As predicted the weekend was stuffed with work but with the work came a sense of accomplishment. I was up early Saturday as Cindy had to drive two hours north for the state middle school track meet. I headed outside shortly after sunrise to tend to the chickens and weed the yard. Once I finished up I loaded up the truck with the computer I was setting up for Ali.
I took the new Tacoma since Ali and her boyfriend had not seen it yet. I was surprised when I saw a different vehicle in Ali’s garage as well. She got out of the lease on her Kia suv and bought a 2015 Nissan Versa. It’s a big change in vehicle types but will be financially much more agreeable. She wasn’t thrilled with the world of leasing and I don’t blame her. I have never leased a vehicle in my life.
I got busy backing up stuff from Ali’s old computer. Luckily she keeps most of her stuff in Dropbox nowadays so it made moving most of her data pretty simple. In total I spent a couple hours getting her new system configured. I left her old system online with remote access so she can still get stuff if needed. There are a couple things I have to configure yet remotely. With 12 gigs of ram and a fast SSD drive her new, used system is much faster than her old used system. As I worked I had various visits from Sadie, Ferdie, and Latte which made the process more enjoyable.
When I got back home I headed outside for much dirtier work. I had more old Tacoma work planned, replacing the throttle position sensor and both of the battery cables. I worked on the sensor first. In theory it could have been a 5 minute job to replace the sensor as it is held in with only two screws. The problem is the sensor is near the back of the engine compartment and the way it is oriented the only way to get on it is with a stubby screwdriver that has to be turned from a side direction.
I was able to get the top screw broken loose but the bottom screw was more stubborn. I was starting to strip out the screw after multiple failed attempts. A much more time consuming reality seemed to be my only choice, I was going to have to pull the throttle body off.
I have removed the throttle body several times as part of other maintenance jobs I have undertaken. It isn’t horribly difficult but time consuming nonetheless. Once I had the throttle body off I was able to turn it so the troublesome screw was now facing up, allowing me to strike it a couple times with my impact screwdriver which finally broke the sticking screw loose. After installing the new sensor I reversed the procedure to reinstall everything. After the work the check engine light had gone out, a good sign. You can see the video of the work here.
I then turned my attention to the battery cables. The cables were my third attempt to address a random CLICK when trying to start the truck. I already threw a starter and a new battery at the problem. The cables probably should have been looked at first instead of last as a potential source of the problem. So I surveyed the greasy wire loom I was going to have to deal with to replace the cables. I started the work by disassembling the positive battery lead that had a wing nut holding down two terminals, one for the starter and the other for the fuse box.
When I took the wing nut off I looked at the surfaces of all the terminals, they were black and covered in scuzz. A bright idea popped into my head that perhaps I should try to clean these terminals completely before undergoing the hassle of replacing the cables. I put my paint stripper attachment on my Dewalt drill and went to town, cleaning each piece of the puzzle until I had fresh shiny metal where black scuzz once resided. I put the now clean terminals back together and was ready for a test.
When I started the video I had tried starting the truck while it was up on the ramps and I got three successive clicks. After my cleaning project the truck roared to life on the first turn. Damn. I could not believe two things. First that I actually got lucky and was able to avoid cable replacement with some simple cleaning. Second, that I threw more than $200 and a lot of time at solutions (starter/battery) that were not the source of the problem. It was a valuable lesson for sure, always try the simpler solutions first. Here is the video of my revelation.
I wasn’t 100% sure of the validity of my repairs until I drove the truck more. Cindy and I took the old Tacoma to run errands Sunday morning and it started like a champ repeatedly without any recurrence of the check engine light. I now feel 100% ok with listing the truck for sale which I plan to do later today.
So mid-afternoon, despite successfully accomplishing three different projects I was ready to take on my fourth with a large assist from Cindy, running the wires for the security dvr through the attic. So my plan was to use my new 100 foot fiberglass snake to feed from the outside in. Cindy was assigned the unenviable task of being up in the attic, armed with the extendable pool skimmer pole to hopefully grab the snake and pull it to her.
Since we were doing this mid-afternoon on a day with a high temperature of 90 degrees the attic was not a very hospitable environment. Plus Cindy was decked out in long pants and a long shirt to protect her skin from the itchy blow in insulation. We did the backyard wire run first as it would be the more difficult of the two.
I started to feed in the snake but could tell it was coiling up inside the attic. Cindy said she could see it but couldn’t reach it. She wound up carefully climbing through the blow in insulation to get there, something I was not interested in doing. She was able to snag the snake and pull it back to the attic entrance. When she emerged from the attic she looked like she had been in a sauna for an hour. The heat up there is well into the triple digits.
