Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Weight of the World

Due to the immense frustration caused by issues in four of the family’s cars, I temporarily suspended CPotD. I was so uninspired by vehicles, I couldn’t bring myself to spend any time touting their beauty. At one point Sunday, Lucy had a dead battery, Ringo was dead on the side of I-70, the Suburban was leaking a gallon of coolant every twenty miles, and the PT Cruiser’s check engine light was on. Now that three of the four cars have had their issues corrected, I’m willing to reinstate CPotD, but first a narrative or two on my weekend of car tribulation. Caution, there is a lot of non-Corvair in this entry, so feel free to skip the text in red if you are offended by the discussion of other makes and models.

It started Friday when I left Lucy’s headlights on while I toiled away at my day job. I was able to get a jumpstart by a coworker and merrily drove home. Saturday morning Victoria and I worked on Glinda cutting away rusted areas and brushing and primering the exposed metal. Then Saturday afternoon Loriann and the girls got in her car to run errands and found the check engine light (CEL) illuminated and the engine running roughly. I told her to take the Suburban and I’d deal with her car. As she drove away, I pulled the codes and got 0301 which indicated a misfiring of cylinder number one. As I was closing the car door my cellphone rang. It was Loriann informing me the Suburban’s temperature gage was nearly in the red and not going down. It was as if the thermostat was stuck closed. She had pulled over to the side of the interstate and with the engine idling for a few minutes the temperature dropped to halfway. She said she could nurse the truck to their first destination, so I told her I’d meet her there with lots of water.

I filled some jugs, climbed in my car, and turned the key only to be met with silence. The five-year-old battery had given up the ghost. I coasted down the hill and popped the clutch to get Lucy running and headed on down the road. I met them, sitting in the shade, the Suburban’s hood up, but the radiator cap still very hot. At this point, I couldn’t give my car to Loriann to continue her errand running since she’d not be able to turn it off, so everyone piled into Lucy and I dropped them off at the library while I ran to the auto parts store to get a spark plug and a set of cables for the Cruiser and maybe a battery for Lucy. Leaving the car running and parked right in front of Advance Auto, I got the parts, but decided against buying a new battery. I’d use the battery out of Glinda until she was ready for the road. Back to the library to gather the gals for the drive back to the Suburban. The radiator and its reservoir swallowed nearly two gallons of water to reach full. With more jugs in the back, we decided they would head towards home, but towards their next destination, and if the temp gage behaved normally, they would complete their errands. It did and they did. Yay!

I went home to work on the Cruiser. Since we’re on a tight budget, I was uninclined to just toss good cables and plugs. So, after removing the intake manifold to access the plugs and wires, I pulled each cable and checked their resistance. They all measured less than the new ones and were basically equal to each other, so I chose to keep them. I pulled the #1 plug and it looked used, but undamaged. I cleaned it and re-gapped it to .045”. I did the same with the other three plugs and reinstalled them all in their original locations except for swapping #1 with #4. I figured if the code changed to 0304, then I’d know that plug was bad. With the original cables back in place, I put everything back together and fired up the engine. All sounded good, so I figured I’d just saved $40 worth of parts that I could return.

With that issue seemingly dealt with, I went ahead and pulled Lucy’s dead battery and replaced it with one from Glinda. So, I felt that, other than the Suburban’s leaky radiator, all was right with my little world of cars. Oh how wrong I was.

Sunday morning we took the Cruiser to church and it did not run smoothly. Guess it was time to replace the plugs and wires. After church, I made a quick run to the parts store and bought three more plugs. Then back home to remove the intake manifold AGAIN and remove and replace (R&R) the wires and plugs. Put it all back together and started the engine up and noticed the CEL was still on. I read the codes and discovered I’d neglected to connect a vacuum line and an electrical cable. Irrr. Went ahead and did that, but the CEL still shone. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a chance to go off with some driving which it did the next time it was driven.

The rest of the weekend’s automotive fun and games was actually Corvair, so I’ll save it for the entry in my blog.

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