Saturday, December 28, 2013

Truck Breaks and Junkyard Adventures.

So the next part of our ongoing saga of fixing the damn truck breaks sometime in my lifetime involved bleeding the breaks. Did I say bleeding the breaks? I meant failure. First off this was like the first warm day we have had in weeks. However the first warm day in weeks does not mean that all the snow had melted so my first task was shoveling snow out from around the truck in the areas we might need to lay down on.


Second task involved Scott filling up the master cylinder with break fluid and having me very gently pump the breaks so we could test that break hub thing that was a right bitch to get on. So I did that and then of course it leaked like a motherfucker and I had to stop and then Scott crawled under the damn truck and poked at it and then swore a whole bunch. Because of course the lines from the master cylinder would be the ones leaking. You know the lines that get break fluid to the breaks? Those lines? Yeah they were leaking. I realize to the uninitiated this is all gibberish so here have a picture.


So then we pull the line off and clean it up and try to put it back on. Which went about as well as you would expect. At one point both me and Scott were under the truck, facing different directions with him holding the line and me trying to thread the bolt on. Of course this didn't work at all ever and finally he tried to rebend the line and then knocked the other top line from the master cylinder off and then we swore a whole lot. Of course at this point I suggested just using JB weld to stick the damn bolts in PERMANENTLY and Scott was all like that just might work but we both kinda knew it wasn't going to work. There was only one option.

We were going to have to pull the damn break hub thing off again.

So Scott pulled the damn stupid motherfucking break hub thing off and in the cold clammy light of a winters day we could clearly see that the top holes, the ones we had been struggling with, were completely bare of threads. It was never going to work. No matter how hard we had fought and swore and cursed and begged the cold uncaring gods of auto repair, it was never going to work. We were going to have to find another break hub thing. Which of course is a part they no longer make anymore.

Which meant we were going to a junkyard.

So we grabbed our shit and some tools and I put medicated goop in the cats eyeballs and then we got in the car and drove. The first scrapyard we stopped at had a nice neat office and was staffed by a nice blond women who had clearly never left the eighties. There was a plastic sign on the counter saying not to place auto parts on it which kind of confused me because I was never really under the impression that junkyards were all that picky about there counters but whatever the fuck. So I just held the part up where she could see it like some sort of fucked up metal peace offering and we asked about it while the damn thing peed break fluid down my arm. So then she was all like, anything that old we just scrap and gave us the name of another place we could try and then we got back in the car and I spotted the greatest thing ever on the way out.

The greatest thing ever.

 Our next stop was an auto parts store where we learned that the part that I was calling the break hub thing and Scott was calling the break distributer was actually called the break proportioner.

Annnd also they didn't have one.

The last place we stopped at was a true to life scrapyard made entirely of mud. We pulled up to a gray dim looking metal building that was your typical half garage half office. Upon entering we were greeted by a vague older looking man. You know the kind of guy who gives you the impression there is no mental activity going on behind those eyes. “You got any cans?” He asked in a wheezy voice. I glance behind me at my 1999 canless Toyota Avalon. Which was the only vehicle in the parking lot. I looked around to make sure I hadn't been sucked into Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Scott explained that we needed a part. The guy explained we would have to go back into the office. In the office we were greeted by a dark haired women sitting behind a desk talking to a older guy who apparently had nothing better to do then sit in a scrapyard office and talk up a receptionist. In the back another older looking women was washing down tables. For some bizarre reason the whole place smelled like cookies.

“You gonna help them customers!?” Shouted the lady from the back, still washing down shit.

So we explain what we need to the two people sitting at the desk who look like we are interruptions into their flirting/drug dealing and then they tell us to go out back and look for Gary. We go out back. Out back turned out to be a wasteland of muddy cars. Many of which had been crushed and flattened into huge pancake like stacks that rose up around the borders of the wasteland like a very ineffective fence. Mud and snow mixed together under the tires of huge car moving machinery. We stopped next to a green building that smelled like pure ethanol and watched the giant car magnet thing move car frames around like they were made of tinfoil.

