Grandpa’s 504: hydraulics

This happened in between the last installment in the series.

Both the brakes and clutch didn’t work (besides not having fluid, the cylinders were stuck) so I set up to dismantle them.

After some contortions I managed to free the mechanism. A couple of hard lines broke around the fittings and part of the servo assist snapped while I was pulling.

The air filter in this unit is an oil bath one and was perfectly full. After draining it I used lots of gasoline, kitchen cleaner and boiling water to remove every trace of grim and oil. But now the filth migrated to the sink.

I also removed the valve cover to take a peek inside. It looks surprisingly clean and neat for a car of this age. The gasket was torn apart, that may explain the amount of oil on the block.

Peugeot 504: valve train

First run in 20 years.

Today I bought a used battery and decided to crank this old Peugeot 504 to see if the engine was seized or other problems lurked.

It’s been sitting there since 1998 but the diesel in the tank did not smell funny so I used the little pump on the filter until it became hard. On the last strokes I heard a subtle noise and there was a tiny leak on the line.

When connecting the battery there was a small spark and the position lights turned on. I let the glow plugs do their job and tried to crank.

Nothing, just a small click of a relay inside the dash. After a couple of times it turned with some effort but refused to start.

I let the battery rest for a moment and tried again. This time it roared as I pressed the accelerator, puffed some smoke and then idled calmly. I can hardly believe it awoke from a two decade slumber just like that.

Now I have to fix the water circuit (the hoses are dry and crumbling) and the clutch so I can move it around with a bit of ease.

Pouring a concrete floor

That shed I was cleaning needed one thing really bad, a decent floor. It was already made of concrete but with the years it broke down, revealing the soil and gravel underneath. And also wasn’t level.

So for the last couple of weeks we (my dad and I) worked together and made a new one. The next step is adding some tiles on top of that.

Backyard archaeology

While preparing the existing floor for the new pouring I discovered remnants of the old building.

In its latest years (circa 1970-1980) it was used in a wine bottling operation as a storage room and later my grandad started to build a small studio for my uncle (but that project was cancelled due to things better not to speak of).

Before that, around the 30’s and 40’s, the whole house was a ceramic tile factory. Giant ovens to fire the clay, castings and all that.

As I started to dig the trench for the new waste plumbing I found what looked like the walls of a chamber or well of sorts. The top was made of reinforced concrete and had all the appearance of being a lid.

I tried to break and lift it with very little success. On the other extreme of the room there’s a hole that seemed to be a small opening made on purpose. I dug with my hand but only got sand, gravel and fragments of old tiles.

I gave up as whatever I removed from the floor had to get back and then some more to make a proper base layer for the next one. But I plan on digging further later on.

The early bird gets the worm.

And a giant grinder.

Today I woke up early and instead of staying in bed reading until it’s a more convenient hour to start the normal daily activities I grabbed some fruit, a thermos and started to walk.

Just a block from home I spot a very old industrial grinder with a flexible coupling on the sidewalk. It’s quite heavy.
I continued to stroll around the city and saw the sunrise amid a gentle mist.

By the time I returned my brother was already awake and he lend me a hand to pick it up.

Surprisingly, it only took a couple of beats with a hammer and a wooden block to remove the coupling from the motor housing. The motor, a big and old three phase one, has all its wires crumpled and turns freely, albeit with a loud noise of broken bearing. On the other hand the shaft at the stone rides smooth, just like new.

Bicycle pulling a car.

This happened today:

That’s a 1981 Peugeot 504 (diesel) that belonged to my grandfather. After his death about 20 years ago it’s been sitting first on the original garage and lately inside this shed that we are fixing up.

The tires have an inner tube as it was usual on that era and that’s an advantage, I doubt that any contemporary tubeless would still be sealed after spending so long being flat.

I had a bit of space to speed up while pushing and the front wheels went by with relative ease. However, there’s a small step and I couldn’t make it go further with the initial momentum alone.

I lifted the car with a jack and made a small ramp out of bricks and a slab of wood. I carefully released the jack and the car slowly moved on its own. The underside looks quite good for a machine of that vintage.

Against all odds

A bit more than a week ago one of our cats, Juli, went missing.
From time to time she enters some sort of freak mode and starts to make frenetic moves. At first we thought she landed on some of the neighbors but she always managed to find a way back home and this was not the case.

We put posters around the block but as time went by her chances of being alive were really slim. She’s quite old, with poor eyesight and hearing.

By this point I had already lost hope of finding her again but late at night we got a phone call. Someone on the bus stop recognized in her picture a cat his aunt rescued a while ago. Turns out she ran away and was hit by a truck on Avenida Circunvalación. They took her home and to the vet, her hip was badly hurt.

