First step was to figure out how to unstick the slides. As it turned out, soaking the o-rings in isopropyl alcohol, wiping them clean--and then lubricating the slides with silicone spray--was the thing to do. They're still stiff, but they can move without taking a hammer and drift to 'em.
Got the caliper back on the car, and spent forty bad minutes trying to get it bled. There's still air in the system, but there's not enough of it to keep the brakes from working. I'll need help to remedy this, but not much help.
With the car reassembled, I cleaned things up a bit and then took her to the street. I didn't go faster than 30 MPH, but a few things were immediately obvious:
1) Timing really needs setting. She hesitates when the throttle is opened--just a bit. I got it pretty damned close when I put the distributor back in, though.I've got to get a nut and bolt through the brake line bracket, and I have to clean the hell out of the car, and I have fifty-eleven other things to do. The plate should cost about $30 and I don't think insurance is much more than $50, and then I can--
2) Brake system does have some air in it.
3) Car still handles like a go-kart. People who think the pre-'88 suspension is shit are high.
4) There is nothing like the feel of a mid-engined car.
Oh. Yeah. "Why are you doing all this?"
Really: the car has sat in my garage for four years, immobile, because I simply haven't had any interest in getting it running. Not enough interest, anyway, to overcome my sheer inertia; and because of that, I figure it's probably better to let her go to someone who will appreciate her a lot more than I apparently do.
My real problem is, I'm too much of a dilettante. I get interested in something, I learn what I can about it, and then...lose interest. Every single last hobby I have ever had ended up the same way, everything from model rocketry to cars to computers to...well, everything. I hardly even watch anime any more, for crying out loud. I like it, but not enough to make time for it the way I used to. (Of course I got married, which tends to reduce one's time for crazy anime hijinks...but I was already losing interest before that.)
It's not that I don't like Fieros any more; it's just that there isn't anything I can do with them. I'm not the kind of guy who customizes vehicles, and my Fiero is such a pristine example I didn't want to modify it. That's why I got the '86; I'd originally intended to throw a Cadillac 4.9 V8 into it, or maybe a good strong 3800 V6...and we see how that worked out: I lost my job, I had no income, a whole bunch of other crap went wrong, and I never did anything in particular with the car, except putz around with it. And after Dad died I had a lot of other things to worry about, anyway.
Customizing cars takes time and money and facilities...and I never had all three at the same time.
Plus side: my '85 has something like 56- or 57,000 miles on it, which is damned low for a 30-year-old car. The engine now runs like a swiss watch (albeit one that needs a few minor adjustments) and nearly all of the issues it has are cosmetic in nature...and if you don't open the decklid, nearly all the cosmetic issues are invisible. The interior is clean and the radio surround is almost entirely un-warped; the car has been garage-kept for most of its history.
It should fetch enough money to pay the latter half of the property taxes on the bunker.
I had sworn that this day would never come, that I'd never sell that car, because where would I ever find another one like it? But if it was so important to me, why did it languish in the garage for four years? I can't justify keeping something when I need money, particularly when it's something my wife never saw in one piece until we were married for two and a half years!
Partly I must have had some anxiety about how difficult it would be to get the car running again, and couldn't stomach the idea of putting it back together only to find that it still ran badly--and so rather than try I just let it sit. Well, there's a lesson for you: you don't know UNTIL you try.
The next project, once the taxes are dealt with, is the dirt bike. That's another thing I have on hand which only requires effort to be fully functional again; unlike the Fiero the dirt bike will remain mine, because Dad told me never to sell it outside the family. Ideally I'd like to take it apart, clean and repair everything, and put it back together again; even if I didn't paint anything other than the frame, I could make it look a hell of a lot better than it does now, and certainly get it adjusted into spec. Then I could enjoy it a bit. Maybe even find some trails to take it on.
...and even motorcycles will pall, eventually.
My interests, over the years, were not wasted: I can fix just about anything mechanical, and I have the capability to make things that I need made. I've got enough technological experience that I can usually synthesize an answer to a question, whether it be about electronic or mechanical things; and I'm even capable of doing minor plumbing and home maintenance. My hobbies--even the abandoned ones--have left me with a broad education on a large variety of topics.
But I never get tired of people, not unless they're complete shitheads. And I don't even get tired of the asshats very quickly. People are irreplaceable. Machines (and hobbies) are not.