Saturday, September 02, 2006

Free Transportation

You gotta love free stuff. Who doesn't?

Back in December I was given a red 1996 Ford Ranger for free. Yes, free! The picture is a black truck imagine a red one.

A friend of mine, Jeff Talkington, had his college truck stolen and recovered. When it came back it had a broken side glass and the locking cylinder was broken so that it no longer required a key to operate. Jeff was planning on replacing this truck for his dream car, a Volvo Wagon now that he had good permanent employment as a patent attorney. Jeff called me and offered the truck to me for $200, I was interested and agreed on the deal without a test drive. How can you go wrong with a $200 truck that runs. The next day Jeff called and informed me that he could no longer sell the truck because the locking mechanism was so broken that it just spun and the truck did not do anything else. He did say that if I could get it started it was mine, for nothing. Worth a try.

I rode my bike down the next day with a few tools and got a manual from the library. I started by trying to disassemble the steering column and remove the locking cylinder only to discover that you have to have the lock in the "ON" position and then you push a pin and the cylinder slides right out. Well if I could turn the lock to "ON", then I wouldn't have a problem. So out came the big screwdriver and the hammer and I got to beating the lock to death. The picture is a similar cylinder. If you look at the tab on the far left, that is the part that interacts with the internal switches and parts to make your car turn on and start. When the lock is not in the on position this part is stuck inside the steering column and you can't get the lock out. After a few hundred whacks and wiggles this part broke. Probably from cyclical metal fatigue. The lock then popped right out.

I inserted a screwdriver turned it, the truck started immediately and I laughed with glee. Yippee, free truck! I went to the store to buy a steering wheel lock and on the way passed Pep Boys. I thought I might as well check on the price of a new locking cylinder instead of just using the "club". The cylinder cost $20 and was in stock. It slid right in easily.

I then went online to and located a side glass window for $75 shipped. Locking cylinder, window and some adhesive comes to a final cost to repair the truck at under $100.
Incidentally, is a cool website. It gives you hits from cataloged cars from wrecking yard across the country. Sort by cost, location, etc. The yard I got my window from disassembles every car, drains and correctly disposes of the fluids, tests and catalogs the parts. I loved it. You no longer have to climb around a bunch of cars precariously stacked 3 or 4 high.

I send a thousand happy wishes to Jeff Talkington an his new Volvo wagon. Thanks man, you are a good person.


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