Richard Klaus Thoughts

The World according to Richard Klaus..Trains, Planes, Cars, Wales,Scotland.

Update on the Jeep.

A bit of tinkering and the Jeep is coming along quite nicely. Little electrical problems are done, and the air conditioning came back with a simple recharge of the system.
The mileage could be better, but it’s not bad for a V-8 4X4.


October 11, 2010 Posted by | Cars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Wheels

OK I know it’s a little bit “Show and Telly”,but. A few weeks ago I was returning for a delivery in Halsey, Oregon. Coming north though Salem, I decided on the spur of the moment to take Highway 99, instead of I-5 back to Portland. Just south of Oregon City I spotted a Jeep Cherokee for sale at a towing company.

Turns out it was an impound (Driving without a license), and he never came up with the storage fees. Well $1475 later and it’s ours. Runs great, doesn’t handle quite like the Intrepid, but also doesn’t drag the underside on rocks on the way to the quarry.
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A few little things need looked at, but I think it’s a keeper.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Cars, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Post of the body work needed on the Wagon

Just a quick post to show the body work I need to get done on the Valiant.
Doesn’t show well in the photos, but the left end of the front valance, under the bumper is missing.

On the post below of the Wagon, I’ve got a picture of the right side. The small dent on the right fender doesn’t worry me near as much as the left side.
Oh, by the way. I found out that while the Wagon is a Valiant, technically it’s not a Plymouth. Made during a short time when Valiant was a separate product line from Chrysler. So for part of one year it was “Valiant by Chrysler”.

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , , | Leave a comment

60 Valiant Wagon. Or, I really need another project!

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Yes I did add a fixer upper to the fleet. This should be a long term keeper.
A 1960 Valiant Suburban wagon. This little wagon does run and drive. Needs some body work, but should be an easy fix. Slant six, automatic, and overall in quite good shape.
Not going to get quite the number of upgrades that the 66 is getting, but we will see. Going to be made into a daily driver, and we certainly wont lose it in a parking lot.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , | 1 Comment

70 Challenger

myphoto5 Tempted to add to the title “Dumbest sale I ever made.”

To those who where wondering if this car ever did exist, yes it did.  Maybe it still does, if so, if I ever hit a powerball lottery win, it’s first on my list to find.

This photo, the only one I could find as yet,and was probably taken back in about 1974. Yes I know it’s cracked and faded. Maybe I’ll find some better as I go through my old junk.

For the car folk, it’s a 1970 Challenger 340 with a factory 4 spd.  Many people think it’s a R/T, but while it had the R/T hood and dashboard (150 mph speedo, and tach) R/Ts had big block engines.

Interestingly this Challenger, while it could top 145 mph, came frome the factory with non power drum brakes on all four wheels.

Over the years, it got a rear sway bar, an option I highly recommend, and as you can see, hood pins. It doesn’t show up in this photo, but the hood has two small creases near the center. That was from a run down highway 26 that forced enough air under the hood to bend it slightly. A trip to the Dodge dealer and a set of factory hood pins, set things pretty much back right.

Sold the Challenger about nine years ago to raise the funds for my first Freightliner. Probably a good move, but to this day I wish there had been some other way to do that.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

66 Valiant


A couple people have asked about the Valiant, so here it is.

Still in need of some work, there are a couple bad spots on the rear floor area, and it’s kind of trapped behind Robert’s 66 Charger at this point. But as time permits, I think we’re going to try to modify the fuel injection from a mid 70s Volvo to fit the slant six.

Also considering:

Seats from a Chrysler Sebring Convertible, get good seats and shoulder straps that way.

Super Six (2 barrel carb) set from a 76 Aspen, also has a much larger exhaust.

Going to have 100/1000ths cut from the head. Big boost in compression.

Electronic ignition. This ones easy from a wrecking yard, we have done this before.

Front and rear anti sway bars. These are on the shelf, just got to bolt them on.

Power disc brakes. Anybody that has worked with an older car knows how important this is.

Battery is being moved to the trunk, and a cold air intake goes in the old battery location.

Finally, since this is going to be a daily driver, air conditioning.

We will see how it all goes, but my intention is to keep this a budget project. Also we’re going to take notes and photos of the progress.  Much of what we’re going to do is Valiant/Dart specific, but might be of note to those thinking about the same idea with a Nova/Falcon or any other 60s compact.

My feeling is that in an age of $100,000 plus Challengers,  Mustangs,  and  Camaros, those of us that have to stick to some kind of a budget will be turning to the Dart,  Nova,  Falcon class of car.

