$150 utility trailer progress report #2

For those interested in the ongoing saga, it is still ongoing, but massive progress was made. I pulled the wheels off the trailer. The driver’s side(above) had no brake drum, but did have recent lug studs & nuts, so that was a pleasant find.

The passenger side required a 2 foot breaker bar with a 3 foot cheater bar. However I didn’t snap any lugs, so it went easily all things considered.

A couple of hours hunting junkyards and used tire shops netted me two mismatched but similar 235/70R16 passenger tires. They should be fine as I’m not planning to do any heavy hauling with the trailer. If I start using it for heavier loads I’ll upgrade to proper heavy duty trailer tires.

Replaced 4 of the rusted lug nuts as autozone(the only place open at 5pm on Sunday) only had 4 so I need to find another. Or find 5 that are the same style as the far side(these take a different socket size).

I also installed a Harbor Freight trailer jack. I had to drill one new hole to match the pattern on the new jack. I would have preferred to mount it from underneath so it would be lower(it is at its maximum when the trailer is level, but this was the only way it would both fit and be able to be bolted in place.

So the trailer is now level front to back & side to side, and able to be moved for the first time since it arrived. I will need to add some sort of fold/crank down support at the back as it likes to tip back if you put weight on the bumper.

But for now it is installed & wired lights away from it being legal and safe to tow.

Prior cost: $211

2 used tires $85

mounting tires $35

lug nuts & valve stems $14

trailer jack $23

Total thus far: $368

Car Culture ruined my favorite car show


The one car show I look forward to most is the yearly car show at The Steelyard in Providence. I’ve been going for a while(pics from ’13 here), and it has been a really nice show full of an amazing selection of cars in a great setting.

Last year it was so popular I showed up 15 minutes after it started and had to park the truck down the street.

This year I didn’t bother bringing the truck (motor is acting up and I haven’t gotten the new motor together yet), so I parked a block away and we walked up. I took the picture above and turned the corner, to find this:


It is hard to see, but the crowds around the entrance are so big they have filled the sidewalks and parking lanes and are spilling into the street. Nearly every person had a beer in their hands, and they were shouting at every vehicle to “do burnouts!” As we walked up a ratty Camaro obliged and started doing a burnout on a public road while big crowds pressed in on it from both sides. As soon as he moved on they started shouting at the stanced BMW behind him to do a burnout. When he didn’t they kept yelling at him until he drove away.

I looked at the drunken mob and realized there wasn’t going to be room for me to look at and photograph the cars without getting crowded on all sides. I decided not to bother going in, and we turned around to walk back to the car.

When we got back to the xB I was standing alongside it unlocking the door when a F250 brotruck pulled alongside and intentionally “rolled coal” down the length of my car, engulfing me & it in a black cloud.

So instead of wandering under the gantries of the Steelyard looking at amazing vehicles I am sitting at home with a bad taste in my mouth(literal & figurative).

Goes together like Roast Pheasant and a lukewarm Natty Ice.

One way to make yourself a classic convertible is to cut out the middle of a Chevy Lumina and graft in the body of a 1939 Mercury Convertible. Then paint it purple and add lots of 80s Mercury badging.

Not a good way, mind you. More of an”Eye-Searing Horror That Causes Involuntary Rectal Bleeding” sort of way.

Every angle of this thing is horrible. There’s isn’t a part that doesn’t look like a crime against basic automotive design.

But at least you’ll have the very best of 1990s front wheel drive GM technology to power you along.

So, if after looking at the photo below of a stock ‘39 Mercury convertible you decide you’d rather have this rolling horrorshow, you can buy it for only $47,999.00.

Car Show insanity

What you are looking at here is a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado body sitting on a stretched 1972 FWD Eldorado chassis, complete with 500 cubic inches of torque-monster V8 under the flip-front hood.

My favorite part was the owner/builder’s off-hand comment that he built it with “stuff I had lying around”. I envy anyone who has this much Cadillac goodness just lying around.

Cheap transportation replacement acquired!

On Saturday(while I was a state away buying my new bike), a good friend pulled out in front of a car that was going much faster than she thought, and they hit her in the driver’s wheel, spinning her car and totaling it.

Cheap transportation replacement acquired!

She got away with a few nasty bruises, and her toddler in the back seat was completely unharmed, despite her car seat being twisted 90deg on its base by the impact. Her car however is a writeoff, and with liability only she’s unlikely to see much, if any, payout from the accident.

