Shop Update: Mid August 2021

Accelerator Pedal and Throttle Linkage

I knew progress would slow in August. When you live in a place that has long, cold winters, the populace becomes accustomed to getting together literally every weekend in July and August, preferably outdoors, to enjoy our summer. Summers here can be a mixed bag: Too much rain, too little rain, too hot, too cool. Throw in a global pandemic, which created a pent up demand for family outdoor fun, and this summer has been an overscheduled reset. Super spreader events or not, life isn’t worth living if you can’t enjoy time with the ones you love, and another “cancelled” July/August would have been a Greek Tragedy to us snow people.

As August begins to wane, time in the garage has increased. The pause gave me time to think about what direction to take the project, and after much thought and consideration, I’m sticking with my current plan which is as follows:

  • Remove Hood, Doors and Trunk Lid.
  • Disassemble Engine Compartment
  • Disassemble Interior and remove seats
  • Remove Dash
  • Remove Shift Lever
  • Remove Sway Bar
  • Bleed Brakes and Remove Master Cylinder and Reservoirs
  • Pull Back Wiring Harnesses in Engine Compartment and label
  • Inspect Sills/Floors
  • Break loose lug nuts
  • Jack Up and disassemble Prop Shaft
  • Remove Transmission Cross Member
  • Disconnect or cut off Exhaust just after first flange after Manifold
  • Pull Engine and Transmission

The plan has been to get the engine and transmission out before taking a pause to complete more shop upgrades, and as I stand today I think the engine will be out of the car by end of September, possibly sooner.

What have I learned so far? It’s extremely rusty and body and shell repairs will take at least 12-18 months at the pace I work at. Some of the hardest repairs? The window frame and cowl are extremely rusty and that metal work is full of complex curves and will require plenty of shrinker/stretching.

Cowl- Lots of work required, sadly little of it will ever be seen by anyone but me

I bought the car knowing it would be a challenge, and when I first looked at it, the feeling of intimidation sweeps over me. I’ve been disassembling since Mid May and I study it on a microlevel, a section at a time. When I do this I’m less intimidated. I remind myself I’m not building a concourse restoration. While the build quality will be nothing but high, this car is being purpose built for long distance vintage car rallying. The shell needs to be straight and sound. Little of the interior will go back in, although I will save the dash and center console.

Center Console. Imagine with Fresh Pleather and Wood Veneers, with updated switches and functionality

I’m always thinking about how to build it for its intended purpose. Where to make it stronger, where to make it lighter, how to make it safe but comfortable. When I think about the project I jettison perceptions or false deadlines. When I’m asked how its going, my answer is simple: Well. I refuse to say when it will be done. My objective is to be driving the car for the first time the spring of 2025 and have it rally ready by Summer of 2026. I’ll be 60 in December 2026 and I’m planning Key West to Dead Horse for May 2027. I have plenty of time, I can’t and won’t allow myself to be rushed.

The current phase ends when the engine and transmission are removed. The next steps after that are:

  • Engine and Transmission removed.
  • Complete shell strip. Every last nut, bolt screw to be removed.
  • Remove Glass. Save as much of front windshield metal as possible to use as templates.
  • Remove Dash, remaining wiring harness.
  • Up and onto jack stands supporting 2 X 6 boards.
  • Remove suspension.
  • Get Shell onto Rotisserie.

That would end the disassembly phase and start the rust removal/fresh steel grafting. When done, the body will go into primer and ready for dry reassembly.

I won’t think too much past these steps for now. My loose goal is to have on Rotisserie by March 31 2022. When it’s ready to lift off the ground, it will be ready. We are an instant gratification society, and it does take discipline and thick skin to ignore others perceptions of how fast it should be going. My business responsibilities always take precedent. This time next year I’ll be moving my son to Port Orange, Florida as he continues his education. All things in their proper time.

Shop: August 2021

By the time I write the next update I should be close to pulling the engine and transmission. I alluded to some shop projects after that. I’m going to build a bench for welding as well as panel beating and metal fabrication, where I can mount my brake, English wheel, bead roller and shrinker/stretcher. Once I finish disassembly the metal work begins and this bench will make it easier.

Shop Update: Mid July 2021

Doors off/Interior Out

I reached that point that if I were a nervous person, I’d be pretty concerned right now. Since the last update I stripped the interior out, and removing the carpets allowed me to get my first good look at the interior of the inner sills, the left and right front chassis legs, the bulkhead behind the front seats, the rear seat pan and the tunnel. The car, as expected is in rough shape. You’ll recall the only thing I told myself I’d walk away from is if the rear suspension points had ripped away from their mounts just to the aft of the driver and passenger front seats. Oddly, this is one of the best, least rusty parts of the car.

