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January 28, 2007

And I do mean South

Here I am in sunny and 77 south florida. Sean is in belize. I'm warm, he's warmer. You are cold. Wear a sweater.... a sweaterr..... (ghostly homer/hamlet Sr.)

We got here Thursday night when it was only 50* and cloudy, but it got better. There is supposed to be another "cold snap" though. HA!

Friday Sean left for Belize, and i fixed the stereo in mom's civic, found a blinker and stop lamp out, and shorted out her tail lights. ooops. Saturday i fixed all of that and talked to Roy (mom's assistant's boyfriend) about his 1977 corvette. I forgot my camera.

The Jeep is done of course. For pics of that, refer to the "Al's jeep" entry and access my flickr account. The axles arrived wednesday late afternoon. They wouldn't slide right in, which addled my brain a bit. They're New! I spent some time measuring, counting splines, and comparing, then just brushed some burrs off the splines of the new axles using a tiny triangular file, and tapped them in. 2 taps and they slid in like butter. Hooray!

It has some 4wd issues i didn't have time to address, but it's not about to lose a wheel anymore. I wasn't aware of the 4wd problem until i was able to drive it w/o being scared sh!tless. Al may be visiting again if he wants 4wd to work right, and his son has some differential issues in a Monte carlo too.

Today i looked at Roy's vette. It has little-to-no-brakes. He backed it out of the garage recently and had to use the parking brake to stop. Anyone who knows these cars can sympathize with this... it sits alot. i was hoping all it needed was a master cylinder, but was betting on leaking calipers. Yup. Leaking calipers. I checked the right rear and the pads were soaked. These Corvettes are different than most cars regarding their calipers. They have the same basic design as other 1967-68 GM calipers, but the vette kept using them into the early 80s. They work REALLY well, but are heavy and sometimes unreliable, esp if they sit for long periods.

There is a company i mentioned before on this blog called VB&P.
They make calipers with stainless sleeves AND redesigned seals.
Roy is getting 4 of them, 4 hoses, and a master cylinder, all in a kit.
It's a good deal IMO. it should survive long sits much better.
he's also replacing all 4 rotors to complete the job. Judging from what i saw, they're pretty rusted and have been turned. Replacing them will be a good compliment to the hydraulic kit and new pads.
I checked out the parking brake shoes on the right rear and they look great (thank the good spaghetti monster). from my experience, and their appearence, the other side should be about the same.

All of these parts i'm replacing look original but serviced. Original from 1977. I really only checked one wheel, but the disc rivets were drilled. I hope the rest are drilled. otherwise i have to find a drill here somewhere. Mine's at home.

parts should be here thursday we hope. i'll see if i can come up with a camera.

January 24, 2007

G's truck

I put the new steering box and pitman on G's truck today.
If you check the pic after the jump, you can see the difference in the angle of the pitman.
Both boxes are near exact on center, but the one on the left has the pitman arm off by several degrees. There is a reference mark on the input splines (bottom on pic). Also the new pitman looks like it might squiggle over a little more than the other (new) pitman. I didn't notice that until looking at the pic.

These vehicles are designed by engineers, modified by bean counters, and assembled by robot monkeys, so the system is pretty much foolproof. The pitman only goes on one way, the steering coupler/column only goes on one way. Ta-da. Straight wheel, centered box.
The new pitman on the other box didn't even fit on all the way. I was right about the variable ratio box. She had one. Now she has a regular one, so now new parts 'should' always fit ;)
(monotone: New Parts Always Fit And Are Never Defective.)

The steering still doesn't feel quite right to me. It might just be my paranoid imagination, so I'd like to check it against a similar truck, like G's husband's :)
I quadruple checked the front end parts and still see nothing loose. Remember I was ASE certified for 10yrs and have 15yrs exp. The only thing i thought I saw was some frame flex. I don't think it's normal, but I could be wrong. There is a crossmember below the radiator which I can see bow slightly as the steering turns back/forth. I tried to check for cracks in the frame, but I don't have a lift to get a really good look. It's prob'ly just me being paranoid anyway. If the frame checks out fine, maybe we'll put a steering dampener on it.

