Staying Alive.

Disclaimer:  The following post will have very little content related to the subject of this blog, my 1967 BMW 2000 Tilux.  Instead, this post will document the ups and a couple of severe downs that were my family’s 2013. 

 

Well….

 

 

You may have noticed I haven’t posted an entry for over a year.

To be perfectly honest, 2013 didn’t start off too bad.  It was a pretty mild winter here in Northeast Ohio.  I was extremely busy between my commercial electrician job, as well as working on BMWs part time at Lerich Motorsport. Mae and I, along with her sister and boyfriend, even took a roadtrip in February to Nashville, TN to see one of our favorite bands, Shovels and Rope play, and spent some  quality time with our nieces and nephew.

If you remember, at the end of 2012, I had pulled the M10 from the Tilux after a seized pressure relief valve on the oil pump had forced approximately 3 quarts of oil through the O-Ring on the oil filter.  I had the motor on a stand in the shop but was unsure of how far I wanted to go.  Rebuild vs Re-Seal.  As a result, I got lazy and unmotivated.  I also started having feelings for a younger, thinner vehicle.  A 1975 Honda CB500T.  

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I had wanted a motorcycle for years and years but never had the cojones to pull the trigger on buying one.  Of course if I ever did, it would have to be something vintage and cafe racer-like.  I’ve never been into crotch rockets or big V twin cruisers.  In March, I found this little gem on Ebay in Pittsburgh, PA and against my better judgement, I bid on it at the last minute.  The bike was very original, with only a little more than 5000 miles on it, but of course had been parked for several years.  Before leaving for the two hour drive to pick the bike up, I got a call from the owner’s friend saying the rear tire was flat so I wouldn’t be able to test ride it.  Not exactly the most reassuring phone call, but being excited to have my first bike, I set off for Steeler country.  The CB started up with little effort and seemed to shift through the gears with no issues so I trailered it back to Akron, and delivered it immediately to Rubber City Vintage Cycle.  I wanted them to look it over and make sure it was safe and to replace those dry-rotted flat tires.  Image

RCVC primarily dismantles bikes to sell parts on their Ebay store, but I talked them into doing some work on the CB.  What I didn’t realize is that unlike most CBs from that early/mid 70’s era, the 500T from ’75 and ’76 is kind of a weird, bastard bike and a lot of the parts are NLA or very hard to find.  There are also some weird quirks including very complicated air circuitry which makes it difficult to tune the bike.  Since they had to go through the bike system by system, and we had to wait on parts, as well as fabricate parts, they had the bike for three months, already a good chunk into riding season.  In the meantime, I had completed the beginner’s riders course offered through a local dealership and got my full license as well as a head start on good riding habits.  Due to one of the rainiest years on record, I was also busy cutting grass non-stop in addition to my other jobs, leaving very little time or dry days to actually log some miles.  

Before I knew it, Memorial Day was approaching and so was our annual trip to “The Vintage” BMW show in Winston Salem, NC.  I wasn’t pressed to get the Tilux running prior to 2013’s show because for the first time, they were holding an Autocross Event and I wanted to see how my 1970 2002 would compete against some of the finest 2002’s in the country.  In case I broke something or blew up my 2002, we decided to trailer the car.  We would also have the luxury of air conditioning and a radio.  

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As usual, the event was a wonderful time reconnecting with old friends.  The weather was hot.  The beer was cold.  And the conversation was pretty much all car-related. 

I got to see my first 507 in the flesh.

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photo by Mae Barbieri

We stayed up too late every night talking cars.

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The auto cross event was a blast. 

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photo by Rodney Middendorf

and somehow this goofy kid from Akron, Ohio ended up placing first in the modified 2002 class. 

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And that was probably the high point of 2013.  

Press play on the song while you read. 

 

This is the soundtrack to my last year. The lows anyway. 

“I’ve decided tonight I’m staying alive just kicking & screaming
Blood boiling & steaming
There are things far too dark to comprehend
Sleep on it one more night my sad old friend

The worst is over.”

– Tim Kasher/Cursive

 

 

We have cars.  We now have bikes.  We have dogs.  We are dog people.  Our dogs are our children.  Some people can understand that.  Some people can not.  It’s ok, it’s just the way it is.  Most of our dogs are rescue dogs with the exception of two doberman pincers that we bought from a breeder.  A brother and sister, 3 years apart from the same parents.  Johnny and Heidi.  

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I don’t possess the skills as a writer to accurately describe the relationship between Mae and Johnny, other than to say she cared more about Johnny than most people care about their own children.  That’s the best I can do. We got Johnny when he was six weeks old, and he was her baby.  Plain and simple.  She would always say she loved all the dogs equally, but I knew better.  

