Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

 So K’s car starts making this very bad clunk/thunk from the right front corner when you turn the steering wheel significantly. Hmm, say I, upon examining it and not seeing anything really VISIBLY wrong (with the wheel still on and the car sitting on the pavement of a BBQ restaurant where this malady was revealed to me), sounds like the strut top bearing is gone, I’ll just order some and fix it.

So I get the parts, get down to my friend Marcus’s place (paved driveway and air tools. It’s a beautiful thing), and get the strut off the car yesterday evening. This is not *quite* as easy as it sounds ’cause the Focus uses the European style of lower strut mounting where the upright casting clamps around the strut body, instead of the more typical US style of having two bolts running through ears welded to the strut that sandwich the upright.

Anyway, much spraying of penetrating oil and whanging of Big F—ing Hammer and application of pry bar later, it’s out.

Spring compressed. Strut top removed. Hmm, doesn’t look too beat up. Wait… Jen (Marcus’s wife and yet another engineer in my life) notices something: “Why is the bottom of the spring at an odd angle to the rest of the spring?”


The spring is broken. The rubber isolator sleeve is holding the broken pieces together. Kind of. But not really.

{Adam Savage from MYTHBUSTERS} Well, THERE’S yer problem! {/Savage}

I don’t have one of those.

{Eeyore} Oh, bother. {/Eeyore}

About this time, it started to rain, so I put all the tools and loose parts back in the garage and waited for Marcus to get home. Luckily for me, Marcus and Jen have a large fleet and thus I wound up in (stick with me now, this is complicated) Jen’s SVT Contour, which Marcus has been using as a daily-driver, while Jen stuck with the Miata, and Marcus decided to drive the Mustang Shelby GT a little bit.

So, armed with the spring code this morning I called Lee, the ever-reliable parts guy at Jack Demmer Ford, who not only deciphered the spring code but found the springs IN STOCK. Yes, I said springs. I’m replacing both front springs. Why? So the car doesn’t sit funny. Also because it’s my experience that if something goes “floosh!” on one side, it’s gonna go “floosh!” on the other side sooner rather than later. And furthermore ’cause the springs were surprisingly inexpensive.

And thus, tomorrow morning, I’ll get the parts, go back over to Marcus’s, put the car back together so he doesn’t have an immobile lump in his driveway with the right front corner sitting on one of HIS jackstands, and give K her car back. After I fill up and wash the Contour.

Oh, K is driving my truck. She hates it, mostly, though I will point out she *did* make an IKEA run in it yesterday to buy something that wouldn’t fit in her Focus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Other than that, this has been a pretty good week. My mad-science project at work seems to be bearing fruit, we just need to find out if there are side effects. The guy who’s a pain in my backside was out of the country this week. Miss E graduates on Sunday. The canceled autocross on Monday has been relocated and is back on (despite my STILL not having my seat!) And I have a 4-day weekend that starts tomorrow!



    1. It was, and I’m proud of the kid. There were moments where I wasn’t sure this would happen. Fortunately, she figured out that she needed to get her act somewhat lined up and was mostly self-motivating after that. She’s a good kid, and a reasonably bright one, too (she gets THAT from her mom, IMGDO, and not necessarily her father — and remember I share no DNA alleals with this child). But she needs the appropriate motivation to apply herself to her studies.


      1. (Begging mode on) what motivation did you apply?! My daughter is having problems motivating herself because she thinks she knows something (she’s very smart) but when it comes to tests and remembering it she’s dreadful but she won’t study harder and I’m going slightly bonkers. Again, great kid, but doesn’t push herself HARD for anything that I can see. Advice? (begging mode off) Probably I’m not a great example because I don’t have any grand passion like you do.

      2. Motivation? Ha! If I knew, I’d tell you after making you sign and NDA, ’cause then I’d market it. She still sucks at tests. It’s unfortunately deeply ingrained at this point and there’s not much I could ever do to un-do the damage her early elementary school “teachers” did (“If you all don’t do well on the MEAP, I’ll lose my job!” coupled with teaching only to the MEAP, how to regurgitate memorized rote answers and nothing of how to set up and actually SOLVE problems). (MEAP = Michigan Education Assessment Program or something like that.) One of the reasons (okay, there were MANY reasons, but this is one of them) that my aunt the HS math teacher retired, even though she’s still extremely passionate about teaching and now teaches at the local community college and still tutors, is that the administrators kept telling her to teach only to the standardized tests, not teach properly. She was *always* a tough mark, but you came out of her class knowing something (I was never her student; friends of mine were, though, not knowing until later that she was my aunt). I firmly believe it is far more useful to the student to know how to pick out the key information, and if there’s a problem to be solved, know how to use the key information to set up and solve the problem. It’s adaptable to a variety of subjects, and imminently applicable in real life. Which is kind of the point, really. Miss E is a lot better about it now than she used to be, but I suspect it’ll take her a little bit at the community college before the “CLICK” of the switch happens for her. Which is absolutely the point of the community college in this case. Her mother is formidable proof that a community college isn’t for flunkies — she’s got 3 associates degrees, and then went on to a bachelor’s when she could afford to complete it, and is a couple months away from her master’s and another month from that starts on her doctorate, which she’s already be accepted for. The key to motivation for me is simple: figure out a way to make a living doing something I love doing. What are your daughter’s long-term interests (as opposed to passing fancies)? Google-fu; find careers that play to those interests. It’s easier now to find vast quantities of information than it ever was when I was coming up. Then point her in that general direction and turn her loose/give her a nudge. Make it clear that she needs to find a way to make her own way in the world — you’ll always be Mom, but the idea of raising kids is that they grow up to become productive adults. I did do one thing — Miss E, when she did well, felt great about it. When she did poorly, she felt awful. So we talked about the differences — how did she prepare when she did well compared with how she prepared when she did poorly? Okay, so now you know what you need to do to get that great feeling. Eventually, she also picked up on needing to do well to get accepted into the colleges she wanted to apply to. It didn’t quite pan out the way she thought (like many an area student of… middling academic performance around here, she played the Ferris State University card: “They have a great X program!”, thinking that her positively ancient parents would not be aware of Ferris’ perpetual listing near the top of the “Top Party Schools” lists…) in that arena, but she did at least make it to the end and graduate.

  1. Ahhhh yes, the Ford F$ckus front-end. I remember it well… …well enough to not want to work on another one.


    1. Ahh, not that bad, really. Biggest problem I had with the left front was my own damn fault — I had to undo, reposition the compressors, and recompress the spring a couple times until I got the compressors in places where they’d grab enough of the spring yet not interfere with either the spring base on the strut or the hat that goes on top. Now I think it needs shocks. ::chortle:: I have… Plans… for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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