May 14, 2009

April 22nd - May 10th

I need'nt tell you how hectic it is this time of year. In the past 3 weeks I have been working hard, fighting with my blood pressure, trying to stick to the Mediterranean diet (doing ok, but eating way too much bread), and working on cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.

Let us being with the volvo: She stopped running back in December for no apparent reason, I had her towed to the garage and the moron who worked there claimed it was merely a bad battery. I told him he was wrong, that yes the battery was weak, but the car still runs bad when it is fully charged. He claimed to have driven it around with a new battery in it and that it ran great! So I bought a new battery, drove the car home in the snow, and the car did run great..... for about five minutes. Luckily I made it home, and allowed snow to bury it for the next three months.

With all this new-found energy (due to my diet), I recently got on a British Volvo forum website and stated my woes regarding the car running like shit. After being talked down to, like only the British can, one good chap was kind enough to suggest I buy an OBD2 code reader. I purchased one and 5 different malfunction codes showed up. After talking to the Brits about them, another helpful soul suggested I replace the coolant sensor, and another Brit, even showed me pictures and full instructions on how to change it! It wasn't easy, and required special tools and an internet purchase of the offending sensor (gawd! Volvo parts aren't cheap), the car was running better, but after 10 minutes, it would start missing, and dieing.
So back to the OBD2 code reader, which only produced one code. Code 102... 102 means "defective Massive Air Flow sensor or the MAF as the Brits call it. The MAF, which I've never heard of, is a sensor that tells the computer, how much air is entering the intake manifold. Price for a new MAF? $150 bucks! For a Bloody Electronic part! (wow, I'm starting to talk like the Brits). So I looked up info on how to clean the old MAF, but no luck getting the old girl to work, so I took someones advice and unplugged the damned thing. Car runs perfect now! I still need to replace the MAF because the exhaust smells funky, but the Brits say I can drive it a couple hundred miles before the spark plugs and the catalytic converter start to suffer.
Now with all this vast energy and nice weather, I managed to get the Chinese dirt bike flat tire fixed, which is quite a chore, since you have to let the tire soften in a tub of hot water in order to cram it back on the rim.
Having done that, I noticed that the front axle was lacking a spacer, which prevents the brake locking up and tossing yours truly, all over the traffic filled streets. I got on another forum, called and asked where to find such a spacer. The Americans, who were more friendly than the Brits, but not quite as educated or something. Most advice was: take the measurements of the spacer, then go to your machine shop and have them use such and such pipe. Well since I have no idea what the measurements of the spacer were (since I didn't have the part), I did take one Yankees advice and bought the spacer off EBAY, from a guy who was dismantling his Chinese bike and selling the parts. I like Chinese bikes, but getting parts for them is not easy. The spacer came in the mail and was a little to wide, but I crammed it in and now it works fine.
Notice in the photo, you see the two motorized vehicles I just fixed? The third vehicle, is what I have been using for the past month. Thats right, the bicycle. It has never failed me in the 8 years I've owned it....until yesterday. The wheel, subject to carrying a massive weightload just seemed to have given up yesterday. Now it is too warped to drive. After 8 years, thousands of miles, carrying me, groceries, laundry, suffering from a few wrecks, being moved to four different residences, being left buried in the snow all last winter: The old wheel was too tired (get the pun?). Seriously: If I were only allowed one vehicle, I would choose the bicycle.
My street bike: I also have a 78 Kawasaki KZ-650 road bike, which was running badly and leaking gas for the past couple years. I bought a replacement set of Carburators for it two years ago, from my friend Chuck, who had it for at least 5 years wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a box, like a mummy. I got on the internet, to the "KZ riders" site, and checked out "How to replace the Carburator set (this bike has FOUR carburators!) it looks complicated as hell, so I am in the middle of doing this. The other two pictures are of the now carburatorless (that can't be a word)bike and the new and old carburators. The new (actually rebuilt) carbs, have been entombed in a box for many years, and I fear that the linkages are way too stiff, but after soaking it in WD 40 for a couple days, I will try to install them tonight.
The last two photos are of my new pet LLama; "Sue" is what I call her, and a shot of Freddy from our camping trip 6 weeks ago. Sue and Freddy seem to get along quite well. Sue is the prettiest Llama and has a pleasant disposition. But keep in mind: Llama are quite independent and act like cats, which makes them tough to train. I have gained enough trust where she'll take food from my hand, and hopefully soon I'll be able to grab her halter and begin leading her around. Eventually, I want to take her and Freddy on camping trips, while she carries my backpack.
Thats it for now, lets hope I can keep up with the writing a little better, but I'm not making any promises. I appreciate all of you readers out there. Now it is after 5:00 and I am at school, so off to work on the bike and work on dinner. Grilled steak Melanese (low fat, thin cut, mexican beef), with grilled tomatos and plantain.