Sticky Grease

I recently bought a new truck, well new to me. It’s a 2005 Ford Ranger, extended cab, 4×4, 6 cylinder, with 115000 miles on it. It was a one owner but I found out after buying it that the first owner was a construction company in a Seattle suburb.
When I was trying out the truck I noticed there was a bumping feeling when taking off and occasionally when stopping. If you took off fast it didn’t do it but taking off with a light foot got from one to 4 bump feelings.
I took the truck to the airport so my friend Darrin could look it over for me, he was a mechanic in the army and seems to be pretty good at it. He said the bumping was probably loose shackles that hold the rear end to the springs and wasn’t anything to worry about. His advice, if I bought it, was to take it to a frame and axle garage here in town for a simple fix which I did.
After looking it over the mechanic said the shackles were OK and it was moving because the transmission mount was worn out. He also said the rubber boot on the left tie rod was ripped and dirt would slowly get into the joint and wear it out. The part is made so you can’t replace the rubber boot but have to replace the whole tie rod. So almost $700 later it was ready to go.
As I drove away from the garage the bumping was exactly as before and now the front end was screaming with each pothole or turning a corner. I drove around the block and went back into the shop. Again checking it over they said the noise was from the inner tie rod that was worn out and was making noise because replacing the outer one tightened up the system. They had to order the new inner tie rod so they said while waiting for it to come in they would be doing research to find out why there was the bumping feeling.
After another bill putting the total over $1000 there wasn’t any screeching in the front end but the bumping I had originally taken it in for was unchanged. The mechanic now told me it was probably the torque converter and that these specific trucks had a history of problems with it.
I did my own research and learned the torque converter sometimes jerked when it was locking up above 40mph, not on a easy start from a stop. A visit to a transmission shop, the owner driving my truck, got me another diagnosis. He said the clutch pack in the limited slip differential was causing the bumpy, jerking feeling.
Again my own research found that most of the people who had problems with the torque converter and with the clutch pack cured it by flushing the transmission and/or the rear end and putting in new fluid. So another $500 for this service including a special additive to the rear end to make the clutches smoother and the bumping was still there, unchanged.
About a week later I was leaning on the back of my truck talking to someone when I noticed it seemed to move more than most vehicles when in park. I grabbed the tailgate and pushing and pulling while leaning to look underneath showed the rear axle twisting so much it looked as if the drive train at the universal joint would bind. Also the springs were oval shaped at each end but flat in the middle. The first owner had likely hauled heavy loads in the back of the truck and the weakness in the worn out springs was allowing the whole rear end to twist much more than usual. Thinking I had found the problem with the bumping I took it to another garage that was recommended by a friend as the “best in town” and they agreed the springs needed to be replaced.
Just over another $1000 and I went to pick up my fixed truck. I made it less than a block away before I turned around and went back, it was still doing the same bumping as always. I ask the owner of the garage to take a ride with me and as I stopped and started over and over he said, “I don’t have any idea what is causing that”.
We went back to the garage and he went into the back of the shop asking me to “hang on for a minute”. He came out followed by an old man with the worst case of ‘bed head’ in his long hair I’ve ever seen. He looked scarecrow like in a set of coveralls that were much too big for his skinny frame, greasy and soiled with fluids best not ask about. His beard was a match to his hair, neither appearing to have been groomed or having felt a comb in years.
“Take this guy for a ride”, the owner said. So after he laid a rag slightly less greasy than his clothes on the seat to set on we went out and I did the stop and start that made the bumping feeling.
“It’s your drive shaft”, he said after a couple demonstrations.
I looked at him to see if he as joking, “The drive shaft is solid metal and has metal splines on the end that fit into the back of the transmission. If it was slipping there would be grinding and more shaking than I’m getting”.
He shook his head, “It’s not slipping in the round part, the reason it is made that way is so it can slip in and out as the rear suspension moves. It keeps it all from binding. The grease on the spline gears gets old and sticky so when you take off it tries to move in and out a little and it sticks and then lets go with a small bump. Your problem is sticky grease.”
Again I looked to see if he was joking but he seemed completely serious. We went back to the garage and he told the owner what it was, “Your joking!”. The owner seemed as incredulous as I was.
“Yep, and I can fix it in about 30 minutes. Just have to unbolt the back of the shaft, pull it out of the transmission, clean off the old grease and put on some new”.
So about 30 minutes later the problem was solved, the problem I had already paid almost $3000 to have fixed was taken care of for labor cost of $50. So now all I can say is watch out for that ‘sticky grease’.