Finally a guy driving a huge piece of machinery pulled up beside us and yelled something out the window I couldn't hear and then Scott held up the part like it was a magic talisman and they mined something about Chevy and then he yelled some directions over the engine and we were off. What followed next was the most surreal adventure ever. One isle over I could hear the giant car magnet dropping shit while we wound our way through cars that looked like they had been flung down from on high by an giant car magnet. The first truck we checked was completely on it's side, wheels and bed long gone. Even though it had the part, the break proportioner was too rusted and shot to use.

We picked our way out of there and into the nest row over. Which is when I discovered that the “snow” was merely a thin blanket of white over a foot deep hole and I had to do that thing where you jerk forward and then grab you own shoe to keep the earth from ripping it off.

I was pretty over the junkyard by that point. Of course the next truck's break proportioner was shot too. Defeated, unwilling to try another avenue and possibly lose a shoe for good this time we trudged back to the office. Once inside we explained that we didn't find one while the lady in the back shouted more advice about customer service. We smiled and backed out the door, back past the wandering can man and got into our car, still holding the greasy useless break proportioner.

We never did fine Gary.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Marry Christmahanahkwanzika Everybody!

Well it's that time of year again. Before we know it New Years will be here. So, um, it's been a year. You saw my triumphs and my failures and my sorrows and my success and I guess I just want to say....

Merry Christmahanahkwanzika everyone.

Marry Christmahanahkwanzika.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Vet, the Cat and Some Drool.

The next part in the ongoing saga of my cats eyeballs involved making her another vet appointment and dragging her ass to it. Of course I knew she was going to have to go back at some point but I was dragging my feet on it because I still had medication for her and I had to go to work and holy shit how is it December already I have to give gifts to people this month. Fortunately the decision to call the vet clinic got made for me when I found blood in her fur.

There I was sitting calmly at my desk working on my Christmas card, music playing out of my head phones with a cup of tea beside me. Outside snow was coming down and I was enjoying watching it from my warm chair. Emoticon jumps up, and asks to be petted. I put my hand on her head and rub her thick soft fur. A thunderous purr starts up in her chest and I run my hand down her spine. She puts her butt in my face and then I see a few streaks of blood on her butt.

Freaking out ensued.

Of course this would happen when I have to leave for work for two days for a job that can't be missed. So I freak out some more and check the litter box and find out that there is blood on the litter around some poop and then I spend some time making sure the cat is not about to drop dead and then I tell the farm sitter and then I leave for work the next morning and resist the urge to text him like fifty times asking how the cats asshole is doing.

That might have been a bit much.

So then I get home and then I make an appointment and tell the receptionist that I found blood on her butt and I was kinda freaked and oh by the way her eyeballs are turning into big fat messes again and then they give me an appointment for later that afternoon. So at the appropriate time I shove Emoticon into a carrier and put on all the layers ever cause it's like 15 degrees outside without wind chill and then we get in the car and she starts meowing. Because she was just thrilled.

Yowlingly thrilled.

Of course going to the vet always makes me super nervous because what if this trip is where she is diagnosed with super cat eyeball tumors or catdealthitis or something? So we get to the waiting room and I try not to think about all the horrible things that could be wrong and instead I watched these two pug dogs come in that were dressed in Christmas sweaters.

Pug dogs. In Christmas sweaters.

It was god damned adorable. Even if their breathing sounded like they were farting out of there short little faces. Of course while I was smiling at the pure cuteness on legs I kept hearing these ominous thuds on the door across from us. Then a vet tech came and got one of the pugs and as she was leaving I saw a long tail sticking out from under the mystery door, accompanied by the sounds of a dogs toenails scrabbling on the floor.

Then the pug comes back and they are paying to leave and the pugs are walking around and breathing like deflating balloons and then without warning the door across from me bursts open and the biggest dog I have ever seen in my entire life comes rushing out of the door straight at us and then I was all like, “Holy crap I thought that thing was a small bear” and then the owner laughed while the giant fucking dog snorfled my hand and then it effortlessly wheeled around and put two paws up on the reception desk and looked the lady behind the desk magnificently in the eye before the owner could get him down. He came crashing to the floor and then he set eyes on the pugs.

