Sturgeon’s Law

Ninety Percent Of Everything Is Crap


Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud." Oddly, when Sturgeon's Law is cited, the final word is almost invariably changed to 'crap'.

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Reconstituted Dinosaurs

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  • Member since 17 Sep 2000
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Ask Brian

61,000 Pieces of Flappy Strips of Cloth

When we got home from work tonight I was feeling energetic, so I decided to go outside and wash the Purple Whale. I took one look at the car and thought, man that’s a lot of metal and decided to wash the Miata.

After dinner and the evening news we opted to do our weekly grocery shopping tonight instead of Saturday or Sunday morning. On the way to the store we made a quick stop at Lulu’s to run the Sonata through the automatic car wash. Normally we just do the “Molly Wash” which is basically a wash and a tire shine for $10, but not tonight. All I had in my wallet was a twenty and we wondered if the automatic check-in machine would give change. The answer to that question would go unanswered because as we pulled in there was an advert for the Manager’s Special for twenty bucks so we decided to shoot the moon.

The top of the line wash is $18 and there are like 4 different add-ons that range from $2 to $4 each, the Manager’s Special tossed everything in for a mere $2 more. We got Bug Shielded, Simonized, Buffed and more than I can remember. What I did remember was something called Lava Wash where the Sonata was coated in three times as much soap as usual and instead of it being plain white, the suds were a mixed combination of red, orange and yellow colored.

After shopping I filled up the Purple Whales tank and when I looked to read the mileage from the last fill-up I notice the total mileage showed 61,117. Hmmm, missed the transition from 60999 to 6100 which probably happened some time last week. Shame on me.

Started down, went up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 06/25/15: 164

Another Miata T-Shirt

xtra_detail_grande
Yesterday’s thrice weekly Blipshift t-shirt was another one that was Miata related. And when I saw it, I asked Donna, “Seeing as I’m not getting a new Miata1, can I get a new Miata shirt?” I said, “Don’t worry, I really don’t like it that much.”2

My ChoiceI play on the whole internet meme of Miata always being the answer to any automotive question. I felt they missed the mark slightly and they might have sold a few more shirts to us Miata owners if they had not checked the all of the above and left the selection circles empty. That way we could use a Marks-A-Lot to check the box that corresponds to the generation of Miata we own. And if we owned more than one Miata and they happened to be of different generations we might have bought more than one shirt.

1. Now that the Emperor is mostly fixed (pending a successful road trip of some sort this weekend.
2. I ended up buying one anyway when I noticed that the long sleeve shirts were on gray heather instead of the flat gray shown.

Back Home Again

The Emperor is back in the garage again tonight. The original theory of a timing issue because of the previous shop needing to get under the timing belt covers to change the Crank Position Sensor didn’t pan out. Turns out that sensor sits outside the cover so there would be no reason for them to be inside the cover.

Yesterday evening’s new theory was the fact that I was a quart low on oil so that the VVT was not working all the way and that would have caused the CEL, the slight hesitation and possibly the louder exhaust sounds. When they suggested this to me I tried, maybe not to successfully, to hide the incredulous expression on my face. Their plan for today was to test drive it before adding oil and then afterwards to see if that had any effect. I said, “Go for it.” I mean, what the heck, can’t hurt.

I didn’t get any phone calls today from the folks at AW, so on the way home today we stopped in. They had gotten busy and didn’t have a chance to get to my problem, so when I showed up Holley said let’s try it. He added a quart and off we went with him driving. They had cleared the CEL and I have to admit I felt no hesitation and maybe the exhaust note was a bit less. At the halfway point, we swapped places, and I drove it back to the shop. No light, no bogged down feeling, but still just a little louder than this old fogey would like at wide open throttle. Holley said, “Let me run a full bead all the way around that resonator and you can take the car home. The exit prescription was to change the oil and if the CEL comes back on, bring it back.

Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 06/25/15: 163

Women Are So Much Better At Estate Planning

Dan was a single guy living at home with his widowed father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will die, and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.” Impressed, the woman obtained his business card.

Three days later, she became his stepmother.

This Has Now Become Commonplace

The Emperor is spending the night at an auto repair shop.

We got the Miata back on Friday evening and Saturday we drove to Augusta in it. Within the first couple of miles we both knew something just wasn’t right. There was zero rear diff noise, but under heavy throttle the exhaust sounded crazy loud and slightly under powered. Donna mentioned the noise right off and while my butt dyno felt a little power lag, I couldn’t be sure.

We made two trips to Augusta over the weekend and when I kept the throttle levels at neighborhood driving levels the car felt fine. But putting your foot in it, as they say, resulted in increased exhaust volume. A quick search on Miata.net on the issued resulted in several hundred not on point hits.

Monday we drove the Miata to work, but about a half mile from home the Check Engine Light came on. It was running fine and felt fine, but I pulled a U-turn and came home to get in the Sonata.

My first thought was I needed to find out exactly which things they changed at Wayne’s, so I could let the folks know at my new favorite shop know. This turned out to be harder than you would think it would be, but not surprising considering my actual repair experience there.1

At a round cubicle discussion with co-workers discussing my continued Miata woes someone posits that maybe the new shop had to remove some part of the exhaust system to replace the differential and poked a hole in a pipe or cracked a gasket or something. So I called the Automotive Workbench and spoke to Holley and he said that they didn’t have to touch any exhaut components to do the swap, but please bring the car in and we’ll run the code.

After work Donna followed me over to the AW and Holley and I went for a test drive. The first thing he said to me once I buried my foot was, “A lot of people pay good money to get that sound.” I told him, “If I was 20 years-old, I wouldn’t be complaining. But the sound level is almost twice as loud as what it normally is.” When we got back to the shop he took it out back to put it on a lift to check for leaks and run the code.

