Goodbye Johnny!


For the last few years I have been trying to sell my 74 Mustang Mach I, Johnny. My first car, which I hunted down and bought back 12 years after I sold it (Bought it in 87, sold it in 93, bought it back in 2005). My original goal was to fix it up and enjoy it, but I do not enjoy working on cars like I did 15 years ago (Dave argues I NEVER enjoyed it that much). So once I got it running, and it is an actual, drivable car, so hopefully safe from ending up abandoned in a junkyard, I have been trying to sell it. Every summer I try, people look at it, nobody wants to pull the trigger, and I’d fix up a few more things to make it better.

This year I again listed it for sale, and again got some interest but nobody wanted to deal with the engine problem, low compression on one cylinder. It needed a top-end rebuild. I could do it, I’d done it before, but I really didn’t want to. But since nobody else wanted to tackle it, I decided to make the commitment. I put my boat up for sale to make room in the garage, and someone snapped it up within a day (I guess I should have asked for more $$$). Now there was room in the garage, and I could tear the Mustang apart.


I was ready to pull the heads when someone on the Mustang II forum said they were looking for a nice fastback with a 302, and I thought about it for a bit, and wrote to them and told them I had a nice one, and they could have it and ship it home to CA for under budget. They were not afraid to do the work on it. A deal was struck.


He sent an inspector, and we used an online Escrow service, which was new for me. When it passed inspection he sent a transporter to pick it up. I had to say goodbye to the Mustang my Grandpa picked out for me. The interior I had put together, even the wheels I had hand painted.


So much nostalgia to that car, but now it is off on it’s next adventure to it’s excited next owner, and that’s ok too. We are only caretakers for the cars that go through our hands, we have to hope the next owner takes care of them too, or at least has a lot of fun with them.

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I packed that car full of all the spare parts and bits I had kicking around, and when I got done I kept a spare pony emblem, and the housing for the original mirror which had been replaced. I put those together and made a memento to keep on my shelf. A little something to remember my unique yellow gold Mustang by.

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Midnight Adventure


David and I had a little adventure the other evening. After his Dad got confused and drove to downtown Portland and lost his car and ended up in the hospital last year, we put a tracker on his car. Dave gets notified every time the car moves. Tuesday night the tracker went off at 10:30 PM and he certainly shouldn’t have been out that time of night for anything, so we jumped in the Flex and drove over to NE Portland where he lives. I was driving and Dave was following his progress on the tracking app, figuring he would be back at his place by the time we got there. But instead, he went the wrong direction, and as we got to his neighborhood, he was 10 miles ahead of us, heading East on Hwy 26!

After some debate about if this was a real emergency, or if the cops would even want to get involved in an adult going for a midnight drive, we finally called the cops, and by the time we explained everything, they said ‘well, he’s crossing the county line, lets send you to Clackamas 911’. So those folks were real helpful, but they didn’t have any officers in that part of the county who could chase him down. So we kept going as fast as we could, following the tracking app. We called his house to make sure someone hadn’t just stole the car while he was safe at home, but there was no answer, so we followed the car.

Along the way the tracker cut out as he drove out of cell service areas, or we were out of cell service, and we’d call back 911 when we had updates. Meanwhile we are driving out into darker and darker country, out past Sandy, heading for Mt Hood. Finally an officer called and asked where he was and where we were and said ‘sorry, but you guys are closer to him than we are’ and offered to tell officers in the NEXT county, because another 15 minutes and the highway would split, and depending on which way he went, he would be heading for Hood River or Madras, and worse, that was a service deadzone, so we were probably going to lose the tracker just before the split and not know which way he went for a while.

So by then I’m doing 70-80 mph (because obviously there’s no police to stop me, and there was zero traffic this time of night), we are just absolutely hauling ass up this highway, pitch dark. We’re out of service and lost the tracker, and we see another car ahead of us, and Dave says, that would be great if that was him, and we get up close, and it IS HIM! I get behind him and honk and blink and put my hazards on, and he pulls over. Dave runs up to his door and his Dad says ‘I figured if I kept going this way, I’d see something familiar.”!

He had driven 45 miles into the mountains! He was almost at Government Camp! When we got back to where we had service Dave called 911 and they were very happy to hear we caught him.

Dave drove him home and took his keys away. He’s going to go over daily to help him with whatever he would have needed a car for until we figure out what the next step is.

Update: Update on Dad. He has given up his car after talking about it and a week of running him to errands. Now getting Shari’s delivered and getting him on once a week errand visit. Will look into other help and potential medical assistance. Luckily he gets around fine and other then these jaunts he is generally able to do his day to day.