There was a moment when the two bloated sausages with legs and festive sweaters considered the small horse big ass dog before they both decided they could take each other and the barking started. I have heard dogs whose barks were said to start at their toes. This dog's bark started under the floor somewhere. Possibly he just stored it in the basement wrapped around the plumbing until he needed it.

“I'll just put him in the car and then pay.” The owner said calmly hauling his wheeling barking dog out the glass door. No one moved to stop him. Quiet came back to the waiting room and then the tech appeared and called us into a room and then I tried not to think about Catdealthitis and the vet comes in and puts dye in her eyeballs and then she shuts her third eyelid and then he tries to get her to look at him and then I try to get her to look at him and then she glares at us.

I couldn't really blame her at that point.

Then he talks us through this round of what he thinks her fucking eye ulcers are doing and then he looks at her and says that the mystery blood was probably parasites and gave her A dewormer pill which she promptly spat back onto the techs hand because Emoticon had clearly said fuck it by this point.

So after the great pill puke-a-thon he tells about this new med that he wants to put her on. He went on to say that it was not as vital as the other two but we could give it a shot to stop the discomfort and hopefully aid in the healing. The only catch here was that it might cause her to foam at the mouth.

Cue that record scratching sound.

I was all like, WTF? And he was all like, one in ten cats might have a bad reaction to it so most likely she will be fine and then he breezed out of the room and we collected our meds and paid the slightly frazzled desk lady and then we went home.

Scott started on dinner and then I gave her her first med and then was all like we might as well give this new one a shot. So I held her and told her she was an awesome kitty and put in the drops while she thought swear words at me and then I went into the kitchen to wash my hands and then Scott asked me a question and I answered it and then I poked my head back into the living room to see my cat doing her damnedest rabies impression.

There was drool coming out of that cats mouth like someone had poured a fucking bottle of bubble bath into a five jet hot tub.

I had to clean the floor twice. Twice.

Then I promised her that I wouldn't give her that one anymore and hoped that the vet would agree with me next week at our next appointment while she looked like she had just burst a pipe in her face.

Which was all the excitement I really needed for one evening, really.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Warranty on my Cats Eyeballs Must Have Expired.

Unfortunately while Emoticon was enjoying the freedom of being a wild tiger in the jungle being on outdoor cat her eyeballs were busy going to shit again. Because I clearly haven't paid the vets office enough money yet. So I made the decision to pull her back inside and bombard her eyeballs with drops again because I love her and she loves me and when I am working she sleeps on my desk and it's the cutest thing ever in the whole world ever.

Although I might be a little biased on that one.

Anyway after a few days of putting drops in her bad eye while she tried to hide under furniture from me Scott noticed that her good eye was also looking cloudy again and then I went outside and yelled at the sky except it was too cold for that really so I just told Scott that the warranty on my cats eyeballs must have expired.

Of course all this would be going on during a ice storm when I also have to get my ass to work and make money so I have not yet been able to make a vet appointment but that is the next thing that has to happen because I don't believe in investing money outside of my cat. Apparently.

Also I don't know how it got to be December all ready but I would like to have a do over of November. And not just because I would enjoy doing Thanksgiving again but also because I had goals for November and it's gone now. The goals? Still here.

Anywho so now I am back to having an indoor cat that knocks things off my desk and gets cat hair all up in my keyboard and makes my living room extra festive by coating it in a layer of snow like white cat fur and now I am afraid to put up my Thriftmas Tree because I am kind of afraid of what she would do to it.

Also this time around I decided I wasn't crating her anymore and so far she has avoided destroying the house although I don't know what I am going to do when summer comes and she tries to bust through another window screen to sweet, sweet freedom. I suppose I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. And hopefully it's not one of those rope bridges from Indiana Jones where everybody goes all crazy pants and then we have to cut the bridge in two and somebody gets eaten by crocodiles. Except we don't even have crocodiles here so it would have to be bears.

Metaphorical bears.

