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“Stop!” The importance of the braking system.

December 9, 2010

You’re coming up to a red light.  You’re in the left turning lane to get onto route 95, and you’re already on a busy four-lane road.  You hit the brakes, and you feel something give.  And you slide past the white line, cringe when you see the railroad tracks up ahead, and somehow manage to stop before you reach them.

This is what happened to me the other day.  I’m told that a brake line really can last “forever” (whatever that means as compared to the life of the car), but if something wears out, you’re screwed.  Or– almost.

I was lucky that I was okay.  The brake line is fed through a hole, over to the feeding line, calipers, and brake pad, etc, and mine wore down on the right side.  My right tire was covered in brake fluid.  The brake line itself had been rubbing against the metal edge of the hole, causing a–well, a break in the brake line.  When my friend and I tested it to see how bad it was, the fluid squirted straight across, clean away from the car.  Lucky, indeed!

I have to replace the brake line before I start school in January.  Instead of being someone with just a hobby, I’ll be going to college for my certification in Automotive, and possibly a degree in Automotive Business Management.

Of course, before then, I’ll need to be able to stop at traffic lights.


Ode to Midge

November 22, 2010

Pictured above: My little sister, Ashley, sitting in Midge’s front seat.

O, Midge. You get me where I need to go.


That’s okay. Fear not. When we pull up to a stop sign, remember:

Floridians cannot see you. They are anxiously piloting to the country club,
and they do not have time for four-way intersections.

Road laws? Pish! A Floridian makes up her own road laws
with fly-by-night speeding and random lane changes—
does she remember where she is going? Probably not.
Most Floridians are old and cannot remember
what they ate for dinner last night—
let alone where they are going.
That’s what my dad says. He calls them “q-tips.”

O, Midge. You’re a Pennsylvania Hyundai,
not fit for this six-lane traffic and certainly not fit to reside
in North Palm Beach. Your neighbors have convertibles
they drive Lexus and Mercedes. They shun bumper stickers
because it ruins the paint job, and they gasp at small dents.
They pay hundreds of dollars to have their bumpers replaced
because of a scratch.

When we need to take to the highway, please remember:

Even the right lane is the fast lane.

On I-95, you putter along. But sticking to the side
is not enough for our Floridian neighbors,
who want to speed in all the lanes.

I wish I could tell them that your steering wheel
begins to shake at fifty, and that your engine tries so hard
to breach sixty-five, but alas—

Semis barrel past us at high speeds, and 6-cylinder cars
with Palm Beacher plates threaten to run us off the road.

O, Midge. You look as if you should be parked in Riviera.
I bet everyone expects us to get off at 45th Street.
When they drive past, they assume they will see a little black girl
in the driver’s seat. This teeming metropolis is so segregated
that the local Wal-Mart is known as the place where
“all the black people go.” O, Midge, what have we driven into?

Everyone in South Florida seems to want money and plastic surgery
and cars that go VROOM instead of PUTT-PUTT.

I have noticed that people tend to look like their cars,
and their cars look like them. A floozy blond with fake tits
drives a white Mustang, and lives in Juno.
A fat plumber from Lake Park pilots an old Chevy.
Because there are no inspections here, he gets away with
rust holes, no exhaust, and broken windows.
You can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive.
You can tell when they are rich, or just pretending to be.
You can tell when they are poor, or when they just don’t care.

O, Midge. You and I fit together perfectly.

You get me where I need to go, slowly.

A person could tell a lot about me by looking at you,
if they thought about it.

You’re a Pennsylvania Hyundai in a strange place,
and I’m a strange girl in a rich place.

You PUTT-PUTT and RATTLE and POP sometimes,
but that’s okay. You get me where I need to go.

O, Midge. You may be rusty, but I fix you up,
and all your parts are running smoothly,
and you’re old but that’s okay. We make it work.

You get me where I need to go. . .

At just the perfect speed.

Pictured above: Alyssa and Ashley, car angels!

