Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Waiting Room

 On Monday I took the car into the dealer so they could take a looksee at an oil leak. I checked the car in with the service department and was asked to go to the waiting room. I took it slow, knowing the my only purpose for the next hour or so was just to kill time.
 I flung the door open and was hit with the smell of chocolate chip cookies and a pathetic look on the faces of half a dozen customers. Most people would think its very thoughtful of them to supply warm treats for their customers. I'm trying to limit my treat intake so it was like torture for me. I suffered through it but I gotta confess they smelled good and the thought of a cookie for breakfast did cross my mind.
 The "room" isn't a room. Its a remote corner of a showroom kinda separated by a hallway. The receptionist walked in and out with her headphones on directing calls to the service desk and parts department. Salesmen wandered over to get a cup of coffee. The occasional tech would stop in for a snack or drink. Every time that door would open the customers waiting would pop their head up like puppies in the pound. Pick me, I've been here so long, please pick me. In one corner was a 30 somethin male with a door knob problem on his car. He wasn't like the others. They asked him to come into the service area to describe the problem but he just tried explaining it to the escort that came to get him. I don't know what his fascination was with the waiting room. This was his chance to get out if not just for a few minutes. He was in a one sided conversation with the kindle reader lady that had exhaust fumes coming into her car. I think she may have sniffed too many of them fumes because she never really noticed that nobody else was in her conversation.

The pic has nothing to do with this post. I added it for those
 of you that won't read anything without a pic. You know who you are.
Some dude at work walked in wearing it and agreed to let me snap a pic.

 In the corner opposite door knob dude was a fidgety lady. Up and down, pacing and then back in her chair. All that fuss and all she had was a small nail in her tire. To me, the little tack they brought out to show her didn't seem big enough to penetrate a car tire but I don't know what size car she had. They were plugging it now and would bring the car around in a minute. As soon as she spotted her car she was out of there in a flash. I wasn't interested enough to stand up and see what the car was.
 "Don" opened the door and we all turned to look at him. He announced he was the shuttle service and the old dude sipping coffee at the high top table put his jacket on and followed him out. We all whimpered a little and went back into waiting mode.
 At the far end were two other gentlemen. One was busy with his coffee, cookie and newspaper, the other was loud phone conversation dude. He was buying stock online and was having problems navigating a web page. We were all so very impressed (not). Later,  I overheard him whining to the other guy about the lack of snow this year. He had to trailer his sled up north for the last three years to do any trail riding. The secretary chimed in and praised the lack of snow because that meant no shoveling her driveway. Funny how people look at the same snow so differently based on what they plan to do with it once it hits the ground. I want snow because it means work, and I like plowing.
 The door swung open again and the gal asked for Scott. I wanted to run to the door like the next contestant on "the price is right" but instead stood up slowly and looked around the room. That's right, I'm the chosen one. The others all put their heads down and whimpered a little.
 In the service department I was informed they put some dye in the front differential oil and wanted me to drive a few hundred miles. I would then bring the car back and they will use a black light to look for leaks. I asked what the point of this was as the differential is noisy and required more than fixing a leaked. I was asked to just let them go through the process, and that's what I'll do. Unfortunately that means another visit to the dog pound.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Front Wheel Bearing

  The wifes BMW had a noise coming from the front end and I suspected it may be a front wheel bearing. Last week I decided it was time to address this issue so I stopped at the parts store and picked up the highest quality bearing they had. Nothing but the best for honeys car. Being a 2011 car most of the bolts came apart quite easily, but when it came time to push the CV axle back out of the hub I ran into some stubbornness. I didn't have the puller I needed and kinda cobbled one together. It was a weak effort at making a puller and after moving the hub about 1/16" out of the bearing, the puller started to bend. This whole time there was some serious noise coming from the other side of the shop. A team of four were trying to remove the fifth wheel plate from a semi tractor and they were having more problems than I was. Pounding, grinding, torching, pounding, cussing, pounding, air hammers...the whole works. I was getting a headache from their noise and my frustration with the wheel bearing and decided to give up for the night. The problem was I needed to put all this crap back together to drive the car home. When I torqued the axle nut back down it wouldn't pull the bearing halves back together. There was now a considerable amount of play in that front wheel. Not dangerous play, but enough that I'd see tire wear if I kept driving it like that. Two days later on Friday I decided to revisit that stubborn bearing.

