1967 Cougar

This car had been passed down from parent to brother and finally into my eager hands. The sentimental value of having been in the family for so many years drove the decision to restore it as it was officially “part of the family”.

There were many lessons learned during all the years that were spent restoring it. Most, if not all, have benefited me all through my life. Some might say that I should have started with a car that was in better condition to start. On the surface, it would seem obvious that having to remove, source, replace, fix and modify so much of the car that it would have been simpler, had I started with a version that was in better condition.

Yes, there’s no denying that. But, as my version the expression goes, ” it’s the journey, not the destination that matters”.

When I started At a relatively young age of my late teens, I was learning how to deal with people, source parts and services, learn, apply and hone new skills. Commitment to a project, perseverance and planning skills learned in the 5 plus years it took to finish the car proved to be invaluable in future years.


The expression “beauty is only skin deep” applied to this car. The more I looked beneath the skin, the more ugliness I found.

Stripping away the components and paint shows what’s sound and what needs replacing.

Ah, gone are the days when you could tear down and rebuild an engine at home and were still able to call the parts by name.

The chassis and drive train were finally complete and put back together. Now the focus could be turned towards restoring the body.

The final bit of body work was given to a body shop to do. More expertise than I had in those days was required to get all the lines perfect.

Before sending it for final painting, some of the parts needed to be put back on the car. The doors, hood and trunk lid needed aligning.

The engine was modified with the usual and not so usual “go fast” bits. Of course, it also had to look good.

When I began my 4th year of University, I was finally able to take the completely restored 1967 Mercury Cougar with me.

This was what was called a “sleeper” in the day. Nothing too obvious that said it was fast.

It seemed this car was going to be a harbinger to how I approached the rest of life; with a passion for things unique and a drive to create them.

Challenging your comfort zone

Replacing A Miller Cycle Supercharger

Déjà vu all over again. A few decades later  years later my brother passed his Mazda Millenia S to my mother who then passed it down to me while I waited for the Toyota Sienna I ordered to arrive.

But as before, being the 3rd owner came with problems. This time it was blown seals on a supercharger that was the heart and lungs of the engine. The whole car was scrap without a working supercharger and a new one’s MRSP from the dealer was somewhere around $7K. A horseshoe was hiding somewhere when I found a used one that was in good condition from an engine where the bottom end was damaged.

If again I can quote a familiar expression, ” the operation was a success but the patient died”.

I was able to successfully transplant the super charger with the exception of a homeless vacuum hose that even the dealership couldn’t find a home for.

My wife drove it for just a month or so when on a bleak winters day she asked to switch cars with me due to the bad weather and that’s when the patient died. I ran a red light where I didn’t even see that there was a traffic light until there was a car in the intersection (that I also didn’t know I was about to enter) and in that moment two cars met their final end. Neither driver was injured beyond a minor knock to the head of the other driver.


The Mazda’s Miller Cycle engine buries the supercharger deep under the intercooler plumbing, intake manifold and fuel injection rails.

The failed Lysholm screw-type supercharger pictured in its new role as a paper weight.

It seemed that further disassembly was going to be required if I was to get to the bottom of why it failed.

It quickly became apparent that some very specialized manufacturing and assembly tool was used to press the internal parts into the housing.

Once cleaned up, the Lysholm screws made for a very attractive trophy. Unfortunately, that’s all they were good for.

The failure mode was blow by at the bearings. I discovered that no one rebuilt these and the only option was to find a working one. Which I did.

Moving day

When you only want to make one trip

I was given the perfect excuse to build a cover to my trailer. So often I would want to pick up supplies but the weather was not cooperative and the materials needed to stay dry. But it never seemed like a project that I could justify when a larger project (ie:… what the supplies were for) would then be put on hold.

Enter the excuse. Move my daughter back home from University. It was going to be two trips to get her home unless I could pack my trailer higher. Literally adding the cap added three times the packing space.

Now the problem was that I had only 4 days to design, purchase the materials and build the “cap”.

Admittedly the advanced team did go without me that day. Most of the disassembly, boxing up, etc, was done by the time I finished the cap and drove to her place to be able to remove the now boxed and wrapped contents.

What concurrent design and fabrication looks like. Humm…. I think that looks about right?

Was I thinking I was designing a pergola? In fact this design approach tried to maximize strength at the same time as headroom.

It’s all in the details…

You’d think after doing this I’d be inspired to build a boat or perhaps a small plane?

There’s always something that throws you a curve in a project,…and this time it was a literal curve.

Well it is a brick after-all but it was going to be an aerodynamic brick!

The wall structural details were based on the very real need to stiffen the structure against the wind forces it would see at highway speeds.

Bending some sheet metal seemed way easier than to bend plywood,…and it had the benefit of giving it the look of a “Big Rig”. If only I had the time to install an air horn for the trip!

Eventually I painted the cap to protect the wood from the elements.

Landscape Lighting

It’s a go big or go home kinda approach

I’m sure there are many simpler ways to achieve lighting for a back yard but what would be the fun in that.

Perhaps it’s a personal quirk of mine but I like to have lighting options when I install lighting. Control is key. The ability to illuminate only one area or everything. A path, a boundary, a mood or to feel secure. Solar powered landscape lighting is convenient to install but difficult to create zones that are on/off depending on the effect you want.

Enter my “overkill” approach. I say that in humour but admit it may be true. I’ll digress for one moment here and again stress that learning and pushing oneself to try something outside of their comfort zone or wheelhouse is in my opinion, essential. So I sourced and built a power supply/switcher to support the vision I had of selectively illuminating different areas of the landscaping.

A unplanned benefit to what I came up with is that I can control more than just lights by using relays that are controlled by the 12V DC system but then power 120V AC pumps or transformers or anything else I can get a wire to.

The project is ongoing so I’ll  post updates showing when I finish more.


I wanted to have complete control in setting the lighting mood of the back yard. I also wanted to have some fun in how that was achieved.

I started with a modified 19 Amp 12V PC power supply which fed a switched circuit control box and four unswitched lines.

A capacitive touch-sensitive screen switch panel controlled six lighting zones. A quick modification to a matching wall plate tied the switch in.

Distribution hub to the various lights and light zones. An IR sensor controls the stair RGB LED lights. A photo sensor turns on the wall lights.

Routing and protecting the various electrical wires that run from the wall under the patio. 120V AC wire was protected using ridged PVC conduit.

To control a transformer located in another location, I created this 120 V AC switched outlet that is activated with touch-sensitive switch.

This finished view shows the labelling that was added to ensure user understanding when interacting with this device.

Devices for splicing into low voltage cable didn’t work well, so I made my own. Heat shrink tubing and dielectric grease protected the splice.

The stairs are now ready to add to the pool areas ambience whether viewed from inside or outside the house.

Although this is project is still ongoing, the end result of all this effort can already be seen with just two of the many zones being turned on.