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Strange observation this morning

August 16, 2012 60 comments

courtesy of Bing imagecourtesy of Bing image

I’m getting my donut and coffee this morning at Dunkin Donuts when I notice something you don’t see every day.  A lady in semi clothed swimsuit pulls up in her min-van, greets a guy, and they both get in his Maserati.  Her vehicle was an older beatup looking red Dodge Caravan, probably worth about $4,000.  His car was a newer looking Maserati GranTurismo, probably worth about $150,000.

Now I can be as male chauvinistic as the next guy, but I thought this was quite unjust.  Guys, I know we can be such a selfish cheap bastard sometimes, but you got to take care of your matriarch.  If you can afford to drive a $150,000 sports car, at least get your wife a top-of-the-line Odyssey or Sienna!  Don’t be such a penny-pincher when you can afford not to be!  I know I should not judge people and maybe I should simply assume the Dodge is their beater car while HER Maserati is in a repair shop, but I find that scenario hard to believe.  Other than that, donut and coffee was pretty good 🙂

Categories: auto, humor, wife

Intense heat wave = please check your tire psi

July 3, 2012 18 comments

This is a big travel week and I need raise this concern for people driving along regions affected by this crazy heat wave.  This is something that I noticed yesterday on my own truck and it is important enough for all of you that drive, to understand.  What you feel may only be 110-114degrees, but that’s nothing compared to what your tires feel going over that hot pavement.  I’m not going to go through the equations and theories on why gas expands when heated, they just do.  PLEASE PLEASE, check your tire pressure under two conditions:

  1.  Check it when its cool
  2. Check it after you’ve been driving for some time.

My tires are 44max psi.  I noticed they were at 55psi during this intense heat wave!! That is 20+psi ABOVE the recommended pressure when its cool!  Be sure to make sure your tire pressure stays safely below your maximum psi rating.  Happy 4th everybody, and safe driving.  Don’t be that guy/gal with a blown tire during this bizarre climate.

Categories: auto, camping, children, family, wife

horrid memory into funny memory in less than 1year (part 1)

May 16, 2012 48 comments

This conversation came up during our lunch time w/ Larry, Moe, Curly, & Shemp.  We are scientist, scientist, engineer, & engineer, respectively.  I point this out because it’s amazing what kind of stupid discussion we can have, given the education level.  It goes to show you that education does not make you smarter…lol.  We are all married with two kids, except Shemp.

We decided to do some manly offroading with our trucks.  I have a Jeep Cherokee, Larry has a Toyota FJ, and Moe has a Honda Ridgeline.  Place we went is called Rausch Creek Off road park in PA.  This is the real deal, nothing but sea of lifted rock crawlers and jeeps.  Everybody had fun except for the Ridgeline guy.  We had to winch him out of the park.  He damaged his transmission for sure.  Thick smell of roasted transmission oil was a sure sign it needed overhauling. 

Once we got out, we were all pleased with our capable 4x4s, minus Moe.  We operate in a buddy system.  Larry and I barraged Moe with reasons and justifications why he NEEDS to get a different vehicle, a real truck, a man’s truck!  This kind of pressuring by close friends worked! He found enough strength and bravery to face his wife.  Before I continue further, I need to fill you in on his wife.  She is a mean, large, and in charge.  Whatever she says goes, there are no if/and/buts.  If she wants a rabbit, you pick one up by next day.  If she wants a bird, you pick up the complete kit.  If she wants a dog, you pay whatever it costs to get the one that she wants.  If she wants a cat, you say yes ma’am and shut up.  Moe doesn’t have anything left for a backbone, it’s just cartilage. 

Being good friends we are, we told him to stand up to his wife and demand that he be allowed to have some adventure time with us.  Moe is only allowed to come out if his wife okays it.  It gets really freakin annoying to plan anything around his schedule because of “it”.  So we really pumped him up to stand up to his wife, we coached him, and we did some dry-runs of all the different scenarios of the argument. 

We practiced for about a week and it was finally time.  Larry and I were on standby all evening, just in case if something goes wrong.  Moe would be welcome to stay at my house or Larry’s house for however long. 

We finally received an email at 11pm!!! He had the green light to purchase a beater Jeep!  I did reply-all, “Oh, HELL YEAH!”  Larry replied something that wasn’t politically correct, but we were all so happy for Moe.  His “backbone” was finally strengthening!

