Category Archives: Voices from the Garage

These are my vocalisations of things in and around the Garage.

Car repair basics and common sense

Sometimes we need a tap on the shoulder to remind us to pay attention. Car repairs are no different. Here is a list of handy stuff to remember when you are considering car repairs.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sometimes stolen cars do get found

Stolen car crashes into cabs on Beacon Street

Stolen car crashes into cabs on Beacon Street (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

And it takes a while but they do get found

Sadly many don’t end up this way. And these two incidents are a shining example of the fact that they are being sent overseas! And that is a trend that has been going on for years.

The first newsworthy recovery happened right here in Detroit.

DETROIT - A Volkswagen Beetle that was reported stolen from Tennessee in the 1970s has been found in Detroit. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said officers in Detroit found the 1965 Beetle during a document check on Jan. 30 as it was being shipped from Michigan to Finland. READ MORE

The other incident involves a 57 Chevy, a highly prized vehicle. Both by car fans and car thieves.

A ’57 Bel Air is one of the world’s most prized collector’s cars. This one was stolen from Wilson’s place in Clearlake Oaks not just once but twice in the early 1980s.

Wilson, who’s 65 and battling cancer, had long before quit hoping to see it again when, about three weeks back, a California Highway Patrol investigator named Mike Maleta phoned him from Southern California. READ MORE

Some times good things happen. While being excellent outcomes it raises a red flag for me in a couple of ways. But in both incidents you start to question the many opportunities over the years where the same information that FOUND and identified the cars as stolen was also available when they changed hands multiple times in various jurisdictions. And nobody caught it then.

With that said I still have faith in the system. Kimda. Maybe. Sorta. It does make me a bit more protective of my “toys” but I can only hope that this is the outcome for more of these prized possessions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Just how complicated is an oil change?

English: SIGONELLA, Sicily (July 1, 2009) Avia...

It’s not really. Unfortunately we get lazy and that’s when you get minimum wage goofies involved.

That’s when it can go completely sideways

As many of you know, changing the oil in what could be a daily beater, your prized possession or a mediocre family car, is not that complicated. Messy? Maybe. But definitely not complicated. The simplified version involves getting the vehicle up in the air, unscrewing the drain plug, draining the old oil out, replacing the drain plug and filling it back up with new oil. Pretty straight forward. Right? It should not be a traumatic experience at all.

You may notice that I used the words SHOULD NOT in that sentence. The reason for this is this. Not all of us are capable of changing our own oil and other fluids. And sometimes the circumstances make it a problem. This is where the local service centers get involved. They are more than happy to do this for a fee. Not really sinister at all. And there are a whole bunch of these quick service facilities littering the local landscape. The problem here is that in most cases the person actually doing the service is usually a minimum age, part time, young know-it-all that doesn’t have a clue. And even more alarming is that the car they are working on may be a $100 beater or a $80K Mercedes. Either way this could get ugly real fast if it is not done right.

NOTE Before we go any farther you may want to check out my blog entry – Walmart Oil Change goes wrong

The simple act of unscrewing the drain plug is by itself not the problem. It’s the screwing it back in that gets them all jacked up! Here’s where they get confused. First off it needs to be threaded back in correctly! I say it again, Correctly. With a new gasket. That means by hand to start. Finish with a hand wrench. The correct size hand wrench. Not cross threaded. And not with power tools! This is critical because many of the new oil pans are now aluminum or other soft metals that don’t take nicely to being over-torqued. The threads will be stripped in a heartbeat if you use power tools. It is because of this lack of knowledge not likely that the car I brought in in operational condition should now, all of a sudden, have the oil plug “develop a leak” or even “fall out”! Could it be a problem? You betcha! Ignorant gorillas under the car tightening the pan plug is the problem.

My advice here is if the vehicle has a non-steel pan pay close attention to where you take it for an oil change. You really need to know and trust your service provider. The cheapest is usually not the best choice.