I loaned her Box, and drove the ‘64 pickup to work. She needed safe cheap wheels fast, so off to Craigslist I went. Her only requirements were FWD or AWD & new enough to have the LATCH car seat system.

Cheap transportation replacement acquired!

I got lucky on my first search and found this 2002 Chevy Prizm. With an auto trans and grey on grey color scheme, it is pretty damn boring. But it has only 162K, everything works including the a/c, there is little rust, and I got it for all of $1100.

Cheap transportation replacement acquired!

Both she and I would have loved to get her something more interesting, but sometimes life doesn’t give you much choice in the matter. At least it is better(and newer) than the turd of a Focus she got from her ex-husband, and should be reliable enough to let her save some money for something nicer down the line.

New England joys

Things are a bit frozen over here at the garage of improbability. Work on outside projects has stopped dead, and inside projects are moving at a crawl at best.

With luck it will start to warm up in the next few weeks and things can get moving again. Until then I’ll just hope I don’t need to get anything out of the shed.

A review, of sorts.

(I wrote this a few years ago, however as the machine in question has once again been revived and is just a spiteful as ever, I thought it would be amusing to repost it here)

This is the Toro cr20E snowthrower, an early-to-mid 90’s model. It has a 20″ clearing width, a 2-stroke engine and electric start.

This particular version of it is a spiteful machine fueled by gas, oil and hatred. It only runs when the operator despises its very existence. My family bought this thing new, and it was terrible then, an the intervening years have done nothing it improve its disposition. It will fail to start during terrible storms, or develop some malady or another at the point when said malady would be most problematic. If you make the mistake while using it of being glad of it because it is easier than shoveling, it will chose just then to clog, or run out of gas.
Every fall is a fight to fix whatever new and inventive issue(s) it has come up with while in storage. After leaving it behind the shed for at least a year or two in favor of a newer machine, my mom passed it off on me. Whereupon I got to try and revive the damned thing from its slumber, and put it back to work trying out all the new terrible ideas it had.
Parts were replaced or cleaned, things were adjusted, fettling was done and it was convinced to run. This angered the snowthrower so much that the first storm it simply died every time it was asked to move more than 2″ of slush. This resulted in it being thrown across the driveway in favor of a regular shovel.
The 2nd storm of the season (after having the bent axle resulting from said toss straightened) the electric start packed up, and the pull start handle started cracking, lying in wait for an uncareful pull so it could snap in half. Despite these efforts it was manhandled into clearing the driveway, and stuffed back into the garage to plan it’s next assault on my blood pressure.

So if you don’t want to actually shovel your driveway, but want to overwork your heart and keep your heart attack risk dangerously high, this is the machine for you.

The Iron Guild’s Halloween iron pour


Every year the Iron Guild does an “Iron Pour” at The Steelyard here in Providence. I’ve managed to make it a few times, and it has always been an awesome event.



They set up a couple furnaces, as well as props or molds relevant to that year’s story. This year the story was a group of vikings battling a dragon. There is also music, either live or pre-recorded, to go with the event.




I’ll be honest though, as great as the story concepts are, they aren’t the best part. The best part is just people doing insane things with molten metal.





Pouring molds is a tiny part of it. They splash it around, fling globs of it at metal cutouts of men, pour it into wooden molds, and generally set everything in their arena on fire by the end of it.




And it is amazing. In addition to being really cool and really pretty it also grabs that bit of your brainstem that is still a monkey terrified and fascinated by fire and holds on nice and tight.





This is molten metal, the hard unyielding stuff our modern world is made of. And here, under the gantry cranes of the Steelyard courtyard there are humans playing with it.


I’m already looking forward to next year.

First in a long list of “Things I want but don’t need”

Despite never having drunk alcohol and having no interest in doing so, I am fascinated with barware. I love all the odd glasses, mixers, stirrers, bar decorations, and other “stuff” that is associated with alcohol(and especially mixed drinks). The stuff from the 50s/60s are my favorites. And of all that I have seen, this set is my absolute number one barware lust object.

They are absolutely the coolest set of glasses(there is supposed to be one more, but the set pictured is missing it). Sadly, in the rare case they pop up on ebay they tend to go for $200+. So it may be a long time before I can get some.

But when I do they will have a place of honor in the rumpus room that will one day be built in the basement.