torquill: Art-deco cougar face (techie)
I'm killing a little time as the car cools down; I went out to get a case of oil and some filters, and I'll go out and get grubby once this entry is posted.

On the way home from Pep Boys I stopped by the Honda dealership. I parked, pulled the clock out of my dashboard, and went in to talk to the parts counter. "I have a '99 Accord. My clock doesn't light up. Should it?"

My old friend Bill (now manager) at the counter nodded and said that was really common, pointed out the small light in the back of it, and went off to get a new one. He added, as he handed me a bulb the size of a child's first tooth, that they must get a couple of requests for that part per day. (I asked whether I should get two, and he said that they had changed the part number, and that this version was hopefully more reliable.)

$2 plus tax and I was out of there. I had a bad moment when I turned out of the parking lot and found that my turn signal didn't work... I made a circuit of the block and found that neither side worked. Just before I went back to the dealer it dawned on me: the emergency flasher button is part of the clock assembly... apparently if you unplug it, the turn signals just don't operate. Interesting.

I changed out the bulb and put the assembly in, then verified that the turn signals work again -- the clock light is dim enough that I can't see it in daylight, but I suspect it'll operate in the dark now. One less source of irritation. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Eleven.
Hours.

I spent eleven hours -- minus a bit here and there to do stuff like eat and fix the sprinkler -- working on that damn stereo.

I soldered. I laid wire. I ran more errands. I cried in frustration. I skipped dinner. I screwed and unscrewed and clipped and unclipped and took the whole damn dashboard apart.

I found out there was nowhere in the fusebox to get power. Rather than try to run it through the firewall (which is hard) my dad figured out a way to get power from the lighter. Then I installed the head unit, turned it on, and the amp had no power. After reclipping leads and still getting no power, we replaced a blown fuse in the line. That finally did it.

The upshot:

Full fuctionality. Radio and CD, the amp works, all four speakers (at least it doesn't sound like I'm missing one, must check later), and I plugged in the subwoofer and found that it vibrated happily. I can play the half of my collection that I have only in mp3 format. I have it all back again.

There are still a few things to do -- testing, for one. I need to install the straps to secure the woofer, which is currently just wedged in a corner of the trunk. And the inside of my car looks like a tornado hit it. I put all the bodywork back together, but I have personal stuff everywhere, from the console, glove box, and so on.

I also haven't done any homework at all today. I have a 40-point take-home quiz due Thursday morning that I haven't touched, and I was supposed to do a problem to turn in for discussion tomorrow. I'm also behind on the reading. But you know what?

It's okay.
I have music again.

Yay sanity.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (techie)
Weather notwithstanding, I endeavored to install my stereo this weekend.

I ran the cables easily enough yesterday. Today was the day to mount equipment and tear the dash open to replace the old stereo with the new.

It's always that kind of day. )

I should have known it wouldn't just be a couple of hours. Nothing is ever that simple.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
The insurance adjuster came yesterday. He tried to eke out as much value as he could on the car, but it did end up being about $4500 to repair... and Allstate would only give us $2000 to help. With those sorts of numbers, we agreed to let the salvage yard have it. I'll spend some of tomorrow, assuming I don't have school, talking to a few Honda dealerships and running numbers through the Kelley Blue Book site.

The car is to be towed tomorrow. I spent all afternoon stripping it of my stuff (and didn't quite forget my CDs in the armrest). Then I pulled all of the stereo equipment, cables and all. I wasn't able to pull the speakers, as it has to have them to qualify for the buyout; I'll just have to spend a few hundred to get new ones, I guess. After tossing the old CD player back in, taking off the decals and the license plate holder, it's ready to go.

The car-sharing situation looks like it'll work for the time being.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (grin)
The exposure lifted sometime yesterday afternoon. It may have helped that we went out to get a Christmas tree, and I got some exercise out in the very clean air of the cut-your-own lot. I was fine by last night, and I feel good today.

Trees, rats, cars, and other assorted characters )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Four new tires. If I get an alignment (I suspect it needs it) it'll come out to roughly $500.

My mom and I were working it out on the way home, though. I got new tires, I think just two, shortly after I got the car; I remember shredding one on the on-ramp from 580 to 80, the day I discovered that I didn't have a jack. So that was at about 180,000 miles, call it five years ago... and she's now at 250,000 miles. 70,000 miles and five years is not bad ay-tall, even if I'm a little winded by the bill at the moment.

