Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Reality, Part Deux" or "Put Some Windex"

Now shiny paint is nice, but there were a million things left to do. I had long since cancelled the appointment at the dealership, which was ironically (again) the part of the day I had most prepared for- checking reviews, getting directions, etc. By the time the car was waxed and the tires were filled, it was pushing noon. Time to get to the other three places I needed to go.

Vons, Vista Lock and Safe, and Kragen auto parts are all located on the same roughly 3/4- mile stretch of S. Santa Fe Road, for your convenience. I got the rug shampooer and cleaning solutions, and feeling slightly better about the day, motored over to the locksmith to see about opening the trunk. No such luck, however. The car technician who had the necessary tools was out for the weekend, which was the only time I would be in town, since I had work on Monday. But finally, I found myself in somewhat familiar territory- the auto parts store. I picked up the oil additive and Seafoam, went to the parts counter for a wireset and some super-fine E3 Diamond Fire spark plugs, and headed back to the house.

One and a half cans of engine cleaner later, I was ready to install the new parts. My brother helped during this stage by emptying what he could from the trunk via the folding middle rear seat. The trunk, not to be outdone by the rest of the car, also held a surprising array of total crap, from an old and torn-up folding campsite chair, to several glass bottles that had started on their way to be recycled and somehow never made it.

The new ignition components, coupled with almost two quarts of oil and the oil additive, immediately made a difference. Startup was suddenly smooth, and no longer sounded like each combustion cycle might be its last. Now that the Seafoam has worked its way through, the engine eagerly roars to life, even on cold starts, like an excited puppy wanting to go out for a walk.

Someone requested some pictures. While I don't have good before/after documentation, you can see some of the new ignition components here, and just imagine that the new spark plugs are out of sight underneath the arrows, since they are. Mostly, we'll have to be content with word pictures, since Lydia's the photographer in the family. Below, you can see the mystery hose, which I thought had come unattached from something, but it turns out it's a vent hose from the transmission (actually the transaxle, for those of you who are careful about these things):

Looks like the engine bay is pretty dirty, right? Wrong. It's pristine compared to how I found it. Admittedly though, it's a work in progress.
Two more to satisfy the public's curiosity:

"There are some who call me... Tim."

Some body work for later on

The car is dirty in these ones because it rained the night before, but you can still see reflections in the paint, which again, is saying something.

After the work on the engine, it was time to really clean the interior. Hoo boy. That was easily the most strenuous part of the day, but when it was over, everything looked much more inviting, and the monster stain on the passenger seat was reduced to merely a slight discoloration, which it remains to this hour. After that, I used some Tuff Stuff to clean the dash panels and most of the other surfaces, and windexed the insides of the windows.

It was really starting to come back now. The last thing I did that day was to reattach the right side mirror. All the little servo motors inside it still worked, so it still could be adjusted, it was just a matter of gluing the broken plastic back together. Once that was accomplished, my work was done for the day. After a great dinner and hanging out with the relatives who had made it into town for the occasion, I went to bed unbelievably sore and tired, but happy. It had been, as it always is in San Diego, time well spent.


One of the two previous owners of the car (I was the third) had installed an illegal P.A. system, and the loudspeaker was still mounted under the hood, next to the strut mount, all these years later. Perhaps this was the first owner, who smoked in it, the smell of which still lingered a bit when it came to me. At any rate, somehow I had never realized what it was until this trip. Sunday morning, as I was getting ready to leave, I cut the wires to it and threw it away as my last official act or something.

Then it was off to the Valley again, but not before we take one last look at that beautiful city...

By the time I got to the state line, the engine was running as well as it ever had, the water temperature was holding steady toward the cool side of the dial, and the Altima had a new lease on life.

1 comment:

Teachinfourth said...

Thanks for adding in a few photos, it helps to visualize with your words of what you're doing. Hope it gets back to its original awesomeness soon.