Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday Sunday Sunday

I was a little nervous leaving the truck down there unattended, but slept like a rock anyway. Got up at 0'dark 30 and headed south back to Newport for competition day. They run practice from 8 until 10, then hold opening ceremonies and run competition from 11 until they are done.

We stopped in Boswell for breakfast as is our tradition. Ate a good breakfast and as we are walking out of the restaurant a guy walking in asked if we were headed to the hillclimb. Now the old truck is already down there so we are in dad's truck and nobody is wearing anything that would tip anyone off as to our destination so it kind of took us aback. We told the guy yeah that's where we were headed and he said "Yep, you guys go every year" so apparently we make an impression in Boswell the one weekend a year we eat there.

We got to Newport about 8, found the truck exactly where we left her, uncovered her and fired her up. She started without too much difficulty and we headed into town to get in line for a practice run. I offered dad the wheel and he declined, saying it was my truck and I did most of the wrench work on it. Nate even gave up his seat up front for the practice run so Dawn could sit up front and work the siren. Dad, Nate and Cody loaded up in the back and up we went. Another uneventful run. She sneezed through the carb a few times but she powered right up for another run in the 82 second range.

We brought her back to town and the real circus began. They were trying to stage all the vehicles for the competition runs. This wouldn't be so bad except for the fact they had 280+ vehicles and only about 2 blocks worth of staging area, that being the case and the fact they run the fire trucks toward the end I got stuck out North of town. The problem with that was I had to babysit the truck pretty much all day instead of watching the other cars run so I didn't miss when they wanted me to bring the truck up. Not a big deal but I'm going to come up with a new plan for next year.

We finally get the call to bring her up and get in line, our class is next. Mom and dad go down toward the base of the hill to get some decent pictures while the rest of us load up in the truck and get in line. I was last to run in our class so I had a pretty good idea what I needed to run to get close. As I'm moving up my heart started beating quicker and it's show time. I found it was not all that different of a feeling from suiting up for a sports event. It's the same kind of butterfly feeling.

We get on the line and the queen gives me a commemorative hat pin and wishes me luck. Turn on the headlights and the red flashing light and wait to go. The starter asks if I'm ready and points to the tree. Red, yellow, yellow GREEN and we are off. I felt like I cut a pretty decent light (time starts when the green comes on) and make a good shift to third. The downshift to second went good as well. The only thing I would have liked to do different was once the hill started leveling out at the top I stayed in second gear a little long and floated the valves so that cost us a little bit. On the way back to town they stopped me to give me my timeslip. 78.98. WOW shaved off 4 seconds. I was VERY happy with that run and figured we were good for 3rd in our class.

Parked the truck and watched the rest of the runs and then it was time for the trophies. They give out trophies for the top 3 in each class so we stuck around figuring we were going to run 3rd. Got to my class and said "in 3rd place in a 38 chevy" and my heart sank since we have a 32. Thought I must have miscalculated. Oh well, win some lose some. But then he announced "2nd place in a 32 Chevy, Bill Boldman." Apparently the 3rd place truck, which beat us on time, must of had some penalty points added, but I'll take 2nd. Posed for some pictures and proceeded to head north to mom and dad's. Nate and I were the brave ones to deal with the chilly conditions on the way up there. Truck ran strong all the way back with no issues.

For our first competition I couldn't be happier. For only having the truck 3 weeks it was something in itself just to show up, let alone take home 2nd in class. We fulfilled a dream my dad has had for the last 16 yrs and had an absolute blast. It was quite a bit of stress with as fast as we had to throw it together, but we pulled it off. Monday was kind of an odd feeling though. With as much fun as we had I was really glad it was finally over. I'm not sure I realized just how much stress we were under to pull it off. Then at the same time as being relieved I was giddy with the possibilities for next year and wishing it was next year already.

