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December 29, 2008

The "New - Used" Dodge Ram 2500

At some point in my life, I hope that I'm financially stable enough to just go buy a new vehicle, brand new, not worry about the cost, just lay down some astronomical amount of money and drive it off a showroom floor.

Unfortunately that point in my life is no where near now.  I've also come to terms with the fact that this point in my life may never happen.

Recently when my 1995 Dodge Ram 3500 dually with just under 350,000 miles lost 3rd gear, I decided it was time to stop dumping money into a 15 year old truck (and quite frankly I was tired of working on the thing) and go buy a new one.

Calling a fellow drag racer who also happens to be a car salesman at Pinckney Chrysler Dodge and Jeep, I realized that a new vehicle (even with my fathers employee discount) was something that I was not ready to pay for.  I hit the used car circuit, and began kicking the tires on 2004 and newer Dodge Ram 2500 pickups.  I looked at several both Hemi's and Cummins diesels, and when it was all said and done, I settled on a Red 2005 diesel, quad cab, 4x4.  A few more miles than I would have liked, but the truck and the price was right.

After three weeks, and just under 1000 miles, the truck looked more like this:

Now this doesn't speak well to my tire kicking abalities that less than 1000 miles into my ownership of this vehicle, and it is already a hoist potato.  Seems the right side axle joint was bad.  Now in my defense, I did know that axle joints are a known problem on these trucks, especially the diesels, and I did specifically check the axle joints on each and every truck that I looked at.  On this particular model, I checked them twice, once during the initial look, and once when we got it home, and they were fine, but I guess that was 1000 miles ago!

So it ended up on the hoist and the tear apart began.  Any of you who have worked on your own vehicles know it can be "fun and challenging" at times.  It seems to be worse on these larger trucks.  This project was no different, and required all the normal tools for such a job...BFH (Big F--kin Hammer), torches and a good sized prybar. 

Not pictured is the cursing wrench, which suprisingly wasn't used much on this particular job.  The cursing wrench is when you swear at something (a bolt or a pin, or a wheel bearing/hub assembly in this case) until it finally comes off.  It sounds (and is) childish, but it works almost every time.

The other thing that always happens, is that one thing leads to another.  For example on this project, the one thing...the bad axle joint, allowed me to see that the brake pads were shot and the truck needed new front brakes...this would be the other.  This other thing...the bad brakes...leads to yet another, which is that if I'm going to do brakes, I might as well change BOTH front axle joints, which I did.  I bypassed the final "other" and decided not to replace the wheel bearing/hub assemblies.  I may one day regret this as all the labor was done to replace them, but the cost of these parts convinced me they could wait til another day.  That day will probably the next time I have to replace an axle joint.

So after 3 days on the hoist, a few trips to the auto parts store, a few more to the dealership for parts (side note...when doing axle joints on any Dodge truck, DO NOT get the cheap replacement joints from any auto parts store, spend the money and get the OE MOPAR parts from your dealership.  Otherwise, you will be doing them again before you know it), the truck was now as good as new with the following:

Changed front and rear differential lube, change trasnfer case lube, change transmission fluid and filter, lube outer tie rod ends, change oil and filter, change fuel filter, replace right and left hand axle joints, replace front brakes (new pads, turned rotors).

Now it is on to working on race cars!  That blog will be up in a few.

Thanks for stopping by...Dan


December 21, 2008

Classic Drag Shots

A fellow racer emailed me some great pictures this weekend, that I wanted to post for a couple of reasons:

1. Because this is called "From the Drivers Seat" and there are no racing related entries on my blog yet.  I thought it was time to put some up here.

2. To give all my new readers something visual to look at

3. To practice uploading pictures into the site.

This first shot is of an early Cuda funny car.  I love the bondo all over the body (imagine a hevily sponsored ride today doing this) and look closely at the rear tires...all four are off the ground.

These next couple shots are of "engine failure" in order of least to most impressive.  The first is Jim Dunn's early dragster (Jim Dunn still owns a funny car today and competed in the NHRA professional ranks last year).  Anytime you have flames shooting out the general bottom area of the block, that isn't good.

You would be hard pressed to find a picture of a more catastrophic failure than the one below.  With the crank shaft, and several piston/rod assemblies lying on the track, the reaction of the driver sitting in the car is priceless.  I have a feeling the marketing department over at C & T Strokers left this photo off any ads or flyers they made.