 The initial disassembly went fast. After all, I already knew which tools to grab and the sequence for disassembly. This time around I had Greg helping me and he came up with some improvements to my home made puller. Crank the puller tight, pound. Crank the puller tight, pound. It came out slow and half the bearing inner race was still on the hub but that would easily be removed with a grinder and a swift blow of a chisel. The remaining bearing would get pushed out in the press, then the new bearing pressed back in. There was a little dinking around but everything went together pretty good.
 Here's the real story. That wheel bearing was never bad. I (and a respected mechanic) heard the noise coming from the left front of the car. Turns out the differential is bolted to the left side of the engine so when its oil level dropped below the differentials output bearing and started making noise, I was fooled into thinking it could be a wheel bearing. Now it clearly also has gear whine that changes as you switch from power to coasting. That noisy session in the shop the first time around eventually revealed the truth. I was turning the wheel hub and could hear that it was noisy but couldn't pin point it. By the time the other half of the shop quieted down enough for me to find the real source of the noise, I had already pulled that hub a bit and started separating the bearing. I would have never done that if I had known there was almost no oil in the front differential. That'll make a noise every time. Kinda odd for a car that was just serviced at the dealership. Yes, I suppose I should have gone through the car better myself.
 I've been in contact with the dealer and although the short term warranty that came with the car is expired, they are willing to take a look at it. I have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow. I'm not sure how this is gonna end but I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Headlight Adjustment

 As you know, back in November we purchased a used car for my wife. Part of the deal was that they were gonna replace a mirror that they broke while it was sitting in the showroom. The salesman also stated he ordered a special bulb for a halo ring that was out. I never saw a bulb out in the front but figured whatever. After the first night drive with the car we noticed the headlights needed aiming and the salesman stated they would be happy to adjust those as well.
 A couple weeks after the sale the dealer calls and tells me the mirror is in but they were still waiting on the bulb. I tell him I'd rather have it all done at once and not have to take off work on two separate occasions. No problem, he'll call me when its in. After almost six weeks from purchase I call him to find out the status. What? This isn't done yet!? he says. I want to say "you're a jackass and didn't follow through" but I just reply "no, but I'd like to get it taken care of before the holidays". Arrangements are made, but not easily, for the car to go to a sister location for the service.
 Upon arrival I wait for the salesman to arrive. Hes gonna take care of everything. Basically I think hes running it through the back door and off the books. Service departments must love that bullshit. After an hour in the waiting room a tech approaches me and asks me to come out into the shop with him. We walk through a service garage with like twenty lifts and all the latest high tech gadgets. Every tech had a toolbox that certainly will take the better part of their career to pay off. Past the huge parts department and into another garage about half the size of the first. I envisioned the car posed neatly in front of a wall with markings and stripes and numbers and lasers all laid out for aiming headlights. We approach the BMW. Its sitting in the aisle on an angle with the right front tire damn near in the floor drain. The head lights shining on the garage door. The "tech" says, "what do you think"?

