Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Class #4: Halfway mark!

I'm gonna start by saying that I wish I had some way of getting photos during class.  There are times when my teacher is off helping with something else after he says, 'get that thing, do this and that, and I'll come check it out'.  But, one picture would certainly be of how dirty I get, and that is not good for cameras and I would most certainly ruin my phone!
So, you'll just have to use your imagination...and I will be testing my writing skills, for sure!

At any rate...
Class #4!
(I'll add a little excitement with centering and font sizes/colors, how about that!?)

At the end of last week's class, it was decided that I would get parts to fix my front brakes.  I searched online to get an idea of how much I would be spending on parts, and to make sure our local AutoZone would have what I needed.  Now, if you remember, I drive a 2000 Chevy Cavalier...probably not too hard to get parts for this little box on wheels, but I like to stress about every detail of my life.  Of course, they had the parts I needed.  The guy who helped me was very nice.  I asked if I could return the rotors if I ended up not needing them and he said, 'of course! why would you keep them if you don't need them?!'  Good point, I guess.

As we know from my last post ( you can read it here, if you missed it ), my trunk has some issues.  The new parts I had bought were in my leaky trunk...damp from the moisture!  I put them on the floor in the front, hoping they would dry, in case I needed to return the rotors.

Once again, I had major anxiety going to class.  That's just how I am, but I get over it once I'm doing what I'm there to do.
Game Time!
(Are the added flourishes getting annoying?)
The whole thing ended up being pretty uneventful!  I drove my car up, set up all the lift arms, and began to raise the beast.  'Wait, wait, wait!' I hear from the other side of the car...'something made a noise.'  I lower the car, I think everything's fine, but one of the other students thinks it's wrong.  The poor 70 year old teacher gets down on his knees to check...'no, it's fine'.  It's just so rusty and creaky.

Back up we go, and the fun begins.  I gather up all my tools, use the impact wrench to take off the tires, and then we begin to discuss.  I asked if I needed the new rotors, and Dan said, 'well, they'd be at the minimum width if you cleaned them, and you have new one's so you may as well put them on.'  I agreed...I had been smart enough to buy them...why would I not put them on!?

I'll make this story short...I know I tend to ramble on with unnecessary details...
With a little bit of struggle, I managed to remove the old pads from the passenger side.  This proved to be the easiest of the two sides.  As I was putting the new pads on, not quite getting it, Dan told another student to go grab a clamp or something to help push it into place.  Of course, I managed to use my own power to get it on, which resulted in another 'strong hands' comment from the boys.
All in all, I was pretty pleased with how smoothly the first side went.  So much so that I was not worried about working on the other side without much supervision.  Unfortunately, the other side proved to be a bit of a bitch, comparatively.

The driver's side...aargghhh!
I had issues getting the caliper off because the caliper bolts (not sure that's the right term?) were not moving correctly.  That is, they wouldn't come out far enough to clear the rotor.  So, after some force and the use of a hammer and some vice grips, we finally managed to remove and replace the old pads and rotor.
Here's a fun fact:  I hand tighten to approximately  35 foot pounds.
After everything was properly replaced and torqued, I took her for a test drive around the parking lot.  I had forgotten how nice it feels to have your car just stop...none of that jerky, seizure-type slowing down.

We also took a look under the hood.  Here's a question:  does anyone know where the oil filter in a 2000 Chevy Cavalier might be??  I have had my oil changed dozens of times, so I know there must be one...but none of us could find it!!  Not even the teacher!!  Oh, and let's check the tire pressure...sure, except that my awesome replacement door doesn't have the sticker to tell me the proper pressure.  And the owner's manual?  'See sticker on driver's side door for proper tire pressure.'  Thanks! That's helpful!

I didn't learn much else in class last night, since I spent a little over 2 hours doing the brakes, then about a half hour looking under the hood and stuff...and we pretty much ended 15 minutes early.  But that's okay.  I can now say that I, personally, have changed my front brake pads and rotors!  And I'm gonna be a girl right now and say that I am pretty damn proud of that!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shifting Gears

Today's post isn't about the Barracuda project.  Today's post is about my Chevy Cavalier.  The car I have had for 12 years.  For the past few years (I can't be sure of the exact time frame on this one), there has been a leak in the trunk.  Nothing major...nothing an old tee shirt couldn't soak up.
Well, last night, I had a passenger and we each had a bag of stuff to transport with us.  As I reached into the back seat to make room for our bags, I noticed that the back seat was soaked!  I immediately figured the leak in the trunk must actually be a leaky back window seal, and that I would have to have that replaced.
Today, I discovered a that it is a whole different story!
Yes, that is a puddle of water that my spare is sitting in!
As I felt around my trunk to try to figure out where the leak was, I lifted the cover to the spare tire.  I could see water...nearly an inch of water!!  I got out the shop-vac and got rid of that and proceeded to poke around and lift the felt trunk liner to see how bad it had gotten...and hopefully to find the water's entry point.
Looking 'out' of the trunk, near the driver's side tail light.
There was a rusty hole just behind the bumper, next to the driver's side tail light.  How the hell was I going to patch that up without taking the bumper off?  I started taking screws out and removing the trunk liner and decided that I could take care of it from the inside.  A friend of mine gave me an Auto Zone gift card for my birthday, so I will be using that for a patch kit.  But, I am not up for it today...I'm back to the old tee shirt method of stopping the leak for now.  I can't wait until my teacher takes a look at that in class tomorrow night!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Class #3: A hard time getting started

