Weekly Journal: Lousy Weather & Things Are Getting Busy

Monday

Weather wise, it’s cold… and getting colder as the week goes on with rain coming next weekend.  Yup, summer is gone and it’s not sneaking back in any time soon.

As has become my norm, I began the day finishing up my weekly journal so a printed copy can go out to my mother and Bill in the noon-time mail.  Sadly, they seem to be getting longer instead of shorter. Oh well, it actually takes less time to leave them long vs. re-editing and condensing.

My daily to-do list included getting the labels for our annual Christmas cards printed out and when I went to do that I discovered my Address Book on the laptop has gone missing!  It turns out this is a fairly common issue with folks like me who own the older Macbook’s and upgrade to a newer Apple operating system.  So, the start of my Christmas card preparations and mailings will be delayed until I find an hour or so to transcribe the addresses off my very reliable, 18-year old computer’s address book into my 7-year old laptop.

Regular readers may recall I finally got around to listing the first 7 of many, many items on ebay weren’t really garage sale type items Monday a week ago.  Well, after running for 7 days all 7 of the items were sold. Of course, that means I’ll need to pack them all up so they can be shipped off to their buyers before Thursday.  I actually did pretty well with everything and have a small windfall to show for it.  I’ll wait until we’re back home from Pennsylvania to begin listing the other items.

Noting I’ve been fairly distracted by activity surrounding our new truck, I did finally need to attend to some yard work after our front lawn disappeared under a thick layer of leaves.  So, I spent the better part of the afternoon raking and then shredding all of them down into 3 cubic yards of mulch that I spread on the front yard island.  After that I followed up with a final ‘vacuuming’ of the front yard using the mower.  About the time I was done the wind came up and the yard quickly started to fill with leaves again.  Oh well, it’s a process.

 

With yard work out-of-the-way I turned my attention back to the truck.  Having removed the TACOMA emblems from the truck over the weekend I turned my attention to removing the TRD edition decals from the sides of the truck bed. This too was a process whereby you heat the decal and surrounding sheet metal to loosen the adhesives in the hope the decals or emblems will take most of the adhesives with them instead of leaving a mess on the sheet metal that has to be dealt with.  Overall, I was able to pull off about 90% of the adhesive, so cleaning up the residual wasn’t a lot of work. After that I buffed out the paint and then applied some Zaino clear seal.

While I was doing the leaves and decal removal, Debbie headed off to dentist at 1:30pm to get her front tooth replacement crown permanently affixed after wearing it as a temporary installation for a week to allow her gums to relax after the initial work.  From there she headed to the grocery store, making for a full afternoon that kept her out until 5:00pm.

After having some turkey burgers with Debbie, I headed back out to the garage to remove the tonneau cover from the truck bed so I’ll be able to give the bed a thorough cleaning before installing the BedRug when it arrives on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll most likely sell the cover once the A.R.E. Z-Series shell is installed, so I’ll likely give the tonneau cover a good cleaning while it’s off as well.

As for the rest of the evening, once back in the house I spend some more time evaluating different wheel & tire options for the Tacoma. I really want to keep this truck close to the stock tire and wheel configuration for warranty / maintenance / drivability / fuel mileage.  Therefore, I’ll most likely go with Toyota’s 17″ x 7″ TRD Pro SEMA original equipment wheels in a gunmetal grey finish and fit them with a set of Nitto Grappler G2 tires in size 265/65R17. Since the truck is sitting high at the back-end, I’ll level the front end using a set of Bilstein 5100 ride height adjustable shocks.  As for where to get the tires and shocks, I’m planning on giving a friend who works at a truck speciality shop as my past experiences with the Tundra at 4WheelParts have all seemed to be problematic. I don’t want any more problems.