Drivers side, just below B Pillar.

It goes down hill from here in terms of low lights. The drivers side Inner Sill at the A Pillar connection is pretty much gone. I did find the jacking point, it was mangled and twisted and pushed out of position, but it was there.

Pretty Crispy Intersection of Inner Sill and Fire Wall, Drivers Side

The same area, driver side floor pan at the intersection of inner sill and firewall.

One of the bigger issues so far is the condition of the structural piece, often referred to as Chassis Legs. These give the floor pans support and spread load from in front of firewall to mid car just below front seats. On both sides of the car, theses supports are still attached firmly and mostly rust free (the good thing) but these box like structures are highly rusted, deformed and the metal is even ripped on diver’s side. This will have to be addressed before I go much further.

Drivers side Chassis Leg

This one gives you a good look at the macro view of the Drivers floor pan, note the chassis leg degradation.

The close up is worse. Note the metal tear.

Rip
Note the same Rip and general deformation

I don’t want to replace the chassis rails until the car is on the rotisserie, but I have to safely get the car onto the rotisserie without it collapsing into itself. I’m going to graft a box around the box and tie good metal to good metal to give that rip and tear area support and reinforcement. It won’t look pretty but it should do the trick.

The passenger side is only slightly better, less rust but a terrible dent from some point in its past.

I pulled the scuttle plate as well, and I could hear my Dad telling me the dangers of not keeping the 70’s era cars scuttles and cowls free of leaves and debris. Highly rusted, this will take alot of patience and time.

Scuttle

Cowl under windshield
Cowl below driver side windshield lower corner. Most of wiring harness runs through there.
Note the Scuttle Drain hose on firewall
New Scuttle to be ordered. Too much work to press in the slots.

The project plan continues without change from the previous month. The engine bay is mostly stripped of ancillary hoses and things that would get in the way of pulling the engine. My next steps are to remove the brakes and possibly the steering box, along with some of the front suspension, as I build towards engine and transmission removal. After the engine and transmission are removed, the next step is to get the car onto a rotisserie. Once the car is braced, more disassembly will take place (Glass removal, dash, wiring harness, more suspension) and then the car will go airborne.

I wanted a challenge. I enjoy working in my garage and I told myself I want to build/repair/reimagine every part of this car so when I am on the Peking to Paris or Key West to Deadhorse, I will have the confidence to know that no matter what breaks I’ll know how to fix.

I will slow down either just before or just after engine pull day to complete some upgrades to the shop. A 220V circuit dedicated to a scroll air compressor (so quiet) and an air piping system, along with one more work bench.

Life prepared me for this. The United States Navy Submarine Service taught me not only skills but dealing with stress and developing a can-do mindset. I continued that mindset over a 30+ year career. I could have spent more money on my project car, but I didn’t want to do that. I could have bought a finished car, but I didn’t want to do that. I need the car in about 5.5 years when I turn 60. That was always my goal. Along this journey I will learn new skills, make mistakes, do things more than once. Nothing worth doing should be easy.

Goodnight Moon

End of June 2021 Shop Update

With June coming to a close this week, the Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 project planning is starting to take shape. As I suspected, the stripdown of the car would help me develop the major steps in this project, and the deeper I get into the teardown, the more this car is starting to give up its secrets.

A Filthy SPICA has been daylighted

Almost all the hoses have been taken out of the engine compartment allowing me an opportunity to take a good look at the frame members and the engine mounts. So far, no structural pieces appear to be compromised even though the car’s sheet metal is far worse than I anticipated.

One of my major points of emphasis was to get the mangled front bumper off. I could not tell if the bumper mount on the driver side had failed, and with the failed driver’s side front suspension, I initially had concerns of collision damage. Luckily, as suspected, I believe all the damage came during the cars lengthy storage period.

You’ll note the bumper bolt on driver side is deformed and stretched. I’m still not quite sure what caused that, but that bolt was easily sawed in two. The passenger side was frozen and required the square bolt head to be cut away before I was able to saw the bolt in half.

Bumperless- Note the lean to the Drivers Side, the Driver’s side suspension has failed.
Sheet Metal Shields

The shields that keep road debris off of the back of the headlamps and wiring loom in the nose cone are pretty beat up. I was able to pull it back to access the bumper bolts but the nut was too frozen and leverage too difficult to develop.