A critical sidebar to this simple act of changing the oil is changing the oil filter. It goes hand in hand. And here to things can get silly really quick if you don’t pay attention. Just like the oil plug, unscrewing the oil filter by nature is no biggie. Usually the hardest part is getting your hand and the tool in a position to do so. Beyond that it is a similar scenario of screw the old one off and screw  the new one on. This screwing the new one on is where the unknowing neophyte gets it all wrong. First you a supposed to put some oil on the sealing ring so it seats nicely and doesn’t grab. Next is screwed down to contact plus a quarter turn.  Not two more turns! I can safely say those of us that do our own changes have, at one time or another, encountered a jammed filter. It was screwed on so tight it either left the base plate stuck to the seat after having the housing stripped away or  the ole “stab it with a screwdriver” removal technique was employed  in order to get it started. And of course, no one seems to know how it got that way. Most incidents are immediately after a trip to the quick service facility. Gee! What are the odds? Pretty good actually!

The re-emergence of the insert/canister style oil filter has created it’s own monsters with the handling of the filter housings or covers. Once again the wrong tools and techniques could be fatal to your engine. Caution is the keyword here.

My advice is the same here. You gotta know who is under your car for stuff like this. And if you don’t consider yourself warned. It has always amazed me that oil change business owners continually populate their staff with unskilled goofies knowing that if it goes sideways because of them the owner is responsible. Apparently they are avid gamblers.

Enhanced by Zemanta
I am Incredible!

Brian Williams – Thanx for stopping by!

It really sucks when people take notes!

Retail auto parts is always an enlightening experience. The other day was no exception. Actually it was an extraordinary day. I gotta say that in this case I was awestruck. I was so overwhelmed that I was speechless. Well for a minute at least.

Let me lay it out for you

I am Incredible!

I am Incredible!

I had the “pleasure” of dealing with a Mr. Brian Williams and his friend on a spark plug transaction. What started out as a simple transaction involving some spark plugs for a 4.6 liter Ford mod motor turned into a very loud and boisterous enlightenment by Mr. Williams that because I work in a parts store as a clerk I don’t have any idea what I am talking about. Now I have been berated before in this, and other businesses , so I don’t let it get under my skin.  He added that my 61 years have no bearing on what I know! Just another old guy in a parts store. And to make it real I was informed that not only is Mr. Williams an ASE certified mechanic for 25 years, he was personally taught engine building by Austin Coil, the NHRA tuner for John Force! And that Mr. Williams is the record holder at both Milan Dragway in Milan, MI AND, let me repeat that, AND Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk,OH! His own amazing vehicle has 15,000 HP! Yes! He said his 15,000 HP car does 4.2 seconds in the quarter mile! I am truly in awe of Mr Williams and this vehicle. That’s incredible! Incredible I tell you! This get get my attention!

On to the aftermath

I was so amazed that I could not really say anything. Well, kinda till he hit the door. At that point I had a hard time breathing! Why you ask? Because I was laughing so hard it hurt! There is no description that can make this exchange anything more than just frickin incredible. At that point I was so amazed that I decided to do some simple fact checking. Yep! That’s what I did! Here are the results. Ain’t technology a kick in the butt!?

  • ASE certified Mechanic for 25 years” – I’m gonna give him this one! Could be. He is the right age. Haven’t checked the database yet.
  • Personally taught engine building by Austin Coil” – My gut feeling here is probably not! Maybe saw a video by him but that’s about it. Could be, but once again I vote NO!
  • Record holder at Milan Dragway” – Must be using an alias of some sort because they never heard of him! Ever!
  • Record holder at Summit Raceway Park” – Could be using another alias here too because they never heard of him either!
  • 15,000 Horsepower” – not sure on this one. Could be. But it seems that Bill Miller, owner of Bill Miller Engineering (BME) in Carson City, Nevada can only get 8,000 horsepower from his. He must be doing it wrong! I need to hook him up with Brian!
  • “4.2 seconds” – Brian must not be too good a tuner ’cause the guys with only 7000 horses are getting 3.85′s out of theirs at Pomona! His car should be doing 3.2′s if my math is correct!

