20 September 2004

Winter Prep

Since I got snowed on yesterday and today and you probably didn't, I got to thinking about Preparing For Winter.

First thing when it started snowing, Mrs. G. and I headed to town to get necessary supplies.

We started at the local Hardware Store/Tourist Trap Boutique. I got a spare gallon of windshield washer fluid ($1.49 on sale) and Mrs. G. got a Columbia fleece jacket (also on sale).

Then to the supermarket. There are many hardships we are willing to put up with in order to live up here in the mountains, power and cable TV outages, etc., but running out of jalapeno-cheese foccacia and garlic & herb crumbled Feta ain't on the list.

Now for the car:

Make sure you have -20deg. windshield washer fluid. Don't use water. It's a royal pain having to unbolt the reservoir and take it in the house to thaw out. Beer works, but it's a waste, and that cheap Vodka (you know, the kind you put in the Gray Goose bottle when company's coming) is too thick.

Turn on the heater to make sure it works. You haven't used it all Summer and if it doesn't work, or dumps coolant all over the inside of the car, best to find out now.

Check the wiper blades by squirting some w.w. fluid and see if they wipe it off. CAUTION: Don't turn them on without first peeling them loose from the windshield or you're liable to get to see them yank the little motors right out of the cowl!

Get the Fixer to check your belts and hoses. When they get dry and worn and cracked, sometimes they'll freeze up and either break, or else yank all the teeth off the flywheel when you try to start the engine.

While you've got your wallet out, have him check the battery electrolyte's specific gravity and clean the terminals. A frozen battery makes a great emergency parking brake, but it won't start the car very good. Also if your battery is weak, when you turn on all the accessories, you can watch its sides suck in.

Get him to check the temperature protection level of the radiator coolant, which is supposed to magically morph into anti-freeze at 32deg., but might not if it's old or if you've been adding water all summer. If you had to add a LOT of water, keep your wallet out.

If you live in Nebraska leave NOW to go to the Fixer's shop.

If you have four-wheel-drive, you probably haven't used it all Summer either. First, check that the 4WD lever is still there. (Yeah, I know they use buttons now, but I have an older model, but not old enough to have more than ONE lever.) If it's there, engage the locking hubs (I know: older models, but this is one part that seizes up from lack of use), shift into 4-wheel and drive a few miles to see if it works. You don't want to find out it doesn't while you're trying to climb Granny's hill on Thanksgiving, unless you like sliding backwards onto a state highway. Don't ask me how I know, but it's thrilling!

Put some Lock-Ease in the key slots on the doors. You can always thaw them by urinating on them, but this may be considered bad form in the parking lot at work or at the mall. Keep a large screwdriver handy to pry the doors open after you unlock them.

It's smart to carry a set of snow chains . DO NOT buy a set and throw them in the trunk. Have them fitted, unless you LIKE laying in the snow trying to either shorten or stretch them with your fingernail clippers. I'll have more on installing and driving on chains (aka slingin' iron) in a later post. Got to keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation, after all!

Now you're all set. Let them Northers blow!

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