27 October, 2009

Don't Mind Me

I decided that after about a year, it was time for a template change with the blog. I kind of like this one, or this one, or... I don't know. You tell me. I've gone through about six templates this morning. I think this version is about the easiest on the eyes.

The only downside I see with it is, all of a sudden,  the right sidebar column isn't behaving itself. It's down below the posts - as if this were a single-column blog. Which it ain't.

I'm working on it. It may take a few days to figure out what I goobered, so just bear with me while I struggle with it.

Here's a totally unrelated tidbit for you regarding prices in Belize. My Isuzu was in dire need of an engine rebuild. The crank had gone south (well, alright... it was going south. It just hadn't gotten there yet). In fact, it was getting worse daily, so I knew it wasn't long for this world.

Anyway, I took it in to my mechanic, Rick Magaña, for him to work his magic on it. I also had some other niggling problems - the A/C condensate drain wasn't draining outside. The passenger floor area was in a constant state of being sopping wet.; the heater needed to be reconnected. I'd had it disconnected sometime back when the floor leakage was becoming a nuisance. I thought it was the heater core leaking.

I know, you're going to say, "Well, you could probably smell and see the coolant if that was the case." No, probably not. In true Belizean fashion the old Isuzu, since we bought it two years ago, has run just plain old tap water for its coolant. So water on the floor would have looked like water on the floor, not coolant on the floor.

At the time, disconnecting the heater seemed like a good idea. We thought winters here were so negligible temperature-wise, that we'd never need the heater. Well, now that we've become acclimated and all, using blankets on the bed, wearing jeans and jackets to walk the doggies, and wishing we had gloves on doing it, that sort of thing, I realized we just might want to use the heater occasionally, so I asked Rick to re-connect the heater.

And, I wanted him to flush the radiator and add real automotive coolant. What a concept!

So, as he got into the engine (the Isuzu lived at Rick's for just over a week - nine days to be exact), Rick found, as we suspected, that the crank was on its way south, which meant replacing main bearings, and a rod bearing, replacing piston rings (pistons were in good shape), complete gasket set, timing belt, and freeze plugs.

Of course, as he got into it, he discovered too, that the clutch disk was just about done, so he called me to let me know he was going to replace that. I told him to go ahead with that.

Some engine oil, a filter and two gallons of coolant completed the list. Until he took it out for a test drive first thing this morning. At idle, it behaved perfectly. Once you stepped on the gas, the temp instantly started to go up. Turns out the radiator was blocked with crud and the thermostat was frozen. So, flushing the radiator at a shop was added to the bill.

During the week and change that the Isuzu was at Rick's, I got by with my trusty bicycle and fortuitous rides bummed from Doug and Twyla, especially when I needed to get groceries and such.

I know, you're wondering what the grand total for all this was. Well, that's one of the nice things about living in Belize, and having a good mechanic you can trust. Would you believe, the bottom line was $1,940.00 BZD? That's $970.00 USD, folks. For an engine rebuild. That price also includes the labor which was $800 BZD - you know, $400 USD.

Now, just so you know this isn't the U.S of A, Rick still needs to replace a broken motor-mount - none were available. He needs to replace the thermostat. Again, none were available. He'll fix those things when I bring it in for a 500-mile oil change.

It runs smoother and quieter than it ever has. My dogs are really confused. It just doesn't sound like me coming down the road, so they get all primed for a good, old-fashioned bark-fest when I turn in to the gate. Then they discover that it's me. "Oh, happy, happy, happy! The boss is back. And when he parks, we get to read the newspaper..." that is, sniff the tires all around to see who's been visiting the hooptie while I was in town.

Now, we can make a trip, once again, over to Belmopan. This time to go to the US Embassy to have more pages added to our passports. Oh, and maybe do a little shopping, since we're there.


sandy a said...

that is a great price! Also sounds like you have a mechanic you can trust which is super! We are thinking of buying a car there instead of bringing one in.

Julian in SC said...

If something happens to your mechanic you might try this guy named Barnacle down in Maya Beach. I hear he's pretty good with his hands -- but he'll want to have the labor portion paid for with beer. I think that would work... LOL


Julian in SC said...

Oh, by the way. I find your new layout fine -- except these old eyes find it pretty hard to read some of the type against the all black background. You might make the type a little bigger or bolder or change the background (or tell me to kiss it) or something. Just an uninvited critique!! Keep up the good work!

Dave Rider said...

Sandy, we flew down and bought our Isuzu after we got here. Worked fine for us. Same as buying a used POS in the States - Caveat Emptor.
And finding a good mechanic was actually easier here. I went through about six or seven up north when we had our diesel Westfalia (license plate: BEDBUG) before I found one that knew what a hole in the ground looked like.

Julian, Yeah, I'll keep him in mind. He does look pretty handy with a monkey wrench. I dunno if I could afford the beer - I have to keep some for my own purposes!

About the layout... I don't understand it. It seems to be working fine now. I couldn't get it to do two columns for most of yesterday. Now today - perfect. HTML is wunnerful, wunnerful. I'll take type size and color under advisement. It's still a work in progress.

JRinSC said...

Funny you two were into trucks on your each of your last posts. That's what made me think of Barn after reading his and then this blog. Almost like he was auditioning -- although you are almost a full county apart!

I agree, you'd go broke trying to keep up with him (according to him LOL). Best keep your present mechanic happy!

Dave Rider said...

JR, That's a hoot - Barn auditioning for mechanic. He'd probably choke on his beer.
It does look like we coordinated these last entries. Actually, I've never even met him.

bonbon said...

A few years ago I had the engine on my GEO re-built and it was about Six hundred dollars BZ. And after hundred thousand miles it was still running. Its to bad the Body was all rusted other wise I would still be driving it. And Dave this is harder to read, I guess I have Old eyes also.

Dave Rider said...

bonbon, as long as the engine runs as well as it is so far, I won't mind running this thing for 100K miles or so. That'll give me time to save for a HiLux or something. But, I'm not in any rush.
Hard on the eyes, eh? Alright, I'm still looking for a template that suits.


bonbon said...

Yes, I like the White backgroung the best. I think this one's a keeper. As far as re-built engines When we had ours re-built everyone said it might last for 25,000 miles Boy were they wrong, They just never had a Belizan who new how to rebuild one.