Bad girl, no cookie. It's December first and I'm writing what will be my only entry for November. Oh well, it's a good one.

On November 15th Ed and I headed out to Gurnee in the Jeep to take a look at a bone stock 1992 Laser RS AWD that he found for sale on the Internet. The seller was asking $2200 for it since it had a few problems: transmission “issues” with first gear, a cracked windshield, and it was in need of tires since it had 4 completely different tires (3 of which were bald).

After meeting the seller, we took a test drive. In the end we discovered that the interior and exterior were in great condition, the odometer showed only 80,000 miles, it was missing a reverse speed sensor, the brakes worked well (Ed almost gave me a heart attack with that little “test”), and the coin holder lid was broken. All-in-all it was in excellent condition, and we handed over a cashiers check for the amount requested.

After a brief jog through the Shell parking lot (we thought Dan had taken off with the one and only key to the car -it was, in fact, on the sunroof) we were on our way… To the mall! We parked the Jeep so it'd cover up the fact that the Laser had no plates, and we headed for the Mills. We walked the whole thing and bought very little -some pants for me, shoes for Ed, and a cool video game thing that had 79,999 games loaded into a controller that also takes Nintendo cartridges.

The ride home was uneventful. Ed showed great restraint and drove reel slow so I could keep up in my Jeep (the Laser is manual, and I still have to learn how to drive it). After we got home I was ready to try my hand at driving this beast. I started by cruising through the apartment complex parking lot -too easy! I headed out onto the side-street that circles the complex, feeling good! I head to Ogden for my first time driving a manual in traffic, and when the light turns green… I stall. I try again and stall again. Over and over 'till I get frustrated and quit. So much for my first drive in my new(ish) car. My excuse is that since first is broken I have to start in second. This ontop of there being a slight incline and me having to worry about rolling backward and into the car behind me, plus the turn… It was just too much. I need more practice!

The next week was busy as I had a lot to research about getting transmissions repaired. Prior to purchasing the car I had called Aamco, the Aurora Chrysler dealership, and Multistate to get an idea of what it would cost to have them do the repair of first gear (Dan had said that he thought the problem with first was a chipped tooth). The guy who answered the phone at Aamco laughed at me, the guy at the Chrysler dealership argued with me, and finally the guy at Multistate told me that the cost would be anywhere from $1000 to $1500 depending on what ended up needing to be replaced.

It turns out that there are two businesses that specialize in repairing and upgrading transmissions for DSM's: TRE and Shep Racing. Their basic rebuild costs between $500 and $900 and various upgrades and part replacement raises the price as they go along. I created an email that I sent to both businesses (see TRE and Shep for the email and response). In the end, TRE responded later the same day and said that they think the problem with first is a worn bearing. They said that it could be fixed with their basic rebuild, and gave me some suggestions on upgrades that would be helpful when I'm autocrossing the car or running it at the drag strip. He estimated the total cost of rebuild/repair to be $1050 and the upgrades that I'd do would come to about $1472.50 plus the cost of shipping the transmission to Michigan and back. In the end this cost is on par with the upper end of the estimate that the 2 transmission places gave me as well as the dealership, so no complaints! I'll have a much better result in the end!

As I looked into the transmission work, Ed sent me links to new intake piping on eBay, data logging cables, air filters, short shifter kits/mods, replacement coin holders, and seat belt conversion information. He ordered the underhood shifter bushing kit ($25 each) for my car and for his, and a replacement coin holder for my car ($12). Then, we went out and bought some Synchromesh (manual transmission fluid) so we can change the fluid and see if that helps with the grinding of gears other than first, and we also picked up some new hatch struts ($40 total) since the hatch is very heavy and neither on of us wanted to continue to hold it up when unloading things from the trunk.

And the next weekend I got another driving lesson. This time I started in second again with no problems (no incline, no traffic…) I tooled around this empty parking lot without any problems, but then I came to a stop, and stalled the car trying to start moving again. It seems that I'm letting the clutch out too fast. I have to let myself slip it more until I get a feel for it. We got it into first, and from there I'm able to get rolling just fine although first is much less forgiving of me just taking my foot off the gas -it bogs it down a lot. Lots to remember, need more practice!

On November 30th the forecast was 50 degrees and it was beautiful outside. So, I changed my transmission fluid and replaced my underhood shifter bushings while Ed did his. I admit I needed some help with those bushings. One of my old bushings was torn and half of it had fallen out. What remained was rusted to the post that it sits on. Ed got it off though, and I got the new ones on. After that we took apart the air can and looked at the filter. Yuck! Ed found a brand new K&N FIPK kit on eBay and I won it for $36. While we were in there I took out the silencer and the restrictor for the boost control solenoid. We put all that back together and headed for the trunk to do the hatch struts (referred to all weekend as the “hutch strats”).

As I went to pick up the new struts and read the instructions, Ed got this funny look on his face. He started saying something, then just pointed to the other end of the parking lot. My eyes followed his finger to the dumpster which was on fire. Not a little fire either, I mean engulfed. The flames were quite high. I ran inside and called 911 as we both walked towards the building that stood 15 feet or so from the fire. Other people followed us and Ed ran to the side of the building while I puched all the doorbell buttons outside of the locked door right next to the dumpster. Someone buzzed me in almost immediately without saying anything (making me wonder what the doorbells really do for security). Once inside I began knocking on all the doors that were near the fire. Most of the time my knocks were not met with answers, but one lady smelled the smoke and left her apartment and one man answered my knocks, but he remained inside his aparment. I left as quickly as possible and as I walked outside I met back up with Ed who had no luck getting in around the side of the building. As soon as I had time to wonder where the fire truck was a police car showed up. I told the officer that I had alerted the people in immediate danger of the fire, and he nodded. A fire truck appeared, and Ed and I started back towards the car to install the hatch struts.

“Rule number one, do not prop up the hatch while working on it, find someone to hold it for you while you work.” Right, it took us a short amount of time to break rule number one and get on with the install. If it wasn't for the plastic pieces that line the trunk this would have been an easy job. But, with one of us prying the plastic out and the other working quickly to install/remove the bolts it got done quickly enough. The end result is a hatch that stays open all by itself! Thanks “Mighty Lift”!

There you go! You are now up to date on what's going on with my life and my new car!

november_2003.txt · Last modified: 2010/06/16 13:42 (external edit)
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