31 October 2007


Last night I drove the Aries in to work. It performed flawlessly all the way there. This morning I go out to start it to go home and the motor spins over but won't start. I have spark and I have fuel, but the motor won't start.

To add to the confusion, I don't have a power loss light any more so I can't pull the engine codes. The last time the power loss light didn't work the logic module was fried, so I'm worried that it's going to need another one.

This afternoon my eldest son and I go to fetch the car. I figure that the last time the computer went I was able to do a full throttle start and at least get the car home, so I'm going to try that again.

I try the full throttle start and to my complete amazement the power loss light flickers on and the motor tries to start. I then try a regular (no throttle) start and the motor starts, runs roughly for a few seconds, then cuts back off. Several starts later the motor finally stays running, and the longer it runs the smoother the idle gets.

I get the car home, and once more it's running beautifully. I wonder if the temp sensors are going bad, but yesterday morning the car started fine and it was colder yesterday than it was this morning.

Of course, yesterday night the car cut out on me again and I had to disconnect and reconnect everything to get it to start again. I changed the coil on it on my way home from work yesterday morning, so hopefully that problem is fixed. It probably is, since the next problem doesn't crop up until I get the current one solved. And like I said, it ran flawlessly all the way in.

What I hate most of all is an intermittant problem because they are so hard to track down. Tomorrow I'll pull all the connectors apart and check them out, that's another common Dodge problem.

I'm glad today is a day off.


I told you bad things were going to happen to me.
This morning the war wagon wouldn't start for me as I was leaving work. It looks like the computer again, at least that's what the symptoms are. That's what I get for buying a used computer, trying to go cheap.

My partner had to give me a ride home, and to make matters worse my wife was walking the dog as we drove up. So, of course, I got the whole "I told you so" from her. What a great way to start the day. Or end it, as the case may be, since I work nights and sleep days.

But, as a bonus, one of my pictures is going to be in a 2008 calender. I wish it would have been this one, but hey...I'm published now! Get yours here when they go on sale (the East Broad Top one, of course).

Now I'm tired and going to bed. I have a Dodge to fix tonight. Wish me luck.

Photo to be used in the East Broad Top calender from BHI publications.

29 October 2007

Bad Things Are Gonna Happen To Me

Lawdog reminded me of these videos, which I of course found completely hillarious.

What I also find completely hillarious is the humor of our troops, who refer to the "tail gunner" in a Humvee as a "trunk monkey".

And finally, who needs an Ambulance Driver when you have one of these?

Oh yeah. I'm going straight to Hay-ell for that one.

And while I'm at it, I finally linked AD. Find it on the sidebar, prepare to shoot coffee out of your nose. I deny any responsibility for ruined keyboards or monitors.

Mopar Or No Car (What's the Difference?)

Well, here it is the end of the month. I apologize for the light posting, it's a good thing I don't do this for a living or I would have made some editors very angry. Of course if I did this for a living I would have much more time to dedicate to it.

My time has been eaten up with work, one of my co-workers had to go away unexpectedly and we had to take up the slack. I've also been very busy with another project car, this one has been more trouble than it's worth.

When I say project car, I don't mean some exotic collectible that will be worth a fortune when finished. You see, I seem to have a knack for finding cars on the cheap that just need a bit of work. The last 3 acquisitions have been Dodge front-wheel drives, not by design but by accident. The last two are vehicles that I swore I would never own, a minivan and a station wagon.

It all started with a Chevy Cavalier. The Chevy died on me and I needed a car quick. An associate from work hooked me up with the mighty Rampage for cheap ($50 USD) because he couldn't keep it running. I was able to diagnose the problem (pickup coil, as I found out later a common problem with Dodge 2.2 and 2.5 motors) and seven years later I'm still driving it.

The next was the minivan. I got the van for free, the original idea was to pull the brakes off of it for the Rampage. However, my friend Tommy decided he wanted it and paid me to put an engine in it. I couldn't get the engine running (I literally worked on it until closing time at the auto hobby shop and had to go on cruise the next day) so I gave him his money back. When I got back a fuel injector fixed the problem. Now I had a van I didn't want, but since it was running and in decent shape I hated to do anything bad to it...like strip the brakes off. About that time my daughter called, needed a car, so I gave her the van. She drove it for two years and sold it for $400.

The latest is an Aries station wagon. Initially I paid $150 for it, my intention is to use it as a camping and fishing car. When it was just me and Christopher the mighty Rampage did fine, but now we have family closer that also enjoys the occasional camping and fishing trip so we needed something that would carry 4 adults and 2 children. It seemed the Aries would fit the bill perfectly. This one has been a nightmare.

I got the car from a consignment lot. The owner of the lot tells me that the owner of the car brought it in to use as a trade-in, but he wasn't interested in it. So, the car sat on the lot for over a year as the owner delayed coming to get it. Since I have started working on it I have no doubts as to why that is. He was trying to shaft the consignment lot owner, and hard.

Initially the car started and seemed to run great, especially considering that it sat unstarted for over a year. Now it seems to have decided that since it has an owner that fixes stuff, it's going to break as much as possible just to see what I'll put up with.

