Monday, November 29, 2010

1999 GMC AWD Safari Van November 2010 service report

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This is more of a personal journal entry than it is a general-interest blog entry; I am finding that blogging is a very convenient way to keep track of things.

11/11/2010 odometer 163,785 miles
Lube, oil, and filter (yep, this old dinosaur has grease fittings)
AC compressor and clutch replaced (it may seem winter is a strange time to be doing this, but the windows fog up inside during cold weather without the AC compressor running during defrost)
Serpentine belt replaced
Radiator replaced (corrosion problem; leaking at the seams, a uniform oozing)
Front brake pads and rotors replaced
Rear brakes cleaned and adjusted
Ball joints
Idler arms (last replaced around 100,000 miles on the odometer)
Alignment
Transfer case fluid change
Front differential gear-lube change
Rear differential gear-lube change
Rear differential spider gears replaced

11/29/2010, odometer 164,363 miles
New front and rear tires

I think the old GMC Safari is (for the most part) ready for another winter. This trip to the certified GM shop solved one mystery. It has been two years (maybe three) since an intermittent noise started coming from the rear of the vehicle. It sounded a bit like rocks clanging inside a hubcap, sometimes sounding like tree branches wrapped around the drive shaft, sometimes a bit like broken brake components rattling around inside a brake drum, sometimes it growled like a bad wheel bearing. The noises would last only a short while and often would not reoccur until after thousand of miles of driving. Mechanics (at different shops) were at a loss to find the cause. During this visit, they said the rear brakes and wheel bearings were fine, could detect nothing wrong with the vehicle on the rack, and could not hear any problems during the test drive. Mileage wise, the van was due for front and rear differential lube change so I asked that they pull the rear differential inspection plate and peek inside. Voila, they found broken spider gears.

Most of the cost for this list of repairs is routine stuff, brakes, belts, gearbox lube, idler arms, etc. The unanswered question is how long and how far I want to push my luck with this old vehicle; the spreadsheet shows that keeping this one on the road is still more affordable than buying something new. How many miles will it go before there is something that is prohibitively expensive? This van, between the end of the transmission and the rear bumper, is a unibody vehicle with no external frame. While the body looks to be in excellent shape, once the rust takes hold (and northern Illinois winter road salt makes that inevitable), the structural strength will not be enough for continued heavy use. Other than the unibody, my guess is that little irritations will continue. Maybe the heater core will start leaking; corrosion could cause leaks in the AC system and perhaps the transmission oil cooler. The electrical system connectors have been corroding away; GM no longer sells many of them so replacements must be improvised. There is an intermittent problem with the heater/AC blower yet to solve; it could be a bad connection, a near-dead blower motor, a bad switch, a bad resister card, or all of the above. Little irritations I can tolerate and afford; the cost of a rebuilt transmission or engine would be hard to justify because I doubt that the unibody has more than four or five years left.

As it sits now, barring a catastrophic failure of body, engine, or transmission, my goal is to run the van until November of the year 2014 or when the odometer hits 200,000+ miles (whichever comes first) and then send it off to clunker heaven or find it a place somewhere on Jason’s Old Truck Ranch. I am not one of the super dedicated fans of the GMC Safari / Chevy Astro Van; it has been a useful utility vehicle for me but I have no desire to spend the money needed for a rotisserie restoration. There has to be a line in the sands of time after which I find a suitable (and affordable) replacement. Perhaps by the end of 2014, my heavy landscape projects here at home will be complete and I can go with something smaller, a bit less robust, with better gas mileage.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ready.gov pet plan video

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Your pets are not like Rambo; they rely on you for protection during emergencies.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Pet Preparedness

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What plans have you made for your critters to survive a crisis?  What happens if you cannot get home for three days or more?  Do they have enough food and water for the duration?

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So much to be thankful for

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The list is far too long to put in here but not too long to put in a prayer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michael wants to belt you before Christmas

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The Holster Site is having a Christmas sale, offering high quality belts at some amazing prices. Even for those of you not needing a good gun belt, these are a sure bet to keep that plumber’s butt smile of yours securely hidden by your britches.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sounds like Art is looking for a SPEEDFEED grip for his Mossberg 500

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Art’s standard Mossberg 500 pistol grip is giving him more than a handful of pain. Shooting a 12 Gauge that has a pistol grip can rattle most carpal tunnels. I have read that the SPEEDFEED grip offers a more a manageable ride.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are you soliciting goods or services for your home or business? Look to the Veteran Owned Businesses to fill your requirements.

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VeteranOwnedBusiness.com is a comprehensive, user-friendly directory of small, medium, and large businesses owned by veterans, active duty military, reservists and service disabled veterans. Check out their website here and their blog here.

Thank you to all who served.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Contagion related shooting reported near Waukegan lakefront, Amstutz Expressway closed. Two government Black Hawk helicopters overhead this afternoon.

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Steven Soderbergh's thriller “Contagion” is expected to be released in October of 2011. Film crews today shot action scenes of Black Hawk helicopters zooming along the Amstutz, a very popular piece of highway with filmmakers because it is low-use (part of an incomplete project, it goes nowhere and is only used for local traffic). Film crews should be finished shooting by 6:00 AM tomorrow and the expressway reopened to public.

Only two things could get me to the theater for yet another “OMG, WE ALL GONNA DIE” mutant killer virus movie; Steven Soderbergh has the talent to make it less cliché than all of the others, and Laurence Fishburne NEVER fails in any role.

As awesome as they are to see, I have to say that it is a bit unnerving to have a pair of Black Hawks thunder low over my house.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go; I have to finish this patio…

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I lost track of how much material I hauled in my old all-wheel-drive 1999 GMC Safari Van for my yard projects this year. A glance at the tickets for last month alone shows 1200 lbs of boulders and 6000 lbs of gravel. I try to limit the weight per trip to no more than 1000 lbs, for the sake of my back and the longevity of the old van. As consideration for my neighbors, I only bring in enough material for two or three days work. Having stockpiles of bricks, boulders, sand, and gravel in the yard would be an eyesore.

Both the old van and I need a break. Next week the GMC goes in for a host of repairs including a coolant leak, tie-rod ends, front and rear brakes, drive belt, etc. After she gets out of the repair shop, I will then mosey her down the road and purchase new tires. Once she is again roadworthy, on every fair weather day that remain in this year, I will either be down at the landscape center loading up or back home putting it all in place.

I sure hate to keep putting money into a vehicle that I could not sell for half of what I will spend on these repairs but even with 163,000 miles on the odometer, the old GMC continues to be the perfect mule for what I need to do. After the repairs, I still will not trust it for long trips. However, for muscling material and equipment around locally, and for clawing through winter snow, I cannot readily find anything better.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is Melissa Bean all Walshed up?

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At 20-minutes after midnight, with 98% of the precincts counted, Republican Joe Walsh leads 8th District House incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean by a mere 626 votes! What a horse race! It is too close to call; I’m going to bed.

Good luck, Joe!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A blogger has gone silent. RIP John D. Solomon of In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

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Several months ago, I ran across the blog and it became one of my favorites, “A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness.” Well written and ever enlightening, I will miss John D. Solomon’s words and wisdom.

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Election Day 2010

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Term limits for politicians begin at the polls. Vote them out.

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