Shortly after returning from The Vintage, Mae witnessed Johnny, who was about 7 1/2 years old at the time, lose his balance a couple of times, even falling down in the kitchen once.  

One morning we woke up and Johnny would not stand up.  He couldn’t hold his weight on his own legs.  He just kept falling. His legs would simply not work.  Without getting into too much detail, we started taking Johnny to our vet, neurologists, holistic doctors, and physical therapists.  An MRI revealed that he did not have what we suspected as Wobbler’s syndrome, common among Dobermans and Great Danes, causing his paralysis, but likely had a stroke.  His temperament was fine, and he seemed to be the same happy dog, but he just couldn’t walk.  For 8 weeks I would carry the 90 pound dobie outside 10 to 20 times a day and hold him up so he could try and go to the bathroom.  We tried water therapy, Chinese herbs, physical therapy, laser acupuncture, anything we could do.  Mae and I took turns sleeping on the couch so we could be close to him in case he started whining.  Often times he couldn’t hold his bladder.  We would carry him outside into the yard while we did yardwork, and he would just lay in the grass smiling with his tongue wagging all the while.  The night of August 2nd, Johnny  had a violent seizure. Sunday, August 3rd, they started happening with more frequently and we rushed him to Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital.  He had another seizure in the car on the way there.  Upon arriving to the hospital, we could tell that the seizures were affecting his comfort and mental state and we had to make a very hard, very sad decision that day.  It was hands down the hardest decision we ever had to make.  It’s still difficult to talk about.  Image

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We miss you every day baby boy. 

 

I needed a distraction badly.  After a couple of weeks of unsuccessfully trying to keep the CB500T running correctly, as well as trying to find someone locally that knew the ins and outs of these old Hondas, I decided that I was giving myself too much of a handicap as a beginner rider by starting off on such a temperamental bike.  I wanted something newer, easier to ride, and preferably fuel injected.  I sold the Honda and began my search for something that would work for me.  Of course, it was always in the back of my mind that I needed a BMW to feed my obsession.  I ended up at our local Triumph/Ducati dealership where a buddy of mine, who incidentally I purchased my very first 2002 from, was the service manager.  I explained what I was looking for and he mentioned that he was selling a 2003 Ducati Monster 620 that he had purchased back from a customer.  I wasn’t really into the sport bike genre, but after sitting on the Monster, coupled with luxuries like a hydraulic clutch, low stance, low weight, and fuel injection, I decided it might be a good fit.  I ended up buying it, and for a few weeks, really enjoyed riding the Ducati.  I rode it to work as much as possible, and took some good trips on some of Ohio’s beautiful back roads. 

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The first week of September, we had planned a much needed vacation back to New Orleans.  Mae and I love to visit the Crescent City and indulge in all the food, music, and architecture that it has to offer.  We visited many of our regular spots and got to go to some places that we’ve always wanted to.  We rented our own little house in the Marigny and despite the ridiculous heat and humidity, had a wonderful time.  

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We returned to Akron on September 6th and thought we were ready to get back to business as usual.  

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

 

The morning of September 7th, the day after we got back from New Orleans, I woke up and attempted to get ready for work.  I noticed when I stood up, and especially after showering and trying to get dressed, I had incredible pain in my lower back, extending through my left buttock, left thigh, all the way down to my left knee.  I couldn’t even bend over to put socks on.  I tried to go to work, but had to leave immediately and return home.  Mae’s uncle is a Chiropractor and he had me come over to his house for an adjustment.  Thinking it was just a pinched nerve I proceeded to take it easy.  By the next morning I could not walk, I could barely stand, and the only comfort I had was laying flat on my back.  I had to take a week off of work, unable to move, unable to drive, unable to do anything.  All out of the blue.  I went to see the chiropractor at his office the first day I could, and had x-rays done.  I had a few subjugations in some of my lower lumbar discs, but nothing crazy.  Disc spacing was good, back contour was good, and nothing could explain the most incredible, excruciating, sharp pain and at the same time, numbness in my butt and leg, that I was feeling.  I eventually returned to work, but couldn’t drive the 3 miles there without making multiple stops to recline my seat and temporarily relieve the pain.  Once at work, I could only work for a few minutes before I had to lay flat on my back on the floor to again feel any sort of relief.  I saw my general doctor, I saw a couple of chiropractors, I had deep tissue massages, I read everything I could on back pain, piriformus syndrome, sciatic nerve pain, and I couldn’t get in to see a nerve specialist for months.  For another 8 weeks, I endured the most sever pain I have ever felt in my life, crippling sciatica.  Eventually, after seeing another chiropractor and taking more X-Rays, he discovered that the right side of my pelvis was significantly lower than my left side, causing my left hip piriformus muscle to be agitated which in turn was putting pressure on my sciatic nerve.  He gave me a 5mm tall rubber wedge to put into the heel of my right shoe, hoping to level off my pelvis, thus relieving the strain on the left side of my body.  

