but feel like a tomb raider when you pick up a photo album that still has pictures of the last family in it. Candice made a purchase, more of a souvenir I think than a real need; something to prove that this unusual late-night thrift store actually exists.

After La Barata, we headed back to her place where we found some stuff right there in the back alley. I scored a cool 50's black cabinet that I already have plans for turning into a custom television stand. We went into her place to chill for a minute and wash our hands. I had never been to her house before and there was so much to look at, it was like a veritable show and tell and right away I recognized a similarity to my place. We both have homes full of the little curiosities that make us happy. I had never hung out one-on-one with Candice before we had always been in a group setting and in fact, me hanging out at all is a new thing. I can be a bit of a recluse but have recently been more social with a large group of girls. It was really cool to get to know her better. Candice is funny as hell, cantankerous and generally amazing. We didn't do anymore junking after the pit-stop at her place. We joined up with some friends for drinks and spent the remainder of our night out on the town. I have to say, even though I turned in a bit sooner than the others, I'm sure I had just as much fun. It was an unusual night filled with everything I have come to love, good friends, good junk and and my faithful old wagon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like an old horse

This morning I ventured off of my normal route to work to drop off the rent check downtown. On the way there I realized that my old car was a lot like an old horse, set in its ways. Let me elaborate

(((flash back blurred segue))))

When I was living on my Mom's farm back in Ohio, we boarded some horses for a neighbor in our barn and pastures. As part of the deal my sister and I were allowed to ride the horses ourselves. There were two horses, Red Bird & Buckshot and they had lived together for years, they were besties. Red Bird was a big beautiful reddish-brown quarter horse and Buckshot was a scrappy little black and white speckled pony with a bad attitude. Once I was trying to mount the saddle on Buckshot and he kicked me with his back leg knocking me off. I swear I almost punched that horse straight in the face, I has my fist pulled back and everything and then realized I was about to punch a horse in the face and laughed at myself instead. Needless to say Buckshot didn't get ridden as much as Red Bird and if you took them out separately you could hear Buckshot whinnying from the barn the whole time.

Once I had Red Bird out for a ride and we made it about half a mile down the road at a nice and easy pace. I wasn't a pro at horse riding and never really trusted the giant creatures so I usually took it slow. Red Bird didn't want to be out at all, and especially not without Buckshot but I convinced myself I was the boss and we went a little further. That's where I was wrong, Red Bird was the boss, and he was about to prove it. When we turned around and pointed back in the direction of the farm Red Bird knew right then and there where he was headed. What waited at the end of the line for him was a bale of hay and his ol' pal Buckshot. Like fate the minute we turned I heard Buckshot call out to Red Bird and that was all it took. Red Bird set off like a kid trying to catch the school bus and I was like his backpack flailing in the wind. He was in full canter and I was hanging on for dear life. I tightened the reigns and yelled "Whoah!" to no avail, he wasn't going to stop until he was home. We plowed through the neighbors fields and finally made it back where he slowed down and casually walked over to the stable allowing me to dismount. It was a short and terrifying ride but I made it back in one piece.

Now, back to my old car and me

(((flash back segue coming into focus onto present time)))

This morning I had to drop off my rent check so instead of waiting until 8:45 to leave for work, I left at 8:20 to allow enough time to drop off the rent and get to work on time. I hopped in Lucy (just like horses cars have names) and cranked the engine, low and behold she didn't start right up like normal, in fact the battery sounded sluggish. I tried a few times and she came back, roaring with the extra gas I was pumping (the equivalent of giving out extra oats & hay). I let her sit for a minute and warm up while I wrote out my rent check. Normally I drive a slow back road to work, facing the sunlight, taking my time and letting her warm up on the way. Today I went the opposite direction on a street with traffic and multiple lanes, the sun at my back. Stopping at traffic lights, Lucy was slow to speed up and take off when the light changed. I made it towards downtown and was waiting for a father & daughter to cross the street before I made my turn. Once they were safely out of the way, I eased onto the gas and Lucy sputtered, and barely moved. I feebly smiled at the dad who I had noticed admiring the car and tried again. I gave her more gas and probably seemed like I was showing off but was only trying to get her to move (that's right, I'm the boss). She lurched forward taking me to the middle of the intersection and and then sputtered out again, eliminating any chance of looking like a show-off, or at least a successful one. So I pumped in more gas, go dammit go! We made it through the intersection and headed toward the rental company. I dropped off the rent and turned around, back toward my usual route.

As soon as we made on our way toward the back road and the slow ride to work, facing the sun once again she perked right up. No more stuttering, even the rattling exhaust pipe calmed down when her engine idle returned to normal. Now she knew where we were going, now we were back on schedule. She knew what was waiting for her at the end of the trip. She was headed to her very own parking space under the only shady tree in the lot where the dappled sunlight would shine on her hood. There she will patiently wait until my lunch break. I made it to work in one piece and she got what she wanted. Everything was right in this world and that's where I will end this story, my car is like a trusty old horse that occasionally lets me think I'm the boss. :-)