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  1. The clock struck 2019 last night. So I'm starting our brand new year with another project. And of course that means I'm going to write another workbench adventure story. Hang on to your horse, I think it's going to be a fun ride. Despite this blog's title, I don't currently own a Ford Mustang. But I had a '66 Mustang when I was a teenager. She was a tired pony with 130K miles when I drove off the used car lot. Nice looking, ran well, and had a sweet 8-track player. Dependable too, but I occasionally had to get my hands greasy. Like the time the transmission blew on the way to work (fixed for $75 after a visit to the auto junkyard). Back then I enjoyed the troubleshooting challenges while working on everyone's cars. I rebuilt engines and did just about any auto repair that came up. In those days working on cars was easy; A determined guy with wrenches and a floor jack could fix anything. Being able to fix clunkers was an advantage to a cash-strapped kid. It allowed me to purchase a variety of used vehicles to play with. I even had some that were air cooled; That's VW Bug and Chevy Corvair territory. Besides a couple modified Beetles, I had a Greenbrier 6-door van and two Monzas (sedan & coupe). Then there's that time I built a "kit" car. Not really a kit, but essentially a pile of fiberglass body parts that were assembled by guesswork and ingenuity. Running gear was decided by the builder. Mine ended up on a VW Squareback pan´╗┐ (Type 3 chassis) with a bored out 1500cc engine. The body's T-top styling looked good but the stock suspension gave it a stiff ride. See photo below´╗┐. My home built kit car. Late 1970's. Then the 1980's arrived and working on American cars became a hideous chore. Horrible mechanical reliability, bad paint, fragile plastic parts, and ungodly smog systems that ruined engine performance. At this point I was busy working in the electronics industry and my interests morphed from motors to microprocessors. And higher wages meant I could finally buy better cars. That's me on a typical afternoon when grease was still my friend. Circa 1979. Fast forward a few decades. Now I'm an occasional weekend mechanic that drives a 20+ year old Ford SUV. Bought it new (factory order) and over the years it has been a reliable friend. Other than DiY oil changes and some minor repairs, I really haven't needed to bust my knuckles. And I like that, because my love affair with grease ended long ago. Why would I tell you all this? Well, it's the introduction to the story on how a Mustang instrument cluster became the centerpiece to my latest electronic project. At the heart of the story is a grown up kid that liked tinkering with cars, lost his passion, then gets reunited by happenstance. So if you are interested in where this is going then hang around the electronic campfire while the story unfolds. The ending is not written yet, it's a real-time adventure.
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