Saturday, June 16, 2018

3 Random Pictures

Just a few pictures from my phone...

To start off, last week they held Burger Week at Oinkster. Never posted about it, but I followed up in 2016 by participating again. I skipped last year, but heard about it again this year and decided to give it a go again. Once again, I enjoyed breaking the routine. One thing, though, since the Oinkster has a fairly small parking lot, I usually end up parking up one of the side streets and walking about a block. Along the way, I passed this tree with massive roots, where it looks like they actually conformed the sidewalk to clear it!!!

A week back I was wearing a shirt with a breast pocket. I dropped my phone into it before we went for a drive in Jade. Unbeknownst to me, I'd managed to swipe the camera on on it's way in, and it took over a hundred pictures as we drove. I deleted all but this one, as we were going under a railroad bridge. Most of the other ones were nothing but sky, and a few with palm trees or power wires.

Final shot is of the wife's pelvis. I've never gone through all of it, but she's go a lot of titanium!!! Started out by getting both knees replaced at the same time. Following that, she had the one hip replaced, and I believe this is the first picture I have of it. Next, she had her shoulder replaced, the one she's been complaining about for the longest time. Most recently, last August, she had her neck reinforced. Last Monday we had a final appointment before she was going to get her spine reinforced, but her doctor noticed she was having trouble getting around. The X-ray he'd taken for her back had down to her hip bones, and he called in his colleague, the hip guy. Now she's got an appointment with him next Monday!!! Her doctor reasoned that hip surgery is a quicker recovery than back surgery.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Sign From God

You may have noticed I haven't posted in quite a while about any sort of progress with Scruffy. Back a couple months ago, my shadetree mechanic had charged the air conditioning in her, and when I got home from there, I'd attempted to back up whilst parking, and lo and behold, reverse wouldn't go!!! Grrrr.... I've had more transmission problems with her than any other of the Saturns I've owned!!! I've had the idea for a while of buying up a running parts car to get the engine out of to do a build on, as well as to have a transmission, just in case. That was something of the impetus for this post. It was a very terse ad for it, and the outside picture looked real good. Very low miles, 67,000 I think, and it looked well optioned, and was a year newer than 3. I had the thought of, if it was as good in the flesh and had the ABS option, swapping it to my daily and sacrificing 3. Getting in touch, turns out it had no current smog check or title, so the $1,300 asking price started sounding less good. In the meantime, I used one day off to check the resistance on the valve body solenoids in Scruffy (an issue I've seen before), as I could buy a rebuilt valve body for under $300. No dice, but I had also found that the main bore in the valve body can become worn and cause this symptom. Finally got the cash together and made it over to take a look, and found it to be a single cam model, and nowhere near as good as the pictures appeared. Sad trombone. Also came across an ad for another low mileage one that had a similar fate to Scruffy's nose (first shot was of the engine, kind of rare to have ANY shot of the engine, and then I noticed it appeared to not have a hood!!!) but it was gone before I was able to make it out there.

Come to the following weekend, Memorial day, and the junkyard is doing their 40% off days. I'll try my luck there!!! There are two in the age range to have the late model head with the roller valve train and undersized exhaust ports. Both are a year newer than either of mine. My first pick was a sedan with front end damage, I reasoned was running fine right until said front end damage occurred. Found it, and started looking into it, only to discover several mounting points on the engine block had also been damaged in the collision. Located the second choice, a dead ringer for 3, and it looked kind of better... someone had attempted to mount a early exhaust manifold to the late head, and that did not go well. By the way, there's my shadetree mechanic friend, Chad. He was also in search of a transmission.

I had wanted to try and determine the mileage by powering up the instruments, and had a couple things to try that with. Powering up the circuit for them with a power tool battery, or using the key switch with that battery to the terminals under the hood. The key was there, albeit in two segments, but still was able to turn. Did not work, though.

In the process of trying to get the engine ready to yank, we had the idea to take off the drive belt. The crank pulley was easily accessible, so we tried loosening that. It did not want to turn, then we had the thought to try rotating the crank, and it didn't move either way at all!!! Also not a good sign for an engine, so gave up on that idea. Went ahead and took the transmission out of it.

And there it is!!! It wasn't real easy to get out, but we got it!!! Ended up dropping to engine cradle to get it out. Ended up doing the same thing to get the transmission out of the other one that Chad wanted, too. Left it in the back of my dad's truck until the next weekend. Figured I'd drive Scruffy down for one last run with that transmission then do the deed. Got about a mile, and it stopped upshifting out of first gear. Another possible symptom of that worn cylinder in the valve body. Took her back, then drove to my parents' house and pulled the valve body out of the junkyard transmission, just to see if that's all it needed. Put it into Scruffy's transmission the next day, but I kind of knew it wasn't going to work. Took the pan off (by the way, if I haven't mentioned previously, the pan is on the top of the transmission in S series Saturns, and the filter is an external spin on) and right away could smell that the clutches had been burning. Did it anyway, and at first reverse actually worked, but in short order it was as it had been before.