Now all that is left is to make a few improvements to the truck and have some fun with it next summer with the ultimate goal of returning to Newport in October. Hopefully we will have her running better and the Half Fast Fire Company can make an even better showing next year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Practice Day

Since Dakota had a football game Saturday morning the plan was for dad and Nate to take the truck to Newport early in the morning to run practice and I would get there as soon as I could. We had a tool kit packed up, spare tire, 4 way lug wrench, various fluids, jackets, the works. We felt like we had a plan for everything and were in really good shape. That is until Dad and Nate got up Saturday morning and it was raining. That's not a big deal unless you happen to be in an open cab truck. They decided it wasn't raining too hard and they'd try it so off they went. I woke up about an hour after they left to HARD rain. I texted Nate to see if I needed to chase them down with dry clothes but he said it wasn't raining too hard at the time and they would be ok. Shortly after that the rain picked up but they persevered and got her down there with no incidents.

Dad and I had discussed earlier in the week not letting anyone else ride up on the first run just so we could see how she was going to run and to make sure she would make it. First text I got from Nate was "The queens are already in the truck". Apparently as dad got to the line the Hillclimb Queen and her court came up and asked if they could ride along. Dad, being a Boldman, and a sucker for a pretty face couldn't say no so up they went. The truck ran in the 95 second range on the first run. It was wet and we later found out that dad wasn't giving her full throttle, but she made it. That in and of itself was an accomplishment. For those that don't know the Newport hill is main street in town. It is a blacktop road of which we run for 1800 feet from a standing start with 140 ft worth of elevation change before we get to the top. The record run is in the 26 second range but that was with a Ford V8. The record was in no danger from us, but with a name like Half Fast I didn't think it would be.

I got down there about noon and dad already had her in the staging lanes for another practice run. I jumped in the driver seat and low and behold here comes the queen and her court again. Now, me being a Boldman and a sucker for a pretty face, they loaded up. There are 4 lines of staging and my line is moving up nicely and the anticipation is building. I get 1st in my line (next to go) and the starter gives me the cut sign, he's gonna run some from the other lanes. Damn it. So I sit there idling (the truck doesn't like wet and cold) with the anticipation building. I have some experience in high adrenaline sports and this wasn't quite on the level of skydiving, but pulling up to the start line I could feel my heart beat quicken and started breathing a little shallower, just like in a plane. We got her lined up on the start line, the starter asked if I was ready and then pointed to "the tree". Red...Yellow....yellow...GREEN. Let out on the clutch and we are off, red light flashing and Nate working the siren. The thing is geared so low we started in 2nd gear let her wind up, make a fairly decent shift to 3rd (considering the transmission is almost 80 yrs old) and keep my foot matted. I felt like I was getting a pretty good run on the flat part and then we hit the hill. Gravity is a bitch. Let gravity bring us down to about 8-10 mph, looked over my shoulder to warn the girls and jammed it into 2nd. It fell right in gear and we powered on up over the top for a time in the 82 second range. Not great, but happy with the run anyway.

I came back into town smiling harder than I had in a long time. What a great feeling to finally run "The Hill". Dropped off the queens court and parked the truck. Our friends Sam, Jo, and Ed showed up just in time to watch my run and Dawn came down shortly after so we all hung out to watch the parade.

We had decided to just leave the truck down there Saturday night. Well the original plan was for me and the boys to camp over night but with night time temps gonna drop into the 30's I decided against it. We parked the truck in the field they use for parking, locked her up and covered what we could with a tarp and all of us went to moms for some lasagna and much needed sleep. Tomorrow is the big day. Competition runs.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The "Thrash" or What I Did On My Summer Vacation

With the truck safely at my parent's house it was time to start trying to scare up some parts. She didn't need much, but what it did need it needed pretty bad. Dad called on some of his connections and I scoured online and got what we needed to at least get it ready for the hillclimb. The only snag we ran into was tires and those were fairly easy to find, just back ordered. More on that in a bit. Dad located some spark plugs and all the fluids we needed. I ordered an ignition tune up kit, a gas tank and a couple light bulbs online and had it all shipped to his house. It was like Christmas at my parents for awhile with packages showing up every couple of days.

I was on vacation for the week before the hillclimb so the plan was to get down there as soon as I could and work on the truck between football games (had 4 that week). It worked out that I got down there late Sunday night in order to get an early start on Monday morning.

