Monday, July 30, 2007

Long week

It's been a long two weeks. Wev'e been very busy at work. The flood gates opened and we both are very busy. Thankfully this Friday I am jetting early to catch a Brewer game with my brothers at Miller Park.

We've been so damn busy because I hope to save up enough money for this. I could be king here!

Donations for my island can be sent too....... ;)

Friday, July 20, 2007

My new Beer

It was nothing but a work filled week and all I can think of to share is my new Summer beer I am drinking. In the past when the weather got warm I always went to Corona. But this Summer Miller was kind enough to bring out Miller Chill.

It's pretty good, tastes smoother then Corona and the after tastes is not as harsh. I piled into it at brother Dan's party and have been finding myself picking up a twelver every time I stop at the Liquor store.

If you haven't tried it, give it a go. It's good stuff.

So thank you Miller Brewing Company, now it's time for a cold one.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Finally cruising

It took a conversation at my brother Dan's welcome home party and then a phone call at the last minute to finally have a cruise night to remember.

Backing up some, on Saturday, July 7th we had a "Welcome Home" party for my brother Dan who just finished his four year commitment to the USMC and two tours in Iraq. One of our party goer's was a old friend nicknamed, Stumpy. We go a long way back, I helped him build his Hot Rod. A Monte Carlo with a Big Block Olds 455 cubic inch beast under the hood. His love of this car is as old as my love of the 60'. He has had it since high school and it's still as mean as the day he stuffed the motor in at our shop. It does a respectful 12.4 in the quarter threw the TH-400 and 3:73 rear gears with no juice or extras tacked on. Stumpy jumped me for not getting him in on the cruise night the first time and I apologized. I told him we would try again and he should just call me on a Thursday and we will go to Quaker Steak & Lube's cruise night and check out how the scenery there is.

Well, on Thursday he called me out. I got a phone message in the early afternoon that he was going to be ready to go by 5:30 pm. So I made some mad calls to the wife to get the OK, and then to a couple other guys to see if they could go. The wife gave her blessing and the buds all said they where busy. Then at the last minute my brother Dan stopped at the shop and I asked if he wanted to ride "bitch" and go in with us. His reply? "No, I'll take your 60' and you take the Camaro." I couldn't argue that logic. At least he was going out and at least I was representing with two of my big toys at one place at the same time.

When the time came we cruised over and Stumpy joined the three vehicle parade for the 20 minute ride to Middleton where Quaker Steak is. As we pulled closer I was amazed at all of us for not horsing around at all on the drive in. No burnouts, no speeding, nothing. So I felt the need to rectify that one and a opportunity presented itself when I took a nice curve just a few hundred yards from the parking lot. I snapped the throttle and the old 'Maro let the rear tires loose for a good 20 feet. All was right in the world at that moment.

The Quaker Steak lot had a area blocked off for all the "cool cars" and we quickly found three spots together. Once out we popped the hoods since it seemed like the thing to do and went for some cold beers. It was really nice when we bumped into a Leinie's guy giving away free samples of Leinenkugel. Nothing screams good beer like free beer and Leinie's is good stuff even when you pay for it so that was a double bonus! It felt good to walk around and enjoy some fabulous looking cars that you could tell people put a lot of time and effort in. Nothing really stood out and screamed "Holy shit" until a auto technician who is a member of a tech group I'm in rolled up. How did he roll? A Cherry Red 1959 Chevy Apache Fleetside pickup pulling a red trailer and on the red trailer a Cherry Red 1955 Chevy Apache Stepside. Talk about freaking cool! We conversed with him for awhile and talked cars. We also made sure to compliment him on a pair of perfect trucks. After that we went back to observing the crowd. As with most cruise-ins there where some newer rides, which where cool, but they just didn't give you the goose bumps like a old muscle car or vintage car that is loud, obnoxious and just crazy to ride in. There where a couple of guys we noticed who came with a Viper. We knew it wasn't going to be someone we wanted to talk to when they felt the need to take up two spots for parking. C'mon dude, everyone else there is doing one spot, and making sure they don't crowd or damage anyone else's ride. No use being different. These guys of course walked threw the lot pointing out flaws in every car they didn't like. I couldn't help but think the only flaw they must have done when they built their Viper was a miss spell on the check they wrote to the dealer. Dan mentioned something about wishing for a Abrams and the chance to try and squeeze into the extra space they took up. Oh, that would be a funny sight.

As darkness feel we called it a night. As we left we got some thumbs up from people and some waves. Which felt good since both my rides are far from perfect, in fact, they have some flaws which are going to be pointed out, but never by someone who's put effort into building one of their own.

