Sunday, December 23, 2007

Particulars, Universals, and Taking Ferraris Apart

Now that I have the car, but am not driving it writing is more laborious. I had hoped to get the car, go on a few fun road trips, take it to the track, and have Barb spend some time in it. Winter in Oregon is not cooperating with driving but gives me time to contemplate one of my original goals for the book, exploring what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari. For this discussion I will rely on metaphysical realism. A metaphysical realist makes a distinction between two categories of objects, particulars and universals. A particular can be thought of as a thing, a plant, a vase, a desk, a car. According to metaphysical realists a particular occupies a single region of space at a given time. By contrast universals are repeatable. Any universal can be duplicated across an infinite number of particulars that are geographically and/or chronologically disparate. That’s a fancy way of saying many cars can look like Ferraris. A realist would probably take issue “Ferrari shape” as a universal but you get the point. So, and I think I am right, a Ferrari is a composed of a particular, a car, that is further defined by a set of universals, that make it recognizable as a Ferrari. Philosophers everywhere are cringing.
Developing a set of universals that when combined with the particular, car, will produce a Ferrari will be a bit of a trick and not something I propose to complete in this entry.
Enough of that.
If you remember there were a few items on the car that were not consistent with the overall condition of the car. One was the Ferrari badge on the engine cover. It had pulled up on one side. The Ferrari badge is held in place by compression fittings on two pins that poke through the engine cover. I thought one of the compression fittings had worn out or broken. It would be an easy task to replace the compression fitting but there is a wire screen attached to the engine cover that keeps leaves, birds, fingers, etc from falling through the slats in the engine cover and into the engine. The screen is attached in several places and is about two inches below the engine cover and the compression fitting for the badge. So to replace the compression fitting you have to remove the screen. Not hard but time consuming and risky since the screen looks like it may bend easily.
Since there is little chance of my driving the car I decide to spend some quality time with it and properly seat the Ferrari badge. The engine cover is unlatched by pulling a handle between the driver’s seat and the door. The engine cover is amazing light for such a big piece of metal. It feels like it is made of tissue paper and balsa wood. With the engine cover open and a shop light blazing I can see that the compression fitting has not failed it has simply slipped down the pin about 1/6 of an inch. I decide on an experiment. I take a screwdriver and gently push the fitting back up the pin while holding the badge in place. It holds and the badge looks like new. Total time to fix this problem. About three minutes.
Buoyed by my success with the badge I decide to tackle the trim around the ash tray. One nice thing about handmade or mostly handmade cars is they are easy to take apart. By removing the ash tray one Phillips head screw is exposed. Remove the screw and the ashtray/lighter module comes out. With it comes the electronic mirror remote and now the ac module is also free. I am a bit worried that Barb will wander into the garage as I now have most of the center console in pieces. It would be a bit difficult to explain why after nine days of ownership I have taken part of the Ferrari apart.
The interior of the 355 is a combination of leather, polished aluminum, wool carpets, and silly putty. I expect that at some point the silly putty was plastic covered with a coating which gave it a rubberized surface but now it is black silly putty. I have not tried pressing the Sunday comics onto it out of fear it would work. The trim around the ashtray module is made from this material and has cracked in two places. A bit of super glue fixes the trim but there is also a crack inside by the lighter. All in all there are four trim pieces made of silly putty that I think I will replace. The ashtray/lighter module, the mirror control, the door handles, and the lower covering for the steering column which has been scratched around the ignition. Compared to the other 355s I looked at our cars interior is in great shape. But I tend to fixate on things so the parts will have to be replaced.
With the center console out I take a cloth dampened with rain water, really, it was raining and it was easier to hold the cloth outside than go to the kitchen, and clean surfaces that are now exposed but will be difficult to get to once I put everything back together.
With the car back together I need to spend a few moments adjusting the seat to a more comfortable position. Tony, who I test drove the Maserati with, came to look at the car and messed it up. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise. The car has an adjustable steering column. I knew that already but thought that it was at its highest setting. Turns out it had about 5˚ more upward movement. I know that does not sound like much but it gives my knees more room and significantly helps getting in and out of the car.

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