My little pony goes to a car show

I’ve been trying to sell the money pit, I mean Mustang, all summer (I kid because I love). Unfortunately people were not interested with the remaining issues, so I threw a bit more money in the pit and got a travelling mechanic to come fix a couple big ones – the failed neutral safety switch, and the carb adjustment that was causing it to not stay running. The carb issue turned out to be an air gap one the carb spacer. The old gasket blocked it, and when the paper gasket blew out, the location was not easily seen, and working on carbs is not my favorite thing to begin with.

So that got it running, and I took it to a cars & coffee to meet the local car folks.

Then I got busy and didn’t do much with it all summer. I did continue to try to sell it, but I think interest was limited because it has a burnt valve on one cylinder.

We have a car show coming up at work next week, so that got me in a car show mood. The local club had another show this weekend, and it supported a local police K9 unit, so I signed up.

It was a bit gloomy and misting rain this morning. The Mustang gave me no problems starting up and driving to the show.

I set up a note on my dash explaining how it was my first car, and put the sales brochure out too, opened to the Mach I page.

I was right across from the classic Mustangs.

There were so many nice cars there! Really nicely done classics and late-models. It was fun to see them all! Especially the hot rods!

This motor in a classic Cougar was awesome. I’d like my Mustang to look this nice someday. So clean!

I had a nice time visiting with other car owners. Some who built their own cars. I got some ideas for making my mustang better. A friend from work dropped by.

K9 unit was there to answer questions.

I was the only person there in my class, which was mistakenly labeled 1973-1978. It should have been 1974, the 1973 Mustang is the same as the 71-72. Because I was the only Mustang II there lots of people came by to look at it and tell me about how someone they knew had one years ago, one guy even said he had never seen one in real life!

Since I was the only one in this class, I got my first trophy.

It was enough fun I feel like I should keep working on the Mustang this winter. It would be nice to show up for the next big Mustang show with some progress to show and talk about.

Winter Artwork

Wow, it has been a long, cold, boring winter. I don’t remember a winter that has been this cold, or snowed so many times. We usually barely get any snow, and usually get none at all. But this winter…well, at least the dogs enjoyed it!



Not sports car weather!



I do love it when the trees look like this, especially against a bright blue sky.



And I love the dramatic shadows cast by the low winter sun.


Tree Shadow

So I cleaned it up in photoshop and made a piece of art of it. That is actually a pretty nice way to pass the time when trapped inside by winter cold.


Mount Navi

Winter Navi.

We also went to a Winter Woolies horse show and took some photos. I love doing horse photos.

English Horse2

English Horse 4


And then for something completely different:

boats in the bay

This piece was made from a screenshot from Red Dead Redemption 2. I added the textures to make the sky-glow and painted it. I was really happy with how it turned out.

So that’s how I’ve been fighting the winter doldrums! Luckily it is almost over, and spring is on its way.

Putting the Mustang back together

I have this Mustang. It primarily functions as a kayak rack in my garage, but that’s not really fair, because it actually runs and everything. It’s just that when I bought it in 2005 I stripped everything out to look for any rust issues. It didn’t have any! But all the parts went into storage, and ever since then it has looked like this inside.

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In 2016 my friend Jim did the lion’s share of the work to put in the new drivetrain and get it running again. I cleaned out the gas tank, put in new sending unit, painted the engine bay, and rebuilt the brakes, and handed it over to him to finish. So when I got it back it ran, but it looked like this. Still pretty exciting progress after ..ahem.. ELEVEN YEARS. Damn this has been a long project!

Last summer, I started putting in the new carpet. I started by laying down insulation.

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And I got to work on the carpet, but it was super hot, and really hard work, and nothing seemed to be cooperating, and one day I just walked away from it. Done.

Last week I saw a Facebook memory pop up that said I had been working on my carpet install a year ago that day! Dang! A year already?! Ok, I’ll get on it. So we pulled the kayak off of it and rolled it out into the driveway.


My tools were literally still laying where I left them when I got frustrated with it last summer.



Fine, lets put on some tunes and get to work. Car music for car chores.

I found the holes in the floor for the seat and marked those off, and figured out how much extra carpet there was. I trimmed the excess and put down the door sill trim pieces. Then I realized my real challenge was going to be remember how all this went together. Now it’s been 13 years since I took it apart!

No problem, Past Me has it covered.


Every screw and bolt, meticulously documented and individually bagged. And I’ve managed not to lose any of it.


But there’s so many parts, now my garage is full of interior parts I pulled down out of the rafters! My kayak is buried in them!


Like, what the hell is this?