Earlier in the spring, we had bought an airfare/hotel package to go to Southern California to attend the SoCal Vintage BMW car show in Van Nuys, CA.  We were going to stay in Dana Point, and visit with some friends there who just happen to have one of the largest private collections of rare and incredible vintage BMWs in the country.   With everything going on with my back, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to go or not.  It was at the last minute that we decided to go ahead and go.  I’m so glad we did. 

 

I don’t know if it was the California air, or the 5mm rubber wedge in my show, but by the end of the trip, I was almost completely pain free and back to normal.   

It probably didn’t hurt that I got to drive a bunch of the cars, including a beautiful 1967 Alpina 1600 all the way from San Clemente up to Van Nuys for the show.  

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1967 Alpina 1600

 

 

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 Dietel alpina 1982 e21 345I turbo widebody.  1 of 1 ever made.  

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You can see more pics of the cars that Mae and I drove in the Stanceworks article “The Collector” 

or in this Petrolicious video “Alpinas” 

 

It was an unbelievable experience, and an honor to get to enjoy such a collection of beauties.  I hope we can return for the show this fall as well.  

The rest of the year was fairly uneventful.  My health continued to improve, although I did have to give up my mowing business.  I’ve learned a lot about muscle symmetry and am very grateful to be back to normal.  I still have some occasional  numbness in my left thigh, but it’s more than likely just nerve damage.   Nothing like the debilitating sharp pain that rendered me unable to stand or walk.  

By the end of 2013, I started feeling guilty for being such a BMW head and still not having a BMW motorcycle.  I had become obsessed with the line of BMW dual sports, and loved the idea of owning such a versatile bike.  Knowing that the end of the year, and especially winter, as the time to purchase a motorcycle, I began my search, looking first at the smaller BMW dual sport bikes, G650, F650, F700, and F800GS’s, knowing eventually that I would wish I had just pulled the trigger on the ultimate riding machine, the R1200GS.  I found a beautiful 2007, loaded with thousands of dollars of extras, as well as extremely low mileage at the same Triumph/Ducati dealership that I purchased the Ducati Monster at.  On December 31st, the last sales day of the year, I jumped on it. 

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Basically, I couldn’t be happier that it’s a new year.  I finally got my BMW bike.  I’m looking forward to putting a ton of miles on the GS this year, and the Ducati now belongs to Mae.  I do have a lot of people asking me how the Tilux is coming along.  I haven’t forgotten about it.  I swear!  I love that car, but the fact is I don’t plan on getting rid of it, so I’ll just continue to work on it when I’m inspired, and enjoy the ride for now.  

 

The worst is over.   

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Holly Gets Her Heart Ripped Out

So in one of my last posts I had discovered a potential problem with the pressure relief valve on my oil pump.  At idle, the car ran fine, but under load, the seal on the oil filter had blown out, spewing 3 quarts of oil all over the engine bay and ground below.  I already had plans to replace the head gasket and timing cover seals over the winter, but since I was going to have to drop the oil pan again to resolve the issue with the pressure relief valve, I made the decision to pull the entire motor and do a re-seal.

Last Sunday, I spent an afternoon at the shop unhooking the coolant lines, radiator, air conditioning compressor, exhaust, and throttle linkage.  I decided to try and lift the engine from the left side, hoping I wouldn’t have to remove the hood.

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Once the engine was safely out, I assembled my beautiful $45.00 engine stand from “Hazard Freight” and am ready to start tearing the motor down.

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A couple of quick emails to my buddy Steve over at  Blunttech and I had a shipment of fun stuff on the way.

 

I’m not 100% on what my plans are for the rebuild at this point.  I’m definitely replacing the head gasket, timing cover seals, timing chain, guide rails, intake and exhaust gaskets, valve guides and seals, sending the head out to be checked and cut if need-be,  and am going to have to pull the oil pump apart and try to remedy the seized pressure relief valve.  Holly’s heart might be broken for now, but with time, will beat again.  Stay tuned.

Every Dame Needs A Name.

There have been plenty of iconic cars throughout the course of history, all with names that conjure up a specific image at their very utterance.

Eleanor, Herbie, K.I.T.T., Christine, General Lee, even Stella, Keith Kreeger’s stunning 2002 tii, who’s restoration blog www.my2002tii.com was instrumental in forming my addiction to the Neue Klasse line of cars that BMW offered in the 60’s and 70’s.

I found out that today, October 2nd, is officially “National Name Your Car Day” and it was with that realization that I thought this post appropriate.

