May 21, 2007

Let's see...

Friday, I can't remember. Seems like I picked up some car parts stuff at the store--wire, wire pliers (another pair), wheel cleaner, then on back to home with the kids, dropped them off, then went and took some food up to the church building for the Ladies Day we were having on Saturday (but that none of my ladies attended). Home, supper, bed.

Up early Saturday, but not too early, got Catherine to go help me do some stuff outside--fill the bird feeders, dump the litter box, wash out the cat pen, douse the frog fountain with bleach (quite an algae bloom going on there), then inside to fold up the towels, put the jeans in the dryer, and the dark clothes in the washer. The reason for the sudden flurry of activity? Doing my best to convince someone that I had been a good boy and should be allowed an hour to go explore the junkyard.

AND IT WORKED! I recited my list of Good Boy Things, and she relented. Her task for the day was supposed to be to clean out her closet, and she'd ominously mentioned that she needed help. Friends, helping Miss Reba clean out her closet is a task best suited for girl children--they can lift and tote as well as I can, and enjoy playing dress-up with the discards. And I knew the last thing I needed to be was stuck carrying boxes up and down the steps. Children are good for that task, too.

SO, bright and happy, I got my old bucket of used motor oil to go drop off at the auto parts store at the foot of the hill, got another gallon to go in the crankcase, and I was off to the playground.

Got there, strode in confidently, paid my buck, got my hand stamped, and quite nearly flew out the door to go play amongst the rust and wasps. Walked, walked, walked--hmm.


I am a moron.

It happens EVERY time, so I should know better by now. The foreign junk is NEVER in the same place twice. How can they move it all like that!? One month it's over toward the far back, the next it's over to the side, then it's back to the back. The easy thing is to check the computer at the desk and see where it is, but stupid me always just goes to where it was the last time. And then waste valuable plundering time going to find where they REALLY are stashed. Just like this time--instead of being over on the front to the side, they were in the far back corner.

No matter. Finally found them and started wandering up and down the aisles to see what there was to see.

Junk, mainly.

Oddly enough, there weren't a lot of Saabs this time. I always look for them because they came with nice tools, and occasionally you can still some squirreled away under the tire well cover. None this time, though. Did find a BMW with a couple of rusty wrenches that I picked up--very good quality, and I don't mind a little rust as long as it will brush off.

Volvos, quite a few, although none with anything all that interesting. Did find a couple of ones with the old style hubcovers I prefer, but they were dented beyond fooling with. AH!! A high-mount brake light cover! These things sit in the back window and bake, and crack like egg shells. I got a new one not too long ago, but it's never bad to have a spare.

Did I mention what a beautiful day it was? Bright and sunny and cool with a nice breeze blowing--hard to top that when you're crawling around fetid junkers!

My allotted hour having ended, I went back to the office to check out, stopping briefly to tell the lost Mexican guy that I didn't know where the Ford F-150s were, but that there was a computer in the office he could use to find them. Although that takes some of the fun out of spending time wandering around lost.

Showed the guy my few pieces of junk, and he waved me on through, figuring I'd gotten no more than my dollar's worth. SCORE! This is turning out to be a very good day!

Toward home, stopped to get some eggs, then hopped outside to begin the second round of car-related playtime.

Oil change. Jacked up the driver's side a bit, slid the empty catch can underneath, gingerly undid the drain plug, scalded myself, and neatly dropped the plug right into the drain hole in the catch can, stopping it up sufficiently so that all four quarts of oil stayed right in the reservoir on top without draining into the can.


Got Boy to come over and help me--he and Cat had decided to ride bikes on the driveway while I covered myself with petroleum products--and asked him to give me one of the rags on the fender up above me. I neglected to tell him that the plastic plug for the catch can and the new copper crush washer I'd gotten were both on the rag. He picked up the rag, and sure enough, I heard the tell-tale ::ping:: of the washer and ::plunk:: of the plug.

Grr. Oh well. At least I could get the oil off my hand. And at least I did find the plastic plug. The copper washer was firmly unfindable, though.

