sunday morning my parents got me up and we got on our way to austin. i was feeling really crappy about life, the universe, and everything. (and when i say that, i'm not exaggerating.) when we got to austin, we were going to eat lunch at kerbey lane (on lamar), but the wait was 45 minutes so we gave up and went to a schlotzsky's.
when i got to my car, i could see and smell that it was still leaking gas. i popped the hood and could see gas seeping out of the top of the fuel pump. i didn't see gas leaking from anywhere else. i decided the fuel pump must be bad. (not that i knew much of anything about how it worked.) i was going to use a vise grip to pinch off the rubber fuel line from the gas tank, but no one had one so i ended up using a c-clamp to pinch it. it worked. i disconnected the gas lines from the fuel pump and pulled it off the engine. my dad helped me push the car some so we could get the hydraulic jack under the frame and take off the flat tire. we put the tire and fuel pump in my parent's car and hit the road. i went to an advance auto parts and got a new fuel pump (~$19) and some new hose clamps. i was going to take the tire to discount tire, but they were all closed. but we found a firestone. the guy there was helpful -- the tire was fine, but it was leaking at the rim, so they sanded the steel rim and re-sealed the tire. which cost me nothing. (yea!)
we went back to the car and put the tire on, then my dad used an air compressor he'd brought to get the other three tires to the right pressure while i worked on the new fuel pump. in the instructions it said chevy small blocks don't lubricate fuel pumps well enough, so i should pack the rocker arm and spring cavity on the fuel pump with heavy grease. back to advance to get some heavy grease. i packed the pump cavity. sometime around here, a guy in a 4-door '57 chevy stopped and started talking to us. he knew some about engines, so i told him i was having problems getting the rod pushed up so i could get the fuel pump rocker arm in the engine block. he helped and i got it figured out. unfortunately, it became difficult at this point. the rubber hose side was easy enough to attach, but the metal tube just wasn't lining up well. i had to connect, loosen, and disconnect the fuel pump two or three times trying to get the metal tube in and tightened. it felt like it wasn't screwing in properly. to really get the metal fuel line movable, i could see i would need to remove a bolt behind the alternator, which would mean re-tensioning the belt, etc. gah. eventually i got pretty frustrated, and i knew i only had maybe 30 to 45 minutes of daylight left, so i just started cranking on the metal line nut. at this point i knew i might be stripping the threads, but i didn't know what else to do. i finished and it was time to crank the engine.
i got in and had to turn the engine for awhile before the pump would get gas through the line. then it car started. it was running. and there didn't appear to be any fuel leaking! my dad got in with me and i drove it around the neighborhood for 5 or 10 minutes to see if it would fizzle out or blow up. it seemed to run okay, although i was paranoid about everything. i drove it back to the house.
my parents left, then i hung out some with my brother and heather and miles (who had indeed been sick, and was tired). they got some pizza and i helped them figure out some speaker wiring in their house, hooked some of it up, and helped configure one of their remotes. then i decided to see if my mechanic work would get me to houston.
the car ran fine. and my gas mileage back to houston was better than it'd been going to austin. the only thing of note during my return trip was that on i-10 between mason road and highway 6 i got pulled over by a dps officer. again. i'd just gotten a warning 3 days before. since my speedometer doesn't work, i also had no idea how fast i was going...i just knew it was faster than pretty much all the traffic around me. the officer came up and said he'd pulled me over for my speed and took my license. after a few minutes he came back and said "alright mr. leifeste, this is a warning. now, you just a got a warning and you don't want to get a ticket so you should watch your speed." i thanked him and then said "so...uh...how fast was i going?" he said i was at around 78 to 80. (which meant i was 15 to 20 miles over the speed limit.) i told him my speedometer wasn't working and i'd just put a new engine in, so i used to judge my speed by the rpms but i couldn't do that yet on the new engine. i talked to him for a few minutes, then i made the short trip the rest of the way to my house.
so in the end, i was pretty excited i was able to fix my vehicle myself, and i was also pretty happy that it only cost me about $28 and a couple of hours of my time. it certainly helped make the holidays feel a little less utterly demoralizing. (although i found other ways to make sure i was emotionally tweaked for the holidays. i'll save that for another post.)
oh yeah, also, sunday morning before we left my parents' house i suddenly remembered i'd forgotten to set out extra food for my cat before i left. oops. when i got home, she was desperate for both food and attention. but she was okay.