We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, August 13. 2012
So, here's how last Thursday went:
I hated selling my stocks for the tumor operation, because they're one of the few things my dad left me, but they obviously had to go. The last time I talked to the broker, a few years ago, I was told they were worth around five grand.
Or $3,284 on today's market. That's all I got for them, after the fees were paid and the dust settled. Welcome to the New Economy, Doc.
I talk to the broker on the phone, he delivers the bad news, I hop into my car to do some errands and the battery's flat as a pancake. $523 worth of diagnostic fees, labor, and a new alternator later, I'm back on the road.
I got the battery jumped that morning from a neighbor and drove it to the local fix-it shop. One of the guys was making a parts run and gave me a lift home. There's an email waiting for me from the guy I do my bread-and-butter work for (Web site maintenance), informing me that the Powers That Be at corporate headquarters have nixed this season's event and there goes my steady income for the next few months.
I've had better days!
As for my operation, I'm penciled in for Sept 4th. The good news is that I went up to a hospital in Miami a few weeks ago and the tumor hasn't gotten any worse.
The bad news is that I'll have to push back the operation if I don't have the funds. I still have a month and a half to go, but it'll be close. Losing the Web job really hurts. The good news there is that they'll have to do their next event in October, so I'll be able to make some money while I'm healing.
My original post on this worrisome subject is here. I could sure use some help with my donation fund. As I've noted before, if I can repay you by helping you with something online, like setting up a blog or web site, just tell me in the comments to email you and we'll take it from there.
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Egad, Doc. When it rains it pours.
$523 for a battery and alternator sounds pretty doggone high but that is water under the bridge.
Question: How would a person who has no plastic donate to the cause? Is there a snail mail PO Box to mail to or anything?
There was a mandatory $125 "diagnostic fee" -- which took a good 30, maybe 35 seconds to report the alternator was cooked, and it took about two hours of labor because replacing alternators in Hondas is a first-class bitch. It took me, an ex-Dodge mechanic, about three hours to replace the alternator in the Prelude I had years ago. It's like when Honda was designing the engine layout, some pencil neck engineer said, "Alternators? Bah! They never go out! Bury it!"
I'll email you regarding the other in a bit.
Just made a small contrib... lost my job of 10 years last month so I can't really do any more. Have enjoyed your articles here and hope that others can hit your paypal jar to the tune of $10 - $50. Every little bit can add up if enough of us play along.
Thanks, Ron, and bummer about the job. Worse, according to a girlfriend I once had who was the Personnel Manager at some big electronics firm, that "10 years experience" is actually a negative. She said they actually prefer to see "3-4 years". Anything less than that shows the person is just job hopping, looking for the next bigger paycheck, and anything more than that indicates the person isn't showing any initiative.
Plus, there's the dreaded "overqualified" factor. When you put down "NASA rocket scientist for 10 years" on the McDonald's fry cook form, don't be surprised if the hiring manager looks at you somewhat askance. "Yeah, but how are you with a mop?", he'll probably ask. :)
Heh - Honda repairs are a pain. A few years ago the service department at the boat dealer that I was Pro Staff for took in a older Skeeter bass boat that had been repowered with a Honda 225 hp outboard. Something was screwy with the engine because there was vibrat suppirtion at several spots on the horsepower/RPM curve resulting in bad prop torque which kept spinning the prop hub. After a week of chasing this and that the lead service tech - 35 years of experience - gave up and called the manufacturers representative to get the number of the service support center. The rep tells him there isn't a service support center because Honda's never break fown.
"The rep tells him there isn't a service support center because Honda's never break fown."
Coincidentally, the same was said about your spelling. :)
Well, I'll hand Honda this:
When the timing belt snapped in my Prelude, I hauled out my set of 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" sockets and full set of metric box end wrenches and went to work. While it was exasperating because of the tight quarters, in every single case the socket or wrench fit over the bolt and off the part came. I might have had to use two extensions and three crazy joints, but every part snapped right off.
Ditto replacing everything. It was one of those events that took four hours to do the first time -- and I could have done a second one in 45 minutes.
When it came to replacing the main timing belt cover, in an American car, you always have to haul out a crowbar or big screwdriver to bend it a tad so the bolts slip in. I actually didn't have to pry it with anything in the Prelude. It actually felt kind of odd, like I was missing a step or something.
Anyways, you're right, they're a pain, but at least a doable pain. Back in my mechanic days, I once did a tune-up on whatever engine it was (Chrysler?) where, in order to replace spark plug #8, you had to remove the exhaust manifold. Ah, the good ol' days.
Doc, you helped me last year when my web site got hacked. I left you $50, good luck.
Hey - I was using my phone.
Know what you mean - I just thought it was interesting. I know that Honda outboard dealers salivated at getting USCG mechanics - USCG uses Honda 225s on their small patrol craft.
Remember the days when you have to dismount the engine block and jack the engine up to replace plugs on Cadillacs?
I remember that. Some nastyism was planted in your 'themes' folder, as I recall. How it got there is anybody's guess, maybe via a sneaky plugin. But we bombed it and things was cool. Much thanks for the $.
There's an ICE boat nearby that has five big Hondas strapped across the back.
Don't remember the Cadillac stories, just the Chrysler with the exhaust manifold. Or was it a Buick? Of course, if we're going to reminisce about the good old days, then someone has to use the phrase "planned obsolescence" at some point. Now that's how engineering should be done, with an expiration date!
