Sunday, October 28, 2012

My 1956 Ford Fairlane

At long last, I'm ready to unveil this beauty to the world.  This is something I picked up in July, and I've been working on it my spare time, trying to get it finished, ever since.  It is a 1956 Ford Fairlane, something I have dreamed of having for many years.  Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted a car from the fifties, and at long last, this car came into my life.

Here's what it looked like when it first arrived:

Of course, it's no show car.  Not only is that sort of vehicle beyond my means, but it isn't what I'm after.  I don't want a car that would have to be in a climate-controlled garage and taken out only on rare occasions for parades and exhibitions.  I wanted something that I could drive around, and not have to worry about using.  This one had factory undercoating, which helped to stave off the sort of rust rot that has claimed so many classic cars over the years.  It has some rust spots in hidden places, but it's very solid.

What's under the hood?  The original 292 V8 with an aftermarket 4-barrel Edelbrock carburetor.  I don't know if the engine has been rebuilt or not, but it runs like a charm and has less than 55,000 miles on the odometer.  Based on the condition of the vehicle, I wouldn't be surprised if that is the original mileage (as opposed to a roll-over of 155,000).

The previous owner(s) did a lot of work to the car, but it still needed quite a few things when I got it.  It was cleaned up and sealed with white primer, but it needed a finished paint job.  The tail light lenses were wrong (they stuck a pair of 1965 Falcon lenses on the thing and attached them with sheet metal screws), so I had to order some New Old Stock replacements.  The wipers didn't work, and there were numerous vacuum leaks to run down.  The front driver's side window was busted (see my Boycott Downeast Glass post for details on getting that fixed).  The brake lights only worked intermittently, and the rear license plate light didn't work at all.  The hood latch was removed, and replaced by a pair of hot rod hold-down studs which were poorly welded.  On top of that, it just had a pair of side-pipes for an exhaust, which just doesn't cut it.
Original rear-view with wrong tail lights.

So, in my spare time, I have worked on this thing, doing whatever I could to finish it.  Most of the problems were simple to fix, and the only thing I couldn't do myself was the exhaust, simply because I don't have a lift and crawling around under the car is difficult without one.  The wiper motor was the biggest installation project I undertook personally.  After trying to get the vacuum motor to work, I finally gave up and bought an aftermarket electric set.  It was a real pain to install (especially when the installation instructions were inaccurate), but I finally got the thing up and running.  Smaller things, like the brake lights, turned out to be quick and easy.  The brake lights just needed the sensor wire nut squeezed a little to give it a better contact.  The license plate light needed a bulb, and the socket has to be scrubbed with a wire brush, since rust had attacked it (I doubt there'd been a bulb in there for decades).

I also installed seat belts.  They were an option in 1956, though the belts I used are not all period.  I want the car set up so I can transport my wife and 4 kids all at once, so it has six lap belts to hold everyone down securely.  I know, some car guys would scoff at such a concept, but I like the belts.  It beats sliding around when you take a sharp curve, or going through the windshield when you get into a wreck... not that I expect to get into a wreck.

The paint job was a major undertaking, and I'd never painted a car before, but I figured I'd muddle through it.  I had a spray gun that hooked to an air compressor, and I went out of my way to purchase the original factory colors, so the car would look like it did when it was new.  Of course, finding the time to paint it was tricky.  It has been a particularly wet year around here, and with fall closing in my window of opportunity was shrinking.  It was the Sunday before Lois was born (September 16), and I resolved to get it done.  I went out about 6AM and started taping the car.  Everything I didn't want painted (trim, windows, lights, etc...) had to be covered before I started.

It was almost noon before I finally had it ready for the Colonial White.  I let that sit for a few hours, and then started taping over the newly painted sections, so I could do the roof and lower sections in Meadow Mist Green.

I sprayed the car quickly, a bit too quickly as it turned out.  I had a few runs, so I'll need to do a touch-up job in the spring (it might also be wise to use some reducer, as I have recently learned).  I think it looks pretty good as is, but see for yourself:

Wyatt inspects the car, as my father moves in the background.