As rusted as this car is, I have had few fasteners not come loose. Before I started the project I went into multiple rabbit holes studying rust penetrating products. My go-to product for many years was Kroil Oil, which I first started using on the submarine in the mid 1980’s. I upgraded to a spray on, Gibbs Brand Lubricant. There is a YouTube channel called Project Farm I am impressed by for the depth of their product reviews. The channel goes to great lengths to develop testing criteria and report analytical and data driven reviews versus the subjective analysis that you’ll more primarily find. Project Farm has done many rust penetrant videos, and they did not fully endorse Gibbs Brand, but Gibbs did test the best under my key metric: the lowest torque required to break a rusted fastener free. As I am not under time constraints, I soak my rusty fasteners for greater than 24 hours before I attempt to loosen them, and so far, so good.

Progress as of June 19

The brake vacuum booster and master cylinder system is next up for removal. One fastener that is hard to penetrate is the wheel lug nuts. Patience and delicate use of a long lever has broken free the front drivers wheel and brake bleed and drain is next up.

You’ll note the massive Air Conditioning compressor mounted to the engine block. That will be deleted in the rebuild and I’ll have to figure out how to rehang the alternator. A problem from another day.

The passenger side door came off as well and the passenger seat, albeit not without a scuffle.

Passenger door off

Normally I’d never take the hinges off and just pop the pins, but these hinges are coming off no matter what so I will have to deal with the backing plate as I go.

So much rust. I know I could have saved money and time by buying a car for perhaps double what I spent here, but this is exactly what I wanted. I’m not in a hurry to complete this project. I wanted to perform a full nut and bolt rebuild, transforming this the car into a purpose built, highly reliable, endurance rally machine. The economics are pretty simple: Cut up a more expensive project car, spending less labor time (My time) and less replacement sheet metal (relatively inexpensive) OR save on project car initial cost, spend more labor (my time), more on sheet metal (relatively inexpensive) and build a car that will have less market value to sell compared to its intrinsic value to me as my rally car for the next 25 years? The choice was easy for me, but its a question that is highly debated and polarizing.

Quite frankly, it’s part of the decision that drove the Alfa over the Porsche 356, the price of the project car. To buy a Porsche project car at 4-5X the cost of my Alfa just made no sense. Speaking of rust, the seat sliders were rusted in place and would not slide forward or back, blocking access to the bolts holding them in place. Luckily the passenger seat rear bolts were free because the floor was completely rotted out.

I did find a pair of needle nose pliers under the seat. 48 hours in the vibration cleaner and some new plastic dip and they should be serviceable.

Under Seat Archeology

While the passenger and driver side seals were in pretty good shape, and most of the door seal track intact, there are a few spots completely gone.

Nothing left in the corner
Not much left further up
better
headliner tucked under the trim.

The headliner is moldy and needs to come out. There will not be a headliner going back in, a functional ceramic product called Lizard Skin will be used to keep headliner area insulated to keep the noise and the heat out. It is two separate products.

Eastwood has a similar product but it combines the insulation and noise deadening properties into one application.

I did do a little surgery today, removing some of the outer sill to expose the base of the “A” Pillar. Good news: Inner sill appears to be pretty solid, but bad news the bottom of the A Pillar as you can see is missing on the Passenger side (the jacking point is in good shape) and on driver’s side it’s not much better or worse.

Passenger Side A Pillar Bottom and Jack Point
Drivers Side bottom of A Pillar with Jack Point Delete

Finally, my real purpose for removing doors and seats now is to get a better look at floor boards and the structural metal underneath them

Passenger Footwell. Crispy, but not as bad as expected
Rear Passenger Footwell. Floor missing
Seat mounting bolt in lower left. Passenger seat rear mounting points gone.

I have to pull the decorative chrome sill plates and get the carpet fully out next so I can inspect the structural metal below the car, which so far appears to have heavy surface rust but enough integrity to allow me to perform surgical repairs . We’ll see.

Next Update 15 July. Please follow my Instagram at Satori_Blog for ongoing progress.

Update from the Shop: June 2021

Since the last update, work finished on the shop infrastructure (for now- more shop work later this month) and work began on the Alfa disassembly.

The shop lighting circuit #1 was finished. I now have a bright U shaped bowl of light on the car. It was the first time I ran conduit, and the results were very good.

The older I get, the more wonky my eyes are. Having good light is terribly important to me. Just as important as these fixed lights, I purchased two rechargeable light wands from Harbor Freight. With a rotating and adjustable angle head, and a magnetic base, these are very helpful and allow me to see the fine details.