In Conclusion

This is just my opinion, remember that! Here are some simple observations that I would like to offer up. Brian, if you are going to get on a rant you may want to at least make it believable! And Brian if you are going to start spouting off about how frickin awesome you are you may want to make it credible. Especially if there are numbers of people in the immediate vicinity that heard all the info you gave out. And when it is all said and done, well, in this case Brian you are the asshat not me! I really do look forward to seeing you again. Really I do! I really really am!

Come see me again soon

So Brian if you read this stop by the store I would like to chat further with you. Really! Just ask for Bob! The OLD guy behind the counter.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What the heck is a “Cargasm”!

The Gospel According to Bob reads like this.

Car-gasm [verb] – pronounced Khar-ghazim The feeling a gearhead gets from working for a whole year to  become a working piece in the mix of a million people and 50,000 cars. Also see Ohrghazim.  The same thing only for boats! Best I can do ,Folks!

Did I really say that? Actually, Yes, I did!

Now I know what you are asking, Exactly is a “cargasm” and how can I get one! Good question. Well, let me premise this with an excerpt from a blog article written by The Detroit Bureau about the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Here is the clip

“This is car-gasm,” laughs Bob Motter, of Oak Park, Michigan, who is already out on the Wednesday night before the official Cruise in a ’67 Mustang complete with a pair of giant fuzzy dice he carries in a luggage rack on the back deck.

“We never expected this,” gapes Motter, one of the members of the original Dream Cruise steering committee, back in 1995.  “It was supposed to be a one-time fundraiser, but our plans went sidewise” In this case, in a positive direction”

This is where I may need to explain. I was accosted on the street by a photographer and an editor for The Detroit Bureau after they saw my car cruising around and managed to hunt me down in the cruise melee.

It was actually a very great time having my picture taken and being asked for my comments on the whole Dream Cruise phenomenon. I guess I just blurted it out during the interview. And I guess I didn’t consider the possibility of it being quoted and attributed to me! Well, it was and I did!

Fred and Friend enjoying the “Cargasm”

Looking back on the whole scenario all I can say is that I was kind of surprised that they walked by a couple of wicked radical customs to see me and Fred! And the result was very gratifying. I am not a glory hound by any means just an ordinary [kinda] guy who likes cars, a lot. And actually Fred was the first photo shot by the way. I am thrilled to get any press.

But in this case you could just say it was “CARGASMIC“!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The First Roosevelt Park Car Cruise a web illusion

What do I mean by web illusion?

Well, when you see things on the web they can appear to be larger than they really are. Unfortunately you don’t usually find out until you get there.

In this case, the event presented by The Motor City Project was at first glance touted to be a grass roots event

Luxury, exotic and custom car owners will gather in Detroit for the first Roosevelt Park Car Cruise. With help from Motor City Project and Ice Nine Group LLC, owners and enthusiasts of everything from Mustangs and Hot Rods to custom motorcycles and sport cars, will be gathering at Roosevelt Park in Detroit, Mich. on Saturday, July 21

What appeared to be a focus on hot rods and classics turned out to be a simple small gathering of Ice Nine supporters, employees and  friends. 30ish to be exact.  For the most part their cars were current model sport sedans with a few early heavy hitters thrown in. While it was at a historic Detroit location it was anything but spectacular. Even with all the web presence and great use of web media it was way short of what I expected. While my conversations with the staff of Ice Nine were friendly and cordial, the actual event appeared to be more of  a bad test run.

I must say that the project is a great one and as a Detroit native I wholeheartedly support the effort. But after convincing some cruise buddies to head down to the event I may have to apologized for the misstep. The one really cool bright spot is that I got to eat lunch at the Mercury Bar on the corner. Beer and a Reuben made for a nice break.

