Replace Van Starter - Chrysler Town & Country

So you go out to your 2007 Chrysler Town and Country and try to start it only to hear ... TICK.  And you say "uh oh".
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Replace Starter - Chrysler Town and Country / Dodge Caravan


The first thing you probably think it would be is a dead battery, since that is the usual culprit.  Maybe you accidentally left the lights on or something and your battery died.  So you try to jump start it, turn the key and ... TICK.

Just 1 tick.

Typically when the battery is dying you will hear tick, tick, tick, tick...slowing down and trailing off.  That sound is from the starter attempting to turn the engine but there isn't enough power to get it to spin.

When you hear one single tick, it means the starter isn't turning at all.  The tick you hear is from the gear on the starter motor engaging with the flywheel on the engine.  Usually that gear engages, then the starter spins and the motor turns on.

So your starter gone bad.

The first way to fix a starter that isn't starting is to hit it with a hammer.  Sometimes you can get dead spots on the coil of the electrical motor and if you hit it with a hammer it can shift it around and get off that dead spot and start up.  This is a good temporary fix, but eventually it will find that dead spot again and you will have to keep hitting it.


So you need to replace the starter.  The good news is that the starter on the Chrysler Town & Country only has 2 bolts and is near the front of the car.  The bad news is that it's a pain to replace.

As always, i go to SlickDeals and search for Advanced Auto Coupon Codes.  They always have big discounts when you buy online from Advanced Auto, the code is usually something like TRT30, TRT41, etc...
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There's several and you have to find the best one for the biggest discount for what you are buying.  Sometimes the 30% off is the best.  This time i got $40 off when you spend over $100.  Also they will email you $20 codes every once in a while.  So the starter was $167, which includes the core return charge.  Then we got the $40 off and additional $20 off.  With tax the final charge was $113.  After it was all done we returned the old starter and got $30 back so the final total was $80.
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First disconnect the battery, then climb under and disconnect the 2 wires going to the starter.  There's a small yellow wire which just pulls off and a big red wire.  To get the bigger wire off you have to remove a nut.
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Here you can see the larger of the 2 wires going to the starter.
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Many, many hours later you will end up by reconnecting that wire to the new starter.
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Before going through everything, to make sure it's the starter that's bad, we connected those 2 wires to the new starter, grounded the starter to the metal frame, connected the battery and turned the key.  The new starter whizzed as the motor spun around.  So we knew for sure that it was the starter that needed to be replaced.  If the new starter didn't spin it would have been something else that was wrong.
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Eventually we got the old starter out.
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And ready to put in the new one.
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So now time for the hard work.  Like i said, there are only 2 bolts holding the starter in place.  The bottom bolt is the easier of the 2 to remove.  It's best if you use a wracheting wrench because there isn't enough room for a socket wrench.
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Not enough room for the socket.
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BUT... the upper bolt is a real pain to remove.  It is a weird bolt.  You need to use a 15mm deep well socket to remove it.
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The view from the top.
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Eventually you will have to get down to removing this small plug to get a direct line on the bolt to remove.
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  We tried for hours to get it off, using every socket extension and swivel socket head we had, but could not get it to bite.  There was too many things in line with the bolt and we could not get the socket to fit.  The bolt itself has threads, then a nut, then more threads.  it's where the larger of the 2 wires attaches.

The big thing to know is that in order to remove the other bolt you have to remove a ton of other things.  You have to take off the plastic fan shroud, frame rail, and radiator fan.  You also have to take off a plastic electrical cap and move it to the side.  All of those things have to be taken off, just to get that socket and 15mm deep well aligned straight.

All in all it wasn't that much of a pain to remove that stuff.  It only took 20 minutes, compared to the 3 hours we spent failing to get it off the first day.
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To install the new starter, there is a metal spacer that has to be wedged in between.  It says "UP" on it so you don't screw it up.  But it takes a lot of effort and jiggling to get the starter to slide into place.  Then just tighten the 2 bolts back down.

Before putting everything back together we tried to start the car.  Luckily it started up perfectly.  So we put the fan, frame rail, and plastic shroud back in place.

As with most car repairs you do, the first time you do it takes hours of screwing up.  If i had to do it again it might only take 2 or 3 hours, but the first time it took about 6 or more.  Had i of known that i couldn't remove that bolt without removing all that stuff it would have saved a lot of time.

It still isn't an easy job but not impossible.


How to Cut Glass

How to Cut Mirror Glass - QUICK


Here's the quick lesson on how to cut glass or a mirror.  I needed to cut some glass for my 3D printer.
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First, about  what you are cutting.  I used a mirror which was about 1/8" thick, which is pretty standard.
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I bought a 6 pack of 12"x12" mirrored glass at Lowe's for $10.  
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Or you could buy individual pieces of glass.  For example a 10"x12" piece of glass is under $3.
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Second, you need the right tools.  The main tool is obviously the glass cutter.
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I have a fairly cheap one, which you can buy on Amazon for $5.
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The way that the glass cutter works is that there's a tiny wheel on the front which is made of carbide steel, which is able to "score" a line into the glass.
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Other tools are safety glasses, gloves, straight edge, a metal file for rounding the edges, and a work surface with a towel.