Damn, Past Me is rockin’ this organization thing!


Passenger B Pillar. It even tells me which end goes up.

So I took my big interior panels, which I bought last year to replace my originals which were literally crumbling to dust, and cleaned them up…


And sprayed a fresh coat of paint on them. One of them was originally blue.


While that was drying I worked on the seatbelts. I think these are kind of generic seatbelts. They fit into the old location like they were meant to go there. It’s unusual something works out so nicely.


I wrestled the passenger seat into position and managed to get all four of the bolts through the holes in the carpet and the holes in the floorboard, and then laid down and reached under the car with one arm to tighten them completely by feel with the ratchet. This is the point in the project where I find myself laying on the ground, hot, exhausted, questioning every decision that has brought me to this point.


But finally it is in and fastened down, the carpet is trimmed, the kickpanels are in, and that is enough for one day.

Day 2 – I put the rear quarter panel inserts from my original panels into the newly painted panels, because they were in better shape. These are deluxe interior panels, with burlwood inserts. They look snazzy and match the dash and door panels. It takes a bit of work to get them fitted and route the seatbelts, and finish installing those.


Strangely enough, everything is fitting together nicely. I mean, I know it all belongs, but I’m still surprised.

I manage to install the upper trim pieces, since they are easily marked for me. Thanks, Past Me. You rock.


I run out of daylight, but got a lot done.


Day 3

With a little help from this:


And a lot of trial and error


I start getting the backseat installed. It is four pieces. The seat bottom, the seat back, a hinged metal panel the seat back fastens to, and a third piece that that panel locks into in the up position, and covers a gap when it is folded down. Plus these pieces have carpet attached to them, but the new carpet pieces do not have the reinforced attachment points the originals had. I make do by attaching them with contact cement. Then, after a bit of head scratching…




That’s how I got my stuff to college back in the day. Everything I needed fit in the massive back end of the mustang!


Two more pieces for the way back, just needed a little touching up to hide the scratches.


And (except for the missing parking brake) it actually looks like a legitimate car again.






Before the weekend is out I need to put more transmission fluid in it and test drive it, then Monday it is going to a shop to get it’s leak fixed. I’ll see if they can put the parking brake back in as well. And that’s most of the major stuff. Next I guess would be suspension rebuilds. And if we all survive that, and I win the lottery, maybe someday I’ll get it painted.

I feel pretty accomplished for three days of work in the evenings between after work and sundown. Thank goodness for long, hot summer nights. They feel like they were made for car projects! Maybe someday soon instead of working on this car, I can cruise down the road in my yellow/gold ponycar, wind blowing through my hair, Eric Carmen singing ‘Make Me Lose Control”. It will be 1988 all over again.



Johnny – My Miracle Mustang

I don’t normally post on this blog about the Mustang so much, because it has it’s own blog, and this is where I post home and family stuff. But this is big news, and Johnny IS family – and Johnny is running again. I sent him over to my friend Jim’s house in October, right before getting laid off from my job 😦 Jim did an amazing job of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again for as little $$$ as he could manage. Maybe this should be called the Bionic Mustang, because he is better, stronger, faster than ever before!

Jim squeezed a 302 under the hood. This is considered nearly impossible in some circles, because 74 Mustangs have a smaller engine bay that was never intended to hold a V8, in fact when I discussed it online someone had the gall to tell me I was lying because it was impossible! Nope, not impossible.


Either way, Johnny is my Miracle Mustang, because Johnny was my first car in 1987, and I sold it in 1993 shortly after we got married. Then I kicked myself for doing so for years while I bought and restored other Mustangs, until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and knowing that the odds were that someone had junked it and cut it up by then, I went looking for it in 2005. Thanks to help from other Mustang lovers online, I found it. I handed over the cash and brought my old friend home, not running. Then I proceeded to have rough times that stopped me from really spending the money on it that I wanted to for years, until I met Jim (completely coincidentally – he came to look at a part I had for sale – not even a Mustang II part, but he saw my pony in the garage and said ‘hey, I have one of those, and a bunch of extra parts too’). He had the parts, and the know-how to make it happen. And he is just an all-around awesome guy!

So I pulled the old drivetrain out, rebuilt the brakes, resealed the gas tank and cleaned out the fuel lines, and sent it over to his house. He did all the magic.


It’s got a ways to go before other people will be too impressed by it, but to me..sigh, I’m more than a little in love with this silly yellow Mustang that my Grandpa found for me 29 years ago! Back then I paid $1000 which I had saved up from my afterschool job at the pet store. Today, I’ve got more than that in the engine.

