Baby update and tool bleg

To answer those of you who asked about Max and Dr. Mrs. Dr. F. Jr. (DMDF II), I will illustrate in pictures the profound changes that the new baby has had on our dog. First, a photo that represents his life before the baby.

couch potato 2

Next, a photograph that accurately represents his life after the baby.

couch potato

Max sniffed DMDF II once when we brought her home and then went back to his couch. Since then the world has brought food, walks and park adventures at about the same rate as always. Things will bo doubt change when she gets a bit more mobile, but for now the family dog is pretty nonplussed.

New topic; people whose eyes glaze over at the mention of car maintenance should stop reading now. You see, I have a ’08 Honda Fit, otherwise known as The World’s Most Sensible Car (TM), and I love it to death, but it does drive a bit like a very small delivery van. A while ago I set about to fix that. A KN high-flow air filter is pretty much a homeopathic remedy for the hamster wheel under the hood, but on the plus side you never have to change your air filter again. Or so I justified it to beloved DMDF. On the other hand putting a sway bar on the back axle cleaned up its understeer problem rather nicely. Where each tight corner brought a queasy uncertainty about tangential vectors and strangers’s yards, our Fit now holds the line and gives a satisfyingly balanced chirp from tires both front and rear when you take corners just a little faster than the yellow sign says you should. Which of course is irresponsible and something that you should not ever do.

Anyhow, one of the sway bar’s three redundant bolts on the right only tightened down to 99% of what it should, so now it rattles at low speeds. Though this rates as annoying rather than dangerous, DMDF would prefer that pedestrians stop casting concerned looks as we rattle by. Unfortunately the head of this particular bolt sits under the spring, with clearance that just tight enough to keep normal L-shaped hex wrenches from sitting tight enough to let me get the nut all the way tightened down. I tried using a 7/32 hex bit for a cordless drill along with a long-nosed vice grip wrench, but that also needed a little more clearance than I had. I could take the bolt off with angle grinder, remove the sway bar and start over, but at that point I can live with the rattle.

So: does anyone know of any L-shaped hex wrenches with a really short short end? It would be ideal if it also had the hex-ball indented design on the end to give it a more flexible angle of attack. A 7/32 cordless hex bit with the ball end would also work, at least it might work, but I cannot find those either. Any help appreciated.

ETA: No, I do not plan on drifting with a baby in the car. In fact I plan to avoid drifting at all. At normal speeds balanced handling is in fact safer and helps to ensure that everyone gets home intact.






66 replies
  1. 1
    Yatsuno says:

    Dude. Suck up the $100 and go to a mechanic. Better than wasting money on a tool with one purpose that you’ll most likely never use again.

    And Maxpuppeh will figure out quickly the new arrival is much more interesting as he sees her taking up attention. But then he figures out she’s also fun. And then things get really entertaining.

  2. 2

    Why you make goggie cry? Look at his big sad eyes.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    When my first born came home, my golden retriever tried to pick him up, if he cried. Duchess had pups several months earlier and she had a strong maternal instinct. She even checked out visitors before she would allow them to get near the baby. The second son came home and Duchess looked at him as if to say, this one is all yours.

  4. 4
    Steeplejack says:

    @Tim F.:

    [. . .] for now the family dog is pretty nonplussed.

    I doubt it, since the definition of nonplussed—to be baffled, confused or at a loss for what to say or do—is pretty much the opposite of what you described.

  5. 5
    John says:

    Cut off the end of the hex until it clears. Or, take the hex to a welding shop and have them shorten it.

  6. 6
    Mark B. says:

    Take your normal size L-shaped wrench, and use a cutting wheel and cut it really short. If you still don’t have enough clearance, use the nub you just cut off, place it into the allen screw, and use a wrench on it.

    P.S. Why is this thing built with allen screws when conventional fasteners would work just as well and not be such a hassle? I don’t understand modern car construction.

  7. 7
    piratedan says:

    super glue, costs ya 5 bucks if it works or don’t

  8. 8
    Firebert says:

    Buy a regular cheapie hex-head wrench, and use your angle grinder to chop it off. That is probably what your mechanic would do.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack:

    “Nonchalant” is probably the mot juste.

  10. 10
    max says:

    What firebert and Mark said. If it’s not worth it to you to remove the spring (the Right Way to Do It) (and depending, a rear spring should be pretty easy to remove with a spring compressor), then buy the tool that’s almost right and whack it off to fit.

    max
    [‘I am confused about this ‘not locking up properly’ thing.’]

  11. 11
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Excellent. I was thinking indifferent, but that’s a bit cold.

  12. 12
    Bruce Lawton says:

    If the bolt is redundant, just eliminate it.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    It’s very obvious that the new arrival has PROFOUNDLY impacted on Max’s lifestyle.