Our next day consisted of heavy strategizing of the purchase.  We said the purchase has to happen ASAP, before she changes her mind.  Three of us hit Craigslist and EBay really hard.  Found a beater Jeep for $3000usd and we all went to check it out.  It was a great truck, Larry and I gave it four thumbs up.  Moe paid for and you can tell he was beaming.  Not only was this a capable 4×4, it was a trophy, trophy of conquering his fear and adversity.  That made all of us proud of him.  He is such a great guy and he should be able to reward himself once in a while like this.  I volunteered my time to get it fixed up to pass state inspection.  After about 2weeks of repair, the truck was finally ready.  We held a team meeting and we all agreed to hit the 4×4 park for upcoming Saturday, we were set….so we thought…

Moe’s Jeep was definitely worth $3k, but it wasn’t perfect, it was actually next solar system over from being perfect.  Moe decided to celebrate this joyous occasion by driving it around with his two young girls, ages 5 and 7.  They are such adorable little kids, and their daddy loves them to death!  It was a beautiful day, Jeep is driving great, and his girls are having a blast in the back seat. 

Things suddenly turned for the worst when Moe decided to drive his beater Jeep through a mechanical car wash.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been through one, but it’s the kind with 3 giant mechanical rollers; two on either sides and one huge one on the top….Moe’s Jeep is a RAGTOP (made of cloth), a very very very old ragtop 😦

Water started pouring in as some of the smaller holes turned into bigger holes, and the spinning of the rotating machine banging against a cloth cover made it sound like you are in a tornado.  Two girls are screaming in the back, & Moe is screaming in the front.  Moe tries to start the car but it sputters to a stop, he can’t get it started.  In his last ditch effort to save his daughters, he threw himself to the back seat and covered up his two girls.  He feared the roof was going to collapse and kill his girls.

Good news is they all survived, but the ragtop was no longer a top, it was just a rag.    His last email to us was, “I am so fucked”.  Larry and I were frantic; we tried calling him, texting, & email, but no response.    Larry and I were feeling so guilty.  If it weren’t for us, Moe and his girls would have been fine.  One can only guess what kind of wrath he was dealing with.  His girls poured their heart out to their mommy and pretty much ratted him out.  No one knows what happened next inside Moe’s house…  I just know whatever backbone Moe had it just turned into string cheese.  Larry and I were very scared for him.

We finally got email back from Moe saying he can’t join us for the next 4×4 adventure, and that he is selling his Jeep.  He didn’t join us for lunch during that whole month, and he ended up giving the Jeep away for $1500. 

It’s been almost a year since the fallout, and it looks like everything is back to normal.  Moe has paid his “prison sentence” and is able to breathe fresh air again.  We talk about this incident once in a while, and we just start cracking up and it always ends with, “What the hell were you thinking, man?”…ROFL!

Categories: auto, children, family, humor, offroad, wife

CV boot patch using Techi CV boot repair kit

April 2, 2012 9 comments

Decided to create automotive section in my blog to help folks save some money with their car repair.  I have a page dedicated to it at

https://chris9911.wordpress.com/automotive/

Feel free to ask me any question regarding your car, I love hearing bout it 🙂

In this tutorial I will show you how to fix, or repair, your damaged cv boot.  This is something I just did today on my truck.  CV boot repair is MANDATORY if you see any damage on it.  Prolonged driving with damaged boot will result in loss of steering control of your vehicle.  A damaged CV boot will usually have signs of “leaking” grease near and around the damage (see figure above).  A traditional repair at the shop will run you about $200-$500 to remove the axle and to replace the damaged boot.  If you want to save some money, and the boot damage isn’t so bad, you got two options. 

  1.  Split boot option
  2. Techi cv boot repair kit

I’ve used split boot option before, and its piece of JUNK.  Do not waste your money on this messy worthless piece of crap.  It will spring a leak soon enough and it is really messy.

Techi cv boot repair kit is pretty nice, and its really easy.  I got it from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/techI-CV-boot-repair-kit/dp/B007LTW0CE/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1333250532&sr=8-4

You might have to use brake cleaner to get off most of the grime and grease off the cv boot, before you start the patching process.  I did make a mistake of lifting the vehicle at the vehicle lift point.  This causes the cv to bend at extreme angle and you can’t patch around it.  You have to lift it at the knuckle to make it horizontal.  So basically level it, clean it, and patch it.  I did 2 applications of compound “B”, and I finished it in less than 30min.  I also found a really helpful video on the web at:

Categories: auto, offroad

What should my tire pressure be, if I changed my original tires?

September 1, 2011 6 comments

Please keep in mind all this is purely my opinion, read it as entertainment value and please do you own research before committing to some random guy’s opinion on something that can potentially affect your life and well-being.  I decided to write today’s blog on this specific question because I got into a heated argument with a mechanic while I was getting my oil changed, and I figure this is a safety concern that EVERYBODY needs to know about.  The mechanic was telling me I was in danger because my tires were way over inflated.  Little did he know who he was dealing with.  I responded immediately that HE could have potentially get me in to an accident because he deflated my tires.  You have higher probably of tire failure with under inflated tire vs. over inflated tire.  Under inflated tires generate lot more heat, because of higher friction and resistance between the rubber and the road, and cause your rubber to break down both inside and outside, it’s a very dangerous situation. 

