The problem is the joint between the exhaust manifold and the rest of the exhaust system. I believe that there were originally three bolts holding the flange in place, but what's left of them now are some weird tapering thing I can't describe simply but which emphatically do not hold anything securely. Because the hangers broke both at the catalytic convertor and the muffler, all the weight of the exhaust system (but for the rear four feet) is hanging from this joint, with the result that of course it popped open.
So here's what I must do, and I must do it today:
1) repair the hangers, somehow, so that they will support the exhaust system again
2) remove the remainder of those studs or bolts or whatever they are, and replace them with new bolts.
...of secondary importance to the latter is getting the correct gasket to put in that joint as the original one has perished, but I can handle a couple days' worth of hissing/rapping from that joint as long as it's not open the way it is now.
I got up early this morning and attempted to effect a temporary repair, but nothing that I had planned to try did any good whatsoever, and I could have simply remained in bed and achieved the same end. Gave up at 11:45 and hit the shower, and went to work, intending to chew things over with my boss and see if I could take tomorrow off and fix it then.
Turns out that the general manager is really adamant that no one who is scheduled to be there tomorrow miss work. Anyone who misses tomorrow is in DEEP SHIT and I have no desire to do any wading, myself, thanks very much. Boss suggested I go back home and get things dealt with so I can be there tomorrow, and I took his suggestion.
...and so my initial impulse, at 11:45, to call off and work on this shit, also turns out to be what I should have done.
I notice that I always have this shit happen in the middle of my week. Today is my Wednesday, and the pipe blew out yesterday; of course there's no fucking way in hell a muffler shop will be able to do anything for me without replacing 60% of my exhaust system and charging me $400 for it.
On the plus side, it turns out I can replace one $100 part and get one hanger back. Minus side, no one stocks it, and if I bought it today I wouldn't have any money left anyway, for things like gasoline and food. Argh etc.
So I get to cut and drill and replace bolts, and try to find a way to hang the damned junk up until I can order one of these pipes (Walker 53440, $68 plus shipping from rockauto!) and put that in.
And of course I've also found that the passenger footwell is rusting out. It never rains but it pours.
[many bad words redacted]