Ted The Auto Mechanic

I can remember changing the oil on my van all those years ago. I’d lay on my back in the snow and wince when some piece of crud fell off the bottom of the truck up into my nostril. I remember thinking right then and there that someday I’d have an inside place to do this sort of work. Well, 20 years ago or so I built my garage with 6″ of fluffy pink fiberglass in the walls, lovely 250 watt halide lights on the ceiling, and a wood stove at the far end. Even on cold days I can warm it up in there enough that I don’t have to wear a coat.

Alice and I are buying a motor home. We are the same couple that would drive by the Baraga State Park, and call the motorized campers “abominations.” Things change I guess. The motor home is located in Arkansas, and we plan to drive down there at the end of spring semester to pick it up. Our problem was how to get our car and the motor home back home. We settled on towing the car, which involves several steps in order to make it safe.

The first step was to purchase and install a towing bar. These are custom made for each kind of car. It requires a reasonably significant disassembly of the front end of the car, some serious hole drilling, other fiddly jobs, and then hopefully putting the thing back together without having too many parts left over. In this picture I have the parts layed out on my shop cart and am reading the instructions.

The instructions that came with the kit were fairly typical for such things. I often wonder at the companies that consider themselves as top of the line suppliers. The product is often good quality, but it seems they then have the office boy spend a half hour with a camera, laptop, and no editor in order to produce the instructions. The pictures were crappy, and the steps often failed to include basic important information, such as the location of the screws that need to be removed.

I got the car up on the ramps with Alice’s help. I had her on the ground spotting me so I don’t drive off the end and wreck everything. Once up I laid out some large pieces of cardboard I keep for that purpose, plug in my trouble light, and get to work.

This project went very well indeed until near the end. It was one of those rare projects that was a series of problems (like they all are) but where the solution that came into my mind involved tools and skills I possessed. I do enjoy working in my shop, and with my tools. I can pretty much remember where I acquired each tool, and enjoy the feel of them in my hands. I spent about 5 hours out in the shop working on this, and the following picture shows the tow bar installed.

It is not obvious in the picture, but if you look at the metal bumper of the car, the tow bar is installed just below. The protrusions are where the towing and safety hardware will be installed. It was at this point I had my mishap. I was carrying the front fascia of the car back over so I could line things up for the reinstallation. I tipped it in my hands and heard a crash. The passenger side fog light housing fell out of its slot and the lens broke. Examining the aftermath led me to believe this lens was not designed to be replaced, so I’ll have to buy a new housing. I plan to stop at the junk yard in the morning where they’ll hopefully have something in stock. In the meantime, I’m basking in the glow of having accomplished a fairly complicated mechanical job with a minimum of problems.

One Response to “Ted The Auto Mechanic”

  1. […] revealed in the “Ted the Auto Mechanic” post (click HERE for that story,) I chose the 4 wheels down option and installed the tow bar on the car. This I […]

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