The mechanic said the tire pressure needs to be set based on what the vehicle’s requirement is set to.  This is typically written on a sticker by the driver’s door.  I told him that is absolutely true if the car has the recommended factory set of tires, or equivalent.  I specifically told the mechanic that I had upgraded my tires to a larger aftermarket tires and it has different set of requirements from the original car factory spec.  He was insisting that was irrelevant and it needs to adhere to the original car factory spec.  Long story short, I told him to leave my tires alone and I ended getting the oil change I needed.  So who is right?

The factory set pressure number only applies to factory set equipment.  Its what they designed to, its what they analyzed to, its what they tested to, and its what correlates back to all their calculations.  Factory spec applies to factory set/recommended equipment!! if you change anything in your car outside of the factory spec, it may or may not apply.  

So what do you do if you go against the factory recommendation and upgrade to some really big heavy duty tires with completely different PSI range?  Do you just randomly set it to a number based on the tire range or auto factory range or something in between? The answer is a big “NO”.  You, or qualified, tech/engineer must determine that number.  Since most drivers in this country will not have state of the art testing equipment, sensors, and DAQ we will have to improvise. 

Your ultimate goal is to set the pressure such that there is even pressure across the width of the rubber that is in contact with the road.  There are many different ways to figure this out using just the tools you have at home.  Just be sure your tires are at ambient temperature before continuing with the exercise.  Here are some of my suggestions to determine the pressure gradient:

1.  Use sharpie/markers/chalk to draw some lines across your tires and drive it for a while.  You will start to see some areas start to rub of more than other areas.

2.  Use a very thin plastic sheet like the overhead transparency sheet for projectors.  Use pair of scissors and cut them in strips and lay them down on a flat surface and roll your car over it.  Make sure its sandwiched between your tire and a flat surface.  In an extreme case you may be able to pull some of these strips out, but most likely you wont be able to pull any of these out.  Let your car rest on it for few minutes and roll your car off it.  You should be able to see all the indentations on the strips and determine which area has the high/low pressure.

Now that you know what the high/low spots are, you can inflate/deflate using this information.  If you find there is more pressure in the center region of the tire, it means you have too much air in the tire and its starting to balloon up.  Release some pressure and run the test again.  If you find you have more pressure toward the ends of the tire, you have too little pressure, this is very dangerous!! Add more air in to remedy this.  You definitely want to have more air than less air, but you want to try to shoot for nominal, which is nice flat contact across the rubber.  Also, DO NOT EXCEED the max limit of the tire, you should be well below it.  Check your pressure and check it often, especially with changing weather condition.

Categories: auto

How to create route in Google Earth and transfer to Garmin GPS (part 1)

August 17, 2011 24 comments

NOTE: Latest version of this guide as of 9/21/2012 is in the part 2.  Google Earth has some significant changes since this post, so it needed to be updated.

https://chris9911.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/route-in-google-earth-and-transfer-to-garmin-gps-part-2/

Lesson #1 General overview

I figure this is the most effective way to show people how to get started with creating and transferring google routes to your Garmin GPS.  This tutorial is for those that don’t like reading a manual. Follow these steps and leave me question if you have any:

1.  Install GoogleEarth for your computer

2. Install Garmin Mapsource

3.  Reboot your machine

4.  Start your GoogleEarth

5.  Create all your “Placemarks” first.  This sets up a point to point connection of your path

marks

6.  Create routes by connecting placemarks.  If you rightmouse click on a placemark, it will give you option to route to/from.

route

7.  Here is what it would look like after you connect everything up.  My routes are in white, also notice all the connections I made on the left side of the screen

route_sample

8.  Once you are happy with your newly created route, its time to get it ready for your Garmin GPS.  Click on File/Save-as/<route_name.kmz>

saveas

9.  Open up your web browser to GPSvisualizer.

10.  Browse for your .kmz file, be sure to set output file to .gpx, and hit convert button.  Your form should look like this.

visualizer

11.  Click on your shiny new .gpx file and do a save-as to your computer

gpxfile

12.  Open up GarminMapsource

13.  Open the newly created .gpx file from above step.

14.  Connect up your Garmin GPS to your computer

15.  Click Transfer/send to device.

16.  That is it…Gratz.

17.  If you got this far, least you can do is leave me a friendly comment below Smile

Lesson #2

This will be published dependent on if there is a demand for it.

