Friday, April 17, 2015

Cars, cars, cars

I hate cars or at least I hate cars when they don't work.

It's been a fun couple of months dealing with a couple of problems with our car.  The longest problem was the back brakes which, at the end of January, started squealing real bad.  We didn't own jack stands, nor a good jack, and I thought the brakes were drum brakes which I had never done before. Additionally it was still really cold outside and our garage isn't insulated.  We pretty much stopped using the car at this point, except when we really needed two cars.  Thankfully they were the back breaks and the front brakes were still good (I did them last fall) which allowed us to cheat some.  I found a good deal on a jack and some jack stands, tried to get someone to help who knew what they were doing with drum brakes, and waited until it was warmer.  Around mid March it started to warm up some and I decided, after some research and not getting the help I desired, that I'd try them on my own.  I was thankful to see once I removed the wheel that they were actually disc brakes.  But this was where all the real fun began.

I spent the next month, for which I didn't have much time anyway, dealing with several problems from one of the rotors I purchased being defective, to someone (I won't mention who) loosing a pin needed to put the caliper back on, to a bolt on the back left side that I simply couldn't remove. I spent a couple of weeks alone on the bolt and never did get it off even after borrowing and purchasing new tools to help. The bolt faces the inside of the car and appeared to be somewhat stripped.  I couldn't be certain as I couldn't see the head  and had to use a camera to take a picture of it to see it.

Finally I gave up on the left side (the right side was done) and decided I'd need additional help of a friend who has a lift in order to get a better angle.  I put everything back together only to find out in the meantime my battery had died. Thankfully the battery was still under warranty and I got a new replacement battery as the battery had actually gone bad.  It was around the first week of April when I checked with Keith (the friend who has the lift) and we set a date for the following Tuesday to work on the brake.

I drove the car to work that Tuesday squeals and all only to find out there was now something else wrong.  The gas pedal felt really loose and provided no acceleration until it was almost 2/3 of the way down.  Thankfully the car still drove and without being able to do much I decided to wait until I was at Keith's shop to look at it more.

We never did get the bolt off, it was indeed stripped, but the lift provided an angle for us to remove the caliper bracket without needing to take the caliper off.  It made it a bit more difficult to replace the pad and rotor but we got it done. And I certainly got the most out of my brake pads.

The gas pedal problem turned out to be a little dog bone plastic link that had broken between the bracket the gas pedal cable attached to and the throttle. The only reason the car still worked at all, despite the broken link, was because the bottom of the bracket when pulled far enough back (meaning the pedal 2/3 of the way down) nudged up against the throttle and pushed it open slightly. Keith's comment about the broken link was "It's probably a nickel part that you won't be able to find anywhere". He was sure right.

I spent the next day trying to find out what the part was even called and if there was a replacement part I could get.  After visiting a Ford dealership I found out the part couldn't be purchased separate and that it was considered part of the throttle shaft which was discontinued.  I decided I was going to have to make my own part.

My first thought was to create a mold and use some epoxy putty to create a new piece.  I made the mold out of some play dough and needed to wait 24 hours for it to harden.

A co-worker told me I should just shape a piece of plastic to match and I decided that was a good idea as I didn't want to spend the $7 on the epoxy putty.  I found an old hanger from some slippers I had purchased that was the right thickness and carved out a similar piece.  For now it works great but I'll have to see how it stands the test of time.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fire and Croquet

Today for FHE we had a fire and croquet.  The kids loved it.  William was a bit distraught because he finished last but I think he had a good time because when we were putting it up he asked when we could play again.

When we were cleaning up William and Orion brought out some weights Hannah recently bought and wanted to know how much the weighed.  Hannah told them to look at the number on the side to which they said it was an M so they must be M&M weights.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Orion's 2nd Grade Music Program

On Friday Orion had his 2nd Grade Music Program. They do two performances, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We're blessed to live close enough to that it's easy to attend both. In the morning the whole family went and just I returned in the afternoon. The morning performance was a nice preview of what to record in the afternoon.

Now I realize being Orion's dad I'm a bit biased but he did an awesome job. He was energetic, excited, and had a huge smile on his face. But you don't need to take my word for it. You can watch some of the videos.

Start Your Day With A Song
This was their first song and I knew from the morning that I needed to start recording early. I was a bit slow but I still caught most of it.

I Have a Car
This was their second song. I love the rattle rattles.

Scat Song

It's the Hard Knock Life - Annie 
In this it's fun to watch Orion's energy and how he puts his full body into the actions.

You Can't Stop the Beat - Hairspray 
This was their final song.  I included it mostly for Orion's cool dance moves at the end.

After watching this I wondered if it wasn't a coincidence that he was placed in the front row in the middle.  Did he have similar energy during their practices to earn such a spot?  I also wonder if Hannah was like this as a child.

I ate lunch with Orion before the second performance and I had a teacher tell me several times how well Orion did in the morning.  I also noticed after the afternoon performance several adults (not sure if they were teachers or just parents) come up to him during the time for pictures to give him a high five.

Most of all I was thrilled with how excited he was.  He was smiling the whole time and seemed to really enjoy himself.  As a parent I couldn't help but smile and grin during the entire performance.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Family Pictures 2015

We went and had our family pictures taken. I will admit that I don't love this years as much as I have loved some of them in the past. Winston just would not smile, and the lady who was supposed to be "helping" kept trying to get my older kids to smile by telling them NOT to smile. So, we have a bunch of pictures with William and Orion trying to frown.  Never the less, here are some of our favorites.