Vehicular Derpitude

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted here so I figured I’d gather an important collection:

TV and radio station related vehicles I’ve murdered in the line of duty!

#1 – the Q97 truck. This was my first time ever going up a nasty little dirt mountain road and the truck just… unceremoniously shut down on me right then and there at a switchback in the road. After it cooled down for a few minutes, it restarted and worked just fine. The fault was never identified or replicated by anyone else, but we decided after that incident that it probably shouldn’t go up to the transmitter site again.

#2: The Nissan Frontier that couldn’t take RF.

It made it to the top of Shasta Bally perfectly fine, but as soon as I got back in it, turned it so its back was to the KNCQ-FM and KRCR-TV transmitters, and started driving back down, it decided to shift from 4WD to 2WD. When I tried to shift it back to 4WD the transfer case motor started moving and then halted in a neutral position. An “ATP” light came up on the dash which is apparently the warning that the transfer case is in that neutral state and the transmission’s park pawl won’t do anything to make the vehicle stay put.

It was downhill from this spot where the truck died to a space about a hundred feet away, so I coasted it down there and power cycled the whole thing, which was the point at which I found Nissan’s ONE GOOD DESIGN FEATURE:


Those quick release connectors come out of the bottom of the battery positive terminal, uh, conglomeration, and it’s easy to disconnect them to kill power to everything. The big red wire that remains connected is the starter I guess. After it sat to think about its place in life for a while, it was willing to work again.

On a side note, here’s an important warning about Nissan pickup trucks, and it is likely to extend to other Nissan vehicles. I observed this same behavior on two different Nissan Frontiers and one Nissan Titan of three different model years. When you downshift the transmission to descend a long steep grade, it will automatically shift back up to drive and then start upshifting with no user input OR INDICATION on the dash after 15 minutes.

You get no warning that this is about to happen, it’s just suddenly… clunk and you’re accelerating downhill way too fast.

The only way to reset this is to stop, turn off the engine, and restart the vehicle!

#3: Ford Econoline van I seem to have no photographs of. Blew up SPECTACULARLY while hauling a load of e-waste to a recycling center. The transmission began slipping just before I got there and the cooling system went off with a “POP!” sound and dumped everything out in a flash as soon as I stopped. With absolute seriousness, I asked which bin to push it into and leave it there.

#4: Ford Econoline. Is anyone surprised? Heater hoses blew off where they go into the firewall and the coolant dumped. By this point in time I’d gotten tired of faking it with that dark brown and decided to embrace my natural rainbow.

Honorable mention: The Ford F150 on which some of the wiring harness tape got onto the exhaust manifold and started slowly burning away until I squashed out the flame and tore off the smouldering pieces. I’m not including this one here because it didn’t really die— I caught it before it did, and to be perfectly honest, if it didn’t mean it would have been a 9 mile walk back to the main road, I probably would have just said “NOPE!” and marched off.

Rest in peace…

One of my giant platform boots broke apart after probably about two years of me wearing them to work every day. For them being boots more intended to be worn for stompy dancing at a goth club, they put up with that amazingly well.

Duck tape held them through their last day.

My boss saw this and said it actually looked pretty neat – he envisioned a pair where one boot is black and one silver being pretty awesome. I agree.

Mystery boots at the top of TransTower. They must have been left when the tower was painted.

Gain? Oh I love their detergent.

The hardest part of having false hope is when it all falls apart. Here, I’d been told that the PowerCD transmitter that I lovingly call the Space Station Toilet was going to be replaced starting in April or so.

Oops. Turns out nobody has any of the required supplies for that project in stock anywhere and production isn’t expected until July at least with an estimate on replacement being maaaaaybe September… and every tiny setback adds another fortnight of business days to the backlog. Time to start making this thing as happy as possible to prolong its final year (or decade?) of service…

Another adventure at the Space Station Restroom standing tall in a field by the river… This is cabinet #1 of 3. Cabinet 3 was the one that gave me such elegant fits before when I did a grid scrub. Cab 1 wasn’t causing as much drama but it just wasn’t making enough power prior to the scrub and was occasionally arcing out, roughly once a day. Let’s gooooooo to the wash!

