Adventures with Cars

After I got the roof done, I promised I was going to take a break and fix some of the car issues I’ve been putting off….Just didn’t think it would be a whole month….

July 23, 2019:

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my “work truck”, loaded with 10 @ 20′ PVC pipe.

I’ve been driving this Honda for about 4 years now. It’s a 1990’s civic that I got for $400 from my wife’s ex. I found a motor for it for $400 and put it in. But it burned oil I guess and the indicator light was broken, so I killed that motor. Put another motor in it. This time, very careful with checking the oil. And then last year it wouldn’t start. I traced the problem down to the ignition switch in the key lock, so I replaced that, and nope- still won’t start. so I ran a wire to the starter relay, and another one to the positive on the battery – touch the two wires together, and the thing starts every time. Got lazy, didn’t want to find the real problem, and been driving it like that for a year.

In between dealing with it starting, it starts making this grinding noise. As a catastrophist, I naturally suspect the crank shaft is going out, and I’ll soon need a whole new engine. But I decide to open the hood and take a look anyway. A couple of belts look worn out, so I headed down to Autozone to get new ones.

While I’m there, the employees are having a conversation with a guy about how the mechanic up the road won’t replace his alternator for less than $150, not including parts. He’s trying to convince Autozone to replace it for him- it’s on a Ford Ranger with a v6. They tell him they can only do headlights and wipers. He looks at me with my dirty hands… So, I said, “I’ll take a look at it, but I’m not promising anything.”

The Autozone guy says, “it’s only held on with 3 bolts, and it’s right on top of the motor.” And then to “sweeten the deal” he says, “And you can borrow any of our tools you want.”

The owner says, “I’ll pay you $50 if you can do it.” I could really use the money.

“Fine,” I say, “I’m still just taking a look- not promising anything.”

I go look at it in the parking lot. It really is only held on by 3 bolts. I look at it over and over, trying to figure out why the mechanic up the road wants $150 for a 10 minute job. Can’t think of a reason, so I say, “Ok, I’ll do it.” The guy is very happy.

I do it in 10 minutes. I felt bad for taking his money, but he said, “No. Don’t feel bad. You saved me $100. I’m happy to pay you.”

I get home, and replace all the belts on the Honda, but the grinding noise doesn’t go away. I start disconnecting things and then turning on the motor to see if the grinding stops. It finally stops when I disconnect the power steering pump. Bingo. I drive it down to Autozone with no power steering pump and buy a new one. It’s just a Honda. Not like you can’t drive a tiny car like this without power steering. Get home and put it in, just before it starts pouring rain.

A few days later, my wires won’t start it. I decided it’s finally time to fix the problem so I can start it with the key. Found there’s an idiot switch on the clutch called a clutch interlock switch (New cars – sheesh). Its purpose is to prevent idiots who are used to driving an automatic from crashing this stick-shift car into other cars while parked while trying to start the thing without pushing in the clutch.

Naturally, Honda thought the best place to put the idiot switch is at the very tippy top of the clutch pedal. What’s neat is that when laying on the floor of the car and looking up to the switch, it’s about 4′ away, but when sitting in the driver’s seat, from the floor to the top of the dash is only 2.5′. How Honda managed to bend the space-time continuum and change those lengths is the great mystery of our time. The best way to reach it is to, of course, rip off the dashboard, remove the fuse panel, and then 3 weeks ago, buy some special tool, etc., and replace the switch. I just stuck a paper clip in the idiot switch and turned it into a continuous circuit.  I heard a satisfying click when I turned the key, except the thing doesn’t start…..and I’m off on another adventure:

The manager down at Autozone was sure it was my clutch idiot switch, even after I told him how I bypassed it. I felt like it was the cable from the battery to the starter itself. He was so sure of his position that he didn’t want to sell me the cable. Luckily, he was “on vacation” and was only in the store to settle some paycheck stuff for the other employees. His wife was waiting in the truck. I waited for him to leave, then came back in the store and convinced the guys to sell me the cable anyway. So they hesitated, but ended up selling me the cable. Stuck it in, and started it up right away. I came back in to tell them the good news, and told them when the boss gets back, “tell him he was wrong, and to try to not be so cocky next time.”

