Friday, December 18, 2020

The Metric system in Canada

 Being a Dominion of the British Empire, Canada took to using the Imperial measurement system.

Map of the British empire

This is what I grew up with, feet, inches, pounds, miles per hour, gallons (which are slightly different than the US Gal ) and etc.

In my everyday woodworking pursuits, I used strictly inches and foot.  It use a base 12 system; 

12 inches in a foot.  This make it easy to express ratio or fractions such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and etc.

I like this fraction system because it help me visualized better object size and relation, both in my head and by looking at it.  But it is deemed archaic and somewhat convoluted to the uninitiated.

Enter the Metric system, base 10, makes everything divisible or multiplied by 10 easy to switch unit of measurements.  Simple and clean isn't it?  

And being used more and more around the world, it make sense to standardized.  There are all kinds of horror stories in the engineering world where small errors of conversion between both measurements systems from each side of the pond caused all kinds of Oups!!

Rockets blew up at launch, space craft missed their trajectory by... a lot, planes ran out of fuel.

 Here in Canada, we have been standardizing to the Metric system kicking and screaming since the 70s.

Between political and public resistances, this is where we are today, after almost 50 years of metrification.

I do this all the time without even thinking about it :-)

My kids generation, born in the seventies, grew up learning Metric, not the Imperial system.

It created some confusion when I was working with the kids in the shop.  They could not understand my inches and me their centimeters.  I long solved that problem by making sure to remove any measuring devices that had metric on it.  It's 6 and three little bars Dad :-)

Today I drive in Km per hour, pay my gas about Cdn $1.00 a litter, read my temperature in Celcius but adjust my thermostats in Fahrenheit.  My weight and height are in feet and pounds, kitchen is still staunchly Imperial also.  We set the stove temperature in Fahrenheit , use measurements like quart, cup, spoon etc. 

And in woodworking?  NO metric please, NO way.  QEII was my Commander In Chief  for over 37 years, I am a staunch Imperialist's when it comes to measurements.  Long live my foot :-)

If you look at Canadian woodworking magazines, you will find often, oh surprise, feet and inches versus metric.

So after almost 50 years later, we Canadian are still slowly being dragged to the dark side of Metric, kicking and screaming. You will have to wait for the passing of my generations before making more headways I'm afraid :-)

Bob, putting his "foot" down on this Metric non sense :-)

Saturday, December 5, 2020

RIP Lincoln MKZ June 2010-Oct 2020

I loved that car, paid just about twice as much as my last two cars combined, a Toyota 94 and a Nissan 02, but worth every penny.

My ride for the last 10 years

This was our second Lincolns, having bought earlier a used 92 Town Car Cartier edition.  Heather had a long history of kidney problems following radiation treatments for an earlier cancer. We bought this car, she jokingly referred to as her kidney cushion car 

Our first Lincoln, a 92 Town car.  Quite a beast to park.  
Told my boss jokingly at work that I needed a bigger parking spot :-)
Yes, it is a humungous American car.

First time I try to change a flat tire on the side of the road...
Managed to get the wheel off  but then, the jack collapsed.
Yes that car was a tad on the heavy side :-)
The CAA driver that came to my rescue, busted his 1.5 ton jack. 

We really loved that car air suspension.  The car had a slow air leak, the rear suspension would settled after a while.  Upon starting the car, it would raise up.  The bags finally went kaput on the highway  and destroyed one of the rear tire.   Did not felt much, but drivers around me were flashings me their lights, so I pulled over to see what the fuzz was all about.  Oh, look at that I'm riding on 3 wheels. 

Impressive suspension :-)  And yes we rebuilt the suspension, but replaced the air bags with  a strut kit that mimic the ride but would survived the cold weather much longer.   

Meanwhile our day to day driver car, a Nissan 2002 was getting long in the tooth, I donated it to an In-law after rebuilding its suspension at 350,000 kms.

At the time we were stationed in Bagotville Qc (CF-18 Hornets), about 2-1/2 hours north of Quebec city.  By February 2011 I had just completed 35 years of service, my pension was maxed out, time to seriously consider retirement.  

Really love my time working on the CF18 (two tours),
 but did not felt like retiring in a snow bank, why we retired here
 in Nova Scotia were Heather was from. 

The plan was then to buy our "retirement car" before leaving the service.  Wanted something comfortable for long distance driving, after being spoiled with the Town car.

With kids in Ontario and Nova Scotia and Heather going to African Violets conventions and shows all over the US and Canada, we tend to rack up kms pretty fast. 

You have no ideas how much fun (?) it is to drive with show plants all over :-)

We went looking to replace the Nissan, and found this gem on a dealer lot.  

The car at the dealer lot when purchased.

We bought it in Chicoutimi in early March 2011.  The car was a return from a short lease, it had only 11,445 Kms and was like new with full warranty.

She was built in June 2010 at the Hermosillo plant in Mexico.  My Nissan was also built in Mexico and my Toyota was built in Canada.  Truly "world' cars.

The only small annoyance was that we bought it in March and without winter tires.  Which meant we could not drive it until the mandatory winter tires season ended  a few weeks later.  Well worth the wait, and at that time we briefly had 3 cars in the yard: The Nissan 02, the Lincolns 92 and 10.  

