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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on May 18th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 11

Man vs. car

Krider murders some car parts

By ROB KRIDER

I don’t know why I still play with cars. Car projects are oftentimes immensely frustrating. Bolts get stripped, knuckles get busted, and my wife hates it when I smell like grease. Grease stench means the grease monkey sleeps alone. The only reason I continue to keep thrashing on my own car and destroying my fingers (and love life) in the process is simply because I can’t afford to pay someone else to do it for me.

I shouldn’t complain since the reality is that the car projects I need to finish are all self-inflicted. I wouldn’t have so many projects to do if I stopped treating my car so roughly on the racetrack. But that’s the name of the game if you’re a race car driver: Drive the car to death and hope it makes it to the last lap of the race. Then spend all of your money and extra time fixing the car before the next race so you can do the whole thing all over again. Sound dumb? It is.

Racing is truly an exercise in absurdity. When you think about it in literal terms it’s almost a completely ludicrous concept. “Hey dude, I bet you I can use a lot of fuel resources and destroy a bunch of tires, and drive this machine I have with a number painted on the door up and down the same road faster than you can.”

“I don’t think so, bro. I can spend more money than you and make sure my car uses more fuel even quicker, so I can go in circles more times than you.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“Well, then I’ll take that bet. Each of us can spend $2,000 in one day and the winner gets a trophy that looks like it’s made of gold but is actually plastic.”

“Deal! You had me at trophy.” 

During races, I often find myself in a situation where my car needs to be fixed. Especially if I’ve used the chrome horn a few too many times. For those of you unfamiliar with the redneck term “chrome horn,” it’s a reference to using the front bumper to get someone’s attention. This is done by bashing said bumper into the car of the poor soul in front of you. It’s frowned upon in racing, but still used with much frequency (especially when I’m on the racetrack).

Because of some recent on-track antics (yes, admittedly, I crashed) I decided I needed to build a new car. I found a great deal on a little Acura Integra and started to get to work building my newest toy. When you build a new race car from a regular daily driver, there are a lot of items that need to be removed. I don’t need a cigarette lighter in a race car or a passenger seat. All of these things get taken out. I don’t even need a heater, and that’s where my latest adventure began. It was me versus the heater core.

What is a heater core? Well, here’s your auto shop 101 lesson for the day. I’m going to give this one to you free of charge. On a chilly morning when you’re driving your grocery getter to the store to pick up some dog food, two-ply toilet paper, and ketchup, you may choose to run the car’s heater to warm yourself up. The heater is not a magical thing. There are no dwarves using spells to make fire inside your heater vents. A heater core is simply a device under your dashboard that takes water from the engine, which is hot from the ongoing internal combustion, and cycles that water through a little radiator in your interior with a fan on it. When you turn up your fan, it blows more air through the radiator—called the heater core—onto your chilly skin and it makes those goose bumps go away. Clear as mud? Don’t really care? Great. Let’s continue.

I wanted to get the heater core out of my new race car to make the car weigh less. Lighter equals faster and faster equals more trophies. So based on the transitive property (look out, math nerd joke) that meant if I could get the heater core out of my car then I would win a trophy. Sounds easy. Suddenly my project was worth doing.

The problem was the heater core didn’t want to come out. It wanted to go racing with me. I tried to unbolt it, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried to use a pry bar, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried to use a hammer, then a big hammer, then a REALLY big hammer, but no luck. It was like the entire car had been built around the heater core on the assembly line and I couldn’t get it to come out. But I’m not a quitter. I want that trophy. The heater core was going to come out one way or another.

It turned out it was another. I spent more than an hour with my body twisted up like a pretzel and my head under the dashboard, allowing junk to fall into my eyes, as I struggled to get the darn heater core out. Knuckles were busted, new curse words were invented, beers were consumed, and my wife, whom I love, came out to the garage to offer some words of advice, which, for the record, I didn’t ask for.

“If it’s so hard to get it out, why didn’t you just buy an Acura without a heater core in it?”

Ignoring her girl-brain question, and getting angrier at the heater core by the second, I decided to use a new strategy: power tools. I plugged in my Sawzall and tested its name. Yup, it does “saws-all.” It sawed through the heater core like butter … and the dashboard, and some pretty important ignition wiring too. A few more smacks with the big hammer, a nice deep cut to my forearm from broken shards of plastic, and voila! The heater core was out! Sure, it came out in about 17 different broken pieces, but it was out and the car was lighter. Lightness is the important thing. That’s the thing that will help me win that trophy.

Now, if I could just figure out why the car won’t start.

Rob spent two days reading wiring diagrams trying to figure out which of the wires he cut goes to the starter. You can read more from Rob Krider or contact him at robkrider.com.




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