Trust Your Si Fu

Si Fu is Chinese for Father. But it carries a formal quality. It is not as informal as Pappa. It is closer to the religious title of Reverend. It is a family term, but used with high regard and respect. When studying Chinese based martial arts, your instructor is your Si Fu. The Chinese characters shown mean Si Fu.

I have several Si Fus, but my first one, and therefore my primary one, is the owner of the school where I teach. Prior to opening the school, he owned two muffler shops. Prior to that he worked at a general auto repair shop, so he has some good knowledge of vehicles, though he has not done any hands on work with cars for several years.

When my truck broke down, I felt like it was either the starter or that the truck had locked up. Si Fu suspected something electrical. He never looked at it. He just heard my descriptions. He felt like it might be the battery, but I had replaced that. He also suspected the starter, but I have replaced that too. Having replaced those things, and hearing only a click when I would try to start it, I was thinking it was locked up, but I was also willing to try anything before having it salvaged.

He continued to think it was something electrical, suspecting the main power cable or battery connections or something like that. I give credence to my Si Fu. While I felt it was locked up, I had to continue to look at the electrical system.

Today I thought I would try to use a jumper cable to work around the primary power cable. I was going to connect the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the starter, and the other end to the positive post of the battery and then see if the engine would at least turn over. While I was under the truck starting to connect the jumper cable to the starter, I accidently made a connection between the starter’s positive terminal and the starter solenoid, and WHIRR. The starter cranked up, turning the engine over.

I got out from under the truck and climbed inside. I did not have the ignition on. The starter was still running. I turned the ignition on and the engine cranked up. Yippee! Then I turned off the engine and tried to start it again with the key. Click. Well, the engine was not locked up. Si Fu was right. It was an electrical problem.

I ended up pulling out the main power cable, as well as the starter, again. The main cable seemed good, but running along with it was a small wire. The wire ran from the starter relay to the starter solenoid. There it was. Small holes and cuts in the insulation of that wire, right where that wire could touch a part of the chassis of the truck, grounding it out.

In the end I had to cut and splice that wire, replacing it with a new wire. I put the new starter back in and replaced the original main power cable, along with my new spliced wire, and woo-hoo, the truck rides again.

In hindsight, instead of replacing the battery, and replacing the starter, all I really needed was a few inches of electrical tape and knowing exactly where to put it. But that’s okay. All that really matters is that my truck is running.

Trust your Si Fu.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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