Wednesday May 14, 2003 11:34 PM
The Pressure's Off

I didn't get around to it on Saturday, but Friday night and the past two nights, I've been working on rewiring the lights on my scout. All the lights- headlights, turn indicators, brake, tail, and backup lights.

If you've ever done any automotive wiring you'll have some idea of my ordeal. The first step was to track down wiring diagrams online. That wasn't hard at all but figuring out which wire in the ball of spaghetti under the hood matched which straight, clear line on the paper was quite a different story. At least the wires were color coded- some of them were black and some were green.

I'd wanted to get it running to drive by tomorrow since my buddy Ed and I are going to see his brother the songwriter play a gig tomorrow night. I didn't want Ruth to be stuck home all day and all night.

That didn't happen, though, and since I didn't make the deadline it might be a while before I get the motivation to get back to it. I'm kind of tired from getting home from work and then going out back to fight the wires till it's too dark to see. At least now the pressure's off. It just isn't going to happen.

I meant to come home a little early tonight to get some more time to work on it before I had to clean up so we could leave to be at church by 7, but time got away from me and I didn't end up getting home till 5:30 which didn't leave much time.

The short span didn't stop me from making a valiant effort, though. When I got home I dashed upstairs and put on my car-fixin' clothes, gathered up the old battery that had to be replaced and one of each of the lights that had to be replaced and left for the parts store at maximum warp.

When I got there I put the battery on the counter and Cortez, the dude who assisted me said "Oh, man, another battery? There's one on the machine right now." I told him I'd had it checked before and knew it was dead. "OK," he replied, "I'll be with you in a minute."

I went to the light aisle and started getting my bulb collection together. The ones I'd brought were so old and cruddy that there were no legible numbers on them, but I figured that they were almost surely the rugged old standby, AN57L. I wasn't sure, though and I had Cortez look them up.

It was about 6:10 and when he keyed in 79-international-scoutII-lights- the computer appeared to have some difficulty. In fact, a text box popped up which was a very familiar grey color with a colorful window-like icon on it...

"I think you've got a problem upstream, Man." I said.

"It gots some kind of problem that's for sure." Cortez replied as he hammered mecilessly at the keyboard.

"What about the battery?"

"Oh, my manager said I have to put it on the machine to do the warranty."

"Ah, well, maybe this is the good Lord's way of telling me I'm not going to get my car going tonight." I said as I saw the computer throw up another error.

"Maybe it's the good Lord's way of tellin' me I'm gone pick up this register and throw it across the *$!@# room..."

I didn't think Cortez was displaying quite the same amount of reverence or maturity that I had when I mentioned the Lord, but figured pointing that out to him might be counterproductive to my immediate goal.

"Hey, your lights finally came up, Dude."

Sure enough, they were exactly what I had figured they would be and I went and got four of them and two of the headlights that had shown up as being the most affordable compatible ones. When I came back to the counter I looked at the battery machine whose display read '37 minutes remaining'. Meanwhile more customers had come in and the phone had rung and Cortez was getting a little overwhelmed with telling people that they'd have to call back or he'd call them back if they left their number because the computer wasn't working.

When there was a lull he came back over and rang up my $31.48 (!) worth of lights.

"What about the battery, Man?" I asked, "The machine shows the one in there needs another half an hour and I have to get going..."

He pulled up my warranty info which surprisingly was accessible, fiddled with the keys a little, and said "Ah, just go get you one. Write your name and number on this paper and we're cool." So, of course, I did just that. I wonder if he got in trouble.

When I got home, I put all the new bulbs on (it was about 25 after 6- we usually leave about 6:45) and began looking around in my toolbox for the right size socket to tighten down the side post terminals on the new battery. Just then Ruth came down and reminded me about the time. I knew what time it was and told her. I just wanted to get the battery in, check the lights, and get the engine running- 10 minutes max I told her, then I'd come inside and take a quick shower and we'd only be a little bit late.

I finally found the 7/16" socket, put the battery in place, and went back to my toolbox for the 3/8" drive 7/16" socket since the 1/4" drive one wouldn't go on the ratchet I had. When I found it, I hooked up the battery and- the headlights worked, hooray- but none of the other lights did. This was most certainly the good Lord telling me it wasn't going to happen. So with nothing left to do, I poured some gas from the lawn mower can into the carb on the scout and cranked till it started. This was rewarding even if the light thing was a fiasco. It purred like a kitten- a 345 cubic inch kitten with dirty plugs and old gas, but a kitten none the less. I revved it with childish glee a few times, turned it off, and made sure it would restart. Then it was most definitely time for my shower.

It felt like a load of lead off my back anyway. At least I won't have to be shlepping myself back out there for a while. It's sat for 6 months, a week or two more won't hurt it any. It'll be nice to get back to spending time with my family before 9pm.

Oh, and we were only a few minutes late for church, so everything turned OK afterall.