Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Friday, September 24, 2021
|Nikki's vintage 70s hi-fi system.|
Back in college I never ceased to be astonished at the crappy stereos my female friends owned: no-name garbage like Kraco, Soundesign, Yorx or whatever. Sometimes that was borne of economic factors but generally even the silver spoon crowd either had something lackluster or just a clock radio. I don't know why this divide existed between the genders and in retrospect it seems that having a high fidelity stereo is considered a "guy thing". Then there were the exceptions, the women who loved their music and wanted to hear it properly. They were a vanishingly small percent and very intriguing for me - and still are for that matter. A good example is Susi, a cherished friend whose home audio consists of a beautiful pair of matched Conrad Johnson components with some Magnepan SMGa speakers that stopped me in my tracks when I first spied them and are a point of pride for her.
Recently another dear friend lost some of her possessions for ... reasons ... and I felt compelled to step in and assist. Nikki is a collector of vinyl and has far more LPs than most of the guys I know who claim to collect but her turntable was awol. What she still had was her dad's very lovely vintage Marantz 2235B receiver that she'd had serviced and re-capped. This demanded a period correct player to replace the Marantz turntable that had been its mate. I had a vintage 1972 Pioneer PL50 that would make a nice companion to her 1975 receiver so I set to sprucing it up: I installed a new needle on the stock cartridge, replaced the belt, oiled the bearing and adjusted the speed. A bit of oil on the plinth and then a blob of rubbing compound with the buffer on the dust cover and it looked nearly mint.
But her speakers, oh my. Let's not mention them. Something had to be done. I trawled Craigslist and Facebutt Markethole and didn't see anything in the cheap and cheerful range. Then Nikki's pal Jonathan stepped in with his high school pair of Baby Advent II speakers which needed a bit of work. My pair of speakers for many years in college and afterwards were Advent Tower Prodigy and I had nothing but fond recollections of them. They punched well above their weight and made me happy for many years so their baby brothers were welcome. One of Jonathan's Advents appeared to have a burned out woofer, literally stuck at the bottom of its excursion and silent. I began looking for 6.5" replacements that had the same five ohm resistance, wattage and efficiency. My first foray was a no-name "5 Core" India manufactured woofer:
|5 Core? What is this, a CPU?|
|A Sumo wrestler vs a bantam weight boxer.|
|The Pyle woofer arrived very bent and only worked after some brutal prying on my bench vice.|
|Aliexpress is crazy cheap and sometimes has good quality too.|
|Off with the very well adhered old surround ...|
|Barge: not just for shoes!|
|Beefy butyl rubber surround.|
Saturday, July 3, 2021
|Our Corvette's spirit animal|
We've owned her for four years, long enough to check off "own a C4 Corvette" from our auto bucket list. Now it's your turn. We bought an Abarth for schlepping four people around so she doesn't get used as much as she should. I'd honestly not hesitate to get in this Corvette and drive across the country. She leaves us in better shape than we acquired her so our investment is your gain, esp. considering this is the lowest price you'll see for a very nice 6-speed convertible now appreciating in value. She's rattle free, drives smooth and the fresh suspension feels both taut and somehow ... comfortable.
- 1990 Corvette with 6-speed manual transmission as the gods intended
- Convertible for ruining your date's pompadour or bouffant
- 110,000 miles on the odometer, just enough to correct all the mistakes the factory made
- Kenwood DDX6904S state-of-the-art headunit & stock Bose speakers
- Headunit incorporates both a crash dash camera and backup camera
- Cold air conditioning because we're not savages
- Cruise control that works and has a user UI that still makes no sense to me
- At least 50% tread on Cooper 275/40R17 tires
- New aluminized complete exhaust system and new catalytic converter
- New KYB Gas-a-Just shocks front & rear, aligned, tires rebalanced
- New knock sensors, new oil pressure sending unit, new valve cover gaskets
- Adjustable temperature cooling fans: this car never overheats
- A great mechanic services this car in St. Pete and conveys with her ...
- A whole bunch more
- $8500 or a very, very interesting trade on a Datsun or RX7
- Tachometer reads 50% too high
- Should be driven once a week or left on battery tender. Has battery disconnect switch
- Brakes work awesome but one rotor is slightly warped thus a minor wiggle at quick stops
- The price reflects the small demerits on this list 😀
|Seminole Heights is a mural neighborhood|
|The left side (not shown) is also excellent|
|Dash warning lights lit only when engine is off|
|Nice cockpit with no overt blemishes|
|Clean engine bay|
|Mmmm, glossy paint ...|
|A surprisingly useful feature. The headunit also runs the dashcam|
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
|Vostok Komanderskie watches, broken & new|
Some people deal with their deep insecurities about aging by attempting to manipulate their slightly older friends into feeling paranoid about their age, all while casting themselves as a paragon of youth. To wit: my pal Scott who perceives wearing a watch as synonymous with sending telegrams, mail order catalogs, rotary phones and perhaps banging rocks together to make fire. "Just look at your phone for the time," he says then adds "older people sure like their watches". I had this conversation with him just before the Apple Watch came out so I guess the joke's on him now that everyone has a glowing screen on their wrist. The rest of the joke was that I was 46 at the time and Scott was taciturn to admit his age: thirtymumblemumble he'd say. I had an earned schadenfreude when I later discovered he'd turned forty and I could then call him fortysomething for the next decade of his life. But I digress.
