Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Project 1987 Mercedes 300TDT - Part 2: Where do we stand?

One of the first things that needed to be done, was to figure out what condition the vehicle was truly in, and what kind of maintenance had been carried out on it by the previous owners. And while I've researched this car pretty heavily, and spent a lot of time reading on the forums to know what to look for, there is really nothing better than having someone take a look at it who has worked on these cars their whole professional life.

Turns out there is an independent Merc mechanic in Easton that fits the bill...lucky me. I took the car in to have it looked over and assessed (something that really should have been done before I purchased it). Turns out that God was definitely taking care of me on this transaction... not that I'm not really surprised by that! Who was pretty surprised was my mechanic regarding the condition of the car. He kept saying while he was looking it over "Now typically this part is worn out by now......oh, it looks like it was recently replaced with a factory part" or "This is a place notorious for leaks........Wow, I've never seen one that didn't have oil there!". Needless to say I was pretty happy when after our first meeting he tells me that I've got the nicest one of this model he's ever seen

Claires Birth-1

At 198K miles its important to stay on top of routine maintenance. Usually you would start by by checking the service records for things like fluid changes, and scheduled maintenance to see what was needed. However none of those records came with the vehicle, so we had to establish a new baseline. Essentially we had to change all the fluids and do some proper preventative maintenance and document it.

1. Oil Change/Oil Filter
2. Automatic Transmission Fluid change/ATF Filter change (pan off)
3. Rear Differential Fluid change
4. Coolant change/system flush
5. Brake Fluid change/brake system flush
6. Power Steering Fluid change/Power Steering Filter
7. Both Fuel Filters including pre-filter
8. Timing belt inspection/cleaning

Changing the Oil Filter (canister type)

Draining the old oil (filter must come off first to open system)

Removing old Power Steering filter

New Power Steering Filter labeled and in place

Searching for the drain-plug on the Transmission

Drainging the Transmission Fluid

The Transmission pan removed showing the Filter assembly prior to replacement

Draining the rear differential

View from atop the lift while bleeding the breaklines

My mechanic also lets out some floor space to a guy who races vintage imports


Now that I have a pretty good feel for where we are I can start on some of the projecty stuff that I've got in the works; namely the cruise control, and the window/door projects. Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Claires Birth: Redux

The first post we had for Claires birth was sparse to say the least. We snapped a ton of photos in our 2.5 days in the hospital, and have a bunch that are worth sharing. Here is a slideshow of some of the better shots we captured.

As a reminder you can click on the image itself to go to the next one in the list, or you can hover your mouse at the bottom of the image to get a menu where you can chose an individual photo.

Here is a brief rundown of Mondays Events:

6:00a: Lauren wakes up from having contractions off and on all night long.
8:00a: Eli wakes up :)
10:00a: Lauren is pretty convinced that these are not false labour due to the severity of them, so we decide to go into Easton and do some shopping and chores to stall and get a bit further into labour.
11:30a: As we are walking out of Target Lauren turns and says (in the middle of a contraction) "I think we need to drop the kids off now"
11:31a: We drop the kids off :)
12:00p: We get to the hospital to get checked and Lauren is now at 6cm and 60% effacement.
12:45p: They give us a room and take care of Laurens IV that she needed.
1:30p: Karen; the resident Labour Therapist comes in to help Lauren with the labour by giving her massages, accupressure, technique on the birthing ball, and general encouragement. She was pretty awesome and a great help.
2:45p: The doctor comes in and checks Lauren; now at 8cm and 80% effaced. She offers to break the water and once she does the contractions kick up.
3:00p: Lauren starts to feel the need to push and the doctor say "Go for it"
3:07p: We've got a kid!

All in all things went really smoothly, and relatively quickly. No doubt God really blessed us throughout this labour and birth, payment for having James? ;) Were really glad that it went down the way it did, and are now back home just getting settled into family life with 3 kids!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Project 1987 Mercedes 300TDT - Part 1: Introduction

Back in March we started looking for a new car for Lauren. The Element while a great family vehicle only had 2 seats in the back, and figuring that Claire wouldn't want to ride on the roof, we had to get something else.

