Monday, June 29, 2020

Reconnect Connect

So, I was sitting around Saturday, scratching my head about a subject for a post.  Got to thinking about what's going on in the world and how words are being used to describe things, but the meanings of those words have been changed.

"An example, please, juvat."

Well, how about "Black Lives Matter"?  My response to that statement is "Yes, as do all lives".  But, apparently that is not what the user means.  So, were I emperor of the universe, my decree would be that BLM would now be OBLM.  With the O standing for Only.

There, much more understandable what they mean now, Neh?

Another example.  Corona Virus or Covid.  Nah,  We've been naming epidemics for their origination point for at least a hundred years (Spanish Flu circa 1918).  However, Chinese virus always seems to require a qualifier e.g. Not Taiwan.  Wu Flu sounds a little flippant to me.  Once again, as emperor of the universe, I would decree it be named "Communist Flu".  That way it would be more inclusive of all the government agencies worldwide seeking power based on scaring the population into complying with their policies.

Another example.  Democratic.  Pretty sure that word now means Dictatorial.  After having looked at events, decrees, policies and the party in power there, well....Prove me wrong.

So, realizing that  writing a post along those topics might be damaging to my blood pressure, and not having found another Hu Soundtrack for a walk through video, I came up with an alternate posting. 

Then Sarge comes up with an eerily similar posting Sunday.  But, I'm committed and here we go.

Back when things were normal, they weren't all that much different than they are now for us (well other than missing church on Sundays). We'd go into town a couple of times a week to go to the supermarket, liquor store, have lunch, maybe visit Lowes and then come home.  We have two vehicles, my F-150 and Mrs J has a Ford Transit Connect.  No particular preference for Fords, the price was right and their ability to fulfill a need was adequate. 

Now, I don't feel a particular need to name my vehicle.  It seems to respond quite well to "My Truck".  Your mileage may vary and, for the time being anyway, it's a free country.  So, if you want to name your vehicle, be my guest.  Mrs J's vehicle got named by MBD when she borrowed it once to move some stuff.

She named it "The Clown Car".  Like most call signs, the worst mistake you can make is to protest the name vociferously.  The second worst mistake is not protest it at all.  Mrs J made the latter.  The name has stuck.

It has served us well and my only dislike about it is how low you sit in the driver's seat.  When I drive it, I've got almost a foot of headroom above me.  But, Mrs J likes it.  So.  She likes it, I love it.

Which pretty much describes our relationship.

In any case, after things went Bat-Guano Crazy, we don't go to town very often and if we do, we usually both go.  Because I still consider myself a Fighter Pilot, I drive.  Sorry, just the way I am.

So, her car sat in the car port not getting much use.

Then things started going back to normal and one morning, Mrs J was going to town by herself. A few minutes after she left the house, she comes walking back in saying her battery's dead.


Now, "The Clown Car". is parked on the left side of the car port, my truck is in the center.

I get the jumper cables, pop the hood on my truck, and find that the battery is on the right.  I've got fairly long jumbers, so, assuming Ford is consistent in its battery placement, I should be able to reach.

I pop the lid on  "The Clown Car". and look inside.  I can't see a battery.  Pull out the manual, and find that it is under an access cover.  Take another look and find said panel on the left side of the car, which is outside reach of my cables. 

Battery is just to the right of the Clown Face in the top left of the photo.

No problem, I'll just put it in neutral and push it out of the car port.  Nope, there's an anti-theft device that doesn't allow it to come out of park.  (Later I would find out a way to bypass this.)

Some readers who live in large metropolitan areas are no doubt saying "juvat, just call AAA".

Well, we used to have AAA, back in the day, (when we lived in large metropolitan areas).  However, when Mrs J hit a deer in our previous car,  I came and joined her on the side of the road.  We called AAA.  6 hours later on our 4th call back to them found that they were dispatching someone from San Antonio as we were "outside their service area".  

Our membership was cancelled the next morning.

