Tell us what's happened to you recently (that's interesting)


Seriously. The shit I’ve done that I have absolutely no business doing because I have a good youtube video is getting to be stupid. One of these days I’ll actually make something worse or break something, but so far, so good.


Yeah, my dad swears by those videos. He’s got an old Morgan and whenever he hits a snag he just goes to youtube.

For other things too. One time he had to swap out a hard drive on a mini-laptop but the manual was totally wrong about the screws. He found the right youtube video that showed him where the actual screws were, and how to properly remove them…and boom goes the dynamite.

He has told me this story so many times.



Some years back I had a Rav 4 that had the radiator spring a leak. I tried using a bottled radiator leak repair solution, which kind of worked for a while, but less than a month later it was back to refills.

Well the car was old, had like 150k miles on it, and so wasn’t about to pay someone to fix it. Fortunately my dad, on top of being a firefighter, had also been a mechanic. As in professional paid for it mechanic. And for years while working had also done some car repairs out of the garage for money. He also is the type of person who restores classic cars as a hobby.

Anyhow so I have this collection of every tool available, and someone whom has the knowledge. So I shuffle off to pay the $60 or so for a new radiator. My dad retains a passive position, and clearly I am to do this myself, or at least until such as a time as that proves unworkable. So, after consulting the internet for a few pointers (YouTube wasn’t quite as ubiquitous for such things yet, so good old text and images), I started the work.

Well this Toyota was not an easy machine to fix. Everything was so tight in the engine compartment that taking out the spark plugs required a special tool, and thin arms to reach between the engine block and the firewall. Changing the water pump required removing the engine from its bolts, dismantling the passenger wheel well, and lifting the engine so you could pull it out through the wheel. The radiator was no different.

In the end I had to remove the fender, disconnect all hoses and remove the brackets for the air filter system, remove a brace that ran across the engine compartment behind the radiator, and then I could remove the radiator by twisting it in a very specific manner while lifting it up. Repeat in reverse to install the new one.

And it worked. Though it wasn’t YouTube, it was still using the internet to get me past a few bumps along the way. That and a car old enough that, if it broke irrevocably during the procedure, it would be no great loss. My dad never had to get involved.

I like to think I absorbed some of his mechanical knowledge through osmosis.


In removing the battery from my daughters Huyndai I broke three bolts and damaged the old battery.

I would always pay someone to fix things that my life depended on, but that is just me.


Funny. In the late 70s in Detroit I owned an AMC Ambassador. You could see the ground looking down in the engine compartment. You dropped something, it fell through to the pavement. Things sure have changed.


+1. Mine was a '78 Buick Skylark. Cubic feet of empty space under the hood. You could practically climb around in it like a jungle gym. It was even emptier after my friend Ed got done pulling out all of the stuff he deemed unnecessary.


+1 as well. A buddy of mine had a 67 Mustang, but it had a little bitty 200 cu in I6 engine. I remember him actually climbing into the engine compartment and standing on the pavement to change the spark plugs because there was so much empty space to house a (theoretical, to us) 428 cu in 4-barrel V8.


Space in the engine compartment is like dial phones and vinyl albums. Things that have to be explained but won’t be understood.


Oh those huge old cars are hilariously full of empty space. They were large for the sake of being large, and because nobody could be bothered to engineer them to be compact.

I always love to quote weight facts to people who love to claim that modern cars are smaller and thus lighter. A 1964 Chevrolet Impala had a curb weight of 3400 - 3730lbs depending on the engine. The 3730 was the big nasty 6.7L V8. A 2016 Impala Ltz comes from the factory with a V6 engine of roughly similar displacement to the smallest engine available on the '64, horsepower within spitting distance of the biggest engine available on the '64, and weight 3800 lbs.


I drove from Maseru, Lesotho up to Semongkong in a RAV4 with a radiator leak. We had to stop every 5 km so I could hop out and wander the hills looking for a stream to fill a large water bottle and the radiator. Considering 1/2 of the drive was switchbacks, it took ages. It also was raining and freaking cold. It was snowing by the time we got there. I have some pics from that trip around here somewhere. It was worth it, though. What a beautiful place. The Semongkong Lodge is full of interesting characters.


The wife had an indecent with a telephone pole that peeled off part of the right front quarter panel on the Ambassador. When she got home I figured that I’d just tear the offending panel off with my bare hands. Nope. It was steel. Not shitty aluminum or whatever. Ended up borrowing a neighbor’s bolt cutters. Got rid of it shortly after. The wife let the brake fluid dry up somehow. I figured I’d replace the fluid and bleed the lines. Tried to open the nipples on the brakes and they broke off. Corroded to shit.