On May 24, 2021 the first part was removed from the car and the Capstone Project began. The first part removed? The hood. Getting the weight off the car and getting it stripped down is what I want to accomplish first. It’s tempting to start working on pieces like this hood or tearing into the engine, but there will be time for that. There is no project if the car’s bones aren’t sound, so all effort and resources are going into ensuring that the car is a rebuildable platform. My initial inspections of the suspension mounting points, front and rear, and cross members, are that they are sound. The sheet metal around them may be trash, but the bones seem to have maintained shape and strength. Even the inner sills and in pretty good shape compared to the outer and middle sheet metal. I’ve jacked the car now in a few spots (you’ll notice the front driver side suspension has failed and it droops) and no creaking and moaning.

The chassis is phase one of this project, and without a doubt the most complex and time consuming. Not a panel on this car isn’t affected by rust. A combination of repair panels and fabricated pieces will be fitted and the car given a sturdy but not concours fit and finish. My order of operations is along these lines:

  • Remove the Engine and Transmission and Set Aside: Target Date 31 August
  • Remove the Bonnet, Trunk Lid, Doors
  • Remove the Front and Rear Glass
  • Strip the Interior.
  • Brace the chassis and install and lift onto Rotisserie by 31 January 2022
  • Strip suspension, Front and Rear.
  • Chassis Repairs and Sheet Metal Repair and Replace.

I’m not going to set a date for Phase 1 to be complete. I am after all a 60+ hour per week working class stiff, and the work will be detail intensive and cannot be rushed. What I can say is when Phase 1 is done, the build truly begins. It allows me time to think about the design:

  • Fuel Cell: Safe, modern, high capacity with advanced fuel filtration system.
  • To accommodate this, a redesigned trunk with spare tire moved to roof rack. Jack Points, Tow Hooks and hi-lift jack storage.
  • What spares and supplies with purpose built storage as well as onboard tooling for rally/overlands?
  • Lighting.
  • Bumpers/Skid Plates.
  • Roll Bar: Most likely single hoop.

That’s nowhere near a complete list but it gives you an idea of the direction of this project, which again is to build a rock solid and reliable long distance driver capable of navigating and self rescue in all types of terrains. It will only be as capable as my imagination.

“Everybody wants to have the party but nobody wants to clean up” is an old saying a mentor of mine was fond of, the implication being that it takes discipline and focus to stick to the plan and the less than sexy work required to prepare. Right now, that’s disassembly and prepping for engine removal.

Engine Bay Starting Place May 24, 2021
Progress to date

The first engine bay photo was as it came to me. Note the aftermarket air conditioning and the poor hose and wire management. I’ve removed most of the hoses, the inlet air and filter, the radiator, the coil and distributor cap, and I’ve daylighted the SPICA system. As well, I stripped the grill, the headlamps and the front bumper.

Grill and Bumper Removed

The remaining portions of the air conditioning will come out soon, almost assuredly never to be installed again. I’m not a fan of A/C in general, especially shoehorned in aftermarket. I’ll find better uses for the weight and horsepower losses.

Some interesting finds, the Maserati horn for example.

I guess I never really put anytime into thinking about the horn or researching it. This one won’t go back in, a couple of outrageously loud 118 db Hella’s will, but it is fascinating.

I’m a note taker. While I may be older than the youngsters doing this sort of work these days, I like to think my tech keeps up with them. I use an app called Day One to capture words and images, mostly taken with an iPhone and annotated using Markup.

The Coil: Notes, arrows, highlighting- I’m a note takin’ nerd.
Large Wiring Diagram I mark up as I go. Ebay but pretty good!

I love how companies find ways to monetize their products while still making them useful to the consumer. I keep exacting notes in Day One and then with the push of a button I can bundle the notes into a book-like layout and send to a printer, all within the app. I will send my Phase 1 books off when the car is up on the rotisserie and they should be very valuable to me as I start the harder process of rebuilding.

Type 11501

I hope by the end of June to have all the remaining removable objects out of the engine bay so I can turn my attention to breaking the engine and transmission away from the cross members.

Music Matters

It’s been some time since I posted my latest mix (YouTube) Albums. I do these mostly for myself, for long drives and when I’m in the workshop, but I do have friends that tell me they enjoy them.

When I was a younger man, music was my affiliation: I was a British New Waver from the 11th grade of high school on. There were bands and music that was anathema to me out of allegiance to my affiliated bands. I would never have admitted a Hall and Oates or Whitney Houston sing a long. That changed for two reasons: I went bald and I became a dad. My hair was part of my affiliations, and without it, while I might like the music still, I would never feel the same ties, never emulate the fashion, culture and never again feel the youthful energy that I did. I accept that, it’s part of life and that phase of my life closed and another opened. Being a dad just meant it was time to stop acting like a rebellious teen and start looking the part of respectable adult.