I looked on line for a portable battery jumper and found one on Amazon for a pretty good price.  Realizing that living in the country, having one of those in the car might come in handy, we purchased it.  It arrived the next day and, after an initial charge, I took it outside and hooked it up.

Worked like a champ.  Let the car run for a couple of hours, switched it off, then back on, started right up.

Hooray! Score a win for juvat!

Not so fast, Beans.  The next morning, Mrs J wants to go to town,  I'm not particularly interested, so she's going to take  "The Clown Car".  A few minutes after she leaves the house, she's back.  Car's dead again.  I grab the handy dandy portable and hook it up.  Give it a few minutes and try to start.  Nothing.  Give it a good half hour to charge.  Nothing.

Dead, as in decomposed, never to rise again from, dead battery.

Well.  I've swapped out batteries on most of my previous cars before,so this shouldn't be an issue.

Folks, I've been wrong about things before and, no doubt, will be again, but I firmly believe that I will never experience the complete and utter vastness of how wrong I was about "Shouldn't be an issue".

I decide to do a little research on what the process is to replace the battery.  I figured there had to be a trick to getting it out of the tight little spot shown in the picture above. So.. Off to YouTube I go and find this video. 

Yes, STxAR, the author of this video and I went to the same school of filmography.  Please bear with us both, we're learning.


I take a Picture of how everything looks put back together, which turned out to be a good idea and started the process.  I disconnected the air filter box and it's sensor (which my friend mentioned on the video).  So far so good.

I then managed to get the filter contraption out of the way.  Starting to feel a bit confident.  

The space is pretty tight, so I'm going in with regular wrenches vice a ratchet.  Unfortunately, the bolts are all metric.  Back out to the workshop and bring the ratchet set as I don't have metric wrenches.

I manage to get the front plate out of the way, and slide the battery out. Then hopped in my truck and drove to Napa to get a new battery.  Nice guys there.  They asked me what I was putting the battery in and when I told them, their reaction set warning bells going off.  I asked what was the matter. 

They said, "getting it out is the easy part". 

Well, in for a penny...

Back out at Rancho Juvat, I start to reverse the process.  The Napa guys were right.  The thing won't go back in.

I can only get one hand back in there as I have to hold the Negative connection out of the way.  It's very heavy and I am cantilevered over the engine compartment with this battery supporting it with one hand.  And it won't go back in.  Finally after about half an hour listening to my back scream obscenities at me, it goes in.

I reconnect and secure the battery connections as tight as I could with the ratchet.  Put the air filter bracket back in place.   Put the top cover for the air filter, back into place and secure it.  Even remembered to put that sensor back in position.

Should be good to go.  

Climb in, and put the key in the ignition, the door open bell starts dinging.  A good sign.  

Crank and it starts right up.  I'm starting to smile. It's that moment when you start feeling good about yourself for about an instant before you come crashing back to Earth.

Now, I've got warning lights going off all over the place which, since I had essentially disconnected the computer, made sense. Most went out after a second or two and me pushing the OK button.

However....(You knew I was getting to this point, dincha?)

I've still got a check engine light on.

And an Anti-skid malfunction light.

And a power steering malfunction light.

I leave it running, walk into the house and tell Mrs J that we're going into town and she's driving my truck.

Which we do, straight to the Ford Dealer.  I walk into the Service Department and they ask what they can do for me.

I say "I used to be a Fighter Pilot, I've seen a lot of warning lights in my day.  I've never seen as many warning lights on as there are in my Wife's car right now after I tried to change the battery in it.  Please be merciful, and fix it."

"What year and model is it?"

"2014 Transit Connect"

"Bless you, My Son!"

Turns out that there were a total of three sensors that got disconnected (i only thought there was one) and the air filter upper half wasn't properly seated. 

So....If the battery dies again, I'm going to rent a backhoe and bury the whole damn car.


  1. I thought pulling the ICU from an F-4 was tough, easy peasy compared to that battery replacement.

    Designers, a system should only be fielded once the designers have worked on it. Save the folks in the field a lot of busted knuckles!

