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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Missing In Action

So I haven't been around much the last couple weeks. I've been distracted by the real world. I've dome more work on my car, and some on my mom's vehicle. They both needed oil changes, I pulled some rattling heat-shield off my mom's Chevy Tracker, and did the other sway-bar end-link on my car. There have been a couple other minor things. A couple days ago a friend of mine pulled out a suction-cup dent-puller that his dad has, and we pulled out a good part of the dent that was/is in my fender. I've gotta check out my mom's rig at some point- it's getting a cluck in the front end, I'm guessing it's a bad ball-joint.

Most of the snow has melted from around my house (finally!), but there's still a bunch out in the woods. I learned this the hard way when I went for a hike with a friend and wore completely the wrong shoes. Our driveway took it hard from the snow plow, and I had to rake it out a LOT to be able to use my usual parking spot. I also took my leaf-rake and raked my garden area off. Doing yard-work has shown me how horribly out of shape I'm in, but I'm getting better. I've been looking for a job. Being unemployed really sucks. I'm really sick of constantly having no money.

There have been a few times I wanted to use my laptop in my car, but my battery is hammered, and adapters to plug laptops into car power-outlets are F-ing expensive, so for $21 I got a Philips power inverter at Wal-Mart, It's listed at $19.88 on their website. It provides 80W of continuous power (150W peak), and my laptop draws 65, so it will do what I need. IT had good reviews- one family got it for their daughters portable DVD player, and it hasn't dies in 2 years of use. The packaging says "DVD on the go", but it just provides AC power, so there's no reason I can't use it for my laptop. I'm gonna go try it out, I'll let you all know how it works. Here's a link to the product:


And a picture!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Write-up on finishing my car

  After having my car apart for 2 days in a row I had to finish it up on Friday. I live in an apartment, where we're not supposed to work on vehicles, but the property manager seems to be cool with it. A while ago I got a couple letters about it being an insurance risk a few times when I did work. Eventually I had a conversation with the property manager when he was coming around doing an inspection (I hate living in an apartment), told him I work in a safe manner, and I understand that working on my car in the driveway is at my own risk. I also mentioned that I try to keep my work-site tidy when I have to leave it overnight.
  The weather on Friday was pretty crappy- the temperature was in the high 20s or low 30s, and it was snowing, so it was heavy, wet snow. Despite this I didn't want to leave it apart for too long, and I also thought the snow would be better to work in than the mud that would be in the driveway the next day.

Miserable weather.

 My front seat full of parts and tools. This reminds me that I STILL need to put everything away.

The old control arm, you can see where I had to cut it. Not pictured is the bushing that was encompassed by the cut part. Removing all of this was like peeling an onion made from metal and rubber. The adjustable wrench is 18" in length, which is HUGE, but it actually comes in handy quite often- including as a hammer. You can also see the ball-joint I had to swap onto on the new arm.

Putting the new (not really new, but better bushing) control arm in place. This is the front end of it. The shiny bolt there is replacing the one I had to cut out. Metric hardware is freakin' expensive! The head-size of the new hardware is larger than the head-size of the old stuff, which created a bit of a problem on the other where I had to get a wrench in.

The wrench had to go into the hole that's (roughly) in the center of the picture. The larger wrench required for the larger hardware wouldn't fit, so I had to get my Dremel back out and make the opening a bit bigger. this picture is mid-process. The extension cord visible in the earlier pics was for the Dremel.

The rear-end of the control arm. There's two more bolts across from the visible one. It's hard to see, but there's a tab in front of (closer to the camera) that had to line up with a notch. I got everything tightened, then noticed that these didn't line up (they do in the picture), so I had to loosen the 3 bolts at the rear and remove the nut/bolt at the front (after tightening it once) to get these to line up, then tighten everything back down.

