Archive for January, 2004

More depressing car news

20 January 2004 at 1:28 pm
by Jonah

Well, the engine still squeaks, even after a new water pump and timing belt pulleys.

We’re out of ideas.

19 January 2004 at 1:58 pm
by Jonah

There hasn’t been much to journal about lately except depressing car repair news. We took apart the Miata, replaced the water pump, put everything back together, and the noise that was the cause of all this ruckus in the first place still remained. It wasn’t all a loss, since the water pump did have a bad bearing and could have used replacing anyhow.

So we ordered the next part that could be the problem (timing belt pulleys) on Friday and have been waiting the weekend for UPS to deliver the package.

Assuming it will arrive later today, we took the car apart yet again and pulled off the pulley on the side of the car that seemed to have been making the most noise. Sure enough, the pulley had something scraping inside. But was it our squeak?

Berck put the sander attachment (minus the sandpaper) on a Dremel tool and put it up against the pulley. When the Dremel tool spun, it spun the pulley, and when Berck turned the it off, the pulley continued to spin … and made our squeak! We feel confidant that we’ve isolated the problem and can leave as soon as we’ve put the car back together.

It’s amazing how much easier it is to take a car apart when you’ve just done it a few days before. Hopefully, the same will prove true for putting it back together again…

o-rings, glasses

14 January 2004 at 12:27 am
by Berck

Well, I got new lenses for my glasses today. My lenses were 2 years old, and they went from being annoyingly scratched to nearly useless after catching a .45 casing on New Years day. Turns out my prescription has changed slightly… I could still read the 20/20 line with my old glasses, but everything is SO much clearer now. Or maybe that’s just because there’s no scratches.

Yesterday, I called the local Mazda dealership to see if I could get an O-ring. They wanted $8 for it, said that the earliest I could have it was thursday, provided I went to the dealership and ordered it in person yesterday. That annoyed me, so I called my favourite Mazda dealership in Birmingham, AL. They had it in stock, shipped it to me yesterday, UPS ground. $1.50 for the o-ring and $8.50 for shipping. I got it today at 3pm.

I’ve gotten much of the car put back together. The timing belt is back on and supposedly aligned. Since the car didn’t start the first try last time I did a timing belt job, I’m rather aprehensive about this. But it’s aligned, it is! If it’s off, it would be a whole tooth off, and I can’t see how it could be. But I thought that last time too.

I couldn’t seem to explain to Joanna why I had to work on my car today, since I couldn’t finish today, and I might as well just do it tomorrow. I just needed to. I hate having it in pieces, and it’s always better to work on it sooner rather than later.

I’m worried about money. We have a good bit saved for the trip, we have a good bit in debt, and we’re spending a good bit. At least to me. I’m not sure if this all works out or if we’ll get into trouble later. We’ll be fine if Joanna gets a job when we move to Norman. She doesn’t think this will be any problem. I have my doubts about it. But things always seem to work out for her, so maybe they’ll work out for us now. Or maybe marrying me will cause her luck to run out. In any case, we’re going on our trip. We may not have another chance like this for a very long time, and we both very much want to do it. Consequences be darned….

Then there’s the matter of vehicles. Joanna’s Dad has given her his ’85 Camaro which is in great shape, but which I’m convinced will simply fall apart any day now. I’m hoping we can sell it. I’ve found a Miata which costs less than I think the Camaro is worth, but which will certainly be more reliable and cost less to operate. Gas prices went up 10 cents a gallon today… So I’m thinking it would be nice to swap the two, and Joanna likes the idea.

But we keep talking about a truck. Buying a truck to move stuff for about what we’d pay to rent one. But we’d still have to rent a trailer… And I don’t know anything about buying a used truck, and I don’t know much about maintaining one, but I’m sure I could figure it out without too much difficulty…

All these decisions.

Joanna’s Mom wanted to get fried shrimp and oysters today. Since I’m not much of a fan of either, I offered to make sandwiches from the two left over chickens that they smoked yesterday. Chicken sandwiches, with pepper jack cheese on a toasted bun, berck’s yummy peas and home-made potato chips. It was all quite good. Everyone seemed happy. I like cooking when it makes people happy, and Joanna’s family seems easily pleased.

A note about the journal comments. The system is rather neat, and we like reading comments… But if you make them anonymously and don’t sign your name we don’t know who you are, which has led to all sorts of speculation on our part. We’re not sure whether they’re left anonymously on purpose or if you guys simply don’t realize they’re anonymous. Then again, maybe it’s better if we DON’T know who’s reading.

too many cars ’round here…

12 January 2004 at 12:30 am
by Berck

My car is now in many pieces. I’d forgotten just how much of a pain removing the timing belt in order to replace the water pump is. The bearing is definitely bad in the old one. I’ve gotten the old water pump removed, but that’s it. The o-ring that came with my new water pump for the thermostat housing is the wrong one. So I’m going to hope that I can get one at the Mazda dealership without waiting for them to order it. I want my car back as soon as possible.

