With the purchase of fancy new iPhones, we’ve run into a problem with our aging fleet of vehicles. The iPhone SE (2020) does not have a headphone jack as our old 6-era models did, so there’s no way to connect our phones to the stereo as we did before. Both Hondas are from pre-Bluetooth days—at least, the CR-V is; Bluetooth may have been offered in the Accord but we have the base model which came with nothing other than an auxiliary jack and a secondary power port in the console. To be clear, in COVID days, connecting phones in the cars isn’t an immediate requirement, but it would have been helpful on the ride up to New York and back.
The aux jack in the Accord actually makes things pretty simple, and having a power port next to it is even better. I found a little Anker Bluetooth adapter on Amazon that hooks into both and turns on when the car is running. In two minutes I had it streaming from my phone and all was well.
Theoretically I could use this setup for the Scout as well, and probably will for the short term, but having yet another gadget sticking out of the dash in a vehicle with no top invites certain theft. Fortunately, swapping the existing head unit out for one that has Bluetooth, an auxiliary jack, and a detachable faceplate built in is simple—and relatively inexpensive. Besides, I hate the head unit that’s in there right now anyway.
I’ve looked in to Bluetooth options for the CR-V, and this is where it gets challenging. I’d have to buy a gadget that plugs into the back of the existing head unit, tear the dash apart, and install it. None of that is frightening (I’ve had many dashboards disassembled in my past) but I don’t relish the idea of doing it in the wintertime. And this is the vehicle that needs it the most. But before I do that, I’d like to address the suspension that needs to be gone through…
It was too damn hot to do anything serious outside over the weekend, but I thought I’d get Finn out to the junkyard for a mission. We’ve got a flip-up mirror on the visor in the CR-V that I repaired once last year (a hinge pin fell out, making the door useless) and recently the entire edge of the plastic door decided to break off to spite me. I packed a bag of metric and SAE tools, put on my boots, and took Finn down to Jessup in the Scout. I figured they would be cagey about letting kids in the yard, but she’s tall for her age, and everything about the yard is shifty, so I figured we’d act like we did this every day and walk right through. I paid my $4, wrote my name on their sign in sheet, and was almost at the door to the yard when Finley, who normally doesn’t notice her own shoes when she’s wearing them, stopped me in my tracks. “Daddy, the sign says no kids under 16 years of age,” she practically shouted, standing directly in front of the counter lady. Startled out of her waking slumber, the counter lady said, “How old are you?” and before I could reply, Finley practically shouted, “Eleven!”
After I dropped her off back at the house, I paid my $2 and walked through the yard. They had two CR-V’s, one green over tan version and one silver over black that was the spitting image of ours, minus catastrophic front-end damage. There’s a weird phenomenon with junkyard CR-V’s I’ve noticed: usually they’re missing both visors. The last time I found one for the part I needed someone had already hacked it off the mount, realized it was bent, and threw it under the seat. The Silver CR-V was wrapped liberally with plastic and sported two BIOHAZARD stickers on the back windows, which meant something unspeakable and messy had happened during the crash. Peeking inside, I found that someone had braved disease and pulled the visors off. The green CR-V was less picked over and still had its visor, but because the interior was tan, I decided not to pay $10 for mismatched plastic.
The rest of the yard was pretty boring; the oldest and most interesting vehicle was a mid-70’s Ford wagon the size of a small container ship. Kids, I’m old enough to remember when the roads were covered with these barges.
There was also this red MR2 beached on blocks minus its 4A-GE engine; I wondered how anyone would donate such a rare and valuable beast until I saw the rust around the rockers and rear quarters. It was sprinkled inside and out with a decade’s worth of pine needles, and those tires haven’t held air since the first Bush administration. Still, as a cheap-ass trackday car, I was surprised someone wasn’t dragging it out by the bumper.
I racked the beer into the secondary carboy on Sunday, and it smells really good. About three inches of hops were at the bottom by the time I was done, so I threw those in the composter with our coffee grounds and eggshells. Now I wait two weeks before dry-hopping the batch, and then there’s another week before it goes into the keg. It would be great to have something I like on tap because I’m probably spending too much on six-packs of craft beer.
