Milestone 148

There are many life milestones. Personal, professional, successful, not-so-successful, technical and spiritual, anyway you categorize them, there are a lot of them. Sometimes you see them coming from a long way off and sometimes they have come and gone before you recognized them for what they are.

Today I am here to tell you about #148. It’s not one of the biggies, but it has been coming in and out of focus for about 35 years and this past weekend I finally punched my ticket. This milestone would fall in the technical/manly category. I successfully took out a factory radio from a car and installed a new (aftermarket) one. I know, I know, half of you are thinking, “wow, yeah, that’s nothing, I shopped for pet food AND a purple belt in the same weekend!”, the other half are thinking “cool, wish I could, or I remember when, I installed one of those”. You know who you are.

Sure, in the past I replaced a speaker here and there and fixed some wiring but never the Head Unit. This is something you think about doing as an adolescent even though you don’t have a car or a radio. Boy, the audio extravaganza you would put together if you only had money and any idea of how to get the dashboard off (and back on) without breaking it, not to mention figuring out a tangle of wires that would make one of those old fashioned switchboard ladies faint.

There was always some new feature that would get the juices flowing again, speakers in the front AND in the back, an 8-track player, a cassette deck, CD player, subwoofer, MP3 player . . . it just goes on and on. A couple of weeks ago Sarah’s car stereo ate one of her CDs. It wouldn’t play it and it wouldn’t spit it out. Left with just the radio, she was in dire circumstances. I looked at the high end integrated system and plastic dash and cringed. Sarah went back to College Station and I hit the internet. I found some helpful information, it was all about which parts to pull in which direction, how hard was still a mystery.

The following weekend Sarah and her car were back and I was committed to attempt the tricky dashus-removus procedure. Surprisingly, I was successful! Now it was a matter of screws and bolts and disconnecting the radio. I have worked on a lot of computers so taking apart the CD player was not a problem. I extracted the disk but nothing seemed wrong with it. After connecting it back to the car, with the dash parts laying on the floor, I discovered the CD portion of the radio was indeed kaput. I put all the parts back together and sent Sarah on her way albeit still tuneless. BUT now I was embolden.

My initial thought was to add a jack to her existing unit so she could play her iPod through the stereo. Once you gained access to the back of the radio I didn’t think adding one of these jacks would be too difficult. Sarah would like that, playing her iPod would be better than playing a CD. As I shopped for one of these add-on jacks I found some very reasonably priced head units (by the way, that’s the part you see in the dash, radio, CD player etc). Hmmm, maybe I could put a whole new unit in?

To be continued

3 comments to Milestone 148

  • Linda

    I love the to be continued stories….. even though I know how this one turns out, I can't wait for the next installment.

  • Sometimes the story just gets too long for a quick blog read, sometimes I get tired of writing and once in a while I do it just so Frannie has to come back to finish the story

  • Thom

    I am one of the ones who has done that. However, my first one was 30 years ago when it was a lot easier to get into the dash; the last was 10 years ago. These days, getting into the dash is just as hard as changing the spark plugs; half the time you can't even FIND those suckers. Thank goodness for the internet, plus Crutchfield; they have ended the Dark Ages when do-it-yourself became one of the plagues. Of course, I do not know how it turns out, so my suggestion to install a new unit that has a mp3 input is in the rear view mirror.