But if they don’t have it, it won’t be a big deal. There’s many cars here, and Joanna and I have decided to stay here until next Monday so that we can look after her grandmother. Her parents are leaving for the weekend and need us to watch her. We’re not really in any hurry. We’ll now leave Monday at the earliest.

We’re still discussing possible route options. We’re thinking about Atlanta on Monday night, Young Harris, GA on Tuesday night, Knoxville on Wednesday night… then Memphis, and Norman, and down to Dallas, then Austin, Big Bend and then probably the Grand Canyon and Moab more or less on the way to California….

Wow. That sounds like a plan. Scary almost. I’m sure it will all fall apart, but I think I’m going to try to give people some warning before I show up looking for a place to sleep this time.

I’m still getting used to being married. So far it’s nice. I went to bed later than Joanna did last night and inadvertently woke her up since she’s a light sleeper and I’m not exactly graceful. She wasn’t very happy, and complained she was cold because she’d left the window open for me, but I wasn’t in bed to keep her warm… Must learn to get better about things like this.

The Brenners went to church while Joanna and I slept in then went to Nathan’s to borrow a torque wrench and the auto parts store in preparation for working on my car. Chinese food awaited us when we got back. Yummy. Since I still don’t understand the Brenner habit of ignoring meals after lunch on Sunday, it was fortunate that there was lots of leftover Chinese for dinner…. And now I’m hungry again. I really should start observing a more hobbitish meal schedule. Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Tea, Dinner, Supper… In any case, Chinese restaurants should not attempt curry dishes.

On the way back from the auto parts store, driving the Camaro, I passed a cop while exceeding the speed limit. Since I wasn’t in my car, I didn’t have my radar detector. Fortunately, he didn’t seem interested in me. Perhaps this is Karmic adjustment for the ticket I recently got in Gulf Shores for “Following to close” [sic]. See, a radar detector doesn’t really help you avoid tickets for things like “following to close.” Apparently, in Gulf Shores, one is supposed to maintain a car length’s distance for each 10mph behind a car even while accelerating to pass. I’m not sure how one could ever safely overtake a car by starting 4 car lengths behind. And is it a car length for each 10mph of my speed or the car I’m overtaking? Apparently, there wasn’t a check box on the Alabama Uniform Traffic Ticket for “Driving a Red Convertible.”

Paying the ticket was an incredibly frustrating experience. I called the court to find out what I needed to do to pay the ticket. I was hoping I could pay it over the phone with a credit card like you can with most places these days. Nope, in Gulf Shores you can either pay cash in person or send them a money order. No personal checks.

I asked them for their address so that I might pay the ticket. First I was given a P.O. Box, then finally “1905 1st Street,” along with a zip code. I figured that would be sufficient data for me to plug into Street Atlas and have it tell me where to go. I should have felt sufficiently warned when I noticed that the addresses in street atlas seemed to stop around 500 in Street Atlas. I figured I’d just keep driving though.

We never found it. Finally, we called and asked for directions. It turns out that they weren’t on 1st street at all. “Clubhouse Drive” or something, ten minutes away from 1st street.

When we finally arrived, the building sign said, “City Hall,” and listed all sorts of offices but said nothing about the court. I inquired inside and they told me to go down a hall, turn, go down another hall and up the stairs. I did so and found a little bitty office with two people inside, a young woman and a middle aged fat guy. The woman asked what I needed. After examining my ticket, she turned to the guy and asked him if she should just write a receipt for my money even though she didn’t yet have the cop’s copy of the ticket. The guy said no, that I couldn’t pay the ticket until he had a copy of it. After some discussion, he absolutely refused to take the money and said that if I kept arguing with him, he would refuse to accept payment of the ticket and would require me to go to court. The fact that if I mailed the ticket he would get it the money before he had a copy of the ticket didn’t seem to make any sense to him. I ended up driving across the street to the post office, standing in line, buying a money order, an envelope, and postage to send it certified mail. I don’t see why they couldn’t at least make the highway robbery an easy, pleasant experience.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to go find more Chinese.


10 January 2004 at 9:20 pm
by Jonah

We purchased our rings from a broker in Memphis recommended to us by Berck’s cousins. They are titanium, brushed on top with polished, beveled edges, with two gold stripes running around them… racing stripes. We like the symbolism.
picture of rings