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Unhinged: How R&R Can Get You Back Into Gear In Ways You’d Never Expect

Unhinged: How R&R Can Get You Back Into Gear In Ways You’d Never Expect

Have you ever gotten to a point with your project that it seems that you’re running around in circles? You want to work on something, so you walk out to the car. Let’s see…I could do the electrical stuff, but it’s too damn hot…I could do paint work – no, I don’t have this…I could do interior, but…I could do that, but…and by the end of all of the unanswered questions, you wind up spraying off the dust with a garden hose and walking away, pissed off because you didn’t get anything done. Sometimes what you really need to get your ass into gear is someone else helping who is just as focused on the project as you are, and sometimes walking away from the project and returning to it with a fresh head and some plotting really helps.

My brother Zack got a couple of days off of work and came down to BangShift MidWest to help me with the Project Raven Imperial. The truth is, for the last couple of months I’ve been all over the board on what is going to happen to the car, and all I’ve gotten done is…well, nothing since I dropped the engine off to the machine shop. I’ve wanted to do something, anything, instead of wasting the summer away and finding the Imperial still undriveable by winter. We started light:


The first thing done was to remove the tar floor insulation out of the car. It’s heavy, holds water like none other and doesn’t really keep heat at bay. At least this stuff was in factory-perfect condition! Usually, this job is a lot messier.


Under the tar mats were two broadcast sheets. Any other Mopar and this would be a “tears of joy” moment. For our Imperial, it’s merely a cool footnote. The only thing it tells us that we didn’t already know is that the broadcast sheets for our car were queued up on April 15, 1983 at 7:24 p.m.


Another bonus: you couldn’t ask for better flooring. The paint here is flawless, and we might use it to color-code a paint mix. Don’t mind the wiring, most of it is for the power seats or the stereo equipment.


The driver’s footwell had seen some of the paint lift. Most of that was water that made it’s way in when I pressure-washed the engine bay a few days ago. The car is airing out now and all should be well in a couple of days.


Wonderful…blue iridescent mud daubers made a lovely nest on the dust shield of my left-front brake system.


…and my right-front caliper.


Mud daubers, however, are nothing compared to red wasp. These are some of the most evil little bastards I’ve dealt with, and they made my passenger mirror housing a home. That’s ok…I got the cure for that…


Raid for the wasp, and Brake-Kleen in the housing behind the mirror.

After an afternoon, all we managed to get accomplished involved cleaning out the interior compartment and a couple of ideas formed. Instead of really toiling away at the car, we bailed. After taking her Mustang for a quick drive, my wife joined us and we went to what was supposed to be a killer demolition derby at the Southern Kentucky County Fair…

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…which turned out to be four Crown Victorias, one 1990s-era Caprice and one early 1970s Caprice coupe going for broke in a dirt pit the not quite the size of a football field. With half of the county’s population in the stands, seeing the action was a hit-or-miss affair and was mostly disappointing. At least the drivers who came out put on a good show, with a final battle erupting between the two Chevies and the white Ford, bringing out the anger in the drivers…seriously, the driver of the black Caprice was making hand gestures at the other drivers that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else but anger. Once the white Ford won, we made our way back home. As soon as I crossed the door frame, I suddenly started having ideas. I will discuss the actual pieces later in a project update, but for now, let’s just say that I’m excited for what is coming down the pike. All I will say is that I’m probably going to be buying a welder soon.

The next morning, after a biscuit-and-gravy breakfast, as Zack got cleaned up and packed up, he tossed me the key to his motorcycle. A little background: I’ve ridden dirt bikes and the like for years, and his Kawasaki Vulcan 900 is the bike I used to get my motorcycle license. But I haven’t ridden on streets since 2010, and I haven’t ridden this bike since 2009, so I was a touch nervous at first. But rolling through the country roads, surrounded by cornfields and cool breezes, brought me a little peace. You see, I’ve been in a cycle of frustration the last couple of months. I’m not a patient person and not being able to make progress has been eating at me. I want it done, and I want it done now. That isn’t the way things really go, and I have to accept that. But instead of going on about roll cages and looks, I’ve finally got a solid plan going. It will take time. It has to take time in order to be good. A quickly thrown-together car always has problems down the line.


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