 You know when I was younger there were a lot of times when I went through life with blinders on and just saw what was right in front of me. I reacted to those things without the whole picture and all the information. Sometimes that made me respond like a dickhead. As I get older I've learned to factor in all my surroundings before I come to any conclusions. For that reason I decided to look around the room fully expecting to find a hidden camera. Maybe Allen Funt from Candid Camera would pop out from behind a car. That's Punk'd for you younger folks.
 What do I think? I think it looks like two dots on a door. "Whudda ya mean?" he says. "I adjusted them." I asked him how high the centerline of the lights was off the floor in relationship to the bright spots on the door. I could see he was lost and had no clue if they were aiming up or down from level. At this point I just wanted to get this guy away from the car. I went to close the hood but before I could he pointed out where the adjustment screws were. "I think if you turn them counter clockwise they go up". Thanks I replied but was thinking he just adjusted them and already forgot which way he turned them. He announced that he also replaced the halo bulb. It wasn't burnt out but he replaced it anyway. There's four halo bulbs. I wonder which working bulb he replaced?
 I then wanted to look at the mirror they were supposed to replace. It wasn't done yet. I asked why and he said nobody told him about a mirror. I looked around again and noted that no camera crews were on location. This means he spent an hour adjusting the head lights and replacing a bulb. We walked to the parts window and they knew nothing about a mirror. I told the tech I was gonna go to the waiting room and call the salesman to figure out what was up. When he didn't answer my call I decided to just go over to that shop. I asked the service desk to have my car brought around but they had no record of it being there. Nice. I told them the techs name and asked if he could bring it around.
 At the other shop I waited half an hour for the salesman to show up. That's not anybody's fault but it just added to my frustration. Face to face he admitted he dropped the ball. The new story contradicted the first story and what it basically boiled down to was that the car needed to go to an independent glass shop on the other side of town. Fine. Whatever. Lets just get this over with. Give me the address and I'll take care of it.   When I arrived at the glass shop the nice lady behind the counter had my mirror sitting on the desk. She looked at the car, looked at the mirror and then reached under the counter for a tape measure and headed outside. There was a large frosted glass shower stall on display in their showroom and I peeked behind it thinking there would be a camera crew hiding there. Nope. When the woman returned she announced that they had the wrong mirror and it could take up to five weeks to get the right one. Wonderful.
 I wasted three hours that I could have been working only to get a bulb replaced that wasn't burnt out and to get my headlights mis-adjusted. I was punk'd and nobody got it on video.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Just A Nudder Day

 I'm sitting here in my recliner wearing my slippers and tipping back a cool one. Its 4pm Saturday and the temperature is about 45 degrees. Yes, we're having a mini heat wave here in January. I just came in from my shop where I tinkered with that tool hutch, changed the oil on the BMW, checked the air pressure in Terrys van and did a once over on the old Dodge pickem up. Screw it. I've had enough for today and I'm just gonna chill out. I worked this morning and afterwards jacked up the wifes BMW to investigate a noise. I think its a wheel bearing and stopped at the local parts store on the way home to order one. I'll update you on how much it sucked to change that bearing some time next week.
 Our nut and bolt guy at work dropped off a special request bolt I need for the BSA. I'm counting that as having worked on a bike. Its really the only bike news I have except for today when I walked past the Ultra and refused to look at it for scratches from the fall it took. I'm still sick about that.
 I heard from Al that the guy doing the Subaru heads needed to order all new valves. All sixteen were bent when the timing belt broke. No word yet when they will come in and when he will have time to finish the job. In other Subaru news, when the car died we weren't sure what the plan would be for it. To be honest, I still don't know what the plan is except to get it running again but maybe it will become a trade in. Anyway, we paid off the loan. I guess I bought some type of insurance when we bought the car. That insurance would make car payments if I was out of work. I don't remember the details, hell I didn't even remember buying it until the other day when they sent us a reimbursement check because of the early payoff of the loan. It was a couple hundred bucks or so. Not life altering but a nice unexpected surprise.
 Diets come and go. I'm in a go phase right now, as in the diet is gone. Every time I go through one of these healthy eating kicks and eventually slack off on it, I retain at least one small part of it. Last spring I gave up a lot of stuff that I'm back to eating again except for soda. I haven't had any since maybe June. Thats gotta be a good thing. In related news, my beer consumption has gone up tenfold. Oh well. You win some you lose some.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Echo Service School

 Whats up? Business as usual here. Yesterday I attended Echo service school with coworker Trent. The class was pretty much as expected with some service updates, new model discussion and tear down of their new top handle chainsaw. Trent did the wrenching and I sat there and looked interested.