I ended the evening by creating a new ledger to keep a running tally on all of the work and expenses have gone into the Tacoma.  I’m guessing by the time all is said and done I’ll have put at least $6,000 into the truck.  That’s about what I put into the 2006 Tundra when I first bought in back in October 2006 and, son-of-a-gun if I’m not making nearly the same types of changes and getting the same accessories with the same three big hitter items:

  • A.R.E. Z-Series Shell, about 40% of the post purchase expense
  • Upgraded tires, wheels & leveling, roughly 35% of the post purchase expense
  • Upgrading the cloth interior to leather, about 14% of the post purchase expense
  • BedRug truck bed liner
  • Changing out the stock grill for a different, sport model
  • Having window tint applied to the two front door windows
  • De-badging, ie., removing the emblems and decals (no cost)

Regardless of what make or model of truck we bought, we’d still have most of these same expenses buried in the cost of the vehicle or post purchase, such as the shell, bed liner, and window tint.  On the bright side, we did make a really smart deal on this particular truck that brought the final cost well down to the point where at least $4,500 of the $6,000 was covered.

Tuesday

My day began early as I was up until 3:00am last night.  However, on the bright side, I was quite productive during the wee hours of the morning.  My major accomplishment was going ahead and ordering the Toyota TRD Pro SEMA original equipment rims in gunmetal grey; they’ll arrive on Thursday and the cost was reasonable @ $695 for the set of four wheels.

I also scheduled at 4:o0pm appointment later today to have the front windows of the Tacoma tinted at “The Tint Guy” about 30 minutes away in Woodstock. I was reminded I needed to add that to my list of modifications when I looked at the profile picture of the truck sitting in the driveway and could easily see through both of the front windows.  I’ll figure out what type of tint to apply when I get to the shop later today.

I spent a lot of time looking at running boards and step rails, as I know Debbie’s going to need something to help her up into the truck once the new tires and wheels go on, and it now looks like it could happen within the next week!  Sadly, the one Debbie liked on the special edition / heavily modified 4WD Tundra’s and Tacoma’s at Beaver Toyota are over $500, which is just a bit too steep.  I think I’ve found an alternate that’s only $399, but just not sold on it yet.

After getting a little sleep between 3:30am and 7:30am, I woke to find Debbie out doing her aerobics in the exercise room.  Given how she banged up her left foot and right leg on Monday, that was a pretty hard workout but she grit her teeth and modified her footwork to minimize putting a load on her toes.

High on my to-do list were getting several saddles, an aircraft model and some apparel items I sold on ebay ready for shipping.  I also had some home banking to attend to and a few errands to run.

As I was making out my list of places I needed to go I was going to add a couple of stores that sell truck accessories like the running boards as stops. However, on a whim I decided to see if there were any lightly used running boards or step rails for Tacoma trucks listed for sale on Craigslist.  Well son-of-a-gun if there wasn’t a guy down in middle Georgia selling a pair of the pricey step rails we were admiring at Beaver Toyota.  I immediately sent off an offer to buy them for $300, noting I’d be making a four-hour round-trip drive to get them. He countered with $325 and would meet me halfway; DEAL!  So, I think we’ll be all set for running boards and, with the $100 I received when I sold the running boards off the Tacoma, my out-of-pocket for the step rails will only be $225, less than 1/2 of what a new set would cost.  The plan is to meet near Hogansville, Georgia around 10:45am on Wednesday to make the transaction.

As mentioned, and with the wheels coming in on Thursday, I asked a friend if they’d be able to get a set of Nitto Grappler G2 tires and Bilstein front leveling shocks in time to swap out the tires on our Tacoma before we headed to Pennsylvania on Thursday the 13th.  He messaged back after just 10 minutes with a cost quote and confirmed we could do the wheel and tire swap on Friday if my rims arrived on Thursday as scheduled; great news, to be sure!

Back at the house I got all of my boxes and packing material in order for shipping off the items I’d sold, but then remembered I needed to get the bed of my truck cleaned so I could install the BedRug bed liner when it arrived later in the day.  So, I put aside my ebay activities and headed out to power wash the truck, bearing in mind I’d also need to leave by 3:00pm for my 4:00pm appointment at the window tint shop. Once again, I have no problem filling my days in retirement!

To make a long story short, I got the truck washed, made the 40 minute drive over to the tint shop and they did a great job of darkening up our front windows.  Back at the house I had all seven of my items sold on ebay boxed and ready to go to the post office drop box early on Wednesday before it fills up, noting Congress gave postal workers the day off to honor the late President George H.W. Bush.