It's a good time to get them, too -- for one, the place has a tire sale going on. For another, it's just getting into the rainy season, and I'm far less likely to fishtail on slick pavement with a back right tire that isn't downright bald. I'll feel a bit better about rainy-weather handling now.

So far this weekend has been pretty good. )

So now I'm waiting for the car to be done so that I can go out and get butter and flour to make pie crusts. I've dropped a line to Dr. J telling him I'm a train wreck again, asking for a half hour to whack my endoskeleton back into some semblance of correct form. And I'm thinking very hard about reneging on my study group in Davis tomorrow, as my weekend went all pear-shaped and I'd really like to have a little more time down here...

Edit: Not picking up the car today because they couldn't get one of the wheels off. One lug nut on the left back froze, apparently, and the stud ends up just turning and turning. They cut it out and looked for a replacement, but the dealer isn't open on Sundays and they don't have one in stock. So Gwen spends the night at Wheel Works. I'm rather glad I took the faceplate off the stereo, now...

There is the distinct possibility that it's not the stud that's stripped, it's the place it fastens to (can't recall the term right now)... at which point they'll tell me it'll cost way more than $70 to do the welding, and I'll tell them to send the whole damn thing home with three lug nuts on (sure, I'll sign all the necessary forms) and let my dad do the welding. It may not come to that, but with the way life has been going lately, best to plan for it.

So much for going up to Davis tomorrow. The weekend has gone beyond pear-shaped by now.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
My front left tire did not blow today.

It was not for lack of trying. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
It's something that would normally go to lily (there's an -antirant discussion there) but I wanted to go into a little more detail than that.

Specifically, I love the effect that properly applied wax has to my car's paint. Oh, sure, it makes it shiny, and spiffs up even her miserable paint job. There's more to it than that. Protection from sun is good too -- might as well preserve what remains of the lovely red enamel as long as possible.

What I really love is how easy it makes it to get my car clean. I washed and dried my Honda sedan in a half hour today, even with all of the walnut hulls on it. Squirrels sit over my car and drop the green husks of the black walnuts on the trunk and back window, leaving greasy black smears that mate to the clearcoat and take hours to scrub off. I'm not exaggerating; it has taken me two and a half hours in previous years to get the marks off the trunk and bumper, using soap, alcohol, and god knows what else.

Then I discovered that if Gwen has been waxed, the smears Just Come Off. One pass with the sponge to wet them down. Another pass to wipe them off. That's it, that's all. I always felt rather silly about waxing a paint job that has more dings and bubbles than a Lawrence Welk episode... I never knew it could protect the paint from more than sun damage and the occasional bird splat.

I need to re-wax things now (that requires picking up more Turtle Wax from the store) but I currently have a temporary cloth cover in place to keep the husks off. Waxing is definitely worth the small effort involved, especially since I like the look anyway.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (brooding)
The Alfa was playing hard to get. )

I'm not reacting as badly to the chemicals involved as I thought I would -- I got a fine spray of bad gas on my face today (thank you, fuel return line) and I've been using WD-40 to ease hoses on (have I mentioned how much I hate replacing hoses?) and coax reluctant screws to turn, but I haven't felt any significant ill effects from any of it. Hydrocarbons aren't my primary weakness, but WD-40 in particular used to make me quite woozy; it seems I can handle it now. I won't go so far as to test whether I can deal with Bond-O... the smell takes me back to my childhood, but those solvents are a great deal nastier than WD-40.

All of that accomplished, I went out to pick beans and check on the garden. )

I haven't gotten a chance to clean the house (I get sleepy whenever I start considering it), but I am starting to pull everything back into line. I'm still writing a decent amount, but hopefully it won't be consuming whole days.

I'm starting to really get nervous about school, what with the dreams and seeing everyone else back at it. The worst part is that I still have four weeks to bite my nails. It's an open question whether it would be worse to be a freshman, not knowing what to expect, rather than the college veterean I am, who knows exactly how many things have to be juggled, and how bad (or good) the teachers and class load might be. I think it's the class load and the commute which are scaring me the worst right now.

The dreams are about being up there during move-in week, dealing with last-minute details, and the question in my mind is always, "Am I ready for this?" When I went to Santa Cruz, I was not. It's been ten years since then... am I ready now?