This particular Valiant was purchased from the Kidney Car people, and cost $300. Hope to keep the project to under $2,000 including the car.  OK maybe when I’m done, I let a good paint job take me over that, but the idea is to do as much from U-Pull-It wrecking yards, as is possible.

Comments and ideas are most welcome, we all have a lot to learn.

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Cars, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Why the auto industry bailout shouldn’t happen, but must.

Really I’m very much apposed to spending taxpayer money on mismanaged ventures, but to the extent that the government has caused some of Detroit’s problems, it is fair that that same government help out.

Rewind to the  70s and the first of the C.A.F.E. standards.  At the time the “Big Three” wanted a 1 or 2 mile per gallon break for Station Wagons.  The then popular family car had form drag problems, and got a little worse mileage than its sedan counterpart.  Well the Feds sort of said “No”, and the Station Wagon pretty much went away.  Of course people still needed to carry kids, dogs, and groceries around.  This led to two wonderful trends: The Mini Van, and the SUV.

The Mini Van not a totally bad idea, usually based on a front drive passenger car chassis, they did a fare job of filling in for the now rare Wagon. Problem was that people were used to being able to hook an Airstream trailer to the wagon, and heading for the hills, once in a while.  Here the Mini Van fell short.

Enter the SUV.  In the 50s these would have been: The Dodge Power Wagon, and the Chevrolet Carry All.  Both great vehicles at what they did.  But what they did was carry loggers to work.  I guess somebody was at their Dodge or Chevy dealer looking for something to carry his family, and tow the boat, looked in the back lot at the line of phone company trucks, and thus was born the SUV.  In those days anything with a gross weight of over 6,100 pounds had a different set of rules, so it was easy to built a family “car” on a Pickup truck  chassis.  Course now your talking 9 miles per gallon instead of the 18 the old Chrysler Town and Country got, but it will get the job done.

Fast forward to the present:  So here we sit, while gas prices are down, for the time being. A perfect storm of bad calls, frozen credit, and regulation has brought G.M. , Ford, and Chrysler to their knees.

Our wonderful government caused much of this, and they need to step up and help fix it.  The “Big Three” and their unions need to take a step back as well.  Paying some guy three times the national average to play cards, on the chance that a position might open on the line, is ridiculous.

Here I will speak about Chrysler, since I now their products better than those of the other two companies.

Dumb mistake #1. Dropping the Magnum Wagon, come on guys, you owned that market. A good driving, roomy car that was close to 30 MPG on the hi-way. Oh lets not forget that you made them for Europe with a Turbo-Diesel, and over there they get 44 MPG hi-way. Hopefully the sheet metal molds for the Magnum are sitting around somewhere, and with the right management we can see this great car again.

Dumb mistake #2. Never brought out the Sedan Delivery version of the PT Cruiser.  I saw the prototype once and it was a neat little car, and was much looked forward to.  Never happened.

Dumb mistake #3. OK the Feds helped on this one.  We build in this country Sebring Convertibles with a 2 liter Turbo-Diesel, and 6 speed manual transmission.  They get 51 MPG hi-way, but we cant have them here. Seems they don’t meet the California standards by 3% on a parts per million base.  Never mind that the little 2 liter motor puts out half the total exhaust of most cars.

Oh yes and as a note: In the U.K. you can buy a four door Jeep SUV that gets 34 MPG.  Don’t know a lot about this one but like the Magnum Wagon, and the Sebring convert, the Jeep is built here and shipped over there.

Also, while in England last time, I rented a Vauxhall Vectra Wagon.  About the size on a Volvo 145 Wagon from the 70s. The little wagon did a very good job for us, and we got about 40 MPG the two weeks we had it.  I could be wrong on this, but I think Vauxhall is G.M. in the U.K.  It would be nice if they could bring that neat little wagon over here.

So.  Well I guess the Feds need to step in and prevent the full meltdown of the economy that will happen if the Big Three close their doors.  But they also need to step back and let Chrysler, Ford, and G.M. bring some of the great European platforms here.

One can’t help but wonder: A 290 horse V-6 Turbo-Diesel in a base model Challenger.  With the Challenger being 5 to 6 hundred pounds lighter than the Magnum, and having better aerodynamics, we could see a Challenger Coupe getting hi-way mileage in the high 40s, and I for one would line up for that.

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Cars | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes good luck happens.

