October 24th, 2010

#2366: Jeep's trailer hitch finally to spec.

Seeing that it was "t-shirt and shorts" warm outside, I got after the trailer hitch.

I've been wanting to remove the bolts, slather them with anti-seize, and put 'em back in; also to knock the worst of the rust off the thing and hit it with Rustoleum.

Done and done.

...to my surprise, the impact wrench suddenly--somehow--decided it could develop enough torque to loosen even the bolts that were torqued down. I only needed to loosen one by hand; that was (naturally) the one that was above the exhaust pipe, making it all but inaccessible...and of course it was the one I needed the cheater bar for. Argh etc.

Slathered 'em all with a healthy glob of anti-seize, ran 'em back in, tried using my micrometer torque wrench to tighten them...and discovered that my torque wrench is for shit. This is the same torque wrench which broke a connecting rod bolt for me when I was rebuilding the Escort engine. Same symptom: not clicking when it's supposed to click. Guess it's time for a new one.

Well--it cost me something like $30 in 2002. WTF, I can get a couple from Harbor Freight at that price if I wait for a sale, and in the meantime I've got the beam-type one on hand.

But I thought, "WTF, it's a trailer hitch, not a crankshaft," and just torqued 'em by feel. F it.

Then I busted out a wire wheel, the "rust convertor", and the can of satin black Rustoleum. I knocked off the scale, hit the rust with the rust convertor (which smells like a locker room, but it works) and finally finished by slapping on a coat of Rustoleum. The hitch looks pretty, though not when you get close to it; anyway I figure that'll do until spring, when I can drop it and have it sandblasted, then paint it with a couple of spray bombs. Maybe use bedliner for extra durability. Heh.

After that, then, I decided to have a look at the transfer case to see if I could figure out why the "PART TIME 4WD" light doesn't come on, ever. I finally found the switch, but couldn't get a wrench on it; I think if I had the right size socket (deep well form) and a flex-head ratchet, I could crank it off. Unfortunately there's not enough room for me to put my hand up there and be able to see what I'm doing, not laying on the driveway.

If I only had a hoist....

I confirmed that it's got a New Process 231 transfer case, at least. It's nice to know what your Jeep is made of, you know? I'm still trying to figure out which axles it's got, but I'd wager they are not Dana 60s as I believe those to be 1-ton axles and the Jeep's not a 1-ton truck. (As in "cargo capacity".) Dana 44 is the way to bet.

It no longer really matters what kind of axles I have, though, since I've decided against getting the locking differential I saw in the Jegs' catalog. That kind of diff goes "click-click-click" as you go around corners, and I don't like that. That's why that one was cheap (about $150) and easy to install; you have to put up with the clicking as the thing locks and unlocks. Why couldn't the State of Indiana have ordered this truck with limited slip differentials?

For about $400 plus another $100 for a pinion depth checker, I could put a real limited-slip diff into the thing. WTF! I'll buy four! *sigh*

The transfer case had a thin film of grease and dirt on it below the rear output shaft, which led me to check the oil level in it. Mirabile visu I actually had the appropriate tool for removing the plug; and I had only just spun it out of its boss when oil began to run out--proper oil level confirmed. I screwed it back in.

So after all that was done, I mulled taking another crack at the 4wd engagement switch, but decided not to bother. WTF, I can tell when the 4WD is on without a light on the dashboard telling me; while it's my preference to have it working, I don't need it, and I'd rather not risk busting the damn thing off and having to drop the entire freakin' transfer case.

I was surprised--though I should not have been--that the vehicle speed sensor is mounted on the rear output shaft of the transfer case. Of course it is: it has to know how fast the wheels are turning, not how fast the transmission's output shaft is turning; and with the transfer case between transmission and wheels that may not be the same speed depending on what gear the transfer case is in. I'm not sure what the low range is on that thing, but 2:1 is not unusual. If the VSS were on the transmission, you'd have to divide your indicated speed by 2 to get your real speed when you were in low range. (Also, your odometer would be wrong, which is a big no-no.)

Both oxygen sensors are relatively simple to get at. Good.

The really nice thing about having a truck like the Jeep is how you can get underneath it and check all this stuff without having to jack it up.

* * *

I'm not going to winterize the lawn mowers just yet. We've probably got one more chop job in the works before that. Also, I've got to clean out the snowblower's fuel tank and make sure it's ready to go for winter; that way I can keep it from snowing too much. I also think I should put a new belt on it....

* * *

Anyway, that's a job well done. Now I can play WoW without guilt.