While the music of my youth is still the music that reaches me on an emotional level, I do allow myself the occasional guilty pleasure. Guilty Pleasures don’t concern themselves with deep emotional connection, they just make you feel carefree and happy. A foot tap to the Bee Gees, a little Streisand melodrama, Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean and a bunch of artists I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to while I had hair are suddenly free to me and I must admit, I don’t mind a bit of schlock now and then.

Anyways, my first two Guilty Pleasure Mix Albums are here along with my latest mix album. Enjoy!

Lineage

Does history matter? My thesis statement more refined is, does the history of an inanimate object matter?

On a macro level clearly the answer is yes. Museums are filled with with inanimate objects, left by the ancients in the dirt, in the dusty corners of time, passed on or stolen through the ages. The objects have intrinsic value, beloved by all races, faiths and peoples, such as Tutankhamun’s burial mask, or for less ancient, Abe Lincoln’s hat. Even this weekend, one of the only authenticated pieces of James Dean’s 1955 Porsche Spyder will sell for six figures to someone who clearly values this object from the past and as a tie to the man who owned it.

While no one is paying you or I to see our artifacts, we all have them. We are in possession of family pictures, trinkets and keepsakes. My wife and I each have a corner of our dining room cabinet that holds objects from our fathers lives. This is the Carmen J. corner of the curio. He carried that Special Deputy badge from the early eighties on. He owned that ring from the sixties. Those identifications were his affiliation, and affiliation was important to him. Military, Union Labor, Credit Union, University at Buffalo Transportation and Ticket Offices and Family. A flawed man (like the rest of us non-hypocrites) who found redemption through his countless acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

In my workshop sits a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000. Only 37,500 LHD units were manufactured. You don’t pass them on the road. Ashes to ashes, rust to dust, these cars are mostly returning to the earth that born them. God willing, my rusted out survivor will carry me on long endurance historic and vintage auto rallies. My stated goal is to participate in the Peking to Paris rally. First run in 1907 and rekindled after the fall of communism, the rally in its current incarnation is about 9,000 miles spread over 30 days. Should I care about its history?

The car isn’t just a car to me. Readers of Satori! know that this is my capstone project, the one where I bring all the skills acquired over decades of mechanical, electrical and project management experiences. It won’t be sold, not in my lifetime. It won’t be traded in for a new shiny object. I was telling my friend just the other day I could have bought a vintage car, put some upgrades into it, and started to compete sooner, but that cheap thrill of using money resources to try and satisfy something that’s in your soul doesn’t work. It’s akin to the moment when an addictive vice can no longer be fed adequately and you know you have to do something different to survive.

So to answer the thesis statement, on a personal level, the history of this inanimate object is important to me. Let’s dive in.

You can’t just CARFAX a pre 1981 vehicle. The DOT had yet to mandate the standard 19 digit VIN or Vehicle Identification Number system that the database depends upon. Primary source documentation might be found by writing the factory and determining the import location, but most likely your trail would go cold at a long since closed importer shop. The first known owner of the Alfa is identified by the service records as Robert Plumb Jr. of Princeton, NJ. In August of 1977 at 45,000 Mr. Plumb took the vehicle to Z&W Enterprises on US Route 206 in Princeton for service. For those unfamiliar, Route 206 goes right past the university moving north and west as US 1 moves east and north. I found references to a Z&W Enterprises as a future Alfa and Mazda Dealership but it appears closed since 2006. I’ve reached out to a former employee from the early 1980’s and hope to hear more about this place.

The car was clearly loved by Mr. Plumb. I count no less than 25 trips to the repair shop between August 1977 and 45,000 miles and June 1982 and 86,293 miles. He started bringing the vehicle to Alfa Performance Center, 225 State Highway, Yardville N.J. It still looks the part of a 70’s era aftermarket import repair garage.

The location of the former Alfa Performance Center

Mr. Plumb was the “…treasurer of Asarco Inc., a metals and mining concern in New York” which is a $2.0 Billion dollar publicly traded company, well over 120 years old, The American Smelting and Refining Co. The family lived in a house built in 1970 on a bucolic tree lined street and lot and has a current market value of $1.2 MM. This was an expensive car at the time driven by people of wealth.

