Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday night musings

  • Middle son moved into his dorm at College Station over the weekend.  He seems to be excited that he's got the room to himself this week.
  • Ran into an old friend at the supermarket tonight, on the greeting card aisle.  From a distance, I stage whispered: "Better get some flowers with that!"
  • Somewhat to my surprise, he really was looking for an anniversary card.  "Yeah, it's gonna be 30 years - I guess she just hasn't figured out a way to shoot me and get away with it."
  • Thankfully, I avoided that fate.
  • Car follies 1:  Sunday morning it took four tries to start my car to go to church.  Once it fired up, it was running like a sick dog.
  • Nonetheless, I got to church, despite having to shift to 'N' at the stoplights to keep it from dying.  I figured some water had condensed in the fuel tank or something.
  • Went to Sam's Club after church, thinking a few miles would burn out the moisture.
  • Nope.
  • So, back at the house, I got out my handy VTech OBDII reader - I think it's made by the same people who make electronics for four year olds. 
  • Not the sophisticated device that Manny Mojack uses, this one gives a simple four digit numeric code, that, in conjunction with a Ouija Board, Magic Eight Ball, and Quisp Secret Decoder Ring, gives insightful advice like "check under the hood", "have you consulted a mechanic?", or "Do you like to watch movies about gladiators?"
Archaeologists found an identical one in King Tut's Tomb...
  • Whatever the malfunction, it hadn't triggered any codes.
  • So, I got to checking around, and found a 3/8" vacuum line had come loose from the air plenum between the air filter and manifold, in the vicinity of the MAF.  (No, that's not a dirty word, though if you have a dirty MAF sensor, there is an aerosol spray you can use to clean it.)   Surprisingly, there really wasn't a telltale hiss - probably why I'd not suspected earlier.
  • I replaced the rubber boot and the engine ran smoothly - but there was no indication why it had come loose in the first place.
  • My best guess is a squirrel might have taken shelter the evening before in the engine bay, during the rainstorm, between the air plenum and firewall.

  • Car/critter follies 2: Talked with my folks, who are readying for a brief trip.  Mom said they were going to take the TrailDuster (Plymouth version of a RamCharger) to an event.  This vehicle has resided at their vacation home for about the last 15 years.
Not actual TrailDuster
  • I remember ferrying it up there when oldest son was about 3 years old, just the two of us.  On the way up, I'd looked for an economy motel along I-25, starting at Raton, NM.  No luck in Trinidad, Walsenburg, Pueblo - by the time we got to Colorado Springs the rates were even higher, and it was nearly 2 a.m.  As frugal cheap as I am, I wasn't going to pay top dollar for just four or five hours in a room.
  • So, we parked between an EconoLodge and a high rise office building and hung clothes in the windows to block the electric sunshine from the parking lot's mercury vapor lamps.  I curled my 6'1" frame in the back seat and made #1 son a pallet on the [flat] floor between the back seat and the front seats, and covered us both with a blanket.  We managed to get about 4-1/2 hours of sleep, then went to a nearby Denny's to get coffee and hot chocolate, and resumed our travel.  (The next year, in my Trooper II, we actually stayed at a motel, checking in early enough to shower and catch the premiere episode of Spin City.)
  • Back to the critter story - Mom says Dad couldn't figure out why said Duster was having difficulty on even small grades.  (It's running a Mopar 318 with pretty much all of the emissions equipment disconnected - legal due to its age and the state where it now resides.)  Now, if you knew my Dad - all of his equipment is immaculately kept - 2500 mile oil changes, bearings packed, u-joints greased - he's very good at preventive maintenance, so it's not an upkeep issue.
  • He checked the exhaust pressure: one side had excellent exhaust flow, the other - nothing.
  • So, he started checking to see what was plugging the other bank - finding that the muffler and pipe was plugged, nearly solid, almost to the exhaust manifold.
  • Removing the 'debris', they found that it was...corn.  Probably the same corn kept in the garage to feed deer that wander into town in the winter, deposited in the cozy confines of the 'Duster's plumbing by mice/rats/chipmunks.
Who, me?
  • Once the blockage was removed, the old 318 ran just fine.
  • I'm thinking they'll put some tennis/racquet balls with orange ribbons in the tailpipe (similar to what they used to do with the Bonanza exhausts) at the end of this trip.


Dewey Taliaferro said...

I had a 4WD Ram Charger with a 318 in it that I sold right after I got married. I truly miss it!

RPM said...

The 318 was a solid engine. I'm surprised it didn't a: fire corn out like a shotgun, or b: pop the corn.
Mmmmm, Moparcorn.