Growing up we had a 1971 Mercedes 300D which we all loved, and recently I've been reading about Mercedes Diesel Wagons with some interest. Turns out the the 1987 300TDT Wagon is a pretty rare breed with several things unique to that year; an extremely overbuilt inline 6 cylinder turbo-charged diesel being one of them. These cars are said to routinely get 500K plus when maintained decently, so I set out to see if I could find one.

There were only ~3000 or so of them in the states back in 1987 and due to rust and accidents, likely far fewer in working condition currently. These numbers plus the fact that this specific model has become quite a hot commodity recently due to the ease of SVO and WVO conversions had me wondering if I would find one worth buying locally.

Good old showed that there was actually one for sale in VA, I went and looked at it, and as soon as I gave it a onece-over, I could tell this one was a gem. The previous owner had taken great care of it as well as putting about $2K worth of repairs/maintenance into it within the last year including the rear hydraulic system and the sunroof (can be a real pain!).




I've got some plans for this car both big and small, however the first project was to get it up to snuff for Laurens daily driver/grocery getter. This involved getting the maintenance schedule up to a proper baseline (I'll go over that more in Part 2), and some various cush and comfort projects.

Heres the To-Do list for both big and small in the order I'll likely tackle them. If all goes according to plan I'll be posting these as they are undertaken and actually be able to finish the list with some money in my pocket!

1. Assessment and setting a maintenance baseline - Done (look for Part 2 soon)
2. Cruise Control - Likely a DIY project
3. New stereo.
4. AC Upgrade and Recharge
5. Timing Chain and Vacuum Pump
6. Window tint/Doors apart projects (speakers, wiring, soundproofing...)
7. WVO Conversion (dual tank pre-warming)

"When I Get To Them" projects:
1. Converting to auto switches for all windows and sunroof.
2. Replace all aging vacuum parts including dash vent actuators.
3. While the dash is off, tackle various other projects that require it.
4. Headlamp wipers
5. Better batter/"built-in" inverter with accessory outlet.

All indications point to this car being around when Claire is learning to drive, so I've got a great solid foundation in this vehicle to put some real effort into, and I intend to do so. Stay tuned for future posts about the progress I'm making.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shes Here!

Claire Aryn Taylor was born at 3:07p on Monday June 16th. She was 7lbs 13oz, and came in at 20.5 inches long/tall (however they measure that :)

Good job to everyone who picked Aryn in the poll...and shame on you whoever wanted our daughters name to be Clarinette (just kidding :) Well have more on the name choice and meanings up soon.

Super cute and very hungry, she is now spending most of her time munching. We've got tons of pictures and more info on the way, and will throw it up when we get home (laptop posting is a pain!) For now, here she is.




Note: We now have these posted on Flickr in high-res, so if you want you can get prints of them directly from Flickr. Simply click on a photo and you will be taken to the right page on Flickr.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Edens Message

Here is a message from Eden to the entire viewing audience (since she has now learned that she is famous!). The pictures were picked by her, in the video she did all her own stunts, and picked her favorite song for the sound track. The message is transcribed from her own words.

So without further ado;

Hi everybody, I love the song Saily Away, it was my favorite song. We used to all ride in the 4Runner and I used to listen to it and I really like it.

Listen to this video and watch it, you will see what I really like about this part. I like the part where I was holding the iPod, it doesn't really work but I was holding it.

This day of my video is a special day, Jamesy has one too. Send me back a message and say "Hello Eden".


Kids Pics 08-3

Kids Pics 08-4

Monday, June 9, 2008

Quick Tutorial: Subscribing to New Posts

Rather than having to check back in every so often to see if something new has been posted (at least once an hour I'm sure : ) , we can set it up so that you are automatically emailed once something new is posted.

If you want to do this, then you can email me at pitpawten at gmail dot com or let Mom know and she will pass it along.

Once I add your address, you will get an email every time something new is posted.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

6 Years In 4 Minutes

UPDATE: We've got the images used in this video posted as a set on Flickr if you wanted to see any of them individually. You can find them here.