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For some small cuts you may need a wrench to snap off the glass piece.

Another thing you need is some type of oil, i used 3-in-1 oil.  Because the cutter needs lubrication in order to sline smoothly.
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Once you know where you want to cut the glass, apply a thin line of oil over the line, hold the straight edge tightly to the glass, then in one smooth movement firmly score a line in the glass.  It should take a lot of force pushing down and you should hear a crackling sound.
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Make sure the score line goes from one end to the other, if there's a gap you can go back and score the ends.
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Then use the ball end of the cutter to gently tap on the glass near the score line.  This will help promote the score line cracks all the way through the glass.
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Next it's time to snap the glass on that score line.  Wearing your gloves, hold the score line on the edge of the table.  Then slowly apply pressure on the overhanging edge until it snaps (hopefully on the scored line).


DIY Free Wall Mount for TV or Monitor

I realize that TV and computer wall mounts aren't super expensive, but i wanted to see if i could make one for free.

DIY Swivel Wall Mount - TV or Computer Monitor 

I recently upgraded the computer in my home office and instead of just putting the old one in a closet, i figured that i could mount the monitor on the wall and run some programs separately.  That way the old computer wouldn't be in the way and i could control everything with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The monitor i was going to use was an old 19" Rosewill monitor and the first thing i did was to remove the stand.  It was attached with some screws on the back.  Also on the back of the monitor was 4 square mounting screws.  So i transfered those screw patterns to a piece of paper.
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I started drawing up some ways of making a wall mount.

My first thought was to make a simple french cleat system.  The good thing about that was it was only 2 pieces of wood, it would fit tight to the wall, easy to attach and remove, and be quite strong.

But then i thought it would be cool to make one that swiveled.  That way i could mount it werever and point it toward the desk.  So i came up with the idea of using 2 different sized pipes that would fit inside of each other.

Again this was a very simple design, just 2 pieces, easy to remove and attach.
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I used some cheap metal electrical conduit for the pipes and some steel bar for the parts that attach to the wall / monitor.  I cut and drilled the monitor mount to fit the top holes of the computer monitor.  And i cut and drilled the wall mount 16" so that the screw holes would align with the studs in the wall.
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The most difficult part was the welding.  I have a cheap Harbor Freight welder ($90), but i'm pretty bad at welding.  I did have some issues with burning through the conduit.  It didn't look pretty but was pretty strong.
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I screwed the first bracket to the computer then the other to the wall at the height i wanted.  Then just lowered the monitor pipe into the larger wall pipe.  It seemed to work great and has about 45 degrees of rotation.
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I was also thinking about PVC but it wouldn't have been as strong.  And welding everything together was quick and easy.  If i didn't have a welder it would have been more difficult.

Overall i like how it turned out, a quick, easy and free tv monitor mount.

Attached to back of monitor
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Mounted on the wall.
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View of back when attached to wall
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View from above.
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Side view.  You can see how the smaller pipe is on the top.
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View from directly above.
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Other side.
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Profile view of wall bracket.
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Fantasy Football Trophy - Make for Free

Our family has a fantasy football league and back when it started i figured that we needed a cool trophy.  I saw that you can buy fantasy sports trophies online, but they were rediculous, costing hundreds of dollars.
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Fantasy Football Trophy - Ideas to Make Your Own


So i figured that i could just make one.  The cool thing about making your own fantasy trophy is that you can make it big.  Really big.
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The cool thing about making the trophy is you can personalize it and make it your own.
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We came up with the idea of going to a nearby Salvation Army and finding an old bowl or cup or something to go on top, then make a wood base.  So we went there and i thought i saw the bowl we could use, it was about 5" tall.  But then we noticed this really big bowl, about a foot tall.  When we took a closer look we saw that it was silver and had the inscription Red Run Invitational 1972.  It was an actual trophy cup from a golf course country club in near by Royal Oak.  I think it only cost like $5.
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Old golf tournament cup.
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It was then that we realized how big we needed to make the trophy.  With that big of a cup on top, the trophy was going to need to be almost 3' tall.

So i drew up a few designs and settled on a 2-tier box.  I made the boxes out of wood and nailed on a nice edge trim.
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I didn't want to damage the cup while attaching it.  So i used a metal plate which fit inside the lower cup and when a bolt was tightened, it clamped down onto the trophy.
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On the face of the trophy i made a plaque, which was similar to the NFL logo, which said Family Fantasy Football.
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I used a piece of sheet metal, which i cut out with tin snips.   To engrave the lettering i bought a cheap $4 engraver from Harbor Freight.  They had a small battery powered one, but i got the bigger one which plugged in.  It worked ok, but took lots of practice getting the right speed and right angle.  You don't want to press vertically or else the tip will jump around, you need to hold it at an angle kind of like a pencil.
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Then on the lower tier of the trophy i nailed on smaller metal pieces, to engrave the year and name of whoever wins the trophy each year.

Overall i love how it turned out.  It's just small enough to keep in a room on a shelf, but just big enough to look out of place a bit.

Although it does get a little dirty.  This is after cleaning with silver polish after being on the shelf for a year.
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Maybe next year, if Amari Cooper doesn't tank the last few weeks, i might finally win it.