Sunday School 2016 – The Storm Before the Calm

Last Thursday – 7 days ago now – we started what was one of the most hectic, but productive, periods of the year so far. Actually scratch that, let’s rewind further – July 29th was when it started. That was the day that I started pulling apart my car and the ST drive train conversion officially began.

I didn’t bother to do the math and figure out the number of man hours spent on the conversion but to say the least, it was a lot. I know people have many questions about the swap and are wanting to see more, but we are jumping ahead a bit here and skipping over the swap entirely, for now. The reason for this is that the entire procedure – as well as some updates on Sriracha – are going to be going up over on Project ST instead. As they go live they will of course be linked here, so please stay tuned for all of those!

Today we rewind to a week ago exactly; the day that the Focus hit the road for the first time following the conversion, and the day that José arrived in town for the show. We had actually originally planned for him to come up to Calgary earlier this year to take part in Driven, but his work unfortunately prevented the trip from happening. In the event that something would get in the way of the trip we had already decided on a Plan B however, which is what we fell back on – have him up here for Sunday School instead.

In the end I think that having him here for Sunday School was the better option, as he was able to witness Mustard’s first proper drive as an ST and he was able to get enough time off so that we could show him around town a bit and make sure he had a great time here. We of course left enough time for working on the cars but tried to ensure that he saw some of the sights – Calgary Tower included – met plenty of the gang in person, got some nice souvenirs to bring home with him, and got plenty of photos to remember the trip by. We also made a point to fit in ‘aboot’, ‘eh’, and ‘sorry’ as much as possible in our conversations to play up the Canadian stereotypes.

Hopefully that large block of text above didn’t annoy anyone but a lot took place in a very short amount of time here and with this being the blog’s first substantial post in a couple of weeks, there was some catching up to do. I think it’s certainly time to move on to the photos now though, so let’s do just that…

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With the support of many friends and knowledge being shared between us, we were able to carry out basically all of the conversion in my garage. Once everything essential was bolted in place (excluding the exhaust and some trim) the Focus was towed over to Advantage Ford for programming to get it to fire up, and the next day I had it carted over to Stampede Collision. I wanted it to be looked over by one of the mechanics and Richard did so, to inspect our work and ensure everything was good to go. Given the severity of the teardown and just how much was replaced, I wanted someone who actually knew what he was doing (aka a professional) to look through the car and make sure it would be safe and reliable for use on the streets. Following a few minor tweaks from him (i.e. rerouting a wire or two), filling and topping up fluids, and an inspection, he gave it the all clear and I took it for its first drive on public roads – albeit empty ones, just around the shop.

That was happening just as José was finishing his trip up from California. I coordinated with him to meet me at the shop and as I waited it gave me the chance to do more laps in the car and start the ‘shakedown’, if you will.

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The car was running well and I had just returned from another couple of laps when José and Rossy – his race red sedan which we have since dubbed Tabasco – came into view. We had already known each other for a few years but had never before met in person, so to see him and his car in front of me was a bit odd!

After greetings and catching up, he of course wanted to go for a ride in Mustard so we hopped in and rode around the complex briefly before then heading back into town to grab some food at a local Starbucks. The two cars heading down the road together (with mine popping and burbling at every downshift) were turning heads left and right and I couldn’t believe I was actually driving an ST sedan!

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Of course, while it was a surprise for the show that José was attending, all of us knew he would be in town for a few days and everyone was eager to meet up and hang out. We headed over to Mario’s work where Derrick joined us, and the four of us then headed out to grab some dinner.

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We took Jose to A&W for burgers and root beer, where we waited as Alex and Dominic also made their way over to meet up with all of us. We ended up staying out decently late; following our meal José had to wash the bugs off of his car so we stopped at a nearby wash to let him do so, and everyone else was eager to check out Mustard. Mario took it for a spin too and reported back that everything felt just as it did when it was still Ketchup’s drive train.

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Day two of José’s visit – Friday – I had to make a run out for some vinyl so I brought him with as he was curious to check out the shop and see what they had, and so I could show him a bit more of the town. On the return trip we made a quick stop at another A&W just as a car meet was starting but couldn’t stay long as we had to meet Brian back at my place.

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The rest of the day saw more show prep take place and we started on a new banner for Tabasco as well as Brian’s car, and I started running the new vinyl through for more decals.

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Alex made another stop at the house so we could continue working on his car as well, and a ThreeTwenty plate frame was tossed on too.

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I had to keep working all night but we wanted José to see a Barlow meet for himself, so Brian hopped in Tabasco to guide him over to the Timmies lot where they take place. The two of them returned so late that I think it was actually Saturday when they did! Haha

After chatting for a while we said goodnight to Brian, as it was time to get some sleep before the final prep day officially began.

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Once we were up, Jose and I started the day off with brunch at Cora’s and a run to Best Buy for a lens hood, before heading over to Mario’s shop again for a bit of work on Tabasco.

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Look at that smile! José was getting excited for what was about to happen.

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LOWMARO and YO LOW relaxing off to the side…

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This is why we were there – wheel swap! One thing that Mario still had left over from Ketchup was his set of Work CR Kais. No one had claimed them yet so he offered them to José as trade for his wheels and tires, and the offer was promptly accepted. These tires were a leftover set we had from the hatch, which had previously been on Mustard. And before that, Ketchup. And before that, Dallas’ old ST. The wheel swaps may have gotten out of hand…

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Being a Saturday the shop was practically empty so the sedan was promptly pulled inside and set in place to be lifted on the hoist.

