Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Good for Another Year

First I brought Scarlet, Mrs. Toadroller's monstrous S4, down to the local all-purpose fix-it shop for an inspection.  I noticed the other day that the sticker had expired in December.  Whoops!

Mutt and Jeff* admired my handy-work strapping the mid-exhaust to its hangar which had un-welded itself.  They also admired the car - "they crammed a V8 in there?  Must go like stink!  Ooh, it's a stick?" The replaced a license plate bulb and splat-boom, one down, one to go.

Conversation turned to fixing things in general, including houses, and they started talking about a feller that does a lot of work for them and all he ever seems to do these days is "fix shit he would have been embarrassed to charge a customer for in the first place" and by example a project he was working over on The Scribner Road where the customer didn't want a frost barrier on their concrete because they were too cheap.  That rang a bell for me - "Oh, you mean Jeff W?"  "Yeah!  He was here just ten minutes ago.  Went home to take a nap.  Lots of plowing tonight."

Jeff W. is going to be tearing into the latest shit others have done to our home that he would have been embarrassed to charge for, but clearly others weren't.

Small circles like this are Maine to the core.  He knows her, and she knows him, and he knows somebody else; his cousin.  It's true of any real community, if you think about it.  It probably applies to The Big Apple, but on occurrences a bit more spread apart.  You can have community where you are... and you can not have community.  Both at the same time.  Of the world, in the world.  Yes.  No.  At the post office yesterday I ran into the parent of one of the kids Toadroller Luke played sports with oh so long ago.  And then the usher from the church over in Winthrop** came in and I sent him ahead in line- he with a letter and me with four boxes to California.  And the Postmistress herself a regular at Saturday 4:00pm anticipated mass.

Back up the slippery hill I went to fetch Old Blue, the A8, the Thousand Dollar Car, she of the sagging oil pressure.  Fingers were crossed: they said that brake pads would be coming around soon enough, but okay for now.  I shared my recent fun with alternators, fuel injectors, and batteries, never mind the disintegrating plastic bumpers which are evermore shattering in the cold when you back her into a snow bank.  But still, from a 3/4 view looking from the rear to the front, she's a beautiful car with incredible lines and shiny paint and at 20 years*** (14 in dog years), my heart reached out to her.  And so they passed her too.

"You're good for another year," they said, putting the sticker on the window, and I wondered to myself, "Am I?"

* One of them is named Jeff, or at least his shirt patch says so, but the two of them seem like twins; very likely brothers.  Picture a pair of Santas, white beards and all, wrenching everything from Saabs to Chevys.

** The Winthrop post office suffered the defeat of a fire, so ours has a stream of visitors picking up their mail.

*** They had a snowblower in the shop, at the ready.  It looked familiar and sure enough, it was the same exact model we inherited from my father-in-law Bert.  "That thing is older than you!" they joked, but I told them I had the same one.  "Oh, that's a good one.  You kick in that rear traction and it's a monstah!"  I believe it's from 88-89 time frame.  It'll be getting some solid use tomorrow, as our nor'easter continues to blow through the night.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Man, the Tool Maker

I came across this drawing:

.. and asked Henry Toadroller (hey, his initials are HTR) what it was.  In his usual precise conversational mode, imparting all that I need to know in the fewest words possible, he said, "something I'm making," and that was that.*

I came back from a business trip to find this on the workbench:

Dang!  I like that!

And so you see the tool holder along with a shelf for the works in process.  I believe those are bishops for the chess set he's been carving.

I think he's going to be amazing.

*Not entirely true.  At some other point he asked if he could use the piece of white trim "for something I'm making."

$15.86 Worth of Doom in the Post

For lo, the Thousand Dollar Car is showing low oil pressure again.

Given the recently replaced oil pressure sensor, all of two months ago, and yet another (this time I bought the $10 sensor, big spender that I am) lighting up the dashboard animations after a few minutes of running time, I figured it was time to buy a genuine oil pressure gauge (and assorted adapters, $15.86, free shipping) to do a real test and see if the oil pressure really is low.  Or jumpy.  Or high.  Come to think of it, I'm not even sure what its oil pressure should be reading.  This information can surely be found somewhere on the internet.  Regardless, Amazon provides and the USPS delivers, eventually.

It's probably a $500 test.  If it passes and the problem is something else, like bad wiring, then it's a $1400 car for Craigslist.  If it fails, then maybe it's a $900 car.  Maybe it's a free car.  Maybe it makes its way to a junkyard under its own power.  'Tis a shame really, all the seat heaters still work.  Nice stereo too.  But its doom is upon us, and that makes me sad.  Fourteen years.  Still drives nicer (engine response, power, suspension refinement, sound, interior, etc., etc.) than the fourteen-years-newer and fancier Mercedes E class.

In other Toadroller's Used Car Lot news, I've been bringing the silver A4 back to snuff after two years in the hands of the eldest, whose car she wasn't yet whose primary driver he was, and whose cheapskate-first-class treatment of her (he wouldn't turn on the heat, thinking it would save on fuel) left her feeling a little droopy.  After filling two bags of trash with used candy wrappers, dirty socks, a tie, many a coffee cup, and various and sundry, I've set about treating her more nicely.  I washed her, changed the oil and filter (almost 9k miles on that!  I completely spaced it last year), replaced the broken arm-rest cover, put in a new light switch plate that wasn't scratched to hell, aimed the headlights properly (they were pointed down to a point about five feet in front of the vehicle) ran a container of Techron through the tank, filled her with the highest test (93) I can find around, and have given her some time on the highway.  The engine is running much more smoothly and is happier to rev.  I think another tank or two of good juice and it will be butter on hot roll. 

Next up will be a replacement hood release lever along with some cable lubrication.  Lack of the latter lead to a breaking of the former, although the former was a cheap piece of plastic.  Again, Amazon, my auto supply shop, delivers what can otherwise be found only at a dealership for much money, or on Ebay at pretty-much money and unlikely fit.  Still to go is the power steering.  I'm thinking it's the pump as it's not losing juice and the reservoir isn't foaming from air in the system.  The first 15 seconds of driving though, the system has no pressure and then suddenly *snap* it pops on.  I've never done this job, but it appears to be an unhook, remove and replace procedure after you remove a few other things, like the front bumper.  Which sounds awful, but is really a matter of six nuts, unhooking headlight wires, and two bolts, then it slides out like a drawer.  Or so the videos on YouTube show me.  Come spring and warm weather I'll spray-glue the headliner in the back seat, give her a detailing, and be pleased.  Oh, and fix the driver's bun-warmer, which has focused all of its power like a laser beam to one spot at my right buttock.  So a short in the wiring.  Also a solution to be found on YouTube.

Other than that, it really is a fun, zippy, easy to shift German sedan, and it's happier and more at home the farther north of the speed limit your needle finds itself.  It comes into its own.  Not bad for 174000 miles.

Mrs. Toadroller's beastie S4 got a new strap to hold up its sagging exhaust- the hanger welded to the top of that mid-exhaust un-welded itself, giving me a half an hour on the garage floor in mid-March's best 18 degree weather.  But that's why I have old snow pants, boots, coats and work gloves.  It's actually quite toasty in there.  After I got it all strapped up, I took it for a drive through the neighborhood.  What a monster.  What a flipping amazing half-throttled, high-revving, climbing-for-more beast of a V8 and a flip-of-a-lever-and-push-of-the-clutch sweet, sophisticated bitch of a car she is.  Damn.

That said, it's supposed to be spring soon, and I'll be prepping the Suzie for the road.  I can't wait.