Mad Max and the Zen of Exterior Decorating


What started as a simple paint job has taken on a life of its own. Each day I see something that can be added or improved upon. Each day brings more WTF looks, WHY? comments, and COOL! compliments. In addition to the appearance enhancements, I have been treating Rambette to many badly needed structural upgrades and powerplant maintenance services. These last two have me at around $1,500 which isn’t as bad as it initially sounds. I’ve saved massive amounts of money by changing the oil every 30,000 miles (instead of 3,000 miles as recommended by big oil and their whores at the motor oil companies) and neglected nearly every other maintenance procedure. You know the old saw about not fixing what’s not broke… Rambette is at 108,000 miles and still going strong.
Recent maintenance points:
New engine oil, differential & transfer case gear oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and engine coolant & thermostat
New spark plugs and wires
New shocks, coil springs, and sway bar end links
New mass air flow & throttle position sensors
New parking brake shoes
New PCV valve and hose
New driver’s side power mirror
New serpentine belt and idler pulley
New front CV halfshafts (axles)

All of these I have done myself and saved a couple thousand dollars in the process. Most of these things YOU, dear reader, can do for yourself. All it takes is a manual, a little bit of time, and suspension of disbelief in yourself. You may have to buy some tools but the cost of these is inconsequential in the big picture. You will still save money, lots of it, and have some pretty cool tools to mystify your friends with.

Recent appearance upgrades include:
Tail light blackouts
Hood, body, and trim details
Lift points on the hood
More paint…

Enough words, more pictures!

To get to the spark plugs, remove this…

And these…

And you’ll end up with this:

 

Installing the new axles. Foxfur loves him some big and sexy tools. The ratchet drive handles pictured are 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 inch. The 3/4 inch drive handle is not absolutely necessary but sure is handy. The set I have (Proto) will cost you around $600 unless you can find a used set. Mine were free. Right time & place and all that.

New at the top, old at the bottom. The old rubber boots were torn and letting in dirt and crap. It took less than 1 hour per side. To put that in perspective, the spark plugs took 3 hours. It would have been faster but me & Mr. PBR took our time…

Struts, coil springs (and new tool: spring compressor!), cabin filter, MAF, TPS, PCV, etc.

On to the appearance upgrades.

The tail lights were so bright as compared to the paint job that I decided it was time to balance them out. I initially used a tinting spray:

It’s from VHT. I wasn’t very impressed. It’d be ok for building a normal rice racer but looked a bit too glossy for Rambette. I remasked the lights and shot them with flat black.

I came up with the design on the fly and ended up with this. Now it looks like this:

They are nice and bright at night but look cool as hell 24 hours a day.

A friend posted this pic of a Hyundai Elantra on my Facebook page:

Find the entire story here.

It gave me the idea for my next project.

I had a box of 500 3/8 x 1 inch long stainless steel bolts lying around just waiting for that special project. In just 24 hours it went from this:

To this:

The lift points are simple 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch U-bolts from the hardware store.

I also got my veterans license plates! $34 to the state. If you’re a vet please look into getting yours. It will increase public awareness of just how many of us are out there and will allow vets to identify each other.

One night last week I was out in the front yard testing out Grizelda MK VI, my fire poofer, after upgrading the accumulator with an old 5 gallon propane tank. The accumulator allows more on demand volume for poofier flames.

What once looked like this:

Now looks like this:

And just for poops and guffaws, I decided to see how it would look atop Rambette:

Seriously.
Get off my lawn.

Another recent project having to do with Burning Man (besides Rambette and Grizelda MK VI) has been stencils. You saw the BURN SHIT one above. The other one is “KEEP BURNING MAN POTENTIALLY FATAL” which is a plea to the organizers to not try too hard on the whole safety thing. Not that they’re going to, but, with 60,000 people there and an estimated 70,000 in coming years, it represents a real threat to my enjoyment of dangerous good times in the desert.

One more Burning Man related score. I found some hot short shorts that match my orange unsafety vest!

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

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How To Paint Your Vehicle For 70 Bucks


Y’all have probably seen Smurfette, my 2006 Kia Sportage 4×4 buggy. She just turned 105,000 and I decided to give her some new paint to celebrate this milestone. I used to paint my 1974 Datsun pickemup truck twice a year to change things up and to confuse the sherrif. This was 20 something years ago but the urge has been strong to do up Smurfette in the last few years. While I used to be able to do it for $12 back then, prices have gone up considerably. The upshot is that paint has improved as well.

Here’s what she looked like at 2,000 miles:

I’d been talking about new paint for the last few months. When I told Sweetpea, she said I’d lost it. Hell, I lost it yeeears ago and she knows it.

Last Saturday afternoon I was pretty bored. I headed down to Home Depot at 3 in the afternoon and got some paint:

I paid $5 a can but you can get a 6 pack for $24 when you order online.

I also picked up some masking tape, a roll of paper to mask the windows, and a Rust-Oleum Comfort Grip; a pistol grip can holder that’ll save you from carpal finger.

On the way to the Depot I stopped at the quarter wash and washed the hell outta the old girl. I got home and pulled the headlights out and masked the windows.

I got 10 cans of Deep Forest Green and 3 cans of Ultra Flat Black for the trim. I started at 5pm and finished by 9. Due to impending rain I went out at 11pm and shot the trim with black. Good thing too! I woke up to rain the next morning…

She came out awesome! This Thursday I’m heading over to he Bat Cave at Espressodude’s place to stencil it up. Let the confusion begin!Almost looks like I know what I’m doing. Think I’m gonna have to rename her. How’s Rambette sound?

There you go; a $70 paint job!