Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Man vs Machine

So I'm "assisting" my husband today in his bold endeavor to remove and replace the intake manifold on his bagel barge of a car. For some reason, the manufacture thought it would be cost effective to install a plastic intake manifold instead one of, say.... METAL, that would withstand the nuclear heat of water flowing through it.

No wonder American car manufacturers are going to the bankruptcy dogs.

I thought for sure we would be headed for divorce court, like tomorrow, once we embarked on this journey. I was pleasantly surprised how relatively easy it was once we got started. I was even surprised in how much I missed having this kind of connection with a car.

Armed with a laptop that walked us through the step-by-step instructions, and loads of ratchets, wrenches, and anything that would pry a heater hose of the back end of the manifold, we dug into a greasy and somewhat gas fumed undertaking.

We took loads of pictures, and being the neurotic ninny I can be sometimes, I had to label what wire/hose went where with a series of blue numbered pieces of masking tape.

This begin to drive my husband crazy as he likes to rely on the "hope I remember what went where," method of mechanics.

"What is it with those male chromosones?"

Only trouble we encountered is when a very small red gasket popped off one of the fuel sensors. The internet instructions suggested we use a paper clip (not long enough), or a fish hook (didn't have a fishing rod that small to reel it in with), to remove it with if one happened to get loose in the process of removing them. Ours just didn't get lost; my husband literally flipped it up and it landed in the bottom of the spark plug well. It amazed me that this was the only thing that gave us any trouble; a damn 1" piece of red rubber.

Since getting the manifold out was a success, we have decided to take on the little red rubber gremlin until tomorrow with a better light and fresh eyes. I have also developed a "jerry-rigged tool" that consists of a pair of hemostats hooked to a long fish hook, and thickly secured with masking tape. I have carefully twisted the fish hook so that it is torqued to the exact angle needed to pull that sucker out.

Add this hat to the list of unpaid jobs I do.

Next, we are trying to figure out what has possessed the 2001 Honda Odyssey van again. The battery keeps dying. We've taken both the battery and the alternator in to have them tested; both are fine and dandy (did I just say dandy?). But whatever is going on in this piece of junk van, is draining the battery even though we have turned everything off before getting out of the car.

So my husband decides that the automatic doors are the culprit and removes the fuses to them since the passenger side door sometimes closes - sometimes doesn't, and the driver side door motor won't stop running 20 seconds after closing it. We have gotten use to "butt" slamming the passenger side door closed from time to time. It's especially fun to do when I've dropped the kids off at school and I have to hold up 50+ cars in order to jump out, run around the car, attempt something that looks like a bad disco move to my car, run back around, flash a quick smile and a wave as all 50+ cars are flipping me off, then drive off with my head under the dash in humiliation.


So we went out to eat tonight as a reward for all our hard working and for not killing each other in the process. Since we can't use the automatic doors, we instead have to have five people (not six since my husband will be driving and has chosen not to participate in this "fun" event), enter the van by way of the front passenger door.

This has to be done quite delicately as if each child is not designated as to who goes in first, the damn kids try to pile in all at once! Lunacy cannot even come close to describing what this looks like. So I have the job of assigning who goes in first; my husband is having nothing to do with it as usual. So goes Julian first, and all the way to the back.

Oh shit! We forgot to lower the front seat console so he has to trip over it instead of lowering it because lowering it would mean using common sense and that just doesn't exist before the age of, say..... 25! So Julian trips over the console and lands face first in the middle seat. Since his nose isn't bleeding and still looks correctly attached to his face, we continue the process of piling through the front seat as if piling 20 people in a VW Bug.

Toni goes next, and even though she doesn't lower the console, at least she steps over it after hearing the groans of her brother in the back. I decidedly lean in and lower the damn thing myself. Nadia goes next cause she has to buckle Nia in cause if Nia goes in before someone older than herself, shell takes the opportune time to start running all over the van with the whole family trying to manage her wriggling little butt in her car seat as she's laughing at us all. Finally Nia gets in and we're off.

As we approach the restaurant, the same process begins again, only backwards and with the console already down. But now we are faced with people staring at us and wondering to themselves "Why don't those damn rednecks just open the side doors like normal people?". Here in the South, everyone is a redneck if things are not done as deemed "appropriate".

So I begin saying kinda loudly to the kids, cause I'm once again in a state of embarrassment, "Just deal with crawling out the front till we see if the doors are what is draining the battery.", in my ultimate "authority mom" voice. Again, I'm looking towards the curious passerby's and flashing the, "I'm cool - it's cool,", smile while they pass and give us the, "Your retards," smirk back.

What I learned today is that I hate modern cars. I long for the days when I could tinker with my '65 Mustang and not stress over complicated computerized gadgets that might set off a nuclear holocaust if the wrong plug was pulled.

Cars today may have more bells, whistles, bass, skylights, and coffee bars in them, but without the dance floor included, they are nothing more than a "hocked to our eyeballs in credit" window dressing, so that we all can look like we are far better off financially than our bank accounts say.

See working on an older car was like a dance between man and machine. The first few steps were scary under that hood, but once you found your rhythm, there was a symbiotic flow between the two of you.

Modern technology has all but taken that away from the average car owner. They have reduced that dance to nothing more than a date with a PS3 dance mat. No rhythm, no flow, just technical movements made through a diagnostic meter reader. Only now, your dance card will cost you a whopping $75+ an hour in labor.

I loved today, minus the issues with the van. I loved that we figured it out and did it on our own without Mr. Mechanic Man saying we couldn't. I can't wait till the new manifold gets here and we pop that sucker in and crank her back up. Then......

we're going to SELL it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know your husband doesn't love you, don't you?