They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like... Michigan!

We've had an unusual fall -- not a single flake of snow from September to mid-November. We did have some possibility of snows in the forecast at least once, maybe twice, but nothing came of it. All that ended this week.

Forecasts here in West Michigan are quite the entertainment. They contains grains of truth from time to time, but often what they get right in principle are quite different in actual practice. They talk of snow showers, snow flurries, sometimes of 1-3" accumulation. Always there's the dreaded "lake effect" -- heavier snow by Lake Michigan.


Wednesday night the sn*w started. I'd already put the snow tires on the "summer" Blazer so I was ready for that first evening. That and putting it in Drive instead of OverDrive, and not driving like an idiot, gives a relatively stable platform. Thankfully, the other drivers on US-131 seemed to realize that the weather has really changed and speeds dropped down from 70 mph to 45-55 mph. It made a 75-90 minute trip home just about two hours. That's okay -- safe is good.

By the time I got home, there's a couple of inches in our driveway. By the time I'm going to bed, the back deck is showing some serious snow up to maybe six inches.

I Are A Genius

Or at least I'm not a complete idiot.

The last time I drove the "winter" Blazer -- it had to be before the time change because the clock was off by an hour -- I was driving home and twice the engine died, which seemed odd at the time. I thought maybe my gas gauge was off, since it read nearly E at the time, but I only put something like 17-18 gallons in a tank which should hold 20. I'd planned to run it by my repairman to see what the heck was going on, but "there wasn't time." First I got sick, then had to run around getting Mrs. Dr. Phil's Blazer worked on -- two weekends in a row.

But it couldn't be put off any further. The deep twin treads on its tires are far more effective in snow -- plus it is 4WD and one never knows around here when you really need to do deal with ice or improperly plowed roadways.

However, I did have a theory about the strange performance a month or so ago. When I fired up the winter Blazer this fall, I had taken it in to get a new air filter -- I think I'd gone through more than one oil change and the shop didn't have the right filter, so I figured I should really get one. There's a new oil change place in Allendale and I tried them. Thing is, the air cleaner cover was really stuck on there and they had to yank it around. It has happened before that something got unplugged, fallen off or loosened in the process.

So when I backed out of the garage -- so nice not to have to scrape it in the mornings! -- into the 5 to 6 inches of fluffy dry snow, I popped the hood and quickly found a hissing pair of hoses. A twin vacuum line which were supposed to be attached to the air cleaner element at the back of the air cleaner housing. Fixed that and it's run like a champ since.

Cost zero. Down time? Well, I didn't drive it for at least a month, but then we had a lot of rain and the winter Blazer "doesn't do well in the rain," since there's a bad leak where the windshield meets the roof.

Did I mention that I just passed 299,000 miles on this vehicle?

Push Comes To Shove

There was another timing issue at stake here -- Exam 3 for my PHYS-2070 Electricity & Light calculus physics course. The weather forecast showed snow for a solid ten days minimum. If I didn't take the winter Blazer on Thursday, a large second snowfall might force my hand and I'd have to take it on Friday anyway. But Friday was Exam 3. If I was going to "choose" a day to have a possible vehicle problem, Thursday was better than Friday. (grin)

But it all came together and driving on the snowy roads of West Michigan was no problem, once again.

Okay, We've Got Our Courier and Ives Moment

Bring on the turkey!

Dr. Phil

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