A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fish & Chips



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dinner Remnants



The local Irish pub is closed on Sunday so I'm at Cobblestone's Bar and
Grill. It's annoying but they have 67 beers on tap so that makes up for a

How much?

3/4 tank of gas - - $25.00

Highway tolls - - $13.00

Lunch - - $14.00

Eating a Geno's cheese steak in downtown Philadelphia - - Priceless.











Something You Don't See In Louisnana



The Shame of the Nissan Lineup

Who the hell would design an asymetric car. (And ther is still a pillar behind that glass so there is absolutely no reason to have done that.)




Got lunch. Heading to the hotel.

Oh, The Humanity.

I'm in a Nissan Cube with California plates.

Harrisburg First Impressions

Cold as expected.

Lots of snow.

Nuclear power plant near approach path.

River on approach frozen over.

Not enough staff at airport to get bags efficiently.

More Commentary

Just boarded a CRJ 200. Still four across but much better than the 700.

Travel Commentary

The CRJ700, although notably larger than the CRJ100, is less comfortable
because it seats four across rather than three.

A-terminal in Atlanta on Sunday morning with good weather is vacant.

Airport bar breakfast food is somewhat less than mediocre.

The coffee makes up for most of what the food lacks.

CNN Headline News sucks.

Delta has installed 120V outlets at probably 30% of the available seats.

I still don't like BlackBerry internet.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dirt Roads and Banjos and Cows, Oh My!

My latest Ride Report over at

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Favorite De-Motivational Poster


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random thought about insurance.

If I die, can my wife go to an insurance company and purchase a life insurance policy for me? What is death, but a pre-existing condition relative to a life insurance policy?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Routine maintenance pays off

It would seem that keeping up with routine maintenance on your vehicles can make a big difference to your financial bottom line. When I picked up the "new" truck, it was getting about 13 mpg. Before changing the plugs, but after most of the other maintenance, it got 13.75 mpg. After changing the plugs and running a double dose of injector cleaning solvent through it on the last full tank, it got 16.2 mpg. That is a 24.6% improvement in economy and has brought the 14 year old and 199,500 mile vehicle back in line with its initial EPA estimates of 14-17 mpg.

I just flushed the engine oil system and went with Amsoil Synthetic last night. I also changed the front differential lube to synthetic. (It was gross.) I'll probably change the rear differential lube and transfer case oil tonight. Then the only thing left will be the transmission fluid and filters.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Road Hazard Fail

There are some things that rope plugs can't fix. The hole made by a 6" chuck of screwdriver is one of them.


I still have the tires from the wheels I bent in 2005, so I'm going to see if they're damaged and try to use them instead of buying a new tire. Stupid shitty Louisiana roads.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's hard to find good help...

So the cable went out last night about 1900. Internet was still working fine and there was a long wait to talk to a geek at Cox's phone number so I figured they broke something.

It was still out this morning, so I rebooted the boxes and let it sit. Still out tonight when I got home so I called them again. Got a person and he checked on whatever he could see and said he'd have to send a tech out. While talking to him I had turned on the one TV in a spare room that does not have a box. It worked fine.

That got me thinking. If the internet and this TV are working, there has to be a common connection to the two DVR boxes that crapped out at the same time. I set up the appointment for Wednesday from 5-7pm and then headed into the attic.

I knew there was some sort of booster box that I insulated around so that's where I started. I found it and the light was not illuminated like it usually is. I read the labels on the box and found one that said DC In. I was unaware that this thing was powered.

I tracked that cord about 30 feet across the attic until I found where the tech nerd who installed it about three years ago had plugged it in. It was plugged into the same outlet that my furnace fan uses and since the dummy only hand tightened the threads on the connection, the vibration from the fan finally unscrewed the connection to the power converter. I screwed it back together and the TV immediately came back on.

So I called Cox back and canceled the appointment. No reason for them to waste their time when I've already corrected their mistake.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

That'll teach 'em...

To scar my face.

I decided to hit the front brakes this morning as I didn't like how the truck stopped. The rotors, which may be original, were completely pitted with rust and therefore not making very good contact with the pads.

Back to Autozone for rotors and pads. After I finished swapping out the parts, I sucked most of the nasty brake fluid from the reservoir and started flushing that system with my vacuum bleeder. About half way through I had to run to the dollar store for more brake fluid, but now the fluid is much cleaner than the green/black crap that had been in it. I'm certain that it was the original 14 year old fluid.

The truck stops much more readily now. The pedal has a little more travel than I like, but with all the work I've done on the brakes I'm going to give it a few weeks of Mona driving it before I decide to re-bleed the system.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Butterfly Closures are good

Spent most of the day so far working on the Ford. Started out with the rear brakes. Replaced the worn out starwheel adjuster parts and got that mechanism working again.

