Tale of the Tundra:
When I last posted a general update I mentioned my Toyota Tundra had gone into the shop for a rack & pinion replacement. Or, at least that was the diagnosis. Two Tuesday’s ago I finally collected the truck from our trusted non-dealer service center. The rack & pinion replacement turned out to be a bit of a science project in that they installed three (3) new factory replacement rack & pinion units and attempted to align the truck three (3) times only to find all three of rack & pinion units were defective. After the third try they sent the truck over to the local Toyota dealer from who they source their Toyota parts to see if their mechanics could get a unit installed that could be aligned. It took Toyota two days, but they were finally successful. To date no one has offered up a reason for why they had so much trouble.
However, the folks at Toyota also said I would need upper control arms in the near future but it wasn’t something they could do on my truck. The story line was, since the front end of my truck had been leveled by a 4WD specialty shop that same shop would need to take care of the upper control arm replacement using aftermarket, adjustable upper control arms as the factory parts used by Toyota and our service center did not provide sufficient clearance. I was guessing it would be another large chunk of change on top of the cost of the rack & pinion replacement. As to how soon I’d need the upper control arms replaced, after driving the truck with the windows down I knew it would be soon, really soon. In fact, the sound of metal on metal coming from the worn-out upper control arm’s ball joint was so awful that I simply parked the truck until I could get an appointment to have the work done.
Last Thursday I scheduled the truck for the repair and it goes in tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed, this will be the last major repair of the year! Of course, since it’s December 20th I may make it! Seriously, I’m really hoping this resolves the last of the suspension and drive train issues as I’d like to get a break from the past two years of high vehicle maintenance expenses on the Tundra. In fact, in looking at my records 3/4’s of the repairs made over the 10-year / 128,000 mile life of the truck have come during the past two years. The majority of them have been related to rebuilding the front suspension & steering systems and the rear differential. If I have another year of high maintenance expenses I may just cry uncle and replace the Tundra instead of betting on the come that I’ll get another 10 years / 128,000 miles for far less than trying to amortize the cost of a new truck.
Last note on the truck relates to my three-way accident back on December 1st. As expected, “my accident” with the car in front of me was a non-accident. Neither my truck nor the gal’s MPV that I bumped bumper covers with had any damage so there won’t be any claims against my State Farm policy for that. Of course, I still need to go to court to fight the “following to closely” traffic citation I was issued. As far as the back-end of the truck goes, as soon as I get my suspension work completed it will go to the body shop for an estimate and subsequent repair courtesy of the gal who hit the back of the truck’s insurance company. Nationwide was actually pretty darn efficient and easy to work with. Or, should I say, their claims rep was very easy to work with. I’m assuming the shop will do a good job since all they’re really doing is replacing a rear bumper cover, support structure and repairing a trailer hitch.
Honda S2000… Hold or Fold?
Since we’re on the subject of cars, I should note that I’ve been driving the Honda S2000 a lot and that’s not a good thing. I forgot how much I enjoy driving a standard shift, never mind in a low-slung roadster. I’m rethinking parking and vehicle storage solutions to see if there’s a way for us to keep all of the vehicles we’ve amassed without having to shuffle the vehicles around all the time. But, in the mean time, since I’ve been living with the car I’ve been able to figure out what all needs attention, such as a few more burned out marker and license plate lights that I took care of this past Friday. I’ve also noticed the left rear marker light has lost its water-tight seal so I’ll need to pull that out, find the leak in the seal that bonds the clear lens to the black back plate and reseal that once we get some dry weather. As far as keeping or selling the car, my heart wants to keep it whereas my head says sell it. Cars are not usually assets, they’re liabilities… as the Tundra keeps proving! Chances are, we’ll sell it when the weather improves.
Life Happens – Debbie’s Mother had a bad fall last week at her home in Canton as she was headed back into the rear kitchen door after collecting the mail. One of Debbie’s brother was at the house when she fell so he was there to call the medics while keeping her still as she banged her head and torqued her neck quite badly. Debbie headed up to the hospital and then split time with her sisters staying with her mother once she was back home. It will be several weeks before she can stop wearing her neck brace and, well, begin to look less like a boxer after losing a fight than she does at the moment.
Back on the BMW – What with all of the car issues going on, I found myself driving cars to work for the past two weeks and finally had a day when I could return to commuting on my BMW R1100S. It was some much-needed mental therapy but, sadly was short-lived as we were immediately hit with very cold temps + rain. While neither of those bother me unless the rain begins to freeze, I no longer trust the motorists around here to pay enough attention in reduced vision conditions to be out riding a motorcycle in the dark on wet, rainy mornings or nights, never mind when it’s cold and they even further distracted by messing with heating controls and trying to keep from shivering until their cars warm-up.