As we rolled from the stop light and put Quaker Steak in the rear view mirror I thought about being glad Stumpy called and made sure I went. Glad we got to see some awesome cars and enjoy the scene again. Quaker Steak put on a fun cruise night that I'm sure I'll go back to more and more now. With that, the need arose again to make sure some fun was done on the cruise so I gave it a little more then necessary, snapped the ass end around some, and got a nice pair of smokey tires for my brother and Stumpy to smell before the drive home began.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Transformers movie review

On Tuesday, the opening night for Transformers, the wife and I along with my brother and a co-worker of my wife's went to see Transformers.

I don't know where or how to begin since I'm not a bonified movie reviewer so I'll just say this. Transformers freakn' rocked! From the beginning they threw some great action at you and also set up the story of the Transformer's so those out there who where clueless to the history in the cartoon series could be brought up to speed quickly. For the most part they stayed true to the cartoons roots. There where some inconsistency's but only those that the die-hard fan would be upset with.

The movie was packed with a lot of great action and some really funny moments that referred to the old cartoon. The acting was good and I'm sure I'm going to take my son to see it soon. I know he would get a kick out of it.

Anyways, if you get a chance, see this movie, it's worth the cash just to see some of the rides they roll in it. All of them where well done and really made for a fun time for a car nut like myself.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Why me?

I must have angered the Car Gods or something. Another odd problem rolls into our shop for me to solve. Sometimes this job is more about fixing people then fixing cars.

One fine morning a 96' Chevy S-10 pickup rolls in with the complaint from the owner being, "after it warms up it bucks and jerks, doesn't seem to be getting fuel." This was a first time customer so I went threw a more then normal list of questions.

"When did the problem start? Has it gotten worse since it started? Has the "Check Engine" light illuminated?" And the most important question of all, "What work has been done previously on the truck and what have you tried to do to solve the problem?"

The answers where, "A week ago, no, yes it's on after a while and no I haven't done anything to it."

OK, I took it for a ride and it definitely had a "buck" to it and a "jerking under load". I stuffed it in a bay and popped the hood for a visual. Inside the engine bay sat a 2.2L four cylinder engine with a 5 speed manual trans going towards the rear gear. Pretty basic, straight forward truck to work on. I although had never ran into one acting in such a riding bull manor. My next step was to pull the codes since the Check Engine light did come on but only momentarily. I also wanted to check the Data Stream and some other parts of the PCM's brain. With it running at idle everything seemed normal. The codes indicated a P1406 for a EGR Valve fault. My first thought was I might have one sticking open since the GM EGR's from this era where prone to failure. I refrained from going knee deep into testing the EGR since I haven't felt one act this horribly under load but not affect the idle. Most GM EGR's I've encountered had some severe idle problems or just carboned up passages.

So off on another test drive to see what I could capture with the scanner hooked up. At speed and under load I would get a TPS code (P0122) which made me really wonder what was up. A TPS failure could definately cause these issues I had. I just couldn't figure out how the code would be intermittent so often. It would come and go on the scanner instead of being a hard fault. I also noticed at times while the problem occurred that the scanner would show the TPS dropping out. With that I thought I was onto something.

Back in the shop I grabbed my trusty Snappy Wave Form viewer and scoped the TPS and EGR. The EGR and TPS where dropping in and out under load but at idle where fine and doing some checks with the scanner I was not going to condemn either of them. I started to think a PCM with a internal short but decided to go talk with the customer again since this truck had some odd issues I wanted the OK to have it overnight and think this one threw.

Once I talked with him my whole approach to the job changed. Once I mentioned some expensive items may be bad he mentioned. "Dang it, I just had to drop a bunch of money on a new transmission and clutch." Whoa...what? You just put a new trans and clutch in? I thought nothing had been done to the truck lately?"

"Yes, me and my uncle did it, and the problem started not long after that. I asked him if the clutch job could have caused it but he said no so I didn't mention it."

With that info I told him I was going to do some more testing. Back at the shop I put the truck in the air and gave the underside a very good look over. And I am glad I did because when I looked at the driver side up near the exhaust manifold I found what you see in the pictures above. The electrical harness that runs from the passenger side, just above the trans, and up towards the driver side of the engine had fallen out of it's connectors and a section was resting on the back side of the exhaust manifold. Once I moved the harness I could see that part of the wiring had rubbed threw or burned off and where grounding out on the exhaust manifold. It looks as though when the trans was going back in the harness was pushed aside some and could rest against the backside of the manifold. The wires burned off? The two that had burned threw and where touching the manifold where the signal for the TPS and signal for the EGR....

Oh brother. I kick myself for not finding this earlier. I should have given a much more thorough visual inspection but I didn't because my faults where with parts on the top end and I really had no reason to raise the truck up. From the top I couldn't see the harness had fallen out. The A/C lines partially covered the area and frankly, I wasn't looking for something like that because my initial info lead me to believe no one had there hands in it all ready.

I was glad to find it, and really didn't spend to much time on the truck. My test drives and testing before my second conversation where only about 45 minutes. Once I knew what was wrong I had the truck back to smooth operation in about 30 minutes. Some knew wiring, fix the harness connectors, and put it in a better location and it was out the door.