Tuesday, January 17, 2023

60 ? WTH Happened? When did I get so old?

This week I turn 60 and that is OLD man !

How did I make it to this age that used to be seen as senior citizen territory, in one piece.

Sure, there have been a few chunks knocked off, a few scrapes, dents, some fading and general loss of lustre. 

But in my heart, I am still that kid who wants to try ramp a soap box kart over a ditch, knowing not, that failure would result in blood spilt, bones cracked and teeth lost, not to mention the beating my mum would give me for getting my clothes dirty, or torn. Dad was a bit more pragmatic and maybe even proud that Deon, my younger brother and I were learning life skills as we crashed through growing up, from hand me down tricycles to home made skateboards that he built for us in 1970/1 before skateboards were a “thing” With us racing down Stanford Terrace in Umtata in the old Transkei province in “Apartheid” South Africa. Oblivious of the damage cars, busses and trucks would wreak on our bodies if we landed under them, or by stroke of luck, splat into the side of them. Life was great, never an excess of money, toys or material things, but never hungry or cold. We developed in a way I will never regret, and in a way that set us up for success, and that in itself can be measured in so many ways. 

Years later when we lived in Melmoth in the then Natal Province , now known as KwaZulu Natal or KZN my father made it possible for us to ride motorbikes by buying a few in succession including a Yamaha RD350 air cooled coffin tank which Deon and I essentially learned to ride on, though we had already been riding various farm bikes on the sugar cane farm of Jurgens Moolman, a school friends parents. Racing around town in shorts, T-shirts, flip flops and often without helmets, having removed the baffles of this two-stroke monster (we were 13, 14 year old skinny kids) the local police would wave at us and tell us we had a cool bike and to be careful. We were the kids you hate today, noisy bike, racing, doing stupid shit, and we survived. At some point my dad moved on the RD350 as it was no good offroad, and replaced it with a few other bikes, including a Suzuki OR50 chopper, TS/ER 125 and a Honda XL185S  which were better suited to farm roads and off road riding. Mom rode the OR to town and visited her friends with her Poodle Pepe riding shotgun in a box my dad had mounted in the rear, they were a well known sight in town.  Deon did manage to plaster one of the bikes into and over a metallic burgundy BMW 518 (if memory serves me) while riding like a hooligan in town.

We were both sent to boarding school for the last 5 years of school and only got to ride bikes and horses on our weekends when permitted to go home. 

After leaving school I went into the army for a few years, getting seconded to two different special forces units as an operational medic (ops medic) which was a full combatant role. I finished that in one piece too, despite doing some stupid shit and getting involved in a few situations. 

After clearing out the military my head was a bit screwed up. I had been accepted to do what was known as Dental Technology at Durban Technicon at the time but cancelled it before leaving the army, which agitated my parents as they thought I was headed on a sensible career path. My dad suggested I go nursing, of course that was just so counter intuitive to a 20 year old with a huge masculine Testosterone filled chip on his shoulder. But some research and introspection, tempered with discussions with three of my male cousins who had entered nursing in the prison service, saw me interviewing and being accepted to do my basic general nurses Diploma in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which was about 680 miles or 1150km from my parents home. Having been sent to boarding school at age 13, being away from my parent’s home was and would be nothing new, and Port Elizabeth was a great village like city. 

 I thought it was a way to work for a year or two and then go do a manly trade like welding or fitting and turning. Being a nursing student allowed me to do sports like wave skiing, ride motor bikes, date girls, travel to my hearts delight, while having subsidised accommodation in a block of flats the hospital owned and being one of the few students who had a car in my first year, and later a Ford Cortina pickup truck, meant I had a head-start when it came to girls, along with not living in a hostel my freedoms were really free and I loved it all. Most of my buddies in sport were always shocked when I said I was a student nurse as they saw a big 6 foot tall guy and it clashed with perceptions. 

Night shift nursing in my first year 1983.

