I talked for a few minutes with my dad last night and got an update on the Expedition situation. The transmission was dropped last week after much cursing and toolwork was done (my father had to cut a few bolts off with a muffler gun, it seems). This past Sunday (the thirteenth) it went into a transmission repair shop that my father knew of, and was promptly torn down for diagnosis. Apparently the unit was, as my father put it, "completely lunched to shit." It seems that the pump suffered a catastrophic failure at some point and things just went downhill from there, with lots of wear occurring on various gears inside the unit. I'm told there was a ton of metal shavings caught on the magnet at the bottom of the transmission pan, and apparently one of the ring gears eventually cracked as part of the series of failures that were occurring from lack of proper lubrication. When that cracked it created a protuberance that spun around, caught against another piece of the transmission and brought the whole thing to a screaming, shuddering stop. It's one small piece of the whole, but with it jammed in the manner it was it caused the entire line to lock up, thus preventing the engine from turning at all. In some ways I'm surprised that the ultimate cause of the failure was a single ring gear, but at the same time I'm not all that taken aback. At least we know what the problem was now.
So my dad was faced with a decision -- get the transmission rebuilt with a new pump, new gear set, new torque converter, new flex plate, new seals and labor for about $1,800... or go buy a used one. Naturally he decided to buy a used one, and procured a 1998 transmission from another Expedition that had been wrecked, with about 60,000 miles on it. We could tear it down as well and check it out, but we'd have to completely tear it down to give it the proper examination so the decision has been made to just trust to fate on this. The transmission shop says that 60,000 miles "ain't nothing" for one of these units, so I guess that's reassuring enough. My only concern at this point is making sure that this replacement unit has the heavy-duty trailer package in it like the old one did.
With the purchase of the "new" transmission, plus the purchase of the Expedition itself, I'm currently looking at a running sales slip of about $7,000 for the whole shebang (not counting my dad's time, or the time of his friend who has lent a hand tearing it down and is asking about helping to put it back together). There's a new set of timing chains in there somewhere, but I don't imagine those ran more than $60 for the pair so I'm not too worried. When all is said and done I'll probably have $7,400 in parts and actual purchase price for a vehicle that currently is selling for somewhere around the $14,500 mark. I really can't complain, that's a hell of a deal. Dad says he expects the entire thing to be put together in another two weeks, and then he's going to start it up and take it for a test drive to make sure that everything is running smoothly. He's already trying to set a date for a drive down here to Wheeling so he can pick up my old truck and give me the new one. As of this point in time the plan calls for him to arrive with the Expedition around 5 PM on August 9th... which is pretty amusing to me for reasons I won't disclose here quite yet.
I'm not sure if dad wants cash up front for the whole amount (I can do that, although I'd rather not), if he wants a "down payment" and then monthly payments, or if he wants me to just start sending checks to him monthly like a regular car loan with no down payment whatsoever. If he wants monthly checks, I don't know how big he wants them to be. $400 a month? $500? It's all good and well within my ability to pay, it's just that small details like this bother me when they're not getting handled -- I'm left feeling uncertain, and I don't like that. Oh well, I'm sure he'll make his mind up eventually, and knowing him he'll probably decide how he wants to be repaid around the time he actually hands me the keys. What matters is that the new truck is almost finally here, and then I'll have a whole new toy to obsess on and spend money for.
That was the big news for last night. I also got another couple of boxes from UPS, one containing another hard drive (yes, another 1.6" drive) and one containing a 120 gigabyte IDE drive in an external FireWire enclosure. I'd like to take a moment to endorse FireWire -- it's far too cool to ignore if you're serious about having a usable machine. I took the hard drive in its enclosure, plugged it into the wall so it had power, plugged one end of the cable into my host adapter, plugged the other end into the enclosure and threw the switch. The drive powered on and two seconds later Windows XP saw it. There was no tearing the case down, no swearing at IDE ribbon cables, no screws to hold the drive in place. It was plug, plug, plug, click, done. How painless is that? And the great part is I can take this drive with me wherever I go, as long as I have a FireWire port to plug into.
After I got the new drive plugged in and formatted I sat down and watched another DVD from my Amazon order. Last night's selection was that 1979 cult classic, Phantasm. What's really cool about the DVD is that when you play the movie it features a five minute introduction from Angus Scrimm, the "Tall Man" himself. I got about halfway through the movie, and then walked across the street with Roho and Kestral for dinner at the Continental. I had a tasty strip steak with melted mozzarella on top, some really good scrambled eggs and a side of bacon. After we paid our bill we stopped at Blockbuster on the way back, where I picked up a couple of used DVDs for a reasonable price. I got a copy of "Children of the Corn," the not-entirely-horrible adaptation of the Stephen King story that eventually spawned a whole series of lousy movies. I also go a copy of Mel Gibson's last truly good movie, "Payback." My third and final selection for the evening was a copy of "The Mothman Prophecies," which purports to be an adaptation of a true story. I'm not entirely sure how real the "true story" is, but I think it should be a pretty suspenseful film to watch.
When we got home I watched the remaining half of "Phantasm." I think Kestral is beginning to question my taste in movies, she didn't seem particularly thrilled by the part she saw when she walked in (she stopped to watch the famous "sphere" scene). "How can you watch that?" she asked me, looking rather incredulous as the blood spilled out of the back of the ball. "Pretty easily," I replied with a chuckle. It takes all kinds, right? I have to get my dose of horror sometime. Hell, it's nothing worse than what's going on in the world around us, that's how I look at it.
Today promises to be a busy day...frostyw and captain18 are arriving in Chicago via train sometime this morning (They're supposed to be here in 20 more minutes, although Frosty figures it won't be until 10 or so). Once they get into town I have to contact them and try to coordinate plans for the day. One option is for roho, enveri and I to join up with them and go to our usual haunt for lunch, since Cap has expressed an interest in that for a meal. I'm not sure what he's looking to do for the rest of the afternoon, but I do know that at around 8:00 PM I'm meeting up with Cap, Frosty, Roho, neuracnu, daf666 and a one or two other folks at Dave & Busters in Addison for some drinking and quality male bonding time. You guessed it, we're having Cap's bachelor party tonight. It's time for drunken carousing for all! I honestly plan on not being able to spell my own name when the evening is through.
I have fallen for you