To-Do List

July 20, 2010

After Midge is fixed, I will…

1.  Go to the beach.

2.  Find the mythical three-story library in West Palm Beach.

3.  Go to the liquor store, head home and celebrate.

Photo Copyright by Rosa Sophia

What’s a girl to do?

July 19, 2010

In a vehicle with a hydraulic clutch system, the master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder assembly are essential when it comes to releasing your clutch, getting it into gear and making it go.  “Going” is exactly what my Midge hasn’t been doing lately.

I was never schooled in these things, so I pick stuff up as I go along, teaching myself the basics.  And the way I understand it, when you press the clutch pedal, hydraulic fluid runs from the master cylinder to the slave cylinder along a line.  Initially, I followed the line to find the positioning of the slave cylinder and understand how the process works.

Pictured at your left is a view of the master cylinder; the black cap is where the fluid goes.  Note the line that runs from just below that cap.  The line leads to the slave cylinder, positioned at the front of the car, and rather easy to reach in the set-up of the ’95 Hyundai Accent.  Every car is different, but this one isn’t too bad.

This master cylinder is located at the front of the car, directly in front of the driver’s side dash.

If you don’t drive a stick shift (manual transmission), you may not know what I’m talking about.  Future articles will include “How the Clutch Works”, so keep your eyes open.  In the meantime, I will say that without the basic parts of the clutch in full operation, you aren’t going to get very far, depending.  My little Midge runs very well, but she doesn’t move.  I have taken to calling her a stereo system on wheels.

Pictured at left is my old hydraulic slave cylinder, which I replaced recently.  As you can see, fluid was leaking out of the rubber boot.  Under this rubber boot is an arm that is supposed to pump into the cylinder when the clutch pedal is pressed.

Standing in the 90 degree South Florida heat, covered in brake fluid and talking to myself, I … ahem … slaved over this slave for weeks.

I remember being out in the parking lot–the only place I have to work on my car–and seeing one of the neighbor’s friends come by.  A stark contrast to me, she was tall and blond and stylishly dressed, and looked like the type of person who wouldn’t be caught doing the kind of work I am doing even if someone paid her.

That thought in mind, I got back to work and kept working… until I realized yesterday that it was quite likely that there was something else wrong… something other than the slave cylinder.

Beer in my hand, I looked to the sky and wondered why there wasn’t a patron Goddess for car repair.

So what’s a girl to do? In future articles, I will discuss the clutch system, what to do if parts of it fail, and how to come to the dreadful conclusion that you might not be able to do it yourself after all… We’ll talk about all of this, and more… Hopefully without too many tears.

Until next time,

Your Self-Taught mechanic, Rosy, or as some call me… “She who rides a bike to work.”

Pictured at the right is my bike, surrounded by three of my cats, who are currently considering making off with it in the middle of the night and riding it to Miami.

All you need is a little patience (and a wrench)

July 13, 2010

For a long time now, I’ve been trying to convince people that auto-mechanics (especially routine maintenance) is something that anyone can do.

It’s easy to convince yourself that you aren’t qualified, or that you’ll mess something up.  We all have self-confidence issues.  But auto-mechanics is something that anyone can learn; with a little common sense and a few careful steps forward, you can proudly say “I did that!”

The big clincher is the car companies.  Would any company want their consumers to solve their own problems if they have–for example–a shop in a dealership that brings in the big bucks by fixing their consumers’ vehicles?

Is somebody from Hyundai or Honda or Ford or Dodge going to say, “Sure, you can do that yourself” if they know that they can make money off you by doing the repair? Of course not.

They want your money, so they don’t want you to know that you can do it yourself.  Think of all the big businesses that would fail if people grew increasingly more self-reliant, rather than reliant on companies to fulfill their needs and wants.

The purpose of this website will be to educate and inform. 

I’m Rose (Rosa or Rosy), my Hyundai is named Midge…

And my other car is a broom.