OH! also her truck was making horrible Power Steering squeals and now it isn't. HOORAY!
I added a new A/C belt which also goes around the P/S pump, and replaced 2 bolts. One was an SAE bolt someone stuck in there where it should be metric, the other was just missing. I ran into the same problem when she first got the truck and the P/S belt was super loose. I ignored the missing A/C belt at the time. Whoever put all these bolts in did a thorough job of deleting and mis... ummm putting-in-wrong-stuff. The alternator pivot bolt is still the wrong one but it works. If I'd known beforehand I'd've replaced it.

January 21, 2007


I helped vern pick up a 1969 mercury Marauder X100 today.
Here are the pics as they appeared on craigslist:

This was my first adventure with hauling the trailer myself. It was cold. Ice formed all over the marauder and the van. Luckily we got the car onto the trailer before the worst of it. It wasn't easy though. Sometimes i even impress myself.

The car has been sitting in that field for a good 5yrs, and had 4 flats and a locked brake drum. With lots of help, i managed to unfreeze the brake... or rather, disassemble it, and we put 4 wheels on the car, none of which fit. The rears were some of Sean's old cougar wheels. They almost fit the back. They fit enough for haulin'. They wouldn't fit the front (drum brake wheels, disc brake car).

We had some FWD rims with a similar bolt pattern but they wouldn't fit over the brake calipers. No prob, take off the calipers and brackets. Crap, still wont go on far enough to start the lugs. We put the rims on the car wrong-side-out, and managed 2 lug nuts per wheel. Hooray. Drag it on the trailer and cruise on back in the freezing rain.
Each and every wheel was a major ordeal, partially because the car was sitting with the frame an inch off the mud. And the front mag rims were seized onto the hubs. The rear rims were steel, so they weren't seized, but we still had to jack up each corner in stages.

OK, so... we had a car with zero brakes to roll back off the trailer once at our destination. You may think this could be another big problem. Well, the car would hardly would roll anyway, so no brakes wasn't a big deal. Phew.
It's off the trailer and at the shop where Vern and co. do Derby car and other work.

In spite of all the problems i mentioned, it's a very nice car with little detectable rust, and he found all 4 of the original mag rims for it. The brakes are a snap to fix. I really like the car. I just wish fuel was cheaper. and less polluting....

January 19, 2007

ball joints?

No, not ball joints.
This is mostly tech stuff, and kinda long, so don't jump if you're just looking for pics
this is the only one :)

Geneva's truck is having some steering problems. It's a bit wandery.. that is, the steering wanders (Wandery? Perhaps a wand manufacturing plant?)
Anyway, a couple weeks back she discovered that she had a bad pitman arm. That's the steering arm that conveys rotational movement from your steering wheel and steering gear box into side-side movement to steer the wheels via the rest of the steering rods (she has a 'recirculating ball' steering, not like rack&pinion). It had movement/play at the link.

She replaced the pitman, and said the steering wheel was suddenly off center by quite a bit. Well, there's only one way for the arm to go on and still bolt up, so... WTF? Now the steering wheel rotates 1.5 turns to the left lock, and 2 full turns to the right lock. Kudos to Lewis for pointing this out to me. The steering gear box is off center. Pulling the steering wheel or column off and putting it back on to look straight will do nothing to fix that. The steering box wants to be centered, and is designed to help you keep the vehicle straight only when it is centered... it's almost like a 'stiff spot' (similar to G spot, but much easier to find ;).

An off center box can cause wander, steering pulls, and brake problems. I figured maybe the new pitman was made slightly offcenter from where the original one is. Spit happens. Get an alignment and they should be able to center the wheel via the adjusting sleeves on the tie rod ends.

No-go. The shop told her she needed ball joints (not pictured). They also said they would pull her column off and put it back on to where the wheel looked straight. I see 2 problems with that. 1) I checked the ball joints last Monday and they looked OK, and 2) pulling off the column or steering wheel and reinstalling to make it appear on center will not center the steering gear box... still.
OK, 3 problems. The column only hooks to the box in one position. They'd have to pull the steering wheel, which can spline on in any position, not the column, still not fixing the problem, the offcenter box... still.

I looked at it again today. The ball joints are fine... still. I checked them 7waystosunday and they are fine. I pulled, pushed, pryed, prodded, and even checked them according to the shop manual (egads). Still fine.

The steering wheel is dead sideways. I tried to adjust the rods to straighten it. I got it about another quarter turn up and ran out of adjustment. Crap.