Here’s my reward:
Mustang II – New 302 Engine from Stephanie Roberts on Vimeo.

Seeing it roll out of the garage under it’s own power for the first time since..well, it wasn’t running when I brought it home in 2005, so..first time in a LONG time. And it sure as heck didn’t SOUND like that back in the day!

A couple days later he declared it finished enough to go home. Still lots of work to do:


but it’s running and driving.



We rearranged the garage to make room. Now I have TWO completely impractical cars! Lucky me!


I started playing around with polishing off the oxidation to make it look a little nicer. I plan to take it to some cruise-ins this summer, even if it is ugly.


And I can even drive it on errands, like here where I drove it to the gym. It’s a real car now, it runs and drives!

So, that’s my amazing project Mustang. Mustang #7 for me, and yet also Mustang #1. It’s something so many car enthusiasts wish they could have – their first car, the one they drove their friends around in at school, the one they took their first dates in, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have sold mine, and then found it again. Not one ‘like’ it, but my actual, honest to goodness, first car. Grandpa never would have guessed I’d still have my yellow pony all these years later!


Mr Miata – Spring Spruce Up

The rear bumper on the Miata was looking pretty bad, with a cracked and peeling clear coat. One sunny Saturday I got in the mood to do something about it. I also have these Rod Millen Motorsports side skirts I bought for it a couple years ago, so I decided to paint those as well.


Satin Black, same as the tail and the mirrors.

I love the way it looks. I wouldn’t mind doing the whole car in Satin Black.

I didn’t install the skirts yet though, I’m still not sure about them.

After a sunny day exploring the Gorge. Such a happy little car!


Miata Show!

I don’t do this very often, but our local Miata club was holding their first show at the Mazda dealership in Beaverton, so I decided to give The Squirt a bath, put on our snazzy red hard boot, and head on over there.

There were about 40 Miatas there, from mild to wild.

I drooled over some fancy interiors!

And an actual ’93 LE, which is what my Miata wants to be when it grows up!

There was even a car with teddy bear wheels!!!

I won a raffle bag, got a sunburn, and a great time was had by all! It was so much fun to be surrounded by other people who love these fun little cars!


Our new Ford Flex

There was a time when we horse-traded cars all the time, cars would come and go so quickly we’ve forgotten we owned some of them! But recently we have settled down and lived with a few cars that we really liked
Dave’s 1993 Dodge Stealth
My never-ending Mustang Project (Immobile since 2005 – and still NOT going strong!)
Mr Miata (1990)
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And the mighty 1995 Van – which has done a mighty good job pulling the Airstream since we bought it in 2003, and has also set a record for length of stay. I don’t think we’ve ever owned a car for 10 years straight without once having even thought of getting rid of it.

Unfortunately, all our functional cars have something in common – the newest one is a 1995 – and it’s 2013! The Stealth is coming up on some major maintenance that will probably cost more than the car is worth. So we decided it was time to replace the Stealth. My priorities were something that could handle gravel roads for getting to the trailheads for all the hiking I’d like to start doing, and something with 4 doors that would make it easier to load the dogs. Dave’s priority was something cool with lots of horsepower.
As we started shopping, it appeared that anything we got with the ground clearance and passenger capacity we wanted would be pretty big – almost big enough to pull the trailer. I spent months fussing over towing capacities and reviews of towing performance on the crossovers we were test driving. I wasn’t very happy with any of them. Seemed like if we just went a little bit bigger we could replace the Stealth and the Van with one car.
Then this showed up on the internet search at a Ford dealership in Portland.


It’s a Ford Flex! Silver with a black leather interior, and even with 68k miles on it, it just about looks perfect from end to end. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer car. We had already been to test drive a 2013 with 15k on it (it was a former rental car) and liked how it drove, but the $26k price tag was too rich for us. Then we saw this 2009 on a local ford lot, and it was $17.5k, which was much better. We only needed to get them to knock off the 500 to get down to $17, and we felt it was a fair price, especially compared to the other ones available. The carfax was clean, and showed it spent one year as a rental, and then the next three years with a family in Vancouver, so it was a local trade in. It also isn’t loaded down with goodies we don’t need (though it’s still plenty loaded compared to the cars we are coming from). The sales guy knew nothing about it, told us all sorts of stuff that was wrong, didn’t know how big the engine was, said it had 7500# tow capacity (it will have 4500# capacity after adding an oil cooler)! Luckily we had done our research and already knew all the info we needed.

Check out that cushy black leather interior!