Once I got the new arm in things started going pretty smoothly. I had to cut the old end-link off the sway-bar, and you can see a nice shiny new one on there. The strut is relatively new (a little over a year and only a few thousand miles old), but not from this round of work. At this point all that's left to so is get the other bolt in the strut and tighten them down, put the brake caliper back on, and reinstall a cross-member.

Everything is back together, ready for the wheel to be put back on and to be taken off of the blocking. My hands were FREEZING at this point.

All done, just put the tools on the floor of the passengers side for now. In all it took me about 4 hours to do all this work- there were a few minor hang-ups, but that's to be expected. I was cold and soaked to the bone, but satisfied that I was finished. Took it for a test-drive, which went well- no more lurching when I let the clutch out, no clunking noise, and it went straight down the road. The play caused by the bad bushing made it pull to one side, and the handling was sloppy- it often felt like the car was going to kill me. 

On Wednesday when the nut broke free I was overwhelmed, and didn't know how I was going to go about fixing it. It was definitely a good feeling when I worked out a plan and it worked. I could have spent less time on the project if I had a Sawzall instead of a Dremel, but it did the job- and the best part is that I didn't have to pay anyone!

On the previous post about my car sporktar asked me what kind of car it is. It's a 2002 Ford Escort ZX2. They didn't have much in common with the sedans of the era. It's pretty sporty for being a cheap front-wheel drive 4-cylinder. It's been really reliable for me, especially considering some of the abuse I've put it through. I had a '99 ZX2 a few years back, which is where the control arm came from. I parted that one out when the frame-rails, rocker panels, and a couple other parts were rusted beyond repair. RIP '99 you put up with being driven like the General Lee longer than I would expect most cars to put up with.

If you're thinking that the bumper is a different color you're right. Most of the car is flat-black, and the bumper is blue. There's a reason for that, but it's a story for another blog. I still have plenty more work that needs to be done, but isn't urgent. The next thing I'm going to do is replace the other sway-bar end-link, the factory one on the passengers' side is a different length than the new one on the divers' side, which is trowing the handling off a little bit. I also need to replace brake rotors and pads at some point. At some point I need to replace the clutch, which will be a bit of a long project. There are other things as well, I just can't think of them at this point. 

Also, I hit 100 followers a couple days ago (I'm at 115 now). Thanks to everyone who follows and comments. Special thanks to those who click an ad once in a while, money is tight for me, so the bit of money I get from adsense helps a lot. Now, time to visit some peoples' blogs!


Got banned from one of my favorite websites, apparently I was spamming. Didn't think I was, but whatever. Also got banned from the same site yesterday because apparently I tried to post a prohibited URL, even though my post didn't contain a URL. I guess the moderators of that site are gayer than most people thought. I'm getting frustrated with them.

Well, enough of my bitching. I'm going to write the blog about finishing my car that I've been promising, then make the rounds of bogs I follow.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Got my car finished earlier, which is a huge relief. I'm gonna do a blog about it tomorrow, because I'm too tired tonight. Tomorrow should be an easy day- coffee in the morning at a local lunch counter with the village elders, chill with a friend for a while in the afternoon, and who knows what else. Well, time to visit some blogs.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Workin' hard

So I haven't been around much the last couple days. This is because I've been busy working on my car. I've been trying to swap a lower control arm, which has been easier said then done. In theory all I had to do was unbolt the ball joint from the control arm, unbolt the swaybar end-link, then 4 more bolts would drop the arm from the chassis. I had to cut of the swaybar end-link, fortunately I had thought ahead and bought a new end-link. That wasn't a big deal. The control arm had 3 bolts at the rear of it holding it to the chassis, and one at the front that goes through a bushing, and threads into a nut that's welded into a cross-member. This nut broke loose. Because of the weld I couldn't get a wrench on it enough to be able to turn the bolt out of it. I ended up cutting the swaybar off, cutting the bushing off, then cutting the bolt off. To make it worse the only cutting tool I had that I could use in this spot was a Dremel tool. It took me HOURS to cut it all out. I already had a spare control arm, so that's no big loss. Tomorrow I have to pick up a replacement nut and bolt, and reassemble it all. This will be the third day of a project that I was hoping would only take an hour or two. We're supposed to get a storm tomorrow, which is supposed to be snow, but might end up being rain. If it's raining I'm going to have to put finishing the project off until Saturday (or whenever the rain subsides).