Posted in Stories, Thoughts, and Opinions | 2 Comments

Texting, it’s new to me.

It was 5 or 6 years ago I was looking for a new phone and was interested in one that had a pretty good camera in it. The guy at the AT&T store convinced me that if I would sign up for a two year contract I could get an iphone for about the same price with just as good a camera. So I got my first ‘smart’ phone.
As I was setting up the plan I ask about texting and was told if I used it a certain amount I would be charged for each text and even charged if someone else sent a text to me. I told him I didn’t want the phone or plan unless he could block texting on it. After telling me it couldn’t be done and finally, at my insistence, getting the manager involved, he found out texting could indeed be blocked for my number. So for about 6 years I’ve not only not been interested in texting but actually couldn’t do it on my phone plan. I always thought in the time it took to text the other person could call me.
In the past year I’ve started seeing Mandy, a girl, lady, woman, female, who is young enough to use texting frequently and gripe at me for having it blocked. So I decided, after seeing multiple commercials advertising phone service for half of what I was paying, to go to the AT&T store to discuss my plan. They offered me a plan with unlimited talk and text but less data than I then had for about half my bill at that time. Looking back at my phone history they said I had never used the amount of data that was included in the new plan so it really wouldn’t limit me in any way. So, I changed and now had texting.
My first text to Mandy looked at first like it went through but a few seconds later I got a text back with an error message saying that her number was not a ‘good’ number. After spending literally hours with AT&T people over a couple months they had tried everything they could think of and my phone still wouldn’t send a text to Mandy. It would text anyone else, it would receive text, even from Mandy, but each time I tried I got the same error message.  The AT&T people said the problem was with the phone so I called Apple. It took a while to find the number to contact customer service but I finally had a friendly sounding lady on the phone. It was obvious she was trying not to laugh as she ask why the phone would choose one number not to text to and did laugh about the irony that the number was the only one I wanted to send text to. She assured me that the problem was with my carrier and not with the phone. Back to AT&T again. This went on with repeated visits to the store for months without finding the problem.
A couple weeks ago I made a call and the power button wouldn’t work, I couldn’t turn the phone off. Another visit to AT&T and they showed me a program in the phone that allows you to bypass the power button. The fact they have written such a program tells me this isn’t an unheard of problem. So after having to go through three screens to turn off my phone for a while I decided it might be time to get a new phone, which is what Mandy has been telling me for a long time.
I was looking online for a used phone when Mandy told me she had a friend who wanted to sell an iphone 5s which was the phone I had settled on as the one I wanted. The used ones online were selling for $250 and up plus shipping and she wanted $200 for hers. I met her in front of the AT&T store to make the drug purchase (sorry I mean the phone) and went directly inside to have it set up for my service.
When they were trying to fix my old phone they had uploaded all my ‘stuff’ to the icloud so all they had to do was set up the new phone for service and download my stuff. As I left the store I sent a text to Mandy to tell her I had my new phone, I got the same error message as before. On my new phone. By this time I was getting a little irritated (I’m putting it extremely mildly) and since I was still sitting in my vehicle outside of AT&T I went back in to scream and complain some more.
After going through more stupid guesses that didn’t fix the problem I told the guy I wanted to wipe the phone of all my stuff, put it back to factory settings, and then I would reenter my contacts by hand. The few apps I’ve downloaded, mainly weather for flying, were free and could easily be downloaded again. After this was done a text went though to Mandy.
So all along there was a software problem, maybe even a virus, in my phone that was transferred to the icloud from my old phone and then back down to the new one. So my questions are, why didn’t the people at AT&T or Apple think of this, what are the chances that this glitch would block the only number I wanted to send a text, and, have you ever heard of a phone getting a virus?

Posted in Stories, Thoughts, and Opinions | Leave a comment

All humans are created unequal

All humans are created unequal.
The best society can do is provide an environment where each can rise to their natural level.
Society cannot through laws make all people equal in abilities, only in opportunities.          To try to do otherwise is insanity and will do more harm than good to society.

Posted in Stories, Thoughts, and Opinions | Leave a comment

Short flight

The girl I’ve been seeing, was working all week in Republic WA so on Tue I decided fly up and spend the night with her at the motel where she was staying.  And yes, putting her picture here is my way of bragging.

mandy (2)

I got less than half the way when my radio started flashing a ‘low voltage’ warning.  I have a voltmeter that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket but for some reason didn’t have it plugged in.  I searched around and found it on the second seat, plugged it in and it read 11.4 volts and was slowly dropping.  The voltmeter should read at least 12 volts when the engine isn’t running and when it is it should read 13 or 14 volts.