If it seems like I'm burying my head in work, now you know why. At least I'll have something to show for the last few days -- the Alfa, twenty jars of peaches, and a somewhat more orderly garden.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Still not caught up, and I have a lot on my list of stuff to get done. That's okay.

We replaced the clutch master cylinder on Gwen today, and I took her out to pick up a gift for [livejournal.com profile] firestrike's sister, in honor of her birthday. There still seem to be a few small bubbles in the hydraulic system, which should work themselves out over the next few days; it's otherwise acting fine. I'm concerned about the fact that when I went to work on the car, the battery was dead, but that's a whole different problem. What matters to me is: I can drive my car again!

Speaking of cars, I've been thinking again about my midlife crisis car. I don't have $30K to spend right now, but it's a totally reasonable price for such a toy. No Ferrari for me; I'd rather have a fun little thing to whip around corners and draw curious looks.

Edit: Turns out that the factory-assembled Caterhams aren't available in the US, only kits -- and the kits start at $26K without engine and transmission. Meh. Wonder how much it takes to ship one from the UK...
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I may have missed my last deadline of before Baycon, but I did finally wash my car today.

I took an extra half-hour or so and did a full wax. For those who have seen Gwen, it may seem like the lipstick for the pig, but it really does help protect what paint she has left... so this was part apology (for not washing her earlier), part protection from sun and wind, and part looking out for myself. The green walnuts have started forming on the tree above my parking spot, and it won't be long before the squirrels rain walnut hulls down on my car... the greasy black spots come off sooooo much easier if the paint has been recently waxed. I dislike spending 90 minutes just scrubbing at the top of the trunk.

Someone, somehow, dripped candle wax on my car. That's not what's known as a "hard wax", people.

I spent another 40 min or so vacuuming out the inside and beating the dirt out of the mats. Literally handfuls of dust from the footwell... but it was dwarfed by the amount of mud I found between the driver side door and the frame. Gobs. Shovelfuls. It was jammed all the way up the hingespace to the top; I ended up taking a spray nozzle to it and washing it all out. There wasn't any on the other side -- I guess that's the reason why those mudflaps in the wheelwell exist. Pity I lost the one on the driver's side.

It might explain why the hinges have been unhappy, though. I'll let them dry out, then take some oil to them, and maybe they won't sound like I'm murdering puppies anymore.

So I have a shiny clean car, and other than a little roughness at startup (happens every time I bring a hose near her) she seems happy. The mystery: my stereo system abruptly stopped its extended-play behavior, where it plays for 10 seconds after I turn off the ignition and pull out the keys. It shut off cleanly twice today. Since I could never figure out why it started in the first place (two years after I got the car) and it has since stopped and started again at least once even after buying a new stereo deck, I can't find a logical reason why cleaning the car would change things.

Sometimes being an animist makes things so much easier to explain. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Yesterday started with climbing into my car and reaching for the clutch pedal -- and it wasn't there.

The day before, the point of engagement had climbed suddenly to the very top of the pedal's range of motion, so that the clutch wouldn't grip on hills. We tweaked the pedal a little to make it driveable, and now the next day, it had corrected itself so that the pedal was down near the floor.

So I took it to Macy transmission earlier than the Friday morning we had agreed on. Dropped it off, drove the truck to school, and spent the day fretting. A very long day.

What Steve at Macy did was readjust the pedal back to where it had been, then spend a couple hours driving it around, trying to make the clutch slip. No dice. He handed it back to me this morning for $25, saying that the best theory anyone has (one my dad agrees with) is that the bleed valve had gotten clogged. (The clutch has two hydraulic cylinders in series. When the first one gets depressed all the way, there's a little hole to let air in so that there isn't a vacuum at the top, preventing it from going all the way down. That hole is the bleed valve.)

Verdict: the car is fine. The car is also a prima donna; I think she just wanted a little attention. I am very happy to have her back -- I threw my shoulder out on the truck's gearshift yesterday.

When he handed the keys back to me, Steve mentioned that my car is very pleasant and easy to drive. I asked him to consider the age and mileage, and he agreed that with 12 years and 235,000 miles, it's an impressive feat to be that comfortable. If I weren't already sold on Hondas, I would be now.

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Torquill

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