The day finally came for the open heart surgery that Big Red so desperately needed. All the parts were in and the weather was perfect. Well it started out a little windy but after a little persuasion it quieted down nicely. My duties as the greasy side kick were very minimal – Stay out of the way. Field conversation from the neighbors stopping by. Take the pictures. Easy!! I did get to hold a couple of tools and some greasy bolt things though!! 😀
And so it begins!! One leg up and away we go. Our start time was at 10 am meaning we had to get up a 8 am… To say it was a rough morning would be putting it nicely. Chris hasn’t seen this side of 8 am in months and I don’t think he has any plans on revisiting it anytime soon. But after full caffienation he was ready to tackle the chore. It always makes me so nervous when the one side of the Miatas are jacked up like that…they are so light I can’t help but think they are going to tip over and then what?? Chris only laughed at me and NO she didn’t tip over…this time. Once she was all jacked up and steady on the rocks it was time to dig in. The process is simple when looking at the big picture. First things first – Take out all the bad stuff. And any other stuff you need to get it out of the way… OK, it sounds a lot simpler than it is. There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ in there!! I got a few little car lessons throughout the day but I wouldn’t count on me taking any of that ‘stuff’ out let alone putting it back in anytime soon!! Chris put his MP3 player on and went to work. It didn’t take him long to get into it and start having fun. It’s been a long time since he got to play cars with the boys and I know he’s missed it. The earbuds in is my sign to stick to the plan and my first order of business is to stay out of the way. So I readily head back into the rig where it’s nice and warm and get down to the business of beading. The kids were so excited the door was open they barely noticed I was there. Perfect!! A couple necklaces later and one of the neighbors stopped by to see what was going on with the car, ask about Chris’ Amazon schedule and offer a ride to town for parts or what not should the need arise. Another super nice guy!! We’re surrounded what can I say?? I took the opportunity to take some more pictures since I was out there already completing my 2nd order of business might as well get on the third!! There is definitely some ‘stuff’ missing!! From what I can tell the air filter, radiator and valve cap have mysteriously disappeared. There’s a huge hole in the front that you can see all the way through!! Oh my… Here we go!! The earbuds go back in and I go back to my beads. This little set up seems to be working like a charm. Another neighbor stops by while walking her dog and I head back out to chat with her for a few. We make tentative plans for a pizza party in the near future to celebrate Big Red’s recovery. Sounds like fun, we’re in!! Chris’ next big feat was to get the wheel things for the timing belt in alignment. This was something he was a little worried about. Let me explain as best I can… When the boys played cars before they replaced a lot of timing belts but they always replaced them before they actually broke. So it was a direct replacement, everything was still in alignment, a basic plug and play. Unfortunately with ours when the timing belt broke everything shifted out-of-place. It doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that these wheel things are what turns the cylinders inside the engine. If they aren’t lined up just right and you start the car the engine will seize and I don’t have to tell you what creek you’re up at that point!! But as I’ve said before and will say again and again I’m sure – Chris is a Genius!! He brilliantly rigged this up to hold the alignment of the wheel things once the timing for set according to spec. A couple of wrenches and a clamp can do wonderful things when used creatively!! Now that the wheel things were set it was time to start putting her back together again and first up was the water pump and new seals. Next was the actual timing belt itself. I didn’t get a real good pic but there’s a third wheel thing that’s much smaller and further down that the timing belt that also has to be matched up with. Chris said it just wasn’t ‘feeling’ right so he used the Phone a Friend option and gave his bestest car buddy Rob a call. They discussed it and were researching it on both their laptops and came to the right setting and then Chris was off again to tackle the timing belt. Success!! All is aligned and snuggly in place. Onward with the replacement of parts, the new thermostat and radiator still need to go in along with all the other ‘stuff’ that came out. It wasn’t too much later that another neighbor stopped by to see how it was going and offer any help we may need. I chatted with her for a bit and then she was off to get ready for work and I went back in the rig…to keep the kids company of course. I may have dozed off in the bed keeping Goober company but you can’t prove it!! My next trip out was to chat with another set of neighbors, they were heading off to the Wally and wanted to check on us to see if we needed anything. Did I mention we’re surrounded by the nicest people on the planet?? But at this point all the ‘stuff ‘ is back in!! Just in the knick of time too cuz the sun was setting fast and we only had about 30 minutes of daylight left!! Only thing left to do is to start her up and then clean up the tool mess. Fingers crossed and eyes closed. Big Red is a good girl and Chris is so good at this playing cars thing, I had no doubts she’d purr. And that’s exactly what she did!! She came to life with a smooth gentle purr. Perfecto!! Chris stops to chat with our final visitor of the day. A super nice older man and they chat about an old car he had back in the day and he congratulates Mr on a super job. Not an easy one to pull off solo or in a campground gravel driveway. He doesn’t know my Mr though…he can do anything!! We got all the tools packed up and put away for the night. I sent my grease monkey off to the showers and picked up the disaster inside. Tomorrow Chris is use the timing gun on the old girl to get her back up to the pace she was running before and then we can call it Mission Accomplished!! We are so blessed to have all these friends around us ready and willing to help. We’re also extremely lucky that Chris is as smart as he is to be able to do such a big job on his own!!
Time to relax…being a greasy side kick is hard work!! 😀
With Much Love