 Not that I was bored but except for the fact that it is the lightest gasoline powered chainsaw in North America, it isn't a revolutionary new design. That's probably a good thing as far as reliable saws go but not so exciting if you're sitting in a classroom.

 Winter is the time of year that I get to plow snow. I say that because I like plowing. As long as things go halfway as planned without too many breakdowns or pissed off customers, its decent work. I've told you about the Ebling Back Blade on my plow truck. They are real time savers and we now have three more Eblings on the crew. Having a back blade and knowing when and how to use it has been a learning curve. Do I take advantage of the 16 foot width all the time? Do I use it to collect spillage from the front blade. Whats the fastest way to move snow with it? How much abuse will it take?
 What I have found is that it works well for pulling docks. I can get snow out from under the trailers easily. I also know it will carry a lot of snow. I have one lot about five acres with a push over a thousand feet and the back blade in combination with the front blade will clear it in good time. But where this blade really shines is when we get under an inch of snow where the blade will carry all the snow from one pass without spillage. On long passes I pull the snow in both directions. In lots that are large and square, I find myself driving around in circles. This is faster than conventional methods of pushing forward then backing up and setting yourself up for another pass. We tried it side by side so I know this is true. Its also safer than backing up hundreds of feet and is easier on the trucks transmission. I was in the truck for about ten hours on Monday and much of it went like this video. Please excuse the raw unedited footage from my phone. I need to get that GoPro back into action.

  The wings with their rubber edges squeegee the asphalt better than the center steel cutting edge but it still does a fine job. Round and round I go. If the snow is deep then I drop the front blade as well to carry more snow. Where I lift the blade and let the snow spill off is where I'll stack it. So easy a monkey could do it.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Box Lock

 We went through a phase at work a while back where guys were coming into the shop on weekends to work on their vehicles and they would use the shop tools. Sometimes they couldn't find the tool they needed and started putting their grubby dick beaters on the tools from the regular techs boxes. None of us really cared as long as they put the shit back where they found it or told us if something broke so we could replace it. That seems like a simple enough request but tools would disappear only to be found days later in the wrong box. That's bullshit so we all started locking our boxes.
 Including the new hutch I'm building I'll have five locks to open in the morning. I failed on my attempt to buy keyed alike locks and decided to do something different for the hutch. All the box keys will be stored in the hutch and the hutch will opened with a key pad. This way I won't have to carry a bundle of keys or find a hiding place for five keys.

 This is one of those things I should have thought through before I started the project because the framework of the box would have been a little different here in the above pic. I can work around it easy enough by adding some levers and latches and stuff but it could have been as simple as a deadbolt type of latch.

 I had planned on having this part done for todays blog but got side tracked. Basically a wedge will push a lever that will rock the catches open. Because I have zero trust in the chinese locking mechanism I'm adding a secondary keyed release for emergency use.
 I'll post some better pics when its done.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Project Subaru

 Hey Lady, I thinks I found yer problem. Its right 'ere.

 That's what I told my wife when she came out to the garage to see how project Subaru was coming along. You may recall last November that the timing belt broke and I needed to investigate how much damage occurred on this interference engine. It took the better part of an afternoon to remove the battery, drain the coolant and then remove the intake and front of the engine to get one of the heads off. The process was pretty straight forward and actually only involved a few tools. Ten, 12 and 14 mm sockets, a screw driver and a pliers were all that was needed.

 I threw all the removed parts in the back of the car not knowing if I would need them later or if I was just making it easier on the scrap man to haul it all away.

