atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

Time vs Money

It's frustrating, having a car to work on and great weather, and having to sleep instead, in order to be able to go to work. With the red Escort sitting in the driveway since Tuesday evening, it's like it's taunting me.

I had the same kind of problem after I got my '86 Fiero. I had to work, so I couldn't touch the thing until the weekend...and that weekend I had to spend my Saturday playing D&D, rather than work on the car.

It's a truism that you either have:

a) plenty of time to work on the project car, but no money for parts; or
b) money for parts, but no time to work on the project car.

The guys on the car shows have all the tools and time and money they need to rebuild cars. That's why they never have any problems. They can build whatever the hell they want to, because they don't have to worry about the expensive details. Go ahead and throw whatever engine/transmission combo into that car that you want to, guys! We've got money in the budget for a custom driveshaft!

On Horsepower TV they built a race car for a certain kind of dirt track racing. It's an amateur league thing, and the league rules stipulate that people can say to you, "I'm buying your engine!" and you must sell it for $575. The engine that went into their car was a crate motor from GM Performance, and they put an Edelbrock manifold and carb on the thing--and I'd wager that the carb and manifold alone cost $575; the engine probably ran at least $3,000.

On Extreme 4x4 they're building a truck, a sort of H2 clone with a twin-turbo diesel engine. The engine alone probably cost over $15,000.

And of course they have an entire firkin' studio in which to work. Forget working in a two-car garage, most of which is filled with useless dreck; these guys have a space 60' on a side with a hoist!

On Musclecar they have their own downdraft paint booth. The painting equipment they've got on that show probably cost $50,000, and one of the guys on the show is an expert body-and-paint guy. You can do all kinds of neat things if you've got that kind of expertise and equipment on hand (AND a budget for the paint. Automotive paint is expensive. And the niftier it is, the more it costs; that color-changing paint can cost THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS PER QUART).

So on my car shows they manage to complete a project in about six months or so. Me, I've been working on my '86 Fiero for over three years, start-and-stop...mostly "stop", because if I have the time, I don't have the money; and if I have the money, I don't have the time.

And I have to work on the Escort before I work on the Fiero. The Escort has to come first because it's (SUPPOSED TO BE) my primary vehicle.

I really do want to get started on the Fiero, though. I'd like to have the engine put back together--I mean, completely together, with wiring harness and transmission and such, mounted to the cradle--before November. I don't know how likely that is, but that's what I'd like. (I may find a wish for a winning Powerball ticket more likely to be granted.) The engine's going to take some work to get it to that point, though, and about $350 worth of parts.

And, of course, around all that I still have maintenance items on the '85 to take care of. I'm starting to worry about the timing chain; Pontiac recommends replacement every 25,000 miles and I know this one's never been done...and the car has nearly 63,000 on it now. I still haven't replaced the belts yet, either. (Though if I take the timing cover off, I can put the new belts on when I put everything back together.) And I know it has to be done: when the engine shuts off I can hear the crank rock back and forth due to internal engine forces (cylinders on compression strokes, etc), and the chain makes a kind of tika-tika-tika sound as it alternately tightens and slackens.

Well, I guess I'd better get back to bed. I have 8 more hours of work this week....

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