Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vanagons and Communications

With Mrs Elliott's Volvo on the fritz, I've taken my 1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia van into the shop for pre-trip inspection and prep work. I asked the fellows there to look into a recently developed weirdness where the engine does not like to idle, and struggles to develop power when pulling away from a stop. I have been unable to find the source of the problem myself, even with the help of much more experienced mechanics on the Vanagon.com mailing list.

The fellow at the shop found that the air flow meter was a little out of whack, and adjusted it. And using his O2 sniffer, he found that the engine runs very very lean at those times when the engine's idle starts to drop and when trying to accelerate. Not enough fuel. This is odd because the O2 meter I installed in the van's dash doesn't indicate this. A puzzle.

As a test, they replaced my engine's electronic control unit (ECU) with their good one, and the engine ran just fine. Several months ago I borrowed another ECU from a friend and tried it, and the engine didn't run any better, so this is interesting. But when the shop plugged my ECU back in, the engine ran poorly again. So the indications are that the ECU is on the fritz. The shop is looking around for another ECU, and a couple great guys on the Vanagon.com mailing list are sending me spares to try. If the shop is right -- that the problem is the ECU -- then this odd little problem might be fixed before I start the 1,000 mile trek to Bend.

On the telecommunications front, everything seems to be coming together w/r/t getting Mrs Elliott's phones moved to the new location. Qwest Communications is getting the HDSL2 circuit to the house in plenty of time, Integra is prepping all the DIDs to route the PRIs to the house (whatever that means), our local SoCal phone guy is ready to take the phones, backboard, and PBX switch down and overnight it to Bend so TTC (Eugene), can install it all and -- in theory -- the phones will go "live" inside the house midday on Monday.

My thanks to Christopher Moody, Integra (Portland), for shepheding the four vendors and one customer through this process. Since the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we will know on August 18, 2008, how well everyone has prepared for this move. On the one hand, we have the best efforts of all parties involved, and on the other, we find the formidable Mr Murphy, of Murphy's Law fame, standing by to cheerily point out how willing the universe is to support his contention that if something can go wrong, it will.

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