Archive for December, 2001

New Year’s Eve in Tyler

31 December 2001 at 9:38 pm
by Berck

Somehow, this was not quite how I imagined spending New Years when I set out from Orlando to go to a party in Dallas. It’s 9:38pm, new years eve 2001, and I’m sitting in my car at a gas station. Quite thankfully, I got in touch with Karen Black, who lives not far from where I’m stranded in Tyler, Texas.

As I was somewhere in Mississippi today, I was thinking about the possibility of my alternator dying. I only thought about it because someone had just discussed the demise of the alternator in her ’91 miata with about the same mileage as mine. I decided that 150,000 miles was just not a typical lifespan of an alternator. I figured I’d wait until at LEAST 200,000 miles before I would replace it as a preventative measure.

So imagine my thoughts when the charge light popped on dashboard when I was about 50 miles east of Shreveport, LA. It felt like a problem related to quantum mechanics. The alternator is both alive and dead until I think it. Then it’s dead. I sighed, rolled my eyes at God, and sat about trying to figure out how to get out of this one.

I immediately stopped at a gas station where I learned that the nearest auto parts store was 20 miles away. I eventually found an Autozone which even though they were closing, was nice enough to test my alternator and announce that it was kaput. I had assumed as much, but since I can change an alternator in an hour or two, I wasn’t very upset until they told me they didn’t have one for a Miata in stock. “We can order it?” the guy asked sheepishly. I sighed, and got another idea. I bought a used battery for $30, which they promised I could return within 90 days. I swapped the largish “new” battery with mine, and decided to drive until it quit. For all I knew, it would get me to Dallas. And, if it only got me 20 miles, I’d know about how long I could expect to get out of my battery.

My headlights started getting very dim about 20 miles from longview. Then the tachometer started going bezerk and the engine started missing. I pulled into a convienently placed “picnic area” and swapped the batteries.

Car started right up, and I headed for the nearest telephone, which is here. After a waiting quite some time for my mother, who happened to be enjoying her evening at Universal Studios, to find the number for me I called Karen and Bob. Man I was glad to hear him answer the phone.

Bob said it would be about 30-45min…. So here I wait. Nice that I had a laptop along to type at, makes the time go faster, even though there’s not really enough room between me and the steering wheel to type, so I’m sort of at an angle. And my fingers are so cold, that they’re getting numb, which is making typing a bit more difficult.

I sometimes wonder about the cruelty of humanity, but I’ve encountered several different people so far who went out of their way to try to help me out. First, the people at the autozone (though after much bitching, because they wanted to go home–who could blame them?), then the guy was closing this gas station and came out to see what the deal was with me. He offered to drive me to a motel room, for which I thanked him.

Got the same offer a bit later from a rough looking woman smoking a cigarette, who had stopped to use the phones. She asked for a quarter for two dimes and a nickel, which I provided. She told me how neat looking my car is, for which I thanked her and said that I generally agree, but wished that it was working properly. She hung around for awhile to make sure I got in touch with Karen and Bob, which was quite nice of her. I have my doubts that she was sober.

She lives!

3 December 2001 at 1:09 am
by Berck

miss miata’s all back together and running quite nicely. Still in need of a wheel allignment, so I haven’t gone for an extensive drive yet, but all seems well.

I got it all together at about 1pm yesterday. Smiled, sighed, and turned the key. It turned over and over. No fire. Damn.

Then I saw that I’d failed to plug the wiring harness back up to the crank angle sensor, so the computer never got the signal to fire the plugs… Riiiight. Pluged it in, turned the key and it started right up.

And ran like shit. With an awful clicking noise. I rotated the CAS back and forth and it steadied out a bit, but still wasn’t running very smooth. And when I disabled the timing advance to check the baseline timing & idle, it nearly died.

I couldn’t figure it out, so without any other choices, I decided to take the timing belt off and redo it. When I got all the covers off, I carefully examined the timing belt, and it looked to be lined up perfectly. Regardless, I pulled it off, spun the cams & crank, and lined it back up while fitting the belt back on. Spun the crank with the belt on, everything seemed to still be lined up. Put it all back together and turned the key.

It ran just fine, only smoked all over the place because of all the gear oil I spilled on the exhaust.

As Kevin of the miata list said, “Sometimes the autommotive gods just want you to do it twice.”

Today I successfully installed an S2000 starter button. So I guess my car has some Honda blood now. Man is it a sweet switch. I had to refrain from sitting in the garage and repeatedly starting my car, it’s so much fun now.

Feel it in the air…

1 December 2001 at 1:00 am
by Berck

More progress on the miata today… I would have finished tonight, but it’s a real pain to work in that garage once the sun goes down. The lighting is less than helpful. I can see the car. I can’t see much else.

I’ve gotten to the point where I have a small handfull of bolts and quite a few more parts waiting to be installed than I have bolts to install them with. I’m not sure why this happened, as I usually have bolts left over. I tried buying some replacement bolts at home depot, but was less than successful. Metric bolts aren’t easy to come buy. (And then there’s the issue of my understanding bolt size and thread guage, and so on… which we won’t get into)

All that’s left is a few more bits of the cooling system as well as the intake system… and we’ll be in business. We can hope. Course, after that I’ve got to get a wheel allignment because I not only disturbed the front suspension by replacing the tie rod ends, but also the rear suspension got mucked with in the differential remove/install.

I’m hungry.

I’ve also discovered that I will never be able to do crossword puzzles. Dad gives me clues from them occaisionally if I’m nearby, and he thinks I might know the answer… This one he asks just to piss me off because he knows I hate it, and I forget the answer everytime. “Neighbors with a radius”. “A chord?” I ask, trying to go through all the parts of a circle I can think of that might qualify. The previous clue, for which “A chord?” was the best answer I could come up with was “parallel to a radius”. Now, in the strictest sense, the answer wouldn’t be chord because there’s no reason a chord would HAVE to be parallel to a radius, but the sense of crossword puzzles is never strict. so they drive me nuts. I’m not sure why dad likes them. They’re full of trickery, and it’s not about what you know, it’s about knowing how to play their stupid little game. The answer is “ulna”, which I hope I won’t forget next time he asks me.

Slashdot amuses me greatly sometimes. This picture, linked to from the front page, is great: Not sure I’d want to be there, no. Well, yeah. I mean, it can’t be as bad as a concert, and you’ve probably got somethign in common with the guy next to you, which is hardly the case with concerts.

It seems U2 has sold out in Atlanta yet again tonight. I think they’re playing tomorrow night too? I’d like to see them sometime, but I’m not about to pay the ticket price a band like U2 fetches. And most of their concerts tend to sell out within a few hours of tickets going on sale. I’ll go see them when I’m an old fogey, and only old fogeys are going to their concerst. Easier to get into. I mean, a Moody Blues concert isn’t ever much of a problem…

Then there’s the think geek ads. They always catch my attention. Course, this is the firsttime I’ve seen the ads in a long time since I’m typically running with some sort of ad blocker program. “Your video card sucks. / Unless it’s this one—>. / Suckage is bad. / We can help.” I almost got offended.. My video card is only a Geforce2, but still… I mean… but.. I don’t even game!

I wonder if there’s a way to archive all this journal stuff, or if it’ll stay on slashdot forever. I wonder if I really care.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got to type about for the moment…