Van quest

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, January 16, 2005
Last winter this 1996 van struck a lost spare tire left in the middle of highway 35 near Rose Valley and required almost two months to have its transmission rebuilt and other work done to make it road worth. This is a low mileage van with less than one hundred thousand kilometres on its oddometer but it is now almost ten years old and things are catching up on it.

One morning in early December its battery simply died. Batteries are like that they can sometimes linger a bit but this one just quit. The sudden departure of the battery was caused to a certain extent by the computer system Ford put in this kind of vehicle. When the battery is unable to produce enough energy the makes a
"go, no-go" decision and in this case it was "no-go."

In the summer of 2003 we were travelling through rural Wisconsin on a hot July day and this van made another summary decision and that was that the temperature was to hot for the in-tank fuel pump to continue working and it shut down leaving us to spend time talking farmer Paul MacCarthy until the pump had cooled down enough for us to continue our journey.

On the Sunday after New Years Day I went out into the Zellers parking lot in Regina and once again the vehicle had made a decision on its own to not start. The new battery and working starter whirled over the engine but there was no ignition. After a few tries it came to life and I thought it was just a temporamental computer thing.

Then on Tuesday this same lack of success occurred at the Tisdale Mall and once again after a few tries it responded and I went up to
Randall Automotive to discuss the Mad Cow disease and other issues of the world. When it was time to go the van had decided that this was the perfect place to end its fiddling around and starting would no longer be part of its operation programme. A few simple tests and Arthur listening by the fuel filler hole resolved the issue the fuel pump had pumped its last fuel.

The following moring a new one was installed requiring the removal of the gas tank and the new pump and filter reinstalled to make it a working van once more.

Awe but the electrical system on this van was not through with me yet. About three weeks ago it had discovered that it could really annoy me by not signalling right. Though the lights were fine the signal switch would no longer accomplish a right turn. Now Ford designed this system as a single unit, the signal stock with wiper system and turn signal assembly is all one expensive piece and on Thursday morning it too was replaced.

The fuel pump is a little over $200 and the signal stock and system about $114. As with most repairs you have to consider the cost of labour to be about the same as the cost of parts so it has been an expensive week.

One wonders if some
"Steven King" like conspiracy between computer systems is in effect with this van and right now as I sit here at my computer typing out this story, outside in the miserable cold of a Tisdale Arctic night the sly, coniving curcuits of the Motorola based computer system is plotting byte by byte its next move to confound its hapless owner. Alternator, starter, fuel injection, ABS, airbags, air conditioning, radio, heater system, ignition, instrument panel, all these wonderous components either work or don't work, each linked to each other through processors and sensors the prospects for failure are so overwhelming that one should be more surprised when they all function. The concerted work of these systems is in itself a quest of sorts, a trial of mind, artifical or otherwise and the twisted logic of the binary code.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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306 873 2004