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March 26, 2018

If you’ve never read an ETCG newsletter before, here’s the skinny.

For the full newsletter click here, or click the title image below. If you’re just interested in one topic, click the image in that topic, or click the “read more” link in that section and you’ll be taken directly to that part of the newsletter on EricTheCarGuy.com.

If you’re reading this on the website, you’re already reading the full newsletter, and you are a genius!

Past newsletters and the ETCG Blog can be found here.

April 2018 Newsletter Large 850

The #FairmontProject is a Hit!

Some dreams are attainable, and some aren’t, but we all have them. For many years I had a dream of building a car that would suite my needs perfectly, a sleeper. I made 3 attempts over the years, none were a complete success. Mostly with 1972 full sized Fords. My first car was a 1972 Galaxie 500, which probably explains my attraction to making a ‘sleeper’. Let’s be real, full sized Fords aren’t sexy, at least not to ‘normal’ people.

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Almost 4 years ago I found my 1979 Ford Fairmont. It wasn’t a ’72 Galaxie. Instead, it was a much better platform for making the ultimate sleeper. Mainly because as many of you should know by now, the fox body platform was used in Mustangs from 1979-1992. Given my Fairmont is also a fox body, I had access to a galaxy of performance parts for the car. Now, after a year and a half of blood, sweat, money (too much money), and a river of tears, I’m driving the finished product.

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To say it’s a good feeling, doesn’t do it justice. It’s more than just a car that I’ve built, it’s a life long dream of mine fulfilled. We should all be so lucky as to live long enough to realize at least one of our dreams. I’m grateful to have realized mine. I owe much of that to you, my followers. Without you, I think my dream of an ultimate sleeper would never have happened. I would likely have continued on with a day job, wishing that one day, I would be able to build the car of my dreams.

I didn’t just write that to thank you. I wrote that to make you think. I want you to think about your dreams. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or a place you’ve always wanted to go. If that’s the case, I suggest you get on that. I hope that my story inspires you, and that one day you find yourself where I am right now. Pinching yourself to make sure it’s real. It’s a great feeling, and I hope you get there someday.

In the mean time, do what I did. Enjoy your health, your family, your friends, and hang on to those dreams, but don’t sit idle. Keep moving forward and reaching for something better. You will have setbacks, it may take years, but in the end, it is so worth it.

I could go on about how the Fairmont was a hit at Jekyll Island at the Caffeine and Octane on the Beach car show, but I made this video that pretty much covers it.

Epic Story Bro Jekyll Island 2018 400

Yes, the Fairmont will be featured in Car Craft magazine. Yes, Aaron Kaufman has challenged me to a drag race with his Falcon.

Most importantly, I have transitioned from dreaming, to living the dream.

Thank you.

Snapshots from Jekyll Island

Caffeine and Octane on the Beach was not just the “Fairmont Show”. There were also several other fantastic builds there. I love this show. It’s only in its second year, and I hope it goes on for many more to come.

It’s the only car show I can think of that has everything from rat rods to McLaren’s outside of SEMA. Not to mention the beautiful motorcycles. I’m not a bike guy, but I do appreciate craftsmanship and a beautiful machine. The bikes at Caffeine and Octane are first rate. On par, or above many of the cars and trucks featured.

Not to mention Jekyll Island is absolutely beautiful. Every morning I’m there, I get up before the sun to go out and take pictures of the sunrise on the water and the beach.

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“Hi, my name is Eric. I’m a Sagittarius, and I like long walks on the beach in the mornings where I take pictures.”

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Before Tinder, one would post something like this in the personal ads in the newspaper. I know, “what’s a newspaper”? I guess I’m dating myself with that joke. Moving on.

Just to put things in context, here’s some of those pictures. They should tell the story much better than my silly words.

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The Fairmont Caught On Fire

If you don’t know by now, you should. Just days before my drive to Jekyll Island GA, the Fairmont caught on fire. Given that I’ve made videos of the event, and also explaining what happened, I don’t feel the need to go into detail here. Instead, I’ll post links to the aforementioned videos for the details.

Oh SH25 The Fairmont27s on Fire 400

How Did the Fairmont Catch on Fire 400

The Mini Series

Now that the Fairmont is up and running, it’s time to embark on new projects. The Mini Series is the first of those projects, but not until I fix my Element. Yep, the starter went out last week. Many of you have been asking me to do a starter replacement video on a Honda K series engine, and that’s exactly what I intended to do.

