In which Libosaurus channels her inner mechanic, part 2
I don’t really know how to rate the importance of the items required to work on a car, but I imagine that no matter what scale you use, tools rank fairly high. Proper tools, sure, that sounds great. Tools adequate to do the job, also great! Any tools, really.
Tools were an issue from the get-go on day two of my great automotive adventure.
As you may recall, we left off with removing the center console trim and then intrepidly taking a break. Spirits were high, the success rate higher, and I had far too much confidence to go ruining it with continuing the project. It was crucial that I remain overconfident in my meager skills for an evening. “Why yes,” my intolerable air of smugness seemed to say. “Yes I CAN remove all the bits of trim from around my shifter and cupholder. That’s right, all THREE of them. And the two corresponding screws!”
The first thing to do on Day Two was to remove the two screws that hold the instrument panel in place. “No problem,” the thought flitted bravely through my impulsive skull. “I have a screwdriver.”
That was a stupid thought.
Thanks to space constraints and the tight angle of approach, my normal phillips screwdriver just couldn’t get purchase on the screw head. I knew just enough to not keep trying and strip the screw, so I abandoned that tool and toddled back inside for a short, stubby one.
Unsurprisingly, that didn’t help. The screwdriver was shorter, but not quite shorter enough. It still didn’t fit in the space available at the angle required. Why would a screwdriver be the right tool to remove screws? That’s madness.
Now, I could have removed the rest of the center console and made this easier, but I didn’t want to take that route. I’m a clever gal with a vast tool collection at my disposal, I was certain I could handle this. The screws have hex heads, which meant a ratcheting socket wrench would work perfectly, giving me a nice 90 degree angle so I’m not bumping the center console anymore. Easy peasy! Back down to the basement, fetch BOTH bags of appropriately sized socket drivers, just in case it is metric not SAE.
Not only was it SAE, I eyeballed the size of the driver spot on, first time. 5/16 fit exactly spot on. Of course, this renewed the palpable air of smugness, which is a surefire way to invite disaster.
And it did. The handle for the wrench was only sized for larger sockets. The little bitty socket I needed to use wouldn’t fit the handle, and I couldn’t find the other handle that I know must exist… somewhere. CRAP. Back downstairs we go to get a regular old wrench, because at this point that is the only tool in my possession that will manage to get a grip on this sucker.
I should note that my good buddy was “assisting” me by providing company and entertainment, and accompanying me on all of these trips to the basement and back. He was an incredibly good sport about it, and didn’t even mock me for my failure at tools.
The wrench worked a treat, although I only had enough room to turn it about 5 degrees each time. It took a while, but I got both screws loose enough to unscrew them with my fingers.
While I wasn’t watching the time, I estimate that this was at least 45 minutes to remove two screws. Car 1, libosaurus 0.
After that, it was relatively smooth sailing. Prying out the instrument panel was absolutely no trouble at all, it came out easily and with no casualties, plastic or otherwise.
A little bit of instruction reading, unscrewing, tugging, prying, instruction re-reading, aligning, re-re-reading, reassembling, and viola! New radio and trim installed into the panel. The only setback was my unreasonable fear of yanking off the AC control knobs, which I’m now over.
Soldering the wiring harness was awesomely fun, once I was reminded of how to solder properly. All the wires were matched up, soldered, and heat shrink tubing applied. That last was entertaining; we don’t have an appropriately sized heat gun, so I held the wires over the flame of a candle to shrink the tubing. It felt very old fashioned, like I was melting tallow over a candle or something equally non-mechanical.
So here I was, my wiring harness fully assembled, my stereo assembled. It was time to battle those damned screws again. Out to the car, insert the instrument panel into the space, and…. cursing ensues.
I’d somehow managed to not notice that I’d put the stereo bracket in upside-down, so it didn’t fit. That’s okay, not a huge setback. Take it apart, turn it around, screw it all together, and bob’s-your-uncle, its ready to go.
All things considered, this project could have gone far, far worse. I completed it in two days, with a minimum of screw-ups. I didn’t have to run out to buy anything unforeseen. My mishaps were all understandable from lack of experience. I even watched an instructional video and read the instructions when I was at a loss, instead of just forging blindly ahead. My car is now equipped with a new stereo!
…Now my only battle is trying not to buy another new one, as it turns out the controls on the one I bought actually suck. Alas! At least I now know it is a breeze to install one.