Every car I have ever owned, I had intended to name.  I either never got around to it, or whatever fleeting name I had come up with never stuck.

I informally named my red 1970 2002 “Buzzbomb” after the Dead Kennedy’s song of the same name, but I usually end up referring to it simply as “The ’70” or “Little Red”.

The muse of this love story is usually referred to blandly as “The 2000” or “The Tilux” and I felt that because of the depth of restoration that this car will undergo, the rarity of it in the States, the money spent, the personal connection, and it’s seeming notoriety that this  1967 BMW Neue Klasse sedan deserved better.  A car of this history – of this journey, was finally deserving of a proper name.

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So what’s the best way to go about deciding on a car name?  I guess the first you need to do is consider whether your car is a “male” or a “female”.  Being more old school, I tend to prefer female names for vehicles.  It should be descriptive of the car but not blatantly obvious.  I could certainly go with something like “Rusty” but hopefully at some point, that name would no longer be relevant. I started thinking about what the BMW brand and specifically the Neue Klasse cars meant to me:  High end, classic, sexy, luxurious, iconic, charismatic, simple yet original lines and attention to detail.  Then I started thinking about things that were relevant to my experience with this restoration:  My work environment in the garage, the music that I listen to while I work, the beer I drink.  And lastly, I had to look at this car specifically:  It’s history, it’s character, it’s flaws, and what it all means to me.

Taking all of these things into consideration, I think I have decided on a fitting name for this rare and lovely, classic and blemished 1967 BMW 2000 Tilux.

“Holly Golightly”

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It’s actually kind of perfect now that I think about it.  First of all, I wouldn’t want to consider a name of someone I already knew.  No offense, I’m just not going to name my car after you.  Secondly, and what initially planted the seed in my mind, was the CD that is currently stuck in my changer out in the garage, and which has played over and over countless times while I work away late into the nights – one of my current favorite bands, Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.  And lastly and most obviously, the character played by Audrey Hepburn in the classic movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

By dissecting the character of Holly Golightly, I was able to find some eerie similarities beyond the most initial and apparent ones.

On the outside, Holly fits all the qualities of the BMW brand to me. Classic, stylish, high end, beautiful, clean, yet very complex.

It’s once you get beyond that first impression, and into those complexities and into her dark history that you find some interesting comparisons.  Holly actually had a pretty rough life.  She was orphaned at a young age, she lived with other people that mistreated her, she was passed around between many men.  She never really settles down anywhere.  She doesn’t seem to care who she inconveniences to get what she wants and what she needs.  Spare parts perhaps? Her relationships are all short-lived although she does develop a genuine affection for the “narrator.” Fitting, no?  Holly is a bit of a challenge which makes her one of the more interesting lead females in film and literature.

So there.  In the last hours of “National Name Your Car Day” I decided on a name. I just hope Mae doesn’t get mad when I tell her I’m going out with Holly.  Image

Broken hearts and bleeding oil

The engine is the beating heart of the vehicle. The oil is the life blood.  It breaths oxygen and feeds on gasoline.  The same as the human body, without one of these vital components, a car will not function.  It will die.

On September 23rd, 2012, I received some tragic news.  Harvey Rogers, our local BMWCCA chapter president, passed away suddenly while attending the BMWCCA Octoberfest in Columbus, Ohio. After a night of being recognized for his service and commitment to the club and to the brand, his full heart could beat no more. It was only  2 days after his 56th birthday.  Harvey was not just our car club president.  For one, he was the previous owner of the Tilux from 1998 until I purchased it a year ago.  He was a retired BMW master tech,  a driving instructor, a friend, and a warm soul.  He was a wealth of knowledge, always willing to help out with those stumping car problems with his insight, experience, and encouragement. I never got the privilege of being a student at one of the BMWCCA driver’s schools, but spent enough time talking and learning from Harv to know what a great teacher he was. He’s helped me keep our 2002s running at tip top shape, and given me the opportunity of restoring a 67 2000 Tilux. I regret not having more time to spend helping him at his shop and the experience of learning from him but I am grateful that I was able to know Harv and call him a friend. His kindness and generosity is not something often found in this industry and it’s obvious when speaking to anyone that knew Harvey that he were a very rare and special person. His personality, knowledge, warmth and commitment to the BMWCCA, racing scene, and independent repair community will be deeply missed.

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I never got the chance to tell Harvey that I got to drive the Tilux for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Somehow I think he knows though.