Right before dinner our FedEx guy dropped off the big box with the BedRug for the Tacoma. I immediately took it out to the garage, got it unpacked and then set it out to unwind so I could install it after dinner… a yummy blackened talipia burrito.

The BedRug product quality remains very high, just as it was 12 years ago when I installed my first one in the 2006 Tundra.  The installation took a good 3 hours as I got distracted by a few little projects, but it went well and the final product looks very nice, if I do say so myself.  I finished up around 10:30pm.

 

Exciting times ahead as the truck will be looking a lot more like “our truck” when we head to Pennsylvania… and I won’t be worrying about having a mechanical issue to interrupt our trip!

Wednesday

I began my day back on ebay where I ordered a replacement grill for the truck.  This is the last item on my list as the stock grill is just not attractive. Even painting it black wouldn’t fix what ails it anymore than it would with the grill on our 2006 Tundra. So, the new TRD Pro grill should be here by next Tuesday.

Next up was rebuilding my address book.  I opted to focus only on the folks to whom I send Christmas cards, so it was far less work than it could have been.  Of course, since it was 2-year old address list I was using as my source, it was lacking correct addresses for about 6 families; I’ll get those later in the day.

I also exchanged emails and calls with my step-brother, Mark, and his wife Patty on upcoming visit to my folks where we’ll celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday.  We’re toying around with the idea of having dinner at the house catered vs. heading out to eat at a nearby restaurant just to keep things simple.  We’ll see how that shapes up over the next few days. Thus far, it will only be the four of us plus my sister Anne and of course Mother & Bill having dinner on Saturday the 15th, so it’s not a massive under taking we have in front of us.

As mentioned, I made arrangements to meet the gentleman selling the step rail for the Tacoma down in Hogansville, Georgia, about a 75-minute / 55-mile drive from the house.  I left a little early so I could drop off the 7 boxed items I’d sold on ebay at the post office.  Well son-of-a-gun if the drop box at the Kennesaw post office wasn’t already full and locked as of 9:00am.  Oh well, I’ll try the one at a nearby shopping center, right. Hell, they didn’t even have a drop box.  Grrrr.

I made what was an easy drive down to Hogansville —  after all it was now pretty much a federal holiday for government workers and bank employees — and arrived right on time at 10:45am.  Sadly, the seller didn’t arrive until 11:15am.  Anyway, it was a quick transaction as the step rails looked great, so into the bed of the truck they went.  I was back near home by 12:40pm and was able to drop off my packages at the Acworth post office on the way to the house; what a relief! At least there’s a good chance they’ll go out early on Thursday.

After grabbing a little lunch I headed out to the garage and installed the side rails, a relatively easy process as I learned when I removed the ones that came on the truck last Friday.  As I stepped back to look at them and then tested them I had mixed feelings on how well they’ll work for Debbie.  They look great — very macho — and will look even better once the truck has the mud flaps and new tires and wheels. However, the step is made out of perforated aluminum, is narrow and somewhat rounded: not exactly ideal for Debbie’s 3″ heels. So, I’m taking a wait and see attitude on these. On the bright side, at least she has a step rail she can use until we decide if we need to get a different make/model of step rail or running board.  If we go that route I should be able to sell them for what I paid or close to it.

Around 4:00pm Debbie told me she’d received a referral call for some minor surgery I need to have done in the not too distant future.  I made a call back and scheduled consult for next Monday with the dermatology surgeon who will be doing the Moh’s procedure on my nose to remove what is apparently a non-melanoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  Oh, more joy!  I’m sure this won’t be the last time they take a “chunk” out of my head and face over the next 10 years; seems to be the norm for most men my age who spent a lot of time working outside and during military service.

Around 5:00pm FedEx dropped off a box with the Toyota original equipment, molded mud flaps for the Tacoma. As you’d expect, like a kid on Christmas morning I immediately opened the box to look at my goodies and then took it out to the garage where I promptly installed them on the truck.  Once again, at first I had some doubts, mostly from an aesthetic view-point.  However, after walking away and then coming back they looked like they belonged on the truck and they seemed to make the step rail look a bit better balanced. Overall, the step rail and mud flaps helped to make the truck look a little less long which was a good thing.  So, yeah.. another good addition that will pay dividends by reducing paint nicks and the build up of road film on the truck’s painted finish and underside.

