Thursday, November 30, 2006

Red Bull Gives You Wings

Last night, I motivated myself to go out to the restaurant where my friend works. When he closes, he gives me food they have left for free. The only problem is that I often can't be bothered to drag myself out after midnight to meet him there. I threw some clothes on and headed out the door. I decided to top off my car's radiator, first, as I can never seem to manage to have enough time to do it in the morning. My car has a leak in the cooling system, so I need to fill the cooling system periodically, otherwise I will have no heat.
I have done this procedure hundreds of times. I unscrewed the cap to the fill bottle, placing it on top of the radiator. For some reason, this time I knocked the cap and it fell inside the engine compartment. I poured a couple of liters of water into the fill bottle, then bent down to pick the cap up, off the ground. Problem. It wasn't on the ground. Some genius decided to put a shield under the engine. This protects the engine compartment from stuff splashing up from the road surface. Unfortunately, it also prevents filler caps dropped in the engine compartment from falling through, where they can be easily retrieved.
I lay on my back, under the front bumper, and banged on this thick, plastic shield. I could hear the cap rattling inside. I tried to reach down from the top, through the fan, but I couldn't feel the cap. Due to all the hoses and whatnot, I could reach very little of the area under the engine. I picked up a stick of wood from the gutter and tried to push the cap into the area I could reach. No success. I removed a section of the induction hose so I could get my arm down better. No success. I tried knocking the cap from underneath, hoping to get it near to where I could reach. No success.
I tried for an hour and a half to retrieve the cap. Then I gave up. I was tired, scratched, and my arms were covered in grease. Forget the restaurant, I was going to go to bed. I contemplated the cost of having a mechanic remove the shielding and retrieving the cap. I decided it would be more cost effective to buy a new cap. I would have to do so after work. The big question was, how to drive my car without a radiator filler bottle cap? What effect would that have on the cooling system? I decided to improvise a cap till I could buy a new one. What could I stick in the hole that would withstand the heated coolant? Rooting around in my recycling bin, I tried an empty, plastic bottle. No good. Then a can. Too big. Then I had a brainstorm. My housemate, S1, drinks Red Bull. The Red Bull cans are smaller than regular drink cans. One of those might be the right size.
Wouldn't you know it? I couldn't find a Red Bull can in the recycling bin. I looked inside the kitchen. Sure enough, there was an empty Red Bull can, sitting on the kitchen table, where he'd left it. I used my wire cutters to cut the can in half. The remaining half just fit, snugly, over the filler bottle opening. I secured it with a rubberband. This morning, I drove to work, no problem. I must have the only BMW kept running with electrical tape, old cans, and rubberbands. After work, I visited a BMW parts department and acquired a new filler bottle cap. As Roseanne Roseannadana used to say, "if it isn't one thing, it's another."


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