My blogger reading list is HUGE, and I definitely owe some people some comments. I'm gonna start making some rounds in a few minutes, but don't know how long I'll be at it- I'm BEAT.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'll take you around the universe, and all the other places too!

A while back when I was cruising the internet I came across Amazing Horse, and thought it was pretty funny. A little bit later I learned that there's a longer, beter version on Youtube. While looking for the extended version I came across a cover done by a girl who had done a cover of she. Seeing the thumbnail I thought 'An attractive girl singing this song could be humerous/cool', so I clicked and watched it.

I'm no music critic, but I noticed she has a really nice singing voice, and is good with the guitar. Some of her facial expressions add to the humor of the song- to highlight one the first time she sings"eew, that's dirty" made me laugh. After I watched the one song I ended up going to her channel, and noticed she covers several songs. After watching a few covers I fell in love with her singing. You can tell that she really gets into performing. Some videos have cuts where she flubbed a line, or something else screwed up her recording (one video has 2 out-takes at the end, where she got interrupted by a drill, then a text-message). Once I read where it says she lives in Germany I couldn't really fault her making a mistake or two- singing is hard enough, but singing in a different language is that much more difficult.

I haven't been as fond of the video where she has other people performing with her- seems like while her co-stars would be good on their own, they just don't work together very well. Occasionally she'll use software to allow her to sing backup for herself. In my opinion the songs would sound a bit better without this. Despite this I often listen to the effected songs anyway. Further reading on her Youtube page reveals she's a tattoo artist, and has a web-page showcasing her tattoo work, along with other artwork she's done. I must say that I'm as impressed with her artwork as I am with her singing. Check her out and let me know what you think.

Somehow I wrote all of that without mentioning that her Youtube channel is rockabillie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Washington inititave 1149

As many of you have probably noticed, the public opinion on marijuana is changing as time goes on. California's medical industry is about as close to straight-up legalized marijuana as it gets right now. Unfortunately, last year a ballot initiative to legalize failed in the state, as it did in many states trying to pass similar measures. Part of the reason many of these attempts at legalization failed is because they didn't have to funding to succeed. Groups in California paid a lot of money to spread their fear-mongering to shoot it down, yet it still came incredibly close to passing.

This year Washington State has a measure called initiative 1149, which would legalize marijuana in this state. I think this attempt at legalization has a bit more going for it than the California initiative. For one, there's a TON of people growing up there- there's whole communities where pretty much everyone grows, it's so rampant that the police can't enforce the marijuana production laws in these areas. There also a long way away from the Mexican border, and the drug war on both sides of it. But there's one more thing going for them- they have a source of income. Sensible Washington has a link on their site that, when used, donates 4% of the purchase to Sensible Washington. Because of this they'll be able to better fund their noble campaign. It's also remarkable that a major business is outright supporting legalization- a break from most companies' policies to distance themselves from any such effort. This makes it clear that opinions are changing regarding marijuana at EVERY level.

If you smoke, know anybody who does, or even just think that people should have the right to consume if they wish, be sure to use this link if you're going to buy stuff on Amazon. Even if you don't live in Washington, you should still support the cause, because legalization in one state will undoubtedly lead to other states following suit- possibly yours! I live across the country, and I would still use their link.

Before you ask, yes I'm for legalization. I believe that adults should have the right to responsibly and safely consume marijuana. It's much safer than tobacco and alcohol

Here's a link to Sensible Washington's blog, where you can find the link (it's the same as the 2'nd image in this blog post)