Next on my list was replacing some clear 3M Stone Guard material was applied to the lower front edge of both rear fender flares and showing some unusual discoloration around the edges.  Thankfully, I still had some 3M Stone Guard material on hand so all I had to do was to heat up the film on the truck so it would peel off with most of its adhesive still on the film instead of the truck’s finish.  With one of the pieces in hand, I made a template for the new pieces of film and then cut-out the new pieces.  Next, it was time to clean and prep the fender flares so I could apply the new 3M Stone Guard pieces.  Overall, I was very happy with the final product.

 

Back in side, Debbie had a nice, long chat with my mother while I took a very unusual, early evening nap.  Perhaps my sleepless nights are catching up to me?  Anyway, the nap felt good but of course, now it’s 12:30am and I’m still wide awake. Cest la vie.

Thursday

Finally headed to bed at 3:00am, finding Debbie asleep with the TV on and the remote firmly held in her right hand; too funny.  I got a solid 4-hours of rest before getting up at 7:30am and made the most of the morning by finishing my address book updates, printing out labels for my holiday cards, ordering more ink for the printer after printing out 11 of my annual updates for the immediate family and taking care of other home banking / business “stuff’ before Debbie came down to join me.

Accomplishments for the day included:

  • Making a Costco run to pick up a few staples for the house.
  • Signing up for a CitiBank Visa card at Costco that will replace my Chase Master Card.
  • Buying a wireless phone system for my parents at Costco that will hopefully perform more reliably than the one they currently have.
  • Working out a shade-tree engineering solution to make installation and removal of the bed extended on the Tacoma a lot easeir.
  • Re-organized my “emergency bag” I keep in the bed of my pick-up trucks, noting I still need to get a fresh first aid kit for the bag, and perhaps a fresh fire extinguisher.

After removing the warning decals from the visors in our truck, I decided it was also time to remove them from the visors in Debbie’s Accord.  However, removing the visors proved to be a bit of a challenge so I improvised and did the removal process with the visors still installed.  It was a bit odd working with the iron upside down and above my head but apparently the visors and decals didn’t know the difference.  The removal process was successful and the Accord’s interior now looks much more clean and uniform without the bright yellow warning decals no one reads anyway.

As scheduled, the new TRD Pro SEMA wheels for the Tacoma arrived via FedEx at 4:35pm: two large boxes that weighed about 50lbs each.  So, even though I was dressed in my black suit and ready to leave for a holiday event,  I carried the boxes into the garage and cracked open one so I could put my eyes on the wheels as I’d not seen the gunmetal gray color in person, only in photos.  I was very happy when I saw how dark the grey was: exactly what I wanted!!  So, tomorrow I’ll head over to Canton where my friend manages a shop and will do the suspension work, mount new tires to the new wheels and then swap out the stock wheels for the new ones: I’m very excited!  Christmas is coming early for me!

It was just after 5:00pm when we headed off to the Delta Museum of Flight donor night event.  My “brother from another mother” Chuck is a lead aircraft mechanic at Delta and a major player in the aircraft side of the museum, i.e., he’s the guy who figures out how to move aircraft from the airport across parking lots and roads to the old Delta hangers that are now in an office and hotel area built up around the old Atlanta airport and is home to the museum.  Chuck and his wife Julie are very dear, close friends so it would be great getting to enjoy a dress-up holiday event with them, and getting to see the museum at the same time!

Sadly, the hour-long drive ended up taking an hour and 45 minutes due to horrible traffic in downtown Atlanta that even had the alternate routes tied up. However, once we finally arrived at the museum and found our friends, it was all good!  I was great getting to meet and talk with some of Chuck’s co-workers, although I’m sure they grew tired of me talking 100 miles an hour about L-100’s and C-130s.  Debbie got to spend a lot of time visiting with Julie and some of the other Delta employee’s spouses.  The cocktails and catered food was amazing and I even got in a dance with Julie, at Julie’s request.  I guess my black suit and red “Donald Trump” tie was just too hard to resist!  We pretty much shut down the event that ended at 8:00pm when we finally left around 8:45pm.  Just a great evening and, thankfully, an easy ride home.

