Category Archives: 1999Project

Guter Samstag

Today has been long but worth it.

I was up at 5 AM and off to finish my closest store for work. It was only five or six activities but with help being scarce a Saturday morning was called for.

After that, I headed home to work on a problem with Dad. My truck has been sitting. It started smoking a while ago and I was afraid to drive it.

Dad

We were willing to disassemble the entire engine and figure out the problem. I could go into debt on another car payment. But that’s not favorable.

Dads is an old shade tree mechanic. He can listen to an engine, smell the exhaust, taste in the air what’s wrong with it. It just takes him awhile sometimes.

Twenty-five dollars later, Blue Devil is, if not a lifesaver, a wallet saver. We followed the directions and fifty minutes later the problem was solved.

And Bruce is back on the road. The Escape still has no air but Bruce does. I love this truck. Manual V6 and lots of distance to cover. And cold air. Thanks to Pop.

It was a good Saturday.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Thankful

Y’all know what tomorrow is. I have a lot to be thankful for.

A home. A family. A good job. So very blessed to have all I have.

I complain to much about what happens and not the results of what happens good or bad.

I need to change that. I will change that.


The boss called me today about my new part-timer, and she’s the lady I mentioned the other day.

He asked me if I was going to talk her up to him. I told him I didn’t need to. She’ll show him. I have all the faith in the world in that. She impressed me when we worked together years ago.

I’m thankful I’ll be getting some help.


I’m thankful that at fifty-three years old, I’m still working and learning.

I learn little things to make my days easier at work every day.

Tomorrow morning I’m learning yet another thing on the truckβ€”oxygen sensors.

I have splurged and bought ze fancy French onez.

Bank 2 Sensor 1 is failing, causing the fuel system to work in a closed-loop, according to the log.

I don’t understand all of it, but I know where that oxygen sensor is and how to change it.

This is causing misfires. I can’t feel them but the OBD can read them. The truck starts a little rough but settles in quickly after starting out if the drive. My MPG has actually increased by .5 miles per gallon.

If it weren’t for the OBD reader and a check engine light, I probably wouldn’t notice.

It’s good to learn new things. I feel like I’m tweaking this here and there and I can’t really complain about twenty-two year old parts failing.

It happens.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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1999 Ford Ranger Project: A Day Off

I have to admit I did not have an enjoyable morning. The shudders and stutters are back.

I drove around a bit, and things cleared up. I was thinking that it might be bad plugs or wires again. But these shouldn’t have gone bad within the time since I’ve changed them out. I’m going to check them, but I did some research tonight and I may have found the culprit.

From what I’ve read on the Ranger Forums and a few other places in conjunction with some 1-A Auto videos, I believe I have seen all my symptoms for this being the problem.

I worked ahead today to lessen my load Thursday and Friday.

Tomorrow, I’m going in.

And a day off wrenching will still be better than a day on the floor in retail. Also, it’s a paid vacation day, and I need some time in my hands and out of my head.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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1999 Project: Lights

I worked over a good bit last week, and I set a little money aside for this. I needed more light on the road. I bought these Bruce these.

Priced a bit higher than I usually buy.

I’ve been thinking about going full LED/HID on the truck. I don’t even know if there’s a difference between the two technologies. I’m old and the eyesight ain’t what it used to be.

PRICEY!

Running the roads before dawn and with the deer running, it’s already risky sometimes. So here I am.

Before

This took a bit longer than I expected. The problem is that this isn’t just a simple screw the bulb out and replace situation. I had to remove the entire assembly. It’s a PITA. The headlamp assembly is probably one of the more secure I’ve come across. They put some thought into it for it to be this difficult.

I’ve got to say though; it’s a learning experience. Now I know what to expect when I change out the actual assembly around Christmas. The wife is gonna take me what I want for Christmas and this is it.

I plan to install smoked covers all around. Fog lamps, headlights, and tail lights. I like the look. It’ll make Bruce better looking.

