2003: Not such a busy year
The year 2003 started out with good intentions, with a fresh ECM tucked away under the passenger's side of the dash, ready for action. Unfortunately, the lack of functional air conditioning for 2003 meant that with all the commuting to my parents' house and back (to leave my son for the day while we were at work), it wasn't really a good idea to use this car on warm days. On top of it, another new car arrived in the household, a Ford at that, albeit a comfortable and exciting one... the 2003 Marauder.
Nonetheless, the year began with a fresh belly full of 10W30 Castrol GTX oil and a brand spanking new Oxygen Sensor. This was in an attempt to track down the idle leanness that has plagued the car since coming into my possession in 1993. Although the ECM is able to compensate for it, it was nonetheless something I wanted to resolve once and for all, attempting to arrive at a BLM value of close to 128 in cell 0 (and in cell 1 nowadays as well).
In usual fashion, I was expecting the sensor to be coated with a tremendous amount of silicates from the engine's intake manifold failure back in late 1994, or perhaps some other nastiness indicating an engine doomed to failure. Not the case, just an old sensor that was probably due for changing anyway! So, the car was out and about on its birthday, as usual. 16 years old, and still sounding like a champ. But it was dying for a fresh coat of wax.
Another improvement was the resolution of a steering wheel rattle that had driven me crazy for years... this was solved by punching the 4 rivets that hold the rim of the steering wheel to the center portion. They had worked loose over the years, and by punching the rivets tighter, this cured the problem. Proof that this car CAN rattle itself to pieces!
As was mentioned the A/C had discharged sufficiently such that the compressor required rebuilding, and the overall system was pretty much inoperative. In the early months of 2003, this was not a big problem since the weather was not terribly hot but eventually it made it very uncomfortable for my wife and son to commute in this car, so it saw minimal use throughout the summer.
The option of driving around in the new Marauder also contributed to the lack of activity with this car for 2003. It just didn't seem worth the effort. It probably seems totally out of character for someone who adores a car to say something like this, but the truth is that there was much about me that was out of character for 2003. Turmoil at my place of employment had left me working in a department that totally went against all the work values I had acquired over a decade of working there, and this totally sapped my drive for 2003. This was seen in the lack of general maintenance and repair that the poor car suffered this summer.
My mood made it such that I didn't even get to participate much in our local F-body club's activities for 2003, save for a few leisurely outings. Most of the time, I just spent moping around, instead of enjoying some time with my favorite car. Nonetheless, there were a few fun outings.
There was one particular event that I enjoyed... the car got a chance to execute a couple of parade laps during the intermission at a Cummins-sponsored truck race at a local oval track. This brought back some memories, with the car having done similar duty after a car show at the GM plant in 1996!