Monday, July 16, 2007

Tinker With My Blinker

Cars, like dogs and people, get back at you. Make no mistake about this. Shortly after the Jeep was kicked out of the garage in favor the BMW, it revolted by knocking out the turn signals. I no longer had the ability to blink my direction when turning.

But I understand, I would not want to be moved out of the garage either. Like missionaries at my front door, electrical repairs are something I usually run the other way from. But what the heck, it can't hurt to try and as long as I don't get too deep into it, I shouldn't do any unintended major damage.

Online Jeep Grand Cherokee forums offered little help, but more on that later. It was there, all how you searched for it. When ever I purchase a vehicle, I immediately buy the Chilton or Haynes manual on how to fix it. Unfortunately, the only manual was a Haynes, and it was of poor quality. It was unanimously panned on and I agree. Chilton manuals are much much better if you can find them.

After much consternation in the fuse box, I pulled apart the lower dash and found the flasher that needed to be replaced. I pulled it out and ran upstairs to plug the part number, 4686094, in Google and see what came up. Sure enough, it was a corporate part from Chrysler and it's failing all over the place. I found many minivan owners who also had no turn signals either. Being a Chrysler only part, I had to wait until this morning for the dealer to open and purchase one. It was cheaper online but I didn't feel like waiting. $55.15 in parts later, I have turn signals again.

I do my best to plug the American auto industry, but it's moments like this where I have my doubts. This vehicle was $38,000 new and at 64,000 miles the flasher goes out and turn signals fail. Turns signals as we know them now, were introduced in 1938 by Buick. This is hardly new technology and such a rudimentary part should not fail during the life of the car. I often forgive such newer systems such as stability control when they fail as they are still in their infancy compared to other features. With 69 years of development, the turn signal should be damn perfect and last forever.

Fixing this electrical problem was a bittersweet triumph. I know how to fix my blinker and I know why people turn their backs to American cars.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Home Again

Ok, I've made it home. No surprises, although I had expected a few. Taking a 1500 mile road trip in a 19 year old BMW with 108K miles on the odometer is sure to bring some surprises here and there. But it was flawless and I averaged 24 miles to the gallon.

I did give up blogging after a while. Loading photos on my parents computer and editing them was not going to happen. At least easily. After that I was on the road for a few days and focused on making it back to Austin.

I did spend a few days back at home in Eden, but I spent them with my parents. As I departed I did head over to the high school as I was going to do some car shots there. But as I approached, I decided not too. I really had no feelings that connected me to my high school, so I took off without a shot. Growing up in a very small town, high school was just a tool to get you to college. I don't recall anyone aspiring to stay around after graduation, and sure enough not many have. There were some fun times and great laughs however there was not much school spirit and the classes no longer bother to have reunions. Off I went.

So twenty years ago, I started college. It was on the way home and I always enjoy popping in for a visit. Going to college was a big challange as I was not an academically strong student. My extracurricular activities got me into college, not my grades.

I headed to the Campus Center to find the freshman orientation going on. My school paper, The Leader is still published there. As the photo editor and a writer, I spent many a long evening there working to make the deadlines. Also in the Campus Center was the bookstore, but it had moved to what was Cranston Dining Hall. All the visiting freshman had cleared out the school apparel though. It was good to walk around and I can't believe I found a poster hanging from May 1988. It was a copy of "Campus Voice ByWeekly".
From there on I headed to Columbus where my buddy Mark put me up for the night and took me to a great Greek restaurant downtown. We over ate though when we walked to a Cold Stone creamery.... After years of Mark visiting me, it was great to see him in his home town.

Picked up Baxter this morning, and he had the time of his life at the dog ranch I left him at. After ten days of non-stop play and being around other dogs, he's pretty much been asleep under my feet.

I love my new set of wheels. I'll post more about it later and take some pics when I have a moment to clean 1500 miles of grime off.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It's been a long day but it's now mine.