 So basically if you've ever removed a cylinder head from an Outback while the motor was still bolted in, well then you deserve a medal or something. I was able to unbolt and remove the heads without loosening the motor mounts and jacking the engine although I will have that extra step during reassembly because a torque wrench just won't fit between the frame and head. When I inspected the pistons I expected to see a few dings where the valves hit them and thats exactly what I found. Both pistons on that side appear to hit TDC at the same height, meaning I think that the rods weren't bent during the collision of the valves and pistons when the timing belt broke. What I didn't expect to see was a cross hatching pattern still present in the cylinder wall. At over 220,000 miles that doesn't seem right. This triggered some memories from when we bought the car and I seem to recall some discussion of a motor overhaul. Not really sure, my memory is all over the place on this one but I'm happy for now to think I can salvage the short block without that extra expense.
 The heads have all the exhaust valves visually bent. Not sure about the intakes but they did have what looked like signs of contact with the pistons. Not sure about any cracked valve guides but the heads are at the machine shop now. I'll report again when I know more.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Another Hutch Update

 I know it seems like I'm draggin this out but its the only project going right now and progress really is this slow. I had a couple hours to dink around in the shop and used them to work on the roll up door. Here I'm adding a piece of channel as a guide for the back of the door. Without it the individual slats of the door can slide sideways and jam it up.

 I was planning on using a key lock to secure the door but came up with another idea that will allow for a hidden internal mechanism. Part of the plan includes these catches that I made.

They are going to be welded to a rod secured under the door. Here is the 1/4 inch rod. This is blowing my mind because I have no idea how I did this and don't think I could do it again if I wanted to. The rod was clamped squarely in a vise and I thought I was cutting it 90 degrees to cut it to length. I used a hacksaw and as you can imagine it only took a few strokes before the scrap end hit the floor. When I looked at the rod, this is what I saw.

 How the hell did that happen? I'm not building an aircraft here so detail isn't critical and it makes no difference in the construction of the tool hutch but I can't figure out how it happened. It should at least be halfway straight then maybe an angle if I was forcing the blade and actually broke off the remaining material. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 Here is a piece of square tube modified to act as a support for the catch rod and also a door stop. Self tapping sheet metal screws probably wouldn't stay tight with the door dropping on the stop every day so fine thread bolts were installed. One thing I like about these projects is using crap I know has been around my shop forever. I know for a fact the rusty bolts used here were put in a labeled organizer over twenty years ago, before we moved into this house.

 And one of the catches in place as seen from the inside of the cabinet.

 There's a lot of stuff mocked up and tacked in place. My gasless wire feed welder makes a big mess so I'll probably take it to work and weld it there then bring it back home and put my paint booth to use. More updates as time allows.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018


  Dang its been cold. I don't mind winter but I don't care for this below zero crap. There are a few exceptions I suppose. The other night I was driving the car down a nice winding country back road. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. I pulled back the valance on the sun roof and let the light from the full moon shine in the car. I remember thinking if it were just 90 degrees warmer it would be a great night for a bike ride. Its not gonna be 90 degrees warmer for a looooong time.

 So how about them new year resolutions? Got any? I have a couple. First, but not foremost, is that I'm gonna try to be neater. Not in appearance. I mean less of a hoarder. That should be easy enough. When in doubt, throw it out. The other thing I want to accomplish this year is to be nicer to others. I know last year I promised to less of a dickhead (and I was so suck it). I'm looking to expand on that. Its easy enough not to blow up at people or have fun at others expense but I'm talking about just general niceness.  Yesterday morning I tried to act like a normal member of society. I made it a point to be extra special nice and it didn't hurt a bit. A warm hello for everyone, holding the door for others (ok it was the beer guy at the gas station so does that even count? Ya gotta make sure the beer gets chilled), a smile for strangers (that was tough and out of character) and so on. I'm gonna be so sweet you'll get a cavity just being near me. I'll be so nice I'll make Mister Rogers look like Mister T. You get the point.
 I wonder if this will be one of those resolutions that doesn't make it till the end of the month.