After

I don’t think you can tell much difference in the lights right now from the pics. I’m sure I’ll be able to once I get behind the wheel in the dark. Which I’ll be testing as soon as the sun goes down.

Anyways, I had the chance to spend the afternoon in the garage doing something I enjoy.


These made a world of difference. The headlamp assemblies are so old the color is off.

But when they’re replaced, it will be about perfect.

And…

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Truck Stuff: Baby It’s Cold Outside

Well, it ain’t too cold yet, but the mornings are a bit chilly. Riding along in a truck with no heat, fogging up the windows until you get a balance between cracked window air and inside air, is a challenge.

I’m going to give 1A Auto a shout out tonight because I will always go to them first when I’m looking to do something mechanical or otherwise with Bruce.

This is a basic heater core flush and isn’t even the correct video for my truck but I have done this before and needed to refresh my memory.

DIY Pro Tip: If you’re gonna go to YouTube looking for answers, watch a couple of different content providers and see what works and what doesn’t.

Start with something simple. Believe me; even the pros won’t have all the answers you’re looking for online.

Just because they say this is what your vehicle should have, it may not. Keep looking.

Find someone that you’re comfortable with following their instructions.


I called around before doing this, and I got some prices that were outrageous to me on something so simple.

As I’ve mentioned before I also have the best shade tree mechanic in three counties for a father, and sometimes you gotta let the old man help to make him feel useful.

He thought there was a problem with the heater control valve.

He thought it wasn’t working, so he learned something today. That valve opens when the fan control is turned on, closes when turned off.

Heater Control Valve

Not all cars, even from the same manufacturer, are made the same. But you’d be amazed how much crossover there is in a lot of parts and interior/exterior body parts and pieces.

Mazda B-2000/Older Ford Rangers for example. This is a pretty good article explaining a lot of that.


Bruce is a pretty basic truck mechanically. I know where my limit is, and I keep pushing it every time.

Sooner or later, I’ll have a completely rebuilt engine if I keep going like this.

Heater core flushes are pretty basic affairs. I have heat. I had to write tonight, and this is what happened today.

You guys and gals that want to DIY you can do it. You are going to mess up. You are going to buy the wrong part. You may even screw up a major part. But don’t let that stop you.

I still remember almost crapping my pants when I didn’t really know about the firing sequence when I did a tune-up. Things happen.

Learn from your mistakes and pass the knowledge and the errors onβ€”everything you do wrong is a learning experience.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Truck Stuff: 1999 Project

This whole refurbishment of this truck is an ongoing thing.

I have a lot of cosmetic stuff to do. Chips in the paint for the most part. I’m actually thinking of a light spray over the major scratches and a dot here and there for the chips. Then a good buffing.

Not a lot of structural damage, amazingly, and not a lot of rust at all for a twenty plus year old truck.

It has been hot, and I didn’t want to do it. Today was a nicer day, and when it’s cooler, I spend a good deal of time in the garage.

Today I went with the fender flares that have been sitting in the garage for at least two months. (She may or may not have been eyeballing them at that time.) They’re a nice stainless steel and black rubber set that should last a long while with care.

I also did a bit of painting on the lowers under the doors and the front part of the bed with bed liner paint. It improved the looks and may provide some protection.

The plastic bumper covers are in surprisingly good shape but faded from their original gray. I went with black this time around. It suits the color scheme.

It’s nice to get out and improve and create. To do it myself. To get dirty again. Although, the shower did feel excellent.


I’m glad the weather is starting to change. It means more time for me in the garage/shop. I guess I may as well start getting things together.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Parts And Praises: Truck Stuff

I listen to a lot of podcasts and I hear a lot of Rock Auto commercials.

I’m sure they have plenty of deals, and that’s great. I needed a part today and searched it while I took a break.

The part was a radiator hose.