    1. I agree with your second statement, with an additional caveat.

      Designers, a system should only be fielded once the designers have worked on it... on a hot and humid summer day, in cramped quarters with only minimal tools that normal people have, by themselves, with no air conditioning.

    2. Best would probably add "...and the process must be completed without a single utterance of a profanity." That might be a bit much to ask though.

  2. Yep,I understand.
    I did a simple air filter change and got a check engine light. Like you I failed to reconnected a plug.
    Because it was a Subaru, what should have been a straightforward valve cover gasket change ended up having a lot of interesting problems.
    I have the tools, the skills, and I almost always like car work. But this was just a mess and like Sarge and you both said, poor design.
    I'm thinking that the large part of it is because the day of fixing things has in general, gone away.

    The battery jumper boxes have proven their value on several occasions. Remember that they need checking and refilling from time to time.

    1. I think you're right John, the days of fixing your own car are in the past for most normal people. Had I had any other options, I probably would have had a pro do this one also. And, as I learned when it was too late, getting the darn thing out was the "easy" part.

      I've got a reminder set in my phone every other month to recharge it. I'm also going to order a second one to put in Mrs J's car. With my luck, the one we have will undoubtedly be in the other car when the one we're in needs it.

  3. Trials and tribulations of the Modern Man.........congrats on the patience and perseverance juvat. When my Escape battery died a couple of winters ago a neighbor helped to jump-start it and I took it directly to the dealer for replacement, not a car guy, never was. Thanks for a chuckle this morn.

    1. My pleasure, Nylon. If the darn thing had started, that's what I would have done also.

    2. (Don McCollor)…[in the days of simpler cars] many years ago, I went out to my family farm on an Easter morning, parked my Dodge Diplomat on the road & walked in over the snowdrifts. Came bank and it was dead as a great wooly mammoth. Neighbor (before cell phones) saw hood and trunk open as I was trying the unscrew the battery terminals with a worn pliers (cleaning them was the only fix I could try) and jumped me. Not the battery, the alternator. No hope of getting one on Easter Sunday (and the local mechanic was probably in church) and I had to be back 200 miles to Grand Forks for a Monday flight for work. Back to town, and the engine almost stalling if I touched the brakes and the lights came on). COOP was open, and I bought the biggest battery charger they had, no questions asked, with the car idling outside. Got to my late parents house and put the charger on. Then got the Ford farm pickup started to use its battery as a backup. Gravel floor in the garage, water had seeped in, and it was stuck in the garage. Meanwhile a cousin and wife were calling asking where I was for Easter dinner. A hurried dinner (with the pickup idling outside). There was a fine balance between battery charge and time (like Apollo 13). If it got dark enough to use headlights, game over. At Fargo (2/3 of the way), the dome light was getting pretty dim, and I stopped. No start. Then discovered that Ford and Dodge batteries have terminals on opposite sides. Ford battery made the rest of the trip canted over to reach the cables. I made it, but was counting down each mile and reviewing what friends I could ask to come get me on the evening of Easter...

    3. Sounds like you were pretty lucky. But, as I always say, better to be lucky than good!

  4. Cars are getting too complicated.

    BMW's and even their Mini Cooper require a charging code to be input in the computer when a battery is replaced. If the code is not input the life of the battery is diminished. BTW: I will never own another BMW. They are great cars until the warranty runs out.

    1. I agree, Tsquared. There are a lot of BMW's around here nowadays. Excursions for Moscow on the Colorado, I suspect. I prefer my truck.

      You wouldn't happen to have been an F-4 WSO in a prior life would you? There was a guy with TSquared as his call sign in one of my squadrons.

  5. Thanks for the laugh on a Monday. Now you know why us crewchiefs were cranky. Remember where the battery was on the F-4E? Changed a few in my day.

    1. I remember the F-4 crewchiefs (and radar techs) being a tad cranky. That seemed to be much less of an issue with the F-15, where swapping boxes involved undoing a couple of nuts, pulling it out and replacing it. Course, the pilots in the F-4 were pretty cranky also, which again changed with the upgrade to the Eagle. Basing that statement of a sample size of...One!

