Spring is HERE!

Hey all,

Winter was a very busy time for me and I didn’t have much time to write in my blog. I’m so sorry about this. It’s still good to see you’ve been visiting me and plenty of e-mails have popped in during this time despite the lack of new posts.

But finally, Spring is here! We are all just SO happy about this since this Winter was extremely painful. There was so much snow, a lot of cold and that means a lot of pain in the a** for just about everyone living here. Cars don’t work too well in such conditions, on newer cars it’s easy to break the bottom frame protection plastic with the snow and so on. Those of you who don’t see Winter very often and are jealous at us – don’t be! Really, it’s not as good as you might think. Yes, there is snow. I think I can still find it from somewhere and I can send it over to Abu Dhabi in a box if you wanna see it so much :) Everyone should experience snow in their life just to see what it’s like and experience the winter “pleasures” like skiing and such. But having all that junk for almost half a year is NO GOOD. Alright, enough of this snow talk.

So, how did our cars live through the Winter? Well, first of all the Vette was ofcourse in the garage so she didn’t really mind. It was cold, yes, but what harm does that really do… However, the Audi and also Suburban were in constant use (especially Audi) and these did experience a few issues.  I can remember that in the beginning of Winter Audi showed its battery light and after some while the systems began messing up and everything died quite suddenly. All the electronic systems inside began to switch off one by one like in a crashing jetliner (yea, it was night in my case, too!) and soon even the transmission and engine began acting real weird. They are completely electronically controlled so what else would you expect… Anyway, I recharged the 110 Amp battery and drove it to service the next day. I first thought that the battery had finally died down in the cold and the systems didn’t want to charge it anymore. However, it wasn’t the case. In fact, the alternator brushes were gone so they had to replace those.

We also cracked the bottom protection a bit and managed to hit an ice ball so hard that a bit of the front bumper paint came off from one place. Should have it fixed soon I guess…  Although that didn’t break anything, I once drove off the road into the snow on a street simply because it was a curve, suddenly such a huge cloud of snow came at night during snowstorm that it just blocked my view completely and since I saw lights of another car coming towards me, I decided to keep to the right and that’s when I hit the snow wall. And there was no help of the Quattro there! We were so stuck that I asked a plow truck driving by to pull us out and he broke his towing rope. Then soon a Dodge RAM passed by who was gladly willing to help us and pulled us out with no big effort. The next time (well, 20 minutes later) I got stuck while just driving in the middle of the country road. The snow had blowed onto the road so much that it got really tough there. Ofcourse I didn’t push the ESP OFF button soon enough so the traction control didn’t let me push gas anymore which brought the situation to a stuck end. There was absolutely no way to get out of there by ourselves since the Audi was sitting completely on its bottom. Soon enough a tractor drove by and although we didn’t have a rope, he drove to the next fuel station, bought a rope for us and came back to pull us out. There are some nice people left in this world, huh?

We didn’t get stuck much more but it was just a lot of pain all the time trying to live your life normally.

But anyway, the spring!!! It’s here, just like I said. As you see, I can’t be happy enough about this fact. It’s a very important milestone this year, I’d say :)

Corvette C3 Daytime Running Lights LED

The Corvette is out of the garage and just before I took it out, I installed the high quality LED daytime running light bars to the front. They are invisible when they are off and nicely glow under the grilles in the nose during the daytime. Although the law requires them to switch on and off automatically depending on the headlight switch setting, I decided to wire them through a separate switch in the “cockpit” so I can always decide myself when I want them on. Interestingly, there is a feature on these lights which automatically dims the lights by about 50% if you shoot 12 Volts to one of the additional wires. S

 

o, I decided to configure them in an interesting manner somewhat resembling the new Audis. Whenever the turn signal is blinking, the LED light dims to 50% while the turn signal lamp is glowing. It’s a really nice effect and probably also adds a lot to safety. I’ll try

to get a video of that for you in a short while.Corvette C3 Daytime Running Lights LED with Sidemarkers

The Vette passed the technical inspection without issues and we’ve been driving it around for a couple of weeks now. The radiator was leaking from last Autumn so I had that repaired and the driver’s side electrical window had lost the last teeth from the moving mechanism so it wouldn’t move totally up and instead made terrible noises. The teeth were repaired and now everything is OK. Ofcourse I’ve been also configuring the carburetor but seems like I can never get it perfect…

The Suburban decided to fail big time… Driving it a week ago we noticed there was something dripping to the asphalt all the way behind our route and I figured out it was coolant. Firstly I thought that it could be the rear heating system pipes since the leak seemed to be near that area. However, it happened to be the typical Vortec engine issue instead – the intake manifold gasket. G

ot it from the shop yesterday and now it’s OK.