The aircraft engine will keep running without electric power and the fuel in most airplanes, like in a Cessna, is gravity flow.  With a low wing like mine you have to have an electric fuel pump and without a header tank if the pump quits you’re SOL.  The nearest airport was Wilbur just before Lake Roosevelt so I landed.   I didn’t have any tools and by the time I got a friend to fly up it was close to dark.  My friend doesn’t like to fly at night so I tied down my plane and came back with him.

The next morning we charged another battery to the max,  flew up in another friends 172 and exchanged batteries, with the fuel pump as the only electrical turned on I flew back to Moses Lake.  After checking it out and searching for the problem for 3 hours we found that when I wired the alternator to the regulator the wire on the alternator turned as I tightened it and was grounded on the case.  It had slowly burned out the regulator.   The regulator from Cessna or Continental, the engine builder, was listed at just under $400, I took the old one to NAPA and got one just like it for $23, that’s the mark up if it is listed as ‘aviation’.  A couple minutes to install the new one and everything works perfect.

I’m going to take an extra battery, charge it all the way up, attach a fuel pump, and pump fuel out of a can and back into the same container.  I’ll time how long it would last with one charge so if it happens again I’ll know how long I have to get down.  In the meantime I figured out the draw of the pump and the amp hours of the battery and came out with 8 hours of pump time.  Of course that is if I notice right away that I’m not getting a charge but even if I don’t notice for a while I know I’ll have time to fly the plane home.

Posted in Stories, Thoughts, and Opinions | Leave a comment

It’s a sad world we live in

Growing up I was taught keeping your promises was the proof of your integrity and personal integrity is really all we have. All the money in the world won’t replace your honesty, better to be broke monetarily then be that poor in spirit.

The present society seems to accept the lies of business leaders and politicians without hesitation. It’s been going on so long they feel they have no control over any part of the situation. But you need to remember the old saying that shit runs downhill, what is acceptable in our political and business leaders in time becomes the accepted norm for society in general.

I recently made a verbal contract with a local business (I won’t name names) to install an interior in my new plane with the timing of, “It won’t take long”. I ask the person I was told would be doing the work how long it should take and he said, “If we get on it maybe a week or two”. For the next 8 months almost the only time they did any work on the interior was when I either called or stopped by the shop to complain about how long it was taking.   And when they did work on it they lasted for maybe 2 hours at a time. I realize some of the work needed to be done in the shop, but not 8 months of it. The owner had various excuses and sometimes just laughed when I talked about how long it was taking. Trying to be reasonable I continued to believe him when he would say, “We’ll be out tomorrow to work on it”. This was said at least 8 times over the 8 months and 5 of those times without even a phone call to let me know they didn’t show up. So my irritation was increased by sitting around waiting for them to show up over and over.

A couple weeks ago they did more work and seemed to be making good progress, then they didn’t show up for another week. I finally called the owner of the business and almost screamed into the phone, “When the fuck are you going to finish my fucking airplane?” His reply in a wounded tone, “I’ll be there tomorrow, thanks buddy”. The next day he didn’t show up but his worker who had been doing the job did and again made some decent progress.

Later the same day, not feeling good about the tension between us, I felt the need to try to communicate with the business owner one last time and went to the shop. As soon as I started talking to him he said, “You’ve been acting like a spoiled baby all through this, ‘When will my plane be done, when will my plane be done’.” he said in a childish voice. I said, “So I’m the ass in all this?” “Yes, you are an ass and a spoiled baby”.

I was dumbfounded, this person obviously has done this before, make a mistake or not keep a promise and then twist things so he can play ‘holier than though’ and pretend he is completely in the right. I realized there was not going to be any real communication with him so I just said, “I’m really sorry to be such an ass to you”, and walked out.

And now they’re almost done, one seat cushion to install and trim around the bottom of the canopy. I will be so happy not only to have the job finished, but to know I don’t have to deal with this person in the future. Never in my life have I been so disappointed in any business dealings. I’m sure the owner knows the word of mouth advertising he will get from me.

But one of the saddest and most disappointing things about all this is that some of my friends act like the business owner is right and I’m the one in the wrong.  I guess somehow if I would have just kept my mouth shut everything would have been just fine.  Maybe so if I didn’t mind waiting a year or more for a one week job to be done.  Or maybe when I began to get upset it turned into a karmic time traveler, went back to the beginning and caused him to take so long and lie to me over and over.   It really is a sad world we live in and every so often something happens to remind me that since I expect people to keep their word I really don’t fit in it——-


Posted in Stories, Thoughts, and Opinions | Leave a comment