  6. When I was a lad, I heard this song. And somehow, I knew it was for me. One of the lines says, "to run, where the brave dare not go." And that has been my unfortunate legacy.

    I feel ya Lead. I really do. My company van is an Ford E150. The batteries are UNDER THE DRIVER'S SEAT!!! They spec'd out an inverter, and it's connected with a 0 cable from the battery to a fuse on the bulkhead. about 2 feet. A while back, the ups would die, whenever I started to slow down, and make a nice squeal to let me know it was done. Found the upfitter had done a SNAFU job of crimping on the terminal in the battery compartment. I got a solder on, from the heavy truck mech, and here we go.

    Removed seat, wedge seat against steering wheel, and passenger seat, somehow, figure it out, you're on your own, remove covers, removed battery cable, hold terminal with pliers, light torch, sweep hand, lose pliers, lose terminal in weeds. Turn off torch, recover terminal, find pliers that flew off to 10 o'clock in full burner. Clear the blue air so I can see. Practice the maneuver, slow is fast ese, return to IP, rerun the exercise, sweep seat. See small wisp in corner of eye. Break left!! Pull out!!!, "Lead, I've got smoke in the cockpit!!" nearly pass out from that acrid stuff......

    there were lots of steps left to finish it off so I won't bore you.... and I'm wondering if I'm gonna toast my cheeks in the future due to a "sensor" I forgot to plug in.....

    I am firmly convinced the old '65 is up for repair and is going online. If for no other reason than to give me room to work.

    1. Thanks STxAR, that was good for a chuckle. I've got the same issue in my woodshop with the tool goblin. Put down a tool, turn my back, turn back around and it's gone. Frantic searching finally reveals its location to be on the opposite side of the shop, the side I swear I haven't been on in weeks.

  7. Bought my 2001 Silverado new, still driving it, 160K miles. Paint starting to peel in places, but runs like a champ. Battery died this past December. It had been awhile, so I pulled the file (As in manila folder with paper receipts. Data backup you can read with a candle). +1 for Napa, the battery was six years old. Went straight to Napa and got the exact same.

    Battery is in the left front corner. With apologies to Yakov Smirnoff, battery change out "Is piece of pie!", as are many other PM tasks on this truck. Next PITA fixit will be the leaky windshield washer reservoir. The filler neck comes up next to the battery, the body is under the battery. According to YouTube, you have two choices--1) remove the battery AND the battery box, or 2) jack up the front end, crank the wheels full left, and pull the wheel well cover back out of the way. The leak ain't that bad yet.

    Went to try the A/C before the weather warmed up. Nada. Could hear the compressor clutch engage, but that was all. Oh joy. Well, I got lucky. Turned out that the seal on the schrader fill valve had died and let the coolant leak out. When the system pressure drops too low, it won't turn on (I did not know that). New valve, new coolant, and (forgive me) cool!

    1. I'm still a little irked with Mrs J when she sold my 2001 GMC truck out from under me (and bought me the new truck, so I'm not all THAT mad). It had 245K on it and was reliable as all get out. I was looking forward to a quarter million when the treachery took place. I still see it every once in a while in town, so it probably made the milestone.

  8. I swear that there used to be a completion each year in Detroit among the newly hired design engineers. First prize went to the guy who designed something that could only be serviced by dropping the engine from it's mounts, and second prize went to the guy who designed something that could only be serviced with a totally unique (and very expensive) tool only available from that company.

    1. Apparently, Dave, that issue is not unique to Detroit. Printers come to mind right now. I've got a $200 printer that's dead because the only ink that actually works on it is produced by Canon, the printer manufacturer. $60/set. Tried replacing it with a brand that Amazon says is "Canon XXXX compatible". Now, I've got a warning light that won't go out and can't print squat.

      So, I think your suspicion is right on.

  9. Yup, there are reasons why mechanic types charge by the hour, and make a bit more than I do. Do I know how to change a battery, a tire and the oil?? Yes, Yes I I doing it on my vehicle?? Not these days.