Three days after Harv suffered a fatal heart attack, the 2000 had a near-catastrophic event.  I drove the car for the second time in two weeks.  The short trip took me about 500 yards around a group of buildings at the shop. As I parked the car back in line, I noticed a fluid trail that followed me all the way to where the car was sitting, and started about halfway through my brief journey.  It was oil.  Life blood.  Raising the hood, I saw that the entire engine bay was now completely winterized.  It was sprayed from radiator to bell housing, and from valve cover to oil pan, and the massive puddle gathering under the car was an indication that this was no leaky seal.  What had happened?  The oil cap was on.  The dipstick was still in the tube.  A quick start up and shut off showed that oil was hemorrhaging from the seal between the oil filter and the oil filter flange.  I knew there was no way I had forgotten to tighten the oil filter, but I removed it just to inspect it.  It was tight, and the seal was pushed out the side.  Was it a defective filter?  It was an OEM brand filter. The seal looked ok, but I didn’t have another spare filter to swap.  I screwed it back on tightly and headed home to do research.

After spending some time searching forums at www.bmw2002faq.com, I found some people reporting similar issues with their 2002s.  The culprit, it seems, is an incorrectly assembled or stuck closed pressure relief valve on the oil pump.  Since I had not disassembled or replaced the oil pump, I am guessing that the pressure relief valve is stuck closed from years of sitting.  Because I cleaned the top and bottom end of the motor so well, I’m hoping that it was a faulty filter.

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I find it hard to accept the fact that the pressure relief valve is seized up.  Maybe I’m just being overly optimistic, but the engine was never run with old oil in it, it was thoroughly cleaned upstairs and downstairs, short of doing an entire tear-down for rebuild, and you could’ve eaten out of the oil pan before I reinstalled it. I’m definitely planning on trying an oil pressure gauge to see what it’s putting out. I was also going to try running a lighter weight oil plus BG cleaner or engine purge, let it run for a while, drain, refill with new filter and see if that helps if it is, in fact, seized, before tearing it apart again. I really don’t want to have to drop the subframe again.  Not until I do the bodywork anyway.  If I need to, I may just skip ahead to pulling the motor out completely and replacing all of the gaskets and seals.

It is most definitely times like this that I wish I could call Harv up for some advice.  You will be missed my friend.

The Final Push

OK, one last time…. deep breath…. and…. PUSH!!!!!

Men usually coach their wives with those words as they sweat and yell from a hospital bed.  I was coaching Mae as she helped me deliver a 2200 pound screaming BMW across a gravel parking lot and into one of the bays at the shop I work at on Sunday afternoon.  Hopefully, this would be the last time for awhile.

364 days had elapsed since I first trailered home a sad 1967 BMW 2000 Tilux.

Much work had been done.  Every repair and component photographed and recorded to share with people that love special cars.

This story would have a happy ending.

Back in May, I fell just short of having the car road-worthy for an excursion to Winston Salem, North Carolina for “The Vintage” BMW festival.  Aside from a few oil leaks and electrical gremlins, the car had been put back together with the exception of one lonely axle half shaft.  During the entire process, I though I had the proper universal joints to rebuild the axle half shafts.  When I was finally able to rebuild them and bolt them back on, I found I had one incorrect U joint.  As a result, I was unable to get the car to a state where it could be driven or trailered to the Vintage in time.

As you may have read in my last entry, after missing my self-imposed deadline, I decided to take a break from the Tilux for a few months and enjoy some of my other cars.  Three and a half months passed, and after a couple of Email correspondences with Bill, one of the former owners of the Tilux, I was itching to get back at it.

Mae and I awoke to a gorgeous Sunday morning.  September 16th 2012, one day shy of the one year anniversary that I brought home this diamond in the rough.   This  Sunday was one of those rare days – those days you dream of – where we had absolutely nothing that we had to do.  French press of coffee.  Starbuck’s breakfast blend.  We finished watching a movie we started the night before.  We turned heads as we drove both of our 2002’s over to our favorite breakfast spot,   The Blue Door Cafe.  More coffee, Angel Falls this time, we shared a chocolate croissant, and afterward, some kind of decadent  sandwich on housemade focaccia, prosciutto, sopressata, pesto, and Italian cheeses that I can’t pronounce.

We left The Blue Door with a cloud of blue smoke, the smell of fuel, and my Ansa Sport growling,  and hit the twisty back roads of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on our way out to Lerich Motorsport.  We roared past a Cuyahoga Falls cop who gave us an enthusiastic “thumbs up” as he sat hidden in his blind corner waiting for a legitimate speeding car to pull over.

After some spirited driving, we arrive at Lerich Motorsport in Hudson, Ohio.

photo by Mae Barbieri

Mae and I pushed the 2000 out of it’s temporary home, lined by cars in various stages of disrepair – an E36 waiting on a cam, an E21 waiting on a new home, a Mercedes MLK 350 waiting on a wiring harness, and the Tilux waiting on it’s last axle to be installed.  Mae offered to wash some of the dust off the car before we pushed it into the garage, and I helped Tom, the owner, button up a supercharged E46 330Ci before Oktoberfest next week.

