Angie’s Blog

Because I Can

Tree Hugging with Cortisol

Living in Texas, you do everything you can to create shade around your house. Porch structures, trees, awnings, blinds, anything to cut down on the amount of direct sunlight hitting you and your house. When we moved into our house we had 18+ trees around the property but not one of them was planted on the south side of the house. Whether this was an oversight made by the previous owners or if the 25ft by 20ft “safe area” for tree roots was deterring, we may never know. See, on the south side of our property is where our gas meter and gas lines run from the street to the house and when working between the foundation, the fence and the two gas lines; your space for trees becomes limited.

Did this stop us? Of course not! We were determined to get some shade on that side of the house (it’s the SOUTH SIDE, for god’s sake! That’s a good 20 degrees hotter then anywhere else in the yard!) so we went down to our neighborhood nursery to find us a tree. We ended up falling in love with a cute little 5gl Shumard Red Oak that we bundled up and took home with us despite the description of a mature oak being 50ft tall and 50ft wide. Well, the whole “future monstrous tree” in a “confined area” was starting to worry me so 4 months after the initial planting, I decided to ask the tree specialists at my work if I did the right thing and this is what they told me.

1.) If you’re going to replant it, do it NOW, don’t wait. The roots have already started traveling so to minimize the damage the tree will sustain with an uprooting, you will need to replant asap. When digging the tree up, dig around the tree in a significantly larger circumference then when you dug the hole initially.

2.) Trees seek water, not gas. The common horror stories we hear of trees breaking into pipes usually is when a tree is seeking water and is attracted to a cracked sewer or drainage pipe. Even though the tree is planted fairly close the the gas lines, it shouldn’t be violating them directly unless it’s with the sheer weight of it’s roots. Damage can occur to the tree however if the gas lines have to be excavated.

3.) Trimming the tree will stimulate growth. Even though the tree is 15ft from the house, we shouldn’t try to “shape” or “control” the limb growth because it will only further stimulate the growth in that area. “Cut it off if it’s there, but don’t worry about it if it’s not” (in reference to roof protection from large limbs).

I’ve been worrying about this tree ever since we planted it but now I’m just going to relax and let it do it’s thing. (Check back in 15 years to see if I’m crying over my home-repair bills due to massive tree damage)

On another note, I also picked up a Mexican Plum tree from work today. It’s just a little seedling right now but it should be fun a few years down the road. It’ll end up being a smaller tree, about 15-25 ft tall, and will need some TLC for it’s first year in the ground due to our dry spells down here.

Happy Tree Hugging!

Update: I now have two mexican plum trees and I’m panicking because I don’t know where to put all these damn trees! Fancy landscaper I am not! Ooohh, but I saw the most awesome front yard idea yesterday on another blog – I might try a version of it in my backyard.

She’s actually an Austin resident too and a professional landscaper at that. Her blog here

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Googling your own name

Yes, you know you’ve done it at least once in your life. When extreme boredom creeps in and all you have is a computer with an exhausted number of sites to visit you just can’t resist to type in those three little words and see what excitement ensues.

However, even though I have a fairly amusing foothold in the world of “the internets” (oh, I laugh) I’m unable to find myself under any google search except Angela Bonser-Lain (check out my college graduate GPA!) so I’m going to cheat and give the google spiders something to find.

I was born a Angela Jeanne Lain. My fellow highschoolers knew me as Angie Lain and I lived in Pasadena, Ca for 16 years.

I lived in Park City, Utah for a year.

I moved out to Corvallis, Or when I was 17. I met my husband when I was 18 and we got hitched 4 months after (w00t, w00t!) and now I go by the name Angie Bonser-Lain. My school, however, knew me only as Angela Bonser-Lain. They frown upon nicknames and I frown upon foo-foo names but in the end, they won.

Suck on that, Google. I will never cease to amuse myself on those long days at the office, suckas!

Now to post and go Goggle myself…

Merry Christmas Everyone! Go hug your friends and family, they’re the most important part of this overly commercialized week in December!

