Wastelands of Suburbia

A place where the cast-off ephemera of the last four generations comes to rest, and is discussed fondly....Like junk, or the injection-molded minutiae of history? Welcome home...Junkyards, yard sales, roadside oddities, thrift stores and more-your memories are deep inside the box, so keep shaking.

Friday, February 09, 2007

How DIY Car Repair Relates to The Cuban Missile Crisis

Well, now that's much better-after some cleaning, new tires, State Inspection, and a front end Alignment, 'ol Greta is really starting to shape up nicely. I took the opportunity of a warm February day to snap a few pics for two reasons 1) I wanted to chart my progress as I went along in this resto-mod; and 2) Greta may have a part in a film! I found a film student on Craigslist who needed a Luxury Import of her vintage for his senior thesis project. As we speak I am waiting to hear from him with the final word. The cleanup has really been a boost to both our egos-as I had mentioned before, she is far from perfect but everyone can benefit from a bath.

This past week I also took the opportunity to replace her Hazard switch-her previous one had become all squiddley and soft for some reason, and did not seem to, well, switch anymore. I decided to pull her dash apart and see what gives behind the panel.

First step was to remove the wood panel. As I love to frequently mention, on a Mercedes this is REAL WOOD. it is a thin layer of Zebrano (Zebrawood) veneer over an aluminum panel. Mercedes uses some ultra thick varnish or epoxy-type finish to make it appear to be a mile thick, but is actually a mere fraction of an inch over the top of the aluminum. Unfortunately, this finish, over time, cracks and can often take the veneer along with it. While the panel over my hazard switch is ok, it is a bit dingy with some ground in finger dirt and oil from years of changing the Climate Control.

(Looks like they glue the veneer on and stain it-note brown "chips" of stain, flaking off from behind the aluminum bezel)

Upon pulling out the switch (very easy as it is simply straight pins that connect to the panel), I decided to try looking inside it to see what may have happened. I came from a generation of kids, growing up in the 80s, with computers and a gradually increasing flow of cheap import electronics in every home. We were just unafraid, I guess, to touch a button just to see what would happen. My theory was that my parents, having grown up at the beginning of the Cold War, associated buttons with annihilation more than we did, and were therefore doomed to have their lives "flashing at 12:00" forever, so to speak...Meanwhile, growing up with movies like "Wargames" and "Tron", we learned early that hacking in any form was cool, and that true ownership was knowing a device's construction and operation. It is this spirit that has me still pulling things apart at age 37 despite being able to afford to have someone else fix things for me.

So, I carefully pried the switch rocker off the rest of it and got this:

I'd love to have a poster of the phrase "well THERE's your problem"-written in every language, for my garage-I think it would sell millions if someone would just take a few hours to translate the phrase and Photoshop one up....it has to truly be a universal saying among mechanics when the obvious is seen. If you are staring in confusion, there should only be ONE red plastic piece-the smaller one has cracked and come off the little spring in the center of the big red piece. So, with some patience (which I am always on the lookout for, as I am lacking), about 50 cents worth of Super Glue or it's dollar store equivalent, and maybe a small vise clamp, I could probably have saved myself a little money-but seeing as how I got a replacement for about $7 used off Ebay, I'm not complaining. Plus I can most likely fix this, rub off the little hazard icon off and label it as an ejection switch. What would that icon be? most likely a primitive profile of a car, with a seat just above the roofline-would there be little lines showing motion? would there be an outline of a human in said seat? I wonder.


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