Monday, August 27, 2012

Wiring Harness are the Devil.

Yes. We did it. And by we a mean mostly Scott. And my Uncle. I just handed them tools and cleaned grounds and provided an extra pair of hands*.

The first day was spent removing the old wiring harness and putting in the new. That was exciting. I will point out that Scott's idea of labeling every single wire was the best idea ever in the whole history of ever. There was no guessing. However I have to point out that without my Uncle we wouldn't have known what half those fuckers were in the first place.

I will also take this moment to point out that disassembling the steering column is probably a form of torture in several less civilized parts of the world. Even worse, of course, was putting the damn thing back together.

Let me explain.

There is this, trapezoid thing that makes the car start when you turn the key. No I don't know what it's called. It has no name. It deserves no name. It sits on the steering column and connects to this line that runs from the key. So when you turn the key it flips a switch in this box and the car starts. Except it's a sweet bitch to get in.

Which we did at least four times.

I put it in and took it out, Scott put it in and took it out, and it wouldn't work. We poked at it and tested the wires and criticized each others putting-the-damn-thing-in-technique. Every time we would take it out Scott would grab it and do arcane things to the switch while muttering. By the end of it he was hunched over the switch like Golum, muttering the dark litany “ accessories, lock, start, run.”

It took us a while to realize that that it was wired backwards.

Because that's what you get when you use second hand wiring harnesses. So we pushed and shoved and cursed and still managed to get the wheel back on slightly crooked but fuck it who cares, until at last we had everything wired up. Everything was where it should be. Most of the crazy wiring from the former owner was gone, replaced by this new beautiful and clean wiring harness. Flushed with success we connected the battery and flipped the lights on.

Nothing happened.

Well fuck. We tried everything. We replaced the switch, we replaced a bulb. We cleaned the grounds and traced wires and did unfathomable things with the one working multimeter we could find. Which in a stroke of luck I still can't comprehend, was made specifically for automotive use. Scott bypassed things and stuff and poked at wires and got zapped and swore and still the lights remained dead.

So we called my uncle.

And being the saint he is, the next day he came over with a bunch of his tools and together we begin again. It became rapidly apparent that having my Uncle, the ex auto mechanic, was like suddenly being given a cheat code to your fucking car. He pointed out things that we needed, things that we did not need, and things we could do to make it run better. I mostly watched while they tested things and cleaned switches and cut apart the old wiring harness and were dismayed by things and occasionally I would bring them sockets. After some struggling and cursing and despair and some “holy crap why is this HAPPENING!?” We found the problem in one blinding beautiful moment of understanding that was as clear and clean as water from a deep, cool, well.

It was a bad bright switch.

You know, that thing that I did not even know that cars had. That thing. It was bad. So then we had to drive around to all the auto parts stores in town. There are four in our tiny, tiny ass town and none of them had the part. So we undertook the great journey to the other town where we pulled into the store and saw that what looked like redneck town had set up a shanty village in the grassy area before the auto parts store only to realize it was a massive yard sale. It was ceramic ducks and baby clothes and Nascar blankets as far as the eye could see. No I didn't get any pictures. I might not have come back out alive.

But they had the part!

We drove home like the motherfucking champions that we were and installed the part. With me standing in front of the truck Scott installed the damn thing and flipped on the switch.

The lights came on.

You would think that seeing the giant square lights of on old truck flare into their typical reedy life from deep within the grill would not be a very inspiring sight. But it was. It was like when you see rain coming from a long way off over the earth and you stand and wait for the wall of cold droplets to hit you and the rain comes over you like a sheet and you feel a joy mixed with awe at the sheer endless scale of the world. It was like the moment when you watch the sun come up in the mountains or over a lake and the sky gets lighter and lighter and a tightness forms in your gut for reasons you don't understand and then the first edge of the sun comes over the world and you feel a chilly sense of wonder and think how small and yet wonderful this whole thing called life really is.

That is what I felt when those headlights came on.




It is these moments we keep close, gentle readers.

It is these moments.

*A very invaluable service when the two mechanics are doing some sort of twisted car yoga under the dash,


  1. You lost me at wiring harness, but I am hella impressed.

  2. Pretty darned happy that you got that truck back on the road at minimal cost.

    We've been having a similar thing here with a truck that wouldn't start. Tried everything and the last was the most expensive piece. The computer for the engine. Anyways, we borrowed a computer to test the engine and it started. Your last paragraph was exactly what I was feeling when it finally started.
    Except it didn't last long because I realized that I then had to drop 2 grand on the new computer, but at least we know what the issue was.

  3. Yea! You got it working!

    I hate that thing that I did not know that cars had. Yeah. It screws me all the time. And why is it always an EXPENSIVE thing that I did not know it had?

  4. That is awesome! I tend to label everything. Lots of "learned lessons" there.

  5. thank goodness for the labeling. and your uncle. and your now functioning car. what a saga!

  6. so glad for the happy ending- it all worked out!