Sunday, January 5, 2020

Finishing that thing I started 5 years ago

So last week I went out to my van to go drop by Trader Joes to fill up on Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Cocaine or whatever it is I usually buy there. I turned the key and nothing happened. Unfortunate, but perhaps not unexpected.

You see, I'd spent the past few months not actually driving the van basically anywhere, ever, and in the past few weeks only made a few short trips here and there, mostly to Home Despot to collect supplies for all the projects I was doing. So the idea that the battery was perhaps not fully charged was the first thing on my mind.

So I grabbed my jumper pack, hooked it up, and the van started no problem. Off to Trader Joes I go.

Somewhat concerningly the van also didn't start in the TJ's parking lot, though I had the jumper pack with me and the few extra pixies did the trick to get things moving.

Now I do have a solar panel installed in the van which should in theory keep the battery topped up, but it just so happens that it's winter and my van is parked on the north side of my car hole, so it's not necessarily collecting a lot of deadly lazer rays. The solution, I figured, was to augment this with a plug-in battery tender.

A few days of Amazon Prime cooling off period later and...

I perhaps should have purchased an extension cord to go along with it. Perhaps.

Oddly enough the battery wasn't particularly low, and it only took maybe 30 minutes before the tender indicated that the system was back to full charge, so now I'm thinking that the non-starting might be due to a different issue. Like perhaps me being an impatient dork and not waiting for the glow plugs to start glowing when it's fucking cold outside. Because it's never fucking cold in California so I forget that things like glow plugs exist. Maybe. Further experimentation is warranted.

Anyway, since installing the battery tender leads is best done with the battery disconnected, and since replacing the steering wheel requires temporarily removing the airbag which is also best done with the battery disconnected, I took the opportunity to finally replace my steering wheel.

Ooh, shiny. Much better than the old, sun-baked one.

This is the project I started 5-odd years ago. I had intended to replace the wheel at the same time I replaced the sun-baked wheel switches, only to be stymied by a recalcitrant steering wheel bolt that I was unable to coax into cooperation with hand tools. I had, shortly thereafter, purchased a battery powered impact wrench, but never actually got around to actually doing the thing. This is partly because I was worried I might have to obtain a steering wheel puller, and partly because I just had more interesting things to do. As it turns out, Mercedes steering wheels can be removed without using a puller. Good to know.

Anyway, that wraps up the last project of the winter break. Back to work tomorrow!

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