First I replaced the front rotors and pads, discovering the left side pads were untouched and the right side was down to metal. Further investigation showed the brake line had been removed on the left. The metal brake line, between the distribution block and the rubber line. No way the Previous Owner didn't know about it.

A full tune up and fluid/filter change was next. I found the radiator drain cock fully sealed with bathtub sealant, the rubber gasket had fallen off somewhere and apparently the PO couldn't be bothered to just go to the parts store and buy a new $3.00 plug. But I did.

Next I replaced parking brake cables, both the front and intermediate. In the process I have found much cancer in the floorboards, and during the latest rainstorm have discovered the windshield, doors and the tailgate all leak. Additionally, the water standing in the spare tire well gives off an interesting stench, no doubt due to the mouse nest I found under the spare tire as I was cleaning out the car. Soap, water and Febreeze have done wonders to eliminate the odor, but the parking brake still doesn't work. I'll have to pull the brake drums to find out why.

So why haven't I done that, you ask? Well, it was about this time the true nature of the car showed itself. I was taking it to get tires, ten miles from the house, when at the halfway point it started belching black smoke. The check-engine (actually a power loss light on this particular car) never did work, so I couldn't pull the codes. Added to this, the radiator fan always came on with the key, something I found interesting but not worth chasing down at the time. I should have.

I tried an O2 sensor and a fuel injector before finally biting the bullet and checking the logic module out. It had been water intruded and fried, also something that the PO had to have known about since it was old damage. Apparently sitting as long as it did allowed the computer to reset itself (dead battery) just long enough to lull me into a false sense of security. Changing it out fixed the problem with the running, gave me back a power-loss light, and fixed the radiator fan issue.

(It was about this time that I had to go on extended shifts, and of course that same day the Rampage's carberator went all to pieces. I was hoping to drive the War Wagon, but of course it had other ideas. It's a good thing the wife works opposite shifts.)

The next thing to go was the power module, which is the other half of the engine computer suite. Fortunately since I had a power loss light now I was able to troubleshoot and repair this using the engine codes. At the present time the car now runs, I was able to drive it around the house for an hour today with no problems, and the smell has been washed out. The headliner has been removed and the foam remnants vacuumed off the headliner shell. The rotting cloth has also been removed from the sun visors. All this will be repaired when the water leaking problems have been resolved.

I'm going to tear into the rear brakes next week and fix the parking brake problems, then finally the car should pass inspection. I'll get a jack and a spare tire for it and just drive it for a couple of months to work out any more bugs, then I'll work on the water intrusion problems before doing any interior work. Maybe I'll even get the air conditioning fixed before next summer.

Of course my co-workers find this saga highly amusing, especially the part where the mighty Rampage let me down the very day I had to start working extra days and the war wagon kicked out it's power module that night as I was driving in.

You would think I would be over my recent Dodge fetish.

You would be wrong. I want one of these. And I'll wait for this one.

This Rampage was formerly owned by SGT R. Kennedy, USMC. I wish mine looked like that.

15 October 2007

Playing Catch-Up

Several things since my last posting, over a month ago.

Most important, and so first, is the news that the first Medal of Honor given for Operation Enduring Freedom will be awarded posthumously to Navy SEAL LT Michael Murphy of Patchogue, NY. Teammate HM2 Marcus Luttrell, known in the SEAL community as "The ONE", tells the story in his new book "Lone Survivor".

The award will be presented to LT Murphy's family at the White House on October 22, 2007.

LT Murphy joins fellow MOH awardees Army Sgt 1st Class Paul R. Smith and Marine CPL Jason Dunham in the honors, and will be commanding the Valhalla Detachment of the US Navy SEALs, a unit which includes fellow SEALs AO2 Marc Lee and MA2 Michael Monsoor among others.

One New York paper apparently decided this was not news fit to print and failed to report the story at all.

Next, James Rigney, better known as Robert Jordan, has passed on. Fellow author Stephen King used to say about his Dark Tower series that he would finish it as long as the reader retained interest and the author retained breath. Happily, both occurred with the release of The Dark Tower, which was the last book of the series. Sadly, fans of the Wheel of Time are not as fortunate. Rest in peace Mr. Rigney, and thanks for everything.

Another milestone in the literary world was the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Atlas Shrugged. Not a book for everyone, a bit wordy in places, but a compelling story nonetheless.

In other news, some dolt got some prize for doing something doltish that other dolts were very impressed with, the end result is that now everyone who uses their brain for something more than making excuses now is fully aware that the Nobel Peace Prize is worth exactly squat. Of course, anyone with half a brain realized that when it was given to a terrorist.

Finally, Jeff Gordon wins his second race in a row at Lowes Motor Speedway to retain his spot at the top of the Nextel Cup standings; this feat was witnessed by freshly inoculated house staffers. I can see influenza, but hepatitis? I mean, really! Just what were they intending to do there?

No house staffers were injured in the writing of this blog post, although the temptation was great.

Photo from the US Navy