However, that said, I’ll be heading out on the Harley this coming Wednesday night for the annual Christmas Lights Ride with our motorcycling friends. It’s not as invigorating or stupid fun as the bicycling version of the same activity, but it’s always good to get together with friends around the holidays. Debbie will hopefully be able to join us after the ride for dinner, noting that she’s still buried in Christmas errands. And, no… I don’t think I’ll be decorating the bike beforehand. The bear might ride with me in place of Debbie, but that’s about it.
Still Rocking the Kilts – Yes, I’m still very much into wearing my kilts on the weekends and at other times when I don’t have a need to wear jeans. I think most of our friends at our Friday & Saturday hang-out — Loco Willy’s — have gotten past the “oh my God, is that a kilt?” phase and are now just quietly shaking their heads and wondering what on Earth has gotten into me. Cest la vie… I find them very comfortable and Debbie likes me in them so they’re probably here to stay. In fact, I’ll be heading up to Atlanta Kilts in Buford, Georgia, on this coming Wednesday morning to pick up my Prince Charlie dress jacket and waist coat as well as my Wallace tartan kilt and fly plaid. This will replace my tuxedo for a few upcoming holiday ‘black tie optional’ events. OK, maybe I have lost a small part of my mind: what the heck. You only live once and, as I mentioned in a previous blog, this kilt thing has been on my bucket list for some time. Next up, bag pipes! Well, maybe not. Heck, it’d just be nice to get my tuba back! A short-term holiday loan to a church orchestra three years ago may need to be re-visited this year.
So, this pretty much brings me to the past weekend at which point all will be up-to-date:
- Friday began with the ubiquitous off-Friday working from home noting there really isn’t a well-defined work week anymore, is there? I see this with many if not most of our friends. Some might call it work-life balance, others are simply all-in all-the-time. Me, I like a more clear definition of when work begins and ends just so I can unplug.
- After finishing up work it was all about shredding several years worth of financial statements and other paperwork that I’d been accumulating and which is no longer needed, what with most all of our account information now available on-line. I should probably do all of my bill paying on-line, but I’m still one of ‘those people’ who still likes using cash and writing checks to keep me grounded in remembering that it’s real money I’m exchanging. Doing everything with plastic or punching in numbers and then getting a single, large bill has some advantages, but I’m always a bit surprised at just how easy it is to spend a lot when you’re using plastic.
- Friday’s projects were more or less death by a thousand paper cuts in that I had lots of small projects to attend to and no large ones: hanging a shop light, replacing the aforementioned bulbs and fasteners on the S2000, changing hard-to-get-at light bulbs inside the house, Christmas cards, making odd-sized kitchen drawer organizers, air pressure adjustments to the motorcycles (cold weather, don’t you know), and the like. Add to that a little time in the weight room and on the stationary bicycle and it was a good day.
- Sadly, there was no Red Eyed Mule lunch date with Miss Debbie as she had a lunch function at work.
- Finally a Friday at Loco Willy’s was awesome as usual and with most of the usual suspects, i.e., David & Deb, Stuart & Teresa, Billy & Dava, Brian behind the bar and all of the other regulars. But, that was it for the evening.
- Saturday was a blur. Once again, death by a thousand paper cuts with lots of small projects and nothing big. Debbie spent the better part of the day out running her Christmas errands.
- Before we knew it we were headed to Loco Willy’s for dinner where our friend Ryan joined us and David & Deb. After dinner we all piled into Debbie’s Accord for a short drive over to SuBourbon’s Pub where we’d be meeting several other friends for an evening of music and dancing. As best as I can recall, we had David & Deb, Ryan & Jeanette, Jeff & Sharon, Matt, Monica & Arne and of course Miss Debbie and yours truly. We had a short visit with Katelyn and Zack early on as well. I think we were at the pub until around 1:00am before calling it a night. I think just about everyone Uber’d home.
- Sunday was mostly about rest & relaxation. Debbie was exhausted from the long work week and evening visits with her mother, shopping, etc. and also had a persistent headache most likely from sinus-related issues / dry air. It’s amazing how we dump 20 gallons of water into the air in our house every day during the winter just to try to keep the humidity in the 30%-40% range where it should be. I swear, I’ll never buy a home with blown hot air heating again! Give me radiant heat please!!!
- I made a couple batches of Scottish shortbread using a fairly simple family recipe in the afternoon. I’m not sure why other than I do enjoy baking during the holidays and, well, the stuff tastes so darn good! If only there wasn’t a pound of butter and a cup of powdered sugar in there!!
- I also made one of my Ort’s Special Pizza’s with cashews for dinner to otherwise satisfy my need to putter around in the kitchen on an otherwise wet, cold and gloomy day. I think I may need to dial-down the heat in the oven a bit as this is the second time my cashews came out a bit more toasted than I like. The really charred ones were tossed off the pie and replaced with some fresh ones.
That pretty much is where we are.