While under the truck, I noticed that the spare was totally flat. I removed it and pumped it up, but it's not holding air very well. Judging by the cast flashing across the entire tread, that may have been the first time the spare was ever lowered from the truck. I think I'm going to have to unseat the beads, clean them and glue them so it holds air.

While looking at that I noticed that the rear shocks didn't even have enough rebound left to push the rubber piece up against the truck frame at the top. I looked at the fronts and they were the same, so back to Autozone for shocks.

I returned home and started on the fronts. I had noticed that the truck kinda wandered around the road and required almost constant steering input to keep it in its lane when driving on the highway. When I pulled the front wheels, I found out why. Both upper ball joints were shot. Since I didn't have a ball joint removal tool, I figured I'd try a pry bar to see if I needed to buy the tool.

Immediately following the pry bar slipping and me bashing my chin into the top of the brake rotor, I determined that I needed to buy the tool.

I doctored up the gash and held it closed with the aforementioned butterflies and headed back to Autozone. They had both upper A arms in stock as well as the pickle-fork I needed to separate the ball joints.

Returned home and hit it. Got the A-arms changed and installed the new shocks in the front. When I did, I noticed that the new shocks were about 2" longer than the old. That struck me as odd. I checked the old ones. Whoever had done the shocks before had installed 2WD shocks instead of 4wd units. The truck now sits at least an inch higher in the front.

I was able to swap out the rears with little drama even though they are designed poorly, (as is most everything I work on from Ford.) Those were wrong and short as well. The new rear shocks lifted the back up about an inch to match the front.

Took it for a test ride and the wandering is gone and the truck is solid as a rock. Now I'm going to wait until the front brakes wear into the rotors before changing them as the rotors are trashed from rust pitting and have to be changed out anyway.

Water Heater and Insulation Update

So, the new gas fired tankless water heater has been working extremely well since I installed it in October. And I finally finished the full attic coverage with R-30 fiberglass a couple weeks ago, although 60% of the attic had been covered since early November. Here is a chart showing the preliminary results: (Granted, since this is a combined gas & water bill, it is not quite perfect, but it is a good as I have.


I'm happy to notice that my latest December and January bills are the lowest ever. And also to state that I have only had to turn the pilot light to the main house heater on for about a week over Christmas. Normally I have to light the pilot by Thanksgiving and it is used consistently until about March. (This December was "colder" than normal down here as well so that is an added data point.

The payback on the $3200 worth of heater and insulation I installed is much longer than would normally be prudent for an investment, so if your water heater is still in good working order, I'd say leave it alone. But, if, like me, your water heater is 25 years old and in need of replacement, these heaters are pretty nice.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Leather Welding

So, the driver's seat in the F150 had a worn fatigue crack on the left side from years of in and out. It was not the seam that failed, but actually a natural wrinkle in the leather that had weakened and cracked through. (Stupid cow.) In any case, here's what I started with:


I picked up a fairly fine needle set and some tough upholstery thread at WalMart and stared at it awhile to figure out what my next steps would be.

I haven't done much sewing of material under tension, but the longer I looked the more I thought, what if I could stitch weld it like you do long metal seams so it doesn't warp? Maybe that would hold it closed enough to allow for an overlay of stitches from one end to the other.

So I started tack-stiching it is a few spots:


That seemed (heh.) like it was working so I continued tacking:


I then started at the front and ran stitches over the whole thing all the way to the back. I think it turned out pretty well considering a new lower leather piece for this seat that wouldn't match the style of the original costs nearly $200.


Now to clean the exposed carpet and reinstall the seat.


Tinkering with the new toy

I've insured the new '97 F150 and am driving to work now to see what it needs. So far, it's pretty good.

I fixed the 4x4 by replacing a seized front axle engage solenoid and tweaked the rear drum brake adjusters with a hammer to get them to hold so the pedal wouldn't have to go to the floor to stop the truck.

Now I'm digging a little deeper.

The truck is equipped with a Ford 9.75" rear end and an E4OD transmission. I don't have any experience with the 9.75, but it looks almost as beefy as a Dana 60 so I'm pretty happy about it. It also has a factory limited slip that still works very well.

I was a little concerned about the automatic transmission but the digging I've done has led me to believe that the E4OD is basically a C6 with an added overdrive gear and a lockup torque convertor.

This weekend, I think I'm going to pick up a new set of rear drum adjuster parts as the old pieces are pretty grooved from nearly 200k miles of use. That should take care of that.

I think I will also attempt to resew the seam on the driver's seat that has torn. The leather is still in great shape, but it has lost the left front seam from years of in and out.

If I get REALLY rambunctious, I may try to change the spark plugs. Being a typically engineered Ford product, that procedure is neither easy nor straightforward and I expect that they have never been changed, or maybe only changed once.