I started working on this update to my journal once we were home, but the next thing I knew it was 3:00am when I woke up on my recliner; whoops!  I made my way up to bed and got another 3 hours of sleep before it was time to get up and get my truck over for the wheel upgrade.

Friday

It was another cold and dreary morning and I was up and out of the house at 7:15 per plan. Even with the abysmal morning school traffic I arrived at the shop promptly at 8:00am to hand the keys over for the tires and wheel mounting and installation.  They set me up with wifi access so I could cool my heels and stay out of his hair for the 2-3 hours it would take for him to rework the tires, wheels and suspension on the Tacoma: good call on keeping me out-of-the-way!

Amazingly, I was able to get through the entire 500 page owner’s manual, less the 200 page Navigation and Information supplement I still need to go through while I’m sitting in the truck with my hands on the system.  This has been on my to-do list since I picked up the manuals on 29 November and only took time to read the “quick start edition” of the manuals.  It was pretty clear there are a lot of things the systems do in the truck that you just can’t learn by hunting and pecking.  So, it was good to go through the manual; I learned a bit and still need to read the other supplement.

I tried not to peek while they were working on the truck and when they finally drove it around to the front of the shop I was really, really happy with how it turned out.  They did a great job of leveling the truck using the Bilstein 5100 adjustable shocks such that the front end and rear end were dead-nuts on at 36″ from the ground to the top of the wheel well openings.  The wheel style and color were exactly what I was looking for and the Nitto tires had just the right look on those 7″ wide rims and will, no doubt, provide great traction in anything less than good road conditions. Below are the before and after photos…

 

I paid out my ticket while they loaded the stock wheels and tires in the truck and headed home. The ride quality was excellent and there was only an every-so-slight increase in road noise from the more aggressive tread pattern:  they were perfect as was the balance and alignment.  The truck will have to go back over in January after the 200 lb pick up truck bed topper is installed so they can raise the rear suspension back to level with the front.  But, that shouldn’t be a time-consuming process.  

Job #1 at home was to snap a few pictures of the take-off wheels/tires so they could be listed for sale out on Craigslist. The sooner someone takes those off my hands the better.  I really don’t want to squirrel those away in the storage shed if I can avoid it; they don’t get better with age!

It was around 12:30pm once I had the tires stored in the garage and my ad posted to Craigslist and time for our every-other-week lunch date at the Red Eyed Mule.  We love our visits to the Mule but, sadly, their landlord who runs a competing restaurant right next door in his other building has decided not to let Sabra & Joe renew their lease.  I’ll not comment on my feelings about the landlord, but it will be hard to imagine The Mule relocating anywhere else, as it will most certainly make our drive longer and put into more traffic, never mind changing the look and feel of the place.  But, we’ll follow them, to be sure and play it all by ear.

Back at the house the mail had arrived and along with came a set of vinyl protective strips to cover the painted surface on the truck’s four door sills.  I had to install these same strips on the Tundra and used a more decorative, stainless steel version on Debbie’s Accord.  However, they’re really quite necessary in terms of keeping the paint from getting buggered up as people climb in and out of the vehicles, typically kicking the door sills with their shoe soles and marring the paint.  I had to pull some flood lights out of the storage shed more for heat than light to help with the installation.  But, in under hour I had this project checked off my to do list; I love checking things off the to-do list.

Interestingly enough, as I was working on the truck I suddenly realized the truck bed was not centered on the truck’s cab.  What made me notice it was I had perhaps an extra 1/2″ of rear tire sticking out on the right side of the truck than on the left, and the same was true with how the bed walls lined up with the cab walls.  A quick check of the internet suggested this was not unusual and it can be adjusted.  So, I’ll give that a try tomorrow.  Funny the things that get passed-off as normal.