I walked out of there, head held high, only to be confronted by a guy in a polo shirt and khakis. He says, “you’re hands look dirty- does that mean you know something about cars?”

“Maybe,” I said, guardedly.

“Do you mind taking a look at mine?” he asks.

“What’s wrong with it?” I ask.

“Well, I’m not sure what type of antifreeze to buy.”

He pops the hood, and I start looking and asking him about maintenance on the vehicle. He has the oil changed regularly, had the timing belt replaced on schedule, the radiator replaced. Says he’s had no issues with it. I tell him a few things to look for – oil in his antifreeze, or antifreeze in his oil, or water coming out of his tailpipe when it’s hot outside. I look at his hoses and belts, and tell him what he should probably do next. We talk for about 10 minutes, then he hands me $10, and says, “you’ve answered more questions in 10 minutes than my mechanic ever has – you deserve this.”

“Thank you!” I respond. Is this turning into a gig?

August 3, 2019

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These guys are fun.

My facebook buddy Daniel has been working on the last of my 2nd floor beams. He’s not sure he can get them all here in one trip. We decide that Saturday works for both of us. Thirty-three 4×12’s that are 20.5′ long and weigh about 400 lbs each is quite a load for a guy who’s employee list contains one person. That many beams is enough to build an entire cabin by itself – if it were much smaller, and if I was using some other method.  He decides he can do it in one trip, and goes about 50 mph all the way to my house. Takes him 7 hours total, but he pulls up safely. He brought his brother to help unload. I use the tractor to do most of the heavy lifting, but it still takes 2 hours for the three of us to unload everything. We talk about rural life, swap funny stories, and I show off the cabin. He seemed impressed. He asked if he could make a video for his YouTube channel, and I said, “sure.” He encourages me to start using YouTube again. So I’ve started uploading there again. If I can get 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will start advertising there, and I’ll make a little money from this adventure. Tell your friends. 🙂

August 14, 2019

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You can’t see the motor, but trust me: it’s brand new. 

My 1994 Toyota pickup with the V6: finally got the new motor I bought on Ebay last year installed and bolted to the transmission. Then I had to remember where all the wires and hoses connect, also went ahead and replaced almost all worn out wires, components, and hoses as I went, of course…..and did it all in between downpours leftover from Hurricane Barry in my mosquito-infested shade-tree garage. I called the muffler shop down the road and asked them about redesigning the exhaust so that it doesn’t cross over behind the motor- I really think that’s what killed the last motor. I’ve check the forums, and most folks with these motors are saying the same thing. I replaced the head gasket on that side once, and then 50,000 miles later, a valve burnt up, and killed the whole thing. The muffler shop said to bring it in, and they’d take a look at it. I took it in. They then informed me they don’t do any custom jobs – they only do stock jobs. I either have to take the motor out and put the crossover pipe back in, then let them connect it back up- which I could do at that point, or fix it myself.

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going to fix this once and for all. 

Darn. So I have to fix the exhaust myself, because I can’t stand the idea of putting it back the way it came, only to have the exact same problem years down the road. Which means welding and stuff. I’m going to just do the dual tail pipes and mufflers.

Also-  the Landcruiser that needs a $3k motor (so it’s not worth it) has become a nice home for some angry wasps. Yes, I figured that out the hard way. But I found my 12mm ratcheting box wrench.

And the Explorer – still running smooth. There was a small hiccup when the brake light came on and stayed on while driving. Again, as a catastrophist, I naturally did the hard check first and took off the rear wheel to see how worn the brake shoes were – worn, but not worn out. Then I did the easy check and looked at the brake fluid reservoir- and solved the brake light issue by adding more brake fluid. It sat in the guy’s driveway for 9 months after he died before we bought it, so I’m not going to concern myself too much with it at this point.

