Friday, October 13, 2017

Pre-Crusher Requiem for the Banana Boat

2 months ago I told the new doctor that those medications made me sick before. "This is a different formula, you'll be fine". I wasn't fine. The newer new doctor doubled the dose. Living became nightmarish. Before I came to my senses and stopped taking them, steam started coming from the dash vents of my car, fogging up the windows. 

The Banana Boat, as I call her, has been a faithful steed. Taking me to appointments and social engagements for the last couple of years. During the months of no income, no maintenance was done on her. 3 of the 4 electric windows don't open. The suspension is shot.  Both side mirrors are held on with tape. Then on Sunday this started happening. 

The first trouble with overheating was 2 summers ago. I got it stopped that time and have carried a half full one of those water cooler jugs in the trunk ever since. Just the other laundry day I considered taking it out so I could fit more dirty laundry in there. Giant car, giant trunk so I left it in.
This time the leak is in the heater core that supplies engine heat for use to heat the cabin and/or defrost the windows. The heater core is a miniature radiator that lives inside the dash. When it isn't leaking steam into the vents it will defrost. 

First line of defense is a stop at the auto parts place on the corner. Stop leak bottle that says right in the label that it will stop heater core leaks. Yay. My 20 year old car is still new enough that it doesn't have a radiator cap. I had to unclamp one of the big hoses on top of the engine to pour the stuff in. It didn't work. More steam. Try again with a different brand. The label said you don't have to clean the system out first but I did anyway (hey I know I should have the first time but I was dizzy and weak from the medication remember). It didn't work. Those were ones I had used successfully in the past and cost $5 & $9 dollars each. The next options on the shelf $32-$46 each and didn't claim much more on their labels. One did say something about special fibers. Like in oatmeal? One last try. I bought 2 different of the cheaper ones and used them both. Didn't work. More steam.

So I do have some income now (SSDI) but it really isn't much more than the nothing I was living on before. I do have 38 months of back pay coming one of these days . The lawyer gets his $6K for the $1K worth of work his office did. SSA has sent me many letters giving details about the balance. Some saying most of the rest has been deducted for vague reasons. It may work out the way it should but I have no way of knowing. Nothing to do but wait. 

This is the 3rd car I have had of this body type. 92 Lincoln TownCar, 2000 Crown Vic Police Interceptor, This 97 Town Car. The 92 had the same problem; it cost $40 for the replacement core and $400 to have it installed. I could probably come up with the $40. 

Even if I do get the full amount of back pay I am due it may be the last time I have a ship come in. I thought the bad medicine had done me in a few days ago. The other physical limitations are limiting other ambitions for gainful enterprise. I have to continue my personal austerity program to make whatever the final amount is last. Either way, fixing the Banana Boat up for more than basic drivability is sending good money after bad. Looking around the internet for ideas I found a U shaped bit of hose with metal tips to install in place of the core. It was $15.99 plus $8.45 shipping on eBay. Love me some eBay sometimes, when time is not an issue. Local auto parts places didn't have any similar options online. Driving 20 miles overheating at each stop to shop in person wasn't practical. I found on a chat board just for Lincoln Town Car owners one guy that used a 3/4 inch brass elbow for PEX water pipes. Another chat person claimed he used the plastic kind and it worked for 3 years. PEX is heat rated, but why risk it? Anyway the Lowe's is only 2 miles away, the brass elbow and 2 screw type clamps were less than $5. 

I am feeling so much better than I was; 2 days without the bad medicine. Still getting pretty dizzy and fatigued; I had to do the fix in 5 minute bursts. To get the old hose off I had to cut it from the old heater core. No turning back. I used one of the new clamps and one of the old ones (see top picture). Refilled the water and started the car. So far so good but at idle it was going to take a while for heat and pressure to build. I took a short drive around the hood. Success. A peak under the hood and no water leaks.

I accepted an assignment to feed two dogs while the owner is away. Both dogs combined may weigh as much as my 9 lbs Chihuahua Lit'll. But tiny guys need love too. Just 3 miles. A straight shot up University Ave. When I got there the heat gauge showed the regular heat. I looked under the hood anyway. The legs of the elbow just aren't long enough. The hose with the original clamp had popped off. I put the new clamp on that side and refilled from the jug in the trunk. I got home and it seems all good. Ta Da! 

Till the weather turns cold anyway. 

I hope I start feeling well enough to do the dishes without taking a lie down in the middle. Today was encouraging. Tomorrow will be better. Best case is that I will get the back pay I earned and will be able to afford the gym a few times a week. Build up that core strength as the gym regulars say. What with the spinal damage I don't see me as a walker. 

I need to have a car or something. My hope is to become an SRK FUVer. Even if they launch as they have planned one of those won't be available till next summer. The wait for social security disability ruined my credit but I have time to figure out some financing. 
In the meantime here is the plan. Cash for Clunkers will pay $1,000 ($1,500 low income, whatever that means) for my old Town Car. But I wasn't able to keep the tags current hoping that paying late will work out right. The other rules are kind of sticky too. Still it's a nice car for a fixer upper. I've sold worse cars for more. It starts and drives. Just doesn't have the smooth ride, heat or windows that move. Pretty easy fixes for a gear head with some tools. 
I have had decent luck buying cars on craigslist and eBay. Fingers crossed that a good deal is available when the time comes. And that I can weasel a ride to pick the thing up. 

I sit high in the saddle so a truck or van or something with a high ceiling. 

I am skeptical about this one. Looks nice in the picture. 

I took the train to Hanford to buy the Police car. 4x4 sounds like too many moving parts

This one is just adorable.

Know a guy that has had good luck with his

Don't pimps drive these

If I could only sit to drive I could make money doing the Uber or Lyft thing

Anyway, first things first. Talk to my mechanic. Check the used car reviews on Edmunds and Cars. Then wait for back pay day. 

UPDATE -- - - - - - Oct 27
Oct 22nd I applied to the BAR (no the other BAR) for their vehicle retirement program

Oct. 27th I went to the DMV and renewed the registration. 
2 years at once was $359 OUCH! I could have sworn it was just one year. 
I needs a new smog cert. Damnit. 

Dec 2nd The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District hosts a thing called Tune In and Tune Up where you can get a free smog check and\or assistance in finding repairs if you don't pass. I called BAR and supposedly it won't hurt my application that it was registered and smogged after the application was filed. It takes something like 8 weeks to process them. 
The trick to this is getting there early enough to get the $500 coupon if needed. I am not a 6AM type guy. 

Also I stopped taking the medication that was making me so sick. Took a week to start feeling better. Pretty much over it now and on to the next illness and dysphoria. 

UPDATE  - - - - - Oct 31st
I went to get the banana Boat smogged today. It passed! 
This means that I will not need to go to the 'Tune In Tune Up' event in December. However if BAR or someone else doesn't buy it by February I will have to register it again.