π amps
As it fights me, the usual

Yes, of course it keeps trying to flip back to BG Heat every few minutes so you just have to stand there in front of it and pwap the standby button each time. Annoying. I thought about just raising the filament voltage in BG Heat but realized that’d be a terrible idea as the cooling system shuts down when you’re in BG Heat! I can’t remember if the air blower eventually goes down, but the water pump definitely does.

As I prepared to do the grid scrub (which requires hooking up an external power supply to the ESCIOT tube grid and cathode), I went into the high voltage cabinet with some isopropanol and blue shop towels and did a, well, scrub.

The long blue voltage divider resistors in between the insulators on those weird terminals were pretty mucky.
My unspoken rule: always say “boop!” each time you touch something with the discharge stick. This helps me get over the slight fear that something is going to go SNAP! due to residual charge.
Ew.

What’s that now? Oily sticky gook…. just like I found in the other cabinet? Hmm. I’m beginning to wonder if this is ethylene glycol that’s been electrostatically precipitated out of the air, since this rig is known to absolutely REEK of Dowtherm SR-1. The recirculating pump/reservoir unit is far from airtight so it just outgasses.

And now, Deja Moo: the feeling I’ve seen this BS before—

Yes, again with the weird scunge fractal on the +3.5KV ion pump supply

Look at the upper left: this robot has seen some shit, man

He likes it! Hey Mikey!

Amazingly I did not find it necessary to readjust the grid voltage after the scrub, it just… Worked. I was not expecting this. Not out of this turdly transmitter.

Then came the surprise. I was walking past checking the coolant system pressure on the pumps for the other transmitter in the room (a rather boring solid state ULXT-80) when I saw one of its variable frequency drives blinking “OCL”. Interesting. I first foolishly decided to take the cooling fan cover on the TEFC pump motor off, thinking I was going to find a seized pump. I spun the fan and found no unusual resistance. Upon opening the cover over the drives I was greeted by….. toast.

Not sure what went first, the screw terminal or the crimp forked terminal that was stuck in it, but something got hot until it cratered the poor drive. Ow! And to make matters more fun, as is always the case nowadays…. nobody seems to have these drives in stock anymore. Luckily, GatesAir has them, for about the same price as a better quality Fuji Electric drive from Grainger. Hmm. Do I…? I’ll have to make sure the Fuji has the right I/O first before doing anything that daring. On a side note, if GatesAir is going to charge that much for a drive they marked up like 100% they could at least take it out of the box and program it for you. They do not do this.

Then again this is the same manufacturer that charged us about $500 for four small rubber washers that I strongly suspect were just pieces of EPDM rubber hose cut carefully to length.

H. HhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

It’s my personal opinion that these Toshiba drives are built like damn toilet paper. They were only common in everything because they’re cheap and have tons of I/O options. Bad power will murder them in no time. It didn’t even get a chance on this one as thermal runway at the terminals Popped It.

Well then, all that resolved, it was time for the last silly task of the day: go see why the surveillance camera up top was giving us no usable image….

🐦💩

Yeah, uh… That’ll do it.

Chomp!!!

Me: “how could the Space Station Toilet  need a new flow meter on the HPA 2 collector loop after less than a year?”

The Space Station Toilet: “hahaha MONCH, have fun with this!”

The ceramic shaft was completely cut through on one side and visibly contaminated by metal debris on the other, likely from the tube body cooler.

What am I going to use as the subject of angry hissing on this blog after the Space Station Toilet gets replaced with a boring new rig in April or so??

 

FOUR LEAKS THIS TIME! Cha-cha real smooth.

TO THE LEFT!

Take it back now y’all.

With the assistance of Jack Davis (Jackpot Engineering), we got in there and changed out the tube body cooler ring, and the whole thing lived to tell about it…

I didn’t get pictures of the process because my hands were two of the six hoisting parts on and off of the thing, but here was the process:
Remove tube cart, place under chain hoist.
Pluck out tube.
Unbolt input cavity/socket assembly from below, drop it down and remove.
Remove bolts holding secondary cavity to cart legs and remove screws from underneath that hold those four round black vertical standoffs to the top plate of the cart. Hoist the top of the cart up a few inches.
Unbolt and remove grid ring cooler.
Admire the corroded mess.

