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The Jeep Story

24 March, 2010

So I think it’s time for a new story. Miraculously something happened today that is worth writing home about! Imagine that. It involves all of the following hooks: Sparks. Smoke. Loud noises. Ringing ears. Alan scared for his life (or at least the life of his fingers).

Once upon a dusk, as the twilight began to fall like sleep (slowly, undetectably, but surely), Alan the apprentice (the Internet is my guide) could be found with his head stuck behind the dashboard of his car. Now this car is no ordinary car; being 23 years old is one thing, but being a 23 year old car on the streets of Africa has made her a piece of art.  Just about everything is jerry-rigged.  Including, as it may be, the speakers and the horn.  Surely enough, the horn is a button that you press, with a red wire running through a hole into the engine, into the battery.  The driver side speaker is screwed into the metal dash console, which is bolted in approximately 6.5 billion places to the frame of the car.  The horn and the drivers side speaker are placed precariously close to one another (important information so remember it).

Today, I bought two new speakers.  One was to replace the drivers side speaker.

As you found me, at dusk, I was attempting to install the drivers’ side speaker with the following tools:  a screwdriver, a wrench, a headlamp, and my hands.

For your information, it is hard to access anything underneath, beside, or on top of the steering wheel of a 1987 model Toyota LandCruiserII.   In the process of trying to get the old speaker out, I had to remove many many bolts.  Two of which were holding the hood-latch-release in place.  So it was hanging down, on the floorboard of the truck.

So as I was digging through the wires, air ducts, and other things left over from other jerry-rigging extravaganzas, I decided it would be necessary to remove the plastic casing where the gages are.  Not too hard right?  Just a few Phillips head screws to remove, and “voilà” it should pop right off.  Right?

Wrong.  The horn button, emergency light warning, and four-wheel drive switches are all connected to the plastic part.  I take my glasses off to get better mobility while removing the pieces.

Now on to remove the horn.  I see it has some screw threads on it.  I’ll just unscr–EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!–

In Alan’s mind this just happened: !!!!!!!!!!  What is going on?  What just popped out?  What is that noise??!!  I can’t hear myself!  I can’t think.  Sparks?!? What is going on?  How do I make it stop?!!!!

Logical thoughts begin to take shape:
1. Undo what you just did.  Impossible.  Whatever popped off and hit me in the face before this wretched noise is now lost somewhere in the driveway.  No time.
2.  Unhook the wire from the switch.  OK.  Screwdriver.  SPARKS!  Bad idea.
3.  Pop the hood (why?  because that’s what you do when your car is acting badly).  Wrong.  You undid the bolts for the latch release.  Pull it anyway.  Go to the latched hood and try it anyway.

*This is about the time Jennifer comes out of here house to see what the wretched noise radiating from our yard is.*

3 (continued).  Bang on the hood because you can’t open it, because it is still latched.  Look at Jennifer, laughing at you.  Laugh at yourself, but immediately stop because you are scared of the fact that you can’t hear yourself laugh, or what she is yelling at you from 10 ft. away.
4.  Back to the dashboard.  Put the latch release back in the general vicinity of where it started, and pull.  Hallelujah, it unlatched the hood.  Now what?  Quick!
5.  Try unhooking the plugs to the horn devices (there are two).  Be startled at how violently they are vibrating.  Notice that the sound is getting dimmer, but that’s probably not the horn getting softer, just your ears getting weaker.  The unhooking idea is failing.  Cover your ears.
6.  Back to the dashboard (after trying to unhook the battery altogether, but not having the right tool).  Look at the switch with a helpless, look, while the horn continues to blare louder than anything you’ve ever heard before.
7.  Notice some screws on the switch.  Have I tried that already?  SPARKS!  Yes, been there done that.

