Sure, we can fix that.
Posted Monday, August 14, 2006, 10:38 AM
I had a really interesting weekend. As I posted a few days ago, my wife was working this weekend and I had time to myself. I took my car to my parent’s house to see if I could get some things fixed, and maybe even do a little bit of body work. My car’s breaks sounded like there was something wrong, and every time I put my foot down on the brake peddle the car pulled to the right. So it was time to take the car to the hospital, and see how serious it was.
My dad has been spending the last few months becoming a very accomplished mechanic. You have to when you commute 65 miles, one way, everyday to get to work. He had told me stories about his adventures in car repair that, while sounding very cool and awesome, scared me a bit by how much he was doing on his own. So, not know what to expect, but trusting I would be on the road in time to pick up my wife from a coworker’s house, I set out to begin my weekend.
My Dad took one look at the car and said, “sure is beat up. No problem, we’ll take care it.” If you do not understand why this is significant, click here to see what the car looked like before I took it up. I had no intention of getting any bodywork done; I just wanted to get the car functional and safe. We pulled the tired off, and found the brakes were making funny noises because there were no pads left on them. One of the brake roaters was so work down that my dad hung it up on the wall of shame in the garage. I felt really embarrassed, because I new better than that. But after a trip to the auto parts store, everything was fine. Included the trip to the store, it took us an hour and a half to have my brakes working the way they were supposed to.
Next item of business, my instrument panel would not light up at night. The gauges worked fine, but you could not see them in the dark. I though we were going to have to pull the whole dash off, pull the light, and replace it. Turns out all we had to do was replace a fuse. Again, I felt sheepish because I should have know to check that. We were now 2 hours into the first day and we had finished everything thing I hoped would. What were we going to do now?
We went to a near by junkyard. The reason was to see what kind of luck we would have finding parts. I had not been to a junkyard in years, and it was kind of neat to see all the cars that looked so much worse than mine. We were pleasantly surprised when we found six cars that all looked like mine, only different colors. Not the same year model mind you, but looked identical. So we pulled a mirror off one to replace one I had tied back together with wire, and found a car only one year earlier than my model. We decided to take a risk, and pull some parts off it to see if they fit.
Well, that was the original plan. But as must things go in my family, why go half way when you can jump in with both feet. So my brother and I set out on our task to strip the front end of the car down. We removed the left and right fenders, the front clip (grill, lights, turn signals, all in one piece), and the front bumper. It only took us two hours to find the car, pull the entire front end of that car off, and load the parts into the car we had driven to the yard (the car that would receive the parts). After a quick lunch, a shower, and the wedding of one of the kids from my parent’s church, it was time to start the task to breaking down my car to replace the entire font end.
My brother suggested I take the fender that was not a beat up, and start pulling stuff off. He also recommended that I not listen to a thing he was doing on the other side, and no matter what I heard him say to pretend that I did not hear anything. As I went about my task, I could see my brother hooking up power tools, grabbing hammers, and all sorts of things that I did not want to see him use on my car. “He can do anything to make the car worse,” I kept telling myself. I chanted that over and over in my head as I drowned words liked, “What the…,” “oops,” “umm, that’s not good,” and other just encouraging remarks. But it was nearly impossible to block out the sounds of an electric saw cutting a twisted finder off from the rest of the car. By 10pm, we had not only stripped the front end of my car down but we had also pulled all the bolts off the scraps that had to be cut off the car to use the next day. My car now looked like on of the cars from the junkyard.
“How long does it take to get all this stuff back on,” I asked. My dad looked at me and said, “as long as it takes.” Those were the words I went to sleep on that night. The next day I woke up and we started on the car right after breakfast. The electric mirror only took me ten minuets to replace, and have it working (having had practice removing it the day before had helped). And as we set to work the car just started to come together perfectly. There were a few special things we had to do to get the finder to fit on one side, but that was because there was the smallest amount of damage to the car frame. When we put the front end on, and the bumper, we stepped back and looked at what we had done. Sure, it was the wrong shade of blue, but it was whole again. We even got the hood to line up correctly to out much trouble at all. What time was it? Only 2pm.
I had expected to find the parts we needed, so we could install them next week, and to leave with my brakes working. I left with fixed brakes, a new driver’s side mirror, new front fenders, new headlights, new turn signals, and a working instrument panel light. I feel like we actually did something this weekend.
Next weekend we are going to replace a relay for my left blinker, replace a slightly cracked rear fender, possibly the dashboard top, and possibly fix a few leaks in the engine and power steering assembly. If we can swing it, we may even work on the stereo, so all the speakers work and it actually turn on when you tell it to. Here’s to hoping.
BTW, did I mention that my dad footed the bill for the whole weekend? That right. I did not have to pay a single dime. I realize he is my Dad, and that Dads take care of their kids. But right now, when I have no money, it was really nice to know that Dad can be there for me. He and my mom could not really give us money to help out when I got married, because they were doing the same kind of stuff for my brother (who’s car was so much worse than mine is/was). But now, when I really need it, Dad is there to help me out.
This was an awesome weekend.