Seven the cat pays the car a visit.

A much improved rear view!

One fine looking car!
Getting the exhaust installed was the last thing I had to do before I could get an inspection sticker on it, and it was a lengthy process.  I bought the complete dual exhaust system months ago, but finding a good mechanic to do the job around here can be difficult.  The best of them are generally booked up, so it can be like pulling teeth getting an appointment.  Delay after delay kept pushing my installation back.  From an electrical failure at the shop to medical emergencies, it seemed like God, Himself, was working against my car's completion.  It felt like it would never be finished.  When the installation time finally came, it turned out that it had 2 left side tail pipes, so modification had to be done to make them work.  It was either that, or order another set of pipes, and that would've taken who knows how long.

One of the last things I bought for the car was a new hood latch.  After much digging and waiting, I found a complete set, top and bottom, for $90 delivered.  It was used, but in really good shape, even galvanized.  I think I'll still keep the hotrod hold-downs, as well, as emergency catches in case of latch failure.  I'll just need to give them a fresh welding.

The rear brakes were in need of adjustment a few weeks ago, and while I was at work one day my father was nice enough to do them for me.  The springs and adjusters are showing their age, so I've ordered new everything (shoes, springs, adjusters, wheel cylinders), though the ones on the car are still functional, and will last quite a while before they need to be swapped out.  I figure I'll change it all next year just to be safe, as I now have the parts on the shelf to do it.

The timing was another minor hassle, but it was highly necessary.  The engine ran, but it never sounded quite right, and after throwing a timing light on it, the answer seemed apparent.  The thing was overly-advanced by about 25 degrees.  Turning the distributor was a hassle, as the lock nut needs an off-set wrench that I don't have.  My father made one out of an old half inch wrench (with the acetylene torch), and we managed to loosen things enough to set the timing.  It seemed to run smoothly at the time, but after we let it cool off we could barely get it running again.  It was a stupid oversight on my part.  The vacuum advance has two lines going to it, and I missed one of them.  The advance was throwing our reading off!  With a little help from Nelson Brooks, we got the timing squared away.  Now the engine runs more smoothly and quietly than most modern cars.  It is a pleasure to drive.

Getting this car on the road was one of the most excruciatingly bothersome things I've ever done, and at the same time one of the most rewarding.  I don't regret taking on this challenge; I just wish a few things could have gone more smoothly.

So, what's next for my mechanical adventures?  Just wait and see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Doing it Again: NaNoWriMo 2012!

It's that time of year again: Another November, another National Novel Writing Month challenge!  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, it's an exercise where thousands of writers around the world each attempt to put down 50,000 words to a new novel in 30 days (the month of November).  I have participated in this for the last two years and succeeded at each attempt.  This will be my third try, and this year's novel is going to be another sequel.

After great deliberation, I've decided to write "Unforsaken," the 4th book in my "Fantasy Western" series, though rather than a direct sequel, this will be a departure from the first 3 books.  This one will send us forward, into the Roaring Twenties, giving us a new perspective on how this parallel universe shall progress.

Here's a quick synopsis of the proposed work:

45 years have passed since Joella Talus lost the love of her life.  All those long years, she has fought through adversity, challenged her status in the world by leading suffragette movements and living independently.  Yet, now, as an aging elvish lady, she pursues the only thing that truly matters to her; the man that she lost all those years ago.  To save him, she will have to recruit an eclectic array of allies, from the human grandson of the dwarf Boron Grimes, to the half-witted sheriff of the ghost town of Selwood, and the descendants of her would be suitor, the scandalous Solen Lucca.

As Joella moves ever closer to her goal, of rescuing the man of her dreams, dark forces conspire against her.  Devil worshipping witches, haughty Warlock Guild operatives, bootlegging mobsters, even an undead US Senator; they all will stop at nothing to thwart her.  Yet, can the forces of evil truly stand strong enough to overcome the driving force behind Joella's grand design?