    His eyes are wider open now than they used to be.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Steeplejack: I find your response bemusing…

  15. 15
    Older says:

    After you cut the end off (and personally, I wouldn’t assume I would never need the clearance again), leave it in amongst your collection of Allen wrenches. Think up a cool name for it and wait patiently for that possibly far-off day when someone says, “Hey, this’s a funny-looking one, what’s it for?” Then you say “Oh yeah, that’s a (insert cool name here) for situations that are really tight.” And look smug.

  16. 16
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    No, I do not plan on drifting with a baby in the car. In fact I plan to avoid drifting at all.

    LOL.

    I’m reformatting the G4 Dual 1.25 right now while cleaning my area. I have no real use for it, so I’m considering selling it.

  17. 17
    Mark B. says:

    @max: I’m not going to recommend an amateur mechanic remove springs. Even with a spring compressor, springs can be very dangerous. The compressors have to be used correctly, and by that point, you might as well hire a mechanic to do the job.

  18. 18
    SFAW says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Don’t start that shit again. I don’t think my delicate psyche can handle another admonishment to “up my game.”

  19. 19
    SFAW says:

    Look, Cole pays you FPers a shitload, why’nt you just buy a spare/new Fit with your pocket change?

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    @RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual:

    I’m reformatting the G4 Dual 1.25 right now while cleaning my area.

    Also have been cleaning the nesting area around my computer. It is now up to “disaster area.”

  21. 21
    Roger Moore says:

    Have you tried a hex bit with a 1/4″ box wrench? It should give you the functional equivalent of a very short L-shaped wrench using tools you already have handy. If you have a ratcheting version, even better. This is the solution I usually use when I need to get a driver bit into a very tight space.

  22. 22
    Birthmarker says:

    My mechanic husband would cut or grind the hex to fit. Then he would save it in case he ever needed it again.

    He would also say to leave the springs alone. He too says spring compressors are dangerous even for an experienced mechanic.

  23. 23
    Yatsuno says:

    @MikeJ: So much for your Superfund designation.

  24. 24
    SFAW says:

    @Yatsuno:

    So much for your Superfund designation

    But on the plus side, he can say it’s a result of Katrina, and blame Obama.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    @SFAW:

    But on the plus side, he can say it’s a result of Katrina, and blame Obama.

    Is it ever necessary to come up with an excuse to blame Obama? I thought you could just do it without any rationale whatsoever.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MikeJ:

    Ha! My husband thinks that the nests I build around my projects are a girl thing — I’ll have to alert him that they can be unisex.

  27. 27
    SFAW says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Is it ever necessary to come up with an excuse to blame Obama? I thought you could just do it without any rationale whatsoever.

    True. I just thought I’d … hell, I don’t know what I thought.

    Do I have to be from Louisiana? Or will any red state do?

    ETA: Plus, this is Tim we’re talking about, not Michelle Magalagalangadingdong or Ewick “I’m a real man because my wife lets me use her shotgun” Ewicksscumbag.

  28. 28
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steeplejack: You beat me to it, Steep!

  29. 29
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steeplejack: You beat me to it, Steep! I expect he meant “nonchalant” or sumpin like that.

  30. 30
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Should’ve read you before I posted to Steeplejack :-)

  31. 31
    👾 Martin says:

    So: does anyone know of any L-shaped hex wrenches with a really short short end? It would be ideal if it also had the hex-ball indented design on the end to give it a more flexible angle of attack. A 7/32 cordless hex bit with the ball end would also work, at least it might work, but I cannot find those either. Any help appreciated.

    A bit of work with a grinding wheel on the end of the hex bit will probably get you the clearance. You only need to grind down one face so it can roll in.

    I picked up a handy kit at Lowes that looks a bit like this: http://www.amazon.com/Kobalt-3.....B0052EBELS

    It wasn’t $99 – more like $25, but what’s important is that double box hex ratchet – which isn’t the easiest thing to find. It gives you a zero-clearance driver for your hex bits – and a ratchet for your hex bits. I use the kit so much I bought another one for each car. That sounds like just what you need.

  32. 32
    dmsilev says:

    If you don’t feel like cutting the thing down (which doesn’t work so well on a ball-tipped wrench), try this:

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#6112a12/=o7zrr9

    (this is a set; they also sell individuals)

  33. 33
    MikeJ says:

    @Mnemosyne: On the plus side to cleaning, I found a wad of cash. 700 Mexican pesos.

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    Baby girl’s first dog.

    A big responsibility.