It's great to pop in and see my family, but the chance to pick up a new set of wheels at the same time makes it all the better. This morning's travels started at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and ended this evening in Liverpool, NY at my older sister's home. Along the way I had a nice four hour drive in my new car.

It's easy and it's not easy to get around the northeast corrider by train. To arrive at Morristown, NJ from Philly, I had to go to NYC and change trains at Penn Station. All tolled there was about a good three hours of train travel that looked like 45 minutes as the crowflies. But it was fast and efficient as train service in the northeast generally is. I've always been a fan to taking the train as you get to look out the window and see things without having the responsibility of driving.

But drive I did. Nancy was great and met me right at the train station and took me to my car. She was so gracious she even made me stop at a Dunkin Donuts before I left on my journey to use a restroom as there would be no rest stops for quite a while. What a great host. The car looks wonderful, but more about it later on.

It's been an intersesting 48 hours but altogether seemless traveling. The planes and trains were on time. The car was ready to be picked up and it's a sweet ride. I'm going to get a ticket on this trip for sure. But I'm well overdue as I have not had one in years.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Philadelphia Freedom

Today I left Austin for the first time since February. It feels good to get away for a while and it's great to see my Jen, Eric and Brady. I thought I would be escaping Austin's prepetual rain that we seem to be having, however it's been raining most of the day here. Nice.

Keeping up with the time line, here is a pic of my sister from about 20 years ago. Click on the pic to make it bigger, I'll edit the white down later when I get back to Austin. Note the period stone washed jeans. :) Here is a pic of Jennifer and her family today and it was taken on St. Patrick's day this year.

Tomorrow it's up to NJ to pick up the car!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Build a BMW, Part Number One

Ok, I'm not building my new BMW, but it doesn't hurt to have a spare wheel and tire. This particular model that I'm buying rides on Metric tires that are no longer mass produced. I think you know what that means when you have to buy a new one. $$$$$ Thankfully I found a nice new one on E-bay for half the price.

There is a huge difference in restoring and Mustang and a limited production BMW. There literally have been a million Fox body Mustangs made from 1979-1993. As you can imagine parts are everywhere and there is a huge market for reproduction parts. In fact the best Mustang restoration part warehouse is now only 45 minutes from me in Hewitt should I need anything. Mustangs have always been collectible and will continue to be so. It's a great car to get your feet wet doing a restoration project.

On the other end, unless you have DEEP pockets and plenty of time, it's best not to attempt to restore a BMW 6-series. Thus the one I'm buying is in mint condition. I had a great time restoring the Mustang, but this car would be an entirely different experience. Not that I would not find it rewarding, but maybe in 20 years I'll buy another one and restore it from the ground up.

I'm taking off tomorrow. Fourth of July in Philly and the fireworks should be awesome.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Totally 80's Road Trip

Time for a road trip. It's summer time and it's done nothing but rain here most everyday for the past few months. So it's time to hit the road for a some better weather. My mom says it's so dry back east the pond has dried up. So home it is!

So what to drive? It is the 20th anniversary of my high school graduation, so let's go back to the days of Duran Duran and see what I can come up with...

It's clearly the quintessential coupe of that time. Often called the "private jet" of the road and the latest addition to my fleet, a 1988 BMW 635CSi. I found it on e-bay and it's in mint condition. It's spent 17 years with it's last owner and I'm now going to be the steward for this classic vehicle. As the vehicle is in New Jersey, I'm headed to Philadelphia to see my sister Jennifer and then on to New Jersey to pick it up. Many thanks to my friends who are housesitting for me.

Continuing with the theme of this trip, I'm mixing an 80's playlist for my iPod. Somehow I can't locate a Member's Only jacket though...

Stay tuned for updates and some fun old pictures of the 80's of my friends and family, then and now. Click on the above picture to expand it along with the other old pictures I've had to scan in. Some of you I'll see in person along the way.

I'm taking this road trip to the max.