With Holley’s code reading of Crank Position Sensor Issue, my description of symptoms and some spitballing with Brian the owner we have a possible problem (timing belt off a notch, possibly when Wayne’s installed the new sensor) and a plan of attack for them tomorrow, pull the valve cover to see if that is it and also re-weld around the pre-silencer on the mid-pipe that Steve at Panic had spot welded on a while back.

Started down, went up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 06/25/15: 162

1. Finally at 4:30PM I got the email with the correct info.

Sitting In An ND II

ND <= NB

Now having had to spend big bucks twice to get the Emperor running in the last month, we thought maybe we should go check out the new Miata once more to see if this could be an option for the next time we have to pony up half the Kelly Blue Book of the car to get it running right again. Eight months ago we sat in a new one, with mixed feelings, but didn’t drive it because it was an automatic transmission. I understand why a lot of folks choose one, but for Donna and I a Miata has to be a row your own.

We arrived at the Gerald Jones Megaplex1 and made our way through the lot to the Mazda area. Parked near the street end of the lot somewhat close to a couple of Miatas they had near the entrance to lure in buyers. And because we didn’t get there until 11:00 AM or so there lots of potential customers wandering the lot with salesmen cruising around in golf carts trying to herd them into a cubicle in the showrooms. No one zeroed in on us so we walked over to the dark gray and the white/gray and I looked inside, both were automatics. We then made our way towards the buildings to find somebody to get a car to drive. During the 50 yard walk still no on approached.

Close to the showroom was a Miata in a shade of blue (called Reflex Blue that is really a medium gray with blue undertones.) I looked inside it and it was a stick. Donna said, “This is a pretty blue.” And comparing it to the two grays we saw already and the black Miata right across from this one, she was right, it was the nicest looking Miata we’d seen so far, but sort of in the way of it being the most attractive of Cinderella’s ugly step-sisters.

It was unlocked, so I opened the door and got in the driver’s seat, Donna got in the passenger seat and we tried it on for size. I pointed out the awkwardly placed cup holders. Explained the no glove box thing and opened the cubby between the seats to show the spot that is supposed to replace it. I unlatched the top and threw it back. Nice. We got out, walked around the car and changed seats. After another minute or two with still no salesman approaching, we headed into the showroom.

The gatekeeper asked us what we were looking for and I said a Miata to test drive. He send somebody off to find somebody else. Soon Owen appeared, after handshakes all around, I said I’d like to drive a Miata with a manual transmission. He started walking out towards the two Miatas near the lot entrance and after a few steps I stopped him, telling him they were autos. Owen turned back towards the showroom, so I pointed towards the blueish one we had sat in before, “Oh, that one is sold already.”2 Then he turned towards the black across the way, I had peeked inside that one too and it was another automatic, so I let him know.

He said wait here, and went inside to check their inventory. The only stick they had on the lot was the Club on the showroom floor and told him I wasn’t interested.3 “Well, we have two sport models coming that have manual transmissions, I’m not sure exactly when, but would you like me to let you know when they get here?” I said, “Sure,” so we traded business cards. After rereading our experience from last Augusta again, this is the exact same thing the salesman told me then and I never heard from him.

We have now sat in the new ND Miata twice, but still have not driven one.

1. Their are dealers for Audi, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Volvo & Volkswagen all in the same parking lot.
2. We didn’t say anything to Owen but to each other we thought it might have been a good idea from them to mark it as such so some random people won’t play around with somebody’s new car. Or at least lock it up.
3. I had noticed it when we had stepped inside the showroom earlier and while the Club is the mid-level car price-wise this one had the $3400 Brembo brakes/BBS wheel option that made it the most expensive Miata you can get.

Beefed Up Butt

Political Yard Sign

The Emperor is back home this evening filling up the our garage after us filling up the coffers at Automotive Workbench.

Not really wanting to spend what it would cost for the new LSD for the Miata I did a little research over the weekend and came up with a couple options. The first was a new aftermarket unit from Flying Miata and a used unit from Treasure Coast Miata. I called them up on Monday and asked them to try and get the used unit first, failing that, go for the newer more expensive one.

In the afternoon the mechanic1 called back and said the used unit was still available and on its way. After we hung up I went back and looked at the Treasure Coast Miata ad again and I noticed it was from a Mazdaspeed Miata. That is when I thought I remembered seeing somewhere that that model LSD was beefed up some to accommodate the increased power from the turbo. I did some research and discovered I was right. The axle used with the Mazdaspeed unit are a couple millimeters larger in diameter at the differential end. My stock ones wouldn’t work. Ruh-roh! Am I going to have to buy some axles? How much is that going to cost? Then I went back to the ad and saw that they were including the axles in the deal. Phew.

On Tuesday Holley called me again. This time to tell me the Emperor needed a new battery. He had to jump start it both days when he needed to re-position it around the shop. Seemed like I just bought a battery. Yep, did, but it was for the Sonata. This is the third battery for the Miata in its lifetime. The OEM lasted 5-1/2 months The genuine Mazda replacement lasted two months longer than its 2 year warranty. This one was from Autozone and it equaled the longevity of the OEM at about 5-1/2 months.

No call on Wednesday, but Thursday afternoon Holley called again to tell me that my rear brake pads were getting low and did I want him to change them while he was in there because it would be cheaper than if I brought it in later. I declined because that is something I actually can do myself. But his question got me to ask, “Does that mean the differential is there?” Holey said, “Yeah and I should be done tomorrow afternoon.” He was and Donna and I stopped by on the way home to pick it up.

Started down, went up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 06/25/15: 161

1. The fellow’s name is Holley and I wonder if he was predestined to become an auto mechanic after being named for the famed carburetor company. I didn’t ask, so it could just as well be an old family name.