Get up Monday morning and take off one of the tires that had gone flat and took it to the tire guy to see if he could do anything with it. Dad had a parts run to Watseka so I called to get the "cop check" for the title work and started gapping spark plugs. The cop check was fairly uneventful except for the fact that the numbers on the truck don't match what's on the title, but the number he ran came back clean. I got the plugs installed while waiting for dad to get home with no trouble. Dad got back and we commenced to tune up, points, cap and rotor. Cap and rotor were a piece of cake, the points made up for it. It took me, my dad and my girlfriend Dawn about half an hour just to get them installed. I'm sure we were quite the sight, all 3 of us bent over the fender of the truck cussing. Finally got them installed and gapped and it was the moment of truth. I jump in and hit the starter, she cranks...and cranks....and cranks. Hmmmm, no spark. The damn thing worked before we started messing with it and now won't run at all. Reset the gap, still nothing. Lots of head scratching ensued. Dad went over to the Chevy garage to ask their mechanic what it might be and I kept tinkering. On a blind shot in the dark I pryed up on the points where they go over the post and what do you know she fired right up. With that hurdle cleared it was off to the BMV to try to get plates.

If you'll remember earlier I said the numbers didn't match so this could be a problem. I go into the BMV in Morocco and conveniently forget to mention the part about the numbers not matching. The girl goes through everything and I'm thinking I'm in the clear and then at the last possible minute she realizes the title and the cop check don't match. UH OH!!! Had to fill out a couple of forms so they can issue me a new VIN number. Ordinarily that wouldn't be a problem but the hillclimb is in 5 days and I don't have plates. Hmmmm, have to figure something else out on that one.

Got home from the DMV, picked up the tire (new tube and flap) installed that and called it a day. Football in Tri County that night.

The big job for Tuesday was a fuel tank. The original had gone bad and the previous owners converted a fire extinguisher into a fuel tank. Worked good but only held 2 gallons. I had ordered an 11 gallon dune buggy tank and the plan was to install that in the bed and just run a line from there. Dad was gone on a car run all day so this fell to me and Dawn. This went surprisingly smooth. I think I only made 3 trips to the hardware store and Napa for various fittings etc. With the tank installed I put a couple gallons in and decided to take it to the gas station to fill it up. Take off down the road and get about a half mile and she starts coughing and back firing and basically just running like shit. So much so that when I got on the clutch to pull into the gas station she quit...hmmmmm. I was hoping it was a fuel problem but no such luck. So I start tinkering and remember about the point problem from earlier. Yep same deal, pry up on the points and it fires right up. Apparently there was a fiber washer or something that was supposed to go in there that we either didn't get or lost. Got the truck home and started thinking about what to do about the points issue.

We decided to just head over to Watseka to the big hardware store and see what I could come up with. Finally decided on a plastic washer I found. While we were over there I picked up a muffler too. Got home and installed the plastic washer under the points (this time they went back in no problem) and so far she's been running fine. Installed the muffler in about 10 min time (has to be a record for me for anything automotive). Boy what a difference that made. I liked it loud but it's much more tolerable quiet.

With that done on a whim I decided to kick the tires. Damn, found another flat. I really wish the new ones weren't back ordered. So I pulled that wheel off and took it back to the tire guy at B&G. By this time is was late in the day and he didn't have time to look at it then, said check back on the next day.

When Nate got home him and I did the oil and transmission lube change. No real problems with that. Just some good quality father son time spent under a truck. We BBQ'd some pork chops for dinner and celebrated Nate's birthday early that night.

Wednesday was spent cleaning and polishing. Dawn worked her butt of on the old brass nozzle and got it shined up pretty good. When Nate got home he polished up the bell and siren and got those shining better than they have in 30 years. Checked in at the tire guy, gonna have to order a tube. Might be here Thursday (oh shit).

Thursday dad was off on a car run and there wasn't much to do to the truck so I put up an air hose reel in his shop and built a step for the deck to cover the broken concrete. Only big problems with that was when the ladder came out from under me putting up the airline. That could have turned out bad but didn't. Checked with the tire guy, still no tube. Went to Nate's football game in Seeger that night.

Friday was just odds and ends, mounting a slow vehicle triangle and fretting over the tire. Cody had a football game in Caston that night and I had to leave about 430 to make it on time. Waited all day and hadn't heard from the tire guy. On my way out of town I decided to stop by. He was locking up the shop when I pulled up. Asked him about my tire and he said "Oh yeah we just finished it up." Swung by the house on the way out to drop off the wheel and went to Caston to the football game. Got home about midnight and proceeded to swap tires around. Nothing like wrestling 200lb wheels around by yourself in the dark but I got it done.

