Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oscar Peterson On Piano - Oggy On Drum Brakes

Only Ray Bryant, an absolute futuristic alien life form transported to Earth for a few decades and allowed to perform piano, makes Oscar Peterson the second greatest pianist I've ever heard. Oscar demonstrates some musical styles here and sings like an unaffected Nat King Cole. This clip impresses me with Oscar's humility and humor besides his talent. I could watch him play piano all day long.

It's not been an easy transition to the Midwest from Labrador and I've lazily not found a piano at an old folks home to punch. Instead, I've been knuckles deep in my brakes, they've never been good and I think only the front brakes do anything at all. The brake shoes were cracked for a while and it's been a nagging project that I thought would have to wait for spring but the climate instability has worked in Oggy's favor by giving me a week of 60 degree weather to tackle. I made a resolution to be prepared. Lately, I like to translate this to: Bring a knife to a knife fight and a gun to a gunfight. My tattered past has been ruled by the grave and inexplicable motto: Bring an accordion to a gun fight. In other words, eschew preparation in favor of the absurd. I can say that this has its drawbacks. It also has many unexpected benefits that will be explored in my homeless manifesto but for now I think I have exhausted this as a practical modus operandi.

Case in Point: The Brake shoes on the 1969 Econoline. Sounds simple? It isn't. It's a gun fight. If you bring a knife to this fight you will be fucked because everyone else is bringing guns. My learning this valuable lesson at this stage in my life is evidence that I learn a particular way (trial and error) and all the useless dinner table lectures were like static on the radio. The van has been my zen master these last few years because it is the parent I never had and the child I don't have. It has no emotional investment in my travels and it does not passive-aggressively ask me for sweets on its birthday or an oil change. It cares in a healthy, self-fulfilling and Oscar Peterson "accentuate the positive" kind of way. I am its master and it is mine. We are a union of metal and membrane. I no longer swear at it. I only investigate and, in the words of NASA engineers, "work the problem". I don't cry over spilled milk. It might be the one arena in my life other than music that is not overflowing with bitterness and resentment...that is a calm oasis of constant change with which I am at peace. By comparison, I get a dirty look in the supermarket and I resent it for months.

My Econoline forum is littered with tales of "Gonna do my brakes this afternoon" followed by 11 pages of questions and answers and forum tailchasing that lasts two weeks. That might be filed under the category of "Forum users don't post when everything goes smoothly" category but I like to think it is because the brakes aren't easy to work on. There are several steps and at least one trip to a brake drum machining shop. To replace everything, including drums, It would be maybe $140 in parts and 4 hours in time if everything is in place and you aren't harassed by homeless people and drug dealers on the street or parking lot where you are doing this work.

Still I hesitated to prepare my weapons for the gun fight and figured, "I'll do the minimum." Well, I have the time for such folly so it's no big deal. I'll be posting a whole essay on this matter but the main point I want to make is that an ounce of planning and preparation goes a long way. Autozone charges 70% more for parts than online sites and they often have to order them anyway. Ex: I paid $15 for a wheel cylinder repair kit at Autozone. A BRAND NEW WHEEL CYLINDER COSTS $3 ONLINE!! Translation: Buy ahead of time. Tools made for specific procedures are manufactured so cheaply by Vietnamese slave children that they cost less than the tool you will eventually break while using them as a substitute. And they sort of work better. Translation: Buy the tools.
Now, this does not mean it will all go smoothly. If you have the time then you are advised to do these jobs yourself. Empowerment is important and it doesn't take much to be an expert on your own car. To be an expert on all cars is a task for a lifetime. Learning about your own car would take a year and $200 in tools. If you own a 1969 Econoline then you are required to do them yourself because most shops north of Mexico City will not work on your van.

I will add that because this is a 43 year old van, I also apply the rule that if it isn't broken then don't fix it. They say replace the return springs on your brakes...and that's true if you own a 1995 Saturn because the springs you buy new will be as crappy as the springs that you are replacing...only newer. On a 1969 Econoline you will find that with few exceptions everything in 1969 was built much better than in 2012. It was built to last and it has lasted and to replace it with a Vietnamese slave part is plain foolish unless it has cracked down the middle, like my brake shoes. Unless the springs are hanging like wet noodles then use them again because a 43 year old spring is still better than a brand new slave product. I might be alone in maintaining this position but it's how I justify not buying new $2 springs. Although this work still must be done on a busy street I bought some jack stands and two brake tools. The pads I had since September. The one scored drum was turned at O'Reilly's auto parts for $15. The only thing I replaced were the cotter pins on the castlelated nut holder. I'm still trying to bleed the brakes after a mishap with the wheel cylinder but they've tested OK so far.

Do you see any new springs?


d. i. said...

I have the exact same brake problem with my e300...getting dangerous for me to drive...

Anonymous said...

Wheel cylinders are like arthritic fingers trying ceasing Staccatoly while bass clef struggles with common time grinding to a halt with dot 3 fingering

Anonymous said...

forget the "trying" i give up i am drunk, my name is Kenny

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.