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Of course, blocks were required to clear the hoist arms.

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The Styluz wheels had been on Tabasco for a couple of years and suited it well, but it was time for something a bit more aggressive.

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As I was grabbing shots, José was doing the same thing with his own camera. It’ll be cool to see the entire trip from both of our perspectives as we get all of our photos edited and uploaded!

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The tires were quickly mounted and balanced on the Works and we were all getting rather excited to see how they looked on the car. We were all aware of course that it would more or less be a sedan clone of Ketchup, which was kind of cool we thought.

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Brian then arrived to join the party and see the new wheels get fitted. At this point in time both his car and José’s had the backgrounds for their new banners, with text to come that evening.

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One thing José couldn’t understand was our fascination with the undercarriage of his car. California vehicles for the win! His Focus’ odometer is approaching 140,000 MILES (225,000 km) and the car still looks this good underneath. Sigh…

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While the wheels were off Mario and Derrick fitted new rear brake pads, items that José needed anyway. This was the only work to his car that was originally planned; the rest just kind of happened.

By this point Alex had also joined us at the shop and hung out for a little bit. The photos of the wheel swap stop here though as work was to carry on for a little while but I needed to get back home to start detailing my Focus. Alex needed to wash the TL as well so he kindly drove me home so that I could pick up Mustard, and we then headed over to a nearby wash before returning back to my place.

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Not too long after we returned, the unmistakable sound of the others’ cars could be heard and they all came into view. We were blown away by the sight of José’s car – especially in motion, it looked amazing on the Works! Funnily enough, we had changed his car’s colour scheme to red and white, the colours of the Canadian flag, which we all found amusing. By the time this photo was taken he had also received the lettering on his banner – we went with the same style that Ketchup had to make the car even more similar.

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From this point on it was all hands on deck as we worked non-stop to finish up all of the cars. Mario grabbed a white paint pen and started touching up chips on the Works – chips he put there because he winter drove them. Baller.

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Derrick was across the street polishing the exhaust tips on LOWMARO. He had to park over there with the other GMs; had he bought a Mustang we would have allowed him to park with the rest of us and our Fords.

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With José’s car rocking Mario’s old wheels, what happened to the Styluz wheels you ask? Well, after they were pulled off of Tabasco, Brian’s car promptly went in the air too and they replaced its stock 17s! It’s handy when most of the group drives the same car; parts swapping is easy! He even grabbed my old shift boot which no longer works in my car because of the reverse lockout collar I now have (having gained a 6-speed transmission as part of the conversion).

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And then, what about Brian’s old wheels? They served as tables for the pizza that evening. That was probably one of the best moments of the weekend; all of us relaxing outside on the front lawn and driveway, chowing down on hot pizza with beautiful weather to do it in, all while admiring our pride and joys with their new additions for the show.

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Work soon continued though; Jose had brought his entire detailing arsenal with him including polishing supplies (we reassured him that we had that stuff too in Canada, but the more supplies the better!) and cleaned up a few scratches in his paint.

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Mario had also just received the final pieces he was waiting on and they were thrown on a few days prior to the show – fifteen52 carbon fiber side skirt extensions! Again, a full update on Sriracha will come to the Project ST site so stay tuned for that!

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Getting just as much of a workout as all of us that day was my plotter as countless decals were cut for the cars. At Alex’s request the TL gained some new gunmetal accents on the lower portion of the doors, on top of which some custom decals were placed.

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Sriracha also received a bit of vinyl; from the dealer it had come with these little stick-on moldings across the doors and fenders. Mario had opted to leave them on but both rear door pieces unfortunately got damaged due to an installation error. We came up with an idea and replaced the damaged sections with vinyl instead, featuring the fifteen52 and officialThreeTwenty logos.

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With their smaller size the logos are fairly subtle and at first glance it simply looks like all of the moldings are still in place as before. Those who look closer instead notice the custom vinyl; we’re very happy with how it turned out.

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I also reinstalled the side skirts, fender trim, glove box, and various other little pieces that Mustard had been missing (following this photo, obviously) during the initial days back on the road. All were left out either to keep easy access to bolts or wiring, or just because they weren’t essential for testing the car. Why no glovebox? Because race car.

The final pieces were reinstalled at 6:30 in the morning before I went to bed to get whatever sleep I could prior to Brandon and Alex returning a few hours later for our drive down to Max Bell. Both of them live near me and my house was more or less en route so we met up and cruised over together. Alex also kindly brought me a breakfast of a Red Bull because he correctly guessed I’d be somewhat of a zombie. José had spent that evening at Mario’s place and the two of them – along with everyone else in the group – met us at the lot at which point we got into formation and rolled into Sunday School 2016.

After months of preparation and a couple of insane weeks of work, we finally found ourselves parked up at Max Bell, with all of the cars shining in the sun with new changes all around. We had made it, and it was time to enjoy the day surrounded by good friends and some amazing cars.

We also picked up some sunburns again; I just chalk that up to tradition at this point.

-Bill

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