Shooting (Post #362) 6/28/2013

Having survived the allergy attack I spent this past Sunday just lazing about the house. I wanted to get out and shot something. I set up permission to go out to my friend in Newcastle’s house and put some rounds down range.

I love water crossings. My friends range is on the opposite side of a creek in the bottom land. He put down some concrete a few years ago and it makes the crossing a little more “predictable”. The water is still running from the heavy rains of a few weeks ago. This is good news in regards to our recent drought. Perhaps not so good in the mosquitoes will eat you alive category. Before we could deploy insect repellent RovErica had occasion to kill a mosquito that must have been the size of hummingbird on my face. The puddle of blood should have been handled as a outdoor bio-hazard (

For shooting companions, I called the only child I have that likes to shoot, the illustrious RovErica. She has acquired a fiance’ in recent months. He too likes to shoot so it seemed prudent to go shoot with him. He knows as a Marine I can shoot and now he has a little first hand knowledge of the violence that can be unleashed by and old and cranky Marine. That sounds like he was in need of some “course correction” and that is not at all the case. He is a well mannered young man and the Mrs. and I like him. Most importantly, RovErica likes him and that’s what matters most.

Ever the ham, RovErica is a pistol packing mama. This is her favorite pistol, the J.C. Higgins .22. My father gave me this pistol when I moved into my first apartment.

Here the fiance’ (we need a better nickname) is shooting my new M1911. If he appears to be a man of large stature you would be correct. He was a lineman for Ball State in college and he even played semi-pro football after college. The pairing of he and RovErica greatly increases the odds that a grand child of mine will play football.
RovErica thinks the .45 is too loud.

The drive home was down a lovely lane sheltered by trees in rural Newcastle. I grew up driving down roads like this one and I reminisce about all the cars ( I’ve driven down these roads over time. I wish I still had that BMW….

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

Seven Stages of Car Ownership (Post #306) 11/29/2012

This is what my car looked like. I wish I had one today.

The Art of Manliness has hit another home run with a post titled, “How to Be Happy with the Car You Drive“. Its written by guest writer Marcus Brotherton about the seven stages of car ownership men go through in their lives.

The post ends by asking what was your first car and what do you drive today? My first car was the 1965 Pontiac Tempest station wagon. I paid 150$(US) for her in 1980. That was two summer’s worth of saving from odd jobs. I bought it when I was 15 and half in anticipation of a successful driver’s test. We all called it the Millennium Falcon.

Terry and Sherry Bates were with me when the engine blew on the way home from Oklahoma City crossing the South Canadian River bridge on highway 62. I was pretty sad about that as  you can imagine.

Today, I am somewhere between
5. Cars for Work and
6. Cars of Arrival

I drive a 2007 Honda Civic on my daily commute, mostly for the gas mileage. It is a totally loveless car. And as all of you are aware I own a 1993 Range Rover which was originally purchased to haul kids around and has since been turned into an adult-sized Tonka toy or hobby for me in lieu of a motorcycle as is seemingly normal for men my age.

I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did. Happy Rovering.

PS The post time is no accident. 20:05 = 19:65 in homage of my first taste of freedom.

A trip to Saturn (Post #244) 2/3/2011

Before the bad weather was about to embrace us, my neighbor Larry asked me to schedule some time to look at his daughter’s Saturn. It was running rough and dying when you came to a stop light. Her 16th birthday was coming and they were giving her the Saturn so the plan was to put a few bucks in the car to “dress it up”. Her sister drove it faithfully until her graduation from high school and it was now time for the old girl to carry another Fisher to and from high school. The mileage on the Saturn revealed that it had probably been driven to Saturn, the planet, and back at least once. 172,000 miles and some change.
[Editors note: I know as you do now, that Saturn “the planet” is 1.2 billion km from earth at its closest point. Not the paltry distance of 172,000 miles which isn’t even a one way trip to our own moon (238,857 miles on average)]

I offered to buy this car from him when his first daughter graduated on to a new car and college. He said he couldn’t, not wouldn’t, couldn’t sell it to me. It wasn’t worth anything and he couldn’t replace it for that. I know exactly what he means. You know these cars. 10 year old cars that have nothing seriously wrong with them that the bank and the people like Kelly Blue Book say are worth about a thousand dollars.

You couldn’t buy a thousand dollar car that is reliable if you wanted to. No matter what you bought you’d immediately be dumping a thousand dollars in it to get it back to running. Its simply economically not worth selling. I didn’t have any hard feelings about that. My buddy JagGuy wouldn’t sell me his Ford Contour beater either. Sadly the Contour was destroyed in the huge hail storm of 2009.

