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27
Jan

Oh, Nellie!!

Today I have the opportunity to work on another old car.  While it isn’t exactly a “classic” like an Alfa GTA or ’55 Chevy (the ‘57s are just too gaudy for me) it is very near and dear to someone’s heart, so I am taking great care with it.  I am cautious when I drive it and try to let the wrenches caress the fasteners, rather than just man-handle them.  In reality, the car isn’t worth much to most of the world, but after spending some time with “Nellie” I have come to a conclusion:  they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

The beautiful thing about Nellie is how she is the last from a bygone era.  She’s not a big German luxury barge, nor is she powered by an American small-block V8.  She’s not even rear wheel drive.  (the horror!)  She’s just a humble baseline 1990 Honda Civic, but a completely capable car.  She’s as basic as they come—a reminder of simpler times before power windows, power door locks, power steering, and power outlets became necessities to get from Point A to Point B.  It makes me wonder what we’re doing wrong as consumers.

Over the years we have become lazy.  We have forgotten how to drive.  We’ve demanded the fastest, quietest, most coddling cocoon to wrap ourselves in.  We need air conditioning.  We can’t live without cup holders.  Our arms ache at the thought of having to exert effort while parallel parking.  The wheels beneath us cannot slip.  Brakes mustn’t lock.  A haunting voice will guide us to our destination (or not).  Wind must be seen but not heard.  And in the event of a collision (who allowed that to happen, anyway?!) we want to be surrounded by pillowy curtains on which to rest our weary heads.  (never mind that those same pillows explode with such force that they will take your head clean off if they hit at the wrong angle) Read more

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20
Jan

Ununited Nations

I enjoy getting together with a good group of motorheads.  I’m not sure if it is the comradery of carburetors that draws us together or the simple fact that most of us are so passionate and opinionated about our transportation choices, that sooner or later blood will be drawn  (like the pending horror of a train wreck that simply must be watched.  Or the pain of Bobby Unser on television).   Whatever the reason for getting together, the conversation always seems to flow without pause (and often without purpose, point, or poignancy, according to many onlookers) as we dive into the history, present day, and future of mechanized transportation.

Try as we might to come to an agreement on what makes a car “great,” the segregation inevitably happens:  as the discussions continue the group breaks into smaller and smaller subcomponents, a sort of reverse-assembly line.  Eventually, everyone finds themselves grouped in with one clique or another.  This is not a choice that can be taken lightly, nor made at that very moment.  Rather, it is the culmination of choices and attitudes that one exhibits over years of development.  Some may even declare it to be genetic.

The Japanese fans quietly keep to themselves, presumably in an attempt to grasp the concept that cars might actually vary in character and personality from, say, a baseboard heater. Read more

6
Jan

How To: Change Your Oil, Part 2

How to actually change the oil

Keep in mind that this is only a guideline for the actual procedure. This is where you should check a service manual to be sure you’re not screwing anything up. (Honestly, my Land Rover is the only vehicle I’ve had that is very specific about the operations procedure, but you never know) Failure to follow the factory instructions can result in the oil pump losing its prime and, thus, its capacity to pump oil. Remember: oil serves as a much better lubricant than air does. The same principle applies if you forget to purchase all your oil and filter prior to getting started. It is tough to drive to the store with no oil in the engine*so be sure you have ENOUGH OIL and the PROPER FILTER and the PROPER TOOLS before you proceed. Got it? Good!

Step 1: Get the oil flowing

The purpose of changing the oil is to get all the worn out oil and dirt out of the engine and replace it with clean, fresh lubricant. Draining cold oil isn’t recommended, as you will be leaving all kinds of dirt inside the engine. By driving your car a few miles before draining the oil, you’re stirring up all the sediment into suspension so it will flow out of the sump with the old oil. Plus, as an added benefit, hot oil running down your arm will warm your extremities if you are forced to service your car in sub-freezing temps. Read more »