    I tell the car guys be nice, and I will be nice when they need a nurse to change their wound vac dressing, or to make adjustments on their insulin pump.

    I spent a half hour one day telling a car guy who owned his own repair shop that the doc wasn't an incompetent SOB and the issue with his feet swelling really was related to his heart, which was why he needed to stop cancelling those appointments with cardiology, and get his butt in there. Heart failure many times shows up in the feet, not the heart.
    Then I explained how to get his diabetes under control. Using a car engine analogy.

    Told him everyone has an area of expertise, and while I would listen to him about why that stupid light kept coming on in my car, he should listen to his doc, whom he had been going to see and had been perfectly happy with for over 20 years.

    Grumble, grumble, ok. A few days later, his regular nurse called me up and wanted to know what I had told him...he had been such a major pain before, no one wanted to go see him, and now he was very nice, compliant and doing really well. Plus he went to see cardiology!!!

    Told her I had told him the truth...that car care was waaaay more complicated and expensive now than it had been 40 years ago when I had started driving...and medical care was the same...and not necessarily a DIY kinda thing, that sometimes ya need to go talk with the experts.

    1. Ahhh, tell the truth! What a concept! could have hurt his "Feeewings!" One of my other sayings that my kids are familiar with is "Not everybody that smiles at you is your friend, nor everybody that yells at you, your enemy".

      Believe me, had I any other options I would have taken it to the dealer. Especially knowing what I know now.

    2. good analogy, Suz. Also funny how a lot of docs want to self diagnose and not see others of their kind ... They take "Physician, heal thyself" a bit too literally - and yet some are just spooky good at diagnosing people with just a few seconds of conversation, or even just a glance as they walk by. My wife and son play that game at times, I'm sure you look at people in the same way.

  10. Had to replace the right blinker fluid in the Honda.
    Who knew the left side of the passenger compartment had to be dismantled?
    Of course, that was after discovering the bulbs were just fine.

    1. Blinker Fluid? That just crossed Honda off my acceptable purchase from list.

  11. Replies
    1. For burial? Or just to have around? I'd love one, but right now I need a working tractor and a hay baler. Or somebody with them who's willing to cut my hay.

  12. Try three decades in the used car biz for dead battery experiences. We focused on used pickups and anything two years old or older got a new battery during reconditioning, or both if a diesel. Battery cables need to be checked carefully at the same time.

    Trickle chargers are cheap and are great for any vehicle that isn't used regularly (farm tractor, lawn mower, etc.)

    1. Unfortunately, there's no electricity in the current carport. However, a trickle charger is a good idea for the new house. Thanks.

    2. long extension cords are fairly cheap, juvat (kidding!)

    3. If back then I was as smart as I, obviously, am now I'd have had electricity added to the carport. Just didn't see a need back then. We've got several very long extension cords which we pull out for several projects on the property. Mrs J prefers an electric weed whacker for some reason. When we were in the planning stages of the new casa, we were very generous in placing electric outlets both inside and out. So...hopefully...I'm sure that the one place we absolutely, positively gotta have electricity will be the furthest possible location from an outlet. That's just me though...being realistic and experienced in that phenomenon.

  13. Some absolutely scary stuff gets posted here:

    I learned there that there's a model of pickup where one of the normal engine maintenance procedures requires removal of the cab body from the frame, so Dealers have a special attachment for their car hoists for it. BMW's routinely come in for a lot of hate. Audi or Volvo have models were the serpentine belt is on the firewall side of the engine. Fun stuff like that.


    1. I remember the fan belt on my Volvo I bought when I was Batching it at Army Command and Staff. That was the first car I owned that I couldn't do much upkeep on other than adding oil. I sold it the following year when Mrs J joined me there.

  14. Thag feel your pain.

    I swear that GM hired someone from McDonnell Douglas when if comes to doing servicing on my 2008 Vette.

