There’s been so much going on in the last week-to-ten, I’ve had to let the website slide. Sometimes we run at the front of the pack. Sometimes we take too long in the pits. You know how it goes.
MILESTONE #1: TAKE THAT LYING SACK OF SHIT TO SMALL CLAIMS
Long story short. 7 April 2012. Barely three weeks after buying Rocinante, my trusty little Pajero, some 17-year old, who tells me he probably got his license the same day I got my truck, attempts a wild right turn from the inside of three lanes, smashing in the rocker panel under my door. He’s driving a modified Honda, apologizing earnestly, and his mom is screaming at him in the cell phone. I don’t call the police. Figure, he’s already in deep enough trouble.
Big mistake. He lies to his insurance company the following day, they deny my claim, and I spend a year following up with my insurance company on the counter-claim he filed, but never talks to them about. Finally, I convince my insurance carrier to deny his claim. He’s obviously not interested in pursuing serious insurance fraud. It takes me another year to track down all my evidence, build my case, and figure out how to go after him in small claims court.
Last week Monday, I filed my initial complaint. Saturday, I dropped paperwork with the process server. By the middle of the week, he and his mom will find out they’re going to court for $2,500 in damages. I’m hoping he and his mom raise hell with their insurance, which will call to settle for the full amount. If not, we’ll just go to court and they’ll be personally responsible.
I’ve got thousands of words written on how to get maximum value for your non-classic car when fighting with the insurance company and will be sharing the small claims process with you very soon. I think you’ll find it useful. Taking this kid to court and polishing the articles for easier reading has taken more time than I expected.
MILESTONE #2: FINALLY GET MY AMATEUR RADIO TECHNICIAN’S LICENSE
Ham radio. If you know what it is, you might think it’s a hobby for your grandfather, who likes to sit in the basement and talk about the weather with people all over the world. If you don’t know what it is, think of it as having a walkie-talkie with better range than FRS or CB that, with a few select equipment upgrades, can actually allow you to talk to the International Space Station or people in other countries.
Amateur radio is what we use to coordinate people and traffic at rally races. Many of the people blocking side roads along the stages are ham operators, and Net Control knows exactly when each car leaves the start and arrives at the finish. In addition to having medical emergency personnel follow the cars down each stage, this is how we ensure almost immediate medical attention if there’s a crash.
That’s where I first saw ham in action, but where I think I’ll end up using it most is while off-roading or camping beyond the range of cell phone service. All I have to do is program in a couple repeater frequencies (radio towers on mountain tops across the region which relay messages across a wider area), and I have a very reliable lifeline to civilization if we need help – or need to get help for others we come across on the trail. Research the range and price of CB and FRS radios, then compare that to a US$40 Baofeng UV-5R ham radio (Amazon) and US$15 test. Turns out ham radio is the best value.
I asked for – and received – my UV-5R for Christmas, installed a free ham radio study app on my phone, and ran through the multiple choice questions a few minutes at a time through the week. When I saw I was getting most of them right, I scheduled the test. It’s 35 multiple choice questions. I’m pretty sure I aced it. Within a week, I’ll have my callsign and can start using my radio. I’m pretty excited.
MILESTONE #3: FINALLY REPLACE THE O2 SENSOR IN ROCINANTE, THE FUN COOKER
My poor little Pajero failed emissions back in September. I replaced the cap, rotor, plugs, wires, thermostat, coolant, oil, and air filter – and still failed (albeit, with a 20% improvement over the first test). Then crazy work schedules and bills during the holiday season kept me from making any further progress, but I picked up an O2 sensor right after the first of the year, thinking it would be key to my success.
Turns out you can’t get a sensor socket on it due to the oil filter being a few inches in front of it. Changed the oil and tried again. No dice. Even tried slipping a box wrench over it and getting a breaker bar in there, but it wouldn’t budge. This past Saturday, I pulled the entire manifold and took it to the shop, where brother Keith and I used a pipe wrench, 4-foot breaker pipe, MAP gas torch, several drills, a handful of punches, Dremel cutting wheel, hacksaw, Fark-all Sawzall, and a larger hammer to mercilessly disfigure and remove what was probably the original sensor. After some 204,000 miles (328,000 kilometers) and 25 years of heat cycles, the last bits of the old sensor finally came out.
An hour later, I had the new sensor installed in the manifold which was bolted back up to the engine with fresh gaskets. Truck seemed to start quicker, smoke less (when cold), and pulls away from a dead stop more crisply than ever before. Soon, I’ll be taking the emissions test again. Here’s hoping I pass. At the end of the month, my tags will be expired 6 months! Oy vey!
. . .
There’s been a lot going on lately, and it’s only going to get busier. We’ve got another off-road adventure in the works for next weekend, High Desert Trails rally is coming up in May, I’ve already booked my flights and hotel for the DSM/EVO/GTR Shootout in Ohio in August, and let’s not forget there’s going to be an 80-100 page quarterly issue of Gearbox Magazine building in the next few weeks. (I’ll have group-buy details available pretty quick, by the way.)
Thanks for coming along for the ride! We’re going to be sharing a lot of stories this year you’re not going to find anywhere else. From getting maximum value for your vehicle after an accident, to suing liars in small claims court (and why you’d want to do that), to importing a grey market vehicle, to simple things like choosing the right RTV or threadlocker. All that, on top of our unique, one-of-a-kind features on exceptional gearheads just like you.
Have you ever had to take someone to court after an accident? Got your ham license? Have a sensor removal horror story? Leave a comment. Let’s chat!