Hopefully the vet will have a good idea of where to go from here in the medication is working as a place holder but not helping long term problem I am seeing and that we won't have to cross any metaphorical bridges at the vets office because no one there deserves to get eaten by bears. Or crocodiles.

Especially not the cat.

I mean that would be pretty hard to explain to Scott. I'm sure you guys would understand if my cat got eaten by metaphorical bears.

Pretty sure.

Mostly sure.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Truck Breaks: a New and Better Caliper.

Of course Scott had to go to town first thing in the morning to get the parts for the emergency breaks because the auto parts store had only had in the new caliper we needed yesterday evening and just not putting any emergency break parts on the wheels in not going to work because I live in the fucking mountains.

Of course the previous owner lived in the fucking mountains too and figured he didn't need no fancy emergency breaks. Although he installed one hell of a motherfucking sound system. I mean this sound system had speakers so big there were first sized holes cut for them into the dashboard that we could never actually fix until we just replaced the dash during the wiring harness debacle.

Cause you know, priorities.

Of course we are attached to keeping our bodies in one working unit so we drank our motivation tea grabbed the parts and headed on over to work on the breaks for what felt like the fifty millonth time. Of course the new caliper went on with no problem which only served to highlight how Wrongity Mc Wrong the other miscast caliper was and how we probably should have realized that sooner but whatever it's on now and then got out the emergency break parts.

 This thing. So fresh. So new.

Of course we have to take off one of the pads to get this damn thing on there because ha ha of course we do let's take more springs off and put them on AGAIN ha ha hah hah ha that didn't suck at all the last time and then we shove the bar in place and then we look at the illustration and then the bar again and then we are all like, wait there is a spring that goes on here. But the package didn't contain a spring. And neither did our bag of replacement springs. Because that would have made sense.

Sooo after a few moments of scratching our heads and poking things our eyes fell upon the old springs that we had taken off that were still sitting on the ground because throwing things away is for rich people. And then I was all like, why don't we use one of the old springs? They still spring right?

So then I grabbed one of the motherfucking springs and tried to shove it over the end of the emergency break bar and it totally didn't fit. Then I was all like, well it was a good idea but then Scott was all like all we have to do is bend it into an oval, then it will totally work!

Pictured: Totally working.

So after we squashed it with the hammer we then bent it around with the pliers until we had the shape we needed and shoved it into the truck like champions. Of course then we had to do the same thing to the other side before we could stand back and admire our new and improved drum break assembly.

Then all we had to do was put the bolts back into the caliper. Which was a motherfucking adventure because one of them was stripped now and we had to rethread the hole and by 'we' I mean 'Scott.' Of course we had a bunch of rethreading tools but the key was finding the right one that matched the fucking bolt so Scott went on a super magical treasure hunt in the shed until he found the right one and put new threads onto the old hole and then all we had to do was put the bolt back on.

This is about how that went.

Of course it went on after that. Because you know, threatening things with knifes is a key step to any auto repair job.

Integral, really.

Or at least when you do auto repair with me.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Truck Breaks and the Joy of Missing Parts.

Today it warmed up to a balmy 50 degrees. So we decided it was time to work on the truck breaks. Since you know, we had already ran all new break lines and then discovered the bleeder valves were shot and now we have to replace a whole bunch of shit that is integral to the breaks breaking. You know so the truck won't go careening over a cliff anytime soon because my state doesn't believe in guard rails.

Of course there was the obligatory gathering of tools and safety glasses and the will to do this task and then I reflected on the fact that when it warms up the snow melts and then everything gets soggy and how that was super no fun and then we got started.

The first task was to put the break pad things onto the drum breaks. Which involves putting a shit ton of springs on them. Like, a shit ton. Like all the springs. Of course this was a pain in the ass because even though half the springs were old and rusty they were deceptively strong. I found myself grabbing them with my pliers and making sounds like ERRUUUUUGGGHHHHHHGGAAAAHHHHH and HUURRRHHHHHHHGGAAAAHHHHHH and trying not to pee a little because those springs were motherfuckers.