    So far the only simple repair has been the [please insert ten minutes of cussing that will cause a Navy Chief to faint dead away] battery.

    Every single component, so far, has required the removal of, at least, one other component near it to reach.

    Starter? Gotta remove the exhaust to get (not exaggerating) the last 1/32" clearance past the flange.

    Wheel bearings? Gotta remove the entire spindle because these idiots put the screw aimed right at the ball joint.

    Radiator? The AC condensor and fans need to come out with it.

    We won't even speak of the clutch.

    We DEFINITELY will not discuss the fuel pump.

    1. Now that is a nightmare! IS a vette and you look "Mah-velous" in it! :-)

  15. Working on modern vehicles is certainly a PITA, even for 'simple' repairs like battery changes (as per juvat), changing the oil ("what do you mean I have to take off the entire underside engine cover just to change the oil?") and even things like fixing broken headlights and taillights ("A new headlight costs how many hundreds of dollars?!!").

    As per Dave: "First prize went to the guy who designed something that could only be serviced by dropping the engine from it's mounts" - that competition has been going on for a while now. To change the right rear sparkplug in the old 429 Mustang, you had to jeck the engine up off the engine mounts.

    I swear auto dealers make as much if not more $$$ in service than they do in sales ...

    But with all the pining for cars of days gone by, while they were easier to work on, they were not as reliable, as well handling or as safe as today's vehicles. Generally speaking, of course, YMMV.

    1. My Ford Aerostar with the 2.8L Mustang engine required you to lift the engine up off the mounts and then remove the engine mounts to drop it down to get to the hidden 6th cylinder. So here I am, pulling routine maintenance, swapping plugs and plug wires and... well, good thing that the problem the van was experiencing with plug wires was with one of the 5 I could find, as that mysterious 6th plug and wire never ever did get replaced.

      1991 Chrysler Imperial, valve cover gaskets were leaking. Got the front one (transverse engine layout) but the rear one? Yep. Had to drop the engine after removing all the fun stuff at the front like the radiator and fan and unibelt and... Fortunately the rear one didn't leak as bad as the front one did.

    2. Tom,
      You're absolutely right. First car was a '76 (I think) Spirit of America (poorly named as I found out) Vega. Working on it was a piece of cake. Plenty of room in the engine compartment, everything in plain sight.

      Which is a VERY good thing because that car was not well constructed. And right at the two year point, the aluminum block cracked. Not repairable. I was a Senior in College, money was running out and commissioning and pilot training were still a year away. That $600 dollar loan was painful. I ate a lot of Ranch Style Beans that year. Sold the car, when I graduated UPT for $100 and felt a little guilty about getting that much.

    3. Beans,
      Both of those operations would have been beyond my capabilities or patience, so those would have been done by the pros. I'm impressed by another of your amazing abilities. (Although sword fighting is still at the top of that list.)

    4. Yeah, the "high tech" aluminum blocks in the Vega were awful! I have to admit, swapping in a big block Chevy into that little body made for a screaming dragster, but it did require "a little surgery".

      And did you know it's hard to find Ranch Style Beans in many places in the midwest and northeast? But I lived of those and rice for a while as well... Rotel tomatoes were also hard to find, but are a bit more widely available now

    5. A can of RSB, a can of corn and a bit of hamburger makes a pretty good meal, even today. Reminds me of times gone by, so Mrs J indulges me occasionally. Oh and only RSB's work in that recipe. Tried it with other similarly named beans, just not the same.

    6. For fun in watching a shoehorning experience, there's these two Brits who decided to take a classic Mini and graft a, I think, Subaru engine into it.

      Watching them fabricate and hack and cut and build and twist things in order to get stuff to fix explains a lot about modern cars.

      Bad Obsession Motorsports. It's worth watching over and over again.

    7. Owwww! My head hurts. Now...I wish I had that knowledge and expertise. Or at least the knowledge of WTF they were talking about.

    8. My buddy in college would use hotdog chili on a baked potatoe for a meal. Every day of the week. He'd put the lid back on top of the chili to keep it fresh in the fridge. I invited him over for home cooking once in a while. He was a ridge runner from northern R-Kansas. I miss old Howard. He was a class act.