Home location of the vehicle in late 1970’s

Mr. Plumb sadly died before his time at age 50 on May 29, 1979, announced in the NY Times. I did not plan this, but the day I am writing this is 42 years to the date since he passed away. Mr. Plumb had brought the Alfa into the shop on April 23, 1979 for a muffler replacement and less than a month later he left his family, the car and life behind. Mrs. Plumb’s name appears on the next few invoices and sometime in late 1981 it appears the vehicle began to be driven by Anne Plumb, who I believe to be, at the time, the 21 year old daughter of Mr. Plumb. Ms. Plumb was married in October 1991 as announced in the NY Times but she also sadly passed away young like her father at age 43 of cancer. She was an accomplished business woman and mother. I’ve sent some messages to people who I believe may be relatives of the late Anne. H. Plumb (Root) and hopefully they are able or willing to share some memories or pictures of the car and their loved ones. Mrs. Plumb, Robert’s widow, remarried but she is widowed again and I believe in her 90’s, so I did not reach out to her for comments.

The car appears to have been purchased in 1983 by Marvin and Diane H. (name withheld as they are all living as far as I can tell) of Hopatcong, New Jersey, about 48 miles to the north of Princeton. I think I have found them on social media and hope to have some feedback in the future.

In July 1983, Marvin joined the Alfa Romeo Owners Club in Escondido, CA. The former location of the national owners club appears to be a house on a dusty road.

He also appears to have made contact with Ed Gellar, who at the time appears to have been the New Jersey Chapter of the Alfa Owners Club representative. A search of Mr. Gellar found him at an Italian Automobile event in November 2016 with a beautiful Alfa Romeo Montreal.

Marvin purchased $250 in parts from what was International Autoparts of Charlottesville, Virginia in November 1983. International Autoparts was sold in the last several years and is now part of Centerline International, one of the go-to US domestic Alfa parts suppliers.

The trail goes cold there. My title, issued August 4, 1983 shows 91,800 Miles and was signed over the the Beverly Hills Car Club of Los Angeles, CA who most likely acquired it in New Jersey and then shipped it to Los Angeles only to ship it to me in April 2021.

I think its safe to assume the car’s odometer stopped working at 118,323 miles, 26,000 Miles or so after Marvin purchased it. In my opinion it sat in the cold wet environment of Northern New Jersey, loved but unrestored until purchased by a classic car marketer and then sold to me. It has dents, but they are storage dents. It’s all there, a silent sentinel to the past.

The history of the car does matter to me. I will take with me Richard, Anne, and Marvin on the restoration journey, I will take the car to New Jersey, and I will take their memories with me on the long adventures ahead.

Update from the Garage: May 2021

Satori!

Welcome friends. Satori!

When I last updated my readers, the Alfa had been purchased but not yet arrived. That changed on April 7th when the car carrier arrived after leaving Los Angeles. As my brother in Law Joe and I push it off the truck, my son Jae did the driving.

It was delivered as expected; significant rust on the sills, front wings, rear fenders, floorboards and door bottoms. Some of the most challenging repairs will be the front windshield frame as there isn’t much left to work with and the dimensions have to be exact. But first things first, the crew got it into the shop where its about to be completely disassembled and purpose built for long distance historic rallies.

The Crew: Picture Shy Lori and Maria

I didn’t expect to purchase the Alfa when I did, but there are few project cars of this make and model on the market, and the whole concept of Satori! is that time is ticking and not to wait to chase my objectives, so I bought it. That said, the shop was not ready. I knew if I tore into the car I’d never finish the shop. So I developed a list and gave myself the goal of completing the shop by 31 May, wrapping up loose ends in June and beginning the car disassembly by 1 July.

I make lists

I have been working on readying the shop since September 2020, but nothing like having a rusty hunk of metal sitting there to accelerate the process. The bathroom was hideous in the shop. It’s now painted, clean, brightly lit and filled with appropriate artwork thanks to my wife, Maria. It seems insignificant, but when guests come over it’s nice to offer a clean bathroom and not some filthy workshop toilet (I think this means I’ve been domesticated).

The Head

Lighting and Safety had to be addressed. I need light, lots of light, as my eyes aren’t that good in the best of conditions. The car sits in a U-Shaped area and I filled the area with lights, all run with 1/2 inch EMT conduit and code compliant. The loft had no safety rail, and that was built, capped and a handmade wooden flag given to me by my brother in law, Charlie, looks down and out over my workflow.

Tools are not an issue. I’ve been managing machinery maintenance for the better part of thirty years, and in that time I’ve come to develop my opinions on what is necessary and what isn’t. You’ll never find huge toolboxes in my shop. I like my tools close, I like my kit compact. I have what I need, and I take pride in coming up with creative ways to get the job done. I did add this rolling cart specifically for this build. I’ve stocked the cart with my metal shaping and fabrication tools, and the work bench itself will have my 20″ metal bender, my metal shrinker and stretcher, and my heavy-ass vise (technical term).