We attached dvr wire to the snake and then I carefully pulled it back from the outside. It was exciting when the dvr cable emerged from the hole since only a week ago I had written off this project as not doable. The run to the front of the house was not quite as difficult but still involved Cindy crawling into an area I just would not manage well in. The run to the front of the house was much longer, we wound up needing pretty much every inch of the 60-65 feet of camera cable they provide.
I was obviously tired already and could have left the actual camera install for the next day but my inner taskmaster demanded I finish up the work since we came this far. I mounted both cameras and then hooked up the dvr inside in the hobby room. Other than me stupidly having the cameras rotated upside down, they fired right up. The 1080P picture of the front and back yard looked bright and crisp, giving me my fourth injection of accomplishment for the day.
I really appreciated Cindy climbing around in the scalding attic and told her the least I could do is take her out to dinner for it. We headed back to Pelican Larry’s for the second time in three weeks and had a very nice dinner. It was well deserved on both of our parts.
Sunday morning we decided to go for a run for the second weekend in a row. If I ever want to get back to any level of decent running endurance I need to get out there at least once a week. We did not get to enjoy the same cool temps as last week unfortunately, it felt quite warm most of the run.
We ran at the nearby track. I had made a bit of a mental effort to try to maintain a stronger pace than we have been lately. Most runs we have been just under a 10 minute mile pace which is pretty slow. I was somewhat surprised when Cindy said her gps showed a 8:58 average pace for the 3.3 miles we covered. It is the first time my pace has started with an 8 in 2016, that’s for sure.
When we got home we took quick showers and headed out to run errands in the old Tacoma. As I said I wanted to verify my repairs from Saturday did indeed fix my remaining problems. It also may be the very last time we do our familiar weekend errands in the old Tacoma since I am planning to list it for sale shortly. The truck still fits me like a pair of old sneakers.
We got home around lunchtime. After eating I needed to do my normal weekend bill paying session. As I brought the monitors out of sleep mode my left screen started acting odd. It would flash the desktop for a brief second a couple times and then go completely black. WTF. I did a normal array of monitor trouble shooting, checking cables, disconnecting/reconnecting power and restarting the system. No matter what the problem remained, son of a bitch.
I bought this matching set of Samsung 27 inch monitors from Costco last year. When I looked up the purchase in Quicken I saw it happened in February meaning the manufacturer 1 year warranty was done. However I was excited that I could still get coverage under Costco since they automatically offer a second year of coverage on electronics, or so I thought.
So I called up the Costco Concierge hotline. I explained the situation to the woman on the phone. She verified it was out of manufacturer warranty and would only be covered under Costco coverage. She started having me go through troubleshooting steps, basically the same stuff I did already but I played along if that was what necessary to get it replaced for free. Eventually I grew tired of the dog and pony show. Twice I told her I had been in the computer business for almost 25 years so I know how to identify a monitor problem.
Eventually she believed me but only then told me that the monitor was not covered under the Costco extension. Huh??? I told her I thought that Costco doubled the manufacturer warranty on all electronics? She said it is only on select electronics like computers, tv’s and major appliances. Well that is annoying. She said if I bought an extended warranty it would covered. I told her I thought it was included in the Costco coverage so I didn’t bother. Well If she would have simply told me that up front about the lack of coverage I could have not wasted 15 minutes doing the same troubleshooting I had already performed. I hung up and had my first sense of disappointment in Costco services, even if it was caused by my lack of understanding..
I decided to bring in my old 27 inch monitor which of course is a mismatch of the one that died but it will have to do. I did some research and found multiple examples of people having issues with this particular model of monitor, the S27360D. Those issues made me wary of plunking down another $250 to get another one. Instead I am trying another option with a high risk/reward formula. I found someone selling a used version of this monitor with a cracked screen on Ebay for less than 50 bucks. Even though I have no history of monitor repair, my hope is I can simply swap logic boards between them and come up with a functioning unit once again for the fraction of the cost of a new one. I will either wind up a genius or a dummy depending how it works out. Either way I will learn something at least.
I went outside and joined Cindy who was doing work in the garden. I worked on swapping out the pond pump and the tubing that connects it to the spitting frog on the second level. It was a well needed replacement as the old pump was barely spitting a trickle of water at this point. By the time we got finished it was time to clean up to head to another Tarpons game.
For some odd reason they were playing the Jaguars, a team they already played at home this year, again. Normally with scheduling a team plays each other once home and away. With this level of arena football they don’t seem to adhere to normal scheduling rules. Unfortunately the Jaguars, who sucked the first time we saw them sucked even worse this time around. The final score was something ridiculous like 81-16. Blowouts like that just are not very entertaining to watch. Even with the blowout on the field and extremely sparse attendance in the stands Cindy and I find a way to enjoy the games.
It was a busy yet rewarding weekend. Cindy made plans for us to have a fun weekend in July as we will be attending SuperCon in Miami, a super hero based convention. Of course I love super heroes although I am not a hardcore geek about it. It will be fun seeing people that are however.