Saturday, February 09, 2013

Sitting in a mall - looking at all of the people

I'm at Crossroads mall in Bellevue Washington, near the entrance to a QFC grocery store. There used to be a giant chess set at this entrance to the mall but it has been replaced by a painting of a pond on the floor and a quarter kiddie ride in the shape of an old motorboat.

I'm waiting for Leon to finish buying something at Joann and some snacks at QFC before taking him to Devyn's house.

I have a bunk bed in the back of my minivan but I may not need it any more. Luckily it was given to us from Freecycle so if we don't need it, we can find someone who does and give it to them.

I also worked on the minivan this week. It was a week ago Friday that the minivan stopped working. I was just driving down the road and the engine cut out. I was able to pull over to a side road and roll to a stop out of traffic. A AAA call later and the van was on its way to the shop where they confirmed my suspicion that the fuel pump stopped working.

So to fix the car they wanted a little over $900 and said it was about half and half for parts and labor. I paid the $120 diagnostic fee and accepted the detailed report of everything that needed fixing on the car and had AAA tow it back to the house.

I took a day to find and organize my tools and coordinated with my father-in-law to come over and help me with the work.

I spent about $200 on parts including a five gallon gas can and a siphon pump and a Chilton manual on fixing the Plymouth Grand Voyager.

The work on the van went slowly but smoothly. I put the car up on jack stands, took off the spare tire, and started looking at getting the gas out of the tank. I know a gallon of water weighs about eight pounds so I figured every gallon we got out if the tank would make it easier to deal with. But it wouldn't work. I tried several times to get the siphon pump hose down into the tank and I was just sticking a little short of the tank.

Eventually I gave up and we moved on to lowering the tank. But that was also not happening. The bolts on the gas tank straps were pretty solid in not moving. Luckily Jim, the aforementioned father-in-law, thought to get a box wrench and use that as an extension to the socket wrench and I was able to break them free.

The tank lowered and with all of the gas in it was pretty wobbly I only sloshed a little gas on Jim before getting it stable enough to use the siphon pump. We got a lot but not all of the fas out and moved on to the replacement end. The fuel filter was also on the top of the gas tank (not where I would put either item). So it wasn't too long before everything was replaced and we were ready to put the tank back up.

At this point we realized that lifting the tank up is harder than lowering it. And eventually we put a jack under the tank (with a two by six between the tank and the jack to help stabilize the tank. This gave us a lot of leeway to get the work done without killing ourselves or sloshing too much gas.

The car started fine and has run well ever since.

And Leon is ready to go so I will leave the mall and end the post.

Friday, February 01, 2013

The minivan is ill and I'm stuck ay the homeschool coop.

"The minivan is ill. AAA is taking it to the car doctor. It may be the fuel pump."

So that's my facebook status update and the tweet that happened after the minivan stopped working today. But where does that leave the full-blown blog. So I've micro-blogged and fed the social media and now I wait for retweets or @ responses or likes or comments wishing me condolences in lieu of liking something negative.

So here's what happened. I was driving some youth to the homeschool coop here in Bellevue, WA and driving down 140th the engine turns off. The car is still rolling so I fight the sudden lack of power steering and pull off to a side street. After letting the car sit for a bit, it looks like it will start back up. But almost immediately it sputters and stops. At this point it seems plike it might be the fuel pump or a fuel filter. So I call the auto shop, call AAA, and walk down to the homeschool coop. Now we wait until Kim can pick us up.