Car != Computer, and I'll take the latter!

Car != Computer, and I'll take the latter!

Mmm. Three-day weekends. There is nothing finer in life than a three-day weekend, save for perhaps a four-day weekend. Although I would venture to argue that three, full days with nothing to do is far greater than four, as I'm often quite bored by day number three-plus-one, and am scrambling for something -- anything -- to occupy my time.

...which is exactly I was out on the street in front of my apartment Monday night, up to my waist in an assortment of car parts, car pieces, a car door frame, a car window, tools, and plastic. Yep, while you spent your Memorial Day basking in some sun rays, or enjoying a fine beverage with your bar-b-qued goodies, I was busy disassembling a car door. Have I ever disassembled a car door before? No. Have I ever done anything to a car that was more complex than popping off a tire? Nope. Do I enjoy working on cars? Nada! Or at least, not anymore.

It all started about, gosh, two months or so ago. The Divine Will and I were enjoying one of our boss-subordinate trips to In-N-Out Burger. On the way, he decided to roll down (button down) the ol' power window in my '93 Toyota Camry. The pushing of the button worked flawlessly on the way down, yet when it came time for Will and I to hit the 101 and venture Southbound, said window would not reciprocate. In layman's terms, it wouldn't go up. And in Tom's terms, Will broke my window.

Two hours later, Will and I successfully managed to pry said window out of said door frame. Using the mother of all ingenuity -- neon green gaff tape -- I secured said window to the window's frame, and... left it there. For the next two months, mind you. It took me about a week to figure out what might be wrong with the car. Apparently, there's this thing called the Window Regulator (capitalized for importance!), which facilitates said window moving up and down. And when said Window Regulator
s up, the window will go in one direction, but not the other. And lucky me, there's no way to fix it, save for completely replacing the Window Regulator, located within the door panel itself. What. Fun.

Now, for anyone who's never screwed around with their car door before, here's a primer: it's relatively easy to do, it just takes awhile. Hence my apprehension towards simply driving the car to the shop and letting someone else do it; I'd really rather not waste away $200+ in labor for something, god willing, I should be able to make a half-assed attempt at. I mean, I build computers, right? For the most part, a door is just moving parts -- way easier to troubleshoot than electronics, right?

Inspired, I started my repair job boy-style by grabbing every tool in the apartment I could find: wrenches, one of those turns-one-way-and-not-the-other bolt remover things, screwdrivers of varying sizes and heads, a hammer (one never knows), and a big-ass Toyota Engineering Manual Of Power... which I ended up not using at all, but I digress. Like a boy scout on his first-ever camping trip, I was prepared. Prepared for bears.

And bears I found, for the entire repair process -- a two-hour ordeal that was easily one-and-a-half hours over my crude estimate -- was packed with a number of annoying twists at nearly every step. First, one has to find all the mission-critical screws and bolts that attach the door's front panel to the frame. And oh, you'll know if you missed one, as your valiant efforts at "tugging the damn thing off already" will be for naught unless every screw is freed of its bonds.

Following that, you remove the little plastic bezel on the door unlocking mechanism just so you can, again, fully remove the door panel. For such a purely aesthetical part, this little guy is easily the Everest Summit of the experience, as I must have spent nearly 10 minutes trying to coax -- then flat-out rip -- the part out of the door. It brought me to untold levels of frustration and disappointment, for when I was finally able to remove the door panel in one, large flourish, I was met with obstacle number two: the plastic covering.

I'm sure there's an awesome reason as to why the guts of a door get covered with a large plastic sheet, stuck to the door's frame. Either way, it was but one additional, irritating step between me and the Holy Grail -- the Window Regulator of Screwed-upness. After spending more time trying to match the size of the Regulator's hex nuts with what few sockets I have, I was finally able to scrounge up the correct removal device. By some divine act, I could shove the plastic covering out of the way just enough to get to the hex nuts that attach the Regulator to... something... that horizontally goes across the door panel's interior (seriously, I'm not a car guy).

Insert additional time here, including one removal of the window glass itself, and the repairs were done. Now envision how much time it took to get everything to this state, then double it just to get an idea of how long it took to put said door back together. And clean all the car grease off the reinstalled window. And tidy up all the tools scattered about the sidewalk, et cetera.

So yes, that was my Memorial Day weekend. Does it have anything to do with computers? No. But in terms of technology as a whole, I gained a newfound respect for my PC after my escapades in car land. For most PC hardware fixes are quick jobs -- a new cable here, a hard drive there. Even replacing a motherboard is hardly that big of a deal anymore. Draining a water cooling rig is one of the more tedious tasks a PC enthusiast can do, but I'll take staining, poisonous liquid over the various greases, gunks, and substances that cover virtually all of a car's interior parts. Blegh. Eternal props to mechanics and what they do for a living; I'd rather have a can of compressed air.

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CNeil

I had the same problem with my nissan Philadelphia when i was on a trip to the mountains. Gotta admit that the duct tape is pretty useful when you don't have the appropriate tools. Looks awkward but helps a lot. Nice writing style, by the way.

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nedwards

Davey boy, I feel your pain. And by that I mean, I have installed a few car stereos in real life, which involves taking apart most of the dashboard, or at least I think it does.

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bland

Now that you've crossed over to the car side of things the next step would be to combine the two in a carputer project.

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EvilHomerGD

Having spent 12 years as an aircraft mechanic with the Air Force and the 2 years preceding my military service as an auto mechanic, I can fully appreciate this little tale. I got out of being a mechanic to get away from headaches like that! Imagine a simple little hydraulic valve held in place by three bolts and four aluminum lines, then imagine that it took 3 people to remove that same little part. Then try to imagine it taking almost 2 hours to remove and replace it. I almost miss it sometimes... Nah, who am I kidding?!?! I'll take working on any server or PC over working on cars or aircraft ANY day!

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scottww

hah it's great hearing you talk about your interesting stories. Maybe you should make a website for them...just a thought.

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cup

Dave, the "sheet of plastic" is there for a very good reason: it seals the inside (your climate-controlled clean, dry side) of the door from the outside (nasty, dirty, wet) of the door. Hence the terms 'insulation' and/or 'water barrier.' :P
And, I'm a car guy by trade - dealership tech. That said, in my off time, I'd much rather work on a PC. But, I still enjoy the cars (most of the time.)

Admit it - you had yourself some fun, though, yes?

~Cup
*nearly every day of my life is some kind of computer hell*

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dedgar

(Snicker, grin, snicker.)
Murph, I'm a mechanic by trade. (Industrial not automotive.) You ought to see some of the things I come across that I am tasked with fixing. Ha!
But I must tell you, once you've found a good automotive mechanic, stick with him. Tell your friends and relatives about him. Steer just as much business to him that you can. They are GOLD.

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