Monday, April 25, 2016

According to Plan

I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but almost nothing ever goes according to plan. At least that's the case in my life. Everything always takes longer, or people don't show up, or something breaks, or your wife gets pregnant at age 41... No matter how well I plan, things go vastly different than I expect them to...Not that that's necessarily bad or anything. Sometimes my plans turn out to be pretty horrible, so not going according to those plans is a good thing. But still, it would be nice if something went according to plan every once in a while...

Take this past Saturday, for example. I had huge plans to get a lot of work done on our car. It needed new brake pads and rotors, new tie rods, and the oil and filter were due to be changed. I am not a big gearhead, by any means, but I have always changed my own oil, I have done several brake jobs over the years, and I have done tie rods four or five times, so I figured I would do it all myself and save us gobs of money. It was a beautiful day on Saturday, so I set aside the entire afternoon to get the work done. It turned out I should have set aside at least another month or twelve...

In case you are unaware, the tie rods on a car are part of the steering apparatus, and are located behind your wheels, just like the brakes. So, to start my day of working on the car, I had to get the wheels off, which is usually a very easy proposition. I got out my 19mm socket and my breaker bar, and quickly got 4 of the lug nuts loosened on the left front wheel. For some reason, the 5th and final lug nut would not move. In fact, the socket wouldn't fit on it. I tried my other 19mm socket. That didn't work. I tried the crazy lug nut wrench that came with the car. That didn't work. I asked my neighbor if he had a 20mm socket to try. He didn't. I dug through my myriad of unorganized tool boxes. I found nothing that would work. Finally I gave up on the left wheel and tried the right wheel. The first four lug nuts came off, easy peezy. Then I tried the 5th and final nut on that wheel. Same story as before: socket wouldn't fit, and I couldn't get it to budge. What was I going to do now? I had no way of getting the wheels off, which is an important part of changing the brakes and tie rods. Finally I just decided to take the car to Discount Tire and ask them to get the lug nuts off with their high-powered tools. I also stopped at my local O'Reilly Auto Parts and got a couple of new lug nuts to replace the ones that had given me such grief. Those stupid lug nuts picked the wrong person to mess with!

Finally back home, I jacked up the car again and got the wheel off in no time. Now it was finally time to get some work done, and only an hour or so later than I had hoped! I set to work on getting the old tie rod off, a process which required me to get one rusty old nut loosened so that I could then unscrew the rusty old tie rod off. I don't know if you know this, but rusty old nuts and rusty old tie rods are almost impossible to get off without the help of air-powered tools, which I don't own. I worked and worked, and did finally get the rusty old nut loosened, but the tie rod wouldn't budge. I drenched it in Liquid Wrench about 20 times, but as of yet, it still hasn't budged. I vow that I will get it some day...

Since I wasn't having luck with the tie rod, I decided to move on to the brakes. There are two bolts that hold the main brake housing on. From my past experience, most of those bolts require a socket and wrench to remove them. I have dozens of different sized sockets, so I was confident I had the right one. One thing I didn't foresee was that the bolts on my car actually require a hex wrench to remove them. And not just any old hex wrench, a 7mm hex wrench, one of the most obscure tools known to man. Did I have the right size hex wrench? Of course not! Did my neighbor? Of course not! Did anyone in 12 block radius? I highly doubt it! So, off to the hardware store I went, to try to find a 7mm hex wrench. Thankfully, they had one left, and the lines at the registers were only about 40 or 50 people long, so I was able to buy the $1.79 hex wrench and get back to the house within a couple of hours. This was about the time that I realized my day was definitely not going according to my plan...

Back at home with my new hex wrench, the brake housing came off easily. Before I installed the new brake pads, though, I needed to install a new rotor, since the old one was grooved and rusty and in terrible shape. I needed an 18mm socket to loosen the two bolts holding it on. Did I mention the fact that I own dozens of sockets? Did I also mention that not one of those sockets is an 18mm socket? Back to the store I went, this time for a single socket. When you have the right tools, even the toughest jobs are made easier. When you don't have the right tools, even the easiest jobs can be impossible...

I was now about 4 hours into the day, and hadn't accomplished anything I had on my Scotty-do list. But, with my 18mm socket in hand, I soon had the new rotor on, and with my 7mm hex wrench I was able to quickly re-install the brake housing after getting the new brake pads on. Woohoo!! Finally, something worked the way I wanted it to!

I still couldn't get the old tie rod off, so I left the car up on the jack while the family and I went and had dinner. It was like that until Sunday night, when I finally gave up on it and put the wheel back on. So, the only thing I accomplished was getting one set of brake pads and a new rotor on the left wheel. I still have to change out both tie rods, do the brake pads and rotor on the right side, and change the oil and filter. I guess I will have to plan to do those on another day. I wonder how those plans will go wrong...


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