Now that the car was clean, we were ready to roll it into the bay.  Mae’s question was something like “How many other wives would be out here on a Sunday helping their husbands push around an old BMW?”  I think that was a rhetorical question, so I don’t remember answering, but I hope she knows how much I appreciate all her help and hard work.  She’s absolutely right.

We heaved the car into place, hopefully for the last time for awhile, and got the lift into position.

photo by Mae Barbieri

If you are familiar my blog, you know that Tilux starts and runs.  I had not reassembled the drivetrain yet so I had no idea whether or not the car would drive.  This axle half was the final piece of the puzzle.

It’s a rather unique axle half comprised of a very thick rubber boot, a universal joints, lots of NLA needle bearings, and an NLA clamp.  The most interesting thing is that the axle assembly has a drain plug and crush washer and is actually filled with gear oil instead of being packed with grease.  Once the car was in the air I attached the axle with 12 NLA bolts and nylon locking nuts.

Mae and I took turns filling each axle half with 6 ounces of gear oil.  I tightened everything up, including the sway bar mounting bolts, bled the clutch slave cylinder, and gave everything a close look.

We were getting close….

This would be the first attempt at putting the car into gear and seeing what happened.  I had yet to pull the motor and transmission out of the car, so I had no idea whether or not the clutch or throwout bearing were good, and without functioning brakes, a wasted center bearing, and crumbling bushings, I was not going to try and move the car under it’s own power until all of these issues were properly addressed.  After a year of hard work and it was finally go time…..

I couldn’t believe it.  The car moved!  It drove!  The Tilux runs and drives!!!!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are still some issues to be sorted out.  The timing cover gasket has a pretty healthy oil leak onto the exhaust manifold, and I would like to replace the head gasket due to the length of time that the car sat.   But for now, I’m extremely excited that the car is finally mobile, and a lot better off than it was just one year ago.

I parked the Tilux back into it’s temporary resting place and we roared south on Riverview Road toward West Akron.  We passed an Alpine 1 series M coupe and Space Grey Metallic E90 that were heading north.  The must have turned around and caught back up to our 2002s, because I noticed Mae honking at me to pull over.  I pulled off into Sand Run Metro Park, and we had an impromptu BMW meet in the parking lot.

The newer Bimmers were driven by two older brothers from Florida and Texas, and they were in town for the BMWCCA Oktoberfest which is taking place in Columbus, Ohio and at Mid Ohio Race Course for the following week.  It was nice to have some newer BMW owners recognize our 2002s for what they were, and they were very excited to stop and talk to us.

It was a perfect day for a pair of crazy vintage car enthusiasts, and knowing that the car will drive, I can’t wait to get into the next project.  24 hours later and I’m still smiling from ear to ear.   Happy Anniversary 2000!

Assignment – What I did over my summer vacation by B.J. Barbieri

Remember grade school?  One of the first tasks when returning from summer break was usually a writing assignment on the events of the prior three months.  Well, considering I hadn’t written an update on the Tilux since May, I thought the name seemed appropriate.

To be completely honest, I took a break from the ’67 2000 and spent the beautiful months of June, July, and August enjoying our other vintage BMW’s, spending a lot of time with the dogs, travelling with Mae, and getting some other new toys.

Obviously, the stars weren’t aligned to drive the Tilux to the Vintage in Winston Salem this year.  We still ended up going, but because I had spent so much time trying to get the 2000 road-ready, there were some issues with my 2002 that did not get addressed.  As a result, we ended up driving Mae’s 2012 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI.  I won’t lie.  It was nice having air conditioning, an iPod, and the ability to drive from Akron, Ohio to Winston Salem, North Carolina on a single tank of gas.  The thing about the Vintage is that there are so many beautiful cars there, a 2002 like mine just gets lost among the crowd.  Anyone who’s attended the event can tell you that the pilgrimage to Old Salem is as much about the people and the friendships as it is about the cars.  We were just excited to be able to go again.  A few of our very close friends were unable to attend this year, and we found ourselves meeting lots of new people including a couple of crazy guys from Louisiana and Arkansas.  We are also officially part of the Puerto Rican family now!  As usual, I spent too much time in the parking lot  drinking way too much beer, and this year I hardly took any pictures.  My liver was happy when it was time to go home.

Festmeister Scott Sturdy’s flared ’02, U Schtinker, and Brad Day and Anne Marie Vincent’s Rally ’02

Parking lot at the Hawthorne Inn, as the vintage Bimmers roll into town.

Talking to Uncle Barry who also owns a 2000. This man is a wealth of knowledge, and was awesome spending some time talking and learning.

pic by Mae Barbieri

cars line the streets of Old Salem

This is where most of my time was spent….enjoying the Spaten beer garden. Who says 9 AM is too early to start drinking?