A year ago I had the starter and flywheel replaced on the Chevy. However, where I had that job done the guys apparently didn’t know how to properly install the starter on this car and by now the flywheel looks a bit like an elderly grandma with not much left of her teeth anymore. That was found out yesterday in the shop, as well. I was really mad about this because now I need to replace the flywheel AGAIN. And probably from my own pocket. At least I won’t take any of my cars to that shop from now, that’s a FACT. It was close to my home so it was always comfortable to take the cars there, but their job quality is now beginning to show itself. When fixing the starter a year ago they also managed to mess up the distributor clamps which hold the distributor cap in place. They had fixed that with a pair of cable straints and called it done. Now the distributor housing probably needs replacing, too. How can someone work like this? And how could I be so stupid not to act on these things earlier? Should have complained about their distributor solution at least!

Anyway, a  couple of photos from weeks ago of the Vette with the new lights installed :)

Oh, and a little Winter memory from a couple of months ago…

Estonian Winter Road

Suburban fuel economy results

Thought I’d post you some of my first observations on the Suburban fuel economy. It hasn’t been the best, especially when I drove it without thinking at all about economical driving style. However, I’ve been trying to push the number towards better and I’d say that driving style is what matters the most.

So, here are the results:

ALL CITY DRIVING

  • General driving style  – 24.5 l/100 km or 9.6 MPG
  • More economical style – 18.4 l/100 km or 12.8 MPG
  • More economical style 2nd try – 19.5 l/100 km or 12 MPG

I’m rather satisfied with 12.8 MPG because my Jeep didn’t do any better either. However, 9.6 MPG is certainly too bad and I shall try to avoid this in the future :)

Long time no posting, but I have news!

Hi all,

I haven’t posted for quite a while because I’ve just been quite busy and occupied on different areas, including my cars :) I have many news for you, though!

First of all, I have a new car! There are good and bad news about this – I got myself a huge Chevrolet Suburban which I’ve always dreamed of and I’ve been looking after these on the streets since I was a kid. The bad news is that I had to trade my Jeep for it, so I no longer have it. I’ve got over it anyway and the Jeep also needed several jobs to be done which would have costed me at least about 700-800 bucks. I actually didn’t plan on doing such a trade and I was mainly looking at Chevy Express conversion vans from years 2000 and upwards. However, I always kept myself updated about the pick-up truck and large SUV ads, too. Then one morning I found a selling ad for a 1997 Chevy Suburban and in the photos it looked very cool, not just stock. Even more interesting was that he offered a trade-in for a V8 Grand Cherokee. Then I got so excited that I just had to call the seller. He was a nice guy and also a fan of American cars, so we met the same evening at his place and looked at the cars. The Suburban was ofcourse very big compared to the Jeep which I’m used to looking at and we then took it for a test-drive. I was very impressed how it drove because it was smooth, braked well and the wheel was nicely easy to turn, but very precise at the same time. So, I liked what I saw and felt and when we took the Jeep for a test-run, he liked it, too.

The next day we had both trucks inspected by mechanics and we found small flaws on both, although my Jeep needed more drive-train components to be replaced, mainly rubber bushings, but also a transfer case bearing. We then discussed about the approximate prices of both vehicles considering their actual conditions and finally agreed on the extra amount I had to pay – the Suburban is ofcourse more expensive, being one of the best value keeping vehicles in the United States.

Now I’m a proud owner of a 1997 Chevy Suburban LT C-1500. Perhaps a bad thing is that it’s just 2WD (rear-wheel drive) compared to the Jeep which was 4WD, but I must say that I don’t like mudding and getting dirty and I didn’t use the Jeep’s features. 2WD is almost perfect for me because it’s more economical and the drive-train is more comfortable to ride compared to the K-series based trucks. Problems with 2WD only occur when we have a thin layer of snow covering slippery ice on the road and I need to get the Suburban up a hill on such surface. Then it’s very easy to add to much throttle and get a wheel slipping, which in turn will “clean” the ground of snow and leaves just the ice where there is no chance of going forward. The Suburban is relatively light on the rear end when you don’t have any rear passengers or luggage and don’t have much fuel on board. In such case there are two solutions – use the automatically locking rear-differential installed on the vehicle which engages when one wheel begins slipping a lot, but in this case I need to add quite a bit of gas. The second solution is better in my opinion – put the transmission in “2” which means that you will also take off in second gear. This way the wheels don’t get so much momentum and will roll on the snow layer instead of wiping it away. There is also ofcourse a third solution – take the shovel and add some gravel near the wheels :)

The Suburban is black in color, has brand new wheels + Cooper Discoverer M+S tires, beige interior, grille guard in the front with two Hella high-beams, hood air deflector, windshield air deflector, moonvisor with yellow lights (just the way I like it!!), steps under the doors and much more. It’s also equipped with a FM CB-radio transceiver. Engine is the traditional gasoline GM Vortec 5.7 (350 cid) V8 and the transmission is a 4-speed automatic. The exhaust is upgraded so it makes some awesome rumble when driving around, while being relatively quiet on idle and low RPM.

