Sometime around noon I made lunch for myself (a couple slices of cheddar cheese, and a number of the tasty beef sticks we've found at Sam's Club) and puttered about on the computer for a while longer. Once I was fed I went outside and examined my pickup. My suspicions were confirmed, the pickup's exhaust had indeed separated.
Above is a picture of my exhaust system, right where the key problem is. You'll see on the left there are two pipes with clean-cut edges and clamps on them. To the right, and hanging down somewhat, are two pipes that have very jagged, rusted-out edges. The left side is the bottom of my headers, the part of the exhaust system that collects the exhaust from the engine and funnels it down under the truck. The right pipes are actually a "y-pipe." They join together and continue to guide the exhaust down to the catalytic converter, then from the cat down to the muffler. As you can see these two parts are no longer joined together. The clamps on the left used to hold the right pipes on, connecting them quite snugly. Since they weaker metal (the headers are much stronger) rusted out the pipe fell down, and now I have exhaust blatting out beneath the cab of my pickup, unmuffled by anything at all. This is why it's so bloody loud now.
Once I'd determined this was the problem I took a walk down the street to the True Value Hardware store that shares the property line with our apartment complex. Surprisingly enough they were open, and they were very busy. I guess everyone needed to do home repairs, automotive repairs and get last-minute barbeque supplies. Since they didn't have exactly what I was looking for I made do with a roll of duct tape and a box cutter, paid my bill and walked back. I climbed back under the truck and went to work taping things...
Here you see my horribly cruddy job of taping things together. I didn't really expect this to hold -- for one, with all the rust the tape's adhesive didn't have anything truly solid to stick to. But at least I had the pipes aligned again, and I thought it might help provide some sort of baffle to help reduce some of the noise. Once I'd taped things up I told Roho I was going for a quick drive and hit the road to test things out. The first few minutes were very encouraging... the truck was loud, yes, but at least it was tolerable and not likely to get me cited for violation of village noise ordinances. However, as I drove longer things started to regress, and then suddenly I was back to the same loud blatting noise I'd started out with. I wasn't sure if the tape had come loose or what, so I drove a few more minutes and then did my best to coast into the apartment's parking lot. Once I'd parked the truck I got out and peered beneath the truck to see what had gone wrong.
You see what greeted me when I finally got down under the truck. Yes, the truck's engine had gotten warm and the exhaust considerably hotter than that. Eventually the exhaust heated up the pipes so much that the duct tape melted off in some places, and shrank in others, thus removing the baffling and letting the pipes fall apart again. You can see quite plainly in this picture that the "y-pipe" on the right is once again hanging lower than the headers on the left.
With my duct-tape experiment a failure I returned to the apartment, only to discover that I'd gotten grease, oil and dirt smeared all over my nice Western Digital shirt, my hands and my arms. I'd also gotten a great deal of rust and flaked paint in my beard, hair and all over my face so I decided a shower would be in order. I basked under the hot water for a good fifteen minutes and scrubbed myself thoroughly with soap and washcloth in an attempt to banish the grease to the drain. I seemed to succeed for the most part, got out of the shower and settled in to watch a movie. This afternoon's choice of cinema was a straight-to-video number called "Retroactive," starring James Belushi. To call this movie "bad" isn't entirely fair, but it's no spring rose either. I mostly watched it because the premise was interesting and some of the effects were decent, even if most of the acting was bad and the jokes worse. I'd seen this once before on some cable station or another and was sufficiently amused when I saw it in the grab-bin at Wal-Mart that I picked it up. Hey, for $6 I don't lose any real money even if I only watch it once, because I can at least recycle the DVD as a coaster and the jewel case as a home for some more noble and deserving movie if the need should arise.