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Replacing the Ignition Switch – 1969 Mustang

I changed out my ignition switch because I had to wiggle the key to get the radio/brake/turn signals to work and I was also looking for the short that’s causing my dash gauges to not work.

Like I previously mentioned, when you change out your ignition switch you want to replace the plug that plugs into the back of the switch. The only one I found so far was a part of a complete dash re-wiring kit but it’s rumored that Ford was distributing new plugs at one point so I continue looking.

To begin replacing the ignition switch, you first want to disconnect the negative (black) lead on the battery. Since you’re dealing with a lot of potentially damaged wires underneath the dash, this will keep you from getting shocked and from crossing hot wires while you’re pulling things a part.

After the battery is disconnected, you begin your ignition switch removal by removing the ignition key housing. This is where you stick your key in to start the Mustang and sits “inside” the ignition switch. To remove the key housing, stick your ignition key in and turn it counterclockwise to “accessories.” While the key is turned to accessories, use a paper clip, small piece of wire, or a tiny screwdriver to stick into the small hole in the face plate above your key. Press firmly with the wire while turning your key even further counterclockwise. Your key should rotate until it’s nearly horizontal, at which point you pull the key out and the whole key housing will come out with it. Important note: Once you’ve removed the key and housing, do not rotate the key because you’ll have to press the release button again to return the key to that un-natural horizontal position to reinstall it. It took me a long time to reinstall everything because I didn’t realize the key had been rotated back into it’s natural range of motion.

At this point, Ford recommends that you use a fancy tool that they sell to remove the key bezel but you don’t need to. This key bezel is the next step for removing a 1969 Mustang ignition switch. As far as I can tell, this is nearly the only year that is removed this way, so listen closely. Take two flat screwdrivers and place the business ends opposite of each other in the little square holes surrounding the inside of the bezel and turn the entire thing counterclockwise to loosen it. Completely unscrew the bezel so that the bezel and chrome spacer are removed from the ignition switch. Do not loose the spacer, they are no longer available and can only be found in junk yards.

Once the bezel and spacer are removed, the ignition switch is only attached by a plug which you can remove by prying apart with a small screwdriver. There are small clips (2) holding the switch and plug together so carefully pry those apart first. That plug is what you want to replace if you find a new one. They are notorious for overheating and burning out wires so chances are it’s damaged in some way. My large yellow wire over heated; burned the insulation right off the wire and melted the connector and surrounding plastic so until I find a new plug, I blame it for most of my woes in this area.

To reinstall the ignition switch (assuming you didn’t find a plug yet), plug it into the old plug and position it back into the lower dash so that you can connect the spacer and bezel again. The spacer has small pegs on the backside of it to help with the correct positioning of the entire assembly. It’s a bit awkward to handle all three pieces at once so take your time to make sure the spacer, when tightened down by the bezel, sits tightly against the dash and the bezel isn’t cross-threaded and that the ignition switch isn’t rotated (stiff wires should be on the bottom and the square space should be on top). When properly reinstalled, there shouldn’t be any gaps or wiggling of the pieces.

Now you can reinstall the key housing. Assuming the key didn’t get rotated at all while it was out, installation will consist of lining the key housing’s externals with the ignition switch’s internals. Once lined up, push the key housing all the way into the ignition switch, take the key and turn it clockwise to “start” and then back to the vertical “off” position. The key housing should now be firmly placed within the ignition switch and shouldn’t wiggle or fall out when you remove the key. Go ahead and turn the key to “accessories” and give the key a gentle tug to make sure. If it does fall out, then take the key and the key housing and repeat turning it to “accessories” and placing the paper clip/wire into the small release hole. While pressing firmly with the wire, return the key to that un-natural horizontal position.

You can see on the back of the key housing how there is a small piece of rectangular plastic that is slightly smaller on one end then it is on the other. This fits into a rectangular slot in the ignition switch. When the key is horizontal, the pieces line up and fit together; when the key is in any other position before re-installation, the pieces won’t line up and the key housing won’t stay within the ignition switch.