Here are some photos for you:

 

 

 

The light covers from the moonvisor were taken off at that time, but are now installed. However, the lights need to be re-done because the LEDs are getting bad. I will do it as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer.

I also took a video of it with a friend:

 

Now, back to the Corvette!

The Vette has been somewhat unchanged in my garage for 2 months or so with the interior partly taken out. I decided to restore the floor pans under both seats since those were the places where I found some more remarkable surface rust and then I also decided to just take all the old carpet out and replace it. I ordered the new carpet set + complete sound insulation set from Willcox Corvette and it’s now ready at my home to be installed. However, firstly I need to apply POR-15 onto the floorpans which I have cleaned up. I can’t do any of these jobs as long as there are temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius, so I’m just waiting right now for the climate to get a bit better.

My dream car Corvette Stingray is approaching!

As I have already mentioned in my previous posts, I want to make one of my dreams come true – get my own Corvette Stingray. The Vette has always been the greatest sportscar in America and it also competes well with any European sportscar from similar era. In fact, with the new C6 ZR1 there simply isn’t any remarkable competition from the Euro side if we don’t consider the supercars (which it also wins, although not by much). Just have a look at the Nürburgring Nordschleife track times if you don’t believe me :)

I love all the Corvettes, actually I love most American cars, but my favorites are the 1974-1979 models. Although the chrome bumpers on …-1973 cars are nice, I like the Stingray without them even more. I was mostly looking for a …-1977 car which means that it comes with the straight rear window, but I’ve began to adore even more the 1978-79 models. In 78 the Vette got an upgrade in the looks to celebrate its 25th anniversary and one of the biggest distinguishing features from the earlier models is the more modern Coupé-style rear window which is mainly an advantage aerodynamics-wise. The interior got updated and the 79 car already features nice and comfortable sport-seats.

Actually I never thought I would be able to even think about buying myself a car like this within the next year or two. But once I get an idea in my mind, I simply start working for it and as unbelievable as it sounds, I am probably going to make the purchase within one month! I know it’s a quite odd time for buying a sportscar cause it will probably start snowing around here soon and the winter is coming. Still, I want to buy the car now and do the necessary maintenance to ensure that it’s going to be in good condition for the Spring. Then I can hopefully begin to enjoy it right away and not waste valuable warm weather for fixing issues that I could have done over the winter.

At the beginning of this week me and my friend drove to southern Estonia to look at two Stingrays currently up for sale. First one was a really cool looking ’78 with lots of 3rd party accessories to make it look cooler. And it did look very good. The overall condition was quite fine, but the AC system and blower didn’t work, the roof panels were missing upholstery and there were two remarkable paint issues. It was the first time I could ever drive a Stingray and I really loved it. Still, the steering felt floating around which certainly isn’t supposed to be like this. With the help of guys from Corvette Forum we found that there might also be rust issues on the metal frame. This is a big no-no with Stingrays, hence the car is off my list. Another Vette we went to see was a ’77 hence with the straight rear window. The paint was odd (beige and worn out), it had a broken water pump, the engine was smoking and it was just in a rather bad overall condition. The pricetag was quite good but I don’t want to take such a risk – it might need at least the same amount of money just to get it running and driving properly.

I then called someone who I knew was selling his ’79 Corvette but I wasn’t sure it was up for sale anymore – he doesn’t have any ads published about it. Fortunately, it was still available and yesterday I went to look at it. I had seen it before, actually that owner even gave me a ride during an US car meeting some months ago. Now I was able to inspect the car better and I had a good friend with me who is restoring his 75 Stingray. The car has a really neat black paint with just two minor cracks on the edges of the hood. Barely noticeable. There are brand-new looking leather seats in it and the transmission is the 4-speed manual. I used to want an automatic but quite recently I began to consider also a stick shifter because if it’s a toy car anyway, why not have even more fun? The Vette started up fine, warmed up at high idle and then lowered the RPM to normal level. We backed it out from the yard and I was given the chance to drive it around the block. And how much fun this was! The manual transmission felt extremely good and I got the hang of it quickly. Well, in such meaning that I was able to shift it smooth and feel the gears; probably needs a lot more time to become a pro on it. The brakes were very good, the steering felt even better than on my Jeep – no floating. The owner has taken pretty good care of it, he replaced the radiator, part of the coolant pipe, driver side window motor, roof panel rubber seals, new KONI-brand suspension, steering damper and more. Things which need fixing are speedometer and dash + license plate lights. All in all, this is a very nice car and I am pretty sure I am going to buy it. The owner is currently getting the inspection and insurance done cause he had already put the car away for winter. Then we will drive some more on Wednesday and unless any big problems pop out, I will try to get the transaction done as soon as possible.

Oh, the car looks almost exactly like this:

1979 Corvette C3 (Stingray)
1979 Corvette C3 (Stingray)

I WILL keep you updated!!