27 November 2009

My Black Friday

Gray would really be a better name for it though. The whole day has been overcast and drizzly, which wouldn't be so bad except I had to spend several hours out in it using cold tools in numb hands.

Even though I just barely replaced our family car's water pump a year or two ago, and have put probably less than 10,000 miles on it since then, the pump recently developed severe incontinence. So, I got to spend Black Friday morning driving around to get coolant ("antifreeze") and a new pump; then the afternoon getting soaked alternately by the rain, the wet ground, and coolant showers.

I give Volkswagen credit for making most parts on the car relatively accessible for replacement, but one thing VW totally omitted was a drain plug for the cooling system: instead, the official procedure to drain the system is to remove the lower radiator hose. Owing to the location of the hose, you must do this laying on your back reaching above your head and since gravity is not just a good idea (it's the law), the coolant will run down the hand, arm, and into the armpit of even the most careful of mechanics who had the foresight to shield his face from the gushing slimy green torrent that results.

The bright side is I got a new tool! Any job that requires the purchase or fabrication of a new tool cannot be all bad. See, I've had this mystery bottle of coolant in my garage for some time. Because I'm cheap, I buy full-strength coolant and mix it with distilled water (this method costs about half as much as buying pre-diluted or "50/50" coolant). Unfortunately, I had opened this jug some time ago and then failed to remember if I had diluted it or if it was still full-strength (it's not good to use the wrong concentration in a car). So, for the princely sum of one dollar, I got a little eyedropper looking thing with little floaty plastic balls in it. The number of balls that float indicate the density of the fluid and therefore the coolant/water mixture; thus, the mystery was solved (full-strength, if you wondered).

The downside was I ended up with an extra washer, and one nut went missing. This however is nothing unusual, so I'm not worried.

So, that was my Gray Friday shopping spree. I think I did okay.