She’s at home now, has a bit of trouble to eat (we also feed her with a syringe and a special liquid for recovery) and move but overall feels way better than what we expected given the misshapen.

Evil eye

Today I walked back from the uni at a slow pace with my termo under my arm and the path led me to the corner of 3 and 67 where there’s a kiosk.

It’s run by a friend of mine, we attended to school together. We chatted for a while and then an old woman, queer mixture of a Gypsy and La Nona made her way inside and started to empty her bag.

She tried to sell us some flowers made of what looked like papier-mâché, asking $150 for each one. We refused and I politely tried to help her anyways with what I had on my wallet (a bit less than $50).

That moment she transformed and with an elevated and angry tone accused us of having that amount of money and not wanting to buy, which was completely true, as I had no use for such an item.

We argued back and forth for a while until she said now with a darker and more calm voice, “you are evil, evil persons”, gave us a deep stare and disappeared on the street.

Heavy lift

That hoist was a godsend lately. It helped me move bedroom furniture made of carob and also this old rail that weighs a ton.

During that process both of the galvanized channels I used yielded and I was this close to have everything fall down. But I won at the end.

Lifting a wooden rail

Walk or Ride

(Take the easy way you know that you want to)

As part of my health and lifestyle changes I set up the goal to walk at least an hour a day. This is good as I normally don’t walk very much and with the bike the cold wind stabs deep inside me and I end up with my head aching even if I wear lots of protective clothing on it.

This morning wasn’t as cold as others so I left a bit earlier for uni and went there walking instead of cycling.
It took me more than double the usual time but the morning was lovely. About mid journey I found a lemon on the verge of an abandoned house. I carried it with me, smelling from time to time and capturing odd looks and a handful of smiles.

On my way back home a young lady stopped by my side to ask for the time. It was very strange that she didn’t have a cellphone but after catering to her request we started to walk together and talk, mostly about our whereabouts and her career as English teacher. We parted ways a few blocks from my home.

I don’t remember when was the last time I had that careless feeling of easiness around someone new, in general and for making conversation out of the blue. Perhaps the surprise was the difference.

Today I walked a tad more than hour and half. So far the week started very good.

Dumpster heaven

If there’s a heaven I think I visited it today.

After running a couple of errands early in the morning I headed to Lisandro Olmos on the outside of the City to buy some scrap metal for my welding classes.

A couple of members of the group said good things about Grúas Mársico so I went there, it was also a good opportunity to travel a bit on this part, as I don’t know almost anything about it.

As I entered the warehouse I became speechless. There are shelves that extend up to the roof with parts from all kind of machines neatly organized on one side. On the other pieces of metal plate and tubing. Some big planers, milling machines and spot welders among them. And on the background, the tallest pile of industrial waste I ever seen in person. All of this on sale by weight save for a couple of weird stuff.

The shop was run by a very nice lady and her brother. This morning I only bought some iron but the next time I come around I’ll bring a small truck to pick some very , very interesting stuff.

Be kind.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Alicia Reinoso.

This afternoon I walked to the city centre for a quick check up with my doctor and to run some errands. When I finished, the day had turned colder and a very fine mist was morphing into rain.

As I approached the bus stop a woman started to look at me, finally asking if I could lend her my sube card in exchange for money for the fare.

With a very distressed tone she related me that she was a Doctor and misplaced her purse with most of her documents and money but someone found it and called so she could pick it up.

The place was in a kind of sketchy neighborhood and she was very afraid of going there alone (and also, it was already dark). It’s not very far from my home and the local police station so I offered to escort her there.

Still, she was afraid and when we arrived at the police station tried to get hold of an officer to come with us but the only patrol car was on duty. We arranged for meeting there and while she waited for whomever found her purse I went to pick up our family car (she lives in the other extreme of the city and the night wasn’t that friendly for such a trip).

We drove to her home chatting about life, her children and strangely enough given my orientation, about religion, moral compasses and other stuff.

That was a very nice quarter of hour. It’s been quite a while since I had such a meaningful conversation with a stranger.

Get up off your lazy bum.

For the most part of last week I felt like catching a cold but not quite.
My body and joints ached and was in this general state of drowsiness.

This morning was humid but not cold. I gathered all my willpower and hoped into the bike instead of taking the bus to the uni.

I arrived exhausted and sweaty.
As it happens at these stages the classes are very small. Today it was only me and the professor. We stood up side by side in front of the whiteboard discussing for about an hour.
A very productive morning.

Back at home I felt terrible but empowered.

Later I went to do some errands.
I took a rest on the sidewalk and the neighbors cat brushes me, asking for petting.

We sat there for a while, attracting odd looks from the passerby people.