The next shot is one of the explosion/wreck that most change the history of drag racing.  Some of you die hard drag race fans probably have seen this one.  This is of Big Daddy Don Gartlis who lost part of his foot in this engine/trans failure.  After this incident, is when he decided it was time to build a rear engine dragster.  The rest as they say...I have no idea who is circled.  Since it is my blog, lets pretend it was my Dad who just happened to be in attendance in the front row on this historic day.

Here is a classic shot.  Front wheels of the front engine dragster up in the air smokin the tires, and the flagman is classic.  This is how it used to was folks, before christmas trees started everyone "fairly".

While we are looking at wheel standers, here is a shot of a Anglia getting way up in the air.  If you can't see the name on the car, it says "Capp Fedderly Pioneer Anglia".  Terry Capp and Bernie Fedderly were successful top fuel racers, and some of you even casual race fans might recognize Federly's name as one of the crew chief's with Force Racing.

These last three I just thought were cool pictures.  The thing I liked about the first one wasn't the car so much as the lady in the pits in a skirt and heels.  Never see that today, maybe on a model with 4" heels and a "skirt" that is skin tight and just past her butt (not that this is a bad thing).

Here is a shot heading down track from the driver seat in a front engine dragster.  Note the 4 lane dragstrip and the smoke coming off the tires.  Today this is a bad thing, the end of a run, and most assuredely a loss, but back then, they smoked the tires the entire length of the track.

This last one is my favorite picture of the ones that were sent.  The info sent to me said this was taken on a chasis dyno in a lab at Ford and is one of Connie Kalitta's dragsters.  I just thought the shot was cool.

I have some more that I can post later.  Thanks for stopping by.

My Cooking Lesson

This morning it was my daunting task to cook breakfast.  We decided on over easy eggs and sauasge.  As I was getting out the skillet, and neccessary ingredients I realized that my wife has no faith whatsoever in my domestic skills in the kitchen.

As I was starting, her 1st question to me was, "Do you want me to teach you how to cook the eggs in the sausage grease?" Now, my plan was to cook the sausage first, and then cook the eggs in the same pan as the sausage, hence, cooking the eggs in the sausage grease.  I have attempted and pulled off this "feat" in the past with bacon AND sausage, and was not aware there needed to be any formal instruction to successfully perform this extremely difficult cooking process.

I replied, "I was going to cook the eggs AFTER the sausage in the same pan, do I need to know anymore other than that?"

No, she replied.

This morning's lesson was concluded!

December 14, 2008

The Turkey Sandwhich

The post below was actually from October 6th 2008 during my trip to Las Vegas to visit the Fabtech show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


I'm trying to kill some time to keep from blowing even more money down in the Casino, so I will share with you my flight story on my way out to Vegas for the Fabtech show (hey maybe my job aint so bad).

I decide since you now have to pay for a meal on all NWA flights that I would buy something to eat at the airport.  Suprisingly I'm on schedule, so I have time and stop at Charley's Subs down at the north end of the terminal by my gate.

I board the plane, and decide that I'm going to eat my turkey and cheddar sandwhich later and will save it when they do the beverage service.  I set the sandwhich on my lap but all I can smell, and so I can only imagine all the people within three rows of me can smell is turkey and cheddar.  Being the courteous flyer that I am I decide to put the sandwhich down on top of my computer bag, which eliminated the smell issue (from the sandwhich anyway).

As we are taxing out to the runway, I already feel the need to stretch out, and do so by placing my right foot on top of my computer bag and pushing forward until I can feel the stretch in my thigh.  Just as I'm loosening up as much as you can on an airplane, and feeling a bit relaxed, it hits me...MY SANDWHICH!!!!

You guessed it, I pushed my own sandwhich with my own foot up under the seat so I can neither see or reach it with my hands or my feet. 


I slowly pull my computer bag towards me hoping the sandwhich is lodged on my bag and will come back with it, averting any catastrophic meltdowns on my part.  I pull the bag all the way out and no white take home food container is with it.


Now I paid 6.75 plus tax for this baby (sandwhich only), so there is no way I'm letting this thing get away.  I tap the woman in front of me on the shoulder, and ask, "Excuse me, but is there a white food container at your feet?"