The only problem we had was that we had gotten pre-approved from our credit union, and wanted the dealer to just give us a purchase order, and we would go get the check and come back with it the next day. But 1) they want the sale closed NOW so you can’t change your mind, and 2) they want the financing to go through them, so even if they get the financing through your credit union, they will get some kickback. However, we didn’t want them running credit check on us – it wasn’t necessary. So Dave steadfastly refused to fill out a credit app, and they just would not give up. It literally took an hour to get them to relent and send us home with a purchase order. They said, oh we can’t hold the car for you (that’s ok, we’ll risk it), we can’t take a deposit, it’s against the law (really? I find that hard to believe), Here, you tell us the info and we’ll fill it out for you (you’re really not getting the point). Finally, FINALLY, they decided to give us the purchase order and let us go. So they brought out a blank purchase order and said ‘here you go, sign this’, and we were like, we can’t sign this, it has no info on it! I don’t sign blank contracts! They said, it’s ok, we’ll print everything on it later. We said fine, go print it on it NOW, we’ll wait. So they went away and then came back and said they couldn’t do that, so they made the salesguy write it out by hand – I think it was just to make it as painful as possible for not filing out their credit app!

I love the ‘ribs’ on the sides and back, giving it that retro station wagon look! (This picture was taken after we got the hitch installed)

The next morning at the bank we found the guy had totally screwed up the VIN, but luckily we could pull it up off their webpage and got all the bank paperwork filled out. Columbia Credit Union was great to deal with, didn’t try to push anything on us, helped us figure out the best payment, got 5 years and well under $300 a month, so I was happy. Took the check back to the car dealers where they made us awkwardly sit around and make small talk for about a half hour with the sales guy, then finally went in with the finance guy. So we have a purchase order, a check, and printed instructions on where to send the title to the Credit Union. By the time we get to the finance guy he has lost the piece telling him where to send the title! Then he starts asking us about our credit score to see if he can get us a better rate (again, no thank you, and our credit score is none of your business), and THEN tries to sell us on ‘gap insurance’ and a warranty!

Finally – about 2 hours later – we drive off with our new car. Salesguy offers to help us setup the bluetooth, and we say no thanks, I’m eager to get back to work, and we finally drive it home – yay! Later, when our friends are helping us try to set it up, it turns out, the car doesn’t even have Bluetooth! I swear that kid didn’t get a damn thing right about the car!
The final insult, on our way out the door they hand us ONE key – sorry, that’s all they have. We should have argued the point (or found this out earlier in the negotiations), but since we are coming from 1990’s vintage cars we had no idea that the key has a chip imbedded in it and needs to be programmed. If you have two keys you can program a third, but if you only have one, you have to let the dealer program it, and it costs about $150!!! Let me put a few more exclamation points on that – $150 FOR A KEY!!!!!!!! What a flipping rip off!
It’s such a shame that to get the car you want, sometimes you have to deal with car dealers because they really put such a massive amount of ‘suck’ into the whole experience.

But none of that matters, I shall put it all behind me (except for remembering to never, NEVER go anywhere near that dealership again), because we already LOVE our Flex! It drives so nice, it has good power, it’s smooth, it’s so quiet you can easily talk in it. Last night we went to a play about 45 minutes away, and took our friends, and the backseat was comfortable and we chatted the whole way. I even took my whole department to lunch and fit everyone in it – with two adults in the third row – they said it was reasonably comfortable! I can plug in my ipod and listen to Christmas music 🙂 It’s just awesome.



It’s a little bit shorter than the van, both in length and height. Since it did not come with a factory tow package,we had our tire guys install a Reese tow hitch, now we just need an oil cooler and then it will tow 4500#, plenty for our 3000# trailer. And look at all this room in the back for hauling stuff – and that’s with the backseat still up!


Oh, and all-wheel drive, so it shouldn’t get stuck on wet grass like the van used to. Can’t wait to get that all setup and try it in the spring! I think the silver Flex and the silver Airstream are going to look great together!


The worst part is that after finding this awesome Flex to replace the van, we have decided the van is just too useful to get rid of yet, so we’re keeping it – for now anyway. There’s no way I would let anyone put plywood or gardening supplies in the back of my beautiful Flex!


Van takes a holiday

I mentioned how the van took a day off from starting earlier this week. Well today I was out and about, driving it on a wild goose chase to find a new mower, and we ended up way over in Portland when it decided it had started enough for the day, and refused to run anymore 😦 I was pretty annoyed, because not only do I NOT need another mechanic bill, but I hadn’t even found the elusive ‘great deal’ on a new rider mower I was trying to hunt down. So the van is now at a Ford dealer over in Portland, and my cousin gave me a ride back home. Kind of a lousy way to waste an otherwise beautiful day.