I’d set an alarm for 6am to get out and start work on the car before the heat hit, but I don’t even remember rolling over and turning it off. We didn’t emerge from the bedroom until late morning. After breakfast, it was time to finally face it. What’s wrong with the Astro. We moved Peter’s car out of the garage and rearranged cars to get mine into the shelter of the shed. While still stifling hot, at least I didn’t have to be out of the sun. I took her around the block and apart from engine codes 32 and 42, she ran fine, no loss of power whatsoever. I didn’t consider that encouraging, I’d rather a persistent issue than an intermittent one.
Parked in the garage, which was only just big enough, I got to work pulling the inside apart to get to the engine per usual. As soon as I’d got it apart, I looked at a couple of EST (electronic spark timing) wires that I thought might be contributing to the two engine codes. When I’d had the fuel pump issue, one of them had stripped insulation which I’d fixed with tape so I thought maybe I’d done a shit job or the wire was arcing to ground through the tape. Closer inspection revealed a piece of exposed wire further down that I hadn’t seen. It was resting right on the engine block. When the electrical diagram in my Haynes manual didn’t describe the wire I was looking at, I retreated inside for a quick Google. I found it was the EST bypass wire. The wire should have 5V on it when running above idle, but with 0V it sets the car at idle. This was exactly what was happening to the car when it lost power, so I started thinking this could be the sole issue and nothing to do with fuel flow. A bit more reading to convince myself, I went back to the heat and tidied up the wire and its wiring harness properly. The insulating conduit was almost melted so it needed a good bit of attention. I ran the car in the garage for a good minute and no codes. Before putting everything back together, I took it for another spin around the block and still no codes. That was promising. I figured I couldn’t do much else except drive the old girl around to see if I’d fixed the problem.
After lunch inside, I went back to it and fixed the driver’s side window which had persistently stopped working after being on the flick for a few weeks. A bit of tightening of the terminals and she was right (for now). Feeling good now, I was listening to my tunes and started making my van my home again. I took my time, putting everything back where it belonged and vacuuming it for the first time since I’d started travelling. She was brand new by the time I was done.
My work inspired Dan, he was out working on his van too, doing a few improvements. I employed him for help a couple of times because he seemed to have more luck positioning wires in my regulator better than I could. We both felt a sense of achievement by the end of the day and celebrated with some MotoX, a bottle of red wine and crackers with brie and strawberries. Beautiful.
After sitting around a while, we decided we were on for another round of pool so we were off to the Tavern Grill a second time. We took my car this time since it needed a test drive and still no issues on the way. The bar was full compared to last night, but the pool table as free. We got straight into it, Dan winning the first with a string of amazing moves. I managed to win a couple of games, but it just wasn’t my night. Sticking to the specials menu, we shared some nachos and chips to follow. The bill came to only $20 by the end of the night, me still just on water.
We ended the night sitting outside while Dan was having a cigarette when we were approached by a big guy asking if I would mind going into the ladies’ bathroom to check on her girlfriend who’d been there a while longer than she should have. I was happy to and found that Stacy was just fine but made no move to come out of the stall. When I came back out to inform her boyfriend, Eric, he was happy to hear and hung out with us outside as the bar staff packed up for the night. He was a weird guy, telling us all about his under-skin implants and getting on to all sorts of weird stuff. After checking on his girlfriend one more time, we made our exit.
No car issues on the way back to Dan’s place, things were looking up!