I didn't want to go to class this week.  There was no good reason for it, I just didn't want to go.  The weather had turned, again, and after last week's driving rains, I just didn't want to drive to Bourne in the cold rain again.  The day had started as freezing rain, and so from the very start of my day, I just wanted to get back home and snuggle back into bed.  I'm ready for Spring to truly arrive.
But then I began to think about class.  The plan was to work on a wheel bearing that would probably take all 3 hours of class.  I had just had my front driver's side bearing replaced (yes, I paid for someone else to do something I was about to learn to do myself)...I was getting nervous driving on it, and knew I could not wait one more week, and certainly not two.  But, nevertheless, I wanted to see the process.
When I got to class this week there was a stranger there...a guy who had previously taken the course, but was there to do his oil change.  Mr. Dryz asked if I'd like to help him, so I did.  If you'll remember from last week, I've unofficially been designated 'the brute' of the class (something I'm honestly not upset about).  As we lowered the car, Dan (Mr. Dryz) asked, 'who tightened the new filter?' and looked at me and smiled.  'Don't worry, I checked it!'

Apparently, we were not all going to crowd around the Saturn to do the wheel bearing.  Another student had brought parts to do his back drum brakes.  The evening took a humorous turn (because none of it had to do with my car) when the two guys working on the Saturn started banging on the rusty rotor to get it off the car.  And while they did that, I tried helping Josh get his drum off...which was also rusted to his car.  Everything was rusted together.  To make a 3 hour story of rusted car parts short, here's the ending to each story...
The Saturn:  after a lot of hammering and a brief encounter with the acetylene torch, the rotor came off.  With the rotor off, we discovered that there was some issue that we could not fix with the time we had left in class. I'm not entirely clear what that issue was, as I was helping to pry the drum off the truck, but the result was a car that was left on the lift when we all left class.  The day time students were going to take a crack at it, apparently.  I gave Ricky a ride into Hyannis...hoping he gets his car back sometime tomorrow.

The F150:  basically ended up needing a new drum because of the inside parts rusting together.  A part Josh did not have.  He decided to just put it back together, get a new drum, and finish the job at home.

So, after all of my struggling to drag myself to class this week...we accomplished nothing.  Although, we did get to re-thread some bolts and nuts.  And we did get to clean up the rotor on a cool lathe thing.  That was interesting.

Next week:  (hopefully) I get to do my front brakes!  That of course means some shopping this week/weekend.  I'm not going to make Josh's mistake.  I'm buying everything I MAY need.  If I end up not needing new rotors, then I return them.  But I don't want to get halfway through the job and discover I should have bought rotors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Class #2: Oil changes & diagnostics

At the end of my first class, Mr. Dryz said that I may bring in the rims from my Barracuda so that we could remove the tires and clean up the rims.
Well, that would've been great if I had been able to get them off the car.  Let me point out that it was no fault of my own.  We had some less than agreeable weather last week...snow, slush, was gross.
But, even though he asked at the beginning of last nights class if I had brought them in, there is no way we would've gotten to them anyway.
We knew we were in for an oil change.  And we knew that he would be hooking Ricky's Saturn Vue up to the diagnostic computer.  What we didn't know is that Ricky's thing would take up a ton of time!
It didn't bother me though.  I would have done oil changes all night long, if we had to!!  When you have a garage, a lift, and all the proper equipment at your finger tips, car repair and maintenance is kind of fun.
We started with Mr. Dryz's truck, to learn the oil change procedure, while Raffi tried getting his Scion TC ready on the lift.  (That proved to be a waste of time, but we'll get to that!)
The Sonoma oil change was a snap.  Best part of this week's class?  When I was told to 'hand tighten' the new oil filter, and then Mr. Dryz checked to make sure it was tight enough and commented 'wow!  You've got a firm grip! That's tight!'  So, of course, I flexed for him.  Unfortunately, when time came to get the old filter off the Scion, I was defeated...but, none of the boys could loosen it either, and they did actually say to me 'maybe you should try'.