Now instinct kicks in.  Thumb.  Into hole where sparks where shooting out from.  The sound stops.  Brain kicks in again:  “You are holding your thumb in a electrical switch where you just saw sparks flying from!”  Instinct kicks in:  “But its WORKING you dimwit!”  Brain:  “Yes.  Yes it is.  There is no more sound.  Only this strange ringing.  This is the first time in a few minutes when I have been able to hear myself think.  Forget the sparks.”

Now what?  Look for whatever popped out.  Its dark so I have to used the headlamp.  Why is everything blurry?  Oh yea, I removed my glasses for better mobility right before the tragic events took place that led to this ringing in my ears.  Ok, got the glasses back.  Not seeing anything.  Nope.  Just the spring.  No button.

Why was I doing this again?  Oh yea, the speakers.  I guess its worth it.  My thumb is still in that switch.  Why am I not being shocked?  Is adrenaline an anti-conductor?

Still not seeing anything.  What am I going to do with this?  I might just stand here all night with my thumb in the switch, as long as I don’t have to hear that noise again.  Goodness gracious.  OK I’ll try it.  Pull out the thumb.  No noise.  PtL.

So that is how I got the noise to stop.  But then I was scared to leave it in fear that it might return, so I figured out how the switch worked, and in turn figured out why it sparked, and why me sticking my thumb in it both didn’t shock me and made the noise stop.  I found a piece of plastic to wedge into the switch to insure that it wouldn’t engage unexpectedly, then tried to move the big plastic piece that the horn had been connected to in the first place.  SPARKS!!!  LOTS OF THEM.  SMOKE!  All the way down the wire, now its coming out of the hood!  What do I do?  Move the switch.  Done.  No more sparks, but lots of smoke.  Melted plastic smell.  Check for fire, there is none.  PtL.

So currently, I have four speakers, a disassembled dash board, dozens of bolts, screws and washers, air ducts, and a burnt-up wire in my car.  It can wait till the morning.  I really, really, really need to find that button before it rains again though.  There’s no telling where it is, or could be going right now.

Goodness gracious.  My ears still hurt.  That was 5 hours ago.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Martha Lee Anne permalink
    25 March, 2010 00:43

    hahahaha…Alan, this made my day, and might I add that I read “as the twilight began to fall asleep” many times…very nice. Anywoo….I’v read a many of your blogs and e-mails, and this is one of my new favorite. so night, or morning, since it probably is very close to that where you are.

    p.s. some mornings I wish I was in ole Africa again.

  2. K Dennis permalink
    25 March, 2010 02:30

    That story was too intense for me!! You’re going to be one of those old men (or young men)with hearing aids. I’ll pray for complete healing of your surely damaged ear drums. Do you have any ear plugs (or at least cotton) to use next time you work on it. probably need to keep those glasses on to. What dangers you face on the mission field!

  3. Katey permalink
    25 March, 2010 12:04

    Practically having a degree in types of switches, I found this very funny. I recommend the finger method as long as you aren’t getting shocked or heated up. Or you can leave the piece of plastic in it and just stick a fork in the general vicinity when you want to use the horn.

  4. 25 March, 2010 14:17

    Haha… thanks for the good laugh Alan… after I checked to make sure you were okay of course! Looks like you are enjoying life in Africa 🙂

  5. Ginna permalink
    25 March, 2010 19:47

    Alan… this is hilarious. Made my day. Hope you find that button!

  6. 25 March, 2010 20:31

    Very glad you all were able to share in the laughter.
    Quick Update: I found the button today. It apparently bounced off of my face back into the dashboard, so I found it while attempting to put the dashboard back together. I decided it was in the best interest of society to not try to re-assemble the horn switch though. One day I will have forgotten how bad the noise was, and I will try it again, tango mosusu (maybe).
    For now I have two new speakers, and a reassembled dashboard, with no horn. And a yet even more jerry-rigged 23 year old LandCruiser.

  7. Adam Sleeper permalink
    25 March, 2010 21:01

    Alan … I about fell from my chair laughing at this story! Those around me were giving me strange looks! Also … you said it was an old LandCruiser? This only deepens my love and longing for one for myself!

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