We await with baited breath to see how the Bean made out.... Did it pull through?? Is the whole trip falling apart? Does anyone know who REALLY shot JR?? Stay tuned!
Well for those of you who have been anxiously awaiting the news, you can finally put the methamphetamine down, your sleepless night has paid off! The Bean looks like it is gonna make it! In my never ending quest to prepare the Bean for the upcoming adventure, I've been busily working away to get that last little edge... Needless to say, it of course went slowly and painfully, mostly due to my inability to do anything right... Read on to find out more!!
Well the other day I decided that in the interest of actually COMPLETING this little shenanigan, I probably ought to invest a little time and money in some maintenance and upgrades to The Bean. Actually, I thought about this about five months ago, but in the interest of ensuring that it was done incorrectly the first time, I waited until the last minute. My plan was a complete and total success!!
My "plan" (by plan, I mean a loose association of random ideas, mostly centered around working on the truck, and one or two involving food, and something about monkeys, but whatever) was to do stuff to improve the gas mileage, durability, and comfort of the Bean. This encompassed all synthetic fluids, new brakes, belts, electric fan, and general tune up for the durability/mileage part. For the comfort there was a good vacuuming, window tint, CB radio, and yes.... wait for it.... Fuzzy Dice. NOTHING says class like Fuzzy Dice. And a disco ball. I haven't yet found the disco ball....
Anyhow, the brakes and transmission fluid actually got done a few months ago because my roommate needed a vehicle after his car died of heart failure, and I didn't want him suing my pants off for turning him loose in what was quite possible the most dangerous vehicle this side of Arkansas. I'll refrain from writing any stories about THAT debacle, as mostly it involved a lot of cussing, a little whining, and not a whole lot of humor...
The most recent round of maintenance occurred this weekend, mostly out of necessity. Fortunately, to ensure that everything went as unsmoothly as possible, I enlisted a couple of unfortunate compatriots in my devious "plan". Enter unsuspecting victims one and two, Matt and Brittany. They had no idea what they were in for. They'll probably never help again. Suckas! I mean, buddies, pals, friends!!
The day of maintenance started out much like most of my days do now, with absolutely no direction, except coffee. After said coffee, we headed on over to the parts store to get what I could remember we needed. Needless to say, I couldn't remember it all, but I wasn't telling anyone. We rolled up to the parts counter with a vengeance, and I started making my demands. I quickly realized that the unfortunate clerk available to assist us was no MENSA candidate. That's ok, because neither am I. I helped him scroll through the various pages of parts for a 1984 Suburban, and tried not to get too exasperated when he forgot what it was we were doing. Finally, after reminding him it WASN'T a 1987 model, I managed to start getting a few parts. He first disappeared to the back for belts, and quickly returned with a few. I trusted they were correct, given they were listed by part number. I was wrong. We then inquired about the fan, to which he pointed me down the aisle whilst he wandered in back to find different ones. This was MUCH better than when I asked at the OTHER store, and the guy honestly replied with "Electric fans? Like, for your house?" Yeah dude. My house. That's why I came to an auto parts store. I left after that exchange...
Anyhow, after a few moments of searching I came across the fan I knew would be capable of keeping my precious bean from blowing chunks all over West Texas. I was getting excited. We returned to the parts counter where I asked if the fan included a thermostat. I might as well have asked if he could render a Ph.D dissertation on string theory in astrophysics. I started to wonder if maybe I needed Rocky to interpret. After a little longer, I came to the conclusion that "no, it didn't", mostly by reading the side of the box. Hey... nobody was asking me for any dissertations, either. I made the appropriate selection, gathered up my collection of assorted fluids and headed to the counter to be checked out. Young Einstein again "assisted" us in this process. Again, things went wrong, but you'll hear more on THAT later...
We then loaded back up in the Bean, and headed for that great bastion of obesity, Wal-mart. Upon arriving I carefully parked the Bean next to the cart return and headed inside. I secretly hoped maybe it would get a few more dings. I wasn't disappointed. Once inside we quickly rounded up the rest of the gear we needed, procured the must have fuzzy dice, and beat feet for the door. My excitement continued to grow. Everyone else's sense of dread likely also escalated.
Once home we made short work of ensuring all the parts were spread evenly around the Bean, to ensure no one person had exactly all the parts they needed at that moment. While this was not a conscious effort, it happens without fail anytime more than one person is involved in a project. Ask a coworker to assist you sometime in any mundane project you encounter, and see if it doesn't prove true. After the parts were suitably scattered, I went about assigning tasks to my minions. Mechanical ability was not taken into consideration, because I was busy doing what I do best, telling other people what to do! Matt was assigned to change the rear axle oil, and Brittany dispatched to the engine oil job. Meanwhile I got under the hood and tried to look appropriately busy while hoping not to start sweating. Supervising is hard work.
