Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Poor Thing

Monday, we returned to San Jose. Dawn had a meeting at San Jose State University, Lou came down to go thrifting with Dawn after her meeting and I came down to finish off the fence.

I moved all my remaining materials from behind the fence. I then installed brick plugs in the planter cutouts in the new sidewalk. No current plans to grow anything, they are just for possible future use. I installed the last section of fencing, reinstalled some siding to the bottom edge of the bedroom bay window overhang, installed a short fence section to close off the rear yard at the 6 foot fence height. The fence continues to the front of the house at three foot height. I then replaced some screws on the rail brackets with the proper length screws. I trimmed the fence boards that are at the posts so the anchor bracket bolts don't cause a bulge. The final item was to install the remaining four screws per fence board. I only tacked it up with two before. Done, finally.

I then loaded the car with all the tools and stuff used to do the project. A job box, a mixer, wheelbarrow, shovels, crowbars, saws, drills and extra materials. A full load for a little Volvo station wagon. I was all ready to take off about 4pm to meet Lou and Dawn for dinner but then the car wouldn't run. I stayed the night.

The poor thing hasn't been well recently. On a trip to the dump last week, it wouldn't start until some wires were wiggled under the hood. That may or may not have been the cause. In the past, it very rarely has done it before. The mechanic hasn't found the problem and said just to wiggle the wires as he did to get it to work. That response has been adequate till now.

On Saturday, I wanted to go on an errand with it and it wouldn't start. But it seemed different. It seemed more like it started but died immediately after the key was released. It seemed to have fire. I wiggled the wires and it started up and ran. I shut it off and looked further. I found two bare wires under the ignition coil. They didn't seem to go to the ignition coil but? I taped them up but the car was back in the wont start mode. Darn I thought I had it. I just ignored it over the rest of the weekend. On Monday, it started nicely when I went down to San Jose. The car sat there all day as I worked and then would not run when I needed to go. Note, I could now start it, but as soon as I put it in gear , it died. I tried to warm it up, run it, wiggle wires etc to no avail and just spent the night at Dawn's apartment.

In the morning it started and ran perfectly. I got on the freeway and traffic immediately came to a rolling stop. A fuel spill 10miles ahead in Cupertino closed the highway earlier. It was supposedly cleared now but traffic never learned of it and moved along at 0-5 mph. When I finally was able to exit about 30 minutes later, I took surface roads the rest of the way home. All the while on the freeway I was a bit concerned the poor thing would die and decide not to run, something it has not done previously but who wants to do that in the middle of 5 lanes of freeway? I was all the way to the final stretch. I stopped for a red light at the signal at San Antonio Road at El Camino Real in Los Altos, literally the next to the last turn and only a couple of miles from home. The car died and wouldn't run, again. I could start it but it died when placed in gear. I was at the stoppbar, the first car in the only left turn lane at a very busy intersection. It's kind of odd having a car that can be started but can't move. After several cycles of honking cars and other disruption, I tried to look invisible while I waited for a tow, and the police to direct traffic. Eventually, a nice person offered to help push it out of the way. Unfortunately, there was no easy close place to push it. It was about a block to get it out of the traffic lanes. Fortunately, after about halfway through the intersection, it was actually somewhat downhill into a shopping center parking lot. I called to cancel the tow. I really want to get this thing home rather than a garage to unload it. Our mechanic is only a few blocks away from the house. If the car continues as it has, it should run in the morning.

Lou came and picked me up. The car has an appointment to be looked at in a few weeks when we return from our travels. We don't want another departure delay right now.

This car is normally very reliable and doesn't strand you. Now it has at two inopportune locations, the dump and the busy intersection. I hope it feels better soon!

The Loaded Car At End Of Project
The Car started normally later that evening. Above is a picture of the poor thing with its load after getting the rest of the way home.

Note: We've had comments about why I use the Volvo station wagon to carry these kinds of loads. It's because I can, and because we lost our Toyota pickup when a drunk driver drove through the front three feet of the engine compartment a few years ago. Not much resistance to the impact. I survived the accident with a few bruises after bending the drivers door in half when the truck suddenly moved to the right at about 50 mph due to the impact. The fact that the truck offered so little resistance to the impact meant we were not interested in replacing it.
Lou bought me a Volvo station wagon like hers. To our knowledge, no one has died due to a collision in a 240 Volvo station wagon. That Volvo, a 92, is now our toad and it's her Volvo, an 87, that is having the problems now. It does have over 300,000 miles on it now though but can still carry about a half ton of stuff.

While the pickup is possibly more convenient, cars and station wagons can do a lot too. I used to have a VW beetle and it was once used to move. It carried an eight foot long sofa, two swivel chairs, two end tables and a coffee table, oh, and also two people. We also had an old VW bus. It was used to carry 2800 pounds of bricks once, and on a canoe trip was used to carry 15 people and their gear to the launch location. i guess I've always had a problem with load limits though. I once carried five people on a mountain trail on my 305 Honda motorcycle. It was a bit hard to keep the front wheel on the ground though.

No comments:

Post a Comment