April 2011, the three amigos in the yard

These three cars left with us, the Nissan was dropped off earlier in New Brunswick, both Lincolns were driven here.

We sold the 92 later on after I retired and were down to just the MKZ.  It quickly racked up KMs for reasons explained above.

It went on to be a very reliable car and took us to many destinations.

Its first problem was a dead battery went we came back from Cuba in Jan 2014.  I had parked the car inside at the airport, but nose out toward the outside, it's an open, not closed in, parking structure.  There was a winter storm it froze and battery went dead.  And to think I paid extra to park "inside" at the airport. 

In 2015 after her lung operation for her cancer, we went to Boston and meet up with Ralph and his lovely wife Diane

Waiting to board our ferry from Yarmouth NS to Bar Harbour Me

The Inn were we met.
The car is riding on its spare donut tire on the front passenger side.
Bought a new tire the following day.

Our little side trip to Boston was the cause of it's first major repair.  On our way to the Inn to meet Ralph and Diane I hit a piece of steel sticking out from an exposed expansion joint on an overpass on the highway.  Was a hell of a hard bang, scrapped the tire and damaged the suspension.
When I pulled over the side to check the damages there were 5 other cars trying to replace their flat tires...

Ended up later rebuilding the suspension on all 4 wheels, had two broken springs and lost another tire to damages sustained then.

Later in retirement, the next costly repairs were caused by *&?%$ squirrels
Apparently this happens a lot around here with retiree.  Huh? Yes because our cars stay parked longer, not going to work everyday.  First it was a lost of heat indication.  They replaced the thermostat but it turns out to had been caused by a chewed wiring harness which they had to replaced after.
Said thermostat is inside the engine, not cheap to replace. 

After Heather passed away, Rudy and I went on on many trips from Nova Scotia to Ontario.

He is sleeping besides me, safely harnessed to the car seat belt receptacle, air bag is off

OH look, I wonder how that building got in the way :-)
That is the Lee Valley store in Ottawa On.

By June 2016, I had already rack up 138,932 Kms.
By that Fall me and Rudy went travelling all over on the way to Ontario 
visiting family and friends after Heather passed away that Spring :-(

In late summer 2017 Jean and I went to visits our sons in Ontario. Unbeknown to us we took a squirrel along for the ride.

On our way the AC start working less and less efficiently and it was a hot summer day.  So had to get the car fixed before returning home.  Could not get an appointment with any Lincoln or Ford dealers, but managed to get one with a local Air condition service shop. 

This is what they found.
A squirrel got trapped in there, demolished the AC cooler and try 
to scratch his way out on the main radiator.
When they pulled him off, the rad was leaking like a sieve.
End up replacing both the rad and the cooler

Besides a problem with the seats heating/cooling module, and the occasional AC leaks (2), that was it for problems on this car.  The most reliable car I owned so far.  And I drove mostly Toyotas.

An early snow storm in Riviere Du Loup Qc 2018 on our way home.
Our usual stopping place on our way in or out of home on our way to family and friends.
I like the smile face :-)

By now you probably realized that I really enjoyed this car and was  planning to keep it longer.  But unbeknown to me, there was a time bomb ticking under the hood.  That Duratec engine has one critical design flaw.  The water pump is inside the engine and driven by the timing chain.

This mean one of two failure scenarios:

Being bathing inside the oil area, if it leak it will quickly contaminate the oil and cause the engine to seized OR, like in my case, the pump will seized causing the timing chain to skip, damaged the engine and lock up solidly.  Both scenario will scrap the engine, necessitating an engine change.  Warning signs?  None!

The car took us, Jean and I on our honeymoon this October, driving around Cap Breton NS, having to stay inside our COVID 19 Atlantic bubble.  

On our honeymoon, driving care free

As usual, trouble free trip, until I parked the car in the yard.  It never started again since. Just a tick tick sound.  Put it on my small battery tender, after a few days still NOGO, called CAA, driver tried to boost it, louder tick tick noises but still wont start.

Tow it to my local Ford dealer, they told me battery was dead, I authorized its replacement, then they said starter was not engaging, authorized its replacement but after they called back stating that engine appears to be seized.  To investigate further they said would have to open engine.  I stopped all work then.  My other options given was to replace the engine.  A used one with 195,000 kms and 90 days warranty would be over $5000 installed (about what the car would be worth with less Kms)  Not worth it .

Settled my bill $910 and tow the car to another garage for a second opinion.  Went with a small Mom and Pop garage, not another dealer.  Should had gone there first!!!!

Car at dealer awaiting to be tow one more time

Took a pic of its last Kms.
316,734 Kms

On its way to its last post...

