Thursday, April 28, 2011

A good day in Stude-land

I took the day off from work today so I could run errands--our everyday car, a Honda Fit, had a recall for a potentially faulty headlight switch, and the little wrench on the dash lit up telling me it needed an oil change and I wanted to return the wheels on a day when the salvage yard wouldn't be busy. So after dropping off the car (and discovering it needed a 30,000 mile service to the tune of $320) I headed back to the Pick-A-Part in Albany to see if I could have any better luck finding some wheels that fit.

But first, I need to back up a couple of days--my buddy Jon, who happened to have a Ford Ranger pickup, loaned me his spare to see if it was any different from the Ford Ranger wheels that didn't fit. Lo and behold, his wheel fit--it was 1/2-inch thinner in width, but the biggest different was the back spacing. Jon's spare had a 3.75" back space, where the 1988 Ford Ranger wheels I had before had a 5" back space. So I now had some measurements of a wheel that worked. Now back to the Pick-A-Part. . .

I was loaded with information this time: I had my printed list of wheels that might fit, the knowledge I gained from borrowing Jon's spare and a straight edge and tape measure to measure that critical distance between the back of the bolting circle and the inner edge of the wheel rim.

The folks at the Pick-A-Part were extremely helpful, going through my list of cars until we had a hit--a recent addition to their lot: A 1988 Mercury Grand Marquis. The wheels were still on the car (in fact, so were the hubcaps, which required a special tool to remove. Fortunately, this was in the glove box still) and, with the able assistance of one of their staff, we soon had the wheels off and measured--a hair over a 4" back space. I'm thinking these should fit. They even pulled the rotten old tires off for me, then steam cleaned the rims.

I return home with my goodies in my old Ford pickup, bolt up a rim and give it a test spin. Plenty of clearance. I then grab the side of the wheel and twist it to turn the steering lock-to-lock--no interference from any of the suspension components. A quick trip down to the tire store, and the tires from my old rims are now on the new ones.

one quest now complete
Now we're (the car and me--she gets as much out of this as I do, I think)  moving in the right direction, ready to tackle the next problem that arises. Up next: finish up the brake work.

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