Once you repositioned the key with the paper clip, try placing the key housing back within the ignition switch and move the key again from “accessories” to “start” and then back to “off.” It should be fairly obvious if it’s now properly seated but you can try giving it another gentle tug with the key in “accessories” to test it.

Now, reconnect the battery and see if it starts! (it should)

References Pictures:

Removing Key Housing

keyhousingthumb.jpg keyhousingremoved2thumb.jpg

Removing Bezel

bezelthumb.jpg bezel2thumb.jpg bezel3thumb.jpg

Ignition Switch Removal and Damage

ignitionswitch1thumb.jpg ignitionswitch2thumb.jpg switchdamagethumb.jpg

Ignition Plug

plugthumb.jpg plugdamagethumb.jpg


Replacing the dash circuit board – part 2: Trial and Error

I received my circuit board last week and proceeded to reassemble the dash cluster that weekend. If you bagged and labeled everything properly while taking it apart (part 1) then reassembling shouldn’t be a problem. As an after thought, I wish I had taken a picture for reference but it went back together alright nonetheless. Two of my small, copper washers broke into many, many parts while reinstalling them and I had no replacements. I have yet to see the effects it might cause.

So, basically, I’m going to breeze through the re-installment of the circuit board and dash because I ran into no problems, just the reverse of part 1. I’m also breezing through it because, well, it didn’t work. Thats right, all that time and effort and the dash gauges don’t work.

With the dash cluster re-installment, though, you’ll want to find some way to protect your new circuit board from the steering column bolts. Ideally, I would have liked to find some plastic spacers like the kind they use for do-it-yourself car stereo systems but I was in a hurry to get everything back together so I used layers of electrical tape for now. Hopefully those bolts won’t need to be removed anytime soon.

Voltage Regulator

When you reinstall your circuit board and find that everything is still non-responsive, the next thing you want to check is the voltage regulator. The voltage regulator is connected to the circuit board on the back of the dash. If you pulled the circuit board, you couldn’t have missed the little square regulator hanging out back there. In retrospect, when you’re ordering your circuit board, go ahead and order a voltage regulator too. It’s only $40 more and it will save you the heart ache of trying to hunt one down later. Luckily, my friend had one so I only had to wait until he got home that night to pick it up.

When removing and installing a voltage regulator, be careful not to rip the copper sheeting around the regulator’s connectors. These connectors are snaps, such as you’d find on a shirt now days, and can be hard to remove. I took a small specialty flat screwdriver (the kind they repair eyeglasses with) and carefully pried the snaps halves apart. You then snap in the new regulator and screw it back to the circuit board, making sure the screw is snug for a good connection.

After a new voltage regulator was installed, we crossed our fingers and went to install the dash cluster again, seeing if the gauges would register anything. Not a thing.

Sending Units

As mentioned in part 1, if the above parts haven’t fixed your problem by now, testing the sending units can help determine where things are going amiss. There is one sending unit per gauge; an oil sending unit thats located under the hood, a fuel sending unit located at the fuel tank etc. If only one gauge is faulty, hypothetically lets say it was the oil gauge, then you would not bother testing the voltage regulator because the voltage regulator affects the entire gauge cluster. Therefore, if all gauges but the oil gauge were working, then you would 1) check the sending unit and 2) check the circuit board. To check the sending unit you unplug the wire from the sending unit (usually this will be a bootplug or some other little connector) and check for a current with a voltmeter. When we checked ours we got no current whatsoever, indicating that there was no power being sent to the unit. This meant the voltage regulator wasn’t getting any power for whatever reason and it was back to the drawing board for us. Keep in mind that Mustang Monthly goes into this more in depth.

Ignition Switch

As mentioned earlier, all Mustang owners should invest in a Haynes Repair Manual or something similar because this is a situation where you use it. In chapter 10 of the manual it has wiring diagrams for 66-73 Mustang. We traced the connection from the voltage regulator through the circuit board to, where we believed it ended up, at the ignition switch. Now, I already knew my ‘ignition switch’ was going ‘bad’ so I had bought one a long time ago and just never had the opportunity to install it. After almost 40 years, it’s good to change the ignition switch anyways so this provided me a good excuse to slap mine in. When you buy an ignition switch, look for one that comes with a replacement plug. The switches tend to overheat and melt this plug. These switches aren’t easy to find so good luck.

