Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Journey: A Journal Part 5


  So, in the dark, pouring rain, the car won't start.  I can't back it up to the gas pump so I'm about out of gas as well.  I try starting the car a few times with no luck.  I triple-check that the clutch is depressed, I put the manual in the neutral setting and try the start button again.  Instrument cluster goes from zero to maximum and back in a sweep and .. the starter doesn't engage.  Frustrated (and about 40 miles outside of Davenport) I press OnStar.

  It's nice to have OnStar in these situations.  I remember not too long ago that wasn't a possibility, and you'd have to call a tow-truck and shovel a lot of money in their direction.  Lauren (a sassy ebony woman) assured me a jump-start would be on the way as I suspected it was a dead battery.  She said the local business was called "Rescue Rangers" who would be coming.  I incredulously asked, "So you're sending a team of chipmunks to save me?"  She found this mildly amusing (as did I) and I waited in the car.  I had her attempt a diagnostic remotely as I had no OBD-II sensor plug-in and she said the car showed no faults.  Hmm..

  "Rescue Rangers" showed up and it was an old coot of a man that looked exactly like Exidor from Mork and Mindy and equally eccentric.  The transaction was similar to this:

  The jump did the trick and I got the car started, backed-up to the gas pump and while it was running filled up the tank and signed the OnStar form he had.  He then got real close to me and longingly looked over the horizon, "You know.. there's a barn 'bout 2 miles that-a-way where a few young-uns will help you check out that bat'try n' maken sure it's a'runnin' right."  I thanked him and he grinned toothily at me, almost wistfully, and paused .. and we paused, then he suddened-off in his small pickup in the rainy night.

  It was dark, but I found the tractor-shop/barn that was a bit of a general store setup with a few lights going-out 1930's style and I grudgingly did not shut-off the car in the parking-lot area as a few locals eyed me in the rainy dark.  The store had a few of those rather helpful jumpstart micro units with the cables attached for rather cheap ($29) and they were pre-energized which is very convenient and can also be charged from either a house AC adapter OR a DC 12-volt accessory plug.  Just what the doctor ordered!  Inside, I met the "young'uns" who were running a repair shop in the back.  I asked (though rather late) if they could change a battery out at this late hour and they scrambled to help!  I drove the car to a little bay in the barn and I warned them once it stops it ain't gonna start too easy. 

  Corvette batteries are in the trunk in a cubby-hole and it was very difficult to extract as it's a tight fit and we ripped our hands up a bit and bled over the battery cutting our hands on the plastic hole overhang.  I myself ended up getting it out with a battery puller they had lying around that I had noticed and it made it a bit easier.  They ran a full diagnostic on the battery via a neet computer tool and it showed 700 out of 680 (I forget which unit of measurement that was.. watts) so it was just above fully-charged.  This means the alternator is kickin' it great, which is a plus.  So the problem isn't the battery so I wondered if the two key fobs which transmit an FM signal were conflicting with each other and I walked back with key fob #2 back about 50 feet and had them re-install the battery and try to start it.  No luck.  They ran a full diagnostic with an OBD-II sensor and it showed no short-circuit in the system.  They hit the start-engine button again and it started no problem.  I told them, "I guess she doesn't like me yet!" 

  They wouldn't take any money (except the $29 for the mini-jumpstarter) and I tried to give them anything but they declined because they said their boss (? Exidor) would fire them.  I asked if they liked whiskey or cigars or something and they looked uncomfortable.  I asked if they were over 21 yet and they admitted they weren't so I had them write down their addresses (both of them) and I'd send them thanks through the mail.

  Engine running I was back on my way to Des Moines, Iowa.  Rain was coming down HARD now on a biblical proportion and it was very dark outside and I feared for my life, white-knuckling the steering wheel at an antiquated 10 and 2.  Large trucks splashed tsunamis over me but the car held true.  I hit deep pockets of puddled water on I-80 but she did not hydroplane and I was impressed as she has 325-width tires I expected a little slippage.  I fully expected to be in a ditch but after 4 more hours of night driving I made it to Des Moines city, the Nav-girl within the Corvette got me to the Savoy Renaissance Hotel by 11:00 pm where the only parking was a parking garage across the street (Des Moines is very similar in size to Colorado Springs but .. older looking, as if its hey-day was in the 1950s).  At the parking garage, three ebony gentlemen that reminded me of the crows from a Ralph Bakshi film were guarding the fortress.  Very sly-like, they indicated that they very much indeed liked my car, and it'd be shame if it got stolen, and that the cost of entry was $5.  So tired I slurred my thanks and chose the highwaymen's tariff protection-money, parked Rosie, feeling actually rather safe because I knew she wouldn't start without the mini-jumpstarter device (which I took with me) and trudged across the street to the surprisingly 6-star hotel.
  I asked the posh woman behind a neo-desk if indeed it cost $5 to park across the street, and if that was the true parking spot for the hotel and she admitted it was to my relief, and told her that I was glad I wasn't recently swindled by the older boys out front.  She chucked and said that they're always there, from Saturday 6pm to 12am as it's also an events parking location for a concert hall across the way.  Guess I made it just in time to pay, though I'm not complaining for my "insurance" premium here.

I placed the rather sweaty Cheesus-Christ in the full-sized fridge, ordered simple room service and checked the forums on the interwebs about C6 Corvettes having a start-engine button problem.  Turns out it's fairly common and most folks disconnect, then reconnect their batteries to get it to work.  At least there's a technical service bulletin on the matter.  I ate my way-too-high-end burger on a square bun, called Becky and told her I wasn't dead, then passed-out.  Only 740 more miles to go.  What could happen?

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