my physical limits under the hood
Sunday, January 6 2013
Coffee was so good this morning that I made an unusual second french press of it, news that Gretchen received without complaint. The second pot was much better than the first, mostly because I'd started with a clean coffee grinder (old coffee ground can poison a pot, though usually only subtly).
Gretchen had me arrange an appointment with a Honda Certified mechanic for Tuesday to look at our Hybrid to see why its gas mileage has become so poor. So today I decided to remove the replacement oxygen sensor (which hadn't corrected the check engine light). I figured if they were going to be throwing our oxygen sensor away, they might as well be throwing the old one away and not a new one that might be useful somewhere else. To put the old sensor back in place, I decided to try to pull the new one completely out, including the connector socket that attaches the sensor to the rest of the car's electronics (I'd been unable to reach this during the replacement, so I'd just cut off its wires and made a splice). Since reaching that socket had seemed impossible from beneath the hood, I figured there must be a route to it from underneath. So I rolled the car up onto my handy ramps and crawled underneath (first putting down a rubber mat on the filthy snow). But there was no way to reach up to where I needed to go from below. Not only were the holes in the underside too small, but the distance was too great. This meant there must be a way to reach the socket from beneath the hood. Eventually I figured out how do to it (but not before snapping off the plastic handle of a dipstick that was in my way). It turned out there was a narrow gap reachable from the passenger side of the engine compartment. I could get my hand through this space back behind the engine and feel my way to where the socket was. There was no way to see what I was doing and I had to work blind. There were also some rubber hoses that needed to be hooked out of the way. And even with all of that, the combination of my arm and fingers was about a half inch too short. I was able to detached the connector and wire up the old oxygen sensor, but putting it back in place was extremely difficult. I had to orient the connector onto its socket without seeing (and while barely being able to reach) and wiggle things around until they engaged on either other. Then I had to find some object to blindly push the connector down snug. This whole ordeal had me wondering if perhaps when Honda managers are staffing their official garages they must measure the arm length of prospective employees. Mind you, my arms are not especially short and this may well be the first time where my body was at the physical limits of what was required to perform a necessary procedure.
Though the job was horrific, the weather was actually fairly pleasant, especially for January. The sun was shining brightly and there wasn't much in the way of wind. I took further advantage of the conditions by swapping out the brownhouse shit bucket (which had been collecting fecal matter since August 10th) and by dumping out the piss bucket from the urinal system. The piss was still mostly frozen into a huge yellow cylinder, though the center was liquid and quickly ran out when I dumped it onto the north tomato patch. All of that yellow ice made for an unsettling sight, so I buried it all beneath a pile of snow shoveled from the driveway.
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