Thursday, December 13, 2012

Well …… that was stupid

Actually the whole project was pretty much of a fustercluck so I guess it was appropriate that I finished up by deleting the few pictures I had for evidence.

I hate cold weather.  That was both the instigating incident and the complication for the project.  Generally I don’t bother plugging vehicles in but that requires me to avoid weather approaching the minus 20 range and I have screwed up in spades in that regard.  So this week I thought I should dig out the cord on the Lincoln and get it plugged in.  No cord. 

I crawled over and under and around that stupid car but nowhere could I see any evidence of a block heater cord.  It was inconceivable to me that any car sold in western Canada wouldn’t ship with a block heater but I sure couldn’t see a cord.  Yesterday I went so far as to run the car up on blocks – which of course meant I had to start it without having plugged it in first.  Once I got it on the blocks and crawled underneath I pretty quickly found a block heater stuffed into the rearmost frost plug on the drivers side.  So it should have been simple to trace the wire and find the plug, right?  Not a flipping prayer.

The cord from the heater disappeared up over the top of the bellhousing and from there I had no idea where it went.  No matter how I poked and prodded peered and spied I couldn’t figure out where the cord was going.  In the back of my mind I knew it was possible that some fool had cut the power cord and it certainly appeared that was what had happened.  Last night I decided that I would make one last attempt to trace the cord this morning and, failing any success in that department, would buy a new cord and plug it into the existing heater. 

So once it finally got up close to –15 I donned my insulated coveralls and gloves and headed back into the tiny little garage that comes along with this house sitting gig.  I thought I could maybe pull the cord loose from the bottom and drag it up over the engine to see where it went to but it quickly became obvious that was just going to turn into an ordeal and make a mess.  With some additional high intensity lights that I discovered in the basement I was able to confirm that the cord was definitely headed to the curbside of the car.  Up until today I wasn’t 100% sure of that. 

So back up to the top of the car and try to figure out which cables might be coming from under the engine to the curbside.  To make a long story long enough already I finally found a wire that terminated in a stupid looking rectangular plug that kind of looked like the plug you used to use on an electric frying pan, back in the days when people still used electric frying pans.  The plug had three pins offset such that it made sense they were set up for 110 volts and something I had read online confirmed that this was likely what I was looking for.  Original equipment would have included a pigtail that plugged into this connector and extended through the grill but of course that was long gone.  So I took the number off the plug and went indoors to warm up and phone Ford.

The partsman at Bennett Dunlop was very helpful and quickly found what I wanted on a schematic.  They didn’t have it – of course.  And it turns out it is a discontinued part but as he got deeper into the search he discovered that it was priced at $120 so there’s not a prayer of a chance I would ever have paid that anyway.  The whole point of finding the right pigtail was simply to avoid freezing my fingers while I adapted what I had.  My first inclination when I found the connector was to cut it off and splice on an extension cord, which is what I ended up doing.  I did however think that if the factory pigtail was under $40 it would be worth it to miss out on the frozen fingers.

That sent me back to the garage with my soldering iron and a sacrificial orange extension cord which is now permanently dangling from the grill.  If I do say so I did a pretty good job of blending it in but I don’t have any plastic zip ties so I’ll need to make a run to Wallyworld or Princess Auto in order to finish the job completely.  When I got it all done and plugged it in I got the high pitched singing sound that every Canadian knows signifies that their block heater is still working.

I took a few pictures along the way in anticipation of writing about the project but I took them with my phone.  When I put them in Dropbox they didn’t upload as quickly as I thought they would so when I came back to my phone and deleted them I didn’t realize that the pictures I actually wanted to upload hadn’t uploaded yet.  There’s likely some workaround to retrieve them off the phone but frankly I don’t care that much.  This whole project should have taken 5 minutes but instead has taken the best part of the last three days.  Enough already.

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