This part is roughly $20 less than what I ended up paying at O’Reilly’s ($38 +tax) and would be a significant saving.

But…

It is Thursday the 16th. I work for a living; it’s still sweltering in the South, and I need my truck running with A/C. The savings I would have had would not make up for the lost time.

I do have the choice of driving my other car, which does not have A/C at the moment. It’s great to have that choice. But an afternoon on the highway home would be torture.

I was out the door at O’Reilly’s in five minutes after first having called them to make sure they had the part. No standing around, no wasted time, which is also mentioned in the ads I hear.

Honestly, sometimes I stop at auto parts stores just to look around. I enjoy it. Which is a point the ads try to push. Lots of guys actually enjoy the auto parts store.

I had the part in hand, on the truck, and was back on the road in an hour.

I also hear a lot of β€œyou have to know what kind of car you have, what type of engine,” etc.

How do you not know this sort of thing?

Right there, I know, these guys have never worked on their own vehicles. And probably shouldn’t be pushing ads to people who do.

I didn’t write this to knock Rock Auto at all. It’s great to be able to get parts at such a discount. I didn’t write this to criticize anyone. It seems snobby, I guess, to write and read copy on something you more than likely know nothing about.

If you’re a man and do not understand the appeal of working on and fixing your vehicle and the satisfaction that goes with it, I don’t understand you. Which I suppose sounds a bit snobby as well.

I have had the advantage of a father who is one of the best shade tree mechanics I’ve ever known.

For those without that advantage, there is a world of information on the internet. YouTube will walk you through so many small and large repairs.

I thoroughly enjoy working on mine. I love my truck. Yes, there’s a song about that.

For the hobbyist and the person that has the time I can see online parts ordering and possible savings.

For a man trying to get to work, I’ll go local parts store every time.


Again, not knocking Rock Auto but I will sing the praises of O’Reilly’s.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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SAK And A Zip Tie

𝙸 𝚐𝚎𝚝 πš–πš’ πš πš›πš’πšπš’πš—πš πš™πš›πš˜πš–πš™πšπšœ πšπš›πš˜πš– πš πš‘πšŠπš πš‘πšŠπš™πš™πšŽπš—πšœ 𝚝𝚘 πš–πšŽ πšπšŠπš’πš•πš’. πš‚πš˜πš–πšŽ πšŠπš›πšŽ 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍 πšœπš˜πš–πšŽ πšŠπš›πšŽ πš˜πš”πšŠπš’. π™Έπš πš’πšœ πš πš‘πšŠπš πš’πš πš’πšœ.


I had a rough start this morning just getting out of bed. My back has been bothering me, and my shoulder started giving me trouble this afternoon. I’m sitting here with coffee and my old friend the TENS unit right now.

I left the house at 7:00 and was on my way to being right on time to work when I took my second major turn, and the truck started shuddering. It didn’t want to pull, and my stomach just sank.

I left on time to be on time. And now, I was late.

We’re getting ready to go on our anniversary weekend trip soon. I do not need to put more money into Bruce right now.

Bruce is my truck. He’s green and temperamental. Marvel fans will get this.

Sometimes you need the right tools to fix a problem. But first, you need to define the problem.

My tool of choice for this situation is the OBDLink MX+. I have had it for a couple of years.

If you ever go to an auto parts store and have them figure out what’s making your check engine light come on, they are using a piece of equipment that does the same thing. This is a simplified version of that equipment that connects to my phone through Bluetooth.

I’ve deciphered more than a few problems with Bruce because of this piece of equipment. Today it was saying that the ignition coil had gone bad. But the ignition coil is only a couple of months old!

It turns out that wasn’t the problem.

It was too early in the morning for something complicated, so we always K.I.S.S.

KISS is an acronym; the letters stand for “Keep it simple, stupid.”.

And simple it was. On the ignition coil is a plug that carries the power to the ignition coil and allows God only knows what to happen in the engine. I can fix stuff on a simple level. I don’t even pretend to understand how the magic happens.