About five seconds later, problems arose. Brittany informed me she didn't know HOW to change oil, and Matt informed me he needed the drain pan she had, and was refusing to relinquish. Using my catlike aviator instincts, I quickly revised my plan and put Matt in charge of directing Brittany in her efforts to change the oil. I had just impressed myself. Not only was I supervising, I now had a middle manager. The model of efficiency was unparalleled. A single bead of sweat rolled down my temple. With those two back at work, I went back to looking busy.
Unfortunately, as often happens in my attempts to be unproductive, work gets done. I pulled the old fan and clutch out, and got to work changing the belts. Of course the first one went easily. The second one, not so much. Dr. Partscounter had given me the wrong length belt. Somehow he went back with the right parts number and came back with the wrong belt. I kicked myself for not bringing Rocky in. This was not to be last time I regretted this. Luckily and uncharacteristically, the 2nd belt was in pretty good shape, so I elected to reuse it. I'll be paying for this later, I'm sure. After getting the belts on and requesting the my lower manager file a report on his employee productivity, I got to work on the electric fan.
The fan excites me. Not in that titillating sense of the word, but in the one more mpg sense. While this will be minimal, over 13,000 miles, it's a gold mine. I'm excited even now! I quickly tore into the box like a kid at Christmas, eager to see the savings. I pulled the fan out, removed the directions, and threw the over my shoulder. I'm a carport cowboy dangit. Directions are for the ill informed. I'm a God amongst tools. Mostly, I'm just a tool. I immediately set about attaching the fan to the radiator. This involves four little ties that go THRU the radiator, and have a locking clip on the other side. Once locked in place, they can't be undone. Luckily I mastered counting to four about halfway through anatomy last year, so I knew this was NOT going to be a problem.
Two hours later, Brittany handed me the clippers to cut the excess tie off the last of the four poorly designed, possibly satanic, and now installed clips. I sat back to admire my work. By this time most everyone else was done with their work, so I had people washing windows and doing other menial work. If I was sweating, I wasn't going to be alone! While admiring my mechanical prowess, I decided to have a quick looksee over the directions, mostly for a laugh at the lesser-abled. It was now that, predictably, I saw a few key words. "Fan is assembled from the factory as a pusher fan. To use as a puller, remove fan blade, reverse direction, and reverse wiring." Anyone want to guess which one I needed?
Well I figured reversing a blade can't be that hard, and looked down to find the bolts. "Odd" I thought, "there's no bolts here." That would be because they are on the other side. The side pressed against the radiator. The side held oh so firmly by the Demon Clips. Stupid directions! Did they not KNOW I'd be using this fan??? Who uses a pusher fan??? This is craziness! Well not to worry, I decided I'd just install the aforementioned thermostat and get new clips later. Now I just needed the thermostat. It was no where to be found. I assembled my managerial team and their employees, and we had a quick meeting. It was decided after a few choice words that in fact no one had misplaced it, but that it was never put in the bag. Dr. Partscounter strikes again!
We headed back to the parts store where we encountered the manager who'd been supervising the upcoming genius when we were there earlier. He said when he saw us "Oh did you come back for your thermostat?" Nope, just here for couches and end tables.... Anyhow, with thermostat in hand, I asked about a new set of Hellclips. The new guy looked around and quickly deduced they were sold out. I was starting to like this new guy... He was much improved over the Dr. He then went on to call another store and confirm they in fact had them. I was writing down his name for my firstborn. Hope it's not a girl.
We finally rounded up the offending clips, and headed back to the house. This time I opted to actually READ the directions, and got the fan back in in under an hour. After that I checked the work of my management/labor team, and pronounced the work to be done for the day. We then rolled the Bean out of the cave like some resurrected mastodon, and fired her up. No longer did the Bean answer with the howl of a seized fan clutch. Now the Bean purred away quietly as a kitten, albeit a large brown kitten, with a bad case of gas. I also took a moment to spray down the carburetor with cleaner, and managed to find the elusive exhaust leak that's been driving me nuts for the last month. With all this done, we called it a day. High fives were exchanged by those capable of such maneuvers, and I think Matt may have done some screaming cheetah flips in celebration of our success. Either that or he got in his car and drove away as fast as possible, vowing never to return... Anyhow, still more work needs to be done, which will invariable lead to more stories... until next time... Daniel
A preview of next time:
"Directions? Pshhhh those are for people who don't know HOW to wire up electrical stuff... Step aside!"