The other day while checking one of my regular web sites, I happen to see a post about a Dodge Van for sale in Salem, Oregon.  Mind you I already have an old one ton “Maxi-Van” that we use for towing.  The van in Salem was newer, an 84 as opposed to my 71, and a slant six engine.

Well a few phone calls to confirm the price, $175 seemed too low, but that was the price.  My brother and I took a quick trip to look it over.  I was is pretty good shape, but was in need of a radiator, due to a freak accedent involving a tent pole.  Found a radiator $75, bringing the total to $250.

I had to get back on the road with the Freightliner, so Robert made the trip back to Salem to drop in the new radiator, and bring the van back to Portland.  Reports are that it runs very well, and seems to be in good condition.

Seems like a silly thing to add to our growing fleet, really it doesn’t do anything that the Maxi can’t, but it is easier to drive around town, and while the Maxi gets about 12 MPG, the 1/2 ton van is closer to 20 MPG.

All things considered, it fits with my new view on vehicles.  I had a run of bad luck with the newer computer controled cars, and am beginning to think about going back to well maintained older cars.

Sure we’ll keep the Intrepid, I’ve replaced just about every part on it by now, and it seems to have settled into old age well.  The 66 Valiant stays, the little slant six in that will probably run forever, and there is not one part on it I can’t repair in a weekend.  The M.G. Midget, that’s Junes baby, and it couldn’t be simpler to work with.

I just like the idea of lifting the hood, and recognising every part.

Cars like the Sebring, which needs an engine. Well….I read through the manual on it, something I should have done before buying the car.  Simple repairs on the Sebring are major jobs.  The engine dosen’t even pull through the hood, you unbolt the motor then lift the car off the motor.  Yes it can be done, but not my cup of tea.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Cars | , , | 1 Comment

Let us buy these cars.

Was looking for some information for the Intrepid web site, and stumbled across a UK car finder site. They list technical data for the cars for sale in the U.K.

I was looking for information the the Dodge Magnum Wagon, and Chrysler 300 sedan. Turns out they are built here, shipped to the U.K. with a 3.0 liter diesel engine. The big Dodge Magnum, called a Chrysler 300 Touring in England gets almost 43 mpg hi-way. I was making the point that this car should be available here. BUT.

While looking at the Magnum, I saw that they listed the Sebring Convertible as well. Clicked into the listing and found a built in the U.S.A. turbo diesel, six speed convertible that gets over 50 mpg hi-way.

This is a nice car with A/C , AM/FM CD player and all the bells and whistles.

Oh, and as if that’s not enough, they get an SUV, the Dodge Nitro that gets 38 mpg on the open road.

We really need these cars here.

Finally a quick thanks to Chrysler for getting one thing right, the 3.5 V-6 Challengers are at some dealers now, and it looks like once the first rush of sales dies down, it will be possible to buy a $22,000 Challenger.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Cars | , , , | Leave a comment

Intrepid update: Check your shops work.

 Well, June did make it home with the Intrepid. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a 1993 Dodge Intrepid E/S, that lives on only because of a large amount of work put into the car in the last few years. To be fair, at 190,000 miles, some wear is to be expected.

To go back to the start. Several months ago, on the way to Arizona, with some items for our daughter; the Intrepid had a head gasket fail. Left the car with a shop in Susanville, California, rented a U-Haul truck and went on our way.

Fast forward, the car is “ready” but I’m on a trip to Ohio, so June gets to Susanville and picks the car up. She makes it home OK, but there is a check engine light on. Also an occasional fuel smell.

Well I got to looking things over, and one of the O2 sensors was not plugged in, and one of the fuel lines was being bumped by the steering. The other fuel line didn’t look right, so I had my brother look while I ran the steering full left then right. The line was being pulled on a hard left turn, enough to cause fuel to spray out on the engine. I disconnected the lines and ran them along the back of the motor, in the brackets that are there for them. End of problem.

Still, you have to wonder. If we pay people good money to do technical repairs for us, don’t we have the expectation that the job will be done better than we could do ourselves.

I’m not a mechanic, but over the years, well really decades, I’ve replaced engines, transmissions, done brake work, updated older cars with newer parts, and modified several vehicles. Always with less follow up correction than this head gasket replacement.

Just a word to you. When that shop is done with your car, take a good look at what they did. You don’t need to be trained, just look for sloppy work, if they missed a little thing, like a mounting bracket, they might have missed something bigger.

On a big ticket item, like transmission replacement, it might be worth paying a second shop to inspect the repair.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Cars | Leave a comment