In the end, the Landcruiser will be sold, along with the Honda. Proceeds to help build the house.

I’m back on WordPress…

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Just finished peeling the very last wall log! Yay!

Hi everyone- I thought I had made my last post and was moving over to my other blog on google-owned Blogger. But with all the censorship over gun videos on YouTube (owned by Google, and they also own Blogger- where my new blog was going to be)  –  I’ve changed my mind again. I’ll explain…

The problem is that I have principles that I support – like freedom of speech- that are being attacked by the sites that host my videos and the other blog. They are now refusing to allow videos that show how guns are made and how to reload ammo. You may think guns are evil. That’s ok. But should they censor that content? Be careful- something you believe in may be censored eventually. I understand censoring child sex trafficking videos. I don’t understand infringing on the right to keep and bear arms by an American company.  Remember, they didn’t become so fabulously wealthy by opening their doors for business in some other country — they became fabulously wealthy here, in the U.S.A.. They live, do business in, and benefit from a country that protects their right to free speech and association.  And now they want to pay back the citizens of this great nation by censoring law-abiding individuals they disagree with? It’s like they are fighting against their own mother.  It’s un-American. Who does that?

The question for me is: should I allow YouTube, who is busily engaged in censoring “speech” that it doesn’t agree with, to make money off of my videos? They aren’t coming after me, so why should I care? Maybe they will. Maybe staying out of debt will eventually become hate speech.  I made a mistake, I think, in going over there to the dark side of blogging. I apologize. I didn’t think it had gotten this bad.

So I’m back to WordPress. If you like what you see, sign up to receive emails every time I post.

Progress of the build

 

Last weekend, I got the tractor stuck in the mud trying to move the 8,500 lb ridgepole, followed by getting the Landcruiser stuck in the mud to pull the tractor out. I called the neighbor who brought his loader over and pulled both of them out. Later the same day, Julie got some great video of me spinning my wheels again while we put up log #47. In the video, the log got stuck between two logs after it broke the 2×4 that was supposed to prevent it- a very frustrating situation.

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Today, I got my Honda Civic running again. My theory on what broke it: the crank position sensor got fried, causing the injectors to flood the engine with gas, washing the oil out of the cylinders, and causing complete compression loss. After replacing parts and letting two tablespoons of oil soak in the engine overnight, it sputtered back to life. Later, we went to an Easter Egg hunt in Hartselle:

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After the Easter Egg hunt, we decided to take the long way home and drove by the cabin. I finished pinning some logs, and then we decided to go ahead and put #48 up there, but didn’t pin it. We need to rotate it and pin it.  Julie counted the logs we have left and did some measurements- We are pretty sure we need 56 logs to complete the walls- fourteen layers. With #48 up, we have two layers or eight logs left.

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8/5/16: Odds & Ends

  • Moved the first log since the accident


It was a moving experience. Ok, bad pun. I decided My wife decided (and I was able to test her theory and prove her correct)- with the finger out of sorts, I couldn’t move logs with a chain, so I focused the last twelve days on moving branches and making brush piles. Twelve trees, twelve days for brush piles- it takes me an entire day to clear branches. With the branches out of the way, I was finally ready to move some trees. It had been a month since the accident. I broke (on purpose) the arch off the trailer with the neighbor’s help last week, and welded some feet on it to keep it stable while lifting logs. On Thursday, my wife came out to watch. The operation went slow- because I forgot where to place the arch- I put it at the end of the log, thinking I could slip the trailer under the middle- nope- can’t get it high enough with the arch in that location, so I had to lower the log, and move the arch (which weighs about 200 lbs), and lift again. The arch is eight feet tall, the chain hoist takes up a foot and a half underneath that, and the strap hangs another foot below that. Then the logs, which are usually at least 20 inches drop the height almost another two feet. So, added together, 8 – 1.5 – 1.5 – 2 = 3 feet of clearance. The trailer is about 3 feet high, so any small variation won’t clear the trailer. Yes, I need a shorter trailer, but options were limited at the time.