    9. Watching Project Binky, you will realize that it's all about fabricating the brackets.

  16. I thought it might have been a remove the fender to get to the battery car... Harbor Freight has a lithium jumper box that works well, light weight & will fit in the glove box, $80 but you can't have everything..

    1. Rob, that's about the size and price I paid for the one I got on Amazon. And...when the battery still had a bit of life left, you're right, it did work well. Which is why I'm about to buy a second one for Mrs J's car.

  17. Heyah in the South (Florida, North Central section) a 4 year battery is really only rated to last 3 years. To try to eck out power to 4 years is to invoke the Demon Murphy as the battery will go kaput right before you really need it.

    So, well, I have a Ram Promaster City (Dodge/Fiat/Ram's version of the Ford Transit Connect) and, yes, indeedy, I invoked the Demon Murphy by not changing out the battery at 36 month's time, precisely on the dot. Didn't help that the rear cargo light somehow got whacked by my head into the "ON" position and I didn't notice till, well, Battery was Toast. So I get a jump from the kindly pest control guy (van comes with a conveniently marked "+" and "-" location for to which to connect a jumper or charger cable to, fortunately because... wait for it....,) and I go to prepare to go get a new battery and I look under the hood to where the battery is and I now know why the battery actually died because there's a large plastic facehugger encapsulating the battery and I have no idea how to remove the facehugger thingy that's on top of my battery and has a plethura of cables and other things coming out of it and into it and I think I can see a miniature naked and bald Keanu Reeves being flushed out of the battery and there's this weird chanting in some elder tongue and I swear I heard something about 'Rhyleh' and 'Yog-Shoggoth' and 'Greater something-something'...

    So, me being brave and strong and of sound mechanical mind, grabbed the crucifix over my front door (because Catholic) and held it against the demonic force that was taking over my engine compartment and started reciting over and over the Lord's Prayer and...

    Drove the car to the local repair place and said, "I give up, I'm going to let you guys replace the damned thing." Which they did, only took them 2 hours and much swearing and I think the alien facehugger deep one thingy only ate part of a mechanic (seriously, sitting in waiting room and an ambulance pulls in and takes one of the mechs away...)(wasn't sure if it was a body ambulance or a mental ambulance and I wasn't asking (as I sat mumbling the Lord's Prayer and rocking back and forth while clutching my crucifix to stave off the evils of... The View...)

    I can add windshield wiper fluid! That I can do!

    So, sir juvat. What will be the fate of The Clown Car?

    1. Sounds like pretty much the same configuration. Battery cover and all.

      The view? Now that's cruel and unusual punishment. Our Ford dealer's lounge plays reruns of "Gunsmoke" which is kinda nice.

      As to Fate? As I said, "She likes it, I love it". However, as soon as she stops liking it......

    2. The last major auto/truck engine repair I completed was the one before I found out a carburetor had an electric wire attached. Most of my engine work has been on flatheads. You could set the sparkplug gap and the distributor points with a matchbook. The first vehicle I ownwd was a 1938 Plymouth sedan with running boards, a floor transmission and "suicide doors" (the rear doors were hinged at the rear). The car was still capable of pegging out the speedometer at 80 mph when I sold it because I could no longer get insurance in 1959. Old Guns

    3. It's too bad you couldn't hang on to it. Probably worth a pretty penny nowadays.

    4. We had a guy working at the north end of Lubbock Intergalactic when I worked for the experiment station. He was putting plugs and points in an old International pickup. Young guy from TT hight skool. Someone had lost the feeler gauges, so an old timer yelled out to use a dime to gap the plugs and points.

      Crank crank crank went the engine, but it never caught. He didn't have a dime so he used 2 nickels....

    5. At least he didn't try to use 10 pennies.

  18. LOL, I related your story to the neighbor this morning. A rollback is now picking up his car... And that is why I take mine to the dealer and buy a new battery every four years, need it or not.

