Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Murphy strikes again!

Got a phone call Monday; "Dad, what do you think it means when my car has a huge puddle of antifreeze under the right side. I shut it off at the toll plaza and it looks like about a 1/2 gallon of Prestone on the ground?"

My brother-in-law was meeting him there to exchange something (it's a halfway between the houses thing) and ended up bringing him home. I told him a hose or a water pump, maybe a freeze plug. At worst, a head gasket.

Got up at 8 this morning, gathered tools and hoses, clamps, etc., and rode out with him to look and see if it was major or minor while he got something he needed for work out of it. (He's one of those lucky people who can work from home sometimes when he needs to!)

I put a pressure tester on it and even in my hearing reduced state, I could hear the biggest gurgle I'd ever heard from a car. It's a '98 Neon w/119,000 on it, so there's not much seeing since it's front wheel drive, but I knew there was no fixing it there! We got it towed in to my house (the first thing the old wrecker driver said was "water pump, huh?", rolled it down the driveway, then he went home to get his manual. He ended up working a bit, and came back about 2 hours later. I spent the time cleaning up the part of the winter clutter I hadn't gotten to yet. Since it was trash day, I just started pitching stuff! They were running late today, and by the time they got here I had quite a pile for them!

Somehow I just knew it had to be the water pump, so we went and got it and the timing belt and idler pulley and fan belt; might as well replace everything you could you were taking off anyway. We got back and started tearing it down and found a crack in the plastic timing cover I didnt understand. It worried me...never having torn down a front wheel drive like this, and seeing things I don't understand a bit...hoping it wasn't something really major!

He went home to get his kids and I had to go buy a special pulley puller to get the balancer off the crankshaft, none of the old ones I had would work on this new fangled critter. We ran by the grocery on the way home.

Finally getting it torn the rest of the way down, it turned out that when the water pump died, it locked up and pitched the belt off the front of the pulley and cracked the cover; it also went cockeyed enough to make an opening bigger than my thumb for the coolant to leak through, under pressure. No major damage; the timing cover is $34 from Chrysler and will take a few days to get; all told, by the time it's back together with parts and wrecker bill he'll be out just over $100.

His wife had to go to a graduation tonight, so while we worked on his car my wife grilled burgers and brats for the grandkids and us, and when we went to pick up buns we had grabbed a French Silk Chocolate pie for dessert (the first time the youngest grandson had had that pleasure, lol). The kids all loved it, eating in the backyard just before dusk like a picnic.

Needless to say, I got in from the garage about 10 and cleaned up, we watched a bit of TV and then she went to bed; I'm headed that way now!

The Marsala is waiting until the weekend...

Back to the gym and work tomorrow!

Hopefully I'm done with Murphy for a little while, anyway! And my garage is a whole lot cleaner than it started the day!



sttropezbutler said...

That was thrilling.

I'm going to move into your neighborhood so that when something goes on my car I can call someone I trust!


Jen said...

Life just has it's own agenda doesn't it??

Hope you get to enjoy the Marsala SOON!!

robin andrea said...

It's great to read how much you know about cars and car engines. How much do you think it would have cost if your son had to take the car to a repair shop? That $100 sounds like a very good price for all that work!

Hope you get to the marsala soon.

Mystical Me said...

You are such a sweet sweet man, always doing for others. I truly believe you have a really big heart. Ok, now I m asking you, will you move to California? I honestly need you!! You cook, clean, fix things, & you have a big heart. Where can I find a man like you? Your wife has to be the happiest woman in the world, I know I would be.
I hope all is well & do take care of yourself. Someone needs to pamper you once in awhile sweetheart. Love always, MM XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

boo said...

i love marsala *yummers*

Von Krankipantzen said...

It is so super handy to have a family member who can fix cars. Not so much fun for them when it sucks a say away. But you do that kind of thing for your kids and make up the differnece another day.

dragonflyfilly said...

wow, i sure wish i had someone like you brother-in-law who lives an hour away IS a wonderful mechanic on old cars - my 93 Honda is too new for him - and anyway, he is always sooooo busy, and every day is a major disaster day for best just to leave him alone...he seems to thrive on chaos and i don't... but reading your post brough back memories of when i used to help him "bleed the brakes", tinker around with suspensions, and just hang about and pass him tools and watch what he was doing, which i found so fascinating...still do, but i don't have much time for that now.

i will try to post a recipe before i go away for the long weekend.


CrackerLilo said...

I hope you can enjoy the Marsala soon, too!

And it's great that your son *can* call you and you can help. *hug*

TDharma said...

sheesh...I didn't know a regular jo(e) COULD actually work on a newer car these days. My auto repair days are long gone, and I worked on Chevy truck and Volkswagon bugs and buses. Those were all pretty danged straightforward. I got to be quite a whiz at breaking down a carb and cleaning it.

Your story reminds me of my brother in law and I working on a plumbing project together once -- lots of patience and healthy curiosity a must.

MB said...

He's lucky to have you! And let's hope Murphy stays away awhile — I'm still waiting for the Marsala, and I know you are, too!

sjobs said...

Alan, why can't you live closer to me....... I need my oil changed!

I wish my dad knew something about cars. The old guy only knows about teaching children.....

When things go wrong around these parts, my SIL and I try to fix them.

Love ya,


cherish said...

Bops Murphy!!! Leave Alan alone!