Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bang the Tank to Make It Go

I am computer literate in a small way, enough that there are lots of people in my circle of acquaintance who know a bit less than me. So I get to do a bit of user support now and then. My favourite computer repair was accomplished with the aid of a large plumber's wrench and a belt knife. Somebody had stuck the removable hard drive into its chassis upside down, and the thing had got stuck. I unscrewed the chassis with the wrench, removed the drive and carved some plastic off of one edge with the knife to keep the drive from sticking again. Very hands-on.

Earlier today, my dad helped me get the car to start with a similar method. Symptoms: starter motor ran nicely but no ignition occurred. He called my brother, who is even wiser in the ways of the motor car, and got some interesting advice. Apparently, these symptoms occur mainly due to trouble with the fuel pump. And yes, it was actually uncommonly silent.

The thing to do to a SAAB in cases like this, says my brother, is to knock the pump out of its meditative mode by simply banging on the gas tank. So my father turned the key to the lit-lamps-but-no-ignition position, got out of the car, crouched behind it with a hammer, and gave the tank a few thumps. When he turned the ignition, the car started. Beautiful simplicity! Without help, I'd have had to get the thing towed to the repair shop.

[More blog entries about ; .]


Blogger Karen said...

I find that kicking whatever it is that isn't working often does the trick. Same theory as that of your brother and father. The bonus is that you get to work out some pent up aggression and anger. Who needs therapy?

A SAAB eh? I have fond memories of a friend of mine and I sticking our heads out of the sun roof of a SAAB while flying down the highway during high school. The bugs in the teeth, up the nose, and blinding the eyes were an unpleasant result but the wind in the hair and of course the fine Swedish automotive engineering made for a great ride. Ah, those were the days.

23 August, 2006 22:56  
Blogger Martin said...

Maybe our car is a masochist.

23 August, 2006 23:02  
Blogger Molle said...

Ha ha. Låter som Siddes första Taunus. När den inte reagerade alls vid omvridning av tändningsnyckeln lade man sig på marken, sträckte upp handen under kjolen på bilen, höll jag på att säga, men det var ju under vänster framskärm, och knackade lite på solenoiden som var belägen nånstans där. Jag har aldrig sett solenoiden med egna ögon; däremot många gånger bankat på eller i såpass nöjaktig närhet av den att Taunusen startade som vilken kärnfrisk tysk bil som helst. Vilket den i grunden också var.

Och ditt knep med bränsletanken ska jag lägga på minnet -- vi är ju också Saabägare numera. Låt mig återgälda med ett annat råd: se till att blinkerinsatsen aldrig trillar ur på grund av att nån har törnat emot bilen aldrig så lite men dock tillräckligt för att ett plastclips i den helgjutna insatsen ska ha gått av. Den -- insatsen -- kostar nämligen närmare tusen spänn.

23 August, 2006 23:12  
Blogger Martha said...

My husband once "fixed" his recalcitrant car with copper plumbing pipe. It didn't work very well, though he was able to make the thing last a few miles longer. My husband singlehandedly goes a long way in disproving the assumption that there is some instinctive reservoir of mechanical ability inherent in the masculine brain.

25 August, 2006 08:54  
Blogger Martin said...

Of course there is no such reservoir in the male brain. It resides in the penis.

25 August, 2006 14:45  
Blogger Rupert Goodwins said...

Back in the late 80s, there was a make of hard disk that suffered from stiction as it aged - the disk motor didn't have quite enough power to start the platters moving. Once they'd started, all was well.

There was a standard fix for this: you took the hard disk, flicked your wrist just so so the platters moved, then turned it on.

My boss at the time had one of those disks as an external drive for his Macintosh. It died. He was fairly technical, so tried various things to get it working - but eventually gave up and called me in. The look on his face as I revived his computer in five seconds with what looked like a magic Vulcan nerve pinch on the outside of his hard disk drive... ah, I'll never forget it.

Reminds me of the old plumbing joke: a man's boiler fails, and he calls in the plumber. The plumber looks at the boiler, nods, takes out a hammer, hits the boiler and voila - it's working.

"That'll be sixty pounds, please" says the plumber.

"SIXTY POUNDS?" shrieks the man. "But it only took you ten seconds!"

The plumber shrugged. "For arriving - five pounds. For hitting the unit - five pounds. For knowing where to hit the unit - fifty pounds."

Knowledge is power. Sometimes, it's dinner.


18 September, 2006 13:13  
Blogger Martin said...

Those are good stories! A friend of mine had an old PC in the late 80s whose hard drive would only work when pressure was applied to the case. So he put the computer on the floor under his desk and sat with his feet on it.

18 September, 2006 14:18  

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