Doc, use the email I just signed in with.
Honda. I do know that back in the day parts were very expensive compared to American cars.
$125 to tell you the alternator is fried. Yeah I know. It is in the shop and what can you do? Legalized theft if you ask me.
It steams me.
Also, it makes a difference when it's the only shop within 15 miles. I had to run it over there on battery power, and couldn't take the chance on driving too far.
How come the new email address is the exact opposite of your login name?? Now I don't know which to believe!
Stick with 'feeblemind' Doc.
The rationale for the email address is a closely guarded state secret.
Have donated a few bucks - wish it could be more.
The Brits have everyone licked when it comes to complication. I'm sure they think if it's simple it isn't clever.
As a kid I needed to change the plugs on an Armstrong Siddeley. Off came the RH front wheel, then an inspection panel and then the generator. That got you access to number one plug.
Can't remember access to nos 2-6. But probably invoved the removal of the steering column or somesuch.
Great story about the Siddeley. My first car was a 1953 Hillman Minx. Then came an MG, Triumph, Sunbeam and NSU. Brit cars are characteristic, which makes them fun. Ditto the bikes. I raked a '68 Bonneville out once, only British chopper in Redwood City at the time. Maybe the world. :)
Just doing my part!
Personally, I think you'll look quite dashing in your night watchman's uniform. :)
Doc, you just triggered a great memory. My Dad bought a Hillman when I was in elementary school. I thought it was cool because instead of a turn signal, a little lighted arm flipped up from a slot behind the door. After he got rid of it (I don't remember why) he got a Turner sports car. We even had an Edsel at one point (push button transmission!) Sorry to hear about the financial trauma, but it gives us a chance to show you how much we actually care about you (I just hit the jar).
NB - Thanks for hitting the tip jar.
My Hillman didn't have the flip-out turn signals -- it was a convertible. :)
But my '57 Bug did. This was in New England, where they salt the roads. Went bouncing over some railroad crossing one day and the whole rusted frame snapped right in half. They just don't make memories like that anymore.
re 15 miles on the battery
That reminds me of an experience that happened to me about 30 yrs ago.
I was working in Hutchinson KS but often came back to Nebraska on weekends.
One weekend, for reasons lost in the mists of time, my brother and I swapped pickups.
As I was getting ready to head south on Sunday evening, he said, "The alternator belt is going bad, but it should last until you get home. If not there are tools and a spare belt under the seat."
Well. Shouldn't we change it out now? "Naw. It'll be OK."
So I am headed home and watching the amp gauge and everything seems fine. I got about 10 miles south of Concordia, KS and noticed my lights were getting dim, even though the amp gauge said everything was fine. So I am thinking, If I can just make it to Salina everything will be OK. There is a truck stop I can stop at and fix this. Back then there was absolutely nothing between Concordia and Salina. You rarely even saw a yard light. Just blackness everywhere.
By now I was afraid to stop and fix it for fear I wouldn't have the juice to start it back up. If I can just make it to Salina...
35 miles to go..... 30 miles, you can watch the headlights getting dimmer...... 25 miles....headlights down to a yellow glow. With 20 miles to go there finally wasn't enough power to run the electronic ignition and the long dreaded engine sputter was heard and the motor died.
I rolled to a stop on the shoulder and there I sat. 11:30 PM on Sunday night in the middle of no where.
After swearing a bit over my situation, I got the tools out and found the belt. I also found a flashlight that produced an anemic beam and set to work.
I got the belt on, and as luck would have it, I had come to a stop at the top of the hill of with a long exit ramp.
I figured if I could get the truck rolling down the grade, I could pop the clutch and it might start, but I wasn't sure because the battery was so dead. I pushed it a little bit and jumped in. As it rolled down the hill and gathered speed, I crossed my fingers and let out the clutch. A great wave of relief washed over me as the engine roared to life. I sat at the bottom of the hill for a few minutes to charge the battery and went on home.
I put my good fortune down as proof that the Lord looks out for fools, drunks and children, as I had definitely fallen into one of those categories.
The next evening I called my brother and had some choice words for him. When I asked about the amp gauge, he said, "Yeah. It doesn't work. I forgot to tell you."
My Honda Civic had alternator trouble toward the end of its life. The repair shop I was using at the time tried three aftermarket alternators - supposedly using 'OEM parts' and 'identical to the factory part' - and all gave trouble. Only then did a mechanic friend of mine finally talk straight to a Honda dealer, whence he discovered that Honda boobytrapped the alternator design on that particular model: while the alternator can be aftermarket, the voltage regulator inside the alternator must be Honda original and nothing else, or you get voltage flickers and a recurring flicker from the battery charge lamp.
Doc, I'd like to help, but I do not use PayPal as a matter of policy. If you'd be so kind as to send me an email with your snailmail address - use the email on this post, minus the obvious antispam insert - I'll see what I can scrape up.
Wolfs - Hey, bud, long time, no chat with. Glad t'see you're still kickin'. Have emailed you, and thanks.
I read Maggie's Farm daily and could not ignore your plea.
I hope my meager contribution will help you enough so you can continue your blogs there.
Hope you'll get well before long.
I'll save you my tales of woe about fixing cars for some other time.