8.01.2005

Mechanics, Standard-Shift Trucks, and a Letter to the Editor

Hey Cyberspace, Saturday, my dad had me change the oil on our 2002 Toyota Sienna. I enjoy writing, researching, and the like, but unfortunately mechanics is just not my thing. After crawling behind the front tire, thoroughly oiling my back in the process, I searched for the oil pan. Finally, I found a large bolt attached to what looked like a flat pan. Eye-balling the size, I crawled back out of the oily space and grabbed a bag of wrenches. Scraping my nose as I tried to fit back under the car, I tested about 8 wrenches before realizing that I had metric wrenches and I needed standard. I retrieved the standard tools and finally got the right size. I placed the wrench around the bolt and yanked. Nothing happened. I yanked again, harder this time. Still, the bolt stayed tightly fixed. "Hey David!" my brother Theo yelled. "The van's moving!" I groaned as I turned my head, and found that although the wheels were still in place, the chassis rocked every time I pulled on the wrench. Looking over at the other wheel, I noticed an identical bolt-and-pan arrangement on that side. Strange. Does this car have two oil pans? Nope. I painstakingly pulled myself out from under the car, and realized that I had been hard at work trying to disconnect the right-hand steering box from the front axle. Yikes! I finally located the oil pan, and was able to successfully drain the oil. Then, it was a relatively simple (albeit messy) operation to remove the filter and put on a new one. I crawled under the van once more to replace the bolt, but dropped it in the oil draining pan several times before tightening it. Then I realized that the rubber washer wasn't in place. Off came the bolt, and on went the washer. I up-ended the 5-quart bucket above the funnel. Unfortunately, the Sienna oil input drain is very curved, so the oil gurgled back up and out onto the engine block. By moderating the flow out of the bucket, I was able to successfully fill the engine to the top and replace the cap. Done! Or was I? It couldn't be this easy. I realized too late that I had over-filled the car to an extreme. I got a new draining pan and drained out about two quarts of excess oil. Then I added just enough to bring the oil to the perfect level. By now I was soaked in oil and grease. Mechanics is not my thing. Neither is standard-shift driving. Our old '86 Toyota pickup is a five-speed clunker that can barely top 68.5 mph on the interstate. Dad is teaching me to drive it, but it is a slow and laborious process. I can get the whole clutch-accelerator idea, but as soon as I look up at the road I notice that I am 35 degrees off center. Then, the truck dies as I release the clutch, frantically trying to stay on the road. Making a sharp turn from a dead stop uphill is murder. Once I get the car balanced between clutch and accelerator there is no way I can get enough momentum to make it around the turn; at least without giving us all whiplash. Personally, I prefer flying a Cessna. It's much simpler, and there are no pesky bystanders that need waving to (I won't go into the details, but it was pretty messy in the pickup). On another note, my Mom had a letter published in the Lexington Herald-Liberal . . . er . . . Herald-Leader today. It was basically what was said in my last post with some extra satire thrown in for good measure. So, what does everyone think of this no-news, totally-random-thought post as opposed to the usual technical articles? I know that it is a break from the norm, but I needed to let off some steam. I'm totally floored right now. In Him, D3

10 comments:

MVB said...

Wow, you had some day... :)

Jake said...

Sheesh - Sounds like you had..uhh..fun! :-D

Just so you know, I liked this post. Sure, a "break from the norm," but we all need that sometimes.

Travis said...

ROFL! I remember the first time, I changed the oil...LOL It will get better the more you do it. I haven't driven a standard yet (truck, I have driven a standard four wheeler, and that was something else), but I am looking forward to it. Do you really fly planes? If so you might want to visit this site run by a friend of mine.

http://www.cessna175.org/

Tell me if you like it.

The Blogging Boy Scout,
Travis

David S. MacMillan III said...

I do fly planes whenever I get the chance. Usually just little Cessnas, but I was able to fly an Aero. That's a nice little plane. Low-wing, huge engine (comparatively), and wide control surfaces; I can do some nice aerobatics in that.

The first time I took off in a Cessna was the first time I had ever flown a plane; I followed the instructor's instructions too well:

Instructor: "Open the throttle and let her get to 60 knots, then pull'er up."

Me: "OK."

I gunned the engine until the needle covered the "60", then I yanked the yoke into my lap. We broke 45 degrees within moments as the elevators sent the plane into a sharp climb, almost stalling. Needless to say, I got a stiff talking-to from the instructor once he had succeeded in averting disaster.

Stalls, Negative Gs, and Positive Gs are nice, although they have the effect of making the guys in the back lose their lunch occasionally.

Yeah, flying rocks. Have you ever experienced severe turbulence in a Boeing 737? It's . . . interesting, especially when the people beside you are freaking out and the pilot is telling everyone to get their barf bags out.

(Not that that has ever happened to me, I just though it would be fun.)

jonCV said...

you do know they have places that change the oil for you...

David S. MacMillan III said...

But it costs money. . . .

jonCV said...

Your point being?

David S. MacMillan III said...

I don't have money.

David S. MacMillan III said...

to spend

David S. MacMillan III said...

on getting the oil changed when I can do it myself. Or at least try to do it myself.