Rolling Metal Working Bench

I’m really down to one item I want to finish before I start on the car: a 220V circuit for my air compressor and running air filters and air line outlets. I’ll wrap that up in June but because I don’t need the compressed air right away, I’m going to stick to my plan and start disassembly in June.

The Order of Operations will be to pull the doors, hood and trunk lid, remove the bumpers, lift the front end gently to allow the transmission to be unbolted from the cross member and to pull the engine and transmission for rebuild later. With the weight off the car I can assess if the car in its current state is strong enough to support its own weight when I put it on a rotisserie, as the name implies, a stand that allows the car to be spun 360 degrees to allow for easier access to the hard to reach areas for the tedious metal work and welding ahead.

I plan to keep and weigh all the metal I cut off the car and replace. It’s going to be several hundred pounds of rust coming off this frame and body.

It’s not about the carpentry, the metal work, the tools or the bathroom. Satori is the awakening that time marches on. My wife Maria and I celebrate thirty years together this month, my son is 21 and his life is moving forward. My job, always busy and full of challenges, has been incredibly rewarding to me. I have a million excuses to not get anything done except sleep and work. Satori! Find time for the things that matter. A few minutes here, an hour there. I start my days early and I pack a lot of work into each day. I’ll rest when I’m dead, right now I have my capstone projects ahead of me and I have a list.

Next update in June, the start of disassembly. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to email me: Anthony@Satori.Blog

Capstone 01: The 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

I did not choose to make this Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 my first Capstone project easily. I studied many marquis and cars: Porsche 356 and 911, Mercedes W108-109 and W116, BMW 3 Series and 2000, Ford Mustangs and VW Squareback and Karmann Ghia. All had qualities interesting to me, all were eliminated for one reason or another. My criteria was pretty specific: a strong unibody, engine and drivetrain intact, all glass in place, suspension mounting points in original locations, a project car under $15,000, parts and technical materials available. I gave credit for a 1966 model (year I was born) but it had to be 1974 or older.

Research

The more I studied both the Alfa and the market for GTV 2000’s, the more my interest piqued. Four Wheel disc brakes, limited slip differential, five speed manual transmission, around 2,400 lbs, 130 HP, lots of glass and great sight lines.

The car wasn’t on my radar for many reasons, mostly because I thought a project car would be out of my desired price range. As I became more comfortable with the idea of a lot of rust repair, both cosmetic and structural, the more I saw the merits. The fact that it is Italian, the country of my grandparents and my lineage, only added to the intrinsic value.

I ‘ve spoke in previous posts about Satori and Capstone. Satori was the realization that I only had so many years left. My father died at 83 but the reality was his body began seriously failing him in his mid 70’s. I’ll be 55 this year. I’ve dedicated my life to service to others: the military, my wife, child raising, my job and the company that has given me so much. I have a bit of time now that my son is older, and that time I’m pouring into this endeavor. Capstone are the projects of finality, the pinnacle of my skills, my abilities, and the things I want to accomplish before I age gracefully and live out the golden years. My biggest fear in life is I will have lived since age 17 in the service of others only to become infirmed before I can realize these capstone projects.

Capstone 001, the Alfa, will be the vehicle, my platform, that I campaign in rally events in North America, Europe and Asia. It will be a continually evolving and improving companion to the adventures I still have left in me: Key West to Deadhorse Alaska, London to Sicily and the grand daddy of them all and my stretch goal, Peking to Paris. These long and arduous drives are the test of both myself and machine, or better yet, my body and my skill. Validation of a lifetime of preparation. No one will remember these feats, few will understand them, and no pot of gold awaits me at the end. This car will never be sold. Hopefully one of my grandchildren or nieces and nephews children take up a love of vintage steel. I haven’t given up on my son developing a love for mechanics either. Satori! It’s the capstone of the best life I can lead for myself, the ying to the yang that is being the best father, husband, uncle, brother and grandfather.

Project Management is a skill I’ve honed for many years. At the heart of project management is understanding the triple constraint: Money, Time and Scope of Work. I’m focused on Scope of Work now. The car will be in my shop in about two weeks after being shipped across country from Los Angeles. A complete inventory of what I have and what it needs will come first, followed by planning. My Dad use to laugh at me because I learned from books instead of his approach to learn by trying. Perhaps its the Us Navy Nuclear Power Program in me, but I’ll think and analyze before one bolt is turned. Where I think I have evolved is I am able now to change on the fly, not be married to my planning, and I no longer have a paralyzing fear of failure mechanically. Dad would be proud and I wished he was alive to sit in my shop, drink coffee and bust my chops, but I know he hovers close by. I asked that the car arrive on April 8th. One year ago, at 3:35 PM on April 8th I watched him take his last breath and say goodbye to this world. I like symmetry in life and starting Capstone 01 on that date to me is perfect symmetry.