She replies something in some sort of swahili language that I couldn't even begin to pretend to understand.  I then make some hand gestures in hope there is some sort of universal hand signal for "white food container" similar to the one for choking, but since the man next to her picked up the NWA World Traveler Magazine and motioned as if to ask that is what I was asking for, I realized there was no such signal.

I begin to get furious in my own head and ask myself, "how can a couple that speaks no english make it from whatever country they floated over to the states from and make it all the way to Vegas?"  I then begin to realize that wasting such energy will do nothing to get my beloved sandwhich back, so I calm my self down.

It is now that I think back to what little I retained from any physics that I had during my schooling and I start working on plan B.

Plan B was to pray.  My prayer went something like this:

Dear lord, when we make the turn onto the runway, and the pilot throws all three engines to WOT please, please, please let my sandwhich slowly slide back to me allowing me to enjoy a decent meal, and not have to pay again for whatever the airlines are offering me.

The pilot announces to the flight attendants to prepare for take off and cross check...

SIDE NOTE, WTF is cross check anyway...

...I pull my computer bag onto my lap, which I'm well aware is a violation of safety rules, all bags must be properly stowed above you or under the seat in front of you.  I know if I'm questioned about this, I will explain the story about the turkey and cheddar, and the flight attendant would understand and let me hold the bag.

As we make the turn onto the run way, and you feel the engine power start to come up, all the passengers are going through their take off routines.  Some lean their heads back and close their eyes, some couples hold hands, some people chew gum.  I was totally 100% focused, looking directly down just in front of my feet waiting and hoping that I would see a 4" x 8" container slowly slide back into my possesion.

We are trucking down the runway, and the front of the plane slowly begins to lift.  Shortly after the front wheels lifted off the ground, it appeared, my Charley's Sub turkey and cheddar sandwhich with honey mustard dressing.

I was happy, I can't remember the last time I was so happy.  I thank the lord over and over again.  The guy next to me who must have been paying better attention than I thought simply said, "hey, you got it back".

Yes I did, I got it back.  I say this my friends with the utmost sincerity, I have never enjoyed a more mediocre sub in my life, and probably never will.

It was delicious.

December 13, 2008

What do I want to write about?

So welcome to my new blog.  In preperation for this latest item that I'm suppose to keep up that I have no time for, I was researching what to type in your blog.  Most of the suggestions boiled down to stuff that you know about and are passionate about.

I'm really not an expert on anything, actually I AM NOT an expert on anything.  I do love racing and probably know more about drag racing and cars than most people, and you can bet to find a number of topics on those two items (and there is a lot of people that know WAY more than me).  Topics relating to the Dakota X and Gremlin X on the track, work on both vehicles.  Stuff with vehicles and motorsports in general.  Like if I were to type one right now, it would say how usual...has started slow this year, and we will be get the cars ready for the 1st race of the year.

I'm passionate about sports, and more specifically baseball and the Detroit Tigers, so there will probably be a number of topics on the Motor City Kitties as well.  Like if I were to type one right now on the Tigers, it would state how I'm overall disappointed in the offseason moves so far, and the Tigers still didn't adequately address their pitching needs for next year, still have too many "if's" on the roster, and will finish around .500 with 80 - 85 wins.

But at the end of the all of it, I decided that I'm going to write about whatever I feel is necessary that day.  A couple months ago I went to Vegas, and emailed several friends a story about the "issue" I had with a Turkey Sandwhich I purchased at the airport.  In the future, I will post that on this blog...actually I think that will be my second blog, so stay tuned.  Anything I feel like will come up here.  It will be mostly racing and sports related, but don't be surprised if politics, social topics, or any general topics make it into type on this blog.  I will prove that any idiot can register for a blog and type whatever they feel like without any research, investigation, or accountability for what is published.

One other note: I've always been good at math and had an interest in mechanical things.  This is probably why I got into cars and racing and became an engineer.  Please keep in mind that I AM an engineer and am not very good at, nor do I care much about proper grammer and writing.  Though I will do my best, I can assure you that you will find a number of grammatical errors, spelling erros, and sentences mis-worded.  Don't comment or email to let me know that I made this mistake, spelled this wrong, or typed that mistake.  I'm sure my wife will be more than happy to point all of those things out to me, and there is no need for me to hear about every mistake twice.

So I hope you check back often, and more times than not are entertained, and possibly informed by this blog.  Thanks for stopping by and reading, Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful new year.