Hurry back from the healthcare forum! The garage needs work!

Larry attended my big healthcare conference in Las Vegas! He did get a lot out of the program, because the ideas for safety in healthcare (my field) are totally congruent with safety in aviation (his field). He was interested, but very antsy to get back home because he had received important news: the Rotary Lift was actually en route.

He quickly said goodbye to Las Vegas and swung into action preparing the garage floor. “Preparing” is a euphemism, however, for demolition! He rented a big, walk-behind diamond-bladed saw and cut two 8-foot squares in the floor, which by itself isn’t thick enough to support the lift.

Getting rid of the broken up concrete entailed digging a hole with the excavator and burying it. (It also entailed a bit of work on the excavator to get it running again.) Pat came over to help and, if Larry is any indication, he went home very sore.

Larry rented a walk-behind concrete saw to make the holes in the garage floor. He and Pat worked all day.

Now the holes will have to be extended, dug out beneath the floor on all sides, so that when they pour new, thicker concrete, it will flow beneath the existing floor all around the hole, “keying” the new patch for strength. Sounds like physics. I listen patiently, even if this isn’t exactly my thing.

Ah, but here it is–the first complication! When the garage was built, Larry had radiant floor heat hoses run through the concrete. He tried to account for the future installation of the lift, and tried to make sure the hoses went AROUND the possible holes. He almost made it.

Radiant floor heat hose needed repair. It was more of a project than it seemed, but guess what? Larry figured it out.

Alas! In each hole, he severed one hose. Today, the retrofit begins.

As I start Spring cleaning inside the house today, the concrete job in the garage ensures a steady supply of new white dirt and dust that promises to permeate everything. I never thought I’d look forward to a concrete pour, but at least that will put an end to the dust.

To make sure the concrete pad for the lift is locked into place forever, the new concrete pour will be deeper, and needs to extend under the floor around the edges. Here Larry removes styrofoam in wedges, so the concrete will create this "key."

Yes, he removes his boots at the door...and yet that white concrete powder permeates everything! Who ever thought I'd be GLAD for a concrete pour??

Welcome to Larry’s Groj

This blog will document the Big Journey of the 1966 Corvette we purchased from a family member back in 1974. Larry is getting ready to rejuvenate (NOT restore) it and prepare it for sale. As Larry’s wife, I’ve been part of this little drama for the past 40 years, so I’ve decided to document this chapter of The Corvette Story.

About Larry

Larry is an accomplished mechanic, even holds Airframe and Powerplant certificates and worked for awhile as an aircraft mechanic. That particular qualification set him apart from the others when he was first hired as an airline pilot. Now that he has retired from US Airways and we are living in the Pacific Northwest, he has decided that the pleasure vehicle for him now–at this age, living in this region–is a boat.

Some have asked, Gee, since you’ve held on to the Corvette all this time, why sell now? That leads to the bigger question: How does a retired airline pilot raise enough money for a boat?

Aha! Sell one toy, buy another.

About the Corvette

Back in 1974, Larry and I had recently returned from a year in Fairbanks, Alaska, where Larry got his first year of experience in the cockpit, as a Flight Engineer in an L-100 Hercules. Now he was a First Officer for a nonscheduled airline in Oakland, California, we a job that allowed us to move back to our native California.

Cousin Tom, a recent USC Dental School grad, was raising funds to open a practice. Reluctantly, he put his Corvette up for sale. Tom had been the third owner, had all the paperwork and so on. When Larry bought the car, it made the parting just a little easier on Tom.

Larry’s first order of business was to convert the traditional carburetion system in order to circumvent the increasingly stringent air quality requirements in California. So he purchased a beautiful 1963 fuel injection unit, which, when installed, would create clean enough emissions for the car to pass.

We took delivery of the car in Burbank, California, where Larry drove it right over to my parents’ house. Dad, a terrific mechanic himself, (and an old barnstorming pilot, too), had a whimsical sign over his garage door that read:¬†Jim’s Groj. The two of them worked a full week reconfiguring the car to get the fuel injection system working, but it did work, flawlessly. Of course, Larry saved all the original parts.

Fast Forward

Okay, so life has a way of intervening. By 1976 we had one baby and by 1979, we had another one. The Corvette became a garage fixture, a sort of objet d’art. As a result, of course, every house we had after that required a three car garage–two bays for the jalopies¬†Larry ingeniously kept running (and running and running)…and one capacious bay for the custom-tarped Crown Jewel.

Larry became a pilot with US Airways, which in 1991 necessitated a cross-country move to Pennsylvania. And yet another three-car garage.

The last outing of the Corvette took place in Pittsburgh when our son, Craig, (the 1979 baby), begged his dad to get it running so he could take it to his Senior Prom. It was glorious! That was 1997.

Now it’s 2012 and we have moved again across the country. Larry’s retired and we live in the Pacific Northwest. Larry doesn’t want an airplane (thank God!), but he does miss the navigation, weather, and intrigue of going places.

I prefer a boat to an airplane. I’m not that Granny who could figure out how to land the airplane if the old boy slumped over the yoke mid-flight. But I could certainly float in a boat and wait for the Coast Guard.

But wait, there’s more!

Seems simple, then. Fix the Corvette. Market it. Sell it. Pass the Kleenex. Buy a boat.

Alas, four decades have passed since Dad and Larry put the fuel injector unit on the car. Dad is gone these 20 years. In one unexpected plot twist, the fuel injector unit has positively skyrocketed in value and is worth lots more OFF the car than ON it. So although Larry was hoping to avoid “restoring” the car, he will have to put the original carburetor system back on, then fix up and sell the injector unit separately. (It’s that important.)

If it took Dad and him a week to install the fuel injector 40 years ago, how long will it take Larry to reverse the process now? He’s older than Dad was when they did the job together. It’s a fearsome amount of work.

The very first thing that held Larry back was the idea of being on his back on a garage creeper under a low-clearance sports car. Extremely un-fun, possibly injurious.

I agreed.

So what’s the answer? If you know Larry, (and if you don’t know him, you soon will), you know that there will be no half-measures. He decided he needs a garage lift, just like the commercial one at the auto alignment shop he frequents.

When we designed and built our “retirement home” here in the Pacific Northwest, Larry made sure that its mandatory three-car garage would be ample. ‘Cause you just never know, right?

Somehow this garage morphed to 1000 square feet, (about the size of the house in Burbank where I grew up). Except this garage has a ceiling is 13-1/2 feet tall, (a feature which, I assure you, the Burbank house never had). Before ordering the lift, Larry measured exactly where things would go, dropped weighted strings from the ceiling, mocked up the configuration on the floor, and even borrowed a friend’s pickup truck to make sure it would fit.

Truck? Where did the truck come in? Well, what are we going to haul the boat with?

At last, after a couple of years of deliberation, thinking about, then dismissing, less expensive alternatives, Larry took the plunge. He ordered a Rotary Lift for the garage. It will be here about the third week of April.

We invite you to follow the shenanigans

This should get interesting right off the bat. Larry will have to poke two big holes in the concrete of the garage floor to put in concrete pilings capable of holding the lift. That will probably necessitate repairing some of the radiant floor heat tubes that run throughout the concrete out there. Oh Lordy…here we go!