Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's Random Expense Time!!

Next week is our summer camping trip. What better time for all of our shit to start breaking down?

It all started on Friday when I got home from work. I thought I would mow the lawn so I could have that chore out of the way. I fired it up and kind of noticed that it was quite a bit louder than normal and it was shaking like crazy. Does that bother me? No way!

Off I went mowing the lawn. It didn't take long before I noticed that transmission was no longer working and I had to (gasp) push the mower. It stalled on me several times and after I was about a quarter of the way through I'd had enough and decided to investigate.

It turned out that the metal to which 2 of the 3 bolts that hold the engine to the deck had broke off. I could easily move the motor up and down and around on the deck with my hands. It wasn't rusty or anything but the metal broke clean of in a chuck about one inch in diameter. I wonder if somebody's kids were jumping or standing on it?

That was the end of mowing for the day. I wasn't about to trust that last bolt to keep the engine from dropping off, which would surely result in the blade breaking off and flying into my ankle at a high rate of speed.

It looks like the mower is FUBAR. I could likely buy a new harness, but did I really want to throw any more money at that piece of shit? That mower has been a pig ever since day one. Last year it needed a $120 repair job. The thing only cost $160 when I got it, and it was used. I could buy the same mower new for about $200 today.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to go green and get one of those manual push mowers with no motor whatsoever. They cost about $100 and have no gas, no motor and no emissions.

So now we are stuck with a partly cut lawn until we buy a new mower. Great! Just what we needed. Something like this to become a priority expense right before our holiday.

Not to worry! It didn't stay a priority for too long.

That same night, when I was going to the grocery store, I noticed that the "Check Engine" light was on in the van. The first thing I did was check the oil. It was extremely low so I added 4 liters. Once I finished adding the oil I checked the dipstick again. I pulled it out and wiped it off and took a look at the level indicator. As soon as I did this I thought to myself, "I wonder why the dipstick has a max indicator on it?" I put it back in and pulled it out only to find that the oil level was several inches above the max oil line. Yep, that sounds like a typical CanadaDad automotive job.

I then checked the internet and found out that too much oil is a bad thing. So I drained the oil and re-added the proper amount. Next I checked the brake fluid. It was good. Then it was the coolant. It was low so I added some more. After that I checked the power steering fluid. It was also very low, so I topped it up. Then I checked the transmission fluid. Again low, but I would have to buy some.

After all of these things the "Check Engine" light was still on. GO OFF YOU STUPID LIGHT!!

Monday I was sitting at work thinking about that bastard of a light, wondering what it could mean. Then I started thinking about our troubled starter. The one that has been on the way out since the winter. The one that starts the car on 8 out of 10 tries. What if the car broke down when we were camping? What would we do then? Hmm. Maybe we should get that fixed.

When I got home from work Jules headed off to her job and sure as shit the starter had crapped out completely. Oh well, better it happens in our driveway than at a campsite with a ton of camping gear. I'd heard that you can get your starter going by tapping it with a hammer. Might as well give that a try.

Hmmmm. Starter, starter where would the starter be? It sounded like it was coming from everywhere. I started tapping everything, to no avail. Jules took a cab to work and I went to the library with the kids.

While I was there I looked up a couple of things: 1. What the starter looks like. 2. Where to find it.

I got home and found the starter right where it was supposed to be. When Jules got home we tried the old crank and tap method (on the starter you deviant!) but it still wouldn't go.

So now our number one priority is replacing that stupid starter. I guess that's why you are supposed to get things fixed as soon as you notice a problem. That way you can do it when you decide to and not when the van decides, which usually turns out to be the worst possible time.

I also think this has something to do with me saying out loud, "We should go on a trip to Minot for August long weekend." I swear, as soon as I uttered these words someone switched on the cash vacuum. I could literally feel the change getting sucked out of my pockets.

Oh yeah, while I'm on the subject.

Hey You! Yeah you! The vacuum cleaner! I know what you're planning. Don't you even think about breaking down. I'll toss you right in the garbage bin. Don't test me!

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