Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017 In Review – New Rear Bumper Project

"Where the heck have you been?"

Yep.  That's does indeed seem to be the popular question from most of the loyal followers of this blog and from friends all over the world. 

Honestly, 2017 was an unimaginable blur in life that welded together some of the happiest, stressful, frustrating and saddest times all into a year that, in the end, I was happy to see off with my beloved family around me.  In the end, there was A LOT that happened in 2017 that took precedence over car building, but believe it or not, progress was made on a particularly complex element of the Boss project as you will see in a later post.  However, as a quick catch-up, 2017 went something like this:
  • I Got Engaged!
Yep.  My unimaginably patient and undeniably “better half” of the last 11 years will finally become my bride within the next 12-18 months.  I have been blessed to know Cindy for almost 45 years and if there was ever a story of "second chances" well.........we could write the book on it!  I finally got it right!
  • Wind Storm
Early Spring brought a substantial wind storm to the area that managed to do significant damage to my house roof (shop was good!!).  End result was a load of expensive repairs required.  More later.
  • Coupe Tuning

I spent a lot of time getting the carb and ignition tuning straight on the ’32 Coupe.  This was a much-needed exercise that has yielded an excellent running hot rod that we were able to enjoy quite a lot this season.  In the end, I had gathered so much data that I was able to write a fairly comprehensive "tuning manual" for the Edelbrock Thunder AVS carburetor series that turned out pretty well.  In fact, with a bit more touch-up, I may just publish it!
  • Bathroom Remodel (Finished in October)

After putting it off for far too long, we finally dove into a complete remodel of our master bathroom.  Gutted to the studs rebuild.  Work I do not enjoy, but the end result looks and functions fantastic.  Had to be done.
  • Crushed Shed (First casualty of wind storm)

Technically the first casualty of the earlier windstorm, our home storage shed was crushed by a huge fallen branch from an oak tree in our back yard.  Sucker was about 14” in diameter and over 30 feet long.  The shed never stood a chance.  Haul-away of the tree alone was $2k!  Sheeeeeeit!
  • New Roof & Gutters (Second casualty of wind storm)
The second casualty of the windstorm, we had to have the entire roof replaced on the house, and while we were at it, replaced the house gutters and added them to the shop!  Bottom line = $$$$$$
  • Introducing:  The Dodge Demon SRT

After almost 2 years of my secret day-job life, I was proud to have been able to enjoy the launch of my latest “baby”.  After extremely confidential work, our FCA SRT Engine Group was able to enjoy the launch of our Dodge SRT Demon!  Currently the quickest production car in the world and the highest output V8 in history, the lists of “firsts” in this car are indeed impressive.  But perhaps most entertaining and rewarding is watching this production car heft the front tires clear of the track surface on production tires!  Yes ladies and gents, THIS is what I do in my “day job”.
  • New Tractor

This was one of those “too-good-to-pass-up” moments to purchase a mid-sized diesel tractor that would easily handle the work around the house.  It needed a bit of work, but was otherwise complete and in surprisingly good shape.  Bought it.  Fixing it.  Still can’t plow snow with it.  Just ran out of time…..
  • Niagara Falls with Family

In late summer, we kicked off a flurry of activities with an overnight trip to Niagara Falls with family from Germany.  There is no doubt why this spectacle of nature is a wonder of the world and is truly something special to behold.
  • Daughter’s Wedding

Undoubtedly one of the best days of my life, the day our daughter married was as perfect as any could be.  From the weather, to the venue, to the ceremony and the reception, to having all but one of our living family members in one place for the first time, just seeing our daughter the happiest she could be in her marriage to her best friend was truly one of my greatest moments.  The path was a long one, with many ups and downs, but I am proud of the woman she has become and proud of the man she married.  Many who follow this blog will recall her (now) husband Ted as he put a tremendous amount of work into our Boss project a few summer ago.  Well, he’s now my son-in-law and we couldn’t be happier or more proud of them both.
  • Mom’s New Knee
After years of suffering with painful, failing knee joints, my Mom finally decided to have her worst knee replaced in mid-September.  With outstanding preparation on her part and equally excellent surgical prowess from her surgeon, Mom’s knee replacement was textbook-perfect and her recovery truly impressive.  In just a month from her surgery, she was done with rehab and discharged from physical therapy.  And here, at just three months after surgery, Mom is already planning the replacement of her other knee!  Lack of pain is evidently a remarkable motivator!
  • Mom & Dad’s 50th

