In which car work is a metaphor for writing and life

An unexpected day off from the Day!job offers the opportunity to prowl the junkyards for parts for Terranova and Bovril, since both are in need of replacement bits.  Today I’m in luck; I’ve found an older Chevy van that will have the body wiring harness I need to finish the engine conversion on Terranova.  It’s a perfect day for junkyard labors too, with mild temperatures and just a bit of sun, and early enough in the season that the bugs haven’t matured yet.

Even though I already knew that pulling a wiring harness would be an arduous task, the van is especially daunting.  The driver’s door is bashed shut, preventing me from dangling my legs out while I work under the dash.  The whole dash is intact, which means I’ll have to dig into it to find what I need.  And as I start to poke around, I can’t even see where the cursed thing goes.

IMG_3979 It’s too much.  I want to give up.  It was a valiant effort, but there’s got to be some other way.

Except there isn’t.  Terranova needs this complex wiring bundle, and it’s not something that’s available at the auto parts store.  And no junkyard is going to pull one out for me.  If it’s going to happen, I have to yank this one out.  And vans of this vintage are getting pretty uncommon; this is the first one I’ve seen in a junkyard in three months.  Putting it off for another day is likely to result in it being crushed the next time I come.

So, hell.  I’ll just poke at it a little bit, pull the instrument panel and see what I can see.  Unplugging the speedometer and IP relay is easy enough, and then I can see a little bit.  The ignition column module comes off too.  From there, I need to pry the top of the dashboard off, though.  That’s 12 screws to remove, and some fussing with the radio that will likely result in scraped knuckles.

But I do it anyway.  Now the dash top is loose, and I can get at a few more connectors.  Why the hell is every damn wire connection a different puzzle box of clips and tabs?  It seems like every time I learn how to do one, the next one is completely different.  And then there’s the added frustration that I can’t actually see half of them, they’re just buried behind other wires, or the big plastic tubes for the HVAC system.

I go on disconnecting them, though.  Each one seems to provide a bit more slack, whether it takes thirty seconds or ten minutes to unclip.  There’s a bit more play in the harness with each step.  I’m still not convinced it’ll come out.  I throw my hands up and walk away from the van several times, but I leave my tools in it so I have to come back.  And when I do, I inevitably decide to pull just one more connection, or maybe I’ll try a different one and come back to the one I can’t see/reach later.

I have to cut a couple of wires whose connectors just won’t release.  But only a couple.

I wonder how the fuck I’m going to figure out where all of these go when I get the harness back to Terranova.  Aw, hell, why didn’t I label the wires as I was pulling them?  Because, dummy, you can’t see what most of them go to in the first place, and you don’t have any means of labelling them in your toolbox anyway.  This was a spur of the moment trip, remember?  I convince myself that I’m terrible at this, I’ve screwed it up from the start and I am a pathetic excuse for a scavenger and a worse mechanic.

And then, a few more clips, a broken ¼-inch drive wrench (it was a cheap thing anyway, deserved to die. I have a spare) and a ground wire so stubborn that I swear at it in made-up languages later, the spaghetti monster is free of the truck and in my hands.IMG_3981

What a wonderful thing!  What a mess!  I wonder if I can even figure out how it works when I get it home?

But hey, for the moment, none of that matters.  There was a thing, and I convinced myself it was impossible but I did it anyway.  More evidence that the internal voice is a liar.  That’s a good thing, right?  If I start to feel overwhelmed (and I know I will, considering the sheer volume of shit that’s going to happen in the next eight months), I can just tell Frantic Self to just undo one more connector.  Just one more.