So I have yet to get it put in. Spent a while yesterday cleaning it off, and while it's not 100% spotless, it'll still probably be the cleanest thing under the hood once I do get it put in.

Meanwhile, I picked up a few other things while I was there. The visors in Jade were looking pretty bad, so I found a pair in the front end wrecked one, and my wife had caught the passenger side mirror and cracked a piece out of the outer shell, so I got that off the same one. The center console in Jade has a cover on it that the plastic is cracked out under the top pad, and the early body style console has a design flaw. It has two cup holders at the front, one directly behind the cigarette lighter socket, so if you're charging your phone, one is unusable. The later style has one in front, and one towards the back, and it's offset from the lighter. Also, the covered box at the back on the early style is somewhat rare, so I took the console from the same one I got the transmission from. It looks like the back end mounts a little differently, but I should be able to adapt it.

Clipped to one of the visors was this cross with Proverbs 3:5-6 on it. Up on the cowl of the coupe was this reflector with a blinky red LED from Mount Moriah 62nd anniversary.

I'm taking it as a sign from God.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Breakfast is Served

I've been doing the Saturday shift at work for about 2 1/2 years now. It's not as easy as it used to be, weekends have gotten busier than they used to be, but it's still OK. Only thing is the shift starts almost 4 hours earlier than during the week, so, depending on the time of year it's either full dark or just getting light when we get there.

This is a little clip from my dash cam when I was pulling in this morning. On the left side, you'll see a coyote skulking off, but you probably can't make out that he's carrying a critter in his mouth!!! I caught it (my head apparently turns better than my cam) by eye and took it to be a rabbit. I've seen both rabbits and coyotes in the parking lot before, so I guess that's just what my mind filled in.

My co-worker in the white Benz had his phone in hand, and was able to get this picture!!! No, I'm pretty sure that's a cat. Poor kitty!!!

It's the circle of life...

Monday, April 30, 2018

Somebody Stop Me

I'm thinking of doing it again...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Name is the Night

Get up, go to work, come home, fall asleep, repeat. That's my life most weekdays. It's OK, I don't mind being in a routine.

Every once in a while, though, it's nice to have a little deviation. That's what happened back at the beginning of this month. While at break one day, I saw an interview with one of my favorite artists, Brian Fallon, previously of The Gaslight Anthem. A good interview, and at the end of it there was a link to check out concert dates. I'd looked earlier, and it was all East Coast or across the pond. I looked anyway, and it turns out next week he has a couple shows in town!!! The one close to me is on a Friday night, not great for right before the day I have to get up earlier than any other day of the week, and the other is on a Tuesday, down in Orange County. Huh. I might be able to do a Tuesday. On the way back from break, I happen into a friend I work with who also happens to be a fan. I make mention to him, and he looks into it himself later. I was actually thinking of trying to make the Friday show, but a couple days later he asks if I'm interested in going to the Orange County show. Turns out he lives a couple miles from the venue, and has been there a few times. Yeah, I'm in!!!

The place is called The Observatory, and it's not too big, maybe 1,000 people.

He was promoting his new album, Sleepwalkers. I'd gotten it a few weeks back, and picked up the previous one, Painkillers, once I was heading to one of his shows. He had a guy I'd never heard of, Ruston Kelly, as the opening act. Only three guys in the group, one of them an old guy who was sitting at a steel guitar. Turns out that is his dad!!! He only did four or five songs, and I was pretty impressed with him!!! One of the best opening acts I've seen!!!

While they were doing the change over, my friend asks me if there's a second act before Fallon comes on, because there's a keyboard dead middle of the stage. Turns out there was not, and for most of his set it went neglected.

Here's the setlist he played:

A Wonderful Life

Forget Me Not

Come Wander With Me

Ladykiller (Horrible Crowes song)

Crush (Horrible Crowes song)

Steve McQueen

Little Nightmares


My Name Is the Night (Color Me Black)


Nobody Wins

Among Other Foolish Things


Etta James

If Your Prayers Don't Get To Heaven


The '59 Sound (The Gaslight Anthem song, and the song he broke out the keyboard on, a quite different version)

I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together (Horrible Crowes song)

Got My Mind Set on You (George Harrison cover of a James Ray song)

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, with the possible exception of the last song, which I've never much cared for. Made for a great show!!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Jade Gets Shanked

Haven't done a lot about Jade here, because there hasn't been a whole lot to post about, but now I've got a couple things. A couple weeks back we were driving home one evening, and there was a loud noise from under the hood and the alternator light came on. Pretty instantly I correctly analysed the problem to be the serpentine belt to have let go. We're around 7 miles or so from home still, but on the freeway and moving pretty good, and it's been California-cold these nights, so I kept her moving with an eye on the gauges. Coming off the ramp by our home, and it made a pretty bad sound going around, so I pulled into a parking lot for a quick visual inspection. Sure enough, there's tattered belt, but nothing else seems out of sorts. I proceed home, going around the back way, which is not as steep so as not to get the engine any hotter than it already is. About halfway, it starts not going, like the engine has lost power or the transmission is slipping a lot. Parked and walked home for the other car to fetch my wife.