Though the actual date was in late August, we were finally able to celebrate Mom & Dad’s 50th anniversary in October!  With wedding, surgery and family visits out of the way, we were able to concentrate on celebrating one of the most awesome events of the year (in my estimation anyway).  Mom and Dad have set the bar very high at 50 years of marriage (and counting) and I am proud beyond words of their milestone.  We were able to enjoy a nice party with friends and family all gathered to celebrate with them.  Another truly great day!
  • Well Tank & Main Gas Line

In another unexpected series of events, we got the pleasure (?) of having to replace our entire interior water well tank and plumbing system along with our main natural gas feed line into the house.  Not one to tolerate the outrageous ransoms demanded by the local “trades”, we (Dad and I) tackled both projects with urgency as winter weather was only a few weeks away.  Both fixed.  Both working better than ever.
  • Lost My Grandmother

Sadly, the year began drawing to a close on a very sad footing.  In late November, our tiny family said goodbye to our “Omi”.  My grandmother left her earthly bounds to the comfort of our Lord and the waiting arms of her beloved mate “Walty”.  Reminded again of the difficulty of being part of a small family spread widely across the globe, saying goodbye was a cruel, remote affair that I rather abhor.  However, I take comfort in knowing she is at peace and renewed.  Again, I find myself regularly pondering "life" and where everything fits.  Still confounds me so.....
  • New Grandchild on the Way
As it seems to have always been in our family, blessings come in the most unexpected ways and times.  On the heels of losing our beloved “Omi”, our son informed us that he and his betrothed were expecting a child, our fourth grandchild.  So where loss had dominated the mind and heart, a new life will arrive and be celebrated in the summer of 2018!
  • Shop Tool Re Org

In the whirlwind involved in building and “populating” our new shop, there was little time to spend organizing tools and spaces to allow optimum work flow and efficiency.  In the few remaining weeks of 2017, I made the decision to put my hands on every tool, empty every toolbox, and organize everything in such a manner to keep the work space clean, functional and easy to access.  Once I was satisfied that I had everything where I wanted it, I was in good shape to look at 2018 with more optimism and capability than ever before.  Guess we’ll see what happens!


  1. Wow, you had a very, very busy year. Best Wishes for 2018!

    1. Thank you and Happy New Year to you and yours as well!

  2. Wow Sven! And I thought I was busy with life. Congrats on many levels! You deserve a "pass" for not working on Night Mission. If I had a '32 coupe to drive, I'd definitely want to enjoy that for sure. I am also truly astounded and envious that you were part of the Demon! How much fun would that be going to work knowing what you were working on would be the most badass Dodge on the planet. (Hopefully they only come with manual transmissions.) Have a great and blessed 2018. BTW...any chance Night Mission could be done in time for your wedding????

    1. Thanks very much Dennis!

      While I don't let on about my "day job" much, I have to admit I have been extremely fortunate to be deeply involved in the development of every major performance engine & vehicle in the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep camp for the last 14 years. The Demon really is something special and unprecedented. A truly stunning performer by any measure. And actually, all Demons feature our new 8-speed automatic! It is a much more capable transmission than any manual available. In fact, we really have finally reached the threshold of performance that a manual transmission simply can't achieve. Quite a bit slower in fact!

      Finally, there is no real possibility that the Boss will be done by the time Cindy and I get hitched. But I hope to make 2018 a very productive year to that end either way!