    Max is resting up for it.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    If I didn’t say so the other day, Tim, congratulations on that beautiful baby you have! Oh, and your new little girl, too! ;-)

    She really is gorgeous and Max seems to be adjusting well. Well, if laying around just like he used to is what you call adjustment.

    As for the car, FFS, go to a mechanic!

  36. 36
    dmsilev says:

    At least for my brother’s cat, the issue was not so much when they brought the twins home, it was when they started to move under their own power. The cat is OK now, though adapting was a tad stressful. A big dog like Max should be fine, or at least until the kid is big enough to want to ride him like a pony (I did that to the family dog at the time; didn’t end well).

  37. 37
    SFAW says:

    @dmsilev:

    (I did that to the family dog at the time; didn’t end well).

    You seem to have recovered well, however.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @dmsilev:

    A big dog like Max should be fine, or at least until the kid is big enough to want to ride him like a pony

    Apparently, riding the dog like it’s a small horse is frowned upon in this establishment. Who knew?

  39. 39
    dmsilev says:

    @SFAW: Well, I learned my lesson. Basically, the dog (a standard poodle, so decent sized but not huge) dumped me on my ass and then gave me a very light nip. Essentially discipling me the way adult dogs would do for a puppy that’s a bit out of line. It worked; I never tried that again.

  40. 40
    max says:

    @Birthmarker: My mechanic husband would cut or grind the hex to fit. Then he would save it in case he ever needed it again.

    Yes.

    He would also say to leave the springs alone. He too says spring compressors are dangerous even for an experienced mechanic.

    Well, yeah, watching a rear spring go ‘boing’ is always very exciting, but presumably he removed the the springs (or otherwise did *something*) to put the sway bar in. And having a loose sway bar wind up wrapping around your axle is not exactly the safest thing ever either.

    max
    [‘It does occur to me that taking the tire off and and trying to shift the axle with a jack might be a way to work around the problem.’]

  41. 41
    SFAW says:

    @dmsilev:

    and then gave me a very light nip.

    as long as it wasn’t in a particularly strategic place, just a short-term issue.

    But that also explains your palpable hatred for all things French. Or at least, things with curly hair (*cough Rand Paul *cough)

  42. 42
    dmsilev says:

    @SFAW: Heh. As it happens, I don’t hate all things French. That would be rather awkward, seeing as I was born there. Rand Paul, well that’s a fair point.

  43. 43
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SFAW:
    Ahem. That’s admonition.

  44. 44
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Ahem: it can be either

    Per Random House, among others.

    You going to bust my stones about amused/bemused, too?

    Commie.

  45. 45
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SFAW:
    Random House is an American dictionary, isn’t it, rather than an English one? ;)

  46. 46
    SFAW says:

    @dmsilev:

    That would be rather awkward, seeing as I was born there.

    So, unless votre mere was an American, we won’t be able to elect you Preznit? Quel dommage!

  47. 47
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I don’t see you writin’ “neighbour,” “colour'” (or “bolour” for you Pythonistas), or “armour” (except re: hot dogs) and so forth, so yer writin’ ‘Murican, bucko.

    ETA: Although, your writing is significantly better than the typical ‘Murican, so I guess I can cut you the eensiest bit of slack. But, as the Guy Who Shot First said, “Don’t get cocky!”

  48. 48
    rikyrah says:

    the dog is cute

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SFAW:
    Actually, I recently reverted to British spelling for commenting on this blog.

  50. 50
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Actually, I recently reverted to British spelling for commenting on this blog.

    Sure you did. Do you also type with your little fingers (or “pinkies,” as ‘Muricans might say) uplifted?

    Poser.

  51. 51
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SFAW:
    No, I type with just my index and middle fingers. My thumbs are for hitting the space bar.

  52. 52
    dmsilev says:

    @SFAW: Both my parents are USans (my dad is an academic, and was on sabbatical the year I was born), so at least in principle that’s not an obstacle. Somehow I sort of doubt that I’ll ever be in a position where it matters though.

  53. 53
    YellowDog says:

    Shorten the short end of the allen wrench on a grinding wheel. Sway bars are one of the cheapest fixes for a soft suspension. I installed a sport suspension and a sway bar and have been happy ever since. As for the filter, clean and re-oil it after about 25K miles. Kits with instructions are available from K&N. You can also buy a pre-filter that will keep it clean longer. It is a bootie that lets the air in but keeps out dirt and water. My filter sits down in the fender, perilously close to puddles (more so after I lowered the car).

  54. 54
    SFAW says:

    @dmsilev:

    Yeah, you’re way too rational to make it big in politics.

  55. 55
    lojasmo says:

    LOL. I lost power steering at the end of my road trip from Seattle to Minnesota. As I was dicking around, after replacing the bumper, I noticed the banjo bolt on the high pressure line out of the pump was not even finger tight. Cinched it up, filled her up, and POW! I was worried about the rack.