Suddenly 8 years had passed, I now had qualifications as a General Nurse, Midwife, Psychiatric nurse as well as Occupational Health and Audiometry certification. I was married to a lovely Emergency Department nurse, promoted to ward manager at age 28 but also disillusioned with the whole system. So Kim, my then wife said “Screw the hospital, let’s find you another job” 

So the search was on, giving myself 6 months to find a job in the pharmaceutical industry, or else go to medical school and study medicine for 15 or so years to become a specialist consultant in some avenue of medicine. 

Thankfully I found a job and as part of accepting the new job in sales, I was offered a job in Cape Town, a dream city to live in. 

There we started and built a new life together, I designed a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, had a shell built in Glencairn, Simonstown and did all the finishing myself, often working till 03.00am then sleeping a few hours and heading out to work, while Kim worked a nightshift at a private hospital. She preferred working nights. Subsequent to having a miscarriage, we separated our ways, I kept the mortgage and she got the car and furniture. Zero malice divorce so we both carried on with our lives. At some point I sold the house, bought another 30 miles or 50km away in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town.

A company change saw me leave Cape Town after 6 years , and relocate back to Port Elizabeth with a new fiancé (or fiasco really) in tow with her daughter. A new house, relationship breakdown, old cars, motorbikes, scooters and some very big successes at work saw me relocated to England in 2002 through a corporate transfer. Almost 21 years later and another divorce from Nicola, some more girls, many old cars, motorbikes, amazing global travel and friendships around the world, sees me surviving redundancy, health issues, relationships, old cars, and a ton of other stuff that has brought me to where I am today.

Asking myself who the old guy in the mirror is…….

Because the guy looking at him is about to go crawl under a fiberglass car he built the last year or so to add a few final touches before taking it for its MOT test and insuring it for some open topped summer fun when summer makes it’s brief appearance. I am young and invincible, or is that invisible?

I have been kicked in the teeth a few times, had my butt kicked more times than I can remember, but you know what, Karma is a Bitch as a mistress, she will either kiss your butt or kick it. And how you deal with it, is entirely up to you. 

Life is good. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

RUMBLEGRIZZKIN Chevy S10 truck gets a new coat.

 New Tonneau bed cover for my truck.

A random small report on a BIG WIN tonight. 

I bought this Chevy S10 4.3 litre V6 truck two years ago. It was a bucket list vehicle for at least 10 years before I saw the right colour and configuration advertised during Covid19 lockdown in 2020 and just before a hard lockdown was again about to be enforced, so I went to see it with my buddy PaulY as he is a hard judge to please and he gave it the thumbs up.

ENGINE SPECS – 4.3L V6 5MT (193 HP)
193 HP @ 4400 RPM
190 BHP @ 4400 RPMTORQUE250 lb-ft @ 2800 RPM
339 Nm @ 2800 RPMFUEL SYSTEMElectronic Injection FUELGasoline 
TIRE SIZE235/70 R15                    DIMENSIONS LENGTH 205.3 in (5215 mm) WIDTH 67.9 in (1725 mm) HEIGHT63.4 in (1610 mm).                 FRONT/REAR TRACK57.2/55.1 in (1,453/1,400 mm)WHEELBASE122.9 in (3122 mm).          AERODYNAMICS (CD)0.5                                             WEIGHT SPECS UNLADEN WEIGHT 4083.7 lbs (1852 kg)

I agreed the price with the seller, based on a fresh MOT certificate that was issued on the afternoon of the 23rd December.


And collection was a few days later on 31 December, with neighbour Mickey driving me over to collect. After the deal was completed I filled the truck and drove it home from Essex. 27mpg @70mph felt very comforting. It was a great feeling to have a dream car, one that had only done 38k miles, been pampered and lived indoors most of its life. Everything worked, the engine was eager and the overdrive final gear was slick as anything.

So when I got back home, I stopped and filled it up into the neck again, in order to calculate the fuel consumption fairly accurately. 27mpg was a good reason to smile.

