the car has air
Sunday, April 13 2014
It was a beautiful day with temperatures peaking at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While Gretchen sat on chaise lounge in the yard reading, I took advantage of the nice conditions to fix some lingering issues with the Honda Civic Hybrid. The most pressing of these was the lack of air conditioning. It had stopped working back in the autumn, and I'd tried to recharge it. But then, while on her road trip to the Midwest, Gretchen noticed it wasn't working, took it to a shop and learned that the system had a leak in it and it would cost hundreds of dollars to fix. At that point I'd realized that it had probably been damaged back in September when our house sitter ran into a deer on Route 375. I removed the bits of plastic covering it (these used to be held in place by plastic rivets, but most of those were destroyed the first time I had to remove this plastic, so now it's held on by sheet metal screws with bits of plastic to give the screws something for their threads to bite into) and looked to see what was what. I saw that the entire aluminum framework of the air conditioner's radiator, which is manufactured in a plane, was now arcing inward, evidently a legacy of the impact with the deer. Had it cracked? I couldn't say; there was a lot of it I couldn't see or reach. To help test it, I devised an interface between a hose-and-gauge device used to recharge the coolant and the hose of my air compressor. Unfortunately, the threading on the part of the hose-and-gauge device (designed to screw onto the top of a coolant bottle) was slightly incompatible with the 1/4 inch NPT stuff used with air compressors, but, with the addition of some thread tape, it fit just well enough to form a leaky connection sufficient to pump air into the car's air conditioning system. Once I had air flowing into it, I quickly found the site of the leak. It turned out that a connector had been pulled loose from its partner. To stop the leak, all I had to do was tighten a single screw. I can't be sure this fix will last (perhaps the material holding the screw's threads is too badly damaged), but for now, the problem seemed to be fixed. That has to count as the easiest fix with this car so far. (Evidently the Honda Civic design team couldn't figure out a way to thwart me on this one.)
While putting the car back together, I accidentally covered up the little release lever that one pushes to release the hood all the way once it has been opened slightly by pulling a cable inside the car. That wouldn't have been a problem, but I didn't notice until I'd closed the hood. Now I had no way to open the damn thing! I tried poking around with my fingers, hoping to reach into a hole in that horrible plastic to find the lever, but when I did that, my right middle finger became stuck as if caught in Chinese handcuffs. In a panic, I hollered for Gretchen to run over and help, but when she lifted the hood, something pushed down on my finger even harder. I had her run to get some oil in hopes of perhaps lubricating my way free, and while she going to get that, I managed to carefully pull my finger free. In order to release that lever, I had to undo some plastic just behind the car's grill, something that I probably wouldn't have been able to do had all the original plastic rivets been in place.
Another problem with the car concerns its sound system. When listening to audio of various sources, loud sounds tend to cause jarring buzz-like distortions, making listening to podcasts and (especially) music into a much less pleasant experience than it would be otherwise. I'd determined that the problem was probably something electronic inside the audio system itself and not in the speakers. Knowing the car the way I do, I was pretty certain that Honda's designers had engineered the stereo to be almost impossible to extract, so fixing something electronic would probably be an all-weekend job. Happily, though, I found that the distortion disappeared completely when the sound was faded all the way to the back speakers. That fix might have to do for now, and it might have to also do forever.
I drove to town to get some more supplies: antifreeze for the household hydronic system, coolant for the Honda Civic, and various groceries, particular Seder-related items: matzah meal, matazh-ball mix, and whole wheat matzah. Gretchen had experienced difficulty finding these at Hannaford, but for some reason ShopRite had them all. They also had rye matzah, which neither Gretchen nor I had ever seen before. The main thing that sucks about ShopRite (in addition to the lack of photogeneity of its customers) is the generally poor selection in its produce section. Gretchen likes for me to buy organic produce whenever possible, but the only organic material I could find at ShopRite were salad greens.
Back at the house, I quickly recharged the the Honda's air conditioning system, and it immediately started blowing icy cold air. For now, at least, the car has air.
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