Got another washer, screwed the drain plug back in, changed the filter, filled up with new oil and leak stopper, gave it a crank, and cleaned up my mess.

Next item on the list--fixing that pesky leak in the taillights. Got a seam that allows water in, and this is a bad thing when you combine several ounces of water with a hot bulb and an electrical circuit. Did a bead of clear silicone sealant around both sides, hoping it will be enough to ward off future lighting irregularities. Maybe.

Next on the To-Do list, fixing my headlight on the driver's side. These are the fancy glass headlights I purchased back several years ago, and although of generally okay quality, the rear housing is a slick, somewhat softish plastic. The mounting studs, although grippily gnurled for tight holding power in the soft plastic, have a habit of simply pulling free.

Leaving the headlight to sadly avert its gaze downwards to the roadway, rather than up toward the large animal darting out in front of me.

So, some JB Weld epoxy putty for all of those holes, and tap the studs back into place. Hopefully this repair will last a bit longer. Or maybe the epoxy putty will just pull out of the soft plastic, too.

Next, the big happy chore, the installation of my sidemarker lights I'm so oddly proud of. As with every project I've started on this thing, this is one of those that promises to be done in 15 minutes, and takes 2 hours because I don't know exactly what I'm doing. And yes, after I got it done, now that I know, I figure 15 minutes is about right.

Problem is that although the Internet is a godsend and a boon for old car fixing, it still has its drawbacks--namely that the people who write some of these old car websites are barely literate, and further that they decide not to avail themselves of a digital camera to explain what they're talking about.

Basically, what I had was two little fender-mounted turn signal/running lights. Two wires. As basic an electrical thing as possible, but it required getting the wires from the fender, up through several unreachable and nearly impassable inner fender chambers, out into the open, and up to the front where the turn signal wires live. Every thing I read said a hole needed to be drilled. Somewhere. Or that there might be a rubber bung I could thread the wires through. Somewhere. "Simple," it was said.

"Not," say I.

I fished around with a piece of welding rod on the passenger side, before figuring out I had no idea where to drill a hole. I got my drill out and drilled in a likely spot, and by sheer luck, it turned out to be usable.

Now to get the wires though. Needed something to fish the wire through the maze inside the fender, and it needed to be more flexible than the welding rod I had, but stiff enough to be able to get from one hole to the other.

As luck would have it, for once my packrat-itis came in handy, as I had some baling wire, savior to mankind. Just flexible enough, just stiff enough, and it worked like a charm. Pulled the wires through, then routed them right alongside the other wires, then up to the front, and attached them onto the turn signal wires.

Moment of truth, flipped on the lights and the blinkers, and HOORAY! IT WORKS!

However, I failed to heed Han Solo's advice, "Don't get cocky, kid."

The OTHER side proved to be more frustrating. I had intended to drill right where I had on the passenger side, but there was a brake booster in the way. I scratched my head for thirty minutes trying to figure out how to get a hole where I needed it, then took a trip to the hardware store to see if they had a right angle attachment for the drill.


Back home, frustrated and beginning to sweat, and I decided to drill from the outside of the fender. This worked quite well until the drill bit caught and yanked the collet of the drill into the previously undented sheet metal of the fender and bent the edge of the light mounting hole inward from the impact.

Grr. And how.

To make it worse?

I fished and fished with that bailing wire, trying my dead level best to work it from the outside of the fender back up inside to someplace where I could get it.

I was about to say a bad word. Or two.

I stood there stupidly for a very long time. Walked around. Felt around some more. Got the baling wire and ran it back through a small gap in a panel inside the fender and...


Felt the other end poke my finger that I had where the light was supposed to go.


Meaning I didn't HAVE to drill a hole--there was already a clear passage from the inside of the fender to the outside. Meaning I didn't have to mess up the paint around the outside mounting hole. Meaning I didn't have to drill a hole in the OTHER side, either. Meaning that if I'd known what I was doing, I could have been done in TEN minutes instead of two hours.