Of course the super extra fun bit was that the break pads and the thing-that-I-don't-know-what-it-is-called wouldn't stay in place without these springs. So as I was giving myself a hernia trying to hook the springs on to various metal bits the pads and the thing would be shifting around and trying to fall off the hub like this was a super secret dance party.

For break parts.

A break dance party, if you will.

I'll stop now. Here have a picture.

So after we got that on we felt really good about ourselves and then we went and drank the tea of getting shit done and we moved over to the other side where we discovered the bag of brand new springs we should have put on the other side, including a lock for the parking break piece that we totally had not put on.

It was also about then that we realized that we were missing a part for the emergency break. Whoops, did I say missing a part? I meant we were missing all of it. The entire emergency break assembly for the drum break was just gone. On both sides. Meaning somebody at some point looked at the emergency break hardware and was like, whelp, don't need this. Of course we would only figure this out halfway through the other side because the instructions were just so clear.

So, so clear.

So once we bled and swore and wept all over side two we went back to side one to repeat the process all over again, this time with new springs and the bit that keeps the parking break piece from falling out of the hub and destroying something important like my sanity.

Since we could do no more to the drum breaks because the previous owner thought emergency breaks were optional pieces we decided to return to our old friend the drivers side caliper. Which was in retrospect a bad idea. Our previous attempts to attach the caliper had failed magnificently due to the metal plate the caliper went on being bent. So we attempted to unbend it. With anger.

Needless to say it didn't really work. What followed next was a montage of swearing and prying things and beating on the caliper with hammers. None of it worked. Finally one of us had the bright idea to compare it to the caliper that we had already installed and make sure it was the same part.

It totally wasn't the same part.

Which is incidentally where we gave up for the day.

So Scott went to town to buy auto parts and then by the time he got back it was dark because winter is an asshole like that so tomorrow we will continue on our noble quest to put that motherfucking caliper on the damn hub which I would like to accomplish sometime in my lifetime.

You know, just to set a loose goal there.

Kill me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rebuilding the Engine: the Triathlon.

So as you may lovingly recall, we had three days to repair the car by installing both valve cover gaskets. Which are located in the engine. Since day one and two were spent ordering parts and trying to fix the breaks on the truck the only thing we were able to do that evening was pull apart the top layer of shit under the hood, and unhook and label hoses and wires. So when the cold watery winters light crept back over my little farm on day three the clock began.

See, we had to be at work the next day. And when I say that, I mean there was no way we could miss this job. At all ever. It could not happen. But of course we can't drive the car all the way to the big city with it spewing oil all over the back half of the engine and the muffler.

So that morning we got up to be greeted by it being 30 degrees outside and snowing.

Because ha ha of course it was.

So we do our morning chores and gird our loins and I play that fine game called what's the warmest clothes I am willing to get covered in engine cleaner and motor oil and then we head outside into the arctic wasteland driveway pull the hood open and began.

The first thing we had to do was install the new gasket onto the piece we had pulled out and cleaned. This actually went pretty well, to lure us into a false sense of security. We pulled the old dry rotted gasket out and put in the new one, feeling like champions. Then of course, shit got real. Getting to the first gasket was easy, it was right in the front of the engine. All we had to do was unbolt the top plate thing and boom access.

Getting to the second gasket was a motherfucking adventure.

See each gasket lives in these metal rectangles that house the valves. So it get to the gaskets we had to take the cover/lid/whateverit'scalled off. The first one was right smack in front of the engine. That second one was in the very back of the engine under a whole bunch of crap. I mean like a shit ton of crap.

So we had to take off that big metal part on top of the engine that is the part that looks like an engine. Like, if I took a bunch of random parts from the car and laid them out in the driveway and asked you to pick which one went to the engine, you would pick this thing. Of course it had like eleventy billion wires going to it and hoses and bolts that connected it to shit.

So Scott who was labeling everything ever under that hood was busy taking wires and hoses off and writing on them and I took it upon myself to remove the bolts holding this Uber Engine piece to this bracket. Which sucked all the ass ever.

