Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?

September 10, 2003 - 6:40 p.m.

Hunka Hunka Burniní Arm

I did two stupid things this weekend.

My car was making an unsettling noise. I knew what the problem was, there are two fans behind the radiator to keep the coolant cool. One runs mostly, the other kicks in when it gets really hot. The bearings were shot in the first one. Itís the smaller of the two motorsÖ why did they do that?

The dealership wanted $575 for a new fan assembly. When I stopped laughing, I called a junkyard. Seventy five bucks. Sold.

On Saturday I ventured over to the salvage yard to get my new old fan. Then it was off to the Auto Zone to get upper and lower radiator hoses (might as well), more coolant, oil change stuff, transmission oil change stuff and an air cleaner. It was shaping up to be a car maintenance blitz.

I started by removing the old fan assembly, that was easy. Then I changed the oil and started pulling off the old hoses. I re-assembled the whole thing and started filling the recovery tank with coolant.

Back in the day, cars had radiator caps on the radiator. These days they pressurize the coolant recovery tank and you fill it from there. This makes it trickier because itís hard to get all the air purged from the system, especially the radiator. I filled as much as I could and started the engine to get it hot so the thermostat would open.

It got hot, the tank bubbled and boiled over. I put the cap on. Stupid mistake #1. I removed the cap. It blew out of my hand, spraying my right arm with very very hot liquid. I was showered with anti-freeze, and pissed.

I ran inside to shower and rinse it off. Thatís when my arm really started to burn and turn red. It got worse, the pain was so bad I could hardly stand it. I still had to go out and finish the job, at least clean the anti-freeze off of Son1ís toolbox.

I havenít ever experienced pain like this. I got temporary relief by plunging it in the pool, the 70 degree water felt good. But the pain would resume as soon as it was out and I didnít feel like standing next to the pool all night.

The blisters started to form at about 7 PM. Big sweaty nasty blisters, they came up like floodwater rising. I toughed it out.

By Sunday it was a big oozing blistery mess. Definitely unpleasant it was and I doused it with antibiotics. The Gardenangel came over that day to help me close the pool, which was tricky with an armful of blisters. She was soothing with sympathetic noises and Telfa bandages. Itís hard to wrap the arm you use most, she helped with that.

It started aching on Monday and was very uncomfortable. By Tuesday it was swollen and insistent for attention.

Today I went to see a doctor. He was impressed! The nurses had that ďyuk disgustingĒ look on their faces. I sure know how to impress the ladies! They doused it with Silvadene, which is supposed to be the best in burn treatment. It alleviates pain and promotes tissue re-growth. They gave me strict instructions on keeping it clean and covered, and directions on how to wrap it up.

But there was still one little problem in all this. The fan I bought from the junkyard only worked halfway. The small fan ran all right, but the bigger one never turned on. This made the car run hot, so I have been running the heat on full blast to keep the temp gauge in the normal range. Not so much fun in warm weather, kids.

After my doctor visit I re-visited the junkyard to complain and get another fan assembly.

It is doubly difficult to work on your car when your right arm is swathed in bandages. I ripped an old pillowcase into strips to cover the bandage job while I worked. I got the second fan assembly installed though, and took it for a test drive.

God fucking damn it, neither fan works on this one! Stupid Mistake #2.

I called Car Quest, they have a new one, for $375. Iím over a barrel. Iíll be there at 7:30 AM when they open, so I can get this one installed, and get back to work.

But Iím not making car payments.

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