The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The world's slowest mechanic strikes again

I'm doing the 24,000 mile service on my Jeep, and it took almost five hours just to change the front differential fluid and the engine oil and filter. Now, granted, I'm also inspecting other things, like the radiator fluid (added some distilled water and glycol), the power steering fluid (seems okay), and the brake fluid (doesn't need any yet, but it's on the line, so keep an eye on it). Not to mention inspecting the crosspin for wear, inspecting the Aussie Locker for proper operation (should ratchet if not being driven by the pinion, should lock solid if being driven by the pinion), and so forth. But still. This is ridiculous!

If I could rely on someone else to be as meticulous as me, I think it'd be worth it for me to pay someone. Problem is how to find someone as meticulous as I am who is educable as to the quirks of my Jeep (as vs. the sort who go, "I've been working on cars for 99 years, I know what I'm doing", well, okay, but the cars you were working on don't have the mods of my Jeep, which has a few more zerk fittings than a standard Jeep as well as that trick front differential with the ratchet in it!). Well, that and being able to afford that person, since you ain't gettin' that for cheap!

- Badtux the Wrenching Penguin
(Who still ain't done, I need to grease the zerks and inspect the brake pads, oh joy!).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Should we save General Motors?

There's been a lot said about General Motors - that the straits they're in are because they made bad cars or not enough small cars. Thing is, they sold more small cars last year than Chrysler and Ford combined and their cars were pretty good technically, if a bit cheap in the fit and finish department (plastick-y interiors and such) because of rampant cost-cutting. If I want a work truck, for example, I want a Chevrolet. Ford and Dodge trucks are designed for rich suburbanites as penis enhancement devices, Chevrolets are designed for work, which is why they have wider and lower beds than Dodge and Ford trucks (who wants to lift a hay bale up five feet into the bed of a jacked-up Dodge when they can lift it up three feet into the bed of a Chevy?). Then there's the notion of bad management. Well, their management certainly isn't the best on the planet, but it's no worse than any other automaker's management.

So what's the deal, then? Well, the deal is simple: HEALTH CARE. General Motors turned into a health care provider that sold cars. There is more health care than steel in a GM car, on a dollars and cents basis. The cost of providing health coverage for 1.1 million GM workers, retirees and dependents is over $10 billion per year. So we can say to GM, "okay, you can go bankrupt". But then 1.1 million people lose their health care coverage. Hundreds of thousands lose their pensions. Probably half a million Americans who are paid directly or indirectly by General Motors lose their jobs, as the failure reverberates through GM's suppliers, most of whom themselves would end up going bankrupt.

So while there's something to say about the notion "GM should not survive", this isn't the time. A down economy such as we have now simply can't take that sort of hit without going further into the hole. In the long term, we need to fix the health care system to take that burden off of GM's back and then do something about GM's management, which has not done a good job of thinking long-term over the past thirty years. But in the short term, unless something is done quickly GM is dead. And we get another half a million people without jobs on the street, and 1.1 million people with no health care. That's called "economic death spiral", folks. And no matter how much you detest GM, we can afford that even less than a bailout of GM.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hell's Grannies

They're coming for you!

-- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mirror extenders came today!

They were in the mailbox when I got home. So I went ahead and put them on the Weestrom, and then tried adjusting the windshield again to a good place. Better. But still not perfect. There is more room for the mirrors, but the biggest problem now is that when I turn the handlebars lock to lock, the handguards hit on the "ears" of the windshield if I tilt it back further. Still, I can tilt it back further than I had it when I didn't have the mirror relocation widgets, so I'll see tomorrow how well it works in its new position. If all else fails, I can always fiddle more with the location of the handlebars (adjustability, what a joy!) and even modify the windshield itself to cut off some of its "ears" if necessary. It's just a big friggin' piece of Lexan, after all, perfectly cuttable by half a dozen tools in my toolbox...

-- Badtux the Wrenching Penguin

My first ride with the new windshield

On Monday, I needed to go to Costco for some noodles. I drove the Jeep to work. On Tuesday, I needed to take the Jeep to the tire place to get my tires rotated and balanced (free lifetime rotation and balancing at America's Tire/ Discount Tire if you buy your tires there!). On Wednesday I just plain overslept and drove the Jeep because you can just jump in the thing and get to work on it.

So today I got to ride the new windshield and... meh. We'll have to see what happens once my mirror extenders come in and I can get the mirrors out of the way so I can tilt it back further, but so far, it doesn't seem to be much better than the stock windshield. At least it's not too tall, which was Gordon's fear -- the way I had it adjusted put the top of the windshield basically at the bottom of my visor. I've adjusted it a little taller for the ride home, we'll see if that's any better, but I don't think it'll be "right" until I can tilt it back further towards me, which I can't do until I move the mirrors out of the way. Alas, I forgot my camera, so couldn't get a picture of the bike w/windshield installed on it today... oh well!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin