Fixing Broken Stuff

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Dennis got here a couple days ago, trying to escape some of the Northern Wisconsin winter, and had planned to get a jump on miles.  He rode out the bike path on his bike path and was making a U-turn, when his front tire folded under, or something like that.  Anyway, he fell to the inside, going like no speed, and hit his elbow on the pavement.

He didn’t have any pain and had been icing it a ton, but it kept swelling like crazy.  So yesterday, he went by minor-med and got an x-ray.  It is shattered, like broken into little tiny bits.

So, he needs surgery to repair it, which is going to happen tomorrow, in Lawrence.  I was pretty surprised how smashed it was, considering, still now, he says it doesn’t hurt at all and he pretty much has full movement.

What bad luck.  I’m sticking with the injury was because he was going so slow.  It’s the angle you hit the ground, not the speed you are going forward.  I know a few guys that have broken their elbows riding and all of them have been going very slowly, less than 5 mph.  I think that is the reason I broke my hip last year.  Faster means less of an impact angle.

I went by and got some spark plugs, oil etc. to “tune-up” Dennis’ van.  There really isn’t much to do with a car tuning it nowadays.  The computer does that, so changing the plugs is just about it.

I changed the plugs in the “new” AWD van I got in California.  I’d already put in a new transmission.  The plugs were horrible, like maybe the original plugs.  15 years old.  The gaps were all over .10, when the called for gap is .050.  I know the computer will compensate for that, but that is crazy.

It was raining yesterday at the end of my mind.  I was riding gravel, again, to Lawrence and figured it was just my destiny to be wet and cold again.  Anyway, after, I was driving around to get plugs and oil last night and the windshield wipers on the InSight were pitiful.  The driver’s side especially.  I had changed the wipers last fall.

So, I looked at them and they were toast.  I‘ve been changing wiper blades a ton recently.  I don’t remember them wearing out so fast historically.  It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or how much I spend on wiper blades, they seem to shred way too fast.  I’m wondering if they are making them to wear out now?  I have no other explanation.

I pretty much fix everything that breaks myself.  I very rarely hire anyone to do anything for me.  I do this because, one, I can, and two, I nearly always can do it better than whoever I find to fix it, and three, of course, it is just a fraction of the cost of paying someone else.

There isn’t much you can’t fix, but sometimes it is just easier, and sometimes cheaper to replace it.  I hate it.  Seems like such a waste.  But, that is our society now.  I can’t see it ever changing back.

Dennis' arm initially.

Dennis’ arm initially.

Pretty broken.  I can't fix this.

Pretty broken. I can’t fix this.

Funny how many people fix their cars in the autopart store's parking lot.  I've done it myself.

Funny how many people fix their cars in the autopart store’s parking lot. I’ve done it myself.

These plugs were toast.

These plugs were toast.

I removed the dash to get to the CD player in the "new" van.

I removed the dash to get to the CD player in the “new” van.

6 month old wiper blade.  Cheap is the word that comes to mind.

6 month old wiper blade. Cheap is the word that comes to mind.


21 thoughts on “Fixing Broken Stuff

  1. Bart

    Steve, agreed on the slow fall scenario with the energy from the impact having no where to go except into the bone. Sliding out at speed and the energy is released and dissapates through the slide out via friction. Of course up to possible curb contact or obstructions at the bail out exits on a corner.

  2. Matt

    I wonder if the wiper blade wear could be from newer wipers using softer rubber. Imagine a really soft race tire wearing out (flattening the tread down on rear road tire) much faster than a Gator skin or something nuke proof. The suppleness of the race tire makes it work better, when it is working. Do the new blades just use softer rubber than the old ones, meaning they work better while they work but they don’t last as long?

    I wondered the same thing – my first car I replaced the wiper blades like twice in 5 years. I have changed my wiper blades twice in the last year. I chalked it up to stupidity of me being 18-23 years old with my first car.

  3. MS

    Wiper blades do wear out much faster than they used to – regardless of brand. If you haven’t noticed this is a trend in EVERYTHING, especially the shit you buy at Home Depot and Lowes. Made in China. Priced like Made in the USA. Profits are king.

    Have you noticed how long a bar of soap lasts anymore? Notice the nice creative carving job they do so there is as little as possible in the same amount of sale-able space.

  4. Nancy Brown

    I broke my hip doing a U-turn on gravel and going less than 1 mph. If I had been going fast, it would have been some awesome road rash instead.

  5. Wildcat

    Even if I only need one item from an auto parts store when working on my truck I pack up my tools and just do the repair in their parking lot like your pic above. For me, this is the case 90% of the time I work on my truck. O’Reillys is the best. Auto Zone sucks. Not sure about others. Except for Napa batteries. They are the best. Also, you can spend more – but for a reasonable price I swear by the Rain-X wipers. Sorry to hear about Dennis. Tough break. No pun intended.

  6. Jim

    I agree with the comments about wiper blade life.
    I have always wanted good blades on my vehicles. You never realize how bad they are until it is too late.
    I thought it was just me but I have been replacing them MUCH faster than in years gone by. They start to streak or I notice the rubber is torn or whatever.
    Bottom line is that I am replacing them faster than once a year and that never used to be the case.

  7. Nate

    My elbow x-ray looked almost identical after getting doored going about 10 MPH on my singlespeeed MTB commuter bike. And it didn’t hurt either. Lots of swelling, but no real pain. Surgery was easy, too.
    Good luck to Dennis, I’m sure recovery will be swift and easy.

  8. The Cyclist

    I remember my Regina chains lasting forever back in the 80s. Today no chain lasts more than a 1000 miles at the most. I suspect wipers wear out due to environmental aspects. Way less additives in today’s rubber.

  9. Terry Keenan

    It helps to use a razor blade with windex or water to clean your windshield, especially when using new blades. It helps make the windshield smoother, thus left wear on your blades.

  10. Larry T.

    I feel robbed. I thought we’d be seeing photos of Tilford’s home-built x-ray machine being used and a DIY cast being slapped on the poor guy’s elbow afterwards. Instead you worked on his car? You could have saved him some REAL money? 🙂

  11. Mark G

    I’m feeling like Larry too, only about the trany for van. Did you do it ? 4 wheel drive a bitch.. I’m thinking you had it done or you would have posted some pics of job in progress.

  12. Aki Sato

    I had the OEM wipers on my 2003 Nissan Z (got it new in Mar 2003) for 6 years I think. Maybe 7. I changed them once before trading in the car in Aug 2011, and it was in the year before the trade in (I remember thinking “oh, man, I could have traded in the car with the original wipers!). Very soft, very supple wiper rubber. I attribute the long life to a few things. First, no snow/ice since it was a 3 season car. Wiper frozen onto window + turn wipers on = instant ripping of the sensitive wiper edge. I asked my boss about clearing his windows of snow/ice and he said, no, the wiper motor on this thing (H2) is great. He demonstrated and sure enough the wipers broke free and pushed a solid couple inches of snow/etc out of the way. I completed my sentence and pointed out that now he’ll have little bits of wiper blade frozen onto the windshield. “I guess that’s why I have to get wiper blades all the time.”

    Second is I Rain-X the living daylights out of the windshield. Fresh Rain X and no traffic in front of you means 40 mph no wipers. With traffic you have to go faster. No wiper use = longer life. Plus the windshield clears quicker even when using wipers. I also clay the windows a couple times a year, when I clay the car (Nissan maybe 3-5x a year, our 4 season cars typically just spring and fall, like after a salty winter and before the salty winter, maybe once in the summer).

    I didn’t garage the Nissan except in the winter so my thoughts on UV degradation didn’t apply to my experience. A good friend live in San DIego area and he says he remembers he needs new wiper blades every year when it rains in Jan or whatever, then promptly forgets until next Jan.

    Now, with some 4 season cars (2010, 2011) we’re already on our second set of wipers, even with the Rain X thing on the windshields, regular use of my own dual sized sponge+squeegee and a spray bottle of windshield spray stuff (so I can clean sand/salt off the windows without using the wipers), garaged most of the time, and pretty consistent “don’t let the wipers freeze on the windshield” care.

  13. ScottO

    You bought a used van with plugs like that? That’s a big red flag in pre-purchase inspection. Glad you’re keeping it on the road though!

  14. James

    Awesome site for discount auto part prices. I get wipers for three cars for less than $20 and they are good wipers (the last ones were all NAPA branded- – but they say “Famous Manufacturer Closeout ” on the site). $3.00 air filters, $1.50 fuel filters, and headlight capsules for $1.99, all day long!


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