Something I've been wanting to do for a while is put together some sequential pictures of the kids over the years into a small video. The quality isn't exactly world class, but I think it gets the point across:

WERE LOSING OUR GIRL! Just kidding :)

She is becoming quite the little lady now-a-days though. Sorting and picking through the photos to use was quite an experience in itself!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Renovating The Nursery

When Dad built this house, he did it right. That includes the location of the nursery; Off to the side of the MBR yet accessible through a door. Although well-placed, it was in no condition to hold a baby after years of not being used. So we had a list of things to do to get it up to snuff.

1. Remove old wallpaper (thanks Mom! :)
2. Prep all surfaces for paint (remove all switches, lights, fill/sand...)
3. Paint the ceiling and walls (re-coat of white for ceiling and Aqua for walls)
4. Fill the nailholes and gaps in trim and paint it.
5. Position all the furniture as it will be used.

It took the better part of the weekend to get it all done, but its pretty much ready. The only thing really still needed is to put the door in the jam (I need to modify it to swing the other direction first) and replace the carpet at some point.

The last couple of images are of the booty we got at Laurens baby shower. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Waiting Game


Alright, so we spent all day yesterday playing the frustrating game of trying to figure out if Lauren was in real labour or not.

She wasn't.

We had gotten up in the middle of the night, packed and were tracking contractions and whatnot (see below), I had taken the day off work, we had dropped the kids off at friends, went to the hospital, and in the end all we got was a good workout (probably walked 10 miles) and a day together.

Normally that would be good enough for a Thursday, but we sure were hoping for a baby too! Well, were just taking it as it comes and enjoying the time we have (thanks Mom for the encouragement).

8:00 AM
Well for the past 3 hours the contractions subsided and allowed Lauren to get some sleep. As of now, they are pretty sporadic again ranging everywhere from 15seconds @ 17mins to 1min @ 2.5 mins.

Who knows. It would suck to go through 12 hours of false labour, but stranger things have happened. Lauren is doing her best not to get discouraged.

5:00 AM
We've completed packing and are going to try and get some more sleep. Lauren is doing well (always a trooper) and is now semi-snoring. Im going to try to do the same for a bit.

Contractions: 30 seconds @ 8 mins. Regularly for over an hour.

3:30 AM
We are both up and moving about due to Lauren not being able to sleep well. Were gonna finish packing and see what she feels like in a bit. Hope we dont have to take the kids somewhere in the middle of the night!

10:00 PM
Lauren was feeling nauseous all through dinner and having some mild contractions. Weve just completed most of the packing and have it in bags lying around for when we have to leave.

Contractions: 10-12 seconds @ 10 mins. Sporadic.

Quick Tutorial: Viewing Slideshows

As you may have noticed in from the last post, we've now got a cool new way to show photos: Slideshow. It's pretty straight forward to use, however I thought I'd take a minute and explain it to avoid any confusion.

1. Clicking on the photo itself will automatically bring up the next photo in the set.
2. Hovering your mouse over the light bar at the bottom of the photo, will bring up a menu showing all the photos. You can go directly to any of them by clicking on them.
3. In that same menu there are some other options such as zooming in (if the given photo supports it) and going directly to the photo on Flickr (useful if you want to download a hi-res or get a print).

Heres a sample show to play around with, using some pictures of our first cat Peach.

Hopefully this will begin to reduce the load time of the page a bit by removing the number of photos that have to load by default, while still allowing you to see all the photos we uploaded. If you run into any trouble with it, leave a comment and I'll get back to ya!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

National Zoo in Washington DC

Back in March, we gathered up the family and headed out towards DC. We all got on the Subway (which is always fun) and headed into the heart of DC and got off at the National Zoo. It was pretty cool cause it was a Tuesday or something and there were very few people walking around.

Sadly the big-cats were a no show, and the Giraffes were all snoozing. Nonetheless we got to see some great animals including the Giant Pandas.

On the way back to the subway (an 8 block walk) the clouds opened up and downpoured on who were not wearing ANY kind of rain who proceeded to get absolutely who loved it :)