On my way home the next evening I pick up a new belt, then head over with my tools and a scissor jack. The belt is a little tight, but is a lot easier if you pull the top engine mount off and jack up the engine a bit. Only five nuts to pull the mount, but I'd forgotten to grab my 15mm deep socket, so it didn't come off so easy. Tried with my combo wrench, and could only get one. Oh well, I'll try just snaking it in and working the tensioner to see if I have any luck. I start trying to get the belt in position, and notice it's short an idler pulley. Hmmm... I start looking closer, and there it is, down by the crank pulley!!! I fish it out, and even find the bolt that is supposed to hold it on resting on the frame rail!!! Looks like the bearing on it has seized up, and I theorize that having done so, it unscrewed the bolt. Looks like I'm not finishing tonight (and it's just starting to rain) so I try starting her up and driving her, and she works just fine for the little bit over the hill and down to our home. The next night I picked up a pulley and finished that job off with no further issue, and she's been running fine since.

THEN, this last Friday, We're out on our way to pick the younger up from school and head out for some dinner, and as we're getting near I start hearing a tick-tick rotational noise coming from the rear right. Huh. When we arrive, I go to investigate, and as I near the offending corner, I can hear the air hissing out!!!

I check it out, and discover it feels like a spike sticking an inch or more out of the inner sidewall!!! I ask my awesome shadetree mechanic friend if he's got a local place that'll sell me a tire, and he says he's got one guy who'll set me up with a used one for $35, or another place that will sell me a new one for around $55. Of course, for $20 difference, I'm going new!!!

We head over, and since he knows the guy he goes in and asks the guy if he's got a tire for $50, and the guy right off says yeah. Should have said less!!! I say at that price I'll take two!!! That's all mounted and balanced, for just a bit more than some shops charge just for the labor!!! A bit more background, Jade had two nice Goodyears on the back when we bought her, and a couple cheapies worn off on the edges in the front, and a pretty good pull to the right. Early on, we took her for an alignment where the guy noted the disparity in tires and suggested rotating the good ones to the front, which I'd already been planning. He did so at a bargain rate.

Anyway, that's the good news, it got the bad tire. When he got it off, it turned out to be a hex driver bit that had nicely speared the sidewall. In the shot of the strut, you can see it has an area where the paint is chipped away to metal!!!

Turned out, it was a lot longer than it originally appeared!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Since my last post, I've managed to get a couple things taken care of. I took her to an alignment shop and got that taken care of. I also disconnected the idle control valve and sprayed the connector with some contact cleaner, and that seems to have fixed that problem. When I was getting the steelie out of the shed, I'd discovered a BF Goodrich tire I'd saved when I'd bought tires last for Scruffy, because it was in great condition. Another project altogether, the back tires on the Falcon have been going flat again for a while. I had one off already, so I jacked up the other side to pull the other one. I was using the jack from the Camaro, which is like a horizontal bumper jack with a cantilevered arm at the end. As soon as I got the tire off and was going to set it down on a jack stand, it tipped the jack up and slid about a half a foot over, onto the floor pan!!!

Took the Falcon wheels and the oldie but goodie BF Goodrich over to a tire shop while I was getting the alignment done and had it mounted on the back right that kept going flat, and bought a new pair of tires for the Falcon. With that steelie on the front left and the BF on the rear right, I've got a half decent set of tires on Scruffy!!!

The new tires for the Falcon were largely so I could move her around some, and have some driveway room opened up!!! Not to mention, it pretty much gets it back to road ready at any point, only other things would be going through the exhaust hangers and replacing them. As previously mentioned, 3 is up for a smog check, and preparatory to that I was doing an oil change and piston soak. We went on a quest for Shamrock Shakes and Szechuan Sauce on Monday in the Falcon, and parked her on the street. Tuesday I drove 3 to work, and backed her into the driveway when I got home. After I'd eaten, I pulled the plugs and started the piston soak procedure. Wednesday I cranked all the oil out, and did round two on the soak. Friday I cranked the oil out again, did the oil change, and rotated the tires for the first time in a while. I'd been hoping to get the 17's onto Scruffy, but ran out of time. This morning I went out to drive her, and hitting the remote to unlock her did nothing. Huh. Used the key on the door like a caveman, and discovered why the remote wasn't working!!! The battery was completely dead!!! I've got the charger on her now, and discovered that I'd popped the trunk, probably Friday afternoon, so it was likely the trunk light did the deed.

Anyway, I've been rolling more miles than usual on Scruffy this week. Mostly she's been doing fine, but there's one thing. Long ago, I'd bought a replacement radio for Scruffy (can't remember, or find a post if I did one, may even have been for Janice) that seemed pretty sweet. It's "mechless", meaning it has no physical drives, but has input for Aux cord, an SD card slot, and a USB jack you can play music through, as well as AM/FM tuner. Also was a bit before Bluetooth connectivity was much of a thing for car radios. It seemed pretty good, but it doesn't tune AM very well at all, and the display is pretty dim. Recently it has gotten to where the display will go out completely. Another thing she's doing is sometimes the fuel gauge won't work. The last couple weeks, if one is working, the other doesn't!!!