I also noticed the pitman kept fooling me into thinking it looked loose, but it wasn't. I found out the steering box shaft where the arm attaches is actually wiggling side-to-side slightly. Never saw that before, but OK, it needs a new box. What about getting it on center? The wiggle wont be the cause of a sideways steering wheel.

Well, I'm getting an ACDelco box and an ACDelco pitman for it. They better fit together right. She'll take the old pitman back where she got it.

Near as I can figure, these trucks came with 2 different types of power steering. Variable rate and non variable. The "variable rate" is supposed mean it's harder steering in the center for better road feel on the highway, but easier to turn the further off center, such as while parking or making a left ;)

Only the non-variable parts are available anymore for this 1983 chevy C10, and none of the manufacturers tell you the parts don't mix, but one states "except variable rate" on their pitman... That's only one out of 5+ different part manufacturers/suppliers of this pitman arm who tells you -through interpretation- their part might not fit right.
I think we have a variable box with a non-variable style pitman.

ACDelco supplies parts for GM, and the tech info on the steering gear specifically states "replaces all units". That's not a common disclaimer.
Let's hope it's true. She won't have variable rate steering anymore, but not many of these trucks did.
Most importantly, the steering should be centered and the gear box sector won't wiggle menacingly. Safety Still.
[homer]mmmm, stilll[/homer]

I'm going to set the toe myself (A minus B). Screw Tire King.

January 17, 2007

al's jeep


This poor Jeep.

Al dropped it by because of some noise from the rear, or possibly the transfer case. I drove it up to the store and back and heard some awful clunking coming from the rear parking brake assemblies.
That's a new noise.
We need to fix the old noise too.
What is the old noise?
I didn't hear it. All I heard was scary clunking. I was afraid to drive it over 25mph.

I took the rear brake noise which i was hearing 'out' of the picture by removing the discs, and I ran the Jeep with the rear up in the air. The transfer case made some roaring noise. The fluid, normally red, is black. I talked to Al. Apparently this happened before, and this is a salvage yard case in there already, put in about 5yrs ago. Well, lets change the fluid and drive it after also fixing the rear brakes. If it still makes awful noise we can put a rebuilt case in it.

So I get ready to go get parts to fix the brakes and change fluids. Let's pull out the axles first to make sure I wont need anything more. It's been pouring grease out of the right rear, so let's make sure the axle and bearing are OK before I come back with just a new seal, fluids, and some brake parts. There was no noise from them when I had it running off the ground, but off the ground it has no load on the bearings. Gotta do a visual inspection.



That's a deep f*****g groove! And what's this? A "repair bearing" replacement for the original... So this isn't a new problem either. A 'repair bearing' is a new bearing and seal assembly which changes the position of where those parts ride on the axle. There was some pitting where the bearing used to ride, which must be why someone installed this part. Sometimes they work. This one didn't. It needs a new axle. Actually two, because the other side has some pitting/grooves around where the seal rides. Let's do this right and replace both axles, bearings, and seals.


click on any of these photos to see the whole stream on my flickr account.
BTW, I really like this particular photo, ignoring the subject.

I have to order the axles. I'll post a new entry with all the new stuff :)

January 15, 2007

Impaled on a Spit

I put the Austin on a rotisserie today. What fun! Unfortunately, some 18 year old gasoline poured out. It was only a pint, but it's so vile smelling!


Bad Pun

Consider yourself warned.

I was compelled to buy a garage door today.

The gentleman asked me if white was what I wanted for my 16X7 replacement Clopay door sans hardware. I said "Yes, that would be fine". But as he was keying it into the computer, I said "Maybe I could order it Red White and Blue and then it would be a "French Door". He didn't bat an eye and said "You must mean a 'Freedom Door'".

It's going to be here in a couple of weeks. No refunds for custom doors.

January 8, 2007


Behold the mighty blue Chevy!

Sam should be picking up his Cavalier tonight. I put shocks and struts on it at his request. It rides much better. He originally wanted an alternator (not charging), which i did, and since he was going out of town he figured i could make the ride less mushy, which i also did.
I had to drive it to my house to do the struts. I realized during the drive that it also had a bad engine mount. The whole car, but especially the dashboard, vibrated like heck everytime i came to a stop. I hate rattles. The right rear mount on the engine was collapsed. I replaced it.

I might have worked on another car or two since my last post, but this is the only one i took a picture of.