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Driving at a steady 35 mph.

  • Sudden increase in engine volume. Normal ticking noise increased greatly
  • Loss of Power but continues to run
  • Will not Idle, stumbles on take off.
  • No Smoke, exhaust looks normal.
  • No obvious external breaks in exhaust, headers, etc.

On the upside, it got me home from across town. Slow and stumbling, but got me there. If you’ve seen the movie Wall-e picture the part when he’s running along with a broken tread.

I’ll be pulling the valve covers off Saturday to see if all the valves are functioning. Hopefully it’s just a broken connnecting rod or valve spring. We’ll see.

Well, due to the truck needing a software update to fix it I struck upon the notion that the bug was like Wall-e and the truck was like Eva. Old tech and new tech. Well, it seems it may stick.

I’d like to officially introduce the newest member of the Hickey household.

Wally the bug.

My Yellow Super Beetle

My Yellow Super Beetle

It’s yellow, it’s rough around the edges, has some dents and rust, but has great character.


As some who know us know, we have a 2008 Dodge Ram 4×4 Big Horn Edition truck. It’s pretty, it’s powerful, and it’s a real kick to drive.


We laugh and joke because the truck is so computerized. Turn the key, the computer takes over, runs all the fans up, does a diagnostics, and backs the rpms and fans back down. Well, it’s not so funny anymore.

The truck hasn’t been running right lately. It has a hesitation problem and doesn’t get as good a gas milage as it used to. We used to get 20+ miles a gallon on the freeway. Now it’s more like 17. So we took it in for and oil change and a diagnostics by the dealer. Only they have the right computers to talk with the computers in the truck.

The results? It needed 2 software updates. One for the traction control and the other for the emission system. Yes, you read that right. Software updates. I can only imagine that we needed the software update to the emission system because california has so much crap in their gas to make it “environmentally friendly” that it screwed up the system. The fix was just to teach the computer how to handle it. Guy at the dealership said it should be all better now.

Software updates to my truck. It’s just not right!

I went to the Celtic Session today. The First Sunday Session at the Ol’Factory Cafe in Sand City. I ran about an hour late but here is a list of tunes that were played in the session while I was there.

  • Road to Lisdoonvarna
  • The Kesh Jig
  • Morrison’s
  • Mairi’s Wedding
  • Flowers of Edinburgh
  • Temperance Reel
  • St Annes Reel
  • Dennis Murphy Polka
  • Dowd’s Number Nine
  • Banish Misfortune
  • Lark in the Morning
  • Farewell to Whisky
  • The Musical Priest
  • Cooley’s Reel
  • The Banshee
  • Sour Grass & Granite
  • Star of the County Down
  • Red Haired Boy
  • Over the Waterfall
  • Gary Owen
  • Irish Washerwoman
  • Rakes of Marrow
  • Southwind

PDF of Sundays Celtic Music sunday_session

ABC format of Sundays Celtic Music sunday_celtic

Wow, I started monitoring the number of hits about a year ago just for grins. Who would have thought that people would be crazy enough to hit this website a wopping 10,000 times in a year. Believe me, I’m not that interesting, I know. (-:

Ten Thousand Hits

Ten Thousand Hits

The bug (no name yet) wouldn’t idle very well once warmed up and had a tendancy to die when at a stop light. That and it had a wicked flat spot in the acceleration curve. So flat in fact that it was more like a dead range.

I replaced the cap and rotor, tried to replace the points and condenser but Kragen provided me with the wrong ones, gee thanks. I found a web page that talked about tuning up a bug engine including adjusting the carburetor. So, I started to follow the destructions.

  1. Set Fast Idle Adjuster to just barely contact the choke cam.  Turns out this was cranked way in to up the idle.
  2. Turn the Volume Control Screw all the way in and then back out 2 1/2 turns. It was set over 7 turns out.
  3. Turn the Bypass Screw all the way in and then back it out a couple of turns for a rough set. It was turned ALL the way in to the stops.

So, I set the default values, crossed my fingers and fired up the bug. It’s idling. I did some minor adjustments and now the bug pops and backfires. Tried to time with the timing light, the marks are all over the place. I’ll need to pop spark plug #1 and mark Top Dead Center later. I just used the adjust by ear method for now, thanks to a childhood of turning wrench with my uncle and cousin, this is pretty simple.

Took the bug out for a spin, idles much better, still needs some work, but no more dead spot. Much much better. It was so out of wack I’m surprised the thing even ran. You have to admit the 1600 cc bug engine is tolerant of misadjustments.

Hey Palmer, quit yer complainin. Here’s a pic or two. (-:

My Yellow Super Beetle

My Yellow Super Beetle

The interior is in desperate need of replacement.

Interior of the Bug

Interior of the Bug

There is some body damage, not a lot. Here’s the worst dent.

Rear of the bug

Rear of the bug

Here it is all opened up.

Front of bug

Front of bug

And no, I didn’t get rid of a Rolls and replace it with a BMW. I used to have a classic mini cooper and now I have a 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle! It’s Taxi cab yellow and tore up, but fixable. The interior is going to need to be pretty much completely replaced, but it runs and drives.

I’ll put up pictures this weekend.

Hey John! You may have picked up a Porsche but I got the Porsche wannabe. Oh wait. hmmm…

When we were living in Scotland we heard about something called the Postcode Lottery, and not in a good way. One of the realities of  socialized medicine is that it’s great for the day to day stuff, but once you get into an outlyer or expensive situation, well, it sucks.

The post code lottery is a slang term for the situation where you may or may not get proper treatment for a serious disease based on what post code you live in. It’s based on the funding available in that area and whether or not there is enough to cover any expensive treatments. In my case Diabetic Insulin Pump support. I had a hell of a battle getting coverage, and I already had the pump.

Where this really comes into play is when someone is fighting something like cancer. Depending on your post code you may or may not get the drugs you need to survive. Seriously. Reference here, or here, or better yet do a google search. You might be denied the cancer fighting drugs which could save your life.

The figures I read indicate that if you can afford to pay for your own drugs you have a 3 times more likelyhood to survive cancer in the UK than if you have to rely on the National Health System. Yes, that’s 3 times. Oh, and here’s the kicker. If you can afford to pay for any of your drugs and choose to do so, then the NHS will drop you from coverage and you will be forced to pay for ALL of your treatment. Seriously. Look it up.

Our medical system here in the states may have some rough parts, but it’s still pretty good. Just don’t get caught out. IE, make sure you have medical insurance before you get sick or you are royally hosed.

My current medical has a $1350 a year per person out of pocket and a $2 million maximum per person lifetime usage. It’s March and we’ve maxed one of them already. Guess which? It’s a pure fluke I picked the best medical available in December when it was time to decide on next years options. Dang good thing we chose as we did.

We decided to splurge with our tax money. We bought beds, couch, etc. Then we bought a 40″ Toshiba LCD TV and an Xbox 360 for the kids. We did that today, we needed a stress relief, explain that later.

Anyhow, the xbox came with 2 games. Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones. Well, the girls never got past Kung Fu Panda. After bed Molly gets up and says she has a cut on her thumb. Well, it’s not a cut, it’s a broken blister. She played so much out the gate she ended up with a blister on her thumb. Goofy kid.

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April 2009
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