A couple of weeks after the Vintage, Mae and I took a week long trip to New Orleans, Louisiana to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary.  She has visited the city many times for work, and whenever she returned from a trip, all I heard for weeks was how awesome the city is, how amazing the food is, how incredible the music, how vibrant the colors….on and on and on.   I passed through New Orleans late at night traveling from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Gainesville, Florida in 2001 when I was playing music, but I had never spent any time in the city.  We had stopped of for beignets and coffee, but got right back on the road.   My perception of the “Crescent city”, like many people’s I would imagine, was that of the vomit-soaked, bead-adorned, smelly, topless, rowdy, beer-drenched, claustrophobic images that you see on the show “Cops”.   But I know my wife, and therefore, I knew there must be another side to New Orleans that they don’t show on “Cops”.

After only a couple of hours in Nola and a stroll down Royal Street, I could see why she came home raving all the time.

It really was a spiritual experience.   For a week we indulged in char-grilled oysters, Abita Amber ale, beautiful architecture, live jazz music, and a history rich with culture.  We spent our days window shopping in the French quarter, day drinking at the Chart room, relaxing by our rooftop pool, and soaking in the local culture.  We spent our nights at Fritzel’s European Jazz club and strolling along Frenchman Street and the Marigny.

We took an air boat ride out to the swamps.

We spent an afternoon at the World War II museum and took a guided tour of the French Quarter, the garden district, Treme, the Lower Ninth Ward, and some of the beautiful cemeteries or “cities of the dead”.

We also got to spend an afternoon with Don whom we had made friends with at the Vintage a couple of weeks earlier.  He and his wife live just outside New Orleans, and actually have an apartment in the city.  They showed us around the riverfront area and some of their favorite bars and restaurants.  It was an unbelievable trip and a very special anniversary, and I will most definitely be going back to the Big Easy.

Another week went by and we were on our way to the Vintage Grand Prix at Mid Ohio Race Course in Lexington, Ohio.  We met up with some familiar faces and met some new people including Brian Spanel and his 2002 Turbo.  Mae and I drove both of our 2002s.  We had a decent size 2002 corral, and also got to do a couple of laps between some of the racing.  At one point, track officials flew past us in a pace car truck and warned our group leader about driving too fast on what was supposed to be a “parade lap”.  We 2002 owners are always getting into some kind of trouble.

I finally got around to installing the Sync-Link that I had purchased for my 1970 2002.  It’s a simple bolt on linkage that causes the 2 barrel weber 32/36 carburetor to function more like a 38/38.   Both barrels open at the same time.  I can’t believe the difference it’s made in my car’s performance.  The car never pulled above 3500 rpms as I felt it should.  It was like it hit a wall and just didn’t want to give me any more.  After installing the Sync-Link, I can easily get it up to red line.

I also bought Mae her own European license plate for her 1976 2002.

photo by Mae Barbieri

photo by Mae Barbieri

Now that my 2002 finally had the gusto that I was hoping for, I made sure to take advantage of some autocross events this summer.

photo by Mae Barbieri

Not everything we did this summer was car related.  As my bio states, all of our kids have four wheels or four legs.  We also have a pack of crazy dogs, mostly rescues, that require a great deal of time and attention.

. Our male doberman, Johnny

Our beautiful pitbull, Andre

Our one-eyed Boston Terrier rescue, Oliver.

Johnny, with his baby sister, Heidi.

In addition to the cars, and the dogs, we acquired some other new toys that have made the summer more enjoyable, and given us more of an opportunity to gather with friends and family.

We turned our office, a dumping ground for clutter, into a useable music room and I’ve started playing again.

And we finally pulled the trigger on purchasing our first watercraft, a gorgeous avacado-colored 1977 Lund fiberglass tri-hull that I decided to name “Miss New Orleans”.  When I say gorgeous, I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who finds 60’s and 70’s German cars attractive.  Most people probably turn their noses up when they see us on the water, but I think it’s a thing of beauty and fits our style perfectly.

We spent many afternoons and weekends out on the boat and definitely got our money’s worth out of it after only a couple of months of use.

Things have been very busy at the shop lately.  I have had the opportunity to work on some incredible cars, and have been able to put my ICOM training to use on several occasions.

I had last weekend off for a change, so Mae and I drove my 2002 up to the Northeast Ohio German Auto Show at the Donauschwaben German/American Cultural Center in Olmstead Falls, Ohio.  We have shown the car there in years past, but have not bothered the last few years due to the high caliber of  the garage queens that show there.  This year’s attendance was light due to iffy weather and poor promotion in my opinion, but there were some unbelievable cars there including a 1938 BMW 327, a 1912 Mercedes, and a Porsche RS4.0.