This is something I was planning to write earlier.  I came up with the initial idea for this book last winter, shortly after completing the 3rd book in the series.  However, other projects got in the way, and all I ever got done was some plotting, and a "chapter," which is more of a prologue.  This is something I really need to write, as the 3rd book ends as something of a cliffhanger.  It would be unfair for me to write something else at this time, and leave the series unfulfilled.

In 2011, I finished NaNoWriMo a week early, and I hope to do as well this year, but with everything going on in my life there's no telling.  I will strive to do my best again, and refuse to accept defeat, or dehands for that matter!  I know, that pun really doesn't work.  Back to the drawing board...

Keep track of my NaNoWriMo progress here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Submissions Round-Up: Week 2

It's been another week, and submissions for The Temporal Element are still trickling in.  I'm pleased to say that I sent out the first acceptance letters over the weekend, and now have 5 confirmed stories for the anthology, with a few more pending.

If you've submitted and haven't heard from me yet, don't worry.  There are still several stories that are waiting for a second read-through.  I like to be thorough, and go over everything before giving a definite decision either way.

The only rejection I have sent out thus far was actually a request for a rewrite.  The story's plot was really good, but I felt the execution was off.  It needed more than I could give it as editor, but if the author wants to rework it, the tale could end up being the best of the bunch.

There's still plenty of room, so if you have a time-travel related story written, feel free to send it along.  Refer to the Submission Guidelines for details.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Submissions: The First Week

The submission period for The Temporal Element hits the 1-week point today, and I'd like to take a moment to reflect upon the process and current subs.

The initial story submissions have been trickling in, though word is still getting out there (and we haven't even been listed on duotrope yet; expect that to come any day now).  I will say the initial story submissions are well written, and many are likely to find their way into the anthology.  However, it will be a week or two before I start sending out acceptance letters.

The theme of the stories I'm getting seem pretty uniform in their time-setting, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though I hope to see more variety when the flow of submissions increases.  The current basis of most stories sent in thus far deal with future travelers seeking to change or save their time by changing something in the present (their past), with a few stories involving people making short trips into their own past to fix something (or they try and fail to fix things).  These are all well and good, but if the current trend continues, there will be a glut of stories that take place in the present era vying for acceptance.

While there is still plenty of room for time travel stories that take place "close to home," I'm also interested in some stories about people exploring the past and future.  My initial thought for the anthology was a balanced selection of stories taking place in the past, present, & future.  It is still too early to know what will shake out, so if you are working on a story that takes place in the present, don't give up on it now.  Heck, now I'll probably get a slew of past and future stories, and fall short on tales taking place in the present.

In summation, ignore everything I just said.  Write whatever time-travel story you have in mind, and submit it.  The best will win out in the end.  Remember to review the Complete Submission Guidelines, and get those stories to me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Curse of Selwood (Week 6)

Today, we reach the end of our free installments for the second Fantasy Western novel.  Witness the unexpected shock and horror in part six, "Hanging Party," which sets things up for the rest of the book that will be coming out shortly.  Also, if you've missed any of the previous five chapters, they're still available to read for free at Hall Brothers Entertainment!

If you aren't excited to read the rest of this book after going through these first six freebies, check your pulse and seek medical attention, for you might be on the verge of death.  Well, that, or you just don't like fantasy fiction... but, then, why would you be reading a Fantasy Western?  Oh, heck, just buy the book when it comes out!

As we wait for the official release, do you have any questions/speculations about the rest of the story?  Feel free to share.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Submissions Open!

It's October 1st, and that means the submission period for "The Temporal Element" anthology is officially open!  Stop over at the previously posted submission guidelines for details about how you can submit your own time travel related story to this collection.

I expect to see a lot of qualified stories, so many that competition may be fierce.  Good luck!

*One quick caveat:  As you rush to complete your spectacular story for submission, it may be tempting to overindulge.  Many a night have I, myself, munched on sweet and/or salty snackfoods.  Pig out if you must, but know that too many hours snacking at the keyboard could result in serious health problems.  You have been forewarned.