Turn 1 - Willow
(those're CARS to all you sled-herders, econo-box jockies, enviro-bumper-cart riders, and bicycle sidewalk-blitzers)
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Turn 1 - Willow

New Night-Eyes

. . . thought it was a bit dark out there . . .

Posted March 15, 2006 by Mike

I'm coming back from a meeting a couple of weeks ago after dark, and pull up behind a big van at a stoplight.

Reflections - something wrong with the reflections - there's the left one. The right one should be rrriiight . . there. It's not. Maybe the curvature of the back of the van keeps me from seeing it. The van pulls away, and I sit. Nope. Still only one headlight reflection. Crap. My Gentleman's Express has a headlight out. I decide NOT to annoy everybody with the high beams and tippy-toe home a popeye.

Next afternoon, I double check to see which lights are actually out. The Gentleman's Express has four headlights - two lowbeams, and two high beams. One of each is out. This could be expensive. It's not exactly the newest car around. Inside to make some calls:

Hi. I need a couple of headlights for my ride.


Nope. One high beam and one low beam.

Yep, I can hold.

Yep, I'm here. Both in stock? Cool.

How much?

Run that by me again?

$2.99 for the low beam, and $5.99 for the high beam.

Really? And they're halogens?


*WOW! Less than ten bucks for two headlights! Weeee!*

OK! - *slam* (sound of back door closing on way out)

$10 later, I'm back home. Headlight installation - eeeeasy job. Only need a Phillips head and one socket.

Wash grime off old lights so they match new ones. Now for the test.

Engine on. Lights on.


High beams on.

Holy Smokes! It's more daylight than daylight!

So THAT'S what four halogens look like! That's enough watts to burn trees down! Cool!


Car Stuff . . .

. . . at least it's old enough I can still work on it . . .

Posted January 11, 2006 by Mike

Gnaa-gnaa-gnaaaaaaa . . .


My Gentleman's Express has a dead battery. How the heck did that happen? Shouldnít I get a warning, like dim lights, or something?

Charge battery with trickle-charger.

This car has one of those worthless piece-of-crap volt meters on the dash instead of an ammeter. An ammeter would at least tell me if the system had been charging or discharging - give me a little warning (well, actually, quite a lot of warning). All the volt meter tells me is that my dead battery has 13 volts. Crap, crap, crap.

When I get this thing fixed, Iím puttiní an ammeter in it.

I havenít worked on a car in years, but I know itís one of three things - a dead battery, a dead alternator, or a dead regulator. Check battery date of purchase - only a year old. Crap. Consult the EE wizards (my two brothers). After recitation of symptoms, EE Wizards both agree - itís the alternator. Fix the alternator, and the battery should recover.

Look through stacks of books for service manual - I know I saw it just a couple of days ago. Find manual. Look up alternator - oh goody - it has an internal regulator. So replacing alternator will fix either/both the regulator and the alternator.

Look under hood - crap, crap, crap. The alternator is on the bottom of the engine, neatly sandwiched above the bottom frame cross bar, next to a steel wheel well, and under two other accessories and a radiator-engine block water hose. Youíd think a straight six with enough room to stand beside would have better access to the frigginí alternator. **sigh**. If I remove the battery maybe I can get it in from the top . . . ?

Call around. NAPA is the cheapest??? And wonder of wonders, the alternator is cheaper than a new battery. How can it be possible that something metal with moving parts is cheaper than something plastic without moving parts?? Order alternator - requires payment before order. Drive to NAPA dealer. Leave engine running in parking lot so I donít have to risk starting with a dead battery. Order alternator. Drive home.

Charge battery with trickle-charger. Again.

Call NAPA in morning. ďNewĒ (rebuilt) alternator has come in. Jump in car, drive to NAPA. Leave engine running in parking lot so yada, yada, etc.

Back home, pull car into garage, back up as far as possible. Pop hood. Remove battery.

Charge battery with trickle-charger. Again.

Peer under hood again. Poke and prod at bits blocking access to alternator from top. Despair - really donít want to remove all that stuff - what if something breaks?

Canít install through wheel well due to steel wheel well wall. I REALLY, REALLY donít want to remove all that stuff.

Canít see pavement from above when looking into engine. Odd. Crawl under front of car - interesting - I actually fit under car! Canít see engine at all - whatís this? Itís a steel splash/bash plate! No wonder I couldnít see the ground from above. Annnnd itís only got four readily-accessible screws holding it to the frame members - itís like it was meant to be removed. Cooool ! My brother is right - they really do stay up late nights thinking this stuff up.

Pull splash/gash plate. Well looky there - if I twist it (alternator) just so, the little guy will come out slick as a whistle.

Maybe I can finish it this afternoon! Crawl out from under car - look for appropriate size sockets . . .

Hellooo? Anybody here?

Look up - Cool! Respite from an ugly job! Nephew appears on unannounced visit. With cool new digital camera and outstanding new laptop. We look at pics from Christmas gathering, discuss camera features, while I drool on the laptop (VERY slick unit this is - nice big wide display, speed of the gods, etc,.etc.). All too soon, nephew must leave for contracting job. Back to greasy hands and fingers.

Undo all alternator wires and bolts. Loosen belt. Remove alternator. Replace with new one. Reattach wires. Adjust belt tension - very difficult - canít reach belt to test deflection very well, but finally achieve correct tension.

Hook up (charged) battery. Now for the test. Key in. Door closed (not necessary, but it shuts off the really annoying door/seatbelt buzzer). Hold breath. Turn key. **rrrummmbble, rrummmmble, rummmbble burrbble, burrbble, burrbble**.

Sweet. Inside to wash hands. Grab receipt, old alternator, and hustle back to NAPA to get core charge back.

Time to celebrate (spend core charge). Drive to local record store. Buy ABBA GOLD - Greatest Hits CD. Buy Christmas cards at card shop (half price - I'll get them out before Easter this year - really - honest, I will). Card shop has an old-fashioned glass-case candy counter - lots of neat candy not generally available, sold by the pound (or in my case, by the 50 cents). Treat myself to my favorites. Home to pig out and listen to my ďnewĒ ABBA CD.

Spend 30 minutes with toothbrush and orange goo scrubbing grease off hands/out from under fingernails while listening to CD and trying not to eat grease with sweet-treats. Not completely successful with either endeavor, but the music is great.

Try without success to keep smile from adding to face-wrinkles.

Update blog.

New Commuter Vehicle Unveiled!
Cuts long boring commutes to 1 minute, 23.9 seconds.

Posted June 16, 2004 by Michael A. Morrow

Spent some time on the freeway the other day ... NOT amused. Lots of left-lane bandits, rolling road blocks, etc., etc., etc. Found the solution to my problems.

Allison V-12 powered.


If the noise doesn't clear the road for you, the sight of 6 foot flames coming out of the exhausts will.

Hey. I've got ear plugs. I ain't worried.

New Commuter Vehicle Unveiled !
Copyright Michael A. Morrow - March 21, 2004.