I hope to start shooting, and perhaps finish shooting, the Mini Series in April. I’ve already started work on the car. I’ve replaced the battery and removed the interior. I’ve shot videos of both. I’m glad I removed the carpet first thing, because it appears I got to it before any mold set in. It’s nice and dry and ready to install.

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I think I’m going to remove the engine and transmission from the Mini. This involves removing much of the front end of the car which I understand is common for many Mini repairs. The idea with this series of videos is to cover as much information on the car as possible. I figure removing the drivetrain and front end will not only give me easier access to the engine’s oil leaks, but it will also be easier to replace the clutch. It doesn’t seem to need a clutch, but if I have the engine and transmission out anyway, I figure why not?

I’ve also found that my viewers really like the videos where I do things like remove engines and transmissions. So even if you don’t own a Mini, you can enjoy watching the car being torn apart and put back together. Hopefully better than before.

Once the oil leaks are fixed and the clutch is replaced, the only other issue is a right rear caliper, which is sticking. At least I think that’s the only other issue.

When the car is complete, I plan to sell it and give the profits to my oldest son. He was originally supposed to get the car, but he found out the insurance for him was more than what the car was worth. The new plan is to give him the profits from the car after I sell it. This way he should be able to find something he can afford insurance for.

Everyone wins in this scenario. My son gets the car he needs, I get something new to work on, and you get a bunch of new repair videos to watch.

Before the repair series starts, there is a video I shot introducing the car for my ETCG1 channel that I plan to release. After that video drops, I plan to release the remaining repair videos in a series.

Premium Members got a look at the car last month just after I got it.

The #FairmontProject Videos

The production company I handed the Fairmont videos off to hasn’t produced anything yet. At least not anything that I’m aware of. Therefore I may try a different approach. I really need to get these videos going. There’s a ton of great information in them and now that the car is complete, I’d like to start making other videos about tuning and maintaining it. I don’t want to get too far ahead.

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I suppose that’s a long way of saying I’m sorry I don’t have more #FairmontProject videos for you yet. I’m working on it and hope to have a solution figured out soon.

The #FairmontProject

There were a couple of minor things that came up on my 1500 mile drive to and from Georgia. One is that my radio was not charging my phone. I also seem to have issues getting my dash cam to work properly. This warrants a good look at the electrical system that I built. I need to find out if these issues are the result of a common electrical issue, or if it’s something that just involves the radio and dash cams.

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I’ve also discovered that the bearings in my steering column are bad. I know this because I get a slight binding when turning from lock to lock. I also noticed some up and down movement in the shaft that runs through the steering column. A clear sign the bearings inside are toast. Luckily I have a spare column in the Mustang. It’s just a matter of switching things over when I find the time.

I also want to take a look at the differential. I noticed when letting off the gas on the highway there was a ‘clunk’ noise that appeared to be coming from the rear end. I want to get on that before it becomes a real issue. I’m thinking this will involve me removing the rear cover and checking the clearances again just to be sure everything is correct. If it’s not, I’ll make adjustments.

Next, it will be time to fit my new drag tires on 15” wheels and take it to the track. After that I should be able get some real track times to share with you. With the new tires I’m thinking somewhere in the 10’s. That is if I can get my shifts right.

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Fixing it Forward

Before I left for Georgia, besides the fire in the Fairmont, there was something else I was dealing with. An old friend of mine from Pittsburgh reached out to me after a 25 year hiatus. We fell out of touch sometime before I moved to Cincinnati.

She was telling me about Pittsburgh and her life now which isn’t all that great. It seems she has several health issues that require expensive, and often painful treatments. Some of those treatments require her to drive to Cleveland OH.

We had been exchanging emails for a couple of weeks when she informed me that she was in a car accident and her car was totaled. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I doubt she would have any. Being the friend and ‘car guy’ that I am, I went looking for another car for her.

As it happens, my friend that purchased the 2002 Acura RL was looking to sell the car. His wife had moved on to an SUV and they didn’t need the car anymore. I put the 2 of them together and they came to an agreement.

