Okay, so mostly funnies….I did manage to get some other stuff done earlier today, so what follows is from today while at work, waiting on an appointment to show up.
Good Morning Campers,
Well, it’s been another one of those weeks for me. This week, it was car trouble.
Now, it’s not bad enough, that I’m pretty much working 7 days a week, but without the cooperation of the machinery that I depend on, it just makes it that much harder.
So, here’s what happened…
On Sunday, I drove to work just fine. Got to my office at about 0545 hrs. At about 0715 hrs., I jumped in my car and drove across base to teach a CBRN Defense Survival Skills Class. For those of you who don’t know, CBRN stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear. One of my (many) jobs is to teach the military members how to stay alive in really crappy environments. Some of you older guys may remember it as gas mask training. It’s a bit more complex and in-depth now then it was then, but you get the idea.
Anyway, at about 1100 hrs. I get done with class and go out to my car and when it starts, it’s really rough and the check engine light comes on and starts blinking. Well, the rule always was that if the light is blinking, you shouldn’t drive the car, but I feel like I recognize this from the three previous times it’s happened to me before. It feels like the damn cam-shaft positioning sensor has gone bad…AGAIN! Although before it wasn’t this rough at an idle and the light never flashed….just came on.
So I finish out my day, drive the back roads to town and go to AutoZone to have them put it on their little machine to check the fault codes. Cylinder #2 misfire and camshaft positioning sensor. The guy there tells me that I need a new set of spark plugs because the misfiring #2 could cause the cam shaft sensor problem. I have limited funds….REALLY limited funds….and need this to be fixed on the cheap.
So, I buy a set of plugs, go home (about 2 miles from AutoZone), change out the plugs in my driveway, total money spent $13, total time, 30 minutes…or maybe about an hour counting the time spent with the diagnostic and getting home with the parts. I feel really positive about this, since when I pulled the old plug out of the #2 cylinder it was really carboned up. Jump in the car, start it up….
Same damn problem as before. Runs a little better, probably because of the new plugs, but still bad.
Back to AutoZone I go. Diagnostic check again. #2 misfiring, cam sensor bad. Damn, damn, diddly-damn!
Okay, wait a minute. The last time I changed the cam sensor, it had a lifetime warrantee! So, right there in the AutoZone parking lot, I pulled the old sensor off, took it inside, they gave me a brand new one, free of charge, put it back on the car. Total money is still at $13, total time up to about 2 hours now. Said a little prayer, started the car….
Same damn problem as before.
An indeterminate amount of time later there’s a tapping at my car window and when I look up, the AutoZone guy is there and says, “Are you okay? Do you want me to call somebody? Maybe an ambulance?” I must’ve given him a quizzical look because he continued, “you know, for the …um…banging your head against the steering wheel for so long and all?”
I told him that nah, I was okay and that I’d be right in.
Okay, the two obvious things didn’t work…what’s next in line. Plug wires. Damn, how much where they going to cost me? Call it $40 with tax…a little less actually. Not quite tapped out, but getting close. Call it $52 in. AutoZone is closing (they close early on a Sunday) so I take my plug wires home to my driveway, swap them out, say a bigger prayer, jump in the car and …
Same damn problem as before.
I am now dangerously close to having to take the car to a garage that I can’t afford and have no idea how I’m going to pay for. I have just about exhausted my limited knowledge of vehicles and I need to do some thinking. Let’s see. The car is a 2006 which makes it 12 years old, so it’s no spring chicken, but!!!! It only has about 135,000 miles on it, it’s in pretty good shape, and most importantly, IT’S PAID FOR!!! I should probably replace it, or even better, get a second vehicle, especially since Izzy Dragon is going to be driving soon (although she swears she’ll never get her license. Long story, save for another time). But right now, with my crappy credit, we’re talking going to a buy-here, pay-here and I’m pretty sure, what I could afford would just give me more headaches. And that’s not going to get me through the next week and a half to next payday to get to work anyway.
So, it’s not getting spark, or not getting proper spark to #2. Plugs are good, wires are good, what’s behind the wires? Distributor cap? (see how old I am? And the cars I’m used to working on?) Hell no! Ignition coil pack. I don’t know a damn thing about electronic ignition. No points to set, no gap to fix. (You younger guys probably don’t even know what that last bit means!)
I go to work on Monday by catching a ride with a co-worker…the only guy who lives near me. He can give me a lift Monday and Tuesday, but is out of town on Wednesday, through the end of the week. Okay, I’ll take what I can get.
I go on line and see that AutoZone is selling a coil pack for $70. I really don’t have $70, but I could steal a little out of savings that is being held to later in the month when certain bills come due. It doesn’t matter what I have where if I can’t get to work to earn money to pay the damn bills anyway.
On a whim, I check out Amazon.com and they have the exact same part for $20 and free, two-day shipping and they can have it in my hands on Wednesday. Can I afford to wait till Wednesday? Heck yeah!
I have a ride to work on Tuesday and decide to take Wednesday off rather than trying to wheedle a ride with someone. Now, I don’t take time off for frivolous things because I have to take too much time off for medical things. Between Mrs. Dragon’s chronic medical issues and the specialists we have to see for her, and my chronic medical issues that I ignore in favor of Mrs. Dragon’s issues, I have very little vacation/sick time saved up and I horde every minute I can because you never know when something will happen or I’ll have to have another hip or knee replacement. Damn body is falling apart and I’ve got at LEAST as many years left as I’ve already spent.
Not to get off track here, but I’m planning on living forever. And so far, my plan is working out just fine.
Anyway, Wednesday rolls around and I go out to the car early to take the old coil pack off. According to YouTube it looks pretty easy, straight forward…pull the plug wires, pull the wire connector to the coil, 4 bolts, and it comes right out.
