Today, the brake calipers fell off. It was actually a pretty good day.

That's not sarcastic. I was on my way to my favorite Appalachian mountain run, and the brakes didn't fail there. How awesome is that? God loves me.

I am so annoyingly calm in a crisis. Suddenly, I have brakes that work like a clutch. Ho hum, I was bored anyway, and my day gets interesting! w00t!  Time for brake fluid! It's not like anybody on the east coast is gonna bother me while I'm under the hood, everybody here thinks people by the side of the road are Serial Killers. I'm free to work mah joojoo without the perpetual interruption of any pesky Good Samaritans, like I would out West. And the rain is useful for cleaning the gunk off the outside of the level marker. See? It's a damn good day already.

Euw. Still no brakes. My lovely Dot3 is now in the dotstreet and my brake is still a clutch. One call to AAA and some nice tow truck driver with a prosthetic ear comes to my rescue, and even takes me to the good mechanic. We have a fun conversation about owning cars you can actually work on yourself that get the same gas mileage as the new "efficient" models and how to replace annoying automatic transmissions with custom manuals. I have to remember to speak up, because he can't hear me too well...

With my car on the rack, sweet Mr. Nom says "is your caliper. Is falling out of alignment." Doood.  I can see it's hanging off the rotor, and I can't tell by what. That was the funniest fucking thing in the world. I would have paid for tape of that. What the hell made the car stop? Damn, I gots some mad powers. I make this car go with my brain. I stop it with my mind, because sure as hell it wasn't anything inside this wheel..

Well, I guess I paid, but I didn't get tape. Still, the entertainment value was priceless. It's all in how you look at it, right?

See, the first thing on my to-do list every day is:

Not Dead?

I checked that off twice today. :)
Love is a burning thing....

mah younger men, let me show you thems... )
mah older mens, I can has them )
Here's to you, Kid. Thank you, you sweet innocent creature, for reminding me that perhaps I am the sun, the moon, and drive a red Ferrari. May you grow up to get the car and the girl of your very own.
Apparently, when the retaining ring falls out, a retractable headlight stays retracted. Gravity trumps servos, it seems. Why my car chooses to perform this feat on the PA turnpike, I don't know. Attention mongering, perhaps? And once one does manage to extract the loose headlight, when the mechanism snaps shut on the loose retaining ring, if it was in a rectangular shape before, it's outsider art now. Mm, crap. And the screws long ago became offerings to the Screw Gods.

I brought the old retaining ring to the gentlemen at Napa, who found it the most entertaining part of their day. No, they didn't have "one of those, but not sucky." Damn, it worked with my last plumbing project. Home Depot had matching screws, and it's like Toys R Us. My Trusty Machining Apprentice worked his magic with screw threads and pitches while I poked through the shiny drawers of screws and toys and glue. I could have stayed all night in the toy store. Mmmmmmm, screws. I whacked the crap out of the retaining ring with a hammer -- Hah! It's my Superpower! and we'll glue the car together tomorrow.

An de hoodoo man say, "De car, she be espensive, but she will always run, chile. De car, she is undead."
I have discovered an interesting side effect of the speedometer quitting for good. Neither odometer moves at all.

This is fabulous news for the 3 months or 3,000 mile free top-off service for my oil changes, because I go through 3,000 miles long before 3 months are up. I'm looking for something positive in this, along the lines of "The earth will be destroyed tomorrow? Fabulous! Now I don't have to clean the bathroom!"

I wonder if I am condemned to own cars that are required to have non-working dashboard gauges. The Triumph had none whatsoever. At least I learned to judge speeds by the tachometer in that car, a very useful skill now as cops seemed to be everywhere this weekend. I remember before the Triumph died I did want to see how truly fast it could go once, on one of those long stretches in Wyoming. I had to judge speeds by how fast the mile markers went past, because I couldn't tell from the tach. When I floored it, I actually had to look back to see where the semi in the other lane went. The impression was that it had been vaporized by aliens or blew up, I accelerated so fast. Lovely. Last count, I was doing more than two mile markers a minute. Mmm. I miss that car. The Prelude tries to shake itself apart at 90.

But now that the speedometer is good and truly broken, that annoying sqeaky bird noise is gone. See? Optimism!
So I replaced my kefarging distributor cap and rotor today. Neat trick, considering I don't know jack shit about how to do that. I didn't see how I had a choice, since every time it rained the car refused to run. So I whipped out my copy of Auto Repair for Dummies and it said your distributor cap is wet, dummy. So I went and got a new one, and I've got a Haynes manual for the Prelude. Not a great one, since it talks about only the model years I don't have..