Until then, Satori! Find your purpose before a sudden awakening finds you.

What is the Objective(s)?

Satori! was a feeling that led me to take action. A sudden bolt of lightning that reminded me that my life clock is ticking. Satori! is an emotion, esoteric and translucent. Maybe it was the fact I’m approaching 55. Maybe the death of my father, father in law, the pandemic and realizing how quickly this construct of life can be altered or ended. Whatever the reason, I became engaged in my Satori moment and determined to make the next 20+ years (God willing) count.

Capstone is concrete. Capstone is things I’m doing, thing’s I’m building. They are the things I wish to be remembered for, along with father, husband and veteran.

I rented a workshop and since September I have been making progress to prepare it for my first project. The bathroom has been freshened and made presentable. I am in the process of adding more lights, more 120v power and I’m installing 240V for my air compressor and welding machine. Work benches have been built. Bookshelves installed.

The workshop sign is up, although a replacement has been ordered because it was made up on the incorrect sized stock. No matter, the shop has been christened. Mementos are inside: pictures of my Dad, my son, my father in law, flags that flew over my submarine. Cigars and bourbon are there.

When not physically preparing the facility for my first Capstone project, I’ve been studying, considering multiple projects before me. I don’t want to be coy so I will just spell out my Capstone objectives:

  1. Build (not buy a ready made car) a classic car. Pre-1974, points for a 1966 (my birth year).
  2. 2026. Test the Car in North America: Key West to Deadhorse, Alaska. 5,500 Miles.
  3. 2028 (or 2031- you have to be selected) Peking to Paris Historic Car Rally. 9,300 Miles and a lot of money.

Three objectives. The car. A platform that can handle off road, overland, dust, mud, stream crossings, speed, endurance, durability and safety. Its a lot to ask for. Skills, developed over a lifetime, beginning with lessons from my father, the Navy, my career. The application of skills and smarts, expressed in steel.

The drives. Why? Life is about adventures. Being able to combine my love of mechanical machines, travel, adventure and accomplishment without fanfare is a lure that no drug compares to.

36 years ago today I left the safety of my home and joined the US Navy. Immature and too young for what faced me, I survived and pressed on. By the time I left the submarine in February 1991 I was mature, hardened, focused. My uncle gave me my first opportunity and I made the rest of my opportunities happen. I willingly made sacrifices to move my career to where it traveled. Then, Satori! 2020 came, 2020 forced introspection and an examination of what is and was important. I’m looking at my career in shorter horizons now, thinking about 60 as the time to step away, perhaps 62. I love what I do and I’m dedicated to the people I work for. Satori. The Capstone Projects. I couldn’t wait to 62 to gear up for these things, so I will use these 6 years or so preparing for the day my work career ends and I spend every moment preparing for those objectives.

I’m not trying to impress anyone nor am I trying to be some social media influencer type. This is a time capsule I’m burying for my grandkids. I’ll teach you about me, our family and history, and hopefully when this is being read in February 2021 by a great grandchild they will be able to relate a bit to their distant relative in a way I can’t just looking at the old black and white photos from 1921 of my ancestors.

Merry Christmas

Music has always been a place of refuge for me. A passion of mine when I was younger was to make “mix tapes”, cassette tapes filled with songs that I would give to my friends. I always considered them windows into my world and nothing excited me more than years later learning that some band on one of those mix tapes became a favorite of that recipient.

I started numbering them in June 1985, when I lived at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station just north of Chicago. I had graduated high school in January 1985 and joined the US Navy. With money and time, the mix tapes started to flow. That first mix tape contained an odd combination of Rush, Duran Duran, The Fixx and Wham!

Over 150 mix tapes were made by me between 1985 and 1995. For a brief time, mix CDs took over from 1996 through 2004. After that, silence for nearly 16 years. I had a child to raise, a job to work, there wasn’t time or a very good medium for sharing these mixes anymore, and quite frankly, my small collection of friends had other things in their lives beside 1980’s new wave mix collections.

I make these Youtube mixes for me. I play them in my shop when I’m working, I play them on long car rides, I play them before bed. I share them via social media and occasionally a friend tells me a certain song reminded them of the old days, a compliment worth more than any money.

I’ve been preparing my creative space for the work ahead of me, what I refer to my Capstone projects. These mixes are the soundtrack.

Merry Christmas. My father sat in my house for the last time one Christmas ago. So much has happened in the past year, but his loss, and the loss of my father in law, looms over everything.

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