    I agree with removing the wheel and compressing the spring with a jack.

  56. 56

    Agree that you should just cut off the Allen wrench. But when you do it, make it a slow process and use lots of water to keep the wrench cool as you cut it. If you don’t, your wrench will become a soft piece of mush and round-over when you use it.

    Or, you could just buy your eventual minivan now and hope it handles better than your Fit.

  57. 57
    TG Chicago says:

    @Steeplejack: If you Google nonplussed definition, the second definition that comes up (with the note “informal”) fits with Tim F.’s usage.

    Seems like it’s like how “literally” now can mean “figuratively”.

  58. 58
    amk says:

    You have a black spot in your couch.

    (Just to freak you out)

  59. 59
    Eric U. says:

    They do sell short allen wrenches. I might replace the bolt if it’s a stupid application of a socket head cap screw though.

    when my daughter was about 1, I took a highway on ramp pretty aggressively, not drifting, but maybe fast enough to get some adults to hold the “aw shit” handle. Anyway, I looked in the mirror, and my daughter was not to be seen. Fortunately, the seat belt held, the baby seat had just slipped and she tipped over.

  60. 60
    tybee says:

    my mother-in-law was convinced that our 110lb 5yr old unneutered dober doggie was gonna eat our newborn child at the first opportunity.
    that dog was more protective of the spawn than it was of either parent.
    only issues arose when said spawn was old enough to walk around and would stand in a doorway holding onto one side of the frame.
    dog could not understand that it was not permissible to bowl over the child to get through the opening.
    child survived as did the dobie.

    ETA: nice to see the Max’s ears unclipped although i do like the tail docked. a large dog’s undocked tail can clean off a coffee table in one swipe….

  61. 61
    jeffro says:

    I also sway-barred my Fit. It’s the only good mod for that car short of an engine sway. Shorten your wrench as others said. And everyone can stop worrying about the Dr. using a spring compressor. It’s not needed for the job because separate shocks and springs, not coilovers, in the rear. Oh, and I’ve heard lots of bad things about the KN filters fouling the air flow sensor with oil on this particular car, so be careful.

  62. 62
    SFAW says:

    @TG Chicago:

    If you Google nonplussed definition, the second definition that comes up (with the note “informal”) fits with Tim F.’s usage.

    I bet some enterprising soul could fix it so that when one Googles Santorum definition, it returns “latter-day Messiah” as one of the definitions.

    Both “definitions” would have the same truth value.

  63. 63
    SFAW says:

    @Eric U.:

    Better than putting her on the roof, I guess.

  64. 64
    YellowDog says:

    @jeffro:
    Fouling of the air flow sensor is an issue with these reusable filters, whether from K&N or other manufacturers. The filters use oil to help trap dirt and too much oil in the filter is the cause of the fouling. The oil gets on the fine wires that comprise the sensor. Usually, it’s a problem after the filter has been cleaned and re-oiled–over-oiled–by the owner. I re-oiled my filter, let it sit for a few hours, and blotted it with paper towels before re-installing it. If fouling is an issue with new K&N filters, blot the new filter with paper towels. If the sensor is fouled, it can probably be cleaned. My VW sensor comes out easily (gently–it is easy to damage). I have cleaned it with a VW spray solvent, not because it was fouled, but as routine maintenance.

  65. 65
    StringOnAStick says:

    Hmm, I see a coffee table in these photos; better get rid of that before the New One starts the toddling phase since coffee tables = injuries, including facial stitches for the learning-muscle-control set at certain points in their development.

    I learned that from the neighbors, who got rid of their high, metal-with-glass-top coffee table before anything happened, and then had me sew up a soft cover for the low, rounded-edge wood one they kept (the cover provided both less injury risk and some protection from toys being pounded into it). Of course, they went to her sister’s non-kid proofed house and their firstborn promptly fell into their coffee table and ended up needing a stitch near his eyebrow (the ER visit was NOT fun). That coffee table was put into storage after the sister had her first kid to be used again once the dangerous years are over (are they ever?).

    You’ve got some time before the coffee table banishment period begins. It isn’t something that happened when I was a kid, but it seems to be all the rage amongst the parents with young kids in my ‘hood.

  66. 66
    w3ski says:

    Probably said x 50 already, but drive by Auto row and look for the Snap On Truck. On any given day they are on the prowl at every single auto shop in any town. If you don’t see them ask any mechanic for the number, they all have it. Have plenty of cash with you. If they can’t get it, it doesn’t exist. Mac tools are good too, Cornwell aren’t. Good Luck.
    w3ski

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