He came over on a Thursday evening to ask and I said we should look at it now. He described the symptoms:

  • Rough idle
  • Coughing and choking
  • Acceleration problems

He also said it tends to die when you corner hard if the level in the fuel tank dropped below 1/8th of a tank. He had a very elegant solution to this problem…He told his girls never to let the fuel drop below 1/8th of a tank. Genius, a man after my own heart. I had a similar request of my girls. I told them if I ever get in your car and it’s below an 1/8th of a tank on the fuel gauge, your driving privileges will be revoked for a week.

Well back to the car problems…Does this problem of rough idle sound familiar? If you drive a Range Rover Classic you know this to be a problem with the air idler valve. A dirty air idler valve will cause rough idle. So I told him this would be no problem. I told him we should check that out first and that my confidence level in this solution was pretty high. The trick was finding the silly thing. He had the Chilton’s book so we found the section with the throttle body and right there was a picture of the air idler valve. It is the same one we use on a Range Rover Classic. I told him it should be easy to find.

I told him if we can find it, it’s an easy thing to clean. We started looking for it and it was not to be found. Finally I told him we should take the throttle body off and the valve would reveal itself. We removed the throttle body. And there was the problem. An eighth of an inch of oily carbon deposits on everything on the engine side of the butterfly.

These photos were shot after a few beers with a cell phone and trouble lights, in the dark, on a moonless night. We took a picture of the inside of the intake and every surface was covered in the carbon oil goo. The detail is not there that would reveal how bad this really looked. I’ve never seen anything like that. I scraped it with a screwdriver. Wow.

I was amazed the thing ran at all. It became pretty obvious that the butterfly was not closing securely. So we proceeded to clean it up. A little brake fluid cleaner and a stiff toothbrush made short work of the majority of it.

The air idler valve was different from the picture. It wasn’t the same as the Range Rover’s. I wasn’t surprised. We removed it and cleaned up the seat. You can imagine it was pretty dirty as well. We got it cleaned up and reinstalled the assembly.

As you can see, it is shiny and clean. It made a pretty good difference in how the Saturn idled. Larry’s other complaint was the acceleration. So I got in the Saturn and drove her. The throttle response was great. Press the peddle and the revs went up. But in first gear of the automatic transmission, you could tell the acceleration didn’t match the revs on the tachometer. Second and third gears behaved as expected but first gear, in my humble opinion, was slipping.

I drove it home and asked when the last time the transmission fluid was changed. “Probably, never.” He hadn’t done it and was unsure if it had ever been done by a previous owner. I recommended he have a transmission service. A batch of fresh fluid might, and I told him might, bring several thousand more miles of Saturn-y goodness and if he was lucky the slipping would stop.

It was fun to find a problem and solve it. It was really, really fun to help a friend make one of his cars more reliable for one of his daughters. I have two daughters and I know the trepidation he feels each time one takes a car out of the driveway.

I could tell you a dozen stories about this daughter, like the one when she was five years old. She was feeling oppressed because she could not run around the neighborhood topless like all the other kids (all boys). But I’ll let her mom post them on her knitting blog. Happy Birthday Laurianne.

Thanks for reading and thanks Happy Rovering.

STUDY: Women More Attracted To Men In Expensive Cars (Post #134) 3/26/2009

A UK university’s released a study proving what any car salesman’s ever told us, women judge men primarily by wealth and status, digging guys in expensive cars more than those driving an econobox.
The survey, run by researchers at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, claims it shows women rate a man higher if he is behind the wheels of a “fancy motor rather than in an old banger.” The University team showed women pictures of the same man sitting in two cars — a $100,000 silver Bentley Continental and a battered Ford Fiesta.

I truly love the Bentleys. But I could not in a million years justify that kind of expense for an automobile. My Land Rovers will have to suffice.

Now for a little piece of my own research. When I met my wife I was driving a 1973 Dodge pickup. Here is a picture of one.

Yes, that color is “Super Banana”. My dad bought it from a surplus sale at the F.A.A. in Oklahoma City where he worked. Now, for the part of “how this picture is different from the one I drove”. Picture the same truck with about 50% rust on the body, faded paint, no air conditioning, floor boards rusted out ala Fred Flintstone-style. And mostly covered in stains from red mud that would not wash off. My best friend and I used the hood for a table to paint our Halloween costumes in 1986 or 1987. I’m sure you get the picture.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, and she still dated me?! I was surprised too, believe me. So if you are currently without a lady friend, have some hope. Somewhere out there is a gem of a gal who really doesn’t care all that much about what you have parked in your garage or in front of your apartment building…in a bad part of town… She will ignore your crappy automobile, and see you for the man you will become, not for the man you are that day.

But just in case you have the social skills of an eighth grade audio visual nerd go ahead and get the Bentley or at least a nice Range Rover Sport.