Korrosion Krispies.

This looks as if water may have been slowly getting out INSIDE the ring in addition to the externally visible leaks down on the lines feeding it, it was DONE. Please note the heavy coating of black silver oxide. This continued to make itself known throughout the procedure.

This was leak #1 down…….

“Does anyone know the last time the ceramics of the tube were cleaned?”
*dead silence*

“Ew.”

WELLLLLLLTHEN

So, good cleaning of the tube is vital as there’s a BIG voltage gradient across the large white ceramic cylinder, as well as between the filament (innermost two rings) and the next ring up, assuming that’s the ion pump (3.5 KV!)….

Before:

I didn’t even realize the very bottom there had a ridged porcelain bushing around it – it looked to me like some kind of dull finish aluminum alloy piece from all the mess stuck on it.

Note the spot where I wiped it with my finger which came away black. I guess this also illustrates where all the air gets sucked out at time of manufacturing – it’s got a center exhaust like a light bulb!

After scrubdown:

Well mostly.

The unglazed part of the bushing appears to just be permanently stained. I even tried Scotch-Brite pads on it. The glazed outside cleaned up perfectly.

And now, time for some massive, ugly cleaning.

Ever had a faux leather case on something or a piece of clothing where the outermost texturized layer of the material started shedding, forming an evil sticky glitter-like flaky substance that sticks to everything and spreads everywhere like the DISEASE of craft supplies itself?! Yeah— imagine that, but made of silver oxide, CONDUCTIVE, and coating most surfaces of the output cavities. Gee, no wonder I was getting cavity arcs in the log every day or so. YAAACK.

Brush, vacuum, brush, vacuum, bleeech.

Finally it was time to put it all back together, at which time I experienced leak number 2 — one of the Hansen couplers blew its o-ring and started spraying water down the back of the tube cart. These things work just like pneumatic line couplers you may be familiar with from air tools, just, big and angry and stuff. You can’t see it well at this angle but there’s a hard nylon ring up inside there followed by a rubber gasket. The rubber gasket had ceased to be, just like any of the Barnstead filter gaskets every time you look at them wrong.

So I left the amplifier running into the combiner load overnight, came back the next day and found a nice puddle of red splooey on the floor below the external glycol piping behind the cabinets. LEAK #3!!!

The source was the mid-body seal of a ball valve that literally would never have been touched since the day the transmitter cooling system was filled up and made ready for the rig to go on air. It’s a valve that’d let you bypass the outdoor heat exchangers and just circulate the Dowtherm glycol solution through the pump/tank unit and the amplifier cabinets. I’ve never seen a ball valve fail this way before. have you? Probably not. IT’S JUST POWERFULLY CURSED OK


COVER WITH J-B WELD, FULL SEND, BYE

Finally, Leak #4 happened on some of the blue hoses at the Barnstead filters, I was so done with this thing I didn’t take a picture, just cut the hose a little shorter and smashed it back onto the fittings, BYESIES

So that’s the tale of FOUR LEAKS on the Harris PisserCD.

Stay tuned for when I attempt a grid scrub / outgassing procedure on this stupid thing which has been last performed probably about when the tube ceramics were last cleaned, which is to say, oh, half a decade ago. -29mA grid current? Ok yeah sure thanks for that. What else is even left on this thing to leak??

I wonder what this sounded like

So, reportedly there is good CCTV footage of this, and it’ll get posted online once the insurance company is done with it. The user at the time kept repeatedly slamming their car back and forth under the machine until they caught it with the top brush down and backed into it hard, tipping the whole wash gantry over and crushing the roof of the car as it came to rest. Amazingly, the Istobal machine looks pretty much unscathed other than the wire/hose guide getting torn off the wall.

Istobal car wash taking a nap
Stick your brushes in the air like you just don’t care
Judging from the top brush position when this went down, it was caught by what was formerly a fairly tall SUV.

Wanna bet this was a GMC Yukon or a Land Rover? Those seem to be the peak derpcastle vehicles around here.