My wife took a lot of photos, but we got it moved.


Then we noticed the bark beetles and powder post beetles had started in on the wood.

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Oh no! Yup, they sat for so long on the ground, that the bugs invited themselves for dinner. Bark beetles made it easy to peel- my wife was having a lot of fun with it, actually:

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But now it’s a race against the bugs: I have to borate the logs quickly to stop any progress by the bugs. That was Thursday. She came out on Friday to peel another. On Saturday, I moved one with the trailer, then said, “forget it, I’m going back to skidding the smaller ones”. I hooked one up and was able to skid it without the trailer. I did four more that morning (a record for me!), then went home to mix up some more borate solution. Did some shopping with my wife, then went back out to the property Saturday night to apply the borate. I still have one log next to the racks, and two more monsters on the ground needing to be moved off the neighbor’s property onto racks. And I need more ingredients for my borate solution. But it’s progress, nonetheless.

  • Neighborly neighbors

I have some great neighbors. He’s a retired telephone guy from the arsenal. He rubbed shoulders with Wernher Von Braun back in the first days of the space program. He has all kinds of welding equipment, and let me borrow his forks, gives us corn from his garden, and kept me sane when I nearly lost my finger. They are in their 80’s, and are some really good folks- probably the best neighbors I’ve ever had. Now they aren’t perfect, but they are pretty good.

  • Besides work & building a log cabin, what else is going on

    • cell phones

      I’m paying about $70/month for two phones and a data plan. I didn’t add the data plan until I was running my own business, and I just kept it because it was convenient. Now I’ve found a plan for $35/mo for 2 phones, no data, and 800 minutes and free texting. Seems like a good deal, so I’m going back to a basic candy bar non-smart phone. Boring, but saves money.

    • Church choir pianist (and now orchestra)

      I usually play the piano for the choir. My church’s Sunday music is pretty boring- think: traditional Methodist/Catholic/Presbyterian hymns from the late 1800’s. No rock and roll or guitars. The organ is preferred, but there is a piano on the stage just in case.  I played my sax in church back in the 1990’s, but it was outlawed soon after that (probably my fault. People really hate Bach for some reason). Anyway, with my finger out of sorts, I can’t play piano, or ukulele. I’ll probably start back at it next week, but still have areas on the tip of my finger that I have no feeling, so it’s not perfect. My church also does a Christmas Festival every year. It’s a free concert with a choir and a quilt display. They invited me to play sax (!) this year in the church. All traditional  Christmas songs. It’s in it’s 12th year, I think, so pretty neat to be invited to play in it. I originally went to school as a music major, but my professor said don’t do it professionally- do it for fun. I originally started on piano at age 4 (all my siblings and I play). We all play at least two instruments. I play woodwinds (except oboe and bassoon) , piano, accordion, ukulele, a little guitar, etc.

    • truck headgasket

      Ahh, yes- I need to fix this hunka……Ellery diagnosed it as “two dead cylinders- you need a new head gasket”. Fine. What a pain. It’s a 95 Toyota Pickup with a V6. This is a common problem on these vehicles. I’ve got everything apart, but I can’t remember if I need to clamp the cam gear to get the head bolts off without messing up the timing or if I can just take it off. I should probably do the timing belt this time; last time, I was kinda lazy. Just a big pain. But I do need a truck to haul big stuff out to the property- Civic ain’t quite cutting it.

I’m back to work and we’re moving logs like crazy: I moved four on Saturday and four on Tuesday. I just have 2 more monster logs that I need to move with my arch and then I’ll be done with all the ones I cut in the past two months, which means I’ll have about 30 total.  Next up I need about 20-30 more logs to start stacking walls. It’s still early August; I believe the plan was be done with logs by end of September, so that goal is very do-able.