Starter Motor for 1978 Datsun 510

Rob makes a good point about technology and complexity.

1972 Datsun 510The first car I owned was a 1978 Datsun 510. Over the years it started to develop problems starting, and I traced these problems back to a problem with the teeth on the starter motor engaging with the teeth of the engine (so to speak). My solution? To replace the engine side would have required hoists and battering rams. So every three months I just replaced the starter motor.

I would drive over to the auto salvage yard, find the next Datsun 510 with a starter motor, take it off (leaving my own 510 running in the parking lot), quickly drive home, remove the faulty starter and bolt in the new one. Total cost: $35 and a couple of hours.

Cars like the 1978 Datsun 510 were simple enough that anyone, or at least anyone with a tiny bit of daring, could understand them. My confidence in this regard was greatly increased both by my father’s penchant for home car repair, and by How to Keep Your Datsun Alive, a book from John Muir Publications in the same series as the venerable How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. How many other auto repair books, after all, do you know that contain sentences like:

Love of life, love of things mechanical, love of things working as they should, love of our home the earth. If you care, you can do it.

My 2000 VW Jetta is beyond comprehension: open the hood and everything is cloaked inside plastic panels that scream “do not attempt to fix anything without computer assistance.” I’m not even sure if my Jetta even has a starter motor.

Another case in point: I was helping Catherine Hennessey diagnose some computer problems last week. One of her complaints was that text in her word processor kept magically disappearing. After some discussion and forensics work, we traced this back to the following key sequence: Catherine would mistakenly hit Control + A when trying to type Shift + A. As a result the entire text of her document would get selected (Control + A is a keyboard shortcut in Windows for “Select All”). Not noticing this, she would type the next letter of the word, and the word processor would then replace the entire document with that one letter.

In other words, for all intents and purposes because her finger was one key too far to the left, her entire document disappeared. As if by magic.

Catherine’s word processor (WordPerfect for Windows) can help her make tables of contents, indices and legal concordances. It has a spelling dictionary and a thesaurus and it will analyze the grammar of whatever she writes. But it can’t prevent her from easily deleting the fruits of her labours.

As with cars, word processors have become complex Swiss Army Knives. In the original old Orem, Utah, USA WordPerfect — a gentle, empty blue screen ready for typing — this never would have happened. Ye Olde WordPerfect couldn’t bake cookies, but you could change its starter motor.


Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on July 17, 2005 - 02:49 Permalink

Not to wish bad fortune on anyone but I’m pleased, the way misery loves company, to hear of katherine H’s CTRL-A problem. I’ve never been in doubt about the cause of this identical issue on my PB 17. I touch type, the mouse pad on the PB 17 is *ill placed* in the center of the case instead of being shifted to the left in a 60/40 split the way Sony does on my VAIO.

My right thumb, being always poised over the space bar, and my wrists resting on the front-of-keyboard real estate that Apple invented years ago on laptops, results in frequent blocked text — and since I’m clicking right along the text magically disappears time-after-time.

Example, a few minutes ago I was writing a reply to a question about bandwidth on a high speed circuit. The fifty-odd word reply took at least three hundred words, and several frustrating re-formats to have in sendable shape.

All this despite the fact that the control panel is always in “ignore mousepad while typing mode”. It ignores (perhaps) double clicks but mouse movements, single clicks, and blocking are translated in frustrating harmony with every mis-placed thumb twitch.

I feel for you Katherine.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on July 17, 2005 - 02:51 Permalink

Apology: “C”atherine, not “K”.

Charles's picture
Charles on July 18, 2005 - 00:19 Permalink

You guys might want to try Edit→Undo (Control-Z in most applications.) I know Word Perfect has infinite undos, and most recent web browsers do as well. Much simpler than re-typing your work.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on July 18, 2005 - 14:09 Permalink

EDIT→Undo works in, say, Word Perfect, but it does not work in environments such as this one or a web-based email client (web based text box) which is where most of my losses are felt.

Of course it would have been nice if Apple put their mouse pad in the proper location centered on the Home Keys “gh” and would have included a driver (or even a patch) that would actually have the mouse pad ignore input when a person is typing — and not merely including an os-ignored click box to that effect.

Perhaps Jobs isn’t a touch-typist; in fact, based on this one thing, I’ll bet he isn’t.

Buck's picture
Buck on December 19, 2010 - 08:17 Permalink

Cool, my first car was a 1978 Datsun 510, she had more rust than metel, but no matter what the temperature she started. When the resinator finally went the noise was crazy, the neutral control switch got bypassed so it started in every gear so you had to be careful, the heater core was almost fully plugged leaving you with residual heat. When originally purchased for $20.00 and contractor supplies (thank God the seller had a conscience) the last owners had most of the electrical hooked direct, the fuse box had so many pieces of aluminum foil it looked like christmas tinsel……I drove that car for eight years while repairing it slowly, now I’ve started to do the body work….in mint shape it’s not worth much, but the memories were incredible.