So we bought a used Pontiac Sunbird. Don’t ask. )


Sorry. I can’t not notice this, Rich. Wow. You kind of made my night with this. Forgive me.

Oh, AMC. One of the first cars I got to drive around in earnest in high school was an AMC Eagle. Good lord what a mess of a car that was. Ugly beige-ish, with a ceiling liner that had mostly detached and rested on my head as I drove. And I am not a tall person. I hated that car.

The best thing about the Eagle was the way it sounded whenever I went around any corner, at any speed. No matter how slow I was going those tires would squeal like I was a bad guy in an episode of T.J. Hooker. I was the driver in our group of high school theater geeks, and on the last day of school, the very last day of my senior year, I was driving my friends home. Around a really easy corner we got a flat…except it didn’t feel quite like a flat. When I got out of the car I found that the front driver’s side tire was sticking out from the car at a forty-five degree angle.

Yeah. Swapping it out for the spare wasn’t going to help that.

Speaking of ridiculous amounts of space, the family car I got to drive before that was an Oldsbmobile Delta 88. I imagine it was a late '70s model. There was a ridiculous amount of space in that thing. I was such a dumb kid, though, and I did not treat it well. From how I fucked up getting snow off the roof of the car before I could even drive, to washing it wrong, to running into a short concrete block when turning around in a driveway. Still, I loved that car because damn…it was great for making out. There’s something to be said for bench seats.



Thanks, I’m still trying to find the right videos on youtube but there isn’t a perfect match to my situation. In my case the hub and bearing are a single integrated unit (with ABS sensor) and mounted along with a disc brake. It seems it might be even more straightforward than the above cases (with fewer tools).

It’s just the ABS light at this point; I lifted the car to check the wheel and there’s no play or sounds coming from it, so I feel I have some time to evaluate.


I just spent a week down in the Dominican Republic. January is a great time to take a break from winter and visit the Caribbean (still a 40+ degree improvement, even with the unseasonably warm weather at home in Michigan). Some thoughts and pictures (mostly of beaches) in this blog post.


Kind of a follow up to my story above. And then another follow-up.

Turns out that the clutch bearing had failed and split apart inside the transmission. Needed a new clutch-plate and a new bearing. This is a factory-installed part with no user-servicing options, so it’s nothing that I could have anticipated or done anything about. Riding your clutch (like I assume my daughter does) can stress the bearing but that’s about it. Including the towing, the bill came to $1100, which is probably about right given that I had absolutely no choice but to pay it. Drove down and traded cars with my daughter and she drove the Jeep back down to college.

The ticket (dick move as I still think it is) was actually valid. My wife has a strong memory of getting the emissions done, but apparenlty we dropped the ball.

New story: This morning I get a 6:30 am phone call from my eldest down at college. You already know this, but for the record, a pre-dawn phone call from a kid at college is NEVER a good thing.

Turns out she went to the parking lot to get the Jeep and found that all the plastic windows had been slashed along with one of the (very expensive) tires, and all the crap in the glove compartment had been taken out and scattered on the ground.

So my morning has been spent on the phone with the insurance companies and the campus cops.

Here’s the answers to your questions:

  1. I don’t know.
  2. No one obvious; just one girl on her v-ball team who seems a little psycho.
  3. The cops are checking the nearby cameras.
  4. $250 deductible; cost of the soft-top and the tire will run around $750.
  5. A single can of 0-calorie Sprite on the ground, but it might have been there already.

In the grand scheme of things, a sobbing female child calling you at 6:30 am from college seven hours away could be a LOT of terrible things, and a vandalized Jeep is waaaaaay down the list. But it’s been a pretty shitty month so far.


Tin, that is awful; my sincere apologies man. But agreed; glad that, of all possible early-AM phone calls, it was “only” that.

And @ineffablebob, your trip looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the blog with us :)


A couple years ago my daughter had been here for a few days during the holidays and then drove back to LA. I got a call later that night that she was sitting in the middle of the divider on Interstate 5 after hitting the divider. She wasn’t hurt. I told her to call 911 and get a cop there. A CHP showed up and since she could still drive the car he escorted her back onto the highway.

She drove that car for a few months in LA and then came home for a visit. The damn car was thrashed. Only one headlight, the bumper and fender curled but it still drove and no cop had stopped her for it.

Since she was working we took her out and she bought a another car. I sold the old one to a friend of my wife who did auto body work and needed a car for his son.


The wife just got a job offer. Without getting into too many details it’s $13,000 more than she makes now. Woot!


Very nice indeed, Rich. Congrats to her and to you.


Thanks. But I don’t deserve any grats. It’s all her.