Pull the plug wires…yup, easily done.
Pull the wire connector…why won’t this damn thing come off!!!!! Pull the little red locking thingy out of the side, and just pull! Locked in there solid! Okay, so maybe it will be easier once the bolts are loose and it’s off the car.
Pull the 4 bolts….half easy. The front two bolts are dead easy. Right in the front, easy to get to, socket wrench, bolts are a bit long, but no problem. The back two bolts….completely hidden away. Can’t quite see them, but I can reach them with my fingertips…well, I could reach them if I had the hands of a 7 year-old girl. These big fat paws aren’t getting in there. Let’s watch the video again….how the hell does that guy get his arm back there? And he’s using this little bitty 10mm wrench and it shows him loosening the bolt 1/8 of one turn and then the video jumps ahead to him pulling the pack off the car, implying that it took a few minutes to get those bolts off of there instead of a week and a half at an eighth of a turn at a time.
I won’t tell you about the contortions I had to perform while imbedding my hand and lower arm inside the engine, nor will I describe to you slipping with the wrench and lacerating my flexor carpi muscle (that’s the big muscle that goes down the top of your forearm. Yeah, I had to look it up later when I called the emergency room about stitches.
Emergency Room: Is it still bleeding?
Impish Dragon: Nope. Used superglue.
Emergency Room: Red and puffy around the outside of the wound?
Impish Dragon: Hell yes! I got friggin’ stabbed!
Emergency Room: You need to come in for a tetanus shot.
Impish Dragon: I had one a month ago.
Emergency Room: Really? Why?
Impish Dragon: It was offered for free at an LEPC meeting by the county nurse.
Emergency Room: Yeah, okay, never mind. You’re good. <click>)
Anyway, long story short…or not as long as it possibly could be…it took me almost 2 hours to get those last 2 bolts out. And my poor arthritic body, bent into positions a contortionist would envy, but they were finally out. The plug came right off after fighting with it for ten minutes of pushing, pulling and straining. I finally realizing I had to push down on a little tab and the damn thing slid right off.
Twenty minutes later the mail showed up with my package. I opened the box, expecting with my luck to have the wrong part and looked inside. Moved the bubble wrap out of the way and took out a plastic wrapped package. Used a letter opener, a switch blade and finally a jack-hammer to get the vacuum sealed bag off, expecting with my luck to have the wrong part, and looked inside. The I got the knife back out and opened up another box, and yet more bubble wrap and there it was….the exact RIGHT part!
Hot damn! Things were looking up.
My analytical mind went to work as I was thinking about putting this thing back on so I tried something…I put the bolt in the back hole of the coil, the one that was the hardest of the two to work with. I put the smallest 10mm socket on the bolt and held all of that together while I got the coil positioned and the bolt started into the helicoil (nut plate thingy on the engine) and reached across the top of the coil with my fingertips and got the bolt twisted about half way in by turning the socket with my fingers instead of the bolt with a wrench. Then, in an amazing blaze of mechanical genius, I forced my smallest quarter-inch ratchet wrench on top of the socket (after getting the other three bolts started so I wouldn’t lose the alignment). I ratcheted the bolt down to where the socket could no longer reach it while stretched across the top of the coil. I’m a friggin’ genius! Now all I have to do is a couple of turns with the open end wrench and it will be tightened all the way down. Just got to pull this ratchet wrench and socket off and … just got to move this ratchet wrench and socket and … just got to…
The ratchet wrench and the socket were now locked in place over the coil and would not come out!
Oh my gawd, I’m such a friggin’ IDIOT!!!
I did eventually get them out and get all the bolts tightened, but not without another short call to the E.R.
Impish Dragon: I think 7 of my finger tips are broken.
Emergency Room Guy: Can you move your fingers?
Impish Dragon: yes, but…
Emergency Room Guy: You’re fine. <click!>
Coil installed, electrical plug installed on coil, plug wires installed on coil and on spark plugs, say a BIG Prayer. (Begging, Pleading) jump in the car and start it and …
Same damn … no! Wait! It’s working! It’s really working!
Run in the house to tell Mrs. Dragon what a mechanical and automotive god I am! Run back out to the car because it’s slowly rolling down the driveway and out into traffic. Park the car, run back in the house and Mrs. Dragon tells me, “Mister mechanical and automotive god? Your masterpiece is rolling out into the street again.” Run back outside to see the car sitting precisely in the driveway where I last put it and I can hear Mrs. Dragon laughing hysterically from pulling my chain.
Okay, so maybe not a god, but at least mostly successful this time around.
I hope you enjoyed my recounting of my week and the trials and tribulations I have gone through. I will tell you that it is mostly a factual account with perhaps a little embellishment to make it more enjoyable.
I’ve been reading a really good set of books lately and at the beginning of each chapter there is a quote. I’ve copied some of the better ones and sprinkled them throughout today’s issue.
“When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy.” ~ Dave Barry
“Behind every great woman is a guy looking at her ass.” – Author Unknown
“According to a recent survey, men say the first thing they notice about women is their eyes, and women say the first thing they notice about men is their lies.” – Anonymous
“Chastity: the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.” – Aldous Huxley
“Women are afraid of mice and of murder, and of very little in between.” – Mignon McLaughlin
“The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.” – Robert Graves
“Men enjoy being thought of a hunters, but are generally too lazy to hunt. Women, on the other hand, love to hunt, but would rather nobody knew it.” – Mignon McLaughlin
“The people I’m furious with are the women’s liberationists. They keep getting up on soapboxes and proclaiming women are brighter than men. That’s true, but it should be kept quiet or it ruins the whole racket.” – Anita Loos
And that’s it my friends. Until next week.