The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat

This week provided victory and defeat in equal portions.  The defeat was down to, you guessed it, poor choices.  The car made a fine showing at the service center, joy rides, burnouts and victory laps for all who wanted one.  The car pulled hard and went straight, time and time again.  All seemed right in the world.  But that’s when I got cocky.

A bit later in the week I had a day off work.  My son was part of a fancy seminar, but that wasn’t until 1:00PM.  So at 10:30AM my daughter and I took off in the racecar for the local CVS.  We hung a right and were pulling hard uphill in second, and as we rounded the small bend there is a flagger standing there stopping traffic.  I hit the hooks and got the car stopped without too much drama but for some reason, the car stalled as it rolled to a stop one car shy of the flagger.  I held the started and got plenty of crank but no vroom, not even a shudder or a backfire.  Nothing.  No fire.

I’ve still got time.  The flagger has my lane stopped so I’m good.  I slow down and start troubleshooting.  I noticed that when flipping the main power on the ECU isn’t priming the fuel pump like it’s supposed to.  I grab my trusty laptop and manually turn on the fuel pump from the Tuner Studio software.  Nothing.  I knew from previous poor choices that my fuel pump ground wire left a bit to be desired.  I had just run a self tapping sheet metal screw through the trunk floor and grounded the pump there and called it good.  I had planned on coming back someday and welding a stud there for my grounds.  That day hadn’t come yet.

So no problem you may think.  Just pop the trunk and check the ground, you say.  Well.  The car came with no lock cylinder in the trunk.  I’ve been opening the trunk with a long flathead screwdriver.  A screwdriver that I failed to grab when I left for this short excursion.  And right about this time, as all the realizations start whapping me about the head, the flagman flips his sign from stop to slow.  The car in front of me takes off, and the cars behind just sit there.  I hop out of the car and start waving people past me, trying in equal measure to make sure I don’t get hit while making sure nobody recognizes me.  I’m also surveying the landscape to find the closest place where I can get the car off the road.  Naturally, I’m pointed up a pretty steep hill and there is a six foot high embankment on my right.  The closest spot to get off the road is a farm lane about 150 yards behind me.  I told my daughter to get in the drivers seat, put her foot on the brake, and ratchet it into neutral.  When the coast is clear, I tell her to start drifting backwards.

So here we go, drifting backwards against traffic.  I’m running alongside the driver’s door steering while yelling “Stop” or “Go” to my daughter who still hasn’t decided whether she’s dieing of fright or embarrassment.  I’m getting a lot of looks, a few “What the hell are you thinking” hands, and a couple of honks.  We eventually make our way back to the farm lane and, with a final big push, get the Fireturd rolled up out of the road.  Thank God.  Now for the next crisis.

I hop on Google maps and send my exact location to my son.  I call him and describe the screwdriver I need.  He says he just got out of the shower but he’ll be here soon.  Now for the next, and probably highest importance crisis.

I called my wife.  She’s the lady who told me not to take the Fireturd because something might happen and we’re on a schedule.  With the utmost confidence and the highest amount of indignance I could muster I scoffed at her suggestion.  “I’ve got all the problems wrapped up”, said I.  If I could have done an English accent I would have, for maximum indignity.  I added some bombastic hand gestures in there too.  Lucky for me she didn’t answer the phone.  Crisis averted.

Now we wait.  We are broken down about two miles from home, but yet it takes junior 15 minutes to get to us.  He finally shows up.  I take the screwdriver, put my daughter in his truck, give the kids my credit card, and send them on to the drugstore while I putz with the car.  With screwdriver in hand, I pop the truck and immediately go for the loose ground wire.  Except it’s not loose.  Not a bit.  Grounded like crazy.  I’m standing there pondering when I notice two flagmen towards me carrying a road closed sawhorse.  They don’t say a word as the plop the sawhorse thirty or forty feet up the road from where I’m parked.  I’m now inside the closed construction zone with a broken car and about 90 minutes to get it home.  The hits just keep coming.

Like any rational person upon finding what they thought was the culprit was not the culprit, I just tried it again anyway.  Sure enough, no fuel pump prime.  I got back out of the car and steeled myself for laying on my back in this muddy farm lane to check out the fuel pump wiring.  I was leaning on the trunk thinking about how stupid this was and how much it was about to get worse when I lay down in the mud, when the solution materialized before my eyes.  Somehow, even though it was literally right in front of me I overlooked the problem.  I wasn’t looking for a problem there because I had decided I already knew the problem.  Lesson learned, life.  Keep an open mind, I got it.

The problem lay directly with me and the way I chose to do things.  I had chosen to bolt the battery box through the trunk floor as per their directions.  I had done this before reinstalling the gas tank or even thinking about the roll bar structure.  When it came time to put the roll bar in I had to move the battery box out of the weld to get the welding torch in.  But, the nuts were now covered by the gas tank.  Of course the proper method would have been to drop the tank, remove the nuts and all-thread holding the battery box, leave the tank hang until all the welding was done, then reinstall everything.  I didn’t do that.  I cut the all-thread off, slid the battery box out of the way, tacked up the roll bar, and then ran it.  You may notice, eagle-eyed reader, that I didn’t reattach the battery box.  Why would you need to do that?  There’s 45 pound battery sitting in there, where is it gonna go?  It turns out, it’s gonna go wherever it damn well pleases.  And it did.  When I had hit the hooks, the battery slid forward, unplugging whole relay board attached to it, tearing wires in half and ripping them out of the splitloom willy nilly across the trunk space.  Some half-assed splicing and a bit of replugging wires and the engine roared to life.  The flagmen were kind enough to stop traffic in both directions for me, letting me leave the construction zone and get home.

The battery is now permanently attached to the trunk floor.  My daughter got her stuff at the drugstore, and the whole family made it to the fancy seminar in time.  Happy ending!

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