Once the movie was over I slipped into my bedroom and took out my guitar. I practiced for about half an hour, plugging through the bass lines that I'd tackled last night. I thought I did okay, but I still need to work on making sure that my fret fingers get more exercise and stretching. Now that I've completed this book I find myself wondering where I should go next. aureth has suggested private bass lessons, although that's not something I'm sure I want to pursue right now. urocyon has suggested listening to some songs and adjusting my equalizer to help pick out the bass lines, and see if I can learn anything from it. Not sure what I'll do yet... I still need to perfect the basics that are in this book, and then I guess I'll worry about what step to take next. I hope that Roho didn't mind listening to me plunk away for 30 minutes.... I know Ra gave me a few angry glances when I hit a sour note or didn't press down firmly enough on a string and got a buzz.
After I put the bass away I read for a while, spent a bit more time idling online and then took a nap. When the nap was over I got on the phone and spoke with my dad about the pickup (he laughed at my attempt to fix things with duct-tape, since he knew right away it would melt), about Priscilla's condition (that's an entry in and of itself) and the plans my family had for the holiday with my grandfather.
Once 7:15 PM rolled around Roho and I got in the car and drove over to Kestral's office to pick her up. We rode up to BD's and were pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant was pretty quiet at 7:45 when we got there. Sara was glad to see us, and she seated us up near the bar, away from the "restaurant in general." We spent some time talking, were introduced to the new manager who is taking the old manager's place (Andre is apparently being transferred to the Naperville store) and had some tasty food. I had my usual bowl of burning (sirloin with lots of cayenne and crushed red pepper, some Franks Hot Sauce and some sweet-and-source sauce) and a bowl of Bebbe's Creole Shrimp. I had three beers (Miller Lite... not my MGD, but I guess I won't be drinking those anymore if I want to keep to the diet on the long-term) while I ate to help keep the burn under control and to help lighten my mood. I figured that I deserved the drinks given the way the last 7 days have gone, and I was well within my carbohydrate limit for the day even with the stir-fry. It was nice to talk with Sara, who seemed very concerned about my mood. Matt S. also stopped by to shoot the breeze with us, Howard introduced us to Chris, the new manager... and all told it was a pretty nice night. I bought a fishing hat with the BD's logo embroidered on it since Sara said they had a few in the back, and I thought it looked sharp on her. When I tried it on Roho said the look worked for me... but only so long as I had on this particular black shirt and the panther charm I wear on my necklace is hanging out. I'll see if I can't grab a snapshot or two tomorrow to put up, and y'all can tell me what you think.
Oh, remember how I mentioned I'd gotten dirty and greasy under the truck, and I took a shower to get clean again? Despite my best efforts I apparently still had a rather significant stripe of grime on my right elbow, something Kestral pointed out to me with great amusement while we were getting ready to leave. I can't believe it... soap, a washcloth, scalding hot water and still the filth won't surrender! What does a guy have to do, drop a nuclear warhead on it?!?
Once we finished up dinner we sat for a few more minutes, then bid everyone a good evening since it was time for the store to close. I couldn't resist writing "The Trio wuvs you, Sara!" on the check before we left, and Kestral drew a small cheetah head on there to help personalize it a little more. It's fun when you're practically family at a place like this, and there have been several times in the last few weeks that I've thought about applying for a job as a waiter or a griller there, just for the grins of it. I'm afraid that I have to side with Roho, though... it would add a different dynamic to my relationship with the people who work there as well as the people who manage the store, something I'm not sure I want to happen. Ah well, it's a nice thought. Maybe I can find a second job somewhere just as nice so I can make a few extra dollars....
We drove back to Kestral's workplace so she could collect her pickup, then made our way back to the apartment. I've spent the last hour or so skimming LiveJournal entries that were made during the day and composing this entry. Since I've had a number of beers, and since work starts tomorrow I figure I better head to bed early tonight. I've got to get to work on time so I can try to get out on time, and see if I can't stop by AutoZone for some suggestions on a cheap way to patch my exhaust together. I just need it to last for another four to six weeks, because with luck I'll be able leave my old pickup with my parents to do with as they will, and pick up the Expedition to take its place. We'll see what happens, I guess!
You're always strong when I'm tired and weak