Fished the wires out, ran them to the turn signals, clipped them together, and as before, perfect little amber running light/turn signals. I feel so Europeany and sophisticated now!

Next, cleaned up again, and went on to the next task of the day--replacing the little plastic covers above the rear shoulder belts. Once again, these little pieces of trim plastic that cover the shoulder belt reels sit and bake in the rear window, and they looked horrible. And one was actually disintegrating right before my eyes. I'd gotten some new old ones a while back (black, not blue, so maybe it'll not fade quite so quickly), so I popped off the old and popped on the new. Perfect.

And now that it was nearly 6:00 in the afternoon, the final task, trying to get some of the grime off that set of alloy wheels I have out in the shed. I'd gotten some stuff that promised that brake dust would flee in fear, never to return. And tougher coatings of dust would require only a swipe with a brush.

Hah. And hah again.

I doused the wheels, and although they are somewhat cleaner and smell nice and fruity, they still have a tenacious bit of black grime down in the spokes and lug holes that is going to require sterner stuff to get loose.

Oh, well. A task for another time.

Being all finished up for the day, I went and plopped down in the front yard and watched the kids ride their bikes up and down the street for thirty minutes.

It was quite a good day, all things considered.

And Reba actually managed to clean out three paper boxes full of clothes from her closet!

And Sunday?


We went and had a good lesson, then went and met my mom for her belated Mother's Day meal, and we ate at the nice Chinese place near her house, and the waiter did not get ANY SORT OF TIP because he was rude and brusque and disinterested, and then we went home and I took off my suit and actually TOOK A NAP!

Oh, sure--it wasn't the BEST nap in the world--I had to share the bedroom with Rebecca typing on a school paper, and everyone else was awake and making noise, and it was hot in the room, but still, a darned fine nap, nonetheless.

Got up a couple of hours later, got redressed, then took Boy and everyone else up to Kohl's so we could get him some clothes for his birthday. Tried on an endless array of things, all helpfully brought to us by Middle Girl--THANKS!--while Reba and the other two girls ran off to shop for themselves. You know, since we were buying stuff for Jonathan's birthday.

On to church for evening worship, then to home, then BACK up to Wal-Mart with Boy and me to get the rest of his birthday items, then back home for some supper, some more work on the computer for Rebecca's school project, and then to bed.

All in all, it's hard to have a much better weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 21, 2007 10:41 AM

I'm not so sure - how did that Italian Euro-Football team you mentioned last week do?

That would have put a nice finish on the weekend for sure.

Posted by: skinnydan at May 21, 2007 11:45 AM

Looks like they're still in third, with a 1-1 draw against Modena.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 21, 2007 12:03 PM

Not bad here either. We went to Raleigh Saturday to visit friends. On Sunday we spent money. My wife had bought a cheap yard umbrella and stand for the patio. Well Friday night I found a small cheap table and two not so cheap chairs I liked. It is now more comfortable to sit outside—at least until the mosquitoes show up.

Posted by: jim at May 21, 2007 12:04 PM

If only Wal-Mart sold DDT...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 21, 2007 12:10 PM

Mrs. Spud wanted to set up a sandbox for the kids on Saturday, and she had most of it done. The engineer (that's me) had to tie up some "loose ends" to finish that project. The kids seemed to enjoy playing in it, and only argued a few times without any serious sand-flingin' fights. Hopefully the tarp will be secured when the sandbox is not in use, as the roam-free cats next door enjoy fresh sand.

Since no good deed goes "unturned", I had the distinct pleasure of vacuuming and mopping the gritty floors last night.

Posted by: Marc V at May 21, 2007 02:01 PM

So is Boy at that always too tall stage yet? Hans Peter is (youngest grandson) & it's tough keeping shoes and pants on him. The DiL is happy though, there's never any leftovers. *grin*

Posted by: Chef Tony at May 21, 2007 09:01 PM

Not yet, but he's about to start shooting up. I looked at him the other day, and he's already taller than Mom.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 22, 2007 08:26 AM