As dinner time approached our friends David & Deb sort of suggested giving our nearby Gustons a try vs. trying to find a seat at Loco Willy’s that wasn’t next to the door.  So, we headed over and found a couple of seats at the Guston’s bar around 6:15pm and David & Deb arrived about 30 minutes later, noting it was a 45-minute drive for them given all the traffic on the main roads (which is why we always take back roads).  Anyway, we had a great time, met and chatted with some long time neighbors for the first time and didn’t head home until around 10:30pm after enjoying a decadent desert.  It was a good night.

Saturday

I feel asleep downstairs at 11:00am for about an hour and then headed to bed around midnight.   However, I found myself awake and not feeling all that well around 3:00am so I headed back downstairs.  I passed the time updating yesterday’s journal, writing a new journal entry on the evolution of our new truck and then did some visual studies to see how the truck would look with just a little more lift with and without the bed topper.  The photoshop jobs turned out really well!

I went back to bed around 6:30am to see if I could get a little more rest and slept for perhaps another hour and half before heading back downstairs so as not to wake up Debbie.  It was just another rainy, dreary day so all of the inside / sit-down and relax items moved to the top of my to-do list:

  • I took care of some email correspondence
  • Scheduled some appointments for next week
  • Mailed off some tandem cycling decals to a friend who had sent me a rear view mirror he bought but couldn’t use when one of mine of the same type became unusable.
  • I finally felt inspired enough to do my Christmas cards, as a few of them needed to have notes included and heretofore I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write those.
  • There was, of course, my Quicken accounts that needed a weekly update to add or correct notes and categories the software sometimes guesses wrong about.
  • I set up my folders and binders for the new truck and filed-away all of the paperwork and various receipts that have been collecting in my “to be filed” basket.
  • Having opened a new Citi-Corp Visa card at Costco earlier in the week, I now needed to close my 31-year old Chase Credit Card account and received a surprising $335 windfall from unclaimed reward points that was transferred by Chase to my Wells Fargo checking account.

As for the evening, we had dinner at home and then headed out to listen to a local cover band around 7:45pm.  We made arrangements to meet several of our friends around 8:30pm, noting the band really didn’t start playing in earnest until 10:00pm.  It had a been a long time since we’d headed out to see Shyanne and we ran into a lot of the regulars who we used to see when we were doing the live music thing almost every weekend back in 2011 – 2013.  As for our group, Ryan & Jeanette were there along with Bobby, Morgan and David.  We had a good time, but I was clearly distracted during the early part of the evening as Atlanta’s Major League Soccer team, “Atlanta United” was playing Portland’s team for the MLS Championship.  Atlanta hasn’t had a world champion team since back in the early 90’s when the Braves won the Major League Baseball World Series, so it was a big deal and the Atlanta team won!!  I think it was around 11:30pm when we finally called it a night and headed home.

Sunday

Another dreary day; boy this is getting old.  While Debbie was still asleep I slipped off to the store to pick up some grape jelly so Debbie could make her meat balls for an open house we’ll be attending this afternoon.  While I was at Publix I also picked up a couple books of stamps so I could send off the last of the Christmas cards on Monday.

After a little breakfast I sent off a note to our friend who did the wheel and tire installation on Friday to let him know we may have lost a wheel weight while driving down the Interstate in the rain. The truck had been running just fine up and until we heard something bang out of the wheel well and after that the truck had a noticeable out-of-wheel balance condition.  So, I’ll be heading back to the shop tomorrow morning and they’ll rebalance the wheels.  It’s definitely a must do given all of the driving we’ll be doing over the next 10 days!

With that taken care of I headed out to the garage to see if I couldn’t get the bed of the truck centered on the cab.  It was actually not a complicated procedure, but it was made a lot more complicated since I had to partially remove the BedRug I’d just installed last Wednesday.  Regardless, my efforts were successful and the bed is now centered on the cab. This will be very important when the A.R.E. bed topper gets installed in mid-January

As for the rest of the day, we pretty much spent it at an open house party thrown by friends.  We arrived around 3:00pm and were there until the early evening.  It was a packed house and a great time.  We even ran into our friends Bobby & Carrie Ann, a real treat!

However, I’m not sure my body can handle four night’s out in a row!  Definitely feeling a bit fatigued and looking forward to spending a few nights at home before we load up the truck and drive to Pennsylvania on Thursday morning.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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