Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Last few days of countdown towards the race. We've been working pretty much flat out for the past week, getting the van ready.

To keep track of work items, we've been using the Laz Method of writing things on blue tape on the windshield. After a solid week of work, here was the list as of Sunday night:

Last week we fitted new front shocks, fixed some leaks, and... honestly, I don't remember. Stuff. We did stuff. The new shocks made the van not heave like a boat on heavy swell when you jump on the bumper, so that's a plus. We re-replaced a leaking hose, stripped some bolts, mostly wired in a new radiator fan, and tried to make the temp gauge work and generally finish some stuff up before Jdh left town on Thursday.

Over the weekend, it went kind of like this (from my email, Sunday night):

Things we actually got done are:
- transponder
- 3rd brake light
- tried and failed to get the bracket needed to mount all the brake
parts we have; ordered new brake pads instead. Rotors come off the
- tied up all the dash wiring
- promptly shorted out the headlight switch
- wrapped the headlight switch in electrical tape, replaced several
fuses, and re-zip-tied it (headlights work again)
- installed a front grill (pick n pull consolation prize)
- put a solid dent in the oil pan which you will never notice because
I am going to plaster it up with jb weld when we also seal the
dipstick tube

We now have parts for:
- wheel stud & cv boot (if we get time)
- brake pads

When we were tying up the dash wires we noticed that the coolant temp
gauge goes straight to hot when you turn on the headlights. I haven't
checked its behavior again since fixing the short.



...etc. Monday night:


Okay! Today was nearly an improvement. :-)

Taped tasks removed:
- oil change (my first! alas, the drain plug still seems to leak a
bit. also, I don't think those guys really changed the oil, it was kind
of cruddy.)
- coil
- jb weld filler tube and plate on the oil pan (I lied; you'll totally
notice. But laz spackled it with jb weld and hopefully made it a lot
- tires (tires and wheels now piled in front of van, falken ziex 912)
- spare wheels (jen got 2 spares from pick n pull for $5 each)
- brake pads (extra quiet! you would not want the pads on a racing
minivan to be noisy.)
- transmission fluid & filter

While we were cleaning up, laz was all like, "Hey Astrid, did you see
this?" and when I turned around he was waving a bit of rubber at me...
which was the inner gasket for the trans filter. Which I had not
realized existed until that moment. After I had already reassembled
and refilled the whole transmission pan with five quarts of shiny new
fluid and approximately one hundred small bolts.

Pieces of tape added:
- power steering belt (needs doing at the same time as the alternator
belt, something damaged the belt cover which has in turn chewed the
belts up good)
- coolant flush (optional but would also let us fix the leak in the
lower coolant line)
- transmission fluid & filter. D'oh.


This is a high-precision operation.

Score card currently stands at:
# times transmission fluid was changed: 2
# types of fluid dumped in Astrid's eyes: 2 (coolant and atf, for anyone who's counting)
# front brake pad changes: 4
# sets of pads accidentally or intentionally acquired for van: 5
# important bolts stripped: 2
# times we've replaced that hose that inexplicably sends coolant to the turbo: 2
# hours at pick n pull over the past four days: 8

We tow out on Thursday night. I should probably add a piece of tape for "put wheels back on van".

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