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Jeep commander vs. hummer H2, Toyota Land cruiser, Mercedes G, Land Rover, Toyota FJ, Nissan Armada

August 13, 2011 13 comments

I am a huge auto enthusiast because I love to drive it and I love working on them even more.  I feel taste and need for a specific vehicle evolves with changing lifestyle and situation.  For example, when you get married with 2 rambunctious boys.  Maybe I’m a typical guy because I’ve always loved trucks for their all around capability and that go-anywhere  attitude.  My family has decided to be more outdoor active and decided to go all in on camping.  We started off  with your traditional kind of camping where all the amenities are there at the site, hot running water, full service bathroom, and groceries nearby.  We entered a phase where that is not good enough and we need a primitive style camping lifestyle.  For those not familiar with camping terms, primitive camping=you camp if you can get there.  So this meant we trade in our beloved Nissan Quest minivan for an off-road worthy SUV.  I have a track record of holding on to cars until either wife makes me get rid of it, or until it burns to the ground.  That was enough justification to go out and pretty much buy any SUV in the market at any price.  Wife really wanted the Land Rover Range Rover or the LR series.  We looked at it together and I have to admit, it’s a beautiful car and I’m sure it will be very off-road capable.  On paper it seemed like a done deal, but… From an auto mechanic’s point of view(yours truly), Land Rover is on top of my list of unreliability.  Their drivetrain has never been the same since going with an aluminum block.  Its inexcusable that you need to have a head job on these motors at about every 30k miles.  Thought of picturing my wife and kids stranded on some 2 lane highway is a nightmare situation for me.  It was tough convincing my wife out of it since her heart was so deeply buried in a Landover, but I convinced her she had to think of it from family point of view, and she finally agreed it wouldn’t be right. 

Hummer H2 was just okay in luxury features and initial presentation.  Test drive proved this vehicle was not ready for prime time.  It accelerated like a turtle and interior is surprisingly small for such a huge vehicle.  The H2 in its stock form actually looks lot more tougher than it really is.  In fact the H2 is probably the least off-road capable truck out of all the other trucks I listed.  Even if I can overlook it pathetic abilities, I cannot risk my family getting attacked by environazis while shopping for groceries.

Mercedes G series and Toyota FJ was rejected immediately because it doesn’t offer 3rd row seat.  Its unfortunate because these two trucks look very unique and fully off-road capable.  7passenger seating is a necessity for my family because we need to include grandparents, friends, and family during some road trips.

Nissan Armada, all I can say is WOW.  It is probably the best value in terms of capability, cost, and features.  Its not the most off-road capable but it exceeds in every other category.  Enormous interior, great gas mileage compared to others on this list, and I know it will get through 90% of trails I need to get through.  So what is the problem you ask?? It was the size.  This truck is just too big to drive around for practical purpose, especially for my wife who has horrible time parallel parking her small Volvo sedan Sad smile  This was truly a sad realization because we both wanted this vehicle so bad…

Next up is arguably the best off-road vehicle for a family, Toyota Land cruiser.  Its on road/off-road capability is legendary, its reliability is legendary, its also sized perfectly for everyday use, and all this for about $65k.  This was my 1st choice truck, in fact we almost did buy this until…

Jeep Commander.  This was the last truck we looked at and it was basically a no-brainer when I found out about its “newfound” features.  I already knew following things about Jeeps.  Its off-road capability is legendary, repair & service is cheap and easy, and it’s as American as it gets.  But I also know the following negative things about Jeeps.  They smell like gas, most women hate it, has “redneck” image, small interior, nuisance failures, and its loud.  Many Jeep owners I know have well over 200k miles on them and the powertrain usually outlasts the body, which is amazing.  So knowing all this, I was shocked and blown away when I found out the Commander is everything a Jeep is with refinements you see in luxury vehicles, and its got 3rd row seating.  Its got sunroofs all over the celling, its got stadium seating, its got Jeep’s version of dual lockers for going over anything, power rear hatch like a mini-van, and Hemi-V8.  Its also very quiet on the road, and parking/maneuvering this truck is piece of cake.  Wife loves it for the 3rd row seat, power, visibility, turning ratio, and maneuverability.  Kids love it for stadium seating, sunroofs everywhere, & dvd player.  I love it because it should be mechanic friendly, replacement parts will be cheap, aftermarket support will be big, and I know my family will have one of the most reliable vehicles on the road.  We maxed out the Jeep commander to their Overland edition with Hemi V8/Quadradrive system with every option imaginable under the sun.  All this and it still came out cheaper than the Land cruiser!

Categories: camping, family, offroad
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