Over the last two years I have spent a lot more cash on the truck than makes sense, adding a new set of tyres on fully restored factory original ZQ8 wheels.
It turned out that I had bought a factory special when you read the build sheet

G80 and ZQ8 are posi track rear and sport suspension
G80 is the LSD, nice.
ZQ8 is a code and a trim package, so your truck is a ‘ZQ8’
They had a factory lowering kit, around 2in or so, springs and leafs. A tighter steering box and some other nice things. The Xtremes got the same setup but got a body kit and some badges. 
This is kind of an aside since you're curious about rpo codes, but the guys who have the super sport S10’s look for the B4U code. SS trucks were the first to receive the ZQ8 suspension in 96 until they stopped the SS in 98. The ZQ8 then became its own trim package so to speak
That is the rear end. I think the codes that start with G are the gears for the rear. Not 100% but I think that's what it means. And G80 is a locking or semi locking rear end if I remember right. 
GU6 = 3.42 gears
G80 = POSI limited slip
L35 = v6 4.3l vortec
M30 = 4spd overdrive transmission
ZQ8 = Sports suspension package

Chevrolet S-10 and GMC Sonoma

The ZQ8 option suspension package comes standard on the 1999-2003 S-10 Xtreme and 1996-1998 S-10 SS models, but was also available as a sports package on either the S-10 or GMC Sonoma. The package included a total lowered ride height of approximately 2" over stock (1.5" from suspension, ~0.5" from shorter tire diameter), thicker front sway bar (33mm), rear sway bar (23mm), quicker ratio (12:1) steering box, upgraded Decarbon or Bilstein gas shock absorbers, and a frame brace. Some ZQ8 models were also equipped with a frame to axle "anti-hop" shock.

The lowered stance was achieved using front coils with a different spring rate, and a 3-leaf rear spring pack.

Wheels and tires were also upgraded to 16" x 8" cast aluminum rim with 235/55/16 Goodyear Eagle GA tires. The Xtreme package used a different style rim than a standard truck equipped with the ZQ8 option. There are 2 versions of "ZQ8" wheels - 1996-2000 (also standard on 1996-1998 SS trucks), similar in design to 3rd generation Camaro wheels, and 2001-2003 (also used on Blazer Xtremes from 2004-2005), which bear a resemblance to an IROC Z28 wheel. Another variation among different models was in the center caps. S-10s and Sonomas used a grey center cap with the exception of the 2002-2003 S-10s, which featured a chrome center cap.

Over the last two years the EXTANG BLACK MAX vinyl tonneau cover had degenerated and a few weeks ago, I managed to tear it while refitting it after collecting a free lawn tractor in Poole, Dorset, which resulted in a 320 mile trip in atrocious weather at speed limit, all the way, delivering 22mpg which was nice to see.
A 20 year life from a tonneau cover is not bad, despite its pampered life.  

Just before Christmas, I was chatting with good friend Craig about visiting him to help with a few jobs he needed extra hands on. I mentioned that the cover had stopped being made in 2018 but I wished I could find one. He did a search and next moment … BINGO ! ! 
He found one (last item) at Jegs in Ohio, on Ebay.
Checking the size was correct for my odd shaped, Extra-Cab truck bed, I ordered it on the 23rd December, not really the right time to buy stuff, but I am patient. Through EBay International shipping a delivery date was given for 12 January. Including duties, taxes and shipping it came to $203.00 which was a good price, whichever way you look at it.
Imagine my surprise when the courier rang the doorbell the 4th January and delivered it. 
A cold day, so I waited for the next day to fit the cover after removing the old one. 

After fitting this unobtainable cover to the truck I actually went out to look at it and grinned four more times.
Sometimes things just fall into place and this time, I was saved by a friend who just went in and did the same search I had done more than once on various platforms over the last 19 months, possibly changed something and came up trumps.
Loving the result.loving this truck.

I am always looking for something interesting to buy and work on, American preferably, older than 80’s and a wagon or commercial vehicle.
So would sell this truck to make space, as the rule is one out for one in.
But after a few days driving and playing with this one, I fall back in love with it.
Knowing at 40k miles, it is still one of the nicest vehicles I have ever owned.
Funny how that works.  

Thanks for checking in. 

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