Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wing Nut


One wing nut.  Maybe I am dating myself, but I used to change the air filters in my cars by removing one wing nut.

  I have been busy as a one armed paper hanger around here the last couple weeks, so I try to multi-task whenever I can.  So yesterday, when I took Juanita to her physical terrorist therapist,  I figured I would get the mini van ready for it's emissions test by changing the air filter in the parking lot.  I had the filter, and some tools and even the "Chiltons" repair manual, but why in the world would I need such a thing?  Just a wing nut, right?

HA!  Bull-loney!

 I removed the box that obviously held the air filter.  Scratch that.  I tried to remove the box that should have held the air filter.  Two bolts, so I was already peeved.  I felt around for a catch of some sort, but couldn't open the stupid box.  Okay, defeated.  Time to break out THE BOOK.

Oh, look!  This isn't the box for the air filter, it's just an empty plastic box that is glued shut!  I think it's function is to hide the ACTUAL air filter box, mounted underneath it.

I removed another bolt or two, 3 or 4 hoses, and that allowed me to remove the empty box.  Sure enough, it was glued shut.  Probably just as well, or I probably would have tried to cram the new air filter in it anyway.

Another 5 minutes was spent trying to open the catches on the actual air filter box hidden underneath. When I finally got the catches undone, and the box lid open, I found there just wasn't quite enough room to remove the filter.  The box would have to come out.  The box would not come out.

I don't know if I mentioned the air temp was 11 degrees there in the parking lot.

Things were stiff, tight, and brittle on the engine.  So were my hands at this point.  I was 20 minutes into the process and still hadn't gotten the old filter out.  I was loosing the capability of rational thought.  A good Samaritan came walking by and asked if I needed a jump.  I stared at him with a slightly crazed expression and muttered something about wanting to become emperor for a day and imprisoning all automotive engineers in a dungeon and only feeding them all the live rats they could catch and eat raw.  He backed away and disappeared while I continued my teeth gnashing rant.  

I finally wiggled the old filter out, and finessed the new one in, got the catches shut and started replacing hoses, bolts and empty plastic boxes.

Then, I dropped the wrench.

From long experience, I have learned you must find dropped things.  You don't have to get them, but it is imperative that you know where they are laying.  Sure enough, it had wedged itself in-between the electric fan blades and the radiator coils.  It would be very bad to leave there.  I was trying to make frozen my fingers pinch a small, slippery wrench in a VERY tight space when Juanita came out of the clinic.  From long experience, she has learned it is imperative that she not spend too much time talking to me when I have that look in my eyes.  She sat in the van, waiting patiently.

I spent another couple minutes at the wrench, and finally got it out.  I replaced the bolts, tightened them, put the tools away, and got into the van, and drove away.

I remember when it took 5 minutes to change an air filter, and that included the 4 and a half minutes it took to buy the filter.

Maybe the dungeon and rats would be too kind.  They should just have to work on the stupid things they design.



  1. Bill, every vehicle I have personally purchased has been bought with an eye towards ease of routine maintenance. I passed up on a couple of vehicles because the car had to be partially disassembled just to get to something basic like the battery.

    This decision was born from experience after my mother bought one of the early Hyundai Excels in 1986 and then asked me to change the oil.

    Those crazy Koreans stuck the oil filter up in the most difficult place they could find above the front sway bar, under the alternator, next to the AC compressor and radiator and shrouded by the front undercarriage splash guard. There was literally an oil filter shaped hole just a quarter inch larger on a side through which you were supposed to access the filter. No chance of getting a wrench in there, and woe be it the shade tree mechanic that gets one over torqued by a well meaning dealership grease monkey. I had to punch a hole in it with a screw driver to get it unscrewed and then poke at it several times before it oriented properly enough to fall through the hole.

  2. Vehicles have to pass emissions in Colorado?

    Oh and I can totally relate. I usually change my own air and fuel filters on the diesels...been doing it myself for...well...a long time. The new dually?

    Has to have the inner wheel well r.e.m.o.v.e.d!!! to change the fuel filter.


  3. I agree with GunDiva! Losing a tool is never good.

  4. Eeek! That's why I leave the vehicle maintenance to the menfolk, and the menfolk leave the horsie maintenance to me :)

    Though I can say I've never seen so many choice words escape my husband's lips as the day he reassembled the dash and realized the airbag hadn't been connected.

    Yeah honey, tell 'em THAT one...

    Good going Bill - glad you were victorious!

  5. ALWAYS know where your tool is. I cannot emphasize this enough. If it is in an errant area.. recover it. Fast. There has always been a disconnect between engineers and mechanics, but now even the mechanics are plug-n-play. And troubleshooting means "what does the computer say?" mark

  6. I'm visiting from Rachel's blog. I love your story. I like how you used the phrase, "From long experience I've learned..." I also like how your wife didn't ask questions but just waited for you to finish. My husband hates when I ask questions when he's doing car repairs.

  7. :smug: My former little toy truck didn't have a wing nut to get to the air filter. It had a snap. It was wonderfully easy!

    (Of course, to make up for it, to get to the #5 and 6 spark plugs you had to pull the front tire and the brake pads. I paid to have the plugs changed.)

  8. Amen. We're truck shopping right now. Know what? Finding an older model truck that we can do the routine stuff on? Next.To.Impossible.


    Stay warm!!!

  9. I feel your pain Bill, seems like the only wing nuts left are the idiots behind the wheels nowadays...

    And being in Maintenance most of my life I completely agree with the Engineer, Mechanic love hate relationship....

  10. You sound like my dad--he cusses new cars all the time--literally. He is usually a very patient man who never curses, but cars can bring out the devil in him! I don't think they want us to fix our own cars anymore.

  11. haha! LMAO. This explains me in any mechanical situation.


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