It wasn’t my intention to take such a long break from working on the tilux.  I’ll be honest.  In the push to try to get the car drive-able to the Vintage back in May, I did burn myself out a little bit on it.  I knew that if I stepped back for a minute and caught my breath, I would get re-energized and re-inspired to get the car on the road.  The timing worked out well because as you can see from this post, it’s been a very hectic but very fun summer here in Rubber City.  I’m still working three jobs, and still trying to live life to the fullest.

2 Goodyear blimps over Akron, Ohio

I apologize if this post was a little scattered and hastily written, but that’s the way the summer has been.  Stick with me though.  I had to get everyone caught up to the events that led up to today.  It’s now officially September 17th, one year to the day that I first brought home the sad 1967 BMW 2000 tilux that inspired this blog, and I have some very exciting news to report.  Unfortunately, that news will have to wait until later in the day.  I need to get a few hours of sleep before heading off to work.  Please stay tuned!

Dealing with the cold, hard truth….

Maybe I was overly optimistic.  Maybe I was crazy.  Maybe a little of both…. but tonight I was faced with accepting the fact that the ’67 tilux would not be sea-worthy in the next 3 days.  When I started this blog back in September, one of my goals was to have the tilux safe and drive-able by May 24th, the day we would depart for the Vintage, a gathering of classic BMW’s in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

At the moment, the car is neither safe, nor drive-able…but it was not without a long, hard fight.  Everything underneath the car has been replaced or refurbished.  Every suspension bit, every nut and bolt, every bushing, mount, hard line, and hose has been addressed.

Because of budget and time constraints, I chose not to tackle the body work, or a major engine overhaul yet, but rather just make it drive-able.  After all, I did get the car running with only a couple of hours of tinkering after a near-fifteen year slumber.

After scrambling like a cat trying to cover up crap on a marble slab for the past few weeks, and after adding up the potential safety issues, I had to make the tough decision that the tilux would have to wait a year to hang out with the other Neue Klasse cars.

The car starts and runs, but it smokes like a bowling team from the seventies.  There was a good bit of oil leaking from the front timing cover which was in turn getting blown by the fan all over the exhaust manifold and burning off.  Also, the top seals on the dual solex carburetors were damp from seeping fuel.  Combine those issues with the wiring under the dash which had not yet been addressed, and you have all the elements for a catastrophe.  I didn’t want to pen the blog post, showing pictures of the charred remains of a rare ’67 BMW sitting on the side of the West Virginia turnpike while the truckers drove by smirking.

There were some other safety issues that concerned me.  The turn signals were still not functional, and the wipers didn’t work.  These were issues I could have tackled earlier, but I chose to focus my time and energy on getting the car drive-able first.

Earlier this week I was able to reinstall the driveshaft and guibo after some fast help from a great company in Cleveland called Henderson Drivelines.  The U Joints that I had received from BMW for the driveshaft were too large for the yokes, noticeably larger than the U Joints that came out of the shaft.  They were a superceded part number, probably for a later model driveshaft, and the earlier, smaller U Joints were NLA.  They would never have fit the yokes on my driveshaft, and modifying the yokes would have compromised their integrity. Henderson was able to measure the old U Joints, find a pair of them in Columbus that they felt would fit, and they had them installed for me the next morning.  I would definitely recommend them.

I painted the exhaust using POR 15’s manifold paint.  I was very happy with the color.  I  ran all new brake lines using the alloy material that I spoke of in my previous post.  This is the same material that Porsche is using on their new cars.  It is very easy to bend by hand, and installs very neatly.  I ran my copper fuel line as well.  After installing the exhaust, rear sway bar, and new end links I was able to hear the car run again for the first time since September. It actually does sound pretty good, although judging by the smoke, I’m concerned about the compression on the motor.

Despite the safety issues, I believe that I hit the final roadblock that would end the dream of driving the tilux to this year’s Vintage when I tried to engage the drivetrain this evening.  I didn’t have another set of eyes to see exactly what was happening under the car, but I had no resistance in the pedal when letting off the clutch and engaging a gear.  I don’t believe the driveshaft was turning, leading me to believe that the clutch is either shot or frozen.  Like I said, I didn’t have anyone else to help me out tonight, so I will be investigating this in the coming weeks.

Anyway, while I am a bit disappointed that I did not make my deadline, I do have the opportunity to finish the car properly, which may now include an entire engine rebuild, and plenty of more blog posts for my dedicated readers.  I will be sure to document all of the other fabulous vintage BMWs as Mae and I travel to Winston Salem next weekend, either in my 1970 2002 or the 2012 Jetta Sportwagen, but for now….not in the tilux.  Hey, there’s always next year.