I hope that the next event is a tad larger and works out a whole lot better. We shall see.

Enhanced by Zemanta

I would rather get a paper cut!

Vicious Circle of Nothing!

Ow! That’s gonna hurt! And my head already does!

Lets take a looksee. Yep we only sold 2 blue flugels between 2pm and 3pm to pregnant blond women under 50 driving blue Frius on the second rainy Saturday of the full moon .  Damn! That sucks! We better step it up a notch! Let me see what how we did on the last full moon!

The new technology that is bleeding into the workplace is getting to be a bit overpowering. And despite the age old voice that it will “help us get a better picture of our business” what it really does, in my opinion, is become a techno-data quagmire of nifty neato stuff. Will it give us a better picture? I doubt it. We already have that picture. It’s not a good one, but we have a good picture. Will it allow us to move forward with productivity and the like? I’m skeptical. Other than verifying what we already know.  Will it get the next vertical  levels of management to coach as they are purportedly chartered to do? Another NO vote here. Will it adjust for these hard economic times locally? Another No, not likely. If it truly allows for some productive adjustments, Great! If not, just more data collecting silliness.

Thank You Captain Obvious!

What I do see is the possibility of it becoming another weapon to make the human element of upper management more disconnected from the day to day operations. With the sagging economies in general and with some metropolitan areas being hurt worse than others, you would hope that an addition of these “tools” such as this would enlighten the local and national management as to the real world state of affairs business wise. And that there may have to be some localized adjustments. Unfortunately I can see that this same “tool” intended to help could be just as easily used as a weapon.

How? You ask. Well, here is a simple example. With all the corporate data crushing they.. key word here is they, have set a revenue goal of $XXX. Probably based on some magic projection of past history. They have delegated XX hours of manpower. Once again based on some magical calculation of this and that.  Now if you carry this out to an end that this $XXX goal is not reached in a specified time period with the manpower that they assigned to you, it would not be a stretch of imagination to conclude that the personnel are all schmucks? And all the supervisors all nincompoops? Probably.  [ Note! In most states mugging is still a crime! ] Looks good on  paper!

I didn’t do it! It’s not my fault!

Now this same collective data that has the distinct capability of showing a consistent downturn in business after some long periods of  normal operations might signal a local economic problem. Along with the news media, the web and the Government reports. And these same people that got the job done before this time have all fallen into a big pit of stupid. Probably not. But of course, the local levels are going to be pegged as the bad guys and their upper management “handlers” are “just trying to do the job”. Usually accompanied by mutterings of  “It’s not my fault! These guys suck!”.

With all that being said I must say that while it is cool to have all these “business tools” available the one common denominator here is the human element.  And having a business hierarchy that can enforce its’ own policies and  control the personnel in charge of running the lower levels and not let them run amok and appear to be doing a whole lot of nothing.

BzeroB web redo – HTML5 and CSS3

Bob's Garage logo

Bob's Garage logo

Despite an advertised upgrade a few months ago it is now online. Really!

After a few months of wrestling with a new design based on HTML5 I believe I have it pretty much done…ish. My learning curve is getting better and the specs are becoming more prevalent so it makes far a much more stable site. Once again I have migrated to JQuery framework for my scripting but also fall back to some cool CSS3 features. I can actually get more on a page content wise. And the HTML 5 specs actually make more sense.

Since you probably got here through my site you already have had a glimpse of what is new and improved. With that said I will be cleaning up the site bugs in the next few weeks. If you stumble upon one of these flaws let me know and I will see if I can fix it. But for now “Cruise On Through

Webmaster Bob

Just reach in and grab it! Wait! please don’t!

For Real?

Maybe this should be a page and it may be here shortly. But for now I will make it a post.

Ladies! I have a real problem with anything, be it money or phone, that you just pulled out of your bra!