Turns out the engine was seized alright,  my mechanic called it the classic Ford  3.5 Ltr V6 water pump scenario.  Brought the car in on a Saturday evening after hours.  He opened his shop and waited for me to arrive.  Told me he would put it up the hoist first thing on Monday.  Later that evening he send me his diagnostic complete with a small video showing me the problem.  He said he was curious and could not wait till Monday :-)

What you see and hear inside the oil filler cap opening is the timing chain 
rattling over the sprocket turning. The chain cannot turn, water pump is seized
and so is now the engine... Scrap

My only annoyance is that I had no idea the engine was going to self destruct.  It is a well  known and documented problem(?) with that engine.   I would had expect Ford technicians to gives me a heads up, or at least knew why my engine seized, its not that hard to tell looking thru the oil filler cap as shown above.   Now, in its defense that engine has a life expectancy of 300,000 kms, mine ran trouble free until 316,734.  So in effect I got a Ford bonus 16,734 extra kms :-)  Between the water pump location in the engine, the noise suppression inside the engine compartment and the cabin, you don't hear much.  Oh and that pump location makes it very expensive to repair.  Would you believed US $2K to 3K to replace that pump?  Owners took Ford to court over it, but lawsuit has just been dismissed,  having failed to prove that Ford knowingly did them wrong.   But would you know it, there also another legal challenge from Mazda owners of CX9, yes same Ford engine (Made in Japan, called MZ1) same Hara-Kiri disposition with the water pump.

As you can see, there is not much room under the hood.
To removed the rad previously they had to take the whole front of the car off.
To replace the water pump, you also take apart the front in order to access the front engine cover exposing the timing chain which has to be removed also.  
While in there you also replaced all the plastic shoes on the belt tensioners.
Very, very time consuming job, in avg 10-12 hours,  hence why it is designed to last a long time.
Pump has a double gasket seal and weep hole in between both rubber gaskets.
If  I knew about this I would had replaced that car around 200,000 kms (they all seems to last that long, but from 200,000 to 300,000 it's getting dicy) or I would had the pump replaced.

Here in Halifax, one Lincoln Dealer has one mechanic that does only that, replacing those water pumps in these Duratec engine.  He does one a day and they have a fixed price of Cdn $1452.90

That Ford Duratec engine V6 3.5 ltr is used in many Ford and yes, Nissan vehicles and the odd Volvo's.

Also goes by the family names Ford Cyclone and MZ1 in Japan

If you have one of those engines, I urged you to keep an eye on your Kms.  You been warned.

And if you felt safer because it wont be happening to you... Surprise, most engines have a life of 250,000 kms before major failures.  Ford is not the only one to bury the water pump inside the engine, but most other used the flat back side of the timing belt to drive it. Hence a pump failure will not dump coolant inside oil pan and take out your engine.

So what did I do with my car?  Its not worth it for me to replaced the engine, but my mechanic has a young son with his first pick up truck.  Offer to donate it to them.  Could be a good father and son project if they can find an engine for it.  Would make them a great winter car; AWD, traction and stability control, it really sticks to the road.  And if not, should be able to get some money out of it.

I don't need a new lawn ornament :-)

In exchange he wiped out my bill and bought my new battery in the car.  Everybody is happy.

And bonus I found myself a good mechanic.  When you find one, keep him or her

The car as I left it for the last time...

After a few weeks of learning more about engines, came to the conclusion that they are making throw away cars.  Built in obsolescence is one thing, but built in self destruct is another!!!

What will I buy next?  I dunno, I really loved my Lincolns, and yes, I would buy another with same engine.  But I am in no rush to buy my next comfy car.  We cannot travel too far, used to be inside the Atlantic bubble, now that bubble is busted, and we can only travel within our own county region. That little Chevy Spark we got for city driving is plenty good for now.  But I would never entertained driving to Ontario with it :-)

The Chevy Spark and the Lincoln MKZ
About $25 to fill the Spark, $80 to fill the MKZ.
Did not knew at the time I took this pic upon our return, but engine is seized :-(

I already made my draft budget for 2021 before this latest monkey wrench in it, so sometimes around Summer perhaps, if the need arise.  Or I can always rent a car.

Since we recently traded her truck for that Spark, we miss the truck, so we thought perhaps replace the truck?  The prices are insane!!! I can buy one heck of a fully loaded Lincoln Continental or even a Navigator for cheaper, get serious!

Then we thought maybe a SUV.  There is a 2017 MKC here with low 51,000 Kms.  Drove it alongside the same year Ford Escape, nice ride, noticeable differences between both similar platform.  Changes the wheels, the suspension, the seat, it's a different vehicle.  I like it but it is bit small for my liking.

My Ford dealer in town just got two in, 2016 MKX ( I suspect they know me too well :-)

Nice, would not consider 2014 or 15 they had that stupid Microsoft drop down menus on the screen.  I drove a 2014 MKZ while waiting for my car to be serviced once.  Hated the stupid thing, had to pull over and read the book to figured out how to put the heat on my seat. Dumb dumb design.  In 2016 they started rolling out the new system in use today.

Knowing what I now know about the engines that powered them.  I would stay away from 4 cylinders with turbos, and rather stay with that V6 but would need to keep an eye on the Kms.

And finally, I'm getting challenged to find pictures, I recently also lost my Back Up 1 Tera Bytes HD :-(

RIP Western Digital.
I'm starting to wonder which Gods have I pissed off lately? :-)

Bob, down to a one car family