References Pictures:

Steering Column Bolts


Speedometer Cable at Speedometer Head (Dash)
speedometer2thumb.jpg speedometer4thumb.jpg speedometer3thumb.jpg

New Circuit Board Installed

circuitthumb.jpg circuitfullthumb.jpg dashthumb.jpg

Voltage Regulator, 1969 Model



Quick fix for a broken headlamp adjustment screw

I just got an email about fixing an entire headlamp assembly with an emphasis on what to do about missing or broken adjustment screws.

A long time ago I hit a bird while driving. This very unlucky bird just so happened to aim for my headlight and hit it. The impact broke the small, threaded plastic piece that the lower adjustment screw threads into. Without this piece, your headlight bulb will “roll” up into your Mustang “skull” like a like a dead person and will be impossible to adjust. Since my Mustang is so poor at night driving (driver error?) and this was the driver headlamp that had been accosted, I wanted it fixed quick. My solution? a Molly Bolt.

Original configuration vs. Molly Bolt, aka Wall anchor

Yes, a Molly Bolt. A wall anchor is a good place to start because of it’s design and intended use. The small threaded plastic piece that holds your adjustment screw is similar to a grommet in that it sits in a hole and has “flared” or “thicker” material that holds it in place. The difficulty is that a grommet is neither threaded or of rigid plastic so it won’t work in this case. Replacing this piece, as far as I know, would be extremely difficult because it is rigid plastic and can’t be contorted to fit in the hole (refer to my awesome pictures for clarification). A wall anchor is meant just for the purpose of placing in a hole cut into thin material (drywall, sheet metal, something where both sides of the material will be touched by the anchor).

As for choosing which wall anchor to use, I chose the Molly Bolt because it most resembled the original piece but if you find something better that fits, go for it. I found one of the larger Molly Bolts to work best because not only is the screw longer but the end product of the anchor will be larger, making it a better fit for the hole and less likely to rattle around or pull loose.

When installing the Molly Bolt, you’ll notice that you have to “deploy” the anchor slightly before placing it in the hole because there’s not enough room behind the Mustang’s Body (more body, perhaps?) to fit the entire length of the anchor. Once you have it loosely sitting in the hole, go ahead and tighten it until the anchor is firmly anchored inside the hole. At this point I’d strongly suggest a washer for the bolt head because the bolt head will be smaller then the original adjustment screw. I’d also suggest finding a longer screw now that you have the anchor in place (bigger= longer, not thicker) so that you have a wider range of adjustment.

Final product

Also, do not JB weld the anchor in place. As it is, it’s easy to remove with needle-nose pliers by bending the anchor to all hell and then shoving it through the hole and watch it fall out from a magic secret place underneath your Mustang. If you JB weld this, you can not only clog your precious anchor threads but make it darn hard to remove if you need to.

Molly bolts

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Replacing the dash circuit board – part 1: Removal

The symptoms I was experiencing was a sudden and complete lack of functioning from my gauges one day while driving. I took my problem to the excellent guys at NAPA in Corvallis, OR and they said it sounded like a busted circuit board.


Now, keep in mind that having dysfunctional gauges and having dysfunctional gauge lights are two different problems with two different sources. More about this later since I have to fix those too.

When replacing a damaged circuit board in the Mustang’s dash, you must first remove the dash pad.


I looked up how to do this on Mustang Monthly and followed the pictures. Keep in mind that the Mach 1 Mustang they’re using isn’t exactly like mine. I didn’t have to remove a console because mine isn’t equipped with one.

However, I did have a terrible time reaching the screws above the radio. Even with a right-angled screwdriver I couldn’t seat the bit properly within the heads and resorted to use my fingers to loosen them. Luckily, they were loose enough as it was. I would recommend removing your radio if it’s after-market style and if you still have the removal tools. This will give you clearance to reach those screws if you’re unable to loosen them otherwise.