In my day to day dealings in retail it is getting to be almost a daily occurrence that I have a female customer pull either her phone or her money out of her bra. And then they have the audacity to hand me the money like it’s an ordinary occurrence. WTF!? And I have even had them pull the phone out of their bra and hand the phone to me so I could talk to whoever.  ARE YOU SERIOUS!?

When I respectfully decline they look at me in amazement! I am sure that if I were to pull my “wallet” from my own private region it would probably involve a police report. But since it is their bra I guess it is supposed to be OK. As far as I am concerned it is absolutely NOT OK with me! In reality it is genuinely disgusting!

While the included pic shows a really well designed unit with the “pockets” on the out side, and knowing what little I do about the “normal” construction of a bra, it would not be a stretch of the common sense conclusion that a vast majority of the women are wearing the more conventional “pocketless” version. If you get my drift?! You can figure it out from there.

And if this is the ordinary place to carry it during the day my next question that comes to mind  is ‘Where exactly do they keep it while they are swimming?” Just thinking out loud here folks!

I am sure there is a reason that they have to do this, I am not even going to try and guess what the rational is, but …. it is really pretty disgusting to me that they would so nonchalantly reach in and then hand it to someone, me, and act like nothing is out of the ordinary!

The next time I will probably react the same as I always do and respectfully decline to use the phone that is offered. And if confronted I will be more than happy to enlighten them that that is not a good deal. The money, unfortunately, I kinda can’t refuse but will prompt a quick trip to the lav to wash my hands.

Am I the only one with this phobia? I hope not! BzeroB

You gotta be smarter than your phone! And your car!

Hey Buddy! Track This!

Think about what you do with your new “Smart Phone”! And even your “Smart car” It could cause you some pain and agony. Why? Well, pay attention. I won’t own a car with OnStar, or it’s siblings and don’t own a smart phone. Am I paranoid? Don’t think so! Am I concerned about my privacy? Yep!

Picard uses Android phone

You would think that after a information privacy skirmish on Capitol Hill where a couple of major shopping malls, one in NJ and one in CA, were attempting to implement a system tracking shoppers’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones. Home Depot and JC Penny are also on this track. People would get the hint that these guys have way too much access to your info and personal life patterns. Pardon the pun but see a pattern here? Gotta be hit up side your head with your phone? Hope not!

This is pretty much in the same area as OnStar basicly telling the US government that they were not obligated to shut off the OnStar units once you finish your contract or don’t pay your bill. Let’s see, they know that your air bags have gone off, they know your location, they can contact you in the car, they can call assistance.. Sorry way too much info for them to know about me! And, by the way, are they listening in? Don’t know! They said they wouldn’t. Just asking.

After its decision to update its privacy policy, and continue to collect data from cars even after a user has unsubscribed from its service, public outcry has caused OnStar to rescind the privacy policy update.

Read more:

It looks like the phone makers are not on the up and up. Ya Think?! Sprint and Verizon, now there are two upstanding citizens! HTC and Samsung a couple of major players.

An Android developer recently discovered a clandestine application called Carrier IQ built into most smartphones that doesn’t just track your location; it secretly records your keystrokes, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Is it time to put on a tinfoil hat? That depends on how you feel about privacy.

Read more here

And apparently after being exposed the Carrier IQ group threatened the whisleblower but after the EFF got involved retracted and apologized.

Carrier IQ, a maker of software to monitor smartphone performance, has withdrawn a legal attack against Trevor Eckhart and apologized after the Electronic Frontier Foundation came to the security researcher’s defense.

Eckhart published his research last week, saying that some Samsung and HTC Android phones include Carrier IQ’s software, and that Verizon and Sprint use it. He documented details of what the Carrier IQ software logs, then leveled a heavy charge by calling the software a rootkit–a program that gets privileged access to a computing device but that hides its presence.

Read more here

And this is just the stuff that has been uncovered! Whoa,Baby! Thank you Senator Al Franken / MN, for your diligence!