Category Archives: Nooooo!

See… SEE!

I told you.  I told you in the last post.  Be careful what you wish for.  I was so excited to get the last of the floor wrapped up, the Jeep put back together and be done with projects for a while.  Then what happens?


The biggest flood since 1993.  So more projects!  Yay.  All things considered, we didn’t get it that bad.  Sooo many people around us got it so much worse.  We didn’t have any of the nasty floodwater come into our home, but we did get lots and lots of crystal clear ground water bubbling up through any nook or cranny in the basement.

It started on Friday.  It’d been raining for probably 2 weeks at this point and the flood was already forecast.  At the beginning, it was just some wet spots in the carpet.  By the end, the whole floor was drenched.

So gutting the carpet and dry wall quickly became a project on necessity.  It took a few days, but with Andrea’s help, we got everything moved out of the basement.  All the wet stuff cut out, and loaded up on the trailer.  Later today I get to make a run to the landfill… if it doesn’t rain.



I’ve never experienced a flood first hand before.  And I think my town has to be the absolute best place to have to go through such a thing.  We live in a very small community, so everyone was pitching in, helping each other out.  Checking on each other.

Once all the sandbags were stacked, everyone as prepared as you could be for such a thing, there was just this errie calm that fell over the town.  Up and down the streets, everyone was just sitting out on their porch, waiting for it to roll in.  What else can you do?  There was an attitude of indifference about it all no matter who you talked to.  So we fell in line, pulled up some chairs, and waited.


For Luke especially, this was an event I wanted him to see and take in.  There’s not a ton of stuff a person remembers when you’re seven or eight years old, but this is something that I bet he will remember for the rest of his life.


It’s going to take some time, but we’ll be fine.  It’s been about a week and water is still coming into the house.  Our sump pump keeps pumping it out non stop… after it runs across the floor of course.  So it’s not like our basement is filled with water.  All the mold friendly spaces have been cut out.  So now, we just wait.

The stress hasn’t got too me too much… the only annoying thing is having half of our belongings stacked up in the garage taking up space.  Well that and all the water in my basement.  But 6 months or so from now, we’ll be back to normal.  This is just temporary, and will definitely be an experience we’ll never forget.

The Problem With the Jeep

Ever since we bought the Jeep almost two years ago, it’s had one basic problem.  We like it.  A lot.

This has definitely been the most high maintenance vehicle I’ve ever owned.  Seems like there’s always something up.  Sometimes little things, sometimes big things.  Even so, it’s not a difficult, nor expensive vehicle to work on.  Everything that has come up we’ve handled fairly easily.

But now it’s looking like the engine… and maybe even the transmission are about done for.  All said and done it would be around $6,000 to $7,000 to rebuild both of them.

So the crossroads we find ourselves at is this… we have enough money to replace the Jeep.  That being, the Jeep when running is worth about $3,500.  We could go buy another $3,500 vehicle.  But who knows what kind of work that will need, could be flawless (not likely) or it could be about to blow just like the one we have.  That’s a big gamble.

We’ve been looking around at vehicles in the $5,000 to $6,000 range and there’s a lot of crap out there!  150,000 to 250,000 miles with paint that’s all scratched up, interiors that are worn out.  There’s some decent “Grandma cars”, but Andrea flatly refuses to drive anything like that.  I guess I kinda understand.  You have to at least like what you’re driving or else you aren’t motivated to take care of it.

Or for $6,000 we get a brand new engine and transmission that has no miles on it at all, comes with a 3 year warranty and should be good for 100,000 miles if we take care of it, like we certainly would.

If we didn’t like driving it, it wouldn’t even be an issue.  But it’s comfortable, roomy, and it looks good!  Plus we just spent $1,000 on tires 6 months ago.

If we do this though, it pretty much guarantees we can’t sell it… ever.  It just wouldn’t be worth it.  Even after dumping $6k into it, it’s still a $3k vehicle to the rest of the world.

Sucks to be in this situation, but I always try to think about how we can come out better than before it happened.  Going to keep thinking and praying on it for now.


I wondered when this day would come.  The day that I seriously have to consider replacing the Toronado.  The damage to the front axle is more extensive that I thought, and it’s not a part that is readily available.  I don’t know if it can be fixed, and we can’t sit around with just one vehicle while I wait for the part to materialize.

I’m really kinda torn.  I’ve been driving this car for 5 1/2 years now and I still like it actually.  I’m familiar with it, and I’m comfortable with it.  But sometimes I think, it’d be nice to have something different.  Not necessarily “newer” or “older” or “cooler”, just nicer.  By that I just mean comfortable and reliable.  I don’t need anything fancy or cool.

Andrea and I differ a bit in that.  She needs the cool factor.  And the cool factor drives up the price.  One note of observation: “grandpa cars” are usually cheaper.  And they’re usually pretty well taken care of.  There seems to be a lot of them, an nobody wants one.  By contrast cool cars are wanted by everybody, so you get a lot less car for your money.  Besides, old people really have it figured out.  Big roomy cars you can stretch out in.  Comfy seats.  And why do you need lots of power?  It’s not like you’re going to pass anybody with the cruise control set at 55mph.