Dad talked to his employer at Sondegrath Motors and they loaned us a dealer plate to get the truck to Newport and back. We were going to run it without plates if we had to but it was nice to at least be somewhat legal. I'm not sure a cop would have bought it that it was a dealer vehicle but it worked out.

So the truck was as ready as we were going to be able to make it. Cody had a football game Saturday so the plan was for dad and Nate to get up early and take the truck to Newport for practice day while I went to the football game. I went to bed that morning feeling pretty good about what we had accomplished over the course of a week and hoping, that with a little luck, we'd be able to pull off the weekend.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trailer Diva

Well after buying the truck came the daunting task of trying to get it down to mom and dads. This proved to be quite the daunting task. Neither me or my dad have a truck with enough ass to get the job done so it was going to involve trying to borrow a truck that was gonna pull a REALLY heavy truck. My friend Dan stepped up huge and let us borrow his Chevy SS so with that taken care of it was time to find a trailer.

That proved a little more daunting of a task than it should have been. Tried asking around an nobody had one so I decided to just rent one from Uhaul. That was an adventure in itself. First they wouldn't rent one to me for a '32 chevy truck (notice I didn't tell them firetruck) because their book didn't list a 32 and they needed the weight. So I hung up and called back and told them I had a '42. They biggest trailer they have is good for a 133 inch wheel base and 79.25 inches wide. The firetruck (I need to come up with a name for her) has 132 inch wheel base and is 78 inches wide. Damn this is gonna be close. So I make the uhaul reservation and wait for the confirmation call.

I scheduled the rental for a Friday, I wait until about 4 Thursday afternoon and hadn't heard from Uhaul so I called them. Even though Slinger Wi has 2 uhaul places they tell me I'm going to have to go to a different town to get it and that one isn't open until noon on Friday. Fantastic, so much for getting an early start. So I call and make arraingments with the owner of the truck and tell him we'll be at his place about 1. Here's my first stroke of luck, on a whim I called the actual Uhaul place to make sure they had the trailer I needed. Good thing I did because he was told the rental was for saturday and he is closed on Fridays. He did cut me a break and come open the shop on Friday morning for me on his way to the airport. Had I not called him I would have been SOL and super pissed but it worked out.

Moving Friday rolls around and dad and I were "Up with the sun and gone with the wind" to head north to Wisconsin. We timed it just right and snuck through Chicago just ahead of the rush. Get to the Uhaul place about an hour ahead of schedule. Called the guy and he came out earlier than we had agreed on and got us on our way quickly. I'm not a big fan of Uhaul but I am a fan of that guy and his customer service.

Got the trailer and it's off to the Franz house to pick up the truck. I had forgotten to call and tell them we were gonna be earlier than expected so of course nobody was home. So we sit and we wait. About a half hour went by and Mr Franz pulls up in his golf cart. Apparently he was building a duck pond. He unlocks the garage and the load goes suprisingly smooth. Dad drove the truck right on the trailer with no issues. It was tight but it fit no problem. We get her all loaded and tied down and Mr Franz asks if we are in a hurry or if we were hungry. Figuring we were still ahead of schedule we opted for lunch.

Get back from lunch about 1 and we are off. First thing I notice is it's heavier than I thought ti would be but no big deal. Dan's truck is handling it like a champ. Went great up until I get out of town. At that point we find out how long of a trip it is going to be. As I reached 45mph the trailer started to whip side to side. In hindsight we should have backed the truck on the trailer but we didn't think about it at the time. We just decided to go 40 all the way home. Right through Milwaukee during rush hour and down the 2 lane Illinois 47. Boy did we make some friends.

Stopped in Yorkville for gas and to show it to some of my family and we were off again. The journey finally ended at my parents house about 10pm. Took us about 9 hours but we made it. It actually fits the motto of our Half Fast Fire Co, "We may not be fast, but we ain't slow, we are Half Fast"

The truck is right now at mom and dads, the hillclimb is a little over a week away and we have quite a bit of work to do before then. Need to change fluids and a tune up and install a gas tank. Also have to jump through some BMV hoops to try to get it titled. Should be a fun week before the hillclimb.