Another problem I ran into was not only finding the three screws between the dash pad and the windshield, but once I located them, I realized the heads had rusted into a heap of powder. This was the most time consuming part of this whole operation because we had to remove them properly because you can’t just “rip” the pad out, even if you really want to at this point. To remove the screws we took two separate trips to Home Depot for specialty tools. The first set we tried was Grabit tools, in which the tips sheared off after 2 minutes of use. We went back for a set of Spiral Screw Extractors, which also didn’t work because they require a screw gun which chewed up my dash pad and didn’t make much of an impact on the screw anyways. We finally resorted to using a star-pattern screw bit and a hammer and hammered the bit into the screw head until it was embedded deep enough to grip. We then slowly loosened the screw, keeping the bit firmly placed in it’s newly made star-shaped hole.

screwheadthumb.jpg screwbitsthumb.jpg

When hammering the bit, you must take all precautions not to hit the windshield in the slightest. Windshields aren’t designed to take impact from the inside and could easily crack if hit with a hammer.

Once this screw was removed, we were able to jiggle the dash pad loose and remove it. Since the circuit board in question is behind the dash cluster, you have to remove it as well. Mine was held in place with the minimal number of two screws. Once all screws are removed from the dash cluster you can slowly remove the cluster in one big piece. If you feel it still snuggly in place, check for wires or cables that might have snagged on the back of the cluster. My speedometer cable was still holding my cluster firmly in place.  We eased the cluster out a couple inches, enough to reach in and disconnect the speedometer cable from the speedometer head.  After that, you unplug the wire cluster from the back of the dash. This will be on the right hand side of the cluster and were the only wires leading to the dash. After the speedometer cable and wires are disconnected, the dash cluster came out easily.

Once the dash cluster was removed, it was easy to identify our problem. Two large bolts from the steering system had been wearing against the circuit board’s exposed plastic and had eventually rubbed away the plastic and had cut into the circuit paths themselves. The bolt had completely destroyed one path and had damaged two others, making it the obvious problem in this case.


If, in a different case, you remove the dash cluster and see no obvious wear to the circuit board, try testing the voltage regulator and sending unit. An article blurb on this subject can again be found at Mustang Monthly.

Once it was obvious that the circuit board had to be replaced, I ordered a new one from Mustang Project and went about preparing my dash to be stored for a couple weeks while the part was shipped. You can reinstall the dash pad and cluster at this point if you want but it isn’t necessary. In Texas, the only component of the dash that you legally need to operate a vehicle is the speedometer. I carefully took apart the gauge cluster, bagged and labeled all gauge parts separately and stored them in a large tubberware with smaller tubberwares covering each gauge faces.

You don’t want anything placed directly on the gauge faces at this point because their protective plastic coverings are removed and the gauge face could get scratched or the indicator needle bent and broken. Store all parts away from animals and children, I opted for the cupboards above my washer in the garage so that again, nothing would be dropped or placed on top of the gauges while they waited to be reinstalled later. I removed all gauges from the cluster except for the speedometer. This I left intact so that I could reinstall it immediately. I took twist-ties and fastened the plastic cover and frame over the speedometer to protect it. I then took four screws and mounted the cluster section back into the dash, making sure to firmly reconnect the speedometer cable to the speedometer head.

gaugescoveredthumb.jpgdashclusterthumb.jpg fulldashthumb.jpg

Once you have all the parts out, you can take a good look at everything to see if any parts need to be replaced. After pulling out my dash, I realized I had a small speaker mounted underneath. I don’t understand why since the sound would be buried under at least half an inch of continuous padding but after looking up similar dash pads for my year of Mustang I realized that the differences between my pad and regular pads didn’t stop there.


This is also a good time to replace the plastic covers of the gauges if you can find some after market types. I noticed mine are scratched and clouded and would probably add a nice shine to the original dash if replaced.

To order a 1969 circuit board online, click here
To order the cheapest 1965-1973 dash pads I’ve found, click here
To order instrument bezel lenses, click here

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