Every time I go to a mechanic, I have these two stupid discussions. "Think your carburetor's clogged, ma'am?" "That'd be a neat trick, because I have fuel injectors." "But it's a Prelude," they say, looking at their computers. Look at the damn car, jerk, it says fuel-injected right on the engine. Now I have more sympathy for the other stupid discussion, which goes like this: "Want your automatic transmission fluid topped off, ma'am?" "No, that would ruin the gears, since it's a manual." "But it says it's an automatic," they say, this time looking at the car. Yeah, but this is the 6th (yeah, you heard me) transmission in the car, and after the first crappy one fell out, I had standards put in. "Can you do that?" they ask. No, jerk, I pushed the car here. Now stop asking stupid questions and put the oil I asked for in the freaking car...

But back to the goddamn distributor cap. Seems Mr. Engine doesn't want to go if Mr. Electricity doesn't get Distributed through Mr. Distributor, and Mr. Electricity doesn't like Mr. Corrosion, who invited himself in with Mr. Water, not that they asked me. I've been waiting for a nice day, but no, I'm an idiot and I have to do this in the sleet. Apparently, in order to work on my car, you have to be an idiot.

So I'm feeling all Idaho self-sufficient girl and I unfold the manual to the appropriate page with its crappy directions for a different model year of car than mine, and immediately I hate whoever designed this car. There is no way in hell to get a screwdriver into the engine to get the old fucker off. I am not strong enough to rip the hoses off, and already I'm in pain. Not a good sign. The neighbors are staring at the crazy lady swearing at the car in the sleet, and I haven't even started. Sweet.

I decided to use the screwdriver incorrectly as a prybar and a stripping tool and a hammer. Good mechanics are turning in their graves under shady trees somewhere, but not here, because I'm being pelted with sleet. Two HOURS later, I have removed most of my airflow system and the distributor cap. I am shaking with pain, but Whoo hoo. I flip it over, and

THERE'S NOT A FUCKING THING WRONG WITH IT! Why did I remove this thing? Do I have a starter problem? Perhaps I should slam the hood shut and pretend my car was vandalized. Wait, I don't have comprehensive, that won't work. Shit. So I pull on the rotor, and it won't come off. I have no strength whatsoever, and I hurt. I go inside for a Percocet, and I can't feel my hands.

I incorrectly use the screwdriver as a prybar again. Ok, I feel better. The rotor is so corroded I don't even know why my car started on dry days. Oh wait, why do I feel better? My distributor is toast. Hey, will WD40 fix that? Will Coke? Will bourbon? I get the WD40 and a Coke. I decide to try the WD40 on the car first and the Coke on me before I try the other way around. Works a treat.

I have no fear anyone will ever steal this car. They can't. Only I can make it run, and I suspect it's like Wonder Woman's plane--it runs on my thought waves, because it sure as hell doesn't run because it's mechanically sound in any way. Also, the neighbors seem to be frightened of me for some reason, and are shuffling the children away from me.

I incorrectly use the screwdriver as a hammer again to bash the rotor where I think it goes. I can't remember how the other one came off, and it's not like I can feel my hands anyway. I try to put the new cap on, and it's worse than taking it off--the evil fucker who designed this car expected me to fold space to put it back together. No wonder those idiot mechanics charge so much--they have to disassemble the whole damn car to get that one screw in. Apparently I am loudly swearing again, for I have frightened the mailman. Fuck him, flaunting his bravery in the sleet.

My plan of repeatedly yelling "AAAGH! AAAGH! AAAAGH!" with every misuse of this poor screwdriver seems to be working. Not that I can see anymore, things have frozen to my eyelashes, and my nose is dripping into the fusebox. Hah! One screw! Now for the second! Shit! It doesn't line up! Well! It's! Going! To! Because! Agh! I'm! Going! To! Kick! It! Mother! Fucker! Pus! Bucket! God! Damn! oh hello mr price, what a pretty dog, yes you are no I'm fine, thank you Son! of a Bitch! Get! In! There! You! Bastard! Ow! My! Back! I! Swear! To! God! If! You! Don't! Line! Up! oh holy shit it worked. Now to strip the threads on this screw, hah!

Ok, let's assemble all the hoses. Hmm. It seems, when one kicks the crap out of one's car, one loses all the hose clamps somewhere in the engine. That was another good 40 minute scavenger hunt. Did you know it's harder to get the hoses back on that to rip them off? I don't want to do this again, this sucks.

I make sure the car starts, yay. Boy it sure sounds better than it did before. I go in, clean up, fall over, and then I remember that you're supposed to replace the plugs & wires when you replace the rotor.

Luckily, just then, the power decided to go out at the house (I'm not making this up) so I took this as a sign from God I should lie the hell down and take a nap.

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ladycaviar

April 2009

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