If anyone is in the Kentland area Next week (9/27-10/1) drop by for a beer and help me turn some wrenches.

Monday, September 20, 2010

And so it begins

Wow it's been a busy summer, full of work, baseball, concerts etc, etc.

Some of you may know that my dad, sons and I go to the Newport Antique Auto Hillclimb every year and every year we dream of having something to participate instead of just spectate. Well we are dreaming no more. I am the proud new owner of a 1932 Chevy Firetruck.

This actually fulfills two dreams of mine, I've always wanted to own a firetruck. A couple of months ago my dad found a 42 Mack for sale and I decided if not now, when? That truck ended up being a pile of junk so I kept looking and found this one. It was owned by the Venerable Fire Museum in Slinger, Wi. I called the guy and he told me what he thought he had. The truck had been donated to the museum and they didn't have room for it. After talking to him I knew I had to find a way to get up there as soon as possible because the truck wouldn't last long. It was in suprisingly great shape and the price was in my opinion very low for what the truck was.

The next Sunday they were having an open house at the museum and the railroad just happened to cooperate for once so me, the boys, Dawn and my dad made the 5 hour trip to Slinger to see the truck. Got there and it was better than the guy had described so I decided to buy the truck. Here's where the first snag happened.

He explained that somebody else had looked at the truck earlier in the day and was off to get money and a trailer. He was conflicted because I was the first to call on it, but the other guy was first to commit to the sale. It just so happened I had cash money in my pocket and had driven farther to look at it so I won out.

So begins what should be a great father, son, grandsons adventure. It's gonna take some blood, some sweat, probably some tears and some cash to get it to where I want, but I have lots of time and can't wait to get started on her.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on the "Mini"

Back in October or November my friend Suzanne and I were talking and she said she was thinking about doing the Indy Mini Marathon. I responded with "That sounds cool, maybe I'll do it too." She said "You can't do it, you smoke" and a challenge was born. I told her I was signing up that day and she better sign up too. I then called my sister. The call was eerily similar to the one I made in 2001 where I said "Guess what, we are going skydiving." Only this time it was "Guess what, we are running a half marathon in May." In all 5 of us signed up together, me, Suzanne, her boyfriend Calvin, April and April's roommate Nicole. Nicole being the only one of us with running experience.

So here I am, a 37 year old guy that really likes his beer and has a pack and a half to two pack a day habit and I just signed up to run 13.1 miles, what the hell was I thinking. So I started running on a treadmill at the hotel when I could. At the beginning it was 2 or 3 miles 2 or 3 times a week. I was doing pretty good with it in the beginning, but as winter wore on my training time kept getting cut. Some weeks I'd run 2 or 3 times, other weeks I wouldn't run at all. It was never over 5 miles (only hit the 5 mile mark twice I think) and it was always indoors on a treadmill. Low and behold the calendar changed to May and I still hadn't run over 5 miles and hadn't run outside at all. I don't know this for sure, but I heard they started a pool at work as to which mile I was going to drop dead at.

The night before the race I meet up with April and Nicole at our friend Chris' house since he was closer to Indy. We pinned our numbers on our shirts and Nicole gave us some last minute pointers. She also gave us some "energy beans" to use during the race. Not sure if they actually helped, but it tricked my mind into thinking they did. Nicole proved to be invaluable as far as answering questions and giving us pointers.

So we get up at 430am on race day to be downtown by 6ish. The day dawned cloudy, cold and WINDY. That did nothing to help my already shaky confidence, but too late to back out now. We met up with Suzanne and Calvin and posed for prerace pictures with everybody, got in our designated starting corral and waited. I had no idea what 35,000 people looked like all on the street. We stretched for several city blocks in both directions from where we started. We started in the area with an estimated finishing time of 2hrs 40min, which at this point sounded painfully optimistic.

The gun goes off and we are on our way. Took us about a half an hour to reach the actual starting line. We all wore an individual timing device so our time didn't actually start until we reached the starting line. The first few miles weren't too bad. It was a lot of weaving in and out of traffic to try to maintain the pace we wanted. I was able to hang with the other 4 until a little past mile 4. At that point I got boxed in behind some slower people and by the time I found a hole to get around them, the other 4 were pulling away from me. I decided it was going to take too much out of me to try to catch up to them so I settled in to my own pace.