2002 Acura RL

Time was short for me because I was getting the Fairmont ready to drive to Georgia, not to bring up the fire again but I was also dealing with that. Despite those difficulties I was able to get it in the shop to look over before she came out from Pittsburgh to get the car.

While it was in the shop, I fixed a massive oil leak at the valve covers.

Here’s a video I did about it.

What Happens When You Don27t Change Your Oil 400

It also had a bad right rear caliper. My friend that owned the car took care of the repairs which mostly consisted of parts cost.

She came and picked up the car and then drove it back to Pittsburgh PA. The next morning the car wouldn’t start. As a mechanic, and her friend, I could not have heard worse news. Remember when I mentioned her luck? Not only was the car not starting, but she had to drive to Cleveland for one of her treatments.

She ended up taking it to a local Honda dealer who informed her that the starter was bad and it would cost $800 to fix. Keep in mind that it took every spare cent, including a tax return she hadn’t received yet, to get the car in the first place. My hope was that all she would need to do was get in the car and drive. After all, I’ve known those Acuras to be nothing but reliable in the past, and since my friend had been driving it, there were hardly any issues. None of which had anything to do with the starter. This was a new issue.

She rented a car and went to Cleveland for her treatment leaving her car at the Honda dealer. I decided to take action. With money that was donated to Fixing it Forward I paid the diagnostic fee for the Honda dealer which was about $50. I then called my former employer Bob Matthews of Bob Matthews Import and Domestic Auto Repair. Bob was more than willing to help. He arranged for a tow truck and then confirmed the bad starter. He also replaced it.

The total for the tow and the starter replacement came in around $600. My friend is now back on the road and happy.

I’m sad I wasn’t able to perform the repairs myself, but I was grateful for the donations to Fixing it Forward. I feel they were put to good use in this instance, and if you’ve donated I hope you agree. Your donations helped someone in need get to their treatments. This is why I started Fixing it Forward in the first place.

Once the dust settles, I plan to start some Fixing it Forward work of my own. It feels past due.

For now, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that’s contributed to Fixing it Forward. Even after covering this repair, Fixing it Forward donations stand at about $8,000. I will work to ensure that every cent goes to help people like my friend from Pittsburgh.

Premium Member News

Despite it being a very busy month for me, Premium Members got 3

Exclusive Videos in March. “How To Replace Ball Joints and Tie Rod Ends Honda Element/CRV (Exclusive Video)”, “The Fairmont is Going on a Road Trip (The ETCG1 Video That Never Was)(Exclusive Video) ”, and “Scenes From Jekyll Island 2018 (Exclusive Video)”.

How To Replace Ball Joints and Tie Rod Ends Exclusive Video 400
The Fairmont is Going on a Road Trip Exclusive Video
Snapshots From Jekyll Island 2018 Exclusive Video

The plan is to keep things rolling with new exclusive content for Premium

Members of EricTheCarGuy.com. If you’re interested in a Premium Membership but can’t afford one, keep an eye on my social media. I’ve been giving away memberships each month.

The Premium Member (Exclusive Video) library is growing every month. As of now there are over 200 (Exclusive Videos) for Premium Members! That’s like having an entirely new ETCG channel to watch.

Premium Members get up to 4 exclusive videos per month. They also get additional perks on the website, and they help support the site with all of it’s useful, free, repair content.

But wait! There’s more! Premium Members now get a 5% discount on all orders from J&B Tool Sales!

Details on the new Premium Memberships here.

In Closing

This newsletter has turned out to be longer than I had anticipated. I’m happy to cover the material, but I don’t like taking up too much of your time if I can help it. If nothing else, I hope it was a good read.

I’ll leave you with this. While I was at Jekyll Island, I was invited to participate in a celebrity round table. It’s still weird thinking of myself as a celebrity, but oh well.

Someone from the audience asked something about how to move forward with a career like those of us on the panel. This is a summary of what I said in response: “Don’t waste your time talking about doing something one day. Start today. If you continue to talk about it, you’ll never get it done. The only way to realize your dreams is to take action, otherwise, they remain just dreams”.

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If you’re going to take away anything from this newsletter, remember something I tell myself often. It’s a line from an Eagles song, “So often times it happens, we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key”.

Latest videos below. 

Be safe

Have fun

Stay Dirty


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EPIC Story Bro! (Jekyll Island 2018):

I Got Pulled Over in the Fairmont:

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