First off I was doing this because I have tiny girl hands* because there was almost no room behind the Uber Engine piece where the firewall is. And of course the firewall is a literal thing that separates you from everything under the hood so if the car explodes into a flaming ball your legs don't get melted off. So needless to say I can't damage the firewall.

Also since the high for the day was 35 motherfucking degrees there was the added adventure of not dropping bolts down into the black abyss that lives under the hood. Which is super fun when your fingers are aching and getting kinda numb.

So once we got this Uber Engine piece off and taped over the holes that do magic things to make the car run that were now exposed, we could then start on getting to that gasket. Which turned into a big shit fest. Since there was still a fuck ton of shit on top of the valve cover.

Okay, have you ever seen one of those movies where the camera speeds alone a tangled path and shows you, the viewer the whole route that the protagonist needs to traverse? So like, it starts with our intrepid heroes and then the camera pulls back and then you see they still need to get past the dark and creepy forest and over the ravine and then across the iron bridge and crawl into a storm drain to get into the castle?

This was just like that, except made out of auto parts.

So we proceeded to unhook a whole bunch of shit and then we tried to unhook the wiring harness and it just laughed at us and we kept having to run back into the house to watch how to repair videos. Which was kinda helpful except all the parts we were having trouble with came off in the video without a hitch while rays of golden light fell upon the mechanic and everything was perfect. Needless to say there was a lot of swearing.

So after what seemed like forever we were finally able to pull the damn valve thing out and clean it. Which of course was super fun because getting your hands covered in cleaning fluid when it is snowing sideways and you are working in your driveway on some sawhorses you are using as a table is just the greatest thing ever.

Of course at this point it was already like 3pm and we are starting to freak out a little because the car is like, really not together at all and it will be dark in like two hours. So we put in the new gasket and then try to shove the thing back into the car and back under the damn wiring harness and then it doesn't want to go and finally we manage to shove it back in there and then we have to take a break because it's fucking cold outside. Like, I walked into an eighty degree house mobile home and it didn't feel hot enough.

So we drank tea and looked at the clock and then grimly at each other and I wanted to yell something epic and moving and give an encouraging speech like that one from Braveheart but I was too damn tired and sore and cold so I just swore softly under my breath and then started to freak out a little bit.

Going back outside was like stepping straight into a freezer made out of car parts. So we get back up there and began to put the engine back together. This was a little easier for me because I had seen it come apart so I just stuck stuff back together based on the labels. However I did learn an important lesson called “it's totally possible to take the top half of an engine apart and put it back together without having any idea what the parts do or what they are called.

It's like the worst 3D puzzle ever, basically.

A puzzle that spits coolant and oil all over you.

Anyway by this point we are starting to act like the failure fairy has shown up and blessed us both with her wand of having shit go wrong because all those things we fought and swore and bloodied our hands up to get off now have to go back on and our fingers are freezing and it's still fucking snowing.

This part is what I lovingly referred to as the death march stage.

See at some point it dawned on me, while I was frantically putting bolts back on that everything in the engine compartment is vital to the car running. I realize to someone who knows cars that stating that sounds super stupid. You know like pointing out that the sky is blue and that you can heat food using a microwave. However this simple statement takes on a whole new meaning when you are staring down at the partially dismantled engine of your car and realize that if you don't reconnect everything just right the car will not run and you will be fucked.

So as the light leached out of a gray featureless sky we reconnected hoses and wires and put plates and brackets back on and then we had to pull out a work light and head lamps and it got really really ball shittingly cold and then at last, at long last there was nothing left to connect or clean and we stared back down at a complete engine compartment.

So then Scott got in the drivers seat and turned the key and the car STARTED and ran it was a the most beautiful thing in the world and then he got out and we stood there in the cold and dark with the snowflakes coming down and watched the car running and I felt like this was it, this was the moment I was going to savor that we had done something I thought we could not do, and that our crazy plan had worked and even though I was freezing cold I was going to take this moment right now and appreciate the shit out of that engine.

That is until all that coolant started burning off.

It was a smell, is what I am saying.

But in the end we made it to work, and that's what matters.

I'm probably sure I smelled just lovely when I got there.
*This is a lie.