Back in 2012 or so I started watching a goofy YouTube show called Roadkill, about two guys who would drive somewhere remote to find a junky car, fix it up, do some burnouts, and drive it somewhere else. It was pretty popular, and eventually the two hosts—who then were both editors of Hot Rod magazine—quit their jobs and hosted Roadkill full time. A couple of years ago it was put behind a paywall at MotorTrend, and I missed the show.
Last week, deep in Week 3 of working from home, I was actually on the “buy” screen for a year’s worth of MotorTrend On Demand, but for some reason I never pushed the button.
This afternoon, I got an email from Hagerty announcing they were giving us members a free year of MotorTrend On Demand as part of our membership. I’m looking at several days at my desk making edits to WRI’s Annual Report, so this gift could not have come at a better time. Bravo, Hagerty, you just made my quarantine 100% more bearable.
We’re scrambling to tie up loose ends and pack for the trip; with all of the curveballs we’ve been thrown this week it disrupted our plans to get ahead. The tree guys came back on Tuesday and hauled off the large logs they felled, which were sitting in the middle of the driveway. To do this they had to use the big grapple truck, and to get that in the driveway they had to prune one side of the tulip tree way back, so now it looks like someone with half a moustache. There’s a huge pile of chips where the tree once stood, and they ground out all of the roots that were surfaced in the middle of the driveway. When we get back from vacation and it cools off some I’ll have to figure out what we’re doing with that mess, and spend an afternoon spraying the east side of the house in one uniform shade of blue.
It’s also easier to see how shitty the garage looks now. The two sheets of plywood serving as doors have never looked good, so I have to think of some ideas for how to pretty them up. Now that the tree is gone I also want to dig a trench across the driveway to send runoff from the gutters into the neighbors’ yard and not directly into the front of the garage.
Jen texted me Wednesday, in the middle of the 100+ heatwave, to tell me the A/C in the CR-V had died. Given that we’re going to take it on vacation next week, we couldn’t defer this maintenance, but I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap to fix. Our local mechanic agreed to fit us in Thursday (god bless him) and looked it over first thing in the morning. The bill wasn’t cheap but it had to get done, so we pulled the trigger. We got it back last night and it is cool again, thank GOD.
Meanwhile the Scout is in Essex for what I’m assuming will be a substantial repair to the transmission while we’re on vacation. All of this happening at the same time sucks, but the fact that the average age of our vehicles is 20 years old means they’re going to need maintenance (this is somewhat tempered by the fact that we put a total of less than 10,000 miles on all three of them yearly.)
I set up the drip hose and timer in the greenhouse Wednesday night so that it runs for 15 minutes every morning at 6AM. We’ve got a bunch of nice tomatoes coming in (and we’ll have to pick a bunch and bring them to the beach) so I want to keep them alive until we get back. I did the same thing last year and it saved everything in there while I was stuck in the hospital, although it all grew out of control in our absence. I also collected one dead mouse from the traps I put out on Tuesday evening; someone was nibbling on two of our low-hanging fruit and I decided it was time to seek vengeance. Also, the tomatillo is gone, because Jen read up on them and found that there need to be two plants to cross-pollinate each other.
Our CR-V is now 13 years old. Far from being worn out, it’s only got 130,000 miles on the engine, and after some careful maintenance, it still looks pretty good. One place its age was showing, however, were the headlights. Our Honda has plastic housings like most other manufacturers, and ours fell victim to the same affliction many others have: they yellowed and fogged over with age. When we drove up to Syracuse for my father’s service earlier this year, part of the journey was at night, and it was frightening how dim the lights had gotten, even with the highbeams on.
Jen has been asking me to get after this for some time, and I did some research for the best possible solution. I bought a 3M kit on Amazon last week, resolving to improve our situation. In about a half an hour, I went from this:
You can really see the before and after difference in the next picture:
It’s really pretty simple. With a standard drill, you start with a fine sanding pad and go finer and finer until you’re wet-sanding the plastic, and then finally you apply a buffing compound to clean up the plastic. Both lenses took me about an hour in total to finish (I went back and cleaned up the right-hand lens after I took the picture above).