At about the 5 and a half mile mark we entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That was the coolest part of the whole race, well except we entered through the tunnel under the short chute on turns one and two. That ends up being quite a steep hill to come up. At this point, I leaned on my Sarah Fisher shirt that I was wearing for inspiration. I think they should have had Milka Duno out turning laps in her Indy Car so she would finally know what if felt like to pass somebody at Indy during competition. I've been to the Speedway on numerous occasions and even took the bus tour around it once. You really don't get a feel for just how long the track is until you are on foot, come out of turn two and see just how far you have to run to get to turn three. I'm just glad the wind wasn't blowing down the straightaways, thankfully it was only in our face through three and four.

We exited the track through the "Brickyard Crossing" gate out of turn two, and this is the first place I allowed myself to walk. I walked from there (about mile 8.5) to the water area just short of mile 9. From there on in it was a struggle. My foot started to hurt about mile 10 and I walked a few different times from there on in. I'm guessing all in all I probably walked a mile of the whole race. It was pretty cool coming down the home stretch. Lots of spectators cheering us on. We had our names on our bib numbers and people would actually encourage you by name. That was really awesome.

The official count was 31,020 finishers, with an average time of 2:28:12 and the actual winner ran it in 1:02. Nicole was the winner in our group at 2:30:02, good for 18,673rd place. April was a close 2nd at the same 2:30:02 but in 18,675th place. Suzanne and Calvin were next with 2:30:24 and 2:30:25 respectively, good for 18,772 and 18,774. As for me, I crossed the line in 2:42:15, which was 21,177th place. When the race started I told my self I'd be happy if I stayed off the bus and finished the race, with a loose goal of 3 hrs. I was ecstatic with 2:42. That was right on the pace we had decided on way back in October when we signed up, and with my severe lack of training time I couldn't be happier.

All in all it was a great experience. Would I do it again? I hate to use the word "never" because never is a long time. Yesterday I would have said no way, but today, as the soreness is going away I can't help but think how much better my time would be if I actually had time to train right for it. So I'll leave the door open a crack, but I don't think it's going to be one of my priorities.

The one thing that made it really extra special for me was having my sister do it with me (even though she ditched me at mile 4 :-) ) This was the 2nd big life experience I've gotten to do with her and I'm really happy we have been able to share these with each other. If it wasn't for her I'm not sure I would be skydiving or would have been able to complete this half marathon. Part of it is our competitive nature where as if she can do it, I can do it, but it runs a lot deeper than that. It is really cool to be able to share these life changing experiences with her, and I'm very thankful that we have the kind of relationship that we can do these things together. It makes them extra special, although I'm sure we've scared the hell out of mom a few times.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

People Watching

I was in a bar the other night and got to partake in two of my favorite past times. The first being cold beer and the second is people watching.

This particular bar I had never been in before. It is in a rural community and it was a slow night, but this bar had everybody. There was the preppy guy in khaki shorts, ankle socks and a backward hat. There was the guy that thought he was a pool player, right down to duct tape on his hand. I'm assuming the duct tape he thought would allow the cue to slide better, but I'm not sure. There was wanna be a farmer guy with long sleeve insulated shirt, t shirt over that, boots that hadn't seen mud and a John Deere trucker hat. There was even an appearance by Miss I Need attention. I'm sure you've seen her, about 22, jeans and tshirt complete with push up bra that was 2 sizes too small to really push them up and 6 inch hooker heels.

My favorite guy of the night though had to be "Tex". He came walking in like he owned the place. Was carrying his 2 piece pool cue (apparently couldn't afford the case to go with it). He walked in and put his quarters on the table before he even ordered a beer. He had the look down, boots, Wrangler jeans, black belt with the shiny adornments on it, button up long sleeve shirt, white cowboy hat and the fu man chu 'stache. I didn't look but it wouldn't surprise me to find a horse at the hitchin post outside. To the guys credit he seemed like a nice guy and he did play a decent game of pool, but he looked WAY out of place in rural Indiana.

This bar had it all. Even the guy sitting by himself at the end of the bar because he didn't want to go home to his wife. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening spent with good people and I can't wait to go back when the bar is busy.