    1. Yep, New Boldface procedure
      1. Take Clown Car to Ford Dealer
      2. Have them replace Battery
      3. Pay the Man
      4. Repeat every 36 Months min, 48 Months max.

  19. Last major car repair I did was replace the heater core on my '72 Chevelle back around 1980. I was too cheap to pay the garage the $100 they wanted for labor. Two days later I knew why they wanted so much. Had to remove the fender well. The original battery however lasted 8 years! Most of my driving was highway miles.
    These days I take the vehicles to Advance Auto Parts and let them change the battery, head lights, etc. and give them a generous tip. A lot quicker and easier on the ego.

    1. Fender well. I wish!
      My '88 Ford Ranger requires about 5 minutes to have the heater core in hand. Two hose clamps on the engine side of the firewall. Several screws to remove the drain pan that holds the core in the heater box, and it drops into your hand.

      Now my '00 Ranger? Remove the seat(s), drop the steering column, remove the entire dashboard, heater hose clamps, and remove the heater box that is now visible after getting the dash out of the way. Do NOT install a cheap core, get the factory one, as you don't want to do this again a couple years later.

      Why the change? Ford began copying the Japanese in vehicle design in the early 90's. They install the heater core first, and build the interior around it. Apparently heater cores don't go bad in domestic Japanese cars in their typical 40k miles mandated life.

  20. Hey Juvat;

    I work on million dollar airplanes and working on new cars scares the crap out of me...everything is soo"crowded". THen people wonder why I like my 99 F150 Lariat running at 250,000 miles and doing well. it is a truck and it ain't complicated. I do everything except brakes...don't ask me why but I don't do my own brakes, LOL. Sometimes I let the dealership change the oil(Usually I do it with Ford filters) just for fun and the mechanics are always checking it out because it is so different than the new cars they see on a regular basis.

  21. I recently removed and replaced a bumper cover on a 2007 Jeep Liberty. In days gone by, this would have been done by simply removing a few bumper bolts, slide the old unit off and the new unit back on, replace the bolts. Done.

    Not anymore. The plastic piece of crap that came off was held on by about 20 plastic clips, all of which busted upon removal, the whole process took me about three days, to include waiting on Amazon to send me (with my Prime membership) some new clips. I can't believe how cheaply cars are made these days. You hit a garbage can with one, and they are nearly totaled.

    1. Somebody commented on the "Nearly Totaled" phenomenon on a thread here a while ago. And it makes a certain amount of sense to me. According to the theory, the car body is designed to absorb the energy of the crash before it reaches the people inside. The fact that the car is much more badly damaged and needs repair or replacement more often is just icing on the manufacturer's cake.

  22. Talking of cost and difficulty, I had a co-worker who owned some type of Cadillac. Maybe ten years ago one of his headlights burned out. He took it to the dealership. They had to partially disassemble the front end of the car to replace the bulb. It cost just a mere $500 to reclaim his car.

    Another tale of car woes. Years ago I owned a Renault Alliance (1985). I had to take it to the mechanic we used to get some work done. When I picked it up the bill was quite high. He referred to the car as having a "bench engine". I asked him what that meant. He explained that to do about any kind of work on the engine or power train since it was front wheel drive, the engine had to be removed and put on the bench hence "bench engine".

  23. I enjoyed how you ended the post, with that backhoe joke. I chuckled out loud. A battery change is about the only type of automobile maintenance I am willing to attempt. However, I am fortunate that both my wife and my cell phone new cars, relatively, so I won't have to do that anytime soon. My daughter inherited wife's Camry, and I have swapped that battery out before so I feel good about the future attempt there. AAA was very helpful to her in Savannah during college, charging her battery multiple times. However, they don't take too kindly to multiple calls. By multiple calls, I mean they charge a ton after the second one. It turns out she just never drove the damn thing. I paid a lot to get that car out there, to store it over Christmas and summer, not to mention insurance, and she may have driven it only a couple dozen times over the three years. Oh well, it's just my money.


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