Raffi couldn't get his car positioned on the hoist, so we waited so he could use the drive-on hoist.  Personally, I think if he had pulled his car up just a bit more it would have been fine, but what's the difference, long as it goes up in the air.
Throughout class, Mr. Dryz would float between instructing Raffi, Josh, and me on the oil changes, and Ricky and his Saturn.  At the very end of class, the rest of us went over to get a quick lesson on the hand-held diagnostic computer.

Next week, we are doing one of the wheel bearings on the Saturn.  Now, my wheel bearing is so loud right now that I am a bit frightened to even be driving on it.  So, I have made an appointment to have mine fixed at my regular mechanic's.  Yes, you'd think this defeats the purpose of taking this class, but one bearing is going to take up a whole class period, and I'm uneasy driving.  I will wait and try to have my front brakes done in class.  I've driven without brakes before...

So, I am still terribly nervous before class, still.  I try telling myself that it doesn't matter if I do something stupid.  I will never see these people again, and I'm taking the class for my own personal enrichment.  But, being the overly anxious, socially awkward person that I am...that is how it will be up until I walk out of class #8.

Speaking of socially is the other thing I'm doing in my free time:
Last Sunday.  Chili Challenge.  Firefighters and my roller derby dolls!
My new out!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day One: The power of Air's done.  I did it.  I survived the stress of walking into a class that I was sure I had no business being in.  And, on top of that, I made it through the first full 3-hour session without getting laughed at.  Well, I did get laughed at, but it was because of jokes I was cracking (how can you not laugh at those giant community sinks!?)

So, here's how it went:
I got there super early, and I was going to take a photo of the front of the school, for this post, but forgot.  Oh, damn!!  The 20 minutes I sat in the garage waiting for class to start I could have gotten pics of the 'classroom'!!  Oh well, maybe next week.

I walked in just behind the first guy...'Do you know anything about cars?' he asked.  'Nope. You?'  'Nope!'
Already, I feel better.  Eventually, another guy walks in...same question, 'Nope!'  Sweet!!  So, all in all, it ends up being me, and this boy-band trio.  I mean, one of them has a faux-hawk.  And, they were all prettier than me!!
Someone didn't show, so as it stands, it's me, Ricky, Josh, and Raffi.  (You can expect our album out next Spring.)

The instructor, of course asks us what kind of car we have ('have', not 'drive').  We also had to give a list of 10 things we want to learn.  I basically put every system I could think of, minus electrical (b/c they have a separate class for that on Thursday night).  When I told him about the Barracuda, he said 'good luck with that'...but then all through class, referenced it and said to feel free to bring any parts in that I'd like to work on or learn about!  Already this class is paying off!!  If I can take my tires/rims in and use the tire mounter (I'm sure that's not the proper name) and tire balancer...I mean, that's huge!!

So we toured the shop (and the annex where they have 3 more bays and more computerized diagnostic things) for about an hour or so before we set out to learn about tools and equipment.

Air hoses!!  I both love and hate them!  First we had a demonstration and hands on practice with attaching the hoses to impact wrenches.  This is when it became clear that I was the girl in the class.  I could not, no matter how hard I tried, get that damn gun off the hose!!  After a few tries, the teacher says, 'well, that's alright.'  So I heard, 'That's alright, little girl.  When you need help next time, just ask one of the boys.'  Guess who's gonna be working out even harder now!!

So once things got going, we were actually working on a car!  First day!!  Miraculously I didn't get my clothes dirty, but I LOVE having grease all over my hands.

The four of us practiced working the hoists, and were trusted to make sure the car we were hoisting was set right on the hoist.  I got my placement right!!  We looked at the underbelly of a Saturn wagon...and then we took it's tires off.  And then we disassembled one of the back drum brakes AND one of the front disk breaks.  We put the front brake back together but ran out of time and left all the other pieces off the car...sorry, class that is working on it this morning!

So, I was super excited to write this post.  It seems sort of lame now that it's all out there in 'written' word, but that's fine.  I'm still trying to learn the names of tools and remember which lever is the safety lever, and which sequence to push buttons on the hoists. I am completely overwhelmed by the number of sockets and other tools we have at our fingertips in class.  I'm still nervous about my ability to use air powered tools (talk about power!!).  But I am so excited that I am not in a class of macho dudes, and that I have an instructor who has clearly taught girls before.  We connected a bit when I told him the story of the Barracuda and that my dad was in Vietnam.

Next week, my very first oil change!!  We are changing the oil in Raffi's car.   We are also going to hook the little diagnostic computer up to Ricky's Saturn Vue...seems his car has a ton of issues, including an air bag light that stays on.  I was also asked if I would be bringing in any parts from the 'Cuda.  'We can get those four flats off, and clean up those rims, if you like.'  Now I have to figure out how the hell I'm gonna get those wheels off!!  Time to go get me a breaker bar and some jacks!!