I had to hit this one more times with the hammer (and had to drop the skid plate again to get at it) but the job seemed to go both quickly and smoothly, so I can't really complain too much.
This steering damper lasted about 26,000 miles, which was about 1/3 of the lifespan of the previous one. On the plus side, I got this one from Advance Auto and it has a "limited lifetime warranty", which means if nothing else happens and I have to replace it again in 25,000 miles, I'll get the replacement for free.
Hopefully, however, I'll find the cause of the death shimmy and fix it long before then. I did notice that in addition to the film of oil coating the thing, when I tried holding one end with my feet and shaking the other up and down, there was quite a bit of resistance-free wiggle to the thing. "Resistance-free" is relative: I couldn't do it with just my arms, but to the kind of forces present in a steering system like this--well, the shaking was bad enough to make the entire two-ton truck shudder. Me being able to make the damper move like that with just my admittedly limited strength indicates a failed damper, even if the oil leak had not.
Looking over the front end, and comparing what I have to what's in the parts list? Holy crap will it cost me a packet to rebuild this shit. There's a long tie rod kit that costs $134 by itself; it's the part that goes from the Pitman arm to the passenger side steering knuckle. The tie rod to the driver side wheel connects to that long tie rod, but has two conventional ends on it and they appear to run about $22 apiece. Ball joints are $100 per side. I can't evaluate what wheel bearings would cost because I'm not sure what kind my Jeep uses, but it goes up to $90 a side if it uses a hub assembly. (From perhaps $20 or so if it uses conventional open roller bearings.)
Obviously I need to determine what parts are worn and need replacing, as a complete rebuild of the front end is going to be prohibitively expensive unless I win the Powerball this week. Argh etc.
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Today's XKCD is perfect.
The mouseover text (available at the link) is even better.
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I'm kind of starting to feel like a miniature Og.
Today I got up at 8:30 to be at work by 10 AM. I worked all day; when I got home, my wife and I had dinner, and then we went out to #PROVING_GROUNDS to work on her motorcycling ability for a couple of hours. The place is lit at night, so we didn't let nightfall stop us; and when it was time to go home from there, I took the long way home and then put a new steering damper in my truck.
And today is my Tuesday and I have to go to work tomorrow. I'm bushed.
And that's how it goes.