Phones don't scratch the itch of having a nice timepiece on your arm and don't allow the subtlety of a sidelong glance at your wrist when you want to be covert about checking the time. More than that is the appreciation of excellent mechanical engineering that is embodied in a bespoke watch, especially if the timepiece has a mechanical automatic movement. The idea of the artistry and engineering that goes into microscopic gears, cogs and jewels for fulcrums to pivot on inspires in a way that quartz controlled battery powered watch cannot.
To that end, the variation on this theme is nearly infinite. Picking what inspires you can be difficult. I've pushed some friends into watch ownership by gifting them one. The idea that this manifestation of my respect for them then becomes a daily article of appreciation brings me joy. I've given mechanical watches to more than a few friends over the years ... but I've never had the favor returned.
Leonid is a cool fellow from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia who stayed in our Airbnb a couple times over the years with his wife and daughter. He and his family are a good natured, progressive group who Jennifer and I got along with surprisingly well. It was an opportunity for me to show the section in my library on Russian history, their space program, dissertations on communism, collectives and Soviet era armaments. Similarly he was interested in American aerospace, music and our insane politics. It was a fortuitous meeting. We sent them home with our NASA flag to be discreetly flown in private quarters. Maybe Russians neighbors might not react well to this display of fandom but I could be wrong.
We've been discussing visiting Russia and I expressed my desire to replace my broken KGB Vostok Komandirskie watch I've owned since shortly after the wall fell. Looking online at the Vostok website a number of great replacements called out to me and I fully intended to stuff my bags while there with a dozen of them considering how insanely inexpensive they'd be after the dollar to ruble conversion. Then the pandemic struck and we all know what happened after that.
Cut forward in time a number of months and an unannounced package arrived from Russia with no fanfare at all. Here's what I got:
|Vostok Komandirskie "Amphibia" TU 25-07.1347-77, GOST 10733-98|
A very tidy standard KGB issue Vostok watch, the most representative of the genre that one could find on the Vostok site! Honestly, many of the modern Vostok watches are styled awkwardly, are ungainly or have unfortunate or cliched graphics on their watch face. But this one was already in my fantasy cart when the day came that we visited. For the record, I'm very anti-fascist and don't celebrate the brutal foreign intelligence and domestic security agency of the Soviet Union, but I do find it fascinating and hew to the dictum that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. There's elements of Russian workmanship I admire, from their very reliable Soyuz capsules to their Ural motorcycles based on an ancient BMW design to the Lada Niva VAZ-2121 to the Mig-15. A Vostok watch is a collectible example of their heritage for making work-a-day mechanical items for the common man.
|Sizing my Komandirskie|
I needed to size my watch and keep tools on hand for sizing and most watch repairs. For this I needed the blue press with the rotating collar for driving out the pins that hold the links on the watch band. I did help one out with the hammer and push-pin, removing a total of four links as five was too tight. There's also four notches on the clasp that allows for finer adjustment of size. It's important to injure yourself at least once when removing or reinstalling the link pins.
|No task is too small for an injury|
|Damn good lume - second hand included|
The following section is Google photo translations of the manual which came with the watch. I made no real effort to correct translation errors so be warned.
Friday, June 19, 2020
I'm not saying that a two door 1st gen RAV4 is gangsta cool or even modern rap cool. But it's definitely hip-hop cool: I can't imagine Parappa learning to drive in any other car. Here's our rare and sought after 2-door Rav4, perhaps the nicest in the country hanging out with our new-to-us 1990 Nissan Pao.
Fun fact: all seats can be folded flat providing space for two people to catch a nap on a long trip.
- Timing belt, water pump and tensioner
- Distributor assembly including cap, wires and spark plugs
- Kenwood kdc-bt360u with bluetooth and USB inputs
- Brake master cylinder and brake fluids
- Fresh transmission gear oil
- Front main seal and valve cover gaskets replaced: no oil drips
- Infinity Kappa 621x Two-Way door speakers and Pioneer in rear
- Llumar highest spec ceramic nanoparticle tint
- Fresh marker lights & all bulbs LED including brake lights that strobe for a split second
- And probably many more things I'm spacing on...
Lots and lots of space for a tiny car. It's insanely well engineered for being practical. The rear seats flip and fold forward presenting a very tall space for big stuff.
There's a lot of thoughtful touches to the 1st gen RAV4 two door like glass headlights that never turn yellow or fade and upholstery that's borderline insane by today's standards. Also these Lexus wheels were meant for this car - as after all, a Lexus is a Toyota.
If you're interested in buying this minty RAV4, drop us a line! Others have sold for much more than this one at $4900 so hurry before it's gone ...
Note: this RAV4 sold in Arizona for far more. I'm not that patient and feel that I'd rather break even on mine than reap a giant profit:
|NOT my RAV4 - but indicative of the coupe 2 door values|