I need to stop breaking – or wearing out – my modes of transportation.

A couple of months ago, I noticed the truck was beginning to mark its territory on the driveway. It wasn’t much, but since this is the first time EVER that it’s done that, I finally decided to get under it and see if I could identify the source. Plus, I knew if I didn’t stop the leak, eventually the HOA would yell at me to clean the driveway. (The HOA is like that…) So anyway, when I looked under the front of the truck, I saw where it was dripping off the front of the engine and front suspension and stuff and messing up the concrete. I wiped a bit off with my finger and smelled it; it didn’t smell like engine oil or coolant (and it didn’t *look* like them, either). The only other fluid in that area is the power steering fluid, so I crawled farther under and peered at the PS pump. Yup,  I could see where it looked like the fluid was leaking from where one of the hoses was connected to the pump.

So I took the truck to the Ford stealership (no lectures, please; this is a conscious decision on my part because I’m too lazy to find a competent non-stealership mechanic) and told them it leaked and that I thought it was PS fluid. They said they’d put dye in it and let me know what they found.

Almost a week later, imagine what they told me: My power steering pump, and the high-pressure hose, were leaking. <facepalm> But they also told me that the oil filter adapter was leaking, which I didn’t know beforehand, so that made it (almost) all good. They told me what they needed to do and how much it was (*gasp*), and I told them to go ahead. They replaced the PS pump, the PS high-pressure hose, and the oil filter adapter, and now the truck keeps all its fluids inside where they belong. The truck has over 243,000 miles on it, so I guess it’s earned the right to leak every so often – as long as “every so often” is on the order of 15 years…

Then, a couple of weeks ago, during a warm spell of a few days, I decided to take the Honda out for a ride. Nope. Nope nope nope. Not happening. There wasn’t any power to the starter. Since I had had this *very same* problem back in July, in Tennessee, I figured a switch somewhere must be switched wrong. Neutral? Yup. Kickstand up? Yup. Key on? Yup. Clutch disengaged? Yup. Safety kill switch off? Yup. (Just to be sure, I tried starting it multiple times, with the kill switch both on and off.) I even tried to start it several times over a period of days, to see if anything might have magically changed. Nope.

Now, the only thing I did to the Honda recently was to finally install the battery-tender leads. (A battery tender is like a charger, but you can leave it connected indefinitely without it ruining the battery. Many people with motorcycles, ATVs, and other motorized toys use them to keep the batteries from dying.) So I thought maybe I had killed the battery somehow. To test that, I tried jump-starting the Honda with my magical jump start kit. Nope. So then I tried jump-starting it with the truck. Still nope. It wasn’t the battery. *sigh*

To get the Honda to the shop required a little more ingenuity. Again learning from my kill-switch fiasco last summer, I bought a small electric boat winch when I got home, expressly for pulling the bike up on the trailer when I’m the only one around. So I dug it out of the pile it had gotten buried under, tied it to the back of the truck’s bed with some rope, connected the leads to the battery, plugged in the controller, and – oh. The winch doesn’t run in both directions electrically; it only winches in. To pull the cable out, you have to disconnect the clutch by turning a knob on the side of the thing. But the knob doesn’t turn. Hmmmm, maybe I’m doing something wrong? (When all else fails, RTFM – Read The F***ing Manual) So I read the user instructions, which told me to turn the knob. *sigh* I dug out my largest pair of slip-joint pliers and got the knob to turn, but it still didn’t release the clutch. What it *did* do was unspool cable – about an inch at a time. So I pushed the bike up onto the trailer as far as I could (I had to do that anyway, because the controller wires aren’t long enough to reach all the way to the back of the trailer) and then laboriously spooled out enough cable to hook the winch to the front forks (via a strap I had bought for the purpose). After that, everything went according to plan, and the winch pulled the bike up into its cradle with no problems at all.

I got the Honda to the shop, and of course it’s easy to roll the thing *off* the trailer. The shop manager played with it for a couple of minutes, but couldn’t readily identify the problem, so I left it there. The next day he called me and said the start switch had gone bad. (‘Scuse me? How does that even happen? The only thing I can think of is that somehow, I don’t know how, but somehow I must have shorted it out when I connected the battery-tender leads to the battery. I *did* have to move some wire clusters aside to make room; that might have done it. But at any rate, they ordered a new switch and will let me know when it’s all fixed.)

But I still have to fix the (cheap, Harbor Freight) boat winch. And lengthen the controller wires.

So that’s two issues, with two of my three modes of transportation. Am I done? Nope. Today I went for a bicycle ride with a group called Velo\Vets. I’ve ridden with them on a few previous occasions, going all the way back to last summer, mainly because my riding buddy (and good friend) Tony is involved with them and I’m a, well, a veteran. The outbound ride, going north on the Santa Cruz part of the Tucson Loop, was slow and easy because I was riding sweep to make sure no one had any problems. The group turned around at a pit stop about 7 3/4 miles north of our starting point, but I told them I wanted to ride up a little bit more and then come back (I needed some harder exercise than 10 mph for 15 miles). So I took off and rode about 3.3 miles farther north before turning around.

On the return leg, I was riding really well. The path follows the Santa Cruz River, and while it does go mildly uphill (the return leg, headed south, is upstream), it’s almost flat. Add a good tailwind this afternoon, and I was trucking along at 18 – 22 mph for all 11-plus miles. Un-FOR-tunately, I started hearing a high-pitched “chirp” type of squeak. At first I thought it was birds, but it gradually became more frequent and louder. And it seemed to be synchronized to my pedaling cadence. Drat. So I think I may have a dry bearing in the pedal assembly. Since I’m registered for the intermediate (63-mile) distance in a GABA-supported ride next Sunday, I’m taking my bike to the shop tomorrow morning.

So there you have it. Three different modes of transportation; three different problems; three different solutions. At least I’ve always had a minimum of *one* mode available to me – although, come to think of it, that one mode (the bicycle at the time) wasn’t very useful when I had to go to Phoenix on January 25th. I ended up renting a car for the weekend.

They (the all-powerful Committee of They) say that things happen in threes. I certainly HOPE so. I don’t need another round of this.

One Comment on “Busted!

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