Friday, January 5, 2018

Dum De Dum Dum...

The Wife often times tells me, “I hope I can be  around someday when *YOU* make a mistake” and yet I find just the opposite is true.  She never seems happy at all on the [rare if I might say so myself :-) ] occasions of my error.   Given my knowledge of this fact I do as so many other husbands and make every attempt to obscure my screw ups.  I can perform a coverup that would make Donald Trump proud.  But then there is this blog where I  try to present a warts and all view of van building and the life that follows.  Since she often reads me, I am forced to reconcile divergent versions of the story.  So honey, here it is, because if I am going to confess to all these fine people, I better confess to you too.  I apologize for any incorrect conclusions I might have allowed you to jump to and the quick changes of subject that soon followed.

It had been a rough day.  We had to put down and bury the family cat in the morning.  She had been sick, filled with old cat diseases and declining for a couple of months.  Still there had been light in her eyes, and she always seemed happy to see me.  ...Ah, you know, in a cat kind of way.  But when I got home for my Christmas break on the 21st I took one look at that cat and said to myself, “she is going to die on Christmas day”.  She held on, surprisingly, but by this point even the most tender hearted soul in the house could see she wasn’t happy.  Thank you to my sisters who during a royal visit a month earlier saw the writing on the wall and suggested I dig a hole then rather than waiting until the ground was frozen.   Prior to this inspiration I had just been planning on popping the cat into a cardboard box and nipping her into the freezer on top of the stack of frozen pizzas until spring.  I was quite surprised when my townie wife objected to this.  We did things different in the country.  Back then you knew which ice cream pails to open and which ones could cause you to lose your appetite for ice cream.

So it was a sad morning.  In the afternoon I decided I would start up the BV and determine if I still have noise coming from the front end.  I felt I had a second wheel bearing making noise.  My plan was to drive down the street while number one son jogged along beside me to ascertain the noise level and location.  …Ah, small town America.   A little over a month ago I had the passenger side replaced because it was really noisy and I suppose it is a little odd to have them both going out.  But really, this could have been a building and known problem even from back when I first bought the van.  I’m no mechanic, it has to get pretty loud before I start paying attention.

I went outside to fire up the van and all it would do is click.   Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…  I don’t call where I live a frozen wasteland for nothing.  It was fifteen below zero, up from a minus twenty one overnight. (…and those are Fahrenheits my german friend, Fahrenheits!)    I turned that key, heard that click and said to myself, cha-ching!  I just had to buy a new battery.  An hour later and a hundred and forty dollars lighter I was shivering in my driveway, new battery in hand.

Can you work with gloves on?  I can’t.  The wrenches are all cold.  Wires don’t want to bend.  Changing a battery in your driveway on a summer day is a whole different deal than when it is ninety degrees colder.  I dropped the new battery in place and hooked up the little clip that holds the base.  With the battery now firmly attached I then moved on to hooking up the positive battery terminal but immediately ran into trouble.  A few months ago (The Wife under the van blog post) I replaced the original Chevy battery terminal screw with an aftermarket one.  The trouble now was the threads on the aftermarket screw were not long enough to reach in and grab on the battery.  I couldn’t get the threads to “start” because this new battery had slightly inset threads.

The original after market post extender.
Several times I tried to apply considerable pressure from the end, to try to push the screw in but it just wouldn’t grab.  I could only be outside working for about ten minutes at a stretch so there were a couple of warm up trips into the house.  Holding my hands over the fire and cursing people who would be stupid enough to live in conditions like this.

At one point in this process I thought it wise to check and see if the negative post would thread on.  I tried, gave it a couple of quick turns with my fingers and determined it had caught just fine.  I went back to work trying to force the positive post to grab.  Finally I had to give up.

I drove the family van over to the other auto-parts place in town and found a screw with what seemed to be ever so slightly longer threads.  I installed it.  It caught almost immediately and tightened securely. It was just a little longer on the other side as well so it was easier to get a wrench on.  I was pretty happy when I tightened it all down.  I closed the hood, hopped behind the wheel pretty confident that though a miserable job, changing that battery was going to have solved my problem.

I turned the key and it again just barely ground, turning over only once.  I paused.   Seriously?  What could be wrong that changing the battery wouldn’t fix?  Could the engine be seized up in some way?  Dropping a new engine in would break the bank and maybe have to end my project.  What else could it be?   I tried turning that key again.  Then, I thought I heard a snap, like a major electrical spark, and then nothing.  Turning the key didn’t do anything.  The dash was blank.  I was pretty convinced I had somehow fried something major.

But here I was wrong.  If you read what I wrote, I told you every step I did.  I told you my mistake. Did you catch it?

I contacted a local garage the next day and they sent a tow truck out.  I was in the city workin’ for the Man when the BV left on a flatbed.  I had The Wife go out and move a bunch of the loose stuff to the floor and the sink.  Still that tow truck ride caused a lot of stuff to be tossed around.

A few hours later the garage called me.  …I have a facebook friend whom I have never met.  But she is funny and I laugh at what she posts. I  also like when she posts her beautiful selfies.  She talks about her “Dory Moments”.  Yeah, I get that, cuz that’s exactly what I had.

When I tested to see if I was going to have the same problem on the negative post I only attached the terminal and just gave it a couple of quick turns with my fingers.  I never went back and tightened it up.  So the starter and everything wasn’t getting enough juice.  All I would have had to do was lift that hood and tighten that screw up and wha-la my problem would have been solved.

Well, the van is already at the shop.  Why no go ahead and get that front wheel bearing replaced?

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