So I think for now… unless someone on my Oldsmobile forums posts up the part I need, I’m going to buy a super cheap car to get us by for a few months.  I don’t want to run out buy something that we settle for just because we’re desperate.  So I’m on the lookout for a super cheap car for now AND the Toro parts I need.  And maybe long term something in real nice shape that I can drive for another 5+ years.

It feels like a really sad day.

Well….  This isn’t good.  It looks like the axle failed BECAUSE another part failed.  The support that holds the axle in place, basically.

The part that is broken is listed in the picture below as “SUPPORT BRACKET AND BEARING”.

The problem is… you can’t just run down to AutoZone and get a new one.  The only place I can get one is from another Toronado.

It MIGHT be able to be welded back together.  But I don’t know.

Could this be the end of the Toronado?

I hope not.


My car has only left me stranded once before in the 6+ years I’ve owned it.  And that was due to my own stupidity flooding the engine.

This time around the failure was more… catastrophic.

As you can see in the picture above, something “exploded”.  That something was the inside joint on my passenger side axle.  I had a mild vibration over the past couple months, and I couldn’t track it down.  So I just kept driving it.  Today on the way home from town, the vibration quickly started to escalate.  I slowed down to 50, and the vibration went away, but then started to come back.  I slowed down to 40… got better…. then came back.  I found a place to pull over and did a walk around on the car.  That’s when I discovered the mess.  The car still moved under its own power so I figured I would try to limp home.

I was about 10 miles from home and figured I’d give it a shot.  Thank God I decided to take the back roads home.  So I head down the county black top doing 25mph.  Everything seems like it was going pretty good.  Until I got to a decent sized hill.  Then POP!  WHZZZZ!  And that was it.  No more go.

So I got off the road as best I could with no power.  I pulled out my cell phone and of course “Your battery has less than 10% remaining, please plug in your charger.”  Nice.  I called my neighbor Chris with my final minutes of battery life and he brought out a truck to pull me home.

So the Toronado is now back in the driveway.  I ordered a new axle.  If there’s anything frustrating about this it’s that the part that broke is a part I replaced only two years ago.  With a 30 year old car that has over 260,000 miles, you figure its going to be one of the 30 year old parts that breaks… not a two year old part with maybe 20,000 miles.  But nothing you can do about it now.  The replacement part is only $70, so still not quite justified to get a new car yet.

At least I made it to the liquor store… I was out of beer.

This is the world I live in…

So I’m mowing the yard the other day.  I’m on my last couple passes, and I go to turn around and the mower doesn’t budge.  I push down on the handle to try to get the front wheels off the ground so I can pivot, and nuthin.  Upon breif investigation, the handle was moving up and down, but it had now become independent from the mower deck!  $(*&#!  So awkwardly pulling the mower across the lawn to finish the last couple swatches I finish the job.

Back to the garage with the mangled machine reveals the full story.


The giant rust hole above is where the bracket for the handle attaches to.  This mower isn’t that old.  We bought it in 2007 I believe when we moved to the house in Ogden.  So let this be a lesson to you.  Clean out all those old clippings that get matted up on the deck on the inside.  If I had done that regularly this probably never would have happened.

So the problem now was, grass grows, I can’t cut it.  I can either get a new push mower for $130 or so at Wal-Mart, or get a riding mower.  Which I SERIOUSLY contemplated.  I’ve wanted one for a while and this seemed like the perfect excuse.  But I went with cheap-bastard option 3: fix this one.

Time for some ‘riggin!

So I looked around my scraps to see what I could come up with.  I’ll warn you this is almost one of the most redneck fixes I’ve ever done.  So with some scrap metal and $3 worth of hardware from the hardware store I had a game plane.

Quick aside:  WTF is the deal with prices on nuts and bolts!?  I went to pick up the stuff I need and nuts bolts and washers ranged anywhere in price from 10 cents to 18 cents APIECE!  We aren’t talking major hardware here.  Just 1/4 nuts and bolts… I have since started savaging old stuff for all the fasteners I find.

I wish I had a welder… and had a clue how to weld.  But nevertheless, I attached the new metal to the deck of the mower.  Now I have a new surface to attach the handle to.

And now the new bracket is attached.  We’ll see if it is solid enough to hold up to the rigors of mowing my divot filled yard.

Let’s mow.

So far it made it through one full mowing of the yard.  Felt pretty solid.  But the rust is pretty extensive in that area, and I fear it’s not long before it happens again.

But for now, the yard looks good.  I always liked a nice yard, and even if it’s just weeds, I love the look of a freshly cut even lawn.  Like a lush green carpet laid out for your house.  It can almost make an ugly house like mine look good.  Almost.

There’s just something about fixing something that makes me feel invincible.  Other people might have spent hundreds of dollars on a new mower had this happened.  And I threw something together and it worked.

Fixing stuff like this isn’t a matter of skill… the Frankenstein appearance of my solution should tell you that much.  It’s just about coming up with an idea in your head and saying, “Well it probably won’t work, but I’ll try it anyway.