The plug has a small retention clip. This being a twenty-two-year-old truck, that clip had broken. This kept the magic from transferring to the ignition coil, which transforms the magic into something else. I know, pretty technical.


Now, I’m a terrible half mechanic. I don’t always have the right tools with me. My toolbox has work stuff in it. I don’t half mechanic for a living.

What I do, quite effectively, is troubleshoot at life. You can fix most anything just by getting your head to a place where you can think through the problem calmly.

Two fictitious characters from the 80s brought me to this, Hannibal Smith and MacGyver.

Troubleshooting is all about imagination. You have to be able to, and I actually hate this saying, think outside the box.

“Imagination is the most important thing the human mind has.” – MacGyver

I always have three things with me.

1. Duct Tape. Most of life’s problems can be solved by a liberal application of duct tape.

2. A Swiss Army Knife. (Thanks, MacGyver). Incredibly versatile tools that can be found in almost any configuration you want.

3. Zip Ties. I use these a lot at work. Fast and easy to secure a wide variety of things.

The simple fix was to use a zip tie to secure the plug to the ignition coil. Problem solved.

I had called Mags, and Dad had told her he’d come to me when she was dropping off the kids at his house for the day. I told her to have him call our guy with the flatbed before I got my head straight and figured what needed doing.

By the time he’d shown up, I was getting ready to fix it, but since he came, I let him get under the hood. And this was all about respect.

I’ve spent no small part of my life holding the flashlight, getting yelled at while he turned the wrench. But I’ve learned a lot from him. At 72, he’s still a formidable man. Arms like tree trunks and one of the best shade tree mechanics I know. He has forgotten more than I’ll ever learn about an engine.

All of this went down within forty-five minutes. And just like that, I was back on the road.


And that was this morning. It wasn’t the plan, but it was what happened.

A twenty-five-cent zip tie saved me a 150 dollar bill on a flatbed ride.

And at that point, Hannibal Smith steps in.

There’s a plan in everything, kid. And I love it when a plan comes together. – H. Smith

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Today on This Old Truck

I’m refurbishing the interior door panels today.

Well, maybe I’ll get one done. The deeper you get into something the more problems you can find.

I went to YouTube last night to figure out how to remove the spool handle for the window, and despite the guy knowing that every spool handle came off the same, he was wrong. Instead of a clip to remove said handle, it was a Torx head bolt. Luckily, I have an abundance of tools.

The other problem I’ve run into is a bit of upholstery that has given up over the years, probably to heat. Things wear down. There’s no helping it.

Separation Anxiety

And so I have an armrest sitting in front of the wife’s bread box with Gorilla Glue (not a sponsor) setting up and a couple of paper/chip clips bag holding it all together.

This is a high dollar operation.

I’ve taped up and dropped the first coat on the main door panel for now.

It is 11:34, and now I wait.


13:14

That door is done.

It came out loads better than I thought it would.

And now, on to the other door.

Before and after.

Because you’ve seen the first one, the other is pretty much the same, so I won’t bore ya.

Yep. I was able to get both doors done and still have some time this afternoon.

There’s a lot to be said for doing things yourself. It’s not just saving money. You try new things and learn new things. Believe me; I mess up often enough, but there’s a lot of knowledge in mistakes.

It might be the paint fumes talking, but it’s been a pretty good day.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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Distinctive: Another Truck Post

I’m looking at fender flares for the Ranger. Fender flares are expensive. Not completely out of the question, but I’m looking for something a bit thinner. Not some big, bulky thing hanging off the side of the truck.

I think I saw some at the junkyard I mentioned the other week. If all four are in good shape, I may bargain for them when I return for the additional parts.

The other thing I’m working on is the rocker panels. I’m considering painting them with bed liner material. I’m just trying to figure how far I’m willing to go.

That’s it. That’s the post.

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