Cavalier’s Saga rolls on

The Saga continues ……

Recapping: four trips to the insurance brokers to get the paperwork done; multiple jumpstarts to get it home; battery won’t hold charge; reconditioned battery not properly conditioned, strain burns out alternator leaving me stranded on Lakeview Terrace with a car that is not going anywhere under its own power without an alternator and a battery that will destroy any new (to the car) alternator; trade the VW I lived in while homeless for a used alternator and its installation, loaned a battery to get home, hooked up re-conditioned battery to trickle charger to charge and condition it, left 5 days because I was to nervous/wary/scared to drive car before that …

… and on the fifth day started the engine and drove to sign over ownership of the VW. Before stepping into the Insurance Brokers the battery was tested and proved to be fully charged, staying cool when charging and the alternator/battery was charging fine.

Driving away … the engine started overheating. The following day it overheated on the way to lunch. Discussing this state of affairs with my things mechanical advisory board over lunch I was advised to purchase and install a new thermostat. Returning home and switching to the dependable Duster, I drove to get the new thermostat for the Cavalier.

The next day I drove down to meet with the person who offered to install the thermostat if I bought and brought a thermostat to lunch Saturday. Unfortunately they were unable to be there to change the thermostat. Fortune did provide someone who could install the thermostat – after they finished work. Patience … Patience … Patience … and the old thermostat comes out in two pieces to be replaced with a shiny new thermostat.

With the new thermostat installed I drive away filled with trepidation, Which proved unfounded as the engine heated up properly and remained cool.

With the engine running at the proper temperature and my attention no longer focused so singularly on the engine temperature my senses were open to notice that there was hesitancy in the engine and its response, like a runner short of energy or oxygen.

Consulting with my advisors I secured new sparkplugs but when we went to install them it developed that my sparkplug tool lacked the depth of reach to change the Cavaliers sparkplugs. Once I had followed the advice on where to obtain appropriate tools to do the job, at an good (affordable to me price), we pulled the first plug. When that plug, and a subsequent sparkplug checked just to be sure, proved in very good shape I was off to return the plugs and secure air and fuel filters.

When we went to install the air filter it proved to be the wrong size. A return trip to Lordco revealed that the computer showed that air filter as the correct air filter for the Cavalier. Stymied, the person helping me was forced to resort to desperate measures – the actual paper catalogue. The printed catalogue showed the same air filter as in the computer … and a second air filter that proved to be the correct size. Books are such useful and entertaining friends to have around – you should take a book out for a read today.

The new air filter was installed, replacing the completely black old filter.

Then it was on to the fuel filter which is located under the car between the fuel tank and the rear axle. Fortunately I had looked up the location on the internet; unfortunately it was where it was.

With the location and design it is impossible not to have a volume of gasoline spill out when changing the filter. Indeed the gentleman who shimmied under the car to change the filter had to take a fresh air break before finishing the installation.

When we drained the remaining fuel out of the old filter the gas was dirty; suggesting that it might be a good idea at some future point to drop the gas tank and drain/clean it.

Driving away, the engine was running better. So much better that it blew the (rusted?) baffles in the muffler; leaving a muffler that looks fine to an exterior inspection but that, when shaken, rattles to reveal its lack of interior soundness.

Primal Scream; hang and slowly shake head. Take a very deep breath hold it and slowly release it – repeat as needed to reach a state of calmness.

I found myself reluctant to replace the muffler, wondering once the muffler was fixed what next? Hey – it’s not paranoia if the Universe is really out to get you.

However one of the things they do not warn you about when they encourage you to seek mental health recovery and wellness is that it severely compromises your ability to procrastinate. I use to be able to procrastinate with the best of procrastinators. But now healthy ways of thinking do not permit me to procrastinate until something simple turns into a crisis of mountainous proportions.

Being reluctant to discover what would (will) happen after the muffler was repaired I decided to take care of a small repair that should have no consequences. So I headed off to the auto wreckers to find a replacement licence plate holder since the one on the Cavalier was broken, leaving the front plate held by a single screw and flapping in the wind.

Better to take care of the matter before I paid the procrastination price on this by getting a ticket and fine for driving without a front licence plate.

It developed that the Universe was not about to let me procrastinate on the muffler front. At the wreckers I ran into a friend who, having heard me drive in, said he could get me a new muffler cheap. He made a phone call and I was off and procured a new muffler for $40. How could I say no to a new muffler at that price? I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

With the new muffler in the trunk I headed off to the library. All the way to the library the muffler was whispering to me – ‘I’m here in the trunk all shiny and new, anxious to be installed and muffle ….’ It kept up its whispering campaign while I was in the library; reaching the point I was forced, for the sake of my sanity and peace-and-quiet in my head, to e-mail a friend with a floor jack asking whether he would be able to install the muffler.

Shortly after I arrived home I received an e-mail suggesting a time the next morning which I accepted with alacrity.

I arrived at his place the next morning, backed in, blocked the front tire; he jacked up the rear end, set up the support brace and proceeded to remove the old muffler. Using his van I made a quick trip to get two new clamps to attach the muffler and Voila! it was done.

A piece of advice: you want to make sure that among your friends who know their way around cars that at least one of them has a set of tools (air/impact wrenches, SawAll, hand held grinder, sockets and wrenches up the wazoo, etc…) that is the envy of every guy.

After a cold pop and conversation on what is going on with homelessness around Abbotsford it was time to fire up the Cavalier. After which I drove quietly home.

As I finish typing this the Cavalier sits in front while I sit here hoping that repairing the muffler does not cause some other domino to fall; that the Universe is through testing or playing with me vis-à-vis the Cavalier and that this is the end of the Saga of Repairs and Headaches.

Afterword: People tend to give me strange looks when I say that I do not regret my journey through mental illness. But while this journey may have replaced the richness of my bank account with poverty, it has also replaced my poverty of friends with a richness of friends and people in my life who will lend me a helping hand when a ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth’ gift horse turns out to be a bit of a Trojan horse

Post Script: To those who so generosity lent a hand a sincere Thank You.

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