How the dog and the car almost died

Well last weekend was the big camping weekend at Kanopolis Lake.  We got off early, but everyone else had headed out there first thing so we were already going to be the last to arrive.  Andrea and I got off at about 2PM and stopped by the post office to pick up the mail before we packed up and hit the road.

As soon as I got back in the car, Andrea said, “Um… its stuck.”  Sure enough the damn car was stuck in park!  And we were double screwed because we couldn’t even put it in neutral to get a tow home.  So we walk back to the house.  Luckily nothing is farther than three blocks away from anything else in Albert!  We loaded up the tools in the back of the other car and headed back to see if I could figure anything out.  I tried several things, but finally just had to unhook the shifter and craw under the car and shift the transmission by hand, which at that time caused the car to start rolling with me under it!  Luckily Andrea was quick on the brake.

Next I swallowed some pride and walked over to the local restaurant and got the owner to help push the car into the street and give us a tow home.  I told him I’ll stop by his place and rack up a big bill here soon.

So we made it home.  And since we weren’t planning on taking Andrea’s car anyway we loaded up the Toronado as planned and got the heck out of town.  Figured I’d worry about the Cutlass when we got back.

Camping was great.  It’s always awesome seeing the family and the kids, and it was especially fun haning out with my buddy Chris!  We just don’t keep in touch the way we should so it was great to spend a little time hanging out.

One of the nights though, Daisy (who loves to bark at anything that moves within 1,500 ft) took off after a truck.  Andrea had her on a leash, but the leash slipped out of her hands.  So here goes this stupid little wiener dog chasing after a big ol diesel pickup in the middle of the night with a leash flapping behind her.  She runs along side yapping and yapping, then all of a sudden we could see Daisy in the headlights of the truck.  About half a second later she appears to trip over something and the truck rolls right OVER her.  She goes right between the tires and the truck keeps on going and a bewildered wiener dog finally notices Andrea screaming at her, and in a daze, trots straight back over to the campground.  Our guess is her leash she was dragging behind her got caught under a tire and tripped her up.

But despite some unnecessary excitement it was a very excellent weekend.  We got Andrea’s car fixed that following Monday after work and Daisy is still the same as always.


We’ll be going into communications silence here soon.  Internet is getting disconnected here in Great Bend sometime tomorrow.  Of course internet in Albert is already up and running, but I won’t be over there until Saturday.  Andrea is off tomorrow, so maybe she can at least go over there and take a few boxes and log the server back onto the DSL.

I’ll still have the phone, but it means no Guild Wars or Minecraft.  Ack!  That’s fine though.  Plenty else to do yet to get moved.

See ya on the flip side!

246,865 miles

And that’s as far as she’ll go.  Figures, right after the brand new tires.

I think the Toronado is finally done for.  I went out to start her up this morning just like every morning and it started up, but then immediately died.  Try as I might she wouldn’t turn over, but I couldn’t get it to run again.

So I didn’t have time to mess with it, and it was a nice morning anyway, so I walked to work.  Andrea picked me up at lunch and brought me home and I started to trouble shoot.  I found that there was no spark at the spark plugs, so after checking all the wires and making sure they were working, I pulled the distributor cap off to see if anything was broken or corroded.  Just for S&G’s I had Andrea turn the car over with the cap off…. the rotor didn’t move AT ALL.  There’s only a few ways that could happen, and none of them good.

No turn, no spark, no run, no go.

The most likely scenario is the timing chain finally gave out.  And to fix that takes more tools than I have, and a good part of the front of the engine needs to be disassembled.  We’re talking water pump, balancer, timing cover, hoses, belts, and since the engine is so far forward in this car, the radiator would need to come out to just to get a puller in to get the balancer and timing gears out!  ARGH!

It pains me but I think it’s just not worth it.  If I can’t sell it quick for cheap I’m going to have to junk it just to get SOME money out of it, because I have to have a car of some kind, and the Blazer isn’t reliable without some work and I still am not 100% sure what’s wrong with it.  Ugh.  Oh well it’s been a good run.  Anybody have some leads on cars?  Anything?  I’m desperate and would even drive something foreign at this point!

Oh HAIL no!

Well we had quite the hail storm roll through late this morning. Golf ball sized stuff and it fell hard. Did a number on my car. I’m going to have to fix the hood, roof and trunk. No other serious damange that I could find.

Figures. In a week and a half my car would have been parked safely in a garage. 😦

My El Camino project is no more.

Well the landlord came by today with a saw to cut down limbs. Instead of getting me to move the car, he goes ahead and chops one down above the car and wouldn’t ya know it punches in the roof.

Luckily I hadn’t done a ton of work to the car yet. But I sure was looking forward to the spring and diving into it. Even found a new transmission to put in, and I had fenders, a hood, doors and a new rear bumper all ready to put on.

My landlord is a good guy and mistakes happen. He’s gonna call his insurance company next week, but it’s without question totaled. Dunno how much I’ll get, but I guess I’ll put it towards another El Camino.

Just feeling blue about it all.